In Hogwarts, t’was flu season, and students were falling ill in droves. To stem the tide, Dumbledore proposed a solution. A solution so humble, it seemed laughable to all that heard it.
“Soap!” Dumbledore said, waving a white bar of soap enthusiastically about. “This humble household item is our surest bet to prevent further infection!”
He then told the teachers a study conducted on the slums of Karachi, where field-workers distributed 3.3 bars of soap per week per household and taught the residents the six situations in which to use it: to wash their bodies once daily, and to wash hands every time they defecated, wiped an infant, or were about to eat, prepare food, or feed it to others. During the period, the incidents of diarrhea and other infections fell 52 percent compared to that of households who didn’t receive soap.
Hogwarts staff enforced hand-washing upon the students following this meeting. Filch took great joy in jumping behind students and threatening detention on anyone who dared to delay hand-washing for a second. As for Severus, he tracked the numbers, if only to rub the results to Dumbledore’s face should he turn out wrong.
Dumbledore was right, blast it. The number of new flu infections peaked and then took a sharp downturn after they implemented hand-washing.
But it didn’t go to zero. Because there were always those students who wouldn’t listen.
“We need further enforcement,” Dumbledore said gravely. “The danger isn’t limited to the students who refuse to wash. It affects any person they come in contact with. If they infect Madam Pomfrey, we will be in dire straits.”
Severus was of the opinion any student stupid enough to disobey deserved to suffer. He knew better than to voice this, however.
“I’m thinking of placing posters along the halls,” Dumbledore went on. “I was hoping you and Professor McGonagall would do the honor of being the subject.”
“You have an aura and tone that discourages disobedience.”
Severus agreed, provided he got to choose what to say.
Three days later, there were posters of Snape and McGonagall all over Hogwarts, ordering the students to wash their hands. The one that induced the greatest compliance was that of Snape, in his customary black robes, softly intoning:
“Wash your hands … or Peeves will do it for you.”
edit 04/06. Ever since publishing the prompt, I’ve wanted to create a meme. Behold, here it is: