Summary: After Dumbledore's death, Minerva struggles to come to terms with the loss of her husband while trying to take over the important role as headmistress. After reliving their most precious moments together she must accept the fact that she is alone and that he is never coming back. But is she truly as alone as she has led herself to believe?
The former Deputy Headmistress raised her wand and pointed it to the sky where the dark mark had formed. A small light glowed from the tip of her wand. The students and staff around her followed in her example, extending their own wands to rid the sky of the dark mark. Within seconds it was gone, replaced by the threatening thunderclouds, which seemed almost comforting in comparison to the dark mark.
Minerva McGonagall, her hand shaking profusely, lowered her wand and stared helplessly at her husband of fifty years, Albus Dumbledore, who now lay dead before her. He had been killed by none other than their colleague, Severus Snape, who had betrayed them all.
Wake up, her heart screamed, Wake up, my love, please. He didn't look like he was dead; he appeared to be sleeping, though she knew better.
It took everything she had to stop herself from running forward and throwing herself at Albus, crying and screaming for him to come back. A ghost of a smile hovered beneath her lips at the thought of it, she knew full well that Albus would have wanted her to be strong, and he would have thought that she was acting immaturely. After all, their marriage had been a secret.
A heavy downpour had started falling from the sky, as if the world was crying, too. A few tears escaped from her eyes, but they were disguised by the rain drops. She began ushering students back into the castle, all the while muttering nonsense about how they could catch a cold from being outside in the rain. However, she didn't feel like catching a cold would be so terrible at that moment. Minerva felt like she had been hexed with the jelly-legs jinx, though she was trying her best to stand tall and brave for the students and staff who were all looking to her for what to do next.
Soaked to the bone and freezing, she helped lift Dumbledore's body onto a magical stretcher and watched as the nurses levitated his body into the castle. Madam Pomfrey, the head-matron of the school, McGonagall's best friend, and one of the only members of the staff to know about Albus and Minerva's secret marriage, left the other nurses and came back for Minerva, who was standing rooted to the spot where Albus's body had been.
Minerva's hat was clenched in one hand and her long black hair had fallen out of the bun and was flattened against her head. She looked positively dreadful, but Poppy Pomfrey knew better than to comment on that. The rest of the staff had retired to the castle, leaving the two friends standing alone in the pouring rain. Poppy wrapped her arms around Minerva in a comforting hug, both of their shoulders shaking with sobs. Together they turned and walked slowly to the castle.
The portraits of past headmasters were hurrying around, frantically looking for news on what had happened to Headmaster Dumbledore. When the doors swung open to reveal a very sorry looking McGonagall, the headmasters all stopped to look at her. There was silence, and then all at once the portraits began to drown her with questions.
"What happened, Professor?"
"Is Dumbledore alright?"
"Tell us everything!"
"Dear, you don't look very good. Are you feeling alright?"
"Please, she's fine. Now if everyone would quiet down, I'm sure she would tell us." That silenced the other headmasters who were now staring impatiently at her once again.
Minerva drew in a shaky breath, feeling as if her lungs had dissolved suddenly. "Headmaster Dumbledore is dead." She paused while the portraits gasped and cried out in grief. "He was killed by Severus Snape earlier this evening." The portraits nearly exploded, some yelling in anger, others crying in shock.
Soon Minerva's own cries were drowned out by the portraits and she sunk to the ground with her face in her hands. "What will I do without you, Albus?" She whispered through the tears. Her heart was broken and she had never felt so abandoned. Get a hold of yourself, Minerva. You're supposed to strong and in control. Albus would never want his Deputy Headmistress behaving in such a way. Her thoughts broke off suddenly and her eyes widened. "Merlin's beard…I am the Deputy Headmistress." The past headmasters were silent again.
"You were, dear Minerva. However, as of recent events, I believe you are now Headmistress McGonagall." Former Headmaster Dippet spoke from his picture frame, where he sat on an antique wooden chair against a dark background.
Minerva seemed to be herself once again, more or less. Her hand reached up to cover her mouth as she stifled a gasp. Her eyes wondered around the Headmaster's large office. It had never felt as foreign to her as it did at that moment. The useless muggle things that had always fascinated Albus seemed to be lifeless, no longer interesting at all. The windows that usually looked out onto the gleaming lake now cast a depressing gray light into the room. His desk with the long-backed chair seemed to be towering over her, daring her to sit. However, the worst of all was a door behind the desk that was cracked open just enough to allow her to see the darkness within. The door, unknown and usually hidden to most, led into Albus and Minerva's private quarters; their sitting room, bathroom, and of course, their bedroom.
She couldn't summon enough courage to walk through the door. Instead, her legs, as wobbly as they were, managed to carry her to one of the plush sofas across from Albus's desk. Lowering herself onto the cushions with a sigh, she felt the softness of the material against her cheeks and realized how tired she really felt. With a small frown, she noticed how cold she was as well, but by that time there was nothing she could do, for she was already drifting into a very deep sleep.
Minerva shook her head in an attempt to clear her mind. How could she be the headmistress? Her body shook with fear. How could she possibly walk in the footsteps of the previous headmaster, who had given his life for the school?
Suddenly, she felt a familiar warm presence behind her. "There is nothing you need to fear, my love." A deep bass voice assured her. Spinning around, Minerva saw a very strange sight. Albus stood a few feet away looking as alive and healthy as ever. She gasped and ran into his outstretched arms before he could think to stop her.
She marveled at how perfectly she fit into his arms, knowing that even after fifty years of marriage she would never be tired of his embraces. He kissed her hair, and then her forehead, her cheeks, both eyelids, and finally her lips. She smiled into his lips, relishing in the slight taste and smell of lemon that was left behind from his kiss. She knew well enough that he was constantly eating lemon drops; they were his favorite candy.
Then he stepped away and held her at an arm's length, studying her features. "Minerva, my sweet, sweet Minerva…" He shook his head with a sad smile; his eyes sparkled with tears. "Darling, I'm so very sorry."
A laugh of disbelief shook through her body, sounding odd and unnatural to them both. "It is not your fault, Albus. You shouldn't be apologizing. I should be apologizing."
"Why in the world can you apologize if I can't?" He smiled at her and she felt a wave of love wash over her body, wiping away any and every fear if not for a moment.
"You always told me you would protect me from any kind of danger, whatever it may be, but where was I when you needed to be protected? I wasn't strong enough to save you." He wrapped his arms around her once more, their embrace comforting her far better than anything he said could have. Without saying anything, he took her hand and led her over to the settee where they sat down together. She hadn't realized it before, but they were sitting by the fire in their private quarters.
Albus took both of her hands as they settled themselves comfortably on the sofa. She rested her head on his shoulder while he accio'ed the warm quilt that she always kept folded on their bed. Wrapping it around them both, he took her hands, playing with her fingers as he spoke. His voice sounded rushed, like they didn't have much more time to spend together, and that scared her. She shuddered involuntarily at the thought which he misunderstood as shivering. Albus thought she was cold so he moved closer. "My dear, do you remember when you so valiantly attempted to keep Dolores and the Aurors away from Hagrid when I was banned from the castle?"
"Of course I remember." She replied after a moment, wincing at the memory, and unsure of where he was going with the conversation. The attempt had failed terribly. Before she could draw her wand to defend herself, the Aurors hit her with four simultaneous stunning spells. She had been immediately sent to St. Mungo's Hospital.
"When I heard what they had done to you, I panicked. I felt completely responsible purely because I wasn't there to prevent it. All I could think about was how close I had come to losing you. It was torture, thinking of the pain you must have been in." She grimaced down at their hands, her eyes glistening with unshed tears as he continued. "That is why I am begging you not to feel responsible. My dear, you must understand that it was not your fault. I cannot stand the idea of you torturing yourself over this. I am not in any pain, and I did not feel any pain when my time came. The only pain I can feel now is yours." He squeezed her hands and pulled her into an affectionate embrace.
The room around her began to dissolve. "Albus, what is happening?" Her voice became as rushed as his.
"You're waking up, my love. Let it happen." He stroked her cheek reassuringly.
"I don't want to let it happen. I want to stay with you, please." She was growing hysterical quickly, which only caused her mind to wake up faster.
"We can't always have what we want, my dear. However, I will always be with you, Always." He kissed her one final time as they both faded into darkness.
"Minnie, are you alright? You shouldn't sleep there, you'll be eternally sore and I'll be giving you pain relievers for the next decade." Poppy's soothing voice was the first thing Minerva heard when she woke from her dream.
Minerva startled both herself and her friend when she sat straight up with a cry of shock. Tears poured from her eyes like streams and her breathing was creeping towards hyperventilation. Poppy grabbed onto her shoulders and shook her softly. "Minerva, snap out of it. Min…Min, you're alright. It's all going to be fine."
Nothing Poppy was saying had registered in Minerva's mind. The only thing she could think of was the warmth of the quilt that was wrapped around her. Her breathing hitched as she realized that it was the same quilt that Albus had gotten them in her dream. Now that she thought about it, her lips tasted distinctly of lemon. "Merlin…" She whispered. Poppy was still going on with her 'You're going to be fine' rubbish. Minerva stood up suddenly, receiving a confused look from her friend. "Did you get me this blanket, Poppy?"
"No, of course not. When I came in to check on you, you were clinging to it, fast asleep. I felt like I should wake you. How are you doing, Min?" Poppy placed a comforting hand on Minerva's shoulder, pleasantly surprised that Minerva didn't try to shake it off.
Minerva frowned. What kind of question was that? Her friend, mentor, and love of her life was just murdered by one of their most trusted allies. "I'm feeling bloody brilliant." She muttered bitterly with more than a little sarcasm.
"Don't be short with me, Minerva. I'm here to help." Her friend crossed her arms across her chest in frustration.
A muggle clock chimed from somewhere in the office and it drew both of their attentions. "What time is it?"
"I believe it is 7:00. Dinner just started." Poppy said, watching Minerva's reactions carefully. Her face twisted in confusion at the implied meaning behind the statement.
Minerva held her face in her hands, shaking her head miserably. Her dream was far from forgotten. "What should I do, Poppy? I'm feeling so lost at the moment."
"Minerva McGonagall, you are going to go down to dinner with your head held high. You are going to walk into the Great Hall like you are completely fine. You are going to take your place at the table as Headmistress McGonagall and you are going to reassure your school that they are in good hands and that you have it all under control. They have faith in you, dear. Albus had faith in you, and that's why you were his deputy. If anyone can restore peace to this school, it's going to be you."
AN: Hi there! What did you think? Forever and a Day is my first fanfic and I am thrilled to finally upload it. There will be more chapters up soon, of course, they would probably write themselves faster if I received some feedback. Thank you so much for reading!