Annotations and End Notes for Farewell, Professor McGonagall:
First of all, I'd like to express my profound gratitude to Ms. J. K. Rowling, without whom, none of us would have a sandbox to play in. I'd also like to thank Mr. Jim Dale, whose semi-voiced reading of the Harry Potter books has heavily influenced the way I understand them.
As a whole, this fiction owes as much to John Milton's Goodbye, Mr. Chips as it does to Harry Potter. If you haven't read it, please allow me to highly recommend it. Mr. Milton said that he was highly influenced, in his writing, by his father's career as a master at a British public school. In my writing, likewise, I have been highly influenced by my mother's career as a teacher in American public schools... which are a completely different animal, I assure you.
In my portrayals of age, I have drawn upon my memories of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Because of odd family circumstances, I was gifted with more than two grandmothers; sadly, all are no longer with us.
1. The Boy Batsman:
Cricket is a real-world game, played by muggles throughout the world... including America. If you've never been exposed to it, I recommend a web search for your nearest cricket league.
Likewise, the siege and investiture of Tobruk was a real battle in World War Two. Thousands of young men, mostly New Zealanders, Australians, and Germans, gave their lives there. Though I have arbitrarily placed Apollo's unit, the Twenty-Fifth Highlanders, there, there were Scots units present.
And yes, I know, neither James nor Harry Potter had red hair. However, Lily Evans-Potter did, and I don't think it too far to reach to believe that, if Harry married Ginny Weasley, their children would be ginger-haired, too.
2. Sailing on the Hot Wind Ocean:
The name of McGonagall's landlady, Mrs. Hudson, of course, is taken from Sherlock Holmes.
This seems like a good place to discuss McGonagall's age. I know that J. K. Rowling has said, in interviews, that McGonagall is older than I've made her here, but the wonderful actress who portrays the character in the films, Ms. Maggie Smith, was born in December, 1934, and I don't see any good reason not to use this as a base. I've adjusted it slightly... put McGonagall's birth in 1932... because I wanted her to be old enough to remember her brother; old enough to remember World War Two.
This has required some juggling of times and events. Hagrid, for instance, is shown as being older than McGonagall, because we know he was present for the original opening of the Chamber of Secrets... an event I've placed before McGonagall's time as a student. And yes, I know, in Order of the Phoenix, McGonagall tells Umbridge she's taught at Hogwarts for 39 years, which doesn't square with my bringing her in the same year that the Mauraders enter Hogwarts, but hey... it's artistic license.
And yes, that was intended to be Victor Krum who protested at Ron and Hermione's wedding. For no reason, really, other than it amused me.
3. White Christmas:
I've extrapolated the character of Armando Dippet from the brief paragraphs about his portrait in Order of the Phoenix. If I'm lucky, Ms. Rowling won't contradict me in the next two novels.
The Volsung Saga is one of the oldest surviving pieces of Norse myth, found in closely-related versions in German, as well. The Norse believed in shape-changers, in wolf-men and bear-men (the word berserk, for instance, comes from Norse for "bear shirt"), and in the Volsung saga, two of the characters spend a great deal of time as wolves, harassing the household of their enemy.
The Morphus Equations are my own invention. It seems clear to me that an animagus does something more than just a transfiguration spell; the magic actually seems to become an intrinsic part of the mage. Sirius Black, for instance, can transform into Snuffles without a wand, and even under the pressure of the presence of dementors in Azkaban.
4. Valentine's Day Rain:
Balcoin college takes its name from Marie Balcoin, a French witch who was burned to death in 1598, in Paris.
Gridpipe, the seeker for the Wimbourne Wasps, is an original character borrowed from the amazing "Or Die Trying: The Cho Chang Story" by FanFiction's own MonkeyMouse. It's not stealing; it's an homage.
5. Leafing Out:
The witch who flies overhead, wearing a bow, and riding a street-sweeper's broom, is of course a reference to the end of Kiki's Delivery Service, a wonderful movie about a young witch.
Professor Xuan and Merka Quintaile are characters borrowed from my role-playing group, from when we played our Hogwarts game. Professor Xuan's line was originally written by my friend Steve, who gets the shout-out for this one.
The Dutch wizards of Copenhagen are another reference to MonkeyMouse's work.
6. A Rain to Wash Away the Sins of the World:
A lot of this is simply my conjecture, based on the facts Ms. Rowling presents in the first five books. We know that Dumbledore has led an exceptionally long life; that he was Nicholas Flammel's friend and partner, and that he regards death as simply "the next great adventure." Why, then, would he take the elixir of life?
Anderson shelters were designed by British Civil Defense, to distribute population, instead of concentrating them in large shelters. Those who had gardens could put a shelter in them, and be in the shelter faster than if they had to go to a large, central shelter. And yes, the Blitz reached as far north as Scotland.
Eton and Harrow are British public schools. Two words about the words "public school" seem to be in order, here. In America, "public school" means a school paid for by the government, which anyone who lives in the right neighborhood can... indeed, is compelled to... attend. In British usage, however, a "public school" is simply one where the admissions requirements are not limited by arbitrary factors... you don't have to be a member of a given church, you don't have to have red hair, or whatever else. These are, in fact, what Americans would call "private schools," for which the family of the student pays for the student's attendance. Many of them are boarding schools. Eton and Harrow are two of the most exclusive, and presumably, two of the best.
7. Of Wands and Men:
Sirius' "To Pee, or Not To Pee," soliloquy is borrowed from the amazing shoeboxproject on LiveJournal, which has heavily influenced my thinking about the Marauders.
The ten-foot snow phallus was built in the winter of 2003-2004 at Northern Arizona University, where I attend classes. I had nothing to do with it, though it made me laugh, later.
My thoughts about reproductive magic were included here in part to answer things that I've read in other fanfics. It seems to me that anti-fertility and anti-disease charms and potions would be something witches learned fairly early, though perhaps under the table.
Ursula K. LeGuin is a science fiction / fantasy writer who wrote one of the most famous series of books about wizards, the Earthsea books. She's from California, and Catalina Island is off the California coast.
I introduce Professor Keaton in this segment. Like some of those who have reviewed, I have been bothered by the apparent lack of a language teacher at Hogwarts, so here I've addressed that. I can understand why Ms. Rowling wouldn't include one... composition seems very mundane, and it would likely just be another character she'd have to keep track of... but I think that words and language are a kind of magic, all on their own. The ancient Norse thought so highly of writing that Odin hung impaled on the World Tree, himself sacrificed to himself, for nine days to learn the runes and the art of writing.
8. An Unbearable Precision of Being:
More of Professor Keaton, who we see here as being something of a sadly romantic figure, mostly unable to handle the world outside of his books. No, I don't know anyone like this; why do you ask?
9. Girls and Boys:
The Belgian sleuth, of course, is Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. Ms. Christie is practically the mother of the modern detective story.
There's so much slash-fic out there, I felt I had to say two words about the subject. And, knowing more than one gender dysphoric individual in the real world, I saw at once that transfiguration magic would be a dream come true for them.
My mother says this is her least favorite segment, because it brings the issues of sex and gender into the otherwise "clean" world of Harry Potter. All I can say is that these are issues that are important in my world, and I think they'd be important at Hogwarts, as well. After all, Hogwarts takes children from the ages of 11 to 18 or so, and these are the years when we discover sexuality and the various implications of gender.
When I was a child, my mother and I had the discussion about where words come from. We decided that cheese toast was, henceforth, to be known as snicker-snockers. Thirty years later, to me, it still is.
I never wrote a love letter to a teacher. I have, however, over the years, felt deep lust for more than one. Usually Math teachers; I don't know why.
10. Gun Wizard:
A friend was saying, one day, that she wished "he needed killing" was still a defense admissible in a court of law. I pointed out that it hadn't been, since Judge Roy Bean's time. The rest of this sort of grew organically out of that.
Besides, I like the idea that Professor McGonagall spends her old age reading trashy novels.
11. First Night:
Please see above for my comments regarding the relative ages of Hagrid and McGonagall.
Wooster and Yaxley are references to the Wooster and Jeeves novels of Mr. Pelham G. Wodehouse. If you like the Harry Potter novels, you should try P. G. Wodehouse. His writing is amazingly funny, and he evokes a gentle era which, alas, never truly existed.
Yes, I did postulate a Tonks / Lupin match. I think it would work for the same reason that James and Sirius were such good friends with Remus... the balance of forces; the yin and the yang of it all.
The song Minerva hums is a filking of an actual song that was popular in the 1920s, "47 Ginger-Headed Sailors."
And yes, Jain Doe is another original character recycled from a role playing game.
Christiaan Hyugens was an actual Dutch physicist who discovered Saturn's rings, as well as coming up with the principal of entrainment.
The Tickes family, and Minerva's watch, are references to Jan. McNeville's "The Family Clock" fic, on this site. Highly recommended.
Shakespeare, so far as I am aware, was the first English writer to refer to sleep as the brother of death. In his amazing comic book series (now collected as graphic novels), Neil Gaiman reinforces this, making Dream and Death two of the basic forces of the universe.
As I never attended an English public school, my details of morning life at Hogwarts are based on my experiences in American college dormitories. If they strike you as false, I can only apologize. We can only write what we know, after all, or what we can reasonably extrapolate from what we know.
How would a headmaster's portrait be updated? Why... by magic, of course!
13. 100, Not Out
The title is a reference to Cricket. (See note on segment 1, above). When a batsman has made a hundred points, he is said to have "made his century." Not out refers to having made that score without being, well, out... unable to continue batting.
Potterphiles who examine the names of the Quidditch teams will find some Easter eggs.
14. A Fighting Chance
Kendo is a real Japanese sport, akin to European fencing, and is much as professor Coppersmith described it, to the uninitiated. It's also fun to watch, and more fun to play.
A friend of mine flatters me that I am good at non sequiturs which turn out to be no such thing. Minerva's question to Coppersmith is, I think, an example of that. Am I guilty of placing some of my own character in McGonagall? Perhaps... but isn't that what writing is about?
15. An Age of Isolation:
This mirrors some of my own concerns about the world we live in, about how instant messaging and email are in fact not drawing individuals closer together, but creating a kind of isolation. I'd like to get a couple of friends and go down to the pub, but all of my friends are in far-off places, and I can't.
And yes... I have shame attacks. Not that I've done anything on the level of, say, a politician about which to be ashamed, but I have them, none the less.
16. Families of all Stripes
In choosing to pair off Harry and Ginny, I do have a rationale. Namely, by marrying Ginny, Harry gets what he's always wanted most: family, and plenty of it. As for the West Indies... well, why not? They're warm, they're sunny, and it's a holiday!
Honestly, I wrote this as a filler chapter, because I needed to post something, and I wasn't quite ready to write the final one. My mother, who was retiring from teaching after many years, however, said that it touched her a great deal, so I've left it in this amended edition.
18. The Next Great Adventure
I think this chapter speaks for itself. And yes... my writing of the death scene was heavily influenced by Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
I wrote this story about a year ago, while I was doing nothing in particular with my summer holiday from college. Now, doing nothing in particular with this summer holiday, either, I found the time to edit, amend, and annotate it. I hope that all of you who read it have as much fun with it as I did; that you can forgive the places where I took license, and simply see it as an homage to an amazing writer... Ms. J. K. Rowling.