This is a challenge fic for HMS Lycanthropic Feline at FictionAlley Park but I won't tell you the challenge details until the end so as not to spoil the plot! The deadline is Friday 18th so the rest of this will be up soon.
For those of you that aren't familiar with what I write let me tell you this now: I am a firm Remus/Minerva shipper and have always taken Minerva as being in her 30s/40s rather than being 70. Obviously OOTP contradicts this but for the purposes of this fic I am choosing to ignore it. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! Do not waste your time flaming me about age discrepancies.
Porcelain readers: chapter eight is on the way and should be up in the next couple of weeks.
Usual disclaimers apply.
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The Werewolf, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall marched swiftly along the third floor corridor, her emerald green robes billowing in her wake. This in itself was no unusual sight: the Head of Gryffindor House had always prided herself on her punctuality and never lingered longer than was strictly necessary. But lately there seemed to be an unnatural sharpness about her: the almost perpetual frown, the tension in her shoulders, the harsh tap of her heels as if she was trying to crush some invisible force of evil with every step she took. And no wonder. Minerva was a woman with iron-clad self control. Self control that was currently being stretched to the limit. As she rounded yet another corner her footsteps slowed and she took a deep breath, obviously trying to calm herself.
In this part of the castle the late afternoon sunlight poured through the windows like molten syrup, sprawling lazily across walls, floors and cabinets. It glittered off Minerva's square framed spectacles. It also glittered off the newly installed bronze plaque that graced a nearby door.
'Dolores Jane Umbridge', it read in flowing italics. Beneath that, in firm capitals so that noone could possibly underestimate the importance of the title, was engraved:
Careful now, Minerva thought. Stay calm. You can't afford to get this wrong.
Wearing an expression of extreme distaste, she rapped sharply on the door.
The voice was high pitched and girly but at the same time underwritten by a peculiar mixture of self righteousness and corruption. Minerva grimaced in disgust and reluctantly pushed the door open, averting her gaze as much as possible from the hideous décor of the Headmistress's office.
Professor Umbridge was sat behind her desk, an oversized peacock quill clutched firmly in her pudgy hands. Her short but rather plump figure was currently encased in yet another set of brightly coloured robes: these were in rather dubious shades of turquoise and lavender and were topped off with the pink fluffy cardigan. A matching ribbon was tied in her curly hair. She smiled patronisingly at Minerva who tried hard to ignore it. Minerva's jet black mane was carefully pinned into its usual tight bun and looked as immaculate as ever. As far as she was concerned, hair ribbons were for children. It was beyond her how Dolores Umbridge - who was several years older than she - could possibly consider it to be a flattering look.
"Dolores," she said crisply. "I've just had a report that Miss Johnson and one of the Weasley twins have been seen sneaking into the broom cupboard on the fifth floor."
Umbridge's eyes bulged with perverse excitement.
No surprise there, Minerva thought. The Weasley twins had always been troublemakers and since Dumbledore's departure they'd done more to undermine Dolores' reign than any other student, including Harry Potter. Minerva was well aware that any possible reason to punish - or better still expel - them would be music to Dolores' ears. She already had their broomsticks chained prominantly to the wall behind her desk.
"Yes," Minerva said aloud. "Apparently the Weasley boy was - and I quote - 'gazing lustfully' at Miss Johnson."
"I see. Well, we certainly can't be having that."
The Headmistress laid the homework parchments she was marking aside. As she did so a malicious smile grew on her face. She got to her feet, pausing for the briefest of moments to inspect her appearance in the mirror that hung on the wall beside her desk. Then, seemingly satisfied, she turned to leave the office. Just as she was about to depart a sudden suspicious frown crossed her flabby face.
"Why are you telling me this?" she asked coldly. "You have been somewhat lacking in team spirit these past few weeks. Is there a reason for this sudden change of heart?"
"We must ensure that the standards of discipline at Hogwarts are maintained," Minerva replied stiffly. "I understand that... cooperation is required if that is to be achieved."
Umbridge gazed steadily at her for a moment and then nodded.
"Well thank you for alerting me, Minerva," she said, now back to her usual sugary sweet tones. "I'm so glad you're finally starting to see things my way. Now perhaps you would show me where this broom cupboard is."
And without further ado she pushed past Minerva and bustled out of the office.
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To be continued...