a/n: I don't own Harry Potter.

Minerva McGonagall has always prided herself on her fairness. She doesn't let anyone get away with anything, even students in her own house. Minerva grimaces as she remembers, all too well, one particular incident involving James Potter and Sirius Black. One hundred points might have been a little excessive, but who wouldn't overreact after that prank, the one with the goat, her favorite set of robes, Severus Snape and a broomstick? She thought that the punishment was well deserved. But now…

Pull yourself together, she thinks, striding up to the castle through the snow, even if one of them was all but killed by the other, it doesn't mean you can feel bad about your actions! So many other people were killed by Voldemort, and you aren't regretful about them! Honestly, she berates herself, and sighs sadly.

Those were the days. She misses them terribly. What she wouldn't give to see again James and Sirius stuck together as if by glue, Peter Pettigrew alive, and Remus Lupin showing his youth, without the weariness that now seems to be written all over his face.

Minerva sighs again. That Remus Lupin. He's still very much the polite, quiet boy that he was during his time as a student. Calling her 'Professor' but never seeming to wear that slightly mischievous expression he got after delivering a particularly ingenious line, amid the laughter of his friends.

Minerva can tell how much Remus wants his friends back. How he watches young Harry Potter, no doubt remembering James, judging by the wistful look that crosses his face, tugging the corners of his mouth in different directions and creasing a line in between his eyebrows. She pities Remus, and wants for him to be able to show that quick primal flash of teeth, and the wicked glint of his eyes. To be young and impish for a moment before returning to his responsible, book-loving self.

Ah, Remus Lupin, Minerva thinks, pulling her cloak closer to keep out the chill winter wind. Her breath puffs out in front of her. The man has had to live through too much. The death of not only one, but three of his best friends, the betrayal of another, and, of course, his condition.

She wonders: What if all that had happened to me? What I was in the place of Remus Lupin?

Known though Minerva was for her strength, the thought made her nauseous.

Suddenly, the man himself appears right in front of Minerva. She startles, and wonders how he approached so quickly and she did not notice.

Lips quirking in the semblance of a smile, he says,"Good afternoon, professor. Did you enjoy Hogsmeade?"

Minerva dabs suspicious drops of moisture from both eyes with her sleeve and says gruffly, "Don't be silly. Call me Minerva."

Remus's eyes are concerned and warm, but she can see the sadness in them.

"Are you all right, prof-Minerva?"

She clears her throat. "Quite all right, thank you."

The pair of them are silent for a moment. Remus fidgets with a hole in the end of his scarf.

"Minerva-" he hesitates, before plunging on, "call me Remus."

Minerva can't contain her sympathy for this man, who still seems like a seventeen-year-old boy to her, and she does something very out of character.

She pitches forward, and hugs Remus fiercely around the middle. He stiffens. Before he can say a word, Minerva pulls back briskly. Again in that strangely clogged voice, she says, "Happy Christmas, Remus," and bustles off, quite embarrassed, leaving Remus staring after her in astonishment, the softly falling snow accumulating on his shoulders.

Please review, and tell me what you think.