A/N: Written for the Quidditch Fanfiction League Competition, Finals Round 2. I'm Beater 2 for the Caerphilly Catapults.
Prompt: Members of Hogwarts Staff - Poppy Pomfrey in Retirement
Optional Prompts: 2. "obsession," 8. "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." - Seneca, and 15. (restriction) No question marks.
Poppy Pomfrey sighed, and sat back in the wicker chair she'd placed on her porch for just such a sunny occasion, reaching for the latest St. Mungo's Monthly.
She had thought the word often enough over the last few years, as each of Harry's children graduated from Hogwarts. After a while, she'd suggested the notion to the other members of staff, who agreed that she deserved some time off. And then finally, just the day before, she'd sent the last invalid student home on the Hogwarts Express for summer vacation, feeling as excited as they were to leave the hospital wing. She'd packed up her bags and come straight home, enjoyed leftovers from the end-of-year feast for dinner, and she'd slept wonderfully that night.
Poppy grinned and settled herself even more firmly in her chair. She'd been feeling the need for time off for nearly a decade, and at last, she had it. There was nothing she needed to worry about. No one pounding on her door in the middle of the night. Nothing to do, and plenty of time in which to do it.
Of course, if there was something she wanted to do, she'd have plenty of time for that as well. The words on the page before her began to blur as she thought of all the things she'd never had time for.
She could visit the famous wizarding hospital in Rome. She could invent something useful, if she ever thought of anything to invent. Really, the possibilities were endless. This was not an ending. No, it was an "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end" time of her life.
Why, she could learn to paint! She'd always envied her sister, who had such a talent with a paintbrush. Then again, she'd never be as good as her sister. So, perhaps she wouldn't learn to paint. But she could always write a novel, in all the spare time she would have in the rest of her life. Yes, that was an idea. Get those old creative juices flowing; keep her mind sharp in old age.
And then there was her Great-Aunt Lorina, who, at the age of ninety, had traveled the world with a team of five other elderly witches who called themselves the Birds of Death in search of injured and endangered magical creatures. She'd come back with so many stories. Even if half of them were made up, such a trip would be well worthwhile.
Of course, Poppy would not be going in search of injured magical creatures. She would be going to provide a Healer to those magical communities who didn't have access to hospitals like St. Mungo's and the one in Rome.
Yes, she liked that idea, very much. Healing had always been something of an obsession for her, and it would feel good to carry on working, in a sense. After all, she had extensive experience dealing with some of the rarest magical maladies that could be found. And she'd never once had to send a child to St. Mungo's for treatment. Hogwarts was unique, she felt, in its self-sustainability. Pomona had provided her with the Mandrake cure for petrification, even, that year that the Chamber of Secrets was opened. And she honestly doubted that many other Healers could say they'd de-petrified a cat—at least one who wasn't, at some point, a human. Mrs. Norris had been a special case, of course. No one on the staff wanted to deal with a Filch without Mrs. Norris. She'd been personally begged by several teachers on behalf of the grumpy old cat.
And then there was the year Dolores Umbridge took charge of Hogwarts. The woman was crawling with charms, and the hexes she had used on the students who were unfortunate enough to have detention with her were truly imaginative.
Nor was that all the experience Poppy Pomfrey had had with Dark magic. The year of the War—Harry Potter's seventh year, when everything seemed to go wrong, had been exhausting for her. The days following the Battle of Hogwarts were some of the first moments she thought the word "retirement" to herself. In those years, she had sometimes battled directly against the work of the Dark Lord, especially as she tended Albus Dumbledore's odd wounds in the last year of his life.
While her career may not have been as glamorous as some of her classmates who trained with her at St. Mungo's, there was something to be said for keeping a cool head in all manner of horrifying situations as well as tending carefully and patiently to the most minor of sniffles and coughs.
And, of course, some of the most wonderful moments she'd had at Hogwarts were small things; for instance, when a first year's homesick tears were dried over a warm cup of milk. No one could possibly prove that she'd put a sleeping draught in those milk glasses, and truthfully, sometimes she hadn't. Still, she'd tried to have a prefect on hand for those who fell asleep before making it back to their common room. And their darling faces when they found the peace of sleep were a heartwarming sight.
Poppy supposed that that was how parents felt, looking at their own children. She'd often told her friends as they married and had children that she would never have time for a husband when she already had several hundred children to take care of. She supposed she had time now…
Poppy Pomfrey, with the speed of someone less than half her age, abandoned St. Mungo's Monthly and her comfortable wicker chair to kneel in front of her fireplace, praying that Minerva McGonagall was available.
"Poppy?" the cindery figure of the headmistress said, in surprise.
"Minerva. Tell me you haven't found a replacement for me, yet!"
Minerva's cindery eyebrow lifted. "Why, no. I've only just started accepting applications."
"Well, throw them away!" the Healer said, in a passion, "I'm coming back! It'll take more than that to get rid of Poppy Pomfrey!"
The headmistress tactfully did not ask what "that" was. She only nodded her head and allowed herself a small smile. "Of course," she said, "See you in September."
With a pop, the vision disintegrated into a normal fire, with normal-acting wood, and Poppy Pomfrey heaved a sigh of relief before returning to her sun-soaked porch and her discarded magazine.