A/N:  This contains slight spoilers to Order of the Phoenix, although it doesn't give away anything really major.  You've been warned.  Also, this fic sort of goes along with the theme of my earlier story, Christmas Eve Candles.  You may want to read that before this, and I definately suggest reading Order of the Phoenix before this.  At least read up to Chapter Twenty-Seven; this fic takes place at the end of Chapter Twenty-Six.  By the way, I am aware that my timelines do not match up at all with the timelines in the book.  In Christmas Eve Candles, I have Minerva and Sibyll being the same age and in their forties.  Obviously that doesn't work; according to OotP, Minerva has been teaching thirty-nine years to Sibyll's sixteen.  But, forget that.  It's fanfic.  I saw they're the same age (60, for my purposes) and have just been teaching different lengths of time.  Enjoy!


"Thank you,"  Minerva McGonagall called absently to Professor Flitwick after he had lowered Sibyll's luggage to the floor of her quarters again.  He nodded politely and made his exit, soon followed by Professor Sprout.  Minerva and Sibyll were left alone in the Divination tower; strangely enough, the animosity they had shown towards one another over the past sixteen years seemed to have melted away completely.  The time had come to stand together as Hogwarts staff members.

As Minerva watched Sibyll sink into a chintz armchair and dissolve into fresh tears, she suddenly felt guilty and silly about all the time she'd spent hating the other woman.  Once upon a time, they had been friends.....best friends, actually.  That old tie was what had yanked so fiercly on Minerva's heartstrings out in the entrance hall minutes earlier.  Yes, she had changed, and so had Sibyll.  They would never be the friends they once were; severly different life experiences and opinions had seen to that.  They no longer had anything in common except similar memories of their Hogwarts years and old identical friendship necklaces that neither had ever gotten around to throwing out.  Their friendship had been severed forever.

Yet somehow, standing in the hall, watching Sibyll shriek and sob as she was being thrown out of the only true home she had ever known, Minerva was once again a fifteen year old Hogwarts prefect watching her best friend being harassed by the school bully.  She could only stand and watch, shocked and helpless, as Sibyll cried while insults and taunts were thrown at her.  This time, the catcalls were not of "squib" (even though Sibyll wasn't one) or "phony" (which she definately was) or "freak", although a few seemed to come close.  These were more sinister threats, threats of losing the only thing Sibyll held dear anymore: Hogwarts.  Just as she had forty-five years ago, Minerva had come to her senses and stepped in to whisk the crying, emotionally-battered witch away to safety.  She had been surprised how natural it felt to be there with her arm around Sibyll's shoulders, offering her a handkerchief and telling her that everything would be all right.  That was something she had never in a million years expected to do again.

Professor McGonagall was startled out of her thoughts by a particularly loud sob from the other witch, and she hesitantly made her way towards the chair, gingerly perching on one of its arms.  "It's all right, Sibyll.....you heard Albus.  You're staying here," she reassured quietly, her hands lying limp in her lap.

"She'll think of s-something," Sibyll argued, her voice thick with tears and muffled by her many shawls.  She was leaned slightly sideways on the chair, her spindly knees drawn to her chest and her face buried on her arms.  "She'll just get another one of t-those....those decrees to kick me out...."

"Then Albus will find somewhere safe for you to stay until all of this is sorted out,"  the Scottish woman replied gently, unthinkingly reaching out a hand to Sibyll's shoulder. 

"I d-don't want to stay here with her, anyway."  The sobs were a little softer now, although they were far from stopping altogether.  Minerva nodded in sympathy. 

"I know how you feel--" she began, but was cut short by Trelawny's head jerking up quickly.

"You don't know how it feels," she hissed angrily, her tears and drama momentarily forgotten.  "To be put on probation....spending weeks worrying...only to be thrown out into the cold....I know I'm not the best person in the world at Divination but....but I know what I'm t-teaching...." she continued, her voice once again loosing control.  "I know what's in the b-books..."

Minerva said nothing at first.  In spite of their old friendship, she still believed that Trelawny was nothing but a fraud and knew Albus had given her the job partly because she had tried so hard to study Divination, partly because of her one freak legitimate prophecy, and mostly because she had nowhere else to go.  After a moment, she managed a forced, "I know," before Sibyll continued.

"I'm not g-good at everything, not like you."  The air grew tense for a short moment; the old battle wounds were open.  "S-she'd never find reason to...to kick you out..."

"She's looking for one, Sibyll.  She knows where my loyalties lie, and she'll sack me the first chance she gets,"  Minerva explained quietly, in spite of the anger she felt boiling up inside her towards Umbridge.  "She's after Hagrid next; she hates half-breeds--"

"I'm n-not a half-breed,"  Sibyll interrupted, taking off her glasses to wipe her eyes with Minerva's handkerchief.   "W-why was she after me?"

Minerva bit her lip; it seemed cruel to point out that Sibyll was an utter failure as a Seer and that her teaching was about as bad as her fortunetelling.   She looked around the room as if searching for an answer, but all she found was several half-burned candles, some incense, and some not-so-well-hidden half-empty bottles of sherry.   "Maybe she just wanted to...to test out her authority on you?"  she suggested hesitantly, half-expecting a fresh wave of sobs to come.

Instead, Sibyll just nodded, sniffling slightly.   After a long pause, she said very quietly and with great difficulty, "Thank you, Minerva. For....for rescueing me."

"You're welcome," the Deputy Headmistress answered, slightly taken aback.   There was a short, awkward silence before she added in a slightly more professional tone, "Well, if you're quite all right....I....I suppose I should go speak to Professor Dumbledore about the new arrangements." 

Trelawny nodded, not really looking at Minerva, the borrowed handkerchief still wound in her fingers.  With a final pat to Sibyll's shoulder, Minerva stood up from the chair and crossed to the trapdoor exit.  She paused for a moment before descending the ladder, opening her mouth to say something more, but her mind was blank.  Sighing quietly, she made her exit, closing the door with a quiet click behind her and leaving Sibyll alone with her grief and sherry.