A/N: Bit of a fluffy one-shot here. Just had to give my tribute to one of my favourite Harry Potter characters.
There were many points in Minerva McGonagall's recent life, when she thought this moment would never come. She'd hoped, and she'd prayed and wished desperately for it to happen, despite the amount of times it looked like all hope was lost. She'd never been happier, more proud, or more thankful than she was this day.
She remembered the moment when she'd first saw young Harry Potter. Barely a year old, had he lain sleeping in Hagrid's arms, so oblivious to the world. That scar had made her breath catch in her throat, and her eyes water. Who could do this to a child? He was so small and defenceless … that scar would only serve as a cruel reminder to what he had lost.
She'd objected fiercely to Dumbledore's plans to leave him with those awful Muggles. How could he think this was a good idea? He was surrendering him to a life of cold contempt; those people would never understand him, never love him as their own.
But Dumbledore had insisted, and Dumbledore was always right.
She'd felt so wrong, leaving him there on that doorstep that cold November evening. How could she just walk away from that?
She'd joined the celebrations afterwards, though she found them despicable. They were rejoicing the downfall of You-Know-Who, and that was something she'd hoped for and dreamed of for many years.
But what was the cost? Two of the finest witches and wizards she had ever known had been brutally murdered, betrayed by one of their closest friends, their young son orphaned and scarred, physically and emotionally. How could she celebrate when James Potter and Lily Evans were lying dead, and their child sent off to live with people who could never care for him?
Lily had been one of her brightest pupils, studious, hard-working and a wonderfully kind and loving person to boot. Fierce when it came to protecting those she cared about, and brave beyond measure, she'd caught Minerva's eye from early on. In her turn, Lily had come to respect her professor, and always performed admirably. Minerva had become extremely fond of her.
James had been the same, though perhaps more harrowing to deal with. He had exceptional talent in Transfiguration, but rarely put it to good use, preferring to play pranks and carry on during her class. He'd often tried her patience, and she'd sentenced him to many a detention, but deep down she couldn't help but like him. His loyalty to his friends was admirable and though sometimes cocky and arrogant in his own abilities, he truly was a good and honest person, always willing to see the best in people.
Appointing those two Head Boy and Girl had been a simple choice, and it had thrown them together, James eventually cooling his hot-head and proving he could be just as responsible as Lily. No one had been more surprised than Minerva when they'd eventually gotten married, but no one had been more thrilled. Lily was just the right person to be James' foil, and they'd continually shown their bravery again and again as a part of the Order of the Phoenix.
Their deaths had hit Minerva hard, she just couldn't believe those two bright, fun-loving people were gone, their promising futures shattered, just as their lives together had begun.
In the years after their deaths, Minerva had often thought of young Harry, wondering how he was coping. She'd often thought about going to Little Whinging herself to check on his progress herself, but she respected Dumbledore too much. She'd had to trust in his decision.
Then, eventually, young Harry had begun his years at Hogwarts. Looking down at the new first-years, fresh from their boat ride across the lake, he'd caught her eye immediately. His resemblance to his father, his mother's eyes shining out from beneath his scar …
She'd tried not to be partial, reminding herself he was not his parents, no matter how much he looked like them, but she couldn't resist a small smile when he'd been Sorted into Gryffindor. Lily and James would have been proud.
She'd observed him closely after that, noticing he was certainly unlike anything she'd expected, not entirely like either of his parents. He was too absent-minded and fond of breaking rules to be exactly like Lily, but too polite and respectful of his teachers to be exactly like his father. He was a perfect mixture of both.
He was competent enough in Transfiguration, though not coming anywhere near his father's aptitude for the subject, and Minerva found she genuinely enjoyed teaching him.
Then there had been that whole debacle in the Flying lesson. As astonished and angry as she had been to see him blatantly disregard a teacher's instructions, his skill in flying had amazed her. Such proficiency on his very first time on a broomstick? She'd had to have him on the team, not merely to bolster her own desire to see Slytherin slaughtered on the Quidditch pitch, but because she thought James Potter would never have forgiven her if she'd punished his son for being such a natural on a broom.
He'd often tested her patience throughout the school year, especially with that whole incident with the troll (what HAD he been thinking?) and then wandering around the Astronomy Tower in the dead of night. She'd been hard on him of course, it was her duty to punish such misdemeanours, but something about him reminded her of the days his father would be caught sneaking around also … just as frustrating.
She'd supported him in the Quidditch matches, attending each and every one, terrified when his broom had been cursed, and gleeful every time he had emerged victorious with that tiny golden ball clenched in his fist, his expression joyful and jubilant.
Then had come his desire to protect the Philosopher's Stone. Torn between horror that he had been placed in such danger and immense pride of the way he had handled himself, she'd nevertheless been thrilled when Harry had ensured Gryffindor won the House Cup. The joy in his eyes, such simple joy … it was hard to come by in such difficult times. And Minerva was overjoyed he'd found such happiness, a place where he belonged.
His remaining years at Hogwarts had also caused her severe emotional turmoil. Flying a car to Hogwarts? What in the name of heaven had he been thinking? Going willingly into the Chamber of Secrets to rescue his best friend's sister from a giant serpent? Again, she found herself torn between horror and pride.
The Triwizard Tournament had certainly tested her nerves. She'd argued with Albus again and again; Harry was too young, too inexperienced! She'd wanted to help him as much as she could, to find some way to remove him from such a dangerous tournament. But then he'd faced that dragon, and Minerva watching, white-faced and shaking, had once again found herself swelling up in pride.
Harry had had to endure such hardship; it wasn't fair to place such burdens on one so young. Witnessing the rebirth of his parent's murderer … she admired him for his continued courage, one again astonished at his resilience, and continued desire to protect others.
Then that- that woman had come to the school. Despite Minerva's belief that teachers should be offered complete respect from their pupils, she'd felt her esteem for Harry rise just even more when he'd stood up to her like that. Still so brave …
Of course, it hadn't prevented her from punishing him when he'd continued to resist her in class. He was placing himself in more danger than he knew, and Minerva needed to try and protect him as much as she could from the evil lies and slander that was coming his way.
Harry's defence group; she'd been so proud when she'd found out. Continuing the fight on his own, against an enemy it seemed couldn't be beaten … he was his father all over again.
This was why when that hag had attempted to quash his dreams of being an Auror she had stepped in. No one, no one more than Harry deserved it. There was no way in hell Minerva would let that Umbridge woman stand in Harry's way.
She continued watching over him over his next year at Hogwarts, growing ever fonder of him as he struggled desperately with his demons, never ceasing his fighting. She'd appointed him Quidditch Captain, thrilled at the prospect of seeing him excel at something he enjoyed. She'd been overjoyed to find out of his relationship with Ginny Weasley, finally, he was getting some happiness in his life.
That year he had been off on his secret mission with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger had been torture for her. She'd scoured the Daily Prophet every day for news, listened desperately to Potterwatch; she had to know how he was! Her fear for him had never regressed, and had only sprung up each and every day more strongly, as she looked at her seventh-year Transfiguration class and saw his empty desk.
Then he'd come back, defending her against that foul Carrow, and rallied the school into fighting back. She hadn't hesitated to back him up, she knew whatever Dumbledore had entrusted him with, it had to be important. She'd led the school against You-Know-Who's forces, Harry's protection ever paramount in her mind.
The moment she'd seen him lying there, apparently dead in Hagrid's arms had been the worst moment of her life. She'd screamed out in her anguish, unable to believe such a good and kind and brave boy had been so cruelly cut down. She'd resolved at that moment that she'd fight to the death in vengeance. He'd suffered so much in his short life; he'd deserved nothing but happiness and peace. She intended to make them suffer as much as she could for tearing him away from the world; she wanted nothing more than to make them pay.
She'd launched herself into a duel with You-Kno- Voldemort himself, determined to strike him down, releasing all her rage and hate into that fight. He was a monster. He'd done so many cruel things to so many people, and still he continued, and had torn away the bravest boy she'd ever known.
Then, suddenly, Harry was no longer dead, but confronting his enemy, staring him down. Her shock had soon been replaced with her pride as he showed no fear against the monster that had killed his parents, and he struck him down, finishing the task he'd been so unfairly assigned.
She'd been amongst the first at his side, pulling him into an embrace so tight it had almost overwhelmed him. She'd always tried to be so guarded around him, being the strict professor he'd come to expect, but in that moment all her inhibitions were lost as she wept unashamedly, so proud of the boy she'd come to love as a son.
She remembered all of this with a lump in her throat as she looked at him now, the Boy-Who-Lived, his face as happy as she had ever seen it.
He stood at the front of the rows of chairs, in his best dress robes, Ron Weasley at his side, grinning ecstatically, his eyes full of joy, fixed on the red-haired woman gliding her way down the aisle towards him.
Minerva held her handkerchief up to her eyes, tears forming there rapidly as she beheld this sight.
He'd come so far. He'd suffered so much. And now he could finally be happy.
She felt the tears spill over onto her cheeks as he said his vows, gazing adoringly at the woman before him. This is what they'd been fighting for, this was how they had won the war, this was their most powerful weapon.
And that weapon was love.
A/N: I know, sappy right? But I just love the Harry and McGonagall relationship so much! I just wished we'd seen more of them in the films.
Please let me know what you think! :)