June 1, 1998
Minerva was sitting in her favoriete place on the kust-, oever of the lake, watching the sun rise over the silent grounds. Just to be alive, to see the first light of dag hit the kasteel that stood, so resolutely, silhouetted against fading stars, was a blessing. This was Minerva's favoriete time of dag because, for a few shining moments, all seemed to be as it should be; as the sun rose higher into the sky, the kasteel would come to life, and the students and professors alike would sit in the great hall and talk of meaningless things and be bathed in the fresh morning light. But, all was not as it should be, the students were gone, sent home pagina early for their summer holidays, and the presence of death and despair were almost tangible in the hallways of the castle. It had been almost a maand since that fateful night when the last battle was fought, and Lord Voldemort had been vanquished forever, but jubilation at the end of the war still had not come for Minerva. Because, all was not as it should be, so many that she had loved were gone from her forever: her colleagues Severus Snape, whom she had never trusted (something she deeply regretted now), Aurora Sinistra, an ex student of hers whom she had always been close to, Filius Flitwick, a friend since her school days, Septima Vector, whom she wished she had known better, and her students, Colin Creevey, Fred Weasley, Nymphadora and Remus Lupin, and countless others. Her grief was like physical pain, it surrounded her and pressed in on her until she could hardly breathe at times. True, each dag was a little easier, but the wound was still very fresh; it would take a long time to heal, and even then, there would always be a scar, reminding her exactly where it was. She was not alone in her grief, all of the remaining inhabitants of the kasteel felt it as well. Even the kasteel itself seemed to cry, when the only sound was the hooting of an owl over the forest. In time, that too would cease, but it would take time.
The sun was fully up now, and Minerva rose slowly form her place among the bushes and walked over to Albus' grave. He had been gone from her for nearly a jaar now, but sometimes she still felt lost without her closest friend and mentor. At these times, she found solace in s grave; it was proof that his memory will never be forgotten. She tried to imagine what he would say to her now, and it came to her just as it had after the battle, "The ones we love never truly leave us…". Yes, they would always be with her in her heart, but it would never be that same as her loved ones standing beside her in the flesh. Minerva stared at the white marble tomb. She needed to talk to him, so she did the only thing she could; she began to speak.
"It's over Albus, it's finally over. Harry succeeded, u knew that he would in the end, u gave him what he needed to win. I wish that u were here to see the end, to help rebuild. Hogwarts is a mess without you, the kasteel has been fixed, but half of the staff are gone with you. How am I supposed to get the school up and running again? I'm lost without u Albus, I'm afraid, please help me. Give me a sign a hint anything to let me know that u can hear me, that I haven't gone mad, that I can still do this."
She stood there a while longer, and then she kisses the tips of her fingers, touched them to the cold marble, and turned back to the castle.
It was much later in the afternoon when Harry Potter came to call on her.
"Mr. Potter, how nice it is to see you, do sit down, have a ginger newt", she offered Harry her tartan biscuit tin, and he obligingly took one.
"Thank u very much, Professor".
"If u don't mind me asking, what is the reason for this visit. I could hardly believe that this is a social call", she enquired.
Harry seemed to squirm for a moment under her gaze, and the he answered, "I've come to tell u about Dumbledore, and the mission he sent me on". Harry told her everything, about the horcurxes, and the hallows, about Grinlewald and Arianna, about He and Snape planning his own death, and finally about how he and Harry had spoken after Voldemort cursed him.
It took a moment, after Harry finished, for everything to sink in. She didn't even realize that she was crying until she felt a consoling hand on her shoulder and heard Harry asked if she was alright. She couldn’t find her voice to respond, but her choked sob was answer enough. Harry embraced the woman who had been something of a mother to him since he had started school, and he allowed her to cry into his shoulder until she was spent.
Minerva finally composed herself and said, "Mr. Potter… Harry, thank u for telling me ,… u have no idea what it means to me to finally know, thank you".
"I'm sorry that it was painful for you, but I thought that u needed to know". And, with that they made their good-byes, and Harry left the school.
Minerva found herself at Albus' tomb once more. She was dazed and confused; he had known that he was going to die, but he hadn't warned her, he simply left her in the dark. Why hadn't he tried to find another way, a way to live; why chose death? But, Albus had never feared death; he said, "to the well thought out mind, death is but the volgende great adventure". She knew why he had done it, she just wished that he hadn't. She finally understood it all, and she still felt lost. And she did the only thing she could at that moment; cry. Suddenly, she heard beautiful music, the song of a phoenix, drifting towards her on the breeze. And as she looked over towards that mountains and the setting sun, she understood the meaning of the song, of Albus' sign. She had to be like the phoenix, and rise from the ashes of destruction and sorrow, and bring forth new hope. As the sun sank behind that mountains, leaving Minerva in darkness, she knew that somewhere, the sun was rising, and it was bathing someone in the clean pure light of early morning. The sun would rise again on Hogwarts, and in the light of morning she would help to bring hope from the ashes of their world. Minerva wiped away her tears and headed towards the school; she had a lot of work to do if the school was to re-open come September.
September 1, 1998
Headmistress Minerva McGonagall sat at the center of the head tafel, tabel in the Great Hall, watching the first years be sorted. Her deputy and friend, Pomona Sprout, stood before the nervous line of first years, calling their names one at a time to be sorted. For over forty years it had been her job to oversee the sorting, and it felt rather strange to be a mere observer once more. She looked closely at each student as they walked on shaky legs to the stoel, kruk that held the Sorting Hat. These children were the future; they would be the first to grow up in the new world, a world that was finally at peace once more. She saw the potential for greatness in each of their shining faces as they rushed off to kom bij their new house-mates at the table. This, at least was as it should be, but she could not fail to notice the older students who already sat at their respective house tables. They were cheering happily for the students just as they always did, but somehow, they seemed older, and slightly hardened. Minerva, of course, knew exactly why; all of them, the seventh years particularly, had rode out a harsh storm at Hogwarts, from the opening of the chamber to the horrors of the Carrows, they had seen meer of the world than may adult wizards. They had all been forced to grow up to soon when they were presented with difficult times; they rose to the challenge and conquered it. They were like her children, each and every one of them, and she was extremely proud of all of them; she prayed that they would all get a chance to be children again this term.
As the last student, Wallace, John, took his zitplaats, stoel at the Gryffindor table, Minerva stood to address the school. "Welcome everyone, to Hogwarts! I'm sure that anything else I have to say can wait until after we have all eaten, so tuck in", and with that food appeared on all of the platters, and the feast began. After the last of the pudding had cleared away Minerva stood once again to address the school.
"Now that we have all been fed, I have a few start of term announcements. First of all, that dark forest on the edge of the grounds is, as always, out of bounds to all students. Also, Mr. Filch, our caretaker, has asked me to remind u that products from the joke koop "Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes" are strictly prohibited, along with over six hundred other items, a lijst of which may be found pinned to Mr. Filch's office door. Finally, it is my dearest hope that u all have a veilig and enjoyable jaar at Hogwarts. u have all been through many trials, and u have overcome each of them in turn. u have weathered the opening of the Chamber of Secrets, the constant presence of dementors, the death of a fellow student in the Triwizard Tournament, the reign of the ministry and Delores Umbridge, the death of Professor Dumbledore, and the horrors of the Carrows, but now, the storm is finally over, the war has ended, Voldemort is dead, and there is peace once more. I could not be meer proud of any of you. Yes, u have suffered heavy losses, but now it's time put the past behind us and look to the future. All of the wizarding world's hopes lie with you; it's up to u to build a future for yourselves and for your children to come. u have seen the mistakes others have made, and u have learned from them. Bare this in mind while u study with us this year; u all have the power to shape the future and raise the wizarding world from its own ashes. Now, your beds await you, good night to u all and good luck with u studies this year”, there was a round applause from the student's, and they left the hall, bound for their common rooms with new conviction and thought of a new world. Minerva smiled to herself as her charges left; things would never be the same as they were before Voldemort rose to power, but they would be wonderful just the same.
May 3, 2048
Minerva McGonagall stood door the window of her office and looked out over the grounds of Hogwarts. The first light of morning was shining off of the Black Lake, and the distant mountains to the west shone with the early morning sun, silhouetted against a backdrop of fading stars. Minerva observed the beauty of the scene, lost in thought and memories. It was fifty years to the day, almost to the minuet, that Voldemort had finally been defeated and the war ended. She was thinking about relief at the end, and the time of mourning and sorrow that had followed. She remembered the first jaar at Hogwarts after the war, where a seed of hope had been planted, and of how that seed had grown up into a beautiful boom that was still thriving so many years later. She remembered the past fifty years since the war had ended, they were the happiest of her life; she had watched her students, her children, grow up in world that was constantly changing for the better. There was no evil lord trying to rule the world, the pureblood mania had died away, and muggleborns were no longer discriminated against, and there were constant advances in magical knowledge, countless new discoveries had been made. Minerva looked back on both of the wars that she had fought to help achieve the peace that the wizarding world enjoyed today; the losses had been heavy, but it was worth the struggle. Finally, she remembered her first wonderful days of teaching, over one hundred years ago. She had come to Hogwarts, partially in pursuit of love with Albus Dumbledore; she had soon realized that Albus would never lover her; she was heartbroken for a time, and she was forced to realize the harsh realities of the world. However, she had found the true love of her life, teaching. In recent years, she often wondered if fate had drawn her to Albus simply to help her discover her passion and teach her a lesson on love. She would never really know, but it was an interesting notion. In the midst of her reminiscence, she realized, for the first time, just how old she was. The war had been won fifty years ago, and she had not exactly been young at the time. She looked back over her one hundred and twenty-three years of life, and realized how rich and full they had been; she had accomplished much in her life, there was little left for her to do. Minerva realized then that she was not long for this world, her end was finally coming, and it would be bitter-sweet. She could have gone on forever watching her students learn and grow, it was the one thing in her life that truly brought her joy, but she did not fear death; she believe, like Albus, that death was but the volgende great adventure, and she was ready for it.
It would come to her soon, but for the present she had a busy dag ahead of her. As it was the anniversary of the end of the war, classes were canceled, and the kasteel was opened to all of the wizarding world so they could all come together for a memorial service held on the lawns, and a celebration in the Great Hall afterwards. The sun had fully risen now. Minerva turned from her window and made her way down to breakfast.
Directly after Breakfast, Minerva led her students out onto the lawns to take their seats for the service. The great lawn in front of the school was a sea of golden chairs that glinted in the brilliant sunlight, all of them facing the raised platform and podium that were erected in front of the oak doors of the castle. The students were all seated, and they chatted merrily for the volgende half an hour, until the rest of the wizarding world arrived. Ten o'clock found Minerva sitting in the front row of chairs volgende to the minister of magic, waiting for the service to begin. The Minister then stood up and proceeded to the platform to give his speech. The minister's speech, as it happens was rather long winded and dull; but this was not surprising, the Minister had only been a baby when the war had ended, and he really didn't understand it. The following speeches were all gegeven door people who were directly involved in the war; thankfully, as a result, they were much shorter and much meer meaningful. Addresses from Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Ron and Hermione Weasley, and Harry Potter followed. Finally, it was Minerva's turn to take the podium; she took a deep breath and began.
"Fifty years geleden today, the wizarding world was freed from the reign of Lord Voldemort. The terror and fear that ended that dag was unimaginable for anyone who has not personally experienced it. However, our victory came at a high price; hundreds gave their lives to finally bring down Voldemort, and it is them that we recognize today. Because, without them, we would still be living in terror and oppression, without them, many of us would not be sitting here today, and without them, there would be a lot less love in the world today. Fifty years geleden today, we were all mourning the loss of hundreds of great men and women, waiting for the joy of victory to finally set in, but today, thanks to those who gave their lives to the cause, we can remember the fallen as we celebrate our freedom. Never forget all those who gave their lives in both of the wars so that we could be free. I would like to conclude door reading the names of all of the fallen from the first and seconde wars", Minerva concluded door reading all of the names, and then she left the podium. The service was ended, and everyone returned to the kasteel for the festivities.
That evening, after the visitors had left and the students returned to their common rooms, Minerva slipped out of the kasteel to walk door the lake. Though the sun was still high in the sky, the shadows were getting steadily longer, and the light had a golden quality to it. She soon found herself at her favoriete spot on the bank, between the two bushes. She had spent much time thinking here, both in her school days and in the century that she had taught here since. She sat and thought for a time, and then she moved on to the place that she had really meant to go, Albus' tomb. In the fifty years that had elapsed since it was placed, it had acquired a weathered quality that made it seem as though it could truly pass the test of time. She began to talk to Albus as though he were standing volgende to her.
"Well Albus, can u believe that it's been fifty years since it all ended? Sometimes it seems like just yesterday, and other times it's as though it was all in a separate universe. I think u would approve of how Hogwarts has come back from that dreadful time; it came back years geleden really. I tried to give it a nudge in the right direction, but really it came back on its own. Hogwarts really doesn't need me anymore, I expect that I'll be with u again soon , too. I'm not going to abandon my post, I'll stay with Hogwarts till the very end, but I am ready, I've lived a long full life and I'm ready for the volgende adventure. Ah well, good night Albus". Minerva returned to her office where she intended to finish a letter she had been writing earlier that day.
Letter completed, Minerva sat down in an fauteuil beside her window and looked out over the grounds. The sun was nearly down now, and stars were beginning to come out over the lake. Minerva looked back into her office, she saw all of the sleeping portraits of the former headmasters and mistresses. At that moment, she knew that, come morning, her portrait would be among their number. When she was gone, Hermione Weasley would become headmistress in her place. Hermione had taught Transfiguration for the past 25 years while Ron ran the joke koop branch in Hogsmead, she was head of Gryffindor house, and she had been Minerva's deputy for the past 15 years, since Pomona had passed away. Neville Longbottom had succeeded her as herbology professor, and he would most likely become head of Gryffindor house now. She smiled as she thought about this; Hogwarts would be left in very capable hands. Minerva was the last if the old crowd to go, even papaver and Hagrid had died some ten years ago. She thought back on her years of teaching, and she only regretted that she could not finish out this final year. She could feel herself gently slipping away from this world, and she let herself go with it. She looked out of her window at the setting sun and smiled, and as the sun disappeared behind the mountains, Minerva McGonagall left this world. But, the sun only sets in one place to rise in another.
May 5, 2048
The morning of Minerva's funeral came in a blaze of sunshine. She had been found the vorige dag sitting in her zitplaats, stoel door the window, a small smile on her face. The wizarding world had been shocked, nobody believed that a women like Minerva McGonagall would simply die. She had been a headmistress to rival Albus Dumbledore, and she had been loved just as well. As a result, nearly all of her former students, which is to say every witch and wizard in England, arrived at Hogwarts for her funeral. Several people spoke of her many achievements before she was finally laid to rest in a white marble tomb right beside Dumbledore's, only feet away from her favoriete spot on the kust-, oever of the lake.
On the tomb were carved the word:
October 4, 1925 - May 3, 2048
Beloved Teacher and Friend
"The sun only sets in one place to rise again in another."
June 5, 2048
Headmistress Hermione Weasley looked out of the window of her office at the two tombs door the side of the lake. It had been a maand since Minerva had died and she had become headmistress, and things were basically back to normal. As she looked over at Minerva's portrait, who was dozing in a chair with a book open on her lap, she couldn't help but feel that this is what Minerva would have wanted, the school running like clockwork in spite of her departure. She smiled a little sadly to herself, and then returned to her bureau to finish a letter to the daily prophet, placing an advert for a teaching position. Come volgende September, an excited young teacher would be walking through the corridors, head held high at their accomplishment, ready to start a new life.
A/N All characters and settings belong to J.K. Rowling
** I am aware that, according to JKR, Minerva should have retired long before 2048, but my ending works better for this story. (No offense JKR!)
Minerva in 2048