something that i started a few weeks ago and didn't complete until now. mcgonagall on the marauders and the trio.

Minerva McGonagall has been at Hogwarts for a long, long time.

It is the coming and going of students, whose faces she could remember but whose names she was unable to recall.

Except four.

Four boys who were perhaps, at that time, the most unlikely group of friends she'd ever think possible. Two who were too alike in personality but too different in name to ever be friends. One who was too studious and good to be caught up with the formers. The last; too timid, too plain.

They had been best friends without break, without hesitation, throughout everything, for seven years and more.

They were her students, and Minerva knew them better than they ever assumed she did. She liked and respected them, and had even grown quite fond of them as she handed out detentions almost daily and pursed her lips to the point that they almost disappeared.

They made Hogwarts hell for her, driving her insane every month, what with the midnight serenades outside her door, the jokes that became so frequent and expected that she was able to predict what was about to come out of their mouth before it actually did, the innocent smiles plastered on four faces that just forced her to give out a detention before she even knew what they did... just everything.

But they were such bright kids, as four – even Peter Pettigrew, the slowest, had a unique sort of wit about him – that she couldn't – couldn't – expel them; they were the personification of her House, and oh did they made Hogwarts hell, but they also made the haunted old castle so vicarious.

She felt an acute sadness when they left, arm in arm, four boys leaving the Great Hall just as they entered, in the same exact order: Peter on the far left, then Sirius, then Remus, then James. Together, forever like she assumed they would always be.

More than anything, Minerva McGonagall remembers Halloween, 1981. When she learned of the death of Lily and James, only five years out of school with a son, a boy with black untidy hair like his father and eyes like his mother... and later, when Sirius Black murdered Peter Pettigrew and was shipped to waste away in Azkaban... throughout then entire month of November, there were curious pangs stabbing deep into her chest, cold daggers... if she didn't know her heart was in perfect condition she would put it off as getting old...

They were dead. All four. Two, literally, one, as good as, and the last... she couldn't even imagine what he was going through...

Ten years later, Harry Potter arrived. He had that scared, half-fed look about him, but he had this unmistakable defiance in his eye and posture. One of those pangs hit her straight in the heart when her gaze first fell upon him, because he was the spitting image of his father with more outstanding eyes, and he was home.

What hurt her the most was that he had no idea where he was, who he was – not the Boy Who Lived, but the son of James and Lily Potter. And Minerva couldn't help but think that he didn't come from just one Marauder, but all four.

He toed the line, and got in serious trouble, but he was more like Remus in that he usually didn't mean to. He didn't become a prankster like his father, nor did he have James' gift in Transfiguration – but, on days where Professor McGonagall was particularly tired, she would glance at him and wonder what the hell James Potter was doing in her classroom. When he was in trouble or caught dozing in class, he got that look on his face that she knew Sirius spent years perfecting; when he was unsure, or troubled, he would chew his middle fingernail, a nervous habit Peter Pettigrew always had.

But at eleven years, Harry was his own man, more independent than she had ever known a first year could be.

Minerva had been at Hogwarts for a long, long time.

And never had she seen such a unique, startling group as Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger.

There was Harry, the son of Lily and James, caught up in a swirl of change and fame and confusion; a boy special by what he came from, not just for what he had done; there was Ronald and... how do you exactly describe him? A Weasley through and through – she taught the lot of them. Boisterous, Harry's complement, a bond that was possibly as strong as that between Sirius and James before Sirius' name caught up to him. Granger, who was so different from the pair of them – studious, clever, a girl, with her head on perfectly straight and all logic and curly hair.

And Chaos and Harry came hand in hand, different from the hell and chaos from sixteen years before, because this time it wasn't a disastrous alliance between the Marauders and Peeves. It was the Real Thing.

She supposed it was in this time that her heart started giving way, because she wasn't fond of HarryRonandHermione just as she was of the Marauders. She felt... a guardianship of them, of (dead) James' son, and they drove her insane annually playing—being the heroes, almost dying by the end of every year in a sick sort of pattern... the worst was 1994, when Sirius Black escaped to kill his brother's son, to fulfill his job of betraying James and she was more scared than everyone assumed she was.

When Minerva discovered his innocence, she felt foolish and betrayed, angry at Dumbledore for being wrong, angry at Black for putting himself through that, angry at James for dying in the first place... and angry at timid Pettigrew for being a lying coward.

So angry that her heart almost gave way when Umbridge Stunned her two years later.

But she pursed her lips the same way every day, put her hair up in a bun every morning after her shower, and watched as Harry grew from afar, never letting him guess how much she actually knew him, how different and alike he was to his father, something that Sirius Black was unable to figure out until the moment he died.

And Minerva knew—just knew—that it was Harry and his friends, the three of them, they would be the change, the catalyst. The self-proclaimed Marauders were a prelude to this. And years and years later after the fact, she was still teaching at Hogwarts, and her students came and went and she slowly forgot their names.

Except for seven.

And trust Professor McGonagall when she says that these were the seven truest Gryffindors she had ever taught. After all, she has been at Hogwarts for a long, long time.