Disclaimer: No intention is being made to infringe upon J K Rowling's copyright as the author of a fabulous range of books.
This is an experiment of mine, just see how something like this might turn out… My favourite character has to be Minerva McGonagall, and I happen to like her paired with Albus Dumbledore, so here is my attempt at how such a relationship might evolve. It is set some fifty years ago.
Minerva McGonagall, the brand new Transfiguration teacher, who had, contrary to popular belief, never taught before in her life and was in fact nervousto the point of being sick before all her classes, was stealing her way carefully through the dark corridors of Hogwarts.
It was midnight, and only a week into her first term as a professor at Hogwarts school, Minerva felt the need for some comfort food, she was feeling alien here at the moment, the youngest professor, and so very inexperienced at teaching.
In fact, she wondered, tip toeing past a portrait of Alfred the Great burning his cakes, why on earth had she decided to apply for the post anyway, she had been offered numerous posts at the Ministry after she had decided to move on from Auror duty, with much better career prospects and no children anywhere in sight. Then again, she had hardly expected to actually get the job, she had no previous experience teaching children at all, it was just so ridiculous, the idea of her as a Hogwarts professor, she hadn't even had any younger siblings, just an older sister! Albus Dumbledore, the new Headmaster, (rumour had it that he had declined to become the new Minister of Magic, in preference for the Headship), had insisted that she was the perfect candidate, not least because of her excellent qualifications in the field of transfiguration or her Animagus abilities, but because in battle she had shown herself to be an outstanding commander.
Which of course was a fantastic compliment from a man she deeply admired, and who had also proven to be a superb leader in the war against Grindelwald, not least in the final titanic battle between the two immensely powerful wizards, which he had, coincidently (not that she had ever doubted it), won.
But what had that to do with teaching, how did that make her the 'perfect candidate'? Albus Dumbledore had been the previous transfiguration Professor, which was a high standard to meet, and Minerva hadn't felt up to it right from the start.
So, now, at just past twelve, she was creeping through the halls much like a rule breaking student, on her way to the kitchen to find something to satisfy her chocolate craving. It would have been so much more convenient to have used her Animagus form of a cat, but she had unfortunately been discovered by an amorous kneazle earlier this week, and was still in shock from the near experience of an experience she most definitely never wanted to experience.
Finally, Minerva was relieved to see the humongous painting of a full fruit bowl ahead, reaching up she tickled the pear which giggled girlishly, if that's possible for a fruit, and swung inwards to give her entrance. Resisting the urge to giggle girlishly herself, simply from lack of sleep making her silly, she flopped down onto the humongous kitchen table, empty apart from the occasional shiny serving dish, and rested her head for a moment upon its smooth, cool surface. Her headaches had been getting worse, the stress of trying to succeed in a job she didn't have a clue about, and worrying that she didn't fit in with her fellow professors was showing in her physical appearance.
'Chocolate,' she muttered to herself indistinctly. 'Must have chocolate.'
Minerva had spent little time in the kitchens as a student, boys in her house had always seemed hungry, but she had spent much of her time with her nose in her books, or out on the Quidditch field, practising her seeker moves with the team.
There was a shoulder high latch door, painted refreshingly white, which opened to reveal a larder that defied belief in its endless gaping depths, Minerva, foreseeing dawn breaking with her still searching for the desired chocolate, pointed her wand expertly and commanded.
'Accio Chocolate!' Being unable to read her mind the contents of anything in the larder remotely including chocolate flew at her and buried her in a pile of sweet sickly smelling confectionary. She was shoved inelegantly onto her back by the sheer weight of it all, and lay there for a moment, her vision obscured by chocolate icing, and her mind cursing herself for an outstanding show of stupidity. Thrusting her arms up she fought her way up to where the oxygen should be, cursing herself aloud as she spat out sweet wrappers from her mouth and tried in vain to avoid getting chocolate flavoured treacle on her once pristine white nightie.
It seemed as though everything she did at Hogwarts was turning into some sort of hideous nightmare, all she had wanted was some chocolate, something to soothe her troubled psyche and perhaps grant her some relaxing sleep.
Finally free of the chocolate contents of the larder and finding her desire for the said product sadly lessened, she banished the chocolate back to its previous residency and gratefully took the hand offered to help her up from where she sat.
'Thanks,' she said, sighing as she regarded her ruined night gown and pulling on her dressing gown as it was held out for her.
Maybe she would do without the chocolate and just go back to her quarters and see if she could glean some hours of sleep out of the early morning yet, yet she didn't feel disposed to doing so, her depression weighed heavily upon her.
'Perhaps you would join me for a hot chocolate?'
Minerva started in surprise, she hadn't realised anyone was in here with her, turning around she saw Albus Dumbledore, with a hand extended in invitation to join him, and only a slight twitching of his mouth showing how funny he found the situation.
'Headmaster!' Minerva exclaimed, embarrassed that she, an Auror, hadn't heard him enter and then further mortified to realise he had witnessed her ordeal with the chocolate factory. 'I didn't realise, I mean… what did you say?'
'Hot chocolate, I find it helps me to relax when I can't sleep, for what ever reason, and please, Albus.'
'A- Albus.' Minerva winced, it felt so wrong, everything felt so wrong, here she was, in the Hogwarts kitchens, well after midnight now, stood with her employer (famous, world saver, brilliant, genius etc), and clad in her (rather scanty) nightie and sticky dressing gown while he invited her to join-
'I'll take that as a yes to hot chocolate then.' Albus broke into her line of thought which was rapidly turning the usually calm collected woman into a blushing creature who had the mental stature of an insect.
'Okay, that would be nice professor, thank you.'
Albus sighed exaggeratedly, 'Albus' he emphasised, frowning at her.
Turning he waved his wand at the far table and in a suitably glittering cloud two mugs appeared, coming to rest upon the large kitchen table.
'Join me,' he commanded, if gently, and she obediently sat down upon the bench.
Handing her a mug Albus Dumbledore sat down beside her, in a flurry of a deep red dressing gown with a golden fur trim, which must have put him back a few bob in Minerva's opinion. Noticing her attention to his attire, he explained, 'I was head of Gryffindor House for some time and some ex-pupils thought that it would be amusing to give me …this.'
'Oh,' said Minerva, wrapping her hands around her mug and wishing fervently that she had decided to forgo her chocolate craving this one night. To avoid having to make awkward conversation she sipped her hot chocolate and found it very hot, and creamy, and chocolaty, and, 'Mmm,' she enunciated unknowingly.
'A family recipe,' said Albus, smiling in pleasure at her evident delight.
'Is it a secret?' she enquired playfully, forgetting for her shyness.
'Oh yes,' Albus pursed his lips, 'handed down from generation to generation it's the Dumbledore family's most secret, secret recipe,' he waggled his dark auburn eyebrows, and she smiled.
'So, how are you finding teaching at Hogwarts, Minerva? May I call you Minerva?'
'Oh, uh of course. Please do, sir -Albus,' Minerva winced, calling her previous head of house by his first name seemed just -wrong.
'After all, you are a valued member of the staff now.' Minerva interrupted him by giving a short harsh laugh. 'Is something wrong?'
'No, nothing, Headmaster.'
'Albus, Albus, Albus, what am I to do to get you to call me by my first name!'
Minerva said nothing, just made a vague shrugging motion and hoped that that would suffice, in truth she was wondering what Albus would say if she chose to quit, regardless of the conditions of the contract that said she had to finish the school year.
A light touch upon her arm brought Minerva back to the situation at hand and the concerned gaze of one Albus Dumbledore, whose sparkling blue eyes regarded her with deep concern.
'I am worried about you Minerva, you have lost weight since you came here, and you do not appear to be very happy, even my hot chocolate doesn't seem to be working!' Albus wouldn't let her look away, holding her gaze to his own strong one.
'I'm just not used to this sir, that's all,' Minerva tried to keep the lump in her throat from sounding in her voice, it would have worked with a less observant man than Albus Dumbledore.
'You're feeling isolated. Have you made no friends among the staff?' Albus kept his tone kind, but the unfortunate result was that he sounded patronising and Minerva's pride was ruffled.
'I'm fine, Sir!' she snapped, angry, hurt and all too aware that her eyes were watering, she turned her head away jerkily.
'No you're not, and I fear that it is my fault.' Albus sighed, 'I apologise for sounding condescending Minerva, I am simply concerned for an old star pupil of mine.'
Minerva stared at a far point on the wall, blinking rapidly to clear her eyes of water, 'Star pupil?'
'An animagus at age 17? How could you not be one of my favourites, though of course I tried not to show it, did you not know?'
'Is that why I got this job?' Minerva swallowed, pleased yet oddly embarrassed at this information.
'Good gracious no,' said Albus, firmly. 'You got the job based on your qualifications alone, it was a bonus that I had happened to work with you in Germany and you were once my star transfigurations pupil.'
Minerva turned to look at him again, trying her best to keep her emotions under control. 'I don't feel as though I'm doing a very good job Albus, and I don't feel like I fit in among the other staff.'
Albus' eyes twinkled in good humour, 'I expect they find themselves somewhat intimidated by you my dear Miss McGonagall, you have a very forbidding stance, a kind of 'keep off' aura that can be somewhat off-putting.'
'I do?' Minerva was surprised, she hadn't noticed, she'd thought they had the standoffish attitudes. 'But you...'
'Are speaking to you? Well of course, but I'm the headmaster and I come armed with a great weapon- hot chocolate!' he chuckled at her discomforted expression. 'Actually, I occasionally have trouble sleeping,' he admitted, 'I find that more often than not hot chocolate helps, and so down I came to the kitchen, only to find that someone had had the same idea. Sort of.'
Minerva was taken aback at Dumbledore's unexpected confidence and boosted by the revelation from the still energised older man- despite the early hour- she gave a tired smile, the great Grandfather Wizard clock showed the time as being nearly 2am.
'Do you play chess Minerva?' asked Albus suddenly.
'Yes,' she stared at him, wondering where this was going.
'Then tomorrow evening I expect to see you at 8pm, my office, wear comfy clothes, I expect the game could go on for some time.'
'Yes si-' Minerva began to reply.
'I'm sorry, what was that Minerva?' asked Albus, putting a hand behind his ear.
'Yes Albus,' Minerva grinned as he nodded in approval and patted her hand, mockingly paternally, he got up, and held out a hand to help her stand. Minerva took it, surprised at the strength and grip of his hand, as well as the gentlemanly act.
'Good Night Minerva, I hope you get enough sleep, I shall save you a seat beside me at breakfast, be sure to be there to take it!' Albus smiled genuinely at her, his long auburn beard something to behold for its length, glittering in the candle light. They both clambered through the portrait hole, Minerva feeling happier than she had since the beginning of term, and paused before going their separate ways.
'Thank you, Albus,' Minerva said gratefully.
'My pleasure, I look forward to tomorrow night,' he winked at her, making her smile, relaxed, and then leaned forward to kiss her briefly on the cheek.
The warmth of his lips pressed briefly, and surely only politely, against her cheek, stayed with her for the night, and she slept feeling safe and secure within its memory.
She was sure he did it with all the female teachers, as a gesture of friendship, purely platonic, but damn her if she hadn't felt something within her leap, and her heart flutter like a startled bird, her stomach drop and twist. Damn her…
The next morning, Minerva awoke feeling more refreshed than she had for days now, despite having only had a half dozen hours of sleep, the memory of her unusual encounter with the Headmaster last night still in her memory.
She dressed with attention to detail, trying her best to look smart, and a buzzard feather in her witch's hat, her newest broach fastening her only tailor cut navy cloak, before heading down to breakfast in the Great Hall.
She swept demurely in, trying for a stern look by thinning her lips and creasing her brow, but found herself spontaneously smiling at students, ones who had already caught her attention in Transfiguration for their aptitude or keenness. To her own surprise she was greeted many times, with a shy smile or a bold good morning from the students, and an acknowledging nod from a fellow professor.
'Professor McGonagall,' called someone as she approached the High table where the teachers resided. Minerva looked up, and to her pleasure saw Headmaster Dumbledore beckoning her to an empty seat on his right, she tried not to blush as she remembered meeting him last night, both of them dressed as if for a pyjama party and she covered in chocolate.
'Good Morning Headmaster,' said Minerva, taking her seat beside him.
'Good Morning Professor McGonagall, I trust you slept well?' responded Dumbledore, also using her formal title.
'Very, thank you,' said Minerva, reaching for the milk with a nervous hand, Albus Dumbledore pretended not to notice the unsteady way it poured into her rattling teacup.
'I also slept well, after a brief excursion. Would you like chocolate spread with that toast?' asked Albus Dumbledore with an innocent expression on his face.
'I'm fine with marmalade, thank you very much.' Minerva glared at him, and then quickly covered it by taking a sip of her tea; the Headmaster seemed to have a way of making her forget herself and his position.
'You know Minerva, this isn't Auror duty in war torn German-Austria. Did I tell the rest of you that?' Albus Dumbledore abruptly changed tack and addressed the rest of the sitting staff, who swivelled eyes to stare at an awkward feeling Minerva.
'Minerva was sub-commander of the second division, central Europe, involved in specialist activities. When we took Grindelwald, she was right by my side,' said Albus, speaking lightly, for some reason he never used the personal pronoun when speaking of Grindelwald's defeat, and death by his hand.
There was a murmur of interest from the assembled Professors, who all regarded Minerva with renewed interest, she felt an intense need to change the topic of discussion away from her, and she could see Albus was going to say more.
'I never could get you to change out of those hideous canary yellow Wellingtons,' said Minerva, interrupting his open mouth.
'I liked them!' protested Dumbledore, grinning in memory at the bright wellies that had driven his next-in-command up the wall, beneath his official forest green Auror robes (specially charmed and warded), with all its trimmings of office and medals, he had worn an almost luminous pair of Wellingtons the colour of a vigorous lemon.
'Wellingtons, Albus?' asked the good-looking Professor of DADA, Michaelmas Sendar in an incredulous tone.
'They were supremely comfortable,' said Albus, reaching for his third piece of toast and ignoring his deputy headmaster's look of disbelief.
'And they were, really, honest to Merlin, bright, vivid, florescent yellow,' said Minerva to Sendar, over Albus Dumbledore's head as he spread liberal amounts of raspberry jam over his toast.
'Were they not against the Auror dress codes?' asked Elise Horner, a middle aged witch who was Head of Ravenclaw, Potions Professor and an innately practical person with a very pragmatic approach to life.
'Well, yes, and they stood out a mile, but what could I do?' Minerva shrugged in a helpless fashion. 'He was my commanding officer, still is actually, um.'
'Oh you complained enough, but you liked them really,' said Dumbledore nodding in a knowing fashion; Minerva raised her eyebrows at him sceptically.
'It's hard to believe that a man wearing yellow Wellington boots could defeat the greatest, most feared dark lord since the days of the brilliant unrecognised might of Salazar Slytherin,' said Michaelmas Sendar, who was very proud of his House's past. 'Not of course that he was a dark wizard, just misunderstood.'
'Oh where do you get off, Michaelmas? Salazar was an evil sod and we all know it, you're the only one labouring under a misapprehension,' said David Hawthorne, scowling from beneath his heavy black brows, his fingernails showing the daily grime of working in the greenhouses, his handsome face creased with impatience.
'Salazar was a great Wizard,' began Professor Sendar in defence of his house.
'Of course he was, as were all the founders of Hogwarts,' said Minerva smiling in a non-aggressive, yet strict way that clearly said, lets not fight over this gentleman.
'Yeah yeah,' growled Professor Hawthorne, waving a dismissive hand, Professor Sendar just shrugged noncommittally and started in on his porridge again.
'Are you going for the post of Head, then?' asked Gill Aldridge curiously, she was the muggle born school nurse, an incurable gossip and in constant conflict with the 'wizard born' muggle studies teacher Markus O'Reiuss.
'Head?' asked Minerva.
'Head of Gryffindor, Professor Dumbledore here used to be it, only he decided to grow up and Professor Teaille left to watch stars atop o' Everest,' informed Gill succinctly her wide toothy grin infectious.
'I hadn't realised it was vacant, but, uh no, I don't think so, I'm new to teaching after all,' hesitantly explained Minerva.
'New!' exclaimed Professor Sendar in surprise. 'Well this won't do. Albus, why didn't you tell us?'
'It didn't come up,' said Albus watching his deputy suspiciously over the rim of his jewel encrusted golden goblet.
'Do you know, I think you're the only person I know who drinks tea out of a splendid goblet such as that,' commented Sendar idly, Minerva laughed, she'd thought it was a bit early for the Headmaster to be drinking wine.
'The house elves refuse to give me anything else when I'm in the Great Hall, something to do with tradition, no matter what I do, whose cup I steal I always, always end up with this ruddy golden goblet,' and to prove his point Albus Dumbledore set down his Golden Goblet in front of Minerva and took her tea cup. Sipping from the cup, it changed with a little pop, mid-swallow, back into his golden goblet; the staff found his distress tremendously funny and were unsuccessful in hiding their mirth from the students. Minerva reached for his goblet, and taking it, took a sip experimentally, it didn't change or disappear, Dumbledore grumbled under his breath about house elves and being a slave to tradition. Sendar took the goblet from Minerva but immediately it slipped from his grasp and landed with a smack and a wobble back in front of Albus Dumbledore.
'Obviously doesn't like Slytherins,' smirked Hawthorne, as Sendar scowled.
'To go back to the original topic here, did any one else know that our young (and pretty) transfiguration professor was a novice?' Sendar received negative nods and knowing grins as Minerva began to feel a little nervous thinking of the initiation rituals of other institutions.
'Well I think this calls for the usual. How's everyone for Saturday night?'
'Fine' was the general consensus as around the table the teachers nodded their heads and smiled at Minerva.
'What would be the 'usual'?' asked Minerva, worried.
Michaelmas Sendar grinned at her, 'What time do you finish today?'
'Three thirty, why?'
'Mind if I pop along and give you a hand with all those books and papers? I can show you where to store them, where we keep the spare quills and red ink, and where we put confiscated belongings…' Sendar smiled at her.
'That would be helpful, but what about-'
'I'll see you then,' said Sendar, getting up to leave.
'Oh, Michaelmas, don't be so cruel, you can chat her up later. Minerva dear, every time we have a newbie on the staff we give them a bit of a welcome, have a bit of a 'do' down at the local, nothing formal, just a party,' said Gill Aldridge the nurse to a slightly embarrassed Minerva.
'And don't worry, the Headmaster won't be around to cramp your style,' added Gill, winking.
'He won't?' asked Minerva, looking taken aback.
'Looks like you've got competition, Sendar,' laughed the so far silent Markus O'Reiuss, muggle-studies professor (who also had a love of muggle tricks and pranks). Minerva blushed bright red at the insinuation.
'Ha!' proclaimed Sendar confidently, 'he doesn't stand a chance!'
'Hard as it may be for you to believe, you are not the only good looking man to grace the staff here, Professor Sendar,' said Professor Elise Horner brusquely.
Professor Hawthorne snorted loudly at this, but Professor Sendar merely bowed cheekily and left the Hall, Minerva touched her burning cheeks and wished she would stop blushing.
'They're only teasing,' said Albus Dumbledore. 'Though it is true I will not be present for your welcoming party into the fold, now that I'm Headmaster I'm excluded from these things.'
'Of course,' said Minerva, trailing off into silence before deciding it was time she left breakfast and got to her classroom to prepare for the day's classes.
'Don't forget, eight o'clock tonight Minerva,' said Dumbledore, standing with her as she stood, he had, thought Minerva, impeccable manners.
'I'll bring my chess pieces,' she promised, having not forgotten at all.
'I look forward to it,' said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling merrily, she found herself blushing without knowing why, and it didn't fade till she reached her slowly filling classroom.
Minerva was just finishing off a lecture to her seventh year students, to not try the advanced human transfiguration outside of her classroom and her supervision, the effects, she said, could be hideous and permanent, she mentioned for example the man who had spent his life with a tentacle instead of an arm. The class all looked sufficiently shocked and slightly sick, that she could be sure they would not attempt it outside of her classroom; she had just told them to pack away, and prepare a precautionary safety list for homework when a knock came at the door and Professor Sendar entered, smiling.
'Good Afternoon Professor McGonagall,' he said, coming forward to the blackboard.
'Good Afternoon Professor Sendar, I won't be a minute.'
The seventh years, made up of Slytherins, (classes at this advanced level required smaller numbers for better concentration (and less accidents to explain to distraught parents) cast curious glances at their Head of House as they packed away.
'How are you finding my Slytherins?' asked Professor Sendar suddenly, perching on the edge of Minerva's desk as she piled together collected homework assignments and test papers to grade.
Minerva glanced at him, knowing full well that there were Slytherins near enough to clearly hear her answer, stalling she waved a heavy book at him, nudging him off her desk, he slid off with a good natured grimace.
'They are dedicated and willing students, I have no complaints Professor Sendar,' she said.
'I'm glad to hear it. You're not carrying all of that are you?' Sendar indicated the now rather large pile of books and papers that had accumulated in front of her.
'Well, I wasn't planning on starting a fire,' said Minerva sarcastically, looking at him over her distinctive square glasses. Sendar didn't miss a beat in replying.
'That's good; the fire alarm policy here is hell to carry out. I'll take that,' he took more than half the pile from her as she tried to gather it all up herself, ignoring her half formed protests as he turned to leave.
'Good afternoon Professor McGonagall,' said a few of the students as she passed them, leaving, 'see you next lesson Professor.' she acknowledged them all briefly, but with a short smile.
Together Professor Sendar and Minerva made their way to the staff room, where Sendar showed her to her own, magically locked (opening only to her touch), wooden locker and the tall, (slightly leaning) cupboard which stored the students confiscated belongings, currently full of magazines, sugar quills, lipsticks, small fling able (from a bent ruler or a clever banishing spell) print pellets- which left a filthy looking stain on the victims clothing or skin and other odds and ends.
Other professors arrived, in varying states of disarray and temper, she was greeted as one of them, a tired smile, a shared wink, a resigned sigh, Sendar made her comfortable in one of the comfy chairs by the open fireplace, having placed her paper work in her locker, intending to do them later. Soon the other professors settled down, some already with heads down, busy grading, writing up reports on bad behaviour, marking down the points they had taken, others relaxing on the lengthy (a little worn) settee, or in the various chairs sprawled around the generously proportioned staff room.
Professor Sendar handed her a cup of tea, and sat down opposite her in a high backed yet well-cushioned velvet chair, its colour too worn to be distinguishable, the whole area had an atmosphere of warmth, of age old usage that was somehow comforting, combined with the comforts of the modern age, as Minerva accepted a biscuit from Madame Gill Aldridge, the school nurse.
'So, did you really stand beside Albus as he battled Grindelwald?' asked Professor Sendar, startling Minerva by his forthrightness.
'Not right beside,' she answered warily.
'Did you see him cast the spell?' eagerly enquired Sendar, Minerva noticed that a few more professors had turned to listen, she pretended ignorance.
'The killing curse of course,' said Sendar, a hush gathered around Minerva and Michaelmas Sendar at his bold words, the killing curse was after all a dark arts curse, that had only been sanctioned by the Ministry in the Great War as a necessary evil, the ends justify the means.
Minerva could remember the war as clearly as though it was yesterday, yet at the same time it was so distant as to seem a part of another world, a world where terrible things happened without cause or consideration, for anything or one.
Thinking of Grindelwald still sent shivers through her, raised the hairs on the back of her neck, made her fear her own shadow and leap easily to paranoia. She could remember the very depth of his coal black eyes, the way they gleamed at pain and death, that eerie madness that had pervaded his every gesture, his voice so high and thin, like his stick like body that would finally crunch to the ground like a bag of bones after a lengthy and bloody battle.
'…Minerva?' It was Professor Sendar, looking at her anxiously.
'Yes?' Her voice sounded high to herself, the other professors looked uneasy.
'Are you okay?'
'I'm fine. The war wasn't pleasant Michaelmas, can we talk about something a little more cheerful?' Minerva hoped he would take the hint; she had deliberately used his first name.
'Of course, of course; I'm sorry,' said Michaelmas Sendar, looking genuinely distressed, the other teachers concurred in a gentle murmur of support for her and the conversation moved onto the current gossip amongst the staff.
Later that night, at a quarter to eight, Minerva was to be found in her modest quarters standing in front of a full length mirror holding up a pair of emerald robes against herself, behind her, lying upon her four poster bed were several discarded outfits.
Why am I doing this, she asked herself, it's only a game of chess, and he said to wear something comfortable, it's not as if it's a date! Sighing she picked up a periwinkle pair of robes that she had only worn once or twice, as they were formal silk gowns; too posh, she thought, this isn't a date, just wear what you wore today in class, oh but then it'll look like I haven't made an effort, but this isn't a date!
Minerva glared at her reflection, and frowned at what she saw as an unsatisfactory appearance, her black hair was up in bun, according to her sister Cecelia, buns were a must have for school teachers, though Minerva's was somewhat lopsided, having eased its way down her head in the duration of the day, a few strands of hair had escaped and now dangled annoyingly over her face which was pale, too thin and bony. Right, Minerva thought, determined to stop being such a moose and get on with it, she closed her eyes and scrabbled around on the bed, finally picking one set of robes out, before opening her eyes.
They were the emerald green ones, ones she would have worn during the school day anyway, as they were of a conservative cut in a good make; at least they would bring out the green in her eyes. She donned them, replaced all her other robes back in her wardrobe took down her hair, put it back up, tied it into two, twisted it up- it fell down - she put it back up into its original bun, jammed her witches hat on then spent ten minutes searching for her chess pieces.
When she finally left her quarters it was already eight o'clock and she felt hot and bothered and extremely uncomfortable, she wasn't looking forward to this chess game at all. Half way up one of Hogwarts many staircases, Minerva bumped into Professor Sendar and scattered her chess pieces all over the floor.
'Oh really!' she snapped, exasperated at herself, Michaelmas helped her to her feet, and gathered her chess pieces for her with a wide sweep off his wand and a summoning spell.
'There you go. May I ask whom you're playing?'
'Professor Dumbledore,' replied Minerva, tightening the drawstring on the chess pieces' bag.
'Do I really have competition from that old codger?' rhetorically mused Sendar aloud, Minerva looked up at him, confused and clearly showing it.
'What do you mean, Michaelmas?' she asked haughtily, her lips pursed.
'Ah my dear Minerva, I wish of course, to win your hand,' proclaimed Sendar, taking her slim hand in his large warm one and bringing it to his lips.
'Don't be ridiculous Professor Sendar,' said Minerva, blushing faintly. 'My hand is my own and not for sale, so please regain your sanity and stop acting like a love struck teenager!' With some asperity.
'I am wounded my dear, to be insulted so, I am no love struck teenager!' Sendar grinned wickedly, still clasping her hand; Minerva gave him a warning look and gritted her teeth. 'But I must admit Minerva McGonagall that you are a beautiful woman,' said Sendar, suddenly serious, he released her hand but held her gaze, 'and I intend to win you.'
Minerva couldn't think of a reply to that one, she was still ruthlessly suppressing an urge to turn bright red and find a way to extract herself from this embarrassing situation.
'I am not an object to be given as a prize, Professor Sendar. Now, if you'll excuse me!' Minerva didn't wait for his reply but turned and hurried away, feeling his gaze follow her- two hot coals burning into the back of her neck.
She was ten minutes late when she finally walked through the door into Albus' office, but she was just too relieved to be out of Sendar's way and simply leant back against the door and exhaled a rush of air to try and cool her heated cheeks.
'Why oh why oh why did I ever apply for this bloody job,' Minerva glared at the ceiling. 'Why a teacher? I should have stuck with hexing people! Or gone into the Ministry, or jumped off a cliff!' She banged her head back against the ornate door, catching it on one of the ornate decorations as she did so. 'Ouch! Ye gods… I HATE men!'
'May I ask why?' said the voice of Albus Dumbledore, Minerva winced and looked forward again to see the Headmaster standing in front of her, looking somewhat concerned.
'Ah, Headmaster,' she hedged, 'I was just, uh, ah,' she trailed off awkwardly, 'I bumped into professor Sendar on the way, that's why I'm late.'
'First off my name is Albus when we're not on duty, secondly Michaelmas announced to the staff in general at tea time, where coincidently you for some reason were absent,' Albus sent her a disapproving look, 'that he intended to … hmm, pursue you in a romantic fashion. And thirdly, you make a good teacher, the students respect you and you appear to enjoy teaching when you are doing it, did you really wish to continue a career as an Auror?'
'Well, no,' admitted Minerva, 'but I didn't expect teaching to be this, this… Hang on, what did Sendar say?'
'That he wished to pursue you in a romantic fashion,' repeated Dumbledore calmly as Minerva looked flabbergasted.
'How? But... I'll… I'll,' Minerva fell silent, she had almost thought that Sendar was winding her up on the stairs, teasing her.
'He is a very handsome man,' stated Dumbledore walking away and beckoning her to follow as he did so.
'Well, yes,' agreed Minerva, blushing again as Dumbledore led her to an oval sitting room that led off his office, complete with armchairs, settee, fascinating ancient tapestries and a roaring fire. 'Only he's not, not my … type.'
Dumbledore cast her a questioning glance as he made himself comfortable in the large high backed chair beside the hearth, she sat opposite him in an almost identical one, accept it was less worn or moulded.
'I'm not attracted to him,' explained Minerva, realising it as she said so, 'I don't like the way he treats me, as if I'm an object and not a person,' she scowled remembering. 'Plus he reminds of the sort of men who spend as much time looking after their own appearance as eyeing you up.'
'Michaelmas is slightly vain, yes,' concurred Albus, who was listening attentively.
'I hate men,' muttered Minerva again, 'the first time they see you it's smiles and compliments, then they become more rare and they start becoming vague, or criticising you. Then they suddenly decide that you're boring, the relationship's going nowhere, it's time to move on, and go off and chase the new piece of skirt on the scene.'
'Well,' began Albus, looking surprised, but Minerva was on a roll.
'There's no such thing as love there's only physical 'pleasure'. Men are all bastards!' Minerva looked depressed, Albus was trying not to gape, he coughed and she looked up, dawning horror in her eyes as she realised what she had inadvertently said in a fit of pique.
'I don't think we're all bastards,' said Albus tentatively. 'Why don't you tell me what really happened?'
There was a silence, Minerva was studying her hands and feeling as if she had opened up entirely new levels of mortification. She didn't say anything, she didn't trust herself to open her mouth. After some more time had passed Albus spoke again.
'Sex is only a part of a relationship, love does exist.'
'You don't think I'm a bastard do you?'
Minerva shook her head vigorously -no- she still wouldn't look up at him, she looked utterly chagrined.
'This is a first for me too, you know,' said Albus conversationally.
Minerva winced, his choice of words had not been particularly diplomatic.
'Minerva, despite the fact that I'm in my nineties I do still …' Albus stopped suddenly, wondering where he was going with that sentence.
Fortuitously Minerva chose this moment to speak up, in a resigned tone of voice, 'It took him a long time to woo me, he was gorgeous, and all the other girls were jealous. I felt lucky, but I think the only reason he was with me was for the challenge of 'winning' the ice queen,' Minerva sighed. 'I'm sorry for ranting at you like that Albus, but men and me, relationships and me, they just don't work.'
'He was a bastard,' said Albus shortly, startling Minerva, who didn't expect the stately Headmaster to swear. 'Unfortunately there are some men in the world who are like that, as such I would advise you to steer clear of Professor Sendar who has a reputation…'
'For loving them and then leaving them?' said Minerva bitterly.
'Yes, I suppose that is one way of putting it. Michaelmas doesn't see relationships as permanent things I fear, more in the nature of flings, and the challenge…'
'Of the chase. Yes I see, and I will, thank you Albus. Not that I was even considering him.'
'Ah, so you have your eye on Professor Hawthorne instead?' chuckled Albus, teasing.
'He is just as handsome, and not so taken with his appearance,' smiled Minerva.
'Well that is true, but his mood swings are something to behold!'
'Are you trying to put me off him?' said Minerva telling herself that she wasn't flirting.
'Oh I wouldn't dare, for fear of being labelled a Buh,' Albus' eyes twinkled with humour.
'I would never call you a Buh,' protested Minerva affectionately.
'Yes, but how do I know you wouldn't call me a Buh?'
'I just said I wouldn't.'
'Not a Buh, a Buh!'
'Oh I see, a Buh!' said Minerva, not seeing, but smiling broadly. 'Oh well, that can be arranged for a small price,' she grinned.
'Oh?' asked Albus cautiously, his lips twitching.
'The recipe to your hot chocolate,' said Minerva.
'If I told you that I'd have to kill you,' said Albus, doing that waggling thing with his eyebrows again, and making Minerva laugh out loud.
'Well then, we don't have a deal Mr Dumbledore,' said Minerva in her best impression of an evil voice, which made Albus snort in a very undignified manner.
'I have an idea,' said Albus. 'If I win this chess game, that we are about to have, you have to promise to never to call me a Buh. If you win then I have to agree never to give you a reason to think I'm a Buh, as well as supplying you with hot chocolate whenever you believe the occasion demands it!'
Minerva laughed, and reached for her chess pieces, 'I'll take you up on that one,' she said.
A few weeks later, some time into the term (long after a certain initiation party that had gone surprisingly well), Minerva was enjoying a mug of hot chocolate in her bed, reading an autobiographical book on the four founders of Hogwarts at about one o'clock in the morning. She still had trouble sleeping occasionally and had resorted to reading and bullying Albus into providing her with a mug of hot chocolate (which she kept hot with a now perfected heating charm).
She had just reached the part where the founders had decided on a name, a combination of a walk in the forest, a crabby seer and a description of Godric and Salazar's behaviour at times (according to Rowena, according to the author of this book). When a child's scream jerked her unpleasantly back to reality, as it rent the air throughout the castle with its terror.
Without stopping to think, Minerva's Auror trained reflexes took over, she leapt from the bed, her wand appearing in her hand, her chocolate spilling over her bed covers and the cover of her book ripped, as the Author dived out of sight. But Minerva was out of the door, having stopped only to fall into her large dragon hide Auror boots, before racing faster than she had ever run before towards the sound of that heart rending scream.
She arrived at Gryffindor tower just after the scream ceased, shouted the password, leapt into the tower, her wand at the ready, and found herself face to face with Albus Dumbledore.
She was brought up short, but her wand didn't falter, she was poised to go into action on a millisecond's notice, balancing on her toes with her body tense.
'There is no emergency, Minerva,' said Albus, he sounded extremely angry.
'Who screamed?' she asked shortly, her eyes darting to the group of silent rather awed looking students stood in their pyjamas in the common room.
'Mr Black and Mr Weasley thought that it would be amusing to let loose a boggart on Miss Josephine Cully. However, having never before come across one, she was understandably terrified when it turned into Grindelwald, -the supposedly dead dark lord- believing him to be real,' Albus' voice sounded tense with restrained anger. In front of him the two boys, Black and Weasley were looking incredibly frightened and ashamed, both were first years, as was Josephine, yet they came from long established wizarding families, whereas she was a muggle born student who had had no idea that magic actually existed before she received her Hogwarts letter. Minerva was furious, she had heard screams like that before in her career as an Auror during the war, and to have heard it now but as the cause of a joke was not at all amusing!
'This is beyond outrageous,' she hissed from between clenched teeth. 'Do you two boys have any idea how serious this is? Creating such fear and torment is nothing to be proud of, it is contemptible!' she railed at the two flinching boys, in her fury she was impressive. 'A despicable act, worthy only of Grindelwald's perverted tastes! I would not have thought two of my Gryffindor boys capable of such appalling behaviour!'
The boys paled, everyone knew the stories of Grindelwald's tortures, the media had reported extensively on the mutilated remains of the bodies found at his dark fortress, there had been children found amongst them. Being compared to such a creature, a dark wizard whose being had been feared by their very own parents, was a harsh judgment and one that shook them to their very bones.
'I will be speaking personally to your parents,' said Albus Dumbledore sternly. 'For tonight you will return to your beds, your punishment will be decided upon the morrow.'
Minerva addressed the rest of the students, raising her voice. 'There is nothing to see here, you will all return immediately to bed and go to sleep. If I hear one person so much as whispering to another I will start by taking 200 points from Gryffindor and then we shall see where I'll go from there! Move!' With this dire threat ringing in their ears the common room quickly emptied in silence, not a murmur of voices to be heard, and to be sure Minerva was listening very carefully.
'I am extremely ashamed of you both,' said Albus, addressing the two crestfallen, brow beaten perpetrators still remaining, 'go to bed now and go straight to sleep, you will talk to no one about this,' he waved them away.
'Albus,' said Minerva, after Weasley and Black had left, 'Where is Josephine?'
Albus looked at Minerva, his face impassive, he was obviously still as angry as she had been a few moments ago, he moved over to one of the scarlet sofas and knelt down.
'You can come out now Miss Cully, I can promise you that there is nothing to harm you here.'
Minerva knelt beside him, 'Miss Cully?' she called gently, 'it's Professor McGonagall, come out dear, it's okay now, you're safe.'
There was a muffled sob, and then a small, tear stained face appeared, brown hair in disarray, long white nightie much stained with dust and eyes huge with shock, cautiously an arm appeared and then the rest of only-just-eleven Miss Cully.
'What you saw was not really Grindelwald,' said Dumbledore beginning to explain, 'it was a boggart, a shape shifter, that changes into whatever we fear most. What you must remember Miss Cully is that it is not actually the thing that we fear, just a representation.'
'It wasn't real, child,' said Minerva comfortingly, and held out her hand for Miss Cully to take, to help her stand, the next thing she knew she had an armful of scared girl, which was unexpected, but Minerva did her best, picking up the small child and sitting her on lap, hugging her arms around her and making soothing noises, as the girl clung to her, burying a wet face and cold nose into her bare neck. It was a strange experience for Minerva, who had never held a child before, the nearest she had ever come was a 15 year old French boy who had lied about his age to join the war effort. He had found himself minus one arm after an Auror/Dark wizards clash, and had lain weeping inconsolably in her arms.
Minerva glanced up at Albus, who was watching with a funny expression on his face, as if he saw something more than what was there, just Minerva and Miss Josephine. The painting opened behind him and Gill Aldridge came in, looking worried and carrying a black medicine bag.
'I came as soon as I could Headmaster,' said Gill, approaching Minerva, with competent hands she disentangled the girl and had her wrapped in a warm blanket with a chunk of chocolate clasped in her hand and a dreamless sleep potion down her throat before you could say 'Merlin's pyjamas!'.
'Thank you Gill, I'm afraid she had rather a scare, involving a boggart. I think she ought to spend the night in the hospital wing,' Albus informed the school Nurse calmly.
'Of course Headmaster. Minerva, are you okay?' asked Gill, glancing at the distracted ex-Auror.
'Yes. Will Miss Cully recover soon?'
'Nothing a good night's sleep and some chocolate won't cure,' smiled Gill, reassuringly, and then as little Josephine Cully's head nodded, she added: 'Professor Sendar is on his way here, he was just dealing with his own house, ordering them back to bed etc. I'd leave before he catches sight of you like that,' she nodded towards Minerva's attire as the tired woman stood, with the assistance of Albus' hand. 'I'm going to float our young charge here up to the hospital wing, come and see me tomorrow Minerva, we need to discuss a shopping trip,' she left quickly, floating the now peacefully sleeping girl on a stretcher she had pulled from her bag (after enlarging it).
'My attire?' repeated Minerva sounding confused, as Albus and she climbed out through the portrait hole, she looked down at herself. 'Oh,' she said, realising. As she had run from her quarters she had not hesitated long enough to put on a dressing gown, and was clad merely in a simple silken nightie that came down only as far as mid thigh, had delicate spaghetti straps and a scooped neckline. Her hair was tied into a loose plait that uncoiled down her back to her waist and the only other thing she wore were her dragon hide Auror boots, which must have looked extremely odd with her simple yet elegant attire.
'Am I allowed to make an observation?' asked Albus, his voice light.
'Yes,' said Minerva, smiling at him.
'Minerva!' cried a voice from further down the corridor; it was Sendar, he was jogging up to them, looking fit and polished with his towel robe failing to hide his muscular body.
'Damn,' she muttered under her breath.
'Are you okay Minerva? Albus, what happened?' asked Sendar, reaching out to put a hand protectively on Minerva's arm; she pulled away.
'A young muggle born first year came across a boggart, courtesy of Mr Black and Mr Weasley,' said Albus, quietly. 'The situation has been dealt with, for the moment.'
'We were just making our way back to our own beds,' said Minerva, pointedly.
'Then I'd be happy to escort you,' responded Michaelmas Sendar smoothly.
'That won't be necessary,' replied Minerva firmly. 'I know the way.'
Sendar looked at her, and then did a double take, his eyes travelled up and down her body, leaving Minerva feeling flush with distaste.
'That will do Professor Sendar,' said Albus, sounding disapproving, 'you may return to your rooms now that the crisis is over.' It wasn't a suggestion.
'Good night Minerva, I'll see you at breakfast,' said Michaelmas, giving her an intense gaze before leaving without so much as a glance at the stiff Headmaster.
When he had disappeared from view, Minerva gave herself a little shake, she did not want Michaelmas Sendar's attentions, she shivered suddenly realising how very cold it was, dressed as she wasn't.
'Here,' said Dumbledore, taking off his deep red dressing gown, the one with the excessive fur trim, and placing it gently over her shoulders.
'Thank you,' she said gratefully, feeling the warmth immediately. 'But won't you go cold?'
'Oh no, I have pyjama's on,' chuckled Albus, and indeed he was wearing a pair of surprisingly normal striped pyjamas except that they had bright yellow and pink stripes. Minerva found herself laughing; she linked her arm through his as they walked back along the corridor.
'What were you going to say?' she queried.
'You asked if you could make an observation…'
'Oh yes,' there was a pause. 'I was going to say how nice your boots looked.'
Minerva didn't reply, except to cast him a slightly bewildered look, which he did not return, she was for some reason disappointed, as if she had been let down, expecting something else entirely.
They reached the door to her rooms without further incident and stopped there, Minerva let go of his arm with a strange sense of regret, and mentally berated herself for thinking that way.
'You'll want your dressing gown back,' she said, sliding it off her shoulders and immediately feeling the bite of the cold night air.
'You may keep it,' said Albus, his deep voice warm in the chilliness, Minerva looked up at him, about to protest and froze. Sparkling blue eyes held hers as his hands reached out and lifted the cloak back onto her shoulders, for a moment his hands brushed her bare shoulders, skin to skin. She took a sharp breath, feeling every nerve in her body suddenly burn, goosebumps raise and the hairs on the back of her neck prickle.
'Give it back to me tomorrow. Good night Minerva,' and Albus nodded his head cordially at her, smiled and left.
Back in her now cooled bed, slightly sticky on one side where a half hour or so ago she had spilt hot chocolate; Minerva wondered whether anything had actually happened just then or whether her imagination and the late nights were causing her to hallucinate.
When she finally fell asleep, she was curled up in his cloak.
The next morning, Minerva joined the breakfast table slightly late, she was delayed briefly by a sixth year Ravenclaw who had a question on some set homework, but then took a seat beside the school nurse, Gill, feeling surprisingly hungry.
'Good Morning Minerva,' said Gill, passing her the milk for her tea.
'Good Morning, Gill. How is Miss Cully?'
'Still sleeping, I expect she'll sleep well into the morning. You look tired, everything okay?'
'Thanks Gill,' wryly replied Minerva. 'It was a late night.'
'Oh really? Did we bump into professor Sendar …?' suggested Gill, winking.
'Gill!' protested Minerva, loudly, drawing some attention.
'Well, it wouldn't be a bad thing would it?' teased the school nurse.
'I'm inclined to think so. I did bump into him-'
'Dressed as you were?'
'Unfortunately yes, perverted git,' growled Minerva, remembering.
'Oh,' winced Gill, 'like that was it?'
'Yes,' said Minerva briefly, the nurse understood and looked sympathetic.
'Did he try anything on? He's been known to be quite persistent.'
'No, luckily Albus was with me.'
'Albus? Since when was it Albus and not Professor Dumbledore?'
Minerva glared fiercely at Gill who started laughing.
'Since he rescued me from the attentions of a lecherous bastard!' replied Minerva shortly, taking an aggressive bite out of an apple. 'That reminds me, I forgot his dressing gown, damn.'
'You what!' exclaimed Gill, choking on her tea. 'What were you doing with Dumbledore's dressing gown?'
'Whose?' asked Elise Horner, who was seated beside the now gaping Gill.
'Never mind,' said Minerva repressively.
'I can't wait to see Sendar's face when I tell him this!' crowed Gill Aldridge, far too loudly in Minerva's opinion.
'Tell me what?' asked Sendar, stopping beside the nurse's chair.
'Nothing,' said Minerva quickly before Gill could begin to open her mouth.
Luckily at that moment for Minerva, who had been wondering whether to go and drown herself or Gill in the lake, a large barn owl dropped a letter in to her lap, turning it over she saw it had the Hogwarts crest, which was confusing, since no one here would use the official crest just to send a letter to a fellow staff member. She opened it quickly, sliding her finger along the well known Hogwarts emblem and unrolled it curiously.
Dear Professor M McGonagall,
We are writing to inform you that you have been recommended for the post of Head of Gryffindor House. If you are interested in this job opening and feel that you would like the challenging and rewarding experience that it would offer, please inform us by owl and we will arrange an interview for a later date.
The School Governors.
There followed a list of untidy scrawls indicating that all twelve Governors had signed it.
Minerva stared, who on earth had recommended her? Gill peeked over her shoulder and read it, nodding her head happily as she did so, Professor Elise Horner guessed correctly at its content and also looked approving.
'Well? Are you going to reply?' asked Gill.
'I don't know - I hardly qualify do I? I'm brand spanking new to teaching as it is!' said Minerva.
'You do qualify,' said Elise Horner. 'You handled last night supremely well.'
'How do you know about that?' asked a bewildered Minerva.
'Oh, we listen to the students, and Gill and Albus were both muttering about it this morning,' said Elise off-handedly. 'It's not as if you haven't had experience dealing with troublemakers.'
'I think somehow there is a difference between Auror duty and teaching!'
'You'd be surprised,' dryly replied Elise Horner, who was Head of Ravenclaw herself.
Minerva couldn't think of a reply to that, so she finished her apple and fended off Gill by saying that she would 'think on it', before leaving for her first class of the day.
When she reached her classroom her first task was to open the windows and let in some fresh air, it was rather brisk, but it would wake the students up, she turned around, ready to set out the ungainly pile of books that she had placed upon her desk and found someone there, doing it for her.
'Albus!' she said, taken by surprise.
'Hello,' he smiled up at her, startling blue eyes friendly. 'How are you this fine morning?'
'I'm fine, thank you. Albus, did you know that the Governors had offered me an interview for the Head of House position?'
'Yes, of course, I am Headmaster.'
'Well, yes.' Minerva was dying to ask if he had nominated her, but didn't want for him to say no he hadn't, and find out it had been, oh dear, Professor Sendar.
'And yes, I did,' said Albus speaking into the growing silence, and regarding her with evident amusement on his features, Minerva went up to the desk and stood in front of him.
'Can you read my mind?' she asked, looking suspicious, but at the same time secretly delighted.
'Can you read mine?' he replied cryptically.
'No, though I sometimes wish I could,' said Minerva, turning around to lean against her desk.
'What do you think you would see?' asked Albus, coming to stand beside her.
'If I knew that, then surely I'd already be able to read your mind.'
Albus Dumbledore laughed, reaching out he gently squeezed her arm and Minerva relaxed, a soft smile grew on her face as she regarded the man, who in eight weeks not including the pre-term preparations, had become a valued friend.
'Do you think I'm up to it?' she asked suddenly, looking insecure, something very few people ever saw in her.
'If I didn't I would not have recommended you Minerva,' Albus looked reflective. 'You were brilliant with Miss Cully last night Minerva, I have never seen that side of you before.'
'Nor have I,' she murmured, sounding sad.
'Perhaps you should explore it further,' suggested Albus, delicately.
Minerva folded her arms across her chest, a defensive move, 'That would involve finding a guy who isn't a "Buh",' she finally came out with a little flippantly.
'Well,' said Albus feeling a little uncomfortable at bringing up such a sensitive subject, 'I would be very happy to have you as my Gryffindor Head of House, not least because it's extremely difficult to carry out both that and my Headship responsibilities.'
'I haven't got the job yet, Albus,' said Minerva acerbically, Albus ignored the comment and moved to leave, her students were gathering outside the class, the noise they were making was enough to bring the ghosts back to life.
'I'm not a 'buh' Minerva,' he said calmly, then realising what he had said, corrected himself, 'that is, I am your friend, if ever you wish to talk.'
'Thank you,' she said, but her jaw line was tight in unconscious anger.
'Professor Dumbledore!' she called out, as he opened the door to leave, and the students who had been about to pile on in, paused in respect. 'Ditto,' she said, her face impassive, but the flash in his bright eyes showed her that he understood, the students were of course clueless and there were many curious glances. Perhaps foreseeing uncomfortable rumours, Professor Dumbledore spoke up once again, from the doorway.
'I'd reply soon for an interview, the position of Head of House has been unoccupied for some time now, and we do wish to reinstate someone who was Head Girl, on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and is a celebrated War Heroine for her part in the Great War.'
Minerva nodded her head, biting her cheek in an effort to keep from chuckling, or cursing the man. No doubt by the end of lunch more than half the school would know she had been Head Girl, and a Seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch team in her time at Hogwarts, before she graduated. Later to become one of the famous War Heroes of the era, a key figure in the defeat of Grindelwald. And who just happened to be applying for the position of Gryffindor Head of House, the man was a menace, a grand manipulator of events, and yes she'd kill him tonight.
Later that same day Minerva entered the hospital wing, in order to organise a shopping trip that Gill and herself had been intending for some time. It was silent, peaceful, inside one of the beds was occupied by a girl, Josephine Cully, and she looked up as Minerva entered.
'Professor McGonagall,' she said, looking for all the world as if Minerva's entrance pleased her no end.
'Hello Miss Cully,' said Minerva, coming forward to the end of the girl's bed. 'How are you feeling today?'
'Fine thank you Professor. Would you like a chocolate frog?'
'Thank you but no, I've just come from dinner.'
'Oh, okay,' said Miss Cully, looking awkward and pulling back the proffered treat.
'Well, perhaps just one then,' said Minerva, going to the girl's bedside and taking the frog. 'I was addicted to these as a kid,' grinning as she unwrapped it.
'Really?' grinned a now buoyant Josephine Cully. 'Me too. Now, I mean.'
Minerva held the frog as it wriggled and attempted to leap from her hand.
'Darius Black said he always eats them when they're still wriggling so that he can feel them in his stomach, gross huh?' said Miss Cully, making a face.
'Ah, Mr Black has visited you then?' queried Minerva.
'Yes Professor, him and George came to say sorry and gave me the frogs. They've promised to show me around the castle, properly.'
'Oh really,' said Minerva dryly, 'I don't want to know what that will entail. They were nice to you…?'
'Yes Professor McGonagall, I think they felt quite guilty,' Josephine smiled happily; it seemed she had found two new friends.
Minerva smiled and looked at her card, every chocolate frog came with a famous witch or wizard's card, to her surprise she saw she had Albus Dumbledore, a strange jolt ran through her body.
'Who do you have?' asked Miss Cully.
'Professor Dumbledore,' replied Minerva factually.
'Oh there's loads of him, not that that's a bad thing,' Miss Cully added hurriedly. 'Here's one of you though, you look pretty.'
'There's a chocolate frog card of me?' exclaimed Minerva, who had never heard of it.
'Yes, didn't you know?'
'No, Miss Cully, I most certainly did not.' Minerva curiously took the card from the girl and saw herself staring from the frame, it was a picture that she had not posed for, strands of hair were loose and fell in front of her picture self's face, smudges of dirt were on her cheeks and her Auror robes had been singed.
'I look messy, dirty and completely unattractive Miss Cully,' said Minerva, shaking her head at her disarranged visage.
'It says that the picture was taken just after Gr-Grindelwald had fallen,' said Miss Cully. 'I don't think you knew it was being taken Professor, it looks very natural.'
'Hmm,' was Minerva's response.
'Says here you helped Professor Dumbledore defeat Grindelwald, that only three of you came out alive, and one died shortly later. Wow. Did you really?'
'Did I really what?'
'Help beat Grindelwald?'
'That was mostly Professor Dumbledore's doing, Miss Cully,' said Minerva getting up to signal the end of the conversation. 'I'll see you back in school tomorrow hopefully, Miss Cully. '
'Yes Professor, thank you for staying,' said Miss Cully a little shyly, Minerva nodded her head and moved along to Gill's office.
Minerva was sitting in her appropriated dressing gown in her bed around midnight on a Sunday night pondering the efforts of the Gryffindor Quidditch team who had lost to Slytherin by 150 points that day, and wondering how her interview with the twelve Governors had gone that Friday, when her bedroom fire suddenly roared green and Albus Dumbledore's head appeared in the flames.
'Minerva?' he whispered quietly and she immediately stood and went to the fireplace.
'What's wrong Albus?' she asked, already running over the defences of the castle in her mind.
'Nothing,' he replied, she gave an exasperated sigh.
'Then why did you wake me?' she demanded.
'I wondered if you were awake,' said Albus, giving her a wicked smile designed to make her loose her frown and smile back. It worked.
'Well, I was. What did you want?'
'Well, I wondered if you'd care for a game of chess,' said Albus off-handedly.
'Albus! It's …' Minerva looked around for the time but couldn't find a clock. 'Very late.'
'I know, but I can't sleep,' said Albus, having the grace to look slightly sheepish.
'Well, okay then,' agreed Minerva, trying to sound reluctant, but inwardly rather pleased that he had come to her. 'But you can come here, to my quarters; we always seem to play in your sitting room.'
'That's because I have one, you have a study,' pointed out Albus practically.
'I also have a large bedroom with several comfy chairs and a large open fire,' said Minerva, glaring at him.
'I was only teasing,' said Albus, his eyes twinkling. 'Stand back,' he warned as he stepped into the fireplace and travelled through the internal floo system to her bedroom fire place.
'Welcome to my humble abode,' greeted Minerva matter-of-factly, as the Headmaster of Hogwarts stepped from her fireplace wearing a pair of red and gold pyjamas.
'Why thank you,' chuckled Albus, glancing around the bedroom.
'Gryffindor colours? You're showing your house prejudices,' teased Minerva, referring to his pyjama's as she offered him one of two comfortable looking plain lounges beside the fire.
'Oh I don't think so, after all, you're the only one who sees my night time attire,' easily replied Albus, blue eyes sparkling as he pulled up a coffee table to place the chess board on.
'Ouch,' winced Minerva. 'Don't tell anyone else that Albus, they'll think you're a sad old man who lives a lonely life in his solitary tower.'
'But I am, Minerva,' said Dumbledore, hands twirling his beard as he often did when troubled or thinking over a matter of some importance (or not, one never knew with Albus).
'Don't be ridiculous,' said Minerva sharply. 'You could have any lady you wanted if you smiled and were as charming as you can be to me on occasion.'
Albus Dumbledore looked up and smiled warmly at the beautiful lady across from him. 'Actually that's a good point,' he said.
'What is? You flirting?' Minerva made a grimace as if the notion pained her, Albus stretched out a foot and kicked her softly in objection.
'No, my dear. The point about my night wear. Which reminds me, is that my dressing gown?' asked Albus with some suspicion.
Minerva flushed red, she had forgotten she wore it, she was supposed to have given it back to the headmaster some nights ago, but kept, ah, forgetting, her Gryffindor backbone stood her in good stead.
'What, this?' she asked innocently, lifting the heavy fur edged material.
'Yes that,' said Dumbledore his lips trying to restrain a smile that almost was a smirk.
'Well I suppose it might be,' said Minerva looking as if the idea was entirely novel to her.
'Perhaps we can prove it,' suggested Albus, standing. Moving over to her he took her hands and pulled her up from her seat. 'As I suspected, the dressing gown is too large for you,' he stated triumphantly, pointing out that an inch, at least, rested on the floor.
'I bought it so I could grow into it,' said Minerva, her lips curving into a smile.
'I think you're past growing spurts Minerva,' murmured Albus with a knowing look that for some reason bought a flush of colour to Minerva's cheeks.
'Well they say you start to shrink when you reach old age,' she retaliated, looking pointedly at him, he winced exaggeratedly.
'Are you implying that I'm old and shrinking Minerva?' he asked, standing as he did, several inches taller than her.
'Possibly not old, but shrinking, you never know.'
'Should I point out that I'm taller than you, here?' said Albus as if speaking a thought aloud, but rather dramatically.
'I'm not overly tall,' said Minerva, tilting her head just slightly to look directly up into his blue eyes.
'For a woman, I think you are,' said Albus seriously.
'Are you implying that all woman are short? Or that I'm unnatural in some way?' said Minerva with a challenge inherent in her tone.
'Are you implying that I'm old and small?'
'Touché,' laughed Minerva, then she did something she had wanted to do for ages, she reached up and gently tweaked his beard.
'What was that for?' asked Albus, his lips quirked.
'There's something about your beard that makes it tweakable,' said Minerva, beaming up at him cheekily.
'Grow one of your own and tweak it yourself,' recommended Albus nonchalantly.
'Grow one of my own? Albus Winston Dumbledore if you don't watch it I'll, I'll…' growled Minerva.
'You know, I swear I can see some whiskers already,' said Albus, pretending to peer closely at her chin and upper lip.
Minerva yelped, hit him across the head and then bounded across to the bathroom and a mirror, his spirited laughter followed her in there.
When she emerged, having carefully checked her face for any hair, and found no trace of any sprouting whiskers, Minerva was ready to curse him to India and back despite knowing that he had been teasing her.
'Albus?' she called out quietly.
'Hmmm?' responded Albus, he looked half asleep in one of her loungers, and seeing him, Minerva decided to send him back to bed; she looked at him, with his eyes closed and his face relaxed, and felt a cocoon of warmth surround her in a feeling of safety and well-being. It was good to have friends such as Albus.
'I think you should go to bed,' she said, sitting on the edge of his chair.
'Me too,' agreed Albus, he half opened his eyes and smiled at her. 'You can keep the dressing gown, for now.'
'It's mine forever now, I've converted it,' cackled Minerva, sounding quite insane for a moment.
'Ever thought of doing Macbeth?' asked Albus rhetorically, for he stood and stretched before bending down and kissing her cheek good night.
'I'm glad to have you as my friend, Albus,' spoke up Minerva suddenly just as he was about to step into the fire.
'I do add a certain panache to things don't I?' said Albus wittily, avoiding her hand as she went to bat him around the head again and muttering something about bruises that was swallowed by the roar of the fire.