The Sugar Quill
Author: Cendrillon (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Selecting Prefects  Chapter: Default
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Selecting Prefects

by Cendrillon

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 evening.

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 enthusiastically.

"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 them."

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 her.

"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 prefects.



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