Chapter Nineteen

A/N: To Rikki, in place of the real life hug I wished I could give right now :).

It was a shock, and as I sunk back into the burgundy sofa, I felt, for the first time in my life, my head literally spinning. It was unbelievable that we hadn't so much as considered this possibility before- but, of course, who would have thought? Not once had it been mentioned in the many books they had searched- not once even had they read anything about the mere chance of Anne being what she'd been thought to be by her contemporaries.

How many times hadn't Minerva read about the kind nicknames the people of England had gifted their common-born Queen with! Anne, the whore, Anne, the slut-

Anne- the witch.

Because of course, of course Anne Boleyn had been a witch in the true sense of the word. Not the evil, lowly creature Muggles in those times had imagined so as to picture everything they differed from and thus feared, but a real witch- just the way Minerva was.

And of course it all fit. Another piece of the puzzle it was indeed- and it fit right in. It explained the rumours about Anne as a child- it explained her sometimes strange intelligence- it explained her long absence to France. Hadn't she left England at eleven- and hadn't she returned to her home country, fully educated, at about the age of seventeen?

As Minerva hid her face in her hands, she realized she'd been stupid. Too stupid.

"I can't believe we've overlooked this! I feel dumb, Albus- I feel downright dumb."

His hand on her shoulder irritated her- but at the same time, it was exactly what she needed, and as she turned her head, swinging her long, black braid over one shoulder, she couldn't but smile at the twinkles in her husband's eyes.

"Oh Albus, shush, I do!"

"Says the girl who collected more NEWTs during her career at Hogwarts than anyone ever before."

"Anyone except you." was Minerva's typical, dry reply, before, with a sigh, bowing over and pecking her husband on the tip of his long, crooked nose.

"I merely wanted to point out, Albus, that we've both been idiots. "Witch" is basically Anne's epithet, for God's sake!"

Though Minerva did try to hide it, she was really angry at herself, and Albus saw it. He knew better than anyone else how demanding the woman he loved had, through everything, always been towards herself. It was a fact which he could not change and, perhaps, didn't want to change, either, because it was so thoroughly Minerva- but still.

She could be so kind, so sensible, towards other people's mistakes- and yet towards her own faults, she couldn't. It was almost as if she was always more guilty, more wrong- and it was such a pity, really.

"Minerva, you can make mistakes and no-one will blame you."

As soon as she raised her chin, youth and age once more united in the look in her dark green eyes, though, Albus knew he'd made a mistake. Inside Minerva, inside the girl he loved lived the woman, the Queen, whom the man who lived on inside of him had loved and still loved.

"I can, Albus, but I won't. Anne is up there asking me, but even more so is she here, and it's there that I won't disappoint her."

Her hand was resting against her heart.