a/n: Wow. That is all I can honestly say to the responses. I believe I got you all on PM's, but if I didn't, please let me know! I bow down to all of my readers. Without them, I am nothing. Anyways, the delay for this chapter was due to me having the inability to locate appropriate lyrics for the feelings in this one... :D I had several songs in mind, and though I'd decide upon one, none of them sounded perfect. I then came across the following song, and I was like, "THAT'S IT!" xD To say the least, I was excited... For all of you out there still reading this pathetic Author's Note, I have to add that the song is all there--that is actually how long the song is, and I really am not sure if Evanescence did it, or just Amy Lee herself. Oh well. I credited it anyway. ; Well, without further ado, here is the chapter! (Chapters are getting longer, I know. I hope everyone likes longer chapters, because I think I'm going to be writing more of those. )
No more tears.
In the morning
I'll be here
And when we say goodnight
Dry your eyes
Because we said goodnight, and not goodbye
We said goodnight, and not goodbye
Her breathing is labored; I can see even from this distance. The black clouds eclipse her face, but I am certain it is she. I stride aimlessly, silently, wonderingly towards her with my own breaths quickening. She is kneeling in the snow, dirtied with scarlet trails of blood, leading to still figures in this silent field. Apart from the howling wind, there is nothing, and no one left…
My heart aches bitterly for all the souls lost from beneath Grindelwald's regime. All were innocent souls: men, women, and children lying before me with open and glassy eyes. Their deaths are no accident, and as much as my anger drives me to turn away from this world and go after him myself, I cannot. I cannot leave someone so alone, in a world so broken.
I shuffle my feet as I draw nearer, doing my best to catch her attention without startling her, but to my greatest surprise, she does not even move. There is something terribly, terribly wrong I know, but I can in no way help. How can I offer her aid when I have no idea what is wrong?
"What time is it?" Her voice is vehement, and causes me to step back for a moment.
"Six-thirty," I reply in a muted whisper. Thankfully, she hears me, and delves further into the surrounding darkness where she sits. I watch, dumbfounded at first, but realization slowly dawns on me. Someone of her own family is gone.
My heart constricts even more agonizingly than before. Grindelwald was causing my Minerva pain. I will not stand for it anymore. As I consider this, Minerva's voice beckons me to the present for a second time.
"Frederick McGonagall…." she whispers to herself apparently. I fix my eyes upon the huddled mass upon the ground, and chance a glance to her face as she crawls away from the scene, and back away from the trees. "He was my brother, but much older than I. He left our house when I was about three, though I saw him every now and again… He died in battle today…" she breaks off abruptly, and I painfully wonder if she is trying not to cry.
"Minerva," I begin uncertainly, hardly knowing what else I was to tell her. When faced with death, Minerva became… less of herself.
"Oh, it's perfectly all right Albus," she says in a high voice, so unlike her strict-Scottish voice I have become accustomed to over the years. "I hardly knew the lad…"
"Minerva," I whisper warningly. If she did not stop, the pain would quickly spring and engulf her…
"He smiled at me. Do you realize that apart from you, he was the only man that ever thought to smile or talk to me? Sure, I got stares, but he seemed to know that stares were not what I desired…" she continues in that high voice, sickening me slightly with how terrible the irony emphasizes her dead voice.
"Minerva," I say more loudly, in a more enunciated tone. If she were to do this, she should at least look at me. Maybe I could help… If only she would allow. "This will not help matters."
"Who's to say that it won't?" She asks, abruptly, coldly, in a terribly low voice that causes me to drop to my knees beside her.
"I do." I say so cautiously, wishing desperately that I knew what she was thinking. Out of all of these years, I have never been able to read her thoughts. When it appeared that I had done so, I had merely guessed. I thank the stars above that my guesses are usually correct, but tonight, this lonely unforgettable night, guesses did not have a proper place.
Her eyes turn to mine furiously, and anger crackles within them. I do nothing, and wish I could stop staring. Did she not say that was what irritated her? I reassured myself that by staring at her eyes--and nothing…else, I would be safe. "How do you know Albus Dumbledore? You have never faced such things with the bravery that all of your followers exclaim you to hold!" she exclaims scathingly, almost tauntingly, twisting my name around with her voice and sneering tone. I wince slightly, but I do not withdraw my gaze at her eyes, wishing beyond all of my wishes that I could break that barrier of her mind and see what she was thinking. If it would help, I would do anything for her.
"Minerva," I begin softly, "my dearest, dearest Minerva…"
"Oh don't you 'oh my dear' me!" she screeches, finally heeding to the shouting cries in her heart and mind. I smile somewhat, glad that I eradicated some of the foreboding wall.
"How can I not, when you are my dear?" I inquire quietly, motioning her to me with my words.
"Is this what you always do?!" she cries in a fit of rage, standing up quickly, and retracting her wand from within her ripped and torn ebony robes. "When someone has died, all you can do is try and tempt the survivor?!"
"'Tempt'? Hardly. I was merely telling you what you are Minerva. You fought valiantly tonight, and what you receive from such an act of courage is your last remaining relative dead… One would think that a tear or two would replace this anger you are now acting upon."
"Anger? I'm not angry," she spits in a calmer tone, as she irritably stows her wand away, but I know she is hurting, and I scrunch my eyes together to keep my tears from interfering. If anything, she needed comfort. An emotion I was more than willing to grant, but an emotion she found as a weakness; a level of fragility she would never sink to, even when in loveless pain. Or so she thought. Pain is in no way a weakness.
"I believe you are in pain then," I say this lightly, raising my wandering hand to hers, and I revel in triumph when she does nothing but stare at our entwined hands. The barrier is now falling. "I know I cannot repair you in the way that your brother's presence may, but I could try…" I stand to make eye contact, breaking her concentration for a moment as her gaze flickers anxiously towards my face.
"Albus," she whispers in a sad and quiet voice, and I smile soothingly. She falls nonchalantly in my embrace, and she clings to me uneasily, relaxing as the seconds pass on to minutes, the minutes passing on to hours. I notice immediately that she is weeping, but noiselessly. Both my hands stroke her back with the most gentle and comforting of touches. I have no desire to let her go. I would not allow my Minerva to wallow in such gruesome pain. She was worth much more than that to me.
"Pain is not a weakness," I say softly, "why is that so difficult for you to believe, Tabby?"
She inhales a shuddering gasp, and I pull her closer, nonverbally gesturing her to bury her head completely into my chest. She obliges for a moment, but murmurs, "It's all I've ever known. My mother prided herself in showing no emotion…I was taught the same I suppose…" she says no more, but I do not care. I love her far too much to pry.
"I'll take you away…" I trail off, and for a moment, just a single moment; she treads back a fraction of a step to raise an inquiring eyebrow. "I'll take you away my dear, far away where no one can hear or see you weep. I will not allow you to leave until you have cried every single tear that you have held in all of these dark years. I love you, and I cannot bear to see you like this…"
She shivers, and I fearing that the cold is getting to her as it is to me, I pull her back to my chest. As wonderful as this felt, I could never take advantage of her. "Thank you… for everything in this world." My cloak muffles her words, and I sigh softly as her breath swishes gracefully into my ear. She was graceful without even trying.
She steps back a second time, and stares at my eyes. No words are left, and I am certain I have won the battle between both our hearts. Her eyes sparkle so brightly that tears begin to fall again. Without a word, I reach my hand up, and wipe them away. I grin a ridiculous grin when I realize that her eyelids flutter closed whenever I happen to touch her face. I suppose she has deeper feelings for me than she has previously told me.
"Do you love me?" I inquire suddenly, wondering if such a question had reason to allow me asking at a wrong time. Her emerald eyes darken for a fraction of a second before she smiles the sweetest smile at me.
"How could I not?" She whispers back her response so eloquently that I can no longer contain my desires and myself. I gently stroke her chin, and she pulls closer as a way of reaction. Her arms slide around my neck, and I firmly press her to my body, trying my best to hold both of our weights. If she were to fall, I had to catch her.
Her lips beckon me, and I stare at them for a moment before cautiously looking back at Minerva's face--she did not like stares. What befell my eyes was not her infamous anger, however. It was a peculiar mixture of questioning, love, affection, and curiosity. Not at all anger. I smile before I inch my head forward, remaining cautious for her. Only for her. If not for her, I would have already kissed her fiercely with that suppressed passion I always held for my Minerva.
She smiles coyly, and I know she is playing with me. I repress the urge to roll my eyes friskily back with difficulty. My breaths came in gasps, but Minerva solved things after that. Her lips found mine, and I could no longer breathe at all. Our kiss began as gentle, my lips stroking hers lovingly, savoring the kiss that forgetfulness prevailed over for such a long time. She responded gently back, tasting my lips with her tongue, and snickering in what I can only think of as her discovery of just how much my lips tasted like lemon drops.
Soon after the gentleness was not enough, the kisses increased in explosive passion. At one point, I could have sworn I heard her moan, but I believe that I swallowed her gasp. I smiled against her mouth, before we both broke apart simultaneously, coughing and sputtering for renewed oxygen. We both laugh at our reactions, and for a moment, the entire world melts away as she approaches me for a second time, a devilish glint in her striking emerald eyes…
I awake, coughing and sputtering against something warm and soft. I smile at my lack of oxygen, for Minerva would not care, but as I open my eyes, I realize I am sorely mistaken. A pillow is stuffed halfway down my throat. I sigh irritably, and wrench the piece of bedding out of my mouth, retching slightly as I remove it. I throw the pillow across the room, and wish the memory I indulged in could happen in reality for a second time. I automatically reach beside me, searching for Minerva's small frame, but she is nowhere, just as she is every night I awake from the most terrible of dreams. This last one was not as bad as the rest. In fact, the dream I had happened to dream was one of my most wonderful ones, which was warily surprising. Why had tonight been different?
I rise from the bed, checking the grandfather clock mounted on the wall before padding towards the kitchen. It is 4:30 A.M. Hardly the time to consider for breakfast, but as exhausted as I was, I knew I would not be able to fall asleep again that night. Fate could only be so kind. I should feel lucky, even grateful that I was able to relive that memory in full, down to the lightest touches. I halt my descend atop the landing of my magnificent staircase in my home, breathing deeply for a moment, reliving those precious seconds with Minerva before straining to pull myself back into the present. Why was it that I could not let her go? At times like these, I wished with all my heart that I could bring her back into my arms, but I could not. I knew I could not, and this thought pained me… In fact, it consumed with pain insomuch that I had not slept for the past week and a half in full. As I looked to the pink sky, I smile slightly, realizing that where Minerva was, it was now night.
"Goodnight my flower…I'll watch you as the dawn kisses your hair with its awakening light…"