7 August 1993
Minerva yawned as she ascended the steps to her living quarters, thinking only of a hot bath and heading to bed. She had been at the Ministry of Magic since dawn, filing paperwork and then sitting in interviews with no fewer than four Unspeakables from the Department of Mysteries, trying to obtain Hermione Granger's Time-Turner. Given that the Department of Mysteries prided itself on its secrecy, Minerva thought they did an excellent job of providing mystifying amounts of bureaucratic nonsense and procedures.
All the same, she now had the Time-Turner in hand, as well as the contract that Granger would have to sign so that Minerva could return it to the Ministry. Broderick Bode, the Unspeakable who had reviewed Minerva's application on Hermione's behalf, had made it clear that it was usually against protocol to allow someone other than the user of the Time-Turner to accept it.
"Well, you can either give it to me now, or use the Royal Mail to send it to her parents' dental office in Kent," she had burst out at last, throwing her hands up in slightly hysterical frustration. "She's using it to do extra lessons, and that's it! I wouldn't even be here if I'd done my job and talked her out of taking a dozen classes at a time, but here we are, so surely we can make this a more painless process for us both?!"
Bode had surveyed her, unfazed by the outburst, for several moments. Then he signed a piece of parchment and slid it into an inch-thick folder of paperwork that Minerva was expected to keep on file until the Time-Turner was given back to the Ministry. "Very well, Ms. McGonagall. Hoskins will be out shortly with the parcel. Do see that it's returned in good condition."
Good condition, indeed, she sniffed. She was just laying her hand on her door, about to unlock it, when a shadow descended upon her.
Minerva crashed backwards into the door and winced, massaging her shoulder. "Ouch—Sybill? What on earth are you doing here?"
Sybill Trelawney stood before her, eyes magnified and thin frame draped in glittering shawls, looking disapprovingly at Minerva's reaction to her appearance. "I have returned from my holiday early, should my expertise be required…"
She trailed off, and Minerva had a feeling Sybill had been thinking that she might be able to provide insight in the hunt for Sirius Black. She wondered vaguely if Sybill hadn't paid a visit to the Ministry… or perhaps the Daily Prophet. She sighed heavily and unlocked her office door with a flick of her wand, gesturing for Sybill to enter. "What can I do for you, Sybill?"
"I was reviewing my roster of new students," said Sybill in her misty voice, fluttering into Minerva's office in a cloud of flowing, sparkling shawls, "And I wondered whether you had noticed that Harry Potter has joined my third year class?"
Minerva lit all of the candles and the fireplace with a sweep of her wand. She then set the box and file folder from the Department of Mysteries on the desk and sat down. "I did notice," she said, folding her hands across her lap. "Is that a problem?"
"Not at all," said Sybill, turning impressively and laying a hand on her chest, looking scandalized at the very suggestion.
Minerva stifled a yawn with the back of her hand, slumping down slightly in her chair. "In that case, it's very late, Sybill, and if there's nothing…"
"I thought perhaps, Minerva," said Sybill, a little of her dreamy tone melting away, "as Potter's head of house, you could give me an insight into his state of mind. How might I best serve the boy? He clearly has had a dark and difficult past, and now wishes to plumb the secrets of his future."
She sat down in front of Minerva, watching her expectantly. Privately, Minerva thought that it was more likely Potter had chosen Divination because Ron Weasley had done so, but she wasn't going to say that. In any case, she was more intrigued by Sybill's sudden desire for gossip, which had apparently outweighed their mutual, unspoken understanding that they would avoid disturbing one another at all costs.
"Potter," Minerva sighed, "is just like any other student you've ever had, Sybill. He is bright and clever, and I am sure that if you simply allow him to blend in with the crowd…" She hesitated. "You don't…well, there's no need to single him out," she said, trying to put more meaning into her words.
Sybill's magnified eyes narrowed. "I must respond to the promptings of my Inner Eye, Minerva, as you well know," she said coolly. There was a long stretch of silence.
"Of course you must," Minerva replied heavily.
"If my Inner Eye beholds a grave prophecy for a student, is it not my duty to convey that message, and allow that person to be forewarned?" Sybill was sounding shocked by Minerva's nonchalance.
"Of course it is," said Minerva, suddenly too tired to argue.
Unsatisfied, Sybill narrowed her eyes and sniffed. "Very well," she said. "If you have no information to provide about the boy…"
Minerva raised her hands in a gesture of forlorn defeat and profound regret. Sybill sniffed again and prepared to leave. "I shall keep you abreast of any particularly important messages I receive," she said, in an infinitely patient and long-suffering tone.
"Thank you," Minerva replied, and Sybill swept from the room. Minerva released a long, heavy sigh. She knew she ought to get up and go straight to bed, but she was having a hard time contemplating attempting to move, at the moment.
As she sat back, her eyes closed, her hands resting on the arms of the chair, she heard a telltale whoosh from her fireplace. She did not open her eyes.
"I would ask you yet again why you insist on offering Divination," she said, "but I'm confident I wouldn't hear an answer I liked. What can I do for you, Albus?" She yawned into the back of her hand again and sat up.
Dumbledore was settling himself into one of her chairs. He folded his hands on his knee and asked. "Were you successful in obtaining Miss Granger's Time-Turner?"
"I was," Minerva said, patting the box on her desk. "After much trial and tribulation."
"Excellent," Albus replied with a smile. "You must have left very early this morning."
"About six. Why?"
Albus shrugged. Then he said, "Harry Potter—accidentally, I am sure—inflated his uncle's sister last night at the dinner table, and fled Little Whinging on the Knight Bus. He is currently staying at the Leaky Cauldron under the watch of Tom the barman and a half dozen or so undercover Aurors stationed in the pub and Diagon Alley, where he will be spending the remainder of his summer holidays."
Minerva stared at him, unable to react.
"I communicated with the Dursleys directly to ensure that they would take Harry back again next summer," said Albus. "So, all is well. I only thought you should be made aware of the temporary change in Harry's living situation."
It was a moment before Minerva recovered her powers of speech. When she did, she chose a question to which the answer, she hoped, would not make her furious. "Do—how did he know how to call the Knight Bus?" she asked.
Dumbledore chuckled; for all of his good humor now, Minerva was sure that this morning, he had been quite as distressed by this turn of events as she was. "As to that, I cannot say. You will have to ask him yourself. But Cornelius Fudge and Rufus Scrimgeour are both satisfied with his security, for the time being—"
"Well, I'm writing to Florean Fortescue this moment and asking him to keep an eye out for Harry," said Minerva. She sat forward and snatched up her quill and a stack of writing parchment. "He's an old friend of Rob's… oh, and Malcolm too, his office is right there in the alley, he can make himself useful…"