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07 January 2008 @ 05:17 pm
Omniocular Challenge Fic: Transfigurations  
Well, it's later than it was supposed to be and longer than it was supposed to be, but it's finally finished, beta-ed and edited.  Label me happy.
 

Title: Transfigurations

Rating: PG

Total Word Count: 11,900

Author Note: a response to a prompt from the [info]omniocular November Challenge 95. The Ministry tries to eliminate evil by sending all Slytherins to Azkaban for life immediately after sorting. With many thanks to LilyAyl for betaing – any remaining mistakes are all mine.

Summary: Hogwarts reopens in September as usual, but it hasn't yet been fully repaired following the battle in May. The lower levels are flooded, so the Ministry helpfully arranges alternative accommodation for Slytherin students. As the 'temporary' solution starts to become a more permanent one the Slytherins and their new Head of House try fighting back.

 

Part One: Transfigurations and Head of House

"I must admit I'm...surprised by your application for this position, Miss Parkinson. If I may be frank, you showed little aptitude for Transfigurations in class."

Pansy wondered if frowning was Professor McGonagall's default expression or if the stress of trying to keep her promise of accepting students to Hogwarts on the first of September as usual despite the fact that the school still resembled a battle site was beginning to show on the new Headmistress.

"Frankly, being a Pureblood female I was advised that it was prudent to show little aptitude for subjects traditionally considered to be the dominion of men."

"By who?" Professor Sprout, seated to one side in a squashy green armchair, added her frown to that of the Headmistress.

"My mother." She folded her hands in her lap, determined not to fidget. "If you require further references than those I provided with my application there are a few select members of my House that I can owl. I made an excellent tutor."

Pansy had read that maintaining eye contact encouraged prospective employers to become actual employers so she tried to keep her eyes on the Headmistress. They flickered over to Sprout when the witch spoke and had wandered a little early on in the interview as she took in the few changes to the office by its new occupant – which thankfully included only a limited amount of tartan – but other than that she thought she wasn’t fairing too badly.

"Your references weren't that extensive, no, but then you have only just left school," said McGonagall.

"I attended the NEWT exams that the Ministry organised in July. I passed."

"It's a question of having little teaching experience," Sprout put in, not unkindly.

McGonagall inspected her over the top of her square-framed glasses. "Little teaching experience in addition to your little... outburst, shall we say, towards the end of the last school year."

"I wasn't – I mean, it didn't..." Pansy wet her lips and focused on the Headmistress' left ear. "I didn't fight on either side during the altercation in May. I left, along with the vast majority of the student population."

"Indeed." The Headmistress’ lips didn’t seem to be getting any thinner, which was a good sign. She had never failed to display her displeasure that way in the classroom.

"I was under the impression that Hogwarts doesn't usually advertise for teaching staff in the Daily Prophet, suggesting that you haven't had many applicants, if any, and I understand that following Professor Slughorn's return to retirement you have no Slytherins on staff and therefore have a Head of House position that needs to be filled."

"Are you suggesting yourself as a Head of House as well?" McGonagall's eyebrows crept towards her hairline.

"Have you had any other Slytherin applicants to fill...vacated positions?"

"Professors not previously affiliated with a House have been known to be assigned as temporary Heads of House."

"So you expect Slytherin applicants next year then?"

She carefully kept a blank face as Sprout watched her watching McGonagall.

"I suspect not." McGonagall paused. "It would require a great deal of work."

Pansy allowed herself to smile slightly.

~*~

Pansy walked to the school gates as quickly as her 'interview shoes' would allow on the uneven ground, picking her way around particularly large holes yet to be filled in. The castle was suffering from collapsed walls, flooding in the lower levels, lingering curses and general damage from various hexes, so it would probably be a while before the grounds would be attended to.

She considered picking up something alcoholic from Hogsmeade, but she had no idea what was planned for dinner, so she apparated straight to the doorstep of the two-bedroom house that she shared with the only other member of her year from Slytherin House who wasn't dead or abroad.

"Draco owled," Greg called out as she shut the front door behind her.

Great.”

The stairs that led to the second floor and the attic room, that refused to heat up regardless of how many warming charms she attacked it with, were barely a step away, but the living room door was propped open to the right so there was some space to manoeuvre in the so-called entrance hall for once.

She hung her cloak up carefully on one of the metal wall hooks before toeing her shoes off, leaving them where they fell.

"He's in Singapore now."

"Wonderful. I'm going to take a shower."

"They eat a lot of fish there." Greg's voice followed her up the stairs.

~*~

Considering the amount of work that she assumed would be needed to make Hogwarts fit for students again, she had been surprised when the letter containing her teaching contract told her to arrive on the first of September via the Hogwarts Express. There was something about needing a 'responsible adult presence on the train' for 'reassurance', but she'd expected to be asked to arrive early to help with repairs.

Obviously her presence hadn't been required.

Still, thinking about being unwelcome whilst about to enter the Great Hall for the Welcoming Feast was probably a bad idea, so she took a deep breath and dismissed the thought.

There were only two seats left at the staff table and presumably the one next to the Headmistress was for her Deputy, who was no doubt checking the first years were presentable. She made sure that she walked to the front of the Hall at her usual pace, then sat down in the chair at the very end of the table with her ankles neatly crossed. Presumably this was where the new teachers sat. She refused to think that being a Head of House ought to be taken into consideration.

On her right her dinner companion leaned forward, trying to get her attention, but Pansy pretended not to notice. It was a good thing there wasn't any food on the plates in front of them or Trelawney would have dragged her many bangles and lacy sleeves through it in a most uncouth manner.

There were, however, drinks. Pansy picked up her goblet and sipped. She had always wondered if the goblets on the staff table were filled with something stronger than pumpkin juice, but apparently not.

"I thought you wanted to get involved in political reform?" said a smooth male voice on the other side of Trelawney. Pansy glanced sideways, only to see red hair. She knew she shouldn't be surprised at the sight of a Weasley, since there were so many in the world, but at least this wasn't one who'd been at school with her. She'd have liked to say he wasn't familiar at all, but thanks to the Daily Prophet she could put names to the faces of the entire clan and this one was –

"It's only for a year or so, Bill, until the Headmistress gets things back to normal."

- talking to Granger. Hermione 'Hand Waving' Granger.

She'd been informed that all of the 'War Heroes' had passed their NEWTS over the summer and weren't coming back for another seventh year. Perhaps she ought to have checked the staff list as well.

"I did consider Transfigurations, but Muggle Studies is more important, and had fewer applicants," Granger continued.

"How many applied for Transfigurations?"

"Two." They both looked down the table at her and Pansy debated whether ignoring them or smiling would be more irritating, but by the time she'd reached a decision they'd already turned away.

At that point Professor Sprout sailed into the Hall at the front of a crowd of nervous first years. Pansy lowered her goblet and maintained an air of politeness whilst the Sorting Hat introduced itself. She ignored the singing, then played her part for the rest of the pleasantries, clapping politely, noting which students were Sorted into Slytherin and standing up when introduced as "the new Transfigurations teacher and Head of Slytherin House, Professor Parkinson".

Her old housemates looked her over. She thought about raising an eyebrow at them in the style of Snape, but that last time she'd tried that particular facial expression the mirror had laughed, so she settled for a slight nod of the head instead.

Then the food arrived and she discovered that, whilst the goblets were seemingly restricted to non-alcoholic beverages, there was definitely a touch of red wine in the sauce that accompanied the chicken.

"If I may have your attention," the Headmistress said, rising to her feet some time later. "Now that you have finished eating there are a few notices to be given. First, some sections of the castle are under construction and have been marked as dangerous. Please respect the boundary spells in place as they are for your own safety. Mr Filch asks me to remind you that no Weasley products are allowed on the premises." Her lips quirked upwards in a small smile. "For a full list of prohibited possessions and practices please visit his office. And the Forbidden Forest, as always, remains forbidden. New students will please follow their Prefects to their dormitories, although Slytherin House will remain seated please."

Her fellow teachers descended from the raised platform the staff table was positioned on and starting leaving the Hall through a small side entrance. Pansy stood, but made no move to follow.

"The Slytherins are not being detained for a mass detention," McGonagall commented, joining her at the edge of the platform.

Pansy thought about saying something witty in reply, but settled on "Of course, Professor."

"We're still having some difficulties with repairs, as I'm sure you're aware, and, unfortunately, flooding in the lower levels is one of them. Making the student’s dormitories livable was our priority over the summer, but I'm afraid the dungeons are still uninhabitable."

Pansy felt herself relax a little. "And where are the Slytherins to be re-housed?"

"We considered the Room of Requirement, but it isn't in a co-operative mood at the moment."

She nodded, as if she knew what the Headmistress was going on about.

"The Ministry has arranged alternative accommodation outside of the castle." Her lips twisted a little. "They've been most helpful during the rebuilding and yet... Well, Shacklebolt is shaping up to be an excellent Minister, but the Ministry is more than the man in charge."

"The man in charge of the many men in charge," Pansy said quietly.

McGonagall pursed her mouth. "Indeed. Anyway, Mr Harlow is the – and this would be him."

The man that came out of the side door in the opposite direction to the leaving faculty members was what Pansy had always envisioned as a typical Ministry bureaucrat. He was over seventy, if white hair and wrinkles were any indication of age, with a traditionally-cut robe and neatly combed hair brushing the tops of his shoulders. He came over and made a small bow to the pair of them.

"This is Felix Harlow, the Ministry representative in charge of overseeing all Ministry employees engaged in the rebuilding effort at Hogwarts," the Headmistress said formally. "Mr Harlow, this is Professor Parkinson, Head of Slytherin House. I've just been informing her that the Ministry has made alternative arrangements of living quarters for the students in her care."

"A pleasure, Professor Parkinson," he said, smiling down at her. "The Ministry has designed a portkey keyed to myself so that anyone within a set radius will be transported to our destination, including their belongings. It is our hope that you and your students will travel with me from the living quarters provided to Hogwarts before breakfast at the start of each school day and return at the end of the evening meal. I trust that everything will be to your satisfaction."

"Some students like to use the library after the evening meal," Pansy pointed out.

"Of course. This is only a temporary measure, Professor. I'm sure your students will be back in Hogwarts before such diligent studying becomes necessary."

"Of course."

"Well, I'll leave you to it then," said the Headmistress. "Let me know if you have any problems, Professor Parkinson. Mr Harlow." She inclined her head at the Ministry official and left the Hall.

Pansy excused herself then raised her voice to address her students for the first time.

"As the Headmistress has said, I'm Professor Parkinson, your Head of House." Over a hundred eyes glued themselves to her, which did nothing for her confidence. "Unfortunately the lower levels are still flooded after the events of last May, which means the dormitories are uninhabitable."

The first years at the foot of the table looked confused and a little worried. Pansy found herself addressing them more than the rest of the House, feeling secure in the knowledge that to them she would be seen as a teacher and not a former classmate.

"The Slytherin dormitories are in the dungeon. However, the Ministry has stepped in and provided us with somewhere outside Hogwarts to stay whilst the repairs are being finished. We will be using a specialized portkey to and from Hogwarts, arriving for the start of breakfast and leaving at the end of dinner."

There were a few groans from people she knew from experience weren't early risers.

"It goes without saying that I expect everyone to be on their best behavior," she continued, trying to think what McGonagall would say. "Please gather in the entrance hall and Prefects, keep an eye out for the first years." She turned to Mr Harlow, lowering her voice. "The entrance hall will be a sufficient place for us to use the portkey, correct?"

"That will be fine," he assured her.

They moved with the flow of students out of the Great Hall and Mr Harlow proceeded to explain the process of using a portkey. The older students looked bored, but the first through third years listened carefully. Two first years listened especially hard, perhaps betraying a lack of familiarity with magic, and Pansy made a note to keep an eye on them.

It was a little discerning using a portkey without being in physical contact with it and Pansy had to stop herself reaching out for the small book that Harlow was holding firmly, but the ‘landing’ was the same and most of the students stumbled, or at least wobbled.

She looked around with as much curiosity as her students when they arrived in their temporary living quarters. In all honesty it was not so different to the dungeons at Hogwarts, with old stonework and no windows.

The room they had portkeyed into was large and square with various seating arrangements as would be found in a common room and a small fireplace on each wall. Two doors at either side presumably led off to dormitories and bathrooms for male and female students. Harlow confirmed her suspicions then pointed out a third door next to the one leading to the female quarters as a living area for her. Once assured that their belongings were already in place the students lost no time in rushing off to explore, the older ones thankfully at a more sedentary pace.

"And the way into the main building?" Pansy asked.

"Oh, we want the students to feel as safe here as they would at Hogwarts, Professor Parkinson. This is meant to be more of an extension of the castle than a hotel, so this area has been...cut off." He was still smiling. "No fear, I'll be here every day at the correct time for your transportation. If that's everything for tonight, shall I leave you to get settled in?"

Pansy tried to think of anything that might be important before tomorrow morning, but drew a blank. Harlow appeared to be waiting, so she asked something obvious to be polite.

"Am I allowed to inquire where we are?"

"In the North Sea, so not so far from Hogwarts actually. Too far away and it would have been harder to make our portkey function so reliably."

"No where near Azkaban, I hope," she said, trying to match his teasing tone, and for the first time his smile faltered.

 

Part Two

 

 
 
feeling: accomplishedaccomplished
 
 
 
inksplotched on February 4th, 2008 06:42 am (UTC)
Psst, doll. Tomorrow this story will be recced at Coffee-and-Chocolate.com. :)
inkvoicesinkvoices on February 4th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
*jaw drops followed by happy dance*
inksplotched on February 5th, 2008 03:47 am (UTC)
*grins* Glad you're happy, you deserve it!

(I can't imagine writing anything this long, let alone this good.
inkvoicesinkvoices on February 5th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
Meh, this is the longest fic I've written and it really wasn't meant to be. It was a challenge fic, but its bunnies had babies.