Standing outside the door, it all became a little bit too real.
Dean took a deep breath and lifted his fist. It stilled an inch away from the smooth surface of the dark wood. Was he really going to do this? He knew that he had to leave, but did he really have to do this?
His fist came down in a sharp knock against the door. He let his hand fall back down to his side as he waited for an answer.
Please be home, please be home, he chanted to himself. This was his only chance.
He let out a soft sigh of relief when the door opened a crack.
"Professor?" Dean asked quietly, peeking around to try and see through the crack.
There was a startled gasp from the other side of the door and it swung outwards so fast that Dean had to jump back to avoid being hit. An arm shot out and grabbed him by the arm, yanking him inside before the door slammed behind him.
"Mr. Thomas, what on earth are you doing here?"
Dean looked up at Professor McGonagall and took a shaky breath.
"I came to ask you a favour," he said softly, pulling something out of the bag hanging from his shoulder.
He looked down at the small folded envelope in his fingers, running his thumb over the thick parchment. His eyes scanned the name written on the back of it. He had to do this.
"I might be a muggleborn," he whispered softly, glad that McGonagall hadn't said anything and had given him a moment to collect his thoughts. "My mum's a muggle and I never knew my dad. We have no idea if he was a wizard or not, and... well it's not safe for me any more. I can't go back to Hogwarts next year. I can't. I'll just put everyone in danger. It's safer for me and everyone else if I get as far away from here as I can, as fast as I can."
McGonagall opened her mouth to protest but Dean shook his head and held up a hand for silence
"Please," he whispered, looking up and meeting her eyes. "Don't try and stop me. I've made up my mind. I'm almost of age, I can handle myself out there. I just... I just need someone do deliver this for me."
He held out the envelope. McGonagall looked at it for a couple seconds before her hand reached out and took it out of Dean's shaking fingers. She looked at the name on it and let out a small sigh.
"You should give this to him yourself, Mr. Thomas," she said softly, looking up to meet his eyes again.
Dean managed a small, sad smile but shook his head again. "No, I can't. If I do then he'll find some way to keep me from leaving. I haven't seen him all summer because I know if I do I won't have the strength to leave any more. Please, give that to him once he's inside Hogwarts. I don't want him coming after me. It needs to be after he's already inside the school."
McGonagall still didn't look very happy with the situation, but she nodded anyways. "I'll make sure he gets this," she said, putting a comforting hand on Dean's shoulder. There was a pause before she took her hand away.
Dean smiled again and turned to go. "I have to get going, it's not safe for me to linger."
"Wait," she said, putting her hand on his arm. "There's something I wish you to have. Stay here a moment."
In a swirl of robes she was around the corner and shuffling in the drawing room. Dean frowned but stayed put. When she came back she was holding something small and glittering in her palm. She took Dean's hand and placed the necklace into it, curling his fingers around the charm.
"This is the Timeturner," she said, looking Dean straight in the eye. "It may come in handy while you're out there. If you turn the dial on the side it will rewind time for you and anyone else who has the chain around their neck. If you get into a situation that you cannot escape from, turn the dial and run as far and fast from that place as you can. The more you turn the dial, the farther back it goes. Use it wisely."
Dean looked down at the pendant in his hand, eyes wide with fascination. "Thank you, Professor," he said softly, looking back up at her. She smiled softly and nodded.
"It is the least I can do. It is my job to keep you safe, and I can't very well do that when you're running off into the wilderness alone. Just make sure you come back in one piece once this whole thing is over."
Dean felt a sharp pain in his chest. "I doubt this will ever be over, Professor," he whispered, slipping the pendant around his neck and tucking it into his shirt. McGonagall just smiled.
"You better be on your way," she said. "I'll make sure he gets the letter. Be careful."
Dean nodded and turned towards the door again, opening it slowly and looking over his shoulder to offer his old Professor a quick, 'Thank you', before hurrying out the door and pulling his hood over his head; turning on the spot and disapparating.