Just a warning; I cried. Hard. But I had to get this out, so tell me what you think!

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Minerva McGonagall surveyed the ruined Great Hall with dismay. So much destruction, so many deaths…

She walked up to the staff table, currently littered with debris, and traced the ancient, polished oak. How many times had she sat here, conversing with each and every Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher? How many jokes had Albus told her during his tenure as headmaster?

She shook her head softly. No. she refused, absolutely refused to relive the day of his death…

But he was so still. So very still. He could almost have been sleeping as Potter had wiped a single trickle of blood from his nose. She remembered feeling so alone – no more late night talks over a bottle of Ogden's and her favourite ginger newts. No more calming tone, no more twinkling eyes, no more sherbet lemons. Gone, forever, with one single curse. No more optimism, no more second chances for everyone. Oh, how she had loathed Severus when she had learned of Albus' demise!

Severus. The scapegoat, bane of the lives of students since he had begun teaching. Potter had pulled her aside at dinner, told her of the memories. He had loved Lily… She remembered him as a first year, so timid, yet so fiercely protective of the fiery muggleborn. She remembered hearing of the fight by the lake in 1976, and not believing it at first. Snape would never do anything to hurt Lily! But she also remembered watching, almost helpless, as he was drawn in by the Dark Arts, as he pushed away his muggleborn friend. She remembered again her disgust when she had realised that he had tried to kill Remus that day in 1994, with the Dementors, by the lake.

Remus. He had died too, in the Final Battle, as she had already heard it being called. Fighting for his son, for his wife, his friends – however little of them there were left. Fighting for the Marauders, making them proud, he had confessed one lonely night after an Order Meeting the year before. Sirius and James would be pleased, he had commented wryly, swinging his threadbare cloak over his thin shoulders. He was so vastly different to how he was in his youth, when his eyes had been much more open, his manner more relaxed. He had not yet dealt with the prejudice wizard kind held towards werewolves, and had been perfectly content with his friends, his marauders. And then he had been left alone.

Nymphadora Tonks had told her once of how upset Remus was when Sirius died. How hard it had been to hold Harry back, not to go searching for him behind the curtain. He had been so certain that it was another of his practical jokes, so sure that the next day Sirius would be alive and well. Tonks was dead too. She had gone avenging her husband, seeing him lying dead upon the floor, looking into the cold eyes of her own aunt and seeing her death minutes before it happened. Minerva had been there, had seen the cold fury with which the normally jovial auror fought. She had seen the perverse glee on Bellatrix's face as her niece fell by her own hand. Nymphadora was with her husband and cousin now.

Sirius, last of the Blacks, even after Azkaban had been able to joke, been able to put on a brave face for his godson. Oh how Minerva wished she could turn back time to the days when he would run through the corridors, chased by the infuriated caretaker. Days when he could put a carefree smile upon his face without a struggle, when his biggest worry was how angry she would be if he forgot to do his homework. Days spent helping his friends, slowly and carefully coaching Peter Pettigrew on how to get a girl, transforming into a shaggy dog to help Remus on full moons, calming James Potter down on his wedding day.

And there they found the crux of the matter. How it had all ended, and yet also how it had begun.

With James Potter and Lily Evans.

The most unlikely pair in Hogwarts, most had thought. And indeed, they had fought. Oh, Minerva remembered only too well how they had fought over the most trivial matters, especially as they grew older, and more tension developed between them. But when they had loved, the whole world knew it. For Lily had never been so radiant, never looked more content. And James, well, the smug look in his eye and the spring in his step said it all.

Their deaths were possibly the saddest of them all.

Only one year with their son, before they had been ripped away from him cruelly, abruptly. Minerva had heard Harry talking about his dreams, how he had heard Lily's scream, James telling her to take Harry and run. Yes, that was so classically James. Noble to a fault, brave to the point of ignorant, and yet so very clever at the same time. Minerva had nursed a soft spot for the raven haired troublemaker. And Lily refusing to abandon her child, it displayed clearly her not so hidden fiercely protective side. It shamed her to say that she was unsure to whether or not she would have been able to do what the redhead had done that night. Their love had shone brighter than any before it, and yet it had not even started before it was snuffed out.

After she had reluctantly let Albus place Harry with his aunt and uncle, Minerva had gone home to her office, and it had never felt so empty, as she had been shaken to the core by the ending of a war, and two innocent lives. And Minerva couldn't help but wish that it had not stopped when it had, so that her two favourite students could have just a few more days of bliss.

And yet it had not even been over! Many more had died, innocent and not so. Those who had survived would never be the same. Her mind drifted to George Weasley, earless and alone for the first time in his life. She had borne a space in her heart for the Weasley twins too, as they had reminded her of the first set of troublemakers. They were selfless too, joking for the sake of others, even in the face of their own mortality. Molly Weasley had tearfully recounted the 'Ear' incident to her. Minerva shook her head, tracing once more the grainy lines in the smooth table. Holey… unoriginal, but then again George had been in pain at the time.

Almost subconsciously, she turned towards the bodies, covered by modest white sheets. Fred Weasley would never joke again. He lay as still as Albus had, beside the slim form of Colin Creevey, the sixth year who had snuck back in. Foolish boy! Brave boy, especially since Minerva had always guiltily thought he only knew what was behind the screen of his camera. But he had taken out three Death Eaters before he was shot down from behind by Dolohov.

Minerva gave the table one last stroke, then hurried to the other end of the Hall, towards the exit, not daring to glance at the bodies either side for fear of totally losing her composure. But as she slammed the doors to the Great Hall shut, she couldn't help but slide down the wall, burying her face in her hands and bursting into noisy sobs.

They had won the battles, and they had finally won the war. But the memories were suffocating, and Minerva McGonagall did not yet know if the cost had been too great.

Did you cry? I cried. Sorry. Don't hate me!

Misty xx