Minerva sat at her desk. She sighed and set her quill into the ink pot. This year's essays were by far the worse she had ever seen. Not that she didn't expect it, what with those two idiots running around, teaching them to torture each other, but it would have been nice to have actually taught them something. It didn't help that the students that would actually be learning things were off either on the run, or searching for Horcruxes. And it most certainly did not help to have him strutting around, acting as if the world bowed before him.

Even though she tried to tell herself that she hated him, despised him, she still needed him. Her eyes would fill up with tears at the thought of him. She couldn't breathe when he walked by. Her dreams and nightmares flashed the memories she cherished, and the ones she hoped would never happen. She found herself crying when she woke up in their bed, and he's not there.

Suddenly, a knock on her door brought her back to reality. She wiped a lonesome tear from her cheek before calling for the person to come in. Poppy burst through the door, looking quite less than pleased. She hurried to Minerva's desk and flopped down on one of the chairs.

"Oh go ahead, Poppy, make yourself at home." Minerva said as her friend kicked oof her shoes and massaged her heels.

"Shut up." Poppy hissed. Minerva raised her eyebrow.

"What's happened?" she asked.

"It's more of a question of what hasn't happened, really." Poppy said. "The Carrows have forbidden me to assist the students they 'punish'."

"As I very well know, Poppy, the point, please?"

"The point is that I just passed a corridor full of students getting out of their Defense class. And you know what?"

"No, what?" though Minerva knew full well that Poppy was on again about the injures inflicted upon the students.

"All of them were hurt. Longbottom was limping, Weasly was sporting a good black eye-"

"Poppy, there's nothing we can do about it! No matter how hard we try to convince ourselves otherwise, they have the upper hand. We're finished, beaten." Minerva said in a strangled voice. Poppy stared at her like a foreign object.

"What? You're giving up? Minerva McGonagall is finally stepping down?" Minerva looked at her hands, noticing the lack of a ring on her left hand.

"What's happened, Minerva? Why..."

"Because it's the truth, Merlin damn it! Don't you see, Poppy? There's no way out."

"When there's a will, there's a way, Min. There always is a way." Poppy said, her eyes brimming with tears. What had happened to the determined Scottish Storm that she and so many others knew and loved? What had happened to their Minerva?

"Please, Poppy, I need a...moment." Minerva said. Poppy nodded. She stood, shoes in hand, and went to the door. At the threshold, she stopped and turned.

"If you need to talk, I'm always here." she said. Minerva nodded. Poppy sighted and closed the door.