Note : This story is in response to an idea given by Twisted Biscuit on the fiction alley forums. I don't know how to link to it, but you should be able to find it if you look hard enough. Many thanks for letting me try it out! The characters are not mine either. Actually very little is mine except for the order of words on the page.
The story is set after the battle for Hogwarts. Not the 'real' battle - just one that could have happened.
"Good evening Professor. Thank you for inviting us." The assembled team of ministry wizards and witches quickly took their places up in McGonagall's office, giving every indication that they would have forced their way in - with or without invitation.
"Really!" she huffed, trying to gain control of the situation. "I don't see any reason why this is necessary. Hogwarts has been open for nearly a thousand years and never in all that time has the ministry seen fit to demand a..." she paused as if struggling to say a particularly difficult word, "...health and safety check."
Percy Weasley stepped forward. "Before now, Hogwarts' defences had never been completely breached either. All those explosive spells going off in the corridors; the handful of giants who smashed their way inside; you-know-who himself smashing a hole in the south tower. Not to mention my brothers." A collective shudder passed between some of the officials. They remembered all too well some of the more 'interesting' inventions the twins had used against the Death Eaters. They had dedicated a whole ward in Saint Mungos to cater for some of the worse off victims.
McGonagall was not to be deterred.
"Now listen here. Just because we have a few problems in the castle that doesn't mean there needs to be a full investigation. It's nothing a few spells won't fix..."
She was interrupted by the sound of shouting outside. It sounded like a Quidditch match was going on.
"That seems awfully loud Professor," Percy's eyes were drawn to a gently swaying curtain that was draped over one of the walls, "and didn't that wall used to have portraits on it?"
He pulled back the curtain and gasped. There was a large chunk of stone missing from the wall, leaving a drop all the way down to the grass outside.
"Professor! Do you know how dangerous this is? Anyone could just slip and fall through there!"
As if to emphasise his point, another piece of stonework fell away from around the hole and crashed to the ground, landing not 6 feet away from a passing student. The near-victim was so used to parts of the castle falling apart; he just looked up and waved.
"That does it! We are starting today!" With that, the team filed out of the room, parchments in hand. As they slammed the door behind them, there was a creaking noise, followed by the door falling inwards with a crash.
McGonagall sighed. They were doomed.
"In this class we should be attempting to brew the fourth most powerful sticking potion ever created, but as you know by now the entire school supplies were destroyed. When Professor Hagrid returns from what is left of the Forbidden Forest hopefully he will have managed to find some replacements. Until then I want everyone to memorise the steps involved and then write down 25 different things that could go wrong and how you could be injured by it. Begin."
Percy looked down at the parchment entitled 'Potions' and put an X by 'Lesson running as expected'.
"P-p-professor," started Percy, still finding it hard not to fear the long-standing potions master, "just exactly how long do you expect it to take to replace the ingredients that were lost?"
"Lost?" Snape replied, "They are in no way lost; I know exactly where they are. Their ashes are scattered across half of the Quidditch Pitch, along with the back wall of my supply room. Some imbecile hit a weak point in the wall with a strong explosive curse and agitated some of the more reactive ingredients. The impact killed 15 people - 13 of them Death Eaters."
Snape grinned as though his supplies were personally responsible for winning the battle.
"How long Professor?" Percy sighed.
"Assuming our esteemed Grounds Keeper can even recognise the most basic of ingredients I think we should be able to start making some first year potions again in around 3 weeks. The rarest herbs may take up to a year to track down, and even then Hogwarts considers buying potion supplies a low priority."
Percy scribbled another note on his parchment.
"So after 3 weeks Potions should begin returning to normal?" Considering the damage Percy didn't think that was too bad.
"I didn't say that. At that point we will have the ingredients but there is still the matter of constructing a chemically and magically balanced place to store them. During the explosion it seems a few small flies inhaled some gillyweed vapour along with some other mixtures of things, and have now grown to ten times their size and taken up residence in the store room. As of yet we have been unable to remove them. They seem to breed just as fast as we can kill them."
He pulled back his right sleeve and showed the array of nasty looking scars and cuts along his arm.
"Occasionally," he added, "one escapes. This was from a particularly nasty one. They are becoming resistant to most magic."
Percy put another X next to 'Safe working environment'. There was a loud booming noise and the walls shook slightly.
"And are remarkably strong."
Percy added a second X.
"T-t-thank you Professor. I'll just be leaving now. I have a lot of places to visit today." With that Percy hurried out of the dungeons.
A dozen shouts of curses rang around greenhouse 4 and jets of coloured lights shot into the array of plants.
"Good!" Professor Sprout shouted, "Keep on firing at will. I think I see them beginning to weaken slightly. Not much longer and we will have this whole greenhouse under control again."
The class continued firing the spells into the plants, occasionally shouting or screaming as one of the more offended plants made a grab for them. Professor Sprout then noticed Percy edging his way into the greenhouse, cautiously aiming his wand at anything that was green and looked like it was moving.
"Hello there Percy, come in, come in. Don't worry we nearly have this one under control now. That side is clear at least. It's been quite a battle this one, but we should have it clear by the end of the day."
"What the hell happened here?" Percy asked, watching a small shrub - he couldn't remember the name - dodging a cutting curse.
"Well it was quite remarkable from what I understand," explained Professor Sprout, pausing occasionally to fire a curse or two to help out the students. "Apparently an evenerate curse, an engorgio charm, and a magic replenishing charm collided and then hit the middle of the mandrake patch. The mandrake that was hit then screamed, exploded the nearest Death Eater's head, stole his wand, and then began to wage war on the castle. Nevile! Duck!"
He ducked just in time to avoid a massive vine covered in thorns that swung just passed where his head was only seconds before. A few curses collided with it and it fell to the floor.
"Now where was I?" she continued. "Oh yes. It started animating other plants around it, and took over all of greenhouses 1 through 6. As you know greenhouse 7 was completely burned down as part of the defensive plan."
"Luckily the originally affected mandrake seems to be the only one who can actually cast any magic, but he has holed himself up in greenhouse 1. We have some lookouts outside to see if we can hit him with a spell or two but he seems too smart for that."
"What about normal lessons? And the damage that is being done to the rest of the plants?"
"There is nothing we can do about that. We simply must win the battle and regain all the greenhouses. The mandrake, or the General as we like to call him, took a first year prisoner yesterday. We can only hope to reach him in time. After that we can start regrowing things. I don't think we will fully be able to start lessons again until next year. It will take that long to get the plants growing again at least."
Percy put a complete set of Xs on his parchment.
"On the bright side though," Professor Sprout added, "We lured a troll in there yesterday too. 2 hours later its head shot out. It seems they hate trolls nearly as much as we do, and are getting quite ruthless."
Percy paled, and fled back to the relative safety of castle.
A/N : Coming next time. Percy explores more of the castle - and begins talking to some of the students we all know so well.