Fifty-six years she’s been teaching, and she’d never struck a student in all that time.
There’d been irritating students, arrogant students, students who couldn’t transfigure a pin cushion if it would save their lives, but she’d sucked in her gut and dealt with them.
Now there were students trying to kill her, and she couldn’t stop seeing the tiny first years that had stared at the cat who had turned into a woman.
She remembered snapping at them to get back, you foolish children, get out of the way. She recalled comforting them when they missed home, sitting with them for hours, and never mentioning it again because they’d be embarrassed, as if no one else had ever missed their mum’s bedtime stories. She reminisced about their grades, how she’d helped almost every single one of them with their classwork sometime in the last seven years, and their parents and their parents before them.
But in all her years of teaching, she’d never been on the opposite side from her students.
She wondered if this was what parents felt like when they fought against their children, and was glad once again that she’d never chosen to have a child.
But in another sense, she hadn’t had one child, she’d had dozens, hundreds.
Every student that passed through Hogwarts’ doors was her child, even those that dropped Transfiguration as soon as they could. Even those that hated everyone around them. Even, especially, those that didn’t have anyone else.
Every teacher had favorites, every teacher pretended they didn’t. Hers were the castoffs, always had been and always would be. Children with parents that didn’t care, children with no parents, children who got left behind and forgotten by their playmates. Too young, too brilliant, too odd or too proud, they were almost always lonely. She worked to make sure they were okay, that they weren’t left behind, and that the rest of the students found out their talents. Every one of her students was precious to her, and she knew her job was done when they moved on without her.
She loved every student in her halls, and they were hers in a way not even a baby would be. Hers to love, hers to teach, and hers to protect.
But now people, students and non-students alike, were in her school, were actively trying to kill her, to kill her children. And that couldn’t be allowed.
She’d been collecting cubs for fifty years, would go to the ends of the earth to help them, and now they were being threatened.
But the problem now was that the spells were flying fast, and some of her cubs had picked the opposite side. She couldn’t attack them, not if she thought of them as students.
So she didn’t.
It took a trick of the mind, but she’d mastered the Animangus transformation before she’d left Hogwarts- she could do it. She had to think of them as a threat, but not a threat to her students, because that led to reminding her of their danger and wanting to kill them. She couldn’t think of them as her students, because that left her unable to fight back at all- she’d let them kill her before she hurt a student. She had to think of them as a threat to Hogwarts, a threat to the symbol in her mind of safety and protection. Then she could see how they needed to be disabled, but not dead. In the more vicious moments, when she slipped and thought of her cubs, the thought in her mind wasn’t a nice one, it wasn’t ‘I need to leave them alive’- it was ‘I need to take time kill them slowly, and I don’t have enough time now’. And that scared her, just a bit, but if it let her protect the cubs, she didn’t care.