Setting: The time of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Sub-plot. It never happened, but it would have been nice if it had. The opening section is just after Harry, Ron and Hermione visit the kitchens on page 335 of the 2000 Bloomsbury edition. This is a sub-plot that would have had no affect on the main plot unless it was used to provide more drama or action. It occurs in the background and separate from the other action. One shot, complete.
“Hermione, I’ve just had a thought.” Harry said.
“You know, I think there could be a way we could approach S. P. E. W. from the other side.”
“How would that work?” asked Ron.
“Well, campaigning through S. P. E. W. is one way of helping Elves get good conditions, but I think that it will be a bit like head butting a concrete bunker. Everyone in the Wizarding world has pretty much the same expectations of Elves. People are used to the status quo. I believe what is needed is an example to show people what it would be like to have an Elf – Master relationship based on friendship and trust.”
“This sounds interesting Harry.” Said Hermione. “Tell me more.”
“Dobby and I have a connection already. I genuinely like the little guy, and I think he has liking and admiration on his side for me as well.”
“You’ve got that right,” insisted Ron. “He risked a lot under the Elf code of behaviour to try to warn you about danger in our second year, and you did give him his freedom. Dobby really loves you.”
“Right, so here’s my idea. Dobby is employed by Hogwarts at the moment. What if I saw Professor Dumbledore and asked to transfer Dobby to my employment?” asked Harry.
“That’s brilliant!” Exclaimed Hermione. “We could set up an ideal demonstration of Elf employment in the conditions that we hope to win for all Elves!”
“I would also have to ask Dobby first of course, but I can’t see a problem there.”
“Oh Harry, you’re wonderful!” smiled Hermione, stunning both Ron and Harry with an impulsive hug and kiss on the cheek. “We might also be able to do something for Winky as well.”
“Don’t hold your breathe there Hermione, Winky is a different situation.” Said Ron, darkly. “She has an entirely different attitude to her status. The most you may be able to do for her is offer a new place of enslavement while you work on educating her to a new attitude and approach. You may never do it successfully.”
“But it’s worth a try Ron!” Said Hermione, almost bouncing in her excitement.
“Yes,” Said Harry. “I’ll see Professor Dumbledore as soon as I can about both Elves. I may have to purchase Winky’s services though so that she is reassured she is back in the security of her enslavement. What if you take over Winky and teach her, Hermione? She will relate better to another female.”
“But Harry, I can’t afford to buy a house-Elf!”
“I know, Hermione, but I can.”
“Cool.” said Ron. “This could be a real way to do something effective. Even if you just ended up with a house Elf each, it would be two less that would be subject to an owners’ mercy.”
The three friends were smiling as they walked on. Hermione was still intending to continue promoting S. P. E. W., but she could see the possibilities in the plan. Even Ron, who had the most traditional attitude to Elves, liked the idea. Though that may have been more that Hermione was so happy about it.
Harry and Ron got back to Gryffindor tower and got ready for bed. It was as they were climbing in to their beds that Ron suggested to Harry that this might also be a good opportunity to test the magical talents and skills of Elves.
“How might you do that?” asked Harry.
“Well, why not try calling Dobby now, and see if he apparates?”
“O.K., Dobby, can you come here please?”
CRACK! And the little house elf appeared.
“Does Harry Potter want Dobby?” He asked with a wide grin.
“Yes, can you always hear me?”
“I can always hear Harry Potter because Dobby chooses to. I can also always hear my master at any time. In this case, because I have a job at Hogwarts, that is Professor Dumbledore mainly, but I can hear any of the Professors call me when they want something.”
“That’s amazing Dobby! Listen, I want to ask you something.”
“Anything Harry Potter wants to ask, I will gladly do.”
“I wonder if you would like to consider leaving your Hogwarts job and coming to work for me. You are a free Elf, after all and I would pay you better.”
Dobby threw himself on the ground and started to cry with loud wailing sobs. It woke Seamus, Dean and Neville in the adjoining beds, and the rooms around them.
“Dobby, Dobby! Stop, stop! I’m sorry. If it upsets you or I have offended you, I’ll withdraw the offer!” Shouted Harry.
“No, it’s not that! I had always hoped I could work for Harry Potter! I am so happy at being asked! Dobby would love to come and work for Harry Potter, please!” sobbed Dobby.
“Alright Dobby, there is nothing better I would like than having my little friend with me all the time. I’ll see Professor McGonagall in the morning about an appointment with Professor Dumbledore for Ron, Hermione and I to explain what we want. We’ll work out your wages and other details later. Alright, Dobby?”
“Oh yes Master Harry!”
“Fine Dobby, and don’t call me Master. Just Harry will do."
Dobby could no longer contain himself and with a leap he landed on Harry and gave him a hug.
“Oh yes Harry! I’ll be the best Elf anyone ever had!”
Just then the door opened, and Professor Dumbledore himself walked in. Dobby’s ears immediately went down and he looked worried. But there was a kindly smile on Dumbledore’s face and his eyes were twinkling.
“So Harry, luring the castle servants away are you?”
“Yes Professor. But it is Dobby after all! We owe each other so much that I’d like to have my friend with me. I can afford to pay him a reasonable wage and look after him.”
“Yes Harry, I know you can. Of course I approve. His food will have to be paid for now by you and you will be responsible for his behaviour. All types of his behaviour.”
“Of course Professor, and can Dobby sleep up here with us?”
“For tonight, certainly. We will have to negotiate with the other students in the tower, but Elves are particularly fastidious in their personal hygiene, so there may not be a problem at all, especially if Dobby was prepared to do some simple chores in the tower.”
“Yes Professor Dumbledore! Dobby would be very happy to help out at Hogwarts, as long as I could look after Master Harry first."
“There is another problem Professor, there is a female house elf named Winky who was given clothes by Mr. Crouch. She is desperately unhappy. Hermione, Ron, and I would like to do something for her. We were wondering if Hermione offered to take her into service she could return to the normal happy state of a house Elf. In her case I would make sure she was aware she was being returned to the state she was happiest in by offering to purchase her from Mr Crouch, therefore removing the shame of being given clothes. Hermione could then teach her and care for her so as to give her a happier life."
“Ah, and is that the only reason?” Asked Dumbledore.
“Well, no. We thought she might be educated into eventually receiving her freedom as well.”
“Yes, well, it is true that Winky is desperately unhappy. You may have a chance to help her, but I caution you Harry, there is more going on here than you know. Isn’t there Dobby?”
Dobby gave a nervous little giggle and a sheepish smile.
“We’ll leave it at that for tonight. Dobby can get his bed from the Elf quarters and put it in here. We can consider him your servant from now on. Goodnight all.”
“Goodnight Professor.” They all chorused.
Dobby was about five minutes getting his bed and laying it out on a spare area of carpet next to Harry’s bed. As Harry settled that night, having said goodnight to everyone, he was still bemused about the turn of events. Professor Dumbledore must really keep a close eye on me, thought Harry, to know so much so quickly. With that thought he was asleep.
Next morning Harry woke to the delightful smell of sausages, bacon and eggs, coffee, buttered toast with different jams in little pots and choices of cereals and milk, sugar, honey, and the Daily Prophet served in bed from a little trolley. There was a tray on legs to be laid on the counterpane so that Harry could eat properly. Dobby fluffed the pillows up behind him magically to support his back.
“Good morning Harry!” Greeted Dobby. “It’s going to be a lovely day today, 22 Degrees Celsius with 6/10ths high level cloud. I took the liberty of apparating to get your paper from London before the owls would deliver any at breakfast. This first morning I wanted to treat you, but you can if you wish go down to the Great Hall for breakfast. Your schedule today is on the pad at the side and I have also taken the liberty of outlining a study schedule for the most efficient program. I hope Dobby pleases Harry Potter, Sir?”
“Good morning Dobby! This is really nice, thank you very much!” Exclaimed Harry.
“Cor Harry, that looks scrumptious!” said Ron, “Any chance of a bite?”
“Sure,” said Harry, “there’s loads here.”
“ More than that, young Sirs.” Said Dobby, opening the bottom cabinets to disclose a warming cupboard; with more sausages and eggs, and coffee and tea pot as well. “I have brought enough for everyone in the room and have extra plates and cutlery. Please help yourselves while I serve Harry.”
The others all leapt out of bed to scramble around the delicious breakfast with expressions of delighted surprise.
“What is all this Harry? What’s the occasion?” The others wanted to know.
“Well, I arranged with Professor Dumbledore last night to transfer Dobby’s services to me. I am his employer now and Dobby takes my orders.” Replied Harry.
“Whoah,” said Neville, “why?”
“Well you all know what Dobby has done for me, and I for him?
“Yeah.” They all chorused.
“Well Dobby is my friend, and it occurred to me that I could give him a home with me and make sure he was treated properly. Of course he always was treated well here at Hogwarts, but I just felt a responsibility for him and wanted to see right done.”
“Nice one Harry!” said Seamus.
With that they all concentrated on breakfast and started their day. Harry found immediate benefits in Dobby’s service. He no longer had to carry a heavy bag as Dobby told him that he would meet him anywhere in the Castle grounds for each lesson with his required text books, cool drinks and snacks if he wanted. He would return the previous lessons text books to his room and organise it for homework. He need never worry about laundry, toiletry supplies or his bed space or cupboard.
“Right then,” said Harry, “we’ll discuss your wages, time off and other working conditions tonight. Thank you very much for that breakfast this morning. That was really good service.”
With a wall to wall grin Dobby apparated with the trolley to the kitchen and cleaned it. He was more completely happy than he had ever been. His friend was employing him, and more, paying him and giving him time off. Dobby was determined to do the best for Harry that he could. He made it back to Harry's dorm and went completely through all his clothes and gear, sorting and tidying into clean, repair, or launder. Finished that step he took Harry's books for his next lesson, apparated to the kitchen for a snack and drink, and then rendezvoused with Harry outside the Charms corridor. A quick swap and Harry was on his way, not requiring anything else from Dobby. But he had plans for the day. By the time the day was over, Dobby had completely refurbished Harry's wardrobe, repaired all broken items, and prepared the study plan for that night. He only had to get the last lot of homework organised for study after dinner, and Harry was ready for his evening.
Harry's first action after dinner was to sit down with Ron, Hermione, Dobby, and Winky. Harry had seen Professor McGonagal during the day and told her what was going on. She wasn't worried though as Professor Dumbledore had already told her he had given permission.
Winky had accepted the chance to change her status from one amongst many to her old condition, and was a lot happier. She had not been approached by Hermione as yet about her freedom, rightly deciding to establish her rapport with the little Elf.
“Well Dobby, what would you like to earn?” Harry asked.
"Dobby is happy to work for free for Harry Potter Sir."
"Tell you what Dobby, your services are valuable to me, and you must have a living wage. If I include all your living expenses, food, clothing, medical, etc., and give you five galleons a fortnight for saving and spending, plus two days off every week and an eight hour work day, and any requirements over that be worked out at time and a half for overtime, would that be acceptable?" Dobby's ears had gone up and his eyes had opened wider and wider as each point was laid out.
"Harry Potter Sir is so generous!" Dobby whispered. "I couldn't accept all that."
"Well that's what I think the job is worth, especially after that wonderful breakfast and your marvelous service today. We'll consider it settled. Those are your current conditions of service, and we will review them annually."
"But, but, but..." Dobby spluttered.
"No! That's it. You want to work for me, you have to accept this. My friends and I have a lot of things that we are faced with. You can help with loyal and effective service. Now I have things to do, You have finished for the day, take the evening off." Said Harry, with a real smile at his friend, Dobby. Dobby's shy smile grew and he excused himself.
"You is not going to believe how good I am going to be for you, Harry Potter Sir. You is the best Wizard in the world." Dobby thought as he went off to prepare for the next day.
Author's Notes: Dobby's ending in Deathly Hallows was tragic, which is why the wonderful JKR wrote it that way. I just wanted Dobby to be happy. If I do a sequel to this one-shot it'll be Winky. Then perhaps, Dobby and Winky? You never know. Updates for my other stories, Harry Potter and his way Forward, and The Greatest Love, have taken a back seat until I get this plot bunny out of the way. Thanks to all for reading and reviewing all my work.
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