A/N: This is the end, my dears. I feel an unexpected sadness as I bring this story to a close, but I still hope that it can continue to make people smile long after its completion. To reflect this, chapter z is three times as long as the others :)

The sweet sound of the strings dripped from small wooden instrument in her hands. Her fingers moved deftly over the stiff, wiry strings.

It had been a gift many, many years ago. When Albus had first presented his then fiancée with the present, she had questioned his sanity. After almost an hour of explanations as to its origins and uses, Minerva had finally attempted to play the exotic instrument known as a zither. She was terrible, but Albus did not seem to mind.

The recollection brought a warm smile to her lips.

Thankfully, in the years that followed, Minerva had gained enough practice with the little zither to be able to get a decent melody out of it. It had become something of a source of comfort to her in times of unrest or sadness. Her mind led her back to a memorable night when she had used its odd twangs to calm her younger cubs on a particularly stormy night.

Dreams to sell, fine dreams to sell,
Angus is here with dreams to sell.
Hush now wee bairnie and sleep without fear,
For Angus will bring you a dream, my dear.

The traditional Scottish lullaby had seemed to have a calming effect on the young Gryffindors and they had eventually fallen asleep in the Common Room. Normally she would have moved them to their respective dormitories, but that night she settled instead for conjuring each of them blankets and cushions, not wanting to wake them. Still, she did not leave until each and every one was suitably covered.

A familiar voice sounded out behind her to pull her from her reverie.

"You still play it?"

Minerva swivelled around in her chair and, as her eyes fell upon the gold-framed portrait, she felt untamed sobs threaten to take over.


A/N: Yes, I stole Severus's line. I admit it! But it is such a brilliant closing line that I could not resist using it.