"Sin of Omission"

Summer, 1997

Alastor had not been there.

He had thought that he was immune by now to the sort of immutable guilt suffusing him. He had thought that now he was older, wiser, it would be easier for him to accept his own limitations. He had also thought that there was no loss that could reopen the old sense of shock and horror that he had felt so frequently in his youth, when losing friends was something to which he hadn't been accustomed.

All it had taken to shatter those preconceptions was the death of Albus Dumbledore.

"It was Snape," Minerva told him in a voice that sounded broken. "And we always trusted him..."

Alastor did not say what he was thinking, that it was a mistake to trust anyone who had once worn the Mark, that he had been saying so for years. He would have rather lost his other leg, though, than cast blame on such an occasion.

He always tried to suppress the bitter sense of satisfaction he felt whenever one of his paranoias was justified. It was difficult always to keep from yelling, "I've been saying it for years!" or "Now you see what comes of being too trusting!" or from reminding them over and over that the only thing, the only thing that would save them in the end was constant, never-ceasing vigilance.

The last two years, he grudgingly thought to himself while seated at the funeral in front of the white tomb, had been far better than the dozen that had preceded them. It had felt good to be doing something again, to be helping in some way. Much as he might have publicly insisted that he was after a quiet life, Moody was the product of two generations of war and bloodshed. Without conflict, without a chance to do something for the world, he was as useless as he had been in the bottom of the trunk two years before. Retirement, he decided, was for those who could cope with seeing the world fall apart and not do anything to stop it. He now realized why Albus had never retired, even when the specter of Lord Voldemort had seemed disappeared forever.

Albus had always known it would come to this. Moody didn't know why the Headmaster had died, could only suspect that there had been some sort of plan behind it all, but with no proof he had to proceed the best he could. Immediately after the funeral he Apparated to Number 12, Grimmauld Place and set what the rest of the Order were calling Anti-Snape jinxes on the house. They weren't as lethal as he would have liked, but the other members of the Order had been explicit.

Working was good. It kept his mind as close to at-ease as it ever was lately. He immediately launched into a plan to remove Harry to the house of one of the Order members. Privately he might have thought it wasn't much use, that without Dumbledore the rest of them were merely marking time until the Death Eaters took over the Ministry and Hogwarts not to mention the world, but he kept those thoughts to himself, as he had during the first war. Without knowing exactly how, Alastor had become the de-facto leader of the Order, at least for the time being. It made sense; he was the oldest now, except for wheezy old Elphias Doge, and certainly had the most experience with fighting Dark magic and the wizards who employed it.

He saw little of Minerva now, meeting with her only along with the rest of the Order. He had not planned this, as he had during the First War, to keep her safe. He was simply working, working every day and most nights, enchanting house after house, putting up ward after ward, occasionally haring off after seeing traces of Death Eater activity close by, and trying again and again to come up with a plan that would allow them to safely remove the boy in whom Dumbledore had placed all of their hopes, the boy in whom the Wizarding world at large had placed all of their hopes, the boy Harry Potter.

Besides, Minerva was busy, too. Busy trying to keep the school from falling apart, the way Moody heard it. Busy trying to keep the Death Eaters out, trying to keep the students enrolled for next year, trying to pretend that Dumbledore's death hadn't shaken them both more than any other loss could have.

She had subscribed, as he had not, to the notion that few awful things could really happen with Albus around. She had lost her friend, colleague, sometimes-father-figure, and one-time-object of her affection. Alastor had just lost the best friend and teacher he had ever had.

Neither of them spoke much that summer, after the funeral. They would have time together, he reasoned to her in one of the rare missives he allowed to be sent, after Harry Potter was safe.

He was wrong.

Only Albus had known that she and Alastor had been something more than friends, Minerva knew. Remus Lupin certainly hadn't known.

So how could he know what a shock he had given her?

"We got Harry out safely," he said, looking weary and ill despite his recent wedding.

"Good," she said with a sigh of relief. "Any problems?"

"We lost Moody."

No. It couldn't be, it couldn't have happened, not just like that, not after she had just lost Albus. Remus had said something else, but she hadn't heard. She had known him for half a century. Everything they had been to each other, from fighters to lovers and everything in between was gone, just like that. It was more than losing someone for whom she had cared deeply, it was losing a large part of herself. With Albus gone, Alastor had been the only person in the world that had truly known her.

She blinked her eyes fiercely, but they were dry. It seemed she was beyond tears. "When..." she asked, then cleared her throat. It seemed to have become very hoarse over the last minute. She tried again. "When is the...funeral?"

Remus looked surprised. "I don't think there will be one," he said honestly. "After all, we never found his body, and any sort of gathering gives the Death Eaters a better opportunity to get many of us at once."

There would be no funeral. The greatest Auror of the last hundred years would rot in some abandoned field somewhere, be left there by those he considered friends, because they were busy. Because they were afraid. "I'll go find him," she muttered, standing up from her desk with no clear idea of where she was going, just that she had to find Alastor. "Maybe he isn't even dead, maybe--"

"Professor," Remus said gently, "Voldemort killed Moody himself. Avada Kedavra, right in the face. He's dead." He frowned a little in concern. "Did you know him well?"

It was summer, and the window was open. The breeze was warm on Minerva's face, and she was smiling as she lay next to Alastor in the bed she had bought. He was still sleeping, she thought with fondness. His face was relaxed, and he looked completely unlike he did when awake. It had taken him long summer months to feel comfortable enough to sleep when she was awake. Still, she told herself, it was probably him becoming more accustomed to her rather than trusting her. Minerva didn't reach out to brush his graying hair back from his temples out of any sort of emotion, just because it was in his face.

He stirred, and looked up at her almost in puzzlement, then smiled. What she felt seeing that smile, answering with one of her own, was merely the affection bred by long years in each other's company. Nothing more than that, surely.

He looked up at her for a moment, then pulled her down for a kiss. He had always wanted to kiss her, even before she wanted to let him. She pulled away after a moment and went to the little kitchen area to start making breakfast.

"Minerva?"

She looked over at him, but he shook his head. "Never mind," he muttered. "Now isn't the time."

Minerva was relieved. She knew what he had been about to say, because he had tried to tell her several times. But that wasn't what the two of them were to each other, she reasoned.

They weren't in love.

"Did you know him well?"

Minerva swallowed hard, hands clutched on her desk until they had turned white around the knuckles. "Do you know," she said slowly, "I think I did." After all, she thought in vague disconnect, it was better to tell the truth. Alastor had always hated liars.