By Dieudonne Blancourt – Ordinary Human Wizard
On any regular day, the office of one’s head of house is the last place a boy of fourteen—or any other student at Hogwarts—wishes to find himself rather than out cavorting with his cohorts or disappearing into the library archives to study the various mysterious happenings that have occurred in the school over its long existence. But on Monday Evening, I found myself invited to the Gryffindor Head of House’s office for a meal and conversation about herself and her hopes in regards to the noble house she has been assigned to oversee.
When I stepped into her office, I was met with a display of opulence and a spread of food she had privately flown in from the Three Broomsticks for us to share during our conversation. When asked if she preferred to order in rather than eat the very fine food served to all in the Great Hall, she remarked that while she enjoyed such fare, she also liked to “support local businesses.” Where was a glimmer in her eye? An inflection in her tone that, should I represent her well, that there may be a monetary (or culinary) advantage? A kickback, perhaps? Without evidence, it would be improper for this reporter to suggest such. There was, however, a bottle of butterbeer… and a promise that there may be more of that to come.
And so, the two of us sat for our meal, a balanced menu of well prepared foods. Did the meat melt upon the tongue and were the vegetables roasted to perfection? Absolutely. But this was not a culinary review. The real meat on the menu was conversation with Professor Juliette Moore. As such, we got right down to it.
“How did you come to discover your destiny as a future professor of the arts?”
Moore looked up with a wistful expression as she reminisced about her carefree days as a student in these very halls. “I have always loved art. I would sit in these halls as a student and just sit and talk to the portraits. You could find me sketching buildings and parts of the castle. I had Even made friends with the art professors and librarians in the past. I studied art in Italy and France after I left Hogwarts, and within a year I found myself at the University of Arts, London.”
She then inquired about my own interests in the arts. I recited the words I have said a thousand times in regards to my own background, my father’s interest in the academic aspects of art, my mother’s practical and yet flighty approach to sculpture and the exploration of life through the lenses of creativity, but I found myself intrigued by one of her statements.
“So, what paintings do you like to talk with?”
“I don’t know if you really could speak to the rooster, but you can watch him and his habitat. Just watching them react with one another has always fascinated me.” she grinned. “I do enjoy the kittens the most. They are the most playful and do tend to get in trouble. Though the Fat Lady has some tea if you are ever looking for something interesting to hear.”
For a while, the conversation turned to watching animals, particularly young mammals, the thought of which had her squealing with girlish glee. We spoke of the tragedies of her youth, the travails of a young witch that would shape her future as a guide to the nation’s wixen youth. But rather than exploit such a thing for sensation as a less prestigious publication might, we moved on to the sorts of topics more suitable for young readers.
“What are you looking forward to this year? What are your goals and desires for the members of Gryffindor House?”
“I think what I am looking forward to this year is seeing Gryffindor stride and possibly winning another house cup. Vikander had set a great precedent before I took over and I would like to continue it. Though I would like to perfect how some things are handled. There is no story in saying Gryffindor has a bunch of active members in its den, I would just like to use that energy elsewhere. Hopefully in fun activities for the house, and even renewing fun experiences, we used to have in a different light. I don’t want the pressure of the house cup to put pressure onto the house, but it is definitely something, I think all Head of Houses’ look forward to it too. Unless your name is Juniper Green.”
Juniper Green? Had our beloved head of house let slip a mention of a bitter rivalry with the former head of Ravenclaw? What could have caused such a rift? Surely not house points docked. An inadvertent glance towards a framed photograph on her desk suggested something more. A touch of a sigh barely playing from her lips before another bite of stew telling the tale of some other, far more intriguing source of this acerbic feud without revealing the exact details. What could it mean? We may never know.
“What would you say to those that say the points system is an archaic system that relies primarily on nepotism and popularity rather than academic achievement, thus nullifying it as any accurate measure of a group’s performance?”
“I would have to beg to differ on those ideas about the cup system. You only treat the system how you want to be treated. I don’t use it for popularity nor a sign of nepotism. I use fairness and I strive to make my students learn through self processes. Either learning by example or mistake. The House cup is a goal, but I certainly would rather have fun and build as a unit than put stress on my students.”
“Could you tell our readers more about the anti-bullying program you’ve instituted for the house?”
“I have instituted an anti-bullying program, because honestly it is needed. With last year’s situation, and the concepts of older pure blood families still creeping their idealistic discrepancies towards non magical families. It is difficult to allow such hate to run through a place that to many is their home and safe space. Everyone should have the feeling of security no matter, age, sex, beliefs, or even personal preference. Would it be right for another student to make fun of someone’s blood status? No, that is something that has been done over 40 years ago, and belongs in the past. We should rise above that behavior.” She looked to me then, Dieudonne Blancourt, fourth year Gryffindor and half-blood. “And on a personal note, I would rather not see any more children dying. Now would you?”
An accusation? A threat? Perhaps, with a sliver of roast beef between my teeth, I appeared to her as one hungry for death and the dissolution of polite society for barbaric ideas about blood purity. I assure the reader this is not the case, but something had set the good professor on edge. One could not reasonably assume what that could be.
“No, I don’t look forward to death and agree that steps should be taken to avoid such things. Of course, there are many things that one can be bullied about. The whys are important, but just as important are the hows. From what I understand, with the current system, the injured party can choose a champion in which to settle their dispute with their accused attacker via a duel. How did you decide upon this rather… unusual system?”
“I never said they would be able to cast a duel against their attacker.” She laughed, as though the notion were preposterous. “Where did you get that belief? I stated that if there were any issues in said bullying to send for me or a prefect. I do not condone dueling for revenge, though it does happen. I think if there is a situation that requires bullying it should be made known to me and the seriousness of the matter depends on what is being done.”
Was this a backtrack now that this questionable system may be aired out to the general student body, and as such, her employers? Or was it merely a misunderstanding. Afterwards I asked a few other Lions if they remembered the meeting where this was discussed in the same way. All recalled the Trial by Combat system being discussed heavily, though none could tell me exactly how the ice cream figured in. I apologized to Moore about the misunderstanding, and she continued on:
“Don’t worry, I will make sure it will get conveyed correctly, I am sure someone said something and confused the latter. Honestly I will take it case by case. It depends on the situation that is formed. Is it something hurtful and threatening to oneself? Is it just someone “bullying” because they like someone. All the situations are different, and I wouldn’t have someone suspended from school via Professor Blightly or Professor Angus, for that I think people need to take responsibility for their actions. And I think most professors can agree with that statement.“
“I think that’s a very good stance to take,” I replied, and rather than continue on with a planned discussion about this system, I returned to the topic of Juliette Moore herself, a curious, young and artistic soul who had risen to become Head of House so very quickly. “You prefer informality from your students when addressing you, Juliette or Jules rather than Professor Moore. Is there a reason for that?”
“I think it is because of where I came from. When I taught at University of Arts in London, we all called each other not by our givens necessarily, but by what we wanted to be called. I often allowed my students to call me Jules, and It didn’t bother me, because many of them were close to my age. And In fact, I am still very close to your age, even if there is a 17 year age gap. I am still one of the younger professors here, and I guess because I come from an art background, the Professor title just feels a little stuffy to me at this moment. Plus I would rather have students come to me if they need help, and not feel threatened or scared. I am not saying I am trying to be one of you all, but I guess I understand what you are going through a lot more than some of the older professors.”
“Thank you for the interview, Ma’am. Before I go, do you have any message you would like to give the student body?”
“Enjoy your time at Hogwarts while you can. Learn from your Mistakes, Help those in need, and find your people. As they will follow you through life, once you leave these doors.”
With that, I left, taking the leftovers from the dinner to be shared among the others of our house. A kind gesture from a kind woman. While Juliette Moore is a stark contrast from our previous Head of House, I do not believe her compassion and generosity to be a failing or a weakness to be exploited. She is, in her newness to the position, much like the rest of us at Hogwarts—a voyager embarking on a new journey of experiences. She will likely have some wins and some losses, but we all can see that Juniper Green now works at a potion shop rather than as a head of house—so perhaps in some battles, she is already winning.
–DB, Owl Post