Disclaimer: All Harry Potter people, places, things, or ideas (all Harry Potter nouns) belong to J. K. Rowlings. I know that in canon, Minerva would have been close to fifty when Snape was in his fifth year, but in this story she is thirty-five.

A Little Problem

Chapter 1: A not-so-goodnight.

She stormed through the halls, glad not to find any students lingering out past curfew. And she was angry, unable to recall any time in her life when she had felt so completely vexed at students and the situation they had caused. However, she was also mad at Albus Dumbledore for not disciplining them as she would have seen fit to. All she could think about on her way to the infirmary was the young man who had been the unfortunate victim of a joke gone horribly wrong.

Calming herself enough not to frighten the medwitch as she passed through the infirmary's door, Minerva McGonagall entered and looked for him. "Poppy, how is he?" she inquired.

Poppy Pomphrey led her friend over to a bed off to the side hidden by a curtain. "I was only able to distinguish that he didn't want any student wandering through the infirmary to see him in his condition. It's not as bad as it looks. His arm was broken along with three ribs and his collarbone was cracked. He also had a mild concussion. Assuming he rests, he should be back in class within a few days," the medwitch told her optimistically.

Minerva sighed and pulled a chair next to the bed. She sat and began to smooth his hair. "That's not what worries me. The whole thing should never have happened, not to him. He has been through enough and I fear that if things are not properly watched, he may end up on the wrong side of the wizarding world. What on earth did he ever do to Potter and Black? I cannot believe how lenient the headmaster was toward those two."

"I don't know what to say about the others, but young Mr. Snape doesn't need someone to watch him. He'll be fine for the rest of the night," Poppy reminded.

The Transfiguration professor nodded. "I know, Poppy. I'll go in a minute."

She had trouble taking her eyes off him, worried that some other horrible thing might befall him if she turned to leave. Quietly moving a hair out of his closed eyes, she did not realize that she had tears in her eyes until a few of them hit the sheets. He suddenly began to stir and looked up at her. "Professor McGonagall, what are you doing here?"

At that moment she stood and walked to the end of his bed and quickly wiped any semblance of tears from her cheeks. The room was dark enough so that he did not notice from where she now stood. "I just wanted to check on you. The whole mess was so vastly unfair and I want to apologize for those boys. You just go back to sleep and rest."

"Professor, don't worry about me. I'm not worth your time," he told her before he drifted back into a dreamless sleep.

"Has no one ever supported you?" she asked in a whisper as she turned to leave.

Back in the corridor, she headed directly to the headmaster's office. Walking up to the gargoyle she whispered the password, "toffee and peanut brittle." She sauntered up the newly revealed stairway and marched into his study. He looked up at her curiously as she stood in front of him with her hands on her hips.

"Albus Dumbledore, do you know what you allowed a couple of boys to get away with?" she fumed.

He gulped, knowing that she only stood up to him like that if she was truly irked about something. "Minerva, must you keep picking at this incident? Yes, it was unfortunate, but it was still an accident. As much as I value your opinion on these matters, you must remember that what transpired was not fatal."

She crossed her arms indignantly. "What those two have done is to further injure the self-esteem of the young man lying in the infirmary! I went there to check on his condition. He woke up for a moment and told me that I needn't worry because he was not worth my time! Those two boys deserved far worse than-"

But she had crossed a line with the headmaster. "Professor McGonagall, are you really so angry at children that you would usurp my authority in this matter?"

Since she had been hired and her tendency to nag him to keep him in his place, he also had the ability to put her in her place when necessary. "I am sorry. I will leave now. Goodnight, headmaster," she said quietly.

"Goodnight, Minerva," he added as she left.

She sighed heavily as she reached her door. After whispering "feline fortitude," she entered her rooms and made herself a cup of tea. As she sat on her couch sipping her lemon tea, her mind drifted to the events of the evening and the peculiar relationship she had with her employer. For the most part they were on a first-name basis and he tolerated her prodding because she was the deputy headmistress. Yet familiarity only stretched itself to a point. Even though he seemed to be a friend most of the time, he was still her boss.

As she set the empty teacup in her sink, her hand shook slightly. It's gotten worse. I wish that I had not succumbed to such a weakness, she thought to herself before heading to bed, hoping that tomorrow would provide a few clearer answers to the situation with Mr. Snape and his injuries.