Minerva walked briskly down a quiet side street in Hogsmeade and consulted the list in her hand with a slight frown. One last stop to make; if she could only find it. Perhaps she should have gone to Diagon Alley after all, but she hadn’t wanted to venture that far from Hogwarts. In the back of her mind, she couldn’t shake the feeling that it was important that she remain at the school. No doubt that was nothing but a foolish fancy, but the thought stayed with her. The school was empty at the moment with the students and staff on summer holiday. In fact, the Board of Governors was currently debating whether or not to close it entirely, and if they decided to do so, she could hardly remain there for much longer.
It’s not as if there was any overt threat to the building itself, and the wards and protections that served to guard it had been strengthened greatly after Albus…died, just in case there was another attack.
She sighed at that unpleasant thought. His death still didn’t seem real. Sometimes, it felt as if she’d made 100 decisions since she’d been summarily thrust into his position, and she couldn’t quite shake the feeling that half of them had been the wrong ones. Nothing felt quite right without him there to smile reassuringly and guide them all on their way.
Shaking her head determinedly, she banished that unproductive line of thought. What’s done was done. There was no point in bemoaning the past and the loss of Albus…or anyone else, for that matter. She couldn’t change anything, as much as she’d like to.
Now, where was that apothecary? It used to be down this street, didn’t it? Surely it hadn’t been that long since she’d needed to visit one. Though, her potion needs had been taken care of for so long by… Her frown deepened. Another line of unproductive thought. Clearly, the shop wasn’t here. She must’ve turned down the wrong street. Time to backtrack and try again.
When she turned to retrace her steps, she was brought up short by two figures that suddenly blocked her path. Hooded and masked, two specters of darkness faced her, appearing quite incongruous on an ordinary village street. With a sharp intake of breath, Minerva pulled her wand from her pocket and held it up to counter the ones aimed at her by her shadowy opponents.
“Come with us, Professor. Make it easy on yourself and don’t resist,” hissed one of the figures in a young voice that trembled slightly despite his bold words.
There was a hint of familiarity to the voice, but she didn’t waste time trying to figure out who it belonged to.
“Sorry,” she replied politely. “I haven’t finished my shopping.”
“Oh, yes, you have,” sneered the larger of the two as he aimed his wand at her head and shot off a stream of burning magic.
Minerva parried the shot with ease and returned fire, dropping her bags to give her more maneuverability in the narrow street.
Both of her attackers shot back, and she ducked to let one shot sail over her head, unhappily catching the edge of her hat and sending it flying, while allowing the other to splatter harmlessly off her hastily conjured shield. Neither of her attackers seemed overly gifted in fighting ability, thankfully, but with two against one and the rampant energy of youth, they still held the advantage.
Moving and firing constantly, she was able to keep her pursuers off balance enough to prevent any serious hits on her person though a near miss that shattered a shop window did manage to cut her with a shard of flying glass. Despite the noise of their battle, no one seemed to be coming to see what was going on, so Minerva came to the conclusion that she’d better finish this off quickly because, without help coming, her stamina wouldn’t hold out forever.
Ducking behind a trash bin to avoid a nasty hex, she aimed more carefully and caught the smaller of her attackers with a full body bind. He hit the street with a satisfying smack, and as his partner stupidly turned to look, she hit him with a burning hex, which cut deeply into his shoulder and drew a harsh, wailing cry from his throat.
Angrily, the wounded Death Eater erected a wall of flames across the street to act as a barrier while he ran to his fallen companion. Apparently, they’d had enough, because instead of freeing him so that both of them could come at her once more, the taller one simply threw his arms around the stiff body and the two of them vanished.
Minerva let out a huge sigh of relief and got to her feet, extinguishing the line of fire and stepping out into the street once more. As she was grimly wiping blood from her cut cheek, the town seemed to come to life with suddenly concerned citizens making a miraculous appearance now that the danger appeared to be over. Where were they all a few minutes ago when she could have really used their help, she wondered in annoyance?
A thoughtful frown crossed her face as she stared at the place where the two Death Eaters had disappeared. What was this attack really about? Why did they suddenly want her?
From his vantage point down a narrow space between two of the facing buildings, Severus Snape’s dark figure shrunk further into the shadows as he watched the sudden burst of activity swirling around the targeted Headmistress. Now that the danger was over the sheep came out of hiding…how typical.
They’d failed…as he knew they would. Two barely competent neophytes could never have taken Minerva McGonagall, no matter how hard they tried. They simply didn’t have the brains or the experience to succeed. Fortunately, Pettigrew was incredibly weak minded and susceptible to influence. It had been child’s play to assure that those sent to intercept Minerva weren’t in any way up to the task. He was unlikely to be able to do as well again, though. So he hoped that he hadn’t wasted his time.
His eyes narrowed as he watched her retrieve her hat and dust it off thoroughly before placing it on her head once more.
“You’re a target now, Minerva. I might not be as able to stack the deck in your favor the next time, so don’t be a fool and continue to wander around alone as if you were still an unimportant pawn. Albus’ removal as Headmaster elevated your status on the playing field, and I don’t think you properly appreciate that. I do hope you get the point now though, because this might very well be the only warning I’m able to give you,” he murmured softly.