A/N: I've had this posted at the AD/MM fanfic board for a little while and decided to put it here as well. Hope you like. (4/29/05) I've edited out the song lyrics so the powers that be at FF-dot-netdon't close my account. Google the song title if you want to read the lyrics.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to J.K. Rowling.
Even in Death
I can't believe he's gone. I didn't really believe it until now, as I stand surrounded by his most treasured items. It's so quiet. None of his little contraptions are working and even Fawkes is too sad to make even a whistle. My heart goes out to the poor bird. He's perched on the windowsill, looking out over the lake and towards the small hill where we buried him this morning.
Albus Dumbledore is dead.
I can't even bring myself to think the words, yet alone say them out loud. I wasn't there when he fell at the hands of Voldemort. Albus had sent me to protect the rear flank. Our group battled waves of death eaters and even dementors, both sides sustaining countless injuries. When it was over, I, along with Tonks and Remus, made the way back up to the front. The first thing I noticed was the amount of wounded. I surveyed the devastation and saw Alastor Moody standing with a group of other Order members. I raced to his side, ignoring the fatigue that threatened to consume me.
"Alastor, what happened? Where is Albus?" I asked him. He said nothing. Instead, he solemnly hung his head and moved out of the way so I could peer behind him. There on the ground, surrounded by those who loved and respected him the most, lay the greatest wizard our kind had seen in hundreds of years. It all seemed so surreal at the time. I remember how pale he looked and how still. Then the world around me blurred and I remember falling. I could hear Alastor and Remus' voices above me, but I was lost. Lost in a sea of grief, agony, and regret. I wanted nothing more than to sleep and wake to find this all a terrible dream.
My reverie was broken by the sound of Fawkes cooing softly. It was such a heartbreaking sound, like the whine of a puppy or the scared mews of a newborn kitten. I moved over to the window and stroked his head gently. I looked out of the window at the fresh grave in the distance. A reflection of something white and purple caught my attention in the glass and I turned in alarm. A faint breeze passed by his desk, causing a book to flutter open. I hadn't seen the book there before and as I walked over to investigate I caught a light scent of lemon. It reminded me instantly of him.
I sat down in his chair and looked at the book in front of me. It looked like a journal of some kind, written in Albus' loopy handwriting. The date on the page was some three weeks ago. Curiosity got the better of me and I began to read.
'Today, I managed to complete the elixir. It took months, but all my hard work has paid off or so I hope. Perhaps it was selfish of me to even attempt such an endeavor. After all, death is a natural part of life. I know I will not survive the final showdown with Tom, Sybill has already assured me of it. I am simply not ready to die. There are so many things that I haven't done yet, even after 156 years. I want to visit China, I want to go to the Metropolitan Opera house, I want to see Harry Potter finally free to live a normal life, and I want to wake up beside the woman I've loved for the last forty years. If Minerva will have me, I would gladly spend the rest of my days making love to her and doing everything within my power to ensure her happiness.'
I couldn't stop the tears from cascading down my cheeks. He loved me! That crazy old man loved me and never said a word. The same regret I felt before came rushing back. I never got the chance to tell him that I love him too. I read over the passage again, blushing slightly at Albus' intention of making love to me for the rest of his days. What was this elixir he's going on about?
'If all goes to plan, I will fall, but like my great friend, Fawkes, I will rise again. The phoenix isn't my Patronus for nothing, you know. The elixir will see to that, but it is up to someone else to set the events into motion. I only hope that she will listen to her heart and hear me.'
I heard Albus' voice and looked up in surprise expecting him to be standing before me, but there was nothing. A small breeze came again and the smell of lemons returned. I could have sworn it was him. The voice sounded so close, nothing more than a whisper, but I heard it! I looked back down at the journal.
'I only hope that she will listen to her heart and hear me.'
A restrained sob escaped from my throat and I bolted out of his office. I couldn't take it anymore, not this night. His things would have to be packed up another day; I couldn't stay in there another moment. Upon reaching my rooms, I collapsed on the bed and cried the hardest I ever have. I miss him so much, but if what he wrote in his journal is true, then perhaps Albus is not gone after all.
Or perhaps I have simply gone mad.
"Minerva, my love, it is time to wake up."
I sat straight up on the bed, my heart beating wildly. His voice was there again; I know it was. My stomach rumbled loudly, alerting me to the fact that I'd slept through dinner. Groggily, I climbed out of my bed and as I passed my dresser on the way out, I noticed the book I had been reading in Albus' office sitting on top. I never took it off his desk. How did it get here?
I heard his voice behind me and felt a rush of air across the nape of my neck. I hastily shook my head and left my chambers for the kitchens. The trip through the darkened halls was quick and I didn't run into anyone else. Good, I didn't feel like socializing. I couldn't help but feel as if I wasn't alone, but each time I looked behind me, there was no one there.
Once inside the kitchens, the house elves were very accommodating. I sat for ten minutes with Dobby sobbing into my robes, telling me how much he'll miss Albus. I comforted him as best I could, but I wanted to sob right along with him. He finally let me eat in peace and as I tucked into my stew, I heard the chair on my right scrape the floor. I looked up thinking one of elves had bumped it, but there wasn't a one in sight. There was, however, a steaming mug of hot chocolate sitting on the table in front of the chair. Not just any hot chocolate, but Albus' personal recipe. I would know that smell anywhere. My heart began to beat faster, but I forced myself to remain calm. It's only my imagination. I went back to eating my stew, ignoring the sweet aroma of cocoa in the air. I ate faster so that I could go back to my rooms.
"Please listen to me, my love."
The sound of his voice caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand on end and I dropped the spoon. Tears formed in my eyes again. This has to be someone's idea of a sick joke. "Stop it!" I yelled. I jumped up from the table and left the kitchen in a hurry. I practically ran through the hallways and cursed myself after I took a wrong turn.
"I need your help, Minerva."
I am going mad. Any sanity I had left, died with Albus. I know that now. Why else would I be hearing his voice and smelling his damn hot chocolate? "Please," I whispered into the dark, "I can't take it anymore. Leave me alone." I sunk down a wall, put my head on my knees and cried some more.
"I'm so sorry, my love, but I need you to help me."
This voice wasn't going to just go away. I knew my grip on reality was fading, so I simply gave in. "How?"
"Look behind the painting of Fawkes, in my study."
I don't know what possessed me to go to Albus' private chambers. The doors opened for me of their own accord and I made my way into his study. There, behind his desk, was a large painting of Fawkes. I don't remember who painted it, but Albus didn't want it enchanted. He always said that you didn't need magic to see the movement of the painting. I pulled out my wand and removed the painting from the wall, setting it gently down on the ground. There was a cabinet of some sort behind it.
I slowly pried it open and gasped at what I saw behind it. A bottle of glowing reddish orange liquid sat amidst some papers and there was yet another book. I picked it up and read the title: The Elixir of the Phoenix. Curious, I opened it to the first page.
'Herein lies the secret to cheating death. It may not always be wise to fool the Grim Reaper, but there are those who are more deserving of life than death.'
I looked up at the bottle and gently picked it up. It glowed as bright as a candle. It was beautiful. "What have you done, Albus?" I whispered into the air. I replaced the bottle and gathered up his notes. Situating myself on the nearest settee, I began to read through the book in an effort to understand what was going on.
Apparently I had fallen asleep because I woke up with a rather stiff neck very early the next morning. There was a blanket wrapped around me. The book, notes, and my glasses were all neatly arranged on the end table next to me. Once again the vague smell of lemons filled the air and I shivered involuntarily. The particulars of the elixir and accompanying spell were very complicated and very powerful. I sat dumbfounded at the prospect of something like this working. Albus seemed absolutely sure that it would work and reading his notes, convinced me that he knew what he was doing.
Certain preparations needed to be done in order for it to work. The first part of the ritual made my stomach churn slightly; Albus' body needed to be exhumed. I thought perhaps that I could enlist the help of Hagrid or Severus, but as soon the thought entered my mind, I heard his voice yet again.
"Only you must do this, love. It will only work with you."
I sighed and looked over the ritual again. Herbs needed to be sprinkled over the grave and an incantation needed to be spoken. I looked at the foreign words, wondering how on earth to pronounce them. Thankfully, Albus whispered the words softly into my ear and I repeated them to get the diction just right. Again, I wondered if I had gone completely off the deep end. Here I was quite willing to dig up the body of the man I loved in an attempt to bring him back to life, all the while listening to a disembodied voice. I can hear the students now, "There goes Professor Frankenstein."
I waited until after midnight before venturing out of the castle. I tightly wrapped my cloak around my shoulders. It was a cold night. Fog was beginning to set in and as I made my way to the small hill where Albus slumbered beneath the ground, the moonlight cast an eerie glow on his tombstone. Finally reaching my destination, I took the miniature shovel out of my pocket and returned it to its normal size. I sprinkled the herbs onto the ground and said the words that Albus had whispered into my ear.
"Heret syda neche uyo llash ires nagai, keil a hoxnepi form het shaes."
I dug the shovel into the earth and charmed it to do most of the work. I watched as the mound of dirt next to me got bigger and bigger. A small voice in the back of my mind told me how wrong it was to dig up a dead man, but I quickly silenced it. I know what Albus did worked. It had too. After about fifteen minutes I heard the shovel hit the hard wood of a coffin. Peering down into the grave, I carefully levitated it out of the ground. It took a lot of concentration, but I managed to do it. Once it was safely on the surface, I reached down to open it. Taking a deep breath, I lifted the wood and looked inside.
He looked so peaceful. Even in the just the moonlight, I could tell that his color was much better than when I saw him last. Tentatively I placed a hand on his forehead and was overjoyed to find that it wasn't cold and stiff, but slightly warm. Albus, you're a genius, I thought. I managed to levitate him out of the coffin and onto a stretcher. Then I started the trek back to the school. It would be much easier to get to my own rooms without being seen than his, so I decided to head to Gryffindor tower.
Careful so as not to bump his head, I maneuvered Albus through the air and set him on my bed. I arranged the covers around him and sat down in a chair next to the bed to read some more of his notes. I needed to sprinkle him with the herbs and pour some of the elixir down his throat. I did just that, repeating the words from earlier. Now, all I had to do was wait until first light and repeat the process. I placed a soft kiss on his forehead and whispered, "I won't leave you, my love."
A loud knocking awoke me rather suddenly. I had just given Albus the second dose of the elixir and had fallen back to sleep. I looked at him and was happy to see that his color had returned even more, though he still was not breathing. It was as if he had taken the Draught of Living Death. The knock came again, louder and more urgent. I quickly left the bedroom and not even thinking about my appearance, I opened my door slightly and saw Alastor and Severus standing there, quite distressed. Alastor spoke first.
"Minerva, something terrible has happ- Great Merlin! What have you done?" I shut the door immediately and put my most powerful wards upon it. "Minerva! Open this door!"
I looked into the mirror that hung next to me and saw that there were smudges of dirt all over my face and my hair was a mess. My clothes were also smudged with dirt and mud. Alastor, whose magical eye missed nothing, put all the evidence together.
"He's gone, Minerva!" He shouted through the door. "Let him rest in piece. We can help you through this."
"By locking me up in St. Mungo's?" I bitterly threw back at him. "Go away! We're just fine!" I tuned out his voice and returned to my bedroom. After checking on Albus, I went into the bathroom to clean myself up. Even after a hot bath, my mind still felt clouded and jumbled. I was sure that Alastor had informed everyone else that I was as crazy as a loon. I still had doubts in the back of my mind that all this was a figment of my delusional imagination, but I couldn't afford to dwell on such thoughts.
The next part of the ritual called for phoenix tears and my own blood to be added to the elixir. This meant, of course, that I must venture to Albus' office to get Fawkes. The bird whistled a long, low note as I entered his office. I couldn't go the normal was, as I'm sure my door is being watched by Alastor. I took the secret pathways that lead from my study to the headmaster's office. The poor phoenix was nearing its burning day, so time was of the essence. I wrapped him in a cloth and carried him back to my rooms. Once the bird saw Albus, he perked up immediately. He knew how important his being there was. I set Fawkes on the bed next to Albus and the phoenix cuddled against his master. I brought the goblet of potion over. "Fawkes, I need three of you tears. Can you do that for Albus?" The bird nodded his head and proceeded to do what I asked. The elixir bubbled and fizzed as the clears drops mixed with the reddish-orange liquid. I took a small dagger and positioned the blade over my palm. I wrapped my hand around the blade and pulled it across my skin quickly. It stung, but I didn't care. I squeezed three drops of my own blood into the potion and it took on an iridescent blue color. As I sprinkled the herbs over his head and body, I repeated the magical incantation. "Heret syda neche uyo llash ires nagai, keil a hoxnepi form het shaes." After pouring some of the elixir into his mouth, I turned over the hourglass that sat next to the bed. In one hour, I would give him more.
Occupying myself in the meantime was the hard part. I transfigured a nest for Fawkes and placed it by the window. I had tried reading, but I kept glancing at Albus. He looked like he was sleeping, but his chest didn't rise and fall. Why had he not told me of his feelings for me? Why had I not told him about mine? I had a hard time pinpointing the exact time in which I discovered that I loved him as more than a friend. I had always thought him attractive, ever since I was a student. It wasn't a schoolgirl crush, just an admiration of his features, from his long auburn hair and sparkling blue eyes to his tall stature. Perhaps it was after that Ministry function so long ago that I realized my feelings. James, Sirius, and the rest of those boys were in their final year. I remember overhearing a conversation between Albus and one of the other Wizengamot judges about marriage. Albus had said that he didn't think he would ever get married because he was too busy with Hogwarts and advising the Minister. He had played it off as not that important, but after the other man left, I saw the look of regret and loneliness on his face and heard his sad sigh. I had this overwhelming urge to comfort him and to show him that I didn't have to be alone. The wealth of emotions I felt that night scared me and I left the party early. Yes, perhaps that was the time. I learned to eventually suppress those feelings and we remained close friends. I never dreamed that he could feel the same. I looked at the nightstand in time to see the last bits of sand run out of the hourglass and I gave Albus more of the elixir. Another hour to wait, I thought fleetingly. I was getting restless.
But, my restlessness did not last, as a loud pounding came from my door. "Minerva! Open up this door, please?" Alastor's voice pleaded with me. "I understand your grief, but this is not the answer!"
"Go away, Alastor! I know what I'm doing." I understood his concern, but it was grating on my nerves.
Suddenly the hair on the back of my neck stood up and a soft familiar voice whispered into my ear. "Don't worry, my love, they will understand in time."
"Professor McGonagall? It's Hermione. Please open the door, I'd like to help you." And I thought it couldn't get any worse. Alastor had to enlist the help of my favorite student. The poor dear sounded quite worried, but I couldn't let that sway me in the least.
"I'm perfectly sane, Miss Granger, no matter what Moody says." I covered my ears as more voices joined in. Poppy, Hagrid, even Snape, had something to say. Albus' voice came again and I calmed down. It took me a few seconds to realize that he was singing. I had never heard him sing before, but his deep tenor was smooth and beautiful. It drowned out the voices.
I returned to Albus' side and ignored the chaos outside my rooms. His color was even better and he was warming up quickly. He still wasn't breathing, but I held his hand and watched the sand trickle down the hourglass; second by second, minute by minute. This has to work, I thought to myself. If it doesn't, then I will have to be admitted to St. Mungo's because I won't be able to function without him. He has always been my rock. Whenever I thought that things were beyond hope, he would look at me with those wondrous eyes and tell me that no matter how dire things may seem, there is always hope because that was something that the dark could never extinguish.
My heart began to beat faster as I watched the last minute drain away from the glass. I gave him the last of the elixir and repeated the incantation twice.
Just as I spoke the last words the second time, I felt the wards on my door fail and I heard it bang as Alastor threw it open. "Minerva?" I heard him call. I tried to place wards on my bedroom door, but I wasn't fast enough and the old auror came bursting into the room. His magical eye kept looking from Albus to myself. "Minerva, come with me and we'll get you some help."
"No!" I screamed at him. "Don't you see he needs me? I have to be here when he wakes up."
"He's dead, Minerva! He's not going to wake up! Albus Dumbledore was killed by Voldemort."
I shouted at him again. "You're wrong! You're all wrong! You just don't understand." I was crying quite hysterically at this point. So much so that I didn't see the two healers from St. Mungo's come into the room. They both grabbed me by the arm and pulled me out of my bedroom. Everyone stared at me, terrified of my appearance. I struggled as much as I could, but they had quite a grip on me.
Alastor tried to reason with me again. "Minerva, please, stop fighting. Everything will be just fine. You're just under too much stress and grief. We are here to help you."
His words just urged me to struggle more. I needed to be with Albus and nothing was going to stop me. They didn't know how the spell worked. They would ruin it and all his preparation and mine would be wasted. I squirmed with all my might.
"Let her go, now!"
The whole of the room fell silent and the healers loosened their grips. I was not the only one to hear his voice. I turned around and saw him standing in the doorway of my bedchamber. His eyes were focused on only me and I couldn't tear my gaze away. It worked!
Alastor was the first to regain his use of speech. "Albus? What trick is this?"
Albus' eyes still never looked away from me. "No trick, Alastor, I just simply wasn't ready to die."
"But, how is that possible?"
"You will all know in good time, but now I would like to be alone with Minerva so that we can complete the spell." Reluctantly, my rooms were vacated and the door shut behind them. I ran to Albus and threw my arms around him. He wrapped his arms around me and despite his appearance I could feel that he was still very weak.
"Oh Albus! I can't believe it worked."
"You mean you doubted me?" he teased. "I knew you wouldn't let me down, my love."
My breathing quickened at his use of that particular endearment. "How do we complete the spell?"
His hand came up to brush a wayward strand of hair away from my face. He tilted my head upwards and his face was oh so close to mine. "Like this, my love." He moved closer and pressed him lips against my own. It was soft and plaintive at first, but all the years of pent up passion exploded as both of our mouths fought for supremacy. I moaned softly and he pulled me closer to his body. We continued for quite some time and when I opened my eyes I saw that we were surrounded by a blue aura.
"Thank you, Minerva, for your love," he said with tears in his eyes. "I don't deserve it."
"You are the only man who has ever deserved it." I kissed him with every fiber of my being to prove my point. "I love you so much, Albus."
He kissed me again and I could feel my knees weakening. He took my hand and pulled me into the bedroom. "I believe I said that I wanted to spend the rest of my days making love to you and ensuring your happiness. I think I've wasted enough time."
"What about China and the opera?"
Albus smiled a boyish grin. "They'll still be there next week." Before I could say anything further, he distracted me with a kiss and we sank down onto the bed.
A/N: Sorry about the rushed feel. I was in a hurry to get it done. Perhaps I'll rewrite it someday. Thanks for reading.