Chapter 1 : Meeting with the Headmaster
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Albus Dumbledore was in his office looking through the list of students that would be going into their fifth year at the end of this summer. Just like any other year, Dumbledore knew a fair lot of those students more than by their names. Alas, just like every year, there also were the occasional names that didn't stir any memory to the old Headmaster. In his usual manner, Albus Dumbledore sat behind his desk, taking out a small purple notebook and carefully wrote down 3 names, promising himself to get to know about these sadly forgotten teenagers. He was putting down his quill when he heard a soft knocking on the door. He couldn't help but smile; this day held a special meaning to the Headmaster. Today, he would be making decisions that would change the course of these 36 students’ life. Only eight would be chosen and take on a role of leadership and autority amongst their peers; some would succeed, some others would fail. The 28 others would remain with the same status, perhaps not receiving a well deserved boost, or else having it being understood as meaning that they're not worth as much.
Professor Pomona Sprout, Head of Hufflepuff had the first meeting of the day and this was completely intentional. Through all of Hogwarts' history, it was an unspoken fact that Hufflepuff was the house it took longest to elect Prefects. The Heads were known to be partial of 90% of their student body, making it quite hard to pick one more or less deserving of the title. They were known to have a great respect and strong bond with their entire house's students; making it a point to know each and everyone of them. Pomona fulfilled that role to the perfection by having at least 3 meetings a year with every Hufflepuff student to talk to them about school, their family and their dreams. Therefore, she had a clear idea of what the title of Prefect would mean to every single one of them and did not want to disappoint any of them.
"Come in," Albus said cheerfully. The plump witch walked in with a twinkle in her eyes. As usual, her robes sported traces of mud and a faint smell of fertilizer followed her. She sat down in front of the Headmaster and smiled brightly.
"You will be surprised this year Albus, it might not take as long as usual," Professor Sprout said proudly as she put down on the desk a pile of muddy parchment.
"Really? Did you already make your picks?"
"Sadly no, I couldn’t make the final cut," the woman said with a discouraged sigh, "but I narrowed it down to two boys and two girls."
"Quite a task, I can’t wait to hear your ideas," the Headmaster smiled, letting her go on with her list.
"Ok, here goes; when it comes to the boys, two clearly stand out from the rest. The first one is Ernie Macmillan," Albus nodded, he had also thought of Ernie for Prefect. "The boy is a good student, not great, but very hard working; he’s not afraid to ask for help and therefore, is always ready to give out a hand to whoever needs it. The same can be said for my other choice, Justin Finch-Fletchey."
"Ah yes, such a funny young man, always a good laugh."
"Indeed," the herbology teacher smiled. "Justin is a very likable fellow, quite popular among his peers for his outgoing personality and his ability to relieve tension. Considering the state of things to come, he could be a great asset to the younger students, being in a role of authority, in a time of war, when you have these strengths, it could be a plus for the Hufflepuff house."
"A thoughtful reasoning and especially if you consider that the atmosphere is going to be heavy in the coming year what with Volmemort back and the Ministry in denial," Albus trailed.
"Now Ernie might have a more serious personality but he is also considered a leader and a model by the student body. The boy has strong opinions and is not afraid to voice them, even if he knows he represents a minority. He encourages his peers to stand for what they believe in and will confront those not willing to think for themselves. Moreover, Ernie is a Macmillan, a pureblood family who voice themselves against You-know-who."
"He could be an inspiration to his house-mates," Albus finished, "whereas Mr. Finch-Fletchey is a muggleborn and could be a target."
"Has been already if you remember," Professor Sprout noted darkly, remembering the events. "Two years ago, he was petrified by the Basilisk."
"Yes, I remember. Well, two fine choices you have there, both boys deserving the honour and would make your house proud. Are the feminine candidates as interesting?"
"It was harder to come to a decision for the girls; at least three would be very worth it but in the end, I decided to cut Megan Jones out of the running because of her position in the quidditch team and the likeliness that she might become captain eventually. That left Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott in the running."
"Hufflepuff definitely holds a good group of students; these three ladies would be perfect Prefects," Albus chuckled. "I do agree about Miss Jones, one hat might be enough for her, especially if there are others just as deserving."
"Excellent," professor Sprout said, crossing Megan Jones’ name off the list definitely. "Susan Bones is a lovely young lady, sweet, caring, a good listener and very gifted when it comes to giving tips and helping others sort out their difficulties. She is already seen as someone the students go to when they feel the need to talk about their problems or if they need help in their personal life. As for Hannah, well she is the neutral territory her peers seek out when they have a fight or a divergence of opinion. She is known to be excellent at making people talk and find positive solutions out of their problems."
"Ah yes, miss Abbott was sent to me last semester after she broke a fight between two students who’s opinion differed about Harry Potter’s role in the unfortunate death of mister Diggory. She seemed very concerned about the impact this event could have on her year mate if he came to hear such accusations," the Headmaster said with a sad smile. That girl had scored high points in his book that day, being so concerned about a boy in another house when one of her own house had just perished.
"I had a thought, when it came to the pairing of Prefects," the Head of House said tentatively; "in order to have a perfect balance, we have two possible choices. You see, Hannah has a personality pretty similar to Justin, both being funny and excellent when it comes to lighten the mood. Therefore, if they were to be Prefects together, it might happen to be too difficult for one or the other to take on the hard role of authority. Ernie and Susan, although they would express their authority in very different ways, would be perfect counter-parts."
"So you would see either Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbott or Justin Finch-Fletchey and Susan Bones; is that correct?" The Headmaster asked the Head of Hufflepuff house.
"Yes exactly. Four deserving students and I can’t make a choice," the witch desperately said. In a last attempt to get Dumbledore to choose for her, she asked him, "are you partial to a pairing in particular?"
"The good news is that whatever choice we make, it won’t be a bad one," the old man announced, sporting a large smile as if nothing could make him happier than to see so many students with great qualities. "You have a knowledge of your students that impresses me greatly and I trust your decisions Pomona; who do you think would loose less by not being chosen?"
"You mean, who wants it more?" she asked a bit confused.
"Not exactly. Sometimes a student doesn’t want to be Prefect but he will be disowned if he isn’t. Therefore, it is not so much a question of winning a title as much as a question of loosing one’s family. This is just a very dramatic example, of course."
"Well then, I think Justin and Susan would cope better than Ernie if they are not made Prefect," the teacher said slowly.
"Would you be happy and proud to have Mister Macmillan and Miss Abbott representing the House of Helga Hufflepuff?"
"Very much yes," the Head of House answered, taking out two letters out of her pile. She touched them with the tip of her wand and muttered 'Scribo Praefectus Macmillan' 'Scribo Praefectus Abbott'. The names of the new Hufflepuff prefects appeared on the letters and two shinning black badges sporting bright yellow “P” materialised themselves on the table.
"Excellent Pomona, these letters and badges will be sent out tomorrow with the others," Albus Dumbledore said happily.
"I told you it wouldn’t take too long this year," Pomona Sprout beamed as she got up. "Well, have a good day Albus; I hope the others will make the right choices for their Houses."
"Good day to you too, and thank you for your time," Albus said, as she left.
When she was gone, Albus Dumbledore took out the Hogwarts’ Records; a massive book containing information on the students who attended the school ever since it’s foundation. He went to the last page marked “Year 1995-1996” and scribbled down the names of the new Hufflepuff Prefects. The page glowed and the names of Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbott were forever written down in Hogwarts’ history. Next to Ernie Macmillan’s name, the words “DA Officer” and “Magical Transportation” appeared. The Headmaster looked curiously at the page. The Hogwarts’ Records always gave an indication of what this student was going to do latter in life but Albus Dumbledore couldn’t understand what “DA Officer” meant and what place it would take in the young man’s life. Curiously, next to Hannah Abbot’s name, the words “DA Sergeant” and “Management” appeared. A cold shiver went through the old wizard, making him gasp in understanding; they were going to become soldiers. With the war just around the corner, it was disturbing to read that 15 years old teenagers would be active fighters. They were just kids, not ready to face the world yet, let alone a Dark Wizard and his army. Before the man had time to think more about it, a sharp knock on the door informed him that Severus Snape had arrived. Albus Dumbledore closed the book and invited the Head of Slytherin to come in.
"I met Sprout and she told me she was done, I thought we could do this now, if you are free," the man offered sharply as he sat down.
"Good thinking, I was about to call you. It took a surprisingly short time to decide on the Hufflepuff Prefects; can we expect the same for yours?" the Headmaster smiled. He knew Severus Snape was a man who went straight to the point and didn’t like to be bothered with formalities. Albus was sure the Head of House had already made his choices and was ready to offer the reasons behind it.
"Of course Headmaster, I have come to a decision already, not that it was very difficult considering the idiots that this group holds," Severus scoffed. The Headmaster gave a small smile but kept silent to give his teacher time to explain. "For the boys, I really couldn’t consider Goyle or Crabbe; these boys are depressing. They show no ability to form opinions of their own and are easily influenced by their peers and parents. Nott is not as stupid as them, thank Merlin, but he is just as much of a follower. Since the one they follow is Malfoy, I think it should be good to have him be the Prefect. He is smart and a natural leader. Sure he boost about being protected by the influence of his father but really, he has a huge pressure to perform both in school and in leading his peers to follow the Dark Lord. He’s doing it to protect himself and considering I received many letters from his father asking that his son become a Prefect, it would be considered a protection from his father to give him the title."
"What about Mister Zabini?"
"Draco’s safety and self preservation come as a priority. Plus, Zabini doesn’t have the leadership to take on this role," the Potion Master said on a tone of finality.
"Mister Malfoy it is then," the Headmaster nods with a concerned look; he hadn’t known the extent of the Malfoy boy’s situation at home. They would have to keep a close watch on the boy; who knew what he could do to gain his father’s approval in the years to come?
"Now for the girls, Bulstrod should be expelled," the teacher declared, making the older wizard chuckle. "Really, she’s a plain girl with no social or intellectual ability. The one who deserves the title is Greengrass. A good student, hard working, but who has to learn to hold her tongue and cheeky comments. The problem is that the Greengrasses are neutral; not followers of the Dark Lord but not actively fighting against him. If we make her a Prefect, that will bring the Dark Lord’s attention on her and her family, and they might be recruited, which we do not want. It would be better to keep her away from the spotlight, that way she can keep her neutral life and hopefully, make it out by following her own desire and not being forced to join the Dark Lord’s rank."
"I hadn’t thought of that Severus, do you really think she might be in danger for being a Prefect?"
"The Dark Lord is in recruiting mode right now. He wants the best on his side and he is looking closely at the Slytherin House. He knows every student and their family; their strengths and weaknesses and approaches them to join his rank. The firsts that were approached this summer were the newly graduating students. I know for a fact that Bole, a Prefect himself, was recruited just last week. He offered a bit of resistance but after the Dark Lord used a disabling curse on his father, the boy agreed to join," the man announced with very little expression. The Headmaster shook his head sadly, but had to agree that Severus Snape was making a good point.
"Fair enough, I have to agree that protecting the Greengrass family is more important than just a title. Would you see Miss Parkinson or Miss Davies than?"
"Both are equals in their arrogance and nastiness but Parkinson shows more leadership so she would be better suited for the role," Snape concluded, shaking his head as if he couldn’t be bothered about who it would be.
"I see," the Headmaster nodded. He didn’t like the choices very much but saw no other options. The students were in danger and it was the adults’ job to try and protect them as much as possible from the darkness that was coming. "Agreed Severus, Mister Malfoy and Miss Parkinson will be the new Slytherin Prefects."
"Good," Severus Snape simply said, taking out the two letters from his pocket. His muttered the same spell professor Sprout had done earlier and two badges of gleaming silver and green appeared.
‘"Thank you Severus, I will send them tomorrow."
"Good day Albus," Snape said, leaving the office.
Albus opened again the Hogwarts’ Records to write down the new Prefects’ name. Next to Draco Malfoy’s name, the ink formed the words “Inquisitorial Squad member” and “Apothecary”. As for Pansy Parkinson, she would also be a member of the “Inquisitorial Squad” (whatever that was, Albus thought) but nothing else. The Headmaster wasn’t worried so much; it wasn’t unusual for the Record to not give information on the Prefect’s future. That usually meant they would be housewives or something in the muggle world. Of course, Albus Dumbledore wasn’t naïve enough to think of Miss Parkinson working in the muggle world! It was a laughable idea, really. But given the situation, Dumbledore couldn’t help but worry that the girl just didn’t have a future, that she might not make it out of this war.
Albus Dumbledore walked to the fireplace and threw a pinch of powder in. He called for Professor Flitwick, Head of Ravenclaw. Since the day was going smoothly and the Headmaster was in advance, he decided to call the small wizard earlier; that way he could take the night off and maybe go for a drink at the Three Broomsticks. Professor Flitwick was there in a second and his cheerful attitude filled the office, pushing away the worries that the Headmaster had before.
"Ah, Albus, my friend; having a good day I hope?" the charms teacher asked, jumping up on the chair. Silently, he pointed his wand at the chair and it shot up, high enough for the small wizard to see over the desk.
"My day is going great Filius, thank you. Two Houses down so far and it’s not even noon!" the Headmaster said with a laugh. "How about you my dear friend?"
"Same for me, a good day and I’m going to make yours even better by quickly letting you know who the Ravenclaw Prefect will be. Mister Terry Boot and Miss Padma Patil," the man proudly announced.
"Excellent, excellent," Albus Dumbledore answered. "Now may I ask you how you came to choose these two particular students?"
"Or course you can. Miss Patil is a brilliant young woman. She is strong, independent and determined. This girl has big dreams and she takes every way to reach it. I would see her as an inspiration to her peers. Don’t you agree?"
"I do yes," The Headmaster agreed. He didn’t know this girl very well apart from the fact that she made a scene to Mister Weasley at last year’s Yule Ball. She did appear to know what she wants in life and, obviously, Mister Weasley did not fulfill the criteria.
"As for Mister Terry Boot, he is a good young man, hard working and quite smart. I have to admit he can be a tad arrogant at times which has gotten him in some trouble over the last year. But I would hope that being named a Prefect would help him find his way."
"You don’t think this is going confirm to himself his feeling of importance?"
"I would hope not," Professor Flitwick answered slowly, frowning at the idea.
"Just out of curiosity, are there any other possible male candidate in Ravenclaw?"
"Let’s see," the Head of House said, taking out a list of the Ravenclaw students’ names. "Mister Stephen Cornfoot is a good student but does not demonstrate much social ability; he’s a loner and I don’t picture him in a position of authority. Mister Kevin Entwhistle is becoming the new quidditch Captain so I would think that one responsibility is enough. Mister Michael Corner is more interested in girls than in studies; his grades have begun falling lately and he has to work on that before he gets any privilege. As for Mister Anthony Goldstein, well the boy has great qualities but doesn’t show them much; he is really shy. He’s a good student, has some close friends he never parts from. But he doesn’t talk much in class and has a hard time giving oral presentations so what would it be like in front of a group of younger students?"
"I see," Albus nodded. He kept silent for a while, thinking about what the Head of House had said about the Ravenclaw boys. Finally, he questioned the small wizard, "tell me, why give the role to a boy in the hopes that he would get back on track, and not give it to a boy who could come out of his shell with the self-esteem boost this title would bring him?"
"Err." The Head of House was lost for words. He hadn’t seen things that way; Terry Boot and Anthony Goldstein showed the same qualities but were on two very different tracks. Where Terry was being cocky about his skill, Anthony kept silent, not bragging or showing off but giving a hand to bring others to his level. Could the title of Prefect really give the young man’s confidence a much needed boost? In all of his years as Head of House, Professor Flitwick had never gone this way when it came to choosing the Prefect but Albus might be right. Maybe it was time to do things differently.
"You know Albus; you make a good point there. Mister Anthony Goldstein would have a greater benefit from being named Prefect than Mister Terry Boot. Terry’s actions in the last year do make him a bit less deserving of the title than his peer," Professor Flitwick said brightly.
"So Miss Padma Patil and Mister Anthony Goldstein it is?" the Headmaster asked.
"Very well, it will be interesting to see how this turns out for the young man! Thank you for your insight Albus!" The Head of House cast the spell making his choices official and the two bronze and blue badges appeared in a shinning light. Professor Flitwick left, wishing Albus a good day and announcing he would let Professor McGonagall know they were done.
Once again, Albus Dumbledore wrote down the Prefects names in the Records but this time, he wasn’t surprised to see that both student would be in the “DA”; Mister Goldstein as an Officer and Miss Patil as a First Aid Officer. What surprised him was the fact that none of them had anything else that followed. Once again, grim thoughts filled his great mind, getting the feeling that these students would most likely be thrown into the war at a very young age and that it would be a decisive moment for them. Albus hated this. He remembered the numerous students and young adults that gave their lives for the first war. How many great students didn’t get to reach their dreams and accomplish the great things they were meant to do because they were forced into a war without being prepared enough? History was repeating itself and the old man desperately wished it wouldn’t leave too many broken families like it did the last time.
Albus was once again lost in his dark thoughts when a quiet knock on the door shook him out. Minerva McGonagall didn’t wait for an invitation before coming in an sitting down on the chair her collegue had just vacated.
"Hello Albus. Is something the matter?" she asked, concerned about her friend’s frown.
"Nothing actual really, it’s more like a grim feeling of what is to come," the old man said truthfully. His friend nodded understandingly; she had a bad feeling about what was coming too. The Headmaster gave her a small smile before he spoke. "Like I said, it is not a problem that is important right now so let’s push it away and get on with our task. Although, I think it will be the easiest yet, am I right?"
"It might be," the stern woman conceded, "well at least when it comes to the girls. I mean, we could give Hermione Granger the title of Head Girl and I think most people would agree that she is the most qualified already!"
"That’s true," Albus chuckled, "although miss Branstone might complain, seeing as she is supposed to be Head Girl next year. But really, I couldn’t agree more; no other female student come close to her level when it comes to intelligence, bravery, but most importantly, her role in the fight against evil."
"Exactly my point. I couldn’t not elect her," the Head of House declared. She cleared her throat and let a moment of silence pass by before looking back at the Headmaster. "Now for the boy, I gave it a lot of thought. Of course, Potter seems like the obvious choice, but strangely, a thought crept in my mind throughout last year and I want to go for it. I would like to see Weasley as Prefect."
"Ronald Weasley?" the Headmaster asked, surprised. It seemed clear to him that Harry was the one who deserved the title; after all he had done for the school in the last four years.
"Yes, Ronald Weasley. I know everything Potter has done is great but Weasley has always been with him."
"True but it was always Harry at the front."
"Exactly my point. Weasley is always considered 'behind' his friend. Not on Potter’s side but behind him. The boy copes well with this fact and he stays with Potter, providing him with a much needed stress relief and giving him the occasion to be a normal, goofy teenager, like he should be," Professor McGonagall said with a passion; her eyes gleaming with conviction. Albus was intrigued; he had never really given that much of a thought at Ronald Weasley, always considering exactly like Minerva described it; behind Harry.
"I agree but that does show the leadership qualities of Harry."
"Yes, it does but here is the thing. I noticed last year that Weasley parted with Potter when his was chosen for the Tri-Wizard tournament. Weasley clearly showed jealousy at, once again, being considered less than his friend. Potter was a mess because of this fight; he didn’t work in class and kept looking at his lost friend, he almost didn’t make it through the fist task, if you remember. But when Weasley apologized for his jealousy and became his friend once again, Potter went back to his normal self and had a much easier time with Weasley on his side. My point is that Potter has a huge task in front of him and he clearly needs Weasley with him to succeed. But Weasley will grow tired and jealous of always being behind his friend and will part again. Weasley needs to be recognised as an individual. He needs the self-esteem boost that being made a Prefect could give him."
"Well, this is quite a passionate account for Mister Weasley, Minerva," Albus Dumbledore declared cheekily. He had to say he was impressed and touched by the Head of House’s sensitivity to her students. Behind her stern looks, she clearly cared deeply for her Gryffindors. "I do agree that, considering what you just said, Mister Weasley would benefit from this self-esteem boost but have you seen what is going on in the wizarding world about Harry Potter? Have you seen the things that are being said about this boy? I would think that giving him the Prefect title would show that we support him and that we believe in him. And the self-esteem boost would be good too."
"Maybe but in that case, he will loose his best friend," Minerva McGonagall declared as a finality.
"Are you certain about that?"
"If the past vouches for the future, we can expect that Weasley will part with Potter. Albus, you know I care for Harry just as much as you and it hurts to see him being ridiculed and to watch him, year after year, being confronted to evil and darkness but I see one great soothing light in the darkness of his life and Ronald Weasley brings that light."
"Well I cannot disagree with that. Mister Weasley will be the next Gryffindor Prefect along with Miss Granger."
"Thank you for listening to my points," the Head of House said happily. She cast the spell and left the Headmaster the badges and the letters.
In the Hogwarts Records, Albus Dumbledore wrote down the names and watched as the same words appeared next to them; “DA Founder” and “Order of Merlin First-Class”. As he read that last word, the Headmaster smiled; Minerva had been right in persuading him to choose Mister Weasley. Apparently, theses two would keep close to Harry and work to bring peace to the wizarding world. His fears about the kids not being ready for the coming war were also pushed away when he saw that these two would take it upon them to form their peers for battle.
Albus Dumbledore’s day was already over and eight new Prefects had been chosen. The task ahead of them was immense. They would have to keep the morale of their peers up, learn to be soldiers and encourage their housemates to do the same; all that while being teenagers and facing the challenges and difficulties that comes with it. But there was hope because at least they would try and believe enough in Harry to follow him in battle, and, hopefully, in peace too.
Special Thanks to SeverusLove who pointed out many, many spelling and typing mistakes I made.
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