Hermione was already gone when Harry emerged the next day; he assumed she was visiting Ron or down at breakfast – or in the library, getting in some last minute reading before the end of term.
Professor McGonagall bustled in as he was about to head out, calling everyone down to the Common Room. “Attention! Attention, please.” She said, once they had gathered. “We are changing things up a bit this year for the move out. The house elves are busy with another project in the works for next year, and so cannot take care of the usual post dorm clean up. Therefore, you all are responsible for making sure that everything is set to rights before you leave. All the trash is to be thrown out, trunks packed neatly, bedding and towels and other items into the laundry chutes, and floors and windows washed.” She shooed them back to their rooms amid groans and complaints, Harry included.
“I will return later for an inspection, and only after I give my leave are you allowed to go. And do not fear for whatever plans that you may have made.” She added loudly over the grumbles. “I assure you, the other three Houses are similarly engaged, so your friends will not miss your presence.”
The four boys – Dean, Harry, Neville, and Seamus – stopped just inside their dorm and looked around in dismay.
“Oy, where’s Weasley?” Seamus complained, glaring at Harry and kicking a discarded wad of parchment under his bed. “Most of this is his mess.”
“I’m not his keeper, Finnigan.” Harry shot back. “But he’s in the Hospital Wing if you must know. I’m sure Madame Pomphrey will send him our way soon, or Professor McGonagall will sort it out.” He looked around, gauging the utter chaos with a jaundiced eye, well trained after having to clean up after Dudley for three years. “Right. Let’s get all the big stuff first – bedding, towels, all that – cleared out and in the laundry chute before it gets clogged, then we can divvy up the rest, yeah? Save the loo for last and hope the house elves get done with whatever they’re doing first.”
The other three simultaneously glanced at the door to the bathroom and shuddered.
“Good idea.” Dean said hastily. “C’mon then lads, might as well get to it. Someone turn on the Wireless – if there’s no game, then at least we can have some music…”
Neville obliged, and they set to work, methodically working through the room. Dean made a game of getting the trash in the rubbish bin, assigning points depending on distance and creativity of shot, which helped to keep them entertained.
Professor McGonagall returned to release them for lunch in the Great Hall, sternly admonishing them to return within an hour to finish up the last few tasks. The boys were gone like a shot, whooping and hollering and playing around all the way downstairs to release some of their pent up energy.
In the Great Hall, Harry automatically slid into the seat Hermione had saved for him, his gaze already on the pastrami sandwich sitting on the table in front of him. He took a bite, and nearly moaned in bliss. It was exactly the way he liked it – horseradish, mayo, and mustard, with a layer of plain chips to give it crunch.