Reveals are up at hp_friendship, so it's time to post here!
Thanks as always to Maggie, and I hope you enjoy this glimpse into Prisoner of Azkaban even half as much as I enjoyed writing it! My prompt was: Anything set during the year Lupin teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts. McGonagall reminisces about the boy Lupin, Lupin reflects on his memories of his former teacher, Lupin seeks out advice, the two of them share memories of James/Lily/Peter/Sirius, one of them shares a funny student story or plays a prank on the other ... anything, really. May be happy, sad, funny, angsty, dramatic ... give us a snapshot of the staffs' lives at Hogwarts.
Five Times a Conversation Between Professors Lupin and McGonagall Ended in Thanks, and One Time It Didn't Have To
There was something about Hogwarts, Remus mused as he stood at the edge of the long drive to the front doors, that made him feel like a student again, despite being 33 years of age. And there was something about walking up that long drive toward the waiting figure of his old Head of House that made him feel like a student caught in a misdeed again, despite the fact that he was here on Professor Dumbledore's invitation. There was also something about visiting the school in the middle of the summer that made him feel decidedly out of place.
"We would have sent a carriage for you, had you'd informed us you'd arrived," was Minerva McGonagall's first greeting to him as he came into earshot. Remus shrugged.
"It's a lovely day," he said simply. "The walk was no hardship."
Professor McGonagall sniffed. "Be that as it may, you are here on the Headmaster's express wishes. I would hate for it to get around that you were denied any hospitality."
"Well, I won't say anything if you won't," Remus said with a smile, and he won the tiniest one from his old teacher in response.
"It's good to see you again, Remus," she said, holding out her hand. Remus shook it.
"I'm glad to have you coming aboard," she said then, and Remus grimaced. He remembered the Headmaster's unannounced visit to his ramshackle and run down dwelling the week before; though the place had been tidy and as clean as Remus could make it, it still bespoke an utter and embarrassing poverty. Professor Dumbledore had said nothing, of course, but Remus knew he had noticed, and his pride was still recovering, even a week later. Even more shocking than the Headmaster's sudden appearance was what he had come to say.
I would like to offer you the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts this year . . . take a week, think it over, then come to the castle with your final answer, yes?
After a beat, he shook himself from his reverie. "I haven't officially accepted yet," was his quiet response, and Professor McGonagall surveyed him shrewdly over her spectacles.
"No," was all she said, her tone unreadable. "You haven't." After another moment of silence, she sniffed again and straightened. "Well, come with me." And as she turned and entered the castle, Remus had no choice but to follow.
She spoke as they walked, slowly enough for Remus to soak in the familiar atmosphere of the place that had been his home for so long. "Professor Dumbledore's plan was, of course, to hear your answer himself," Professor McGonagall said as they walked, "but he had to answer an urgent owl from the Minister this morning, and given the climate . . ." she trailed off darkly, and Remus could only guess what she was referring to. "He's asked me to speak with you instead. I hope that is satisfactory."
"Here we are," she said as they reached the door to a room Remus remembered very well. "This would be your classroom, and your office and quarters would branch off of it, there." She ushered him inside. If the rooms had changed since Remus had last been there, he couldn't discern it. Inside the small office, Remus smiled a bit at the memories of the many iterations this room had taken on in the years when he had been a student here.
"Remus," Professor McGonagall said softly but with her usual no-nonsense tone, "I won't insult your intelligence by beating around the bush. We need you."
He made sure he was composed before he answered. "Because of Sirius Black?" he asked, his voice calm and even. Professor McGonagall didn't answer, but she didn't need to. "As I said to Professor Dumbledore, I don't know how much help I will be. I think the past makes it pretty clear that I didn't and don't know him nearly as well as I once thought."
The words did not come out as cool and even as Remus would have liked. Something crept in, and Professor McGonagall frowned and made an involuntary movement that he would have been tempted to think the start of a comforting gesture if he hadn't known that that was impossible. He took a deep breath, endeavoring to regain control.
"There is more to it than that," Professor McGonagall said. "What we have successfully managed to keep from the public in an effort to avoid a panic is that we have excellent reason to believe that Black's intentions are to track down and attack Harry Potter."
Remus paled. "Harry?" he asked in a very soft voice. "He's after Harry?" Professor McGonagall nodded, watching him closely.
"When was the last time you saw Harry?" she asked gently, but she might have shouted it for all the more it fazed him. He was disoriented, stunned, by what she'd told him. Against his will, an image of a grinning Sirius lifting an infant Harry high into the air while James and Harry and Sirius laughed and Lily refrained from looking nervous swam into his head.
"Um," he said belatedly, grasping at the focus necessary to answer the question. "They went into hiding, before he was born . . . I only saw him a handful of times. He was — young, very. Very, um . . . we decided it was too dangerous after that. We sent gifts and letters, but — eight months? Ten? I think?"
"He's thirteen now. Just about to start his third year. You should know, since you're going to be teaching him, so it doesn't catch you off guard, he's the spitting image of James." Remus swallowed hard and tried not to picture James at thirteen.
"Professor, I still haven't said yes," he said quietly.
"This has not escaped my notice. What are your reservations?"
"I outlined them for Professor Dumbledore."
"Outline them for me."
Remus stood, facing off in a quiet battle of wills with his old teacher, knowing all the while which of them would end up giving in. After a moment, he sighed.
"I'm not qualified," Remus said quietly.
"Nonsense," Professor McGongall said briskly. "You are the sole reason Reggie Fullerton passed Defense Against the Dark Arts each year with anything resembling distinction. If you can teach him, you can teach anyone. You know the spells, you're patient and charismatic, you have a comforting presence, and you can teach. And even if all of those things were not true, you would still be a better choice than the imbecile we had to put up with last year."
Remus blinked at the outpouring of praise, so unexpected, and he couldn't help but feel that she was prepared to counter any objection he voiced.
"The Ministry will never approve of it," he said, alluding to the real issue at hand.
"The Ministry has no control over the filling of posts at Hogwarts," Professor McGonagall countered immediately, so Remus stopped being delicate and addressed the elephant – or wolf – in the room.
"Parents will not want a werewolf teaching their children," he said simply.
"I don't plan on telling them," was her only response. "Do you?"
"I'm a danger to them."
"Remus," Professor McGonagall said in her best no-nonsense voice, "There will be soon be hundreds of underage wizards gathered in this school, all with varying degrees of control over the magic they possess, trying to cast jinxes, brew potions, handle poisonous plants, and care for vicious magical creatures. Last year alone, Madame Pomfrey treated over 200 potion-related incidents, over 400 Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures injuries, over 300 Quidditch accidents, and the aftermaths of more than 950 miscast curses, wand malfunctions, and poorly aimed spells. This is to say nothing of fisticuffs, pranks, and physical altercations that took place between students in the halls of this school. I assure you, with great authority, that the students of Hogwarts are more a danger to themselves than you are to any one of them."
Remus tried to argue that, but he didn't get very far. "Dumbledore would never have offered you the post if he didn't feel that you and he and Hogwarts were up to the challenge," Professor McGonagall said briskly, interrupting his words before he'd a chance to find them. "Severus Snape is more than capable of brewing a first rate Wolfsbane Potion for a year's time, and Hogwarts is more than able to bear the expense. The potion works, Remus. Professor Dumbledore has seen it in action."
"Have you?" he asked quietly.
"I trust what the Headmaster has told me, and the other accounts I've been given. You will not be a danger to these students. And as an added precaution, should you feel you need it, I have Transfigured the doorways of this office to close into solid stone walls. There are no windows, the reversal can only be triggered by wand and incantation, and no werewolf is strong enough to tear through a foot and a half of stone and mortar. You will not be a danger to these students, Remus. Dumbledore and I will not let you be."
With those words, Remus had to turn away, his eyes stinging unexpectedly. While he was composing himself, Professor McGonagall said, gently but firmly, "Now, will you officially accept the post, or will I have to tell Professor Dumbledore that he needs to take more time out of his busy schedule to continue convincing you?"
Remus knew when he was beat. Regaining his control, he turned back to his old teacher and asked, "Is it true this job is cursed?" Professor McGonagall sniffed.
"Stuff and nonsense," she said. Remus smiled, then sighed.
"All right," he said, extending his hand across the desk.
Professor McGonagall took his hand and shook it. "Welcome aboard, Professor Lupin. And thank you."
He gave her a tight smile and nodded, though he was, in truth, wondering how soon he would come to regret this.
To be continued. Please consider leaving a review!