Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Wounded0 Reviews
A brief glimpse of the past, possibly shedding some light on the present.
14 February 1945
Minerva McGonagall took the marble stairs two at a time and raced down the deserted first-floor hall, giddily over-tired but filled with a nervous energy that almost amounted to exhilaration. It ill befit the dignity of a Hogwarts' alumna to run, but there was no one to see her, and she couldn't, she thought, have reigned herself in tonight even if the founders themselves had been there. She skidded to a stop in front of Dumbledore's office door, which opened while she was still straightening her hat.
"Profess...Albus," she corrected herself. "Is it true?" And she was asking as a matter of form, seeking confirmation of something she was certain was true, but now, in the moment of asking, she felt the first flicker of doubt. Dumbledore looked exhausted, and his shoulders were slumped as if in defeat. Perhaps all the signs had been wrong. "It is true, isn't it?" she asked.
"Oh, yes," he said, but his voice was strangely flat, and his eyes were distant. "What you've heard is true, as far as it goes. There have been events on the muggle front that have, for the time being, shifted the balance. They will win their war. They have inflicted a great wound."
"But is it enough?" she asked. "Will it help?"
He looked at her sorrowfully. "Grindelwald's power has been weakened, yes. There is no longer any doubt that he will be defeated."
"That you will defeat him," she corrected him.
Dumbledore brushed this aside with an impatient gesture. "The credit is not mine alone," he said. "Grindelwald chose to pour so much of his strength into sympathetic magic that, now, events in the muggle world are conspiring to defeat him. Restraining him will undoubtedly earn me much praise, but it is not a simple victory."
"Do you think Grindelwald will rise again?" she asked, still fired with energy. "We could destroy him utterly now, put him beyond all possibility of recovery."
He smiled at her, sadly but with affection. "But 'recovery' is what we need, Minerva," he said gently. She looked puzzled. "The muggles, bless them, think as you think: that their best hope lies in crushing their opposition. They seek to destroy their enemies, not just to defeat them, and this morning they delivered a crushing blow." He bowed his head. "And that killing blow has fallen, not just on their enemies, but on culture and clinics, on children in their homes. It has, undoubtedly, contributed to the coming victory..." his voice trailed off.
"But you fear that it will contribute to more than that," she said, understanding at last. He nodded, silent. "Albus, there is no other way!" she said impatiently. "The muggle factions in this war are not just a meaningless diversion. There are deep, irreconcilable differences at play here. They can't just give up: it's their duty to oppose those who've shown they have no respect for human life and dignity." Dumbledore made no answer. "What will you do?" she asked.
"I will defeat Grindelwald, and put him so far out of reach of all power that he will never be a threat again," Dumbledore said.
Minerva sighed with relief, and tried to find something comforting to say. "There's nothing else you can do," she told him.
He still looked anguished. "They have inflicted a great wound," he repeated, almost inaudibly.
"I should get back to the others," Minerva said. "They'll want to know that the rumours are true." She left slowly, casting worried looks backward.
It was as well that she was no longer running, because she was no longer unobserved. A student sitting on the staircase, reading, looked up at her intently as she passed. "Shouldn't you be in bed?" Minerva asked crisply, an automatic response even though it had been nearly two years since she'd been Head Girl.
"I'm just on my way," the girl said calmly, standing up. "I couldn't sleep." Minerva smiled to herself. The girl sounded pretty self-possessed for someone who looked to be no more than a second- or third-year.
"What are you reading?" she asked, and the girl held out the red hardcover book. "The Elementary Practice of Nursing," Minerva read aloud, and raised one eyebrow. "A muggle textbook?"
The girl nodded. "I borrowed it from a friend's older sister," she explained.
"Why?" Minerva asked. There was something soothing about this deeply ordinary conversation with a junior student; for a moment, she could almost imagine she was safely back at school herself, with no war and only manageable responsibilities to worry about.
The girl looked thoughtful. "Someday I intend to work at a school, like this one," she said solemnly, and Minerva hid another smile. "A good school, I mean, that admits students from muggle backgrounds as well as from wizarding families. And it will help me to care for them, if I know what they expect and what they need. It must be scary enough to be ill, without feeling like a misfit as well." Her eyes met Minerva's, and she stuck out her hand. "I'm Poppy," she said. "Poppy Pomfrey, third year."
Minerva shook the proffered hand. "Minerva McGonagall," she said. "I used to be Head Girl."
"I know," Poppy assured her. For just a moment, Minerva had the oddest sense that the world was shifting again, as though a new balance had been struck.