Author: renrenren3 PM
Scenes from the early life of Minerva McGonagall.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Friendship - Minerva M. & Albus D. - Words: 1,782 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 2 - Published: 05-31-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7037931
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The first time she meets him is her first day at Hogwarts. She's standing in line next to Walburga Black and gaping around, because her parents had told them Hogwarts was huge but they never told her it was also wonderful and fantastic, and was it only her impression or did it look like the Great Hall had no ceiling?
Next to her, Walburga snorts. "You look so stupid with your mouth open like that," she says. "What are you looking at? Are you Muggle-born?" she adds, spitting out the words.
Minerva closes her mouth immediately and feels herself blushing when she realizes that a tall wizard in deep crimson robes just walked in and she almost didn't notice. He's probably a professor, and now he's going to scold her for letting her mind wander, and on her first day too. Her face falls when the professor stops in front of her and she braces herself for some sharp remark.
Instead, he winks conspiratorially and says, "It's pretty, isn't it? The ceiling in the Great Hall is enchanted to look like the outside sky. It's my favourite room in the castle."
She can't help but smile back, and when Professor Dumbledore introduces himself all the nervousness that she was feeling about the Sorting ceremony vanishes. It can't be that bad if it's something supervised by this teacher with the kind smile and the twinkly eyes.
Minerva watches as the boys and girls before her try on the Sorting Hat and are sent to four different Houses. The teachers clap politely every time the Hat finishes Sorting a new student, and she notices that some favour one House over the other. A tall, thin witch with a monocle always claps the loudest when the Hat sends someone to Ravenclaw, while a large wizard at the end of the table raises his goblet for every new Slytherin student.
Professor Dumbledore applauds everyone with the same enthusiasm, so Minerva decides that whichever House the Hat picks for her will be fine. All the same, she hurries forward when Dumbledore calls, "McGonagall, Minerva," and she screws her eyes shut under the Hat.
"Well, well," the Hat says. "I think you would do well in any House. I see loyalty and dedication, bravery and intelligence... Quite a lot of intelligence. You're going to like it at Hogwarts, I can tell. So where should I put you?"
Minerva is almost holding her breath now by the time the Hat yells, "Gryffindor!"
The next week, when lessons starts, Minerva finds out that Professor Dumbledore is the head of Gryffindor House. He also teaches Transfiguration, which quickly becomes Minerva's favourite subject. She loves the idea of turning something into something else, and she loves how it is complicated but yet so simple once you know what do to, and she loves that she's good at it and earns a lot of points for her House.
But, most of all, she loves Dumbledore's lessons. Part of her wishes that he wasn't so haphazard in his way of teaching. Sometimes he would be explaining switching spells and see a butterfly, and then spend the rest of the lessons talking about the difference between turning a butterfly into a tea-cosy or a tea-cosy into a butterfly.
There's no denying that Dumbledore's lessons are always the most interesting, and as time goes by Minerva finds out that they've been learning more in Transfiguration than in all other classes, as evidenced by her huge pile of notes.
Before Christmas, she's already compiled a revision schedule for midterms. She spends a lot of her afternoons in the library, looking up names and dates and formulas, and in the evening she reads by the fire in the common room, squinting at the small characters until her eyes water.
When Professor Dumbledore asks who is going to spend the holidays at Hogwarts, Minerva puts down her name immediately. Dumbledore gives her a strange look, and when he's finished writing down everyone's name he rolls his parchment and asks Minerva to stay behind after class.
He waits until the other students have filed out and offers her a chocolate cookie, which she accepts. "So, Minerva, how is your family?" he asks, sitting down at his desk and stapling his hands in front of him.
"They're fine, thank you," Minerva says around the chocolate cookie, wondering what Dumbledore is getting at.
"You haven't seen them in a while," Dumbledore says. When she nods, he continues, "I think you should go home for Christmas to see them. It is, after all, a time for family."
Minerva fidgets. "I thought I'd stay behind so I could use the Library," she says. "There are some books I wanted to read, and I can't check out all of them at the same time."
She doesn't really want to go home, that her parents are fighting all the time and they're always too busy for her, and anyway she's always found it so difficult to talk to people and get close to them, and this is why she spends all of her time hiding behind books in the library. She doesn't tell this to Dumbledore, but she has the uncanny feeling that he knows anyway.
Dumbledore offers her another chocolate cookie, which she refuses, and then offers to sign her a permission slip to let her bring home all the books that she wants. "As long as you don't empty the Library," he adds with a gentle laugh. "Otherwise, poor Mr. Jervis will be out of a job."
She has no excuses left, and ends up going home for the holidays. Her parents are fighting again, and it's not exactly fun, but on Christmas day they settle for a truce and she wakes up to her mother cooking roast turkey and potatoes and her father trying to tie a large red ribbon to the neck of a tabby owl which turns out to be her present.
"So you can write to us when you're back at school," he says gruffly, but he's smiling behind his moustache.
The first delivery her owl makes is to Professor Dumbledore, carrying a small card that says simply, "Merry Christmas from Minerva McGonagall and her family."
She graduates top of her year and Head Girl of Gryffindor, after getting a record number of NEWTs. Headmaster Dippet shakes her hand at the end of term feast and Dumbledore tells her, "Good job, Minerva."
It's strange to be out of Hogwarts for good. The stone corridors of the castle had become so familiar over time, even more so than her own home. It's strange to have breakfast in her tiny cottage in Edinburgh, without her fellow Gryffindors and all the professors sitting at the high table.
For a while she studies Advanced Transfiguration, still unsure of what she wants to do with her life. She doesn't hear from Professor Dumbledore until, the next summer, he shows up in her porch with an apple pie and asks her how she's been. He sounds tired, and Minerva is surprised to see how much he's aged in the past months. His hair and beard are starting to turn white.
Minerva is itching to ask what happened, lately the Daily Prophet has been full of stories about the duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, but she knows better than to touch a subject that seems to be paining Dumbledore.
They talk about Gryffindor winning the Quidditch Cup but losing the House Cup to Ravenclaw - "By only twelve points," Dumbledore says. "Such a pity, but everyone had a great run this year." - and Minerva asks him a question about Animagi that she can't find in any of her books.
She has missed the way Dumbledore's eyes twinkled when she asked a particularly brilliant question, and how he always seems to look right into her soul. He leaves a short time before sunset, with the promise to owl her a book that might interest her.
After that they start a long correspondence, sending back and forth notes on transfiguration, on the use of belladonna in potions and on the best recipe for pineapple shortcakes. He gets her interested on becoming an Animagus, and she takes a job at a local library that leaves her plenty of time for her studies.
Everything seems so small, though. Even the library where she's working is less than a tenth of Hogwarts' library. She closes off the rest of the world and concentrates on books.
It takes what it seems like forever, but in reality it's only eight years - her time at Hogwarts had lasted less than that. Finally she can stand in front of the mirror and watch as her form shrinks down to a tabby cat. She jumps on the window sill and walks tentatively on the fresh snow that's covering the garden.
"Now what?" she thinks.
The answer arrives a couple of weeks later, as she's dropping off the last of the paperwork to register her Animagus form, in the form of a short letter from Dumbledore.
Dear Minerva, it reads,
I seem to have made a grave mistake when I hired Adolphus Blotchling as a new teacher. He accidentally Transfigured himself into a lamppost the other day and we're still trying to get him back to normal. The post of Transfiguration teacher is once more vacant. If you're still looking for a new job, would you be interested in meeting me at the Three Broomsticks this Saturday to discuss this?
Best regards to you and your family,
It takes her less than a minute to send back the owl with an answer that is probably more enthusiastic than professional. Less than a week later is was introducing herself to her new class.
By then, she's already come to terms for her huge infatuation with Dumbledore. More than an infatuation, really. She's been in love with him for years. Sometimes she wonder whether Dumbledore knows - he probably does, he knows everything - but it doesn't matter too much.
She knows he won't love her back, not in the same way, and they'll never have more than what they have now. There is a shared passion for Transfiguration and for teaching, a long-lasting friendship and mutual admiration and respect.
Minerva McGonagall is married to her job, and she's more than fine with that.