FIC: What the Butler Elf Saw" for purplefluffycat Recipient:purplefluffycat Author:regan_v Title: What the Butler Elf Saw Rating: G Pairings: Dumbledore/Flitwick Word Count: 2,400 Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): * Peeves finally gets a taste of what’s coming to him. Otherwise, nothing*. Summary: Harry and Ron didn’t discover the Hogwarts house-elves until the fourth year, but of course the elves were there all along. And they’ve seen it all. Author's Notes:purplefluffycat, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Downton Abbey, but it was a strong influence here. I hope you enjoy this. My sincere thanks go to pir8fancier, who made this much better than it otherwise would have been. To write or to cook with her is always sheer pleasure.
The bells rang a little later than usual that morning down in the kitchen: the high-pitched minor chord signaling that the Headmaster was ready for breakfast to be served in his rooms.
Albus Dumbledore could still afford to keep summer hours, but not for long. The Welcoming Feast was nearly upon them, only two weeks off, and already tempers were high. Carster had had to step in and resolve a number of squabbles. Even Malkie, his second-in-command, who had seen fifty Welcoming Feasts, wasn’t immune to the occasional snappish comment.
“Galpie can take the Headmaster’s tray upstairs, if Carster will let him.”
Carster looked up from reviewing his inventory sheets and bit back a snarl. This Galpie was a newcomer, having only been on the job ten years and while very useful and amazingly competent, it was obvious that he was angling for Carster’s job as head elf domo of the castle. Over Carster’s dead body.
“Thank you, Galpie, Carster will be taking the tray up. As usual,” he said with a snap of his fingers, hoping to put this cunning little upstart in his place for a bit. The breakfast tray, already set by the cook, floated over to him and Carster took it before turning on the spot.
In the Headmaster’s sitting room, Professor Flitwick stood by one window, looking down over the grounds. Carster noted that Professor Flitwick had torn the pocket on his dressing gown again. He would need to have a word with the laundry elves on that. He’d mentioned that the professor needed a reinforcing charm applied there--since Professor Flitwich always overfilled his pockets—and Carster noted that it still hadn’t been done. He’d have a word. Perhaps several words.
“Hagrid has almost finished repairing those stands by the pitch,” Professor Flitwick observed. He sounded pleased. Carster had always liked Professor Flitwick. The house elves weren’t supposed to have favorites, but Professor Flitwick was a very decent sort.
The Headmaster nodded but seemed distracted this morning, not his usual sunny self. Even as he began to lay out their breakfast on the small table next to Master Albus’s chair, Carster began to pay close attention to the conversation. After that business with Professor Quirrell last year, it paid to be on alert. The teapot rose in the air and filled first the Headmaster’s cup—as was proper--and then Professor Flitwick’s, who then left the window to sit down. He immediately reached for some toast and began lathering on far too much butter for someone who was as tall as he was wide.
“I’ll be interviewing two applicants for the DADA job today,” the Headmaster said. “Would you like to sit in on them?” He took a sip of tea and looked down at Professor Flitwick fondly. “I’d appreciate your input.”
At least, Carster thought it was a fond expression. Wizards weren’t as easy to understand as elves, but Carster had known Albus Dumbledore and Filius Flitwick since they were first years, so Carster was sure he was right.
“Certainly. Who are they? I suggested to Bellona Blackwood that she might want to apply---did you hear from her?”
The Headmaster shook his head. “I’m afraid not. Pity, she’d be good. No, the best two who answered our advertisement were Gilderoy Lockhart and Julius Berwick.”
Carster remembered Julius Berwick and shuddered. One prank after the other, it had been with him. No student since then had caused nearly so much random destruction to the castle: the Weasley twins, in the current crop, paled in comparison. Albus Dumbledore looked over at Carster and smiled. “You remember Mr. Berwick, don’t you, Carster?” Carster managed a weak, “Yes, Headmaster,” and didn’t bother to comment further. The Headmaster’s smile broaded just a tiny bit. “ I do wonder if Berwick would be hard for the staff to deal with, though,” he said, followed up by a cough and a pointed look at Carster.
Professor Flitwick’s tone was dry. “No doubt, but Gilderoy Lockhart? He wasn’t bad at Charms, but I don’t think he even got an Exceeds Expectations in any other subject. And a bit taken with himself, I always thought.”
The Headmaster shrugged. “We have to choose from among those who apply, I’m afraid.”
“Just so.” Professor Flitwick took a bite of his rasher and then dropped the subject.
Whoever they chose, Carster hoped that the new DADA professor would be kinder and, well, cleaner in his habits. Never mind the problems they’d had getting Professor Quirinus Quirrell’s turban clean last year when he sent it down for laundering---the smell had been dreadful.–but even before Yule holiday had arrived last year, he’d had a hard time coaxing Binkie to set foot inside Professor Quirrell’s quarters to clean it. The man had actually been cruel on several occasions. After Easter, no one would go in there at all, and it had taken all summer to fumigate the rooms.
DADA professors were always trouble, Carster thought. He wished that Albus Dumbledore could find one who didn’t scare Binkie and the younger elves.
The din in the kitchen was almost as bad at the noise upstairs in the Great Hall, just before lunch was served. Peeves wasn’t helping, either.
“Peeves cannot enter the kitchen,” Malkie said for the third time, sounding somewhat desperate as she blocked the doorway. Just outside, Peeves floated in the hallway cackling.
Carster hated to use extreme measures, but Peeves had to be taught a lesson. The dungbomb that he’d planted inside the red and green trifle in December---made at Professor Gilderoy Lockhart’s special request as a pre-Yule treat---had blown up at the worst possible moment, and half the wizards and witches at the High Table had been splattered. Carster blinked, and a large cauldron floated from one wall over Malkie’s head and through the doorway, before flipping itself upside down and slamming down over Peeves, trapping him against the floor.
A ladle followed it, and began to rap an angry, loud beat against the cauldron’s sides. Peeves began to howl in protest, but Carster merely set a silencing spell over the cauldron, and the noise level in the kitchen dropped perceptibly.
He made a note to release Peeves by teatime.
Once lunch had been served and cleaned up, Carster sat down to eat with the staff.
Tookie, nibbling on her stewed gurdyroot and cabbage, was entertaining the younger elves with stories about what she’d had to launder for Professor Lockhart this week.
“Lavender and mint green, those robes were,” she said. “And Professor Gilderoy Lockhart was getting his hair oils and potions all over the collars of the robes again. He is making the potions himself, and he won’t tell Tookie what is in them, so that Tookie could get the robes clean again.”
Tookie’s favorite professor, it was well known, was Professor Severus Snape. Plain black wool robes were easy to care for, even if one had to be careful of all those buttons. And Professor Severus Snape didn’t even ask for them to be cleaned very often.
Tookie’s young helper Sookie nodded with feeling, but Tookie cut off whatever Sookie had been about to say. “And the robes that Professor Gilderoy Lockhart was wearing for Valentine’s Day,” she observed scathingly. “Never has Tookie had to clean robes in that shade of pink, and Professor Gilderoy Lockhart was worried that Tookie’s cleaning would fade the robes. As if Tookie would do such a thing,” she sniffed. “ And the glitter was everywhere.”
Carster had rather liked Professor Gilderoy Lockhart’s pink robes, and said so.
“And the Valentines that Professor Gilderoy Lockhart was sending were beautiful. Galpie heard that Professor Gilderoy Lockhart sent a very special singing one to Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, too.”
Carster frowned at Galpie. Discussing the new DADA professor was one thing. The wizard or witch in that position came and went so often that the current occupant barely counted as a part of the faculty, as far as Carster was concerned. But a young elf like Galpie had no business gossiping about Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. He gave Tookie a quelling glance and turned to ask Malkie about when the Abyssinian shrivelfigs could be transplanted from the greenhouse to the gardens outside. There was no further commentary on Professor Gilderoy Lockheart’s robes or the Valentines he sent.
Carster looked at the grandfather clock that held court in one corner of the kitchen. It was almost time for him to take the teatray up to Headmaster Dumbledore’s quarters. The hands on the clock that were labeled “Albus Dumbledore” and” Filius Flitwick” pointed at the spot on the clock that said “Dueling,” but they would be done soon, and ready for their tea.
Not that he planned to take the tray up early: the wing where their dueling took place was much too close to the Headmaster’s quarters, for Carster’s tastes. Best to stay far away until they were done. Both Albus Dumbledore and Filius Flitwick were very good duelists, but Carster never enjoyed the loud bangs and bright lights that they made. He’d need to send Binkie upstairs to clean up that wing afterwards, too.
When Carster arrived with the tea tray it was just the Headmaster and no Professor Flitwick. Odd, they always took tea together.
“Please pour the tea, Carster. Professor Flitwick will be out in a second.” The Headmaster motioned in the direction of the lavatory, and indeed Professor Flitwick came in before Carster had even filled the first cup.
“And now Hermione Granger?” he said, sitting down. “This is a very bad business, Albus. Four Muggle-born students? Poppy’s worried.”
“It could get worse. I’ve had an owl from Cornelius Fudge that he wants to arrest Hagrid.”
“Perhaps you should have let me teach the students dueling, with Severus, instead of that popinjay Lockhart,” Filius Flitwick said sourly, with an uncharacteristic glare in the Headmaster’s direction. “They might have learned something useful.”
Filius Flitwick had complained about not being given the dueling club before, Carster knew. And while Albus Dumbledore was one of the greatest wizards who ever lived, Filius Flitwick might be correct. Albus Dumbledore had always had a weakness for blonds, although Carster would never have admitted that to anyone, ever.
“I’m sure you’re right,” the Headmaster responded, mildly. “I couldn’t resist teasing poor Severus, asking him to assist Gilderoy. I should have known better.”
Professor Flitwick made a noise that sounded like “hrmm” into his teacup, and dropped the subject. “Arrest Hagrid? Fudge is an idiot. Hagrid couldn’t possibly have petrified anyone.”
“Cornelius seems to feel that some action is better than no action, even if it’s the wrong man. Lucius has too much influence over him, I fear.” The Headmaster sounded tired.
Professor Flitwick leaned forward slightly, and touched Albus Dumbledore’s hand. “I’m sure we’ll be able to handle it.” He picked up the teapot to refill Albus Dumbedore’s cup.
Malkie popped in beside the Headmaster’s chair. “Minister Cornelius Fudge is downstairs, asking for Headmaster Dumbledore,” she said, sounding nervous.
Albus Dumbledore rose smoothly from his chair. “Thank you, Malkie. Please tell him I’ll be down shortly.”
Malkie popped out, and the Headmaster looked at Professor Flitwick. “Keep an eye on things for me, Filius.” Turning on the spot, he vanished.
Headmaster Dumbledore was the only wizard who could Apparate inside of Hogwarts. Carster had often wondered why they couldn’t manage something so simple. Among the elves, even Binkie had no problems with it.
The celebration up in the Great Hall was apparently going to last all night. Carster watched Malkie load up another tray full of jam doughnuts, which then went upstairs to feed the partying students. The ones who had been petrified for weeks seemed to be making up for lost time when it came to sweets, he noted.
Carster heard a roar go up, and Binkie popped in a second later.
“Rubeus Hagrid is coming home from Azkaban, Carster,” he squeaked. Carster smiled, and ordered Galpie to take up a tray of sausages and tea for Rubeus Hagrid.
The bell tone for Headmaster Dumbledore’s quarters sounded, and without even so much as a glance in Galpie’s direction he said in a firm voice, “No. I will be attending to Master Dumbledore,” He didn’t bother to add that the only time Galpie would be serving the Headmaster was if Carster were six feet under and very dead.
Upstairs, he found Professor Flitwick and the Headmaster drinking glasses of Firewhiskey.
“I slipped away, Carster. The noise. Rather formidable. But I trust that the staff can continue to supply the students with food and drink for some hours yet?”
“Yes, Headmaster Dumbledore. Carster and the elves can manage. Rubeus Hagrid has just come home, too, Headmaster.”
The Headmaster nodded, and Professor Flitwick looked very pleased.
“Mr. Potter will be happy to see him, I’m sure. And so there was no lasting damage to anyone, in the end. In part due to your quick thinking, Filius.” The Headmaster moved closer to Professor Flitwick, and rested one hand on his shoulder.
Professor Flitwick shook his head quickly, and seemed to disagree.
This was news. Carster tilted his head to one side and looked interested. The Headmaster was obviously wanting to tell someone about what Professor Flitwick had done.
“Professor Flitwick was in my office, Carster, during Mr. Potter’s moment of heroism and peril down in the Chamber of Secrets. The Sorting Hat informed Professor Flitwick, and he had the very good idea of slipping Godric’s sword into the Hat, so that it could be conveyed to Harry.”
Carster supposed that was very clever indeed, especially considering that Professor Flitwick couldn’t Apparate.
“Albus, this wasn’t really the end of Tom Riddle, was it?”
“No, Filius. I’m afraid you’re correct. But for now, the danger has been dealt with. Carster, I believe we are set for the night. I don’t think we shall want anything else. Please keep an eye on the party downstairs. I fear that Professor McGonagall went to bed some time ago.”
Carster nodded, and popped back down to the kitchen. He arrived not a second too soon: sure enough, Galpie had let Peeves into the kitchen.
They were still cleaning jam out of the corners and crevices three days later.