Author's Note: Thanks to Ozma for her speedy and efficient
beta-reading and to Anne for her feedback on this story.
It was a balmy summer's eve and somewhere a black-haired, green-eyed
boy was trying to listen to the evening news without incurring the wrath of
his aunt and uncle. Hogwarts was a world away from that place and yet, without
that boy, there might be no Hogwarts in the future. Their destinies were now
unspeakably intertwined. But at this point, Harry Potter knew nothing of his
destiny and was growing ever more frustrated in his search for answers and information
of any kind.
Meanwhile, at Hogwarts, the corridors were still and silent except for the
occasional outbreaks from the castle's resident poltergeist. The students had
left the week before and much of the staff had departed as well. All that were
left were the permanent inhabitants of the castle; the few teachers that stayed
year-round, the caretaker, and the groundskeeper.
The teachers had spent the past week emptying their classrooms of the year's
accumulations and preparing them for the following autumn. Now only one task
remained for the heads of the school's four houses before they could call an
end to their academic duties. As they did every year, Dumbledore had arranged
a meeting with the four of them to determine the prefects and the Head Boy and
Girl for the coming year before the school letters were sent out.
Normally, this day would be a pleasure. It was a day about rewarding their
best students. And for most of them, it was the last of their duties for the
school year and the rest of the summer could be spent however they pleased.
For Filius Flitwick, that often meant going on holiday in the south of France.
Minerva McGonagall visited her nieces and nephews in the Scottish Highlands
during her summers. Pomona Sprout preferred to stay at Hogwarts to tend her
personal garden, traveling only occasionally to acquire new plant species. Severus
Snape usually spent the summers skulking about Knockturn Alley for Potions ingredients,
then secluding himself in the dungeons to experiment with them. But whatever
they chose to do with their summer, the end of the school year was a time to
rejoice. After this last meeting, they would always celebrate by going into
Hogsmeade for a drink. They could have drinks on the house from Dumbledore's
brother, Aberforth, the barkeep at the Hog's Head, but long ago they had unanimously
decided that they preferred the Three Broomsticks.
But this year was different. This summer, there would be no family visits,
holidays in foreign climates, or leisurely time spent in whatever way they chose.
Nor would there be drinks and celebrating, for this meeting would merely be
followed by another. This was simply one of many meetings that Dumbledore had
assembled every day for the last two weeks and it would not be the last by far.
In fact, they had not had a summer like this for thirteen years. The tranquility
of the school grounds belied the chaos and terror that they all knew would soon
erupt in the outside world. Voldemort was back.
Suddenly there were more important things to be done than nominating prefects
and whiling away their summer holiday with their own pursuits. So, none of the
professors were very happy when they assembled in the Headmaster's office that
They were quiet as they all settled themselves and waited for the Headmaster
to arrive. The fireplace erupted with brilliant green flames and Albus Dumbledore
stepped out. He looked tired and his face was a mixture of anger and frustration
"Good evening!" Dumbledore greeted the other professors as he sat
down in his chair and faced them.
"How was the meeting with the Minister, Albus?" Professor McGonagall
asked with concern.
"He's not willing to listen to reason. It's as I expected, but he's going
to make things very difficult for us." Dumbledore sighed and shook his
head. "However, I will discuss that at the next meeting. We're here to
discuss prefects, are we not?"
Dumbledore smiled kindly at Professor Sprout. "So, Pomona, who would you
recommend to represent Hufflepuff?"
"I believe that Ernie MacMillan and Hannah Abbott would do well as prefects."
Professor Sprout answered. She smiled and appeared very pleased with these choices.
"Fine choices," Dumbledore said, nodding his agreement. "I believe
Ernie will particularly take to the job."
He turned to Professor Flitwick. "And what about you, Filius? Who shall
be our Ravenclaw prefects?"
"Padma Patil and Anthony Goldstein are both very bright and responsible
students. I would recommend them both highly," Professor Flitwick answered
"Very well, then," Dumbledore nodded. "And Minerva?" he
said, turning to Professor McGonagall.
"Well, naturally, Hermione Granger and, among the boys, I would say that
Harry Potter deserves the job."
This was met with an immediate outburst from Snape. "Headmaster, you cannot
allow Potter to become a prefect, he breaks the rules more often than he follows
McGonagall glowered at Snape and responded angrily, defending her choice. "Harry
does well in most of his classes and he has shown a great deal of responsibility.
Look at all that he accomplished this year. It's not easy to be a Tri-Wizard
Champion and keep up with classes, and he was only fourteen. I think that Harry
will make a fine prefect."
They both turned to Dumbledore for an answer. The old wizard sighed.
"That will be enough, Severus," Dumbledore said, silencing the younger
man before he could argue his point again.
He turned sadly to Professor McGonagall. "Minerva, I do not deny that
Harry deserves to become a prefect, but you have just provided the very reasons
why he will not become one. Harry has too many responsibilities that always
fall upon him, and his load will only increase tenfold. He will have far more
than enough to deal with in the coming year and I shall not add to that burden."
Professor McGonagall took a moment and then nodded with understanding. Her
usually stern face had softened and looked a bit sad.
Dumbledore looked pensive for a moment. His eyes twinkled when he looked back
at Professor McGonagall again. "Minerva, what if I were to offer the position
to Ronald Weasley?"
"Well, Mr. Weasley's academic performance has been average," she
said thoughtfully, "but he has proven himself on a number of occasions
when difficult situations arise. Especially with Hermione Granger's help, I
think he could handle the position. I would not object to that choice."
Severus Snape was scowling when the Headmaster turned to him.
"Well, Severus, what about Slytherin?"
"Parkinson and Malfoy," Snape answered flatly.
McGonagall made a sound to express her disapproval. "Draco Malfoy is one
of the biggest bullies this school has ever seen!"
"Hardly," Snape said dismissively. "I seem to recall a few of
your students who were worse."
Ignoring him, McGonagall continued, "Draco would abuse his position if
he was made prefect."
"No more than Weasley, I'm sure," Snape sneered. "And what you
fail to recall, Minerva, is that Draco is the son of a prominent Death Eater."
"Precisely why he should not be a prefect!" said McGonagall heatedly,
her voice rising.
"I must agree with Minerva, Severus," said tiny Professor Flitwick.
"The Malfoy boy is quite talented but I can see him causing a bit of trouble
as a prefect and he makes his disdain for the other houses very clear."
Professor Sprout nodded her head in agreement.
Flitwick continued, "Now, Blaise Zabini or Theodore Nott may be better
choices. Both are very good students in my opinion. And Zabini at least has
shown more impartiality than the others."
"Malfoy will be prefect," Snape said firmly. "Lucius
Malfoy expects it and it would be unwise to anger him. Making his son a prefect
is a goodwill gesture that will not go unnoticed. Don't you understand? If I'm
going to get any information out of them, I need them to trust me. And word
will get back to the Dark Lord if favoritism is not shown towards the children
of his followers."
McGonagall moved to object again, but Dumbledore held up a hand to silence
"I will approve your choices, Severus," said Dumbledore. "If
making Draco a prefect can help our cause, then so be it. It is a small price
to pay if it achieves the desired effects."
Dumbledore jotted down the names of the chosen prefects as well as his choices
for Head Boy and Head Girl. He handed the parchment to Professor McGonagall,
who would be notifying the students of their new status in their Hogwarts letters.
"Very well then," Dumbledore said, "I believe that concludes
this meeting. I expect to see you all at the next one in...," he glanced
at his watch, "two hours."
The four teachers stood up and filed out of the office one by one feeling tired
and drained. Nothing was ever easy these days and their work seemed endless.
Rest and relaxation were now a distant dream in the past. This one small and
relatively insignificant meeting had just proven how much their everyday lives
had changed. After so many years of peace, the chaos inherently linked with
Lord Voldemort was back and affecting even a job as seemingly simple as selecting