Chapter 8 : The Boggart
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As Flitwick predicted the first years were a handful, though it was just a matter of showing off in front of them a little bit. A few flashy spells, a minor fright, and a promise of things to come was all it took. He had most of them under control, particularly when the magic he promised to teach them banked on their behavior in his class. It was a good tit for tat and he had the class eating from the palm of his hand. Though, after the first years came the ever-looming time where he was going to have to face off against the third years. It wasn't so much a matter of a behavioral issue, despite the insolent toe-rag being in one classes (if he was ever to return to class); the prat was no skin off of his back. It was Harry; his son was a whole other issue on its own.
James both dreaded and looked forward to Thursday all at once. The thought of the coming lesson impacted his sleep a lot more than he would have cared to admit. Fortunately, he was an old hand at being tired and working beyond his fatigue. Still, it was nice to catch breaks when he could. On one such break he had nodded off in the staff room during an afternoon free period. It was how he came to discover the boggart. His head had just started to droop when a sudden knocking about in the room's sole wardrobe roused him.
James stirred and blinked at the piece of furniture for a moment before it moved and rattled. "What the Dragon Pox?" he muttered to himself as he watched the wardrobe shutter once more. No one had come in, he would have heard the door, let alone smelled them enter. Not to mention anyone who would come into the teacher's lounge would not opt to hide in the wardrobe of all places. Honestly.
Something was off though, he could sense it, and it was more than the matter of the wardrobe that had taken to shuddering. There was something in there, of that he was certain. It wasn't a Vanishing Cabinet - he and Sirius had had some fun with that as well, at least until they broke it. It was still in the castle and this wasn't it, nor was it part of another set.
Slowly James got up from his seat and pulled out his wand. He slowly crept toward the wardrobe as it gave one final shake before the pulled the door open and he was faced with a full moon. Tightness formed in his chest and he paused frozen for a brief moment before logic played in his mind. He realized that this was nothing more than a boggart.
The full moon changed into a Snitch which fluttered back into the wardrobe where James shut the door. James considered things for a few moments as he rubbed his chin, this could be useful. This was the perfect lesson for his third year students. He could push back what he had been planning in favor of this. Now if he could just secure the thing safely till the next day. The ideas of what could be done with his four classes with this one boggart blossomed in his head and he knew he had to ask that the boggart and wardrobe be left alone for the night. It was perfect, and James was actually excited for once to teach a lesson.
Of course, that excitement died some with the arrival of the next morning's Daily Profit. Sirius had been spotted not far from the school. His hands crushed the newspaper as he glanced over the column. He found that he could not remain still at the staff table for breakfast that morning. How could he sit idly by while Sirius was drawing ever closer? He moved to go back to his room and gather a few things to take with him as he went after his former best friend.
"Remus," called the ever calm voice of Dumbledore.
James had made it part way down the hallway before he stopped in his tracks to turn and look at the Headmaster.
"I take it you have read this morning's Profit?"
"That I have," answered James standing ridged his hands shaking with anger.
"I do hope you are not tempted to go off and do something rash."
James opened his mouth to speak but Dumbledore spoke again before him. "After all, it is even more vital for you to be close to Harry, should Sirius make it past the Dementors, as he has done once before."
James pressed his lips together and closed his eyes as he tried to allow Dumbledore's words to wash over him. Knowing where Sirius was last sighted, he was certain that he could find him. He could do it easily, if only given the chance to just look. At the same time, staying where he was presently was best for Harry.
"Now I suggest, Remus, that it might do you well to come back to the Great Hall with me. Have a bit of breakfast and a spot of tea. I'm sure it will do you and your nerves well. I believe you have quite the interesting lesson planned for our third years. I know Mr. Filch would like me to make it known to you that he does not appreciate you keeping dark creatures in locations other than your own classroom. He apparently doesn't find it suiting that we have allowed the boggart to remain in its new residence as long as we have."
James took a deep breath pushing the monster that had begun to rear its ugly head down. He usually had more respite than this before the beast inside started to make such a bid for control, but a lot had been going on since the last moon. In truth he was grateful that he wasn't on the other side of the lunar cycle. If he were, he would have been far more on edge and less apt at controlling the beast. He was going to have to work hard not to control his temper the closer he drew to the moon. Finally, James released his breath in the form of a sigh. He moved as Dumbledore had directed. "I can assure Mr. Filch that the boggart will be attended to before dinner."
"I'm sure he will appreciate it, and I know your students will much enjoy the practical lesson. Did I chance to tell you what sort of practical lessons our last teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts thought fitting?" Dumbledore continued to make light conversation that James knew was meant as a distraction, something he greatly appreciated.
By the end of breakfast he had regained his focus and was ready to tend to the day's lessons. Sirius wasn't in the castle yet, and there was no way he was going to allow Harry to come to any harm. He was where he needed to be and that included teaching the third year Slytherins.
James had known that Draco had been out of classes since the Hippogriff incident, and thus he was surprised to see him returned to class. This could not have worked out more perfectly. He had the boggart and he did need a student to kick things off. He suppressed a mild grin as he entered the classroom.
"Go ahead and put your books away. We are having a practical lesson today. You will only need your wands. If you'll follow me."
There seemed to be a bit of complaint at the idea of doing something different for once which surprised James a little bit, but he didn't question it too much as he led the way into the staff room which was mercifully empty at the moment.
"Now I'm sure there are a number of you who are wondering why we came into the staff room and the answer is quite simple." James gestured to the wardrobe which pleasantly gave a bit of a rattle as if on cue. A small smile quirked his lips before he continued. "Does anyone have a guess as to what might be hiding inside?"
He looked over the group of Slytherins who didn't say much more than a small remark that wasn't intended for him to hear which was along the lines of "His sense of fashion?"
James opted not to let on that he could hear that particular remark and moved on with his lesson. "What we have in here is a boggart."
The wardrobe gave another shiver which caused a stirring among a few of the girls in the class.
"Can anyone tell me anything about boggarts?"
A bored sigh came from the back of the classroom before an answer was given. "It's a creature that takes on the shape of your fears."
"Very good, Blaise. Five points to Slytherin. A boggart is a shape shifter. At present it has no form because none of us are facing it. Draco, if you will step forward I'd like your assistance."
"But Professor - my arm."
"You'll do just fine." James gestured for Draco to come to the front which earned him an eye roll. James raised his eyebrows at the prat's attitude. He debated, for just a brief moment, about setting the boggart on Draco without warning. He resisted the temptation though, thinking better of it. Dumbledore didn't need to deal with complaints about two of his newly appointed professors.
"Now, when facing a boggart you have to have the right spell to take it on and that would be Riddikulus. It will force a boggart to assume a less frightening shape and turn into something amusing. Ready?"
James didn't wait to see if Draco was ready nor did he mention that the spell required a force of mind either. There was value in learning from mistakes after all. James opened the wardrobe keeping out of the boggart's sights so it got a full blast of Draco and his fear.
What came out was not what James had expected, not that he knew the Malfoy boy well enough to even begin to guess his fears. Still what flew from the wardrobe was not something anyone could have anticipated. Apparently tea cozies had become a source of Draco's fear; his already pale face grew more ashen as three of them flew in his direction.
Draco stood his ground for only a brief moment before he dropped his wand moving in terror calling out, "Get them away! Get them away!"
As he ran, the rest of the class started to realize just exactly what Draco's fear happened to be, and there were a few sniggers from some of the class. This would not do at all. James stepped in and the boggart took on the form of a moon for the briefest of moments as he called out the spell to change it and send it back into the wardrobe for the time being.
"Not quite the attempt I was looking for, Draco," said James with a grim face as he picked up the abandoned wand and offered it back to the younger boy. "Maybe with a bit more practice and preparation, hmm?"
He looked down at Draco with an expectant look as he tried to keep the mirth from his expression. For Merlin's sake, the boy was afraid to tea cozies! If that wasn't funny he wasn't sure what was, and the rest of the class seemed to agree, as there were few repressed grins and sly looks that went Draco's way.
"Each of us, of course, have our own unique fear; knowing what that fear is can help you in your preparation of facing a boggart. Additionally, when you cast the spell, the incantation alone will not do. You have to have a force of mind to back up your spell work. Now, is there anyone else who would like to try and face the boggart?"
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