Staff Meeting
by Morrighan

Disclaimer: Rowlings owns everything, and I am as the dust beneath her chariot wheels. No, seriously, Dumbledore et al. and all people, places and concepts from the Harry Potter books are the property of J K Rowlings, and I make no claim on them. But I don't think JKR would want to take responsibility for this fic.

This fic is set shortly after the end of HP and the Philosopher's Stone.


July 1, 1992. Five minutes to eleven.

When Professor Dumbledore entered the Staff Room at Hogwarts, only Professors McGonnagall and Snape were already there. Professor McGonnagall was deep in the latest issue of Transfiguration Today, and did not notice him enter. Professor Snape looked up from what looked like a pile of teaching notes, heavily annotated in red ink, and greeted him, moderately politely, before returning to his work, frowning at the sheet of parchment and scoring a particularly deep line through an unsatisfactory paragraph.

The Staff Room was easily the most shabby room in the castle, filled with mismatched armchairs, most of them threadbare and scuffed, covered in burns, rips and tallow stains. He'd offered, when he was made headmaster, to renovate the room and repair or replace all the chairs. The offer had been refused, indignantly. Unbelievably, they liked the room as it was, with its air of disorderly comfort and barely controlled chaos.

Dumbledore took the leather armchair which was always reserved for him by unspoken agreement, and surveyed the peaceful Staff Room. All the pupils would be safely on the Hogwarts express now, except for the fifteen or so students resident in Hogsmeade, who were probably already at home. Dumbledore always relished the peace and quiet of the first few days of the summer holidays. Of course, by the fourth day, it had begun to pall on him, and by the end of the first week, he was looking forward to September the 1st, but right now the stillness of Hogwarts was quite delightful. Especially after everything that had happened in the last year.

Just as the clock struck 11 the staff room door opened, and Professor Flitwick bounded in, looking content with the world and full of the belated joys of spring. "Good morning, Headmaster," he said cheerfully, and whipping out his wand, he summoned five cushions to one of the four chairs nearest Dumbledore's. When assorted cushions had finished raining down onto his chair Flitwick pulled himself up onto it, and on the second attempt managed to perch himself on top of the cushions. Dumbledore watched in amusement. Flitwick's wand was only six inches long, the shortest Dumbledore had ever come across, but in Flitwick's hands it was quite amazingly fast. Flitwick was always poised on the verge of looking ridiculous, until you happened to notice how powerful that tiny wand was in his hands. In his younger days, many of his duelling opponents had made the mistake of underestimating him. It was a mistake that most had paid dearly for.

He called McGonagall and Snape over, and Professor McGonagall put down her magazine and rose from her chair immediately. "Did you see Cristofori's article on mineral transformations, Albus?" she asked. "Utter nonsense, ridiculous ... but he has some interesting ideas about the effect of transfiguration on limestone."

Dumbledore said diplomatically that he hadn't seen the article. McGonagall had a long-standing professional rivaly with Cristofori, who taught transfiguration at the Italian Collegio Rossi, and they met yearly at the Lima Transfiguration Conference to bicker about magical theory. One year, when they had both been in their twenties they had almost come to blows about the theory behind switching spells, and had nearly been banned from attending the following year.

Snape was still scowling at his teaching notes, crossing out yet another inadequate paragraph. As he stood up, he crumpled up the entire sheet of parchment and threw it into the fire with some force, looking deeply discontented. He said nothing as he took his seat.

"We're just waiting for Professor Sprout," Dumbledore said, "and then we'll get started. I hope to keep this short as I know you've all got things to do."

Just then Sprout burst in, opening the door so hard that it bounced off the wall. She was out of breath and there were mud and grass stains on her robe and one cheek had a smear of mud down it. She looked flustered.

"I'm sorry about the delay, Headmaster. I'm having some trouble with archaphids in Greenhouse Four, and I completely forgot the time."

"It's no problem, Hephzibah. I quite understand." Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling at her over the top of his glasses as she tried to brush the worst of the mud off her robe before she sat down.

Dumbledore looked at the four teachers in front of him. McGonnagal, Flitwick, Sprout, Snape. To the casual observer, they might have seemed the caricatures of the houses they represented. McGonagall, forthright and stern, highly principled, never deterred from doing right. Flitwick, quietly brilliant, interested in everything, if a little over-emotional. Sprout, who lived for her plants and her students, and cultivated each in the same patient and painstaking manner. And Snape, ruthless, ambitious, driven even, with a vicious streak always within sight. Well, perhaps they were typical of their respective houses, but he knew well that they were all so much more than that.

"Well. I think we'll get underway, as I know you all have things to do." He looked round at the four of them again. "You all know what happened with Quirrell. I shouldn't need to spell out in words of one syllable what it means for us."

"You-Know-Who's trying to come back," squeaked Flitwick. The other three said nothing, but there was the sound of a collective indrawn breath.

"Exactly. The fact that he has been thwarted once is not going to deter him. If he managed to get so far once, then I can guarantee he will try again. And sooner or later - we might not be so lucky. Indeed, he probably would have succeeded if it hadn't been for young Potter."

Snape winced noticeably at this, and McGonagall snapped "Oh, for heaven's sake grow up, Severus!" Dumbledore affected not to notice.

"Now, I am going to work on the assumption that at some future time, Voldemort is going to succeed in his aim, and plan accordingly. The castle defences will be increased, and we will start to make plans for a number of eventualities. I hope this meets with your agreement?" He looked round at the four of them again.

"Definitely." said McGonagall fiercely.

"That seems wise," said Sprout. Flitwick nodded vigorously, almost falling off his pile of cushions. "Oh, yes!" he squeaked. Snape said nothing.

"Well, if we are all in agreement, then, we'll deal with the school defences today. Frederick, I'm afraid we're going to have to assume that Voldemort knows all about the spells currently protecting the castle and grounds. What are the weaknesses in our arrangements?"

"There aren't many, actually, that I've found," Flitwick said, stuttering slightly. "Most of the charms are very effective. Some of the misdirectional charms are inclined to be unreliable in stormy weather, and the repulismus charm can be fooled by some dark incantations. I've found a fix for the repulismus, which I'll put in place next half-moon. Unfortunately, the most I've been able to do with the misdirectional charms is to send those who get past them into the Forbidden Forest instead of towards the castle."

"The Forbidden Forest? In a thunderstorm? We can't do that!" said McGonagall, aghast. "It would be murder!"

"That is possibly a little drastic. Perhaps we'd better leave the misdirectional charms as they are. And have you any charms that can be added to the school's defences."

"Of course!" Flitwick grinned widely. "Hundreds! What sort of thing are you looking for?"

"Hmmm... How about one which will detect a dark wizard as they enter the grounds, disarm him, and deliver him gift-wrapped to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement?"

Flitwick looked doubtfully at Dumbledore for a moment, and then laughed, realising he was being teased. "Well, it would take a little work, Headmaster," he said slyly. "What design would you like on the wrapping paper?"

"Oh, kettles and tea cups would look nice, Frederick. On a purple and orange background." McGonagall coughed meaningfully. "But since Minerva doesn't think it's practical, perhaps something simpler would be best. You know where our current weaknesses are. If you could put together a new scheme for defending the castle and we'll go through it when you come back from Brighton."

"Of course! A pleasure, headmaster." So typical of Frederick, he thought. He may be terrified of the very mention of Voldemort's name, but once he knows what to do, he's in his element. Dumbledore had no doubt that his plans would be both ingenious and comprehensive.

"There are a number of hexes which might be useful ..."

"No. No hexes."

"But-"

"Under no circumstances, Severus. We are not going to sink to Voldemort's level." Snape fliched, and then looked furious, and Dumbledore grimaced inwardly. That was not something Snape would want to be reminded about. Hastily mending bridges, he continued. "Do you know of any other weaknesses in the school defences that might need to be fixed, Severus? You might have spotted something the rest of us have missed." After all, the thought, Snape knew rather more about these matters than the others.

Snape thought for a moment. "Yes. I have reason to believe that we are vulnerable to attack by air. Anyone approaching by broomstick could just land on top of our tallest tower and get straight in - or out - that way." Dumbledore suppressed a smile at this. Such as dragon fanatics taking express delivery of an illegal Norwegian Ridgeback, possibly. Yes, indeed.

"We can fix that easily enough," Flitwick said. "I'll see to it."

"Good." Dumbledore looked round at his four heads of houses. "Any more ideas? I know that Frederick has a portkey to Brighton to catch in an hour."

"What about a scryscope?" McGonagall asked. "My sister's just installed one at the Paris Gringotts. They tend to be more thorough than foeglasses, and harder to fool."

"I've already ordered one, Minerva. It should arrive two weeks before term starts. It's to be installed in my office."

"Oh, *good*. Macha's very impressed with them, you know."

Professor Sprout had now been sitting in silence for some time. "What do you think, Hephzibah?" Dumbledore asked her.

"Oh, an infusion of tea leaves in dilute cauldron cleaner would probably do it, if I can keep it off the leaves of the shrivelfig," she answered absently.

"Well, I will certainly add such a thing to the school defences if you wish, though it would probably be more effectively deployed on your archaphids."

Sprout smiled, slightly abashed. "Oh, I am sorry, Headmaster, I was miles away."

"So I surmised. I think that's everything, so you can get back to Greenhouse Four now. I will at some stage be talking to all of you separately about other plans for the future. Severus, if you could just stay behind a moment?"

When the remaining three had left (Professor Flitwick returning the borrowed cusions with a single sweep of his wand) and the door had shut behind them, Dumbledore surveyed Snape narrowly with a mixture of exasperation and concern. "Why on earth did you not tell me your suspicions about Quirrell, Severus? We could have dealt with the situation so much more cleanly if you had. As it was, the results were nearly fatal."

Snape, who usually had an answer to everything, sat there silent and sullen, so Dumbledore went on. "Under normal circumstances I wouldn't mind if you sulked for seven years-"

"Headmaster, I am not in the habit-" said Snape, furiously, but Dumbledore ignored him.

"-but if Voldemort really is attempting to return - and he is - then we will need your help. We will only prevail if we work together, and whatever your personal feelings towards Potter's father, Potter is our greatest chance of destroying Voldemort althogether, though he doesn't know it yet."

Snape was still staring at him, stony faced, and Dumbledore sighed. "Severus, I trust you completely, and with good reason, as you know. At least do me the courtesy of trusting me."

"I am sorry, Headmaster. I will keep you fully informed in future."

Dumbledore noticed that Snape was gripping the arms of his chair so hard that his knuckles had gone white. "I suppose there's no point in asking you to forget your old grievance?" He got no answer to that either. No, probably not, Dumbledore told himself. A pity, really, when he and the boy had so much in common.

Dumbledore stood up. "Well, in that case, I had better be going. Enjoy your holiday, Severus."

"Goodbye, Headmaster." Dumbledore went out, shutting the door behind him.



Perpetrator's Note:

This is quite special to me as it is the only fanfic I have *ever* managed to finish. (I have 4 others on the go, plus countless others consigned to the dustbin of history.) Unfortunately, it's also one of the worst things I've ever written, but what the hell :-)

I'm assuming that Flitwick is head of Ravenclaw, & I haven't a clue what his or Sprout's Christian names are. I believe someone round here said Flitwick's was Frederick (though I've never found it in the books) so I've used that for him. I'm not suggesting that Sprout is necessarily Jewish, just that her folks thought it was a nice name for a girl :-) The name I've given to McGonagall's sister, Macha, is that of one of the Irish goddesses of war.

The archaphids are also my invention - washing-up liquid is one of the old 'home remedies' for getting rid of Muggle aphids. Unbelievably, its use is now illegal in the UK. The scryscope is also my invention (a magical CCTV) - I've made it one of the strange silver machines Harry observes in Dumbledore's office in CoS.

Brighton (for those who have never experienced it) is pretty much THE seaside resort in the South of England. It has a reputation for being really tacky and downmarket, complete with amusement arcades, fairground rides, saucy postcards, 'kiss me quick, squeeze me slowly' hats etc. You get the idea...