Minerva McGonagall finished grading one of her
second-year exams and moved onto the next one. Glancing at the timepiece on
her desk, she noted that she had about an hour until she needed to be at the
teachers’ meeting for planning the Halloween feast. She sighed, then glanced
at the name on the exam she was grading: Hermione Granger. She smiled to
herself—thankfully, this wouldn’t be a difficult one to grade.
She glanced up from her work to see who was
standing in her doorway. “Yes, Mr. Weasley?” she said, gesturing for the
sixth-year Prefect to enter her office.
Percy crossed the room. He seemed to hesitate
for a moment, but then he reached into his pocket, pulled out a small bottle,
and set it on her desk.
Professor McGonagall set her quill down and
picked up the bottle. She uncorked it and, after peering at its contents,
looked back up at Percy and asked, “Well, what is it?”
“Well,” said Percy, “I could easily be wrong,
but I’m fairly certain it’s a bottle of Sweet Moment.”
The Transfiguration teacher frowned. “I don’t
believe I’m quite familiar with that, Mr. Weasley.”
Percy pursed his lips. “It’s an illegal…
Professor McGonagall nodded. “And, what does it
“Well, not that I can sure, having never tried
it,” Percy said, “but it allegedly causes time to seem to slow down for the
user, extending the length of pleasurable events.”
“Ah,” said the professor, looking more closely
into the bottle, “I see.” She paused, then added, “This potion used to be
called Time Stopper.” She re-corked the bottle, set it down, and reached for a
new piece of parchment. “All right, Mr. Weasley,” she said, dipping her quill
into the inkwell, “whose is it?”
“Well… I don’t know,” Percy confessed.
Professor McGonagall frowned again. “Well, whom
did you take it from?”
“I didn’t take it from anybody. I found it.”
She managed to suppress a sigh. “Where did you
find it, Weasley?”
“Well… in the toilet off of the second-floor
As she watched, the tall young man seemed to
flush to a pale pink. After thinking a moment, she realized the reason. “Mr.
Weasley, isn’t that a girls’ toilet?”
Professor McGonagall set down her quill and steepled
her fingers in front of her face. “Explain, please.”
Percy seemed to hesitate a moment, before
saying, “Professor, is this on or off the record?”
She tried not to smile, but was sure the light
of it had reached her eyes. “Are they currently teaching everyday expressions
in sixth-year Muggle Studies?” she asked softly.
Percy’s skin flushed a deeper pink. “No, we’re
learning about Muggle careers.”
“Then I supposed you learned that expression
from a Muggle-Born… friend?” she asked him, a slight smile playing on her face.
“And does this…friend…have anything to do with
why you were in the second-floor girls’ toilet?”
Percy nodded again.
“Take a seat, Mr. Weasley.”
Percy sat in the chair in front of her desk,
looking quite nervous.
Percy nodded once more, this time
as if steeling himself, and said, “Well, it started when she and I were having
a sort of a row.” He looked to his teacher as if for encouragement.
“Right. Well, she—she was mad at me, because
I’d told her that I didn’t want anybody to know about our relationship.” He
paused for a moment, and then quickly added, “I’m not ashamed of her. I just
don’t want my brothers to know. They’d tease her horribly.”
Professor McGonagall nodded. “You’re probably
Percy smiled, some of the red colour draining
out of his face. “Well, I thought that she thought that I was embarrassed
because she’s Muggle-born, and so I told her that it didn’t matter to me if she
was, because after all, what does blood mean anymore? Then she got even
angrier because she hadn’t even thought of that, she told me, and does
it matter to me that she’s not a pureblood like I am? And so I told her that
of course it doesn’t, why would I have said that it didn’t if it did?
Then she—well, she started crying, Professor, and told me that I wasn’t as
smart as everybody said if I couldn’t figure out that what really bothered her
was that I’m older than she is, and I told her that was ridiculous, because the
age difference between us is practically negligible, and she said that
it wasn’t the age so much as it is the knowledge that comes with age, because
it’s not fair that I know so much more than she does when she’s supposed
to be the clever one, and I said—“
When Percy paused for breath, Professor McGonagall
held up her hand to stop him from continuing. “Though I apologize for
interrupting you, Mr. Weasley, I really don’t need you to recount the entirety
of your argument to me. Just jump ahead to the part that takes you into the
Percy blushed once more, and said, “Well, after
our argument, she ran out of the library—“
“You were fighting in the library?” Professor
McGonagall interrupted incredulously, before she could stop herself. “Madame Pince
didn’t stop you?”
Percy’s eyebrows furrowed slightly. “Well, we
were whispering, Professor. You don’t think we would shout in the library?” he
said, his voice conveying his shock at the very suggestion.
She blinked. “I suppose not… Please continue.”
“Well, she ran out of the library, and I stayed
there, sort of sulking I guess you could say, for about an hour, until I
decided it was my duty as a gentleman to go and patch things up with her. So I
started looking—first thing I did, of course, was to ask one of her dorm mates
if she was up in her room, which she wasn’t, so I looked around the grounds and
the Great Hall, and eventually thought of seeing if she wasn’t maybe hiding in
the toilet, because from what I understand from Ginny, girls are prone to doing
that. I’d checked the ones on the ground and first floors by asking any girl
who was around to go in and take a look, but there wasn’t anyone by the one on
the second floor corridor, and as far as I know, that one isn’t often used by
the girls around the school because it’s haunted, you know, but I thought I’d
check anyway. So I opened the door—I didn’t go in—and said, ‘Beg pardon, but
is anyone in here?’ and there wasn’t an answer. I was just going to turn
around and go look somewhere else until I thought that if she were in
there, she wouldn’t very well answer me, would she? So I opened the door a
little wider and said, ‘I do hope there’s no one in here, because there’s a
fellow coming in.’ There still wasn’t an answer, so I walked in. I looked
around and didn’t see anybody, so I was about to leave when I saw that bottle
sitting on the windowsill. I picked it up and thought I recognized it from
something my father had told me once about finding a bottle of it on one of his
raids, so I figured I’d better bring it to you.” He nodded and leaned back
very slightly into the chair.
Professor McGonagall smiled slightly and said,
“Well, I suppose you’re not at fault for being in the girls’ toilet, then. As
for the potion,” she said, indicating it with her hand, “do you have any idea
whom it might belong to?”
“Well,” said Percy, again sitting up straight,
“We can’t really limit it to belonging to a girl, given my own experience with
the ease of entering that particular toilet. We can, I think, limit it to
someone in at least fifth year—that potion would be rather advanced to anyone
younger, or with less experience.”
“I think you’re right, Mr. Weasley,” said
Professor McGonagall, writing down a few notes on the parchment. “I’ll be sure
and tell the other teachers to watch carefully for suspicious student
behavior. Thank you for bringing this to my attention,” she said, and nodded.
“You’re welcome, Professor,” Percy said,
standing, “And thanks for understanding about the whole…toilet…thing.”
“It’s not as important as you might think, Mr.
Weasley,” she said, “but do try and be sure no other boys follow that example.”
Percy nodded, a little more gravely than might
have been needed, and turned to leave.
“And—Mr. Weasley—“ Professor McGonagall called.
Percy turned around to look at her, quizzically, and she said, feeling rather
awkward, “Perhaps you should let your relationship with your… lady friend… be
known. Your brother, especially, ought to know.”
Percy looked confused. “Which brother?”
“The youngest. Ronald.”
“Ron? Why?” Percy asked.
“Well, he’s one of her closest friends, isn’t
he?” said Professor McGonagall. “Don’t you think he’ll find out eventually?”
“Ron? One of her best friends? What are you
talking about?” Percy looked completely mystified.
She frowned. “Unless your brother and Miss
Granger are no longer the good friends I was fairly certain they were.”
“Miss Granger?” Apprehension crossed Percy’s
face. “You don’t mean—Hermione?”
“Isn’t that… weren’t you…” she grasped for
words. “You weren’t talking about Hermione Granger?”
Percy stared for a moment before, unbelievably,
bursting into laughter.
“Mr. Weasley,” she began sternly, before
realizing that she really had nothing to reprimand him for.
“I’m sorry, Professor,” Percy managed to say,
while obviously struggling to suppress his laughter, “It’s just—Hermione
Granger! She’s twelve years old!”
“Well,” she said, rather crossly, “You said
there was an age difference.”
“Yes, well, I also said it was practically
negligible!” Percy continued to laugh. “Four years is not negligible,
Professor! Four years is… well, I’m sorry, but four years is just sick!”
“I just assumed—you said she was Muggle-born,
and clever…” Professor McGonagall trailed off. “Whom are you dating,
“Penelope Clearwater, Professor. The fifth-year
Ravenclaw Prefect.” Percy said, before closing his eyes in an apparent attempt
to stop laughing.
“Of course. That… that would have been my next
assumption.” Professor McGonagall nodded, as if that settled the matter, and
said, “All right, Mr. Weasley, you may return to your studies.”
“Actually, Professor, I still need to go find my
girlfriend.” He pressed his lips together, and then said, with a straight
face, “That’s Penelope, not one of my littlest brother’s friends.”
“Yes, Mr. Weasley, thank you,” she said rather
quickly, “You may go.”
He turned and walked out of the room. Professor
McGonagall chose to ignore the possibility that he quite likely could still be
snickering about her inaccurate guess, and resumed instead the grading of her
However, when she took a look at the name on the
exam at the top of the stack, she thought it might be best if she took a brief