It is just over a week since my friend and mentor was interred in the school grounds, his presence can still be felt everywhere – and yet nowhere – an emptiness pervades the corridors of this ancient institution.
I have been doing my best to hold myself together; something I know is expected of the stern Scottish mistress that generations of students have come to know. I know also that people are looking to me for leadership… guidance… advice…
But at the moment I don't feel up to leading anybody; who is there to guide me… advise me…?
Albus had often talked of the loneliness of leadership and I had always insisted that he was never alone, and that he had a team of loyal supporters ready and willing to offer any support they could.
It is only now that I begin to understand what he had meant.
Only Albus knew what to do, what needed to be done.
I can only sit and wait. And hope.
Harry and his friends know more than they are prepared to say, completing a journey I am fairly sure Albus had started.
A journey I have no control over.
But all this introspection isn't going to get the task done.
Filius delivered it earlier, even offering to help hang it.
But this is a task I have to complete myself, one of the last duties I can carry out for my friend.
It doesn't take long and the school suddenly doesn't feel so empty anymore.
I slipped into the castle unnoticed. A simple task ever since those incompetents at the Ministry stupidly decided to close the school.
The sooner the imbeciles are overthrown the better, and then perhaps the wizarding world can enjoy the position it deserves.
The security they had left in place was a joke; a second year student – and a Hufflepuff at that - could get past it.
I was here to see someone I hadn't seen since that fateful night, some months earlier.
I had had plenty of time to think about this moment; planning meticulously my journey to the school, my route through its corridors, minimising my chance of being seen. Not that there is much chance of me being caught; I am far too talented, far too practiced in my arts, for that to happen.
I have always planned for the unforeseen, however. I don't like being caught unawares, taking great pride that in recent times I had not been. Until last year, that is.
As I pass the gargoyle I wonder what I will feel when I finally came face to face with the old man once more.
Will I feel satisfaction? Shame? Honour? Triumph? Hatred?
What I had done had furthered my chosen side's aspirations far more than could have been hoped – a rallying point if you will.
Moments later I slipped once more past the gargoyle, pride coursing though my veins. As I already knew, I had made the right decision that night.
I was here to see McGonagall in her capacity as the current head of the Order. To bring her up to date and let her know what was happening. Not everything obviously, but some. Enough to keep them from interfering in what we were doing.
Hermione and Harry had travelled direct to The Burrow, totally drained. Not that I wasn't, you understand. But Harry needed to see Ginny – he'd never admit it of course – and, call me old fashioned, but Hermione needed the rest more than I did.
The search for Voldemort's Horcruxes was far more difficult than even Harry had envisioned. Now that Dumbledore was gone, unearthing the places Voldemort had hidden the pieces of his soul was an almost impossible task at best. At worst, as we had soon discovered, it wasn't only the Horcrux hiding places that he had booby-trapped.
I sank wearily in to the large leather chair and glanced around the room, wondering how to contact Professor McGonagall at this hour. It was then I spotted him, high on the wall above the desk.
The old man looked down from his position.
"I shall go and get the professor, Mr Weasley. Please wait here," and then he turned and stepped past the frame.
And he was gone.
And then, as his portrait stood empty, it hit me once more. He was gone, truly gone.
Never coming back.
We were alone.
It was our journey.
Only we could complete it. Alone.
Merlin, it was overwhelming.
It was over.
The three of us.
We'd done it. Voldemort was dead, completely destroyed.
So why, while we waited here in McGonagall's office, did we all feel so empty?
I knew part of the reason – Hermione had explained it to us. Repeatedly. We had survived on adrenaline, the need to do what had to be done, and then we'd won and it was gone. Suddenly and without warning. That gap needed to be filled and those that could were being kept from us. Our family… friends.
The charms that that kept us in here, and more importantly the Ministry and reporters out, unfortunately also kept away those we needed most.
We couldn't blame McGonagall, she'd had to think quickly and considering that there had only been seconds for her to place them, the selection of charms was mightily impressive.
So we waited here alone. Well, Ron and Hermione had each other, and for that I was more grateful than I could hope to explain, but still they - like me - needed someone to hold us, congratulate us.
As it turned out there was someone here to congratulate us, although he certainly couldn't hold us – not physically anyway – and I'm not sure if he actually spoke.
The three of us all turned to look at the same time, and there, high above us, was Dumbledore's portrait, the man inside looking down on us with such an intense look of pride no words were actually needed.
A/N: This grew out of a drabble challenge I took part in on my LJ, the original being a much cut down version of the Ron vignette that features here, I must thank Katie for firstly prompting the drabble and then feeding the bunny until it grabbed hold and sank it's teeth in! She also kindly pre-betaed it for me, so along with Allie they are both to thank for it making sense.