Disclaimer: I own nothing. It all belongs to J.K. Rowling.

As always I must take the time to thank Aleta II Anon.

Beneath the Deep Depths of Green and Blue

Chapter 8

It was the dead of the night when not a soul should be awake but many a footstep could be heard from the courtyard below. The embers in the fire were barely glowing; the only light came from a lone candle lazily dripping wax upon the surface of Minerva's bedside table. Not even the pale moonlight seeped into the dark exterior.

The harsh cry of an owl threatened to wake Minerva from her sleep. As she rolled over the finely embroidered quilt slid off of Minerva's lithe form. Her pale skin came up in goosebumps as the cold night air made contact. If Minerva had had her way she wouldn't even be there but Braelyn had insisted. After the storm had died down Braelyn had stomped down to the shed and frogmarched Minerva straight to bed. It was plain to see the young witch was exhausted.

Again the owl cried and hushed whispers broke out from the courtyard. The fatigued young witch stirred but did not wake, she only groaned and turned onto her stomach, as more strands of her long, black hair broke free from the loose plait.

Suddenly the gathering from below erupted into a loud roar and red sparks flew from their wands. The noise immediately pierced Minerva's slumber and she bolted straight up out of bed. Her green eyes grew wide with fear as she heard the commotion from outside.

"We will hunt him down!"

Him?

A horrible feeling formed in the pit of her stomach.

Do they know? Has our secret been found out? Albus!

A quick glance around her set of rooms told Minerva that Braelyn was not present so she quickly snatched her wand and climbed out of bed. Not bothering to dress she took three deep breaths and desperately tried to steady her nerves. Her animagus transformation all depended on her emotional state. The thought of Albus's beautiful, blue eyes lifeless, devoid of their twinkle helped her harness her powers and before long a small, grey, tabby cat bound across the stone floor, through the open crack of the large, oak door, along the empty corridor and down the spiral staircase. In her haste and still unused to balancing on four paws, Minerva tumbled down the last few steps but that did not stop her. She scampered unnoticed through the crowd of dark clad wizards and witches as she weaved her way between many fashionable, dragon-leather boots. Soon she was darting down the path that led to the abandoned shack Albus was recuperating in. Heedless of the rustling leaves her eyesight was heightened in her feline form. The moon reflected in the many muddy puddles but Minerva hurried on. Her keen hearing picked up on mice and other delicious rodents scurrying in the shadows but she fought the urge to hunt.

Has the hunter now become the hunted?

She finally reached her destination, felt the familiar tingle of her protective spells but the wide, open door made her hackles rise. She crouched down low and cautiously crept her way forward. Her ears twitched for any sound but she heard nothing, She wasn't sure whether to feel that was a good sign or not. Gathering her courage she threw caution to the wind and recklessly stormed into the darkened shack.

Nothing. Empty. No Albus Dumbledore in sight. The fire was dead but as she pounced onto his makeshift bed she felt a lingering warmth. He had not been gone long. The only place she could think where he could possibly be was the beach.

With her heart in her throat, she hurried on padded paws through the woods and down to the shore. Fallen branches snapped underfoot and the crunching leaves echoed loudly. She cut her bare paws on the sharp stones and pinecones but still she continued determined to find Albus. Uncharacteristically, Minerva was more concerned for Albus' sudden disappearance than Braelyn's mysterious absence. It was not hard to see her way though it was the salty smell of the ocean that led her in the right direction. She dared to heave a feline sigh of relief when her paws touched sand.

After a failed attempt to revert back to her human form she managed to transform. Distraught, her eyes desperately scanned the coastline in search of him but he was nowhere to be seen. There were too many footprints to make out a specific set.

An explosion was heard not far off causing her to start. Anxiously she looked back over her shoulder but the sounds only spurred her efforts. It was imperative that she find Albus before Grindelwald's wizards. He was weak and wandless, never a good combination. The cold, night air had completely wakened her and the dreaded revelation that they had been found out finally sank in. She could only hope they not be caught.

Her sharp eyes caught sight of something floating in the waves. Quickly she plunged into the water with a slight gasp. Her white, cotton nightgown seemed to glow in the moonlight. She continued further into the sea and shuddered as the cold water came above her knees.

Just a little further

As the water reached above her waist she realised that it was Braelyn's shawl swept up by the waves. Too far out of reach, Minerva stayed put with an incredulous expression etched across her porcelain face. The Knut had finally dropped.

Braelyn? Is she safe? Is Albus safe? Are they somewhere safe together?

Her hair had completely come loose in the wind and was blowing in long locks around her. Her wet nightgown clung tightly to her slim form. Her skin was as white as snow but her green eyes shone like emeralds. As the waves crashed around her she looked like a figure of legend and folklore – Melusine, the great water spirit. With one last longing glance she turned her back to the night and waded ashore, never once looking back.

Moving up the beach with a ponderous grace. She shook her body from side to side and a shower of silver droplets made a dazzling halo around her. The snapping of a branch immediately brought her back to the present. She was not sure whether she was safer in her human form or her feline.

Why would anyone suspect a cat of harbouring a fugitive? In all honesty why would anyone kill a cat? But you are Grindelwald's betrothed…

She found it harder to transform but she succeeded in the nick of time. She arched her back and gave a faint meow as a small group of five wizards emerged from behind a cluster of thorn bushes. She recognized three of the men. The leader, Red, was short and had a pointy nose. His hair was the colour of a fox and his cunning ways often reminded her of the animal. The man to his left, Meldric, was his cousin. He too had red hair but he was of a completely different build, tall and lanky. In Minerva's opinion a flobberworm possessed more intelligence. The last wizard she recognized was a dark, handsome wizard of medium build. Though she did not know his name she knew his face. The man had sharp eyes that radiated astuteness. Her father and he had met many times and from what she gathered her father respected his wisdom and advice despite his young age, for he had scarcely turned thirty.

"He's here somewhere, I can smell him!"

"Did he really defeat him, Red? Did he? Did he?"

"That's what they're saying, Meldric, that's what they're saying."

"Quiet! The both of you!" A short-tempered, unfamiliar, blond-haired wizard demanded. Minerva's observations led her to believe he was the eldest out of the five wizards.

"I am the leader, Sedgewick! I will – "

Minerva hid in the shadow of an old oak and listened intently. She found it hard to piece together the titbits of information her small ears picked up on but her worries were confirmed. They knew Albus was hiding upon the island. They bickered for sometime until the dark man Minerva recognized but could not name hushed them and they immediately fell silent.

"He will have headed for the shore, his only escape route."

The others gripped their wands tighter and jeered. Red obviously felt he needed to add his two Knuts, if nothing but to prove his leadership.

"As for his accomplice, we will find her and kill her too!"

Minerva arched her back like a bow and her fur stood on end in fear. She flexed her claws and had to fight the urge to hiss. As the men slowly crept out of sight Minerva made a desperate and mad dash for the only place she could think to find Braelyn – back in their rooms. The one place where Minerva should be at that very moment, tucked away safely in bed, for Braelyn would never willingly leave her. Minerva could only assume that Braelyn had somehow found out and for Minerva's sake had tried to help Albus escape. Ducking under bushes and scampering around trees, her back paw throbbed and her lungs ached from the sudden exertion but she forced herself on.

They knew of Albus Dumbledore and that he had received help from a woman. The thought sent shivers down her spine. Did they know who it was? She needed to get to Braelyn, somewhere in her mind she felt it was of the utmost importance.

Her padded paws were muddy and her fur mat with dirt, her mouth felt dry and her heart beat so loud she feared the whole island could hear it. As she came closer to Grindelwald's fortification she immediately knew something was wrong. She could smell fear so she dived under a rock and listened closely. There were few women on the island so naturally it would not be hard to find the culprit.

When she had scurried through the courtyard earlier the atmosphere had been that of nervousness, disbelief, hatefulness and perhaps a twinge of terror. Now, however, the hushed whispers had turned into victorious cries and nasty insults. Every single wizard and witch anxiously fingered his or her wand and together had formed a circle. Something in the middle had captured their attention. Minerva felt the sudden urge to vomit, a feeling of trepidation washed through her from the tip of her tail to the point of her nose. She desperately wanted to creep her way through the excited crowd to see what had them so enthralled but her four paws were stuck to the spot.

Suddenly the derisive crowd hushed and parted. The group of wizards she had seen in the woods held their heads high and strutted to the centre of the circle. Minerva took note of Red's sneer and Meldric's imbecilic grin. The dark, handsome wizard's brown eyes held harshness in them that gave Minerva the feeling of being hit with a jelly-legs curse.

"This traitor must die!" Sedgewick's voice sounded a hundred times louder than it should have been as his voice carried on the wind and echoed in the surrounding woods.

In answer the crowd cheered and raised their fists in the air and because they had shifted Minerva now had a clear view. Abruptly her eyes fell on a familiar figure hunched in a crying heap on the ground.

BRAELYN!

It was Braelyn who had captured their attention so. It was Braelyn who they referred to as 'traitor'. Minerva's world seemed to collapse around her. Her vision swam and she barely registered the next words spoken.

"Your tears only serve to shame you, wench!"

Red stepped forward and threw something on the ground. It flashed in the moonlight and clattered on the stone. Minerva instantly recognised it.

With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair

It was the comb with a pearl handle that Albus had given Minerva less than twenty-four hours ago. Her hair had dried in tangles and knots so Albus had unexpectedly transfigured a small pebble into the exquisite comb. He had sat silently and watched as she had combed her hair until it shone in the firelight.

"Proof!"

Guilt and fear consumed Minerva as she finally found her footing and managed to command her paws. She crept out from under her hiding place and silently made her way closer. Her grey fur glistened silver in the moonlight and caught Braelyn's attention. Her eyes, glossy with tears, snapped up and locked with Minerva's green. She vigorously shook her head but Minerva continued to come closer.

"Any last words, scum?"

Braelyn swallowed and her voice rang out thick with emotion. She did not blink away her tears but held her gaze with Minerva. Her arms were magically bound behind her back and her hair clung to her face damp with tears.

"Stay! Take not one step closer!"

The crowd laughed thinking she warned them but Minerva knew differently. She stopped some few feet away from the jeering mob.

"Remember, she loved your more than anything," a small sob escaped her throat, "as do I!"

Minerva let out a strangled, yowling meow but nobody heard through the mocking. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on summoning her power but she could not block out their taunting. She tried to transform with every meagre ounce of her feline body but she was trapped. All sound became distorted and mixed strangely with the sound of her blood pumping through her veins, she felt like she was drowning. In her panicked state she was once again frozen to the spot completely unaware of her surroundings. Nothing could pierce her stupor, nothing but two evil words that would come to haunt her for the rest of her life.

"Avada Kedavra!"

The haze ascended, moments sped up. Minerva opened her eyes in time to see Braelyn's lifeless form fall to the ground. Her dead eyes still upon Minerva but held no emotion whatsoever, neither anger nor joy. Their love and light brutally extinguished.

Cold reality flooded her consciousness as she ran, ran as far as her four legs would carry her. She tripped and tumbled, her back paw gave way and she began to limp but still she fled. Leaves caught in her dirt-caked fur, her paws splashed in muddy puddles but she dared not turn back. Finally she succumbed to exhaustion in the hollow of an old oak tree as the sun began to rise. Colours mixed before her lidded eyes and as the yellows and oranges blended together one bold colour stood out the strongest – red.

The sun is tainted with innocent blood!

Each tiny gradation of light and every shifting shade foreshadowed a violent emotion of colour.

Stained!