Disclaimer: The following is not purely original fiction, but rather characters, settings, and situations as created by J.K. Rowling. No money is being made of this piece of fanfiction and can not be reproduced for any purposes but strictly private entertainment.

Career Advice
All fifth years will be required to attend a short meeting with their Head of House during the first week of the Summer term, in which they will be given the opportunity to discuss their future careers. Times of individual appointments are listed below.

Table of Contents:
I - Black, Sirius; Monday, 9:00
II - Evans, Lily; Monday, 1:30
III - Lupin, Remus; Tuesday, 2:40
IV - Pettigrew, Peter; Wednesday, 9:00
V - Potter, James; Wednesday, 1:30

(All various other Gryffindor fifth-years conveniently overlooked. A brief enlightenment on what Severus Snape of Slytherin's consultation consisted of is included in Part V. Part II is noticeably shorter than the others because Miss Evans, unlike everyone's favourite pranksters, is not a problem child. That Miss Evans's and Mr Potter's consultation times are the same was accidental, but the author stoutly refused to change it after noticing such because of the happily ironic nature of the concurrence.)

I - Black, Sirius; Monday, 9:00

Minerva had been doing this for the tenth year now, and knew there was usually quite an element of awkwardness in these meetings.

The majority of students that came in were nervous, if for no other reason than having to share their ambitions (or lack thereof) with a teacher renown for giving out many detentions within her office. They didn't quite meet her eye; they sat in very uncomfortable positions; occasionally, they stuttered, but more often they either spoke much more softly or loudly than was their wont, and the most intelligent of them sometimes wound up saying stupid things that they were obviously embarrassed about and would wither in shame hours later over.

She liked to see those sort, actually. The ones who weren't nervous were often the hardest to deal with. They either really didn't care, which made Minerva's job quite difficult, or were so confident that they were often arrogant. A very few of the calm ones truly had anything to be calm about.

None of them seemed to realise that Minerva was often feeling as discomfited as they were. There were always a few students who had ambitions that she had to break them gently of. She couldn't imagine seeing much of it this year - they had a very outstanding group of Gryffindors, including three of the most brilliant students in anyone's recent memory, who would be able to garner all the requirements needed for whatever they chose.

The girls were going to be all right. She had already had her first consultation, with Amy Ashcroft, which had been very routine - nerves, twirling of hair, steadfast advice on classes. Three other young witches were capable and unambitious souls; quite easy to deal with. And then Lily Evans was one of the three aforementioned prodigy students. They would work out all right.

Minerva was more concerned about the boys. She had to prepare to lecture the first, dash the hopes of the next two, and then deal with an extremely cocksure Potter.

'Let's take them one at a time,' she murmured to herself. She was laying out the goods and ammunition to deal with Sirius Black, marks and reports from all of his classes. All of the remarks hinted at the exact same thing Minerva felt - 'has much potential', 'sadly lacks the inclination to apply himself', 'exceedingly intelligent', 'rejects what he is taught', 'has a great deal of magical ability', 'coasts on natural talent', 'does well in practical applications and scenarios… except when his temper interferes'.

When all was said and done, it was typical too-clever teenage boy, but Black didn't have that much more time to apply himself. The Black family was shrouded in a great deal of suspicion. Black rejected his family's rather dubious history, but his future employers mightn't know that. They weren't going to take kindly to a charismatic, handsome rich boy waltzing in, no matter how great his talent and intelligence was. Minerva wasn't so much afraid for his O.W.L.s - Black would get by very well. Unfortunately, if he didn't start putting some thought into things he was going to waste his N.E.W.T.s.

Even apart from this, there were vicious circumstances building steam and momentum every day. It required rather more maturity from the best and brightest of their young witches and wizards than Black possessed.

The door opened noisily, as Black banged it against the wall behind.

Minerva took a deep breath before saying anything. Black wasn't going to pay any serious attention to a teacher who was yelling at him before they were fairly underway.

'Hullo, Professor Mac,' he said, with a killing grin. Very handsome, young Sirius Black was, extraordinarily so, with beautiful pitch-black hair and that winning smile. He moved with a grace unusual for male adolescents, a grace that made girls walk into walls whenever he entered a room, and he hadn't done much good since he'd discovered this fact.

'Good morning, Mr Black,' Minerva replied chillingly. 'Might I offer you the first piece of career advice? No one likes a potential employee to bang their doors against the wall. And I do wonder how you will get on by addressing them in a manner they've already asked you not to use?'

'Sorry - that door did open pretty easily, didn't it?' Black was totally unabashed. 'Professor McGonagall,' he added for good measure, drawing out her full name.

'Close the door, Black.'

He did so, rather subdued by her tone, if not her words.

'And then take a seat,' continued Minerva.

Black collapsed in the seat exaggeratedly; Minerva inwardly sighed. How on earth did boys like these twirl their teachers' hearts around his little finger? They were all a lot of fools for allowing it. Maybe half of it was pity. Minerva knew well enough that the cockiest were often the most insecure.

Of course, she wouldn't cut herself a break; if half of it was because she felt pity for him - and James Potter - the other half was, indeed, because they charmed her over, like most everyone.

Minerva began, not letting her voice or her guard down: 'Have you given any thoughts to what you want to pursue?'

'Yes,' Black replied promptly, startling her.

'Yes? Well?'

'I want to open and run a Muggle garage.'

She had not expected such a firm reply, nor such an answer, and wasn't sure if he was serious or not. Not to mention that she wasn't certain what a Muggle garage was.

'Oh do you,' she said.

'I've been learning a lot about Muggle mechanics,' said Black with some pride, making Minerva think that he might not be joking.

She glanced down. 'You haven't taken Muggle Studies,' she said, stalling.

'No,' Black scowled. 'My parents wouldn't let me. But I intend to kind of give myself a crash course on Muggle culture pretty shortly. It has to be more accurate than our classes, anyway.'

'Black, you and I both know that, technically, you don't need to do much of anything, let alone learn a trade like mech - '

'I don't intend to waste my life lazing around on the family fortune, thank you,' Black interrupted, growling with a dark scowl that twisted his handsome face into an expression almost frightening.

'You're a very talented wizard,' Minerva began slowly, forgetting her resolution to rake him down and not stroke his ego anymore than it had already been stroked. 'It seems a shame to let that go to waste…'

'Oh, I wouldn't abandon the wizarding world, you know,' Black said, with the careless, airy tone that so became his own brand of charisma. 'Couldn't, really - in spare time I'd do something to help with the war. I thought of being an Auror, actually, but then Peter's cousin told us about some of the tests for character and temper.' He grinned roughishly. 'I'd pass the first with flying colours, of course, but temper?'

He had a point that Minerva couldn't contest, but it was a bit of a red herring anyway. She wondered which of the other points to tackle first.

'How would you help with the war effort?'

'Oh, I don't know, where I can,' Black shrugged. 'Not the Ministry as much - useless bureaucracy - but Remus's parents do things for Dumbledore, don't they? I'd volunteer to help Dumb - er, the headmaster - in a second.'

Minerva frowned thoughtfully. Black was very young - but on the other hand, they needed young witches and wizards, ones who recognised the situation. Black obviously had some idea - he had called it a 'war', after all.

Dumbledore had been discussing with her the idea of organising those he had doing various tasks against the Death Eaters and their leader, into some sort of network or order.

Apparently Black mistook her frown. 'Erm, sorry, was that something I wasn't supposed to know? Trust me, I wouldn't tell anyone - '

'No, no.' Minerva physically waved that away. 'I know all about - Professor - Dumbledore's work against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named - and the Lupins.' Who had been so overwhelmed with gratitude toward Dumbledore that they hadn't hesitated for a second, even knowing that what had happened to Mrs Lupin - missing, condition unknown - could happen. 'I was merely thinking over something. Yes, I think the headmaster would accept your help - if and only if you started taking things more soberly than you tend to.'

Black sighed excessively.

'Yes, that's right, Black; I'm about to lecture.'

'Fire away.'

She scowled at him. 'Not fire away. Why don't you take a look at what I've underlined here.'

He grinned cheekily, taking the reports from her. 'Why, flattered, charmed, I am; they have so much to say about me!'

'Yes they do,' Minerva replied grimly. 'Pity half of it is about how you would be one of the greatest wizards ever to pass through this school in the past century - if you'd only apply yourself!'

'But' - and his eyes went round and dewy with mock innocence - 'I do apply myself, Professor,' he whined. 'What more do you want me to do, sweep "Outstanding"s in everything?'

'You could - isn't that the sad thing! You could. Put as much effort as some of the other students and you could.'

He started to laugh.

'Don't laugh, Black! You said you don't want to laze around and let your family's blood and Galleons tide you over, didn't you? Well, this is quite the same. Your own natural talent and intelligence is no more to your credit than your surname - but you have no qualms about skirting by on that.'

If she had slapped him across the face, Black would be wearing the exact same expression as he was now.

'No,' he said. 'No, I don't.'

Minerva ignored the non seqitur and went on a little more gently. 'You'll be able to do anything you want, but that's only if you put some effort into it.'

'But I really do want to open the garage,' Black said soberly.

She couldn't help raising an eyebrow, despite her policy of always encouraging her students' vocations. 'All right. Let's hypothetically pretend that this fails.'

'You just said that I can do anything if I put effort into it!' Black grinned brightly at her, apparently over his solemn mindframe.

'It always helps to have something in mind in case, for whatever reason, it doesn't work out.'

'Well, if my garage fails I'll work for someone else's.' Black was irrepressible.

She sighed. 'Then I wish you luck. I still think you should also make sure you don't waste your chance at N.E.W.T. classes.'

'What should I take?'

Minerva was still hoping that, in the end, someone would make him a wizarding offer that would end this garage bit. 'Well, as you have no wizarding ambitions, I would play your strengths and do your best to achieve high marks on those subjects for both the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s. You cannot blow off the O.W.L.s, in that case - the N.E.W.T. classes generally have high standards. For example, you cannot take my Advanced Transfiguration if you get anything lower than "Exceeds Expectations" on your O.W.L.'

Black smirked. 'I think I can manage that.'

'There's that high opinion of your abilities again.'

He was contrite. 'Sorry. Didn't mean to. I just - well, I've done some - independent projects, one might say, in regards to the great art of Transfiguration.' He was still wearing a rather smug smile.

'I know, and the Slytherins hardly thank you for them,' she replied, although in truth she was terribly proud of the advanced level of the pranksters' transfiguration. 'I also think you should join the third-years' O.W.L.-level Muggle Studies.' Black looked horrified; Minerva smiled. 'Yes, Black, the third-years. I'll write your parents. You won't get standarised testing credits for it, but at least you'll get the knowledge and the exam marks.'

'All right,' he grumbled, but there was a mischievous glint in his eyes that made Minerva wonder if she should have thrown the third-years to his mercy.

'I think that's about it, then,' she said matter-of-factly. 'Do try your best to do as well as you can, Muggle garage or no - bragging rights, at the very least, are always nice.'

He grinned at her, obviously agreeing. 'Hear, hear. Fine. I'll see what I can do.' He stood up.

'One more thing I suggest,' he threw out to him, catching Black more off his guard now that he had decided that the interview had ended. 'I would ask Pettigrew's cousin more questions about the Auror character tests. You might never take them for the Aurors - but life tends to give its own character tests.'

'Ah, but why take the same test twice, then?' Black smirked, closing the door behind him much more gently than he had entered.