Silhouette of witch with tall hat and cape on broomstick. Banner underneath reads: "Squibstress"
Clothesline with white clothes hanging from it. Title: Laundry Lessons, by Squibstress.
Flash Fiction

Laundry Lessons

When the Hogwarts house-elves are felled by a virus, the students are recruited to help with the Hogwarts laundry and find out that outward appearances can be deceiving.

Argus Filch, Aurora Sinistra, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape
800 words

Laundry Lessons

Hermione was the first to notice the spots.


The little elf looked startled. “Yes, miss?”

“What are those green spots on your ears?”

By the time Madam Pomfrey had consulted a Healer with expertise in elf diseases, the chlorothema auricularum elforum virus had already felled most of Hogwarts’ house-elves.

At an emergency staff meeting, it was determined that the elves’ temporary incapacitation would provide an excellent “learning opportunity” for the students, who would be enlisted to perform their duties.

Ravenclaws were set in charge of the kitchens, Hufflepuffs the grounds, Slytherins the public rooms, leaving the Gryffindors with the laundry.

All went well until it came time to sort and fold the clean clothes.

Someone had forgotten to tag the staff’s laundry before sending it through the Auto-Scourgi-Fi-and-Dri, leaving the Gryffindors to sort out whose things were whose.

Outer robes were easy to guess, but when it came to underthings and nightclothes, the students hit a snag. Hagrid’s things were a cinch, of course, and Professor Sprout, as the largest female staff member by quite a margin, would be assured of getting the right knickers in her dresser.

“Urrgh!” exclaimed Neville, holding up a miniature—was that a leather thong?

“Is that Flitwick’s?” asked Harry as Neville held the thing aloft by two fingers.

“Must be,” said Ron. “Wouldn’t fit anyone else, would it?”

The three boys shuddered as Neville dropped the thong into the “Flitwick” pile.

Next, Harry held up a set of lurid purple silk boxer shorts with the word “Monday” embroidered in mauve on the bum.

“Dumbledore,” the three said in unison, and into the Headmaster’s pile they went.

“Ho, ho, ho. . . what have we here?” cried Ron as he fished a matching set of skimpy black lace knickers and brassiere out of the pile.

The boys stared at the lingerie in reverent silence.

“Whose do you suppose they are?” whispered Neville.

“Dunno,” shrugged Harry. The remainder of the female staff were more or less the same general size and shape, as far as Ron, Harry, and Neville could tell.

“Sinistra?” queried Ron. The Astronomy teacher was the youngest of them, and thus, reasoned the boys, the most likely to own such enticing items.

“Could be,” said Harry. “Or maybe Pomfrey?”

“Nah,” said Ron. “She’s bigger than that . . . up top.”

They were out of their league, and they knew it.

“Hermione!” Ron called.

“Well,” said Hermione after she had examined the perplexing items, “that leaves Hooch, Burbage, McGonagall, Vector, Babbling, and Pince.”

“You forgot Trelawney.”

Hermione made a face. “Right.”

Neville offered, “Maybe we can do this by process of elimination?”

“Yes, great,” said Hermione. She held up a sports bra and fished around until she found a pair of sensible-looking boycut knickers. “These, I imagine, belong to Madam Hooch.”

The boys nodded their agreement. They tossed the lacy lingerie into the “unknown” pile, adding several more generic items.

“Um . . . guys?” said Harry. “I think we have a problem.”

Harry held up an amazing item. It was leather and complicated, with all kinds of metal thing-a-ma-bobs and cutouts where the nipples and crotch should have been.

“What the hell is that?” asked Ron as the three others moved in closer to Harry to inspect the thing.

“I think the more interesting question is: Whose is it?” said Hermione.


The other three just looked at Neville, who said defensively, “Looks like something designed to . . . you know . . . inflict pain.”

“Actually,” said Hermione thoughtfully, “it looks more like something you’d wear if you wanted to experience pain.”

“Either way,” said Harry. “It looks like something that would belong to a Death Eater.”

The other boys nodded their agreement, but Hermione still appeared sceptical. “Maybe,” was all she would commit to, and insisted on tossing the item into the “unknown” pile.

The only remaining item was a pair of greying briefs.

“‘I’m guessing Filch,” said Ron. The other three agreed immediately.

“So, what’s left in the unknowns?” asked Hermione.

The lacy underwear, the fascinating corset-with-hardware, and three sets of cotton brassieres and knickers in various colours remained unidentified.

“We’ll just have to make our best guesses,” Hermione concluded.

Dumbledore sat back, watching the chaos, as his staff members exchanged misdirected clothing.

Aurora held up the lacy lingerie: “Who’s for these?”

An irritated Minerva swiped them from her hands with a crisp, “Thank you.”

“Really, Minerva? Black lace?” said Severus. “I would have thought tartan and sensible cotton.”

“And exactly what is that thing you’re holding?” she asked him, pointing to the hardware corset.

“I’m not sure, actually, Minerva. I was hoping someone would fill us in.”

Just then, the door burst open to reveal a panting Argus Filch, greyish underpants balled in his hands, screeching, “Where’s my corset!”

Spoiler Alert!

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