Author's Note: This is my first published attempt. I make no promises concerning its completion. Constructive feedback would be appreciated. Thank you for reading.

Chapter 1:

Moonlight glinted off the towers of Hogwarts castle. A soft breeze teased the leaves of the Forbidden Forest, coasting across the mirrored surface of the lake, and tickled the noses of the winged boars standing guard at the gates. In the stillness of the night, all seemed calm and serene, not a hint of the war raging inside the walls or of the threat that lurked in the shadows of the Wizarding world. The castle slept for the moment, except for the rare student sneaking to the kitchens for late night snack or a professor making rounds to catch said student. It had been only a week since Albus Dumbledore, the longtime headmaster of Hogwarts had been forced to flee the school by the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, and his unsavory crony, Dolores Umbridge.

And everything has gone to hell, thought Minerva McGonagall as her hands pressed into the intricate carvings on the balcony railing. Still dressed, albeit with her customary emerald robe open to reveal black trousers and sepia sweater, she had only just completed her circuit of the castle and decided to step outside for a breathe of air before returning to the mountain of paperwork awaiting her. Apparently, the new Headmistress required a full review of the finances and curriculum of Hogwarts School. Not the she would have the least idea of how to actually run the school. Blasted woman has probably never even read Hogwarts: A History. Her lips thinned as a virulent combination of disgust, anger, and quite possibly hatred, swelled to the surface. Thoughts of the indignities and injustices inflicted upon the inhabitants of Hogwarts by that toad fed the fire. Between the damned decrees and the Blood Quill, Minerva had barely managed to rein in her fury so far. Now, with Albus banished, she knew that Umbridge would only escalate, reveling in her newfound power. And as the only trusted member of the Order, Severus would never be trusted by students outside his house, she would be forced to bite her tongue and keep her wand lowered to remain at Hogwarts. It was the only way she could continue to protect the students. Without a Head or at least a Deputy Head, the castle wards would be almost totally ineffective against a concentrated attack. The thought of bowing to Umbridge made her stomach twist and her palms itch for her wand. Almost absentmindedly, she conjured a handful of flames. They danced up and down her arms at her command. Something has to be done.

With a quick clenching of her fist, she extinguished the flames and returned inside.