Disclaimer: Anything you recognize does not belong to me ::cue sad sound of violins playing in background:: but rather to the goddess, JKR

Disclaimer: Anything you recognize does not belong to me ::cue sad sound of violins playing in background:: but rather to the goddess, JKR. This is a little different for me because there is no romance and it involves a character I have not dealt with before in any depth. I hope you enjoy it. If you like, you may e-mail me at stregabrava@yahoo.ca Constructive reviews are always encouraged. Flames will be used to light the candles on my birthday cake (July 14th is my birthday ::starts singing "Happy Birthday To Me")

These Hallowed Halls

The swirling images do not help me tonight. As I look closer and closer, I find myself becoming discouraged by the moments in time, which peek through the gray mists. So many mistakes along the way. Not enough time taken to consider other possibilities. These vignettes from my past show me just how fallible I have always been. If only…

Sighing to myself, I get up and put the Pensieve away. Although it is a very useful item, it has not been so tonight, leaving me somewhat restless and agitated. In the past, it has been helpful and allowed me to find patterns in past experiences that I would otherwise have missed. Patterns, which helped me, predict and helped me prevent many tragedies. Many…but not all. That is the trouble but, perhaps, I am not being realistic. After all, these are my thoughts in this tempest-tossed cup and I am only one person…my perceptions and my views are hardly perfect.

"You were no better than I," I speak rather disrespectfully to the photographs of my predecessors who look back at me with some degree of surprise on their faces. I have never spoken ill of them in the past…always according them an appropriate degree of respect as was their due. But they never had to deal with an entity like Voldemort. Someone so madly possessed of a desire for power and purification that it brings to my mind one of the worst muggle leaders in my memory. It is funny how I cannot bring myself to say…his name and yet I can name Voldemort freely.

"Besides," I think to myself, "I will one day be like you, simply the memory of a person spending the rest of eternity looking out on a world I was once a part of…a world I loved."

All the former headmasters and headmistresses look at me with concern. They know the burden I willingly bear. They fear I will break. I will not break.

My gaze drifts over to the Sorting Hat and I smile despite myself. Yes, this old hat and I are a lot alike. We both are very useful despite our appearances. I know my students look at me with wonder that I am still Headmaster. Perhaps they think that I have stockpiled vast quantities of elixir from the Philosopher's Stone. Or perhaps they think that I have somehow managed to find a spell to prolong life. I heard one Hufflepuff girl exclaim to the others in her house that I was immortal. It made me smile but, in all seriousness, who would want to live forever?

I walk over to the case that holds the sword of Godric Gryffindor. Opening the case, I pull out the weapon. The craftsmanship is truly incredible, jewels glinting on its helm, the ornate detailing and the clean and deadly lines of the blade which run so straight and true. It still amazes me that it came to Harry…it frightens me as well because only sheer desperation could have called that weapon from its place of concealment. Another example of how I went wrong. I should have been there. I should have stayed at Hogwarts. If anything had happened to Harry, I would never have forgiven myself…much as I have never forgiven myself for the deaths of his mother and father.

Reluctantly, I return the sword to its resting place. I hope that it will not be needed again. Perhaps I should go for a walk.

As I get up to leave, I accidentally brush against one of the photographs on the wall, causing it to fall and the glass to break. I magically repair the glass and summon the photograph to my hand. Smiling, I realize that it is the most recent staff photograph, kindly taken by Colin Creevy. I must admit, the young man has talent with a camera. Even I do not look so gray and faded in this particular shot.

I scan along the faces and stop at Minerva's. She will probably be the one to replace me when I decide to step down. That isn't a particularly difficult decision, she is easily the most qualified and quite capable of managing such a huge responsibility. She has had to watch over an entire family of Weasleys not to mention Hermione and Harry and all the others. Watching over Hogwarts should be relatively simple after that. But I digress as she smiles at me. She does not smile often enough, in my opinion. Always afraid to let her emotions cloud her judgement. She is the epitome of fairness and equality. I know the students grumble about her strictness but they also admire her because she treats everyone the same. She is a remarkable witch

With a small frown, I point at Severus; our Potions Master for several years. Even in this photograph, his cold demeanor is so very apparent. So many disappointments in his life. So many brash decisions. Perhaps he would never have joined the Death Eaters if it had not been for that bitter rivalry between himself and James. I know he has never forgiven himself for what happened. So many years of trying to make restitution has left him no better off than when he started. He plays an important role in our plans…perhaps the most important role of all. I only wish he could find peace within himself.

I think I need something to drink. A cup of cocoa. That always seems to make me feel better. I recite a small spell and, instantly, a steaming mug of the sweet brown liquid is permeating the room with its fragrant vapours. I take a sip. Delicious.

I walk over to the door of my office and open it quietly. My griffin is out there, standing guard as always…my solitary sentinel. It is time for a new password.

"Hello, my friend," I reach over to stroke the mighty animal's head fondly. The griffin gazes at me quietly.

"It is time for a new password…let me see…the new password shall be "Choco-dragon eggs."

The griffin nodded. Well, that was one piece of business done. If only everything were so easily accomplished.

I walk along the corridor which is brightly lit with a multitude of flaming torches. It makes for a rather melancholy sight…a hundred points of light vainly trying to conquer the velvety blackness of night. Passing the professors' quarters, I decide to go to the Great Dining Hall.

As I pass the portraits on the walls of the corridors, I cannot help but to think back to when Hogwarts was founded so many years ago. The school is so well established, so much a part of the wizarding life here that I feel that it has somehow always been here. And yet, this too had a beginning…somewhere in the distant past. A time when the four founders came together to create a place where all could develop their magical talents. It is such a pity that the original vision of the school never came to be. Even then, the schism between birthright and ability was already apparent. It is unfortunate that that schism was never rectified…the ramifications of which are so very evident today.

There has been every sort of student here. Brilliant ones. Studious ones. Athletic ones. There have been so many of whom I am so proud…the Weasley children readily come to mind. Bill, Charlie and Percy, even Fred and George…all of them graduated and a credit to their parents. Then there are those that have always weighed heavily on my conscience. Tom Riddle…Voldemort…how I wish that I had found some way to reach him before the thirst for power and dominion completely consumed him. His failure is my failure and no matter how many people tell me how powerful and strong I am…I know in my heart that my failures are equally as powerful.

Of course, there have been those students who…well, showed a certain disregard for the rules. Fred and George Weasley certainly qualify but there was James and his band of fellow mischief-makers. They were adventurous, impetuous and sometimes downright scoundrels but their hearts were in the right place and, when you had someone like them for a friend, you could always count on them. Sirius, who always acted before thinking. Remus, whose ferocious transformations belied his innately humane nature. Peter…I wish I had seen then what I see now. And then there was James…

Perhaps a part of me thought of him as a son. I don't know. I never married and never had children. I don't know what it is like to have a family other than my family here at Hogwarts. His misadventures and pranks never really made me as angry as they should have. Perhaps I saw a part of myself in him. He and Lily were meant for each other…everyone could see that. Yes, I know there were several disappointed suitors when they married…I suspect Severus held a torch for the lovely redheaded Gryffindor as did Peter…perhaps…perhaps…

"Good evening, Professor Dumbledore."

I blink in surprise. Without realizing it, I have reached the entrance to the Gryffindor common room and the Fat Lady is looking at me in genuine happiness.

"Hello, Madame. You are looking exceptionally lovely this evening," I reply with a smile.

She blushes slightly.

"You always did have a way with words. Did you need to go in?"

I shake my head.

"No, my dear. I am simply taking a walk to clear the cobwebs, so to speak."

"Oh, I see. I thought perhaps, you needed to speak to Harry…or Ron…or Hermione."

"Not tonight. I see that you were still up…did you have plans for the rest of the night?"

"Yes, in fact. I was just going to visit Violet."

"Well, don't let me keep you. Have a pleasant time and please send her my regards."

"I will, Professor. Good night."

"Good night."

She vanishes from her portrait and I continue down the hallway.

Harry, Ron and Hermione. The three greatest hopes that our wizarding world has of defeating the darkness. In Harry, James truly lives again. They look so similar that sometimes I find myself looking at the young man and wondering whether I have unwittingly used a Time Turner. When I see him with young Ginny Weasley, it seems that history is repeating itself. So many hopes are pinned on him and he is still so young.

"Young but not untested," I remind myself.

He has had to face battles that most wizards and witches have nightmares about. He has had to overcome huge obstacles in order to come as far as he has. He shows so much potential but is he ready to take on the destiny that seems to have been thrust upon his shoulders?

Of course, he is not alone. Ron is with him and so is Hermione. They share a friendship that is rare for its loyalty and fearlessness. There is nothing that they cannot do so long as they are together. Lately, I have been seeing a growing closeness between the two of them, one that neither of them is yet willing to admit. They are such opposites in many respects. She thrives on her studies while he is more adventurous. They bring out the best in one another.

Then there is Draco Malfoy, son of another student I lost along the way. Draco and Harry…like oil and water. There has been a rivalry between them since the beginning. I do not understand all of it. It pains me to see Draco following in his father's footsteps but there is little I can do. Even Severus cannot reach him and I know he has tried.

Ah, here is the secret room where the Mirror of Erised now resides. I utter the opening spell and walk in. It is a most beautiful piece of artwork. I think back to a conversation I had with Harry during his first year. He had discovered the mirror and, upon looking into it, discovered his family which, not surprisingly, was his deepest desire. He asked me what I would see if I were to look in the mirror. I quickly made up a story about socks that I am sure he did not believe.

I step towards the mirror, rather hesitantly, I might add. At first, all I see is my tired reflection staring back at me. Then I see it. I see Harry and Ginny, married and with several children, some with red hair, some with black. I see Ron and Hermione, married as well with an assortment of boys and girls, most with red hair and some with rather…voluminous brown hair. I see them happy and carefree. I see Draco as their friend. I see Minerva smiling and dancing with her hair down. I see Severus at peace with himself and free of his past. I see Sirius being given his life back. I see Remus no longer terrorized by the full moon. Finally, I see myself as a portrait in my old office, finally at peace and finally able to rest, my work complete.

With a sigh, I pull myself away from the mirror. I leave the chamber, carefully closing it behind me. One day, I am certain that these things will come to pass. I have faith in the future. I have faith because of the students here. The students upon whom all our hopes rest. The students that walk these hallowed halls.

A/N: I have always wanted to do something like this…I hope you like it. Just so that you know, I have just posted Chapter 10 of my Percy-Hermione story "The Error of My Ways" as well as Chapter 3 of my Draco-Hermione story "Hour of Grace". Consider them my birthday present to you.