Chapter 2: Opening Salvo
The weeks that followed the visit to Professor Binns' office were unremarkable, as things often are before a massive earthquake. Everyone went about their daily business. Classes were attended. Homework was done. Quidditch was played, with varying degrees of fatality. Unseen, just below the surface of the everyday goings on at Hogwarts, something festered and grew. Then, one day, inescapably, it surfaced.
Professor McGonagall was walking down the corridor away from her classroom. She had just finished with her last class of morning and was hurrying to the Teacher's Room to pour coffee into herself before afternoon classes started.
The corridor curved ahead of her and as she approached it, she heard someone incant "Evanesco." The next second, a boy, Ravenclaw, if the tie was any indication, came around the corner, smoothing down his robes.
"Hello, Professor," he said brightly.
"Good morning," she said, blanking on his name. She'd remember it after she got caffeine, and feel bad about forgetting. As it was, she hurried past him. Even in her haste, in her caffeine depleted brain, a thought still nagged at her. And she remembered his name.
"Stebbins," she called, turning to the boy.
"Yes, Professor?" he answered, turning around.
"What did you just Vanish?"
"Poop," he answered.
"I see," she said, and they both turned back around and continued on their way.
Half an hour later, McGongall was halfway through her first bucket of coffee when she jumped out of her chair.
"WHAT?!" she yelled.
"What?" asked Hermione.
"Well, she didn't exactly catch him," confessed Ron. They were sitting at the Gryffindor table for breakfast the following Saturday, and Ron was filling them in on the gossip.
"She heard him vanish something, he admitted it when asked, and then she flipped out half an hour later," Ron summaraized.
"Half an hour?" asked Harry.
"After she had her coffee," said Ron, to which Harry gave a nod of understanding.
"Well, what did she do?" asked Hermione. "He must have gotten detention for that."
"Um, no." said Ron. "As it happens, it's not against the rules."
"How is that not against the rules?" asked Hermione incredulously, gradually rising in pitch.
"I guess it's one of those things they never thought would come up," said Harry. "Like that time Fred and George tried to distil Uranium."
"And he did clean up when he was done," offered Ron.
"Well, bravo for him," Hermione replied sarcastically, then she thought about if for a moment. "Actually, yes, I do prefer that he did that. Still what, possessed him to …relieve himself in the first place?"
"Don't we all?"
"In the cooridor!"
"Oh, yeah," said Ron. "It's actually a new thing that's going around," he began to explain as Hermione's eyes grew in size. "When McGonagall had him explain, he said everyone was doing it, so she did some investigating. It started with the Slytherins. They've decided that toilets are a muggle thing and they want to do things the wizard way."
Hermione's mouth dropped open at this.
"After it caught on with them, the Hufflepuffs started doing it," Ron continued. "They don't care about the muggle thing, they just thought it was easier. It turned out Professor Sprout had been doing it for years."
"No!" said Harry. Hermione was still dumb struck.
"Yeah," said Ron. "It was easier than running up to the castle from the greenhouses every time."
"She actually does vanish it though?" asked Harry. "She doesn't just…bung it onto the compost pile…where we get the fertilizer."
Hermione's mouth had dropped so far, it was unlikely it would ever shut again.
"It hasn't really caught on in Ravenclaw or Gryffindor yet," Ron artfully changed the subject. "Won't if McGonagall has anything to say about it."
"I should think not!" said Hermione. "Damn that Malfoy. Of course, he would find a way to make being anti-muggle even worse. At least McGonagall will put a stop to it."
"She can't," said Ron. "Only Dumbledore can make new school rules."
"Fine!" Hermione snapped. "He will put a stop to it."
"What do you mean I can't?" asked Dumbledore.
It was the weekly staff meeting and all the Professors were gathered around a large table in Dumbledore's office. The table was bedecked with a selection of finger-food to keep everyone alert and happy while they went through the weeks business. The spread was usually well received, but this week, Item 1 on the schedule had put everyone off the cress sandwiches.
Professor McGonagall had just finished filling the staff in on the results of her investigation. She had spent the past few days investigating the new defecation fad and wrote out her finding in a multipage report that repeatedly emphasized that this was Draco Malfoy's fault. Snape had spent the duration of her presentation gradually sliding lower and lower in his seat.
Dumbledore had taken pity on him, and everyone else, to interrupt her half way through, promising that he would write an extensive, very specifically worded school rule to guarantee all future bowel movements occurred exclusively where they could fall directly into the sewage system.
Unfortunately, Professor Binns interrupted his interruption.
"It's in the charter maintained by the Board of Governors," Professor Binns explained. "It is beyond the power of the Head Master to legislate the students bowel movements."
The staff all stared at, or through, him at this. School rules were school rules, to be edited by the headmaster to suit the current needs of the students and faculty, but the Charter of the Board of Governors was the law of Hogwarts, to be only amended by a consensus of the governors and established the boundaries that Hogwarts staff were absolutely obliged to work within.
"How is that in the school charter?" asked McGonagall, incredulously.
"It dates back to 1185, about 600 years prior to the advent of plumbing," Binns began. The staff who, with the exception of Professor Vector, had all been in his class at some point, immediately started to nod off at the sound of an incoming lecture.
"In the seventh year of the tenure of then Headmaster Barsidious Borage, he mandated designated pooping zones within Hogwarts in the interests of improving sanitation. This was at a period in history when the attitude towards defecating was shifting from an accepted bodily function, to an act that should be kept private. This change in attitude was due to the increased understanding of how bodily fluids related to the transmission of disease."
Some of the staff joined Snape in sliding farther down into their chairs. Professor Trelawney started absently twirling her hair.
"The rooms he selected within the castle were few, far between, and cloistered. The students, who were used to more ease and convenience now had to travel a long distance within the castle to one of the designated rooms, where they were required to wait in a line. The rooms themselves had issues with ventilation. The accumulating fumes caused nausea in some cases and unconsciousness in others. Moreover, forcing everyone to relieve themselves in the same confined space caused an outbreak of what we today recognize as Cholera."
At this point, even McGonagall had given up listening and was playing tic-tac-toe with Professor Flitwick. Their version was more interesting, since the Xs and Os could wrestle each other.
"The Head Girl of the time, Lavernia Larkin, led a student revolt. Professors were forced by students into the sluice rooms they had set up and sealed within, some of them, like Headmaster Borage, were never seen again."
Dumbledore shifted uncomfortably at this.
"It was in response to this, the Borage Rebellion, that the Board of Governors for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was formed; to prevent any future abuse of power by headmasters that would lead to another unfortunate incident. In the assembly of the charter, along with broad powers to decide appointments and policy, the right of students to relieve themselves wherever they wished was included as law."
Instinctually sensing that the lecture was over, the staff perked back up.
"So, we'd have to appeal directly to the Board of Governors?" Snape summarized. "And why have we never heard about this before?"
"What do you mean?" asked Binns, turning to Snape. "I lecture on the Borage Rebellion to every first-year class."
Everyone vaguely remembered being asleep in that class and just nodded along.
"That's all very well and good," said McGonagall, bitter about this new development and losing at tic-tac-toe. "But here we are, 100 years past since we've had bathrooms installed, 50 years past since we've started buying toilet paper; why hasn't that part of the charter been amended?"
"It is sometimes the case that the law needs to catch up with the technology," said Dumbledore. "This is a delay, but a delay only. I shall immediately write the school governors and request that they hold an emergency meeting to deliver a resolution to this…commode crisis. In the meantime, please practice tolerance and…" he looked pointedly at Professor Sprout. "set a good example."
"What do you mean he can't?" Hermione asked.
A short while after the staff meeting, word of the Headmaster's limitations had trickled into the Hogwarts grapevine. Ron was filling Hermione in while he was playing Harry at Wizard Chess in front of the common room fire. Hermione, who had been contentedly reading in the nearby armchair, put the book down and moved her chair over to them.
"It's in the Charter of the Board of Governors," supplied Ron. "Article 1, apparently. The very reason the Board of Governors was founded."
"Why are we just now learning this?" asked Hermione.
In response to this, Harry and Ron both got very sly looks on their faces and turned to look at Hermione.
"Yes, Hermione. How didn't we know that?" asked Ron.
"According to Professor Bins, he gives a lecture on it in first year, every year," supplied Harry. "How do you not remember?"
Hermione's scowl was replaced by a sheepish expression.
"You've slept through some of his classes, haven't you?" Ron accused with a huge grin.
"I read the textbook!" Hermione snapped.
"You do sleep through his lectures!" said Ron triumphantly. "You're as human as the rest of us."
"It's not in Hogwarts, a History," Hermione continued, trying to change the subject. "Why would they leave something out that big?"
"Hogwarts is 1000 years old," said Harry with a shrug. "Look at everything that's happened the few years we've been here: infiltration by Voldemort, Basilisk Attack, you slept through a class…"
"…assuming every school year had something similar, they'd have to leave out a bunch of stuff so the book would be…portable," finished Harry.
"Ah," said Hermione. "That makes sense. Like the time Luna Lovegood wanted to put on a pantomime and Flitwick told her that all pantomimes were banned at Hogwarts following the Great Ashwinder Rampage. I couldn't find that in Hogwarts, a History either."
"Well, I guess it's not the end of the world," said Hermione, picking her book back up and flipping it open. "The Board of Governors will meet, they'll change the rules, this will all be over."
Ron gave her a sad look as he watched Hermione snuggle down into her armchair.
"I think you're forgetting who one of the school governors is," he said.
Hermione didn't react at first, then her eyes widened in horror.
"Oh," she said.
"Draco," drawled Lucius Malfoy. "My son, your latest, um...hobby has your mother and me worried."
"It's not dangerous, father," replied Draco from the magic mirror hanging on the wall of the lounge. Draco did, technically, have an owl to send letters, but the massive eagle owl had been more for show than anything else. It had, much like the Malfoys, been bread for beauty, and generations of inbreeding had rendered it unable to find its way across an empty room, let alone deliver post.
"Physical danger, no," admitted Lucius, weighing his words carefully. "However, that bleeding heart, Dumbledore, has asked that we convene a meeting of the Board of Governors to amend the school charter. I don't want this…movement…you've started to escalate. Especially not if it may embarrass the family."
"But father," pleaded Draco. "Toilets are a muggle invention."
"Yes, well," started Lucius, wracking his brain for a counter-argument that did not rely on the logic 'Muggles aren't so bad'. "In the interests of sanitation…" he began.
"With toilets, everyone has to poop in the same place, sitting in the exact same seat," said Draco.
"Well…that's a point," he had never really thought of it like that before. Or rather, tried not to think about it.
"And the sewer just carries it away to sit and fester in a pit somewhere."
"Well, maybe, yes," Lucius grudgingly agreed. He'd definitely tried to avoid thinking about that.
"And the height of the toilet seat forces us to poop in an unnatural position," said Draco. "It causes hemorrhoids and constipation."
"Seriously?" asked Lucius. That would explain a lot…
"As wizards, we aren't bound by the limitations of muggles," said Draco. "While they're helpless and have to rely on convoluted, counterproductive means of waste disposal, wizards can go anywhere and remove the evidence with a simple spell."
"Hm," said Lucius pensively. "You make a good case," he finally admitted. "Greater ease and convenience. No mess. And…" a sadistic smile alighted his features. "I get to piss off Dumbledore."