The instant they arrived at the DADA classroom; Rowan almost turned back the way she had come at spotting the saved seat especially for right in between the marauders. Severus, the traitor eagerly pushed past her and went to sit by Lily, who had saved him a seat next to her. With an ill-concealed sigh, Rowan went and sat down next to James and Sirius.
Lupin gives her a pity filled glance, but unlike the previous years there was a brightness to him as the dark eyeshadows under his eyes were almost fully gone. There were simply two more doses left and soon he'd be rid of his curse.
Pettigrew on the other hand looked tanner this summer. Not only was he fit, but he'd taken to working at a local muggle farm and with a local gardener to build muscle. And best of all, he had his own pocket money which to spend during the year.
"Congratulations on becoming an Apprentice," Lupin kindly said with a smile as Pettigrew grunts in agreement.
Sirius snorts and says, "It was all over yesterday's Daily Prophet. Apparently the two of you are the youngest apprentices in over three hundred years. Naturally, they all said it was because of the Slytherin and Merlin blood running in the two of you."
"Mm, they must have neglected to mention our muggle father then," Rowan flatly retorted as she pulled out her textbook, Defense Against the Dark Arts by Galatea Merrythought.
James grins at Rowan and says, "Either way, I'm grateful I'm not in your shoes." James dramatically shivers as he adds, "Just imagine being under Professor Dumbledore's gaze all the time. I'd puke." Before Rowan can think of a reply, footsteps are heard along with the clatter of a cane.
Professor Lye's grizzled gray head can be seen as he limps over to his desk, before sitting down. "Whew, I'm always out of breath after climbing the stairs," Professor Lye joked causing a soft burst of titters in the classroom.
"Good it looks like you're all here," Professor Lye said in approval as his deep eyes slowly took them in one by one. "Now put all your books away. We'll start off with more practical lessons today." A rush of movement can be heard as they do as they are told.
"I've read the report Professor Pollen left behind and all of you seem to be quite far ahead on the study of creatures and spells, but not as far on dealing with curses," Professor Lye said. "Given that I'm a retired Auror, I'd like to teach you more about what you truly would be up against should any of you choose to pursue the Auror career. And for the rest of you ought to be aware of the hidden dangers that exist in the wizarding world."
Seeing the rapt attention of his class, Professor Lye rises to his feet. "I should only be teaching you the counter course, but I believe everyone should be prepared. Now then, who can tell me, which curses are most heavily punished by wizarding law?"
James's hand instantly goes into the air as Professor Lye says, "Yes, Mr. Potter."
"The Imperius Curse, sir," James firmly replied.
"Correct," Professor Lye said as he limped back to his desk and removed a jar with a snake in it.
Rowan instantly feels sick as she can hear the snake hiss, "Please let me out. I don't like it in here."
Professor Lye releases the grass snake that hurriedly tries to rush away as he says, "Imperio!" The snake leaps onto the table and begins to swing back and forth as if dancing. Then it begins to do somersaults to the awe of the class. The class is filled with laughter at its funny antics.
Rowan's nails dig into her palm so tight that her hand goes red. The only one who notices surprisingly is Pettigrew. Pettigrew much more warily turns to watch the Professor, when the snake is ordered to choke itself. Against all odds, its tail wraps itself around its own throat and begins to squeeze. Pettigrew glances away unable to bear the dark sight.
"Stop!" Lily cried out as Professor Lye moves his wand and the snake limply lays gasping on the ground.
"And that is why it is considered a forbidden curse," Professor Lye said. "The spell can order you to fall in love, to kill your loved ones, to be completely under the control of another." The class is rather grave and sober at this time as more than one face is looking ill.
"The good news is that it can be fought, and I'll be teaching you on how to do so," Professor Lye said. "But it takes real strength of character, and not everyone can learn to do so. The best option is to avoid being hit. That is why constant vigilance is key!"
Glancing around, Professor Lye asks, "Does anyone know another illegal curse?"
Pettigrew, who had finally opened his eyes slowly raises his hand. "Yes, Mr. Pettigrew?"
"The Cruciatus Curse," Pettigrew whispered.
Rowan clenches her teeth as she hears Professor Lye say, "Crucio!" The snake begins to hiss and scream for help as Rowan's fingernails finally break through the skin. Drops of blood begin to drip down as Pettigrew stares at her and not at the twitching snake. Pursing his lips, he glances back to Rowan and then back to the snake as if he is trying to figure something out that is just out of reach of his mind.
Before anyone can cry out, Professor Lye halts the curse. "Pain," Professor Lye sadly muttered. "You don't need wh.i.p.s or knives to torture merely the curse will do. That one was very popular once upon a time."
Pettigrew subtly pulls out a hankie and presses into Rowan's bleeding hand. Rowan blinks before offering him a tentative smile in thanks. Not even Lupin notices the exchange as even James and Sirius are too rapt with their Professor to pay attention to Rowan.
"And the last one?" Professor Lye asked.
Severus cautiously raises his hand as Professor Lye motions for him to speak. "The Killing Curse," Severus croaked.
"The last and worst, the killing curse," Professor Lye pensively said, before his pointing his wand at the poor snake on the ground, who is tearfully whispering, "Help me. Please help me."
"Avada Kedavra!" Professor Lye said as a flash of blinding green light fills the room. A rushing sound can be heard as though something vast, invisible was soaring through the air. At the same time, the snake lay limp on its side still and very much dead. Several students let out stifled cries as Rowan closed her eyes to hide the plain hatred flashing in them.
Pettigrew, however, did not miss the flash in his friend's eyes. Despite being a Gryffindor, he was rather cunning and crafty, unlike most Gryffindors. And his animagus form of being a rat only further proved that. With his mind racing in thought, he quickly put to and to together causing his eyes to widen in shock. It couldn't be possible, could it?!
Professor Lye harshly says, "There's no counter curse. There's no blocking it."
The classroom is still and grave as he continues, "The killing curse needs a powerful bit of magic behind it. All of you could take off your wands right now and point them at me. But I'd not get so much as a nosebleed. I am not here to teach you how to cast it but to be aware of it. That's why once more, Constant Vigilance is key. "
Seeing their faces Professor Lye's face softens as he says, "All three curses are known as the Unforgivable curses. The use of any one of them will guarantee a wizard or a witch a lifetime sentence in Azkaban. Now please pull out your quills to take notes."
The rest of the lesson is spent taking notes on the Unforgivable curses. No one spoke until the bell rang, but when it did everyone left rather hushed. Even the marauders were rather silent as it had not occurred to James, Sirius, and Lupin just what they would be facing in real life if they choose to be Auror's. It was a bit of a wake-up call to them, to be frank.
And Pettigrew's silence was for a very different reason. Not that he wasn't just as shocked, but rather because of what he had just realized. Either way, he'd not betray Rowan's secret, she was a good friend despite her being rather cold at times. Because even a rat has loyalty, no matter what others may believe.