“Maybe the position is cursed, but who better to face a jinxed job than the chosen one?” the amusement in McGonagall’s voice was poorly hidden as her lips turned up slightly, and the boy couldn’t help but wonder how he got stuck in this predicament.
Earlier that day Harry had been enjoying a well-earned and long overdue vacation from his job as an auror. In fact he had just gotten home from a quiet (and thankfully safe) stroll in the park when he received the incoming floo call. Mentally going through the list of people that could be calling, he answered his fire place.
To say that, seeing McGonagall's head appear, was shocking would have been an understatement. The headmistress did not waste time with polite pleasantries and instead requested that Harry come through the fire immediately.
Getting over the initial surprise of the stern woman's quick appearance, he whipped out his wand, readied himself for a threat, and stepped through the the open floo gracelessly. What he was met with was not an attack or even a reason to be on guard. When he tripped into the office he expected to be under fire immediately, but instead he only saw his old transfiguration professor sitting at her desk sipping tea as if she had not just given Harry a heart attack.
"Mr. Potter if you will please take a seat and put away your wand, then we can begin this meeting. It is a matter of urgency, but something you may want to be comfortable for." McGonagall's subtly hesitant tone did nothing to set Harry's mind at ease, but he slid his wand back in his holster.
It took a matter of minutes for her to pour the tea, but to Harry it was hours. He waited anxiously for the woman to say something as the only noise that filled the room was her pouring the steaming liquid into his cup. He felt like a student again, waiting for a punishment of some sort. Harry shifted his gaze around the room and noticed with a little ache in his heart that the office was different from when Dumbledore was headmaster. The desk wasn’t littered in papers and candy wrappers. Instead there were neat stacks of books and parchment that seemed taller than gravity should allow. Where all of the odd trinkets used to sit, now stood moving and still photographs. It was the first time that Harry had been in the office in years, and part of him had wished to never revisit it.
When the headmistress finally spoke, the words were not what he might have expected from someone else with an "urgent" matter to discuss.
"Mr. Potter I would like to ask you for a favor." The following was silence was accompanied by Harry stupidly blinking as if he misheard the woman in front of him.
“I don’t mean to sound disrespectful or rude Prof- uh Headmistress, but I was under the impression that this would be a highly serious matter.” He emphasized 'highly' to show his concern and also his undertone of frustration at being called so suddenly. Because while he respected McGonagall and enjoyed her company, he was supposed to be on vacation. Sighing deeply, McGonagall set the tea cup down in front of the young man and sat down across from him.
“Mr. Potter, as you might be aware, the defense against the dark arts position has once again been emptied.” She waited for some sort of reaction, but when she got none, she continued. “The last teacher lasted longer than most, she was much more competent than some of Albus’ choices, and even lasted almost two years. Though when a small encounter with a harpy over winter break frightened her, she blamed the doomed teaching position and handed over her resignation.” Sighing once again, McGonagall shook her head with a tired aura surrounding her. There was another small silence between them, and Harry still didn’t understand what the headmistress had called him there for. Not knowing what to say at the moment, he sipped at his tea quietly and waited for her to continue. “I still have not found a replacement for her. No one seems willing to take on a legendarily dangerous occupation.” A small disbelieving chuckle came from Harry as she said this.
“I’m sure there must be someone ready to be her understudy. Who wouldn’t want to be the one to prove that such a tale is all superstition?” he tried to say reassuringly. His voice was soft though and unconvincing. It didn’t help much that he actually believed in the tales himself. But when you have personally witnessed all of your defense teachers being disposed of one way or another then you can’t help but be a little superstitious. McGonagall seemed to be amused with his commentary on the dilemma.
“Well… I do have one other person in mind who could possibly fill the position, and he seems to understand the need for a D.A.D.A professor. He also has quite a lot of knowledge about the dark arts, so experience isn’t a problem.” Her eyes glittered with something akin to mischief, and Harry was reminded of the look Ron gives a chess board when he knows that he has already won. It made him uneasy. Still, he couldn’t hold back the obvious question lingering in his mind.
“Who is he? He sounds like a suitable substitute for the previous professor.” Check and mate. McGonagall slowly let her lips turn skyward knowing she had him. Harry had taken the bait and if everything went according to her plan then she could rest easily knowing the students could continue defense class.
“Well Mr. Potter I was talking about you.” Silence. Just blank emerald green eyes staring up into her tired ones. Harry’s mind was reeling and didn’t know where to start. Then suddenly, as if he realized what was just asked of him he spoke frantically.
“Pro- Headmistress McGonagall, I don’t think that I am at all a fitting replacement for this. I already have a career as an auror and I’m only briefly on vacation as of late.” Before he could ramble on more and come up with another excuse Minerva cut him off.
“Mr. Potter I understand that this is a lot to think about, but I’m sure your employer wouldn’t mind letting you work here until the end of the school year. That is all I am asking, and in case you don’t remember we both agreed that you are indeed an acceptable person for the job. You have first-hand experiences with the dark magic since you were a child and even taught other students about how to protect one’s self from it. If anything you are the only person I see as truly suitable.” With that she raised her chin a little higher as if expecting some form of back talk. Which made it almost impossible to defend his stance on this situation. After spending all of his teenage years looking up to and respecting this remarkable woman, it was hard to defy her with a strong argument. That didn’t stop him from making the futile effort that she expected.
“With all due respect Headmistress, the position is bloody well cursed!” He knew it wasn’t a great excuse, but he had to try. It took all of Minerva’s strength not to laugh and roll her eyes at the preposterous reasoning.
“You have already told me that the curse is just a superstitious tale that anyone should want to prove wrong.” So with a quirked eyebrow and a half smirk McGonagall ended the argument. “If you wish to think over this request that is fine, but I require your answer by the end of the week.” She was done speaking about the subject and Harry knew that I meant that he was too. It also meant he was screwed. With a sigh he resigned.
“I will get back to you on this Headmistress.” His voice sounded somewhat somber yet he knew that he wasn’t defeated just thoroughly outsmarted by a woman who could pass as a Slytherin. It was uplifting to know that she thought so highly of him and his teaching abilities, but unfortunately he didn’t share her faith. As if she could hear his thoughts McGonagall gave his a reassuring smile and cast a warming charm on the cold tea.
“Harry, if you are going to teach here at Hogwarts maybe you should become accustomed to calling me Minerva.” She sipped at her drink with a fond and calm smile. Harry’s face lit up with astonishment at that, and he shook his head politely but vigorously. It was much too informal and almost sounds disrespectful coming from his mouth. Said headmistress just shrugged and they moved onto more casual topics that held little importance such as his job as an auror, his love life, and her adjustments to not just being a professor but headmistress as well, etc. This lasted until they had finished their last cups of tea.
Realizing how long he had stayed, Harry cast a tempus. It was almost ten p.m. and he had not eaten dinner yet, so he told McGonagall farewell and vice versa. The unexpected reunion between teacher and student left him feeling rather refreshed, and he realized that he found almost a mentor like relationship with the Headmistress and even maybe a friendship. It was a surprising, but not unwelcomed. Harry didn’t feel as fearful of the offer in his hands anymore, and McGonagall had noticed. She smiled at how much he has grown as he stepped into the fireplace with floo powder in his hand. But before he could say his home address, she smiled in an all-knowing fashion that grandparents usually sport, and told him something that would make him think over the entire evening.
“Maybe the position is cursed, but who better to face a jinxed job than the chosen one?” and with that Harry was home and left with that sentence echoing in his head. Even now as he sits on the couch eating leftovers that he quickly heated with the words faintly repeating on loop. They sounded as if they didn’t originally come out of McGonagall’s mouth, and he couldn’t place why that was. That night it didn’t take long for him to fall asleep, but little did Harry know that McGonagall had only been quoting someone she had talked to just that day. The very person who unknowingly lead Minerva to call Harry. Someone who’s voice made the statement clearly a sarcastic remark instead of an encouraging one. The new potion’s professor. Draco Malfoy.