After the Fall

by Jedi Amara

Author's Note: Thanks for reading! I encourage you to review, and thank the two people who did review the last chapter (one of those on my LiveJournal). I shall endeavour to post one more chapter this week, and then I will not have computer access for a couple of weeks, so expect to see more at the beginning of February. Bear with me.


Chapter 2

Unnerving Situations

Minerva McGonagall drew a ragged breath as she slowly pulled herself into a sitting position. The scar running the length of her right leg twinged, and she reached for a goblet at the side of the bed, grimacing as she forced the bitter-tasting liquid down. She knew that her wounds would probably never heal, but damn it, she wasn't going to take it lying down.

A particularly sharp pain lanced through her side. She bit back a yelp and fell backwards onto her pillow. Fine, she'd take it lying down, but she definitely wasn't going to like it.

Like many other witches and wizards, she'd sustained life-threatening injuries in the war against... You-Know-Who. She still couldn't bring himself to use his name, though Albus had always insisted that fear of a name increased fear of the thing itself.

She still couldn't accept the fact that Albus was gone.

It had been a year, but she still expected Albus to Apparate suddenly, a twinkle in his eye. Hogwarts didn't seem like the same place without the sturdy Headmaster, defender of the school and feared enemy of all who followed the Dark Lord. Minerva had assumed the position of Headmistress when he had died, the expected appointment being confirmed almost immediately by Scrimgeour. She didn't know if she could still handle the position, though. She couldn't guess how long it would be before she was free to move around again. Bellatrix Lestrange had tracked her down and challenged her, though not in as many words. No, it had been an unexpected curse, and Minerva had barely managed to shield it, helped only by the warning of Professor Sprout, who hadn't had time, after that, to raise her own shields. She had fallen to a Malfoy curse - the father, not the son. Minerva had held doubts, even to the last, that Draco would be able to kill anyone.

He had tried, then. Sent a Killing Curse towards Hermione Granger, who had dodged behind a large tree just in time, then sent a spell of her own towards Malfoy. Miss Granger had been the cleverest student at Hogwarts, and her phenomenal prowess had been ably demonstrated by the charm she used, a modified Body-Bind that had come from all directions and hadn't given the young Death Eater a chance to block it. He was in Azkaban now, awaiting trial with the rest of them, though there was no doubt of the verdict. Azkaban was being guarded by Aurors, loath as the Ministry was to spare them from other duties.

Minerva had Stunned Bellatrix Lestrange, who had toppled from the heights of the tower to break on the ground below. There was a bitter irony in that, a comparison to the way Dumbledore had fallen a year before. Healers had arrived minutes later, rushing to take Minerva to St. Mungo's, but they were too late to save the Herbology teacher.

St. Mungo's, always busy, was packed with other casualties of the war. Minerva didn't like it, so she had firmly checked herself out and enlisted Filius Flitwick's help to Side-Along Apparate into Hogsmeade. If her wounds weren't going to heal anyway, there was no point being somewhere she didn't want to be, and Horace Slughorn was a perfectly adequate potion-maker. He could brew the same pain-reducing remedies she would have received at the hospital, while she would be far more comfortable in a familiar environment.

Jamming a pair of glasses onto her nose, Minerva reached for the Daily Prophet, and enchanted the newspaper to float above her with a flick of her wand. The headlines were all about the defeat of You-Know-Who, of course, as they had been for the last few days. This irritated her; surely there must be something else going on in the wizarding world. Ah, and here it was, a side-column on the front page:

Harry Potter Offered Official Funeral

by Rita Skeeter

The late Harry Potter, known alternately as the Boy Who Lived and the Chosen One, has been offered a Ministry of Magic-funded funeral.

Potter, 17, died as he defeated He Who Must Not Be Named in an attempt to save the wizarding world. Potter is believed to have used his life-force to power the curse that killed You-Know-Who. The battle was witnessed by Potter's friends Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley, both 18.

"He wouldn't have wanted all this fuss," Miss Granger told a reporter for the Prophet. "Harry did it because it was something he had to do."
"I don't want to talk about it," said Mr. Weasley. "Leave us alone for once, why don't you?"

Percy Weasley, a representative from the Minister's office, said that Potter's service to the wizarding world justified the public expense.
"Well, we had to offer it, didn't we? I mean, he killed You-Know-Who and everything, there'd be a public uproar if we hadn't!" he blustered.

The Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, refused to comment.

So, a public funeral, was it? A brief smile touched Minerva's lips. She wondered what would come of this.

---

Dudley Dursley laughed, loudly and harshly.
"We showed him again, didn't we?" squealed Piers Polkiss, who was still the same unattractive, gangling boy he had been at eleven, though now legally counted as an adult.
"I love the sound he made when you socked him right there in the stomach, Big D," said Darren Throng, a heavyset youth with a permanently menacing look on his face.

At that moment, a door opened. A figure emerged from the house in front of which the gang was standing, and proceeded up the driveway, waving an umbrella. It was Mrs. Figg, the loony hag who was obsessed with cats. Dudley hated the woman.
"What are you boys doing making noise outside my house, then? Get off with you!" she said firmly, poking her umbrella in their direction. The boys laughed.
"What're you going to do about it?" said Dudley rudely. Mrs. Figg turned and called into her house.
"Hagrid! Could you give me a hand, please!"

The gang could hear footsteps. Stooping under the doorframe, the largest man they had ever seen shook his head and stepped into the light, drawing himself up to his full height. Dudley's mouth dropped open, and he stared at the man in shock.
"'Ere, what are you doin' now? Clear off!" said the man, but Dudley was already running as though for his life. The rest of the gang straggled after him, one or two risking a look back to catch another glimpse of this giant.

---

Dudley slammed the door open and ran through the hallway.
"Dad! Dad!" he panted. "I just saw that, that, that giant who gave me a tail!" He stopped. "Dad, why are you drinking already? Where's Mum? I want my tea!"
Vernon pointed at the table. "Read that."
Dudley reached for the letter and read it, very slowly. His lips moved as he made sense of the words.
"Harry's gone?" he said dubiously.
"Yes, yes, it's all true! He'll never come back to disturb us again!"
A grin spread gradually over Dudley's face.
"Aunt Marge isn't going to like this, Dad. You know how she liked to set Ripper on him."