That Night, Continued.
After the Feast, Minerva said good evening to the other professors and proceeded to the Gryffindor common room. She made sure that everything was running smoothly and retired to her private chambers. It wasn't long before she heard a knock at the door. With a sigh, she set down her book and got up to answer it. She had been expecting this, and yet, despite the decades she'd had to prepare, Minerva had no idea what to say to-
"Poppy?" Minerva had opened the door to find her good friend Poppy Pomfrey, Hogwart's Medi Witch standing in front of her, a small gray and brown owl perched on her right arm.
"Missing someone?" asked Poppy, smiling.
"How did you know that I-Oh! You mean Paelia?" Turn your brain on, Minerva! Of couse she's talking about the Owl...your missing Owl!
Poppy raised an eyeborw, concerned about her friend's reaction to the return of her missing pet. "Min?"
"Paelia! Where have you been hiding, it's been nearly a week?! Oh, Poppy, thank you for bringing her back. I'm afraid I'm a bit, er, out of touch tonight, start of term and all that, what with...what with Harry Potter finally here..."
"Of course! Entirely understandable," said Poppy, looking at her friend questioningly. Paelia, the small owl, hopped from the nurse's arm to Minerva's left shoulder. "She was locked in a broom closet on the third floor. Bet that awful Mrs. Norris had something to do with it. Damn cats. Can't trust them...I mean, not...not cats...Cats who are just cats, I meant, not..."
"It's okay, Poppy. I know what you meant." Minerva sighed and settled back in the comfortable chair in which she had sat to read her book. "Have a seat, Poppy."
"You seem depressed, Minerva. Care to discuss it?" Poppy ducked as Paelia flew away from Minerva and over the nurse's head to her perch. Poppy sat on the little 'half-couch' (Minerva did not like referring to it as a 'love seat,' as she felt that was awfully silly) and pulled her legs up under her, sitting much the way on of the teenage students might.
"Just tired, Poppy. And stressed. That's all. I can't believe it's already been ten years since the demise of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
"I can't believe it's been eleven years since the birth of your grandchild and you haven't said a word about seeing her today."
"Poppy! How did-"
"Minerva, please! It was I who helped you perform the spells in the first place, back when...when we thought there were no options. Or had you forgotten?"
"I told Albus that Emma Kate helped me to perform the magic. I did not want him to think that you had been deceiving him as well."
"Well, Emma Kate was present, and she did throw her twogalleons in every few minutes. So tell me more about your granddaughter."
Suddenly something dawned on Minerva. "Wait a moment, Poppy. I never told you about Hermione-"
"So that's her name! Hermione." Minerva's eyes narrowed and Poppy averted her gaze.
"Poppy Pomfrey! Just how did you know about my grandchild? And for that matter, it was you who helped me do those spells, and it was you who said that the magic would no longer carry on-"
"I'm sorry, Minerva. I didn't think that...that is to say...I did not finish..." Poppy hopped to her feet and took a couple of steps towards the door. "Perhaps I ought to go."
"I'm sure Albus will be in to speak to you any minute, and I'd prefer to be gone before he arrives."
Minerva stood up rather quickly and grasped the chair for support. "Poppy Pomfrey, you are not telling me something!"
"Goodnight, Minerva. Give my regards to Albus, will you?" With that, Poppy exited Minerva's chambers, leaving Minerva alone again.
Though it was late and she was very tired (not to mention very confused) Minerva did not get ready for bed. She fully expected Albus to call at any moment...but he did not. She fell asleep in her chair, closed book in her hand, and there she awoke the following morning.
In his own chambers, Albus had paced many times back and forth across his sitting room before retiring to his bed. A part of him was dying to go to Minerva, to ask questions, to demand answers, to refuse to leave until he knew everything...But she had told him most everything at dinner, had she not? But why then? And why there? After so many decades of secrets and lies?
He had gone to visit her in her chambers many, many times in the decades since Grindelwald's defeat. He considered her to be, in addition to the great love of his life, his closets friend and confidant. But as he lay in the dark, glasses off, night robes on, tired and yet feeling that sleep was long out of reach he wondered just how much he knew about Minerva McGonagall. At that moment, in the dark, he felt like he hardly knew her at all.
The next morning was typical, except that there was an odd distance between the headmaster and his deputy at breakfast. Albus paid close attention to the students, especially The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter, and his own decendant, Hermione Granger. The Muggle Born. His granddaughter, a muggle? His offspring, a squib? A squib who had no idea that she was a squib, whose knowledge of magic extended only to what she had read in her daughter's Hogwarts acceptance letter...How could that be?
Minerva, too, was lost in her own thoughts. She tried not to stare at the little girl, just as she tried to ignore little Harry Potter just a few feet away from her. He was sitting with a Weasley, Ronald, the second youngest of Molly Prewett's many children. Weasley, Mienrva reminded herself. Molly Weasley. One would think that Minerva would be used to the redhead's married name, as it had been her moniker for over half her life, but the transfiguration professor tended to remember each of her sutdents exactly as they were when they were her students. Fiery Molly Prewett, intelligent Frank Longbottom,sarcastic Bellatrix Black, pre-expulsion Rubeus Hagrid, playful Dedalus Diggle, pudgy Peter Pettigrew-oh, how sorry she felt for the poor little Gryffindor, always tagging after Sirius and James-James. James Potter and Lily Evans, the parents of young Harry. How they had all suffered, the Prewetts, the Potters, the Longbottoms...suffered at the hands of former students like Rabastan Lestrange and Anton Dolohov and Bartemius Crouch, jr...
But her daughter had known none of this. When Minerva made her decision all those years ago, she looked around her and saw suffering everywhere. Suffering and torture and pain and destruction. Tom Riddle was a student then...if only she'd known what he was going to become...
She had done the right thing in depriving her child knowledge and access to the Magic world. A million times she had regretted her past choices. She might have told Albus. They might have married. Their daughter might have attended the school and done great things...
She might have been an animagus, like her mother, a life-savor, like her father...Or she might have been tortured, like Alice (Gregson) Longbottom. She might have been murdered, like Gideon Prewett...
Hermione might not have ever been born...
No, Minerva assured herself for the half-millionth time. I did the right thing. And I will tell Albus as much. Tonight. Or tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow would be better. I will tell him everything.
A/N Okay, this fic was SUPPOSED to be a one-shot, but I keep thinking up new ideas for it, so I'm thinking it will be a short fic for me to work on when I do not have, for example, my notes for my other fics handy so I can't work on them or if I'm just feeling like jotting down a little more. I plan to write about how/why they tell Hermione, and the night Minerva talks to Albus, and maybe when they meet their daughter for the first time. So at least three more little chapters, maybe a fourth just to toss in some admm fluff at the end, but not too much...So please review! And this time I really will give a Sherbet Lemon to anyone who does! :)