Picking Up The Pieces
The grounds were empty except for a few uprooted trees and an abandoned club the size of a motorbike. The whole place seemed to be limp with exhaustion but it had a feeling of pride too. The Forbidden Forest was silent, not a leaf stirred. The castle, though looking very much worse for wear, was quiet. Hogwarts had fought her toughest battle and had emerged triumphant.
A tall figure in slightly torn robes, her hair escaping from her tight bun, roamed the castle grounds trying to ascertain, or maybe just trying to believe that the war was indeed over. She stopped for a moment in front of what was the newest addition to these grounds – a pristine white marble tomb. It wasn’t how she had last seen it. It had a crack down its middle now. She frowned for a second and then realized why it was so. And indeed, the wand was missing from Dumbledore’s hands. Her eyes flashed as she thought of the person who’d desecrated Dumbledore’s tomb. But then she looked at the well known face through the crack and a tear escaped her eye. Somehow, seeing that serene smile seemed to help bring into perspective the overwhelming events that had occurred in the last few hours. She raised her wand and sealed the crack shut…hopefully for all eternity now. Slowly she walked back to the castle doors. Inside the Great Hall, a few families still sat huddled together though most of the people had eventually left. The sunlight streamed in through the windows and the enchanted ceiling seemed to be dancing with joy. But grief hung around like a thick blanket. Many sobs could still be heard. For this triumph had required many martyrs. Heroes, whose names would travel down the ages for being a part of the most important victory in magical history.
Minerva Mcgonagall looked at the faces of the slain; almost all had been her students at some point of time. She walked away with a heavy heart, the elation of the victory overshadowed by the excruciating pain at having lost so many. On reaching the Head’s office, she stopped short of the winding staircase. What would she see up there? Any student of hers would have been shocked to see how apprehensive she was. But today, everything had changed, hadn’t it? And so, she entered the Head’s office. For a second she thought about how empty the castle felt, but the very next moment, she was lost in a barrage of noise. Applause, whoops of joy (“Jolly good show!”, “Fabulous job!”) and unabashed sobbing could be heard from all around. Just like they had applauded the seventeen year old boy who had not only defeated the most evil wizard there was, but had shown courage beyond anything ever seen, the erstwhile Headmasters and Headmistresses of Hogwarts applauded the sheer bravery of a woman who had stood by Hogwarts and her students, whatsoever the obstacle. Stunned by the applause, Mcgonagall just looked around while tears flowed down her face. When everyone (or most of them) had stopped clapping, Mcgonagall spoke up.
“Thank you everyone. You do not know how much it means to me that you all feel that I’ve been able to do something worthwhile.”
Cries of protest greeted these words as Mcgonagall continued.
“Well, because Harry is the actual hero! It’s because of him that we’re able to have this conversation right now. But your appreciation gives me the encouragement I need to continue with something I’ve been thinking of. ”
“I shall guess that it involves rebuilding the world of Hogwarts Minerva?” Dumbledore smiled.
“Yes Albus.You guess right…as always.” Mcgonagall smiled back and then exhaled a deep sigh. “I must get back to the staff now. It is…probable…that some of them may not want to continue. Losses have been suffered. This victory is so inextricably entangled with so much of pain.”
“Ah. Yes, you speak the truth Minerva. But it’s because of the pain that we will be so much more eager to look towards the future. We have lost brave witches and wizards. But it was for their next generation that they fought. And the staff of Hogwarts knows that.” Dumbledore’s inherent faith in his colleagues shone through, and Mcgonagall realized that.
Professor Mcgonagall went back down to the Great Hall to find the school staff sitting around in small groups, evidently waiting for her. As she entered, they all turned to face her. There was a smile on everyone’s face and Professor Sprout came forward to give her a brief, awkward hug. Of the original staff, few were missing and one was gone forever. Professor Mcgonagall walked out through the castle doors once more and stared up at the rubble of the majestic castle. The rest followed her out.
“Let’s get to work then. We must put Hogwarts back together before the next term. There are many young children who are yet to go through its doors and experience its magic. Hogwarts must be ready for them.”
Needless to say, everybody echoed the same thought. Professor Sinatra and Professor Sprout said, “Hear, hear!”
“But of course, I will completely understand if any of you wish to…take some time off or even move on. Visit your families, enjoy the world free of fear.”
“School’s bin me home ever since I was twelve. And I intend ter stay here till anyone asks me to leave. Yer all my family. I’ll be here Professor. Till the time yeh need me.” Hagrid was looking up at the castle and smiling fondly at it.
“I knew I could always depend on you Hagrid. Your presence means a lot to this school.” Professor McGonagall smiled back at him.
“We’ll all be here. Everything else can wait! Rebuilding and reopening Hogwarts should be our main priority now!” Tiny little Professor Flitwick squeaked out. The others nodded their consent, Professor Slughorn doing so reluctantly.
“We’re all with you in this…Headmistress.” Professor Trelawney dreamily wiped her cracked spectacles before repairing them with a wave of her wand and putting them on again. For a moment, Professor McGonagall stood quietly, as if pondering about something. Before she came out of her reverie, Professor Sprout spoke up
“We all agree on that Minerva. You should be the next Head of Hogwarts. The school could not ask for anyone better.”
Professor McGonagall looked around at everyone and then said, “Thank you for your faith in me. Then I guess it is time for us to get to work. There are a lot of pieces to pick up and put back together. And another generation of magical minds shall enter Hogwarts again.”