Nobody could dispute the fact that Dumbledore was in charge at Hogwarts, not even his enemies. As he once told Lucius Malfoy, then chair of the Hogwarts governors:
Which never really happened, did it? Even after his death a few years later, certain brave students remained loyal to Dumbledore. Picture Neville, sneaking around the Hogwarts corridors at night to daub ‘Dumbledore’s Army, Still Recruiting’ on the walls while the Carrow siblings blustered about. And later, Harry arriving at the Headmaster’s office when the battle was over, seeking out Dumbledore’s portrait to seek “one last piece of advice.”
In his lifetime, Dumbledore’s approval and advice was sought by many students and teachers. Even the Minister for Magic himself, Cornelius Fudge, asked Dumbledore for help, at least in the early days. Dumbledore made his students and his staff feel safe. He steered the Hogwarts ship through choppy waters time and time again, seemingly unflappable and always willing to extend the warmest of welcomes. It’s no wonder so many remained loyal to him for so long. He even got Snape on side, for goodness sake.
If Dumbledore was Hogwarts’ leader, then Professor McGonagall was definitely his second-in-command. Even before she literally marshalled troops to protect Hogwarts in the final battle with Voldemort, McGonagall was fierce in her loyalty both to Dumbledore and to the school she would later lead herself – in Cursed Child, McGonagall became Hogwarts’ Headmistress, and she guarded the school every bit as closely as Dumbledore.
Her loyalty was particularly fierce when it came to her own house, Gryffindor. She was not afraid to challenge or even punish her students when warranted, but she always looked out for them. When she sat Harry down and told him, over a biscuit, to be careful around Professor Umbridge, for example. Or when she gave Neville a much-needed confidence boost as he struggled with his grandmother’s expectations:
Because McGonagall noticed things about her students. She was shrewd and strict, yes, but she also supported them. In her way, she was every bit as fiercely maternal as, say, Molly Weasley.
Bright, courageous, and full of Ravenclaw wit and wisdom, Professor Flitwick might have been small in stature but he was certainly someone to look up to. He was a creative thinker who knew a lot about his subject, Charms – it was Flitwick’s talents Professor McGonagall called upon to help defend Hogwarts during the final battle, and in happier times, Flitwick’s delightful Christmas decorations were the talk of his classroom.
But he also had a few other tricks up his sleeve. Given he was apparently once a champion dueller, perhaps it shouldn’t have surprised us when Flitwick was the one to chase Snape out of Hogwarts, or to see him battle some of Voldemort’s best Death Eaters. As modest as he was, Flitwick never showed off his skills, although he undoubtedly had many. As we said: certainly someone to look up to.
Professor Sprout also knew her subject, Herbology, inside out and back-to-front. Her classroom was full of surprises. From re-potting Mandrakes to squeezing Bubotuber pus to juicing Snargaluff pods, it might have been messy and occasionally smelly (her preferred fertiliser was dragon dung), but Herbology with Professor Sprout was never boring.
Which some might also say about Sprout herself. With her flyway hair, earth-covered clothes and mud-encrusted fingernails Harry once imagined would make his Aunt Petunia faint, Sprout might have cut a somewhat dishevelled figure, but she was not one to be underestimated. Professor Sprout was a no-nonsense, down-to-earth, determined woman who loved her students and was willing to defend Hogwarts with whatever weapons she could find – including Mandrakes. We imagine she’d be great fun to have a cup of tea with, if you could drag her away from the greenhouse.
For students in his house, Slytherin, Professor Snape could be indulgent. He often turned a blind eye to Draco Malfoy’s bad behaviour – when a spell Draco aimed at Harry inadvertently hit Hermione, causing her teeth to grow past her chin, not only did Snape not reprimand him, but his response to Hermione was just cruel.
Conversely, he’d dock points from Harry and other Gryffindors for anything that took his fancy: taking library books outside school, helping Neville with his Shrinking Solution, even answering questions in class (those last two were Hermione, in case you wondered.)
So unless you were sat at the Slytherin table, we can’t imagine Snape being a popular dinner guest. Still, he did occasionally reel his disdain in enough to sit down for a quasi-family gathering, as when he joined the rest of the teachers for Christmas dinner in Prisoner of Azkaban. He might have been reluctant to pull a cracker, but under Dumbledore’s fatherly eye at least he couldn’t needlessly take points from Gryffindor.
Speaking of that infamous Christmas dinner, Professor Trelawney’s unexpected appearance was a masterclass in eccentricity. Like many relatives you only see during the holidays, Trelawney saw no need to moderate her behaviour or swallow down her opinions for the select group of people with whom she had little in common (save their shared love of Hogwarts, perhaps). On the contrary, she gave all her baseless predictions and fateful dramatics full reign.
She didn’t, however, take McGonagall up on her offer of tripe.
Undemanding and understanding, Hagrid might not have been the most book-smart professor at Hogwarts, but if we were throwing a Hogwarts family reunion his name would definitely be at the top of the invite list. We like to think he’d turn up with a bottle of mulled mead and some rock cakes, possibly in his hairy brown suit, maybe in the company of Fang or some other fearsome creature, hopefully not doused in that cologne he once wore to meet Madame Maxine – but regardless of his party garb we’re sure he’d bring the fun. And, really, what more can we say?