Famous Last Words
Summary: The last conversation between Albus and Minerva … ever. Missing Moment from HBP. AD/MM, angst.
Disclaimer: Characters and situations belong to the fabulous JKR; I am making no money whatsoever, only getting pleasure. Please don't sue me. A couple of lines are from The Mummy Returns, because I could not resist.
Every night in my dreams I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you go on
Far across the distance and spaces between us
You have come to show you go on
- Celine Dion
She was marking homework when it started. He entered her study, hovering in the doorway awkwardly.
"Did you want something?"
"My dear, could we talk?" His tone was serious, tinged with anxiety.
"I'm marking these essays."
Minerva met her husband's bright blue eyes. There was no twinkle there now.
"Alright. Come in, Albus." She set the essays aside as he came over. She pulled a chair out for him, but he stayed standing.
"Minerva, I have to go," he said quietly.
She looked sharply into his face. This wasn't like their usual parting. All the times he'd gone away from the school during the year, he had never looked this solemn.
"Where are you going?" She knew he wouldn't tell her, but she asked anyway. Albus sighed.
"I'm sorry Minnie, I can't tell you." When she opened her mouth to argue, he leaned in swiftly and kissed her, blocking off her words.
"Am-uh!" Minerva frizzled with annoyance. This was his favourite habit. She frowned when they broke apart.
"I hate it when you do that."
"Why?" he said teasingly.
"It makes me feel like agreeing with anything."
"I should have done it more often then," Albus mused. He tucked a finger under her chin and went to kiss her again, but she pushed him away.
"What do you mean, should have done it? Albus? You … are coming back, aren't you?"
A tiny part of Minerva knew this day would come. It was inevitable. Some day she and Albus would say goodbye – for good. When he had started making long trips away from the castle, it had begun to dawn on her that the day was drawing steadily nearer. But she still couldn't bring herself to believe that it was happening now. Her heart clenched – was this really goodbye?
"Minerva …" Tears began to form in her eyes, but she blinked them away, refusing to believe it. "I hope to. But …" he took her hands in his and kissed them lightly "… you should be prepared for the worst."
She pulled her hands away. "This isn't happening."
"Albus, you can't go, you can't leave now!" If she said it enough times, it might not happen. "What about the war – the school – the students – Harry – Hell, Albus, what about me?"
"I don't want to leave you."
Minerva choked over her words, tears now escaping down her face. Her raven hair was coming undone, a few stray strands sticking to the salty water. "Where are you going? Tell me!"
"This could be the last time I ever see you; you at least ought to tell me what you're doing!"
"Please, Minnie, I can't."
She looked into his eyes, boring into hers. They were filled with sorrow; they seemed to burn with a silent message that she couldn't decode. They were also stormy; like great thunderclouds. Whatever mission he was going on, it was important; he was resolved, and nothing would change his mind.
"You're taking Harry with you, aren't you?" she asked, knowing the answer from his eyes.
"Why?" Minerva knew she was acting like a spoilt child, but she couldn't help it. Harry was important to her – one of her favourite students, although she would never admit she had favourites – but she also knew how important he was to the war and Voldemort's defeat; Albus had never told her the contents of the prophecy, but for her he didn't need to. She knew.
But she couldn't help but feel jealous – she wanted to be with Albus; to help him, to share her last moments with him, and vice versa – she couldn't stand the thought of being left at home, just waiting to hear whether her love lived or died. She didn't think she could handle it.
"You know why."
For a long time she stood staring at him, droplets rolling down her face unchecked. She couldn't believe it. She wouldn't believe it.
The look in Albus' eyes was one of great pain as he kissed her gently on her wet cheek and whispered, "Goodbye, Minnie."
She stood in the middle of the office, uncomprehendingly as he turned. He was almost at the door before she ran at him and threw her arms around him. Albus pulled her close, savouring the moment. Minerva was shaking with sobs.
"Don't go, Albus. Please don't go," she cried, her usual stern façade nowhere to be seen. "I can't do this – any of this without you."
"Yes, you can." Albus pulled away gently and brushed the tears off her face with his finger. "You'll go on without me, you'll live your own life; you'll be a wonderful Headmistress -"
"I don't want to! Not without you, Albus! Please!"
"Minerva …" Albus leaned in again, and this time Minerva welcomed the kiss, wrapping her arms around him in the hope that the moment would last forever. It wasn't until then she realized that his face was wet too. "… I love you. I love you and I don't want to leave you. But I have to go."
She leant her head on his neck and let him hold her, weeping onto his robes. He rubbed her back with his injured hand softly, trying to offer what comfort he could.
"Whatever happens," he whispered quietly, "promise me something, Minnie."
"Anything," she whispered back.
"Don't give up. Go on without me; the school needs you. And … please, watch out for Harry. Help him when you can."
"I promise," she said quietly.
The silence stretched for so long a part of Minerva couldn't believe Albus would eventually go. But he did.
"Albus, please, if there's any way … be careful."
"I will. I'll come back if I can."
"I love you, Albus."
The soft scent of bubble bath, parchment and sherbet lemons washed over her as he kissed her one last time.
"Please be careful," she whispered one last time as he pulled away – for good.
For a moment the twinkle in his eyes seemed to return, and he uttered one last, short sentence, one that would stay in Minerva's memory for the rest of her life, coming back to haunt her again and again.
And with that, the love of her life was gone.
It was a beautiful summer's day.
Minerva wasn't listening to the words the wizard in front was speaking. She could barely hear them, anyway. She was lost in thought and memory – back to the last time she'd seen her love.
"You'll carry on without me … be a wonderful Headmistress."
She remembered every detail of that last encounter – the sweet smell of his breath as it tickled her face, the touch of his lips on hers, the worried lines on his face.
He knew it was going to happen.
The thought cut straight through Minerva like ice. She almost shivered.
"Just promise me …"
"I promise, Albus," she whispered so quietly she couldn't hear the words herself.
The sunlight glinted off the white tomb, making her eyes water. The brightness and her misery combined created quite a flood. She didn't make a sound, just pulled out her handkerchief.
As people rose and started to walk back to the castle, Minerva stayed put. Her face was now dry, and she sat in silence, thinking about Albus' last words.
"I'll be fine. I'll be with Harry."
Famous last words.