His mind still unsettled, Harry sat down at the Gryffindor table for dinner. He kept his eyes trained on his plate - he was not going to notice anything that the Slytherins - or Snape himself, did. He was going to eat, and then he was going to leave.
Besides, his friends were perfectly capable of monitoring the other tables - without a word from him.
Hermione's plan had been hashed out using hashbrowns and greenbeans and bacon during breakfast, though she was explaining it again to Ginny, who'd been up for an early morning fly and had missed breakfast - this time using colcannon, although filius had managed to be transformed into a grape from the fruit salad. Harry had asked if Hermione could be a chestnut, on account of her hair, but none could be located... More's the pity, Harry thought.
"Mister Potter," Professor Minerva McGonagall said, "I would like more than a word with you." Which was typical, really. McGonagall could make a Birthday Party sound like a death sentence, in her prim and proper voice.
So, despite the fact that he knew perfectly well what it was about, Harry did his best to look not just chastened, but also a bit scared. He did not need to look at the Slytherin table to see Malfoy's superior smirk. He heard Pansy's shrill, teeth-grating laugh. It was only the thought that she was entirely faking it that kept Harry walking tamely behind McGonagall.
Harry hated being stared at, like a freak.
Harry was escorted up to McGonagall's private office, a place that he'd only seen rarely - unlike Snape, she'd offer correction in the classroom, by and large. Gryffindor bravery did not lead to private upbrading within her office. Harry had only a moment to be glad that Snape had laced his mockery with bile instead of truth, before McGonagall gestured to a petitioner's seat in front of her desk.
"This is intended to be a punishment, Mister Potter," she said primly, "However, if you apply yourself, I daresay you may acquire some more survival skills."
Harry listened, intently.
"You are in Advanced Transfiguration this year, are you not?"
"I am, Professor." Harry responded to the completely unnecessary question.
"Then you might have the necessary skills and technique to pull this off." she said primly.
Harry waited, not rising to the bait.
Professor McGonagall waited back.
"What is it, Professor?" Harry at last responded, leaning forward to show that he was interested.
The prim Professor smirked just a bit at the control she'd been handed, waving her wand to reveal a large set of books, about as high as Flitwick. "We are going to attempt to teach you how to be an Animagus."
Harry's mouth fell open, his mind churning with possibilities. To wriggle on the ground like a snake, or fly in the air like Hedwig - even swim in the water, as fluent as a shark - or the spring of a cat. "That... would be wonderful!"
"Perhaps," Professor McGonagall said, her reticent manner that of a cat. "You will have to work extremely hard to even attempt this, Mister Potter. Your usual standard will not suffice."
Harry hung his head for a moment, then raised it gamely, "Yes, Professor." he said solidly.
Oh, the possibilities!
Professor McGonagall launched into a light lecture, emphasizing various senses and the modalities that creatures operated under. It was fascinating, particularly when she talked about Owls. Harry'd never been really aware that Hedwig didn't see him the way he saw her.
Eventually, Harry realized that he was supposed to be at the Defense club. He shifted awkwardly.
"Am I boring you?" McGonagall asked, smoothly and dangerously.
"Good, because I haven't got the time at my age to bore anyone." Professor McGonagall said coldly, "Do you have someplace to be, perhaps?"
"Erm," Harry said, "I can't say."
Professor McGonagall's eyes sparkled, "Not again, Mister Potter." she said wryly. "I suppose it's a good thing you've got so much reading to finish before we meet again. I will feel no guilt in allowing you to escape to parts unknown."
[a/n: I am going to try something different with this. I'm not sure anyone's ever done this in fanfic.
You get a plot cookie if you figure it out first.
Next chapter is presents, I hope!]