The next day's classes went swiftly. Mrs. Potter was a far
different divinations teacher than they were used to. She seemed
to apply her knowledge in a straightforward matter of fact manner
that surprised everyone! Everyone enjoyed the class. When they
got to the defense against the dark arts class they met out in
the yard instead of in the classroom and they found an old friend
there instead of Professor Potter. He greeted them all warmly,
and they all cried "Good afternoon Professor Lupin!"
"I'm sure," the professor continued, "you were not expecting me. Unfortunately Mr. Potter was called away on an emergency. I will be serving as his assistant in filling in for him when he can't be conducting classes. He wants me to start teaching you how to project shields. Sometimes the best defense is not to attack your opponent but to block his power. Girls, pair off over here, boys pair off over here."
They quickly obeyed. Harry found himself opposite Malfoy. "Now!" Here is the incantation. Shieldest I. Take your wand and make a waving motion in front of you. Let's try!"
The first time Harry tried a shimmering gold barrier appeared before him. Malfoy succeeded too, but his barrier was silver.
"Very good!" the professor praised. "Very good!" Now, back off a little. but the ones towards me generate shields and their opposites attack then reverse."
They continued to exchange for some time until the professor clapped his hands. "Excellent! Excellent beginnings!" he cried. "Mr. Malfoy, I would like you to stay a few minutes. The rest of you may run along."
"Did I do something wrong?" Malfoy asked as the others headed off.
"No no!" the professor answered. "I just want to have a few words."
Harry and Hermione headed for Hagrids. The house looked the same from the outside but when they rapped on the door it wasn't Hagrid that opened it but Madame Maxime.
"Oh! Harry! Hermione!" she greeted. "Do come in! Hagrid has an errand but he'll be right along. I'm glad of it, really. I'd like a few minutes to speak with you."
Harry noticed the house seemed larger inside. The bedroom was far neater. Everything was far neater! Madame Maxime put out cups and poured tea. "I'm going to be living here," she explained, "helping Professor McGonaglle. my assistant has taken over at Beauxbattons. The changes there are a little much for me. I'm not very good at dealing with young men, and there's another reason I need to be here. I hope we will become as good friends as you have been to my Hagrid!"
"I'm sure we will!" Hermione put in.
The door opened and Hagrid entered. He took off his coat and hung it up. "I see they're here!" he remarked. "Yes, Rubeus!" Madame Maxime answered. "I think you should sit down immediately, have some tea, and let them know what it is you desire of them before they both burst!"
Everybody laughed. Hagrid sat down, sipped his tea. "Has Gretel told you she's going to be living here?" he asked. Both the youngsters answered "Yes!"
"The reason is," Hagrid managed, obviously nervous, "is that I'm going to be a father. I think I've had quite a bit of practice with children! I'm still rather worried about it. Gretel and I will be very pleased if the two of you would be our child's god parents. We know you're a little young, but we would really appreciate it. We can't think of anyone better!"
Harry smiled. "Hagrid," he assured, "you're going to be the best father that ever was, and I don't know about Hermione but I would be honored!"
Hermione reached out and took Gretel's hand. "And so would I!" she cooed. "When?"
"Around Christmas," the former headmistress answered, "if all goes well."
"I'm sure it will!" Hermione assured. "You're going to have every bit of help here you need, and I'm sure Professor McGonagall won't be giving you too much work. Oh, this is so phenomenal! It's so beautiful! Hagrid has been a father to so many. This should've been a long time ago!"
"Yes!" Gretel answered, "it should have been. Sometimes it takes death to make you realize that you have to return life to the world. That's just as much your duty as anything else."
"Well!" Hagrid cried, slapping his hands. "I'm sure you want to run out and spread the word. We haven't told anyone except the headmistress. So you'll get to give the news to everyone at supper tonight."
Harry hesitated a moment then continued. "Ron feels he's beginning to be left out because of the relationship growing between me and Hermione. If you could have a word with him and share your secret before it's given to everybody else. I think he'd feel better."
"Absolutely!" Hagrid snapped. "Ron is as welcome here as either one of you, any time. I could use some advice on how his wonderful family gets along so well together! I'll go right now!"
He lifted his wife's hand and kissed it, rose and headed out. Harry and Hermione made their farewells and went out to one of their favorite spots just to enjoy the afternoon for a little while. As they were standing admiring the view they saw two shadowy forms approach and descend into Hogwarts. "What was that?" Hermione asked.
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