Title: Love Never Dies

Author: Kate McT

Fandom: Harry Potter

Pairing: Albus Dumbledore/Minerva McGonagall, Ron/Hermione, Harry/Ginny

Rating: FRK

Spoilers: Half-Blood Prince

Category: Romance

Summary: Minerva thinks about Albus at the celebration for the end of the Second War and gets a big surprise.

Warning: Kinda angsty.

Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue.

Feedback: No flames, flying objects or flaming flying objects please.

Email: Title comes from a song I saw on an Albus/Minerva website. I don't know who sang it or wrote it but I don't own it. Also, my Latin is poor at best, so be kind about the translation.

The Great Hall had never looked so beautiful. Professors Flitwick and Sprout had really outdone themselves in making the hall look festive. The Second War was over, Voldemort was dead and his followers had been defeated, but at the cost of a great many lives. Minerva looked around and saw just how many of her students and friends were missing: Padma Patil, Terry Boot, Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, Colin Creevey, Justin Finch-Fletchly, Mandy Brocklehurst, Percy Weasley, Penelope Clearwater, Alastor Moody, Dedalus Diggle, Arabella Figg, Cornelius Fudge, Horace Slughorn, Aurora Sinistra, Xiomara Hooch, Rubeus Hagrid, Argus Filch, Ernest Macmillan, Cho Chang; all dead.

Bill and Charlie Weasley, Oliver Wood, Katie Bell, Angelina Johnson, Arthur and Molly Weasley, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Fleur Delacour-Weasley, Lavender Brown, Susan Bones, Luna Lovegood, Fred and George Weasley, Hannah Abbot all badly injured, though the Weasleys, Remus and Tonks were all in attendance.

Draco Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson, Crabbe, Goyle, Millicent Bulstrode, Blaise Zabini, Peter Pettigrew, and Narcissa Malfoy were all captured in the final battle. The Lestrange family were all recaptured. Snape was dead, so was Lucius Malfoy.

Parvati Patil had suffered a complete breakdown after watching her twin being tortured and killed by the Death Eaters and the healers at St. Mungo's were uncertain as to whether or not she would recover.

Neville had lost his entire family in a Death Eater raid but was there, his head held high. Minerva couldn't help but think that Neville's grandmother and parents would've been very proud of the way he handled himself in the final battle and had told him as much. He'd blushed and stammered a bit.

Minerva felt a smile cross her face as she watched Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger walking up to the hall and pausing just outside. Even in her dress robes, it was obvious to anyone who looked that Hermione was pregnant, but that hadn't stopped her from joining in the final battle, personally taking down Draco Malfoy and Millicent Bulstrode and several others before helping Ginny and Ron keep several Death Eaters at bay while Harry and Voldemort fought. Now she stood next to Ron, her face lit up though her eyes were sad after all the horror and death they'd all seen in this terrible war.

Ron, for his part, was looking proud but considerably older than his twenty-two years. He'd been injured in the battle but wouldn't stop fighting until Harry defeated Voldemort. Now he stood next to his fiancée, his face showing the faded bruises of the battle but happy, his unbandaged hand resting on Hermione's stomach. His face brightened even more when Harry and Ginny walked up.

When the four of them entered the room, the whole crowd burst into applause. Harry smiled, but Minerva could see that the years of fighting had aged him beyond his years. The scar that had always identified him was nearly gone now that Voldemort was gone but his face held other signs of the battle that had taken the lives of so many of his friends and schoolmates. The battle with Voldemort had been brutal and Harry had nearly died, but he'd prevailed and now stood with his fiancée and two best friends, the hero of the wizarding world. Albus would've been so proud of all of them.

Albus. Suddenly, Minerva's smile faded. Even with all the joy surrounding her, the pain of Albus' death at the hands of Severus Snape cut her to the core. Albus had put so much trust in Severus only to have the other man use it against him and kill him.

Minerva felt tears pricking her eyes, she and Albus had been friends for over fifty years, lovers for forty years, and Headmaster and Deputy for thirty years. She missed him terribly, it was a constant almost physical pain that all of Poppy Pomfrey's potions couldn't cure.

She watched as Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione moved around the room, Ginny and Hermione talking to other girls and most of talk centering around Hermione's pregnancy and their upcoming weddings. Harry and Ron were talking to Neville and Fred and George Weasley about Quiddich and what their plans were now that the war was over.

Harry had gotten several offers from the Ministry and various Quiddich teams, but he'd mentioned that he'd loved teaching in Dumbledore's Army and asked what it would take for him to be able to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. Minerva had agreed on the condition that he take a year or so to enjoy life. She'd told Ron and Hermione the same thing when they'd approached her about teaching at Hogwarts. They hadn't really had a chance to enjoy life because of the war and with Ron and Hermione expecting a baby, she wanted them all to enjoy some peace and quiet before settling down to become teachers.

Minerva was so engrossed in her inner musings that she didn't notice the sudden hush that swept over the Great Hall or the way the entire crowd parted to let a single ethereal figure walk past, straight to where Minerva was sitting.

"May I have this dance Minerva?"

At first, Minerva thought she was going mad. There was no way she could or should be hearing Albus' voice or seeing his hand outstretched in front of her. But the illusion wouldn't vanish. She closed her eyes for a moment and opened them again, the hand she knew so well was still there. She looked up and saw Albus' smiling face looking down at her. She looked around and noticed everyone had left the dance floor and were watching with great interest. She looked up into Albus' kind blue eyes and smiled, not caring about the hows or whys this was happening. "I'd be delighted, Albus." She put her hand in his and let him lead her out onto the floor.

She wasn't sure how long they'd danced, completely oblivious to the world around them. All she cared about was being in the arms of the man she loved but it was over all too soon. Albus finally pulled away but not before kissing her one final time as he faded away.

The next day a carving was discovered in the Great Hall above the teacher's table No one needed a translation or explanation, they all understood how it had gotten there and what it said. And why it brought the long missing smile to the headmistress' face.

Verus Amor est Nunquam Verum Absentis: True Love is Never Truly Gone.