“Essays, please!” Isis chimed as the advanced students made their way into the classroom and took their seats. “Have them out on your desks, and Mr. Crosby will come around to collect them. Thank you, Mr. Crosby, for volunteering so graciously.” Martin had not, of course, actually volunteered for this task, but she had made eye contact with him moments before, and his fate had been sealed. Similarly, Isis had not volunteered to grade these essays, but the benefit of sort of co-teaching with Tabitha at the moment - an arrangement created to give the adventurous woman a time for her research and, well, whatever else she was getting up to - was that Isis could likely pawn the grading off on her. Isis found the topic (a pro/con analysis of nonverbal spellwork) to be a bit dry, anyway.
“Now, hopefully you’ve all also done the reading on inferi. Can anyone explain what exactly an inferius is?” Isis allowed as many attempts (within reason) as it took to get an answer that was close, and awarded points accordingly.
Isis selected another unwilling volunteer to come pick up the activity and began explaining it while the student passed them out. “Coming your way now is an activity comparing and contrasting inferi with Muggle interpretations of something called zombies. I encourage you to pair up, and if Muggle interpretations are outside of your wheelhouse, try to find a partner with a different experience.” They were all pretty short descriptions, such as this creature is known for eating brains and the option to circle either inferius or zombie.
“You’ve got all class to work on this, just have it turned in before you go. One paper for both is fine, just make sure your name is on it.” Isis figured the assignment would not take the whole period, but hey, it was a Friday and they were approaching lunch time, so she decided to go easy on them. If they finished early, they could work on other homework, or, if the whole group was done early, she might even release them to lunch a bit sooner than scheduled. “Have at it.”
Hilda took a seat near the front of the class, but off to the side, as was her norm. She placed out her quill and inkpot. Her wand was set beside those. Next, she put out the small picture frame of Professor Schmidt. Her bag contained both the German and English versions of the text. Now that she had fewer classes, having dropped Herbology, Charms and Transfigurations following her CATS, she could carry around both copies of all her texts without the risk of blowing out the seams from the extra bulk.
DADA was the only class she had kept that used regularly incantations. Her accent made pronunciation difficult, and her ability to use a wand effectively had consequently never been great. She could manage, eventually, and the introduction of non-verbal casting had actually been a boon to her in late intermediates, but Charms and Transfigurations were both exercises in frustration as far as she was concerned, and she'd been glad to drop them. She'd kept DADA, though. DADA was not all wandwork, after all, and she saw the value in a versatile set of shields and hexes. Those were worth the effort.
Besides, she had a natural bent toward that sort of casting. She assumed it was a talent she inherited from her parents. For good or ill, her hexes had always been quicker and easier to master than any of the charms or transfigurations. It didn't bother her the way it did Heinrich. She was just glad there was some kind of wand waving she was good at.
Today, though, they were filling in a worksheet about Inferi. It seemed a bit unfair to her to ask her to compare and contrast them to something she had never heard of before. She was not taking muggle studies, nor did she have any exposure to that kind of person through any other means, unless one counted Evelyn. Her brother's girlfriend was . . . a half-blood? Hilda was not entirely sure, but she was reasonably certain Heinrich had said her father was a wizard (among a lot of other less complimentary descriptors), but she also knew Evelyn was making Heinrich listen to Tea V programs (which Hilda had gathered was like the wireless but by muggles and it maybe required drinking tea to make it work - she wasn't clear what tea had to do with it, but it must be called Tea V for a reason).
Evelyn being the one person she knew with some certainty had knowledge of muggle things, she sought out the older Pecari as her partner. "I work with you?" she asked. "I know not zombies. Muggles can make the dead walk?" She sounded somewhat concerned. This was news to her. She had thought reanimated corpses were strictly a dark magic thing.
"Sure!" Evelyn grinned, happy when Hilda approached her in class. She hadn't really worked with or gotten to know the middle Hexenmeister as well as she would've liked to and she felt bad about that, although she wasn't entirely sure whether Hilda wanted that anyway. She and Hilda connected over Quidditch together but they each had their own friends on the team and classes had, until this point, mostly kept them apart, either due to their age difference or their social circles. Evelyn had Ness, Hilda had Johana Leonie, and they both had Heinrich. Except now they didn't. Perhaps they'd have each other? It was a nice thought, and the image that came to mind of Heinrich looking vaguely concerned over the two Pecaris in his life getting to know each other better made it even more fun to imagine. A summer or winter visit to the Hexenmeister ranch that saw Evelyn and Hilda giggling over something would be entertaining, just for that.
Evelyn glanced over the sheet she'd been given before answering the younger Pecari's question. "Only in stories," she promised, not sure whether this was the right time to explain television and movies versus more traditional pen-and-paper stories. "And people make up different stories with different ideas about what zombies might be like," she added, the difference between World War Z and The Walking Dead also not seeming super important to provide details about. "Eating brains is a common one, although sometimes they just eat human flesh in general," she said, using the first example that caught her eye on the page.
Inferi were basically the worst thing that Evelyn could imagine. She had worried about the idea of her father coming back to haunt her as a ghost (although she knew that real ghosts didn't haunt the same way they did in muggle ghost stories) but the idea of him physically coming back as a corpse to get after her was way worse for a lot of reasons. There was an element of horror, gore, and tragedy that inferi and zombies had in common in her opinion and she didn't like this study at all if she were honest with herself. There hadn't been a ton of death in her life, but enough to know that seeing the dead rise again would hurt for a whole lot of reasons.
"This . . . kind of freaks me out," she admitted, pointing at the picture in her open textbook of an inferius. "It just seems so sad, right?"
Oh good, the Muggle zombies were entirely fictional. Hilda looked very relieved by this clarification, letting her expression carry the profound sentiments she did not know how to express in English. Her image of the muggle world got a whole lot brighter. Of course, for the moments when she believed the dead walked around Muggle cities, eating the brains of unlucky passersby, it had been something of a horrific hellscape, so that was really just returning the bar to its previously low position of not having rotting corpses wandering about.
“Das ist gut,” she breathed out. Which, honestly, she could have managed that in English, but Evelyn knew enough German that she ought to be able to understand for conversational purposes, and sometimes it was just more emphatic to say something in German. She wasn’t sure if that was actually true, or just a personal bias, but she always felt much more expressive when speaking in her native language.
Evelyn admitted to being freaked out by the whole idea of inferi, which Hilda could not entirely blame her for, even if it wasn’t something she was likely to verbalize herself. ‘Sad’ however wasn’t the word she would have picked, though the thought crossed her mind that maybe Evelyn was choosing simpler, less accurate words than she would have if she was discussing this with someone who understood English better than Hilda did.
“They not often,” Hilda tried to reassure. “Dark wizards have small numbers. Even smaller number make these,” she tapped the picture, too. Creating inferi was NOT one of the crimes her parents had been convicted of, or even charged with, and if they weren’t surrounded by classmates, she would have stressed that. “Very small. Inferi are yuck. Even some dark wizards think they are yuck.” By ‘some dark wizards’ she hoped Evelyn knew Hilda meant ‘my parents’ and would maybe think just a little bit better of her future in laws (because there was no question in Hilda’s mind that Heinrich and Evelyn were eventually going to get married).
Evelyn gave Hilda a small smile at the younger girl's display of relief that zombies weren't real. It was a bit funny to Evelyn, who was coming at it from the other way and had to adjust to the fact that inferi were real. It wasn't as if Evelyn hadn't known of magic things before school, of course, but her dad hadn't exactly been too keen on education for her so she'd missed a lot of lessons. And not many people probably told their small children about the existence of inferi without good reason to do so, so Evelyn didn't think she was probably too far behind.
She herself was relieved to hear that they didn't happen often though. She hadn't really thought too much about the fact that it would be dark wizards making them - because who the heck else would want to? - although her thoughts about dark wizards had certainly changed over the years. There were dark wizards who were sadists and there were dark wizards who made bad choices but weren't sadists. That was, to Evelyn, an important distinction, particularly in present company.
"Those sound like better dark wizards than other ones," she agreed, glad to hear that certain ones hadn't made them. She was not entirely sure that Hilda was internationally dropping such context clues but the girl didn't seem ashamed about the topic so it seemed safe to assume that's what she meant. She wasn't sure how to explain that she understood the importance of grey area when it came to human morality and she wasn't sure this was the place to do so anyway. "Does 'dark wizard' mean bad people who are wizards?" she asked instead, contemplating something she'd never given much thought to before. "Or wizards who use magic to do bad things?"