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
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
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
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
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.
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
“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.
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
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
“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
“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
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
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
“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
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
“She must be somewhere in the
school,” said Hermione, “we could try to find her or maybe we should try
“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.
“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.
“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.
Everything happened very quickly
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.
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,
“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
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.
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
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