Who: McGonagall and Animagus Training Students What: Lesson Where: Headmistress' Office, After Dinner - After Curfew When: Friday night Rating/Warning: Plotty
Minerva looked around the office, clearing the last few small tables to the sides of the room. She'd placed the longer tables around the perimeter this time, as this would not be a lecturing night, and she didn't anticipate that the students would spent much of their time sitting.
She took the last few moments before students began arriving to force her thoughts of her recent conversation with Severus out of her mind. She was still torn as to whether or not she should trust his account of things, but it matched far more easily with what she had known of Albus than an easy murder would have, even if he had been protecting Potter. The news he'd brought of plans, though, particularly regarding Hogwarts, made tonight's lesson more important than it ever might have been otherwise. If her time at the castle was as short as he believed, this might be the last chance she had to work with these students. To set them on their path. She had to trust that they would be able to continue to completion on their own, and that they were far enough along in the study that continuing wouldn't put them in any more danger than she had already anticipated it would.
Which meant that tonight she had to be completely focused on training them - on forcing them through the painful beginnings of the actual attempt at transformation. It was, perhaps, too soon to try. They had only been studying for bare months, after all. They had been doing very well, though. By the end of their last lesson they had all been able to cast silently, as well as wandlessly, and their apptitude at least reinforced with Minerva that she had made the right choices in these students. That much, at least, was a relief.
Tonight, they would have to prove more of themselves.
As the students assembled, promptly - she was glad to note - as she had expected, Minerva waved them to the long tables. When they had all arrived, she began slowly, clearing her throat.
"You have done exceptionally well in these students during these last lessons. However, tonight I ask more of you. You have been looking only at the edges of what we intend to do here. Tonight, we shall attempt to bridge that gulf. It will be painful, and you will be unsuccessful. Do not imagine that either of those things can be avoided. Success, tonight, should be measured by small changes, and by a greater understanding of how to focus your will, your mind, and your control of magic to this specific purpose. Do not expect more than that."
That said, and hopes dashed, the lesson began. It was gruelling, and Minerva drove them harder than she had in the past. She had no misconceptions that any of these children would leave these rooms in less than severe pain, but all would leave with something accomplished - a set of ears turned successfully here, a pair of wings sprouted there, whiskers, a change of skin to fur or feathers. All small changes, but monumental after such a short time.
When they were all stable and themselves again, exhausted, barely able to lean against the tables to keep themselves upright, Minerva handed out potions for the pain and passes to allow them in the halls after curfew, should they be caught. She gave them time to ask questions, time to speak about their changes and progress, and then sent them back to their own Houses. What she wanted to say rang in her mind - "This may well be the last chance I have to meet with you. I fear that my time at Hogwarts will be cut short, despite my best efforts. Trust in one another, keep meeting. You have the skills you need now to finish this work."