"I think I would like to be a seagull."
"Excuse me?" asked Minerva McGonagall. She turned toward her student, pausing in the packing of her belongings. It was lunchtime and she was hoping to get an extra serving of Treacle Tart which she specifically asked the house elves to make today. All the fourth-year Ravenclaws already left the classroom but Luna Lovegood seemed to lag behind, standing just a little too close.
"When I can transfigure into an animal, I think I would like to be a seagull. Although, I suppose birds are not animals. But Herridy Flovil is both a bird and an animal, so it might be possible." Luna's face assumed that thoughtful dreamy quality that meant that she was contemplating a very serious issue.
"Well, Ms. Lovegood," Professor McGonagall took a few breaths to decide where to start. "Well, first of all you can be a bird in Animagi transfiguration. It is rare, like the transfiguration itself, but it did happen in the 19th century when Marcus Treelimb turned into a raven and was famous for pulling pranks on his friend Edgar Allan Poe. And three of the ten registered Animagi of the 20th century have been birds, which is a new record. However, you do not choose an animal you would turn into. As you practice and learn Animagi transfiguration your shape will present itself, usually matching some personal characteristic."
"I think that seagull would suit me, then." Luna smiled. "I enjoy the ocean when we go on holidays in Cornwall. I would so like to fly."
"Right," said Professor McGonagall. "Animagi transfiguration is certainly something to aspire to as you reach NEWT level. Bear in mind, Ms. Lovegood, that it is very difficult and only very few achieve it. I would be prepared to guide you if you so fervently desire, however."
"It can't be that difficult if three Hogwarts students like Sirius Black and his friends were able to do it in their school years without any help," said Luna.
"Hush," said McGonagall looking toward the door to make sure no one was lurking. "Where did you hear that? Sirius Black is a…is a criminal who will be caught."
"It’s alright, Professor. My father mentioned it. And I overheard Ron Weasley talking to Harry Potter the other day. They do have very secret conversations in some public places."
"I see." Minerva McGonagall looked unusually white. She was determined to have a word with Potter and Weasley at the earliest opportunity and she should probably mention it to Dumbledore as well. Poor Black. Dumbledore would probably not allow the trip to Bath now that he was considering, at Lupin's request, for Black as a distraction from the dreariness of Grimmauld Place.
"But I will like the help, Professor. Thank you. Being a seagull would be so much fun." Luna smiled again and turned to leave the room.
Minerva McGonagall breathed a sigh of relief that the conversation was over and hurried down to lunch.