Disclaimer: Tacos Rule! That is all.
Minerva was sitting in her office and half way through with grading a rather poor attempt at an essay when the silence was disturbed by a hesitant knock on the door.
"Come in," the professor called out.
The door cracked open to reveal her favorite bushy haired Gryffindor.
"Can I speak with you for a moment, Professor?" Hermione asked nervously, pausing at the door. The expression on her face and her tone of voice betraying the fact that her thoughts were in turmoil.
"Of course," Minerva agreed, "come in." She waited until after the girl had settled herself. "What is it that's bothering you, Ms. Granger?"
"It's about Harry and Ron," Hermione began. She bit her lower lip in distress as she tried to work up the courage to ask her Head of House for advice on how to repair a wounded friendship.
"You're worried about their so called duel, right?" the professor suggested with suppressed a smile.
"Ron flung a curse at Harry and Harry put Ron in the hospital wing," Hermione sobbed, "what am I suppose to do?" And how was she going to get them to reconcile their differences? Fourth year had been one of the worst of her life due both to the dangers of the tournament and the rift that had formed between Harry and Ron before the first task. "What if I can't fix this?"
"Why don't we examine what happened?" Minerva suggested gently. "What preceded the fight?"
"They were arguing about something or other," Hermione said, "I'm not sure what."
"Then Mr. Weasley tried to hex Mr. Potter," Minerva prompted. "What curse did he use?"
"Double vision hex," Hermione replied instantly, having spent two hours grilling every witness so as to have as much information as possible before she set out to right things.
"And what spell did Mr. Potter reply with?"
"I'm not sure Professor," Hermione admitted, "But it caused Ron's hands and feet to grow together and . . ."
"And would it surprise you to learn that Mr. Potter was attempting to cast a clapping hex?"
"But . . ."
"You didn't see the so called 'fight' did you?" Minerva asked, her lips twitching a bit.
"I was in the library when it happened, Professor," Hermione agreed, "but the other students told me what happened and it was horrible."
"Would it surprise you to learn that Mr. Weasley immediately demanded that Mr. Potter teach him that hex?" Minerva asked.
"But . . . the fight . . . I . . ." Hermione sputtered.
"How many similar 'fights' have the Gryffindor boys engaged in this year?" Minerva asked dryly. The girls tended to be a lot more subtile and private when resolving their differences.
"A lot," Hermione admitted with a blush.
"A lot," Minerva agreed with a smile, "most of which I turn a blind eye to."
"But this one is different," Hermione protested.
"Yes it is," Minerva agreed, "for one thing Mr. Weasley ended up in the hospital. For another, Mr. Potter has invented what promises to be a useful new spell."
"But you assigned Harry an indefinite detention," Hermione said weakly. "Why would you do that if it wasn't serious?"
"I asked Mr. Potter to meet with our Charms Professor after classes so that they could figure out Mr. Potter's new hex," Minerva corrected with a smile. "Mr. Weasley objected until I explained that it was not a punishment so much as a desire to replicate Mr. Potter's accidental spell at which point Mr. Weasley repeated his request to learn it. I never thought I'd have to tell you about the dangers of putting too much stock in Rumor."
"Sorry Professor," Hermione said with a blush. "I just thought, there were so many people . . . I'd . . . sorry."
"Never apologize for asking questions," Minerva said. "Is there anything else, Ms. Granger?"
"Um . . ."
"Would you like to join Mr. Potter's sessions with Professor Flitwick?" Minerva asked, knowing her student well enough to guess the unasked question.
"Yes, Professor," Hermione agreed.
"Alright then." Minerva jotted down a quick note. "Will there be anything else?"
"Just one thing, Professor," the girl agreed.
"Yes, Ms. Granger?" Minerva asked.
"May . . . is it alright if I ask a personal question, Professor?" Hermione asked nervously.
"Of course," Minerva agreed. "So long as you remember to bear in mind that being asked a question does not necessarily mean that I will be willing to answer it." The old woman smiled. "It's also a good idea to bear in mind that getting too personal could very well annoy the person you're asking."
"Uh . . ." the girl paused.
"Go ahead, Ms. Granger," the Professor said gently.
"I was just wondering . . ." the girl trailed off.
"Yes," the professor prompted gently.
"Who's the uniformed man in the picture on your desk?" Hermione blurted.
"Oh, him." Minerva giggled, sounding more like one of the seventh years than a dignified Professor of Transfiguration. "That's my husband."
"Your husband?" Hermione said dumbly. "But . . . the uniform . . ."
"My husband was a Tank Commander during the Second World War," Minerva said wistfully, "he looked so dashing in his uniform that I couldn't help myself." And what a chore it had been fighting off the other girls that had gotten the same thought upon getting their first look at him.
"I didn't know you married a muggle, Professor." The girl examined the photo, unsure how to take the news she'd just heard.
"Who said anything about a muggle?" Minerva laughed. "My husband is as pureblood as you can get without growing extra toes."
"But I thought . . ." Hermione stammered.
"I see," Minerva sighed. "While it's true that the majority of the British magical community was exempted from conscription. It's also true that the ANZAC, Canadian, and American communities were not. And let me tell you that certainly caused some friction, their lads called ours cowards and our lads called theirs idiots who got involved in a muggle war. My husband came here with the Royal Canadian Armored Corps and to this day he refuses to set foot on any of the home islands due to what happened during the war."
"But . . ."
"Yes, I know if he were to visit me here he would be in Scotland not England." Minerva agreed with a sniff of distain at what she saw as the man's willful ignorance. "Unfortunately, my husband refuses to make such distinctions." Minerva sighed. "Despite all that, some purebloods enlisted anyway - exempted or not, and some of them performed very well at that, be sure to ask Mr. Longbottom about his maternal grandfather some time, the vast majority of the English magical community sat back and did nothing while London burned. Makes you wonder just who they think they owe allegiance to - if not Queen and Country. I worry sometimes..." she trailed off as old memories came to fore.
"I didn't know any of this, Professor," Hermione confessed.
"That's because it's a recent and shameful enough chapter in our history that most of those in power would like to pretend that nothing happened," Minerva said with pursed lips. "Will that be all, Ms. Granger?"
"Good. Now, you will have to excuse me, my husband is expecting me home and I hate to keep him waiting."
"What? But I thought you said your husband wouldn't set foot here, Professor?"
"He's not. Magic makes a daily commute from Alberta a bit easier then it would other wise be. You'd be surprised at how adaptable humans can be," Minerva laughed. "We even found a way to make the time difference work for us."
The old woman chuckled to herself as the young girl skipped out of her office. Ah, to be young again. She returned home and resumed her normal routine for the next two weeks until a note from her favorite student arrived with a request for another meeting.
"You wished to speak with me again, Ms. Granger?" Minerva asked.
"I need your permission to leave school grounds, Professor," Hermione stated in an even voice. It was adorable the way the girl tried her best to portray herself as a mature adult.
"Alright. Why do you wish to leave school grounds, Ms. Granger?" Minerva asked curiously.
"I want to buy Harry a new watch, Professor," Hermione explained, "his old one broke in the Triwizard's second task and he's been without one ever since."
"What prompted this decision?" Minerva was curious to find out what was going through the young girl's mind and wondering if her relationship with her best friend might not be drifting into romantic territory. Might be time to set up another staff pool.
"Christmas is coming up, Professor," Hermione said quickly, refusing to meet the woman's eye.
"In a couple months," Minerva allowed. "And?" She could feel the hint of something intriguing hanging just out of reach.
"And Harry needs a new watch," Hermione said firmly, trying to bury further inquiry in the subject. "So I've decided to get him one since he apparently won't get one for himself."
"Alright," Minerva agreed. If the girl didn't want to talk, so be it. "Change into muggle clothing and meet me back here in twenty minutes."
"I'll need to visit my parents to get some money to pay for it first, Professor," Hermione added.
"That can be arranged," Minerva said with a smile.
"Thank you, Professor," Hermione said as she rushed out of the office.
The young girl returned a few minutes later wearing a rather conservative outfit with matching sensible shoes.
"Come with me, Ms. Granger," Minerva ordered.
"Yes, Professor," Hermione agreed, falling into step behind her Head of House.
They came to a halt just outside the ward line and Minerva offered her hand to the young witch.
"Now then," Minerva said, "hold tight and I will apparate us to your parents' house."
"They're at number twelve St. James Square," Hermione interjected.
"They moved?" Minerva asked. "Your school records still list your address as being in the village of Much Matchingham."
"Matchingham Hall is just the weekend and summer house, Professor," Hermione explained. "The London house is at St. James Square."
"I see." Minerva resisted the urge to laugh at the thought of the sprawling Granger estate as being 'just' anything. "Shall we go then?"
"Yes, Professor," Hermione agreed.
Minerva kept her face impassive as her student led her to one of the more opulent townhouses, darted up the front steps, threw open the door, and led her Professor inside.
"Is mother in?" Hermione asked the first servant they ran across, a maid just inside the entrance apparently scratching her lower back.
"No, Ms. Hermione," the maid replied. The woman turned her attention to the Professor. "This is your Professor of Charms, is it not, Ms. Hermione?"
"No, Charlotte, it's Professor McGonagall. Transfiguration and my head of house."
"I see." The maid nodded. "Madame Granger called for the car a few minutes ago and will be arriving shortly."
"Alright," Hermione agreed, "could you have her meet us in the library?"
"I can and will, Ms. Hermione," the maid agreed.
Hermione passed the time by giving her favorite professor a quick tour of what was available in the house's copious reference section.
"Of course the magic section's a bit thin," Hermione said mournfully. "Perhaps . . ." she cut off when the door opened.
"Hermione," a stately brunette that Minerva knew to be Hermione's mother greeted them. "I see you've decided to visit." The woman was shadowed by a large grey haired man with cold predatory eyes.
"Mother," Hermione said with a bright smile.
"I hope you don't mind if my driver joins our little meeting," Hermione's mother stated as she waved for them both to make themselves comfortable. "I'm simply lost without him around."
"Not at all," Minerva agreed.
Hermione's mother rang a bell as she took her seat, summoning another maid. "Some refreshments, please, Suzanna."
"Right away, Ma'am."
The maid returned a short time later and set the table before taking a discrete position behind Professor McGonagall.
"Now then," she turned to her daughter. "What's this all about?"
"I need to use some of my trust fund, mum," Hermione said with only the barest hint of nervousness.
"Really?" The stately woman's eyebrows raised a hair. "Whatever for?"
"I want to buy Harry a new watch," Hermione explained. "It will have to be more than I usually draw for books. Father always says that you can buy quality once or junk a hundred times," she added after a heartbeat.
"I see." A smile bloomed on the woman's face. "Shall I make an appointment with our jeweler? I'm sure he'd be happy to open something up for you this afternoon."
"That won't be necessary, mum," Hermione said, "Professor McGonagall has already been gracious enough to make arrangements for me."
"Excellent," the woman said with a smile, "is there any other business we need to discuss?"
"One more thing," Minerva spoke up, "I need you to sign a permission slip allowing Ms. Granger to accompany me out of the country."
"To where?" The woman's eyes flicked from her daughter to the professor.
"Canada," Minerva stated. "That's where the watchmaker, my grandfather in law, lives."
"Seems like a bit of a trip," Hermione's mother said doubtfully.
"Magical transportation makes it a bit easier then would otherwise be the case," Minerva said with a smile. We can be there and back in just a few minutes."
"Of course." She signed the paper. "Now if there is nothing else, would you do me the favor of giving me a few minutes alone with my daughter?"
"Of course," Minerva agreed. Doctor Granger's stone faced driver stood up and gently but forcefully led her out of the room.
"Mrs. Granger wanted me to tell you something," the man said in a gravelly voice.
"What is that?"
"She would like to have another meeting with you later," the man replied. "She would prefer it if Miss Granger were not aware of that meeting."
"Of course," Minerva agreed quickly, "please tell Mrs. Granger that I will return after Miss Granger and I have concluded our business."
The driver nodded and the two of them passed the next several minutes in silence as they waited for mother and daughter to finish catching up.
"Finished?" Minerva asked kindly when the door opened and Hermione came out.
"Yes, Professor," Hermione agreed.
"Hold on to my robes then," Minerva ordered.
"I didn't know that it was possible to apparate that far," Hermione said in wonder.
"It's not," Minerva said as she activated her portkey. "My robes are the portkey," she finished on the other side.
"Oh," Hermione said dumbly.
"It's something I started doing when I had children," Minerva explained. "My robes and my hair were the only things I could get them to hold onto." Getting them to let go on the other hand . . .
Hermione filed away that bit of information and followed her professor down a small alley and into a well kept shop.
"Minerva?" the man said with a grin. "Welcome." He turned to Hermione. "And what can I do for you, young lady?"
"I'd like to buy a watch for my friend Harry," Hermione replied.
"What sort of watch?" the man asked.
"It will have to be mechanical," Hermione mused, "other then that . . . well, father likes Patek Philippe, or at least I think he does, the last four or five he's bought have all been Patek Philippe."
"Any model in particular?" he asked, mentally raising the upper price limit of his recommendations.
"I think his current favorite has a perpetual Calendar and a moon phase," Hermione replied weakly, "I never took much interest and he's got so many of them that it's hard to keep track."
"Would you like to take a look at what I have on hand?" the old man offered.
"Only the ones in platinum," Hermione declared quickly, "father says that gold is too gaudy for a man."
"Afraid I don't have any in platinum at the moment," the old man confessed, "I do have a platinum case for a pocket watch movement though."
"I'll take a look at it," Hermione said with a shrug.
"Ms. Granger, does your father really insist on platinum cases?" Minerva asked, wondering if the girl knew how expensive it would be.
"Yes Professor," Hermione agreed, "mum says that it's because he comes from new money." Hermione gave a impish smile. "Dad's family made much of the fortune in guano in the last century and mum says that he's a bit defensive about the whole thing," Hermione confided. "Of course, it might also be because dad is a bit vain about jewelry and clothing."
"I see." The corners of her mouth twitched.
"Mum prefers to be a bit more sensible about things," Hermione continued. "But as she's not the one we need to impr . . . um . . ." A panicked look appeared on Hermione's face as she realized that she'd said too much.
"Ms. Granger," Minerva sighed, "I fear that at my age, the senses start to become dulled. Now what was that last bit again?"
"But since dad has more watches and clothes then I'm going to trust his judgment for now," Hermione squeaked.
"Alright, Ms. Granger," Minerva agreed, starting to get an idea of what was happening.
"Here we are," the old man announced his return. He laid a small box on the table. "Take a look."
Hermione peered into the box with look of intense concentration on her face.
"It's rather big, isn't it?"
"Rather standard for a pocket watch," the old man replied neutrally.
"Where is the rest of it?" Hermione held up the rest of the case.
"The movement, crystal, and dial need to be picked separately."
"Can you engrave the back?"
"Of course," the old man agreed, "I also have a matching chain for that."
"What kind of movement?" Hermione asked quickly.
"I was thinking of using a customized Hamilton 992b in size sixteen to match the case," the old man said calmly, "that's the mechanical part of the watch."
"Why wouldn't you just use a tempus charm or some other spell?" Hermione shifted into knowledge collecting mode.
"One of the major problems with the tempus charm is that it will not keep standard time," the old man explained. "That leaves aside the fact that it's not accurate to more then five minutes. Precision wasn't needed when the charm was developed and standard time wouldn't even be considered for another four centuries."
"Oh." Hermione's nose wrinkled as she processed the information.
"That's not to say that I didn't use any magic," the old man continued, "several of the parts have been enchanted. Making it as waterproof, fireproof, shockproof, scratch proof, and generally indestructible as magic allows. That's not to say you shouldn't be careful with it, of course."
"Of course," Hermione echoed.
"But it should be able to survive any accidents. Internally, the movement is self winding, cleaning, lubricating, etc. Rather then using tritium, the dial has illuminating charms on it that can be set so that they are only visible to the owner or some select group of people. I could go on, but it would take a while and it's all in the manual anyway."
"Wouldn't you get into trouble for misuse of muggle artifacts?" Hermione asked intently.
"Doesn't apply to Canada," the old man laughed.
"I was planning to take this back to the United Kingdom," Hermione pointed out.
"I figured that when you mentioned the statute. It's illegal to charm muggle items," he said with a grin, "possession of charmed muggle items is a bit of a grey area. Let's the old families get away with a lot of shady things. Even if it did apply to Canada . . . well, there's more than a few loopholes in that law." Overseas trade being lucrative enough to encourage a very close reading of the laws in question.
"Doesn't apply to things made by members of a magical society for one," the old man replied, "which covers everything that's got an enchantment. Aside from that, they only apply the statute to any tech more modern then the last war . . . er . . . the one my boy went to I mean."
"They don't?" Hermione asked in shock, a whole new world of research had just opened to her.
"You never wondered about the Hogwarts express, the Knight Bus, or the Wizard Wireless?" he asked with a grin.
"But . . . but, there's nothing in the library . . ."
"Train is run by a Canadian crew, predominately Canadian I should say. Knight Bus has an American mechanic that makes the trip across the pond every now and again, and the Wizard Wireless has maintenance people from any number of places."
"We use some technology," Minerva interjected. "But we, that is to say the British magical world, lack the skills to reproduce or maintain it for the most part. Most purebloods refuse to have anything to do with it and look down on anyone who has the necessary skills."
"That's why there are no books in the library?" Hermione asked in a small voice.
"That's why," Minerva agreed, "the Board didn't think it appropriate to waste resources on something so common and frivolous . . . I can help you acquire some books on the subject if you like."
"Thank you Professor, that would be wonderful," Hermione gushed. "And . . . um . . ."
"What is it Ms. Granger?"
"Do you think that you could take Harry out to get some new clothes?" Hermione asked. "It'd be best if you knew someone, Professor, but I could make an appointment with my father's tailor on Bond street if you like."
"Why don't we discuss that later," Minerva suggested.
"Alright, Professor," Hermione agreed.
Minerva saw her charge safely back in the castle before heading to her meeting with the young girl's mother.
"Thank you for taking the time to meet with me, Professor McGonagall," Hermione's mother began, "I have some concerns that I was hoping you could address."
"I will do my best, Mrs. Granger," Minerva said calmly.
"First of all, I was wondering why your school chose not to inform us of all that has happened." The woman's eyes were cold. "Or about how close we came to losing our daughter."
"I . . ." Minerva was acutely aware of the woman's 'driver' taking a position behind her. "Wait, you weren't informed?"
"No," the woman said flatly, her voice like a gunshot. "We weren't."
"But the charms should have . . ." Minerva trailed off. "Did you put in any wards?"
"We have not," the woman replied.
"Then . . . I suppose it could be due to the fact that you have two residences," Minerva said slowly, "or . . . well, any number of things I suppose. I'm afraid we're speaking outside my area of expertise. I will have to get back to you with an answer."
"Alright," she agreed. She gave her driver a meaningful look, causing him to take a step back and assume a more neutral position.
"Just like that?"
"Just like that," Hermione's mother agreed, "I pride myself on being able to judge people and I'm sure that now that you know about the problem you'll insure it doesn't crop up again, but it has brought another matter to light which will be a bit more difficult to deal with."
"My husband and I are no longer confident that the administration will act in our daughter's best interests," she explained.
"Ms. Granger will be devastated to hear that you're pulling her out of Hogwarts," Minerva pointed out.
"We haven't decided to pull her out yet," the woman stated. "We are strongly considering the possibility that we may have to at some future date. I would ask that you take a closer interest in her well being. Take that as a personal request if you will."
"Of course," Minerva agreed. The old woman was willing to do almost anything to keep her star pupil. "A question, if I may."
"What is it?"
"If the school failed to notify you, then how did you find out?"
"One of my husband's old school friends is classmate of the father of another of your students," the woman explained. "Now that we have the unpleasantness out of the way, please call me Anne."
"Minerva," McGonagall replied automatically.
"One thing has been bothering me," McGonagall began. "I was hoping that you could enlighten me."
"What is it?"
"I was wondering if you knew why Hermione suddenly became so interested in Mr. Potter's appearance?"
"At a guess, it's because Hermione has been mentioning him so much in her letters that we extended an invitation for him to join us this winter." The woman smiled. "We saw him at a distance a few years ago when we were putting Hermione on the train, my husband pronounced him scruffy." Her smile widened. "I'm sure you've noticed the fact that my daughter is prone to over thinking things."
"Yes, I have noticed that," Minerva said dryly.
"She is likely going to bother the poor boy about his appearance until after we meet," Anne giggled. She made a 'come here' motion to her driver who handed Minerva a large envelope.
"What's this?" Minerva asked.
"A letter of credit from the goblins and an ebony card," Anne replied. "Please use it to make young Harry presentable and for any projects Hermione decides to take on."
Minerva's eyes bulged at the amount on the Gringotts note. "This is . . ." she choked, unable to bring herself to verbalize the number.
"Don't hesitate to call if you need more," Anne added cheerfully.
"I . . ."
"With that out of the way." She leaned forward with an eager smile. "Do you have any embarrassing stories to share about my daughter that I could persuade you to pass on?"