Chapter 23 : CHAPTER 20: HOME COMING
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That day has finally come and yet as she stood staring at the darkened castle, she couldn’t help but ache for the new school she had left behind, the one they found in Harry’s name.
“Minerva…?” Madam Pomfrey appeared beside her with a soft pop. “Why do I have the feeling that you are not that happy to be back?”
“I miss my students back at the Nook.” Minerva murmured a reply even though her mind was far off remembering the last time she was in Hogwarts.
It was a week after the death of Harry Potter. She had wondered aimlessly throughout the ruined castle, nodding at the surviving portraits and tapestries, sighing in regret at the unfortunate ones.
Majority of the school is in ruin, most of the dormitories and classrooms looted. The library did not escape the carnage as well. Someone has lit a fiendfyre near the restricted section, activating a lot of fail-safe magic protocols that lead to a huge explosion that rock the castle and destroyed the eastern wing. The kitchen has also been raided; scores of the house elves are still missing. Minerva fears that some of them were carted off by death eaters. Yet despite all the destruction and ruins heaped on the school, most of the teaching staff remains. Pomona and Poppy is still around, trying to help account for all magical artifacts that was lost during the looting. Flitwick can also be seen waddling here and there trying to fix the tapestries. Even Filch and his cat have stayed, stubbornly trying to clean hallways filled with rubbles. So far only Hagrid has run away into the Forbidden Forest to hide from the persecution of the death eaters.
“Will we be all right, madam?” A portrait of weeping woman asked her as she passed by. “It has been a week since all hostilities ended yet not came to fix the school. We fear that we will be left here to rot. Even the coward knight was overheard…”
“It will be all right.” Minerva cut her off, walking briskly away only to be stopped a few steps away by Professor Flitwick.
“Minerva, I have just been informed that the Dark Lord is burying Harry Potter tomorrow in Godric Hollow.” Flitwick gasped.
“What is he planning now?” Minerva asked. She had been wondering what happened to Harry’s body after it was unceremoniously carted off by the death eaters. She had feared that the Dark Lord might desecrate it by reanimating it or by displaying it at the Ministry of Magic. She never considered the idea that the Dark Lord would bury him and at Godric Hollow. “Why would he do a stunt like this?”
“We don’t know except that the whole magical community is ‘invited’ to watch Harry’s burial. In fact the Weasley has already been tasked to ensure that Harry is given a ‘splendid’ farewell.”
“I think we must gather all professors.” Minerva mused. “We will attend this burial but we will be vigilant. The Dark Lord is planning something, perhaps to ferret out the remaining Potter supporters. Perhaps they’ll start carting off those who cried the most… I don’t know but we will be ready for everything.”
“Minerva, do you know what you are saying? If the Dark Lord is indeed planning something…”
“Then we are all as good as dead.” Minerva said grimly.
“I didn’t think the day would come that I would look at Hogwarts and not feel my heart miss a beat.” Madam Pomfrey finally spoke up after a long silence.
“My sentiment exactly.” Minerva watched as two figures walked out of the castle toward them. Beside her, Poppy immediately went for her wand but Minerva stood calmly, trusting that whoever is coming out of the castle is a friend not foe. After all, everything that they have done is under Albus’ instruction. And dead or alive, Albus is still the best master tactician that she knows.
“Oh, it is just Longbottom and Abbot.” Pomfrey sighed in relief as the couple neared them.
“Longbottom, Abbot…” Minerva nodded when the couple reached them.
“Professor, it is good to see you both again.” Neville smiled at them both.
“What is the status of the school? Last we heard is that you and your DA were planning to sneak out of the castle. Half of Hagrid and Kingsley’s forces are hidden in the Forbidden Forest, ready to give you fire cover when you make a dash through the grounds.”
“There was a change of plan, ma’am.” Hannah explained to Minerva. “The DA has too much spunk in them. They decided to liberate the school with favorable effect.”
“The Slytherin House has been sequestered in their dormitories, Death eaters professors are either dead or magically tied up, traitors from other houses have been apprehended as well. For the first time in its illustrious history, the school is under the hands of a handful of students.” Neville laughed. “They almost gave me a heart attack though when they surprised us in the Great Hall, never thought they would rally so quick.”
“What happened to Slughorn?” Pomfrey asked.
“Oh, he is just happy to let the DA take charge. He is too busy strengthening the defenses he has placed in the school during his tenure as headmaster.” Neville smirked. “Now I suggest you go and call Hagrid and Kingsley. I think we would be safer to make a last stand here in the castle than in the forest. You don’t know half of the spells and charms that Slughorn has placed around the grounds. He has been busy!”
“You know what will happen now, do you?” Minerva nodded at Pomfrey who immediately disappeared with a pop. “The Dark Lord will throw upon us all his might and anger at us. He will see this as an opportunity to finally quell the last remaining resistance to his rule.”
“We know ma’am.” Neville replied seriously. “The students also know it. We will hold them off for as long as we can until somebody finally reach the Dark Lord and kills him.”
“Is that what Slughorn and the other headmasters are planning?” Minerva asked as they started walking toward the castle. “Just hope that maybe Kingsley or someone else makes a try to kill the Dark Lord and hopes that they succeed?”
“We don’t know much of their plan to kill the Dark Lord.” Hannah replied. “We were only asked to do our part and we just did. The rest is now up to Dumbledore and his machinations.”
“The Dark Lord…” Minerva protested.
“Don’t worry about him, professor. Professor Dumbledore said that he has it in reliable sources that the Dark Lord will be taken care off. He wasn’t very specific about it. I got the feeling that even he does not know the specific. Perhaps it wasn’t included when his portrait was created.”
“It is all boils down to whether we trust him, professor…” Neville raised a brow as they reached the castle.
“I trust him but I want you to remember that the last time we trusted him plan, it got Harry killed and us left holding a bag of…”
“The things we sacrifice for doing the right but difficult things.” Hannah shrugged. “And don’t get us wrong, professor. We know what is at stake here. We know that there is a strong possibility that some of us may not survive all this. Harry knew that too a year ago and we remember and learned from his sacrifice. We will give the Dark Lord a hard time before he takes us down. His forces will suffer much that he will rue the day he started all this.”
Minerva only nodded in defeat as Neville opened the massive door. At least she is certain all of them are walking into this wholeheartedly…all of them maybe except for her…
“Oh, one last thing, professor…” Neville stepped aside to let her in first into the Great Hall. “Welcome home!”
DISCLAIMER: EVERYTHING BELONGS TO JK ROWLING
NEXT CHAPTER: HERE THERE BE MONSTER
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