Author's note:

This excerpt is from Harry's first party, chapter 32. It refers to an infamous 2019 JKR tweet about the installation of indoor plumbing at Hogwarts.


They were silent for a while until Zacharias asked, 'When did you attend Hogwarts?'

'I was born in 1729,' said Alistair, 'and learnt I was a wizard in 1740.'

'Is it true they didn't have proper toilets back then? My uncle tried to convince me that Hogwarts students and professors used to just defecate in the hallways and Vanish it afterwards.'

'Are you joking?' exclaimed Hermione. 'Alistair, please tell me he's joking.'

The vampire shook his head. 'No, he's correct. Plumbing wasn't installed at Hogwarts until my fifth year.'

Hermione was aghast. 'Why on earth not? Medieval castles had rudimentary plumbing centuries before that. Well, not plumbing exactly, but private chambers at least.'

'Perhaps, but the Founders may not have been aware of them.'

'How is that even possible? The Founders lived before the Statute of Secrecy was enacted ... surely there was some cross-pollination.'

'I often wondered about that myself,' acknowledged Alistair.

'So what exactly prompted the castle upgrade? Why 1745?'

'That was when Muggle plumbing was starting to become better known.'

Hermione rolled her eyes. 'Oh for Merlin's sake, the Romans had plumbing!' Alistair simply shrugged, and Hermione continued. 'What about you? You must have at least used chamber pots before you arrived at Hogwarts.'

'Yes, although we just dumped them out the window into the gutter.'

'Still, that's an improvement from just shitting in the hallways,' said Zacharias.

'I agree,' replied Alistair. 'I was very surprised after the opening feast, when I was Sorted. I asked one of the older students where the privy was, and he said just to relieve myself in the Great Hall.'

'In the Great Hall?! Weren't they afraid of cholera?' exclaimed Hermione.

'No, we had Potions for that.'

'Hang on,' said Zacharias. 'You were supposed to Vanish your droppings, but that's an O.W.L.-level spell. How did the younger students clean up after themselves. Did they have to find an older student to help them?'

'Yes. We were to find a Prefect.'

Hermione was outraged. 'A Prefect! You'd think the Vanishing would be assigned as a punishment.'

'Back then, being chosen as Prefect was considered a punishment. It was the last step before being expelled and having your wand snapped.'

'Hermione was a prefect,' explained Zacharias, since Hermione was unable to speak. 'And after the war she was named Head Girl.'

'You don't even want to know what Head Girl had to do.'

Hermione was mute with horror.

'What if a Prefect wasn't around?' asked Zacharias.

'You were permitted to call a house-elf in a pinch.'

Hermione began to hyperventilate, but Zacharias continued. 'How could a Prefect ever attend classes, if they were just running around cleaning up after people?'

'During classes the professor was expected to take care of things.'

'You mean students didn't even excuse themselves during class?'

'And get up from their desk?' replied Alistair. 'No, that would have been the height of bad manners.'

'Bad manners?!' blurted Hermione. 'Students were literally shitting in the Great Hall at mealtimes and you were worried about bad manners?'

'It was a different era,' said Alistair. 'And then it all changed in my fifth year, when plumbing was finally installed.'

'What was that like?' asked Zacharias. 'Wizards as a rule aren't very open to change.'

'Yes, very true. Many of the Slytherins resisted using plumbing for months, scorning it as "Mugglery." But eventually practicality won the day.'