The Riddle of Jim Lillian

Part One: Minerva's Tale I

Standard Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

WARNING: Major Character Deaths

Part One Summary: McGonagall reflects on the final battle and how she became Headmistress.

6th June, 1998

Minerva repositioned herself in the chair in a vain attempt to become more comfortable. She still was unaccustomed to sitting on this side of the desk. Of course, she had only been given one day to try and acclimate herself. One day since Minerva's world had changed forever. It had only been one day since Albus Dumbledore, arguable the finest Headmaster the school had ever seen, had retired without any notice or fanfare. It would take her a long time to get used to the idea that Albus was gone, and that she was the new Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

It had also only been one day since the final battle.

The Light had lost far too many on that day, including old friends who had stood by her during the First War, and young ones who had not yet gotten a chance to truly live, like the three young men from her House.

The three men who would have been receiving their graduation papers in a week's time, but instead would be given posthumous awards for their parts in the battle.

Minerva turned her attention to the list in front of her, a list of names of students who would not be attending the end of the school year ceremonies. Every year, a few names would appear on the list. In the past, most of the students on the list could not attend due to a new job, or a death in the family, or other seemingly normal occurrences. Rarely, a family would receive their son's or daughter's certificate because of the student's untimely death. The lists in the previous years tended to be small, but that was not the case this year.

Under the heading of "Missing – Reason(s) Unknown / Unexcused" were the names of several students whose parents were known Death Eaters, including Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, and Draco Malfoy. The latter was a wanted man by the Ministry of Magic. No doubt Malfoy had dragged his two goons with him into hiding.

The next column of names made tears well up in the old witch's eyes. "Deceased:" Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley.

Thankfully Neville's parents were too catatonic to understand that their only son was dead. Minerva knew that Arthur and Molly Weasley were not as "blessed" as the Longbottoms, and her heart went out to them. Not only had their only daughter been savagely attacked and tortured, but they had also lost their youngest son. Well, two sons actually. Everyone knew that the Weasleys considered Harry as one of their own.

"Excused – Bereavement Leave" was the title over two names: Hermione Granger and Jim Lillian.

Minerva's mind wandered back to when she first sat on this side of the desk, looking at Hermione's sad face. Listening as the young woman recited in a drained, monotone voice, her recollection of the Final Battle. She recalled how she and Harry had run up the Astronomy Tower to help Ron, only to find the red-haired man struggling with Draco Malfoy. Then, they watched helplessly as Ron was thrown off the roof of the tower. After Draco disarmed Hermione, he apparently bragged about You Know Who finding out the full contents of the prophesy. And that he, Draco, was following his master's order in destroying Harry's wand as to prevent the Priori Incantatem from being cast when the Dark Lord would attack.

Minerva would never forget Hermione's face that day, nor would she forget what happened earlier.

5th June, 1998

Minerva never felt comfortable with the castle being so quiet; it wasn't natural. The halls were not filled with children. All of the students had left two days earlier for summer holiday, save for five.

Five members of the so-called "Department of Mysteries 6" had stayed in the castle: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Ron and Ginny Weasley. (That Lovegood girl was on some fool's quest with her father looking for some mythical animal in Papua New Guinea or someplace like that.) It was decided that since the majority of them would be coming back the following week for the ceremonies that it would be safest for them to stay within the secure confines of Hogwarts.

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was quiet, and when he was quiet, it usually meant he was planning something. And usually it was something against Potter and his friends. It did not seem prudent risking an attack on the children as they traveled home, just to put them in harm's way a few days later during the return trip.

Of course Potter couldn't leave the school without staying one last night in the Hospital Ward. It seemed that he and the two Weasleys were playing a game of pick-up Quidditch and something happened to his broom, causing Harry to fall and break his collar-bone.

Might as well check up on the boy, Minerva thought to herself as she left her office.

She noticed that something peculiar was happening to the portraits in the hall, something they had not done since Sirius Black had attempted to break into the Gryffindor Common Room: they were panicking.

"What is going on with you lot?" Minerva asked a portrait of an old hag.

"It's the Fat Lady; she's calling for help," the magical painting replied. "She says something is terribly wrong!"

The portrait of the Fat Lady never exaggerated, hence the reason she was chosen to guard the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. Minerva ran as quickly as she could to the Fat Lady. As she got closer, Minerva could hear the portrait's cries for help.

"What is all the commotion?" Minerva began to berate the painting when she heard the muffled screams of a girl coming from the room behind it.

"Professor, something terrible is happening!" the Fat Lady screamed.

Minerva rushed toward the painting and shouted out the password. As the painting started to swing open, the halls were filled with the painful screams of a young woman. The painting was opening much too slowly for Minerva, and with a strength that belied her age and size, she nearly wrenched the painting off its hinges trying to open it.

She ran into the common room, and the screaming stopped abruptly. Minerva looked in horror at the two bodies that lie in front of the fireplace. During the First War, she saw many things that would haunt her to the end of her days. The Second War brought many more horrors. But nothing in her past could prepare her for the sight that lie in front of her on the floor in the common room.

Neville's lifeless eyes stared up at the ceiling, while Ginny convulsed and spasmed, blood and saliva foaming out of her mouth. As Minerva briskly walked over to the fireplace, she felt something brush past her. She spun around, whipping out her wand, and shouted a stunning spell.

"STUPEFY!" she yelled, and a beam of red light erupted from her wand, but it struck the wall harmlessly. Minerva strained her ears and eyes to try and catch whomever, or whatever, had brushed by her, but to no avail.

After looking for the invisible intruder for a moment, she continued towards the bodies and stepped on something that drew her attention. She had stepped on the remnants of a shattered wand -- holly by the look of the wood.

She discarded the broken wand and headed toward the two children. Neville was obviously beyond all hope, clearly the victim of The Killing Curse, a quick and painless death. Ginny was not so lucky.

She was still convulsing uncontrollably as she lie in a small pool of her own blood and vomit. Someone, no, some monster had used a particularly strong Cruciatus Curse on her. The poor girl was drenched with her own sweat and had apparently bitten through her tongue at some point as blood was seeping out of her mouth. A streak of white now marred her beautiful red hair.

Minerva conjured two stretchers under each of the bodies and levitated them. She rushed as fast as she could toward the Hospital Ward.

After what seemed like an eternity, she threw open the doors of the ward.

"POPPY!" Minerva screamed. She saw Dumbledore standing with Harry and Hermione on the opposite side of the room. "ALBUS! HELP!"

Albus, Harry, and Hermione hurried toward Minerva and the two bodies as Poppy came running out of her office.

"Oh my god!" Poppy muttered as she looked at the two fallen students.

"Minerva, what happened?" Albus asked as he examined the Weasley girl. She informed him of what she found in the common room and of the invisible assailant.

"What about Ron?" Harry asked.

"He was up there with them this morning!" Hermione stated with dread.

"I didn't see him," Minerva responded, and Harry looked worried.

Albus stroked his long white beard as Poppy forced a vial of potion down Ginny's throat. After a brief moment, Albus spoke to Minerva.

"Minerva, go to the Ministry of Magic and collect everyone you can. Aurors, Hit-Wizards, everyone from the Order, and bring them here promptly! I fear Voldemort is going to attack."

"What, why?" Minerva stammered.

"I have reason to believe that Voldemort has learned the whole prophesy and has decided to move against Harry. Go now! There is no time to waste!"

In what seemed like mere seconds, Minerva had run to the Headmaster's office and used the fireplace to floo to the Ministry. It took several minutes to collect everyone who could help.

"Listen to me!" Minerva called out to the dozens of witches and wizards standing in front of the Ministry's many fireplaces. "There are several fireplaces in the school to which you can floo. You lot…" she pointed to the group on her far left; "floo to my office. You…" she pointed to the group to her right; "go to the Defense classroom. The rest, follow me."

Minerva turned and threw a handful of floo powder into the fire. The red and yellow flames turned green. She stepped in and said in a load clear voice, "Hogwarts: Headmaster's office!"

She prepared herself for the spinning sensation of traveling through the floo network.

Nothing happened.

She looked around and saw that everyone else was having the same problem.

"No!" Minerva shouted. "They have cut off the floo network to Hogwarts! Everyone who can, apparate to Hogsmeade; those who can't, floo to the Three Broomsticks, then head to the castle! Move!"

Dozens of cracks announced their arrival in the village outside the school. Minerva had just signaled for every one to follow her when Nymphadora Tonks pointed towards the school and shouted, "Oh, Merlin, NO! Look at the Astronomy Tower!"

Minerva turned and saw to her horror a giant green skull with a snake in its mouth hovering over the tower. The Dark Mark: Voldemort's calling card.

"MOVE!" Remus Lupin shouted from her right, and he led the charge to the castle. After a few minutes of running, the group had almost reached the front doors to the castle when they heard it.

A scream. A young man was screaming in pain from somewhere within the castle. It was a scream so loud that it felt like the earth was shaking, a scream so full of pain that it chilled Minerva to the bone.

"Oh gods, no!" she said as she trembled. "That's Harry!"

She saw all the color in Lupin's face drain. He staggered two steps and righted himself. Lupin seemed to say a silent prayer to himself, and then he bolted toward the doors. The rest of the group quickly followed.

Before they could reach the entrance, over two scores of Death Eaters came running out. Both groups froze as they looked at each other in shock. The Death Eaters were obviously not expecting any resistance, while the Ministry forces were not expecting the Death Eaters to be in retreat. A few of the Death Eaters appeared to be scratching in severe pain at their left forearm where the Dark Mark was burned into their flesh.

Then without warning, Harry's ungodly screams ceased.

"ATTACK!" a cold female voice screamed from behind a mask, and suddenly the air was alive with spells, curses, and hexes. Many Death Eaters and Ministry personnel cried out in pain as they fell.

Lupin, who had dropped all pretences of fighting instead of saving his surrogate godson, was forcing his way through the mass of black robes. He was physically pushing, shoving, and throwing Death Eaters out of his way. Minerva was on his tail shouting hexes and curses over Lupin's shoulders at anything that moved. In no time, Lupin and Minerva had pushed their way through into the castle.

"Where is he?" Minerva asked as Lupin seemed to sniff the air.

"This way," the old werewolf said as he ran down a corridor. Minerva followed without hesitation.

Soon they found themselves nearing the hidden entrance to the kitchens. The sickening smell of burning flesh hung thick in the air. The pair slowed as they saw two bodies lying in front of the hidden door.

The first body was easily recognizable as Peter Pettigrew, Wormtail. Remus walked up to Wormtail's body and roughly kicked his former friend.

The other body was less recognizable because it was blistered and smoldering as if he had been boiled alive. His unusually long fingers where curled up in pain and what was left of his nose was flat with two slits for nostrils.

"V-Voldemort!" Minerva whispered in disbelief. She examined the body more closely and it appeared that he had burned from the inside out. She also discovered a handprint burned into the fiend's forehead, as if someone's hand were on fire and held it to his head. Blood was continuing to bubble out from a horrible gash in the middle of the oddly burnt handprint.

"Where's Harry?" she asked, turning to Remus.

"I've lost his scent!" he said on the verge of panic. "Where can he be?"

"We'll search the castle…"

"That'll take too long!" he shouted.

"We don't have any other choice, Remus!"

Minerva and Remus began to methodically search the castle. They found a number of Death Eaters dead and several more bound, unconscious, or otherwise incapacitated scattered throughout their search (Lucius Malfoy, for one, had been Obliviated into a drooling vegetable). They also found the bodies of Professors Flitwick, Firenze, Sinistra, and Vector.

Tonks joined them shortly after they started their search and informed them that while they were victorious in the battle, some of the Death Eaters had escaped.

The Hospital Ward was filling up with the wounded. Remus and Minerva noticed that Hermione and Ginny were now missing as well. The Library was empty and so was the Gryffindor common room.

"Lemon Drops," Minerva said the password to the stone gargoyle guarding the Headmaster's office. She waited for the gargoyle to step aside, but it did not. She repeated the password. "Lemon Drops!"

The gargoyle slowly turned its head to McGonagall and said in a gravelly voice, "Headmistress, choose a new password for your office."

"My office?" she asked, and it slowly dawned on her what the gargoyle had inferred. "Oh no! Open up damn it!"

After the gargoyle obeyed, she ran up the stairs followed by Lupin and Tonks.

She had made this same journey more times that she could count over the decades. Each time she would see the smiling face of Albus Dumbledore sitting behind his desk. Minerva let out a sob as she saw who was now sitting in Dumbledore's chair.

He was a short, bespectacled young man with unruly black hair and a lightning bolt scar on his forehead. His eyes were closed as if he was peacefully asleep, but Minerva could tell from across the room that Harry Potter would never wake from this slumber.

"HARRY!" Remus shouted as he ran towards the young man's body. He fell to his knees and began to cry. Minerva could hear Tonks crying softly behind her.

Minerva walked to the desk as if she were in a trance. Her eyes took in Harry's pale, cold face and his bloodstained shirt. A small pool of blood rested under the chair. Her eyes focused on the large wound in his chest, and she had to tear her eyes away from the offensive sight.

As she looked around the office she noticed that Albus' little knick-knacks were still scattered around the room, but something was missing. The portraits of the former Headmasters were gone.

She turned to comfort Remus when she saw a letter written in Albus' hand addressed to her lying on the desk in front of Harry. With shaking hands she opened the letter and read:

Dearest Minerva,

As you may be able to infer, I brought Harry back to my office in an attempt to heal his wounds. Alas I was too late. Even Fawkes' tears could not heal him. It seems that I have failed Harry one last time…

I have caused him so much grief in the past, all because I thought it was for his own good. For his own protection. Oh, Minerva, I should have listened to you all those years ago. It has dawned on me too late that we could have raised him here at the castle, with you and me as surrogate grandparents. It would have made his short life somewhat more enjoyable. But in my arrogance, I believed that Petunia would tend to Harry as her own child.

That was the second time I failed Harry. The first was when I did not do enough to save his parents. And I have failed him so many times since then that I have lost track. I believed that he was too young or the burden would be too heavy for him. He could have at least prepared himself.

So, it is with a sad heart that I have decided to roam the earth. I can do no more here; hopefully I can atone for my sins by helping others.

As you know, I will not be found if I do not choose to be. So please, do not attempt to contact or find me.

Please look after Miss Granger and Miss Weasley; they will need your support. And if I may be so bold as to assume, you will need theirs as well.

With love,


Kingsley Shacklebolt's voice drew Minerva's attention away from the letter.

"I don't know how to say it kindly; we found Ron Weasley's body at the base of the Astronomy Tower. However, we are still looking for Hermione and Ginny. The Weasley twins found some sort of map on Ron's body, and they said they'll be able to find the girls with it," he said. "We have set up a temporary morgue in the Great Hall. Should we move Harry there?"

Minerva looked to Remus who was still kneeling next to the body. "No, I think it would be best if he were placed in the Hospital Ward," Minerva stated. "It is a more secure location, and his body would be less likely to create a scene. You can place him on his personal bed there." Remus had obviously overheard because he nodded in agreement. An unknown Auror walked up next to Harry and pointed his wand at the body.

"Wingardium..." he began, and Remus shot up and savagely knocked the Auror's wand out of his hand.

"You will not treat him like a piece of trash!" Remus shouted. He bent over Harry's body and, with some difficulty, lifted him up. He struggled slightly as he carried Harry out of the office and down the stairs. Minerva followed him.

Hagrid's voice called out as Remus stumble again.

"Let me carry 'im, Remus," the half-giant said through his tears. "I carried 'im once before, I can do it again."

Remus nodded silently, and Hagrid took up the limp body.

"Let's go Harry," Hagrid said softy. "I'm gonna take you te see yer folks an' Sirius now."

6th June, 1998

Minerva wiped the tears from her eyes as she thought of poor Hermione. The young woman had lost so much in just one day: two dear, close friends in Neville Longbottom and Ron Weasley, as well as the man she loved in Harry.

And her heart went out to Jim Lillian; a Hufflepuff under the class listing, who, according to the approved absences list, had recently lost his parents in a Muggle car crash.

Minerva paused as she tried to recall her impressions of Jim Lillian. She was drawing a blank when it came to him. Minerva did not remember what he looked like or if he was even in her classes.

The new Headmistress walked over to a cabinet and withdrew Lillian's school records. In it she found that he excelled in Defense, Potions, Charms, and even Transfiguration. In fact, Lillian was fourth in his year in Transfiguration, and yet Minerva had no memory at all of him.

But what bothered Minerva most about this mysterious student was that there was a glowing letter of recommendation for the Auror Academy for Lillian written by her. It was a letter that she was positive she had never written.

Minerva dropped Lillian's records on her desk and said aloud,

"Who the bloody hell is Jim Lillian?"

To Be Continued

Author's Notes: First off I would like to thank you for reading and reviewing my fic. I originally post this fic on May 2nd and a friend of a friend pointed out some grammar errors and typos. So I would like to thank my betas sasqch and Penelope78 for helping me with corrections and ideas.