Round 13! It sneaked up on me, y'all!
Anyway, I had to write about a dominant character (chess prompt - Queen). If that's not cause for a new chapter of GD, I don't know what is! I promise I'll have more soon, my loves! Real life has been TAXING!
1 September 1993
"I don't like this," Minerva said, hugging herself tightly as she stood beside Severus in the open front door of the castle. A pair of dementors hovered over the castle gates at the base of the drive, and Minerva knew there were dozens more in the forest and around the edge of the grounds.
"You don't like the dementors, or the idea of Black being apprehended by them?" Severus asked dryly.
Minerva glared at him. "Don't be spiteful."
"It isn't spite if it's what he deserves," Snape replied.
She started to answer him, but was interrupted by a commotion on the marble staircase in the entrance hall. Pomona was rushing towards them, waving an envelope in one hand.
"Minerva! This just arrived," she said, thrusting the letter at her. "It's from Remus Lupin, on the train…"
Minerva frowned and tore into the envelope, barely aware of Pomona's worried gaze or the ugly expression on Snape's face at the mention of Lupin. He had been conspicuously absent from staff meetings on those days when Lupin had been in attendance, and the two had not yet met beyond a brief meeting to discuss the particulars of brewing the Wolfsbane Potion on a monthly basis—which, Albus assured Minerva, Severus had consented to do, albeit grudgingly.
Minerva's eyes narrowed as she scanned the note.
Dementors, as expected, near Dufftown. All seems well now; we're on our way.
Harry collapsed when the dementor entered our compartment.
I used a Patronus to drive it off and have revived him; he's with his friends and seems better.
See you soon,
She crushed the parchment in her hand. "Damn," she cursed under her breath, her teeth grinding together. She thought for a moment, glancing from Pomona to Severus and around the entrance hall, which was full of staff milling about, awaiting Albus's arrival to welcome them into the Great Hall. Without another moment's pause, she sprang into action.
"Fil—oh, Filius," she said, striding forward and waving him over across the flagstones of the entrance hall. "Filius, I would like you to take over the Sorting Ceremony for this evening. I need to make sure that Potter is seen by Poppy immediately when he arrives."
"Seen by Poppy?" Filius squeaked curiously.
"Dementors." She gave him a dark look and he shook his head.
"Of course, of course…" Filius clucked his tongue and headed in the direction of the stairs to Albus's office to retrieve the Sorting Hat.
"Severus, if you would go to the hospital wing and ask Madam Pomfrey to come down to my office on the first floor as soon as the students arr—"
"Are we perhaps being a bit alarmist?" Snape asked. "What is it exactly that's happened to Potter?"
Pomona opened her mouth to retort, but Minerva cut in coolly, "I can't possibly imagine what he experiences when he is near a dementor, Severus, but if it is serious enough to make him collapse, then I would like him to be seen by Madam Pomfrey. Have you any other helpful suggestions for me, or are you going to speak to Poppy?"
"I'll go," Pomona interrupted, throwing up a hand between Severus and Minerva's scowling faces to indicate that she had a very low opinion of their squabbling.
Snape punctuated the end of the conversation with a sour look, and Minerva had to restrain herself from casting a well-aimed Jelly-Legs Jinx; she'd considered it on a number of occasions over the years, but this time he really deserved it, she thought.
"They're here!" Septima Vector, the excitable young, brand-new Arithmancy teacher, had been watching at the window for the last ten minutes or so, and was now pointing at the driveway outside, where a long line of floating golden lights marked the swaying, bumping carriages full of students. Minerva could see the thestrals' hot breath issuing steam into the chilly night air. She'd only intended to speak to Granger, tonight, but… well, it couldn't be helped now, and the Time-Turner couldn't wait until tomorrow. Once she got Potter packed off to the hospital wing…
The massive oak doors creaked open and admitted a rush of students, chatting and laughing in a dull roar of noise. Minerva craned her neck, trying to spot the brilliant red hair of a Weasley—that, she knew after two years, was the surest way to find Potter.
"A-ha," she said, her eyes landing on the back of a red head that was taller than the little knot of third years that surrounded it. "Potter! Granger!" she barked.
The students on either side of Ron Weasley turned and spotted her; both Harry and Hermione looked nonplussed. Harry's face was rather pale, and his scar seemed to stand out even more on his forehead, livid against his flushed features. Hermione simply looked curious.
"I want to see you both!" she called, and, after they'd shared a bewildered look with Ron Weasley, all three of them began to pick their way through the stream of students towards her. At least Potter was moving under his own steam, Minerva thought as they arrived before her. She stood at the foot of the marble staircase that led to her office.
When the three had arrived in front of her, she said, "There's no need to look so worried — I just want a word in my office," she told them. She caught Ron's eye and nodded at the crowd. "Move along there, Weasley."
He looked skeptical, but didn't argue, clapping Harry on the shoulder as he left. Minerva turned on her heel and beckoned Granger and Potter on with a wave of her hand. She led them to her office and had them sit down before the dire, which had filled the room with a pleasant warmth. Minerva dropped into her desk chair and studied Harry's features again.
"Professor Lupin sent an owl ahead to say that you were taken ill on the train, Potter."
There came a quick, light knock at the door, which swung open to admit Poppy. Potter looked positively alarmed and mortified.
"I'm fine," Harry began, "I don't need anything—"
"Oh, it's you, is it?" Poppy asked. "I suppose you've been doing something dangerous again?"
"It was a dementor, Poppy," Minerva told her, and Poppy met her eye, making an angry noise. She rounded on Potter; Granger sat back a little in her seat as though she feared being examined as well.
"Setting dementors around a school," Poppy muttered, periodically glancing at Minerva and rolling her eyes. "He won't be the last one who collapses," she announced. "Yes, he's all clammy. Terrible things, they are, and the effect they have on people who are already delicate—"
"I'm not delicate!" Potter snapped.
"Of course you're not," Poppy replied as she timed his pulse to her wristwatch.
Minerva decided to cut this exchange short, because Harry was starting to look deeply embarrassed. "What does he need?" she asked Poppy. "Bed rest? Should he perhaps spend tonight in the hospital wing?"
"I'm fine!" said Potter, and he actually jumped to his feet, looking irritable.
Poppy caught Minerva's eye, and the meaning was plain—Gryffindor Quidditch players, as usual. She tried to catch Potter and look into his eyes. "He should have some chocolate, at the very least," she told Minerva.
"I've already had some," said Harry, who was turning red. "Professor Lupin gave me some. He gave it to all of us." He gestured at Hermione Granger, who nodded, her brown eyes wide.
"Did he, now?" Poppy sounded pleasantly surprised and gave Minerva a smile. "So we've finally got a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who knows his remedies?"
Minerva ignored this. "Are you sure you feel all right, Potter?" she asked.
"Yes," he replied, sounding exasperated.
Minerva arched an eyebrow, and Potter stood up a little straighter and made an effort not to look so annoyed. "Very well. Kindly wait outside while I have a quick word with Miss Granger about her course schedule, then we can go down to the feast together."
Potter disappeared through the door with Poppy, and Minerva turned to Hermione.
"My c-course schedule, Professor?" she asked, looking anxious.
"Yes," Minerva sighed, reaching into her top desk drawer for the box. "You'll remember, the last time we spoke, I was not sure how or if we could accommodate your desire to take so many subjects."
Granger looked crestfallen. "Yes… I remember."
Minerva placed the Time-Turner in its box atop the desk. "Do you know what this is, Miss Granger?"
Hermione frowned and sat forward, opening the lid. Her eyes became large as saucers, and she gasped, snatching her hands back. "That's—that's—a Time-Turner!"
"Quite right," Minerva said. "You will be using it to get to your classes this term. I trust you know how it works?"
"One turn of the glass for an hour. Never let yourself be seen," Hermione said at once. "I read a book all about them and the laws about them in first year!"
Minerva flicked her wand. "I think the safest place for this is on your person." A fine gold chain appeared in midair and joined the Time-Turner, which rose out of its box and settled around Hermione's neck. "Keep it safe. Do not let anyone know you have it. "Do you understand?"
Hermione nodded, tucking the necklace under the collar of her robes.
"Come to my office after your first lesson. I will review the usage materials and loan paperwork with you then," Minerva told her. Hermione's smile was enormous, revealing her overlarge front teeth. "Miss Granger, I had to write many letters about your academic prowess and model behavior in order to obtain this device. I hope you will not disappoint my trust in you."
"No, Professor!" she replied, looking suddenly terribly anxious. Minerva nodded.
"Excellent. Let us return to the feast, then."
They stepped out into the corridor, and proceeded downstairs to the Great Hall once more. The Sorting Ceremony had concluded and the staff table was full. Minerva caught Hagrid's eye with a slight smile as she ascended to her seat; his appointment would be announced tonight; he had brought out his hairy brown suit and orange necktie for the occasion.
She settled into her chair on Albus's right, and he leaned towards her.
"The first student sorted was a Ravenclaw. I believe we all owe Filius a Sickle," he informed her.
"Potter's all right," Minerva said. "I imagine you heard from Lupin as well?"
"Well, it's handled. Poppy says he's all right," she told him. "I had a word with him, and he seemed—"
"I did not doubt for a moment your ability to handle the situation swiftly and effectively," Albus said, giving her a smile as he prepared to rise with his goblet in hand. "Thank you for your command of the situation, as usual, my dear."