On loan from staff:
|Scene Title||Big and Little Victories|
|Synopsis||Amber and Ginny come to talk to McGonagall.|
|Location||McGonagall's Office, Hogwarts|
|Date||April 14, 1995|
|Watch For||The impassioned speeches!|
Regardless that the Easter Holiday is right around the corner, there is a large stack of parchment sitting on a certain Transfiguration professor's desk. Other professors may lighten up, but not Minerva. Until classes are let out, it is business as usual. Her eyes peer beedily through her spectacles as she works through the stack of essays, grading them in a meticulous fashion. The office is quiet, well lit and free of students so that she may get the homework marked so that it can be passed out upon classes being resumed.
Okay, so there's a game plan. It's just that Amber's not sure what it is, so she's making it up as she goes along. There's a book tucked under her arm, which is absolutely encyclopedic, containing descriptions of apparently every animal ever. "It was weird, she actually wasn't completely insane," Amber says. Her voice sounds different. It's because she's faking a much more dignified accent, because this is McGonagall, and she really wants help. Turning to Ginny, she asks - and this might be a weird question - "Do I sound British?" One hand on the door, she pushes the office door open just a little. "You ready?"
"Miss Matthews, Miss Weasley, while I am quite content to meet with students, I do believe your parents taught each of you how to knock, yes?" So much for getting a warm reception from McGonagall. She looks up and lays her quill down as the two students enter her office, a sign that she'll meet with the pair. That, and two chairs pull up to the opposite side of the desk, waiting for the girls to take a seat. Sharp eyes look from Ginny, then to Amber, "You've already entered, so you might as well come and sit." Her Scottish accent is as crisp as ever as she gets straight to the point, "What can I help you ladies with?"
"Well, considering this book fell into my lap…" But that's all she has time to say before she's being repremanded for entering without knocking! No open-door policy then. Note taken.
"Well, Professor," Amber says, speaking carefully as she sits. The book is placed in her lap. Ginny and I have been talking, and…" She looks to the younger girl, back at the teacher, then back at the book. Stupid book. It made her have dreams about dik-diks last night, and she still doesn't even know what they are. "When did you know… you wanted to try to become an animagus?"
Ginny squirms inwardly. Head of her House or no, Professor McGonagall is still terrifying. She's unspeakably relieved when Amber goes for it and asks. All Ginny has to do is sit nonchalantly in this chair right here. Unfortunately, the girl trips over one of her feet and falls into the chair with a thud. Well.. maybe no one saw that!
There is an open door policy. Of sorts. Still peering sharply at both girls as they take a seat, in Ginny's case, trips into a seat, her gaze goes even sharper with curiousity at Amber's question. The grading of papers is forgotten for now as she answers Amber, "Quite some time ago Miss Matthews. Why do you ask?" She's a perceptive old cat, this professor, and she has an idea of where this may be going.
You're no help, Ginny Weasley. At least, that's what the look she shoots the other girl seems to imply, just before her cohort falls into the chair. "Jeez, are ya all righ'?" she whispers, before turning back to McGonagall. She's not terrifying. Really. There's probably a reason Amber sits there speechless for many seconds, but it's not because the professor is terrifying, really.
Eventually, she brings the book up to set it on the desk. "Ginny and I were thinking of … maybe trying it. Helping each other through it." And that's about all she can get out looking at that sharp stare.
Ginny looks sheepishly apologetic, mouthing 'Sorry' to Amber. She, too, is left speechless, blinking at McGonagall. Shifting around in her seat until she finds a comfortable position, she crosses her legs at the ankle and smooths her uniform. Then… then she feels something coming on. Oh, no. It's the babble!
"After the attack in Hogsmeade, yanno, Amber and I were really scared and we wanted to be able to protect ourselves and I read in the Prophet about Sirius Black being an animagus and then Amber heard about some guy who was a rat and we thought it'd be a really good thing to learn, y'know, to protect ourselves and others but all the books on it are in the Restricted section and we don't know where to start and how to do it without accidentally getting blown up and we were wondering if you could help us." After filling her totally empty lungs - her voice having gotten higher and higher as she spoke - Ginny adds, "Professor."
McGonagall's nostrils flare sharply as she inhales and exhales through them. "I see." She folds her hands together, resting them on the top of her desk, "It is an incredibly dangerous and difficult transformation to achieve. Many wizards who attempt it half-heartedly have regretted ever trying. I could tell the pair of you about transformations gone wrong, but I doubt it would do any good." Amber might be talked down, but McGonagall knows once a Hufflepuff digs in their heels.. and she knows the Weasleys far too well. She turns to look at Ginny as she listens to the explanation, and judging by her expression? Minerva is not convinced the girls are doing this for the right reasons. "What makes you think that taking an animal form will protect you better than paying attention to Professor Moody's lessons? You will be identifiable as an animal, marked down on a registry.. and I would highly advise the pair of you from looking up to Mr. Black and Pettigrew's example of becoming animagi. Their intentions were noble, but they were wrong in what they did." To admit any sort of pride in her former students, well, that would just send the wrong message, now wouldn't it?
There are lots of things that Amber could say. A Slytherin response - maybe even Gryffindor - would be to state the obvious, that she could simply find the books and do it on her own, if other people in the past have done as much without the professors' knowledge. She could beg and plead. Say she wants to understand the transformation and how it works, like a Ravenclaw. She considers all these responses as she looks up at McGonagall. However, Amber is tenacious. She is like a klingon— er. Clingon. A facehugger alien. A leach! She's grabbed onto this idea, and she'll very slowly work the professor down until she gets a more satisfactory answer. Yes, digging in her heels indeed.
"I dunno— " She pauses. "I don't know if it'll protect me, Professor. But…" Another glance is given to Ginny. Amber has no idea who Pettegrew is, only that he's a killer, and a rat. And on some level, Amber just wants to know that whatever animal she is, it's not a rat. Or anything negative, like a shrew, or a roach. Still, looking in the mirror is a hard thing for anyone to do.
Blue eyes look away, one hand reaching up to rub the side of her face absently. There's lots of reasons. It would be neat, she'd be able to understand why Pettigrew did what he did, she'd have another spell in her arsenal against Death Eaters. They all seem trite and meaningless. Then again, the next thing she says kind of does, too. "I want to know who I am. What— I'm made of."
Kind of sounds stupid when she says it out loud.
Well, how can Ginny top that? Still, it's clear her passion - a passion that Gryffindors, redheads, and Weasleys are known for - is flaring up with this issue. Like Amber, she's not about to back down. It takes a few moments of mental encouraging, but she manages to look McGonagall straight in the eye. Wowokaythisisterrifying.
Before she can lose her resolve, Ginny speaks, pausing every so often to make sure she didn't babble. "It's not instead of learning all Professor Moody has to teach, Professor. It's in addition to. Yes, we'd be recognizable, but we'd be stronger. Stronger because we had managed to accomplish something that not everyone can. Stronger because we knew ourselves better, our limits and what kind of people we are. If we don't do this, if we back off and give up, we'll never get another chance like this. This isn't a lark, Professor. It's not something we want to do because it's all neat and shiny. We need it."
Despite her earlier response and mini-lecture, McGonagall is hearing the students out. "Very well then," she says as she pulls out a clean sheet of parchment and dips the nib of her quill into the bottle of ink. "I expect your grades, not just in my class mind, but all of them, are to be kept up. If your grades slip, I will revoke my permission to use the Restricted Section and refuse to offer further assistance. It is a difficult spell to achieve and one that requires years of study. If you feel that you are currently in over your head, there's no shame in putting the study aside for another time." She's then writing out a permission slip for the two, and making it explicit in what she's allowing them to research. All the while, she is mentally chiding those three /boys/ for making this an attractive prospect. "Exams are around the corner, and Miss Matthews, you have your OWLs next year." She's already looking ahead! "I will be available for questions and to explain any part that you are unclear on.." The girls are then given a positively cat-like expression of scrutiny to see if they are clear on her terms and accepting of them.
There's no outward smile of triumph when McGonagall agrees, except in her eyes. They brighten a little, and she'll celebrate later. As for now, she's listening carefully, and hoping to God that she can manage to keep her grades up, because that's one point where she's going to have a little difficulty. Is Ginny a good student? Amber hopes so. Then again, Ginny's a year younger than she is. It's going to be a little difficult to learn backwards.
And then… Amber's just not sure what to say. Thank you? It doesn't seem like it's a moment which would designate much gratitude. After all, she's just asked for more work a year before her OWLs, as the professor has pointed out. In the end, she can only say "I understand." When she reaches forward, it's not for the permission slip, but for the book she previously set on the desk.
Ginny just barely refrains from doing a victory dance. This is good, because her victory dance involves lots of gyrating and jumping around, something that might cause McGonagall to throw them out of her office. It takes every ounce of Ginny's confidence to not blink or flinch while the Professor scrutinizes her, and when it's over, Ginny feels like her very soul has been evaluated.
Ginny tries to speak, but only a squeak comes out. Swallowing hard, she takes a breath and repeats Amber's words. "I understand, Professor."
The book that was set on her desk is eyed but McGonagall doesn't pass over the permission slip just yet. She's writing on another sheet of parchment, "This is a list of the books and resources I turned to most frequently for my study." There's a faint twitch of a smile playing at the corners of her mouth, "Seeing that this is transfiguration, I do expect top marks in my class." Now she's just teasing. Or is she? Finishing the list, the ink on both sheets of parchment are dried with a wave of her wand then they roll up by themselves. Picking up the rolls, she then hands them over at last.
She's sure she can at least do well in Transfiguration. It's probably the hardest damn subject in the school, but if she works hard enough at it… Amber knows she can do this. And she'll have help, too. If she were doing this by herself, there could be serious motivational difficulties, for sure. "Thank you," she finally says as she reaches for the scrolls. "We should get this to Madam Pince." And hurry out of this office so they can giggle and jump and celebrate out of earshot of McGonagall.
A strangled noise of glee just almost leaves her lips, but Ginny manages to clap her hand over her mouth just in time. Get a hold of yourself, Ginny. She takes a deep breath, lets it out, and then very, very carefully, she stands. Luckily, this time she doesn't trip over her own feet! Huzzah! Doing her best to keep her features calm, Ginny too reaches for the scrolls. After a moment of hesitation, she then offers her hand to McGonagall to shake.
McGonagall's brows lift at the offered hand but takes it. "I hope that the pair of you will inform your parents of your plans.. Hopefully /before/ I receive angry letters." Or in Molly's case, a Howler. "If you want to study over the summer, I can arrange for some of the books to be available." And quite possible from her own personal library. Madam Pince fiercely guards her charges and may not let any leave the castle for the holiday.
Amber's parents will probably be okay with this. Hell, her father would be okay with anything that would allow her to potentially avoid Voldemort. Then again, being an Animagus does come with a little bit of a risk in that it could make someone a valuable asset - for either side. Amber's thought about this. Not in detail, but enough so that she's not scared off by it. Standing and holding the book and the parchment, she heads for the door, seeing as she's not sure she wants to repeatedly thank the professor for her time - and also, she's not sure she can prevent herself from squealing for another moment.
Oh, lord. If Ginny thought McGonagall would be hard to convince, she'd have to multiply that several hundred for Molly. She is Definitely Not Looking Forward to discussing this with her mother, but she can't avoid her for long, especially with Easter Break coming up. Luckily Amber takes her leave, and Ginny follows - for if she stayed any longer, she'd probably beg McGonagall to talk to Molly for her. Instead, Ginny leaves with her dignity - at least until she and Amber can get far enough away and the squealing can begin.
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