Silhouette of witch with tall hat and cape on broomstick. Banner underneath reads: "Squibstress"

Sufficient Unto the Day

Robert McGonagall never would have guessed he’d spend Christmas surrounded by wizards and witches in a magical castle. But when an illness forces him to spend the holiday at Hogwarts, he finds that magic isn’t quite what he’s imagined, and his unexpected discoveries provide a chance to reconcile with his daughter, Minerva.

Minerva McGonagall, Robert McGonagall Sr., Severus Snape
8,500 words

Read It On

A compassionate, subtle and lovely story. Beautifully written and touched with hope and love.


I absolutely loved this! Incredibly moving with a very well written Minerva, and her father was exactly how I had imagined it!


The tenderness of this fic made me burst into tears, which was somehow exactly what I needed this evening.


Severus Snape was an interesting choice of friend for Minerva, Robert mused. He watched the man at mealtimes in the Great Hall. He was younger than Robert had thought, but his perpetual scowl and the shadows under his eyes made him appear older at first glance. He looked as if he’d been ridden hard and put away wet, as Granny McGonagall used to say.

Although he observed the necessary politenesses, Professor Snape was sharp with the students and curt with the other staff at table. The only person he seemed to speak with of his own volition was Minerva.


Minerva had a sort of hardness herself, although Robert had the sense that this old-young man had teeth and claws that Minerva had never developed, thank the Lord. But she had come by her own hardness naturally. His daughter was introspective, observant, and not effusive with her emotions. She was the one of his children who’d been most like himself, Robert thought. More than once it had worried him. A girl needed a little softness in this world, even in the upper reaches of Caithness. He’d been afraid she was destined to be a spinster, to live her life alone.

But she wasn’t alone here, he realised. Far from it.

Hogwarts was a bit like his parish had been, he thought, with its different person-alities and relationships, and Minerva was right in the middle of it all, just as he had been. Several staff had been round for drinks in the evening—that heavy-set fellow had brought the most marvellous bottle of whisky Robert had ever had—and Minerva had been summoned from her bed to see to a sick child in the middle of the night on another occasion, just as he had often been called to minister to an ailing parishioner.

During the day, she worked, meeting with Dumbledore or the other staff, and doing whatever else it was that deputy heads did at a boarding school during the Christ-mas holiday. She made time to take her father out for walks around the Hogwarts grounds—slow, halting walks, thanks to his blasted cane.

It was during one of these walks that he first saw someone fly. They were coming into the courtyard when he felt a rush of air behind him.

He turned in time to see a boy on—was that a broomstick?—catch a ball, letting out a whoop! of triumph.

“Weasley!” Minerva shouted. “Mind how you go! Kindly take your game to the Quidditch pitch where it belongs.”

The boy descended to where they stood and hopped from the—yes, it was a broomstick.

“Sorry, Professor. Only, Flint’s on the pitch with Pucey and Avery.”

“Surely there is space on the pitch for you and Mr Wood to join them rather than endangering the lives of pedestrians here? Or are three Slytherins enough to keep you from practising in the location designated for it?”

The boy opened his mouth as if he were going to argue, but a look from Minerva silenced him.

“Right, Professor,” he said. Robert followed the boy with his eyes as he hopped back on the broom and rose into the sky, whistling for his partner to follow him as he zoomed off.

Robert was still watching the horizon when Minerva said, “Sorry, Dad. They aren’t supposed to be playing in the courtyard.”

Robert shook his head to clear it. “What . . . er . . . what were they playing, exactly?”

“Quidditch. It’s a bit like football, but on brooms and with more balls.”

He had been about to ask her if everyone in her world rode about on broomsticks, but her comment about football piqued his interest. Footie was a passion, but he hadn’t been to a match since Rob Jr had died.

“How is it played?” he asked.

“Well, . . . there’s the Quaffle, you see, and the Chasers try to score goals with it. To do that, you have to get it past the Keeper and avoid the Bludgers. They’re large, heavy balls that the Beaters try to hit you with. Meanwhile, the Seeker . . .”

The confused look on his face stopped her.

“I suppose you need to see it to understand it.”

Two days later, she took him out to what looked like a football field, where a group of young men and women were waiting. She spoke to the ginger-haired boy from before, who nodded enthusiastically and started shouting orders at the others.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to Levitate you to get you up into the stands,” Minerva told Robert.

“Levitate? You mean fly me?”

“It just raises you in the air a little so you don’t have to climb the stairs. It can feel a wee bit awkward at first, but it isn’t dangerous.”

Robert looked up into the stands, which were dotted by a few spectators, then back at the field. The students with broomsticks had divided into two groups, each gathered around one of the taller boys.

“This is a . . . a Quidditch game?”

“A casual game, yes. The House teams have some players staying over the holidays, and they agreed to put on a demonstration.”

“Did you organise this for me?”

Minerva flushed. “I thought you might enjoy it.”

He looked up into the stands again.

“Maybe this was a bad idea,” she said.

“No, no, lass. It’s a lovely idea. Let’s try this . . . Levitating.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he said, although he didn’t feel sure at all.

After a moment, she withdrew her stick—wand, he reminded himself—and pointed it at him.


An odd sort of warmth flowed through him, and suddenly there was nothing under his feet but air. It felt a bit like falling in reverse. His legs dangled helplessly, and he flailed his arms at the sensation of being displaced in space.

“It’s all right, Dad, I won’t let you fall. You’ll find it less uncomfortable if you fold your arms in and flex your feet a little.”

He followed her instructions and found she was right, but he still didn’t like the feeling that his body was doing something outside his volition. A bit like his Parkinson’s shakes, actually, and he didn’t like those much, either.

“All right there?” Minerva asked.


She waved her wand again, and he began to float just above the stairs, upwards into the stands, Minerva following behind and below him. When they were halfway up, she lowered him gently to the ground.

“This will be a good vantage point,” she said. They both sat, and she laid a rug across their legs against the frigid Highlands air.

“The ones flying highest are the Chasers,” Minerva explained. “Wood has the Quaffle—that’s the big ball—and he and the other Chasers are going to try to get closer to the other team’s goalposts to put it through. Those players with the bats are the Beaters. They try to stop the Chasers from scoring by hitting the Bludger—that’s the other ball—at them. Like that.”

One of the Beaters had hit the ball at Wood, but the boy ducked it with a fancy manoeuvre of his broomstick, and one of his teammates sent the Bludger flying back at the other team with a mighty swipe of his bat. Meanwhile, Wood threw the Quaffle to a blonde girl. Robert gasped when she let go of her broomstick and reached out both arms, stretching out to her left to catch it. Her broom seemed to skid a bit mid-air, but the girl got control of it and raced off towards the goalposts, deftly ducking and zooming around the opposing team members.

She sailed the Quaffle low towards the goal, and the goalie—the Keeper, Minerva had called her—astonished Robert by flipping upside down on her broom and hang-ing by her legs like a gymnast to catch the ball. She righted herself and flung the Quaffle to a waiting teammate.

Robert let out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. He thought he just might enjoy Quidditch.

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