Disclaimer: I do not own anything other than the story line . All rights belong to J.K. Rowling
Chapter Fifteen: Behold, My Love, How Green the Groves
Harry wasn't really sure how he had gotten placed in this situation. At least he wouldn't be alone, as Hermione would be her usual steadying presence by his side. He really didn't know what he would do if she wasn't there for him.
He sighed as he joined the procession that made its way out of the Great Hall and out of the castle. That he was in the processional at all had come as quite a shock to him. He hadn't expected it at all, but the will reading had been quite clear, even he couldn't claim that he had misunderstood his Head of House's last request of him.
Slowly they made their way down the grounds to a solemn spot in the rear of the castle. There was a small cemetery located there, one that Harry had only visited once before. He had been curious then, as to what it was doing there. When he had asked Hagrid, the Gamekeeper at Hogwarts, the large man had simply pointed him to Hermione's second favorite book: Hogwarts, A History.
It seemed that the cemetery was there to honor anyone who had fallen in defense of the school. Well, like it or not, Harry supposed that was exactly what had happened to Professor McGonagall. He took a moment when his footsteps faltered to wipe the tears from his eyes. While the older woman hadn't been the most approachable person he had ever met, she had always treated him with kindness and respect, something many first years couldn't say about their Head of House.
At last they had made their way to where a series of chairs sat in front of a podium. There was a casket in front of the podium, where the body of the transfigurations professor lay, waiting to be interned in the cemetery beyond. Harry noted to himself that she looked like she was merely sleeping. He wondered what it would be like to die. Would it just be like going to sleep, never to wake up? He didn't really know, but he did know that he hoped he wouldn't find out anytime soon.
As he settled himself into a seat next to Hermione he reached down and clutched her hand. He needed her quiet strength on this day, and he hoped that he could return the favor to her as well.
Albus Dumbledore made his way slowly up to the podium. He looked very tired on this day, and the customary twinkle was missing from his eyes as he gazed out on the students, teachers and friends that had gathered.
"I'd like to thank each and every one of you for coming today as we lay our dear friend to rest. Minerva McGonagall was my deputy head here at Hogwarts, but in actuality she was so much more. She was my confidant, my conscience, and my best friend. She was the one that often reminded me that I was not infallible. She was the one that never failed to take me to task when I made a mistake. She was the one that kept me focused upon the students of this great institution, and she shall be the one that I shall miss above all others." He paused and wiped his eyes.
"Minerva has requested that we keep things short and simple, in the style that she loved to teach: get straight to the point. She has asked that one of her colleagues and four of her former students say something, beyond that she desired that we wrap things up quickly." He looked down at the diminutive Head of Ravenclaw. "Filius."
Professor Flitwick hopped up to the podium. With a flick of his wand a chair appeared and he climbed up on it. "Minerva McGonagall was my constant friend and companion during my tenure here at Hogwarts. She always took the time to help with any problems that I might have had, and she was the one that taught me what was to be expected of a head of house. She was often my second during my career as a professional duelist. She always protected my back, and this time Minerva, I'm so sorry that I failed to protect yours." He had to stop as his voice broke and he wiped his eyes. He took out a rather large handkerchief and blew his nose before he could go on.
"Minerva always knew that she had to have a professional detachment from her students in order to maintain discipline in both her classes and her house, but she couldn't deny to those of us that knew her that she had her favorites. We all knew of course, but she would always try to keep them from knowing it despite what we knew." He looked out over the crowd, but then his eyes fell to the front row, to four individuals that sat there, waiting for their turn at this.
"Minerva fell in defense of her students. She didn't even think twice about going in when the battle was discovered. The fact that Harry Potter, Hermione Potter, Remus Lupin and Auror-Trainee Nymphadora Tonks were in there was enough. They might not have all been from her house, but they had all at one time been her students. She was the mother lioness defending her cubs. She saved Tonks on that day before giving up her life, and I know that no matter where she is, she feels that it was a fair trade."
He took a deep, steadying breath before he went on. "Goodbye Minerva, you were the sister that I never had, and I shall always love you for it. Until we meet again on the other side…" He let out a small sob and hopped down off the chair.
Remus Lupin and Sirius Black looked at each other and each gave a small nod. They stood and approached the podium, taking a moment to each hug the diminutive professor as they passed.
Remus looked at his friend and then turned to face the crowd. "For those of you who might not know us, my name is Remus Lupin, and this is my best friend Sirius Black. We, along with the departed James Potter and Peter Pettigrew formed a group known to the halls of Hogwarts as the Marauders. Messers. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs brought a reign of terror to all who oppressed others, or otherwise were objectionable prats. The one professor who terrified us though, was our esteemed Head of House, Minerva McGonagall. She had a network of spies and advisers that always amazed us. She always seemed to know when we were up to no good, and she always found ways to make it difficult for the Marauders to succeed in whatever prank or task we had assigned ourselves."
Sirius smiled at that, and then took up the tale. "Yet despite everything, she made it very clear to us how much she seemed to treasure the fact that we were members of her house. Professor Flitwick mentioned that she had her favorites, and we each knew that we were some of hers. What we didn't know, what we couldn't possibly know, was just how much she favored us. She had favored us so much that she asked for us to say something at her funeral."
He stopped and took a deep breath. "When three members of her house took it upon themselves to research a very difficult and dangerous piece of transfiguration so that they might help their best friend during his most difficult times," he shook his head and looked at Remus, who had hung his head at this. "Yes buddy, I'm talking about you. Well, anyway, when three quarters of the Marauders decided to become animagi so that we could be there for our friend's furry little problem, Minerva McGonagall surreptitiously supplied us with whatever we needed, though we didn't know it at the time. She took it upon herself to protect us from the dangers that could have overcome us, and because there was a war going on, she kept our secrets as well as any house elf ever could. She made a life's work of teaching, helping and protecting her students."
Lupin patted his friend on the shoulder and gave him a sad smile. "She was dedicated to the students of this school, and there shall never be another like her. As such, and because of her dedication, we have had a painting created commemorating her dedication to four friends who could never have done what we did without her." He waved his wand and a Wizarding painting floated out. It was life-sized, and showed a small tabby with distinctive, spectacle shaped markings sitting atop a great stag while threatening a small rat who was cowering from her, while a large black dog and a werewolf looked on from either side. The legend read: In loving memory of Minerva McGonagall: Mrs. Tabby Cat, Dedicated professor and honorary Marauder, fearless protector."
They both stepped down and motioned for Harry and Hermione. The pair quietly stepped up. They stood to either side of the podium and looked out over the crowd. Harry gulped audibly. Hermione placed a calming hand on his shoulder and smiled at him.
"Hello everyone," she started, "I'm Hermione Potter and this is my bond-mate Harry Potter. Professor McGonagall was our head of house, and also our transfiguration professor. She was a guiding presence in our lives, and ten days ago she fought to save us. It was the saddest moment of our lives to find out that she had been killed protecting us. Two days ago, at the reading of her will, she gave the two of us one final request. She said that it had been her proudest moment to know that the next two Potters, Harry, the son of James and Lily Potter, and me, Hermione, Harry's bond-mate were members of the House of Gryffindor, the house that she had the privilege to head. She asked that we read her favorite poem, which is actually a song by Robert Burns, in her memory.
"Harry and I agreed that I would explain what was asked of us, and he would do the actual reading, so, here is Harry Potter reading Behold, My Love, How Green the Grove.
Harry took a deep breath and opened a small piece of parchment. He adjusted his glasses on his face and started to read.
Behold, my love, how green the groves,
The primrose banks how fair;
The balmy gales awake the flowers,
And wave thy flowing hair.
The lav'rock shuns the palace gay,
And o'er the cottage sings:
For Nature smiles as sweet, I ween,
To Shepherds as to Kings.
Let minstrels sweep the skilfu' string,
In lordly lighted ha':
The Shepherd stops his simple reed,
Blythe in the birken shaw.
The Princely revel may survey
Our rustic dance wi' scorn;
But are their hearts as light as ours,
Beneath the milk-white thorn!
The shepherd, in the flowery glen;
In shepherd's phrase, will woo:
The courtier tells a finer tale,
But is his heart as true!
These wild-wood flowers I've pu'd, to deck
That spotless breast o' thine:
The courtiers' gems may witness love,
But, 'tis na love like mine.
Harry quietly folded up the parchment and returned it to his robes. "Professor McGonagall loved her students, her school, and her beloved Scotland. She was one of the most honorable women I've ever met, and I'll miss her each day for the rest of my life. I hope that Hermione and I can live up to the standards that she held us to. We dedicate our lives to enriching the world as she would have wanted us to. Thank you."
Sirius Black scowled as he crumpled the copy of the Daily Prophet in his hands. It was a black day indeed, that had seen what had been announced in the paper this morning. He gratefully accepted a hug from his new wife and sought out his Godson and the girls. He needed to talk to the whole family. While he gathered the kids, Hestia got Robert and Jean.
After everyone had sat down to a family meeting, Sirius decided that it could no longer be put off. "I don't suppose any of you has seen today's paper?" At the negative shakes around the room he went on. "There are currently three candidates for the vacant position of Minister for Magic, since that idiot Fudge got chucked in Azkaban: Barty Crouch, Ludo Bagman, and Lucius Malfoy."
"Malfoy?" Harry spat out. "What is that Death Eater doing in this?"
"He had the money and the influence weasel his way out of the accusations from the Fudge fiasco. It seems that because all the transfers of money actually went through the Minister's Undersecretary, there was no actual Wizarding record of his involvement, and with the primary culprit dead, he convinced the Wizengamot that there was no proof that it was him that supplied the gold. The goblins know, of course, but the Wizengamot refused to accept the testimony of a non-wizard." He sighed.
"But, the other two are just as bad, if in different ways. Barty Crouch was the one who had me sent to Azkaban without a trial, and he is as vicious as they come. I really think that he snapped after his son was found to be a Death Eater. If he comes to power, we could be looking at a very harsh time. To me he would be no better than an Adolf Hitler.
"Ludo Bagman, on the other hand, is very popular, and unfortunately, a complete idiot. I fear he would be just as bad as Fudge. This is indeed a dark day for our society."
"What can we do?" Robert asked.
"I don't know that anything can be done," Sirius replied.
"Has the deadline for nominations passed?" Hermione asked.
"No, there's still three more days," Hestia said. "Then there's one month to campaign before the vote takes place in the Wizengamot. Maybe we'll get lucky and someone else shall stand up and run against them."
Hermione looked to each of the twins, and then leaned her head in so that she touched foreheads with Harry. After a moment the each nodded slightly and Harry stood up. "Sirius, we need to go to the Ministry," he said in a very self-assured voice.
"Why," Sirius asked.
"To nominate the fourth candidate," Hermione said easily. "The answer is obvious." She looked to all in the household. "We're going to nominate you to be the next Minister for Magic."
To be continued in Shared Destiny – Year Two
Author's Note: Well, there you have it. It's been quite a ride, and I must thank each and every one of the readers that have taken the time to post over 500 reviews of this story. Wow, that's a phenomenal number. Thanks so very much. I stand in awe of each of you. God bless you all.
In case you aren't familiar with him, Robert Burns was a Scottish poet who is revered by Scots everywhere. If you haven't had a chance to read Tam O'Shanter or Ode to a Haggis, I usggest that you look them up. His stuff is absolutely wonderful.
Thanks again to everyone, I'm gonna start working on my other unfinished stuff, and I'm also taking on a challenge from my fellow author dennisud. He and I are going to be collaborating on a fic that we're calling "The Finders". Look for it starting soon. See you soon!