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The week after Valentine's Day finds Professor Anderson in his office late -- past dinner time.

It's partly the latest batch of papers he has to grade; it's partly the letter from Wilcox that came this morning. No news of Natalia -- there never is -- but there are a few unpleasant rumours in the Scottish wizarding community about nasty spates of Muggle-baiting, and complaints of harassment against Muggle-borns. Wilcox phrases it as if he wants Anderson's professional opinion on the situation, but the true point behind it is obvious: make sure your family is safe.

He just doesn't feel up to navigating the Great Hall tonight.
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The third years are onto boggarts by now, the fourth years are on defensive spells; the fifth years are unfortunately taking to the new hexes and counter-hexes like grindylows to water. The sixth and seventh years are more and more focused on their N.E.W.T. preparation.

Or at least, they're supposed to be. Valentine's Day fever has, as it always does, provided a great deal of both welcome and unwelcome distraction around the castle. Anderson has followed the lead of the older teachers and retreated to his office to avoid the worst of the chaos.

This has not, much to his dismay, prevented the delivery of several boxes of chocolates from secret admirers. They're both shaped like hearts, and they're both set squarely in the middle of his desk.

"Bloody hell."
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Late January at Hogwarts tends to be a gray, claustrophobic sort of time. The excitement of coming back from Christmas holidays has worn off, Valentine's Day is still a few weeks away, and the weather's terrible. A recent cold snap has kept people indoors more than usual, and a nasty cough has been making its way through the Hufflepuffs.

Tempers are short.

Professor Anderson wanders the halls in the evenings after dinner, keeping an ear out for trouble. It's Hogwarts; the chances that some student, somewhere, is doing something dangerous are practially 100%.


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August Anderson

June 2012



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