Today, sixty years after Auschwitz, to all people who suffered, Jewish, German and otherwise, to all those who died and survived, to all those who remember and to all those who have forgotten.
And most of all to you, Anne. You know why.
Good at Heart
"I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."
"Miss McGonagall, come in."
The grave, baritone voice of an auburn-bearded man ringed through the room- and slowly, tentatively, the heavy door leading to Albus Dumbledore's office was pushed open by a pale, slender hand. The girl who appeared in the door-opening sheer moments later was young, very young- but the look in her eyes wasn't the one of a child anymore. A very peculiar colour they had, those dark green gemstones, glimmering behind a pair of square glasses- but one quality of them was no mystery, and that was their intelligence.
Minerva McGonagall didn't need- had never needed- the shiny Prefect badge fixed on her robes in order to have some authority over her fellow pupils. One blink of her green eyes was enough to make any student- and some teachers- shiver, and yet there was no-one who could deny the obvious fact that Minerva was a beauty after all. Long, black hair pulled back into a thick braid, pale skin smooth and white, nose straight and elegant, only a tiny bit too long. The girl's face was serious, though, as the obvious question marks in her eyes were rewarded by a rather laborious smile of her teacher's.
"Have a seat, my dear." the Transfiguration Professor said, making a rather vague gesture towards one of the unoccupied chairs in the corner of the room- but Minerva did not react.
"Professor, what is wrong? Is it mother- or father? Tosia? Betty? Professor-"
"Sit down, Minerva."
Somehow the piercing look in the bright blue eyes- now clouded with worry- of her teacher's, made the nervous girl obey, and with a small sigh, she lowered herself onto the chair, eyes staring at the older man expectantly. As he came to sit opposite her, though, she lowered her eyes in a mix of respect and discomfort.
"What do you know about the situation in Europe?"
Minerva didn't know what was more confusing- his question or his hand, casually patting her shoulder as if to calm her- totally not succeeding. The forcedly merry expression in his blue eyes did not fool her, though- and seriously she bit her lips.
"Well, I know about Germany, of course- about their leader, that odious Hitler man, and about his and his party's ideas. I know they've attacked- and conquered- more than half of Europe, and- well, of course I think it horrible, for all those poor people in Europe, and in Germany as well, because I heard he has his opponents arrested and killed- and I-"
"Do you know who he considers his "opponents" the most, Minerva?"
Albus's rational question effectively stopped the fifteen-year-old girl's torrent of words- and with a slow nod, she replied.
"Yes. Those who are not of the Aryan race- and most of all- my people."
It was strange, Albus observed, how Minerva- only half Jewish, through her mother's side- had always called the Jews rather than the Scots "her people". And yet that she did, and not because she wasn't proud of her Scottish descent as well. It was a sort of- defensive reaction, almost, and Albus admired the young witch in front of him for it. The way she lifted her chin as she spoke those words- many a braver person wouldn't have done as she did, not in these days, at least.
As he asked her a question about it, she merely smiled and slightly inclined her head.
"Jewish descent goes through the mother, Professor. It's no use hiding it, and nor do I want to."
The fierce light in the young woman's eyes touched Albus, and as if to express what he could not say, he covered her small hand with his own larger one.
"I know, Minerva, and I admire you for it. I would advise you, though, to keep in close contact with your parents. They're muggles, and thus can't defend themselves the way we can. So warn them, my dear. They're always welcome here, if they can come. I don't know if they will or if it would be wise to, but ask them- and warn them."
He couldn't emphasize these words more, and as he bowed over to her, Minerva could literally read the fear in his eyes, and silently she nodded.