SparkNotes Blog

From the Diaries of Minerva McGonagall: January 22, 1979

Dear Diary,

I don’t know how we can keep going, amidst so much uncertainty—and yet we keep going.

Professor Dumbledore has told all the faculty that we must neither lose hope nor focus. “The worst thing we could do,” he said, “would be to give our students less of ourselves at the time when they need us the most.” He’s referring not only to the material we teach in class but also to the way we present ourselves outside of it: steadfast, optimistic, ready to set a good example.

The students are starting to separate themselves into factions. Regulus Black, previously known as Sirius Black’s quiet younger brother, has announced that he will be joining the Death Eaters after graduation. It’s the most I’ve ever heard him say, but he has a Dark Mark tattooed on his forearm, and it seems to have given him confidence. We’ve been advised to deduct five points from Slytherin should we discover Regulus frightening first-years by rolling up his sleeves, but neither he nor his fellow housemates mind. “Lose the cup and win the war,” I heard Regulus say.

The students are already assuming we’re at war. I suppose that’s what we’re calling it now, even though there have been no proper battles; no deaths, even, since the Bones were killed. What did I think—that the Order of the Phoenix would line up and march towards the Death Eaters, wands raised? War must mean a different thing, in modern times.

To me it means having to pretend that nothing is wrong—at the same time that I must constantly ask myself what I would do if something went very wrong. If Regulus Black attacks a faculty member whom he knows to be in the Order, for example. (He’s got some plan going on, I can tell.) Or if Lord Voldemort pays another visit to Hogwarts with another list of demands.

Since I’ve joined the Order, I’ve become friends with Alice Longbottom, who was younger than me at Hogwarts but not so young that she was ever my student, thank goodness. She and I met for a cup of tea at Hogsmeade, when I took the third-years out on Saturday. We sat at a table and pretended that nothing was wrong, that we hadn’t spent the previous night on broomsticks, practicing our casting aim while flying over the darkened Quidditch pitch. She told me that she and Frank were going to try for a baby. I thought she was joking, at first—or perhaps lying, for the benefit of eavesdroppers. But she wasn’t.

“Professor Dumbledore told me that we should live our lives, not wait for a better time that might not come,” she said. “And the baby will have its gran to take care of it, if we need to be taking care of something else.”

Then she smiled. “Professor Dumbledore also said it was a good thing, to bring more love into the world.”

I wouldn’t want to have a child right now. I would be afraid I couldn’t protect it, just like I am afraid that I won’t be able to protect my students, should the Death Eaters arrive at Hogwarts. That’s the real fear that keeps me up at night, after the Order has finished its practice and put its brooms and wands away.

I just hope this war, or whatever it is, is over before their baby is born.

Yours faithfully,

Minerva