Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns Harry Potter. Go on, tell me this surprises you…
Additional Note: There are multiple references to the 'relationship' between Snape and Sinistra in this piece. This is thanks to the pioneering, and brainwashing, efforts of 'She's a Star' and her innumerable brilliant stories, particularly "Lamentations…" Anyway, this story will be split into three sections: Morning, Noon and Night.
May 19th, 1996, 6:31 AM,
"Rise and shine Minerva!" a much too cheerful voice called out.
Far from doing as instructed, Minerva rolled over and turned her back to the source of the acclamation, settling deeper in her exceptionally comfortable bed. She had been up until two AM the previous night, dealing with a Third Year Ravenclaw boy who had attempted to turn himself into an Eagle (in preparation to support his team at Quidditch, naturally). Regrettably he attempted to do so without such petty trivialities as skill, supervision or the barest hint of background reading, leaving herself and Madam Pomfrey to deal with a horrified fourteen year old with hollow bones and feathers.
So she was not ready to wake up yet, and she didn't care what Driscoll had to say about it.
"Wake-y wake-y, Minnie dear!" he repeated.
Minerva glared at the back of her eyelids. While she didn't think that the use of that appalling nickname quite merited rolling over, or indeed opening her eyes, it was certainly worthy of a glare. Why she'd ever agreed to letting that horrendously chipper portrait be her personal messenger was completely beyond her. True, she hadn't had much choice in the matter as he had been the only one available upon her appointment as Professor at Hogwarts, but that was hardly the point.
Upon her appointment as Transfiguration Professor she should have been offered a different portrait. One that wasn't so cheerful. One that didn't insist upon giving each and every person it came across an infuriating nickname. One that wasn't constantly clad in bright purple robes, thereby clashing magnificently with the dark green and polished oak colour scheme of the room. Surely the needs of an Arithmancy Professor and a Transfiguration Professor were different enough to warrant a different portrait, weren't they?
"Come on Minnie! There's a bright new day ahead!"
With a small growl Minerva sat up. She then grabbed a hold of the pillow under her head, heaved it at Driscoll's portrait and attempted to go back to sleep. After a moment, Driscoll returned to the confines of the portrait, sounding rather miffed.
"Well fine." he said. "If you want to be late for Professor Umbridge's meeting…" Minerva was on her feet within three seconds; she was sitting in front of her dressing table within five. Complete with glasses, she might add. Driscoll made a smug sort of noise and then disappeared again.
Minerva was not above admitting that she would be willing to walk over hot coals each and every morning, simply to deny Delores Umbridge the satisfaction of one more obnoxious, sanctimonious little smile. In her mind, it was a more than acceptable price to pay. And so, with a quick glance at the clock across the room, Minerva began to remove her hair net, allowing her long, black waves to tumble freely down her back. They stayed that way for less than half a second before she began ruthlessly brushing them into dormancy. She then flicked her wand carelessly, allowing her hair to arrange itself into it's customary tight bun while she took care of more important things.
She moved over to her wardrobe and extracted a set of basic black robes, changing into them quickly. It was still only twenty to seven in the morning, but she tried to ignore that fact as best she could. After all, it was all done in the name of infuriating Delores Umbridge. With that thought happily in mind, Minerva yanked on a pair of black leather shoes.
She had a long hard day ahead. Not just because she had a Staff Meeting at seven o'clock in the morning, but also because she had the truly appalling prospect of having to ask Severus Snape for a favour.
Shuddering freely at the thought, Minerva reached into the wardrobe once more, extracted an emerald green, velvet shawl and placed it around her shoulders with one hand, while grabbing a black hat with the other and placing it squarely on her head. A casual flick of her wand had her room tidying itself. No reason to make more work for the House Elves, after all. She took a quick look at the clock and realised that she still had fifteen minutes before Umbridge's meeting.
More than enough time for a mug of tea in the Staff Room. Thank the Good Lord…
Minerva walked briskly into the Staff Room, with seven whole minutes to spare. Half a dozen teachers were already there. Including Severus Snape, damn him. He smirked slightly at her and nodded to the coffee table, where a cup of tea (in her favourite mug) was waiting for her.
"Have some trouble getting started this morning Minerva?" he asked dryly. Minerva glared at him and took a seat on the couch next to Pomona Sprout, opposite Severus.
"The staircases moved again last night." she told him curtly as she raised the mug to her lips. She couldn't believe she was going to have to ask that git for help. As soon as the sweet, hot nectar hit her tongue she felt about a million times better. Against her will a contented sigh left her lips as she settled further into the couch. "So does anyone know what this ridiculous little conference is in reference to?" she asked cynically. "Or does our new Fuhrer just enjoy making us jump through Early Morning Hoops on demand?"
Severus looked pained. "Apparently she wishes to discuss the rampant illness in our school and the lack of control Professors have over their students." he told her.
"Rampant illness?" Professor Sinistra asked curiously. "What rampant illness? Nobody's missed a single class of mine. No one's so much as sneezed in the past six months."
A few of the teachers exchanged smiles. Sinistra, being the Astronomy Professor, was rarely forced to wander the halls in the middle of the day. And since neither her classroom, practical area, personal quarters or office (all in the Astronomy Tower) were anywhere near the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom she was often out of the loop on the goings on of the latest Professor of the subject. As she said, that was rarely a huge loss on her part as it wasn't as though she were missing anything that would stick around for a long time. As such, the effects of Skiving Snack-boxes had largely passed her by. So had Gilderoy Lockhart, but it was a bit late to be bitter about that small fact.
"I believe," Filius Flitwick explained jovially. "That our, er, dearest Delores is referring to the new illness prevalent amongst students since the departure of the Weasley twins."
"Umbridge-itis they're calling it." Professor Vector clarified with a grin from over by the door. "They take one half of the Weasley twins' little concoction in class, resulting in something extremely unpleasant happening to them and forcing Delores to let them go to the Hospital Wing, then as soon as they're out of class they down the other end and go toddling on their way."
"I walked past the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom the other day," Pomona said gleefully. "There were only two students left in her class."
Professor Sinistra was giggling into her hands. "Oh lord, they didn't?" she cackled. "Oh that's classic. Umbridge-itis? I really do love our students sometimes." Minerva herself was trying not to grin. After all, she had a reputation to uphold.
"Personally," Snape deadpanned. "I was more irritated by the 'lack of control' comment." he took a sip of his coffee. He was the only person on the staff who could stand to drink coffee first thing in the morning. He took it black as well. No sugar. Freak.
"She really said that we lacked control?" Vector queried. "Is she mad?"
Minerva rolled her eyes. "So basically, I was forced to get up at six thirty in the morning after the grand sum of four hours sleep, just because that spiteful little toad can't do her job?"
"Not at all Minerva." Severus clarified. "You were forced to get up at six thirty because she can't do her job, and also assumes that we can't do ours."
"Why thank you Severus, trust you to put a positive spin on the situation." Professor Sinistra snapped sardonically. Snape looked a little put out by her tone but only very slightly. It was more akin to surprise than anything else. "Why were you up until two AM Minerva?" Sinistra asked without another glance at Snape.
Not wanting to dwell on the exchange, Minerva let out a long-suffering sigh. "Charlie Harper attempted to turn himself into an Eagle using a NEWT level incantation and a spell-reflecting mirror." a few disbelieving sniggers sounded around the room. "Poppy and I were in the Hospital Wing for seven hours trying to put it right."
"My apologies Minerva," Filius said gravely. "I would not have believed someone in my House to be so… so…"
"Moronic?" Vector supplied with ease. A few more laughs sounded about the room.
"Where is Poppy anyway?" Pomona asked curiously. "She's usually so punctual. And it's seven o'clock all ready."
"I haven't the faintest idea." Minerva stated. "But if the Great Ministry Puppet hasn't made an appearance in the next thirty-nine seconds, I'm leaving."
A murmur of agreement ran through the room, just as the sound of footsteps as well as Umbridge's infuriatingly false voice was heard from down the hall. A collective groan issued from the teachers.
"You know," Vector whispered. "I could hit her with a tripping jinx from here. We wouldn't have to put up with it."
"You'd be sacked on the spot." Sinistra whispered back.
"Only if she caught me."
"Oh enough." Minerva snapped quietly. "We are not children. We are more than capable of dealing with that pathetic little Bureaucrat without immature jinxes. And besides," she added sourly. "I am not putting up with one of her Winged Monkeys being made the Arithmancy Professor. If there's another one of her I'll be forced to resort to Unforgivables, and that is not something I'm prepared to risk."
Vector beamed at her and gracefully hopped of the sideboard she'd been perched on. She moved over to the couch and took a seat between Professors Snape and Sinistra (always a dangerous place to be). Just as she leant back into her seat, the door swung open.
-Ninth Circle of Hell-
"Well you are the school nurse, aren't you?" Umbridge huffed indignantly as she waddled in after Madame Pomfrey. Poppy herself wore an expression of cold fury, her eyes bulging out of her head and her lips so thin Minerva honestly wondered if they'd ever surface again.
"I am." Poppy agreed resentfully.
"And you can't tell me what's wrong with these children! I think another review is in order, Madame Pomfrey! You are clearly slipping." Umbridge threatened.
"As you wish, Delores. But I'm telling you that there is nothing physically wrong with the children leaving your class. I am also telling you that, whether you want me to or not, I will not be chasing after them anymore. If they feel unwell, they may come and see me. But I have better things to do with my time than hunt down every child which you cannot control."
Minerva raised her eyebrows. It had been a while since Poppy Pomfrey had insulted anyone. In fact Minerva hadn't heard that tone of cool contempt from her in at least ten years. Not since Poppy had learned how to put up with Snape. It was rather startling. She exchanged a look with Severus who had quirked his own brow speculatively.
Umbridge's nostrils flared. "Well if that's the case, I hardly think you should be here Madame Pomfrey!" she snapped. "Perhaps you should return to the Hospital Wing."
Poppy immediately turned on her heel and strode confidently out of the Teacher's Lounge. "I thought you'd never ask Delores." she told the 'Headmistress' crisply.
The temperature in the Teacher's Lounge seemed to drop a few degrees as Poppy slammed the door behind her. Every single teacher in the room narrowed their eyes on Umbridge. Even Severus looked murderous; Minerva could only assume that he felt it was his privilege and his privilege alone to infuriate Poppy Pomfrey. Completely oblivious to the hateful glares she was receiving, Delores shuffled into the room.
Every seat was taken. The looked she sent around the room clearly indicating that she expected someone to move and give her their seat, but no one did. When she zeroed her gaze in on Professors Sinistra and Vector, as the youngest, healthiest and least frightening individuals in the room, both women simply sent her a look of disdain before folding their arms and crossing their legs. Minerva didn't think they could've got the message across better it they'd conjured up a large neon sign that flashed the phrase 'We will not be moved!' above their heads. It was a joy to watch, really it was.
Delores turned and conjured up her own chair. Minerva fought off a wave of nausea at the chintzy, pink monstrosity that appeared. It even had frills. Severus was looking at it as though it were the single most disagreeable thing he had ever laid eyes on. Which, when you'd led a life like Snape's, was quite a claim really.
"Hem hem." Umbridge cleared her throat, while Minerva fought off the urge to wrap her hands around it and squeeze. "Now, I have called you all hear this morning to deal with a very serious issue that has been plaguing our school." she simpered. Realising that this was going to be yet another interminable speech, Minerva conjured up another cup of tea for herself. Across the room she saw Severus top up his coffee too.
"Students are running riot! They're not attending their classes, they're being blatantly disrespectful and frankly I think enough is enough!" Umbridge told them in a voice which Minerva assumed she thought sounded commanding. Really it came across as desperate.
"Oh I quite agree Professor Umbridge." Flitwick said brightly. "Indeed I do. We can't have that sort of behaviour from students."
"Thank you Filius." Umbridge said smugly, clearly thinking that the teachers were now on her side.
"But you see the thing is, Professor," Filius continued in the same carefree tone. "That none of us have had that sort of behaviour from students." he smiled benignly.
"I beg your pardon?" Umbridge asked blankly.
Professor Vector, who was continuing to eye the chair upon which Delores with supreme distaste, spoke up next. "I personally haven't had a single student miss a class since November. Nor have I been forced to deduct points or give out detentions for any reason all year."
Umbridge scoffed. "Yes well, you take Arithmancy." she dismissed. Vector finally took her eyes off the hideous chair and looked directly at Umbridge.
"And just what do you mean by that?" she demanded with a steely glare.
Once again, Umbridge failed to notice. "I mean that the students taking your class are hardly representative of the average student, are they?" she said sweetly. "They're more bookish sorts."
"Like Miss Granger, you mean?" Vector shot back in the same saccharine tone. The smile vanished from Umbridge's face and a hard look came to her face.
"The less said about that girl, the better." Umbridge snarled. Minerva felt another wave of dislike crash against the shore that was Delores Umbridge. When you added that to the general loathing she already felt, Minerva wondered whether she'd be able to legally kill the woman soon.
"Am I led to believe that you have a problem with Hermione Granger, Delores?" she asked virulently. She may have been imagining it, but she could've sworn Pomona inched away from her upon hearing her tone. Not that Minerva McGonagall had a reputation for being overly protective of her favourite students or anything. Of course not.
"Oh the girl is insufferable. A complete know-it-all." Umbridge snapped, more to herself than to anyone else. "She keeps questioning the textbook as well. As though she knows better than the Ministry of Magic."
"May I ask which text you are using?" Severus asked with mild curiosity.
"Wilbert Slinkhard's." Umbridge informed him sanctimoniously.
Severus' only response was to close his eyes in a pained expression and respond, "I see." Since, whatever else she may think of him, Minerva understood the extensive knowledge Severus Snape held on both the Dark Arts and the Defences against them, she could only assume that such a response meant he both knew and loathed the text in question. Not wanting to continue the conversation, for fear that she'd be sacked before breakfast, Minerva cleared her throat.
She did so properly. Not a "hem" to be heard. The entire room turned to look at her.
"I believe we came here for a reason." she said curtly. "And unless I'm very much mistaken, that reason has been proved erroneous. Now are we finished, or not?"
They weren't. Delores, apparently feeling insecure about her control of Hogwarts, felt the need to repeat every word of every educational decree that had come out over the previous eight months. Throughout the lecture, Minerva felt her hand twitch to her wand innumerable times. She also saw her colleagues do the same. While this was more or less expected in the case of Severus (a reformed Death Eater) and Filius (an old duelling champion), when you saw Pomona Sprout itching to let off a good curse or two, you knew there was something very, very wrong happening.
-Hallway outside of Staff Room-
When at last she escaped the Staff Room, Minerva was so grateful to finally be free of that godforsaken woman that she couldn't even work up the energy to complain when Professor Vector charmed the floor of the East hallway (which Umbridge would have to walk down) to resemble an ice rink whenever anyone walked upon it. Aside from being terribly amusing, it was a tricky charm to pull off and Vector, who'd always had problems in charms as a child, was utterly delighted when it worked properly.
And who was Minerva to deprive the woman of her accomplishment?
With a small sigh, Minerva headed for her office. If she'd had any choice in the matter she would've just headed to breakfast, but since that dratted meeting had gone on for about three times as long as Dumbledore's morning meetings used to take, she was running a bit late. Which meant she'd have to mark a few pieces of homework at breakfast if she intended to stay on schedule. And wasn't that just the most depressing thing?
Despite the fact that summer was fast approaching, the fact that London was purportedly hotter than Barcelona, and the fact that the Daily Prophet reported a hosepipe ban in England ("So conjure your own!" it read. As if people couldn't work that out themselves), Hogwarts was shrouded in a springtime gloom, with a light rain drenching the castle. This resulted in the sky being so dreary that a few candles had to be lit in the Great Hall despite the enchanted ceiling.
Minerva was having the deeply uninteresting breakfast of porridge with salt, and she was marking Homework. It was a quite spectacularly dull way to spend one's morning.
That said, Hermione Granger had just achieved one-hundred and seventeen percent on her homework, while Lavender Brown had just defined Permanent-Hair-Curling Charms as an example of Self-Transfiguration. With an irritated cluck of her tongue, Minerva tossed Miss Brown's paper in the general direction of the others she'd already marked. It missed by quite a large degree and went skidding over to where Professors Snape and Sinistra were purposefully not-talking. Professor Snape stopped it casually with one finger. He quickly scanned it and smirked. Sinistra looked over his shoulder and also began to read through it. She looked slightly stunned.
"Surely the use of the word 'Charms' would have been a give away?" She commented disbelievingly. " I mean I can't say I'm an expert on Transfiguration but you'd sort of assume that having a spell expressly titled as a 'charm' would sort of make it obvious which lexicon it belonged in, wouldn't you?"
"Indeed." Snape agreed, still smirking. "Though you must forgive certain Gryffindor student's attention spans, I suppose."
Minerva flashed him a glare and summoned the paper back over to her, wishing with a passion that she'd accidentally thrown Hermione's homework their way. After all, she had started referencing some potions in her comparisons between Self-Transfiguration and other methods of appearance altering…
"Ooh, what's this?" Professor Sinistra asked quietly. So quietly that the Minerva could quite comfortably say she and Severus were the only one's who heard her. Minerva looked over to where Sinistra was looking, and saw Delores Umbridge on her feet and gesturing at the Gryffindor table.
Minerva frowned and leant over a bit to see where she was pointing. What she saw was Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley sitting eating their breakfast with a group of seventh years and trying valiantly to ignore her. Since Minerva, and indeed the entire staff, knew of Delores's patented response to Hermione Granger's questions during class, she could only imagine that Miss Granger was employing a similar method in response.
"Oh my." Sinistra breathed. "Do you suppose his eyes are supposed to be bulging out like that?" she asked in amusement. Snape smirked. Minerva had to agree that Ron Weasley was looking rather… infuriated. And since she had some pretty interesting experiences with the Weasley clan's anger, she could only begin to imagine the terrible things that were about to occur.
With that delightful thought in mind, she put down her quill and inched her chair over to get a better view. Snape pinned her with a look.
"They are in your house, shouldn't you be doing something about this?" he queried.
"About what?" Minerva replied under her breath. "They haven't done anything yet. As soon as they do, I will respond accordingly." she assured him.
Sinistra grinned. "You're going to point and laugh aren't you?"
"Don't be ridiculous dear, it's rude to point." Minerva quipped.
Of all the terribly explosive and destructive reactions she had pictured taking place, Minerva had certainly not expected Ron Weasley's only response to Umbridge's continued gesturing to be pulling his chair further into the table, thereby blocking Hermione from view. He didn't even look up at Delores as he did it. He just pulled his chair in and leant forwards on the table under the pretence of discussing Quidditch with Lee Jordan.
Delores finally seemed to realise that Weasley was going to make it more or less impossible for her to communicate with Hermione like that. And besides, she was attracting attention with her constant gesturing. Minerva felt a little disappointed by Delores's sudden moment of clarity. She so relished watching Umbridge make a fool of herself. Apparently she was not alone in enjoyment, as when Umbridge got to her feet and make a quiet, 'Hem hem' she distinctly heard Sinistra let out a soft "Aww".
"Miss Granger? If you could come here a moment?" Umbridge asked in a dangerously sweet voice which carried across the hall.
Ron Weasley did send her a glare then. In Minerva's considered opinion it was glares like that which led to the phrase 'if looks could kill'. Hermione on the other hand, merely got to her feet with a hard look on her face and stalked up to the Teacher's table. Her heels clicked loudly on the floor, her robes billowed behind her so elegantly that it would have made Snape envious (had he ever been aware of his robes billowing), her shoulders were thrown back and her head held high. She looked, Minerva thought, like the very embodiment of the word 'dignity'.
She had, however, only gotten halfway towards the table when Ron Weasley also stood up and came after her. Given his considerably longer stride, he reached the Teacher's table at the exact same moment as her. While she stood with her hands by her sides and a look of resolute defiance glinting in her eyes, he stood beside her as her loyal bodyguard with a look of venomous hatred constantly directed at Delores Umbridge. It was really quite an intimidating sight. Minerva felt the barest flicker of a smile grace her face but she quickly disguised it.
"Yes Professor Umbridge?" Hermione asked politely, making it clear to everyone within earshot that she'd love nothing better than to curse the woman into oblivion.
"Mister Weasley?" Umbridge simpered. "I did not request your presence." she told him sweetly.
Ron raised his eyebrows, folded his arms and drew himself to full height (at least twice that of Delores's miniscule frame). "I know you didn't." he told her coldly.
"And yet you are still here?" she clarified, once again sounding nothing short of dangerously sugary.
Ron looked down at himself with an expression of surprise. "Well would you look at that! So I am." he exclaimed mockingly. Delores narrowed her eyes on him while an ephemeral smirk appeared on Hermione's face.
Even Minerva had to admire the sheer gall it took to stand there and talk to the Headmistress like that. It occurred to her that, had Fred and George Weasley still been there, she could have almost certainly looked over at the Gryffindor table and seen them beaming with pride at their little brother's insolence.
With a small scowl Delores cleared her throat again. ("Hem hem.") "Miss Granger I wanted to discuss your most recent paper with you." she said. "I could have sworn I told you how I felt about your ah… unusual take on the use of Counter-Jinxes." she said with a wide smile.
Hermione nodded once curtly. "You did." she agreed. Minerva now noted the smirk gracing Weasley's face. Interesting.
"Well Miss Granger, would you care to explain this essay?" Delores asked sweetly.
Hermione raised her eyebrows. "I would have thought that was obvious Professor Umbridge." she said shortly. "I disagreed with you." A ringing silence followed these words, and there wasn't a teacher there who was even pretending not to listen anymore. Hermione turned a little pink under the scrutiny but she held her ground nonetheless.
"You… disagreed?" Umbridge repeated slowly, as though the concept were somehow foreign to her.
"Yes." Hermione repeated. "You were working under Slinkhard's theory that Counter-jinxes were merely jinxes that had been renamed in order to make them more acceptable. Whilst I did address that opinion in the essay, I disagreed with it." she cocked her head slightly to one side, still looking Delores in the eye. "I also referenced fourteen separate Ministry Approved texts which agreed with my take on the matter."
The way she used the phrase 'Ministry Approved' was akin to the way most might say 'Sent courtesy of Satan Himself to bring about the destruction of mankind' or 'Endorsed by Jerry Springer'. It suggested distaste, bordering on outright nausea at the very thought.
"I see." Delores bit out. "I'm going to have to ask you to re-write this essay Miss Granger." she told her sternly.
Hermione looked at Umbridge like she was an idiot. "No." she stated.
Delores swelled indignantly. "No?"
"No. I won't re-write it."
Huffing furiously, Delores glared at her. "Well, I think such blatant acts of disrespect-"
"What disrespect?" Weasley cut in aggressively. "You told us to do the homework, she did the homework and she did it on your bloody terms. If you didn't want her to do it, you shouldn't have set the homework, should you?"
Judging by his slight jolt and confused look he sent Hermione, Minerva thought it fairly obvious that he had just received a swift kick in the shins. Beside her, Sinistra was trying not to laugh.
Umbridge narrowed her eyes. Weasley sent her a bored look. Minerva was a little disappointed that Potter had Quidditch practise that morning, it would have been entertaining to see all three of them up there facing off against Delores. She might've cried.
"As I was saying," Umbridge continued in a brittle voice. "Flouncing your teacher's superior knowledge of Defence Against the Dark Arts," (Hermione's eyes flashed dangerously at that comment) "will not be tolerated from now on. I am a Ministry Trained official and as such I know better than you what is and is not beneficial to your education."
"I see, Professor." Hermione acknowledged in a level tone. "And do you also know better than the fourteen directly quoted sources?" she asked. "Or does the Ministry now know better than The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection, Confronting the Faceless, The Dark Arts Outsmarted, Jinxes for the Jinxed, The Wizarding Compendium and the Definitive Guide to the Dark Arts and Defences Against them, published just two years ago by the very same Ministry of Magic to which you are referring?" she questioned the fuming Professor Umbridge sharply. "Because really, I think we should be told whose opinions we are and are not allowed to consider in the future."
Mister Weasley had given up the ghost completely and was now grinning broadly from ear to ear.
"Miss Granger." Professor Umbridge hissed quietly. "I realise that what with your fractured and disjointed education, confusion is to be expected. However you have had some suitable teachers over the years-"
"Ah yes." Hermione said scathingly, taking a step towards the Teachers' table so that she loomed threateningly over Delores. "Quirrel and Moody. Those were the two you felt were most suitable wasn't it Professor Umbridge? Hmm? Well seeing as how both of them attempted to slaughter one of my best friends in the name Lord Voldemort, I'll be forced to disagree with you on that particular subject."
Most of the teachers, including Minerva herself, had flinched at Hermione's use of the V-word. Delores herself had squawked with fright and pushed her chair away from Hermione. Hermione herself narrowed her eyes dangerously and leant a little closer to Delores.
"Is there a problem Professor?" she asked sweetly. "You see I thought that the only reason most people were afraid to use Voldemort's name," she had enunciated the word deliberately. "Was out of fear He would come back." she smiled at Delores. "But both you and the Ministry have made it perfectly clear that you don't believe that could possibly happen. So what are you afraid of?"
Delores huffed slightly and flared her nostrils. "Well… well I never… I mean…"
Hermione straightened suddenly and placed a dismissive expression on her face. "My point, Headmistress, is that I disagree with you. Both on your assessment of my education and on your opinion of Counter-Jinxes. You may fail me if you wish, Professor Umbridge." she jutted her jaw out stubbornly. "But I'm not changing a word of it."
Minerva felt a rush of pride for her young student as she regarded each of the professors in turn, looking them all in the eye. "Good day Professors." she acknowledged curtly, before turning smartly on her heel and stalking out of the Great Hall, scattering a group of second year Slytherins as she went.
Lingering behind, with a smile on his face like the Cheshire Cat's, Ron Weasley smugly watched Delores turn an interesting puce colour. "You may tell Miss Granger." Delores told him threateningly as she heaved with furore. "That so long as I am Defence Against the Dark Arts, she will not be passing another piece of homework. Do you understand?"
"Perfectly." Ron told her. "I'm sure that'll really keep her up a nights, when she has nothing but her straight O's in every other subject imaginable to comfort her." he commented, sending another grin at Delores before turning and following in Hermione's wake.
Minerva smirked to herself. She set about marking Neville Longbottom's homework and decided to mark him up a grade just for the effort he had clearly put in. "Isn't it lovely to start the day on a high-note?" she commented loudly. Smugness settled over her as she saw a vein in Umbridge's forehead looking fit to burst.
8: 51 AM
-First Floor Corridor-
Going over the lesson plan for her first class of the day, Minerva walked briskly towards her classroom. What few students there were parted before her like the Red Sea, so she didn't even have to slow down.
She froze in her tracks.
Minerva turned and walked curiously towards the source of the disruption. She wasn't at all surprised to note that said disruption was emanating from the Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom, nor was she surprised to see a group of second year Hufflepuffs watching gleefully, with no indication of going to get help.
She walked over and peered inside to be met with the sight of Peeves throwing tables, chairs and anything else he could get his hands onto at the wall above the teacher's desk. Stepping around a small dark-haired boy and into the classroom, Minerva was revolted to note a chintz cushion on Delores's chair. She supposed it was there to make her appear taller to her students. Idiot woman.
She glanced behind her and saw the Hufflepuff students giving her a look which suggested they thought she should be doing something about the disruption rather than simply watching. She waved her wand at the door, slamming it shut with a loud bang. Peeves stopped what he was doing and regarded her curiously.
"What are you doing Peeves?" she asked him pleasantly. Peeves pointed at the wall.
"Trying to make it burst." he stated. Minerva took a few steps forwards and saw a thick drainpipe behind all the broken plaster. It was placed at such an angle that, should it burst, it would have spewed its contents directly at Umbridge's desk and flooded the room. She had to give him points for originality, if not forward planning. After all, the plumbing system of Hogwarts was safeguarded against just such an occurrence.
"I see." she simply. "Peeves, I can tell you right now that that pipe will not break just by throwing things at it. However," she added. "I can burst it easily. And I will, so long as you do me a favour."
Peeves dropped the chair in his hand and floated over to McGonagall with a broad grin, looking as though he might salute her. "Yes Missus teacher Miss?"
McGonagall pointed at the cushion on Delores's chair. "Do something to get rid of that abomination. And make it inventive."
Minerva marched into her classroom just as the bell rang. She was met with the sight of Draco Malfoy very nearly reducing Daphne Greengrass to tears, apparently having taken her gemstone hair slide.
"Why Mister Malfoy," she commented sardonically as she swung the door closed behind her. "If you wanted a hair clip so badly you could have just told me."
A quick flick of her wand and Malfoy had flowing blonde hair down to his waist and an identical hair slide placed above his right ear, while Miss Greengrass had her own returned to her. The entire class gaped at him for a moment, before howling with laughter. Ignoring them all completely, Minerva strode up to her desk and pulled out a box of glass tumblers, placing them on her desk.
"That will do." she said curtly, silence fell instantly. Though, she noted with mild satisfaction, Draco Malfoy appeared to be on the brink of suffering an aneurysm. "Miss Greengrass, if you would come here and hand back the homework, thank you. Mister Nott if you would kindly distribute one of these glasses to each student. Mister Malfoy, come here a moment."
All three students did as they were told without a word. Daphne Greengrass smiled at her slightly when she came to get the homework however. McGonagall did not smile back, but then Daphne probably hadn't expected her to. Though Minerva would never admit it (for fear it would somehow get back to Severus), she actually found certain Slytherin students tolerable. Miss Greengrass and Mister Nott fell under that category.
Then, of course, there was the other category of Slytherins. The one she had to restrain herself from smacking. "Do stop pouting Mister Malfoy, I have better things to do that put up with immature sulking from you."
Malfoy glared at her. "You gave me girly hair." he spat.
Minerva sent him a withering look. "Yes. So I did." she agreed.
"The Headmistress will be hearing about this." he growled.
Minerva looked at him. "Will she really? Well then, that saves me a job. She can remove it then. Or would you prefer I do it now?" she asked him.
Malfoy's pale grey eyes flashed in annoyance and he began fingering the silver Inquisitorial Squad Badge on his chest. It was so deliciously satisfying watching him try to decide which course of action would be better for him: asking her for help or wandering around the castle with hair like that until such times as he could finally find a teacher willing to return him to normal.
With his jaw clenched so tightly that tendons in his throat jutted out, Malfoy looked her in the eye. "I would prefer you do it now, Professor." he ground out.
"Was that a request?" Minerva asked him innocently.
Malfoy's eyes flashed once more. He was quite obviously dying to say something that you have landed his grandchildren in detention, but he managed to restrain himself. Barely. "Please, would you remove the spell you placed on my hair, Professor McGonagall." he managed, through gritted teeth.
Minerva waved her wand, removing the spell with ease and making Malfoy breath a sigh of relief. Before he could return to his seat she sent him a hard look. "Mister Malfoy I understand that you think that new badge of yours puts you higher up on the food chain, as it were, than other students. And in many ways," she conceded. "You are absolutely right. But let us make one thing perfectly clear. If you ever behave like that in my classroom again, there will be consequences. And I don't just mean a new hairstyle. Are we clear?" she asked harshly.
Malfoy looked a little taken aback by her tone but he nodded all the same. Or rather, he nervously moved his head up and down, with his eyes wide and stunned. "Good." she acknowledged. "Return to your seat." Malfoy hastily did so.
Getting to her feet, Minerva strode to the front of the class, plucking a glass from the box Nott had left on her desk as she went. "Today we will be Transfiguring glasses into mice and then mice into teacups. The transformation of inanimate objects into living creatures is distinctly more difficult than the other way around. Also, the transformation of a transfigured object into something other than it's original form can result in complications."
She waved her wand at the glass which turned instantly into a tiny white mouse. She placed the struggling mouse on a podium at the front of class. "Like most transfigurations, the change from mouse to teacup should be instantaneous. If your creature has only partially transformed it will not 'finish itself off'." Minerva sent a swift look around the room to see if everyone was paying attention. She noticed that Pansy Parkinson quite certainly was not, but supposed that so long as she didn't disrupt class then all she was doing was setting herself up for humiliation later.
"Since you will be responsible for both transfigurations you must be especially aware of the current state of the creature, while still retaining knowledge of it's previous form in order for the spell to work correctly.." Parkinson began a whispered conversation with Millicent Bulstrode, gesturing to something underneath the table. With a slightly harder voice, McGonagall continued. "You must, for example, keep an image of the creature even as you are actively transforming it."
Pansy pointed between what McGonagall could only assume was a magazine and Daphne Greengrass before shaking with silent laughter. McGonagall stopped her speech, looked directly at Pansy Parkinson and loudly announced,
"Miss Parkinson if you don't stop that brainless twittering of yours and pay attention, I shall not only give you a week's detention but I shall also demonstrate the Transfiguration of living things into inanimate objects on your person. It's up to you." Parkinson looked shell-shocked and quickly began shoving the magazine away. As an afterthought, Minerva sent the magazine flying over to her desk. "And you may have that back at the end of class." she added coldly.
The entire class was now sitting bolt upright and paying close attention, clearly understanding that she was not in a lenient mood whether they had Umbridge on their side or not. She waved her wand at the mouse on the podium, turning it into a clean white porcelain teacup. A few people looked impressed.
"Begin." she ordered.
"P-professor McGonagall?" a nervous voice stuttered.
"Can I have my m-magazine back now?"
Without so much as looking up from the box of teacups now in front of her, Minerva reached into her desk, extracted a copy of Witch Weekly which had none other than Harry Potter on the cover, and tossed it at Pansy. "If you are ever so foolish as to start reading material of that sort in my classroom again Miss Parkinson, do not doubt that I what I do to you will outshine Mister Malfoy's ferret-transformation last year by a significant amount." she said, finally looking up. Parkinson squeaked slightly but didn't respond. "You may go."
She continued grading the teacups she saw in front of her without much concern as to whether Parkinson would do as instructed or not. She knew she would. For a girl that strutted around as much as she did, she was surprisingly cowardly.
"Professor McGonagall?" a marginally more confident voice enquired politely. Minerva did look up this time, and met her questioner in the eye. She always acknowledged those students she respected, and she had little time for teachers who didn't.
"Miss Greengrass." she greeted politely. "Is there something I can help you with?"
"Oh. Er… yes. I wanted to hand this in, first of all." she held out a small white teacup which Minerva took and examined. It was flawless. It even had a cheerful yellow diamond pattern on it.
"Excellent work Miss Greengrass." Minerva congratulated her. "Though I'm curious as to why you didn't give it to Mister Goyle when he collected everyone else's." Daphne murmured something which Minerva didn't quite catch and turned slightly pink. "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?"
Daphne looked humiliated but still said clearly, "I wasn't happy with the pattern."
Minerva fought off a smile and nodded. "Very well. Was there something else?"
"Er…" Daphne nodded and looked at the floor awkwardly. Minerva straightened and regarded her in silence. "I-I wanted to thank you. For getting Malfoy to give me back my hair slide." she fingered the silver slid with it's intricately patterned blue gemstones. "He's been completely insufferable lately and… It… my best friend gave it to me shortly before she moved away. It means a lot to me. So… thank you."
Minerva nodded. "I'm not in the business of letting students have their belongings stolen in my class, Miss Greengrass, no matter what the personal value of the object in question."
"I know." Daphne said with a small smile. "And uh… that's the other thing I wanted to talk to you about. I wanted to thank you for uh… well… that, I suppose."
Minerva was confused. And it wasn't very often that happened. "I beg your pardon?"
Daphne let out a low breath and finally raised her gaze to meet Minerva's. "Look, Professor, I know that… I know that the Dark lo…" she paused, closed her eyes and set her jaw. "That V-Voldemort, is back. And I know that a lot of people are of the opinion that basically all of Slytherin house is… I don't know… thrilled beyond compare at the thought or something."
Minerva looked at her carefully. "You said his name." she commented quietly. A flash of anger appeared in Daphne's eyes. Though, Minerva noted, it quite certainly wasn't directed at her.
"He's not my lord." Daphne stated resolutely. "And he never will be." Minerva noted the bitterness in her voice and made a note to look into Ms Greengrass' family background. "Anyway… I uh… I also know that you in particular don't have a lot of reason to treat us fairly. But you do. Even when other teachers are treating us all like little Death Eaters in training or something, you're treating us fairly. It's more than most of us could expect. And… well, I wanted to thank you."
Minerva nodded slowly, allowing one of her rare smiles to remain on her lips this time. "You are quite welcome Miss Greengrass."
They smiled understandingly at each other for a moment, before they were rather rudely interrupted by Justin Finch-Fletchley, panting and red-faced at the door. "Professor Mc… (pant)… McGonagall?"
"Yes?" Minerva snapped.
"Professor Umbridge wants to see you. In the Hospital Wing. She said it was urgent."
"Thank you Mister Finch-Fletchley. You may go." she said dismissively. He was more than willing to do so by the looks of things.
Daphne started leaving but paused in the doorway, looking back as Minerva continued grading the teacups. "Er… Professor?" she queried.
"Hmm?" Minerva looked up and saw Daphne indicate Justin's retreating form as he hurried down the corridor. "Oh. Fear not, Miss Greengrass. I will attend to the Headmistress's 'urgent' matter just as soon as I possibly can. Once I've finished marking these, and perhaps looked through some post. Now hurry along."
Grinning with incredulous delight, Daphne did as instructed.
"Professor McGonagall!" Umbridge huffed loudly as Minerva enter the Hospital Wing. "I sent for you twenty minutes ago!" she practically screamed. Minerva noted that her hair was in disarray, and a sheen of sweat covered her face. She also noted that behind Umbridge, Alicia Spinnet, Angelina Johnson, and Kenneth Towler were looking vindictively smug while simultaneously wary of Minerva herself.
"Yes I know." she responded blithely, supremely unaffected by Delores's sour glare. "I was unavoidably detained." By a fabulous two-for-one offer on all Sorcière Charmante Beauty items and a free handbag with Gladrags purchases over fifty galleons, she added silently. "How may I help you?" she asked as she drew level with the group.
It was only then that Minerva noticed Lee Jordan was unconscious on one of the beds. She stared at him for a moment, concerned. Then she realised that Madame Pomfrey was nowhere to be seen and that none of his friends looked in the least bit upset. Her concern was swiftly replaced with mild annoyance.
"Your students are ill, Minerva!" Umbridge cried, gesturing ridiculously as she did so. "These four have been… well her," she pointed at Angelina Johnson, who sent her a disdainful glare in response. "She hasn't attended a single one of my classes for more than five minutes in the past four months! And those two are hardly any better." she indicated Alicia and Kenneth. "And as for him!" she pointed at Lee Jordan. "He hasn't even made it over the threshold for the past two weeks!"
Minerva sent Umbridge a dangerous look. "Are you implying that my students health and well-being is secondary to their participation in your class?" she asked in a measured sort of way.
"No I am not, it's just… well surely they can't all be sick!" she cried. "They can't just faint on cue! They must be faking it or something!"
"Why don't we check?" Minerva asked dryly, taking two long strides over to Lee Jordan's bed and leaning down towards his ear. "Mister Jordan? Mister Jordan! Lee Jordan if you don't sit upright this instant you are I will force you to become Professor Snape's Personal Cauldron Scrubber until the end of your days!" she snapped. Lee remained stationary. Minerva stood upright again. "Well I'm no Healer, but I'd say he was unconscious." she commented.
From behind her Alicia Spinnet giggled into her hand while Angelina snorted openly. Delores glared a bit. "So there's nothing you can do?" she asked sharply.
Minerva sent her a withering look. "Well apparently not." she said simply. "However I would like to stay here and comfort my students about their friend's illness." she told the Headmistress.
Huffing again, Delores turned and waddled out. The second the door closed behind her, Kenneth Towler attempted to say something. Minerva held up her hand for silence, waiting a full minute after Delores's departure before taking her hand down. Her students eyed her warily as she cast an Imperturbable Charm on the door. She turned back to face them.
"For God's sake, someone give him the other end of that Fancy already." she snapped, indicating Lee Jordan. All three students looked a little startled.
"You ah… you know about…?" Angelina started nervously.
"Fainting Fancies? Yes I do. And Fever Fudge, and Puking Pastilles, and the entire Skiving Snack-boxes range. Now hurry up and revive him." she demanded impatiently. Alicia moved to do as instructed, placing half of a brightly coloured tablet into Lee's mouth.
He woke up instantly, looking rather pleased with himself. At least he was until he laid eyes on Minerva. "Uh-oh." he breathed.
"Quite." Minerva agreed with him, in a manner which was disconcertingly reminiscent of Professor Snape. "Now. Let us make one thing absolutely clear." Minerva said dangerously, moving to the bottom of Lee's bed and regarding the four students. "I will not stand for this sort of childishness and idiocy from my students. I simply will not do it, do you understand?" she fumed. "I will not stand idly by and let this sort of asininity run rampant in Gryffindor so long as I am Head of House. No; so long as I draw breath! Do you hear me?"
A general murmur of agreement ran through the four as they stared at the ground uncomfortably. "Good." Minerva snapped. "So from now on, take it in turns to fall ill and have the decency to stay in class long enough to drive the woman insane." Four heads snapped up to look at her in amazement. Minerva hardly noticed. She began pacing. "I mean honestly, the least you could do is stand your ground for a few hours a week. Ask her difficult questions or… ask her moronic questions, or insult her, or 'accidentally' spill destructive potions out of your bag in her classroom, or turn up for class in sandwich-board that says 'Umbridge is an idiot! Gryffindors against toads!' while ringing a bell. I mean honest to God, you could at least be inventive!" she stopped pacing and turned back to the four of them. "Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that Fred and George are greatly enjoying the notoriety their products are now gaining, but do you honestly think they would appreciate this utter lack of originality?" she demanded.
"Professor?" Lee asked, awestruck. "Are you feeling all right?"
"I am not the one who has recently fainted, Mister Jordan." she told him coolly. "Now get to the library all of you. Skiving Snack-box or no, you will be using this time constructively. You will also be keeping up to date with all of your Defence Against the Dark Arts work. I will not have any of my seventh years leaving that woman's class with anything less than "Exceeds Expectations" level NEWTS. Move along now. All of you. And don't expect me to get you out of trouble again!" she snapped.
All four left the room looking thunderstruck. Minerva glared after them, thoroughly annoyed.
10:30 AM (morning break)
- Staff Room-
Minerva opened the door to the staff room, expecting to see a pot of tea and, if she was lucky, some ginger newts. She was not expecting to see Sybill Trelawney sitting on Severus Snape's lap, singing about 'Raindrops on Roses and whiskers on kittens' while attempting to punctuate each line with kiss on one of his cheeks. However Minerva firmly believed that sometimes the unexpected could be better than what had gone before… Thought's of blackmail danced merrily through her head as she watched the scene unfold gleefully.
"Get off me you daft woman!" Snape hissed, trying to shove Trelawney off.
"GIRLS IN WHITE DRESSES WITH BLUE SATIN SASHES-"
"Don't make me jinx you, you drunken loon!"
"SNOWFLAKES THAT STAY ON MY NOSE AND EYELASHES!"
"I can hurt you, you know!"
"SILVER WHITE WINTERS THAT MELT INTO SPRINGS-"
"For the love of… I'm a Death Eater you know! I could curse you into a cationic state without so much as blinking, you inebriated nutcase!"
"THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS!"
Minerva, who was trying so hard not to cackle that she feared she may have cracked a rib, leant against the doorframe and tapped her foot loudly against the floor. Trelawney stopped her valiant attempts to drool over Severus and looked over towards where she stood, smiling benignly. Minerva noted with some delight that Severus had paled to an ashen grey colour and was looking quite thoroughly mortified at having been caught in such a compromising position. He'd be much more agreeable now, Minerva thought delightedly.
"Hello Minerva!" Sybill greeted as Minerva closed the door behind her. "Ginger Newt? (hic)"
"Why thank you Sybill." she agreed. As Trelawney scrambled to her feet to fetch her a Ginger Newts, Minerva turned and pointed her wand at the door. Her Patronus (Scottish Wild Cat, naturally) moved swiftly for the Hospital Wing to inform Poppy of Sybill's compromising condition.
With that done, Minerva took a seat next to Severus to save him the worry that Sybill would take that seat. He sent her a look of pitiful gratitude. Minerva could hardly blame him. Lord Voldemort was one thing, but an amorous Trelawney was another entirely.
"Here you go." Sybill passed her a box of Ginger Newts which Minerva took happily. "You're looking lovely Minerva. Blue really is your colour!"
Minerva glanced down at her emerald green and black outfit and raised a brow at Severus. He shook his head despairingly as if to say 'I know, I know'. "Er… thank you Sybill."
A burst of green flames appeared in the fireplace, shortly followed by a bottle filled with a violet concoction of Madam Pomfrey's own devising. One which Minerva knew (from just one mild experience. Just the one, you understand) sent the patient into a deep sleep and ridded the body of all alcohol within the hour. Snape looked at it as though it were the Messiah.
"Sybill? Would you be a dear and pass me that bottle out of the fireplace?" Minerva asked sweetly. Trelawney did as requested and hurried back over, holding it out like a Cocker Spaniel expecting a treat. "Thank you. Would you do me a favour and try some? I ah… want to make sure it tastes all right."
"Ooh goodie!" Trelawney said in an astoundingly childlike manner, readily flipping the cap off and began glugging it down.
Minerva watched with mild interest as Sybill withered and landed in a seeming puddle on the opposite couch. Sybil's hair was spread around her head like an ironic halo, while drool leaked out of her partially open mouth and soft snores emanated from her. "Shouldn't we do something about that?" Minerva asked mildly as she prepared herself some tea.
"Absolutely." Severus agreed, dragging a hand down his face. "Put up a warning sign for the next poor bastard and run like hell."
Minerva chuckled and took a seat. "Now, we do have one slight problem Severus. I have just witnessed what I personally consider to be one of the most entertaining examples of drunken behaviour known to man." Snape glared dangerously at her. "Not to mention you screaming 'I'm a Death Eater you know' at the top of your lungs."
It was quite interesting to see just how far Snape's eyes could actually widen. "Oh good lord. I didn't, did I?"
"You did." Minerva assured him. "Now. As understandable as your behaviour was, I am caught with a bit of a conundrum as to whether I should share this little episode with the rest of the staff. Professor Sinistra, for example, would almost certainly be interested to hear of it."
Had she not been perfectly aware of the slightly ambiguous relationship between Professors Snape and Sinistra, she was almost positive that the look of horror he now sported would be more than enough to lay her doubts to rest. With only the slightest hint of abject terror Severus responded. "You wouldn't." he told her.
Minerva smiled graciously. "Oh. I would." she sipped her tea and allowed that to sink in. "However, I first of all have to deal with several little problems of mine. All of which you can help me with, funnily enough." she told him.
A look of incredulity settled on Snape's face. "I don't believe this. You're blackmailing me." he said with disbelief.
Minerva adopted an affronted look. "Blackmail is an ugly word. I prefer to think of it as extortion. So, do we have a deal?"
Snape's left eye appeared to be twitching. "How is it that you weren't placed in Slytherin?" he asked her in a brittle voice.
"My mother was a muggle." she dismissed easily, noticing that Snape appeared to flinch upon this announcement though apparently not at her. Interesting. "Anyway, I need two things from you. First of all, I need an alibi. I have someone I wish to meet in London this evening and I don't want the Headmistress knowing about it."
Snape was on his feet in an instant. "You don't mean…?"
Minerva caught his meaning. "I haven't the faintest idea where Dumbledore is, if I did I would tell you. No. This is completely unrelated to the Order, the Dark Lord, or indeed, Delores Umbridge. However I'd like to keep it from her all the same. I believe that if questioned about my whereabouts, you would be one of the few staff members she would trust not to cover for me. Agreed?"
Severus rolled his eyes. "Agreed. Anything else?"
Minerva smiled. "Information. I want to know about Daphne Greengrass. Or, more to the point, what she has against You-Know-Who and why."
Whatever Severus had been expecting, that obviously wasn't it. And whatever Minerva had been expecting, it certainly wasn't for Severus to tell her that it wasn't his position to tell her.
"What do you mean it's not your position?" she snapped. "You're her head of House. If it isn't your position, then who's is it?"
Severus shrugged. "I'd have to say it was hers." he told her lightly. "Anything you want to know about her, I'd be more than willing to share." he took his seat once more, carefully side-stepping Trelawney who had rolled over in her sleep. "She's an excellent Potions student. Nothing spectacular, but definitely above average. Her marks in most other classes are fairly good as well, with the rather noticeable exception of Arithmancy which she can't seem to get her head around to save herself. She's relatively well liked amongst older students, if not those in her actual year. I've seen her associating with Susan Bones as well, but as they're not in the same House it's rather disjointed."
Minerva started a little. "Why isn't she liked in her own year if the older students liked her?" she asked in confusion. "I was rather led to believe that liking someone wasn't dependant on age."
Snape smiled a bit ruefully. "Ah yes. Well. The older students are unaffected by the fifth year's internal politics and therefore free to like her in peace. Pansy Parkinson has, however, seen to it that those in her own year have nothing to do with the girl. With the exception of Theodore Nott, who doesn't seem to care much either way."
Minerva pinched the bridge of her nose and took a seat on the edge of the couch. "Could you explain to me why Miss Parkinson as felt the need to do this?" she asked, raising her tea to her lips once more like a lifeline.
Severus shrugged a bit. "I believe Miss Greengrass insulted her on the train in First Year. Since then Miss Parkinson has been creating quite a few reasons to alienate her. The latest, I believe, is that she's in love with Harry Potter."
Minerva nearly choked on her tea. "You're joking, right?"
Severus rolled his eyes. "I most certainly am not. I was there when it happened. Draco was providing a rather," he smirked. "Entertaining, analysis of Potter's mental state at the Slytherin dinner table. Miss Greengrass commented that Potter wouldn't say anything about the Dark Lord's unless he thought it was true. Miss Parkinson asked the immortal question, 'So you're in love with Harry Potter are you?' to which Miss Greengrass responded with a deeply sarcastic yes. Parkinson, apparently unable to grasp the concept of sarcasm, seized it as evidence."
Minerva thought back to her earlier class, Parkinson's inane giggling and gesturing with that particular issue of Witch Weekly. It certainly explained a lot. "What about Malfoy?" she asked.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Draco Malfoy. She said he's been insufferable lately. I was wondering if there was any particular reason." Minerva clarified. Severus wore an expression which stated quite clearly that he didn't want to tell her something. "Severus I could get Professor Sinistra to ask you." she reminded him. He rolled his eyes.
"Oh all right. This is pure speculation mind you. Not definitive in any way." he made special note. Minerva nodded. He sighed. "All right. Pansy was starting to let up on Miss Greengrass. I think she was even starting to like her. She's quite funny once you get onto her level. Very dark humour." Minerva was slightly surprised by that, but she didn't comment. "Anyway, after the summer when Greengrass came back she looked… ah… different."
"She'd grown up." Minerva clarified, for the clearly uncomfortable man. Why it was hard to say 'she got prettier' was quite beyond Minerva, but for most men it seemed to be.
"Indeed. And it is my understanding that Mister Malfoy began to notice that fact as well. It was then that he began making life more difficult for her. Miss Parkinson, noticing the increased attention she was receiving, began to torment her once again." he told he with very little emotion. It was hard to tell if he actually had any opinion on the subject at all.
Minerva sighed. She supposed it made sense, in a twisted sort of way. "So Mal… er… Draco, would have seen Miss Parkinson's continued ill will towards Miss Greengrass, felt guilty about his attraction towards her and increased his harassment. Miss Parkinson would have seen this as more attention, leading her jealousy to increase, Mister Malfoy's guilt to increase and so on and so forth until Daphne's head explodes."
"Quite." Snape agreed.
"Lovely. Well. I suppose I can keep an eye on her. Anything else you'd recommend?" she asked him carefully. It was only now that the conversation seemed to be nearing it's end that Snape was regarding her in that scrutinising, analytical manner he occasionally had. It made her uncomfortable. "Severus?" she prompted.
"Nothing really. May I ask why the sudden interest in-"
A clear and loud bell rang out, signalling the end of the morning break. And never before had the phrase 'saved by the bell' had more meaning for her. She made a helpless gesture at Severus and got to here feet. She swept out of the room without a backwards glance.
- Transfiguration Classroom -
It was all Minerva could do not to sigh with contentment as she entered her classroom and found eight Fifth year Gryffindor Students waiting patiently and (more importantly) quietly for her. She made her way to her desk and pulled out a box of pincushions and the pile of homework she'd been marking at breakfast before turning to face her class.
"We are continuing our work from last session. Mister Potter hand out the homework from last time, Miss Brown hand out these pincushions. Extra marks will be awarded if you manage to transfigure your pincushion within the first fifteen minutes. Begin."
All students hurried to do as instructed, as she took a seat behind her desk and observed patiently. It spoke volumes about the current state of Hogwarts that this was the most calming time she'd had all morning.
"Ah. Ninety whole Delores-free minutes. Pure bliss." she murmured.
"What was that Professor?" Harry Potter queried as he picked up the homework off her desk. Minerva hurried to look stern.
"Nothing Potter. Get a move on."
He did as instructed, but she was sure she saw a glimmer of a knowing smile cross his face. Damn. She was going to have to get herself a gag…