10 October 1935
At the sound of his wife's voice, Robert blinked and looked up from the sermon he was writing. Isobel stood in the doorway of his tiny, cramped little study, smiling wanly at him. She was wearing her dressing gown, and she cradled in her arms a small white bundle.
"I-Isobel," he stammered, getting to his feet at once and going to her. "Are you sure you ought to be—?"
"I want to call her Minerva, Robert," she said gently, taking a step back from him. She looked down at their sleeping daughter. "After my grandmother."
"Minerva," he repeated. He, too, looked down at the baby. "Are—are you sure about that? It's rather an unusual name, isn't it? I—I had thought we rather liked Edith—"
"It was my grandmother's name," Isobel said simply. Her chin trembled slightly as she said, "And…if—if our little girl grew up to be—to be anything at all like her…" She took a shuddering breath, and tears filled her eyes. "That would be the best I could ever hope for her."
Robert stared at her. In the week or so since the baby's arrival, Isobel had not been her usual happy, sparkling self, but prone to fits of crying and inexplicable depression. Though the midwife (whom he had consulted in private after Sunday services just this morning) had assured him that this was normal for many women who had just given birth, he had the distinct impression that Isobel's seclusion from him, keeping their daughter with her, was rather unusual.
"You know," he said gently, "I think every good parish needs a free spirit. Maybe our little one will be our very own Roman warrior." Isobel looked up into his eyes, and for a moment, the sorrow in her features lifted; he caught just a glimpse of his wonderful wife.
"Thank you, darling."
15 December 1935
"It's an odd name, don't ye think?"
"Well, he always seemed an eccentric te me."
"Y'know his wife's did her schoolin' in London? Don't know how we ended up with him here, marryin' a well-off girl like that."
"Now jus' coz they're from elsewhere doesn' mean he hasn' got God's blessing. He may be jus' the man we need 'round here."
"Yeah, well, I jus' wanna know what sort of loon goes 'round lettin' his high-talkin' wife pick out some ungodly name for their firstborn. T'ain't Christian, I say."
"Oh, drink yer pint, ye old sod."
3 July 1936
At once, the bagpipe music stopped. The baby, who was in her high chair, gasped and burst immediately into noisy tears, her little head drooping.
"Oh, I thought that was you," Isobel groaned, hurrying over to pick her up. "Shh, shh, darling, come on now. Mumma isn't angry…"
But Minerva only wailed louder.
"Ha! I see someone likes our morning musician," Robert laughed as he came into the kitchen. "Ah, love, he'll be back again tomorrow!" he teased, coming close and tickling the baby's cheek. She sniffled and put her arms out for him; Isobel gladly handed her over and hurried to save the eggs from burning.
"Whoever he is, he must come close to the house," Robert commented, sitting down at the kitchen table and placing Minerva in his lap. "But I'll be dashed if I can ever see the man!"
"Not at all," Isobel said lightly, feeling her cheeks grow hot. "I think the music must come from a bit farther away, that's all. We just—we just hear it, now and again." She turned around with a plate full of ham and eggs; Robert had settled Minerva back in her high chair again. "It doesn't sound all that close to me."
Robert chuckled as he put his napkin in his lap. "You need your ears looked at, lass, it's practically in the house!" Isobel tried to laugh, too, but turned away to hide her blush and busied herself with stirring Minerva's porridge. "Isobel?" Robert asked. "All right, there?"
She turned around, hitching a brilliant smile on her face. "Fine, darling," she promised. She came and sat down beside Minerva and spooned some of the porridge into the mouth of the fussy nine-month-old.
But she kept her eyes carefully focused on feeding the baby, and nowhere near Robert's searching gaze.
9 November 1936
"Minerva, too," Isobel murmured.
Robert felt ill. He sank down on the end of his bed, staring at the ten-inch stick of polished mahogany his wife held as she cried, half-crumpled in a heap upon the floor.
"A witch. Like me," Isobel whispered. "All—all of the odd things—the bagpipes, the cat…last week, with the honeypot—she has magic like—like I've never heard of in a child her age." Isobel wiped at her eyes with her handkerchief, staring down into her lap.
"You're sure, then…if I know…you're not in danger? Is Minerva in danger from this—this Ministry?"
Isobel looked into his eyes, sniffling. "We won't be…not as long as we abide by our laws—my laws. No one else here may know."
Robert took a steadying breath. "I…I don't know what to say to you, Isobel," he said quietly. Although he tried to make his tone very gentle, Isobel looked away as though he had struck her.
He closed his eyes and rubbed them, hard, with both hands. "You've just told me that—that things which I have rejected the existence of—for all of my life—are—they're not only quite real, it's a second, secret world." Isobel nodded slowly, wiping away a tear that slid down her cheek. She fingered the lock-box in which she had hidden her—Robert had to bring himself to even think the words—magic wand. A thunderclap sounded overhead, and the patter of rain began to fall on the thatched roof; in the nursery, Minerva began to cry.
And somehow, that familiar sound was like a tonic, straight to his heart; it warmed him from the inside out. He let out a slow breath.
"Isobel," he said. She didn't look at him right away; he recognized her posture. She was ashamed, and desperately sad, and he wanted nothing more than to stop her feeling that way. "Isobel, lass, look at me."
At last, she did, her large dark eyes lifting to meet his. He gave her a smile that he hoped looked less unhappy than he truly felt. "I'll go and look after Minerva. You take a moment, collect yourself. I'll come back to bed in a little while."
"Robert, I'm so sorry," she whispered. "I—I should have never lied to you—if you left now, I would—"
"Isobel Ross," he said, taking her wrist tightly in his hand. "I will not leave. Not for this, not for anything. You don't believe that's the sort of man I am, do you?"
Isobel's lips trembled. "I—I don't know," she whispered.
The words were like a knife, straight through him; but it was the truth, he could see it in her eyes. And honestly, at this precise moment, he didn't know himself, either. And worse, it seemed, he didn't know Isobel. Minerva's crying became louder.
"I'll see to her," he said softly, releasing Isobel's wrist and rising. He went to their bedroom door. "Good night, Isobel. I love you, very much."
She stared at him, her eyes widening. "I—I love you too, Robert."
He gave her half a smile and turned to go; then he saw her reaching for the lock-box. "Don't put it away, lass," he said softly. "I know it all now."
Isobel's back stiffened; she was turned away from him, but nodded once. She took the magic wand and slipped it into the drawer of her bedside table.
*peers out from under rock*
I missed you all like CRAZY MY WONDERFUL LITTLE DUCKLINGS JUST COME HERE AT ONCE AND LET ME SMOOSH YOU! *opens arms for smooshes*
OKAY So look see here I'm still alive and functioning (ish) and I've got a brand new chunk of stories for all of you! Now here's the deal, I'm going to start with 'weekly' updates (ha we'll see how fast that goes out the window, you know I have no restraint when it comes to all of you). I'm also trying, and I know this is unusual, so bear with me) to keep all of these in chronological order.
HOWEVER. I am more than open to suggestions about what bits and pieces of Minerva's life *you'd* like to see, so we'll just keep things loose as possible, and if I end up backtracking and going back in time, then I'll shuffle the chronology around later. Sound good?
In the meantime, start reading up (books *and* Pottermore), and sending me some of your favorite Minerva scenes that you'd like to read! :)
So happy to be back, lovelies,