A/N: This story takes place shortly after Educational Decree Number Twenty-eight is posted and before Fred and George Weasley make their grand exit.
Also, many thanks to Aggiebell who helps me place my commas correctly!
Professor McGonagall stood in the Entrance Hall looking at the House hourglasses. Behind her, the Great Hall was filled with chattering students who were greedily consuming the sumptuous breakfast the house elves in the kitchen had prepared that morning. Since it was the beginning of the day, and no one seemed to have been caught out of bed by Mr. Filch last night, the rubies, topazes, sapphires and emeralds in each globe numbered as follows: Gryffindor 226, Hufflepuff 182, Ravenclaw 184, and Slytherin 229. As always, it would be interesting to see just how many points her Gryffindors could manage to have taken by Severus and replaced by the other teachers by the end of the day. It amused her no end that however many points her colleague took from her house, Hermione Granger and several of her more outstanding house members usually managed to gain them back with their brilliance and correct deportment.
The bell rang and the Transfiguration teacher began climbing the marble staircase in anticipation of the new day.
At break, she descended the marble staircase on her way to speak briefly to Firenze about something that had come up in the last faculty meeting. Her gaze traveled to the Gryffindor bulb and she noticed that there were now only 206 rubies present in the hourglass. What have Fred and George Weasley done now? was her first thought. How many times had this particular idea crossed her mind at exactly this time in the last seven years? Too many to mention, really. Most of her Gryffindors left their pranking or bad behavior to later in the day, she knew, so whatever had caused the subtraction of points just had to be pinned on the twins. No one else in my house loves to start the day off with a prank like those two, she thought after mentally going over who had Potions first thing after breakfast and remembering that the seventh years were sharing the lesson with the Slytherins.
Since she wasn’t due back in her classroom for a few more minutes, Professor McGonagall lingered in the Entrance Hall watching the activity in hourglasses. The castle seemed to be catching up with the many point subtractions and additions made during the first lesson of the day. Lethargic boys and girls make rather interesting mistakes, she thought, glad that she had learned to shake off her own morning sleepiness years ago. Now that the students were more awake, the rubies, topazes, emeralds, and sapphires would be regularly falling and rising in their bulbs. Five points in, ten points out...oops! Someone had lost one hundred and fifty points for Ravenclaw!
“Looks as if the students are in fine form this morning, Minerva,” commented Professor Dumbledore as he joined her.
“I wouldn’t want to be in Ravenclaw house this afternoon. Whoever lost those points won’t be too popular in their common room once the news gets out,” Professor McGonagall said smiling.
“That’s what makes for an interesting day,” noted the Headmaster sagely.
“How right you are, Albus,” she said turning to leave. “I’ll see you at lunch, then.”
“I’m afraid I’ll be entertaining Minister Fudge at that time. He has some pressing business he wanted to discuss and could only squeeze me in at noon. Please give my regrets to the other staff members.”
“I will. Good day.”
“Good day, to you, too.”
Her second lesson of the day was a combined class of Gryffindor and Slytherin fifth years. As much as she liked many of the individual members of this class from both houses, she found that when combined, the class dynamics were quite difficult. This was mainly due to the animosity between Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Draco Malfoy. She was never certain what to expect from the Slytherin and his cronies, especially now that they were part of Delores Umbridge’s brand new Inquisitorial Squad.
This particular day, Draco was lounging in one of the back seats as she entered the room. Harry and his friends had selected a table on the other side of the room about half-way up the row. The three were in deep discussion about something. She began the lesson reviewing Vanishing spells and set the students to the task of Vanishing a variety of objects. Suddenly, she spied Draco pointing his wand in Hermione Granger’s direction. As she crossed the room to speak to him, a spell shot through the air and hit Hermione’s book bag which was sitting on the chair in back of her. It immediately sprouted legs and took the form of a giant spider. Ron Weasley gasped and jumped out of the way as the arachnid scuttled toward the front of the room where it found an invitingly empty box sitting on the floor. At his outburst, all the girls in the room screamed and scrambled onto their desks.
“Mr. Malfoy! Kindly explain yourself!” Professor McGonagall demanded.
Draco gazed at her, a calculating look on his face. “I was just paying Granger back, Professor,” he said. “I was just having some fun at her expense, is all.”
“I see. And do you expect me to condone such behavior?”
“Yes, I do, because I really was practicing my Transfiguration.”
“Is that so? Tell me...just what was Miss Granger being paid back for?” Professor McGonagall asked. Draco opened his mouth to answer, but she changed her mind, silencing him with her hand. “Oh, never mind. I don’t want to hear it. You can save the tale for Professor Snape. That will be fifty points from Slytherin for attacking another student, unprovoked. You also have detention in my office for a week, Draco. Please report to me this evening promptly at six o’clock. I will be expecting you.”
Draco blanched. “But...but...I’ve got Quidditch practice every night this week. Can’t we postpone my detention until next week?”
Draco changed tactics. “Professor Umbridge is going to hear about this.”
“Of course she is, Draco. And since you are so eager to tell her yourself, you may take a note to her along with a copy which you will take to Professor Snape when you done with Professor Umbridge.”
“But this practice is important! I need to be there. We’re playing Ravenclaw in the game on Saturday.”
“You should have thought of that when you transfigured Miss Granger’s bag into a spider! Now come with me.” She led the way up to her desk at the front of the now silent room. She sat down and pulled parchment, quill, and ink from a drawer.
“The rest of you have an assignment to complete. Get busy,” she ordered as she began her notes to her colleagues. When she was done, Professor McGonagall rolled up the parchments, magically sealed them with her wand and affixed the proper title to each roll. “Be off with you Mr. Malfoy. Mind that you are not late this evening.”
Draco departed and the rest of the lesson proceeded smoothly to its conclusion.
“Professor?” An agitated Hermione stood before her desk as the rest of the class filed out. “May I have my bag back, please?”
Professor McGonagall cast a calculating eye at the spider which was now busy spinning an intricate web over the top of its box.
“I’m sorry, Miss Granger,” she said. “I’m afraid that because of who the student was, I must keep your ‘bag’ as evidence. Will it be much of an inconvenience if I keep it overnight?”
Hermione sighed. “Yes, Professor. Most of my books and assignments were in it, including my completed essay for Professor Vector which was due today.”
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do, Hermione. Give me the names of the teachers whose assignments you will be unable to turn in or complete within the next two days. I’ll compose a short note to them explaining the circumstances under which you find yourself. That way you won’t lose any points or marks for turning your work in late.”
Hermione beamed. “Thank you, Professor McGonagall!”
Five minutes later, a satisfied Hermione exited the classroom on her way to meet Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley for lunch clutching a sealed scroll which could only be opened by certain faculty members.
Professor McGonagall followed the fifth year down the marble staircase toward the Entrance Hall to find that a large group of students were milling around pointing to the hourglasses. The Ravenclaw students were angrily muttering amongst themselves about whom the wrongdoer was who lost so many points for their house. The story seemed to be that one of the third years had melted her caldron during Potions and had caught Professor Snape’s robes on fire. In a towering rage he had taken the one hundred and fifty points from the hapless girl and had given her a week’s worth of detentions to boot.
The other hourglasses seemed to have stayed about the same as when she had previously looked at them with the exception of the fifty points she had taken from Slytherin. With a satisfied feeling, Professor McGonagall joined the other professors at the top table. She tendered Professor Dumbledore’s regrets and noted that indeed, Professor Snape was wearing a completely different set of robes and had several bandaged fingers on his left hand.
The last bell of the day rang as Professor McGonagall collected the box of mice the third years were attempting to turn into memo pads. Most of her students had been fairly successful, but there were still the few who needed further instruction due to the various tails and ears which stubbornly refused to disappear into the paper.
She was tired. Her feet hurt from pacing up and down the aisles of her classroom all afternoon, but it probably would be another hour before she could retreat to her office to put them up for a few minutes while simultaneously thinking up a suitable punishment for Draco Malfoy. He was a difficult case, that boy—so much like his father in some ways and so like his mother in others. With a sigh, she locked her classroom door (more to keep Draco’s spider from escaping as it had during her absence at lunch, than to keep students out) and headed down the stairs toward Severus Snape’s office.
In the Entrance Hall she took her customary look at the hourglasses. A smile played about her lips when she saw that Gryffindor now led the points and Ravenclaw looked as if it had recovered a few the third year had lost during Severus’ Potions lesson. She was further encouraged to see that Slytherin house ranked third overall behind Hufflepuff. This, she knew, would irritate Severus no end, but if Hermione’s story was truthful (and no doubt it was) Draco had indeed deserved the punishment his poor judgment had incurred. With a sigh, Professor McGonagall descended the stairs toward the Potions Master’s study.
Fifteen minutes later, she was back in the Entrance Hall. The rubies and other gems hadn’t moved, she saw and she doubted they would until after dinner when Madam Pince would be in her element taking points for students mishandling her precious books or disrupting the sacred quiet of her domain. Today had definitely been a satisfactory and interesting day, she decided, and tomorrow would be no different.