"This is absurd, Mr. Weasley!" said McGonagall. There was a touch of weariness in his complaint and a perfect point of exasperation and disbelief when he rolled her eyes and raised her hands to heaven like asking to Most High for enough patience to be able to keep his composure.
"My arse it is!" Ron mumbled underneath his breath retorting her decision in a rare emotional tidal wave from the professor of transfiguration and head of the Gryffindor house.
"I beg your pardon?" The expression of astonishment on the old teacher's face is immediately replaced by the frown, the stony countenance, and the gaze above the crescent glasses which the students of Hogwarts have learned, since their first year is the equivalent of an imminent and particularly original detention.
"Nothing. Doesn't matter", the whisper escapes from a head down, red as hellfire, which, if it keeps going down, there was a good chance of ending up inside its own arse.
Minerva McGonagall has been a teacher at Hogwarts for many years and has certainly seen students from all classes with all kinds of families, personalities and individual problems. So, in theory, she should be versed in dealing with students from all walks of life, but even so, there is always someone in every generation of students, who simply do not fit into any of the classifications made to date. She thought that classification was complete when she had to face the gang led by James Potter and his friends Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew, but it seems that this new generation has its own challenge to her patience. A really serious challenge, it seems, and one that is going to require all her patience and experience as a teacher and head of the one of the house of the school.
"Mr. Weasley", she asks him, after taking a deep breath and composing herself in her office chair while she rests her forearms on the desk in front of her and leans slightly forward. "This situation cannot be sustained any longer. Please look at my face as I speak to you", She demands, causing the furious fire in front of her to be replaced by two blue eyes of surprising intensity despite her youth. "Mrs. Pomfrey has already noticed that you have been visiting Miss Granger in the infirmary every night outside curfew. She understands your concern for her and has been turning a blind eye to it to this day, but this situation is already unacceptable."
The old teacher cannot help but feel a lump in her throat when she remembers the scene before her just a few hours ago when, at the request of the school nurse; she came to the nursing wing.
There, leaning on the bed occupied by the petrified Miss Granger, it stands amidst a jumble of scrolls of sloppy calligraphy; it was the head, with the traces of crying on his face, of a sleeping Ronald Weasley sitting by the bed while holding his friend's hand.
"Mr. Weasley, from this moment on, you are "expressly" forbidden to go back to the infirmary outside visiting hours and especially outside curfew."
"But Professor…" Minerva is not so much surprised by the interruption as by the vehement and passionate tone in which a hint of despair seems to be hidden. "Hermione has been petrified for weeks. She must be deadly bored, so I go and tell her all the things that happen at school, only the nice ones of course. Like the mandrakes are maturing and she'll soon be fine and how boringLockhart's classes are or how Harry's great at quidditch and he swept the pitch with Malfoy's stinking ass…" and then his face lights up like if he's found the definitive and irrefutable point "… she's been out of class and out of notes for a long time. When they wake her up, she's going to be distraught, so I read her my own while I'm with her. I know they're not as good and fucking perfect as hers…" the strict instructor's hair stands up on the back of her neck when she hears such language, but not as much as when she feels the intensity of the feeling shining in the child's eyes and translating it into his words, "…but at least they're something and I'm sure she'll be able to improve them as soon as she starts studying because she's the best in the school, whatever asshole face Malfoy says and…"
Minerva's detecting something now. There is loyalty in the child's body language, but in his words, she finds something else - devotion. There is a genuine admiration for his friend, an unwavering desire to help her. Hagrid had told her about the slugs incident, and the teacher's pride in her pupil was burning. Initially, she thought of punishing him, but the Gameskeeper's recounting convinced her that the youngest of the Weasley boys had had enough punishment. McGonagall detected something else also: a threat to anyone who dared to harm her.
"Mr Weasley!" She interrupts him. "I think Professor Dumbledore has explained to you that petrified people feel absolutely nothing". She uses a calm and instructive tone in an attempt to calm his own distress. "For them time has stopped. When Miss Granger is unpetrified, it will have will be very similar to that of having consumed a sleeping without dreams potion."
"But she'd certainly be looking at how to help Harry and me if we were the ones petrified and missing class. Right now she would be raiding the library trying to find some way to wake us sooner, even if we were as dry as a one-eyed dragon's eye. She's crazy, I know, but I'm sure she would, and besides", the intensity in his gaze that existed until that moment, disappears and is replaced by a shadow, while his shoulders fall and his voice descends to something more than a whisper. "Besides, it's the only thing I can do after that stupid idea of the kiss failed so, I'm going to keep doing it no matter what". At that moment Ronald Weasley seems oblivious to where and with whom he is, giving the impression that those last words are, rather, a reflection out loud to himself.
"Mr Weasley!" The professor suddenly stood and looked with open eyes at a stunned redhead whose facial expression quickly changed from surprise to understanding and from understanding to panic-. "Are you telling me that you abused a helpless… ?"
"NOOOO!" The scream from his mouth was if he had been slapped by the accusation. "No. It's not like you think… well, it's … but not… I mean, I did kiss her, but it's not like that, it's not like that at all any way."
"Explain yourself". McGonagall's voice suffers no kindness. It's a pure ice knife ready to attack as soon slightest transgression it detects.
"Last year Hermione was talking to us about the differences in how muggles understand magic, and she was telling us some muggles stories of spells and curses. One of them tells the story of a woman who seems to fall under a spell so similar to the living dead potion and how she is reanimated, not by a potion, but a kiss! Yes. I know it's crazy and that real magic doesn't work that way, but I thought… FUCK!" The imprecation escapes meanwhile he runs his hands through his hair in a reflex act of desperation over his inability to explain the obvious. "Professor Dumbledore spends his time talking about magic and that it has aspects that are completely unknown and mysterious to us, and my best friend survived to the killing curse from the most evil and powerful wizard of all time so I thought, why not? Maybe the crazy muggles were talking through their hats and written their own version, so there was nothing to lose, so I kissed her on the forehead. I did it for her and because I don't like seeing her like that. That doesn't look like Hermione. That doesn't look like my best friend", he says, collapsing on the chair with his face in his hands.
With all her years, with all her experience, Minerva McGonagall, Head of Gryffindor House, member of the secret society known as The Order of the Phoenix, cannot help but gaze in disbelief at the revelation. One, which very few have had the opportunity to see in all its grandeur: Rebellion, concern, sacrifice, dedication, tenderness, loyalty, devotion, protection… desperation. All from an eleven-year-old boy already irrevocably in love with his schoolmate. Too young to be able to recognize her own feeling and give it a name, but so strong and indestructible that the old teacher can only pray to heaven that Hermione Granger's heart will harbour the same feelings for the impetuous and stubborn Ronald Weasley.