Everything was broken.
Harry Potter sighed heavily as he slowly began to ascend the set of stairs behind the stone gargoyle that was its protector. He reached out, expecting to take hold of the matching railing with his long, worn fingers. Only, there was nothing there to grasp, nothing to help him hold his balance. He sighed again.
Everything was in disarray.
It had been three years since he had last stepped foot inside the reassuring walls of Hogwarts Castle, and Harry was more than pleased to have finally found his way back home. Happy though he was, there was no smile of pleasure stretching itself across his thin face; no sparkle of mirth in his emerald eyes. The wizarding world was all but collapsed. They had won the war perhaps, but they had lost almost every battle on their way to victory.
Everything was dying.
It hadn't really mattered though, Harry reflected as he reached the first landing. The only bit that had ever held any meaning at all was that final battle. And they had won that. Voldemort was gone, dead, but he hadn't gone alone. Cities had been reduced to rubble; lives had been snatched mercilessly away. Even now, almost a year after the final attack, people were desperately trying to pick up the pieces, to start again. Because that was what had been necessary. There was hardly anything left of the life they had all known before the second war. Only memories of happier times remained, and even those had begun to dwindle.
Nothing was the same.
Great doors of oak loomed before Harry now, begging him to take just one more step forward and knock. He raised his scabbed knuckles to the wood, poised to gently tap and make his presence known.
"Come in, Mr. Potter," a very familiar voice said sharply from behind the doors. Harry stretched his hands before him, leaning into the door on the left. The hinges protested loudly as the door swung open revealing an elaborately decorated office space. Things were the same as Harry remembered, yet different at the same time. There was still one entire wall lined in shelving; innumerable volumes weighed the cases down. The sleeping portraits of Headmasters past still adorned the walls; their snores echoed loudly throughout the circular room.
There were no glass jars full of sweets like there had been when Dumbledore had made this room his office space. The window treatments were now of burgundy and gold, rather than the plain white coloured cloth that had hung around the windows only a few years prior. But the biggest difference was the body sitting regally behind a desk of mahogany in the centre of the room.
"Ah, Potter, so good of you to come," Harry's room gazing was interrupted by that same familiar voice, and he allowed his eyes to rest on the person behind the desk. Her hair was of auburn with patches of grey. She had sharp frown lines and carried herself with a dignified air. Professor McGonagall sat safely behind her desk, hands folded, gazing upon Harry with tired eyes.
"Hello, Professor, it's been a while." Harry smiled for the first time as he took a seat on the velveteen chair the Professor conjured.
"Indeed it has, Potter. Too long." Harry dared to imagine a small smile playing across her lips. "I have called you here today on some important business," she said after a moment. "I know it has been some time since you stepped foot in these halls. You've been very busy, Mr. Potter. I realize that. The wizarding community will be forever in your debt." Harry nodded, becoming sober once more.
"I don't need to mention the pain you must feel at losing two of the people dearest to you heart during that last battle." Harry's face became heated as he remembered how bravely Ron and Hermione had fought, and how unfair their deaths had been. "In light of these events," Professor McGonagall fixed her gaze pointedly on Harry's. "I thought it best to wait before calling on you to meet with me.
"However, I think enough time has passed, and it is necessary to give you this." Her fingers drummed a leather bound book resting on the desk before her. Harry looked at the small thing quizzically. "When Professor Dumbledore passed," she continued, adjusting her spectacles. "I, along with his younger brother, Aberforth, was given the task of cleaning out his personal study. Old papers, chocolate wrappers, thank you notes he had forgotten to reply to. You know Dumbledore." Harry grinned, glancing at the portrait of his old mentor.
"Along with cleaning out drawers and sorting through papers, we took inventory of his extensive book collection." She indicated the shelving to her left. "As we neared the end of this particularly odious task," Professor McGonagall grimaced. "I came across a book bearing no title. I thought it to be a collection of notes he may have kept on different topics of study. However, when I opened to the front page to see if my suspicions had been correct, I found a name printed in the upper left hand corner." She paused here for dramatic effect, pursing her lips.
"Lily Marie Evans," she said after a few moments. "And under it, Lily Evans Potter." The Professor stood then, picked up the book and in one swift motion walked over to where Harry was still sitting. She looked at him sadly. "I just thought," she began, and for the first time in a long while struggled to find the right words. "I just thought that maybe you would like to have your mother's journal, Harry."