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Chapter 7: Minerva's Warning.
Minerva was sat at her desk with four piles of parchment ordered in house alphabetical order across the table. Some seemed to be drowned in black ink, others scrunched up from being hidden away at the bottom of a bag for so long that it had been forgotten. Then there were the rushed ones, with handwriting that was so difficult to decipher, but there were few words on this parchment as it was just there to be done, not to be done well.
The Gryffindor pile had been finished first, as she had seen all the first year answers before, there was always pure potential for a few students in each house, though usually many students just wanted to get the year done as soon as possible without complaint. Minerva could comprehend that not every student was best at everything, but the effort could be put in somewhere at least. After Gryffindor was the Hufflepuff pile, there were fewer students in this pile as some hadn’t even bothered to hand in their homework and would be serving a detention the following evening. Minerva began to mark quickly, then scanning the name and taking note of the results given.
As Minerva used her wand to take the first essay from the pile, she took note that it belonged to Jessica Abbey and began to scribble away, correcting her where possible and hunting for the positives in her work. Her work was quite messy but the content that was needed for an acceptable grade was there, it just needed to be more presentable and in depth. After this piece Minerva took the second lot of written work from the Hufflepuff pile, this belonged to Phoebe Blackett. Minerva sighed, but nonetheless took out her quill and made a note of whose work she was marking. It seemed quite neatly organised, with all the information required and more. Minerva gave a quick smile as she graded her work, hoping it wasn’t already an early sign of favouritism. If others knew about her father, Gideon, they’d comment on her getting this natural ability from him however Minerva saw that the child clearly enjoyed the subject and that is what made her so good at it. It was a trait that did lie with all the Prewett siblings as Molly had been rather good up until her seventh year when her work sidetracked after meeting Arthur Weasley. The two Prewett brothers however, kept at their work and both attained an O in both their O.W.L's and N.E.W.T’s. Minerva also remembered Phoebe’s mother not having a mutual feel for the subject, as she would often be in detention for a lack of enthusiasm and punctuality.
After viewing Phoebe's work she remembered who the girl was friends with and took out both Charlie Weasley and Nymphadora Tonks' essays, and saw that before her was two almost carbon copies to Miss Blackett's work apart from the odd spelling mistake. No matter how soft Minerva was getting in her old age she refused to let that one slide, then downgrading the two of them and leaving a note to Miss Blackett advising her not to leave her essays around for the wandering eye to see, and use.
After getting through all piles of parchment but the essays that belonged to the Slytherins, Minerva McGonagall left her office for the entrance hall, where she would happily tuck into some of the house elves' finest cuisine. As well as this Minerva made a mental note, to discuss the matters of the two Hufflepuffs and a Gryffindor taking it upon themselves to find the identity of Miss Blackett's parents. Minerva couldn’t help but show concern for the poor girl; she didn’t want her to find out the identity of her mother in such a way. Finding out her father was dead was painful enough, just knowing she could never meet him properly tore Minerva apart. She remembered being very close to her own father and not being able to share all those memories with him would have been heartbreaking. If she was to find out it would have to come from another relative or from the letter, or even from a professor. Albus Dumbledore would often remind Minerva that it would go against her mother's wishes, however since when had that woman ever done the same for anyone else? She hadn’t of course. Although Minerva did respect her friend and co-worker so she obeyed his orders.
Stepping inside the great hall, an aroma of fresh food greeted her as well as a quick smile from one of her closest colleagues, Pomona. She and her had been friends briefly through Hogwarts and since Minerva became staff at a very young age when Pomona had become professor a few years later, their friendship had rekindled.
Sitting beside Pomona and Dumbledore, it occurred to the old transfiguration teacher that now would be a good time to bring up the matter which concerned Miss Blackett.
“Ah Albus, I think myself, you and Pomona may need to talk once the feast has ended and all students are in bed. It’s a matter of urgency regarding Miss Blackett.” Minerva whispered her name in case the few students that were there already knew the child and could overhear the conversation, then passing it on to Phoebe herself.
“Minerva I commend the concern but I will say what I said whilst we were patrolling the corridors-” Albus began but the professor decided to cut him off,
“But Albus, she knows about Gideon. If we don’t intervene I have every bit of confidence that the three children will come across Miss Blackett’s Mother soon enough.” And with that extra note, the headmaster’s clear blue eyes sparked with interest as he began to wonder how the children had come to the conclusion that Gideon Prewett was in fact Phoebe’s father.
“Well that does bring complications into a situation that’s been complex from the start. Pomona, we will need to speak to you in my office once all the children are rested. It’s regarding one of your students.” Albus ordered and Pomona nodded hoping Minerva would give a bit more information,
“Two students actually Albus, Miss Nymphadora Tonks has been taking such an interest in this as well, and soon enough, Charlie Weasley will be filled in.” Minerva was completely oblivious to the fact that neither of the young girls had said a word to their Gryffindor friend and that they intended to keep it that way, however Charlie was a bright boy and eventually their secrecy would lead him to put two and two together. Albus was about to continue when Professor Snape joined the table of teachers, and though he trusted him, the wise man had come to realise that Severus would take no interest in this.
“Ah hello Severus, I do hope you’ve had a pleasant evening,” Professor Dumbledore greeted the Potions master with a smile, who returned it with a blank and dead expression upon his face.
“Oh just delightful, Headmaster.” Snape drew out every word in the same, monotonous, sarcastic tone as he had heard a small amount of the conversation whilst walking to the table and was surprised students hadn’t listened in themselves. Then the thought crossed Snape’s mind that they were too caught up in their own meaningless lives to listen to what a few old fools at the front of the hall had to whisper about.
“So, the Blackett girl, she knows who her father is. It doesn’t surprise me, although she shows hardly any talent in my classes at all. She’s dim witted enough to do her friends’ work almost perfectly and then have scarcely any time to do her own, making the potions sloppy and incorrect whilst her fellow students’ are....average.” Snape mumbled.
“Severus do you have no faith in students? The girl does show talent in magic as a whole, though lacks the faith and encouragement which she should be getting from fellow pupils or teachers.” Minerva added bitterly.
“It seems someone has taken to the child, Minerva. Tell me how much of her father do you see in her? Or is it simply that because she has taken a shine to your subject that you claim her as your favourite?” Snape’s lips curled as he took such delight in snapping back at Minerva. Having no negative comments to throw at the students, it was only right that he took it out on the first person who disagreed with him.
“Please Severus; at least I don’t favour every student that belongs in my house.” Minerva retorted rolling her eyes at how easy it was to get in a scrap with the cynical potions master. Pomona then took this as a good opportunity to cut across the argument,
“Now, please settle down. This is all over a few first years! Minerva we’ll discuss matters further in the headmaster’s study. However Severus, in future dear, please keep your depressing and malicious thoughts to yourself. “ Snape sighed and began to mumble almost silently under his breath, he could never get the satisfaction out of arguments anymore.
Stood in the headmasters study, Minerva McGonagall began to pace the floor as she grew impatient of the silence. Pomona had brought out an old pocket watch that was stained with soil from the greenhouse and began to tap it looking over at the transfiguration professor as she did so. Albus was nowhere in sight but they both knew he was one to keep his word, so Albus would arrive “fashionably” late as he would say. Neither would dare speak in case he arrived, though Minerva knew the headmaster would see any comments in a humorous light,
“Don’t worry Pomona; Albus has grown a custom to being late when out and about.” Minerva informed her friend who smiled and suppressed a laugh. Out of nowhere a tall figure appeared and began to walk down the stairs to the two women,
“Right you are Minerva, due to current circumstances I can’t discuss at the moment though Severus will be arriving shortly and I don’t want this meeting to overrun.” He glanced at the pocket watch that Pomona grasped so tightly and could just make out the time.
“Pomona, if you could, please keep a watchful eye on Miss Blackett and Miss Tonks. First years do have a tendency to find trouble, and all the answers may be a shock to the poor child. I’d rather this happened as they got older, they tend to go looking for strife then.” Albus smiled wistfully, as the look in his eyes seemed to convey some reflection of his younger years and then comparing them to the students of Hogwarts in the present.
“I’ll have to treat this very delicately, I can’t be upsetting anyone. First years get very emotional,” Minerva nodded in agreement, “though I couldn’t spy on them! Should I just look out for mischief?” Pomona asked with a smirk,
“That’s usually the best way. I’ll be on the lookout for the Weasley boy, and possibly his older brother too, for all we know the entire family could be involved!” Minerva bit her bottom lip leaving a mark she would have to heal later on in the day, when she had more time.
“Can we not just tell them Albus? If Molly doesn’t know then surely she’s missing out on her niece’s life!” She continued, being very persistent about the truth and the old saying that, ‘the truth will out’ but Dumbledore just shook his head.
“I respect the family’s wishes, particularly her mother’s. Only when she decides, Minerva.” Albus reminded his successor.
“If she decides Albus! What if that day never comes?”
“Minerva, I’ve always said that a letter says it best, as you have the ability to write something without feeling dim-witted. Now Phoebe’s mother has done exactly that, and Phoebe will read it at the age of seventeen. Mrs Heather Smith wrote to me not several days ago explaining this and how the family would rather that she didn’t know until she is of age.” Dumbledore explained. Minerva was about to protest once more as six years is such a long time but she felt it was an argument she couldn’t win.
“Now, if either of you see anything out of the ordinary as far as those three are concerned then you may send them to me. I’ll find a way to dissuade them to carry out this little ‘investigation’ of theirs shall we say? Now goodnight, I must have a conversation with Severus now who if I’m correct will be in here in no less than a minute and twenty seconds.” So the two professors left the Headmaster with their new found tasks ready to start in the morning. On the way Minerva passed Severus, and they merely nodded at each other without a word of spite passing his lips. At least she had gained some satisfaction, knowing that earlier she had gained the last word and given Severus a reason to be in a sulk, if only the poor students didn’t have to pay the price.
A/N- So again, this took me a while to sit down and write properly as I kept writing it bit by bit. But once I actually sat down and focused it really didn't take long at all! I hope you all have time to review, I'd love a bit of feedback!