, for Professor McGonagall needed first to confirm that everybody had achieved the necessary O.W.L. grades to continue with their chosen
Hermione was immediately cleared to continue with Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Herbology, Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, and Potions, and shot
off to a first period Ancient Runes class without further ado. Neville took a little longer to sort out; his round face was anxious as Professor McGonagall looked down
his application and then consulted his O.W.L. results.
“Herbology, fine,” she said. “Professor Sprout will be delighted to see you back with an ‘Outstanding’ O.W.L. And you qualify for Defense Against the Dark Arts
with ‘Exceeds Expectations.’ But the problem is Transfiguration. I'm sorry, Longbottom, but an ‘Acceptable’ really isn't good enough to continue to N.E.W.T. level.
Just don't think you'd be able to cope with the coursework.”
Neville hung his head. Professor McGonagall peered at him through her square spectacles.
“Why do you want to continue with Transfiguration, anyway? I've never had the impression that you particularly enjoyed it.”
Neville looked miserable and muttered something about “my grandmother wants.”
“Hmph,” snorted Professot McGonagall. “It's high time your grandmother learned to be proud of the grandson she's got, rather than the one she thinks she ought to
have—particularly after what happened at the Ministry.”
Neville turned very pink and blinked confusedly; Professor McGonagall had never paid him a compliment before.
“I'm sorry, Longbottom, but I cannot let you into my N.E.W.T. class. I see that you have an ‘Exceeds Expectations’ in Charm however—why not try for a N.E.W.T. in
“My grandmother thinks Charms is a soft option,” mumbled Neville.
“Take Charms,” said Professor McGonagall, “and I shall drop Augusta a line reminding her that just because she failed her Charms O.W.L., the subject is not
necessarily worthless.” Smiling slightly at the look of delighted incredulity on Neville's face, Professor McGonagall tapped a blank schedule with the tip of her wand
and handed it, now carrying details of his new classes, to Neville.
Professor McGonagall turned next to Parvati Patil, whose first question was whether Firenze, the handsome centaur, was still teaching Divination.
“He and Professor Trelawney are dividing classes between them this year,” said Professor McGonagall, a hint of disapproval in her voice; it was common knowledge that
she despised the subject of Divination. “The sixth year is being taken by Professor Trelawney.”
Parvati set off for Divination five minutes later looking slightly crestfallen.
“So, Potter, Potter...” said Professor McGonagall, consulting her notes as she turned to Harry. “Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Transfiguration
... all fine. I must say, I was pleased with your Transfiguration mark, Potter, very pleased. Now, why haven't you applied to continue with Potions? I thought it was
your ambition to become an Auror?”
“It was, but you told me I had to get an ‘Outstanding’ in my O.W.L., Professor.”
“And so you did when Professor Snape was teaching the subject. Professor Slughorn, however, is perfectly happy to accept N.E.W.T. students with ‘Exceeds Expectations
’ at O.W.L. Do you wish to proceed with Potions?”
“Yes,” said Harry, “but I didn't buy the books or any ingredients or anything—”
“I'm sure Professor Slughorn will be able to lend you some,” said Professor McGonagall. “Very well, Potter, here is your schedule. Oh, by the way—twenty hopefuls
have already put down their names for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. I shall pass the list to you in due course and you can fix up trials at your leisure.”
A few minutes later, Ron was cleared to do the same subjects as Harry, and the two of them left the table together.
“Look,” said Ron delightedly, gazing ar his schedule, “we've got a free period now and a free period after break... and after lunch... excellent.”
They returned to the common room, which was empty apart from a half dozen seventh years, including Katie Bell, the only remaining member of the original Gryffindor