It was not the first war Minerva McGonagall had seen, but she certainly hoped that it would be last. She had witnessed atrocities that no human being should be capable of committing, and the gross visions haunted her. With a great deal of relief, Minerva stepped into the kitchen of the head quarters and sank into a comfortable chair- she was not as young as she had been during the first war. The thought of her youthful self made Minerva give a wry smile.
Minerva waved her wand expertly and watched as kitchen utensils set about making a pot of tea. It would take the edge from the chill in her bones before she went to bed, and the familiarity of the routine would occasionally provide enough comfort to keep nightmares at bay. She watched as the teapot soared towards her, noting for the first time the form of a young woman slumped across the table. She stood, the beverage fading from her thoughts.
"Miss Granger?" As gently as she could, Minerva smoothed back the hair covering the younger witch's face. "Hermione, wake up."
Hermione wriggled and opened her eyes, giving a yawn as she moved into an upright position. She flushed as she straightened the now crumpled documents that had served as a pillow, realising that the woman who had been her favourite professor had caught her, quite literally, sleeping on the job.
"Professor McGonagall..." She yawned again, covering her mouth with ink stained fingers. "Thank you for waking me up- I have so much work to finish in researching this." Her shoulders slumped almost imperceptibly despite her brisk tone.
"Your contribution to the war effort has been exemplary, Hermione, but if you overwork yourself, then you'll be little use to anyone." Minerva patted the girl's back before fetching the pot of tea and sitting down beside her. "Do you see anyone else still awake at this hour?"
"I see you." Hermione turned to face the fire, which cast flickering shadows over her face that made her look older than her seventeen years. Tears filled her eyes, and Minerva knew that Hermione saw the same dreadful things that she did. "This isn't like school- I can't just revise tomorrow, because we're running out of time. I need to learn the layout to this building and establish where the prisoners are being kept, otherwise people will die."
"You're right; it does need finished, so go to bed and allow me to complete this task. Your notes were always perfectly detailed, so I doubt I'll have any trouble picking up from where you have left off." They shared a smile, recalling easier times.
"But you need to sleep too; you've been on duty for two days." The concern in Hermione's brown eyes was touching.
"Don't make me repeat myself, Miss Granger." Hearing the laughter escaping her former pupil's mouth- light and carefree, as the laughter of the young should be- Minerva was glad to have made the offer.
"Thank you... Minerva." Before she could respond, Hermione was gone. That buoyant laughter made Minerva hope that her protégé's dreams would be untroubled. It seemed unlikely, but she had done all that she could to lighten Hermione's burden. Sipping her tea, Minerva began to work.
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