Summary: Minerva is struggling to deal with the loss of her husband, juggling raising her young son away from the public eye, and her duties as headmistress. But she has larger things to worry about when baby Brian starts claiming he can see his deceased father.
Rating: PG, subject to change
Past Major Character Death?
Disclaimer: All of JKR's lovely creations belong to her, strangely enough. Isn't life weird?
Author's note: I thought of this a while back. It's not a very long fic and I have an idea for a sequel about the same length. It should be between five and ten chapters.
the Ones We LoveBy
Chapter One: LossIt was a beautiful summer's day.
The morning sunlight crept into the red and gold furnished room through a gap in the scarlet curtains, casting shadows in the corners, and a ray of light fell across the face of a sleeping woman alone in the enormous four-poster bed, large enough for two.
Minerva sighed in her sleep and rolled over, her arm falling loosely onto the other pillow. A slight frown crossed her weary face when she felt only air beside her. Her eyes flickered open, and after blinking a few times, she took in the space beside her, and the time on the clock.
"Thanks for waking me, Albus," she muttered sarcastically as she rubbed her eyes, then she paused, before sitting up straight.
Albus' half of the bed wasn't just empty. It hadn't been slept in.
All the energy seemed to drain from her rapidly as she remembered. Collapsing back onto the bed, she groaned and buried her face in Albus' pillow. Breathing deeply, she could still faintly smell his scent, a mixture of parchment, bubble bath and lemons.
"No," she whispered hoarsely. She remembered now what day it was.
Minerva put on her best emerald-green dress robes. Albus had picked them out for her himself; he said they matched her eyes. He had always hated black and she was determined to look her best for him today, no matter what anyone else thought.
She received a few funny looks from the staff, most of whom were in black and naturally expected her to be in mourning robes, but she held her head high and ignored them. Poppy sent her a death glare down the table as Minerva picked at her food, not eating anything, but her stomach was tied in knots: she couldn't eat a thing. Just the smell was making her feel queasy.
The day went by in a blur. Minerva ignored most of the people who tried to talk to her, even stepping deliberately on Rufus Scrimgeour's foot as he attempted to accost her on the way back to the castle. Her mind seemed to be in limbo; she surveyed her surroundings as if she was not a part of the scene, and didn't seem to comprehend anything.
When everyone had left, she made her way back down to the tomb on her own to say a private goodbye.
The school closed. Minerva was the only person left in the whole castle, except for Poppy, who insisted on staying as moral support until Minerva had sorted herself out. Minerva barely acknowledged anything anymore, spending hours sitting by the tomb or in her rooms or in one of Albus' favourite places. Although she'd known it would come for over a year, it was still too much of a shock to take in – that Albus was gone. Sometimes, laying awake in bed at night, she thought she could still feel his presence beside her, but when she looked his side was empty.
"Minnie, you need to eat, you're making yourself ill."
"I'm not hungry. Don't call me Minnie."
Ever since she had been a child, Minerva had hated the name Minnie. When Albus had found out how much she detested it, he would call her it occasionally in teasing, and at first it ground on her nerves – but over time she learned to tolerate and even like it. But only from Albus. Between Albus and Minerva, it had become an affectionate nickname. If anyone else called her Minnie they would get their head bitten off. Poppy had only used it to get a reaction from her.
"Please, Minerva." Poppy pushed her plate at her. "I heard you being sick this morning. You need to eat."
Minerva shook her head. "I can't, it just sticks in my throat."
"Have some soup then, that can't stick in your throat. Tell you what, I'll make my mum's special chicken one. Remember? You were addicted to it when we were teenagers."
Minerva stood up. "Maybe later. I should start on some work." Poppy stayed silent as she left the room, apparently unable to think of a reply. Minerva didn't want the soup. She didn't want anything to do with her younger life. Albus had been a part of her life for so long – ever since she was a child – that she was constantly reminded of better times wherever and whenever she looked. It hurt too much to remember.
The Board of Governors had decided to keep the school open if more than fifty students returned. The original decision had been at least a hundred students, but she Minerva beat them down. She privately felt that the school should stay open if there was only one student willing to return, but it was a question of funding and finding teachers. Albus' solicitor had been in touch and Minerva now owned everything Albus had, with the exception of a few items sent to Harry – apparently Albus thought he would find them useful. Minerva was prepared to live on dry bread if it meant the school would stay open.
Minerva sent letters to all the families with children enrolled at Hogwarts, explaining the governors' deal and begging them to let their children attend this coming year. She promised that families in vulnerable situations were more than welcome to set up temporary residence at the school if they wanted their families to be together. As headmistress, Minerva had the power to add rooms to Hogwarts and with Poppy's help had created a whole new wing, specifically designed for families. Photographs of the new wing and promises of extra wards had been included in the letters.
The replies started trickling in. Some automatically turned down the offer. Some snapped it up eagerly. Some said they were still undecided and would be in contact once they'd had more time to consider.
Fifty places gradually filled up and Minerva started looking for new teachers, putting out advertisements and setting up appointments. Unsurprisingly, no-one wanted the Defence position, but the applications for Transfiguration teacher were flooding in – like Slughorn, apparently a lot of wizards wanted to stay at Hogwarts for safety, despite the recent events.
It was exhausting work and Poppy was right, Minerva did seem to be making herself ill. Although she refused to eat properly, she let Poppy cram nutrition potions down her throat every morning and evening instead. She was still sick sometimes and assumed it was from stress, grief and overwork.
The term was about to begin when she thought there was another reason. After failing to get a Defence teacher, she decided to do it herself, meaning she had to appoint a deputy head or she'd go nuts with the workload. Filius snapped up the promotion. The remaining staff had returned, but were all treading lightly around her, as if afraid she would have a mental breakdown if they said or did the wrong thing. It was frustrating, especially when Peggy Vector asked if she was all right every two minutes.
It was the first staff meeting of term, the day before the students were due to arrive. Minerva had a headache and another empty pain in her chest at the prospect of facing a staff meeting without Albus there. After unemotionally announcing the arrangements for the staff positions, she was looking down at her notes and found they were all blurred.
"Minerva, are you all right?" she heard a voice say, but didn't register. It wasn't just the notes. Her head was spinning. Her hand on her lap wasn't focused as the moved it to her forehead. She felt movement beside her as someone rushed to her aid, but all she could think about was the feeling inside her – like a ball of magic announcing its presence.