Recipient:noeon Author:pauraque Title: The Two Names of Xiomara Rolanda Hooch Rating: PG-13/Teen Pairing: Hooch/McGonagall Word Count: ~2400 Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): *None*. Summary: Hogwarts changes. She changes. Author's Notes: I'm told that JKR provided some additional backstory for Minerva on Pottermore, but I haven't read it, so if you have, just pretend you haven't! Thanks to D for taming the wild semicolons. Any remaining errors or infelicities are my own.
When she went to school, she became Rolanda.
In her mother's tight embrace on the train station platform, Rolanda felt how thin she was, nearly all bones. Her mother pulled back, held her by the shoulders and gazed at her with a fond smile — the smile that made them look alike, people said. "You must write to me, Xiomara," she said, her accent drawing odd looks from the other witches and wizards milling around.
She nodded and pulled away from the goodbye kisses, and boarded the train with Minerva beside her.
"What was it she called you?" Minerva asked curiously.
"Xiomara is my first name," she said sheepishly. "Rolanda's my middle."
"Oh! Well, which do you like? I think Xiomara's awfully pretty."
She thought of her mother saying her name, accented. She thought of her mother's tales of home in Spain, and of lighting candles in December that had nothing to do with Christmas, and of March's sweet plum-filled biscuits that melted in her mouth. Being different, being other. Her mother: I love you, Xiomara. Make me proud, Xiomara.
"Rolanda's fine," she mumbled.
The spring of 1945 was one of those where the snow seemed to melt overnight. As Minerva led Rolanda down to the far side of the lake, the sun warmed their backs, but a chill wind still pressed hard at their chests. Minerva struggled to keep her hair out of her face, and when her skirt flew up a little, Rolanda caught a flash of white beneath it and felt a funny warmth that made her have to look away.
This side of the lake was lined with sharp, slippery rocks that made Rolanda nervous to walk on. Little floats of ice still lay on the water, belying the new summery air that had already drawn down the birds, which hopped about in confusion on the shore.
"Do be careful," Rolanda warned nervously as Minerva confidently picked her way among the stones, her slender legs crossing quickly before and behind, arms out wide and teetering.
"Don't worry so much, I've done it hundreds of times! See, just there..."
She pointed to a broad, flat stone near the water's edge that looked almost made to be sat on. Minerva took her hand to lead her down; Rolanda wished she had the grace Minerva did, the birdlike ease. Rolanda always felt uncomfortable in her clothes, tugging her skirt up, her blouse down. At least her hair was easier now that she'd bobbed it.
The stone was nearly not big enough for the two of them to sit, and they had to bunch up together, Minerva pressed close by Rolanda's side and catching her breath. The jagged rocks behind them felt like a protective wall, and the icy water lapping near their feet like a castle moat. The grassy side was barely visible far across the lake, and Hogwarts even further, misty with distance.
"Isn't it lovely?" Minerva sighed. "All grey like this, and the sun shining as though it's got no idea it's still winter." Her pale hands flittered before her, tracing out the patterns of the sunbeams. "No one ever comes down this side, but I think it's splendid here, don't you?" She clasped her hands round her knees and leaned her head against Rolanda's shoulder, as though nothing could be more natural.
"Yes," Rolanda said, her heart tight in her throat. "It is."
When Rolanda lay in bed, the curtains heavy around her, she barely even knew what to dream of.
If they could go on holiday together, somewhere no one would bother them... Walking along lonely mountain ridges, Icelandic calderas. She thought of wearing boys' clothes, of holding Minerva's hand as they walked through Hogsmeade, away from Walburga Black's cruel grey eyes.
She dreamt of the way Minerva clasped her hands together when she sat, and of the soft undersides of Minerva's arms when she reached up to straighten her hair. Rolanda stroked herself lightly as she thought of these things, and then squeezed her legs tight together with a frustration she didn't yet know how to relieve — the want of something that didn't even seem to exist. Back then, even their enemies didn't name what they were. Tomboys, they said. Quidditch girls.
The first time someone called Rolanda queer, it was almost a relief. At last, she had a name.
When Rolanda left school, she also left her mother's house, and for ten years she lived in a dingy, low-ceilinged flat, her wand and her broomstick tucked away in the closet.
Finding the sapphic places in London had been for her what finding magic must have been for the Muggleborns, she thought. The Muggles taught this witch types of magic she had never imagined: the charm of kissing a beautiful girl full on the lips, and how a woman was transfigured when she spread open her thighs.
She rode the tube home late at night with a laughing, red-haired bird slumped tipsily against her, the sway and rumble of the train a comforting reminder that this was real. Their legs were stretched out far into the aisle, Rolanda's ankles crossed, her scuffed men's shoes big and black beside this girl's narrow red high-heels. A man had to step over their feet to get to the door, and he gave them a nasty look and hissed a word under his breath.
"Up yours," Rolanda grunted, giving him the two-fingered salute. "Naff old thing," she added. Her girl burst into giggles at the man's look of confused indignation as he huffed off the train.
It was a dull, rainy day when Rolanda was digging around in her letter box, keys in her hand and a bag of groceries heavy and awkward on her arm, when she found among the usual bills a folded-up piece of yellow parchment, held closed with a red wax seal.
11 April 1965
Dear Miss Hooch,
I hope this missive finds you well. It has been far too long since we have spoken. I often reflect fondly on the energy and enthusiasm you brought to my classroom, such as the memorable occasion on which you playfully Transfigured a certain Miss Black's book-bag into a nest of stinging Bolivian fairy-hornets.
As you may have heard, Mr Budge will no longer be our flight instructor at Hogwarts in the coming school year, and I find myself seeking a replacement who would bring a more modern attitude to the athletics department. I have long wished to foster an environment where young ladies would be openly encouraged to participate in sport, a topic on which dear old Budgie and I did not always see eye to eye.
I am also eager to continue bringing diversity to the staff I inherited, which I am afraid was initially rather heavy on what one might call, if one were being cheeky, 'straight old men'.
If you can recommend any candidates who might be appropriate, I would be most grateful.
Albus Dumbledore Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
In the years Rolanda was away, she thought the only thing she missed was flying. When she came back to Hogwarts, she remembered there was something else.
The girl who was Minerva had become a stern and elegant woman, her dark hair worn up, cheekbones gloriously high and eyes set wide apart. When they saw each other, Minerva looked blank for a moment.
"Oh — Rolanda, is it you? Albus told me you were coming, but I barely recognised..."
Rolanda could hear the notes of her girlish voice from so long ago, but now her tone was fuller, more mature, and Rolanda had an urge to stride right up to her and take her in her arms.
She restrained herself, laughing. "Yes, it's me — have I changed so much?"
She had, of course, inside and out. She didn't wear skirts anymore, and her hair was cut short, and she moved with confidence — herself.
Minerva's appraising look was subtle, but Rolanda noticed it. "I'd heard you were in... in London."
"Well, my goodness, come inside," Minerva said after a moment, flustering as though aware she'd been staring. She opened her arm to Rolanda as if to guide her in, and they walked up the steps to the doors Rolanda hadn't entered since she was a girl. "I must say, it will be nice to have another woman on staff."
When Rolanda flew again, after having been denied it these past ten years among the Muggles, it was very nearly orgasmic.
She raced high above the school grounds, twisting and turning like a leaf in the wind, her body still remembering tricks her mind had forgotten, making figure-eights between the towers and spires. When at last she came down to earth, she was laughing to herself, her hands and nose tingling-numb and her hair fresh with wind.
Minerva was there by the door, watching her, eyes dilated-dark, and wearing a rare smile.
"My great-grandfather William tried to pass as a Muggle too, you know," Minerva said musingly as she gazed up at the ceiling, Rolanda's blanket pulled up modestly over her chest. "He said no wizard could appreciate his poetic genius."
Rolanda tried to maintain an innocent look as her hand crept up beneath the blanket. "Did any Muggle?"
Minerva shifted her hips, hiding a smile as Rolanda traced her fingertips around hardening nipples. "I don't think so," she said, talking as though they were just sitting around the staff table. "I think they considered him a bit mad. Oh!" She gave a mock-reproachful look at Rolanda's pinch. Rolanda grinned.
"Your body drives me mad," she said, sliding her arm around Minerva's bare waist and pressing kisses onto her glorious breasts, hanging so beautifully low and soft.
"Don't be silly," Minerva said primly. "I'm not a young woman anymore."
"And thank God for that," Rolanda said, her voice husky.
Teaching took some getting used to. It was difficult to remember what it was like before flying became second nature; she kept forgetting to mention things that were obvious to her, and when the students didn't catch on right away, she didn't know what to do except repeat herself.
"How did you manage it?" she asked Albus one day in exasperation. "You were always so bloody patient with us, no matter how stupid we were."
Albus took a moment to respond, rolling a sherbet lemon thoughtfully around in his mouth. "I find it helpful to recall," he said at last, "that I did not embark on this career in order to teach students, but in order to help children. If, in addition, they learn a bit of something, I consider that a bonus."
Rolanda thought about those words often in the coming days and years.
Her mother died in 1971. Rolanda sat at the staff table with her father's letter held in hands gone numb, the tears seeming to come from somewhere outside herself. She hadn't cried in so long.
Albus had quickly and quietly ushered everyone else out, and it was just her and Minerva, turned awkwardly round in their chair as Minerva held her firmly, rubbing her back.
"I'm sorry," Rolanda said, trying to stop, to clench her teeth together and hold down the sobs, but unable to. The sound of her voice was foreign, the whimper of a helpless child. "She never— she never really understood. I feel as though I didn't give her a chance. I didn't try hard enough."
"It's all right," Minerva said, an edge of fierceness in her whisper. "You're all right."
It wasn't long after that when she asked Minerva if she'd start calling her Xiomara.
She didn't explain why — wasn't sure if she could have. Minerva didn't request a reason. They were in bed together, and Minerva was lying on her side with her hands together beneath her head, her eyes looking wide and owlish without her glasses. "It might take time to get used to that," she said at last.
"That's all right," answered Xiomara. "It took time for me, as well."
Tradition has it that Hogwarts was built a thousand years ago, by the Founders' hands. It is true, in a way — they built a fortification here to protect their magic from outsiders. But it is also a lie. Over the centuries, towers have been added, parapets fallen down, crumbling stones taken away or reused to build things in the village. There are dusty old paintings of what Hogwarts looked like ages ago, and its silhouette is so altered that you'd never know it was the same place.
Hogwarts changes. Xiomara learnt that the first time a staircase lurched and slid beneath her feet, but she did not truly know it until now.
The summer of 1990 is a peaceful one. The breeze is warm as Minerva and Xiomara go walking on the far side of the lake — not because it is a hidden place, now, but because they simply enjoy it.
"I do miss them over the summer, but the quiet is lovely," Minerva admits, her words half-blown away in the wind.
"Yeah," Xiomara says. When Hogwarts is empty, it has a certain lonely beauty, like a theatre before the audience has come.
She takes Minerva's hand and sighs. Whenever they touch, the tension never fails to drain from Xiomara's body. There have been women before who made Xiomara feel good, but Minerva is the only woman who makes her feel right. She has grown only more beautiful with years, her body made of layered memories: pleasure, comfort, and love. She doesn't hesitate anymore when she says her name: Xiomara. It falls naturally from her lips. Xiomara. Pass the salt. Xiomara. I love you.
Looking ahead to the new term, Xiomara is comfortable. The air in Albus's school has a certain ease, subtle enough that most students probably don't notice it — walking through it in the blind way that Muggles walk through magic. But for the children who need it, it's there. The freedom Xiomara and Minerva never had: a boy who lingers after class and asks Xiomara awkwardly if they can talk, and girls who walk hand in hand together in the halls without a whispered word.