Minerva McGonagall had now been awake for a long time. Too much time. The castle was empty, and she could tell she missed the happy and carefree voices of the students, the shouts, the quarrels, the chatting among colleagues. For once, even the Professors had decided to leave the castle to celebrate this period of peace after Voldemort's defeat. But this didn't matter very much. Not anymore. Not when she had been feeling lonely for more than a year now, since Albus had died. Why should it make a difference if the castle was empty or not?
My, my, how are we becoming melodramatic, she scolded herself. It wasn't true it didn't matter. She loved her students, her children, as she loved to secretly call them, and she liked to have them around her, to teach them, to try and pass them more than just the subject she taught. But, she had to admit it, she loved Albus more, and his death had left a void inside of her.
She shook her head, to keep her thoughts from coming. She wouldn't think of anything but the way to bring him back. Her eyes started to concentrate again on the book in front of her. Under her eyes she now had some bags, and some of her raven hair had escaped from the tight bun which she was used to wear.
Slowly her eyelids closed against her will and Minerva fell asleep over the remarkable number of books she had put on the table in the library.
"Minerva" she heard a voice call her.
She was dead, surely. It couldn't be but that. How else was it possible she could hear his voice so clearly? And she was sure it was his. Well, it hadn't been a painful death. She smiled.
"Albus" she answered, still smiling, turning towards where she had heard the voice.
How weird. It looked like she still was in the library, she noticed looking swiftly around her, before fixing her gaze on him. He was very handsome, like always. Surely "handsome" wasn't the first word one thought of when talking about Dumbledore, but she adored his face, his deep and twinkling blue eyes and even his crooked nose. She noticed that his hand had healed. She run towards him, risking a few times to stumble.
"I missed you" she confessed. Since when was she so impulsive? Oh, it didn't matter. Not in that moment. He was there. It was really him. He was real.
"Minerva." His voice was serious. She looked up and her green eyes met his blue ones. Albus gently took her hand.
"Minerva, you aren't dead." he calmly explained.
"I'm… I'm not dead? But then.. you are… I mean… you're alive?" she asked, stumbling a little on her words. It was all so strange. Suddenly it seemed everything she had wished for was becoming true. She felt her heart sink when he shook his head, with sorrow painted on his face.
"I just obtained the permission to see you for a last time, Minerva." Before he could go on, the woman took another step towards him.
"But… why? How…?" she asked confused, while tears were menacing to fall. He wouldn't stay with her. She should have known it. Still, it hurt so much… she didn't want Albus to see her cry. He would think her weak. And she wouldn't be able to see him clearly, and she had to see him one last time, she just had to.
"The how doesn't matter. We don't have much time. Minerva, you're destroying yourself. It hurts me to see you let yourself go. You mustn't think of the past… move on" Albus begged her, taking a step towards her.
Minerva ferociously moved away from him. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, reaching to her chin.
"Move on! It hurts you to see me let myself go? How do you think I have felt after my best friend, the man I've always loved, died?" she screamed, realising only afterwards what she had said. Shocked, she covered her mouth with a hand, not daring to believe she had really said it.
"I'm sorry, I… I didn't mean what I said, really, I…" she stammered, with an almost begging voice. Her apologies were stopped by his lips softly covering hers. Minerva opened her eyes in shock, but quickly gave in the kiss. Her brain started to work fast. Albus Dumbledore was really kissing her!
"I think I've been rather clear, but just in case you didn't get the message, I love you too" Albus smiled, looking tenderly in her eyes.
Minerva held him tight, and from her throat came a sound which was halfway between a laugh and a sob.
"You can't go away. I can't live without you" she cried, lowering her gaze.
"Yes, you can, Minerva. You're a strong woman. Far stronger than you give yourself credit for" Albus answered, with an always gentle tone. With two fingers he lifted her face up until they were looking into each other's eyes. "I know it won't be the same, but we'll see one another again. 'Till then, you must promise me you won't let yourself go like you've done until now. Promise me you'll try to be happy" his voice was now pleading.
"Albus, I… I can't" she shook her head, trembling.
"Promise me, Minerva, please" His eyes were now staring right into her soul.
"Yes" it was just a syllable, and if she had said it just a little quieter, he wouldn't have heard it, but she had said it.
He smiled again.
"I must go" he then told her, a little sad.
"Wait!" She held him by his sleeve. "Kiss me just once again. I won't see you for a long time, will I?"
Albus Dumbledore didn't answer, but he did as requested. This time the kiss was longer and more passionate, as both of them put in it everything which couldn't be put into words: the love, the longing, the sadness, even the desperation they felt in that moment.
Then Albus turned and disappeared into the dawn which could be seen from the windows.
It would never be the same, that she knew. But she could go on now, she thought. The pain wouldn't ever go away, but it could be better. And, after all, she would see him again. Nothing could stop true love, thought Minerva smiling at a beautiful dawn. Staring at it, she could swear she heard Albus' soft laugh.
So, this should be the last chapter, but I still have an epilogue for you. Anyway, I really wanted to thank who has made it so far: thank you guys! You've really helped me. This chapter is for you!
Review, please, I promise you it won't be much longer. Just the one more chapter to go and this story will be completely finished.