Severus Snape's Perspective….
Severus cast a Tempus charm, noting the Owls' this were nearing completion. He would need to discreetly scan the halls to prevent another injury to a student, since the corridors had recently become a practical realm for jinxes and hexes to be thrown at one's less than savory acquaintances. He could tolerate the occasional jinx or hex being cast, but Umbridge's utter lack of control had crossed over from mild amusement of a prank to downright fury and contempt for the lack of regard for safety…and that coming from a Slytherin. For the past four days, he and Minerva had discreetly placed themselves along the two main corridors on the second and third corridor to assist the first and second years to safely traverse the spell locked corridors between classes.
When Poppy had asked Minerva yesterday, if she was eating properly…he had been thankful he had just swallowed…or he would have choked on the food from laughter at Minerva's glare to the Medi-witch who was unaware of the jaunts the Deputy Headmistress was traversing between every class, from the seventh to the third floor and back again without being caught…not as though his travels were much less coming from the dungeon to the second floor while avoiding Umbridge.
He had needed to lose a pound or two, but he had to agree with Minerva's tirade the night before last. Dolores' ineptness was reaching new heights and if she wasn't stopped soon, they – both her and Severus, would be a solid two sizes smaller.
With that thought…he pulled the door to his classroom close, thankful another tedious day under the pervue of Dolores Umbridge was coming to an end…and he only need to ascend the steps once more for the day.
Tiredly, he grabbed the banister and then dropped his hand as faint words drifted to his ears and he felt his persona quickly slip back into place. His steps quickening, face set in a scowl as he neared the top of the stairs in time to see Minerva burst through the doors in a dead run…
Instantly Severus reacted, his wand already out as he sprinted forward taking two and three steps at a time to reach the top. He could hear Hagrid's booming voice…and then he stepped around the stone archway as red blasts of light lit up the night and stunners flew toward the Hogwart's Groundskeeper. Severus barely took one step out the door when Minerva's words danced across the air, and as if choreographed…all four wizards turned upon Minerva…and Severus watched in horror as the Head of Gryffindor House, the Deputy Headmistress…and the most unusual of titles, his friend, was struck by 4 stunners and her body was thrown backwards across Hogwarts as though she were a string marionette being jerked across the stage.
Without thought, he cast a Patronus charm and sent it to Poppy before his body was flying down the steps, toward Minerva. Merlin don't be dead…he thought as the dew from the grass soaked his shins.
A lifetime could have been held in the scant seconds he slid to a halt in front of her body, Umbridge heading his…their way. He cast a glance towards the Headmistress, if one could call her that, before kneeling beside McGonagall while casting the counter spells.
"If I were you, Professor Snape, I'd be more concerned about your welfare than Dumbledore's puppet." Her squeaky voice ground out.
Snape bit back his anger, ensuring his voice remained the model of tranquility. "I assure you, my welfare is my paramount concern, Headmistress." At the sight of her dimpled smile, Snape continued on. "However, as Professor McGonagall is one of the premier witches in Britain, it would look…poorly for Hogwarts were she to die upon the property." Snape didn't turn, but could hear Poppy's unusual gait nearing them.
Umbridge nodded, "Right you are." She placed her stocky fingers upon his shoulder squeezing it. "Quick thinking, Professor." She moved back, as Poppy came within hearing distance. "Please see to it that the appropriate measures are in place to prevent that."
"Minerva!" Poppy uttered, although Snape continued to ignore as he quickly worked to remove Umbridge from the situation.
"I shall report back as soon as she has been transferred to St. Mungo's."
Umbridge nodded and was already turning back toward Hagrid's to speak with the other wizards as Poppy began scanning Minerva. Fury lining her voice, "What happened?"
"Four stunners to the chest." He responded, "The counter spells…"
Poppy waved her wand, "Will do no good. I need to get her to St. Mungo's." Her eyes drifting to Umbridge.
"She's already agreed." Severus responded to the Medi-witch.
Poppy shook her head, waving her wand to lift Minerva, "I would ask why she agreed so readily, but I fear I would not like the answer."
Severus eyed the pale woman in emerald robes, "Will she live?"
"I don't know, Severus." She stated, making her way toward the main gates…Severus beside her. "She's a strong witch…" Poppy felt a trail of tears slip down her eyelashes. "But four stunners to the chest…is lethal at the age of 20…let alone over 70."
No more words were spoken between the two until Severus opened the gates, and Poppy stepped through…passed the wards and into an apparation point. "Please let me know as soon as you have additional news."
"I take it you will find a way to contact the Headmaster?" Poppy asked, knowing that Albus would wish to be informed as soon as possible regarding his Deputy.
"Not I, but a message shall be delivered." He replied.
"Then you shall be informed." Poppy replied…and with a loud crack…both Poppy and the eerily still body of Minerva McGonagall vanished…leaving Severus to ponder her parting words, and the daunting task of informing the Order about Minerva's grim prognosis…and subsequently…the Headmaster – who was his employer, his colleague, his mentor…his friend that Minerva McGonagall had been gravelly wounded. The same Minerva who was his Deputy, who had been his best friend for decades…whom Albus had entrusted her safety to him…
Snape turned back to Hogwarts…trying to garner a moment of strength from it's hallowed walls before summoning a piece of parchment. The one that greeted his hand, must have come from Hagrid's…it was crinkled and smelt of batter and butterbear…but at least he could send the note that was necessary. Sighing, he pulled out his wand and cast a simple spell…the necessary words quickly appearing onto the parchment before it rolled up in his hand, and he sealed the center before he concentrated…and apparated to Grimwald Place and back within a heartbeat…the only missing cargo…the parchment, that now rest upon the kitchen table.
Idly he wondered who would find the note, Sirius or perhaps Lupin…and if fortune favored him, then Alastor would. But, it mattered not who found it…as long as it was sent on to the rest of the Order, including Dumbledore. He shivered at the notion of the Headmaster receiving the ill news regarding McGonagall. Truth be told…he thought as he turned back towards Hogwarts, he was quite glad not to be the messenger in this instance – for he was assured that Albus' reaction would be less than congenial.
Snape had never understood their relationship and gave up trying years ago, but he had long ago grasped the fundamentals – they were best friends and as close or closer than family, but as for the more part – he doubted it. And so…they existed, together at Hogwarts shaping the minds of the Wizarding world's future. He the flamboyant Headmaster, she the quiet and down to earth Deputy…his tendencies for the eccentric, hers toward orderliness…her logic to his spontaneity…their lives bringing balance to the other. Their lives so poignantly intertwined, one name often predicated the other – not as a lover or wife, like so many others…but something more and yet less…just as their relationship lived, almost but not quite.
Wearily he stepped through the gates, a stray thought striking a nerve as Severus recalled all the meetings involving the Dark Lord…and though it had never been verbalized, it was known to all of the Death Eaters – Minerva McGonagall was not to be attacked unless in defense or an attack had been authorized upon Hogwarts itself. Otherwise…she was to remain, untouched and unharmed. No Death Eater questioned it, nor spoke of it…leaving Snape to wonder if there was an unspoken rule between Dumbledore and the Dark Lord…or if even the Dark Lord feared the repercussions of hurting Minerva.
With a flick of his hand, the gates closed…and began walking back toward Hogwarts…and for the first time in his life…it felt empty, as though the heart of the great castle had been removed. And the notion scarred him.
A/N: The next chapter is Alastor's thoughts…please review.