A/N: I have this over on the AD/MM fanfiction board, but I decided to add it to my stories over here. With the release of the X-men 3 movie, I'm sure some of you will recognize the storyline. Or if you've read the comics.
Title: Dark Phoenix
Summary: After Voldemort falls, Minerva finds herself face to face with the one who killed the man she loved most. Based on the Dark Phoenix saga from X-Men, with hintings at Buffy the Vampire Slayer and LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring.
In the darkness of space, it watches -
patient and steadfast.
An unmistakable sadness in her eyes.
In the darkness of space, it listens -
careful and attentive.
An irrefutable sorrow in her cries.
In the darkness of space, it hungers -
greedy and desperate.
As her pain becomes ripe and firm.
In the darkness of space, it wakes -
rested and reborn.
As her rage begins to smolder and burn.It was over. Minerva had just witnessed the final blow that proved to be Voldemort's downfall. Harry Potter, who looked nothing like the fresh faced boy that first stepped into Hogwarts seven years earlier, had done just as the prophecy demanded and killed the evil wizard. As the dark lord fell, many of his followers began to retreat, knowing that their time was nigh. The minister had given the order that all Death Eaters were to be captured, or if it came down to it, killed. He did not want any stragglers to follow in Voldemort's footsteps.
Minerva had just incapacitated a Death Eater when another one ran past her, darting into the dark forest. She turned to give chase, ignoring her body's protests. The Death Eater sent stunners at her and she weaved in and out of the brush to avoid them. Once the woods thinned out she had a clear shot and sent a stunner of her own that threw the Death Eater against a tree. They stayed motionless on the ground for a few seconds as Minerva crept up to inspect her work. The silver mask had fallen off and she found herself staring into the black eyes of Severus Snape.
She felt time slow. The only sound audible to her ears was the pounding of her heart. Images flashed before her mind's eye, rising unbidden from the farthest reaches of her subconscious. Images that she had tucked away in order to ease the pain. Albus' body, illuminated in green light, being hurled over the battlements of the tower, just as Harry had described. Then she saw Hagrid placing Albus' body, bundled in a bag, upon the slab of white marble. Once again, she saw Albus flying backwards off the tower. A voice was saying something, the words echoing in her head. A deep, rich voice that she'd heard a thousand times before – taking points away from her house and needling her after his Slytherins won a Quidditch match against Gryffindor. Now saying those awful words that made her skin crawl.
Minerva looked down at him, her wand pointed at his face. Muscles locked, she could do nothing more than stare at the man who had taken the one person in the world she loved most and, to add salt to the wound, she had never told him. Snape looked up at her with a somewhat bemused expression upon his face. "Fancy meeting you here, Professor McGonagall."
Still she didn't budge. Her eyes remained locked with his, her breaths coming at short intervals. Bind him and send him off to Azkaban, her conscience told her.
But something else was fighting for dominance...
...showing her Albus bathed in green light, flying backwards off the tower...
...Severus Snape's wand emitting a sickening green light...
Minerva looked at her wand, now visibly shaking as she gripped it, still pointing solidly at Snape's nose. Bind him and make him feel all the pain you've been feeling this past year, said a new voice.
Snape recognized her inner turmoil and pounced like a hunter on its prey. "What are you going to with me, Minerva? I can see it in your eyes that you're planning something, but are unsure." His voice dripped of malice and goading. "Cat got your tongue?"
"Shut up!" she whispered harshly, the words barely registering on the night air.
He stood up, Minerva's wand never wavering from its target. Snape chuckled. "Do you really think you can take me without a fight? Do you honestly think you'd win?"
"Shut up!" she said again. Her breathing was becoming erratic and her heart rate went up. "Or I swear I'll..."
"You'll what?" he cut in. "Will you kill me? I'm sorry, Minerva, but, pardon the expression, you don't have the balls for it." His arm came up and suddenly his wand was pointed at her stomach. "Lower your wand, Professor, and we can both be on our way. Let's face it; I know a dozen dark spells that would have your insides spilling out onto the ground in seconds. Lower it!"
Her conscience and the other presence in her mind were struggling for control of her body. Finally she felt her arm lower and her head bowed in defeat. She didn't have to see his face to know that he was smiling. A single tear escaped and fell slowly to the ground. "How could you?" She sounded weak, even to herself, but she could stop herself from asking. "He trusted you, Severus. He took you in and he was your friend! How could you betray him like that?"
"He was an old fool who trusted far too easily," was the only reply she received.
"That's not true!" she shot back.
"Still his lapdog, even after his death. Do you want to know what his last words were? He said, 'Severus, please.' The great and powerful sorcerer who defeated Grindelwald was begging for his life. How pathetic."
An emotion so strong that it filled her entire being surged through her veins in an instant leaving her trembling. It was rage. Pure, unadulterated rage. Her conscience tried to regain control but it was too late. Minerva's hand twitched and a bold of bright red shot out the end, landing squarely in Snape's chest.
"Accio wand," she muttered before Snape could regain his senses. She caught it in midair and, with strength some would call unnatural, promptly snapped it in two.
Snape stood dumbfounded, his mouth agape. This was not the Minerva McGonagall that he was used to. Something had happened. Her eyes were a mixture of green, orange, and red. What sort of magic is this? Even her hair, which had long since come loose from its confining bun, glowed with an otherworldly flame. Snape thought he heard the distant cry of a phoenix.
"Minerva?" he ventured.
"Silence!" Minerva's Scottish brogue was filled with anger and power. She flicked her wand and Snape found himself suspended between two trees, ropes attached to his wrists and ankles. Minerva pointed her wand at his feet and the ropes began to pull. She felt a twinge of satisfaction as she watched his face grimace in pain as his legs were being pulled beyond their natural limits. She released the tension on the ropes and he panted heavily, trying to gain some semblance of control.
"Perhaps, I was wrong about you, Minerva, you seem to have a knack for torture," he said. "A pity the Dark Lord never tried to recruit you."
The color in her eyes and hair intensified, extending now down her arms. "I am not one of you! I only want you to suffer as I have! Do you have any idea of the pain you've caused me? What you took from me when you murdered him?"
Snape, in spite of his current situation, couldn't resist taunting her. "I would have thought you would be happy. You've finally got Hogwarts to yourself now. You can run it the way you want. No staff Christmas parties or canceled exams!" She made a small motion with her wand and all four ropes pulled at his limbs. He winced in pain, but surprised her by laughing when she let up. It was maniacal. "I see, Minerva. This is revenge for killing a lover, isn't it? I didn't think the old man had it in him."
Minerva's anger rose to new heights. She wanted him to suffer – to beg her for mercy. She needed to wipe that smug look from his face. She needed something more tangible. Moving closer to him, she now appeared to be engulfed in flames from the waist up. His eyes widened as she inched closer. Suddenly, her hand rose up and she smacked him solidly across the face. It did much more than sting - it burned. His cheek reddened and he could feel blisters forming on his skin. He knew she wasn't done.
Minerva discarded her wand, tossing it carelessly behind her. The voice of rage told her that she no longer needed it. She waved both arms in front of his chest and his robes were ripped apart, exposing the flesh of his torso to the night air. The hiss of pain that erupted from his throat as her nails dug into his skin made her smile. Her nails left deep lines of blood from his shoulders on down. She stepped back to survey the damage.
"What are you?" he asked meekly.
"I am that which is drawn to pain, anguish, and despair," Minerva said in an ethereal voice that was not all her own. "I am Rage. I am Vengeance. I am fire and life incarnate. I am a dark phoenix born out of the ashes by the suffering you have caused this woman. She gave me life and I will destroy you for what you have done to her."
Snape looked genuinely frightened as the flames completely took over her body. They branched out past her body to form the winged shape of a bird. The loud screech of a phoenix filled the woods, but no creature of the forest dared come near it. They knew the forces of magic at play here.
"Minerva, you don't understand," Snape muttered quickly.
"Silence! I want you to feel what I did when they told me that you had killed him." Minerva brought her hands up in front of his chest, palms facing him. "First, I felt like I couldn't breath."
Snape felt a pressure, like an enormous hand, close around his chest. He gulped for air as it constricted, breaking several ribs in the process. When Minerva released him, he panted heavily, wincing as he agitated his broken ribs.
"Next, a pain in my breast brought me to my knees. I had never fully understood the expression, broken heart, until then. You didn't just break it, Severus, you shattered it beyond repair."
Snape screamed as a burning sensation started beneath his left breast. It was pure agony. He expected his heart to burst out of his chest in a fireball at any moment. The entity rejoiced in his suffering. "You can scream all you want, Severus," said Minerva, or rather the Dark Phoenix, "no one can hear you." The entity found the old witch to be a perfect channel for its powers. Perhaps, it thought, I'll stay a little while longer. Snape stopped screaming as the pain in his chest subsided and he went limp. The entity was disappointed that its flow of magic was disrupted.
"Stop this, please," said Minerva softly.
This is what you wanted. He deserves to suffer, as he made you suffer.
"Enough! I never wanted this! Not like this."
Think of what he took from you. Think of how he taunted you. He is evil and this shall be his punishment.
Once again, Minerva saw the images of Albus falling from the tower. She saw green light and heard Snape's voice mutter the deadly spell. "Stop it, please! I can't bear to see it again." Still the images came. Minerva found herself shaking with rage again. The Dark Phoenix was satisfied again.
Feel it. Taste it. Let it take over. Give it life. Give life to me.
The flames surrounding her glowed even brighter and Snape looked up in horror as waves of power hit him at full force. Knocking the wind out of him and battering his body as if he were being attacked by a clan of giants.It was over in a matter of minutes and Minerva collapsed to her knees in exhaustion. Snape, still bound by the ropes, was barely conscious. Nearly every rib and both legs were now broken, his right eye was swollen shut, his nose was bleeding, and he had several fractures in his right arm.
Minerva raised her head to survey what she had done to him. She felt sick. Not only by what she saw, but by how much she had enjoyed taking out her torment on him.
Now finish him. Men like him do not deserve to live.
"No, I can't," Minerva replied weakly.
Minerva rose unsteadily from the ground, her entire body shivering in the night air. She raised her right arm, palm facing Snape. "Avada..." She never finished the spell, as she felt a familiar hand touch her shoulder.
"I can't let you do that, Minerva," came a man's voice.
Minerva spun around and nearly fainted at the sight that greeted her. Hidden beneath the cowl of a maroon cloak, was none other than Albus Dumbledore – very much alive.
The entity overtook Minerva completely before she had a chance to say anything. "What is the meaning of this?" asked the Dark Phoenix.
"I want to speak to Minerva."
"I speak for her now! You are supposed to be dead." Minerva stepped closer to him.
Albus spared a glance at Severus, ascertaining his condition, before speaking further. "I was never dead. I only had to appear as such in order for certain motions to be set in order. Only Severus knew of it."
The Dark Phoenix grew angry. "You put her through all that torment for nothing! You deserve to die just as much as that one and after I've had the pleasure of taking his life, I shall take yours."
"I had no choice!" he shouted. "I never meant to hurt her or anyone. I did what was needed. The rouse would not have been effective if more people knew of it. Minerva would understand that!"
"Silence, betrayer!" A jet of flame shot out from her arm and knocked Albus backwards.
He got up from the ground, dusting off his cloak in the process. He took out his wand and pointed it at the Dark Phoenix. "Leave her body! Go back to the shadows where you belong! Liberatio!" Blue energy flew out of the end of his wand, but the entity absorbed it without difficulty.
"You cannot get rid of me that easily, old man!" Flames shot out again, but Albus reacted in time and dodged behind a tree. He searched his memory for any spell that would banish the creature.
He jumped out and tried a freezing spell, but that was easily blocked as well. Albus wasn't as quick when she sent the flames his way this time. The edge of his cloak caught fire and he quickly doused it with a wave of his wand. Think, Albus, think! Once again, he emerged from hiding, but she was too fast for him. Within a blink of an eye, he was strung up just like Snape.
The Dark Phoenix laughed. "Now, you will pay."
No! Minerva pleaded with the entity from within her own subconscious. Spare him, please.
Albus recognized her inner struggle and pounced on it. "Minerva! I know you can hear me. Fight her! She will never have complete control over you unless you let her."
"I said silence!" The Dark Phoenix slapped him across the face, but she seemed to stumble slightly. Albus knew that Minerva was fighting the entity for control and he used it as a chance to rack his brain once more for a way to end this. He had read long ago about Dark Phoenixes, but his mind was a jumbled mess.
Minerva was losing her battle and the entity pushed her aside. "I have no intention of giving up this body. It has been a perfect conductor," she said to him. The ropes pulled on his limbs, as if to prove her point.
Stop it! Leave us be! The entity lost concentration for a moment.
Albus undid the ropes with a thought and backed away from her. He had just remembered what to do. Out of the night, his own faithful phoenix, Fawkes, flew to his side and perched on his shoulder, summoned by his master's silent call.
The Dark Phoenix looked upon the bird and frowned. "Know this, little brother; it will give me no pleasure to kill you, should you interfere." She attempted to bind Albus in ropes, but her magic was deflected. "What?"
The combined powers of Albus and his familiar were enough to create a shield of energy around them. "This ends now, Dark Phoenix." A wave of blue magical energy flowed out of his wand and into Minerva.
"Apollo, bring your chariot forth
and reclaim your wayward bird.
Return it to its fiery home,
buried away and interred."
The Dark Phoenix shouted in pain. The words were like poison. "Stop it. Silence or I'll kill her. I'll kill this woman!" Albus ignored her and moved closer.
"Re, mighty god of the sun,
take back your wandering child.
Her time on Earth is finished,
she has grown willful and wild."
The flames began to diminish. The Dark Phoenix screamed in agony as she fell to the ground, writhing. Albus knew it was painful for Minerva too, but it was the only way. He ventured forward still and placed the tip of his wand to her forehead. The pain intensified, but he couldn't stop now.
"Garuda, keeper of the birds,
retrieve this avian gone astray.
Clip her wings, lock the cage -
in the flaming star, she will stay."
The screams of the Dark Phoenix were beginning to subside, only to be replaced by the screams of Minerva. The phoenix-shaped flames surrounding her body were pulled toward the starry sky. Suddenly, the flames shot into space with a loud screech. It took all of his willpower not to break the connection, but he had to be sure the entity was gone.
When it was all over, both Albus and Minerva were on the ground, exhausted and spent. It had taken nearly all of his energy to banish the creature. Fawkes joined him and pecked affectionately at his beard.
"Thank you, old friend," he whispered. He looked sadly at Minerva. She must have been hurt deeply for the entity to attach itself to her so solidly. She stirred slowly and he crawled to where she lay in the grass.
"Minerva, can you hear me?" he asked.
Her eyes opened. "Albus?" She tried to sit up, but a wave of nausea hit her. He reached out to steady her. They stared at each other for several moments before Minerva let out a sob and flung her arms around his neck. "Oh gods, I thought I'd lost you!"
Albus returned her embrace and whispered words of comfort into her ear. "I'm here, I'm here. It's finally over."
"You're alive!" she said between sobs. Unfortunately, the emotional turmoil of the night were beginning to take their toll on her. Rather suddenly, Minerva wrenched herself from him. "Why didn't you tell me? Didn't you trust me?"
Albus was unprepared for the sudden change. "Minerva, I couldn't risk…"
"You could have told me! Nothing would have changed. I have always been willing to do whatever you asked. I have always trusted your judgment. Why! Damn it!" Minerva tried to beat her fists against his chest, but he was able to restrain her. She collapsed again into tears. "Do you know how hard it was to go on without you? I couldn't sleep or eat. I couldn't even go into your office."
"Minerva, I'm so sorry. If I could have done things differently, I would have, but this was the only way. I hope you can forgive me someday." Albus couldn't bear to see her in such a state and it was made all the more worse because it was his own doing.
Minerva's head shot up and she looked over Albus' shoulder. "Oh gods, Severus! What have I done?" Both of them ran over to Snape, still unconscious beneath the trees. Minerva was relieved to see he was still alive. She didn't know what she would have done had he been dead. She didn't need that on her conscience. He was in bad shape though. Albus muttered a few small healing spells to stabilize him, but he would need further attention.
While he was attending to Snape, Albus didn't notice Minerva pass out from exhaustion. "Minerva?" Seeing her sprawled out on the forest floor, Albus went into action. He shot up golden sparks, so that the Order would find Snape, and scooped the Transfiguration professor into his arms. She hasn't been eating, he thought to himself. Using what little energy he had left, he apparated them to his private rooms inside Hogwarts.
Minerva was vaguely aware of being surrounded by something soft and smooth. She shivered a little and instinctively tightened whatever it was around her. Opening her eyes, she realized that she was in an unfamiliar bedroom lit only by a few candles. Her head ached and she wondered if tonight had been a dream. A glance at the man seated in a chair across the room told her otherwise. She took a deep breath as he approached the bed.
"How are you feeling?" he asked.
She almost laughed at him. Such a question to ask her after all that occurred. "I don't know what to feel," she finally said. "Let's see…I fought a long battle with Death Eaters and finally witnessed the fall of Voldemort; I was possessed by a magical entity who forced me to do unspeakable acts of violence and to top it all off, you've returned from the dead. Or, excuse me, wherever you've been hiding. You tell me how I'm bloody well supposed to feel!"
He sat at the foot of the bed. "You have every right in the world to be angry with me. I'm sure you won't be the only person. After what happened at the end of Harry's fifth year, I'm almost afraid to face him."
Minerva looked at him and for a moment put aside her hurt. He looked just as exhausted as she and it made him look old and frail. She had never seen him like this. He had used a great deal of energy and power to save her from the Dark Phoenix and instead of thanking him, she was yelling at him. "I believe I owe you my gratitude for saving me from that horrid entity. I shudder to think what would have happened had you not intervened."
"It wouldn't have mattered had you not the strength to resist it. I can't take all the credit," he said somberly. Albus could sense her temper quelling and finally looked up at her.
"This past year has been the hardest of my life," Minerva began.
"Minerva, it was never my intention…"
She silenced him with a hand. "Please, just listen. I need to say this. I barely slept or ate because I just didn't have the strength. I had to keep a strong face for the school, for the Order, and for Harry, but when I was alone I could do nothing but cry. Nothing could have prepared me for the sorrow and loneliness I felt. I missed you so much." Tears consumed her and Albus took her into his arms.
"I'm so sorry, my dearest friend. I'm so sorry." He was crying with her.
She clung to him, letting her anger subside even more. She breathed in his scent and thought of how much she loved him. She was grateful that she now had an opportunity to confess her feelings for him. Fate had given her a second chance. Minerva looked into his blue eyes and cupped his face. "You're really here. You're not some ghost or figment of my imagination." For the first time that night Minerva allowed herself to smile.
"I've missed you too. From your smile to your ginger newts to your Scottish temper. It wasn't easy to fake my own death and then watch everything unfold from a distance, never being able to jump in to help." Albus sighed and looked at the carpet. Minerva took his hand and squeezed gently.
"Albus, was your death absolutely necessary? Make me understand, please."
He sat in silent thought for a few moments. "Well, you know how complicated my plans can be. This one was no different. I knew that Voldemort threatened to kill Draco if he didn't kill me. I also knew about the Unbreakable Vow Severus made to his mother. We both knew that Voldemort was growing more suspicious of him. His vow showed that he was serious, especially to Bellatrix Lestrange. I hadn't planned for Harry to witness my so-called demise, but things seldom go the way they are supposed to."
Minerva spoke up. "Harry mentioned that he was covered by his invisibility cloak and frozen by someone's spell. Was that your doing?"
He gave a weak smile. "Yes. I knew that Harry would fight to protect me and more than likely get killed trying. I think in the long run it may have been better for him to see me die, however terrible that may sound."
She shifted under the covers. "So Severus is still on our side? It was all just a rouse?"
"But he said all those horrible things to me," she whispered. "He egged me on for Merlin's sake! What was he playing at?"
Albus shrugged. "I cannot speak for him. He is a very angry and bitter man. Perhaps he had some sort of death wish."
"Well, I nearly granted it." Minerva thought of what she had done to him. 'Minerva, you don't understand.' She remembered Snape saying that to her. "I think he tried to tell me, but the Dark Phoenix had taken over completely and it wouldn't listen."
The old wizard reached squeezed her hand. "Will you ever be able to forgive me? Can we be friends again?"
Minerva took a deep breath. "I told you I would do anything you asked, didn't I? Of course, I can forgive you."
He smiled warmly at her. "And are we friends again?"
"I don't recall breaking our friendship, Albus. But before I lose you again, I want to tell you something that may change that friendship. I…have feelings for you that are beyond platonic." Minerva looked as though she was inspecting something important on the bedspread. She refused to look him in the face.
Albus moved his hand to her face and pushed under her chin, forcing her to look. "How much beyond?" he asked gently.
"I love you." Her eyes welled up with tears again now that she had finally confessed. She was a jumble of nerves and she was sure that Albus could hear the pounding of her heart. In her nervousness she began to stammer. "I have for a long time. I hated myself for not telling you sooner and then I thought you were dead and I hated myself even more because you would never know."
"Minerva," Albus said.
"I know this will change our friendship, but I couldn't keep it to myself anymore," she stammered on.
"Minerva," he said again, but more insistent.
"I'll understand if you don't want to be anything more than friends. Just forget I even…" Minerva stopped speaking suddenly because her mouth was covered by Albus'. Seeing as how she wasn't listening to him, he silenced her with a kiss. She didn't move at first, but once the initial shock of feeling his lips on hers wore off, she grabbed him by his robes and pulled him closer.
Albus lost his balance when she tugged on his robes and fell on top of her. Neither of them seemed to mind. Lack of oxygen, forced the pair of them to come up for air. Minerva's face turned bright red. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
"I believe I was the one who started it." He kissed her nose. "I love you too, Minerva."
She hadn't felt this happy in a very long time. Even though her experience with the Dark Phoenix still troubled her, she wouldn't let it overshadow the fact that she had just been kissed by Albus Dumbledore and was loved by him.
"You should get some rest," Albus said to her. He got up from the bed and straightened out his robes. "You've had a very trying night."
She sat up and looked him square in the eyes. "I've also spent the last few years dreaming about you and when you were gone, I knew they wouldn't ever come true. Now, you're alive and I have a second chance. Please don't go." Minerva pulled up the covers and patted the spot next to her on the bed. "I also believe this is your bed."
His blue eyes smoldered with something she had never seen, but it was gone just as quickly. "Minerva, I really don't think this is a good idea."
"Albus, don't think, just stay with me tonight."
Every candle that illuminated the room extinguished itself at the same time and the only sounds audible were the shifting of bed sheets and the distant song of Fawkes – a phoenix born not of suffering and vengeance, but of love and harmony.
Two days had passed since Albus' return from the dead and her ordeal with the Dark Phoenix. Reaction to his rouse had been mixed, as was expected. Some weren't surprised, while others nearly fainted at the sight of him. Harry, however, shocked them all by welcoming Albus back with open arms and actually thanking him for doing what was necessary. He certainly had grown up in the last year.
Minerva walked down a long hallway at St. Mungo's. Snape was recovering from his injuries, but she had not seen nor spoken to him since that night. She had some trepidation, but she had to face him sooner or later. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door.
Snape was propped up on the bed eating his breakfast. The healers had done wonders on his face, but she could still see some faint bruising. He looked up when she entered. "Come to finish me off?" he sided.
Minerva clenched her fists. "Damn it, Snape, will you kindly keep your horrid remarks to yourself. I've come to apologize for what happened."
"Well, the high and mighty Minerva McGonagall humbles herself to apologize to me? Must be my lucky day." He tried putting his breakfast tray on the table, but it hurt his ribs to move that far. Minerva leaned forward and placed the tray there for him.
"Fine, Severus, make jokes about this all you want, but I am not like you. I don't care much for violence. I'm not proud of what I did to you and I'm sorry it happened. Though with that tongue of yours, I'm half inclined to say you deserved what you got." Minerva poured herself a cup of tea in an effort to curb her temper. "Albus told me everything, but I'm still not sure if you're trustworthy. Are you really on our side, Severus?"
"Would you even believe me if I said yes?" he asked her. "I accept your apology, Minerva, even though most of the guilt lies with the Dark Phoenix entity. Just the same, remind me to never make you cross again. I have no desire to be on the receiving end of your temper, Dark Phoenix or not."
Minerva actually smiled at his last comment. "Thank you, Severus, but we'll see how long you last without making me lose my temper." She got up to leave, but Snape called out to her just before she reached the door.
"So when is the wedding?" he asked.
Snape arched an eyebrow. "I noticed your wearing a ring on your left hand, one with a rather large diamond. I've seen it before. It belonged to the headmaster's mother if I'm not mistaken. Either he proposed or you've developed kleptomaniacal tendencies."
Minerva glanced down at her hand and smiled knowingly. "Enjoy the rest of your breakfast," was the only reply she gave him before walking out the door.