Title: Our Time, Our Responsibility
Summary: At the Battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort and his army were defeated, but Harry Potter sacrificed himself for the Light. He leaves Minerva McGonagall a 'suicide note', telling her about everything that has happened to him over the past seven years. McGonagall meets with some of her staff, and come up with a plan to change things for the better. By going back in time to Harry's first year at Hogwarts.
Warnings: Manipulative!GreaterGood!Dumbledore, Ancient and Noble Houses, Lords and Ladies, Severe Character Bashing – Dumbledore, Severus Snape, some Weasleys, others
Disclaimer: J.K Rowling owns the characters and the world of Harry Potter. I do not. I just like to play in her sandbox. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: This is a sort of AU-story. The story in Deathly Hallows happens sort of differently in this tale, at least some parts of the second half of it. It will be explained more in this chapter.
Also, this is a Harry/Hermione story, but unlike the rest of my Harry/Hermione stories, they are almost always going to be background characters unless I decide differently. Minerva, Flitwick, and the Hogwarts staff you see in this chapter will be the main characters.
The Letter and The Plan
May 9th, 1998 – Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Staff Room
The castle known as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was a famous landmark in the wizarding world. It was known world-round, at least to magic-users and the like, as one of the greatest institutes of teaching. It was beautiful, majestic, and anybody who took that memorable ride across the lake in a tiny four-person rowboat would never forget seeing the wonder in front of them.
But at that very moment, Hogwarts could not be described as beautiful, or majestic. There was only one phrase it could be described as at that moment in time: a battlefield.
One week ago, a battle that ended a long and terrible war had been fought in the castle and on the surrounding grounds. Great chunks of the castle's walls were broken, their debris laying on the grounds, or inside the corridors and rooms, destroyed by spells or giants that had sought to destroy the great landmark.
The usually beautiful and breathtaking Great Hall still looked like a large version of the Hospital Wing, though the injured, dying and dead which were once temporary residents of the Hall had been moved over the past week to other locations far from Hogwarts.
The grounds were littered with pits and holes where spell-fire had hit. Bodies of witches, wizards, young and old, as well as all sorts of creatures who had been on either side of the battle, all of whom had perished during the great battle, were no longer resting there, having been removed over the past week.
Most of the volunteers – young and old, survivors of the great battle who had volunteered to try to rebuild Hogwarts and the grounds were away from the castle at this moment during what was known as a period of mourning, spending time with their families, or burying loved ones and friends who had not survived the battle.
However a small group of the survivors remained at Hogwarts. These survivors were a few of the remaining staff of Hogwarts, as well as one other guest who had been personally invited. They were all sitting at a large table inside the Hogwarts Staff Room, one of the few rooms which had not been touched during the battle.
Minerva McGonagall, recently named Headmistress of Hogwarts, was sitting at the head of the table. She was staring at her fellow staff members, all of whom were reading parchment in front of them, while various expressions of emotions appeared on each of their faces. The parchment in front of them were copies of a long letter which had been written to Minerva, whilst the battle was raging on in the castle. Minerva had found the letter sitting on her desk in her office, when she had entered the room a few hours after the battle, intending to find a bottle of the finest Scotch she had to drown out the memories of the battle she had participated in hours before.
The letter had been written by a student whom Minerva thought of as one of the best she had ever taught. She thought of this student, this young man, as if he was one of her own grandchildren. And yet when she had finished the letter – for the first time, as she had read the letter numerous times over the past week – she wondered if she had ever really known the young man, even though he had been her student – and one of her own cubs! - for six years.
Did anyone ever really know Harry Potter? Minerva wondered, with a frown as she looked at the letter in front of her. Had he ever poured his heart and soul out to anybody prior to when he had written this letter to me. Perhaps, to his friends? Maybe to his godfather. No, he said he barely got to know his own godfather? He even explicitly said he wondered if his two best friends got to know his own godfather better than him. A tragedy, that is.
Minerva sighed. A tragedy – that was a fine definition of what this letter was. What Harry Potter's life was.
And like every great tragedy, Harry Potter's story ended with his death. The final lines in the letter described his plans to venture out into the Forbidden Forest to meet Voldemort. From all the information Minerva had, it was quite likely Harry had gone through with his plans, sacrificing himself so that the battle could end.
In his letter, Harry Potter had poured out his heart and soul to her, telling her all about the past seven years of his life, ever since he had found out he was a wizard. Minerva had never received essays from Harry Potter that were longer than the letter he had written her.
Hell, I wonder if Miss Granger has written an essay longer than this letter!
Hermione Granger. Minerva smiled at the thought of the young witch, but she also was fighting off tears. She had never seen someone so distraught, so broken than she had seen Hermione Granger after the young woman had discovered that Harry Potter had been killed during the battle. It wasn't until this letter that she discovered why.
Mr. Potter and Miss Granger were in love with each other – very deeply if this letter is anything to go by. Harry even personally asked me to make sure Hermione moved on without him. An impossible task, Mr. Potter – if your letter is any indication, you and Miss Granger had a love that is once in a lifetime. I would know. My Elphinstone was mine. You were Miss Granger's, Mr. Potter, and I already know she was yours.
Minerva looked down at the page in front of her. It was the final page of the letter, detailing the last year of Harry Potter's life. Harry had not attended his final year of education at Hogwarts, and from his letter, it seemed he had a very good reason not to.
Aside from him being "Undesirable Number One", of course, Minerva thought with a quiet snort.
Minerva had to read through this final page, more than once, during her initial reading of the letter. She could hardly believe her eyes, and her first thought upon reading it was that Harry had gone insane whilst writing it. It was only after she realized she was reading the words of the final year in the life of a young man who had walked to his own death, that she realized – every word she had read was the truth. Why would a 'dead man walking' need to lie, after all? Especially a young man like Harry Potter?
The tale told of extremely dark magic. It told of betrayal. Of myths. Of danger. Love. Hate. Death.
Horcruxes. Minerva's eyes stared at the word in one section of the letter. It had been repeated many times. Horcruxes. It was a term that was so dark, so illegal, it was basically banned from wizarding England to the point that few wizards ever even uttered the word, if they even knew the word at all. The only reference to the word in a book inside Hogwarts castle had been one short line in a book that was not located in the library, but in the Headmaster's Office. And even that reference didn't say very much about it.
And yet Harry knew about them, referenced them. Why? Because a mad man, an insane Dark wizard had – in his youth – decided to delve in the Darkest of magic, which would consume his life for the rest of his existence. Harry Potter had not gone to Hogwarts for his final year of education because of Horcruxes. Because he had to hunt them down. The mission was given to him, and it was so dangerous, so important, that he had only informed two others of it – his two best friends. Two friends who were his age. Not adults, not experts of magic, but his two friends, who were also students: Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
Minerva's lips turned to a frown as her eyes directed to another part of the letter. This section of the letter was almost as troubling as the section about Horcruxes. It spoke of betrayal. Of a broken friendship that had lasted seven years – and yet, if the story in the letter told the honest truth, it could be labeled as a false friendship.
She picked up the piece of parchment so she could read the section again. Because this was important to her – in equal importance as the section about the Horcruxes.
… in the days following Ron's exodus from the Horcrux Hunt, it was as if a large weight had been thrown off mine and Hermione's shoulders. Like a fog had lifted. I woke up one day, and Hermione was no longer crying, heartbroken about Ron leaving. No… she was angry now. I asked her why she was angry at Ron. I remember telling her that I thought she had been crying about him because she was in love with him.
She told me she was never in love with him, and if she ever seemed as if she was, it was an illusion. I was confused by that. An illusion?
"Love Potion, Harry!" she told me. "Amortentia! I was being dosed, poisoned, influenced to fall in love with that traitorous git!"
I didn't believe her at first. Then she asked me if I was still in love with Ginny Weasley. It was then I realized I wasn't. I wondered why I had ever been in love with Ginny. It was then I remembered there was a time I was in love with Hermione Granger. Then one day that feeling went away, and replaced with Ginny Weasley.
I told Hermione that, and after her initial shock that I was, at one time, in love with her, she told me I was probably also dosed with Love Potion. Not just once, either. Hermione and I figured we had been dosed multiple times over recent years.
I wanted to continue my discussion with Hermione about my feelings for her, and whether or not she felt the same for me. When I told her this, I caught a smile on her face. Then it disappeared and she told me the discussion would have to wait. I was angry with her, and also confused. I remember wanting to yell at her, but then she distracted me by pulling out a large cauldron, books, and a bunch of ingredients and other Potions things from her enchanted bag. When I asked her what she was doing, she told me to be quiet, and let her work.
So I did. And she worked. And worked. For two full days she worked, only stopping to eat food that I made for her. She did not sleep for two days.
Finally, she gave me a cup filled with a potion. I asked her what it was, and she told me it was a Flushing Draught. She told me to drink it, and I did. I felt an extreme and sudden urge to go to the bathroom, and I went to relieve myself.
Next thing I knew I woke up in my bed with dozens of new memories and new experiences that I thought at first was a dream. When I told her of this, she told me I was not dreaming and that it was my real memories and experiences coming back to me. It was due to the Flushing Draught. Apparently the Draught made me faint on the toilet, and Hermione had Levitated me to my bed.
What I remembered, I thought was impossible…
Minerva wiped tears away from her eyes with a handkerchief from her pocket. The next few bits of the letter told a story of great betrayal and forbidden love. Well, forbidden was the wrong word. It should not have been forbidden, but various persons of interest who did not favor a romantic relationship between Mr. Potter and Miss Granger decided it was so.
Albus Dumbledore. Molly Weasley. Ronald and Ginevra Weasley. All names implicated as the perpetrators behind the betrayal.
Love Potions. Loyalty Potions. Revulsion Potions directed to each other so that Mr. Potter and Miss Granger would not recognize their love for each other. Multiple incidents of Obliviations – mostly as a result of betrayals being discovered, or various moments of romance over the years between Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.
Seventeen first kisses – that was what Harry had written. Seventeen times – in the span of four years -Harry and Hermione had what they thought was their first kiss, igniting a romance that took place for hours up to a week and a half before being Obliviated of all knowledge of their romantic interests.
This was rather impressive in itself, given Harry and Hermione's suspicions about being dosed repeatedly with Love Potions. But it was also proof that true love always found a way to bring two people together, even during hardships and struggles.
Even though it was the romantic relationship between the two that was the main reason behind the Obliviations and Potions, the betrayals had started long before the pair initially realized how they felt for each other. In his letter, Harry wrote about how he had discovered these betrayals.
Ron Weasley had returned a few weeks after his exodus, only to be Stunned, tied up and interrogated by Harry and Hermione. Apparently Hermione had come upon Veritaserum, because they had given Ron a dosage of it. During the interrogation, Harry discovered how he had been manipulated and betrayed from very early on. Even his very first visit to Diagon Alley had been manipulated! His initial meeting with the Weasleys had been a set-up, planned by the Matriarch of the Weasleys and Albus Dumbledore!
Albus Dumbledore. The so-called Leader of the Light. The wise, infallible, grandfatherly mentor whom everybody loved and respected. He was the main perpetrator behind these Obliviations. After Minerva had originally read this section of the letter – she had read it three times before she realized she must have been Obliviated by Dumbledore too over the years, because how could she not recognize the romance between two of her favorite students, two of her own Lions – she had taken a Flushing Draught herself.
So many revelations, so many implications, so many things she had forgotten over the years, all because of one manipulative old man who she thought she looked up to and trusted!
Minerva put down the letter as one, by one, her fellow staff members – and their guest she personally invited – set down the letters. Some either picked up handkerchiefs or napkins to wipe the tears off their faces, whilst others picked up glasses of the alcohol in front of them and drained them.
Minerva looked around at each of them. Sitting around the table were Filius Flitwick, Pomona Sprout, . Poppy Pomfrey, Septima Vector, Aurora Sinistra, Bathsheda Babbling, Horace Slughorn and Rolanda Hooch. At the other end of the table, also seated, was the special guest, Saul Croaker. Croaker was the Head Unspeakable of the Department of Mysteries in the British Ministry of Magic. Minerva had invited him to the meeting for one specific reason.
"Minerva, I am not sure whether I want to yell at you for reading this letter, or thank you," Septima Vector said, "I wish Mr. Potter had taken my class – especially if his essays were anything like this."
"They weren't," Pomona Sprout said, "Sometimes I wondered if the lad even knew how to write an essay. Him and Weasley – the youngest boy, I mean."
"He was a smart boy," Filius Flitwick said, "I know he was. Perhaps not as smart as most of my 'Claws, or even Miss Granger, but that's not saying much! Who could compete with Granger?! Even my 'Claws could not – she should have been one of mine, but I digress. I always knew Mr. Potter was holding back his talents."
"It was because of that Weasley boy," Aurora Sinistra said, "Wasn't it? Potter didn't want to outshine Weasley, because he thought he'd lose the boy as a friend. Weasley always did seem overly insecure and easily prone to jealousy."
"Yet, according to this, the boy never was his friend, was he?" Sprout said, frowning, "How could none of us have seen that coming?"
"We did see it coming," Minerva said.
"You must be joking, Minerva!" Rolanda Hooch said, "Someone among us would have done something!"
"We saw it coming, and were unable to stop it, because –" Minerva sighed and blinked away her tears, "Because Albus Dumbledore made sure we wouldn't be able to stop it."
"What?!" a few people at the table yelled out.
"Come now, Minerva!" Septima Vector said, "Albus was a great man and – Minerva, I have never known you as someone to speak ill of the dead. Especially Albus Dumbledore! He was your friend, your mentor!"
"Septima!" Poppy exclaimed in shock, "How can you believe that? Now, of all times. I thought you read Mr. Potter's letter! All the things he had to say…"
"I can hardly believe it," Bathsheda Babbling said, "Albus Dumbledore was a great man!"
"Albus Dumbledore was a great man," Minerva whispered, as a thought crossed her mind, "How many times have we heard that? 'Was a great man' 'Is a great man'. Hagrid seems to say it every time the man's name comes up."
"Because that is what Albus Dumbledore wanted you to believe," Saul Croaker said, speaking up for the first time. "When it comes to mind-altering Potions, there is always a clue that you can find that the dosed victim isn't in their right mind. It is quite obvious that the phrase 'Albus Dumbledore is – or was – a great man' is the identifier here. Ladies and gentlemen, you have all been swindled… manipulated by a master of the art of manipulation. Albus Dumbledore was not a great man, and yet everyone who was close to him, seems to believe he was… can anyone tell me why?"
"Loyalty Potions," Minerva said. "Even near a year after his demise, you are still under the influence of Loyalty Potions, keyed to the man. I was too… until I realized how angry I was at Harry Potter for shaming such a good man's name. I took a Flushing Draught minutes after I came to this realization, and then I gave one to Poppy, only because I needed her expertise to brew the Draught."
"Minerva, I take offense at that!" Horace Slughorn exclaimed, "Why did you not come to me?! I could have brewed you the Draught!"
"You?" Minerva asked, "You, who couldn't even identify a poison inside the mead you were given?!"
"I… yes, that was a blunder of mine," Horace admitted.
"Your blunder almost cost a boy his life!" Minerva accused, "Why would I go to you?"
"I am adept at Flushing Draughts, Minerva," Horace said, "In fact, I make and take them at least once a week. Never know when you could be under the influence of Imperius Curses, enchantments, or potions such as a Loyalty Potion."
"And yet you never warned the rest of us that we were under the influence of Loyalty Potions?" Minerva asked.
"You likely wouldn't have believed me!" Horace complained.
"Loyalty Potions?!" Babbling echoed, "You believe my loyalty to a great man such as Albus Dumbledore is due to a Potion?! How dare you, Minerva McGonagall!"
"See!" Horace exclaimed, pointing at the Ancient Runes Professor, but looking at Minerva, "That would have likely been your reaction!"
But the Ancient Runes Professor wasn't listening. She merely pointed her finger at Minerva in accusation.
"If you believe in this rubbish, then tell me this!" she growled, "Albus has been dead nearly a year? How could he have dosed me beyond the grave?"
"He couldn't have," Minerva conceded, then at Babbling's victorious smirk, she continued, "But Severus Snape could have continued to do so… adding himself into the mix as well. Who do you think brewed those Potions, but the resident Potions Master himself!"
"You're lucky I'm not taking offense to that," Slughorn said, with a grin, "But I must argue with you on this one. Couldn't Albus have brewed the Potion himself?"
"He didn't want to risk getting caught, Horace," Minerva said, "If Snape was caught then, well –"
"With his past, it would have been him to take the fall," Slughorn said, nodding, "I see. Yes, you're right. Even if he did try to implicate Albus, Albus would have thrown Snape under the carriage, and everyone would believe him over the Death Eater."
"Albus would not do that!" Babbling exclaimed.
"Bathsheda," Minerva said, "Calm down, you're only saying this because –"
"Because of Potions?!" Babbling growled, "What rubbish! I'm leaving! I –"
She tried to stand from her chair, but she could not move. Others at the table were realizing they could not move either.
"What is going on?!" Hooch asked, panicky, "I can't move!"
"Neither can I!" Vector complained, in near hysterics.
"Enough!" Croaker roared, before Minerva could speak up.
Those complaining went silent.
"Whether you wish to believe or don't believe whether you have been dosed with Loyalty Potions is not up for debate," Croaker continued, "Minerva and Poppy were both under the influence of this Potion and others, as well as having been the victim of multiple Obliviations. Therefore they, and I, have reasons to suspect the rest of you are as well. I am going to perform an enchantment that will act like Flushing Draughts, but will not make you lapse into unconsciousness. Neither will it make you regain any lost memories, like the Draughts will. The effects are only temporary, but necessary for the remainder of this meeting. Madam Pomfrey will administer the Draughts on all of you after this meeting."
Some of the staff members were still struggling, but Croaker ignored them and cast the long, complicated enchantment. As soon as he was finished, nobody at the table continued to struggle. Now some were showing expressions of anger, while others were openly weeping.
"Minerva, I…" Babbling said, after wiping tears from her face, "I would like to apologize –"
"Unnecessary," Minerva interrupted, with a smile, "If I had still been under the influence of the Potions and you had been in my position, trying to convince me, I might have been in your position, arguing with you about whether or not Albus Dumbledore was a great man. He was a very good friend to me… and he was also my mentor."
Many at the table were nodding in agreement. They had considered Albus Dumbledore a good friend and mentor.
"But he had some deep, dark secrets," Minerva continued, "especially when it came to V… Voldemort and Harry Potter. Most of us probably have heard him say the phrase 'The Greater Good' several times when he thought we weren't listening to him. Rita Skeeter may be a nasty woman, but she did tell many truths in her book about Albus. Especially concerning 'The Greater Good'.
"Enough about Albus for now. Now that your minds are temporarily clear of the enchantments and befuddlements that has been forced upon you, we need to get to main reasons behind this meeting. I told you before I gave you the copies of Harry Potter's letter to read, that I found the letter on my desk hours after the battle had finished. That was quite true.
"Over the past week I have been quite busy. Those who saw me over the past week might have been worried about my behavior. I was quite distracted, that is true. As I alluded to earlier, once I read through Mr. Potter's letter several times, I wondered to myself why I had never seen any evidence of the romantic relationship between Mr. Potter and Miss Granger. After all they are –"
She paused, frowned and cleared her throat. "- were two of my favorite lions and students, I will freely admit. If they had so many 'first kisses', and then you take in account the fact that secrets only last so long around here before their discovery, why had I never once seen evidence of their romantic relationship? Especially from two of my favorite students?"
Filius Flitwick gasped and almost fell out of his chair before righting himself. "He didn't?! Did he?"
"Filius?" Pomona asked.
"If Albus wanted to obliviate all evidence of the romantic relationship between Harry Potter and Hermione Granger from their minds," Flitwick said, "He would have to do more than just that! He would have to remove the evidence from not just their mind… but ours too. And the students!"
"What?!" several staff members asked, while others gasped.
"I see where your theory is going, Master Flitwick," Croaker said, rubbing his chin in thought. "Albus would have likely realized that, to remove the evidence of a romantic relationship between Mr. Potter and Miss Granger, he could not have anyone – staff or student – come to them and ask them what happened between the couple and why they no longer seemed to be a couple. He'd have to remove the evidence from everyone. It is quite possible, actually. As Headmaster, Albus would have been in control of the House Elves. All he would have to do is instruct the kitchen elves to give cups or jugs filled with Potions – or drinks laced with Potion – to all the students and staff, in order to make them forget."
"Possible, very possible," Slughorn said, nodding, "Albus was an expert Alchemist, after all. If anyone could have modified the Forgetfulness Potion so that the drinker would directly forget specific details – yes, it could be theoretically plausible."
"Albus also had a history of stopping owls from sending letters out," Minerva said, "We all – aside from Horace and Saul, who weren't here to experience it, of course- remember the Chamber of Secrets fiasco a few years ago. If Albus hadn't stopped their owls, students could have sent letters with concerns about the incident, to their parents, perhaps wanting to leave the school. The parents would then contact the DMLE, and Amelia Bones and the Aurors would have been here to investigate. Something Albus apparently did not approve of. So yes, he could have stopped any letters going out about gossip pertaining to Mr. Potter and Miss Granger's romantic relationship, so that nobody outside the school would know of the relationship either."
"It did get out once, however!" Madam Hooch said, "We all remember, I am sure, Rita Skeeter and her gossip rag during the Triwizard Tournament. Her articles of a love triangle between Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, and the Durmstrang Champion."
"Of course!" Flitwick exclaimed, almost falling out of his chair again, "She was a beetle Animagus, according to Mr. Potter, in his letter! She could have used her Animagus form, and caught the couple during one of their romantic moments… and Albus would have caught wind of it, Obliviated them, and used his modified Forgetfulness Potion to remove the memories of their relationship so that everyone would just think it was Rita using her articles to smear lies again!"
"Quite plausible," Minerva said, "Continuing my original line of thought, after realizing I was likely under the influence of some kind of enchantment or Potion affecting my mind and memory, I went to Poppy. I took a Flushing Draught then ordered her to do the same. We both remembered everything."
"Including why I never reported all those damn scars and evidence of abuse I found on Mr. Potter," Madam Pomfrey growled, "Evidence of malnourishment, history of several broken bones not healing right, his eyesight being so poor, and that scar on his forehead, of course! I knew there was something wrong about that particular scar! I am surprised – nay, shocked!—that the Healer Oaths I took never backfired on me for not reporting these things to the proper authorities."
"The Oath designated Albus as the proper authority, Madam Pomfrey," Croaker said, "You reported your evidence to him and he –"
"Removed the knowledge from me so I wouldn't do anything about it!" Madam Pomfrey scowled, "So many times… Potter was in my Wing multiple times over several years, and after every single meeting, that bastard -!"
The Healer blushed at her use of foul language and went quiet.
"It is okay, Poppy," Minerva reassured her friend, with a soothing tone, "I am sure we all share the same sentiments."
Most of those seated at the table murmured in agreement, some louder than others.
"Poppy was hard at work helping to heal the injured from the Battle of Hogwarts," Minerva continued, "So I knew I could not include her in my plans and plotting at that moment in time. So I planned alone. I read Mr. Potter's letter several times – countless times, perhaps. I'd keep it on me at all times, so I could read it again if I had forgotten any of it. It was that important to me. You see, my mind was cooking up plans and plots and I hadn't really realized exactly what my final solutions would be. At least, not for a couple of days. That was why I appeared to be so distracted. Along with the letter, I also had a personal notebook to jot down pieces of plans I was cooking up."
She removed the aforementioned notebook of parchment from her robes and set it on the table in front of her.
"At first, I didn't know what my end-game for my plans was truly going to be," Minerva said, "My mind was going in so many directions. I think at first I was debating whether or not I should simply publish this letter in the Daily Prophet and Quibbler as is. My second idea was to get the proof of the betrayals and manipulations and plotting that Mr. Potter had written about. But the Ministry is in a upheaval at the moment, so even if I could tell them about the Weasleys – specifically Molly, Ronald and Ginevra - plotting and what they had done, who knows how long it would have taken for the Weasleys to be punished for it. And I also didn't know if the Weasleys had their own connections in the Ministry and whether or not they would find out about my investigation before anything could be done about it."
She sighed deeply and wrung her hands together. "Then one day, a few days ago, a single thought crossed my mind. A question, actually. The question: Why? Why did it matter anyway? It is too late to get justice for Mr. Potter."
"But what about Miss Granger?" Septima Vector said, "That poor girl could be given those Potions again, without her knowing! We must do something to help her!"
"We're going to help Miss Granger, Septima," Minerva said, "But we're also going to help Mr. Potter."
The staff around the table looked quite confused.
"I am afraid I'm not following, Minerva," Pomona Sprout murmured.
Others at the table murmured in agreement.
"I understand if what I am about to tell you will be hard to understand," Minerva said, "I came up with a plan that was extremely complicated in itself, and also very controversial. At first, I didn't even think it would be possible. I thought it was a simple crazy brainstorm from a mind that was already too stormy. I thought I might have been going mad there for a little while! But I continued thinking through on this plan. I contacted Unspeakable Croaker here and asked him to meet with me, in secret. To my ever thankful relief, he found it in his busy schedule to accept my invitation. I gave him a copy of Mr. Potter's letter to read and then I discussed with him my plans that I had come up with."
Minerva cleared her throat. "To my utter relief, Unspeakable Croaker told me that my plans, while difficult, were also very plausible."
"And what was this plan?" Filius asked.
Minerva decided to not beat around the bush anymore. "My plan is for myself, and anyone in this room who agrees to volunteer, to travel through time back to the year 1991, right before Harry Potter receives his initial letter, inviting him to become a student here at Hogwarts."
Every member of the staff gasped in shock, but fortunately for Minerva, they were too shocked to interrupt her.
"The time travel procedure Unspeakable Croaker described to me was thus," she continued, "We would not be using any form of Time Turner, nay… the procedure would send our minds and memories back to our 1991 selves, merging with ourselves in that time, and we would remember everything that happened between then and now."
Her fellow staff were still silent, and still appeared shell-shocked, so she continued on.
"From there," she continued, "we would do our damnedest to make sure that all the troubling events Mr. Potter described in this letter would never come to pass. We would make sure that Mr. Potter and Miss Granger would never fall under the manipulations and betrayals of Albus Dumbledore and the Weasleys. However, our main mission would be to make sure to minimize the horrible events that transpired over the last several years. Everything Mr. Potter described here – the troll in his first year, and the Philosopher's Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, those damned Dementors making Hogwarts their home, Mr. Potter's involvement in the Triwizard Tournament, and especially… especially… everything to do with V… Voldemort, his Death Eaters, the war and everything that transpired during the years following Voldemort's return!
"And most importantly, it would be us who would be responsible for making sure the horrors described in this letter never come to pass. Not Mr. Potter, not Miss Granger, but us!"
Everyone at the table, aside from Minerva and Croaker started speaking in raised voices.
"Are you insane, Minerva?!" Sprout exclaimed.
"Time Travel is something that should never be messed with!" Septima Vector scowled.
"Are you sure the Flushing Draught worked correctly, Poppy?" Bathsheda Babbling asked.
"Enough!" Minerva barked out.
The table went silent.
"Thirty-three," Minerva said.
A couple of the teachers gasped, others looked uncomfortable, and a couple of them had tears pooling in their eyes. They knew what that number represented, having discovered the importance of it a couple days prior.
"Thirty-three victims below the age of twenty," Minerva said, "The majority of whom were still students whom had been in classes just the day before the battle. The rest of whom came to Hogwarts having heard about the coming battle, whom had graduated only in the last year or three. Children… aye, the youngest was fifteen, and I don't know how they were able to participate when we had evacuated most of those underage, but they were here.
"Thirty-three victims under the age of twenty who had their whole lives ahead of them. And that isn't counting everyone else above twenty who participated and gave their lives.
"This is a tragedy, my friends. A tragedy that could have been prevented had we been able to do anything about it. Long before the Ministry was taken over by Voldemort and his filth, there was still filth and dirt inside those halls… corruption even to the highest office. Imagine, if you will, when Voldemort had returned to his body on the night of the third task of the Triwizard Tournament, that the Ministry did not sit on their butts and hide their heads in the ground. Imagine if the Ministry was prepared, the Auror Department was at its best, and Voldemort's return was known far and wide across magical Great Britain. What would have happened?
"I can tell you what probably would have happened! The war wouldn't have lasted this long, that is for certain. Good, innocent lives might have been lost, that is true. But this many – not just including the final battle, but over the last few years? With my plan, we would have this knowledge. We could save so many lives, and stop the war before it even started!"
Most of those seated at the table were silent, but their expressions were emotional, whilst also being deep in thought.
"Whilst I agree with most of what you said, Minerva," Croaker said, "I am afraid one of those points you made would not be possible."
"Which point?" Minerva asked.
"No matter how you might hope and want it to never come to pass again," Croaker said, "Harry Potter must be involved when it comes to Voldemort's final defeat."
Minerva scowled, and she wasn't the only one upset.
"No, I refuse to believe it!" Bathsheda Babbling said, "If I understand Minerva correctly… even if her insane idea of time travel is possible, we'd be doing this to make sure that Mr. Potter never had to suffer what he described in his letter! And you're telling me he has to do the very thing that ended up killing him?!"
"I am sure you all remember the articles that came out in the Daily Prophet a couple summers ago," Croaker said, "Calling Harry Potter 'The Chosen One' due to rumors of a prophecy in which Mr. Potter was destined to defeat Voldemort."
"I know there is a prophecy involved," Minerva said, "Dumbledore had everyone in the Order guarding the entrance to the Department of Mysteries the year following Voldemort's return. It was easy to theorize that Voldemort wanted something in there, and a prophecy was the easiest thing to come up with. I can't deny that there is a prophecy, no matter how much I detest the subject of Divination."
There were knowing smirks and murmurs around the table. Minerva's opinion of Divination was well known. Which was likely one of the main reasons Sybil Trelawney wasn't present at the current meeting.
"But Dumbledore held the knowledge of the Prophecy very close to his chest," Minerva said, "I know Harry knew about the Prophecy, but I never knew what it said… but if he did know, he would have put it in the letter to me, would he not?!"
"Unless magic was acting against him doing so," Croaker said, "I'm not talking about any of the enchantments he was under, however. No, this was an enchantment geared toward the Prophecy. After the break-in and battle in the Department of Mysteries, my colleagues and I discovered, quite easily what all the hub-bub – if you forgive my term – was all about! We also realized that Voldemort did not know what the Prophecy truly said, and we know that as long as he did not know, then Mr. Potter would have a clear, clean advantage he really, truly needed. So we put an enchantment on the Prophecy. Anyone who did not know about the Prophecy before the enchantment was placed, would never be able to discover what it said.
"However, I know what the Prophecy said, and I am willing to tell you."
"Tell us, please," Minerva requested, "It is important, going forward, especially if you believe Harry must be involved in Voldemort's defeat."
"Hold up," Flitwick said, "Are we sure we truly want to hear it right now? We all know Albus was a Master of Legilimency. If we go through with this plan, we would already be at risk of him discovering we are no longer under enchantments he put us under. That, plus us having knowledge of the contents of this Prophecy… it could be very risky."
"That does not matter," Croaker said, waving a dismissive hand, "I have the means to assist you in preventing Albus Dumbledore from discovering your secrets. I will be giving each of you a pendant which will hide any evidence of your time travel secret, and your freedom from his enchantments, from any attacks of Legilimency he decides to attempt."
"A pendant?" Septima Vector asked, "Wait… are you saying it is possible for us to take things back in time with us?"
"It is possible," Croaker said, "But I will explain that in time. You all need to hear this Prophecy, otherwise your mission may be a failure without its knowledge."
"I agree," Minerva said, before anyone else could respond or argue, "We should at least hear it and know what it says before we discuss what to do concerning Mr. Potter when it comes to Voldemort."
Her fellow staff murmured, but nobody argued against hearing the Prophecy.
"The Prophecy says this," Croaker said, before clearing his throat. "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."
Minerva sagged and covered her mouth with her handkerchief to stop her shuddering gasps. Others around the table were experiencing similar emotions.
"So now you understand," Croaker said, "Harry Potter is the Chosen One. As it was done in the present, so too would it have to be done in the past, Harry Potter is the only one who can defeat Voldemort. This you must understand if you have any hope of accomplishing your mission."