Malcolm is upset about his breakup with Eliane, and Minerva finally tells him the truth about his father.
The chapter is rated PG-13. It features Minerva and Malcolm.
The episode with Sirius and James that so angers Minerva in the opening of this chapter is based on an 800-word story J.K. Rowling wrote to benefit English PEN. In it, James and Sirius are chased by a pair of Muggle police officers and use their car to thwart an attack by Death Eaters.
“Why are you so angry with me?”
His fury deflated, and his eyes softened. “Oh, Mum. I’m not. I suppose I’m angry at the world at the moment. Not you.”
He looked at the floor, and she knew he was trying to make up his mind to say something else.
“I just wonder . . .”
He stopped again, and shook his head.
His face was pained. “Why you married him. You must have known about them. Great-Uncle Finn was sent to Azkaban not too many years before.”
“I had no choice.”
“What do you mean?”
“Things were quite different back then. I was a pure-blood girl from a good family. I did not get to choose my husband.”
“You mean Granddad forced you to marry Father? If you didn’t want to, why didn’t you refuse?”
A familiar anger gripped her, and she crossed her arms tightly around her body. What did her son—or any of her students—know of difficult choices? They, who had been born into a post-Grindelwald world, with freedoms they enjoyed without understanding how much it had cost. And now there was another war because of it, because so many people failed to understand that, yes, constant vigilance was required to keep those hard-won freedoms for everyone, witch and wizard, pure-blood and Muggle-born.
She said, “You may have read a lot of history, Malcolm, but you don’t understand much about how it affected individuals. If I had refused to marry Gerald Macnair, I would have been cut off from my family with no money and no prospects. Nobody would have hired a pure-blood girl who was in disgrace for a decent job. What sort of work do you suppose I would have found if I had not been able to complete my apprenticeship?”
“Granddad wouldn’t have just cut you off. He’s not like that.”
“Not now. He changed when he saw what happened to me. Back then, he thought marriage to Gerald was the best thing for me.”
“Didn’t he know about the Macnairs?”
She spoke carefully. “I think he didn’t delve too deeply into what would have been considered their personal affairs. The match, on the outside, had only advantages for me and for the McGonagall family. He later regretted it.”
“Gods,” Malcolm said, letting out a breath. After a few moments, he said, “So you never loved my father.”