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The Perils of Running a School

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   The unfortunate fact about opening the doors on any institution of learning, McGonagall thought to herself as she watched the graceful parabola of a seed pod the size of a small dragon flying out of the Forbidden Forest, was that trouble would happen. It would not wait for feasts to end, nor for tests to finish successfully, and least of all would the most ordinary of troubles disappear simply because the Dark Lord had come again to lead his followers in a daily cavalcade of mayhem, destruction, and more often than not, death. As much as she would have liked for the everyday perils to give them some respite when they had far more dire things to worry about, here she was standing on the Hogwarts green not quite two weeks into their first term, next to Albus Dumbledore, watching a shrimp lily pod make a fair sized hole in the gymnasium roof.

     "Well," she remarked with a sigh. "I see we shall have to find a new practice space for the gymnastics exercises this afternoon. Will you want to tell the students when they sit for supper to leave any spores where they lay, and to hand over to Pomona the ones they've already taken, or will you want the Heads of Houses to see to it?" Unfortunately, shrimp lilies had terribly strong powers for breaching wards and raining bad luck on whatever they touched -- hence their ability to damage the roof at all when so many spores were taken together.

     "Both, I think. They'll hardly pay attention to a single warning," the Headmaster answered. "And we'll want to install spore attractors outside each of the entrances to the House residences." He turned to her with an inscrutable face. "For the ones that stuck to the children's pockets without their realizing it. Naturally."


     "They burrow," Albus exclaimed, pushing his glasses up on his nose. The man could have stood to sound more annoyed and less scholarly on the subject. "Did you know that, Minerva? Even though they're plants!"

     "Indeed, I was aware, Albus. Their stubborn ability to infest was much of the reason why I requested the Board of Governors to remove that intrusion from the Forbidden Forest fifteen years ago." Many things in the Forest were deadly, but shrimp lilies were simply more trouble than they were worth.

    "It would seem we missed a spot."

     Already they could hear the students in the area looking on with wide eyes and murmuring questions about whether the Death Eaters had attacked the school. Albus had raised his hands above his head to get their attention and called out, "Never fear! In the words of an occasionally misguided but more often factually accurate philosopher -- sometimes a shrimp lily is just a shrimp lily! You will all be safe as long as you keep your distance from the gymnasium." Once done, he turned back to her and stroked his beard. "At least it's early in the school year. We should be able to shuffle the budget enough to repair a hole that size and bring in a Curse Breaker of the appropriate level to double-check all our facilities. Funds may be tight, but--"

     As he spoke, a ring of roofing five times again what the hole had been fell through before their eyes. McGonagall sighed again and started off toward the teachers' common study. "I'll retrieve the supplies for a fundraiser."


     As far as Snape was concerned, he saw no reason why they should resort to these sorts of measures rather than simply asking the more well-off parents and alumni for their largesse. One or two of them would see some virtue in endowing the funds to repair the gymnasium roof. There was no need to subject themselves to this level of indignity. But the school charter demanded that they make every effort to provide from the community as a whole before resorting to such gifts. Helga Hufflepuff had supposedly insisted among the founders that community equality depended upon it, and everyone knew that what Helga Hufflepuff wanted, Helga Hufflepuff always achieved. If there were an afterlife, he intended to complain to her personally about the ridiculousness of all the faculty here, now, in these times of trial, gathered around a parchment with that awful enchanted pen, in line to scratch their names and "volunteer activities" down on the list -- presuming one could be called a "volunteer" when one's respectability in society hinged on playing along with such games.

     Horace Slughorn was chortling halfway across the room, any sense of dignity he may have had as Snape's own professor long since lost. "Ah, yes, the Diligensia Determinus! Or as we used to call it in my day, the Dilly-Quilly, you know. Quite a spot, that! To this day, I will never know why it decided that the appropriate activity for me to undertake was to sit in the dunk tank, all day having students throw balls at a target to drop me in the water! But the fundraiser was a success. I'll give it that. Never once have I seen the Dilly-Quilly plan an event that failed to raise exactly the amount of money needed! It's quite a cunning enchantment, you know, stunningly complex. A Mr. Cummings at the Ministry of Magic, one of my good friends and strictly the best in enchantment repair, said he'd never seen--"

     Tuning out the rest of that drivel before his brain leaked out his ears, Snape took the quill itself from Dumbledore's hand with a sigh. The wizard smiled at him as if nothing were wrong whatsoever. That was one of the few things left that could make a chill run down Snape's spine, but he walked over to the table without a shudder showing. So far, the list said only, "Albus Dumbledore: Tea Room". Hardly awful. And by stepping up to the table as soon as he could, he'd limit the chances of taking one of the more abhorrent options. Nothing in this world would make him risk appearing in front of the school in clown make-up.

     He set his hand down and wrote his name, then felt the quill's magic take over. His eyes went wide as he saw the first few letters coming from the pen, but even taking his hand off didn't help. It went on writing without his power.

     Severus Snape: Kissing Booth.

     "This is preposterous!" he spat at the headmaster, who was standing right next to the table and chuckling softly. "I will not! I cannot! These are my students. It's entirely inappropriate."

     Dumbledore shrugged. "I don't believe the manner of kiss in a Kissing Booth is set in stone. A peck on the cheek should be fine, don't you think, Minerva?" From her post by the inkwell, McGonagall looked on silently with a thin-lipped grimace that Snape thought boded ill for his chances of changing assignments. "Well, there you are, Severus. And since you've gone so early in the draw, there's no question that it's what you're best suited for. You can manage a sign and a booth frame by bright and sharp on Saturday?"

     His nostrils flared, but he didn't say a word. There had to be some way out of this other than throwing a tantrum like a child, but he wouldn't find it here.

   "Excellent." With a smile, Dumbledore held up that infernal quill to the next professor in line. "Aurora, if you would? Yes, right there. Thank you... Well, a planetarium, is it?! That sounds lovely. Ah, Filius! Your turn..."

     Not a soul remarked on Snape's march out of the room. All he heard was Dumbledore's banter with the line of faculty and the whip of his own robes billowing through the air.