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HELLO, HARRY POTTER FANDOM. HOW ARE YOU?



When Minerva turned seventeen, Dumbledore took her to the appropriate department at the Ministry to register as an Animage. He had already caught her once prowling around the school in cat form without permission, and now, the examination would be held in the formal chamber; while the required number of examiners assembled, she waited in the front. A clerk scratched at his desk; high windows let light onto the floor, and in a corner, behind spell-reinforced metal bars, there was a grayish, shifting creature.

"Nasty business." the clerk said after lifting his head and seeing her stare at it. "They were supposed to take it away in the morning, but I suppose they haven't got around to it. If you want to wait in the hall while they get the registrars together, I can come out and find you."

Minerva looked at the child, growling and pacing behind the bars. It crawled on four legs, and every few moments, a different piece of animal would sprout on it: there would be rainbow feathers down its back, and then the feathers would disappear, and its face would lengthen and distort into that of a fox's. She watched as scales grew over the back legs; it tried to sit up, but the cage was too low. It banged its head and howled.

"The father thought he'd figured out the Kwikspell way to become an Animage," the clerk added. "Too much of a coward to try it on himself, so he used that poor thing. Youngest of his children. Are you sure you didn't see it in the Prophet?"

"I've been busy studying."

After being examined and showing her knowledge of regulations, Minerva learned, from Dumbledore, that the child had turned on its father, killed him, and then hidden under a laboratory bench until found by its mother and sisters. There was some discussion on account of the child's age, but sentence of death had been passed. It would be a merciful killing, best for everyone involved, and yet, years later, she caught Remus Lupin in the Restricted Section, alone, after-hours. He might have escaped, run off into the darkness before she could pin a spell on him, but he had preferred stuffing the book back into place rather than fleeing -- Controlling Your Transfigurations: Arcane Arts and Dark Secrets. He did not want to take the chance that someone should suspect, but Minerva knew. A little of the cat stayed with her even when she was human, and she had smelled it on him when he came to her classroom the first time.

In addition, before Remus arrived, Dumbledore had taken her aside, asked her if there was anything she could think of to help. She had not been able to think of anything. There was nothing in the literature. Lycanthropy was hopeless, and it was dark in the Restricted Section.

Minerva did not deduct many points from Gryffindor, nor did she lecture Remus. He was alone; the Gryffindor - Ravenclaw Quidditch game had been that evening, and his friends would have been too tired to venture out with him, so Minerva walked him back to the dorms, her hand on his shoulder. She even asked him a few questions; he did not respond much, but that was all right. She remembered, after all: it had been dark in the Restricted Section. By light of a candle, Lupin's eyes had gone as yellow and round as a wolf's. He had looked, in fact, like a caged boy who did not want to die.





Inspired by the cross-section of cages, Remus, and McGonagall in [livejournal.com profile] angiepen's No Good Deed, which I found in the del.icio.us links of madsophiehatter.
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December 2010

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