A/N: Sorry it took me so long to wrap this one up! Here's the final installment! I will not be writing again for a while, due to life and such. Enjoy!
Albus couldn't feel anything. He seemed suspended in invisible jello. His body ignored any commands to move. A voice gently brushed his cheek. It was his name. Someone was saying his name. A grey blur stood in definition before his eyes. A face emerged in his perception.
"Albus" Tome Riddle had never looked healthier. He was not exactly grinning, but his body seemed to smile.
"Tom?" Albus couldn't speak still, but felt his thoughts float into the infinite vaporous ocean. "What happened?"
"Everything is secure, for the moment," The voice had lost all of the tense, contentious edge of its owner. Riddle's face hardly recognizable, the suspicion and grasping left it fresh, even beautiful. "I linger because there is an errand for you to fulfill."
"Are you gone then?" Albus' mind moved slowly in this rolling fog.
"You will not see me again in the world. But I attend another matter," The fog deepened and softened, "My love is broken and needs attention. And there is a child. You must help her." The perfect face almost creased with worry and longing.
"Of course!" His mind answered instantly, "A child? A baby! Minerva is…" he drew to a halt.
"We created a child that Minerva carries," He continued in a monotone, "She will need support. Do not let her starve. As for her emotions, deal with them as you will. But know this: she loves you. I must go." The fog began to seep into him.
"Tom! She loves you too!" Suddenly everything was sucked to black. An eddy of murmurs tickled his mind and swept back several times before sounds reached all the way to his brain. He regained control of his body. And Albus Dumbledore drew in a might, desperate breath. Instantly voices poured in.
"Get those bandages over here!"
"Please try to remain still!"
Albus was lowered back to the pillows. His entire body tingled with diagnostic spells. And then the pain flooded in. He groaned with enough force to roar. He was alive again.
Twenty-four hours later, Albus was able to amble down the hall. He moved toward his sole destination of importance with as much speed as he could whip up. Information was still zinging about his mind.
Grindelwald was dead, and his regime was rapidly crumbling. The radical supports were being subdued. There was even talk of electing a Minister and reinstating the old governing forces. Rays of dawn were finally spoking on the horizon.
Albus' errand was far less sunny. He had been informed that Minerva McGonagall had sustained severe injuries, even more life threatening than his own. He found her room pinballed with healers. Upon entering, he was given a chair, and after whispering a few words to one of the healers, emptied the room. He was alone with Minerva.
She silently regarded him through weakly propped eyes. Albus almost turned away from her gaze. He didn't know how much she knew, how much wanted to tell her. Your lover was going to kill us all. No, that would not go over well. Tom wasn't as bad as I thought. Now wasn't the time to deal with that.
"I know, Albus," She croaked. The tears on the edges of her eyes confirmed her statement. "I know what Tom did. I know everything."
"How did you find out?" Albus began to breathe again. He had missed Minerva, the way she could so swiftly put him at ease, read his mind.
"A Pamona told me." She fought to sit up, briefly, but soon surrendered back to the pillows. "One of the guards confessed that they had strict orders that would have completely cut off our first plan. Too perfect, too complete. He said Tom Riddle had given them the plan. It was hard for me to accept at first. But the fact that he changed, that he saved us…" She nearly broke into sobs in earnest, but after a steadying breath, she continued. "Well, it helps."
"Minerva, about the child…" Albus reached his hand for hers.
"Yes," Minerva smiled sphinxishly. "His little legacy. Apparently, the child is unhurt. I will try my best to raise it as befits the child of a hero. I can tell, even now, he will have eyes just like his father's. They will torture me every day. But he will have part of me as well. And I can learn to love all of him. That's what you always say, isn't it Albus?"
Albus drifted to her eyes, "What's that, Minerva?"
"Love, Albus. Love! It's what separates us from Grindelwald, from pure evil. That we can love. So I suppose we have to keep loving. Even when it hurts so." The tears finally surged.
Albus clambered on the bed, wrapping her in reassurance, comfort, and, most important, love.
A/N: drop me a line, let me know what you thought of this chapter, of the series! Thanks for reading! Peace!