The Coven of Prefects
Disclaimer: Not my characters, no money being made, etc., etc.
Chapter 1 : So Now that You're a Prefect...
Freshly-minted fifth-year Prefect Hermione Granger frowned when her Slytherin counterpart entered the unused classroom.
"What are you doing here, Parkinson?"
"I was invited," the pug-nosed witch replied. "Presumably just like you."
The truth behind Pansy's statement was supported when Hannah Abbott and Padma Patil entered the room.
"Oh…must be a meeting of new female Prefects," said Padma, as she took a seat next to Hermione.
"And you need to be a Ravenclaw to figure that out?" snarked Pansy.
"No," Padma replied evenly. "But you might need to be a Ravenclaw in order to figure out why it wasn't the Headmaster that called this meeting, or why the male Prefects aren't involved."
"Either a Ravenclaw or Hermione," said Hannah, with a nod towards the Gryffindor.
"You'll all find out soon enough, if you take a seat," said a voice from the doorway.
The young witches complied as Septima Vector entered the classroom and cast both locking charms on the door and silencing spells on the walls, floor and ceiling. Once the room's security had been adequately addressed, the Arithmancy professor turned to the four younger witches and smiled.
"Let me begin by congratulating you on your selection as Fifth-Year Prefects…I am certain that over the next three years you will all serve both your school and your sister witches with distinction."
"Sister witches, Professor?" asked Hannah. "I've read through the Prefect's Handbook twice, but don't recall seeing any gender-specific responsibilities listed there."
"Nothing in Hogwarts, a History, either," added Hermione.
Vector smiled. "That is because both books were written and edited by wizards," she explained. "Your prefect responsibilities to the female population at Hogwarts are codified by unwritten rules that have been secretly passed down through the years, from one witch to another."
At the sight of four confused faces, the Arithmancy professor asked, "Perhaps some background is in order?" When the four fifth-years all nodded, the elder witch began her story.
"You have, no doubt, heard stories about Hogwarts' broom closets being used for activities unrelated to cleaning supplies? Perhaps one or more of you have even had personal experience with this kind of activity?"
The four new Prefects cast furtive looks at each other, and considered if any or all of them were in the latter camp.
"Having all read the Prefect's Handbook," Vector continued, "you know the rules, and your obligations as Prefects should you discover snogging couples during your nighttime patrols."
"Yes, Professor," the witches all replied.
"Well, I'm hear to reveal a sad reality," said Vector. "These rules are unevenly applied, and within our patriarchal system it's the witches who always come out on the short end of the broomstick."
"How so, Professor?" Hermione asked.
"In any number of ways," Vector replied with a sigh. "With the two most important involving love potions and lesbians."
"What?" asked the four female Prefects (using slightly different words that were nonetheless voiced at the same time and with the same incredulity.)
"Love potions and lesbians," repeated the professor.
"Lesbians using love potions?" asked Padma.
"No, no…separate issues," Vector replied. "Take love potions first….you four have heard of them, I suppose?"
"Amortentia?" asked Hermione.
"That, along with nastier potions that involve compulsion, memory loss, or lowered inhibitions," the elder witch stated. "Over the years, hundreds of male students have likely either used them on unknowing witches, or tried to escape sanctions by claiming that they were the victim of a love potion once they were caught in the act."
The Fifth-Years sat silently and considered the disturbing possibilities.
"I could see how wizards could use magic to lure their victims into broom closets," Hermione stated. "But how would they use love potions to escape blame once they're discovered?"
"They could dose themselves after the fact," Pansy Parkinson said quietly. "Probably carry a vial of love potion with them, and down it after they'd been caught with their robes down around their ankles."
"So that they could claim that it was the witch who had enticed him into the broom closet by giving him the potion?" asked Hannah.
"Sneaky bastards," hissed Padma. "So what happens when the witch claims their innocence?"
"The wizards take care of their own," Vector said bitterly. "Even when the boy gets caught trying to take the potion after the fact, their crimes are waved off with the attitude that 'wizards will be wizards'."
"What about the lesbians?" Hannah quietly asked (leading the others to wonder if there was more than idle curiosity behind it).
Vector snorted. "What lesbians?" she asked. "Don't you know that lesbians don't exist within the wizarding world?"
"That would seem to be a statistical impossibility," said Hermione.
"Oh it is, it is," the Arithmancy professor replied ruefully. "But that doesn't keep the Ministry or our beloved Headmaster from trying to make it so."
"What do you mean?" asked Hermione. "Is there some magical 'cure' for homosexuality?"
"No," replied the elder witch. "But there are wizards in positions of power who can cast powerful memory charms, and aren't afraid of using them in the name of the so-called greater good."
"What greater good could be served by brainwashing?" Hermione asked.
"Keeping an adequate supply of breeding stock on hand," offered Pansy. "Use your brain, Granger…what good is a pure-blood witch if she isn't willing to spread her legs for a pure-blood wizard and produce pure-blood magical heirs?"
"Is this true, professor?" Hermione asked warily.
"I'm afraid so, Miss Granger," the Professor replied.
"So there are laws proscribing lesbian acts?"
"No," Vector replied. "Female homosexuality is treated as a serious mental ailment, rather than a crime…something to be needs to be cured."
"Cured with memory charms?" Hermione asked incredulously. "How can you cure someone that is inherently born a lesbian by altering her memory?"
"You can't, at least not completely," Vector admitted. "But that doesn't stop them from trying."
"So," Pansy asked, "What would happen if Granger and Patil were caught snogging in a broom closet?"
"What?" Hermione demanded.
"Oh don't get your knickers in a twist," the Slytherin snarked. "It's just a hypothetical question…everyone knows that the only thing you'd want to hump is a thick book with a ribbed spine."
"That's outrageous…I've never…"
"Yeah, you've never…just like I said," Pansy shot back.
"Enough, Miss Parkinson," the professor testily interjected. "Now, to answer the extremely hypothetical question, Hermione and Padma would be brought to the Headmaster's Office," Vector stated. "The Headmaster would use a spell to invade each of their minds, and review their memories and feelings towards each other. If there's any indication that the snogging was more than curious experimentation, then he would plant a strong suggestion deep into their minds that they fancy wizards rather than witches, and alter any memories of their lesbian activity by replacing their female lover with a wizard."
"A wizard?" asked Hermione with alarm. "So what if Padma and I were doing more than just snogging…what if I was caught with my head in between her legs?"
"Speaking hypothetically, Granger?" Pansy asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Of course," Hermione quickly replied, flushing just a bit at the question.
Vector cocked her chin slightly, as she considered the exchange of words. "Well, Hermione," she then replied, "Dumbledore would alter your memories, so that instead of performing oral sex on Padma, you would remember sucking off a male classmate, and enjoying it just as much as you had the cunnilingus."
"Ewww," shuddered Hannah. "Would she have any say in which wizard she thought that she had blown?"
Vector shook her head.
"So how does the manipulative old bastard decide?" asked Pansy.
"It varies," the Arithmancy professor replied. "In the three of four cases that I've heard about during my career here, it's either been to the closest male friend of the witch, or to a wizard that would make a favorable political alliance."
"Favorable to the Headmaster, I would imagine," stated Pansy, with Vector nodding in agreement.
Hermione shuttered at the thought, and her face turned pale.
"What's the matter, Granger?" asked Pansy. "Don't fancy the memory of going down on The-Boy-Who-Lived?"
"No," Hermione replied weakly. "I don't fancy the thought that Dumbledore might swap Harry's for Ron's."
"Not that Hermione has to worry about being placed in that situation, right, Hermione?" asked Padma.
"Of course not," Hermione quickly replied.
"Yeah, right," snorted Pansy.
"Getting back on track," said Hannah. "What can we, as Prefects, do about these things?"
"You can, and will, protect the witches of Hogwarts," Vector replied. "Should you come across a heterosexual liaison during your patrols, you will ensure that the witch is there of her own free will, and keep the wizard from trying to displace any blame."
"And if it's a homosexual couple in that broom closet?"
"You will keep their secrets for them," Vector replied. "Even if that requires you to memory charm the male Prefect that you are patrolling with."
"Memory charm?" asked Hannah. "I don't know how to cast one of those."
"You will be taught," Vector replied.
"By you professor?"
"No, by the Coven."
"Which Coven?" Hermione asked.
"The Coven of Prefects," Vector stated.
"Excuse me, professor," asked Hannah, leaving the existed of a coven for a moment, "Would we help keep gay wizards in the closet as well?"
"Yes," Vector replied. "They get the same treatment from the Headmaster, and apart from the fairness of it all…you wouldn't want to run the risk that Dumbledore would make a gay wizard think that he really fancied one of you, would you?"
"Depends on the wizard," snarked Pansy.
"So, let me get this straight," Hermione said. "We've just been selected as Prefects to uphold the school's rules, but we're also being unofficially asked to break school rules to protect sexually active witches and gay wizards."
"That's the gist of it," Vector replied.
"I thought that I just explained why," the professor stated.
"She's asking what's in it for her," said Pansy.
The older witch pursed her lips as she looked at her young charges.
"Well…to be honest, it was the opinion of both past and present female Prefects that at least a few of you might want to act out of motivated self-interest."
As the professor's words quietly sunk in, each of the teen-aged witches blushed bright red, either from anger, embarrassment, or a combination of both.
"Are you accusing us of being witch's witches?" Hermione asked.
The Arithmancy professor closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"No, not at all. But even if I thought you were all lesbians, I couldn't 'accuse' any of you…that would imply that I considered my own sexual preferences to be wrong in some way."
"You mean that you're…"
"Involved in a closeted loving long-term relationship with another witch?" asked Vector. "In a word….yes."
"So how did you…what makes you think that….I mean, we were so careful about it…." Hannah stammered.
"We've been tracked from the start, I imagine," Padma said quietly. "Assessed for certain tendencies, or our reactions to the tendencies of friends or family, then groomed for the job."
"Yes, I'm afraid so," Vector admitted.
"So all of the female Prefects are gay?" asked Hannah.
"No, not all," the professor replied. "Only some of the current or former prefects are lesbian. Others are bisexual, or 'experimented' in their younger days…but most are nothing more than gay-friendly straights."
Pansy grinned. "You better have an 'asexual' category if Granger is going to be involved."
Hermione frowned. "You sound disappointed, Pansy. Fancy a snog so that I can prove you wrong?"
"You wish, Granger."
"Not presently, but if you play your cards right I'll keep you in mind," Hermione said sweetly, as she batted her eyelashes.
"Ladies…" warned Vector.
"Yes, Professor," Hermione replied. She then paused for a moment, and frowned.
"Does this mean that being selected a Prefect had nothing to do with our accomplishments, and everything to do with our sexual orientation, or gay-friendly attitudes?"
"Not at all, Hermione…not at all," Vector replied quickly. "There's no way that any of you could have been made a Prefect without your classroom accomplishments. Especially Padma and Pansy, given the fact that it's the Heads of Houses that nominate Prefects."
"So the male heads aren't involved with this…this grooming…but the female heads are?" Hermione asked.
Vector paused to bite her lower lip, then finally nodded. "The Coven has been active for more than two hundred years, and Professors McGonagall and Sprout were both Prefects during their careers as students."
At sight of Hermione's raised eyebrow, the elder witch quickly added, "But even their nominations have to be approved by Dumbledore, and he certainly isn't in the know on this."
Seeing that Hermione didn't seem convinced, Padma reached out and touched the Gryffindor witch's shoulder. "Hermione…you know that you deserve it."
"Besides," Padma added with a grin. "You and I both know that if cleaning out another witch's cauldron was the only requirement, that McGonagall would have picked either my sister or Lavender."
"Both Lavender and Parvati are…" asked Hannah wondrously.
"Hush, now," Vector asked. "Loose lips sink ships."
"In more ways than one," said Hermione.
"The specific example is instructive, however," the professor stated. "The witch that keeps quiet when her dorm mates share a bed, but forget the silencing charms, is more likely to be sympathetic to our cause."
"Same for a witch whose sister shares all of her secrets with her?" asked Padma.
"So, what if I deny liking witches," Pansy asked, "and refused to go along with this scheme, or to work with these other…hag-shaggers?"
The Arithmancy professor scowled, and drew her wand. "Mind your tongue, missy. I can't take points or issue a detention for fear of explaining why, but that wouldn't stop me from hexing you."
"Same for us," Hermione stated sharply.
Pansy turned toward the other students and found three wands pointed towards her head.
"Denying it, and buying into self-loathing will only hurt you in the end," said Hannah.
"I agree," said Vector. "But to answer your second question…none of you are required to do anything. That said, any of you who refuse to join the Coven, and to take the required unbreakable vows, will be obliviated, and more than likely replaced as Prefect."
"What?" Hermione demanded. "So unless we're willing to join this subversive coven of vigilante lesbians and employ mind control techniques on others, we'll be ourselves made the vicitms of mind control, and lose the leadership positions that you say we've earned?"
There was a stunned silence as the others processed this accusation.
"There's no other way," Professor Vector finally replied.
"Of course there is," Hermione countered. "There's always another way."
"What's got you so twisted, Granger?" Padma demanded. "The idea of losing a bit of your memory, or your Prefect position?"
"Both," Hermione retorted. "I can't believe how casually the use of mind control techniques are being bandied about...to think that someone thinks they have the right to enter a person's mind without their consent, or to erase their memories..."
Vector sighed. "If it's any consolation, Hermione, you wouldn't be the first muggleborn to object to the wizarding world's views on privacy matters."
"Is that supposed to make it easier for me to accept, Professor?"
"No, not at all, it's just....let me try to explain," Vector said, as she leaned back against the desk in front of the room.
"Hermione, what do you think is the primary responsibility of the Ministry of Magic?"
"To drag Harry Potter's name through the mud?"
"Yes it might seem like that these days," Vector admitted. "But keeping Fudge's questionable actions separate, what's the core responsibility?"
Hermione thought for a moment. "Well, the primary responsibility of any national government is to provide for the collective security of its citizenry."
"Wow, Granger, where'd you memorize that from?" Pansy snarked.
"Hush," Vector admonished. "So, Hermione, if you're right, how should the Ministry of Magic go about this task?"
"By believing Harry about the Dark Lord's return and doing something about it," Hermione replied.
Professor Vector nodded. "That, I'm afraid, is only a secondary concern."
"Right," quipped Hermione. "What could be more important than keeping witches and wizards safe?"
"Keeping their secrets safe," said Hannah.
Vector nodded. "Keeping the secrets of the wizarding world safe from muggles is the primary responsibility of the Ministry of Magic, and every other magical government in the world."
"How could that be?"
"Because dark lords come, and dark lords go, but if the muggles found out about us we'd all be dead," said Pansy.
"Really?" asked Hermione. But even as she spoke the question, her mind was mulling over the available evidence that supported this claim.
Vector nodded. "Right or wrong, Hermione, it's been the Ministry's charge for more than three hundred years."
"So where are we going with this history lesson for the ignorant?" asked Pansy.
The Arithmancy professor ignored the slight, and pressed her point. "Hermione, in order for the Ministry to keep our world's secrets safe, it does things that you might consider to be a terrible invasion of privacy, but the wizarding world as a whole accepts as necessary."
"Like monitoring and tracking every use of magic within Britain," Vector stated. "There are wards and sensors in place that keep track of every spell cast...where the magic was performed, and when. Every time a witch casts a contraceptive charm in her bedroom, they know. Every time a wizard magically lengthens his penis, they know. Every magical cure for flatulence or bad-breath...every stick transformed into a dildo, every body cavity magically cleaned prior to sex..."
"Even at Hogwarts?" asked Hannah, not having considered some of these possibilities in the past.
Vector snorted. "Hogwarts is about the only place in Britain where that's not the case...the ambient levels of magic are so strong, that there's only a few spells they can track here."
"Which ones?" asked Pansy.
"The Unforgivables, mainly," Vector replied. "The point is, Hermione...everybody in the wizarding world knows that this monitoring is happening, but it's accepted as a part of life. Just as memory charms and mind reading are accepted in certain situations."
"Like when?" Hermione asked.
"Like when we were all sorted," Pansy snarked.
"Or when muggles are obliviated when they see magic performed," added Vector.
"So is that how it's rationalized?" asked Hermione. "Because the Ministry obliviates to protect the wizarding world's secrets, it's okay for the Coven to obliviate to protect the secrets of gay witches and wizards?"
"It's not a case of two wrongs making a right," countered Vector. "If there wasn't a threat of Dumbledore trying to convert lesbian students into straights, we wouldn't need to do what we do!"
"But is that the only way?" Hermione demanded. "Why not try to change the laws, or society's attitudes?"
"It's not like we haven't tried," said Vector. "But within our patriarchal society, it's slow-going. And within Hogwarts...well, it might be different if there were a Headmistress rather than Headmaster, but..."
"So change out Headmasters," Hermione said with a shrug.
"If only it were so simple," Vector said with a sigh. She did a quick Tempus spell and shook her head. "I'm sorry, but we can't risk spending much more time here in this unprotected classroom."
"But your wards..."
"Could easily be overpowered by the Headmaster," the professor replied. "I'm afraid that I need to ask you to make your decisions now."
"And you really would cast a memory charm on me if I say no?" Hermione demanded.
Vector bit her lip. "If it comes to that, I'm afraid so."
The Arithmancy professor wasn't surprised when Hermione asked to speak with her privately, or that once they moved to a corner of the room that Hermione was able to cast a strong localized silencing charm.
"Professor, I'm not sure what I should do," said Hermione.
Vector nodded in sympathy. "It is an awful lot to accept all at once."
"That the Headmaster would be that evil, and the wizarding world so patriarchal and misogynistic…"
"Well, it is called the 'wizarding world,' isn't it?"
"And that you and this Coven could rationalize manipulating the prefect selection process, or threaten memory charms..."
"I'm sorry that you think that way," the professor said sympathetically.
"And what's worse is the fact that if I refuse to go along with this, I'll go on blindly trusting the Headmaster, my Head of House, you..."
"I'm sorry that you feel that way about me, Hermione."
"Why shouldn't I?"
"Maybe because you know that our world is as misogynistic and patriarchal as I claim it is... think for a moment, Hermione…when you found out about the magical world, it explained the strange things that had happened earlier in your life, right?"
"So you're a smart and observant witch...are there things that happened while you were in Hogwarts that make more sense, within the context of what I've said tonight?"
Hermione mulled over the fact that she'd never seen an openly gay couple in the wizarding world, and recalled the panic in Parvati's eyes when Hermione suggested that she and Lavender use a silencing charm at night. And then there were the rumors…
"The two witches from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff last year?" asked Hermione. "The ones that were supposedly more than best friends, but suddenly ended that friendship and gained boyfriends at the same time?"
Vector closed her eyes and sighed. "I'm afraid so…Carol and Denise were too indiscreet for their own good, and got caught out by Filch despite our best efforts."
"That's horrible!" Hermione exclaimed, thinking that the situation was just as bad as the plight of the house elves. "But do the ends justify the means?"
Professor Vector sighed. "Hermione, I am not unsympathetic to your views, even though I have more to lose that you would if my inclinations were revealed. But if you want to see changes made in how the Coven protects witches, then do it from within."
Hermione shook her head at the bad choices before her. Her voice then softened, and she asked, "Will this Coven force me to do…things…things with other witches…that I might not be ready to do? I mean, I hate to admit it, but Pansy wasn't far off the mark in terms of my lack of experience."
Vector nodded sympathetically. She considered placing a comforting hand on the young witch's shoulder, but was afraid that it might be taken the wrong way.
"Hermione, dear…the Coven doesn't force any of its members to do anything beyond keeping its secrets and coming to the aid of other witches. You won't be asked to snog a witch to prove your loyalty…although you will encounter situations where you'll be in the company of witches openly showing affection for each other."
"Been there, done that," Hermione said ruefully.
"So we discovered last year," Vector replied with a sparkle in her eye.
"What if I want to leave this Coven after I learn more about it?"
Vector shrugged. "It hasn't happened since I've been a member, but if you wanted to leave, the magical oaths that you'd take tonight would prevent you from spilling our secrets."
Vector nodded. "So from that perspective...either way you won't be able to reveal the Coven's secrets, but if you joined the Coven and left later, at least you'll still have your ability to protect your mind through Occlumency, and to cast a wicked Obliviate spell."
Hermione considered her options. The whole situation stank, and made her reconsider her long-term future within the wizarding world. But over the short term...being a prefect and learning mind control charms might help Harry.
"Okay, I'm in," she said.
"Wonderful!" her professor exclaimed. She made to wrap Hermione into a hug, but hesitated.
"Oh, relax, Professor," Hermione said with a smile, as she stepped forward and embraced the older witch. "Sometimes a hug is just a hug."
After a few moments, the two witches stepped back from each other, and Hermione cancelled the silencing spell.
"So is that a yes, Hermione?" Padma asked with a smile.
When Hermione nodded, the Ravenclaw prefect said that she was also willing to go forward.
Hannah Abbott stood and said, "Me too…if for no other reason than to learn the true motives of someone I expect is on the other side of that wall."
"Becky?" asked Padma.
When Hannah confirmed the identity of the seventh-year Hufflepuff prefect who had shared her bed, she was pulled into a hug by her Gryffindor and Ravenclaw counterparts.
"I'm sure that the feelings were there," Padma whispered into Hannah's ear.
"I hope so," the Hufflepuff replied, as a single tear streaked down her cheek.
"Have faith, Hannah," counseled Hermione.
The three then turned towards the last to decide.
Pansy Parkinson scowled and sputtered, but eventually stood.
"Okay, fine, count me in," she snarled. "Just don't expect me to join your pathetic group hug, much less your beds."
"Wouldn't dream of it, Pansy," Hermione said with a smile.
"Excellent….just….excellent," Vector said brightly. "I'm so proud of you…of all of you. To be so brave…"
"Or cunning?" snarked Pansy.
"Yes, or cunning," the professor admitted.
"So about this initiation ceremony?" Hannah asked. "Are we going to have to do something painful or disgusting?"
"No," her Arithmancy professor stated a smile. "Just a few drops of blood to seal your vows, and your loyalty to the coven."
The elder witch then began to unbutton her own robes. "All initiates need to strip down completely for the ceremony," she explained, adding, "But don't worry…it will only be other Coven members in the room, and we'll be naked as well."
"Gaah…I have to see Granger's bits?" whined Pansy. "I thought that you said that we didn't have to do anything disgusting?"
Hermione laughed at the insult as she dropped her robes. "Oh Pansy…I'm so glad that this isn't going to change things between us."
"It certainly won't."
But Pansy's words were betrayed by her fears, once their clothes were shed, and Professor Vector placed blindfolds around each girl's head. As the older witch used her wand to open the hidden doorway, Pansy grew nervous and reached out towards the others. After some fumbling and inadvertent gropes, the Slytherin caught the hands of two others. She thought that it was Hannah and Padma, but it was Hermione who gave Pansy's hand a squeeze as they were led naked into the adjacent candle-lit room.