Hogwarts HR: The Dark Tree, Sequel to Hogwarts Department of Human Resources, Is Now Available on Archive of Our Own

National Novel Writing Month 2022 has come to a close with another completed story! At nearly 60,000 words, Hogwarts HR: The Dark Tree is my longest nanowrimo project to date. The sequel to last year’s project, Hogwarts Department of Human Resources, this story takes place a few months after the first with the focus turned entirely onto the house-elves and their attempts to create the very first house-elf union. I had a great time writing this story, and I hope everyone will have a great time reading it!

https://archiveofourown.org/works/43403598/chapters/109110336

If you enjoy Harry Potter fanfic, or if you enjoyed my previous story, please take a look at Hogwarts HR: The Dark Tree. For now, please enjoy this excerpt – Chapter 6: The Rise of the House-Elves

            “The letter was already in my office when I arrived,” said Professor Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  The tall woman wore her signature emerald green robes with a large, pointed hat which was slightly curved at a jaunty angle at the top.  Her hair, once jet black, now showed signs of grey taking over, partly due to age and partly due to her role in the defense of Hogwarts during the Second Wizarding War.  Although she appeared rather severe on the surface, Jasmine knew her to be a warm and caring woman who would always place the safety and well-being of her students above all else.  While this was only her second official year serving as Headmistress, Professor McGonagall was a fixture of the school, and incredibly well respected, holding Professor Albus Dumbledore’s former position with aplomb.

            Jasmine sat across from her desk in the Headmistress’ office, trying to read the letter in her hands while ignoring the paintings covering the wall behind Professor McGonagall.  Former Headmasters and Headmistresses of Hogwarts, each and every one of them.  Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore were the two more recent additions, and both looked on with interest while the other painters and chattered to each other inanely.  As for the currently living, Jasmine and Professor McGonagall were the only two in the room.  If the school still had a Deputy Headmaster, Jasmine was sure they would have been present as well.  As it currently stood, the position had not yet been filled after the arrest of Daedalus Vulps only a few short months ago.

            Turning her attention towards the letter, she found it to be a very plain, very professional looking single page of paper.  Not a scroll, hand written with a quill and ink, but a properly typed letter on a standard 8 ½” by 11” white paper.  Based on the unevenness of the ink in the lettering, Jasmine concluded the writer had used a typewriter.  While strange that such technology would be used for such a letter, it made much more sense than the alternative, being a computer of some sort.  The letter was address, not to Professor Minerva McGonagall, but to the entirety of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry itself.  Further, it was signed with several names, none of which Jasmine recognized, although she supposed she have.  She skimmed the letter quickly, then read it back aloud:

Dear Administration of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,

            Let this letter serve as an announcement of intent to begin the process of unionization as it pertains to the entirety of house-elf laborers employed by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (referred to as Hogwarts hereafter).  A vote amongst the house-elves will be held on March 15th in the following year 2021, during which house-elf employees with decide if a union is necessary.  If a union is not formed, no changes shall occur.  If the union is formed as a result of that vote, the union shall immediately begin collective bargaining for wages, working hours, among other necessities for all house-elf employees.  All house-elves will be considered members of the union, even if they voted against the formation of the union and collective bargaining will occur on behalf of all house-elf employees.

            If formed, the union will be known as United House-elves of Hogwarts.

            Pursuant to labor laws within the United Kingdom, of which the Ministry of Magic is beholden, interference with the establishment of a union by outside government or Hogwarts is strictly prohibited, with exceptions.  Hogwarts or Ministry representatives may meet with house-elf employees to negotiate, provide information or education, or conduct good faith interviews or polling.  Threatening employees, or firing those discussing or considering supporting the union, is considered illegal under current law.  Further, current law allows workers to join a union wherever they work if available, without interference.  IF a union is formed, workers are also protected from retaliation or being disadvantaged from being a member of a union.

            Hogwarts and/or Ministry representatives are welcomed to sit-in currently scheduled town-hall meetings to discuss unionization.  Good faith questions are encouraged.

Signed; Winky, Spartacus, Reacher, Seeley, and Bonsly”

Jasmine carefully set down the letter and looked up to meet Professor McGonagall’s intense gaze.  “Well, I assume these five are house-elves currently in our employ, but I’m ashamed to admit I do not recognize them,” she said.

            Professor McGonagall seemed to deflate slightly, as if some of the pressure she had been carrying was now shared.  “That does not surprise me,” she said.  “I can hardly keep them all straight in my head.  Strictly speaking, I am considered their direct employer as the Headmistress, but it is also true that the school has curated a very open-ended approach to their employment.  As you know, house-elves do not work for pay or anything of the like, and they are endlessly loyal to their masters, so we never felt the need to keep official records.  Any house-elf knows that they can come work here if they’re looking for a more welcoming environment.”

            “And yet,” Jasmine said, gesturing to the letter.  “Obviously something has changed.  Of course, there’s the possibility that this merely a hoax put on by the students.  Or, maybe it is only these five elves and the others do not care for the union talk.”  Jasmine leaned back in her chair and looked around the office.  Bookshelves full of ancient tomes reached for the ceiling, a large display cabinet stood to one side with all manner of magical devices, a low-lying table rested against another wall with a variety of confiscated goods.  “I must admit, after having lived in the muggle world for so long and having a muggle mother, I am unnerved by how house-elves are treated in the wizarding world.  And yes, I know they insist on this treatment,” Jasmine said preemptively, already imaging how the Headmistress could retort.

            “I was actually going to say that you sound like a certain former student of mine,” said Professor McGonagall with a warm smile.  “Ms. Hermione Granger.  She tried to create a welfare organization for house-elves while she was one of my students, although the elves themselves turned down the idea.”  She took the letter up and, adjusting her glasses, glanced at it again.  “Truth be told, I have often wondered about the nature of the house-elves.  We take their existence for granted.  However, I can assure you that Hogwarts is likely the best home for many of them.  Although house-elf regulation bans mistreatment, there are still old wizarding families who abuse their servants.”  

            Jasmine felt an unpleasant chill at the word “servants.”  The more she thought about it, the more the entire idea unnerved her.  She was guilty herself of the same treatment, she acknowledged.  After all, she had never reviewed their employment records or given two thoughts to the house-elf staff, something she sorely regretted now.  “Well, the one piece of advice I can give right off the bat is this,” she said.  “If they are serious about forming a union, we need to decide on our approach immediately.  Option one, engage in an all-out campaign to prevent a union being formed.  Don’t be too scared of the language in the letter, there are legal ways to push this operation.  Option two, take a back seat and allow them to move forward.  Engage in open and honest discourse and, if they vote to unionize, voluntarily recognize the union.”  Jasmine counted off each finger while she listed the options.  “I know my preference, but I do not wish to sway your opinion.”

            Professor McGonagall’s mouth thinned until it formed a very small line.  “Hogwarts has always been a welcoming and safe place for all beings, humans and non-humans alike,” she said.  “If it is truly their wish to form this labor union, I believe we should work alongside them.”

“Agreed,” said Jasmine simply.  “Do we know how the Ministry of Magic will respond?  They will have to be notified as Hogwarts is a state-run school.  Plus, as it concerns the house-elves, the Office for House-Elf Relocation may wish to get involved.”

            “I’ve known Kingsley Shacklebolt for a very long time,” said Professor McGonagall.  “I know him to be a very kind and considerate man.  However, I worry that this may not fall under his direct purview.  I have never met the current head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, nor the head of house-elf relocation.  I understand their names are Matthias Elfrend and Inga Copperpot respectively.”  The Headmistress steepled her hands on the desk, thinking for a moment.  “I am uncertain of the Ministry’s response, but I believe we best prepare for anything.  And, I will be sure to inform them that Hogwarts has always maintained independence in certain manners, and I do not intend to give up that independence now.”

            “Well said, professor,” said Jasmine with a smile.  “Hogwarts should absolutely take the lead on this.  I would also recommend preemptively informing both the Ministry and the house-elves that we do not intend to retaliate or dismiss any elves.  Get it in writing as well.  Just because the law exists does not mean that it is always followed.”

            “Hogwarts has weathered a great many trials and tribulations over the past few years, so I am confident we will work through this rippled as well,” said Professor McGonagall.  “I do worry somewhat about how news of this may affect the law suit.”

            “Thankfully, the two matters are wholly separate,” said Jasmine.  “So, it should not matter so much in the actual case.  The court of public opinion, on the other hand, is an entirely different situation.”

            Professor McGonagall’s thin mouth opened into a warm smile as she watched Jasmine speak.  “It is times like these that I am thankful for your addition to our faculty.”

            Jasmine felt her cheeks warm slightly at the compliment, as a pleasant feeling settled into her body.  “I’m just glad to be of help to the school.  This place means so much to so many people,” she said.  “Actually, that reminds me.  There was one other thing I’d like to discuss with you.  It concerns the department name, human resources…”

*

            Jasmine stood in front of her office door, hands on her hips, observing and appreciating her work.  Where once a simple plate had read “Department of Human Resources,” a new sign hung over the door.  It read, “Department of Personnel Resources.”  The new sign looked much like a traditional blade sign, emerging seamlessly from the stone wall of the castle.  In smaller letters underneath Department of Personnel Resources, the sign also included the office’s other function: The Office of Student Counseling and Therapy.  Of course, Jasmine still intended to scout out and hire a dedicated therapist and guidance advisor to spin that off into its own department, but she was happy pulling double duty for now.  As frustrating as they could be, she still held a soft spot for the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

            Looking at the new sign, Jasmine’s mind drifted back to her encounter with the mysterious house-elf on Christmas Day.  It must have been one of the elves mentioned at the end of the letter, she was sure of it.  But the question remained, which one?

            She had searched through her file cabinets upon returning to the office, looking for any personnel records pertaining to the many house-elves working in the castle.  Not only were the records remarkably unhelpful, they were also woefully incomplete.  She could not even find an accurate count as to how many elves lived and worked in the school.  However, she was certain in numbered in the hundreds.  Just the sheer scale of the work required a large work force.

            One name she did recognize in her search was Winky, although she was not included in the employment records.  The former house-elf of the Crouch family, she had originally been instrumental in hiding the existence of Barty Crouch Jr., and was dismissed by the family when he had escaped, after which she found her way to the school.  It only made sense that an elf who had experienced mistreatment would be at the head of the unionization effort.

            The other name that stood out was Spartacus.  It deviated from the standard linguistics of house-elf names, and Jasmine thought it likely a chosen name.  Knowing wizards like she did, it was unlikely they would have understood the historical significance of the name.  An entire species of indentured servants led by one who had taken his name from the most famous slave uprising in the history of the world.  She could only hope events did not take such a turn, although, with the involvement of the Ministry, nothing was certain.  From her time in the muggle world, once government got involved, nothing would remain clear.  One thing Jasmine could be confident in; the new year was certainly shaping up to be an eventful one.

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