A Headmaster's Duties
Albus Dumbledore sighed.
It wasn't just any old sigh, either. It was a heavy sigh. A tired sigh. A sigh sighed by people who had worked a twelve hour shift at a manual labour industry and come home to put their feet up and have a nice, steaming cup of tea. It was that kind of sigh.
Only, Albus Dumbledore wasn't just coming home from work to put his feet up, and he certainly wasn't getting ready to have a cup of tea, although he wished he were.
No, Albus Dumbledore was far from being done with his work for the day.
You see, Albus was a Headmaster. Not just any old Headmaster, though. He was the Headmaster of a magic school named Hogwarts. And he had just been woken from a very peaceful slumber and told that one of his students was unconscious in the Hospital Wing, while another two had received a fair amount of scrapes and bruises, and still one more was being treated for a trauma-induced panic attack. Needless to say, he was not in the friendliest of moods—though he was trying to keep his cool—as he sat behind his mahogany desk and waited for one of the three lesser-injured students to enter his office.
A soft knock came to his door, and he sighed heavily once more before calling out a quiet, "Come in."
The door opened slowly, and a boy of sixteen years entered his study hesitantly. The boy had his left arm done up in a splint, and a large bandage across his forehead, just over his eye.
"Er, good evening, Professor," the boy greeted, shifting his weight from one leg to the other and raising his good hand to run it through his perpetually messy head of thick black hair, making it even messier.
As tired and irritated as Albus was, he had to fight to repress a chuckle. Only James Potter would dare to come into his office at two thirty in the morning—patched up with bandages he'd received at the hospital wing, where he'd had to go after his friend's little prank-gone-awry—and have the nerve to say something as cheeky as "Good evening, Professor".
Albus sighed yet again. "Good evening, James. Please, come in and have a seat."
Still looking slightly apprehensive, the boy moved to the cushioned Chintz chair in front of the Headmaster's desk, and perched gingerly on the edge.
"I am sure you are aware of why I called you here this evening, James," Albus began, settling himself more comfortably in his desk chair. He had a feeling this was going to be a very long night, and his old bones were beginning to feel the stress.
"Please, sir, let me explain," James cut in, tripping over the words in his haste to get them out. "I had no idea that Sirius told Snape about the tree until tonight. He came up to me in the common room, having just realized what he'd done—I guess Snape had been making cracks about Sirius's family, or something, so Sirius just blurted out that stuff about the tree to Snape, and stormed off before he really had time to think about what he was saying—and told me we had to stop Snape. So I told Pete to go get Madam Pomfrey, and Sirius to go find Professor McGonagall, and I went off to find Snape."
But the boy ignored him and kept going. Albus felt the corners of his lips twitch up into a smile.
"By the time I got out there, though, Snape was already way ahead of me, and I really had to run to catch up with him, and then, when I did catch up with him, I had to practically drag him out of the tunnel, and the whole time he was fighting me and yelling about how he was going to kill Sirius—"
"James, I know what—"
"Wait, wait, wait, Professor, I'm almost done! And so then, Sirius shows up, because, apparently, Professor McGonagall had told him to come stop me while she went to find you, and the two of them start throwing curses at each other. Then it got really messy—"
"James, I did not call you into my office to punish you."
James froze, his shoulders lifted from the deep breath he had just pulled in, his mouth open, ready to continue his rapid-fire explanation. His shoulders dropped back down and he leaned forward a little, as if to better hear the Headmaster.
"Sorry?" he asked politely. "It—it sounded like you said I wasn't in trouble, but I'm not sure."
Albus nodded in conformation. "That is exactly what I said, James, yes."
"James, the only part you had in the course of this evening's events was to pull Mr. Snape out of the way. You were not the person who decided to tell Mr. Snape what would happen if he went down to the Whomping Willow, nor were you the person who meddled in affairs that were none of his business."
James opened his mouth to interrupt again, but the Headmaster held his hand up. "Please James, if you will allow me to finish. I do believe I gave you the same courtesy."
The boy's mouth shut, and he sat back a little in his seat.
"Thank you. Now, points have already been deducted—three hundred from Gryffindor, and two hundred from Slytherin—"
"Three hundred?!" came the startled yelp. Albus merely looked down at James, his expression a mixture of humour and irritation, and the boy quickly righted his mistake. "Sorry."
"That is quite all right. As I was saying, points have already been deducted, but proper punishment has yet to be determined. You, though, as I have said once before this evening, are not here for punishment."
Albus chuckled lightly at the look of utter confusion on James's face. It was a relief to him that the boy hadn't guessed the reason for their late night chat—it proved once again that he wasn't nearly as pompous and cocky as some people fancied him being.
"I took three hundred points from Gryffindor, James, because I am awarding you a hundred points privately for your efforts in keeping Mr. Snape alive, and getting your best friend, as well as the boy you see as your enemy, back to the Hospital Wing."
James stared at him, eyes wide and jaw slack. "Sir, did you just—did you just say you were awarding me…one hundred points?"
"Privately, of course," Albus conceded, nodding. "I do not want this delicate situation to be made any worse by publicity, but yes, that was the general gist of what I said."
James's mouth opened and closed a few times, giving him a resemblance near to that of a goldfish, and then he finally managed to stutter out, "Th-thank you, sir."
"Oh, my pleasure, James. It was well deserved. Now, I suppose you are free to go back to the Hospital Wing—Madam Pomfrey wanted you to stay overnight, just as a precaution; apparently you hit your head pretty hard."
The boy stood, somewhat shakily, and turned to head towards the door. He had his hand on the knob, when Albus called his name.
James turned halfway around. "Sir?"
"I did not think this would be a problem for you James," the Headmaster said, "but I will say it just in case: I do not want this story being spread around the school. If I hear of such a thing, you will be punished. Am I understood?"
James nodded. "Yes, sir."
Albus sat back in his chair and smiled. "Very well then. Good night, James."
And with that, James Potter was gone, descended down the spiral staircase and past the guardian stone gargoyle.
Albus passed a hand wearily over his face and let his eyes droop closed as his head leaned against the back of his chair. That had gone well, he thought, but he still had to speak with two more students, visit the Hospital Wing, file injury reports to send to the Ministry, file detention and behavioural reports…the list was endless.
The clock on the wall struck three.
Albus wandered down the corridor, his wand tip lit, though the rising sun was making his magical light less necessary. He had just finished down at the Hospital Wing, the task he had put last on his priority list for the night, and was headed back to his study—as soon as he found the chamber pots, that is.
He was headed towards the staircase that led down to the first floor, knowing there was a loo just outside the Great Hall. He stopped though, an automatic reaction to hearing the two sets of footsteps on the stairs beneath him—a slow, heavy footfall, and then another, faster, staccato one.
He recognized the voice of Lily Evans—obviously the one with the faster footstep—and looked around quickly, ducking behind an old tapestry. He was not eavesdropping, he told himself—as he thought the word "eavesdropping" was a bit harsh. He was merely patiently waiting for two peoples' conversation to be over with so that he would not interrupt by walking past them, and he just happened to be in a place where he could conveniently hear what was being said. After all, it was his duty as Headmaster to know the goings on of his students, wasn't it?
James Potter came to a stop on the landing, one of his feet on the bottom step of the second set of stairs. He turned expectantly to face the girl who was following him.
Albus could not blame James for his obvious fascination with the Evans girl. She was, undoubtedly, very pretty. Her natural beauty, paired with her intelligence and kindness and dry, witty sense of humour made her a very well liked girl among the male population, and among the students in general.
"Yeah, Evans?" James seemed a little surprised that the girl was speaking to him of her own free will; her dislike of James was no secret.
"I just, erm…I just wanted to thank you. For what you did last night. Saving Severus, and all that. Even though you don't like him, and even though he didn't deserve it."
Albus, scarcely able to believe what he was hearing, peeked carefully around the edge of the tapestry to look down at the two teenagers. James's eyebrows had shot up—judging by his facial expression, Albus could gather that the boy and himself were thinking along the same lines—and he stared at her in unmasked surprise. Lily, he saw, was staring fixedly at a point near James's left foot, her cheeks flushed a delicate pink and her hands twisted together in front of her, while her teeth worried her bottom lip.
"Um, you're—you're welcome," James finally managed to say.
Lily nodded, continuing to stand there. The awkwardness grew until it was nearly tangible.
"Was there something else you wanted?" James asked when the pause had grown so pregnant that even Albus was beginning to feel uncomfortable.
He saw Lily's blush grow a shade or two darker, and she shifted her weight to her other leg, scrubbing the toe of her shoe against the stone floors. "I suppose I might've wanted to apologize," she said, still staring intently down.
"Apologize?" James repeated, his curiosity piqued.
Lily nodded, and then gave this short, slightly bitter sounding laugh. "I even had this speech all prepared, and everything, you know? Like, what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it? But I can't even remember it now."
James took a step down, moving closer to her. "Just say what you feel," he suggested, leaning back against the banister. "You don't need to worry about being all proper and rubbish around me."
"Well…" Lily hesitated, and Albus watched as she finally raised her eyes, only to turn her gaze to the window. "I know I've been pretty…nasty to you in the past, and I just wanted to say I was sorry. You might've been a pompous, arrogant jerk, but I didn't necessarily have to go proclaiming that all across the school." She grinned wryly, and glanced over at James, who smiled back.
"And, after hearing what you did last night, it kind of opened my eyes, a little, I guess. You're not exactly that same person you were two years ago."
"Not exactly," James agreed.
Lily sighed. "And of course, that all sounded horribly fairytale-ish. The whole girl-hates-guy-but-guy-loves-girl-and-guy-preforms-some-miracle-act-to-make-the-girl-fall-madly-in-love-with-him-thing."
James laughed. "Don't worry," he assured her. "I've never pinned you as the damsel in distress. More of a superwoman."
Lily rolled her eyes, but the gesture was clearly good-natured. "That's good. I don't fall at anybody's feet."
Albus thought heard James mutter something that sounded suspiciously like "You're telling me", but he couldn't be sure, because in the next second he asked, "Are you headed up to the tower?"
"Walk you back up?"
The girl hesitated for a long moment, before nodding slowly and falling into step beside James.
Albus waited until he was sure the two of them were gone before emerging from his hiding spot, grinning to himself.
Back in his study, Albus found a sheet of parchment lying on his desk, with a note attached to the top.
Albus, it read, these are the list of the top three students nominated by the staff for next year's Head Boy and Girl positions. They meet all the requirements, and would all be wonderful in their respective position, or so the rest of the staff and I believe. Please make your selections and send them by owl to the Minister as soon as possible. Sincerely, M. McGonagall
Albus scanned down the list of nominees quickly:
Rhonda Sumners, Hufflepuff
Heather Monroe, Ravenclaw
Lily Evans, Gryffindor
Bertram Aubrey, Ravenclaw
Ian Anderson, Hufflepuff
James Potter, Gryffindor
With a slightly devious smile, he quickly circled the last two names on each of the lists, rolled the parchment up, and coaxed Fawkes down from his perch before he could change his mind. Within moments, the phoenix was gone, and Albus sat down once more at his desk, picking up a quill and two pieces of parchment.
Dear Miss Evans, he wrote, it is my pleasure to inform you that you have been chosen for Head Girl for the 1977-1978 school term…
And then another one, just like it—
Dear Mr. Potter…
Author's Notes: Hey there. Thanks for reading :) As always, reviews are appreciated, but never required, though if you do review, please leave me some constructive criticism.
Edit 10/27/2009: Say hello to the recently edited version! :D A huge thank you to Lizzy for betaing. Let me know what you think.