At one o'clock in the morning, September 2nd, Minerva McGonagall sat staring out her window into the misty darkness. She knew she should be asleep....after all, the first day of classes was tomorrow - make that today - and she wasn't going to be able to make a firm impression on the first year students if she couldn't stay awake through her own lessons.
The first years. Remembering the start-of-term banquet, Minerva's thoughts traveled back to the reason she was still wide awake at such a horrid hour. An image flashed before her eyes, the face of one of the first year girls.....a girl with gray eyes mirroring Minerva's.
No. No!, she thought, trying desperately to block out the memories flooding her mind, the same memories that had been present when she first saw the girl's name on the list of students. So many years had passed by.....
(Twenty-five years earlier...)
"Are you sure you're trying hard enough, Genevieve?" Minerva snapped, watching with a critical eye as her ten-year-old daughter made another vain attempt at transfiguring a match into a needle. Gritting her teeth, the girl Genevieve closed her eyes, trying with all her might to just make even the tiniest part of the wood splinter turn silver. Nothing happened.
In desperation, Genevieve threw down the second hand wand she held in her hand. "It's not working, Mother! Just face it - I can't do magic! I'm a Squib!"
"Nonsense!" Minerva responded quickly, her jaw set with determination. "My daughter, a Squib? It's impossible. Why, with the combined powers of your father and I - "
"My FATHER?" the girl burst out, gray eyes blazing. "Since when do you care about his magical abilities? Or anything else about him, for that matter. If you cared, why did he leave?"
The words were spoken fast, leaving no time for argument, and they hit straight on their mark. A tense silence hung in the air, making the summer heat seem even more unbearable. Finally, Minerva spoke, her words quiet and measured.
"Your father left because he had to....it's not my fault he got killed in the process. He was coming back, it was just business - "
"That's a lie, and you know it!" Genevieve exclaimed. "YOU drove him away! He left because he couldn't stand being criticized by you one minute longer! You drove him from this house and to his death!" Silence reigned once more, but this time it was emptier, as Minerva had no response.
Finally, she said calmly, "Go to your room, Genevieve."
"Gladly." Her daughter replied, turning on her heel and walking out.
It's not true. I know it's not true. I didn't drive him away. Yet somewhere, deep in her heart, Minerva knew her perfectionism was partly why she was a widow.
(Genevieve's eighteenth birthday)
It was barely daylight when Genevieve began packing everything she could into a single suitcase, not a single trace of remorse or regret on her face. Her earlier suspicions had proved to be true; she was a Squib, much to her mother's disappointment. So she attended a Muggle school, although Minerva had insisted on it being a private one. If her daughter couldn't be a witch, she was at least going to get the best Muggle education possible.
What she lacked in magical abilities, Genevieve made up for in brains, graduating at the top of her class. This still didn't satisfy her mother; on the way home from the graduation ceremony, all Minerva talked about was how well her students at Hogwarts had done. In fact, that's all she talked about during the two weeks between graduation and Genevieve's birthday.
Genevieve took all the money she had earned herself out of her dresser drawer, stuffing it into her purse. She certainly wasn't going to take charity from her mother; no, she would start out fresh on her own. Her excellent grades had already earned her scholarships from several different colleges, and she could work to earn whatever extra money she needed, without any help from Minerva.
As she stepped out the front door into the dew dampened grass, she heard a shrill voice behind her say, "Genevieve, what do you think you're doing?"
The girl turned, a determined look in her steely eyes. "I'm leaving, Mother." Without any further explanation, she started walking again. Minerva followed close behind, the hem of her tartan bathrobe becoming drenched in dew.
"You can't leave, you've nowhere to go. Get back in the house and stop this foolishness!" she ordered. Genevieve stopped abruptly, nearly causing her mother to plow into her.
"I warned you, Mother. Your perfectionism and pickiness drew Papa away, didn't you think it would do the same to me?" She paused briefly, then began walking again. "Good-bye."
Minerva didn't follow her this time. "If you leave this house, don't ever come back! Do you hear me? Don't EVER come back!" she cried out, her words echoing in the still morning air. Genevieve didn't once look back.
Her daughter's figure was growing smaller in the distance when Minerva began to panic slightly. "Genevieve!" she yelled as loudly as she could. "Genevieve, do you hear me? You can't come back if you leave!" But her words weren't so much as a threat now as a plea. Still, the girl with the suitcase didn't turn around.
Minerva stood in the middle of the yard, completely alone except for the chirping birds in a nearby birch tree. Numbly, she repeated, "You can't come back..."
(Back in the present)
Seventeen years had passed since Minerva had seen or spoken with her daughter. At first, she had tried to forget about her, but she still managed to hear bits and pieces of Genevieve's life from idle gossip and newspaper articles. She had gone to college and been quite successful, majoring in dentistry. She'd met a young man in some of her classes there, Jacob Granger, and they were wed soon after their college graduation. A couple of years later, they had a little girl, or so Minerva heard from the papers.
She didn't get a clipping of the birth announcement, and could never quite seem to recall the child's name until she was checking the list of students for the upcoming Hogwarts year. There it was, plain as day on the parchment: Hermione Granger. That entire summer, she kept trying to tell herself that Granger was a perfectly common name, and that she didn't really recall the child's name to be Hermione, anyway. It could have been any name; her memory was playing tricks on her, that was all.
But on September 1st, when she opened the door to the first years, she couldn't deny the truth any longer. It was the face of young Harry Potter that she first noticed, standing beside what was obviously the youngest Weasley boy. And beside him, an all too familiar face stared up at her. Minerva found herself staring into a face from twenty-five years ago, that same face that had belonged to Genevieve around the time that she had been proven to be a Squib. It only took one moment for Minerva's suspicions to be confirmed; this was her granddaughter.
That one girl was why Minerva sat awake into the wee hours of the morning, her heart aching numbly for her daughter. Genevieve had inherited her mother's stubborn pride as well as her storm-cloud eyes, and had never once tried to come back. Minerva had sold the house, seeing it pointless to live there alone when she could just as easily stay at Hogwarts. She thought she was safe there, secluded from her past; yet now, it had found her once again. No matter how far away she tried to run, she could never escape it. And although she could never escape.....she could never go back.