A possible beginning...
Ironic, Minerva thought as she stood at a window on the first day of September watching Snape shoo the orphans back inside the castle. Apparently, they had not tidied their common rooms to his satisfaction and, as a result, were not going to be allowed to wait outside for the carriages from Hogsmeade. Who ever would have thought I'd come to rely on Severus Snape to maintain discipline at Hogwarts? No one who knew them in their earliest days on staff together, that was certain.
Once he'd made up his mind to stay, Snape had settled in nicely, acquitting himself like a favorite guest at a comfortable, stately hotel. He came and went as he pleased, often in response to invitations from students and parents who couldn't stress enough how honored they'd be by a visit. As a result, he knew all about the things that were worrying Minerva to death as she faced her first year at the helm of Hogwarts.
The run-ins with the law vexed her the most. After an absence of almost two years, the students who still had parents had finally gone home for the summer and, by all reports, were being indulged by their families at every opportunity. Between the laxness and the spoiling (which most parents were hard-pressed to afford but nevertheless determined to provide), the powerful young witches and wizards were reveling to the point of debauchery. What would happen when they returned to the discipline and deprivation of a post-war Hogwarts?
"Perhaps you should make them reapply," Snape had suggested over a cup of tea in her office. "Require all students to submit an annual letter requesting to continue their education at Hogwarts and documenting why they should be considered worthy of that privilege."
It had been a brilliant idea and McGonagall had pounced on it, sprinkling her missive to all current students with a plethora of references to the illustrious history of Europe's finest wizarding school. With any luck, a sense of pride would compensate for the disappointment the children were bound to feel when they heard about the chores.
An outbreak over the summer had killed a large percentage the house elves and there was simply no replacing them. Draco Malfoy had been forced to abandon his plans to renovate his estate and had instead taken up a suite of rooms at the orphanage in Ely. As headmistress, Minerva remained convinced that the epidemic was the result of a covert biological attack on Hogwarts. Post-war anger at the institution ran rampant throughout the muggle and wizarding communities. No one seemed willing to acknowledge what the war had secured. They only cared about what it had cost.
She'd loaned Dobby to the orphanage for the summer, unwittingly saving his life in her desperate attempt to find a way to fill the days of the orphans who now resided at the castle full time. In response to being tasked with myriad mundane housekeeping duties, Violet Guilford had proposed a bartering system. She and her fellow orphans would complete the housework throughout the summer in return for permission to visit Ely on the weekends. This solved two problems at once for the young Slytherin who missed her departed housemates dreadfully and needed something to do after Snape put an end to her stone polishing.
The memory of it still made Minerva laugh. Snape had been striding briskly down a corridor one evening when he'd slipped on a cluster of highly polished stones and flown several feet into the air, landing on his back with a sickening crunch. It was the most spectacular fall Minerva had ever witnessed.
She smiled to herself now as she watched him on the stoop, surreptitiously massaging a sore spot on his back while glowering at the children for not moving quickly enough. Even with the summer over, she decided, the chores would not be a problem. They'd make good detention punishments during the school year and would also provide the orphaned students with an opportunity to earn some pocket money, though any such funds would have to be contributed by staff. There was no money in the budget for such things.
She'd opened the admission process to all who had been previously overlooked, hoping to address budget concerns and lingering inequities in one fell swoop. She'd been roundly refused. Between that and her steadfast refusal to accept 'donations' from parents of new students hoping to influence their children's house assignments, she found herself operating an institution that was uncomfortably close to the financial edge.
As if to prove this, down on the stoop below, Violet Guilford reached up under her robe even more covertly than Snape had just done and tugged on her well-worn underwear. It seemed to Minerva that the child was hanging to the back of the students re-entering the castle. Sure enough, when she was alone with Snape on the stoop, and despite a menacing lift of her housemaster's eyebrow, she began to argue with him. She pointed emphatically at the gate and then tapped herself on the chest as she spoke; it looked as if she was trying to convince Snape that she should be allowed to wait for the carriages even if the others weren't.
Minerva shook her head at such foolishness. Below her, the deputy headmaster made no response. Instead, he yanked the front door open with one hand and thrust the other high in the air. It took Violet all of two seconds to figure out what he was doing, but by then it was too late. When she tried to dodge inside, Snape grabbed her by the scruff of the neck, holding the door open with his knee. A few moments later, Whomping Willy sailed out the door. Snape snatched the cane from midair, pushed Violet over his bent knee, and lashed her soundly six times.
Minerva watched as the child struggled mightily in Snape's grasp. Her primary concern, as far as the headmistress could tell, seemed to be the possibility of being spotted. She kept glancing at the gate as if fearing the carriages would arrive before Snape finished with her. When Snape let her go, she tugged and straightened her robe with an air of wounded dignity and, head held high, marched haughtily back into the castle.
Snape watched her go and Minerva could have sworn she saw him smile just a bit. Then he turned to contemplate the gate. After a moment, he reached into a pocket and checked his watch. He gazed at the gate again, frowned, then turned around and headed back inside.