Summary: Mina and her boyfriend plan to travel back in time to save her grandparents, but they end up separated, lost in time with no way back except to wait for time to catch up. A vital lesson is learned: time travel always has consequences.
Warnings: Student/Teacher, barely
Disclaimer: Er … This should be interesting. Um. I don't own the Harry Potter universe. That should do …
Author's notes: This story is only going to be three chapters long. Albus is 17 and Minerva is 16 in their present.
PS: You might want some tissues handy.
Chapter One: Back in Time For Tea
"Did she like her present?" Minerva looked up at her boyfriend as he sat down cross-legged on the grass next to her.
"Uh-huh." Albus kissed her on the cheek. "You're a star, Mina."
Minerva glowed. "Well, really, it wasn't my idea. Your grandfather was the one who told you she wanted a new knitting set. I just helped you pick which one to get."
"Thanks anyway, though. And you're still a star." Albus sighed and lay back on the Burrow lawn with his hands behind his head. "I don't have a clue what I'm going to get Grandma next year. There are only so many tea-towels and cooking pots you can give a person, and she doesn't seem to want anything else. It's a nightmare having so many relatives."
Minerva couldn't help but bristle. "Think yourself lucky. At least you've got grandparents. Three of them, I might add. I don't have any. I don't even have any siblings or aunts or uncles. I've only got my parents. I'd give anything for a family like yours." She paused. "Almost anything."
Albus raised his eyebrows. "A family like mine? Where you don't get a moment's peace and you're always getting embarrassed in public and you're buying at least one birthday present a month? Which, I might add, is the reason I never have any money."
"I wondered why I'm always paying for the butterbeers."
"Mina, seriously, you wouldn't want to be a Weasley. You get all the pros, like the jumpers and Christmas dinner, but you don't see the cons."
"I know your grandfather embarrasses you."
"Which one? Grandad Arthur? No, he's just eccentric."
"Says the son of a woman who edits The Quibbler and wears radishes for earrings."
"Key words there are the son of. It's not my fault my mum gets called Looney."
"No, you're Looney Jr," Minerva laughed, receiving a push. "Hey! I was only teasing! Your family are more nuts than you. Just."
"I'll take that as a compliment." Albus looked over her shoulder. "What are you doing?"
Minerva scratched her chin with her quill point. "Introductory Essay for Time Studies."
Albus raised his eyebrows. "Time? I thought you chose Healing."
"I did. Healing and Time. I decided not to do Ancient Magic after all."
"Why not? It's really interesting."
Minerva shrugged. "I'm not sure. I just thought I would have more help with Time, because you and both my parents chose the subject. It's not like Time or Ancient Magic are going to be much use to me anyway unless I become a Gringotts Curse-Breaker or an Unspeakable – neither of which have appealed to me much."
"So, what have you got?" Albus leaned over to see the parchment. "Is that all you have? Miss Straight-E?"
There are many types and methods of time travel. Throughout the centuries each have been used and abused until in the early 1800s the Ministry of Magic saw fit to outlaw the practise except under special circumstances. The
"I was going to put something about the Unspeakables' jobs," Minerva said forlornly, "but I can't really do that without revealing my parents took an unauthorised trip into the Department of Mysteries or getting Dad into trouble for letting me know what he works on there."
Albus scratched his head. "Well … it's a good start. Which textbook are you using?" When she showed him, he wrinkled his nose. "Oh. Well, that one's probably the least helpful of them all. Tell you what, I'll show you mine."
Ten minutes later, the two teens were pouring over a stack of heavy textbooks on Albus' bed. Albus was stretched out on his front over the star-studded sheets while Minerva was perched cross-legged on the pillows with her partly-completed essay in her lap. Pinned around the walls were Quidditch team posters, Gryffindor flags and banners, old tickets to various places and games, drawings, a signed photo of the Chudley Cannons, old school reports with Os dotted all over in red ink, clippings from The Quibbler and the Daily Prophet (including a very old yellow one of his father's family in Egypt), and round the room were a few miscellaneous objects that Minerva was used to seeing but had never asked what they were for, such as a mobile made of radishes and an unused hamster cage. Odd socks lay here and there, a packet of Chocolate Frogs had fallen over with its contents hopping about, and the bookshelf (with more books on top and in front) was so stuffed full it looked about to burst; but overall it was a fairly tidy room – it had to be, considering it was so small. Minerva was used to the sight and barely glanced around, instead concentrating on Albus' books for Time Studies.
"You might want to make notes," he suggested, handing her a sheaf of parchment. Minerva retrieved a quill from behind his ear and found some ink on his desk. "Let's finish your introduction first, and then move on to the methods, yes?"
"Okay. How much do you think I should write in this bit?"
Albus considered. "It doesn't matter, as long as you don't waffle and don't go into too much detail – it's only an intro. You should know that from fifth year. Make it a shortish paragraph, no more than six lines at most – four lines for you, your handwriting's so small."
"I don't know what else to include though."
"You could put the exact date of the Ministry regulation for a start. And the name of the regulation and who was Minister at the time. That should pad it out a bit."
"What? Worked for me."
"You're a child genius, of course it worked for you, the rest of your essay was outstanding. Literally – you've never got less than an O in your life."
"My rebellion phase in fourth year, remember? I got Ts in everything deliberately and drove all the teachers nuts."
"For one week."
"Only because Grandma threatened to ground me for the rest of my school year."
"What about your dad?"
"He said if I wanted to rebel and get low grades on purpose I should have done it earlier so it wouldn't muck up my exams."
Minerva snorted with laughter. "He didn't!"
"I think he was remembering his regular Ps in Potions and was trying not to be a hypocrite. But he wouldn't have been, because he wasn't trying to fail. And Mum didn't mind, she just said that there are more important things than grades." Albus coughed. "Can we go back to your essay now?"
Minerva groaned. "All right."
"Well, write down what I told you. Then re-write the intro including those things and it should be long enough for an intro with not too much detail."
A few minutes of quill scratching on parchment later, Minerva handed the essay introduction over. "That good enough, do you think?"
Albus pushed his glasses further up his nose. "Yeah, I think so. Now you need to plan the rest of your essay." He pushed a textbook at her, open at a chapter on methods of time travel. "You may begin."
Minerva shot a glare at him and started taking notes and organising them. Albus just watched as she worked. It was rather off-putting – his bright blue eyes (just like his mother's) were distracting at the best of times. They seemed to penetrate her to the depths of her soul. Although they were only three-quarters of a year apart in age, he always seemed much older. Minerva knew she should be used to it by now – they'd known each other all their lives, after all – but he always seemed to enchant her with his crystal stare.
"You've got ink on your chin," Albus said suddenly. Minerva started.
"Shut up, I'm trying to concentrate." She glared at him, and he grinned back. "Stop doing that!"
"What?" he replied innocently.
"Distracting me. Wear sunglasses."
"Ahem." Both teenagers looked up. Ron had appeared in the doorway, just in time to prevent a pillow-fight. "Albus, dinner's nearly ready. And Minerva, your mother just fire-called, she says can you come home for yours."
"Okay, one minute." Albus turned back to Minerva. "How's the notes?" He took the messy parchment and inspected it. "Here, borrow the book, I'll see you tomorrow. Diagon Alley, remember? You said you'd come."
"I did." Minerva picked up The Art of Time Travel and its Risks and Consequences Over the Centuries and took back her notes with her free hand. "Thanks, Albus." Checking beforehand to make sure Ron had gone back downstairs, she kissed him on the cheek. "See you tomorrow."
"Wait," Albus stopped her, "what's the date today? I always lose count in the holidays."
"Er … twentieth, I think, why?"
Albus groaned. "My parents' anniversary is tomorrow. Damn, I forgot, I was going to book a table for them in that new restaurant."
Minerva considered. "Why not make them dinner yourself? You're not a bad cook. I can help if you want -" She cut herself off. "Oh, no I can't. Mum."
Albus raised an eyebrow quizzically and she explained. "My grandparents' deaths, remember? Your parents' wedding. Mum never got over it. I need to be at home for her. You could always ask Aberforth."
"I suppose. Thanks for the idea, Mina. Sorry about your grandparents."
Minerva squared her shoulders. It was difficult with the heavy tome in her hands. "I wasn't even born then, remember. I just wish I had a chance to get to know them. My dad's parents too."
It was as she said that a brilliant idea came into her head. Crazy? Yes. Impossible? Perhaps not.
"I think you've gone mad," Albus hissed in her ear as they exited the fireplace together. Minerva ignored him, quickly assuring her mother that she would be down for tea in a minute and hurrying upstairs with her boyfriend in tow.
"Mina!" he said louder once they were out of earshot. "Are you completely loony? Haven't you learnt anything from your essay?"
"Albus, I've barely started it, and I know about time travel from my parents. They went back to save Dad's godfather, remember? This is the same."
"No it's not. Your dad saw himself in the past, which means he wasn't technically changing history by going back, just completing it. Plus they went back when it had only happened a couple of hours ago. Your grandparents have been dead all your life, Mina, and if you save their lives you'll be changing everything we know."
The door to Harry's study swung open and a triumphant Minerva tucked the hairpin back in her plaited bun. "I don't think so," she said quietly. "For a start, they're Muggles, and they're not about to start World War Three or anything. Mum would have mentioned if they were megalomaniacs."
"Minerva, you can't be serious."
She took out the hairpin again and started on the cabinet in the corner. "I am, Albus. I don't know why I never thought of it before."
"Mina," he said quietly, resting his hand on hers on the doorknob. "Please, listen to reason. People die every day, it's part of life. You can't go back and just save them all."
"I'm not trying to save them all, I just want to save my grandparents. I'm not even going to try for both sets, I know what saving Dad's parents would mean. I'm just going for Mum's." Suddenly Minerva had tears in her eyes. "I'm not doing this for me."
Minerva shook her head and turned to face him. "My mum never got over it. She blames herself. That's why she needs me every year. I'm doing it for her." A single drop of water spilled from one eye. "Please, Albus, you don't see what it does to her. I always wished I could help her and now I know I can. We can. You can help me."
Albus shook his head. "Mina, please, I understand but you know your dad -"
"- and you say that changing history is risky," Minerva finished determinedly. "I know, Albus." She pulled the door open. It was filled with instruments of all sorts, including a whole shelf of time-turners in different sizes. "Look, Albus, I want to save them. I don't know I can. I just want to know. And if I can't, then at least I'll have had a chance to see them and what they were like."
"Minerva, if you could save them, you can't go back again to do it."
"I know. I'll be careful. Besides, unless I want to turn back millions of hours, I'm going to have to use a less precise time-turner." Minerva started browsing the shelf, reading the neat labels in her father's writing. "If I use one for years, then I can go back to this day twenty years ago and use the time before it happens to figure out a plan of action."
Albus swallowed. "You're not going to listen to me, are you?"
"No." Minerva turned back to him. "I'm not."
"You're going to go ahead no matter what I say."
"And if I refuse to go with you you'll go anyway."
Minerva nodded. Albus looked unsure how to act. "I … I can't let you go off in time on your own."
"Why? Because I might do something stupid?"
"No," he said softly, "because you'll be lonely."
His hand found hers and Minerva swallowed. "Um, thanks." She squeezed his hand.
"Minerva! Dinner's getting cold!"
Albus looked back towards the voice. "We can't just vanish off the face of the earth."
"It's okay," Minerva assured him, a grin spreading across her face. "It's time travel. We'll be back in time for tea."
Albus didn't look happy, but he kissed her anyway. "I love you."
She grinned. "Let's find a time-turner."
She'd lost him.
Minerva had felt Albus' hand slip on hers as they fell into the time whirl. He'd gone. What had she done?
Shaking, she straightened up off the floor where she had landed. She was in the Transfiguration office at Hogwarts. She knew it well because of all the times she'd been in there asking for extra assignments. But it looked different. Instead of her current teacher, there was a stranger sitting at the desk marking papers. He had long auburn hair and beard, half-moon glasses, and as he looked up she saw bright blue eyes.
It couldn't be.
He saw her about the same time as she saw him, and a look of hope flashed across his face, followed immediately by one of numb disbelief.
"Mina?" he whispered.
She couldn't speak.
He moved fast, standing up, circling his desk and in two seconds was barely a foot in front of her, clutching her hands in his. "Mina? Is that really you?"
"A-Albus?" she stammered.
It was him. Albus' familiar scent of sweets and old books washed over her as he pulled her into a hug. Time seemed to stand still. The only sign that it was moving was the gentle tick-tick of a grandfather clock by the desk. Minerva's mind was racing. What happened? How had it happened? What had she done?
"When did you end up?" she finally whispered.
"1861," Albus answered in a tight voice.
"What year is it now?"
Slowly he released his hold and they drew apart. Minerva stared into the blue pools she had been distracted by merely ten minutes ago. (Or seventy-odd years in the future, depending on how you looked at it.) They seemed older than ever. Of course, they were now, just like the rest of him. Minerva took in the lines and age of his face. "What happened to you?" she murmured sadly, knowing the answer. He'd lived for eighty years without her, in what to her was barely seconds. His eyes were filled with an intense loneliness she'd never seen before.
"Minerva." Albus' hands suddenly tightened on hers. "You have to go back."
"Back to our – back to your time." It must have taken a massive effort for him to correct himself. "You need to go back, now, before the time window shuts, or you're trapped like me."
Minerva looked down. The blasted time-turner was still hanging from around her neck. It was because of Albus' lost contact that this had happened. All it took was a slipped grip.
"Mina!" She looked back up. He sounded frightened now. "Mina, please, you have to go back. I don't want this to happen to you too."
Her heart broke at those words but she swallowed the lump in her throat and forced herself to ask. "Albus."
"Do you still love me?" Her voice cracked on the question. She didn't know why she even asked.
Tears started running down Albus' cheeks and he nodded. "I never stopped." He added, in a choked voice, "I couldn't." He swallowed. "You have to go now, the window will close when the clock strikes -"
It took all of Minerva's willpower to shake her head, feeling herself crying as well although she was only vaguely aware of it happening. "No."
"You have to! Please," Albus begged. "Mina, it's the only way back for you. If you don't, you'll never see your family again. Isn't that why we came in the first place? For your mother? Do you want her to lose her daughter as well?"
Minerva choked on her tears. "No. But I can't go back."
She looked him in the eye, although she could barely see them through the tears. "I won't leave you alone."
"I've made my decision."
The clock struck and pain exploded in Minerva's chest. Suddenly it was difficult to breathe. She knew what she'd done. Her thoughts went to her parents, waiting by the dinner table for her to come downstairs, but she never would. She could picture their heartbroken faces when they knew she wasn't coming back. She could hear her mother's sobs and sense her father's quiet despair.
Looking at Albus, she also knew she'd made the right decision.
One word was all he said. Whispered hoarsely. "Why?" He swallowed. "Was it because of what I said?"
Minerva slowly shook her head. "No. It was because of what I saw." She continued at his face, "In your eyes. You're lonely. You've been on your own for eighty years, trapped in the past with no way back. But you're not on your own anymore." She slowly reached out and brushed away the tears on his cheeks. "You've got me now."
AN: Not a one-shot! Two more chapters to go. Next chapter: Meet the parents. And just to confirm, in case you're confused, M+A's present time is 2020, Minerva is Harry and Hermione's daughter, and Albus is Ron and Luna's son (one of them).