Breakdown at the Ministry

Twenty-five years old and already divorced. Or as good as anyway. Hermione Granger was not used to failure. In fact, she spent almost the entirety of her life working harder and longer than everyone else out of fear that she would fail to measure up to her impossible standards. The Wizarding world was anything but welcoming to a Muggleborn witch who frequently outperformed and outshone her peers with their ancient, noble Pureblood surnames.

Her marriage to Ronald Weasley could not be considered anything else other than a complete failure. Following the emotional highs and lows that they both experienced following the end of the war that had nearly claimed both of their lives, the young couple clung to each other, relying on the other for all of their emotional support and stability. The glaring problem with counting on someone else for her emotional support while he simultaneously relied on hers meant that neither was truly getting the support they really needed.

Hermione chose to bury herself in her work. Ron chose to bury himself in more than a dozen different witches impressed by his status as a war hero and close proximity to the Chosen One, Harry Potter. At first they could convince themselves that they were happy. Living a lie gets easier the longer one lives it. She knew her husband was unfaithful. Knew that he was sneaking around under the guise of 'auror duties' when he was really trolling for eager conquests in various pubs around the country. Ron depended on her aversion to reading newspapers following all of the blatant lies that had been printed over the years about the so-called Golden Trio. He conducted his affairs brazenly out in the public eye. Hermione chose to ignore his indiscretions by hiding even further in her work fighting for werewolves' rights.

She might have been able to ignore the glaring problems with their marriage just a little bit longer if Ron hadn't chosen to desecrate their marital bed with one of his cheap slags. Maybe he wanted her to find out. It was the only explanation that made any sense. Her husband did not care for school but he was far from being an idiot. Likely he saw fucking the woman in the same place his wife slept each night when he knew she was coming home early as just another strategic move on the chessboard of life.

There had not been any thrown curses or hexes when she entered their bedroom to find an unfamiliar blonde bouncing up and down on her husband's cock. She did not even scream obscenities or threaten to rip his bollocks from his body. Simply stood in the doorway with her arms crossed waiting patiently to be detected. The other woman was the first to notice her presence. She screamed and jumped off of the annoyed wizard. Hermione's reputation preceded her as a dangerous enemy to have. While the frightened woman scrambled to gather her discarded clothes, the married couple simply stared at each other. Ron had a challenging expression, almost as if he was daring Hermione to cause a scene or say a word. Hermione's own features were impassive, revealing none of the molten anger bubbling up inside of her body.

After several intense seconds of the most uncomfortable staring match in their collective history, Hermione turned on her heel. She was gone from their flat before Ron's latest conquest even found her knickers. Her next stop required no thought. Forgetting the lunch date she had planned with all of her sisters-in-law, a monthly tradition they started years earlier, she Apparated back to the Ministry. Instead of heading back to her private office on Level Four, Hermione directed her steps to the Wizengamot Administrative Services office on Level Two. She needed a divorce.

The little chit working the reception desk really should not have gasped when the well-known witch and respected Ministry official announced her intentions to dissolve her six year marriage with the cheating bastard who likely used his silver tongue to encourage that day's tart to stick around for another round now that his wife was gone. In hindsight, Hermione really should have left her wand in her pocket. There was nothing to be gained by hexing the witch's mouth shut. In that moment, however, Hermione was not thinking clearly. She was only half-aware of the words she screamed at the mortified and silently sobbing receptionist. In her haze of extreme anger she could only remember clips of phrases like, "that cheating arsehole will regret the day he ever crossed me" and "they haven't invented a painful enough spell yet" and perhaps most embarrassingly, "guess this explains why I haven't gotten a halfway decent shag in over a year." The level of her voice brought curious onlookers from all corners of the Level.

"Hermione, darling, let's go upstairs to my office," the Minister suggested. Kingsley had been in a meeting with the Chief Warlock when her shouting began.

"No, Kingsley! I'm not leaving her until I have a piece of parchment in my hand ending my farce of a marriage to Ronald Weasley!"

Whispers began in earnest all over the department at her announcement. From the day their marriage was finalized, Hermione and Ron had been set up on a pedestal in their society as the couple to be and emulate. Despite what went on behind closed doors, there were many who admired them. To witness firsthand the breakdown of that happy union and an emotional collapse from one of its members must have been prime fodder for the gossip mill. Seeing the giggling form of Marietta Edgecombe not even attempting to hide her glee at the event, Hermione found a new victim for her ire. A stinging hex right to the horrible woman's heavily made-up face lessened some of Hermione's anger.


Hermione's wand flew backwards out of her hand. Ignoring the sobs of her victim, she spun around on her heel to glare at the person who dared to steal her wand. Kingsley's jaw was clenched and his unblinking eyes revealed the depths of his anger. Hermione gulped. She knew he was a dangerous man but she had never seen it directed towards her before.

"You will come with me to my office now."

She had no choice but to comply with the man's orders. As she followed the infuriated Minister for Magic, Hermione could see a few of the bystanders rush to the aid of the two women she jinxed in her temper tantrum. Hermione struggled to keep up with Kingsley's long strides. He was a full foot taller and moved quickly. His office was located on Level One, just a short trip up the staircase. Kingsley chose not to speak a word until they were inside his office and the door shut and charmed with an impenetrable silencing charm.

"Care to explain to me what all of that was about?" His tone was much gentler and warmer than it had been downstairs.

"I just… Ron…"

Hermione buried her face in her hands. Strangled sobs came out of her throat. The moment her close friend and former battle comrade wrapped his strong arms around her shaking frame, the tears she feared would never end began. Kingsley held her and crooned sweet, soothing words as she drenched the front of his robes with all of her tears of anger, of sadness, of fear, of pain, of humiliation. The Minister was a patient wizard, never trying to hurry her through her grief.

When the last of her tears were shed, Kingsley carefully pushed her a few inches back to stare into her bloodshot eyes. He placed a soft kiss on her forehead and led her over to one of the comfortable armchairs usually reserved for important visitors. A clean handkerchief was placed in her hand.

"Please excuse me a moment," he begged.

Kingsley wrote a quick note on an official sheet of Ministry memo paper. A quick spell fashioned it into an airplane that weren't zooming out of his temporarily cracked door. Satisfied that his message was on its way to its desired location, Kingsley crossed his expansive office to take the chair next to Hermione.

"You know I can't ignore the fact that you drew your wand on two employees and jinxed them, right?"

She nodded her head in understanding. Now that the heightened emotions she had been feeling were calmed, she was left with the sinking realization that she was in a great deal of trouble. Even a major emotional upheaval was not enough to justify her actions. Considering there were no aurors in his office, Hermione felt like she could safely assume that she hadn't violated enough laws to earn a sentence in Azkaban. Of course the day was still young. She could still murder her husband before the day ended.

"I am going to officially suspend you for six weeks, Hermione."

"But Kingsley!"

He held up an imperious hand to remind her who was in charge. When the Minister spoke, everyone else was to listen.

"You haven't taken a vacation in two years, Hermione. It's unhealthy. Even if this incident didn't happen today I was going to ask you to take some time off. You need a break, my girl."

Hermione really wished she could argue with him, but she knew he was right. She was exhausted, always running herself ragged. Ron was not wrong when he frequently accused her of using work to hide from her problems.

"My cousin owns a couple of beautiful cottages near Keswick. Beautiful area. She doesn't get a lot of visitors this time of year. January is still a bit chilly for most tourists. We were just having lunch yesterday and she mentioned she had a vacancy in one of the cottages."

"What is your point, Kingsley?"

"You are going to spend the next six weeks recuperating at her cottage."

Hermione was annoyed by his suggestion, or rather, his explicit order. Who was he tell her where she was going to spend her forced vacation? How dare he assume she would just willingly do what he said?

"It is my gift to you, Hermione," he continued. "Sada will give me the family discount. You need some time to yourself, love."

"I can't just run away, Kingsley. My life is here."

"And it is my opinion that you need a long vacation from your life."

"This being the Minister for Magic thing has really gone to your head. You can't just order me about."

Kingsley pointed his wand to his desk. A silver frame came flying across the room straight into his hand. He gave it to Hermione to examine. A small cluster of smiling faces stood in front of a quaint, little cottage. Hermione hated that the location looked appealing and especially hated to find that all of Kingsley's family members were gorgeous with perfect teeth. Some people had all of the luck.

"So what would I do in your cousin's cottage for six weeks?"

"When was the last time you had a decent night's sleep?"

Hermione glowered at her friend. Was it that obvious? Did she look so horrible that it was clear to tell that she hadn't slept more than four or five hours at a time for as long as she could remember? She hated how perceptive the wizard was.

"It's a relaxing place," he explained. "I, myself, have spent a great deal of time there."


Half of his mouth curled up in a cheeky, half-grin.


"Ugh, Kings, don't tell me that I'm about to stay in the place where you have your illicit affairs."

His laughter rang through his office. The half-grin morphed into a full smile. Kingsley gave her a conspiratorial wink.

"Nothing illicit about them. I'm single. I can see whomever I want."

Thinking about spending days at a time just sleeping in a comfortable bed in the quiet countryside sounded heavenly. Hermione chose to forget Kingsley's remarks. Imagining going back to her flat to confront Ron after her humiliating afternoon was too much. She wondered how she could get to the cottage without packing a single bag. Maybe she could just go shopping instead.

As if on cue, there was a hard knock on the door. Kingsley rose from his chair to rush towards the entrance to his office. Moments later a distraught and flustered Fleur Weasley was pushing past Kingsley to cross the room. She was speaking a flurry of French Hermione was only understanding about half of. Her arms were outstretched. When she was close enough to reach, Fleur pulled the younger witch into a tight embrace.

"Oh, ma chèrie! The news eez 'orrible. We were waiting for you to arrive when Arthur's patronus arrived," she explained. "Angelina and Audrey are packing your bags and Ginny eez likely hexing 'er bruzzer's testicles."

Hermione felt heartened by the support she was getting from her eldest sister-in-law. Over the years, especially after she convalesced under Fleur's watchful eye following her torture, the two women had grown quite close. Knowing that she had even more allies in the forms of her remaining three sisters-in-law was also encouraging. Most of her life had been spent without fierce female relationships.

Kingsley spent the next half an hour patiently answering all of Fleur's questions about Hermione's proposed vacation spot. All of the details sounded perfectly lovely to the French witch. Hermione was still a bit skeptical. There was a reason why Hermione had not taken a holiday from work in a very long time. Too much time spent being idle grew on her nerves quite quickly. From what the Minister was telling them both, it sounded as if Hermione was expected to spend six weeks having lie-ins every day and taking obnoxiously long bubble baths. She supposed that it would be nice to do a bit of reading for pleasure. It had been years since she devoured a good novel.

"I like the sound of no owls," Fleur decided. "You will need time to relax, 'ermione. You do not need to read the newspapers. No doubt they will be 'orrible."

Even though she was perfectly capable of Apparating anywhere that she wished to, the thought of being in an area specifically charmed to keep owls away seemed a bit like asking for trouble to Hermione. Wasn't too much seclusion considered unhealthy? Fleur did have a point about the newspapers though. She was certain that a particularly juicy headline was being cooked up at that exact moment in the Daily Prophet offices. Edgecombe would probably run straight to Rita Skeeter for an exclusive interview. There had been many days in Hermione's life when she wished that she would have been able to live a life away from the newspapers like any good lady. They were supposed to have their names in the newspapers only three times in their entire lives: when they were born, when they married, and when they died. Anything else was considered scandalous and vulgar.

Any further depressing thoughts she might have had were interrupted by more knocking on the door. Kingsley escorted Angelina and Audrey Weasley and Ginny Potter to the same seating area of his office. All three women were carrying large bags filled with Hermione's belongings. Each of them took the time to embrace Hermione. While she appreciated the sentiments and absolutely adored every single one of them, she had always been a bit jealous that they had been able to find happiness with husbands they were all still quite madly in love with. She had always felt the odd one out when they sat around the lunch table discussing the wonderful aspects of their beloveds that they loved the most. Usually she had only been able to contribute a few tense words about Ron.

"I am so sorry, 'Mione," Ginny apologized. "I can't believe my brother. Well, yes, actually I can, but I wish I couldn't."

"We weren't sure what you would want us to pack, so we packed it all," declared Audrey. "Angie used a spell to summon everything that belonged to you. One bag has all of your clothes. One has all of your shoes and personal items. The other has everything else. We didn't want you to not have something you needed."

She thanked each woman in turn for their help. When they were satisfied that they were leaving Hermione in good hands with the Minister, each of them embraced Hermione one final time before leaving. Kingsley deftly charmed the bags to shrink and lighten until he could hold all of them in one hand.

"Let's take the floo directly to the Employee Entrance," he suggested. "I can Side-Along you to the cottage once we are outside."

A few minutes of dizzying travel later found Hermione standing outside of the most picturesquely English countryside cottage. If a Hollywood film studio wished to recreate an idyllic spot, they would have built exactly what she was standing in front of, blue painted shutters and all. A well-trodden pathway through the grass led down to the shores of a lake. If it had not been the middle of winter, Hermione was certain she would be seeing a luscious garden of blooming plants and flowers.

Kingsley's cousin Sada Shafiq was waiting for them when they arrived. A fashionably dressed witch in her early forties, Hermione would not have been surprised to see the woman on the front of any fashion magazine. She had a rich caramel complexion and hauntingly beautiful green eyes. If she had not greeted the younger witch with a warm smile so similar to her cousin's, Hermione might have assumed she was something of a Pureblood snob.

"Thank you so much for allowing Hermione the use of your cottage on such short notice, Sada," Kingsley stated.

"No, it's a pleasure. It was just going to be sitting empty. This is a cottage that just begs for guests."

The Minister kissed his cousin's cheek and gave Hermione one final embrace before rushing back off to London. He was an important wizard after all. Once she was alone with the other witch, Hermione began to feel a bit ill at ease. One more warm smile from Sada calmed her down immensely.

"I'm afraid I'm about to have to dash off too, but everything is fairly self-explanatory," Sada explained. "There is a Muggle market just down the road a bit. Makes for a lovely walk if you're inclined. It gets very quiet around here. Hope that doesn't bother you."

"No, I'm sure it will be fine."

Hermione was prepared to step inside the front door when a figure appeared in her peripheral vision that startled her. Spinning around quickly remembering all of the reflexes she had honed during the war, she snorted and rolled her eyes when she realized the creature she was preparing to hex was nothing but a fluffy, large dog. At almost two hundred pounds, the Saint Bernard was massive. It sat on its back legs just staring at Hermione.

"That's one of Rod's dogs," Sada stated. "Sweet thing, but a bit pushy. Scratch him a bit behind the ears and he'll usually go away."

Dogs had never been one of Hermione's favorite beings. They were too loud, too smelly, too hairy. The only dog she had ever felt any kind of affection for was Snuffles and only then because she knew who he really was. Cats had always made more sense to her. They were more independent and did not need constant affection to be happy.

"Who is Rod?"

Sada pointed to the other cottage only about twenty feet away from Hermione's. They were exact replicates of each other, at least from the outside. No other dwellings could be seen anywhere near.

"He's the permanent resident of that cottage. You'll probably never see him. Keeps to himself mostly. Likes the quiet."


"Lovely man though. Widowed, poor thing. During the war, I think. He doesn't talk much. He has this dog and a little puppy that is going to be as gigantic as this one, I think."

Sada showed Hermione exactly where to scratch to appease the dog. While she was not thrilled about touching the beast, she acquiesced at Sada's insistence. Instead of running off back towards his own cottage, the dog simply sniffed Hermione's hands and legs. Satisfied that Hermione had everything she needed, the hostess Disapparated minutes later.

Hermione was alone for the first time since she stormed out of her flat. It felt strange and disquieting. All of the emotions from earlier that she had been working so hard to stifle came crashing down on her at once. She hardly had time to sit down on the step in front of the door before the tears began.

Crying had always felt like a weakness to Hermione. There had been times in her life when she thought existing would have been easier if she could simply keep the tears bottled up inside. With her elbows resting on her thighs, she covered her face with her hands to sob all of the anxiety and pain she had been experiencing since she walked in on her husband with his latest witch. She couldn't be sure how long she cried. Part of her began to feel at one point that she would never stop.

A gentle nudging at her elbow startled Hermione into stopping her cries. The dog with its soulful expression on its furry face just stared at her. Looking in his eyes, she could almost sense a kindred spirit. Without waiting for an invitation, he sat on the step next to her and leaned his entire body against hers. Realizing the animal was doing what it could to comfort her in her time of sorrow only made Hermione start to cry again. Forgetting her aversion to all canines, she threw her arms around the animal's neck. She hugged him close until she felt the last of her tears slip away.

Rodolphus Lestrange would never say that he liked living alone. Only that it was easier. No one was there to criticize him if he left his wet towels on the floor or if his dirty socks didn't quite make it into the dirty clothes hamper. There was no shrill voice constantly shrieking in his ear questioning his masculinity and degrading him for preferring to spend his time around silent animals.

Part of him would admit to being a bit sad that his wife was dead. There had been some happy times over the years, of course. When he stopped to consider them, he could even spare a small smile or two for the woman who became a dark caricature of the person she started life out as. But when the all-too-brief moments of melancholy passed, all he could think of was he was sad that he hadn't been the one to wield the wand the wiped the bitch off of the face of the Earth.

He had not planned on surviving the last war. In fact, he was tempted more than once to openly insult the Dark Lord to his face just so his misery could be ended. Only the small shred of self-preservation that he still possessed kept his mouth shut. That and the sinking realization that Trixie would likely be the one to bring about his death and his blushing bride had a terrible habit of playing with her food. So instead of throwing his life away, he'd made himself as inconspicuous as possible. He followed orders and kept out of everyone's way. While he did not openly defy the Dark Lord, he certainly did not work to curry his favor either.

An opportunity presented itself during the early days of the war. Rodolphus was ordered to accompany his fellow Death Eaters in their attempt to capture the Potter boy. Their master had plans to murder him to appease his paranoid mind. His niece, Andy's daughter, struck him with a fairly innocuous spell that knocked him off of his broomstick. He had never been a particularly strong flier. Never had the stomach for it. In mid-air he summoned enough courage as he was plummeting towards the ground to Disapparate.

He had a special talent that kept him alive and out of the rest of the war. Relying on his prodigious Transfiguration skills, he spent the remainder of the last war cuddled up on the rug in front of the roaring fireplace in the Three Broomsticks pub. He spent his days listening for any news he could about how the war was going and he spent his nights warming the lovely Madam Rosmerta's bed. Of course, she wasn't aware the skinny, neglected stray dog that showed up at her backdoor begging for scraps the night the Ministry was overtaken by the dark Lord was really a wizard. She had a large heart and did not hesitate to bring him in out of the rain. There were certainly worse ways to spend a war than receiving belly rubs from the pub's patrons and cleaning up the food on the floor that was dropped. By the time his master was finally killed once and for all, Rodolphus was perfectly content to remain a house pet for the remainder of his life.

Everything changed with the end of the war. As more and more Death Eaters were being rounded up on a daily basis, Rodolphus no longer felt comfortable staying so close to wizards. He travelled the countryside, only narrowly missing being picked up a few times by the Muggle dogcatchers. Somehow he managed to retain the knowledge that his younger brother had a former girlfriend who inherited a couple of country cottages that she let out.

Finding the socialite Sada Shafiq had been deceptively simple. While it wasn't the Imperius Curse, he certainly could have been locked back up in Azkaban for the spells he cast on the woman. He assuaged his conscience by reminding himself that he never failed to pay the woman handsomely for his modest cottage. She had a permanent tenant who paid more than she would have gotten otherwise and if she always felt a little muddleheaded around him, it wasn't exactly as if he was hurting her.

The sounds of Apparition next door got his attention that afternoon. January was never a popular time for tourists. He glanced out the closest window to see Sada opening the windows to air out the musty smell that could sometimes creep into the cottage when it was without an occupant for any length of time. Curious to know what to expect, he pulled a warm jumper on to speak with the witch. His new puppy Millie bounced after him on her oversized paws.

"Hello there, Rod," she greeted, the bemused expression back on her pretty features. "Haven't seen you in a while. How have you been?"

"Good, Sada. Thank you. What's going on?"

There seemed no point in stalling for the sake of politeness. Especially not when the woman was likely to forget everything they spoke about moments after she walked out of his presence anyway.

"My cousin booked the cottage for the next six weeks."

"Six weeks? Who is coming to stay that long?"

"Not sure, exactly, but knowing Kingsie it's likely one of his lady friends. Can't ever keep up with that man is doing."

Rodolphus rolled his eyes. That's all his sensitive animagus ears needed. Six weeks of creaking bedsprings next door reminding him that it had been a very long time since he last entertained his own lady friend. Infrequent trips to the Muggle village nearby hardly presented the adequate opportunities to develop any kind of meaningful relationship with a member of the fairer sex. Of course the perpetual fear of one day stumbling upon a woman that could best his Trixie in all aspects of horridness made him a bit gun shy.

"He also asked me to strengthen the anti-owl wards," she continued to explain. "Makes me think it is someone important. Maybe someone running from a scandal."

The witch's obvious interest in the private aspects of a complete stranger's life was just a bit distasteful to Rodolphus. He understood the desire to be alone and away from the trappings of the Wizarding world. Forget the fact that he would likely be chucked back in Azkaban if he was ever discovered to still be alive, he had very few reasons to be attracted back to the world he grew up in. The older he became, the less he wanted to be around the people who used to fill his life.

"I'll just leave you to it then, Sada."

Following a nod and a warm smile to the witch, Rodolphus walked back to his own cottage. His curiosity was piqued. Who was seeking out his refuge for their own hiding place? It did not seem to matter much the more he thought about it. They would likely never see each other. He worked hard at being as inconspicuous as possible.

He sat in his favorite armchair in front of the roaring fireplace with little Millie snuggled up in his lap. It would not be much longer before the sweet girl was too large to fit in the chair with him comfortably. The thought made him a bit sad. They must have both dozed just a bit without meaning to. Millie barked softly at the sound of the Apparition next door. Rodolphus sat up quickly, accidentally dropping the puppy to the floor.

The window over his kitchen sink provided a perfect view of the front of the cottage next door. Rodolphus recognized the current Minister for Magic easily. Kingsley Shacklebolt had been an infrequent guest over the years. He watched him interact with his younger cousin. All he could see of the newest guest was the hem of her dark blue cloak. The distance was too great to make out a clear identification.

As soon as the Minister Disapparated, Rodolphus transformed into his animagus form. He spent years before he was locked up in Azkaban learning and studying to be an animagus. It was a branch of magic that required intense amounts of concentration and discipline. Realizing that he would have a way to avoid his wife indefinitely had been the motivating factor to push through the hardest parts of the training. Millie barked excitedly to see him as a dog. They both enjoyed playing in front of the fire. Reminding the pup with one gruff that he was Alpha, Millie settled down. He stared at her until she climbed up on the oversized pillow in front of the fireplace that was her bed.

Opening the door to the cottage was not difficult considering how large his paws were. Rodolphus closed the distance between his cottage and the two witches in just a few short moments. He stopped in his tracks when the little one spun around and pointed her wand at him. The sharp smell of fear was wafting off of her in thick waves. It tugged a bit at his heart to see one so young so frightened. Even when she relaxed slightly after realizing he was just a dog, she still was afraid. He found his curiosity growing even stronger the longer she stood there.

He was fairly certain she was the Granger girl. It had been years since he picked up a newspaper, but she was not exactly a woman one forgot easily. She was older, naturally, than he remembered. Her hair was shorter and she was only slightly taller. He would still tower over her as a man.

"Lovely man though. Widowed, poor thing. During the war, I think. He doesn't talk much. He has this dog and a little puppy that is going to be as gigantic as this one, I think."

Rodolphus would have snorted if he wasn't a dog. As if being widowed was a bad thing in his case! Sada scratched him behind the ears in just the spot he loved. When the Granger girl followed her lead to do the same, he almost whimpered. Get a hold of yourself, you old dog! He was a simple man, living a simple life with no complications. Developing even a tiny puppy dog crush on the woman would be a terrible idea.

Despite Sada's assurances that he would go away once he was scratched, Rodolphus' curiosity had still not been satisfied. He wanted to know why the woman was there. Why was she hiding in the cottage for the next six weeks? Was she one of the Minister's special friends? Or was she running away from her life just like he was?

He did not expect the woman to start crying the moment Sada left. The sound of her sobs clenched at his heart. Rodolphus wanted to run away, wanted to leave the woman alone to her grief. His paws would not move. Finally he moved closer to the step she was sitting on. He gently nudged at her elbow to get her attention. The cries stopped for a brief few moments as they just stared into each other's eyes. Her tear-filled whiskey colored eyes softened. He sat down on the step next to her and simply leaned his body into hers. She looked like she needed some support. He did not have much that he could offer, but he could give her at least the realization that she was not alone. She threw her arms around his neck and began to cry unashamedly into his fur.

Rodolphus leaned further into her small frame. If there was anyone else who understood pain and sadness, it was the man masquerading as a Saint Bernard. He would sit there until she didn't need him any longer.