Chapter 8 : Casting the Circle
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Professor Bane walked through the doors of the classroom, moving slowly and looking labored in his effort as he made his way to the front of the class.
As he got to the front, he turned and said, “You will all have to forgive me if I seem out of breath. I’m afraid I spent a bit too long chatting with the other teachers, and left too little time for a man of my age to climb the several sets of stairs to get to the room.”
“Professor,” Seamus began, “wouldn’t it have been easier to levitate yourself up the stairs?”
“That it would, Mr. Finnigan,” Bane said still trying to catch his breath. “However, when I reach the day when I take the easy way out of something, that will be the day I need to lay down in bed and not get out of it. There are many things in life that are hard to do, but that does not mean that we should not do them. If I’m not mistaken, that is the whole point of this class.”
“Sorry, Professor,” Seamus said.
“Don’t be sorry,” Bane said reaching a shaking hand into his robes as if he was massaging his chest. “Chalk it up as your first lesson in this class.”
The class didn’t have a chance to react as the feeble old man suddenly and swiftly pulled his wand out of his robes and sent a stunning charm out that hit the entire class before they knew what was happening. They all felt themselves go numb and slide out of their chairs to the floor having no control over their own bodies. The numbness passed a few seconds later and they all began to stand up and get back in their seats. What they saw when they got up was that the spell hadn’t affected quite everyone.
“Mr. Potter,” Bane began, suddenly breathing normally and standing up straighter, “you are the only one of your classmates that was not affected by the spell I cast. How do you explain that?”
“I had cast a shield charm around myself as soon as you came into the room, Professor,” Harry answered.
“Remarkable,” Bane said impressed. “I have done that same trick at the beginning of every one of the seventh year classes I have taught since I began teaching. Not once has anyone escaped it. How did you know I was going to do it?”
“I didn’t,” Harry said. “It was just a precaution in the event something happened.”
“Wonderful,” Bane said with a smile on his face. “Let that be a lesson to you all. A person who practices the dark arts is likely to be a very cunning individual, and use trickery to weaken your response ability. You all watched me walk in the classroom acting as if I was a feeble old man. I slowed my pace and quickened my breath in order to gain your sympathy. You all sat there and watched while I reached into my robes and took hold of my wand, and yet all you saw was an old man who could drop dead at any moment. Do you know why they were so easily fooled, Mr. Potter?”
“Because they trusted you, as a Hogwarts teacher, not to harm them,” Harry said.
“Yet you did not,” Bane said.
“I’ve learned not to trust anyone until you get to know them,” Harry said.
“Sound advice,” Bane said still smiling. “I hope some day I will be able to earn your trust then.”
“Outside of this class you already have, Professor,” Harry said. “Inside of this class, not a chance.”
“Ah,” Bane said chuckling, “wisdom beyond your years.”
“Are you going to stun us every day like that, Professor?” Dean asked.
“Goodness no, Mr. Thomas,” Bane responded. “I only stun everyone at the beginning of class on the first day. I won’t do it again.”
Just the same, most of the class took the trouble to cast a shield charm around themselves anyway. They didn’t have any idea what the American professor might have up his sleeve next.
Professor Bane went on to explain to them the kinds of things he was planning on teaching them during the year. Having looked back over the lesson plans of his predecessors, he found them to be somewhat chaotic. He told them that with a few well planned lessons he felt that he would be able to fill in the gaps where they had fallen behind as well as teach them all of the things that were expected from a seventh year student.
“If there is time,” Professor Bane said, “I would like to teach you all an all but forgotten form of magic that I always try to teach to my students back in America. In fact, I am one of only three know people in America that know how to use the craft properly. How many of you have ever heard of circle magic?”
To no one’s surprise, Hermione’s hand shot up instantly, but what they were amazed to find was that Harry’s hand went up almost as quickly.
“Well,” Bane said, “the surprises never stop around here. I didn’t think any of you would have heard of it at all. I believe your hand was up first, Miss Granger.”
“I read once,” Hermione began as she usually did, “that a magic circle could be used as a protection for anyone who stood inside it. They fell out of favor though, because they were complicated and took a great deal of time to draw out, therefore making them impractical to use against a much faster wand spell.”
“Quite true,” Bane said. “Is there anything you can add to that Mr. Potter?”
“The circle can also be used to amplify the power of a wand spell, or conjure other forces outside of the circle to help battle an enemy,” Harry said.
“Very good,” Bane said actually sounding impressed that they knew so much. “Unfortunately, what Miss Granger said is true. Drawing the circle is very complicated and time consuming, and not of much practical use in a real time battle.”
“Wasn’t an American wizard in the nineteenth century working on a way to conjure a circle using a wand spell?” Harry asked.
Bane just sat there for a moment wondering just how much Harry knew about circles before he said, “It is true that some have tried, but none have ever been successful.”
“But I have,” Harry said.
Every eye in the class turned to Harry half expecting to hear that it was a joke, but Harry just sat and looked calmly back into the eyes of Professor Bane.
“That is quite a boast, Mr. Potter,” Bane said not sure if he should be proud of him for his nerve or scold him for his impudence. “Would you like to demonstrate that for the class?”
Harry got up without saying a word and walked to the front of the class, took out his wand and held it upright in the center of his chest as he softly said, “Valaya atra saikata.”
They all watched as Harry pointed his wand at the floor and a sandy substance spewed out, arranging itself around him in two neat circles. One of the circles formed a few inches inside of the other, and between them was some kind of writing that none of them recognized. Everyone, including Professor Bane, was speechless as they studied the strange writing and thought about the words that brought them forth.
After taking a few seconds to recover, Bane said, “Extraordinary, Mr. Potter. I have to admit that I am not familiar with the language written in the circle.”
“Sanskrit,” Harry said.
“Of course further tests will have to be conducted to determine if this circle would actually protect a person who was standing inside of it,” Bane said still not able to take his eyes off of the circle.
“Go ahead and test it now if you like,” Harry said.
“I am reluctant to try it, Mr. Potter,” Bane said looking at him for the first time since the circle was conjured. “If it is not properly formed, then you could be seriously injured.”
Harry just grinned as he said, “Don’t worry, Professor. A simple stunning spell won’t do any permanent damage even if it did get through.”
“If you are sure you don’t mind, Mr. Potter,” Bane said as he pulled out his wand.
Harry nodded to Professor Bane that he was ready, and Bane sent a stunning spell directly at him. An instant later there was a small flash as the spell hit something before it reached Harry, and the energy of the spell dissipated around Harry. The circles glowed a fire red for only a few seconds before returning to their original sandy color.
“Nivarta,” Harry said pointing his wand at the ground once more as the sand flew back to where it had come from.
“How long have you known how to do this,” Bane asked.
“Only a couple of months,” Harry responded.
“But Harry,” Hermione said, “that would mean that you did it in the summer when you weren’t supposed to do magic. How in the world did you manage it?”
“I’ll tell you later,” Harry said.
“We seem to be getting that quite a lot lately,” Ron said.
“I think what we have seen here today, class,” Bane began, “is something monumental in the world of magic. I’m not quite used to this house point system you use here since we don’t use it in America, but I think some are definitely in order. Do you think fifty would be too many?”
Not surprisingly, the Gryfindors in the class seemed to be alright with that number. Their first class couldn’t have started off better as far as they were concerned.
“Very well then,” Bane said, “fifty it is then. I think I need to send a few owls to some colleagues in America, so I hope you will all forgive me if I let class out a bit early today. Please read the first two chapters in your book for the next class.”
Everyone got up and turned to walk for the door. A few seconds later, all but three of them found themselves lying numbly on the floor. Harry, Ron and Hermione looked back to see what had happened.
“I thought you said you weren’t going to stun us any more, Professor,” Seamus said.
“On the contrary Mr. Finnigan,” Bane answered. “I said I wouldn’t do it at the beginning of class. I never said anything about the end.”
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