For the twenty-first of June, the longest day of the year and the day I've marked as the fifteenth anniversary of the Day We Lost Dumbledore (weep...sob...moan...except he's totally not dead what are you talking about that never happened), I've got an alternate look at one of my all-time favorite moments from the entire series...I think you all can figure out what moment I was thinking of in the SS movie when I wrote this. :)
DUMBLEDORE LIVES! He's my guy.
"Minerva, it's bad form for you to act like that in front of the students just because you've lost the House Cup," Pomona said in a low voice. "Again."
Minerva pulled her face out of her hands and glared at her. The Great Hall was festooned with magnificent green and silver banners adorned with Slytherin's serpent in honor of their victory in the House Championship.
"Don't you look at me like that," Pomona said testily. "It's your fault, too, you know. A hundred and fifty points from three first years? It's not as though they tried to burn the castle down."
Minerva scowled and looked down at her empty goblet, wondering if Albus had ordered any mulled mead from the kitchens tonight. "I hate the color green," she groused.
"Liar," Pomona answered. She was so sharp that Minerva turned away from her, deciding that perhaps it wasn't the best time to complain.
Instead, she looked out over the students, who were rapidly filling their seats and chattering loudly, excited for the feast. Her eyes automatically went to the Gryffindor table, where she saw Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger having an argument; Poppy had not released Potter from the hospital wing yet, she reasoned.
A shout of laughter drew Minerva's attention to the Slytherin table, where Draco Malfoy was holding court with several other first years. She repressed a snort of irritation—he truly did behave just like his father.
"Oh, for the love of—I can't stand it when he's like this," Pomona moaned. Minerva looked to where she was gazing. Severus had just seated himself a few seats away from them, looking very smug indeed. He seemed to feel their eyes on him, for her turned and looked directly at Minerva.
"Good evening, Professor McGonagall," he said, inclining his head slightly.
Minerva turned away sourly, closing her hands tightly on her knife and fork. "I did think we'd get those points back in Quidditch," she mumbled.
"Look," Pomona interrupted, pointing. "There's Harry."
Sure enough, he had just walked into the Great Hall. He stopped for a moment on the threshold, seeming to look for someone—then he spotted Granger and Weasley at the Gryffindor and hurried over to sit between them, ignoring the sudden din of excited chatter that had broken out upon his arrival.
"At least he won't have to listen to all those ridiculous rumors for very long," Minerva said, craning her neck slightly to get a better look at him and frowned. "He still looks peaky."
"Ah, Minerva," said a voice directly behind her. She turned to see Albus, wearing magnificent, sweeping robes of deep violet spangled with silver standing just over her shoulder. He beamed. "Pomona, good evening."
"Evening, headmaster," Pomona answered, and Minerva nodded.
"Why so gloomy?" he asked cheerfully. "It's been another exciting term! We have a lovely two months to ourselves to rest and relax! Surely you're both looking forward to your holidays?"
Minerva stared at him.
Albus chuckled merrily at her bewildered expression. "Ah—it looks as though the students are ready to begin. If you'll excuse me," he said graciously.
Minerva looked around at Pomona, who shrugged and shook her head. "Maybe a student gave him Fizzing Whizbees for the end of term?" she suggested. "He's always a bit odd when he's had candy."
Minerva rolled her eyes and faced front as Albus took his place, drawing the students' attention to the head table.
"Another year gone!" Albus cried, spreading his arms wide and beaming down at them. "And I must trouble you with an old man's wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast."
Minerva couldn't help but smile, just a tiny bit.
"What a year it has been!" Albus continued. "Hopefully your heads are all a little fuller than they were…you have the whole summer ahead to get them nice and empty before next year starts…"
"Now, as I understand it, the House Cup here needs awarding, and the points stand thus: In fourth place: Gryffindor, with three hundred and twelve points; in third, Hufflepuff, with three hundred and fifty-two."
"Oh, for heaven's sake," Pomona groaned, closing her eyes for a moment. Minerva let out a heavy sigh. Albus was still speaking.
"Ravenclaw has four hundred and twenty-six, and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy-two," he finished, smiling kindly at the Slytherin table, which erupted into raucous applause and cheering. Minerva stole a sidelong glance at Severus, who had puffed out his chest proudly, smiling haughtily down at his students.
"Yes, yes, well done Slytherin," Albus called loudly, as the noise diminished. "However—"
The word sent an electric shock through Minerva's heart, and she cricked her neck whipping around to stare fixedly at him.
"—Recent events must be taken into account," he said, nodding earnestly.
Minerva heard Pomona suck in her breath, and the entire room seemed to lean in closer to hear what was coming next. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see that Severus had gone rigid.
"Ahem," said Albus, folding his hands and frowning slightly. "I have a few last-minute points to dish out. Let me see. Yes…
"First—to Mr. Ronald Weasley…"
Minerva's eyes flickered to the Gryffindor table; the boy was grinning, positively scarlet in the face.
"…for the best-played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, I award Gryffindor house fifty points."
Minerva clapped a hand over her mouth as cheers burst up from the Gryffindor table; Pomona pulled at her elbow, laughing hysterically. Albus raised his hands again, and silence fell.
He went on, "Second—to Miss Hermione Granger…for the use of cool logic in the face of fire, I award Gryffindor house fifty points."
"Oh, good heavens," Minerva mumbled, feeling the blood drain from her face, as cheers exploded from every table except Slytherin. She looked at Severus; his teeth were bared, and he was steadily turning a nasty shade of purple.
"Third—to Mr. Harry Potter," Albus continued, and Minerva actually felt herself fighting to hold back tears as she sought the boy out in the crowd of Gryffindors, who had fallen silent and frozen mid-celebration; he was staring directly at Albus in absolute shock. "For pure nerve, and outstanding courage…I award Gryffindor house sixty points."
Pomona gave an odd, strangled gasp, and Minerva's jaw fell open. She was dreaming, surely this was not real…Gryffindor was tied precisely with Slytherin…this could not be….a two-way tie…it was more than anyone could have hoped for.
The students were positively beside themselves, completely frenzied with excitement, and Severus was now scowling angrily at his empty plate, his arms folded tightly. Pomona flung her arms around Minerva's neck, cheering and laughing uncontrollably, but before Minerva could do more than splutter incoherently, silence fell in the Hall once again. She turned and looked at Albus, who looked as though he had one more thing to say.
She put a hand to her chest. Surely not…
"There are all kinds of courage," Albus said gently. "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." A thrill shot up Minerva's spine. "I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom."
Minerva actually screamed and leapt to her feet, not that anyone could hear her; mass hysteria had broken out among the students. Shrieks of joy and incredulity filled the air as Minerva saw Neville Longbottom, looking shocked and bewildered, vanish under a pile of yelling Gryffindors. Pomona jumped up and hugged her tightly, shouting joyously. Albus was still talking, but Minerva couldn't hear over the shock ringing in her ears…
Through tear-filled eyes, she saw the green hangings change their colors to a fierce crimson and gold…the serpent became a lion…and then Severus appeared, shaking her hand stiffly and smiling as though he had a terrible case of lockjaw.
"Better luck next year!" Minerva laughed good-naturedly, barely able to hear herself over the roars of the students. Severus scowled.
Later that night, after seeing that the corridors were empty, Minerva went to Albus's office and climbed the spiral staircase behind the gargoyle.
"Come in," he called. She opened the door to find him reading by candlelight at his desk. His silver eyebrows lifted when he saw her. "Minerva, to what do I owe the pleasure? I believe our dinner plans usually take place after the students have gone home," he said.
"You know perfectly well why I'm here," she answered, and he smiled.
"Do you know, I learned something rather curious this afternoon," he told her. "Apparently, the House Cup competition does not end with exams. It can go on as long as any staff member sees fit to award or take away points."
Minerva smirked and sat down in a chair opposite him. "Severus is rather sour at the moment."
"He sometimes forgets that the top is rarely the safest place to be," Albus said wisely. He eyed her closely. "What is it, Minerva?"
She shook her head. "Nothing," she said simply. "I just continue to be surprised by you and your many quirks."
"Students deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments," Albus said firmly. "Especially those who overcome obstacles—"
"School rules," Minerva muttered.
"—To do so," he finished with a chuckle.
There was a brief silence.
"You made Neville Longbottom very happy, Albus," Minerva said softly.
For the first time, Albus looked a bit sad. "He did something that many, many people who are older and more accomplished are incapable of doing. If that isn't worth ten house points, I'm afraid I don't know what is."
Minerva smiled slightly. "You always know the answer, don't you?" she asked, bemused.
Albus tipped his head from side to side, frowning. "Not always. But I try to help," he added brightly. Minerva actually laughed.