The Sugar Quill
Author: Storm (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Place of a Prefect  Chapter: Default
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The Place of a Prefect

The Place of a Prefect

 

Author : Storm

Spoilers : Books 1-4 and the schoolbooks, but written before OotP

Summary : When Harry and Ron are made prefects without her, Hermione must deal not only with her own disappointment but also with the changes in the boys. A story about choices, loyalty and caring for your friends.  

Disclaimer : This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Authors Note : I wrote this last summer as a challenge response and it is about to be rendered AU by the publication of book 5. But I still enjoy it as a story so I’m posting it here in the last few days before OotP. The challenge requirements are at the end.

 

 

 

Hermione was slightly disappointed but not truly surprised when there were no fifth year Gryffindor prefects in her year. Percy Weasley had been unusual in becoming a prefect so young, the current sixth and seventh years were a very strong group and there would be plenty of opportunity for other people once they left.

 

When sixth year began with the announcement of just three new Gryffindor prefects she was genuinely shocked. The three were Harry, Ron and Parvati Patil.

 

Fortunately this year’s announcement was made at the end of the feast on the first night of term and Ron and Harry were able to get her out of the Great Hall before she showed her shock too obviously and before she embarrassed herself in front of the whole school.

 

And afterwards she was able to admit that wailing “But I don’t understand WHY!” in public would have embarrassed her and she was very glad she had not done so. As it was, her only audience was Harry and Ron, who demonstrated new found maturity in letting her talk herself out without saying that her shock did not reflect well on them.

 

By midnight that night she was not only able to at least appear resigned, she was also able to genuinely congratulate her friends and to assure Ron that of course she thought he would make a good prefect and that she wouldn’t even want to be one if it meant taking his place.

 

It took slightly longer to become content with the fact that Parvati was chosen in preference to her, but (as Ginny Weasley rather tactlessly pointed out) Hermione had never really appreciated the finer points of Parvati’s character. They had as little in common as two girls who shared a dormitory conceivably could have and a new badge on Parvati’s robes was not going to change that.

 

But by the time Christmas was approaching, Hermione was able to acknowledge that the decision about prefects was probably right.

 

The responsibility was mainly about making younger students do what they were told. Ron managed to repeat himself until the message got through and Harry was held in sufficient awe by the lower years that it never became an issue, but Hermione knew that she would have become flustered and cross when first years were disobedient until she was permanently tense and disliked. Popular Parvati who had been perfecting her skills as a social butterfly at an age when Hermione was discovering libraries was far more effective at convincing naughty children that they actually wanted to follow the rules after all.

 

Hermione focussed on helping the first and second years with homework (though she never gave them the answers) and she found she liked being seen as more approachable than the prefects were.

 

Not being a prefect also meant she had far more time for extra study; the war against Voldemort might have become one long stand-off, but she knew that that would not last forever and that she and her friends were likely to end up on the front lines. Any small piece of knowledge garnered now might make the difference between life and death in the future and Hermione diligently studied subjects as disparate as charms to control mass levitation, the sixteen uses of Jobberknoll liver and mediwizardry for the beginner.

 

So all in all she should have been content with the situation and she could not understand why some part of her continued to feel unhappy that her best friends had become prefects without her.

 

It could not be the time they spent together on their duties; Hermione had always abandoned the boys for hours at a time while she buried herself in the library. All that the new status quo meant was that her library hours were more regimented to match Harry and Ron’s timetables and the trio reunited quite happily in between them.

 

She wondered whether her discontent stemmed from the small marks of status afforded to prefects. She admitted to enough human pride that she would have liked to wear a shiny badge on her robes, talk about her responsibilities in letters home and be pointed out by next years’ first years as a Gryffindor prefect or (maybe) even the new Head Girl. This sense of disappointed dignity was not helped by the fact that the prefects in other houses included nice-but-dim Ernie Macmillan in Hufflepuff and none other than Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson in Slytherin, but she did not think she was petty enough to let such things drive a wedge between her and Harry and Ron.

 

(It was again Ginny Weasley – Harry and Ron being far to biased to admit it - who observed that Slytherin had to have prefects and since Malfoy and Pansy were both unpleasant enough to make anyone do anything by whatever means necessary, the professors might as well turn that to their own advantage.)

 

The prefects’ privileges were another thing that her friends now accessed without her, but they were mainly the kind of things that Hermione dismissed as trivialities and the boys did their best to include her in them anyway.

 

Harry had bought a wizarding radio as soon as he learnt he would be allowed to own one, but as his friends were always welcome to use anything Harry owned, this did not in any sense exclude her.

 

Use of the prefects’ bathroom was of course restricted to prefects, but within a week of term starting, Harry had offered to smuggle Hermione in to try its luxuries for herself. She had refused of course; it was only a bathroom and the pleasure of soaking in twenty-three types of bubbles must pale when set against the risk of a Slytherin discovering her gate crashing. The loss of points for being out of bounds would be nothing compared to the humiliation of having those points taken by Pansy Parkinson.

 

It was another week or two before Ron discovered all the bathrooms delights and tried to persuade Hermione to reconsider. A selection of fruit drinks were always available, marble mermaids carved in the sides of the bath would scrub your back and one of the jewelled taps dispensed not bubble bath but massage oil. You lay on cushions on the floor, placed the massage oil on your back, repeated an incantation and the air itself started moving in currents that gave a deep and intense muscle rub. Harry swore that it was the perfect antidote to Quidditch injuries – it was only a shame that Malfoy had access to it too.

 

When Hermione still said she would prefer not to stay up to three am in order to sneak into the bathroom under Harry’s invisibility cloak, Ron decided that if she would not come to the massage the massage should come to her.

 

The next day he slipped a handful of oil into a jar and brought it out for Hermione’s inspection. But when – discreetly out of sight of the school, on the far side of the lake – she put a small sample onto her arm and repeated “Massagius” absolutely nothing happened. It was clear that the magic was specific to the bathroom.

 

Ron insisted that she keep the oil anyway. He could always get more whenever he took a bath and a witch who had been working on advanced NEWT level projects in her fifth year should have no problem inventing a spell to make air currents move. Hermione recognised the gesture for what it was, slipped the jar of blue oil into her trunk and vaguely decided that she might look into air currents once she had finished working on ways to camouflage hippocampus reservations.

 

The prefects’ right to visit Hogsmeade at any time had been revoked when the Death Eaters became active again. They were still allowed access to the Floo Room and its large fireplace that was Hogwarts main point of contact with the external world, but they were not allowed to use it without permission or to be away from the school at night or during lessons. Hermione’s parents had no access to the Floo Network and she loved Hogwarts too much to ever really want to leave it during term time. Overall she was content without Harry and Ron’s new privileges.

 

It was not until December, with the Christmas holidays approaching, that she realised that her lingering disquiet was no longer anything to do with being left out, or wanting the rights and responsibilities of a prefect. She was simply sad about the effect their new status had had on her friends.

 

Since the early days when the trio had first formed, Hermione had been the responsible one. Ron’s fiery nature and Harry’s refusal to count the cost of his more outrageous escapades was tempered by her own deep-seated respect for the rules and determination that they should think before they acted. At various times and in various ways each of them had taken on roles normally filled by the others, but Hermione was not used to the boys being more steady than her, more concerned with what they were supposed to be doing, more determined to be in the right place at the right time.

 

She knew that prefects had to be mature, they could not be seen to break the rules and none of them were of an age to act like naughty twelve year-olds any more. But their imaginations seemed lessened by their new status and the things they were interested in or willing to consider had reduced.

 

Hermione’s mind was filled with one thousand and one important things; possible careers, new and original charms she might be able to develop, the daily events of the wider wizarding world and the ever-present threat of the war that would have to be fought.

 

Ron and Harry often seemed more concerned with the seating arrangements at the next prefects meeting, whether an 8pm curfew for first-years were reasonable and new schemes to make sure house points were given in a fair manner.

 

Hermione only tried to explain her feelings once. Ron and Harry looked at her with great hurt eyes, but it was obvious they thought she was still jealous and they were surprised she did not agree with their concerns. After that she said nothing, but she could not help the disloyal feeling that being prefects had made her friends dull.

 

 

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Christmas brought a welcome break from Hermione’s introspection. The holidays were some of the best she could remember. Her parents were glad to have her back with them and laid on the best type of Muggle Christmas, but better yet Dumbledore had said that, under carefully laid and maintained charms, Harry could spend a week with the Weasleys over New Year and Hermione was included in the invitation.

 

Away from the school environment, the boys seemed to unwind and the tight knot of unhappiness in Hermione’s chest began to disappear.

 

Ginny it seemed had also noticed the changes in Ron and although she was now too mature to subject her brother to the treatment Percy had endured in his prefect days, she saw no harm in pricking his ego when occasion offered.

 

“Has Ron told you about the prefects new scheme?” she asked her mother the evening Harry and Hermione arrived. “They’re going to put Muggle bear codes on all new students’ foreheads. It will make the school run far more efficiently when you can identify any student by running a box over their heads.”

 

“Bar codes,” corrected Hermione absently, but she was secretly delighted that Ron and Harry reacted with slight grins rather than indignation.

 

Two days later, a rowdy and childish game of Shuntbumps ended with Ron falling off his broom into a muddy puddle.

 

“Oh, Ron’s never dirty any more,” Ginny informed Fred and George. “He spends hours at a time in the prefects bathroom. You should hear about it! One of the mermaids washes his back and afterwards he gets a full body massage by currents of air.”

 

Ron did react to that, blushing red and spending the rest of the holidays trying to convince his delighted brothers that he was not as vain as a girl and that the bathroom did not amount to glorified prostitution.

 

And on the last night before they returned to Hogwarts, Harry and Ron joined in Molly Weasley’s impromptu game of charades with as much enthusiasm as any of the family. Hermione dared to hope that her friends might become their old selves again.

 

 

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Three weeks later, such hopes had fled. Ron was engrossed again in the minutiae of schedules and procedures, but when Hermione could get him alone he was less staid than he had been. Harry however was worse than ever.

 

He seemed unwilling to lay aside his duties for anything and was becoming a caricature of Percy in his most pompous days. Hermione was deeply concerned but for once in her life she had no idea what to do.

 

Matters came to a head one Saturday evening.

 

The prefects had decided to patrol all the approaches to the Astronomy tower in shifts on a weekend. Ron would be in the West Gallery from six to eight pm and Harry in the tower itself from eight till ten. Hermione knew from past experience that neither boy would appreciate her attempting to talk to them when they were on duty, but the separate shifts meant she had a chance of catching Ron alone. It was a risk, but she had decided to talk to him about her concerns over Harry. Ron had almost been behaving like a human being again and she was depending his friendship for Harry to persuade him to listen.

 

Parvati had volunteered for a double shift and Lavender was out of Gryffindor tower with her boyfriend of the week, which meant that Hermione would have their room to herself. So she left a message with Neville asking Ron to come up to see her and went upstairs to focus on something intellectual and abstract that just might one day have major practical applications and that seemed far easier to understand right now than other people.

 

------------------------------------------

 

“Hello. Neville said you wanted to see me.” Ron shifted slightly from foot to foot, obviously aware of being in the girls’ dormitory, but thankfully not demanding that they move somewhere more respectable.

 

“Uh… yes.” Hermione was suddenly unsure of where to start but decided that bluntness was her only real option. “Have you noticed anything odd about Harry recently?”

 

“Not particularly,” said Ron, casually picking up one of the clear flasks she had arranged on top of her trunk and poking at the green slime inside it. “He’s very aware of his responsibilities of course, but I think we all are. Hey, this stuff is really cool. What is it and why are you setting up a miniature potions lab in your bedroom?”

 

That’s congealed Bowtruckle saliva,” said Hermione, glad of the change of subject although she knew she would have to come back to talking about Harry. “Hagrid got it for me. And I’m trying to develop a spell to analyse things.”

 

“Don’t litmus papers do that?” Ron asked in confusion.

 

“Not really. Normal litmus papers that we use in potions can be enchanted to show whether a particular type of ingredient is in something, but you might have to use lots of different papers before you found everything in a particular potion and even then you need to know the sort of things you’re looking for or you might miss something critical. I’m trying to break lots of papers down into their component parts then combine them”

 

Ron was still looking confused.

 

“Look,” she said. “This blue paper picks up traces of flowers. So if I put it in here,” she added it to the green slime as she spoke, “it turns pale lilac, showing that the Bowtruckle had recently eaten primroses. But if I put it into Parvati’s second best perfume,” – the next flask held a clear but fragrant liquid – “it turns turquoise, indicating roses. Then my last sample is the massage oil you stole from the prefects’ bathroom for me and it turns the paper yellow showing that it’s fragranced with lilies. It’s amazing that people don’t smell you prefects from a mile away.”

 

Ron grinned at that and picked up a dull yellow paper. It occurred to Hermione that he might be as reluctant to discuss Harry as she was and she took pity on him.

 

“I actually had trouble getting that one,” she said, carefully tearing three small squares off the paper to demonstrate. “It indicates a certain range of mood altering ingredients and it should hardly change colour at all.”

 

She added it to the saliva and as she expected nothing happened.

 

“That’s because there are no dangerous effects from any Bowtruckle body parts,” she explained.

 

Next came Parvati’s perfume and the paper turned a darker shade of mustard.

 

Hermione pursed her lips thoughtfully and Ron demanded “Explanation please!”

 

“That colour from that paper represents powdered Doxy wings,” Hermione told him, reading from a battered copy of Analytical Techniques in Potions and Alchemy. “They are a mild aphrodisiac in that they enhance attraction. Nothing illegal, it’s not a love potion,” she reassured him seeing his shocked face.

 

“No… no, it’s just I’ll never see Parvati in the same way again,” he stuttered.

 

“And now for the massage oil.” Hermione continued. “There’ll probably be no effect again, but you never know. Perhaps there’s some kind of Authoritatus charm on it to make other students more inclined to obey you.”

 

She dropped the small square of paper into the blue oil and watched in shock as yellow turned pinkish, then reddish until it stabilised at a bright scarlet.

 

“I thought you said that type of paper didn’t change colour much?” asked Ron.

 

“It shouldn’t.” she replied, hastily flicking through the textbook. “It takes very powerful magic to produce a reaction as strong as that. Here it is! ‘An intense scarlet indicates concentrated extract of Pogrebin skin, used to encourage conformity and suppress individuality. This extract can be administered orally or by absorption through the skin and in small amounts will produce a mind numbing effect, excessive docility and obsessive attention to detail at the expense of bigger issues. Larger doses can lead to permanent brain damage and Pogrebin skin is on the list of Grade A non-tradable goods’.”

 

Hermione and Ron looked at each other in appalled horror.

 

“It can’t be true,” she said at last. “I did think Harry was becoming docile and dull, but it’s absurd. Who would poison the prefects’ massage oil?…And anyway,” she added in relief, having found a stronger argument, “I thought you were becoming dull and boring too last term, but you’re almost your old self again now and you’ve had just as much chance to use the bathroom as Harry.”

 

“Well actually…” he said in a rush, “I sort of haven’t-used-the-prefects-bathroom-so-much-since-Ginny-brought-it-up-at-Christmas. I certainly haven’t used the massage oil this term – I couldn’t see it in the same way after hours of mockery by the twins. It looks as if it could be true. Who built the prefects bathroom anyway? Could it be another chamber of secrets thing?”

 

“Oh I can tell you that,” said Hermione. “It’s in Hogwarts, A History. It was built by Elfrida Abbott in 1843. She’d been minister of magic during a major war with a dark wizard called Felrod. He was a really nasty piece of work, fit to rival Grindlewald by all accounts, and once we had peace again Madam Abbott retired to Hogwarts where she became Head of Hufflepuff and a great benefactor of the school.”

 

She decided not to tell Ron that her information was up to date because she had scoured the book for any reference to prefects just a few months earlier, when she had still been trying to find out why she wasn’t one.

 

“A Hufflepuff and a war hero?” mused Ron. “That’s not a likely background for dark magic.”

 

“No,” she agreed, “if it had been another hangover from an ancient Slytherin I could have believed it, but my guess is that someone’s found a way more recently to tamper with the oil.”

 

“He who must not be named,” said Ron grimly, “or one of his supporters. He would love to get to Harry like this and I don’t suppose he’d cry too many tears if all the prefects were disabled.”

 

Hermione was already moving towards the door. “We need to see Dumbledore NOW.”

 

“You can’t,” said Ron. “He’s away in London with the ministry.”

 

She paused for a moment and then continued. “McGonagall then. We need to do something about this as soon as possible.”

 

Ron was right behind her as they ran down the stairs, out of the portrait hole and through what seemed like miles of corridors, only to find no reply when they knocked at Professor McGonagall’s door.

 

“She must be somewhere in the school,” said Hermione, “we could try to find her or maybe we should try another teacher.”

 

“The marauders map!” said Ron. Evidence of the threat had galvanised him into action and he was closer to the old Ron Weasley than anything Hermione had seen in months. “It’s still in Harry’s trunk and it will show us exactly where any of the staff are.”

 

Ten minutes later they were back in Gryffindor tower, this time in the sixth-year boys dorm and had established that Professor McGonagall, possibly in cat form, was patrolling the battlements of the North tower.

 

“Alright then,” said Hermione. “We go to find her and get her to stop all access to the prefects’ bathroom until this is sorted out.”

 

She started moving away, but Ron stopped her. He had seen something else on the map. There were just two dots in the prefects’ bathroom, perfectly still, on opposite sides of the room. One of them was Harry; the other read Draco Malfoy.

 

“Something’s wrong,” said Ron. “Harry went to clean up after Quidditch practice nearly four hours ago and he should have been on duty in the Astronomy Tower since eight o’clock.”

 

They looked at each other uncertainly. “We still need to go to Professor McGonagall,” said Hermione. “This has been going on ever since you became prefects; a little while longer shouldn’t make any difference.”

 

Their eyes held contact for a few seconds, then with one accord they moved towards the door and headed for the prefects’ bathroom. Logical or not, their first priority was now to get Harry out of danger.

 

 

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“It’s the fourth door past the statue of Boris the Bewildered,” panted Ron as they ran up the fifth floor corridor. “The password’s bubble. Bubble,” he repeated as he reached the door and turned the handle.

 

The door did not move.

 

“Bubble!” he shouted again, this time throwing himself against the door. “Bubble!”

 

It still would not open.

 

“I don’t understand. I know the password hasn’t changed,” he said to Hermione who was running up behind him.

 

“Calm down Ron,” she said, although she was starting to panic herself. “Stand aside please.”

 

Hermione pointed her wand at the door and said “Alohomora.”

 

Nothing happened, but this did not surprise her too much as most third years had mastered that spell and the prefects were likely to want more privacy than it would give them.

 

“Alohomorata!” she tried.

 

Then “Alohoramaximus!” The door still refused to open.

 

She turned to Ron who was still watching her expectantly.

 

“It’s no good,” she said quietly. “That’s one of the strongest spells I know. Its use can lead to eight months in Azkaban. We’ll have to find another way.”

 

“I suppose we go to find McGonagall then,” said Ron reluctantly. “I just hate leaving Harry in there when we don’t know what’s happening to him.”

 

Hermione was reminded of a mad dash through the school to the owlery when she was not quite twelve, having to leave Harry to face danger alone and knowing that Ron was a crumpled and bloodied heap on a giant chess board.

 

Her resolve hardened.

 

“It wouldn’t do much good anyway,” she said, “Only the headmaster can force his way into a room at Hogwarts. She would only be able to use the same spells I did and the protective wards are too strong. But I think there’s another way. Follow me.” And she led the way to the Floo Room.

 

 

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“Hermione?” asked Ron as she grabbed a box of floo powder off the mantelpiece. “What are we doing here? You can’t floo your way into the bathroom. Only a few of the fireplaces at Hogwarts are even connected to the floo network; this one, a few of the teachers’ studies… The prefects’ bathroom doesn’t even have a fireplace.”

 

“I didn’t know that,” Hermione replied moving to the bell pull on the far side of the room, “but it doesn’t matter. It’s going to take far stronger magic than either of us have to break the wards on that room.”

 

She reached up, place both hands on the bell pull and shouted “Dobby!”

 

“House elves’ magic is not only powerful,” she explained, “It’s intrinsically tied to their place of work, in this case Hogwarts. It’s an appalling state of affairs because that ties them even more tightly to their slavery than their lack of self-worth does, but in this case it will be useful. And you know Dobby would do anything for Harry.”

 

She strode back to the fireplace, unable to keep still while they waited, but in just a few minutes Dobby appeared in front of them and she was explaining what she wanted him to do.

 

 

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Everything happened very quickly after that.

 

Dobby took a pinch of floo powder in each hand and made Ron and Hermione hold his shoulders. Then he screwed up his eyes, solemnly wriggled his ears, leant forward and sneezed.

 

There was an almighty crash and the world seemed to explode around them.

 

They were back in the fifth floor corridor. The door to the prefects’ bathroom was still locked shut, but this hardly mattered because Dobby’s magic had bypassed the normal use of fireplaces in a Floo network and had torn a huge hole in the wall.

 

Ron ran forward into the room, with Hermione a fraction of a second behind him. Harry lay on blue cushions on the white marble tiles. He was unconscious, his face was ashen white and he hardly seemed to be breathing.

 

On the other side of the room Draco Malfoy was also unconscious, his face twisted into an expression of rage and his lips and cheeks turning blue.

 

Then the corridor was full of teachers and students, drawn by the explosion, pressing forward to look through into the bathroom and exclaiming in horror at the sight of Harry and Draco.

 

For a few moments there was utter chaos, as Ron frantically rubbed at Harry’s pulse, while Hermione tried basic first aid spells. Then Professor Snape’s angry voice was cutting through the noise as he made his way into the room, cast Mobilicorpus on both boys’ bodies and transported them to the hospital wing.

 

Hermione had never in her life been so glad to see the Head of Slytherin.

 

 

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Hermione should have been used to waiting outside the infirmary to find out whether Harry would recover from whatever terrible danger he had been in most recently.

 

She should have got used to the sick feeling in her stomach, but she did not think she ever would.

 

It was four days before Harry even moved and another two before he woke up. But this morning he had stirred in his hospital bed, blearily opened his eyes and recognised her and Ron. With proper care, Madam Pomfrey thought he would recover

 

Draco Malfoy had not been so fortunate. His father had arrived that morning to take him home, but it was possible he would never come out of his coma. Even if he did, he was unlikely to recover more than the mental capacity of a three year-old.

 

Now it was early evening and, for the first time, Ron and Hermione sat in Dumbledore’s office.

 

“The massage oil did indeed contain Pogrebin skin,” he confirmed. “It was designed to be slowly released into the prefects over a period of time and to lead to an increased sense of responsibility and conformity. As you realised Miss Granger, it made them docile and dull. However last week it seems that Mr Potter and Mr Malfoy became embroiled in a rather heated discussion. I had noticed that their differences seemed less pronounced this year and I had put it down to increasing maturity. You may feel that that was somewhat naďve of me; in retrospect it was almost certainly the effect of exposure to the oil. But it would be too much to expect old habits to completely die, no matter how strong the magical influence. It is most unfortunate however that they argued while the massage was actually taking place. Their antagonism was in direct opposition to the effect the oil was supposed to produce and rather than apply the oil for a limited period and then stop, the massage built up in intensity as their aggression increased. It drew on the innate magic of the whole of that part of the castle, which is why the door was sealed beyond what you could open and it led to an overdose. You both saw the result.”

 

The room was silent for a few minutes as they tried to take this in.

 

“Please sir,” asked Ron. “Did you find out who was responsible?”

 

“Yes indeed,” Dumbledore replied. “Madam Elfrida Abbott, when she built that bathroom as a reward for the prefects of Hogwarts, included one or two more unusual features that have persisted to this day.”

 

There was a pause.

 

“I don’t understand.” Hermione said at last. “Elfrida Abbott wasn’t a dark witch.”

 

“No,” said Dumbledore heavily, “as the history books measure it, she was not. But she had lived through a time of great danger and turmoil and retired to Hogwarts in search of peace and order. She valued hard work, but her experiences in the war had led her to distrust brilliance and originality. She had seen too many talented youngsters turn to the Dark. And where in a school are you most likely to find students with initiative and originality? Why among the prefects of course. I think we shall find that Madam Abbott saw a way to reduce the aggressive instincts of future generations and make sure that their leaders were content to build empires of bureaucracy, without the help of violence. It would not always work; Tom Riddle for example was attempting to exterminate muggle-borns before he ever became a prefect and I imagine the oil would have little effect on him. And the effect would reduce with time after students left the school. But for those key years, between say sixteen and twenty, many, many students will have become sober members of society under the influence of that oil. ”

 

Ron and Hermione looked at him, appalled.

 

“Now, on to other matters. The governors have been meeting in secret over the past few days and they have agreed that it is best that no-one know the truth of what has happened here.”

 

More horrified silence.

 

“The bathroom will be decommissioned of course. It has one hundred and seven taps and some of the other may also have undesirable properties. And I can assure you that I will be looking most carefully for any other surprises Elfrida may have left at Hogwarts.”

 

Ron found his voice. “You can’t mean that sir! Generations of students have been damaged. It can’t be right to pretend that didn’t happen!”

 

“Ah, Mr Weasley, you may not appreciate the difficulties of the governors’ position.” Dumbledore seemed to be picking his words with care. “You are aware that their composition has changed dramatically over the last few years and they are now preparing for the war we know is going to come. There may not yet be sufficient evidence to arrest Lucius Malfoy, but he is widely believed to be a Death Eater and as yet he has no idea what has injured his son. Imagine the propaganda coup for Voldemort, the son of his ablest lieutenant drugged and brain damaged while at Hogwarts and all at the hands of a famous and revered Light witch.”

 

Hermione thought about this.

 

“You still don’t agree with them,” she said with a certain amount of relief. “You can’t. They may be right about the publicity, but it must be more dangerous to surround ourselves with lies than to face up to the truth. No-one would ever know who to trust again.”

 

Dumbledore’s expression seemed to lighten for the first time that evening. What he said however was, “Miss Granger, Mr Weasley, I may be headmaster of this school, but I am unable to override a decision of the entire board of governors. Unless the situation drastically changes I am ordered to require all prefects to aid me in keeping this whole sorry story secret and, as most of the prefects are still in a Pogrebin induced state of compliance and docility, I fully expect them to obey me, just as I obey the governors.”

 

The expression on Ron’s face led Hermione to question this assumption, but her attention was fixed on one part of what Dumbledore had said.

 

“Unless the situation drastically changes,” she repeated slowly. “The situation would change if the story was already public knowledge. You wouldn’t be telling anyone anything then. You’d just be acting to curb rumours and put them into proper perspective.”

 

It was the governors who finally approved the list of new prefects each year. If Hermione left Dumbledore’s office and told the truth to anyone who would listen, she would ensure that her name was not on that list in her seventh year either. It suddenly seemed a small price to pay.

 

She lifted her head high and stood to leave the office. Dumbledore said nothing, but his eyes softened as they met hers in perfect understanding.

 

 

 

 

END

 

 

 

 

Author’s note –

All creatures mentioned can be found in Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them. It tells us the Pogrebin is a Russian demon that induces a state of futility in its victims – I thought its skin would be a useful source of personality-changing drugs.

Shuntbumps is described in Quidditch Through The Ages

 

Challenge Requirements

A room at Hogwarts mentioned in GoF – The prefects’ bathroom

It’s magical properties that Harry has yet to find out about – Magical massage by air currents

Something dark – Drugging the prefects to try to create an ideal society

A means of transport – Floo powder

//
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