The Witch Strikes Back
All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
A huge thanks to JB5391 for her absolute brilliant beta-ing!
Headmistress Minerva McGonagall noxed the lights in her office and retired to the library in her private quarters. Flicking her wand at the computer without much attention, it powered up. After the war, she and Severus Snape, her Deputy Headmaster, had joined Minister Arthur Weasley in his research of Muggle computers and had made them work in the magical world, and after the re-opening of Hogwarts, all students owned their own notebooks, which were magically connected to the wizardnet, the magical counterpart to the internet.
In spite of being the Headmistress, Minerva was still teaching Transfiguration and had remained the Gryffindor Head of House. She knew that there was a handful of promising students, who were going to finish their NEWTs at the end of the year and would surely be willing to become here successor. On top of this, she had so much teaching experience that she hardly had to prepare anything for her classes, so that it was not such a problem for her to combine both posts for the time being.
While everyone except for Severus thought that she was extremely busy with her double work load and tried to not overly bother her during the evenings, Minerva used to enjoy the quiet after curfew sitting in her library, surfing through the wizardnet. In fact, together with Severus, who barely had the time to log in to the wizardnet, she spent the time spying on her students, listening to Severus, who had told her that as the Headmistress she was supposed to know everything that was occurring within Hogwarts. The fact that the wizardnet was still new and relatively small and could be compared with Facebook on the internet made it easier for her to spy on her students, although she was not aware of her students' user names. She only knew that Severus' login name was 'R2D2', and no one would ever be able to guess who was behind the name 'Darth Vader'.
She absentmindedly skimmed the babbling on the wizardnet, not taking much notice of young people's announcing their crushes or whining about the amount of homework that one teacher or another had assigned, while she picked one of her favourite ginger biscuits out of the self-refilling box, which she had received from Poppy for her last birthday, when suddenly a new post caught her attention, Ginger Newt held mid-way to her mouth.
Snitch: Does anyone know how to become an Animagus?
Fireflash: You must choose an animal and try to change each of your limbs into that. I think it's a bit difficult though.
Minerva glared at the monitor. 'Stupid dunderheads as Severus would say. It is not only very difficult, but also extremely dangerous.' She pondered posting a comment, which she had rarely ever done since she had gained access to the wizardnet a year ago. 'However, I don't want to give myself away,' she thought. 'I wonder who Snitch is. Too bad that I can't see their hand writing when they write here.' She finally decided to add a comment. Scrolling back to Snitch's post, she pointed her wand at the comment box and magically added a text, trying to match the students' language.
Darth Vader: I think it's very difficult and dangerous. Maybe you better ask one of the teachers about it.
The reply came soon.
Snitch: I know, Gonnie has told us more than once, so I can't ask her. My problem is I can change each of my limbs, but not simultaneously. Only one at a time, and I really want to get it done completely, while I'm still at Hogwarts and no one knows what I'm doing. The other reason is that I want to apply for the position of the Transfiguration professor, and I think it might help if I were an Animagus.
R2D2: Who is Gonnie?
Snitch: LOL - McGonagall, our Headmistress.
Noferret: She's an old bitch. Snape would have been a much better Headmaster.
Shakespeare's Wife: Shut up, ferret. Professor McGonagall is a wonderful teacher.
Youngest Redhead: A much better one than the slimy bat of the dungeons.
Snitch: Shut up already, Snape is all right as well. Many of us wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him.
Snitch: Anyway, can anyone help me with Animagus practice?
Minerva glared at the screen. 'What do these children think they're doing?' she thought angrily, when a new reply appeared.
Shakespeare's Wife: Professor McGonagall is right. It is very dangerous, and if you tell her what your problem is, she'll surely understand and help.
Snitch: No way.
Minerva sighed, thinking, 'At least some students are reasonable. I wonder who Shakespeare's wife is. She sounds a bit like Ms. Granger.' However, she dismissed the thought when she read a post further up the screen.
Shakespeare's Wife: 'Does anyone know a good glamour charm?'
'Are they all nuts today?' Minerva thought, rolling her eyes in annoyance, scrolling up and down between the two posts to see if there was a reply.
Fred Weasley: That depends on what you need the charm for. Do you want to hide your ugly appearance?
George Weasley: Or do you want to hide who you are to play a decent prank on a teacher?
Minerva couldn't help smiling at the comments of her seventh year twins. 'At least I know who they are. They'll never change,' she thought, suddenly feeling very tired. She decided to go to bed and check on the wizardnet again the next evening.
R2D2: Even Polyjuice potion wouldn't help her with that, if her surname is not Weasley.
Seeing the last comment, she smiled again, before she waved her wand at the computer to shut it down for the night.
During her morning classes, Minerva couldn't help letting her eyes wander over the students' faces, unobtrusively checking for left over feathers or paws from a first try of the Animagus transformation as well as unpractised glamour charms; however, she could not detect anything that was out of the usual and finally scolded herself for being stupid and overprotective. 'I should have asked Snitch what year he is in,' she mused on her way to the Great Hall for lunch. 'Shakespeare's Wife must be a sixth or seventh year, but she certainly is a Ravenclaw. Snitch maybe as well.'
"Don't make yourself so upset about this," Severus advised her, when she shared her concerns with her colleagues at the Head table. "They are and will always continue to be dunderheads. Believe me, there are many more of these cases; you just don't know about them, because other students don't spill everything on the wizardnet. There is nothing you can do about it at the moment."
It was an hour after curfew when Minerva returned to her quarters, eager to check on the wizardnet. She skimmed through the pointless conversations that covered the first part of the screen, where a few students discussed Professor Lupin's new robes, until she came to the two posts, which had caught her interest the previous evening. There was no new comment to the Animagus question; however, several new texts had been added to the Charms question.
Shakespeare's Wife: I feel a bit under the weather, but since the NEWTs begin next week, I don't have time to be sick. I need to pass them, because I hope that Professor McGonagall will allow me to become a teacher here from the next school year onwards. So I need the glamour to hide my appearance in case I look sick.
R2D2: How about going to the hospital wing? Pomfrey will surely have a potion that would help.
Shakespeare's Wife: I don't think it's just a cold, because my chest hurts whenever I swallow. Madam Pomfrey would surely keep me there, but I really can't miss the NEWTs. Therefore, I'd prefer learning a glamour charm.
Fred Weasley: We'll do some research right away and talk to you again later tonight.
Minerva rolled her eyes, wondering who Shakespeare's Wife could be. 'Ravenclaw seventh years,' she mused, skimming the list of students in her head. It was two hours later, when the next comment appeared.
George Weasley: We have the charm. Come to see us in the small alcove next to the entrance hall before breakfast tomorrow.
Deciding to go for a stroll in her Animagus form before breakfast, Minerva scrolled further up, where she followed a discussion of a few Hufflepuff first years, who were planning to prank their Head of House in the morning.
'Do they believe none of the teachers have a computer?' Minerva wondered as she finally switched off the computer and went to bed, sighing upon realising how late it was.
In the morning, Minerva roamed the first floor in her feline form, only to realise in disappointment that neither the Weasley twins nor anyone else approached the small alcove next to the entrance hall. 'Did I understand anything wrong?' she wondered, regretting that she had neglected to check the wizardnet again in the morning. Finally giving up, she headed into the Great Hall for breakfast. 'Maybe Shakespeare's Wife is indeed Ms. Granger,' she mused. 'She could have easily talked to the twins in the common room.' From the Head table, she let her eyes wander to the Gryffindor table. However, Ms. Granger was quietly eating her breakfast, Mr. Potter was talking animatedly, Mr. Weasley was stuffing his face with toast, and the twins were wearing mischievous expressions as usual. 'Hmmm, maybe not,' Minerva thought, glancing at the Ravenclaw table, before she became distracted when several dozen owls entered the Great Hall.
"The twins look very content," Severus commented, raising an eyebrow at her, causing Minerva to sigh.
"I am worried. The children could get very ill if they tried to hide their ailments behind glamour charms," she said sternly. "Moreover, I can't tolerate that the students practise the Animagus Transformation all on their own."
"Even if they use glamour charms, they won't make it far without potions," Severus commented dryly, "and as long as they can use their wand, they'll still be able to ask for help if they're stuck with a half-complete Transformation, at least through the wizardnet. Well, it depends on the form the girl or boy is achieving."
"I'll ask Snitch tonight," Minerva replied, resolving to access the wizardnet earlier that evening, knowing that everyone had more time on Friday evenings than during the week when they were busy finishing their homework.
When Minerva finally sat in front of her computer, she couldn't believe her eyes at the conversation on the wizardnet.
Shakespeare's Wife: Fred, George, thanks for the Charms. They work perfectly. At least no one seems to have noticed anything. Sorry to bother you, but could you perhaps try to nick a potion for me from the hospital wing?
Fred Weasley: No problem. What do you need? Pepperup? Fever reducer?
Shakespeare's Wife: Rather the flu potion and a fever reducer.
Fred Weasley: OK, TTYL.
'I can't believe it,' Minerva thought, just about to alert Poppy about the matter, when she realised that the conversation had taken place an hour before and the next entry just appeared.
George Weasley: We have the potions. Can you come down to the common room?
It took a few minutes, before the response appeared.
Shakespeare's Wife: I'd rather not. I feel very dizzy. Could you send Ginny please?
George Weasley: She is on a date with Neville. No one is here actually, apart from some first and second years.
Snitch: Shakespeare's Wife, wait a moment. I nearly managed the Transformation. I'll try again; maybe knowing that you need my aid will help me accomplish it.
Darth Vader: What is your Animagus form? Minerva just couldn't help posting the question, before she stood from her seat, about to stride into the Gryffindor common room.
Snitch: A water phoenix. I'll try to flash into the girls' dormitory. Just give me a minute.
'Probably Harry,' Minerva realised, resolving to exchange a few strict words with the seventh year. She nodded in appreciation as the next comment appeared.
R2D2: Two weeks of detention in the hospital wing for stealing from the potions stock.
Fred Weasley: Good joke. Thank Merlin the professors don't have time to play around here.
'We'll see about that,' Minerva thought, pointing her wand at the screen.
Darth Vader: 10 points from Gryffindor for your insolence, Mr. Weasley.
'I'll teach them how much time our professors must have to keep you at bay,' Minerva thought grimly, quickly passing a private message to R2D2. 'Severus, I'll handle that.' With that she swiftly crossed her quarters and entered the Gryffindor common room.
The twins were sitting on the sofa in front of the fireplace, staring in obvious amazement at a water phoenix that was sitting next to their notebook on the table in front of them, feverishly trying to grab a phial from Fred's hand into its foot. The twins and the phoenix, who had been too busy to notice that the whole room quieted as soon as she stepped through the portrait hole, looked up in surprise when Minerva approached them and said, "Mr. Weasley, give me the potions. I'll handle this. Is my assumption correct that they are for Ms. Granger?"
"... She's in her dormitory," the twins supplied helpfully, handing her two phials.
"I know that," Minerva replied coolly. "Mr. Potter, congratulation to your Animagus Transformation. We'll speak about the matter later on. Oh and, Messrs. Weasley, don't forget to speak with Madam Pomfrey concerning your detention in the hospital wing." With that she turned on her heels and swiftly headed up to the seventh year girls' dormitory, leaving three dumbfounded students behind. On her way upstairs, she tucked the phials into her robe pocket, before she quietly entered the dormitory.
"Ms. Granger," she addressed the student, who was laying face-down on her bed with her head resting on her Potions book, her notebook open on her night table. "Let me take you to the hospital wing."
Hermione looked up, casting the professor a horrified look. "No Professor, I am fine," she protested weakly.
'She is really adept at Charms,' Minerva thought, taking in the girl's healthy appearance. Not even bothering to cancel the concealment charms, she pointed her wand at her student's head to take her temperature, before she conjured a stretcher and said in a firm voice, "Ms. Granger, you have the choice to either walk to the hospital wing or move onto the stretcher."
"But the NEWTs," Hermione protested weakly. "I must..."
"Since I intend to keep you here at Hogwarts as the new Charms teacher anyway, you will still be able to take your NEWTs in August," Minerva interrupted her gently, inwardly chuckling at the girl's dim-witted expression.
"You know," Minerva once again interrupted her student, "as a teacher you'll have to do thorough research, using all kinds of media. Have you ever heard of Star Wars?"
It was a week later when the NEWTs were over and Hermione was almost recovered that Harry was allowed to visit her.
"Mione," Harry said excitedly, "McGonagall told me that she made you the new Charms teacher and chose me for Transfiguration. Isn't that cool?"
"Is that really true?" Hermione asked hopefully. "Somehow, I thought that it was a dream that she told me that."
"It is true, Mione. She didn't even ask me if I wanted. She just told me she decided," Harry said thoughtfully. "Do you have an idea why she knew what I wanted? Did you..."
"No Harry, I didn't tell her anything." Hermione frowned, trying to remember the evening when Minerva had taken her to the hospital wing. "She said something about Star Wars, but I've never seen it, so I don't really follow..."
"Oh no!" Harry let out a groan. "I know Star Wars. Dudley is a huge fan of it. R2D2 and Darth Vader are characters. And I know why she knows everything. She probably is R2D2 on the wizardnet, and... Maybe Darth Vader is Professor Snape."
"Pity Potter," Severus sneered as he passed by, adding, "you're sadly mistaken, and we'll only let you in our secrets after you have officially passed your NEWTs." With that he returned to his office and logged into the wizardnet to send a private message to his colleague, Darth Vader, suggesting that she should instruct her newly appointed youngest colleague to change his user name to Chubaka.