When he reached fourth year and was given the chance to tailor his education, Anssi had decided to continue with almost all of RMI’s core classes. He had dropped Astronomy, because he just didn’t find it interesting, or at least not interesting enough to make up for the disruption to his sleep schedule. (Some of his friends seemed to regularly stay up all night, whether studying or just wasting time, but Anssi really wasn’t capable of doing that and still being functional in the morning. Occasionally he stayed up late reading when he was at home, but then he just slept until noon, and spent the rest of the day feeling tired and twitchy.) And he had also dropped Defense Against the Dark Arts, because of Ruben.
In retrospect, that decision had not made very much sense, but for whatever reason Anssi from a year ago had thought that avoiding anything to do with Dark Arts would help distinguish him from his brother and his reputation. Now, Anssi of fifth year was questioning that. Partially because the DADA classes he had heard other students describing sounded very neat and he felt he was missing out, but mostly because of a comment Remy had made when they were practicing Animagus lessons together - she had said that Ruben was confident in himself and knowing how his magic worked best for him. Anssi was still really struggling with casting wandless and/or nonverbal spells consistently. Maybe the different skills taught in DADA was what he was missing; maybe it would help him to try it again, and see how his magic worked there.
When he visited the counselor’s office after Midterm, he had expected Garen to tell him it wasn’t possible to re-join a class after missing one and a half years. Instead, Counselor Garen had been very understanding, and offered to help facilitate meetings with Professor Cindra so that he could get caught up enough to fully participate in classes again. Anssi had been both relieved and a little worried to hear it - not that he didn’t think he was capable of catching up with a little hard work, but he wasn’t a hundred percent certain that he wanted to re-join the class permanently. If it was possible to just start the catch-up work and test out a couple classes to make sure both that he genuinely wanted to do it and that he could comfortably fit it back into his schedule, that would be what he preferred. But he understood that the school administration might not allow students to casually change their minds, and it was really a big deal that they were letting him back into DADA in the first place, so he hadn’t tried to negotiate anything extra.
Today was going to be his first DADA class. In preparation, Anssi had read most of the fourth-year textbook. He wasn’t quite confident enough to offer any answers to Professor Cindra’s questions in class, so he stayed near the back of the room, absently drawing spirals with his fingers on the shaved right side of his head while filling out a page in his notebook with his left hand. A couple of the Dark detectors she mentioned had been mentioned in his catch-up reading so far, but a couple of them were brand new terms. And the idea that a simple Reparo plus tape and stuff would be enough to fix an item designed to detect Dark magic had definitely not been covered in his reading. That couldn’t be right. Could it?
Someone called his name and Anssi spun around in his seat, reddening from being singled out but still offering a smile. He hadn’t told anyone yet, not even his friends, that he was trying to re-join DADA - a part of him superstitious that saying it would somehow prevent it from happening - so it made sense that any of the other regular students here would identify him as a surprise. “Hey, ja, it’s me. I haven’t taken Defense for a while, but I’m trying to get back into it... I have been doing catch-up work,” he quickly added, “really, it’s been so much reading, so if you want to be partners for this task I won’t be too far behind.”