Chapter Eleven

To Oma.

Minerva slept outside the small tent, that night. Winter had started sliding into spring months earlier, and the protection of her thick cloak, along with a quickly cast warming spell, managed to keep the young woman relatively comfortable through the night- perhaps, in different circumstances, it could even have permitted her to sleep, but that was a wish in vain, as she knew very well.

There was nothing left for her but to toss and turn under the tartan fabric she'd covered her restless form with- nothing left for her than to stare at the sky above, at the trees surrounding the tent- and at the tent itself, where he slept, or didn't sleep, with her words still locked inside of his mind.

Her words- her horrible words.

It was with a firm hand that Minerva McGonagall wiped off the tears on her cheeks. Crying would not do- not now, not over this. This was her fault, not the world's, not his- hers, and responsibility did not come with tears- at least not for her. With regrets, yes- but never with tears.

It was strange, she pondered, how she, who had never believed that complaining had any use whatsoever, had suddenly, very unexpectedly, even to herself, thrown it all in his face like that- especially because the concept "complaining" was still as repulsive to her as ever before.

But those who do not complain are never pitied.

She snorted. Now had she honestly ever wanted pity? Would she be happier if the world treated her like a porcelain doll- as if she was made of chocolate, as if she could melt any moment?

Now Minerva could honestly answer "no" to that question- and she felt deeply, truly ashamed when she remembered how his blue eyes had looked at her. Despite everything they had lived through together, somewhere deep down, hidden deeply in the steady blue, had always been that twinkle, that… that joie de vivre that had pulled her through so many difficult times.

Now, for the very first time, that twinkle had been entirely absent- and there had only been emptiness- a sort of… broken quantity that even Minerva could not really place. And for this, she could not blame the world- or the war.

Minerva cried, that night, her face hidden deep in the folds of her cloak. It was a near symbolic deed, that- for no-one would have been there to see it anyway, and that was exactly the way she wanted it to be. Hidden, shameful- for in her thoughts, she could see her mother, always the sterner of her two parents, frowning down upon her- and her dad having that disappointed look in his eyes that he had had when she, at three, had stolen a cookie from her grandmother's box.

Sure, her parents would want her to find them, to save them- but they would not want her to sacrifice everything they had taught her in the process. She was sure of that.

The next morning, it was with heavy circles under her reddened eyes that Minerva threw off her cloak and started the fire to cook breakfast on. It was usually Albus who did this- but she did not have the heart to wait.

Only as she, in a silent gesture of sincere apology, brought him his scrambled eggs inside the tent, moments later- and as he, still without a word, pressed a kiss against her forehead, Minerva McGonagall knew she was forgiven.

On that sleepless night, the young witch learnt something she would never forget.