A/N: This chapter is purely speculative, a test to see if I like this concept. So let me know what you think. It's a bit backward.

Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. They are property of JK Rowling and Warner Brothers

Darkness oozed from the very cracks of the land. The country-side was littered with the rubble of peace. The skeletons of once majestic halls now lay, gutted across the country. They served as a reminder of all the restless corpses tucked into the earth, torn apart by the same dark force. Even the once cheerful fortress of academia for the wizarding world, the insurmountable Hogwarts, had a dark smear cast up on it.

Minerva McGonagall, Transfiguration Professor, and Head of Gryfindor House, patrolled the passages of the school. The newly converted orphanage wing sent shivers down her spine. There were so many tortured, fearful young souls in her charge now; it almost made her sick to contemplate it. The halls that once sang with memories of her jovial, boisterous student days now dirged with the fretful wails of fatherless toddlers, motherless infants, and air-raid sirens. It seemed that the terrible mantle would never be lifted from her home again.

Mentally correcting herself, she reprimanded you can't think like that, Minerva. That's why you're going to these meetings. Someday, you WILL find a solution. There WILL be a plan. And so, painfully blocking out the multitude of sobs from children wracked with nightmares, the Deputy strode down the hall, past the guards, and into the one hallway that held hope for their world. Stepping past the area three times, Minerva was able to seemingly march straight into the wall. The miniscule gathering on the other side gave her mute greetings. They too had traipsed past equally grim scenarios to reach the meeting. And at this point of the year, with rations at a meager size, weather offering another battle in itself, and a plague of influenza rampant in the country, there seemed little to be enthusiastic about.

Still, Albus Dumbledore stood at the head of the table, grimly murmuring with the rest of the staff, all of them much younger and more easily discouraged than himself. Poppy Pomfrey was in tears over the latest tragedy in the hospital wing. Minerva always tried to give her a sympathetic ear and shoulder, but some of the tales were too gruesome for even her battle-seasoned soul to brave. Rolanda Hooch clenched and unclenched her fist around her tattered pair of flying gloves. Meriwether Kettleburn stared blankly across the room, his eyes seeming to cradle a thousand dreadful scenes of his beloved animals destroyed with the prolific air raids. Even Archimedes Vector, who somehow managed to be enthusiastic about numbers every single morning, appeared rather drained. Minerva's eyes fell on one wizard only. The Deputy Head, Tom Riddle, practically seethed from his place at the right hand of Dumbledore and across from Minerva. This worried her. Tom was never good with his temper. And tonight was not a good night for a row.

Pamona Sprout skittered into the room, followed by a haggard Horace Slughorn, the Herbology and Potions Professors. With everyone present Albus Dumbledore solemnly stood and commenced a grim speech.

"On this, the fifth anniversary of our defeat at the hands of Grindelwald, I wish thank you all for your continued support and courage in our efforts to over throw him. It is not a man and his army that we fight against, but the basic ideas of freedom, safety, and love. I know it has been a long struggle, and we would all like to see it end as swiftly as possible. But bear with me, my friends. Carefully planned strategies will yield us our rightful victory in due time!" And with that, the meeting commenced.

That evening, Minerva was patiently pushing through her waterfall of raven hair. Apprehensively, she would check the mirror, obviously looking for someone behind her. Yet she was still surprised when Tom Riddle placed his icy hand on her shoulder.

"Tom!" Minerva froze, but then instantly relaxed a bit and returned to brushing her hair. "Darling, you scared me!" She continued, attempting nonchalance. But the smoldering anger in her lover's eyes did not give her any peace of mind. "Is something wrong?" The irate eyes snapped to match hers in the glass. Minerva had thrown up the flood gates.

"Why is Dumbledore such a coward?!" He roared, his hand clenching her shoulder painfully.

Minerva tactfully slipped out to the wardrobe. She shivered out of her dressing gown. This was not the first time they had had this discussion. Minerva delivered her typical response, "He's only afraid that more people will be killed, dearest." She selected a warm nightgown and was about to turn around when she saw tapestry on the wall burst into flames.

"People killed?" Tom whispered disgustedly. His eyes were constantly trained on the tapestry as an outlet for his fury. "What does he call the hundreds of children starving and dying in this castle? Is he deaf to their troubles? And what of their slaughtered parents, were they not people as well? He's simply a feeble old man who doesn't want to watch more of his friends die!"

"Don't you dare speak of Albus Dumbledore that way!" She stalked toward him. This time Riddle had gone too far, "I was there! I saw that final battle with Grindelwald! So many were thoughtlessly tossed aside by spells. The resistance used to be enormous! We had scores of fighters. But only a dozen survived that butchery. It was no one's fault, we never could have planned for the tactics the Dark Army used. But Dumbledore seemed to think he was responsible for all of their deaths. It tore him apart! He could never do that again, Tom. He could never…" But her beloved Tom had knocked her to the floor with a resounding slap to the face.

"No, the old fool would never dare to take risks now!" He spat at the woman struggling to her feet. "And you, you all support him! You're all too busy treasuring your own worthless lives to do something heroic!"

Minerva was cradling her hot cheek as traitorous tears poured from her eyes. "Just listen to him, please! He's done this before, he knows what will happen! I beg you, listen to reason!" She was magically slammed up against the rough stone wall of their bedroom.

"REASON?!" Tom roared. "I will listen to reason when I hear it! But I am through cowering behind the rotting walls of this castle!" with that he stormed from the room, and Minerva was unceremoniously dumped onto her unsuspecting feet. Favoring a twisted ankle, she limped to the bed. Tom would return after he had cooled off. Just as he always did. But Minerva had classes the next day and needed her sleep.

A/N: It's been a while, but this is my guinea pig chapter. Let me know what you think, if I should continue with this premise. Peace! Happy Holidays!