A Harry Potter Fanfiction by drauchenfyre (azrael4004 )
Having become the new Headmistress of Hogwarts, Minerva McGonagall turns to an old friend for help...
A/N: A reference is made to certain countries being part of the British Empire- while having their own civilian governments at least semi-autonomous from the British Parliament, there are several countries that are still part of the British Empire, meaning they recognize Queen Elizabeth II as their sovereign. As of 2006 (my most recent information), these nations included New Zealand and Canada. This story takes place in December of 1998, and while Hong Kong was no longer part of the Empire at that point, it was a recent enough development that it would have been part of the Empire for at least part of Connor's professional career.
It was the end of fall term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Scottish Highlands. Headmistress Minerva McGonagall had seen her students off to Christmas Holidays, with only a handful remaining at Hogwarts. Chief among these were Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom, both in their seventh and final year before NEWT exams (their friends, Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, had gone right into the Auror program after the war, while Hermione and Neville returned to make up their missed final year). Sighing in relief at the first term in a long time that saw no Death Eaters, giant snakes, or other perilous events endangering her charges, Minerva reached into the bottom drawer of her desk for the bottle of Glenlivet she kept there, planning to toast her first successful term as Headmistress.
"Y'know, too much o' that rot'll kill yeh."
Minerva jumped at the voice from the darkness behind her, drawing her wand as she spun to see a familiar smirking face- That of her only child, Dr. Connor Angus McGonagall.
Minerva Grace MacGregor-McGonagall and her late husband Duncan Trevor McGonagall had had Connor thirty-seven years ago, and complications in the delivery had prevented Minerva from becoming pregnant again. This was doubly vexing because Connor was born a Squib- a person with no magic. Deciding to pass on being an oddity in the magical world, he had moved to the Muggle world, getting twin doctorates in childhood development and childhood education. He was now one of the most sought-after education consultants in the British Empire, traveling places like Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Canada in the course of improving school systems. His mother had contacted him five months ago to put his considerable skills to use updating the Hogwarts curriculum and staffing. He had been observing the school all term, and judging by the thick blue binder in his lap, had his report ready.
"So, how bad is it, Connor?"
Minerva knew it was bad when he closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. This was 'Connorspeak' for 'Why do I always get the schools full of morons?' He then confirmed it, "Were this a Muggle school, Mum, they'd've shut ye doon by new." When Connor's Scottish brogue got that thick, it was also a bad sign. Normally he spoke with almost flawless Oxford English.
Minerva conjured another glass and poured a shot of Glenlivet for her son, handing it to him. "Let's start at the top, then, shall we?"
Connor took a swig, savoring the smooth single-malt before swallowing and setting down his glass. "All right then," he said, his accent returning to 'normal', "At the administrative level, you are trying to do too much. A full-time teaching schedule, on top of your administrative duties as Headmistress, is causing both jobs to suffer, as you can't devote enough time to either. You need to either quit teaching and focus on the Admin, or hire an assistant to help with the paper shuffling."
"How is that possible?" Minerva asked. "Albus was Headmaster, Chief Warlock, and Supreme Mugwump for many years!"
"Aye, and a lot of people think all three jobs suffered because he couldn't devote the necessary time to any of them. How many Death Eaters walked after Voldemort's first fall? How many times in the last seven years alone have students been faced with life-threatening situations in this very school that a trio of students had to deal with because the Headmaster was powerless or clueless, or both?"
Minerva couldn't answer that.
"Anyway, Filius could help with the paperwork as well, being your Deputy does carry certain responsibilities. Moving on to faculty, there are a few teachers who are completely unsuitable. While I can't deny that he's very knowledgeable in his subject, Rubeus Hagrid has severe confidence issues that prevent him from effectively teaching his subject. I think, with a little counseling, he could be a much better teacher, and label him to 'conditionally retain' in the hopes we can turn him into an acceptable teacher. You'll also need to emphasize the distinction between 'cute' and 'dangerous', as he seems to have trouble grasping this."
"Your Ancient Runes Professor, Bathsheba Babbling, is a highly skilled teacher and a respected authority in her field. 'Retain'."
"Your Arithmancy Professor, Septima Vector, is also a highly skilled teacher and is respected in both Magical and Muggle worlds for her mathematic credentials. 'Retain'."
"Divination is a subject I have difficulty understanding why it's even offered. As it has been explained to me, one is either born a Seer or not, training cannot change that. Still, if you choose to continue the subject, you only need one instructor, preferably the more skilled and knowledgeable one, so I recommend you 'retain' Firenze and 'release' Sibyl Trelawney."
"Muggle Studies is currently taught by a Pureblood who is fascinated with Muggles but does not actually understand much about them. He also works with a textbook that is over a century old, meaning it doesn't cover airplanes, automobiles, television, computers, and so many other things that a Wizard-raised student would actually need to know to pass among the Muggles unnoticed. The position should really be held by a Muggleborn witch or wizard with an updated textbook, so I would recommend 'release' for Arthur Weasley. That covers the electives, should we move on to the core courses?"
Minerva sighed. The recommendations on Arthur and Sibyl were no surprise: both were questionable as teachers on a good day. Maybe she could retain Arthur as her administrative assistant to help run the school? Hagrid was also no shock in hindsight: It was, ironically, something he had in common with the late, unlamented Severus Snape- he was an expert in his field, but couldn't teach it worth shite. She waved her hand in a 'get on with it' gesture, and Connor continued.
"Okay, as mentioned before, Transfiguration needs the benefit of a teacher who is not also trying to run the school. You are an excellent instructor, Mum, but you're trying to do too much, and I can see your teaching techniques suffering as a result. You need to be the Headmistress OR the Transfiguration teacher, currently you can't handle both."
"Filius Flitwick does an excellent job as Charms Professor, but could stand to pull more weight on the admin side since you appointed him Deputy Headmaster. 'Retain'."
"Pomona Sprout is an excellent teacher, but is looking to retire in a few years. Fortunately, she's already started training her eventual replacement; a promising seventh year named Neville Longbottom. The recommendation is 'retain' on both of them."
"Horace Slughorn is also an excellent Potions teacher, but also looking to retire in the near future. I'd recommend looking around for his replacement, seeing as he might not choose to stay beyond the end of the spring term."
"Defense is in the somewhat clumsy hands of Elphias Doge, unfortunately, until the curse placed on the position by Voldemort is confirmed as lifted, you're not going to get many applicants at all for the job, let alone qualified ones. I would recommend talking DMLE Director Gawain Robards into loaning you an Auror to fill the position. I, personally, would ask for Harry Potter, as he reportedly is a gifted teacher and highly respected in the community."
"While Aurora Sinistra is a decent teacher, the fact remains that magical Astronomy is decades behind Muggle Astronomy. She would benefit from advanced education in the Muggle equivalent of her subject, but overall, I recommend 'retain'."
"Cuthbert Binns is, without a doubt, an abysmal teacher. I honestly believe he may hold the distinction of being the only person in History to bore himself to death. Anybody placed in that classroom could do a more effective job than a droning ghost who puts his students to sleep. 'Release', and if possible, 'exorcise'."
Connor pinched his nose again. "Moving on to courses you should offer but don't... your Physical Education program is practically nonexistent. Granted, the Quidditch teams need a certain level of training, and get it, but that's a handful of students in each House. Just from watching in class, I can tell wanded magicks require precise muscle control and clear pronunciation, two things that suffer with poor physical fitness. Proper physical exercise can also boost energy levels, so can help all around with improving classroom performance."
"So what do you suggest?"
"I have a friend, Thomas Dobbs. He's a Squib who joined the British Army and was a Drill Sergeant towards the end of his enlistment. He's retired, but I think I could coax him into the challenge of putting together a Physical Education program for you from scratch. I'll warn you, he's a tough taskmaster who won't put up with any lip from these pampered Purebloods who think they're better than him."
Minerva nodded, "If he's interested, hire him. We need no-nonsense instructors."
"Also, there are no classes for art and culture. No painting, sculpting, music, literature, creative writing- Hogwarts is essentially a trade school, giving students the skills but not nurturing their creativity. I could find you a renowned artist or musician in the magical world and help them put together a program."
"I'll have to see who you get and the lesson plans, but it sounds good to me."
"Next, the Muggle-raised students come to this school with no idea how magical society works. On the opposite side of the coin, you have magical-raised totally ignorant of the non-magical world around them. I suggest a pair of mandatory first-year courses- one to familiarize Muggle-raised students with magical law and culture, the other so that magical-raised students get the basics of the Muggle world. Each student would be assigned the course that would benefit them the most, and it would help cut down on culture shock and cultural incidents. I'm sure the Obliviators would appreciate not having to be called just because a Pureblood was startled by an automatic door and hexed it."
"Alright, line up some instructors and we'll see how it works."
"Finally, support staff. The only member of the support staff I would recommend 'release' for is Argus Filch. A man who waxes poetic about chaining children to the wall and whipping them raw has no place in an educational establishment. In a facility this size, there really should be multiple caretakers, not just one. Also, Henrietta Pince, your librarian, should really be introduced to the concepts of card catalogues and the Dewey Decimal System. As for the ghosts- tell me, does Peeves actually serve a purpose here in the school?"
"Causing chaos, apparently."
"I meant a useful purpose."
"Well, you should have said that."
"MUM!" There was that brogue again.
"To the best of my knowledge, the only ghosts in the castle who serve any purpose whatsoever are the four House Ghosts- Sir Nicholas, the Fat Friar, the Bloody Baron, and the Grey Lady. The others are just here-even Binns, whose routine hasn't changed since his death in 1902."
"Well, Peeves and, to a lesser degree, Myrtle Manfree- the students call her "Moaning Myrtle"- are disruptive to a learning environment. Peeves in particular should be exorcised from the castle, but if Myrtle can stop flooding the second floor girls' bathroom she haunts, she's fine. Now, moving on to the facilities themselves..."
"While I'm certain that things like walls pretending to be doors, randomly moving staircases and vanishing classrooms are amusing, they're also needlessly confusing. Many of these enchantments can be removed or altered without changing the allure of a magical castle, and students, particularly first years, will make it to class on time more often."
"I'll have to talk to Filius. Such things are more his specialty than mine."
"Well, that's the gist of it. The details are all in here." Connor plunked the large blue folder onto Minerva's desk, rising to head for the door. "I'll be staying through the Christmas Feast Mum, but then I have to get moving. My next assignment starts at St. Patrick's School of Magic on the first of the year. Apparently, your glowing recommendation went over well with the other magical schools in the Empire, I'm booked through the end of the millennium. It's been good chatting with you, Mum."
As Connor headed out the door to the spiral staircase, Minerva contemplated the view out the window. Her son, the educator. A scholastic troubleshooter, making him something of an educator of educators. She had known, in general terms, what he'd spent the last deacade doing, but seeing up close what he was capable of, she knew she had never been so proud of her only child. She glanced at the blue folder and sighed. Connor's recommendations were all sensible and necessary, but they would require a significant portion of her time for the Holidays. No sense putting it off.
A/N: BlossomPuff recently pointed out to me that my information about India still being a Commonwealth nation was inaccurate. If my inaccurate sources or incomplete research have offended anyone, I unreservedly apologize. I have removed the offending statements and replaced them with a slightly different line.