Author's note: Yes, this has spoilers for The Half Blood Prince. When I first finished reading it, I felt so numb that I had no desire to write any new fanfiction...and then suddenly this came to me, and I could not let it go unwritten. I cried when I read the book, and by the end of this story, I was crying again. Probably could be better if I took more time to look it over and edit it, but...this was a piece born of emotion, and I do not wish to alter it. One-shot.

Minerva McGonagall felt as though she hadn't slept in days. This was not too far from the actual truth; in the week that had passed since Albus Dumbledore's murder, in the handful of days since his funeral, the only sleep she had gotten was in short catnaps that provided very little in the way of actual rest. She had been far too busy to sleep; in spite of the vast number of people around the castle grounds, in spite of the best efforts put forth by the staff to help out, there were things that only Minerva herself was really capable of accomplishing. Arrangements to be made, inquiries to be dealt with, all sorts of official business that had to be gotten out of the way before and after the memorial service. Minerva hadn't even had time to really grieve, much less sleep.

Now, suddenly, she found herself alone in her own bedchamber. It was still the old one near Gryffindor tower; she had pushed the thought of moving to occupy Albus' bedchamber from her mind. As Headmistress, she would take his office over as her own, but moving into his old chambers as though he had merely been an evicted tenant was much too painful an undertaking. Therefore it was to her own modest but comfortable rooms she retired to, finding herself grateful that the guests who had been staying at Hogwarts for Professor Dumbledore's funeral were finally gone. They weren't the only ones who had deserted the castle; the students, of course, had gone home directly after the burial, and those members of the staff who had families outside of Hogwarts left as soon as they were able to. A handful had remained, but the huge castle still seemed to echo mournfully in Minerva's ears when she heard her own footsteps clicking down the stone corridors.

Automatically, almost mechanically, she began getting ready for bed in the same routine order she had used every ordinary night since she was a student at Hogwarts herself. Wash face, brush teeth, change into a nightgown, comb out hair. She gazed in the reflection in the mirror at her own emotionless expression as she untwisted her hair from its severe bun and shook out the slightly wavy black locks, tinged with more threads of silver than they had been in past years. Some small part of her memory whispered that Albus had always smiled and said how pretty her hair was on the rare occassions she wore it down, but she dismissed the thought as quickly as she might have dismissed a reminder to buy more beetle wings at the apothecary. Although she wasn't really aware of it, her mind was still locked in business mode, and allowing herself to reminisce over such things didn't fall under the category of 'practical and necessary'.

Setting her hairbrush down on the dresser, she blew out the candle and made her way through the darkness to her bed, knowing exactly where to step. The path hadn't changed in the past forty years she had been teaching at Hogwarts. Tonight, the waxing but bright moon shining through her window provided some dim light into the room, making it navigable even if hadn't known step for step where she was going.

As she turned down the covers of her bed, something outside the window caught her attention, something shining pale in the moonlight. The moment she realized what she was looking at, she sank down onto the bed, staring with unblinking eyes and wondering why on Earth it hadn't occured to her what had been placed in plain view of her bedroom window. There, so white it was almost glowing, stood Albus' tomb.

A familiar sensation began pricking just behind the bridge of her nose; although she maintained the appearance of a stern and sometimes stoic educator, Minerva McGonagall was no stranger to all sorts of emotion, as those few who were close to her well knew. However, the one person who had been closer to her than any others was lying in that white tomb glaring at her mockingly from the hillside.

Although the tingling of tears threatened her eyes, they did not fall as she stared at Albus' final resting place. She hadn't really cried since the night he died; when she had first caught sight of his body, after the shock had worn off, tears streamed in an unending flow down her cheeks for several minutes. Even then, she had kept some self-control, immediately going about her duty of making sure that there were no more Death Eaters at large in the castle and that no further injuries had been sustained. At his funeral, she had felt a few silent tears drip from her eyes, but had quickly dabbed them away with her handkerchief. And now, as she sat on her bed staring out the window, no tears seemed as though they were willing to leave her grey eyes.

After several long moments, she managed to turn her eyes away from the window with a sigh, prepared to settle down and try to sleep after many restless nights. However, before she could crawl under the covers, something else illuminated in the moonlight caught her eye. Sitting on her nightstand, still unwrapped because she had no taste for them but hadn't wanted to refuse them when he had given them to her for Christmas, sat a bag of lemon drops.

The wall of her self-control finally broken, Minerva lay down on her pillow and sobbed.