The ferret flew through the air, its legs and tail flailing helplessly.
“Never—do—that—again—” said Moody, speaking each word as the ferret hit the
stone floor and bounced upward again.
“Professor Moody!” said a shocked voice.
Professor McGonagall was coming down the marble staircase with her arms full
“Hello, Professor McGonagall,” said Moody calmly, bouncing the ferret still
“What—what are you doing?” said Professor McGonagall, her eyes following
the bouncing ferret's progress through the air.
“Teaching,” said Moody.
“Teach—Moody, is that a student?” shrieked Professor McGonagall, the books
spilling out of her arms.
“Yep,” said Moody.
“No!” cried Professor McGonagall, running down the stairs and pulling out
her wand; a moment later, with a loud snapping noise, Draco Malfoy had reappeared,
lying in a heap on the floor with his sleek blond hair all over his now brilliantly
pink face. He got to his feet, wincing.
“Moody, we never use Transfiguration as a punishment!” said Professor McGonagall
wealdy. “Surely Professor Dumbledore told you that?”
“He might've mentioned it, yeah,” said Moody, scratching his chin unconcernedly,
“but I thought a good sharp shock—”
“We give detentions, Moody! Or speak to the offender's Head of House!”
“I'll do that, then,” said Moody, staring at Malfoy with great dislike.
Malfoy, whose pale eyes were still watering with pain and humiliation, looked
malevolently up at Moody and muttered something in which the words “my father”
“Oh yeah?” said Moody quietly, limping forward a few steps, the dull clunk
of his wooden leg echoing around the hall. “Well, I know your father of old,
boy... You tell him Moody's keeping a close eye on his son... you tell him that
from me... Now, your Head of House'll be Snape, will it?”
“Yes,” said Malfoy resentfully.
“Another old friend,” growled Moody. “I've been looking forward to a chat
with old Snape... Come on, you...”
And he seized Malfoy's upper arm and marched him off toward the dungeons.
Professor McGonagall stared anxiously after them for a few moments, then
waved her wand at her fallen books, causing them to soar up into the air and
back into her arms.
“Don't talk to me,” Ron said quietly to Harry and Hermione as they sat down
at the Gryffindor table a few minutes later, surrounded by excited talk on all
sides about what had just happened.
“Why not?” said Hermione in surprise.
“Because I want to fix that in my memory forever,” said Ron, his eyes closed
and an uplifted expression on his face. “Draco Malfoy, the amazing bouncing
Harry and Hermione both laughed, and Hermione began doling beef casserole
onto each of their plates.
“He could have really hurt Malfoy, though,” she said. “It was good, really,
that Professor McGonagall stopped it—”
“Hermione!” said Ron furiously, his eyes snapping open again, “you're ruining
the best moment of my life!”
Hermione made an impatient noise and began to eat at top speed again.
“Don't tell me you're going back to the library this evening?” said Harry,
“Got to,” said Hermione thickly. “Loads to do.”
“But you told us Professor Vector—”
“It's not schoolwork,” she said. Within five minutes, she had cleared her
plate and departed. No sooner had she gone than her seat was taken by Fred Weasley.
“Moody!” he said. “How cool is he?”
“Beyond cool,” said George, sitting down opposite Fred. “Supercool,” said
the twins' best friend, Lee Jordan, sliding into the seat beside George. “We
had him this afternoon,” he told Harry and Ron.
“What was it like?” said Harry eagerly.
Fred, George, and Lee exchanged looks full of meaning.
“Never had a lesson like it,” said Fred.
“He knows, man,” said Lee.
“Knows what?” said Ron, leaning forward.
“Knows what it's like to be out there doing it,” said George impressively.
“Doing what?” said Harry.
“Fighting the Dark Arts,” said Fred.
“He's seen it all,” said George.
“Mazing,” said Lee.
Ron dived into his bag for his schedule.
“We haven't got him till Thursday!” he said in a disappointed voice.
THE UNFORGIVABLE CURSES
The next two days passed without great incident, unless you counted Neville
melting his sixth cauldron in Potions. Professor Snape, who seemed to have attained
new levels of vindictiveness over the summer, gave Nevihle detention, and Neville
returned from it in a state of nervous collapse, having been made to disembowel
a barrel full of horned toads.
“You know why Snape's in such a foul mood, don't you?” said Ron to Harry
as they watched Hermione teaching Neville a Scouring Charm to remove the frog
guts from under his fingernails.
“Yeah,” said Harry. “Moody.”
It was common knowledge that Snape really wanted the Dark Arts job, and he
had now failed to get it for the fourth year running. Snape had disliked all
of their previous Dark Arts teachers, and shown it—but he seemed strangely wary
of displaying overt animosity to Mad-Eye Moody. Indeed, whenever Harry saw the
two of them together—at mealtimes, or when they passed in the corridors—he had
the distinct impression that Snape was avoiding Moody's eye, whether magical
“I reckon Snape's a bit scared of him, you know,” Harry said thoughtfully.
“Imagine if Moody turned Snape into a horned toad,” said Ron, his eyes misting
over, “and bounced him all around his dungeon...”
The Gryffindor fourth years were looking forward to Moody's first lesson
so much that they arrived early on Thursday lunchtime and queued up outside
his classroom before the bell had even rung. The only person missing was Hermione,
who turned up just in time for the lesson.
“Been in the—”
“Library.” Harry finished her sentence for her. “C'mon, quick, or we won't
get decent seats.”
They hurried into three chairs right in front of the teacher's desk, took
out their copies of The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection, and waited,
unusually quiet. Soon they heard Moody's distinctive clunking footsteps coming
down the corridor, and he entered the room, looking as strange and frightening
as ever. They could just see his clawed, wooden foot protruding from underneath
“You can put those away,” he growled, stumping over to his desk and sitting
down, “those books. You won't need them.”
They returned the books to their bags, Ron looking excited.
Moody took out a register, shook his long mane of grizzled gray hair out
of his twisted and scarred face, and began to call out names, his normal eye
moving steadily down the list while his magical eye swiveled around, fixing
upon each student as he or she answered.
“Right then,” he said, when the last person had declared themselves present,
“I've had a letter from Professor Lupin about this class. Seems you've had a
pretty thorough grounding in tackling Dark creatures—you've covered boggarts,
Red Caps, hinkypunks, grindylows, Kappas, and werewolves, is that right?”
There was a general murmur of assent.
“But you're behind—very behind—on dealing with curses,” said Moody. “So I'm
here to bring you up to scratch on what wizards can do to each other. I've got
one year to teach you how to deal with Dark—”
“What, aren't you staying?” Ron blurted out.
Moody's magical eye spun around to stare at Ron; Ron looked extremely apprehensive,
but after a moment Moody smiled—the first time Harry had seen him do so. The
effect was to make his heavily scarred face look more twisted and contorted
than ever, but it was nevertheless good to know that he ever did anything as
friendly as smile. Ron looked deeply relieved.
“You'll be Arthur Weasley's son, eh?” Moody said. “Your father got me out
of a very tight corner a few days ago... Yeah, I'm staying just the one year.
Special favor to Dumbledore... One year, and then back to my quiet retirement.”
He gave a harsh laugh, and then clapped his gnarled hands together.
“So—straight into it. Curses. They come in many strengths and forms. Now,
according to the Ministry of Magic, I'm supposed to teach you countercurses
and leave it at that. I'm not supposed to show you what illegal Dark curses
look like until you're in the sixth year. You're not supposed to be old enough
to deal with it till then. But Professor Dumbledore's got a higher opinion of
your nerves, he reckons you can cope, and I say, the sooner you know what you're
up against, the better. How are you supposed to defend yourself against something
you've never seen? A wizard who's about to put an illegal curse on you isn't
going to tell you what he's about to do. He's not going to do it nice and polite
to your face. You need to be prepared. You need to be alert and watchful. You
need to put that away, Miss Brown, when I'm talking.”
Lavender jumped and blushed. She had been showing Parvati her completed horoscope
under the desk. Apparently Moody's magical eye could see through solid wood,
as well as out of the back of his head.
“So... do any of you know which curses are most heavily punished by wizarding
Several hands rose tentatively into the air, including Ron's and Hermione's.
Moody pointed at Ron, though his magical eye was still fixed on Lavender.
“Er,” said Ron tentatively, “my dad told me about one... Is it called the
Imperius Curse, or something?”
“Ah, yes,” said Moody appreciatively. “Your father would know that one. Gave
the Ministry a lot of trouble at one time, the Imperius Curse.”
Moody got heavily to his mismatched feet, opened his desk drawer, and took
out a glass jar. Three large black spiders were scuttling around inside it.
Harry felt Ron recoil slightly next to him—Ron hated spiders.
Moody reached into the jar, caught one of the spiders, and held it in the
palm of his hand so that they could all see it. He then pointed his wand at
it and muttered, “Imperio!”
The spider leapt from Moody's hand on a fine thread of silk and began to
swing backward and forward as though on a trapeze. It stretched out its legs
rigidly, then did a back flip, breaking the thread and landing on the desk,
where it began to cartwheel in circles. Moody jerked his wand, and the spider
rose onto two of its hind legs and went into what was unmistakably a tap dance.
Everyone was laughing—everyone except Moody.
“Think it's funny, do you?” he growled. “You'd like it, would you, if I did
it to you?”
The laughter died away almost instantly.
“Total control,” said Moody quietly as the spider balled itself up and began
to roll over and over. “I could make it jump out of the window, drown itself,
throw itself down one of your throats...”
Ron gave an involuntary shudder.
“Years back, there were a lot of witches and wizards being controlled by
the Imperius Curse,” said Moody, and Harry knew he was talking about the days
in which Voldemort had been all-powerful. “Some job for the Ministry, trying
to sort out who was being forced to act, and who was acting of their own free
“The Imperius Curse can be fought, and I'll be teaching you how, but it takes
real strength of character, and not everyone's got it. Better avoid being hit
with it if you can. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” he barked, and everyone jumped.
Moody picked up the somersaulting spider and threw it back into the jar.
“Anyone else know one? Another illegal curse?”
Hermione's hand flew into the air again and so, to Harry's slight surprise,
did Neville's. The only class in which Neville usually volunteered information
was Herbology which was easily his best subject. Neville looked surprised at
his own daring.
“Yes?” said Moody, his magical eye rolling right over to fix on Neville.
“There's one—the Cruciatus Curse,” said Neville in a small but distinct voice.
Moody was looking very intently at Neville, this time with both eyes.
“Your name's Longbottom?” he said, his magical eye swooping down to check
the register again.
Neville nodded nervously, but Moody made no further inquiries. Turning back
to the class at large, he reached into the jar for the next spider and placed
it upon the desktop, where it remained motionless, apparently too scared to
“The Cruciatus Curse,” said Moody. “Needs to be a bit bigger for you to get
the idea,” he said, pointing his wand at the spider. “Engorgio!”
The spider swelled. It was now larger than a tarantula. Abandoning all pretense,
Ron pushed his chair backward, as far away from Moody's desk as possible.
Moody raised his wand again, pointed it at the spider, and muttered, “Crucio!”
At once, the spider's legs bent in upon its body; it rolled over and began
to twitch horribly, rocking from side to side. No sound came from it, but Harry
was sure that if it could have given voice, it would have been screaming. Moody
did not remove his wand, and the spider started to shudder and jerk more violently—”Stop
it!” Hermione said shrilly.”
Harry looked around at her. She was looking, not at the spider, but at Neville,
and Harry, following her gaze, saw that Neville's hands were clenched upon the
desk in front of him, his knuckles white, his eyes wide and horrified.
Moody raised his wand. The spider's legs relaxed, but it continued to twitch.
“Reducio,” Moody muttered, and the spider shrank back to its proper size.
He put it back into the jar.
“Pain,” said Moody softly. “You don't need thumbscrews or knives to torture
someone if you can perform the Cruciatus Curse... That one was very popular
“Right... anyone know any others?”
Harry looked around. From the looks on everyone's faces, he guessed they
were all wondering what was going to happen to the last spider. Hermione's hand
shook slightly as, for the third time, she raised it into the air.