Title: Cat’s Tale

Author: Jaya

Rating: FMAO (For Mature Adults Only)

Archive: tayryn’s tower

Disclaimer: The brilliant J. K. Rowling owns them.  I don’t.  They will be returned unharmed.

Summary: Minerva returns to Hogwarts to teach…

Notes: Please note… this story contains a lemon or two… If you don’t want to read lemons you have been warned.   With apologies to Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald…




February 1955


“I don’t know how to tell you this… how you’ll feel but… Min… you’re pregnant.”


The scene that Minerva McGonagall stared at from behind the windowpane was tranquil. Fresh snow blanketed the ground with several feet of white, making everything appear clean and new.  The view seemed to taunt Minerva, the serenity outside in direct contrast with the tumultuous churning of her own emotions.


Her dear friend Poppy’s words echoed in her ears for the thousandth time in the few hours since she’d first heard them.




“Min… you’re pregnant.”  Poppy was as stunned speaking the words as Minerva was hearing them.  “I’ve done the test three times.  There is no mistake.”


“I can’t be, Poppy.  There is no possible way…” Her voice fell to a whisper.  “It was just once… I was only trying to help…” Her head dropped into her hands as the tears started to flow.




“How… How did I get myself into this situation?” Minerva muttered to herself.  Her warm forehead fell against the cold pane of glass as her mind flashed back over the past year.




“Miss McGonagall, welcome back to Hogwarts,” Armando Dippet offered his hand graciously to the elegantly dressed young woman as she exited the carriage that had conveyed her from the train station to the school grounds.  “We’ve been looking forward to your arrival.”


Minerva smiled sweetly at her former headmaster, feeling only slightly disconcerted on meeting him as an adult.  “Thank you so much, Headmaster.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the opportunity to complete my educational requirements here.”


“It isn’t often that one of our former students advances far enough to complete the necessary courses to become a transfiguration master… and from the most prestigious university in all of our world.  You remember our transfiguration professor, Albus Dumbledore?”


The woman that Dippet was helping from the carriage wore a dark green cloak with the hood drawn over her head against the cold of the November day so Dumbledore wasn’t able to see much of her until she turned to him, hand outstretched. The action caused her hood to fall away revealing a mass of ebony hair arranged in an intricate design just above a swanlike neck


“Professor Dumbledore, so good to see you again.  I remember your seventh year classes with great fondness.”


For a moment Albus felt as if he was drowning in the deep emerald pools that greeted him.  Belatedly he raised his hand and lifted hers to his lips.  “Miss McGonagall, you are truly a credit to your school and to your house.”


The smile that Minerva bestowed on Albus was genuine.  It had been sixteen years since she left Hogwarts and Dumbledore had only been her head of house and instructor for her last year of classes but he remembered her pride in being a Gryffindor.


“Professor Dumbledore has taken care of your rooming arrangements,” Dippet offered his arm, leaving Albus to pick up the suitcases from the back of the carriage.  “You’ll be working most closely with him although I’ve made arrangements for you to spend time with all of our staff members.  We are having an informal welcome party before dinner this evening so that you can meet them.”


“I’ve arranged for you to have a private suite in Gryffindor tower, Miss McGonagall,” Albus called from behind.  “I thought you might be more comfortable there.”


“That is very thoughtful of you, Professor.  And please… call me Minerva.”


“Only if you call me Albus.”




As Minerva turned back to her conversation with Armando Dippet Albus was left to stare at her back and reflect on all of the changes he saw in the beauty before him.  He remembered Minerva McGonagall, of course.  She was beginning her seventh year when he first started teaching at Hogwarts and he quickly learned that she was a professor’s dream student.  Her transfiguration skills far surpassed those of any other student in the entire school and he knew that with a bit more training they would rival his own. 


He’d spent a great deal of time with her, especially toward the end of her final year, working with her to discover her animagus form.  Although he hadn’t been present for the first transformation he had received an owl from her, both informing him of her triumph and thanking him once again for all his help.  Albus always knew that she was destined for great things.


It wasn’t her intellect that had him stunned at the moment but instead the great transformation in her personal appearance.  The student that he remembered had been tall and thin, gangly to the point of gawkiness.  Her skin had been just as white then but her face was prone to an occasional blemish and her hair was always caught in a tight braid.


But during the intervening years Minerva had matured and in a very nice way.  Although still thin, the press of her body against her cloak as she had descended from the carriage hinted at generous curves on her once angular body. Her skin was smooth and she walked with the grace of a princess.


Little did Albus realize that his former student was also taking notice of him.  Professor Dumbledore had changed little in the sixteen years since Minerva had left Hogwarts.  Yes, his auburn hair did have a few more streaks of white running through it and perhaps the laugh lines around his face had deepened slightly but he was still firm and fit.  Albus Dumbledore was just as handsome as he had been when she’d had a crush on him during her last year at school.


When they reached the great hall the headmaster turned her over to Dumbledore who led her up the grand staircase to the first level.  “Very little has changed, Miss… Minerva.  Only the passwords. To access the common room you use ‘Cassiopeia chains’.  You have a private entrance into your rooms as well and that password is ‘treacle tarts’… but you may change that one if you desire.”


“So Professor Dumbledore still likes his sweets?” Minerva laughed as she stopped at the portrait Albus had indicated.  “Treacle tarts.”


The painting swung back, revealing the door to her rooms.  Albus put the suitcases just inside the door.  “I’ll leave you to settle in and have a rest.  The welcome party begins at five this evening in the staff room.”  He turned to leave then paused and glanced back over his shoulder.  “It is good to have you back, Minerva.”


“Thank you… Albus.”




‘GO AWAY!’ Minerva didn’t even realize that someone was pounding at her door until her subconscious screamed out.  She sighed as she moved away from the window, drawing her outer robes protectively around her even though, at only five weeks, she knew that her condition wasn’t yet detectable to the eye.


“Come in!” She called, thinking that her visitor would be Poppy come to check on her.


But the woman who entered her rooms wasn’t her dear friend from her school days.  This woman was older by at least twenty years… but she was someone who Minerva counted as a dear friend as well.


“Minerva,” Phoebe St. John, personal assistant to Headmaster Dippet, bustled into the room.  “When you didn’t make an appearance at the evening meal I was concerned.  Are you feeling all right?  I thought perhaps your color looked a bit off at breakfast this morning and then when you didn’t come to dinner I knew that I should check on you.”


Minerva couldn’t help but smile.  Phoebe was always mothering the staff… and one staff member in particular.




“Ah, there you are, my dear.” Albus smiled at Minerva when he saw her approaching the staff room entrance from the opposite end of the corridor.  “I was just about to go in search of you.”


“The staircase decided to move and it took me a moment or two to get my bearings.  I hope I haven’t delayed anything.”


“Not at all,” Albus pushed the door open and led her into the room.


Dippet was waiting nearby and he took over Minerva’s introductions to the staff who were all waiting patiently.  Half of the faculty were holdovers from Minerva’s own school days and they all greeted her fondly, each expressing how proud they were of her achievements both as an auror and as a future transfiguration mistress. 


Minerva thought that she had finally met everyone in the room when she and Dippet were joined by both Albus Dumbledore and a pretty witch with chestnut hair and large violet eyes.  Minerva could tell that the woman was probably in her late fifties but her warm smile made her seem much younger.


“This is my assistant, Phoebe St. John.  She’s a treasure.  Anything that you need in the way of supplies, just contact Phoebe.” Dippet introduced the woman.  Then he saw that Minerva was staring at his assistant’s hand, the right hand that was wearing a large sapphire solitaire and being held lovingly by Albus.  “Albus is trying to steal Phoebe away from me.  I had to protest.  ‘You can marry her’ I told him ‘but you can’t make her quit working for me’.”


“At least not until the children start coming,” Albus interjected, his eyes filled with adoration as he stared at his fiancée.


“Children, he says.  He wants a dozen you know… and him just a big child himself.  Albus, do you really need that candy now?  You’ll ruin your dinner.” Phoebe scolded gently then continued without missing a beat.  “How are you, Minerva?  Albus has told me so much about his best student ever.  I’ve been dying to meet you.  I know we will be great friends!”


Minerva returned the friendly greeting, a bit disappointed to find that Albus Dumbledore was spoken for, but the thought was soon forgotten as she warmed to the vibrant woman chatting with her.


~o~  ****


“I’m fine, Phoebe.  I’m just a little tired.”


“But you missed lunch and then skipped dinner as well!”


“I didn’t intend to skip lunch but the Longbottom boy aimed badly and I had to clean up the mess.  I had an errand to run this evening so I… picked up something in town with a friend.” Minerva quickly lied.  After Poppy had examined Minerva and given her the news food had been the last thing on either of their minds.


“I was going to show you… the design for the attendant’s dresses came today by owl from Madame Malkin.” Phoebe pulled a piece of parchment from a pocket in her robe.  “Aren’t they lovely?  You are going to look fabulous in this shade of blue.  No one will be looking at me once you walk down the aisle.”


“That’s not true and you know it,” Minerva said automatically, her mind going into a new panic upon being reminded that she was play a part in Phoebe and Albus’ wedding.  The ceremony was less than seven months away… but during that seven months Minerva’s body would be undergoing some drastic changes.  She was going to have to come up with an excuse… but that could wait until tomorrow.


“You are sweet to check on me, Phoebe, but I’m fine.”


Minerva tried to hide her slight stumble as her head went woozy when she turned but Phoebe’s eyes were too quick. 


“What did you eat for dinner?”


“I… we ate at a new place… Mediterranean.”


“And you probably only took a few bites.  I’m going to have a house elf bring you a tray and I am going to sit here and watch you eat until every bite is gone.”


“Phoebe, I am all right.  You don’t have to do this.”


“Of course I do.  After all, you looked after Albus for me during those horrible weeks when I was gone.  I owe you so much.”


“You owe me nothing, Phoebe… nothing at all.”


“Oh, Minerva… after everything that happened… how can you say that?  I owe you everything!”




“Your essays will be due on Friday,” Minerva told the class of sixth years sitting in front of her.  “Class is dismissed.”


Once the last student had left the room, Minerva began to pick up the odds and ends that had been left behind, straightening desks and chairs as she moved through the room.  But her mind was obviously not on her work.


Minerva had only been scheduled to assist that day but the time to begin the first class came and went with no Professor Dumbledore.  Finally Minerva decided that perhaps Albus had misread the schedule and began the class on her own, hoping that when he did show up he would understand.  But he had never appeared, not for any class that day.


Her feline ears caught a slight sound near the door and she whirled around to find Albus standing there.  He looked as if he was going to faint.


“Albus!” Minerva quickly caught his arm as he stumbled and helped him to a chair.  “What is wrong?”


He looked up at her with dazed eyes.


Minerva grabbed his shoulders and shook him.  “What is wrong, Albus?  Has something happened to the headmaster?  To Phoebe?”


“Phoebe… She’s gone…”


“Gone!” Minerva stepped back, stunned.  “What do you mean gone?”


“She left.  Last night she told me that she wasn’t sure about marrying me… and then she left.”


“That’s crazy, Albus.  Phoebe loves you.  She can’t wait to marry you.”


Albus’ head fell to his hands and he rubbed his face vigorously before raising it to look at Minerva.  “Phoebe told me that she isn’t sure that I want to marry her, not deep down.  I don’t understand, Minerva.  I love her.  Of course I want to marry her.  Why would she think that I’ve changed my mind?”


“I don’t know, Albus, but we’ll figure it out.  Phoebe will come back.  Maybe she is the one who is getting cold feet.  Did she call the wedding off?”


“No… she just said that she needed some time away.”


“Then she’ll come back and she’ll realize how silly she is being.  The two of you belong together.”




“You didn’t let Albus listen to my silly fears.  That’s why I owe you.  Without you he might not have waited for me… he might have refused to forgive me.”


“There was never any question of him forgiving you, Phoebe.  He adores you.  I could see that the first time that I met you.”


“I know how much your support meant to him when he heard the news.”




“Miss McGonagall, may I speak with you a moment?”


“Of course, Headmaster.  Students, please continue reading in chapter twelve until I return.”


Minerva made sure that she closed the classroom door behind her as she followed Armando Dippet into the hallway.  “Is something wrong, sir?”


“I’m afraid that there is… something dreadful.  I just received an owl from the ministry.  There has been a horrible boating accident off of the coast of Cornwall.  Several people have been reported killed and many are still missing.  One of those reported killed,” Dippet’s voice cracked, “was our own dear Phoebe.”


Minerva staggered; falling back against the wall as tears welled up.  “No… it can’t be true…”


“There were witnesses… and they’ve recovered a body from the sea.”


Tears were now spilling down Minerva’s cheeks unchecked.  “I can’t believe… Albus… how is Albus taking the news?”


“I… I haven’t told him yet.  I just received the owl a few minutes ago and I thought… that is I hoped… that you might…”


Minerva straightened her back and flicked her tears away.  Men just weren’t able to handle emotional situations, she realized.  “I’ll go to him now.  If you could dismiss my class...?”




Albus had fallen apart as Minerva haltingly told him about the accident, just as she knew he would.  He had insisted on apparating to the coast so Minerva had gone with him.  They’d spent two days with the rescue team flying out over the ocean looking for wreckage and bodies.  Albus had enlisted the help of his familiar, Fawkes, and the phoenix had rescued a five-year old boy just before he gave in to exhaustion and slipped beneath the waves.  But the boy was the last living person found.


Finally Albus had been convinced to view the body that had previously been identified as Phoebe’s.  Water damage had ruined the features beyond recognition but in the tiny purse attached to the woman’s clutching fingers was a ring… a very recognizable sapphire ring.


Minerva had portkeyed a broken Albus back to Hogwarts, escorted him to his quarters and tucked him in to bed.  The school nurse had been called to provide Albus with a strong dreamless sleeping potion.


“He needed someone so much during those dark days and I’m sure that Aberforth would have been absolutely useless.  He only knows how to interact with goats.”


Phoebe was speaking, Minerva realized as she dragged her attention back to the present.


“Aberforth helped… in his own unique way.” Minerva smiled hesitantly. “He was the first one to lure Albus out of his rooms.





“Your essays will be due on Friday,” Minerva told the class of sixth years sitting in front of her.  “Class is dismissed.”


Once the last student had left the room, Minerva began to pick up the odds and ends that had been left behind, straightening desks and chairs as she moved through the room.  But her mind was obviously not on her work.


Minerva had only been scheduled to assist that day but the time to begin the first class came and went with no Professor Dumbledore.  Finally Minerva decided that perhaps Albus had misread the schedule and began the class on her own, hoping that when he did show up he would understand.  But he had never appeared, not for any class that day.


Her feline ears caught a slight sound near the door and she whirled around to find Albus standing there.  He looked as if he was going to faint.


“Albus!” Minerva quickly caught his arm as he stumbled and helped him to a chair.  “What is wrong?”


He looked up at her with dazed eyes.


Minerva grabbed his shoulders and shook him.  “What is wrong, Albus?  Has something happened to the headmaster?  To Phoebe?”


“Phoebe… She’s gone…”


“Gone!” Minerva stepped back, stunned.  “What do you mean gone?”


“She left.  Last night she told me that she wasn’t sure about marrying me… and then she left.”


“That’s crazy, Albus.  Phoebe loves you.  She can’t wait to marry you.”


Albus’ head fell to his hands and he rubbed his face vigorously before raising it to look at Minerva.  “Phoebe told me that she isn’t sure that I want to marry her, not deep down.  I don’t understand, Minerva.  I love her.  Of course I want to marry her.  Why would she think that I’ve changed my mind?”


“I don’t know, Albus, but we’ll figure it out.  Phoebe will come back.  Maybe she is the one who is getting cold feet.  Did she call the wedding off?”


“No… she just said that she needed some time away.”


“Then she’ll come back and she’ll realize how silly she is being.  The two of you belong together.”




“You didn’t let Albus listen to my silly fears.  That’s why I owe you.  Without you he might not have waited for me… he might have refused to forgive me.”


“There was never any question of him forgiving you, Phoebe.  He adores you.  I could see that the first time that I met you.”


“I know how much your support meant to him when he heard the news.”




“Miss McGonagall, may I speak with you a moment?”


“Of course, Headmaster.  Students, please continue reading in chapter twelve until I return.”


Minerva made sure that she closed the classroom door behind her as she followed Armando Dippet into the hallway.  “Is something wrong, sir?”


“I’m afraid that there is… something dreadful.  I just received an owl from the ministry.  There has been a horrible boating accident off of the coast of Cornwall.  Several people have been reported killed and many are still missing.  One of those reported killed,” Dippet’s voice cracked, “was our own dear Phoebe.”


Minerva staggered; falling back against the wall as tears welled up.  “No… it can’t be true…”


“There were witnesses… and they’ve recovered a body from the sea.”


Tears were now spilling down Minerva’s cheeks unchecked.  “I can’t believe… Albus… how is Albus taking the news?”


“I… I haven’t told him yet.  I just received the owl a few minutes ago and I thought… that is I hoped… that you might…”


Minerva straightened her back and flicked her tears away.  Men just weren’t able to handle emotional situations, she realized.  “I’ll go to him now.  If you could dismiss my class...?”




Albus had fallen apart as Minerva haltingly told him about the accident, just as she knew he would.  He had insisted on apparating to the coast so Minerva had gone with him.  They’d spent two days with the rescue team flying out over the ocean looking for wreckage and bodies.  Albus had enlisted the help of his familiar, Fawkes, and the phoenix had rescued a five-year old boy just before he gave in to exhaustion and slipped beneath the waves.  But the boy was the last living person found.


Finally Albus had been convinced to view the body that had previously been identified as Phoebe’s.  Water damage had ruined the features beyond recognition but in the tiny purse attached to the woman’s clutching fingers was a ring… a very recognizable sapphire ring.


Minerva had portkeyed a broken Albus back to Hogwarts, escorted him to his quarters and tucked him in to bed.  The school nurse had been called to provide Albus with a strong dreamless sleeping potion.


“He needed someone so much during those dark days and I’m sure that Aberforth would have been absolutely useless.  He only knows how to interact with goats.”


Phoebe was speaking, Minerva realized as she dragged her attention back to the present.


“Aberforth helped… in his own unique way.” Minerva smiled hesitantly. “He was the first one to lure Albus out of his rooms.




“What am I supposed to do?  The old coot is too stubborn for his own good.”


“He needs to get out of bed!  Convince him of that.  Take him into Hogsmeade for a drink, invite him to come visit your goats… anything!” Minerva was exasperated with the ratty looking man in front of her.  How Albus and Aberforth could be brothers she would never know.  She wouldn’t have believed the familial connection existed if the two didn’t have the same blue eyes.


“I’ll ask but…”


“Don’t ask, Aberforth Dumbledore, TELL!” Minerva glared at him.  “The students leave for the winter break in three days.  I’ve covered Albus’ classes for the last two weeks but when the students return in three weeks time they need for their professor to be back in the classroom.  Having something to do will help Albus more than anything but we need to give him a nudge in the right direction.”


Aberforth nodded sullenly and headed toward the bedroom.  Before he pushed the door open he turned back to Minerva.  “If he hexes me it will be on your head!  My goats have to be fed and watered twice a day.”


“Do you think this will work?” Armando Dippet asked from the shadows as he entered the room.


“I hope so,” Minerva sighed.  “I’ve run out of options.”  She bent over the sofa, grabbed the blanket at the end and began folding it.


“You are still sleeping here?” Dippet gestured toward the pillow that remained.


Minerva nodded.  “Albus still wakes up in the night screaming.  I know that my presence here doesn’t look particularly good but…”


Dippet patted Minerva’s arm.  “The staff understands.  They all loved Phoebe and they know how close the two of you were.”


“I need to go down to breakfast.  I think it is important for the students to see me attending meals.”


“I agree.  Several of them have asked me about Professor Dumbledore.”


“And me as well.  I simply tell them that he has had a family emergency.”




Phoebe smiled.  “I’m glad to know that Aberforth did rise to the occasion.  I adore Albus but… my future brother-in-law is just… strange.


Minerva couldn’t help but laugh.  “Abe is just… eccentric... and exasperating.  But he has a good heart.”


“And a lot of very strange ideas… oh, here is your meal.  Come sit down and eat.”


The tray that the house elf brought contained more food than Minerva would normally eat in three meals but when she took the first bite she was surprised to find that she was hungry after all.  Phoebe chattered away while she ate, nonsense chatter about her wedding and the wonderful life she and Albus would have.  That was why Phoebe and Albus were the perfect couple, Minerva had decided.  They both had an amazing childlike quality that complimented each other perfectly.


A sudden lurch of Minerva’s stomach caused her to lay down her fork.  “That was delicious,” she told Phoebe as she patted her mouth with her napkin, “but I couldn’t eat another bite.”


Phoebe eyed the tray critically.  “Okay… I won’t push any more tonight… but make sure that you show up for breakfast in the morning…”


Her visitor would have continued talking but Minerva cut her off suddenly, knowing that she was going to be sick.  “I really am exhausted, Phoebe, all that walking this evening with Poppy.  Perhaps we could talk about the dresses tomorrow?”


“Certainly.  You sleep well, Minerva.” Phoebe bent over the chair and hugged Minerva tightly.


Minerva kept a smile plastered to her face until the door closed then she flung the tray off of her lap and sprinted for the bathroom.




“Albus?  Where are you?” Minerva called, slightly alarmed at the empty bed.  Then she heard a noise in the bathroom.


“I’m here, my dear,” Albus appeared in the doorway, clad in a fresh set of robes with his damp hair neatly combed.


Minerva smiled in approval.  “How are you feeling?”


“A bit weak.  I guess these old muscles of mine are protesting two weeks spent in bed.  It’s time that I give them some exercise.  I thought I might try to go down to dinner this evening… if you will go with me?  I can’t face everyone alone… not yet.”


“I’ll be happy to.  Did you enjoy your visit with Aberforth?”


“My brother always has interesting tales to tell… most of them involving at least one goat.  But he did manage to convince me that I couldn’t cower in bed forever.  I was thinking…”




“Do you think that we might have a small memorial service?  Something that would mark Phoebe’s life and the impact she had here?”


“I think that would be a wonderful idea, Albus.” Minerva agreed, knowing that just such a ceremony might help bring Albus some closure and herself as well.  “I know that Armando would agree.”


“Maybe the weekend before the students return… most of the staff arrives back on Thursday or Friday…”


“Friday afternoon would be perfect.  You could talk to Armando after dinner.” She prompted.


“Yes… Minerva?  Will you help me?  With the planning I mean.  I don’t think I’m up to facing it alone.”


“Of course, Albus,” she knelt beside the bed where he sat pulling on his socks and laid a comforting hand on his knee.  “I’ll always be here to help.”




Minerva practically crawled across the floor of her bedroom and used her last bit of strength to pull her body up onto the bed.  A sob escaped her lips as she settled back against the pillows.


“What am I going to do?” She spoke to the empty room around her but no answer came.


Slowly she began to feel a bit better.  Once her strength began to return she managed to push the bed covers from beneath her and, stripping away her robes, she huddled beneath the blankets.


Her hand moved almost involuntarily to her stomach, her fingers tracing over the still flat planes.  “Oh little one,” she sighed as she spoke her first words to the child she carried.  “I want you so much… but can I give you what you deserve?  You deserve… a father.”




“I’ll be calling YOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!”


Minerva jumped from her bed when she heard two off-key voices singing to the top of their lungs.  She grabbed her robe and hurried toward the door, opening it just as two obviously drunk men staggered past, both leaning on the other for support.


“Aberforth Dumbledore!”


The men stopped and turned their heads, two sets of blue eyes peering intently at Minerva.  “She’s beautiful when she’s angry,” Aberforth told his brother as he struggled to remain on his feet.


“Very… I’m glad it’s * hiccup * you she’s angry at.” Albus was weaving dangerously. “She has a fierce temper, you know.”


Minerva rushed forward and caught him just before he collapsed.  Aberforth fell against a nearby wall.


“I knew this was a bad idea,” she scolded Abe.  Minerva had had severe misgivings about Albus going out with Aberforth after the small memorial service earlier that day but Albus was a grown man after all.  She had been glad that he was interested in going anywhere but still… she’d had a bad feeling.


“Come on,” she told Aberforth, still glaring at him.  “You can sleep on his sofa.”


“Alas, my sweet maiden… I have goats to tend on the morrow so I shall have to bid you a fond farewell.” That said Aberforth tottered back toward the staircase, bumping into walls and banisters and continuing his song along the way.


“You are old enough to know better,” Minerva turned her attention to Albus as she urged him down the hall toward the entrance to his quarters.


“Abe is a coward.  He was afraid of your temper,” Albus told her with the funny mock seriousness only someone completely inebriated can manage.


“And well he should be.  Alcohol isn’t a cure, Albus.”


“No… but it has helped tonight.”


“And in the morning you will regret it.”  Minerva held his waist tightly as she urged him up the two short steps into his sitting room.


“Never regret,” he mumbled.  “There was a good ship named Venus,” Albus began to sing softly as Minerva pushed him to the sofa and began to tug at his boots.  “Whose bow was shaped like a pe…


“ALBUS!” Minerva stopped him short.  “You are just trying to shock me!”


“And I’m succeeding too!”  His boots gone, Albus tried to stand but he quickly fell to his knees, clutching at Minerva’s shoulders to remain upright.  She couldn’t support his weight in such an awkward position but she was able to lower them both fairly gently to the floor.  Albus immediately snaked his arms around her waist and snuggled his head against her bosom.  “Stay with me tonight, sweet kitten.  Please hold me and protect me from the nightmares.”


“Albus, I can’t.  It wouldn’t be…” Minerva realized her protest was falling on deaf ears.  Albus had passed out; his arms still wrapped around her tightly.  Sighing she stretched her hand as far as she could and managed to grab a pillow from a nearby chair.  Slipping it beneath her head she settled back to wait for Albus to wake up.




Minerva was yanked from her fitful sleep by clattering on her windowsill.  She climbed stiffly from the bed and crossed the room to check the noise but when she threw the window open she found nothing but the bare branch of a nearby tree twisting in the breeze.  Shivering against the winter chill she quickly closed and barred the window then pulled heavy red curtains together.


As she climbed back into the bed and pulled the covers back over her nakedness she moaned, realizing that only the outside of her body was cold. Her core was burning up, a residual effect from the dream that she’d been having… the memory she’d been reliving.


~o~  ***


Minerva was hot, so hot that her sleep had been disturbed.  As she slowly woke she could feel the warmth of the fire somewhere off to the left side of her body but this was something more… something internal… something she hadn’t felt in many years… not since Michael…


“Albus…” she moaned, her eyes flickering open to see the top of his auburn head below her chin, her body telling her where his lips were and what they were doing.  She arched instinctively into the pull of his mouth against her swollen breast.  “…you must stop…” Her hands moved to his shoulders and gave a halfhearted push.


“Kitten, you taste so sweet.” Albus’ mouth gave up its pull on her breast but his tongue took over, flicking against the tight peak.  “I need you… you make me feel alive…”


“You’ll regret this in the morning…”


“I told you earlier,” the slurring of Albus words told Minerva that he was still intoxicated but the desire he was provoking in her body made her feel as if she was as well.  “Never regret…” He turned his attention to her other breast leaving Minerva to briefly wonder how he’d managed to open her robes without her knowing.


“But you will… I know it… OOH!”  Minerva cried out as Albus fingers found her center.  His forefinger began to circle the rapidly swelling nub, moving in time with the tongue on her breast.  ‘How much did I sleep through?’ Minerva wondered.  She’d never been roused to passion so easily before.  But then Albus slipped two fingers inside her sheath, his thumb still working her clitoris, and all coherent thought disappeared.


She wanted to protest again.  She knew that Albus was only acting out of drunken loneliness but his words kept echoing over and over in her ears.  “…You make me feel alive…” Her own body was betraying her, after ten years of abstinence she couldn’t seem to help herself.


“Yes, kitten, that’s it!” Albus felt a surge of triumph when Minerva’s sheath clenched around his fingers, her juices flooding out onto his palm, but still he continued to stroke, to tease and caress.  Her body bucked beneath his as her first climax fully overtook her.


Her own unique smell teased his nostrils and he knew that he needed more.  “Taste,” he murmured as his head moved lower, his lips trailing over her stomach to reach her plump mound.  “Let me taste you, kitten.”


Minerva was in no shape to stop him… didn’t even know what he was doing until his lips took the place of his thumb.


“No… you mustn’t…” she protested.  No man had ever touched her as Albus was doing.  “It’s…” she couldn’t continue because she found she didn’t want Albus to stop.  His agile tongue was working a unique sort of magic on her, darting around her folds and over the bud of her desire, joining his thrusting fingers in probing the inner recesses of her body, then starting the cycle again.


“I’m dreaming,” she murmured over and over.  “I must be dreaming.”


Minerva lost count of the number of times her body peaked and fell, each time more exquisite than the last.  But each time that she neared her release she begged for something more… she needed Albus to fill her completely.  And finally he did.


Just the probing touch of his rigid staff sent Minerva over the edge yet again, her body convulsing beneath Albus as he struggled against his own needs.  Somehow, even in his intoxicated state, he knew that he could hurt Minerva so he moved slowly, first the swollen head, then a few more inches, and a few more.  She grabbed him tightly with her inner muscles once he was fully seated and for a moment Albus felt an overwhelming sense of... rightness... of being exactly where he was meant to be.


And then he moved and the earth stood still.  Minerva’s hands gripped his bottom, her fingernails digging into his butt cheeks as she urged him on.  Albus began to piston in and out of her as if his life depended on it and who knows, perhaps at that moment it did.  He rode her hard but she met him thrust for thrust, both her lips and her body telling him what she needed.


Finally the earth moved again, the heavens spinning above them as solid ground fell from beneath their feet.  Minerva knew that she screamed as she fell and she heard Albus’ voice mingled with her own.  She felt his warmth bathe over her womb with an acuteness that she’d never known before.  She tried to hang on to her sense of self but her struggle was in vain.  Albus was there… they were one… hearing each other’s thoughts… seeing each other’s souls… and then consciousness left them.




‘How could I have behaved so recklessly?’ Minerva asked herself as she had done practically every day since that scandalous night five weeks ago.  ‘I knew he didn’t love me.  And I didn’t love him…’


‘Come now, Minerva,’ her conscience prompted her.  ‘You are a Gryffindor.  You aren’t afraid to face the truth.’


“But I was afraid…”




The cold of the stone floor seeping up through her back pulled Minerva from a heavy sleep.  She struggled to open her eyes, not really understanding where she was until she felt the gentle movement over her breast.  Her eyes flew open as Albus snuggled even more deeply into her.


‘Oh God, what have I done?’ Minerva panicked.  Summoning all of her strength she pushed Albus over onto his back, grabbed her robe and fled from the room.


She’d hidden in her rooms all day long, terrified of facing Albus.  When night fell she’d climbed into her bed exhausted.  But sleep wouldn’t come.  Minerva had tossed and turned for hours, torn between her embarrassment at what she and Albus had done and her body’s longing to do it again.


Consequently she overslept on Sunday.  Breakfast was long past so she ran a hot bath and soaked for over an hour as she played different scenarios out in her head.  Finally Minerva decided on the direct approach.  She would greet Albus firmly, let him know that she wasn’t expecting anything of him, and leave the next step to him.


So why was she taking extra care on her appearance?  Minerva growled at her image in the mirror when she realized what she was doing then dropped her hairbrush to the counter and resolutely left her quarters.


Minerva didn’t have to wait long.  She’d barely reached the landing when Albus appeared at her side.


“Good morning, Albus.” She offered.


“Good morning, Minerva,” Albus returned somewhat sheepishly.  “I’m afraid that I owe you a bit of an apology.”


Minerva felt her cheeks go hot but she kept her head high.  “Whatever for?”


“I’m afraid I was a bit intoxicated the other evening…okay, I was downright snockered.  I remember that you helped me to my quarters but after that… I’m sure I was probably a handful to get tucked into bed.”


“Tucked in?” Minerva’s eyebrows furrowed but Albus didn’t notice.


“I am sorry if I did anything disgusting.  Aberforth told me that I threw up on someone’s shoes at the Hogs Head.”


“No… you didn’t do anything… disgusting.  You don’t remember anything after I got you to your quarters?”


Albus shook his head.  “I seem to remember heading to the floor at some point and that’s it.”


Minerva exhaled slowly, mostly relieved but a touch regretful.  She raised her hand and opened her mouth to speak but at that instant a shout rang through the entry hall.




It was a voice they both knew well.


Phoebe ran across the hall toward the stairs at the same time that Albus took off down the staircase, Minerva close behind him.  Phoebe threw herself at Albus.  He grabbed her and pulled her close, burying his face in her brown tresses.


Minerva held herself back a few steps, wanting to give the reunited couple a few moments alone but curious to know what had happened to Phoebe in the weeks that she had been gone.  Her friend had obviously lost weight.  Her hair was dull and her face was gaunt.


After a few moments spent sobbing in each other’s arms, Phoebe lifted her head and saw Minerva standing nearby.  She held out her arm and pulled her friend into the embrace.  Minerva returned the hug wholeheartedly, sincerely glad that her friend was alive.


“What happened, Phoebe?  We looked and looked…” Albus asked.


“The boat sank… somehow a few of us made it to an island… my wand was lost and we had no way to contact anyone.  We were beginning to give up hope when a fisherman spotted our signal fire yesterday.”


“They told us you were dead… your ring…”


“I had the ring in my handbag… someone stole the bag from me… I was searching for it when the collision happened…”


“It doesn’t matter.” Albus pulled Phoebe back into him.  “You’re back now.  That’s the only thing that is important.”  He wrapped an arm around Minerva’s waist to hold her in the embrace.


Minerva stiffened as heat spread through her back, radiating out from his arm.  Albus raised his head and stared at her, a strange look in his eye.


“The two of you need some time alone to celebrate.  Come see me later, Phoebe.” Somehow Minerva managed to stammer out the words and back out of the embrace.  As soon as she was out of sight of the couple she broke into a run.




“I don’t love Albus Dumbledore!” She shouted to the empty air.  “He is my teacher, my mentor.  He is going to marry one of my dearest friends.  I can’t love him!”


But saying the words didn’t make them true and at the instant deep in her heart Minerva knew that, in spite of her denials… in spite of the fact that she adored Phoebe and would never want to hurt her… she did love Albus Dumbledore.  She had loved him since she was a student.  And even though she would never tell him… she was going to have his child.






Part 2 – September 1955


“Nooooooooo!  Make it stop Poppy!  I can’t do this anymore!” Minerva begged through the haze of her pain.  “Please make it stop!”


Poppy sighed as she mopped the sweat from Minerva’s brow.  After more than thirty hours of labour she knew that Minerva had reached her breaking point but she was almost at wits end herself.  Minerva refused a hospital under any circumstances other than the imminent threat of death to her child. 


“Okay, listen to me.  I know that you are tired, Min, but you are so close.  I can just see the top of the baby’s head.  A few more really good pushes are all we need.” Poppy gripped both of Minerva’s hands tightly.


“No… I can’t!” Tears poured from Minerva’s eyes.


“You can and you will.  You are a Gryffindor!  Use that damned courage you are so proud of!  Now, Minerva… PUSH!”




“…And with just a little extra work on my part I can complete my requirements by the spring holiday, if that meets with your approval.” Minerva finished her carefully rehearsed speech and folded her arms in her lap, waiting for Armando Dippet’s reply.


To her surprise he didn’t respond immediately.  Instead he stared at her intently for several moments before he began to speak.  “I have no problem at all with that, Minerva.  Your work for us has been exemplary.  In fact, I have wanted to speak to you about the possibility of you returning to us next year as a member of our faculty.”


“Headmaster, I…” the smile that had broken out on Minerva’s face faded just as quickly.  “I didn’t know a position was available.”


Dippet sighed, still watching Minerva closely.  “We will have an opening for a Defense against the Dark Arts teacher.  I realize that this isn’t your specialty but you will have the required teaching credentials and your years as an auror makes you perfect for the position.”


Minerva willed the tears not to come.  “Teaching at Hogwarts has been my dream… but I won’t be able to accept the position.  I’m sorry, Headmaster.”


“May I ask why?”


“I… I am going to be occupied until well into the fall… a family matter…”


“It isn’t because… has anything happened here at Hogwarts that is influencing your decision?”


“…No!  My time here has been wonderful.” Minerva hoped that Dippet hadn’t noticed her slight hesitation.


But he had.  “Nothing at all?  Because I am here to listen and to help, Minerva.  If any member of the faculty has… taken advantage of you… you must tell me.”


“Oh no, it wasn’t…” Minerva’s voice faded and she lifted her eyes to meet Dippet’s gaze.  “Why would you say that?”


Armando stood and moved around his desk to sit in the chair beside Minerva.  He reached out and took her hand in his.  “Old men sometimes have trouble sleeping.  When that happens to me I tend to wander around the castle.  Most nights it’s very quiet.  But sometimes I see things…”


“You saw…” Minerva whispered, her eyes closing again.


“I saw you fleeing from Professor Dumbledore’s rooms early in the morning after the memorial service” Dippet confirmed.  “Your… person… was in disarray.  You left the door open to his quarters and I was concerned so I entered his sitting room and found Albus sleeping there on the floor, also in disarray.”


“You are the person who put him to bed and tucked him in.” Minerva finally understood.


“I used my wand to levitate him to his bed and transform his robes into pajamas.  I discovered the next day that he had little memory of the evening.  Minerva, I know that Albus was extremely intoxicated… but that is no excuse… if he misbehaved… if he violated your person… he must be held accountable for that.”


“Oh no,” Minerva quickly told Dippet.  “It wasn’t like that…” She blushed, not believing that she was talking about this with her former headmaster.  “I was caught a bit off guard… but Albus didn’t force me.  He was so lonely… I just wanted to help him.  I didn’t mean for that to happen… but… I couldn’t stop…myself… I didn’t want to stop him.”


“It’s all right, child.  You don’t have to explain anything to me.”


“But I don’t want you thinking badly of Albus.  He doesn’t even realize what happened.  And now that Phoebe is back, it’s better that way.  They are so happy since they’ve worked everything out.  Phoebe is my friend and I wouldn’t want her hurt for the world.”


Something appeared in Dippet’s eyes that looked very much like admiration. “You are an amazing woman, Minerva McGonagall, and I would very much like for you to teach here.  If you are happy for Albus and Phoebe why can’t you do that?  Unless… oh my dear… were there… consequences?”




Minerva fell back into the pillows, breathing heavily and trying to muster her strength as she waited for the next contraction to hit. 


‘Consequences… yes, headmaster, there certainly were consequences,’ she thought as she rubbed her belly.


Armando Dippet had urged her to tell Albus about the baby.  Surely Phoebe would understand, he’d said.  She and Albus might even be willing to adopt the child.


Minerva had immediately balked at that suggestion, quickly letting Armando know that she intended to raise her child herself.  Adoption was out of the question.  She did reconsider the question of whether or not to tell Albus for several days… until the afternoon that Phoebe came to her quarters….




Minerva stared at the stack of third year essays and sighed as she grudgingly picked up the top one and began to grade it.  She’d been putting this off all morning, not intentionally, but because the baby had decided to be contrary and she’d spent most of the morning in the lavatory.


“You have to start behaving yourself soon, kitten,” Minerva rubbed her stomach.  “Mummy needs to keep a little food down every now and then.”  For some reason over the past two weeks Minerva had discovered that talking to the baby helped calm her own fears.


The hinges of the portrait squeaked as the picture swung open so Minerva was ready for the quick rap at her door. She swore softly as she once again glanced at the stack of papers.


“Come in.”


Phoebe entered the room slowly, her head down.  Minerva knew immediately by the absence of her friend’s usual bustling pace that something was wrong.


“Phoebe, come sit.  Would you like tea?”  She knew that Phoebe would begin to talk in her own time.


“That would be nice.  I just thought I’d see how you were doing today.  I noticed that you didn’t eat much at breakfast.  That stomach flu seems to be holding on.  Perhaps you should go see Poppy again.”


Minerva smiled at her friend’s concern.  “I’m feeling much better.  My stomach just grew smaller during the time I was ill.  I don’t want quite as much food as I normally do right now.  You are so sweet to worry about me.”


The two women settled themselves into comfortable chairs near the fireplace and Minerva served the tea that the house elf had brought.  She nibbled a biscuit somewhat fearfully but was pleased to find that the ginger cookie seemed to suit the baby’s taste.


Conversation meandered for a bit until finally Minerva sensed that Phoebe was ready.  “So, why don’t you tell me what you really want to talk about?”


“I… oh, Min, you know me so well.  I just have to talk to someone and I can’t talk to Albus.”


“I hope that you always feel that you can talk to me.”


“I… I am afraid that something is wrong and I don’t really know what to do.  Albus is so wonderful and he just loves children.  We’ve been talking about a family since our second date…”


Minerva struggled to keep her emotions from her face.  “You’ll make wonderful parents.”


“I think so too… but why aren’t we already?  Albus and I have been engaged for over six months and we’ve been together for almost two years.  I stopped using protection over a year ago but I’m still not pregnant.  Albus is very virile, if you know what I mean.  Almost every night… especially since my return… and he’s so wonderful…”


“Phoebe!  I don’t need to know all the details.” Minerva quickly interjected.


“No… of course not… but I should be pregnant, Min.  I just know that the problem isn’t me but do you think Albus would be willing to go to a healer for a check-up?  I’m just not sure.  In many ways you know him better than I do so what do you think?”


Minerva bit her bottom lip as she stared at the teacup in her lap.  What could she say?


“Unless you’ve been to a healer you don’t know that the problem doesn’t lie with you.  So I think that you should be open and honest with Albus.  Tell him your concerns and suggest that the two of you go to a specialist together.  That way he knows that your main concern is conceiving a child, not placing the blame on him.”


“Minerva, that’s brilliant.  I don’t know why I didn’t think about a joint trip!”  Phoebe flew out of the chair, her usual buoyancy returned.  She hugged Minerva hard.  “Thank you so much, Min!  You are the best friend in the world!”


Minerva watched Phoebe fly out of the room, fighting back the tears in her eyes.  How could she tell Albus now?  Not when he and Phoebe were trying to start a family of their own.


“I guess that it’s just you and me after all, kitten,” she told her stomach.  “But we’ll be fine.  We are McGonagalls after all.”




“Poppy!  Oh God!  Poppy!”  Minerva screamed for her friend.  Poppy whirled around and flew back to the bedside.


“What?” She demanded as she hurriedly drew her wand and began casting spells.


“Something is wrong!  I can feel it!”


“Yes,” Poppy quickly confirmed.  “The baby’s heartbeat is dropping.  We need to get you to a hospital… but there may not be time.”


“Please don’t let anything happen to my baby, Poppy!”


Poppy dropped her wand and slipped onto the stool at the end of the bed.  “Listen to me Minerva McGonagall.  When your next contraction starts you are going to push this baby out.  No arguments!”


“Please,” Minerva begged her unborn child quietly as she felt the now familiar tensing muscles signaling the beginning of the contraction.  “We’ve been through too much for it all to go wrong now…”




The wail of the train whistle covered the first call of her name but as the sound faded, Minerva heard her friend’s voice yelling for her.


“Not now… oh please, not now…” she muttered then steeled herself and pasted a smile on her face.


“Min, I can’t believe that you were leaving without saying goodbye to us!” Phoebe exclaimed as she ran up the platform steps.  “We were going to throw you a going away party and everything!”


“You are sweet to want to do that, Phoebe, but I prefer things this way.  I hate saying goodbye.  I don’t want a big fuss made over my leaving.”


“But a fuss should be made,” Minerva turned to stare at Albus.  “You have been a tremendous asset to Hogwarts this year and everyone is sorry to see you go.”  Was that a touch of sorrow in his voice?


“I am grateful to everyone for their patience and their assistance but my work is complete.”  Minerva turned away.


“Couldn’t you at least stay until the end of the year?” Phoebe begged.  “I have so many things to do for the wedding and I could use your help.  You’ll have to come back in August anyway for the wedding.”


Minerva briefly debated offering an excuse for missing the occasion now but quickly decided against it.  A carefully worded owl would leave no room for debate.  “I have so much to do over the next few months to finalize my degree.  London is a much closer base for me to work from.  And I have some… family obligations… Oh!”


Albus reached for Minerva’s arm to support her as she gasped and lurched forward.  “Kitten, are you all right?”


Minerva didn’t realize that Albus had used his special nickname for her until she saw Phoebe’s eyebrows rise.  “I’m fine.” She stepped back, pulling her arm away.  “I’m just fine.”


Had either Albus or Phoebe been asked they might have made note of a sudden sparkle in Minerva’s eyes although neither would have had any idea what put it there.  How could they know that at that moment Minerva felt the three and a half month old fetus within her move for the first time?


At that moment the train whistled its last call for all boarders. 


“I have to go.” Minerva held her hand out only to find Phoebe pulling her into a close embrace.


“I’m going to miss you so much.”


“And I will miss you.” Minerva quickly pulled away; concerned that Phoebe might notice the change in her body’s contours.  “I will miss both of you.”  She offered her hand to Albus.


He shook his head and smiled, not willing to settle for a handshake either.  He wrapped his long arms around her.  For just one second Minerva allowed herself the luxury of resting her cheek against his strong chest.  She inhaled deeply, wanting to memorize his unique scent.


“Take care of yourself, kitten.” Albus whispered.


For just an instant Minerva was afraid that he had remembered what happened between them but she quickly decided that she was wrong.  “Thank you for everything, Professor,” she offered him a quick smile and a jaunty hand salute used only by Gryffindors.  “Take care of each other.”


Minerva picked up her bag and with one last smile at the couple, now holding hands, she boarded the train, refusing to look back.




“That’s it, Min!  Keep pushing!  You can do it!  I have the head.  Once the shoulders are out it will be so much better.” Poppy yelled encouragement as she worked.  Secretly she was damning the father of Minerva’s baby, who ever he might be.  Her friend needed to be in a hospital.  She would be in a hospital if she didn’t have to keep her child a secret.  “That’s it, love… Just a few more seconds!”


Minerva was pressing her lips together, trying to stifle the scream that the pain was causing but she continued to bear down, trying desperately to believe Poppy’s claims that the end was almost near.  And then she felt her child slide free of her body.


“It’s a girl, Min!  You have a daughter!” Poppy managed to convey as she worked quickly over the baby, using her wand to cut and cauterize the cord then swiftly wrapping the squirming infant in a warm blanket. 


The tiny girl let out a loud yell when Poppy tickled her feet and continued to scream until she was finally placed in her mother’s arms.  At that point she blinked and went silent, staring at her mother with serious blue-gray eyes as she tried to shove her entire fist into her mouth.


“She’s hungry.”


“She’s got a big mouth just like her mum.” Poppy replied, beaming brightly at her new goddaughter.  “Now let me start cleaning her up while you rest.  I don’t have long before I’ll have to attend to you again.”


Minerva reluctantly passed her daughter over to Poppy and lay back in the pillows as she watched her friend give her daughter a bath then dress her and place her in her bassinet.  The baby let out a yell when Poppy’s hand left her.


Poppy laughed over the crying baby as she rolled the bassinet to the side of the bed.  Minerva managed to twist so she could look inside and at the sight of her mother; the baby once again stopped crying.


“Well she certainly knows who she belongs to.”




A sob escaped Minerva’s lips as she woke to a dark lonely room.  She knew that her friend Poppy Pomfrey was sleeping soundly just down the hallway but it wasn’t Poppy’s company that she longed for.


“I miss your daddy, kitten.” She whispered to her large belly as she softly caressed it.  “I know I shouldn’t… I have no claim to his time… no right to his love… but I miss him.”


Minerva had been dreaming.  In her dream she and Albus were together, a happy couple awaiting the birth of their child.  Albus had held her tenderly, his palms fondling her swollen belly, as he’d loved her ever so gently, first with his mouth and then with his body.  Over and over again he told her how beautiful she was, how sexy he found her, his words caressing her ears as his hands stroked her body.


She bloomed beneath his ministrations and her body soon found release.  But still he’d continued.  They molded together perfectly, mother, father and child.  And when the loving was complete Albus bathed her gently then carried her back to the bed where they’d cuddled and planned their future together.


“But that can’t be, can it, kitten?  Your daddy loves Phoebe and he is going to marry her… today.  Oh, kitten… your daddy is getting married today!” Minerva couldn’t keep the sorrow from her voice.  She was happy for Albus and Phoebe, she truly was… but a small part of her psyche couldn’t help but wish that things had been different from the beginning.


The baby seemed to sense her sorrow and began to wiggle about.  “So… you want to play, to you?” Happiness returned to Minerva’s voice as she climbed out of bed and moved to the small rocker in the corner of her room.  Once she was seated she began to make a survey of her stomach with her fingertips.  The room was still dark but she didn’t need light to see the ripples and eddies in her stomach.  Before long she had found the baby’s feet and began to press harder against them.  The baby soon kicked back then moved, inviting Minerva to hunt the feet again.


The game kept her distracted from thoughts of the wedding until the morning sun was streaming through the window.  Poppy cracked the door to check on her friend as she did every morning but today she was surprised to find Minerva up and dressed.


“Let’s do something fun today, Poppy.  Let’s… go to a muggle movie or picnic in a park… something special!”


“What’s so special about today?” Poppy laughed, quickly catching her friend’s enthusiasm.


“Today is special because it’s one day closer to me meeting my little kitten.”




Come on, kitten… that’s it… Oh, Poppy!  She’s doing it!  She’s eating!”


“Finally!” Poppy rolled her eyes melodramatically.  “It’s about time.  We’ve been trying to get her to latch on for almost an hour.  How does it feel?”


“It feels…” Minerva searched for the right word, “… different.  Nothing like when a man does it.”


“A man isn’t interested in getting a mouthful of milk.  Does it hurt?”


“There is some pain… but nothing unbearable.  Look at her eat, Poppy!  She does have a healthy appetite, I just know it!”


“Of course she does.  She just has a stubborn streak.  I wonder who she got that from!”


“My daughter simply wanted to be held a certain way.”


“Well, I hope she gets over it before you have to change to the other side or you are going to end up with an extremely lopsided chest!”


Minerva was grateful for all of Poppy’s help but now that the baby had finally learned how to suckle she wanted only to be left alone to stare at this wonderful miracle she and Albus had created.


Poppy seemed to sense this.  “Do you think you’ll be okay if I pop out to Diagon Alley to pick up a few things?”


“We’ll be fine.” Minerva had had a short nap while Poppy checked the baby thoroughly.  “But before you go, could you put some parchment and a quill where I can reach it?”


Poppy brought a small portable writing desk to the bed.  “Are you going to… no, its none of my business.”


“You are my best friend in the entire world, Poppy Elspeth Pomfrey.  Everything about me is your business.”


“I was just wondering if you were going to write her father.”


Minerva shook her head sadly.  “I wish that were possible but it isn’t.  There is someone else that I promised though…” She watched as Poppy turned to go.  “Poppy… thank you for not asking.  Someday… when I’m able… I’ll tell you.”


Poppy nodded, eyes gleaming with unshed tears.  “I’ll send an owl in to deliver your letter for you, Min.”


After a few moments of nervousness Minerva managed to balance the baby in one arm and hold the quill with the other as she carefully thought about what she wanted to write…




“So you go tomorrow.  I am sorry to see you leave us, Minerva, although I do understand why you have to go.”  Armando Dippet took her offered hand and squeezed it tightly.  “But I have high hopes that one day you will be back.”


“I had hoped…” Minerva shook her head resolutely.  “I am doing what I have to do… what is right.  I have to leave Hogwarts.”


“Promise me,” Dippet hesitated, not sure that he had any right to make the request, “…let me know… send me an owl when the child is born.”  It was the first time that either of them had said the words openly, without euphemisms.  “I won’t tell another soul, I promise you.  I only want to know that you are both safe and healthy.”




‘Dear Headmaster Dippet,’ Minerva wrote, ‘the tabby has delivered a healthy baby kitten and pink is the colour of the day.  At this moment I find that the consequences were most certainly worth it.’


She folded the tiny piece of parchment without signing it and handed it to the owl.





Interlude – November 1955


“Ouch!  She definitely has a fantastic grip!  This little one is going to be as great a flyer as her mother.”


Minerva laughed as she carefully untangled her daughter’s tiny fists from Armando Dippet’s beard.  “According to Poppy, my kitten has inherited many of her mother’s traits… not necessarily all of the good ones.  She can exhibit a bit of a temper when she is hungry or wet.”


“She certainly inherited your looks.  Except for the eye color I see very little of her father in her at all.”


“All babies have blue eyes,” Minerva answered, a bit icily.  “Hers will change.”


“I’m sorry, my dear,” Armando reached out with one hand to pat her knee while balancing the baby on his lap with the other, “I didn’t mean to upset you.”


Minerva quickly smiled at the old man.  “I’m still a bit emotional.  Poppy says that’s normal.  Pay me no mind.  Tell me about Hogwarts.  How are my students doing?  They must have all grown so much over the summer.”


Although she had been gone from the school for almost six months Minerva found that once the time for the autumn term began, she missed her pupils more and more.


Armando spent the next half-hour regaling her with stories of student antics before he finally worked the conversation around to the second reason for his visit.  (The first being to see the new baby, of course.)


“It’s a shame really.  The new Defense against the Dark Arts professor just isn’t working out.  He has already informed me that he won’t be returning after the winter break.  The fifth and seventh years will suffer the most... I hope their exam scores won’t be too bad.”


“Armando…” Minerva cautioned, clearly seeing where her former headmaster was going.  “I have a baby and I can’t really see me carrying her around the halls of Hogwarts on my hip.”


“What if we could make alternate arrangements?  You could teach… and still be at home with your baby every evening.”


“How?” Minerva couldn’t stop herself from asking.  She bit her lip, angry with herself that she missed teaching so much.


“I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking.  I have a small summer cottage in the countryside just beyond Hogsmeade.  You could live there with the little one.  It would only be a short distance to apparate and you could also use the floo network from my office to travel back and forth as well.  We could even arrange for you to miss the evening meal at least twice a week and I’d cover your weekend duties.”


Minerva shook her head gently.  “I hope that my child will be a brilliant witch but I think she needs to be a little older before I leave her all alone.”


Armando rolled his eyes.  “My sister’s youngest grandchild started Hogwarts this year, leaving their nanny looking for a new position.  Nanny Crump has been with the family ever since Giselle had her first child and she’s worked her way through all the grandchildren.  She is wonderful with babies.  There is room for her at the cottage and the little one would be loved as if by her own grandmother.”


Minerva sighed.  She knew that she was going to have to find a job soon because her savings were almost exhausted.  She had been talking with Beauxbaton, the French Wizarding School about the possibility of a position there but did she really want to move to another country?


“You make it sound so easy…” Minerva stood and began to pace the room.


“It is easy, my dear.  No one has to know that you aren’t spending nights in your rooms at the castle.  Since you aren’t a head of house it isn’t really required that you stay there anyway.  Nanny can do the day to day shopping and tend to the cottage and the little one.  In time you could even let people know that you have a child.  You could fudge the age a bit… Let Albus think that you met someone else…”


“I don’t know if I could lie outright.  Not saying anything at all is bad enough but to actually make up a story… I don’t ever want to have to explain away my lies to my daughter.”


Armando nodded.  “I understand but… couldn’t you at least try the position for the rest of the school year?  Meet Nanny Crump.  Look at the cottage.  You could always reconsider once the year is over.”


“I… I won’t make any promises, Armando… but I will take a look and meet your friend.”


“Fair enough.  Oh… one more thing… does this little beauty have a name? You haven’t told me…”


Minerva smoothed the dark hair on her daughter’s head.  “Her name is Catia.”




Part 3 – Spring 1957


Minerva moaned at the feel of firm lips against hers, the tongue probing gently against her closed mouth.  Strong hands slid beneath her outer robes to cup her bottom and pull her closer, the hard ridge pressed against her belly letting her know how much he desired her.  She opened her lips to him, allowing his tongue entrance and greeting it with her own.  Her hands slid beneath his robes to clutch at his back and…


She felt another gaze on her.  She knew he was there… just as she had somehow always known whenever he was near.  But this was more.  She didn’t have to turn and seek him out.  Just from the way that his eyes were burning into her back she knew…  But then the feeling disappeared as quickly as it had come.  ‘Your mind is playing tricks on you again, Minerva,’ her subconscious scolded her.


Daniel protested when he felt Minerva withdraw from him, first emotionally then physically.  “What’s wrong, my dear?” He murmured against her lips, his mouth still moving across her jaw.


“Nothing… it’s late and I’m tired.”  Her eyes searched the darkness around them but there was nothing there.


“Tomorrow is Saturday.  Neither of us have classes.  I thought perhaps…”


Minerva’s head dropped as she slowly shook it.  “I’m not ready for that, Daniel.”


“But we’ve been seeing each other for over eight months.  Is something wrong, Minerva?  Are you scared to be close to me?”


How could she answer him truthfully?  “Being intimate with you is a big step for me.  I just have to be sure…” But how could she be sure?  Could she ever really want any man except Albus ever again? 




Professor Minerva McGonagall, the Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, was gathering up her schoolbooks when she heard a gentle tapping on the doorframe.  She looked up to see who her visitor was and smiled.


“Phoebe!  Come in.  What have you been up to?  I haven’t seen you all week.”  Minerva motioned to the chair on the opposite side of her desk as she settled back into her seat.  “Shall I ring for some tea?”


“I wish I had the time.” Phoebe Dumbledore answered as she sat down on the edge of the chair.  “I’ve had so many committee meetings this week.  Between that and working for Headmaster Dippet, I’m just exhausted.”


“You should take some time to rest.  Spend a quiet weekend with Albus.”


“That’s what I wanted to speak to you about.  Albus and I both are so glad that you decided to return to teach this year.  You don’t know how hard he lobbied Headmaster Dippet to offer you the position permanently.”


“I can imagine,” Minerva observed wryly.  “And you didn’t say a single word to your employer, hmm?”  Minerva had given the offer a great deal of thought before she accepted but her teaching at the castle but living at the cottage had gone so smoothly the previous term that she just couldn’t say no.


Phoebe simply giggled.  “The term started over two weeks ago and we haven’t managed to even have tea together.  Come to dinner on Friday.  Albus is going to prepare one of his ‘special’ dishes.”


“I would love to but…”


“Good. We’ll expect you in our quarters around seven.”


“Phoebe!  I have other commitments.  I don’t know if…”


“You need to get out more.  You haven’t spent a single evening in the staff lounge.  See.  I might not be around all the time, Minerva McGonagall but I have my sources.  I am not going to let you languish in your rooms this year like you did last year.”


“Look, let me get back to you.  I’ll try… I really will.”  Minerva couldn’t admit that she had become something of a recluse because she spent all of her nights away from the castle with her child. But she recognized the determined look in Phoebe’s eye and knew that she would have a difficult time avoiding this dinner. 


“I won’t take no for an answer, Minerva.”


Minerva sighed.  Nanny was always tired after a long day with Cat but she didn’t have any classes to teach on Friday afternoon so perhaps she could spend time with Cat and give Nanny a break then.  But why… “Phoebe, why are you so insistent? Please tell me that you haven’t…”


“Daniel is so enamoured with you, Min.  He’s tried to ask you out but he can’t ever catch you alone.  He’s very sweet.”


“Phoebe, I’ve told you that I’m not interested in a relationship at this point in my life.”


“It’s only dinner, Min.  You don’t have to marry him after the first date.”


“It won’t be a date!” Minerva emphasized.  “If I do come…”




“I know that you’ve been patient with me, Daniel, and I do appreciate that but… I won’t let myself be forced into this decision.”


“I know, sweetheart.  I’m not trying to force you, I swear… I just want you so badly.” Daniel moved his lips over Minerva’s again.


Minerva shifted her head to the side so that his lips met her cheek instead.  “I’m not trying to torment you, Daniel, but I just can’t deal with this tonight.  Please… you must go!”  She planted the palm of her hand on his chest and pushed him firmly away.  “If you don’t want to see me again, I understand but I will not change my mind.”


“Minerva!  Don’t talk that…” But Daniel found himself talking to air as Minerva slipped through the door to her cottage and closed it firmly behind her.


Daniel pounded on the door for several minutes, calling her name but Minerva managed to resist opening it.  “I should never have let this start,” she muttered over and over.




“Professor McGonagall, I just wanted to tell you again how much I enjoyed dinner the other night.” Daniel O’Connell fell in step beside Minerva as she walked from the staff lounge to her classroom.


Minerva pinked up slightly.  Even though she had been furious at Phoebe and more than a little nervous at spending so much time in such close proximity to Albus, Daniel’s presence had made the evening more enjoyable.


“I enjoyed the evening as well, Professor O’Connell.”  She glanced at the handsome Ancient Runes professor out of the corner of her eye, pleased to see him grin.  It had been a long time since she’d been attracted to a man and Daniel O’Connell was certainly attractive.  Although his name was Irish he had taken his features from his Danish mother.  A thick mane of blond hair topped a sculpted face featuring blue eyes, although not quite so spectacularly blue as Albus’.


“Then perhaps we might repeat the dinner this Friday night… without the chaperones, this time?”


Minerva hesitated.  Even though she felt a fleeting attraction to Professor O’Connell she wasn’t sure that she really wanted to go to dinner alone with Daniel.  Perhaps if she spent more time with him her infatuation with Albus would disappear.  ‘Except it isn’t an infatuation,’ her subconscious quickly reminded her.  ‘You love Albus.  You gave birth to his child.  You’ll never be completely over him.’  She quickly stamped the emotions back down.


“I will!”


“Wonderful.  I’ll meet you in the front hall at seven.” Daniel took the liberty of squeezing her upper arm as he smiled.  “Got to get to class,” he told her then darted away.  “Friday at seven!”


“Friday at seven,” Minerva repeated.  “Friday at… what!?!?”  Only then did she realize that she’d voiced her vehement denial to her conscience and Daniel had taken that as her acceptance to his invitation.




“I did have a good time,” Minerva told the empty room.  “Even if it was a strange evening…”


Daniel had requested that Minerva wear muggle clothing for their first date. They had spent the evening seeing a movie, a comedy that Minerva had found highly amusing. 


“I should have told him no after that.  How did I end up spending every Friday night with him?”




“I like Daniel, Min.  And it’s obvious that he worships you!” Poppy told Minerva.  The two women were sitting on a bench in the middle of a flurry of activity. After three months Minerva finally gave in to Daniel’s request to meet her dearest friend so he’d arranged for Poppy and her husband Edward to join them for an afternoon attending a village fete.  Daniel had called the small village home for the first twenty years of his life and even though it was predominately muggle he was well known among the inhabitants.


“I enjoy the time we spend together,” Minerva replied noncommittally as she pulled a wad of cotton candy from the stick Poppy was holding and popped it into her mouth.


“Have you told him about Cat yet?”


Minerva’s features hardened as she shook her head.  “I don’t want Cat to become attached to Daniel.  I’m not about to parade my daughter in front of every man that I date.”


“You’re afraid that he might be upset to find out that you have a child.”


“I’m afraid that he might tell other people that I have a child.”


“You mean that no one at Hogwarts knows about Cat?” Poppy couldn’t believe it.  Minerva was so proud of her little girl.


“No, Poppy.  No one besides Armando Dippet, and it has to stay that way.”


“But these people are your friends, Min.  What about Phoebe Dumbledore?  She’d be so pleased…”


“NO!  Phoebe of all people can never know…” Minerva realized that she’d revealed too much as she watched Poppy’s face.


“Oh, Min… Cat’s eyes  those gorgeous blue eyes… I should have guessed.  But I don’t understand… you would never…”


“It was only once, Poppy.  When we thought that Phoebe was lost… Albus was drunk and… I don’t want to hurt Albus or Phoebe but… I love Cat with all my heart.  She is my life.  I have to put her first.”


Poppy was almost crying.  “I understand, Min.  But don’t bury yourself completely in Cat.  You deserve to be happy too.”


Before they could say anything more Daniel and Edward approached and coaxed them into joining the dance on the village green.




‘I should have ended it then and there.’ Minerva chastised herself, her face in her hands.  Her head was pounding… and slowly she realized that Daniel was still pounding on the door as well.


She moved to the entrance in a fury and flung the door open.  “Go away!” She ordered.


Daniel flew into the room and grabbed Minerva by the shoulders.  “Don’t send me away, Minerva. I won’t let you.”  He backed her up against the rear of the sofa and trapped her within his arms.


“Let me go, Daniel.” Minerva struggled against his embrace, unable to believe that her gentle suitor had suddenly become so aggressive.




“I had a wonderful time today, Daniel, and so did Poppy and Edward,” Minerva smiled at her date as they walked slowly up the path to the cottage.


“I like your friends very much, Minerva.” The hand at Minerva’s waist tightened slightly signaling her to stop.  “And your grandmother’s home is lovely as well.”


“I’d invite you in but… Gran isn’t feeling very well today.  That is why I’m spending the weekend with her.” Minerva turned to look at Daniel, his blue eyes sparkling in the twilight. She wondered if she’d made a mistake by allowing Daniel to escort her all the way to the cottage, but he’d been so insistent.


“Another time then.  Thank you for this afternoon, Minerva.”


Daniel leaned forward slowly and without realizing it, Minerva moved her head forward to meet him.  His lips brushed lightly across her cheek before settling against her mouth.  The kiss was over before it had barely begun, Daniel lifting his hand to caress Minerva’s hair. 


“Good night, Minerva.”  With one last brush of his lips across her forehead, Daniel released her and started down the path.




“Daniel, stop it!” Minerva demanded again as she continued to struggle against him, wanting to scream yet not yet willing to risk waking the old woman and the baby sleeping soundly upstairs.


“I’ve played this your way long enough.  How dare you try to break up with me!  I care about you, Minerva.  I want to show you how much.  You want me just as much as I want you.  Why won’t you show me?  I know you aren’t the innocent maiden you’ve been pretending to be.  I’ve seen your child.”




Daniel watched the cottage intently from the safety of his perch deep within the forest.  From his vantage point he could see immediately when she apparated in.


‘Why is she trying to avoid me?’ he thought to himself again as he watched.  Minerva had refused his request for a date for the third time in a row, using her grandmother as an excuse.  ‘Is there really an old woman here or does she use this house to meet a lover?’


He was consumed with jealousy.  Daniel had been attracted to the prim and proper Professor McGonagall the first time he’d laid eyes on her.  He had tried for weeks to speak with her alone but nothing had worked.  Nothing… until Phoebe Dumbledore had noticed where his gaze often fell during meals and during the weekly staff meetings and offered her assistance.  He’d been glad to accept.


He’d been ecstatic when Minerva had accepted his dinner invitation and over the next few months he’d fallen deeply in love with her.  He knew from the tentativeness of her kisses that she didn’t feel that deeply for him yet but he was sure that in time love would come.  Unless there was some obstacle…


A playful shout on the road caught his attention and he leaned forward to catch sight of a plump old woman walking slowly down the road while a tiny girl with dark hair toddled along beside her.  The child couldn’t have been more than two, perhaps not even that old.  Her babbling wasn’t very clear but she was obviously bright.  She noticed everything moving around her from the rippling of the grass to the jump of a grasshopper.  The old grandmother encouraged the child’s excitement while urging her slowly along the path.  When a brightly colored beetle crawled in front of them, the girl shrieked excitedly and clapped her hands.  Daniel found that he wanted to laugh along with the child.


He was so caught up in the amusing antics of the little one that he missed the slight ‘popping’ sound that signaled someone had apparated in.  It wasn’t until the child looked up, her eyes fixed on the cottage that he realized someone else was there. 


The little girl squealed. “MUMMY! MUMMY!” and took off at a run.  Daniel’s eyes followed her down the path and straight into the arms of her mother… Minerva McGonagall.




Minerva was momentarily frozen in shock as she processed Daniel’s words.  “You’ve seen…?”  With a strength she didn’t know she possessed she pushed Daniel forcefully away.  “Where?”


“Right here.  I was in the forest and I saw her run to you and call you mummy.” Daniel stepped after Minerva as she moved away.


“You were spying on me?” Minerva was incensed.


“I wasn’t… I was afraid that you were meeting a lover.  I had to know why you came to this cottage so often.  Why you kept denying me…”


“My word wasn’t enough?”


“No… not when you were lying to me the entire time.  But it doesn’t matter.  Don’t you understand, Minerva?  I want to marry you.  I’m willing to give our children my name, something that your daughter’s father obviously isn’t going to do.  I’ll even raise the one you already have.”  He reached for her.


“Don’t touch me,” Minerva spat out as she stepped back but Daniel grabbed her arm anyway and spun her down on the sofa.  Seconds later he was on top of her, his hand tugging at the fastenings of her robe.  “Stop!”


“No… you need to be shown how I feel.  Whoever he is… he doesn’t matter any more.  I’ll love you better than that.”


“NO!  Stop it, Daniel!” Minerva’s voice was rising but she no longer cared.  “I don’t want you…” and indeed she didn’t.  This man’s hands felt alien as they stroked over her newly revealed skin.  Although she had been initially attracted to Daniel it was nothing like the feelings of desire that Albus stirred in her and the superficial attraction had now faded.  But he knew about her kitten. What could she do?


Daniel’s head was at her breast now, his teeth biting into her nipple roughly.  Minerva agonized over what to do.  But when she felt his fingers pushing between her legs she knew that this wasn’t an option.  She refused to allow Daniel to take her without a fight.  She was a Gryffindor, after all.


Daniel managed to work a finger between her thighs and up against the cotton barrier of her knickers, disappointed to find it dry.  He wiggled the tip and was pleased to feel a slight surge of moisture.  “See, Minerva?  You do want me.”


But Minerva knew her body was only responding to the stimulus of his touch and it wasn’t much of a response at that.  “I don’t want this, Daniel.  If you don’t stop you will be raping me.” She began to struggle beneath him.


“It isn’t rape, Minerva.  I love you and I know that you love me too.  You just need to be shown how…”


At that instant Daniel felt a powerful hand on his shoulder and moments later he was flying through the air, stopping only when he slammed against the wall.  He grabbed his wand from his sleeve as he struggled to stand.  His free hand came up to push his mussed hair back from his eyes as he readied to cast a spell. 


“Professor Dumbledore?” His eyes grew wide and he stared at Minerva as she quickly pulled her clothes back together then his gaze slid over to Albus again.  A knowing smile gradually emerged on his lips as his head began to nod.  “You mustn’t misunderstand, Professor.  Minerva and I have just become engaged.”  His look swung back to Minerva, a challenging smile on his face.


But instead of looking at Daniel, Minerva’s gaze was fixed on Albus.  A tear crept into the corner of her eye and Daniel was sure that he’d won.  Then Minerva shook her head.  “No… we haven’t become engaged.”


Albus turned toward Daniel, fury returning to darken the blue of his eyes.  “Professor McGonagall said no, O’Connell.”


“Minerva is just confused by your arrival.  I assure you that once she thinks things over clearly she will tell you herself that we are to be married.  We share so much… so many little secrets.”


Minerva recognized the threat but she knew that Daniel had completely misread the situation.  The one person who she didn’t want to know of the existence of her child already did, otherwise he wouldn’t be standing in the middle of her parlour at this time of night.  “I think that you should leave, Daniel.”


“You’ll regret this, Minerva.” Daniel took a menacing step toward her but Albus quickly stepped between them.  Daniel stopped.  “I can give you everything.  He can’t.”  With this parting shot Daniel moved to the door and exited.


“Are you hurt?” Albus asked once he’d secured the door and placed a silencing charm on the room.


“Not hurt… just… I feel so…” Minerva shuddered.


Albus understood immediately.  “Why don’t you go and take a shower?  I’ll wait here.”


“Albus,” Minerva paused at the bottom of the stairs.  “I certainly thank you for stopping Daniel but… why are you here?”  She had to ask, even though she already knew.  There was the smallest possibility that she was wrong, after all.


Albus smiled but his eyes were sad.  “We’ve waited over two years to have this talk.  I don’t think a few more minutes will hurt.”


Once Minerva disappeared up the stairs Albus moved into the kitchen and set about preparing a pot of strong tea.  He’d visited the cottage many years ago with Dippet so he had a fair idea of the layout.  A bit of searching and a wave of his wand had the kettle piping and the tray ready.  He sank down into one of the kitchen chairs, lowering his head into his hands as he contemplated what he had learned that day and what he was going to say to Minerva.  What could he say to the woman who he barely remembered being intimate with… to the woman who had conceived and born his child…




“Hello, brother of mine!” Albus turned to see his younger brother Aberforth hailing him from down the street.  “What brings you to Hogsmeade on a weekday?”


“An errand for Dippet,” Albus answered, slapping his brother on the back.  “Of course I’m taking advantage of the trip to drop by Honeydukes and restock my sweets supply.  And you?”


“A special treat for the goats,” Aberforth answered.  “Too big for owl delivery so I had to come pick it up.  Good to see you, old man.”


“You too.  We haven’t seen you up at the castle for ages.”  Albus replied, although he knew the reason why.  While his wife was a lovely person without a snobbish bone in her body for some inexplicable reason she just couldn’t accept all of Aberforth’s eccentricities very well.  Since she wasn’t able to hide this, Abe knew very well how Phoebe felt about him; consequently he tended to visit only when forced.  Since Albus hadn’t seen his brother in months he intended to take advantage of this opportunity.


“How about a drink at the Three Broomsticks?” He invited.


“How about several at the Hog’s Head?” Aberforth answered, preferring the rougher but more accepting atmosphere of his favorite pub.  “Your treat!”




“That was too easy.  You can throw in lunch as well.” Abe laughed as the two brothers set off.


Albus grabbed a relatively clean table while Aberforth ordered two beers and lunch from the barman.  By the time he returned to the table with the drinks Albus had managed to vanish most of the grime with a few well-placed cleaning spells.


“Here’s to you, brother.” Abe offered his glass for a toast then downed almost half of the contents with one gulp.  “How’s married life?”


“Wonderful,” Albus took a small sip of his ale.  “Phoebe is a fabulous wife and I enjoy having someone to come home to every night.”


“Mmm…” Abe offered, his mouth once again full of liquid. He swallowed quickly. “I’ve been thinking about making a few changes myself.”


“What sort of changes? A wife, maybe?  You actually found a girl who accepts your goats, Abe?”


Aberforth laughed heartily at that.  “Nope.  You know I don’t intend to be tied down.  I’m talking about this place.  Grummer wants to sell and I’ve been thinking about buying.  I could make a go of it, I’m sure, and still have time for the goats.  Got to plan for the future, don’t we old boy?  Have a little something of worth to leave to the next generation.”  He winked at Albus.


“Abe,” Albus sighed.  He’d told his brother about the odds of he and Phoebe ever having children.  “I appreciate your support but unless you change your mind the Dumbledore line will end with us.”


“Oh come on now, Albus,” Abe leaned in closer.  “I’m your brother.  You can trust me.  Besides I already know your little secret.  Stumbled across it all by myself.”


Albus’ brows wrinkled.  “Little secret?  I don’t know what you mean.”


Aberforth obviously thought Albus was simply being reticent.  “Of course you do.  I met the little one and may I say she’s quite a beauty.  Dumbledore blue eyes and all that black hair.  Thank god she got Minnie’s nose though.  Don’t worry,” Abe saw the shocked expression on Albus’ face.  “I won’t tell Phoebe.  I already guessed she didn’t know being that Minnie doesn’t have the baby living with her at the castle.  But Dippet’s summer cottage is close enough, eh?” Abe’s fist pounded on Albus’ arm.


Albus didn’t speak… couldn’t speak if truth be told.  His brain was still reeling with the information Aberforth had given him; information his brother seemed convinced that he already knew.  Finally he managed a grin.


“So now you know… tell me, how did you find out?  Minerva has been so careful.  No one at school has the slightest idea.” Albus told Aberforth truthfully. ‘Including me!’


“It wasn’t her fault,” Abe quickly volunteered, not wanting Albus to get angry with the woman he considered his friend.  “The old lady is in the habit of taking the little girl on picnics once or twice a week when the weather is good.  I’d been seeing them in the distance during the fall and again when the spring weather returned.  One afternoon one of my kids wandered off and I went after her.  I found her with the little girl and the moment I looked into Cat’s eyes I got a funny feeling.”


“Dumbledore eyes…” Albus murmured.


“Right… only I didn’t pick up on that right away.  The nurse seemed grateful for my interest.  She’s a great old woman, always encouraging Cat to explore.  One afternoon while I was out rounding up the herd I found little Cat in the forest alone.  She’d wandered away you see.  I could hear two different female voices calling for her so I carried her toward them.  When I reached the edge of the forest I saw the old lady and Minerva searching frantically around Dippet’s cottage and calling for the little one. Then Cat called Minerva ‘mummy’.  I must tell you, brother, that it hit me like a sledge hammer then.”


“I’m sure,” Albus replied, knowing exactly what that felt like.  The hammer was still pounding on his head.


“I didn’t want Minnie to know that I’d figured out anything so I set Cat down and watched her run across the field until her mum saw her and scooped her up.  Minnie is a fabulous mother, Albus.  I watched her hug Cat and scold her at the same time and I’ve been back many Friday afternoons and hidden in the woods just to see them together.”


“Friday afternoons… that’s right.  Minerva doesn’t have any classes this afternoon and she is never available…”


“Look, Albus… I’m sorry that you didn’t feel you could trust me with this news and I swear I won’t say a word but… I really like my little niece.  Couldn’t I spend some time with her, out in the open I mean?  She enjoys being around her old Uncle Abe, too… and she loves the goats.  Minerva knows that I’m basically harmless.”


“I’ll… I’ll have to talk to Minerva…” Albus answered, knowing that truer words had never been spoken.  “But… we’ll see.  Now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak…”


Aberforth chortled.  “Good one, Albus! I think the little one has inherited your sense of humor.  She’s not nearly as prim and proper as her mum is.  Little Cat enjoys laughing.  Although… I guess that Minerva must not have been quite so prim and proper with you.  So, what was she like in bed?  I bet she was really wild…”


“Aberforth!” Albus stood, his fist striking the table.


His brother drew back, surprised by Albus’ actions.  “I’m sorry… I just assumed that Min was a casual fling… I didn’t realize that you…”


Albus sank back into his chair.  “I am desperately in love with my wife, Abe. But Minerva isn’t a casual fling type of woman.  She is loving and caring… and she was trying to help me.” Muddled memories flashed in Albus’ mind’s eye.  “I was drunk, thanks to you, and I… oh, god… I just can’t believe this…”


“Minnie didn’t know that I wander around those hills with my goats, Albus.  I’m sure she’s very careful.  The old lady didn’t tell me anything except the little one’s name was Cat.  I figured out the rest on my own.”


“Aberforth… I just remembered something that I need to do immediately… but you stay and have lunch.” Albus dropped some coins on the table as he stood.  “And I’ll be back in touch with you about spending time with… Cat… soon, I promise.”




The whistling teakettle drew Albus out of his thoughts.  He quickly poured the water into the teapot then picked up the tray and returned to the parlor.  Minerva wasn’t there yet but he decided that she probably wanted a particularly long shower to wash away Daniel’s touch.


‘That bastard,’ Albus thought.  ‘How dare he…’ At that moment Albus realized that he was angry with his colleague but he was also incensed that another man had touched Minerva… any other man.  ‘You have no right, Albus Dumbledore.  Minerva is not your wife.’


“But she is the mother of my child,” he responded to his subconscious aloud. 




Albus apparated to the edge of the meadow behind Dippet’s cottage and quickly dived beneath the cover the trees offered.  He found a quiet thicket with an excellent view of the back of the house and settled in, transfiguring a small bush into a comfortable chair. Then he cast an invisibility spell around the immediate area.


He didn’t have to wait long.  Less than an hour after he arrived the back door of the cottage opened and Minerva stepped out, a tiny girl held safely in the curve of her left arm and a basket dangling from her right hand.  They moved beyond the confines of the flowery spring garden to the meadow beyond before stopping.


Minerva sat the child down then opened the basket and pulled out a large blanket that she spread on the ground.  A series of toys appeared next, Cat helping her mother place them around the edges of the cover.


“What would you like to play first, kitten?” Minerva’s voice carried easily to Albus’ hideaway.


To his surprise the little girl giggled then jumped at her mother’s shoulders.  Minerva gave in easily, falling back against the tartan print and rolling over to her stomach.  Cat immediately began to drag chubby fingers through Minerva’s bun, finding hairpins and dropping them to ground.  Albus was amazed to hear her count each pin in a baby voice.  Children less than two didn’t normally count, did they? The time that Minerva and the nanny spent teaching Cat was obvious.


When Minerva sat back up her dark hair flowed like a satin river over her shoulders and down her back.


Wook wike mummy now,” Cat said.


Albus had to agree.  He’d never understood why Minerva had taken to confining her hair in that tight bun when she’d returned to teach in December of the previous year.  Her severe hairstyle, along with loose dark robes and the square spectacles she now wore, tended to make her look much older than her years.  And her green eyes had been so guarded lately… but Albus could see the real Minerva’s eyes shining at her daughter… at their daughter.


He made a closer inspection of Cat while she toddled around the blanket telling her mother the names of all the toys and many of the wildflowers and insects that she spotted at the blanket’s edge.  ‘The old woman really does encourage her,’ he thought, but the longer he watched the more he realized that her mother encouraged her as well.  Her joy when her mother complimented her was obvious.


When Cat moved to the edge of the blanket closest to him Albus leaned forward and stared intently.  To his amazement Cat looked up and stared back.  Even though he knew she couldn’t see him she was staring intently at the place he was sitting… staring with eyes that mirrored his own.  In every other way that Albus could see Cat was the spitting image of her mother… but the eyes were his and his alone.


After a moment the butterfly that she had been enamoured with flew away and Cat turned back to Minerva.  Wook, mummy!” She pointed to the brightly coloured insect now flying over her head.


Albus quickly strengthened his invisibility spell, just in case.  By the time he had returned his attention to the scene before him Cat was staring at the bright purple ball that Minerva was holding.  To his utter amazement the ball began to wobble in Minerva’s hands. 


‘I didn’t know Minerva could do wandless magic…’ he watched as the sphere did a wobbly loop in the air then settled in Cat’s outstretched hands.  At that moment he realized that it hadn’t been Minerva making the ball float; it had been Cat.




The scalding hot water rushed over Minerva’s body as she continued to scrub furiously at her already red skin.  Finally the washcloth fell from her hand to the bottom of the shower.


‘After conceiving a child by a man promised to another, hiding your pregnancy and thirty hours of labor, talking to Albus now should be easy.’ She attempted to buoy her courage.  ‘He was kind enough earlier.’


But she had deprived him of over eighteen months of his only child’s life.  He had every right to be angry. 


‘But how could he have found out?  I’ve been so careful…’


Suddenly her mind flashed back to a bedtime conversation with Cat the day she’d been lost.




“It was tary, mummy, but de doat was dere.  I yike de doats.”








“Kitten, you taste so sweet... I need you… you make me feel alive…”


“You’ll regret this in the morning…”


“I told you earlier… Never regret…”




Albus sat on the sofa with his eyes closed, trying not to remember but the images kept coming.  He’d known since the morning that Phoebe had returned that something was different between he and Minerva.  He’d woken that morning feeling strange, something beyond the boundaries of a simple hangover.  When he’d encountered Minerva on the stairway he’d been surprised by his body’s instant reaction to her.  He was about to ask her if perhaps in his drunken stupor he’d gotten fresh with her when Phoebe had called out his name and everything had been forgotten.


‘Forgotten for only a few minutes, old boy,’ his subconscious reminded him and it was right.  When he’d touched Minerva, holding her into his embrace with Phoebe, heat had radiated between their bodies.  He knew that she’d quickly shied away and now he understood why.  Their parting embrace at the train station had only enforced the feeling that there was something between them that he didn’t know.


Then his subconscious began to remind him in full.  The dreams that had troubled him over the last year and a half suddenly made sense.




“Kit… oh god… my…” Albus moaned as Minerva’s warm lips trailed over his equally hot flesh, his body bucking when her teeth nipped at his tight nipple.

“Albus… oh, Albus…” She moaned his name in return.  But how could she be moaning his name when her mouth was locked around his…




Albus sat up in bed, startled, staring at Phoebe with wild eyes.  “WHAT?”


“Shh... It’s okay, my dear.  You were having a nightmare.  You were moaning and rolling around in the bed.  It sounded as if you were dying.  What were you dreaming about?” Phoebe rubbed his back soothingly.


“I…” Albus blinked twice.  “I don’t remember.” He couldn’t tell Phoebe that he’d been having an erotic dream about another woman... much less one that they both called friend.


“Come here,” Phoebe wrapped her arms around Albus and pulled him down against her, his head resting on her shoulder.  “Maybe you are just getting nervous about the wedding.  Changed your mind about marrying me?”


Albus smiled.  “No chance.  I’m never letting you go again.”  He meant the words from the bottom of his soul… from the very depths of his heart… So why was he dreaming about someone else?






Dumbledore opened his eyes to find Minerva standing nearby, dressed in a loose fitting high-necked lounging robe, her damp hair gathered into a loose ponytail over one shoulder.


“Sit down, ki… Minerva.” Albus forced himself to appear calm although inside he was still in turmoil.  “How are you feeling?” He gestured to the empty sofa beside him and Minerva sank down, careful to keep as much distance as possible between the two of them.


“Better, thank you.”  Silence fell as Albus poured cups of tea for both of them and after lacing Minerva’s heavily with sugar, handed it to her.  She grimaced at the first sip.


“Sugar is supposed to be good when you’ve had a shock.  If it were left to me we’d be drinking cocoa but… under the circumstances, I think tea is best.”


Minerva closed her eyes, trying to stop the tears that were threatening to spill out.  “Rambling on about tea isn’t going to get us to the point of your visit any faster, Albus.  If you are angry at me then yell and scream… do something besides babble on about tea!”


Albus sighed and lowered his head.  “Minerva… I have to know… did I…? I mean… did you want to…” He struggled to find the right words.  “I’ve been having dreams and flashbacks but I don’t know what is real and what is a product of my imagination.  I remember you telling me that I would regret it… Dammit, Minerva!” Albus was getting angry with himself.  “Did I make you...?  Were you telling me no?”


Comprehension dawned.  “NO!” Minerva hurried to reassure him.  “You didn’t force me.  I did say that… but I didn’t mean it like you think… You didn’t know what you were doing.  I should have refused you.  I knew that you didn’t really want me… that you were just lonely… but it had been so long for me… and you’d…” Minerva blushed as she stammered along, “… aroused me so much before I even woke that I couldn’t help but respond… Our daughter wasn’t conceived by rape, Albus.”


Albus breathed a sigh of relief.  “I’ve been so scared ever since I found out…”


“And how did you find out?” Minerva questioned, her voice a bit hard.  “I know that Armando wouldn’t tell you.  He gave me his word.”


“Aberforth met Cat and the nurse in the woods.  He felt there was something familiar about her eyes but couldn’t quite decide what.  Later he found her when she was lost and brought her back here.  He saw you and heard Cat call you mummy and put two and two together, amazingly enough.”


Minerva barked out a single laugh.  “I thought it must be Abe.  I should have picked up on it when Cat started telling me about the ‘doats’.”


“How did Armando find out?” Albus reached a hand out and laid it on Minerva’s.  “Tell me.” He asked plaintively.


So Minerva did.  The words came haltingly at first – morning sickness, agonizing over her options, thirty hours of labour – but when she began to talk about holding Cat for the very first time her voice was more sure.  The love she felt for her child was more than obvious in the way that she told him of Cat’s first tooth, her first word, and her first steps.


“She’s really a very bright girl.”


“I saw that this afternoon.”


Minerva looked at him sharply.  “I think you need to explain that.”


Albus nodded.  He told her about running into Aberforth at lunch that day and how his brother had unwittingly told him about his child.  Then he moved on to how he had spent the afternoon watching mother and daughter play in the meadow, even taking a chance and leaving his cover to approach mother and daughter for a closer look when they had both fallen asleep in the warm afternoon sun.


“Why didn’t you say something then?”


“Not with Cat there.  I wasn’t sure how our discussion would go and I thought we should have privacy so I made an excuse to Phoebe this evening and came over here to wait for you hoping that Cat would be asleep by now.”


“You knew I would be out with Daniel?”


“Professor O’Connell makes little secret of his Friday night dates with you.  I wanted to wait until you were alone…”


“You were watching when Daniel kissed me?  I felt your gaze.  I knew you were there… but I dismissed it as me being too paranoid.”


“I wouldn’t have interrupted your date, not even after you apparently changed your mind and let Daniel inside.  But then I heard you scream in anguish.  I couldn’t let him do that to you… not when I might have…”


Minerva flipped her hand palm up and squeezed Albus’ hand tightly.  “It wasn’t like that with you and I, Albus.  I swear.  You couldn’t have forced me.  Even drunk you were too much of a gentleman.”  She leaned back into the cushions and sighed. 


“So I guess the question now is ‘What do we do?’”  Albus also leaned back and stared into the crackling fire.


“We don’t do anything.  Abe won’t say a word if you ask him not to.  Daniel… he found out about Cat by spying on me, thinking he would catch me meeting a lover here.  I don’t know if he will keep silent but if he doesn’t then I’ll admit it.  I would never deny my daughter.”


“Neither would I, Minerva.” Albus replied, his voice low but firm. 


“There is no reason for you to say anything.  No one will connect Cat with you, especially if I don’t volunteer a birth date.  As far as they know I met someone and had a fling when I returned to Oxford to complete my degree that spring.”


Albus shook his head.  “That isn’t good enough, Minerva.  I want to be part of my daughter’s life.”


This brought Minerva’s head up.  She stared at Albus with piercing eyes.  “Don’t you have any idea of what this would do to Phoebe?”


“She’ll be hurt… but she’ll understand.  She’d left me…  We thought she was dead at the time.”


“If that were all she might forgive us both.  But with Cat… how do you think Phoebe will feel knowing that you had a child with me when all she wants to do is give you children and can’t?  It will devastate her!  She doesn’t need to know.”


Albus features hardened.  “I won’t lie to my wife, Minerva.  I don’t have that kind of marriage.  Phoebe deserves to know the truth.  It will be hard on her but she will come around.”


“Please don’t tell her, Albus!” As Minerva begged Albus began to realize that a large part of her decision to hide the child had been to spare Phoebe pain.  “What about Cat?  What do you think her childhood will be like?  Being branded as the great Albus Dumbledore’s bastard child.  What about when she begins Hogwarts?  You have to consider...”


“Minerva,” he interrupted her.  “What is our daughter’s full name?  Is it just Cat?  I’ve heard you call her Kitten.”


“That’s my little nickname for her. It just seemed appropriate since her mother is a tabby cat.” Minerva couldn’t reveal to Albus that she had chosen her daughter’s first name because during their lovemaking Albus had called her kitten.  Little did she realize how revealing this choice was to Albus.  “I didn’t list you as her father on the paperwork… I didn’t want to risk anyone finding out her parentage that way.  But I did want her to have some part of her father with her always.  So I named her Catia Briana McGonagall.”


Albus teared up when he heard that Minerva had given their daughter a female derivative of one of his names, Brian, as part of her own.  “Thank you.” He whispered, squeezing Minerva’s hand tightly.


At that moment a loud thump sounded over their heads.


Minerva stood.  “It sounds like someone is awake.  Would you like…? She will be sleepy but I’ll bring her downstairs if you’d like to meet her.”


Albus nodded, not knowing if it was a wise decision or not but… he wanted to touch his daughter, speak to her…


Minerva returned a few minutes later, a yawning toddler in her arms.  As she sat down on the sofa Cat shifted so that she could stare at Albus while her mouth worked overtime on her thumb.


“Kitten, I want you to meet a friend of mummy’s.  This is… Uncle Albus.  He’s a very nice man and he wants to be your friend, too.”


“Hello Kitty-cat.” Albus offered his hand in what he hoped was a friendly gesture.


After a moment Cat popped her thumb out of her mouth.  “Papa.” She said as she leaned away from her mother towards Albus.  He caught her before she could fall and Cat took advantage of the opportunity to wiggle into his lap. 


“I didn’t teach her that, Albus.”


“I know, Minerva.  She’s just an extraordinary little girl, aren’t you, Kitty-cat?”


Cat nodded at her father with familiar big blue eyes then laid her head down on Albus’ shoulder.   She returned her thumb to her mouth, grabbed a handful of Albus beard in her free fingers and promptly fell asleep.


Minerva knew she would never forget the look on Albus’ face when his daughter called him papa for the first time.  By the time that Cat fell asleep on his shoulder, Albus’ eyes were full of love for the little girl.


“I could take her back upstairs,” Minerva offered.


“Just a few more minutes… please?” Albus asked, his eyes pleading.  He’d wrapped both of his arms around Cat and was cradling her gently.


Minerva stood up and gathered up the empty cups then quietly carried the tray into the kitchen.  Wanting to give Albus and Cat a little time alone, she moved to the large bay window and sat down in the seat to stare up at the stars.


“It would be so much easier if Albus didn’t want to be involved,” she whispered to the brightest star.  “Maybe… Perhaps I should marry Daniel.”






Part Four – October 1962



Albus Dumbledore appeared before the gates of Hogwarts with the characteristic pop that marked all apparitions.  His countenance was sagging but his mind was still racing with all of the details he’d been bombarded with at the Ministry of Magic.  Several strange occurrences had been reported; each incident of little or no importance by itself but when linked together the happenings could signal the impending rise of a new dark lord.


The walk up the main pathway toward the castle entrance seemed longer than ever before.  All Albus wanted to do was get to his quarters, shed his robes and cuddle up next to his wife.  His own life had finally calmed down after a very rough period.  He wasn’t looking forward to a new disturbance.




“Phoebe… my dear… we need to talk.”


The tone of her husband’s voice told Phoebe that the subject of the talk was of greatest importance to him.  The droop in his shoulders told her that it was weighing on him heavily.


“Something is terribly wrong?” She guessed but instead of answering Albus took her hand and led her to her favourite chair.  Then he began to pace in front of the nearby fire.


“I need to tell you something… something important… and I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to do so.  I don’t want to hurt you, Phoebe.  Causing you pain is the last thing that I’d ever want to do but I also believe that we should always be truthful with each other and that is what I’m going to tell you… the truth.”


“You have a deep dark secret that I don’t know about?” Phoebe teased.


“I’m serious, Phoebe.  But I haven’t kept the secret that long… I only found out yesterday and frankly, I needed some time to process the information myself.”


Phoebe began to worry when Albus didn’t respond to her teasing.  Her husband always reacted in kind when she was in a playful mood.  She sat very still while Albus continued to pace.


“While you were gone… when we thought that you were dead… we had a memorial service for you.”


“You’ve told me that, dearest.  There is no secret there.”


“After the service I allowed Aberforth to persuade me to return to Hogsmeade with him for the evening.  I was very downhearted and I drank quite a bit too much firewhiskey.”


“I heard about it from Minerva… oh, don’t be mad.  She didn’t want to tell me.  I just kept at her until she did.”


Finally Albus stopped in front of Phoebe, his head hanging low.  “That isn’t all that happened that night.  I didn’t remember it… I still don’t remember much of what happened but in my drunken state… I was intimate with another woman.”  There… he had said it.  He watched as Phoebe’s rosy complexion went pale.


“You…” Phoebe swallowed hard, not wanted to hear the words that Albus was telling her.  “Oh god… I can’t believe… How could you, Albus?!?!”


“I have no excuse.  I was intoxicated but it still shouldn’t have happened.  I would never have kept it from you if I had remembered.”


“Why have you suddenly remembered it now?” Phoebe asked, her eyebrows furrowing.  “The little hussy must have told you… she wants something, doesn’t she?  She wants money… or notoriety… how dare she!”


“Phoebe… there is more.”  Albus’ words sent a chill down Phoebe’s spine.


“What more could there be?” She tried to block out the thoughts running through her mind.


“There is a child.”


Phoebe screamed, her heart breaking.  She fell to her knees wailing, her hands pulling at her hair.  Albus’ heart broke at the sight of his wife in so much pain.  He ran to her side and wrapped his arms around her, rocking her gently.


“I love you, Phoebe.  None of this changes the way that I feel about you. Please don’t let it change your love for me.  I don’t want any woman but you…”


“But Albus,” he could barely make out Phoebe’s words through her sobs, “… a child!  The child I can’t give you!”


“I didn’t marry you just to have a brood mare to present me with a dozen children.  I married you because I love you.  Having children doesn’t matter!”


“But now you have one with someone else!”


Phoebe clung to Albus desperately and sobbed for almost an hour before she began to quiet, her body run dry of tears.  Finally she lifted her head.


“Who is she, Albus?”  She asked with determination in her tone.




“Tell me who this woman is.  I want to know.”  Her despair was fading as her fury increased.


“It isn’t important right now.”


“She is the mother of your child!  I have a right to know who this intruder into our lives is!  Tell me!” Phoebe’s tears had been replaced by righteous indignation.


Albus tried to keep his voice level but it fell to a whisper of its own accord.  “It was Min… Minerva.  Minerva is the mother of my child.”




Albus paused on the grand staircase, momentarily overcome by his memories.  Phoebe had screamed at him like a banshee, her language bluer than any he’d ever heard.


‘But she had every right to be angry with you.’


He stared down the stairs, his mind hearing that clatter of feet…




“Phoebe!  Come back here!” Albus called over the banister as his wife reached the bottom step.  She ignored him so Albus once again took off after her.  But he was too late to stop her.  He’d hoped that she would be too angry to remember the password to Minerva’s quarters and he could coax her away before she gained entry but the words required for entry flew trippingly from her tongue.


“Don’t do this, Phoebe!” He pleaded one last time, making a desperate grab for her billowing skirts.  He missed.


Phoebe burst into the room in a rage.  Minerva rose from her chair by the fire when the door burst open and stood there silently as her friend crossed over to her, knowing that Phoebe now knew the truth.  Albus entered just after his wife and closed the door firmly behind him.


“You… you… slut!  You whore!” Phoebe’s hand flew out, the air cracking as her palm made contact with Minerva’s cheek.  The blow yanked Minerva’s head sideways but she didn’t cry out, only lifting her hand to cover her reddening cheek. “You wanted him all the time, didn’t you, you scheming tramp?”


“I’m sorry to have hurt you.” Minerva offered, knowing that the words were inadequate but also knowing that any words would be.


“You’re sorry!?!?!” Phoebe yelled through her tears.  “You didn’t think that sleeping with my husband would hurt me?  You didn’t think that giving birth to his bastard would hurt me?  I thought you were my friend!”


“I am your friend, Phoebe, even if you can’t see that right now.” Minerva protested.


“I confided my secrets in you.  I trusted you!  And you stabbed me in the back!  I hate you!”


“We thought you were dead…” Minerva offered helplessly.


“And that makes it right?”


“No… but we were both grief-stricken.”


“So you do regret sleeping with my husband?” Sarcasm tinged Phoebe’s voice.


Minerva slowly shook her head, much to both Phoebe and Albus’ surprise. 


“I very much regret the specific circumstances but I can’t be sorry about it happening because to do so would mean that I am sorry I have my child.  And I refuse to be sorry about that.  My daughter is the joy of my life.”


“And now you’ve decided that she needs a father, is that it?  Maybe she isn’t even Albus’

 child!  Maybe she belongs to some other man you slept with.  You’ve slept around haven’t you?  Well, you can’t have Albus!  He’s mine!”


Minerva sank back into her chair.  “Albus loves you, Phoebe.  He always has.  I never intended for either of you to know anything about Cat.”


“Then why come back here and flaunt her in front of our faces!  Why tell Albus now?”


“I came back because I had to have a job and Headmaster Dippet offered one.  I have to support my daughter.”


“So money is what you want!” Phoebe crowed triumphantly.  “That’s why you finally spilled the beans.”

Albus finally stepped into the conversation.  “Minerva didn’t say a word to me, Phoebe.  I found out from someone else.”


“Someone she was in league with no doubt!”


“Phoebe, listen to yourself!” Albus chastised his wife.  “Minerva is your friend.  She would never intentionally do anything that would hurt you.  She’s kept this secret for two years in an effort to protect you…  Aberforth ran into Cat and her nurse while they were on a picnic.  He recognized that she had Dumbledore eyes and discerned what must have happened.  He’s the one who told me when I ran into him at lunch yesterday.  He thought I already knew.”


“Aberforth!  That no-good meddling brother of yours!”


“Abe didn’t intend to harm you either, Phoebe.” Minerva interjected. “He just wants to spend time with his niece.”


“That hasn’t been proven yet!” Phoebe snapped.  “How could you do this to me?!?!” 


Neither Albus nor Minerva knew whom the question had been directed at so both kept quiet.  Their silence affected Phoebe, as their words hadn’t.  She stared at her husband then at her dear friend and once again broke down in tears.


“I’ll pack my things…” she stared at the floor as she spoke.  “It shouldn’t take too long to get a divorce considering the circumstances.”


“Divorce?” Albus dropped to the floor beside her.  “Please think about this before you make any hasty decisions, my love.  Don’t leave me in anger.”


“But…” Phoebe lifted her head, her eyes questioning.  “Don’t you want a divorce?  You’ll want to marry Minerva… give your child your name.”


Albus shook his head.  “Haven’t you been listening to a thing I’ve said?  I love you, Phoebe.  I know that this news can’t help but change things for all of us… but you are my wife and I don’t ever want that to change.”


Phoebe turned her eyes to Minerva to find her friend smiling sympathetically.  “Albus loves you.  I don’t want you to divorce him so he can marry me.  If I wanted to get married Daniel has made it clear that he would be more than willing.”


Phoebe sniffed.  “I… I don’t know… I need some time… have to think.”


“Of course you do, my love.  Take all the time you need.  But please, don’t make a hasty decision that will hurt all of us.  I truly believe that we can make this work.” Albus helped Phoebe to her feet and watched her slowly leave the room.


“She’s hurting so badly.  I wish I could help.” Minerva whispered as she stood.


“I hate myself for doing this to her but… like you… I can’t regret that beautiful little girl.”


“Speaking of which… I’d better get home to her.  I only came back this evening because I thought Phoebe might need the chance to explode at me.” Minerva gathered up a few things and headed toward the door, Albus right behind her.


“I’ll walk with you to Dippet’s office,” he told her once she had locked her quarters against intruders.


They walked in silence, both with heavy hearts over the hurt that they had caused someone they both cared so deeply about.  When they reached the entrance to Dippet’s quarters Minerva turned and lifted her hand to cup Albus’ cheek.


“She’ll come around, Albus.  Phoebe loves you more than anything in this world.  Fight for her.”


Albus leaned forward and lightly kissed Minerva’s forehead, ignoring the spark he felt when he did so.  “I hope so, Minerva.  I won’t let Phoebe leave me without the fight of my life.”




A piercing cry in the night pulled Minerva from her slumber.  She leapt to her feet and grabbed her robe, absently registering that the other side of the bed was empty.  By the time she had the robe belted she was down the hallway and in her daughter’s bedroom, gathering the child into her arms.


“It’s all right, darling.  Mummy’s here.”  She settled into the rocker in the room and held the crying child close.  Gradually the child’s blue eyes flickered and closed, her thumb finding her mouth and stopping the sobs.


Quiet settled over the room as Minerva rocked slowly back and forth, enjoying the opportunity to hold her baby.  Moonlight flickered across the floor and the tree limbs outside the window cast eerie shadows on the wall but Minerva knew that wasn’t what had caused the bad dreams. 


‘Nightmares… they come in so many shapes and forms, don’t they, little one?’




Nanny Crump sighed as Minerva fussed with the pink bow in her daughter’s hair for at least the tenth time.  “You’re going to be messing it up if you don’t leave it alone, child.  Your babe looks beautiful.”


Minerva smiled nervously.  “You are a pretty girl, aren’t you, my kitten?”


Cat nodded, her eyes beaming at her mother. “You’s pitty too, mummy.”


“Thank you, my sweet, but me being pitty… pretty isn’t important.  I want you to be on your best behaviour today for your visit with Uncle Albus.”


I’s always dood for papa!”


Minerva sighed, finding it very hard to believe that her daughter wasn’t two years old yet.  “What did we talk about?”


Cat’s lips came out in a classic pout.  Untle Abus.”


“That’s right, Kitten.  Uncle Albus is going to bring a very nice lady to meet you today.  Do you remember her name?”


“Mish Bumbletore.”


Minerva couldn’t help but smile, although she tried to hide it from Cat.  “That’s right, sweetheart.”


“They’ve just apparated in and they’re coming up the walk, child.” Nanny called from her perch by the window. 


“Thank you, Nanny.” Minerva nervously smoothed the front of her robes.  “Would you let them in, please?”


Nanny waited until the knock came before she opened the door to admit Albus and Phoebe.


“Dear, this is Nanny Crump.” Albus politely introduced the older woman to his wife.


“How do you do, Mrs. Dumbledore?” Nanny dropped a polite curtsey then nodded to Minerva and headed to the kitchen to put the kettle on.


Minerva stood by Catia, waiting patiently until Albus and Phoebe approached.  Once Albus had bent down and picked up his daughter Minerva stepped back.


“Kitty-cat, I want you to meet someone very special to me.  This is my wife, Phoebe.  Phoebe, this is Cat.”


“Hello, Cat,” Phoebe held her hand out.  Cat took it and shook it firmly.


Hewo, Mish Bumbletore.”


A silvery tinkling sound bubbled from Phoebe’s lips, to her own obvious surprise, as well as Albus and Minerva’s.  “You are a very pretty little girl.  You look just like your mother.”


Cept has my…”


“Cat!” Minerva quickly interrupted, “why don’t you show Mrs. Dumbledore your new doll?”


Albus lowered Cat to the floor, the little girl wiggling with excitement all the way.  When her feet hit the carpet she was on the move but to Phoebe’s surprise Cat only went as far as a basket by the fireplace.  She had been sure that Minerva was using the child to get a moment alone with Albus.  As she knelt down by Cat, Albus moved closer


“Why don’t I go help Nanny with the tea tray?” Minerva said after a few moments, satisfied that Cat and Phoebe were behaving well enough for Albus to handle anything that might occur.


“And how is the little one doing?” Nanny asked.


“Cat is being a perfect angel.  They looked so sweet gathered around the fireplace watching Cat and her doll… the consummate little family.” Tears gathered in Minerva’s eyes and threatened to spill over.


“Stop that, child.  You are Cat’s mother.  No one can replace you.  Your kitten adores you.”


“But she needs to accept Phoebe.  It will make Albus’ life much easier.”


“And yours that much harder.  Does the man have any idea how much you love him?”


Minerva felt her cheeks burning.  She quickly turned to the cupboard and pulled out a tin of ginger newts to hide her blush.  “That’s ridiculous, Nanny.  You know the circumstances surrounding Cat’s conception.  Love wasn’t involved.” She’d been completely honest with the old woman from the beginning.


“That’s a load of shyte and you know it.  I’ve seen the two of you together over the last few days.  You’re in love with Albus Dumbledore.  And if I were a betting woman I’d say that he feels the sa…”


Both women jumped as a loud cry echoed from the next room.  Minerva took off at a run but before she reached the kitchen door Cat was running at her screaming.




“I shouldn’t have left the room,” Minerva muttered.  “I should have known better.” 


Phoebe hadn’t meant any harm.  She’d been trying to make friends with Cat, but when she’d mentioned that maybe the child could come visit with her and Albus for a long weekend, Cat had become hysterical, thinking that the couple meant to take her away from her mother for good.


‘Thank goodness that Phoebe understood.’  The child jumped in her sleep but her mother’s hands were there, rubbing her back soothingly.  ‘In fact…’




“Mummy, mummy!” Minerva lifted her head from the pile of papers in front of her when she heard her daughter’s voice echoing down the hallway.  She’d just pushed her chair back from the desk when Cat came running into the room.  She jumped and landed in her mother’s lap with a single bound.


Cat threw her arms around her mummy’s neck and hugged hard.  Dess what, mummy?  Untle Abus and Ant Peebee wanna take me on a twip to Lundun wit dem.  Tan I go? Pwease?”


Minerva was a bit taken back.  Phoebe had worked hard to develop a positive relationship with Cat over the last three months, including watching her during the day for two weeks while Nanny went to visit her sister and Minerva worked at the school on special projects but a trip to London… Minerva still hadn’t forgotten holding Cat in her arms while the little girl sobbed, thinking that Albus and Phoebe were trying to take her away.


“I don’t know, Kitten… Mummy would miss you terribly.  I’ll need to know more…”


“Actually we were hoping that you would join us as well.” Minerva looked up to find Phoebe standing in the doorway, a tentative smile on her face.  Minerva wasn’t quite sure what to think because Phoebe had barely acknowledged her existence, much less smiled at her, since that horrible scene when she had slapped Minerva several months ago.


“Me?” Minerva questioned, not sure that she’d heard correctly.


Phoebe took a step inside Minerva’s classroom.  “Albus was telling Cat all about ice cream and he was shocked that she’d never tried it so he wants to take her to Fortescue’s.”


“I… I don’t normally let Cat have sweets…”


“But ice cweam, mummy?  I wanna twyPwease?” She gave Minerva her best pleading look, the one that almost always got her whatever she wanted.


“I know that you would be nervous with Catia so far away from you so Albus and I talked about it and we’d like for you to come too.”


Minerva shook her head.  “That isn’t necessary, Phoebe.  Cat doesn’t have to have ice cream today…”


“We’d really like for you to come, Minerva… both of us.”


Minerva searched Phoebe’s eyes, searching for any hint of malice or anger behind the suggestion but she found nothing.


“I have a great deal of work…” she gave it one last try.


Which doesn’t have to be completed for weeks yet.  It’s only July, Minerva.  You still have plenty of time.  I’ll go get Albus and we’ll meet in the front hall.  Fifteen minutes, okay?”  Phoebe left before Minerva could think of another excuse.


“Don ewe wanna go eat ice cweam, mummy?” Cat asked with big innocent blue eyes.


Minerva stared at her daughter.  How could she explain to an almost two-year old the reasons why she was leery about going to Diagon Alley with Albus and Phoebe?  “Mummy doesn’t eat a great many sweets, kitten, and I’d prefer that you didn’t either.”  Cat frowned.  ‘But with Albus Dumbledore as your father you probably don’t have a choice!’ Minerva finished silently.


Cat wrinkled her nose then climbed up into her mother’s lap, her arms outstretched.  “I wuv ewe, mummy.”


Minerva embraced her child tightly.  “I love you, too, kitten.”


Finally Minerva decided that they could delay no longer.  She scooped Cat up in her arms and bounced her on one hip as she locked her office door and moved to the stairs.  Phoebe and Albus were waiting at the bottom, arms linked and smiles on their faces.


“Thank you for the invitation.” Minerva told them as she approached.


“Do you feel comfortable apparating with the kitten or would you like me to hold her?” Albus asked.


Minerva hesitated, not wanting to let Cat go with Albus yet knowing that he wouldn’t disappear with her baby.  “Why don’t you take her?  You would enjoy that wouldn’t you, kitten… traveling with Uncle Albus? You must hold on tightly.”


Cat was grinning from ear to ear as Minerva shifted her to Albus’ arms.  “We’ve never apparated before so don’t be surprised if all of the candy you’ve been slipping her today reappears once we land.”


Albus chuckled.  “I’ll keep that in mind.”


The group made their way to the outside boundaries of Hogwarts then one by one disappeared, reappearing moments later at one end of Diagon Alley.  Albus continued to carry Cat as they walked down the pavement, window-shopping along the way.  Both Minerva and Phoebe couldn’t help but giggle at the spark of amazement in both Cat and Albus’ eyes as they passed by a toy store window.


“Why don’t the two of you go ahead to Fortescue’s and find a table?  Kitty-cat and I will just be a moment or two.”  Before either woman could speak father and daughter had disappeared into the establishment.


“I guess we should do as Albus said,” Minerva offered after a nervous moment of silence.  “Cat will probably go crazy in there.”


“I’ll bet you ten galleons that Albus will go crazier,” Phoebe answered as they moved toward the ice cream parlour a few doors further down.


Once they were settled with a steaming pot of tea in front of them, Phoebe turned to face Minerva.  “I’m glad that we have a few moments alone.  I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a while but I wasn’t sure exactly how to approach you.”


“You can always talk to me, Phoebe.”


“I’m embarrassed to talk to you, Minerva.  I’ve behaved horribly and I owe you such a huge apology.  I know now that you didn’t have any ulterior motive in any of this.  You were only trying to help.  Cat is such a wonderful child.  We are all blessed to have her in our lives.  Please forgive me for everything I said.  I didn’t really mean those horrible things.  I was just stunned… upset…”


Minerva laid her hand over Phoebe’s.  “I know that, Phoebe.  I never thought any different.”


“Then you’ll be my friend again?”


“I’ve never stopped being your friend, Phoebe.  I just wanted to give you time…”


“Thank you, Minerva.  I know it won’t be easy but we’ll figure out how to do this.  We all want to work together to make sure Cat grows up happy and loved.”




Minerva’s ears cocked at the sound of the entry door opening and closing, her feline senses hearing what others would not.  A few minutes later she also sensed her husband’s eyes watching her from the hallway but she didn’t speak, not wanting to risk waking the sleeping child in her lap.


After a few moments he moved away but didn’t get more than three or four steps down the hallway before Minerva heard a loud thunk followed by a string of curses that started loud and got progressively softer.  She managed to swallow her laughter but the little one squirmed as her mother’s body bounced with unvoiced giggles.


‘I guess I missed a toy… but then we have so many.’ A picture of Albus and Cat appearing outside Fortescue’s laden down with packages popped into her mind.  ‘That was a good day,’ she thought, ‘little did we know how soon things would change…’




An unexpected knock at the cottage door pulled Minerva from her book.  Her brows furrowed as she gazed at the wooden barrier in an attempt to divine who was on the opposite side.  Phoebe had said that she might drop by to see Cat this afternoon but she knew that the baby always slept until four and that was almost an hour away.  When the knock sounded again Minerva sighed and laid her book to the side.


Daniel O’Connell stood on the other side, a sheepish look on his face.  Minerva swallowed hard.  She’d avoided Daniel since he had attacked her the previous spring and since the start of the fall term two months ago he’d kept his distance from her as well.  She knew that Albus had been to Dippet about Daniel’s behaviour because she received a formal written apology from Daniel.


“I was hoping that I might have a word with you, Minerva, if you have the time.” Daniel asked in a pleading tone.  “I won’t step out of line again, I promise.”


“I really don’t think…” Minerva started speaking, one hand working its way into the sleeve of her robe to grasp her wand.


“I just want to apologize for my behaviour at the end of the last school year.  I’ve thought a lot about it over the summer and…” he paused.


Minerva sighed.  “Come in then. But please be quiet.  Cat is sleeping.”


“Cat… is that your daughter’s name?  How appropriate.” Daniel babbled as he followed Minerva into the parlour and sat down on the sofa.  “She’s really a lovely little girl… but that isn’t why I’m here.  I don’t know what came over me that night, Minerva, but I know how wrong my behaviour was.  I wanted you so badly, not that I’m offering that as an excuse because what I did was inexcusable, but you are so beautiful.  I know that I ruined any chance of a relationship between us but I was hoping that perhaps we might be friends…”


“I don’t know, Daniel.  I’ve never been treated the way you treated me. That will be difficult for me to forget.”


Daniel snorted.  “So I guess that Dumbledore was the perfect gentleman?”


Minerva’s eyes flashed.  “My relationship with Albus Dumbledore is none of your business.”


“I know… and I’m sorry.  But the way he defended you that night gave your relationship away.  He’s your baby’s father, isn’t he?  He hid you away here in this cozy little love nest so he could visit you whenever he wanted while claiming he was at a ministry meeting or some such nonsense.”


Minerva didn’t like the look in Daniel’s eyes.  “I think you should go, Daniel.” She inched her wand out as she lied.  “Nanny will be back from the village in a few minutes.”  Nanny had actually left a few hours earlier to spend the weekend with her sister.


“And we mustn’t have her tattling to the great Dumbledore about your visitor, now must we?”


“I want you to leave, Daniel.” Minerva stood, her wand drawn.


Daniel stood as well.  “But I don’t want to go.” He took a step toward her.


“Stupefy!” Minerva hastily said, only realizing that Daniel had placed a protective barrier around himself at some point when her spell rebounded on her.




Minerva struggled to lift her aching head as the room slowly stopped spinning.  The light bothered her eyes and she tried to lift her hand up to cover them but her arm wouldn’t cooperate.  She tried the other arm but it wouldn’t lift either.  Something was holding it back… but what?”


“What!?!?!” The back of Minerva’s head banged into the metal pole behind her as she jerked it up.  “What the hell are you doing?  Albus will kill you!” She snarled at the man sitting in the chair in front of her.


Daniel smiled lazily at his captive.  He thought that Minerva looked particularly attractive with her hands stretched behind her and tied around the metal column he’d transfigured in the middle of her parlour.  The position pushed her breasts out solidly against the light robes that she wore.  His eyes lit on them and he grinned lasciviously.


“He might try, pet.” Daniel conceded.  “But then that’s the point of this entire exercise… to draw out Albus Dumbledore… to show you what an incompetent old fool he really is… and to have you take your rightful place by my side.  Together we could rule the magical world, Minerva.”


“You’re insane!”


“Don’t say that!” Daniel leapt to his feet and backhanded Minerva’s cheek. He was immediately repentant.  “Oh my sweet, I’m so sorry!” He rubbed her stinging flesh.  “You must learn not to provoke me.  Don’t  you understand?  We are meant to be together.  You are my destiny.  I knew it the moment I saw you. You are the woman that I’m fated to spend my life loving.  I tried so hard to be patient.  I contented myself with kisses for months… but I knew you were holding back.  That’s why I watched from the woods… to see why you couldn’t commit totally to me.  When I saw the child I understood.  He’s using her to keep you tied to him.”


Minerva shook her head.  “Albus didn’t know about Cat.”


“Don’t lie for him!  He set you up in this cottage so he could sample the delights of your body anytime that he wanted.  You’re younger and prettier than Phoebe and I overheard that she can’t give him children.  You are also much more powerful.  Is that your primary function here?  To be their brood mare?  Raise up an army of Dumbledore heirs?”


“Shut up!” Minerva struggled against the chains around her wrist as she attempted to change into her cat form.  Every time she tried to begin the process excruciating pain shot through her.


“Please stop, darling,” Daniel shoved his face into hers.  “You might succeed eventually, but you will probably pass out from the pain long before then.  The chains are charmed.  And should you actually manage to override the spell…” Daniel turned his head and Minerva’s eyes followed his to where Cat was sleeping peacefully on one corner of the sofa.  “Her life means nothing to me, Minerva.  Killing her wouldn’t be pleasurable because of the pain that it would cause you, but we will have other children to replace her.”


“Please don’t hurt my daughter, Daniel.  I’ll do anything…”


Daniel smiled evilly as he lifted his hand to Minerva’s reddened cheek.  “Anything, pet? Not that you have much of a choice anyway.  I’ll break the hold Dumbledore has on you one way or the other.” His other hand, the one Minerva hadn’t been paying attention to, grabbed the pointed neckline of her gown and pulled.  The material ripped easily, exposing the bare flesh beneath.


“NO! Please!  Not like this, Daniel,” Minerva struggled against his touch as Daniel’s fingers closed over the white flesh of her exposed left breast.  He squeezed sharply and Minerva yelped in pain.


“You like that, don’t you?” His fingernails dug into her skin as his thumb and forefinger pinched the dusky tip tightly.  “You belong to me now, darling.  You don’t ever have to whore for Albus Dumbledore again.  We don’t have to keep our love a secret any longer.”


Minerva screamed again, straining against the ropes as Daniel lowered his mouth to her chest and bit her. Now she was terrified because she could tell by the look in Daniel’s eyes that he truly believed everything that he had said to her.  He was convinced that she was being coerced by Albus and that he was freeing her from the clutches of an unwanted lover.


“Can he sense how much you want me, Minerva?  He’ll be angry at losing a prize like you.  Call to him with your siren song.  Lure him here for me.  He’ll want to fight for you but when he arrives I will surprise him instead.  Once you’ve seen him defeated you will truly be free to love me openly.”


“It isn’t like that between Albus and I, Daniel!  I told you…” Daniel bit down hard on her shoulder blade.


The sound of her mother’s cries finally penetrated Cat’s sleep and her eyes flicked open.  She stared with open mouth at the scene that she didn’t understand.


As Daniel grabbed handfuls of Minerva’s skirts and began to pull them up Minerva caught Cat’s eye.  She searched the room frantically until she found her wand lying on the floor near where she had been standing.  Her eyes cut between Cat and the wand until finally the toddler’s gaze followed hers. 


Daniel was completely preoccupied with Minerva’s body so he didn’t notice the interaction taking place between mother and daughter.  Cat started to sit up and slide off of the sofa, intending on picking up the wand and carrying it to her mother but Minerva’s eyes and a quick shake of her head stopped the child’s movements.  Cat then followed her mother’s eyes to the bright purple ball that they sometimes played with in the meadow.  She understood.


Minerva exhaled a sigh of relief when she saw Cat lie back down on the sofa; her bright blue eyes focused on the wand on the floor.  The wand wobbled and rose an inch… then another.


At that moment Daniel’s hands reached her thighs and Minerva yelped, losing her connection with Catia.  The wand fell.


Cat wasn’t a quitter, however.  Even though she was very young she knew that there was something wrong with the way the strange man was treating her mother and that the long stick could help.  She tried again.  This time the wand rose a little higher, as did Daniel’s hands.


Minerva jerked her lower body away as well as she could, her torso swinging out so that one shoulder caught Daniel on his cheekbone.


“Temper, temper!” Daniel scolded gently as he shifted toward the front of the chair.  “But I’ll soon break you of that, darling.”  Minerva brought her knee up, catching him right in the goolies.


Dropping one hand to cup his injured anatomy, the fingers of Daniel’s other hand dug deep into the tender flesh of Minerva’s thigh as he swore. She felt the bruises start… was afraid that he had the strength to snap the bone as well.  After several minutes of this he released her and stood, his hand drawn back.


Then several things happened at once.


“YOU BITCH!” Daniel screamed as the back of his hand caught Minerva’s cheek again, slamming her head into the iron post.


The wand that had barely been skimming across the rug reached the area beneath Minerva’s bound hands and jumped up into them.


The front door flew open at that same moment and Phoebe bounced in the door with a cheery, “Minerva!  Cat!  I’m here!”


Daniel whirled to confront the intruder.


“DOWN!” Minerva screamed and Cat rolled off of the sofa and beneath a nearby table.


Phoebe dropped the basket she was carrying and fumbled to pull her wand from her sleeve.


Daniel grabbed his wand and pointed it at Phoebe.  “You are no longer needed! Avada Ked…”


The weight of Minerva’s body hit Daniel’s back full force, knocking him off balance and preventing him from finishing the words to the unforgivable curse.  A sickly string of green light oozed from the end of his wand, quickly fading to yellow then disappearing into the sofa.


Their momentum carried them both to the floor, Daniel falling one way and Minerva the other.


Daniel recovered first.  He leapt to his feet and whipped his wand.  “Expelliamus!”  Phoebe’s wand flew from her hand.  Fear froze her solid as Daniel once again began to mutter the killing curse but to his utter surprise an armchair flew from across the room, knocking him to the floor once again.


“GET DOWN, PHOEBE!” Minerva screamed as she jumped between her friend and the remnants of the spell, quickly throwing a protective shield over both her friend and her daughter.  Daniel was once again struggling to stand but before he had fully regained his footing he was flying across the room and through the exploding wall to land in the back garden, courtesy of Minerva’s expertly thrown blasting spell. 


“INCENDIO!”  Minerva commanded and a wall a flame sprang up between the house and the garden. She turned to Phoebe.


“Go!” Minerva urged.  “Take Cat and get out of here.”


“I won’t leave you!” Phoebe declared stoutly.  “You saved my life!”


Minerva summoned Phoebe’s wand and pressed it into her hands, one eye always on the burning wall of flames.  “You have to save Cat.  Don’t you understand?  He’d kill both of you without a single regret!  You have to save Cat!  Nothing else matters!”  She heard Daniel roar out the extinguishing spell and the flames began to sputter.  “Go now… PLEASE!”


As Minerva turned and headed toward the large hole in the cottage wall Phoebe pointed her wand toward Hogwarts and muttered a summoning spell.  A small silver dart shape shot out of the end.


Phoebe scooped up Cat and ran to the front door but the child fought against her hold all the way, screaming loudly for her mother.  By the time Phoebe reached the door she couldn’t make it open.  She tried every spell that she knew but the heavy wooden barrier refused to budge.


“He must have locked us all inside the boundaries of the property,” she told a confused Cat who was still crying for Minerva but now curious as to why Phoebe couldn’t open the door.  She reached out to the knob and yanked but it still wouldn’t budge.  “There has to be some way out of here.”  Phoebe murmured.  She could hear Minerva yelling both spells and counter curses as the battle outside raged.


Daniel had watched Minerva approach through the dying flames and he knew that she was trying to distract him from the others.  He quickly debated whether or not to let them leave but he decided that if he allowed her baby to live Minerva would pine for her and perhaps neglect the large brood of children he intended for the two of them to have.  He could care less about Phoebe Dumbledore except that she had gotten in his way but… his demented mind quickly decided that having Dumbledore’s wife under his command gave him added leverage in luring the man to him.  One way or another, Daniel decided, before he could possess Minerva fully, Albus Dumbledore had to die.


Years of service as an auror had trained Minerva for this fight and this time the outcome was too important for her to lose.  She fought on instinct, the spells springing to her lips without thought as she dodged Daniel’s attempts to bind her and continued to wear away at the protective barrier that he had managed to erect around himself.


“CRUCIO!”  Minerva managed to partially deflect Daniel’s spell but it caught her on her bruised leg and she fell to the ground, screaming in pain as she struggled to protect herself. 


“Protego,” she managed to mutter, hoping that she could keep the spell in place long enough to recover.  To her surprise, Daniel didn’t come straight for her but instead stood looking at the cottage with his arms outstretched.  She couldn’t hear his words but she watched him turn in a circle.  On his second rotation he stopped when he was looking at her and smiled.


“Now no one will bother us until I am ready.”


Minerva realized that he’d place an invisible barrier around the house and the property, effectively locking them in and everyone else out.


Daniel took a step toward her.


“Locomotor Mortis!”


Daniel’s legs instantly locked together, throwing him off balance.  His arms whipped wildly as he struggled to stay standing and mutter the counter curse at the same time.


“Petrificus Totalus!” Daniel recovered quicker than Minerva thought he would, hitting her with the paralyzing spell before she could defend herself.


‘Please let them have escaped,’ she thought as she fell. But her hopes were dashed when she hit the ground on her side, her eyes facing the barrier.  One by one the meadow began to fill with people.  She saw Albus apparate in first and run to the barrier.  Dippet followed close behind then several more professors from the school appeared.


Albus sensed the obstacle and stopped just seconds before he would have hit it.  His hands fell on the invisible shield.  “What is the meaning of this, O’Connell?  Let Professor McGonagall go!”


Daniel snorted.  “Professor McGonagall, he says… so formal, Albus.  I’ve been wondering when you would join the party.  Minerva has been… amusing me… while I was waiting for you.”


“I’m here now so you can let her go,” Albus answered, clearly not understanding what was happening, although his eyes had taken in Minerva’s torn clothing.  “If I’m the one that you wish to fight you have no need to hold her captive anymore.”


“Minerva isn’t my captive, Albus.  Minerva is my future bride.  But before we marry I have to assure myself that I and I alone hold her undivided attention.  There are a few… obstacles… to be dealt with first.”


‘CAT!’ Albus thought frantically when he remembered that Daniel knew about his daughter.  “Let Minerva and her child go!” He commanded.  He heard a few gasps of surprise behind him from his fellow professors.


“You think it is so simple, don’t you, Dumbledore?  You utter a command and the wizarding world falls at your feet.  Well, not this time. I don’t want to release Minerva.  I don’t give a damn about the little bastard but she makes good leverage… as does your wife.’


“Phoebe!” Albus couldn’t stop himself from calling out frantically.


Inside the house Phoebe had struggled to think of someway to get Cat to safety when she remembered the basement.  It was a long shot but perhaps…  She picked Cat up and scurried down the stairs in the kitchen.  Light from the tip of her wand helped Phoebe move across the dark room until she reached a set of double doors above her head.  In a muggle house they would be opened for coal to be dropped into the basement but Dippet had always used them as another entrance to his house. 


“Alohomora.” The locks broke apart and the doors fell open.  Phoebe shifted a large box then climbed up on it but quickly found her way blocked again by the invisible force.  Tears sprang to her eyes.


“Phoebe!” At first she didn’t hear her name being called but Cat did.  She began to struggle in Phoebe’s arms.


“Unka Abe!”


“Aberforth!” Phoebe breathed a sigh of relief, never so glad to see her brother-in-law as she was now.  “Daniel O’Connell has Minerva upstairs.  He’s gone crazy, Abe.  He tried to kill me twice and would have done so if Minerva hadn’t stopped him.  He made it clear that Cat was next.  We have to get her out of here.”


“Albus and a bunch of teachers are gathered around the garden trying to break the barrier spell.  I saw the commotion and thought I’d try the house.  Damn, I wish I’d paid more attention in school.  I have no idea how to break through this thing.”


“Get Albus.  He’ll know.”


Aberforth shook his head.  “If I try to get him away, it’ll clue the crazy wizard in on what we are trying to do.  Maybe I can get someone else’s attention.  I’ll be right back.  We need to hurry.  Minnie is down and he could turn on her at any second.”


Phoebe tried to question Abe further but before she could speak he was gone.  She stared at Cat for a minute then climbed off the box and sat the child on top of it.  “Listen to me, Cat.  I’m going to go back upstairs and help mummy fight the bad man.  Promise me that you will sit right here and Aberf… Uncle Abe will be back in a few minutes to get you.”


“Don’t yeave me, Ant Peebee!” Cat implored, confused and terrified by everything happening around her.


Phoebe quickly hugged the little girl.  “I don’t want to, child, but your mummy needs help and she wants to keep you safe.  She wants to keep all of us safe. I understand that now.  Please stay here and soon… soon your papa will be here to get you.”


Cat’s eyes widened.  Even though she had known instinctively that Albus was her father she wasn’t allowed to call him that, especially when Phoebe was around. She nodded.  “I pomise.”


“Good girl.” Phoebe gave Cat one last hug, placed the strongest protection spell she knew around her then headed back toward the stairs.


When she reached the top of the stairs she heard her husband’s voice calling her name frantically.  Phoebe started to run toward the garden but then reason overtook her and at the last moment she stopped and stepped behind the jagged edge of the wall.


“Don’t you believe me, Dumbledore?  Your wife was coming here this afternoon, wasn’t she?  Should I get her?  But you’d like for me to leave for a moment, wouldn’t you?  You can’t have them both.  In fact, soon you will no longer have either of them.”


“If it’s me that you want I’ll come through the barrier alone.  Just don’t hurt the women.” Albus volunteered.


“NO!” Minerva’s voice interrupted as she finally managed to break free of the petrification curse.  “He wants to kill you, Albus.  You can’t come in.”


“Shut up!” A beam of red shot from Daniel’s wand and Minerva fell to the ground again, screaming in pain. 


While this was going on Albus caught the slightest hint of movement from the corner of his eye.  Careful not to betray this on his facial expression he nonetheless acknowledged his brother with a signal only Abe would recognize.


“If you truly loved Minerva you wouldn’t hurt her, Daniel.”


“I am the only one who truly loves her!  You’ve used her and discarded her.  They all have.  She is meant for me!  She will soon see that.  But I won’t have her looking back.  I have to deal with all of the ties to her past.  She must be completely free.”


“Then deal with me, O’Connell.”  The kind and gentle visage of Professor Albus Dumbledore disappeared.  In its place was the hard countenance of a wizard who had faced his own mortality, a wizard who knew how to fight, a wizard who was ready to die to defend those he loved.  A glowing aura appeared around Albus and began to grow outward toward the invisible barrier.


On the side of the cottage Alastor Moody, the ministry of magic’s head auror, stared down into the scared face of the tiny girl trapped in the basement below him.  Tears filled her eyes and ran down her cheeks but she had heeded his caution not to cry out loud.


Moody had been visiting his good friend Dumbledore when the emergency message had arrived from Phoebe.  Albus had muttered a skeletal explanation then hurried away to ask for Dippet’s help.  Alastor knew that something must be dreadfully wrong for the great Dumbledore to be so upset and he had quickly summoned his best team of aurors, the entire group meeting at the Hogwarts gates then apparating to the road near Dippet’s cottage.  It was pure luck that Aberforth had caught him and enlisted his help.  As Alastor stared down into bright blue Dumbledore eyes he knew that he had to rescue the child for his friend.


Suddenly the barrier beneath his hands vibrated. 


“Now!” Alastor called to his team.  “Albus is attacking. Concentrate everything you’ve got on breaking the shield here!  You too, Aberforth!”


The younger Dumbledore skeptically drew his wand and invoked the same spell that the others were reciting.  The magic of their wands joined together and pounded against the divider but it continued to hold firm.


“Don’t give up!” Alastor encouraged, sweat rolling off of his scarred forehead and down his pitted cheeks.


Suddenly a loud splintering noise reverberated back through the wands and a tiny crack became visible,  the glowing edges slowly growing in size as the group gritted their teeth and continued to cast the spell.


“Come on… stand up, child!  Abe, can you get her?” Alastor’s face was white with strain.


“Stretch your arms out, kitty-cat!” Abe called.  Cat stood on the box and stretched her arms up as far as she could.


“I don’t know how long we can hold it once you drop out so get her as quickly as you can!   On the count of three… THREE!”


Aberforth held his wand up as long as he could while bending over.  Finally he dropped it, grabbed both of Cat’s outstretched hands with his own and yanked.  The baby came flying out of the cellar a second before the auror’s spell broke and the barrier reinstated itself.  Abe looked up from the spot where he’d fallen, intent on thanking Alastor but the auror and his team were already headed around the house to help those working in the garden.


“It’s okay, kitty-cat.  Uncle Abe has you now.  You’re safe!” Abe pulled his niece into his protective embrace.


“Mummy!” Cat wailed and pointed toward the fight.


A loud cry filled the air as Daniel felt the two-pronged assault on his protective barricade.  He broke his gaze with Dumbledore to glance toward the side of the house.  At that same moment Albus increased his magical assault on the weakening barrier.


“STOP IT!” Daniel screamed, more like a frustrated child than a dangerous dark wizard.  “I WILL KILL HER!  I’LL KILL THEM ALL!”


“Please, Daniel…” Minerva’s voice was weak but everyone around heard her.  She had one hand pressed against a bleeding cut on her abdomen but she used the other to push her torso up.  “Listen… leave them alone.  I’ll go with you willingly… right now… if you don’t hurt anyone else.”


“Minerva…” She heard Albus voice but chose to ignore it. 


“Right this minute.  You don’t have to fight anyone, Daniel.  You don’t have to kill anyone.  Just help me up and we’ll apparate away together.”


Daniel’s confusion was evident.  “You’d leave your child?  I don’t believe you.”


“To save her life?  Yes, I’d leave her.”  Minerva held Daniel’s gaze steadily.


“I don’t believe you.  You’d always be trying to get back to her.”  He raised his wand toward Albus.


“Once I go Phoebe will be her mother.  Cat is young.  She will forget me in time.  Albus and Phoebe will be good parents to her.  I know that.”


“I won’t let you do this, Minerva,” Albus’ voice rumbled in the background as he moved closer to her along the barricade.


“She doesn’t want you anymore, Dumbledore!” O’Connell screamed, his wand wavering between Albus and Minerva.  “Didn’t you hear her?  She wants me!”


“Take care of them, Albus,” Minerva looked into the face of the man she loved, the depth of her feelings clearly visible to him in her eyes.  Unfortunately Daniel could also see. 


“YOU LIAR!” He screamed at Minerva, his want pointed directly at her.  “But if you can’t love me I won’t let you love another!”


He uttered the first of the feared words.  The tip of his wand glowed bright green and began to move in a straight line toward Minerva.


Phoebe stepped from behind the rubble of the wall to watch the scene unfolding in front of her as if in slow motion.  She heard Minerva offer to sacrifice herself.  She heard Minerva give her child to Phoebe… the most selfless act she had ever witnessed, and all to save Phoebe’s husband.  And in Minerva’s final words she knew the depth of friendship that Minerva felt for her as well as the depth of love Minerva felt for Albus.  Phoebe had come to realize how much Albus truly loved her but, though she couldn’t see Minerva, she could see Albus’ face reflecting those feelings back to the mother of his child as well. 


Engorgio!” Her wand pointed to a group of small pebbles just inches in front of Daniel’s feet.  They immediately began to grow and O’Connell found himself being lifted up on the top of small boulders quickly turning into large ones.  His unfinished curse faded away.


Reducto!” The boulders were blasted to rubble as Daniel fell to earth.  He managed to land on his feet and he quickly turned on Phoebe.


Several spells were screamed at once as Albus shattered the barrier and attacked O’Connell at the same time that he was attacking Phoebe.  She heard Minerva hex Daniel as well even as she felt his stream of spells slice through her and then she heard her own screams echoing in her ears as she lost consciousness.




A whimper from her kitten reminded Minerva that she was holding her, much too tightly judging by the squirming.  Seeing that her daughter was fast asleep Minerva stood then gently lowered her to the bed and tucked her in.


“Sleep well, my sweet kitten.”  She smoothed back ebony hair and tenderly kissed one soft cheek then made her way out of the dark room.




“Why won’t someone tell me something?!” Albus roared at a passing nurse.  As she fled in terror down the corridor he resumed pacing back and forth across the tiny room.


“The healer will be in to talk with you soon, Albus,” Aberforth tried to calm his brother.  “Wouldn’t you rather him be taking care of Phoebe right now?  Please sit down and try to relax.  You’re upsetting Cat.”


His brother’s words brought Albus up short and he turned to look at his daughter sitting in her mother’s lap in the corner.  Cat was curled up in a tight ball against her mother’s chest, her thumb shoved in her mouth as she watched her father intently.  Albus knelt in front of them and smiled weakly as he chucked Cat’s chin.


“How’s my kitty-cat?” He whispered.


Cat shook her head, refusing to remove her thumb.


“Every thing is okay now, Kitten.” Minerva told her.  “We are all safe.”


Awwppbbee.” Cat muttered around her thumb.  Albus didn’t understand but Minerva did.


“The healers are looking after Aunt Phoebe and making her all better.  Aunt Poppy will be here to help soon.”


At that moment Poppy Pomfrey came through the waiting room door.  “Min!” She ran to her friend.  “I came as soon as I could… You look like hell!”


“I’ve been through hell, Poppy…” The healer could see in her friend’s eyes that her words weren’t exaggerated.


“I checked but the emergency healers are still hard at work.  Why don’t you let me check you out, Min?  You look like you need it.”  Poppy told Minerva, staring at her friend’s bedraggled appearance.  Minerva’s skin was chalk white causing the dark bruises marring her face and neck to stand out even more prominently.  Her hands bore traces of red that Poppy recognized as blood.


“I’m fine,” Minerva protested.


Albus stood from his crouch in front of Minerva and held his hands out to Cat.  “Come see Papa, Kitty-cat, and let Aunt Poppy take care of Mummy.”


Poppy was caught off guard for a moment; she knew that Albus and Phoebe had discovered Cat’s existence but she also knew that Minerva had discouraged Cat from calling Albus papa.  Her attention was diverted back to her patient as Albus lifted Cat away and Poppy could see Minerva fully.


Minerva quickly grabbed the edges of her torn bodice and tried to pull them back together but Poppy had seen the black bruises and teeth imprints on her flesh.  Blood seeped through a rip in her gown from a wound on Minerva’s abdomen.


“Let’s go find an empty room, Min, so I can do a more thorough examination.” Poppy reached up and pulled the scrapes of Minerva’s bodice out of her hand.  She lowered the material so that she could see the bite marks.  “I can take care of… anything else…”


“Later… once we hear about Phoebe… oh,” Minerva realized what Poppy thought.  “It’s okay, Poppy.  He didn’t do anything else but this…” she raised her hand to her collarbone, “and my leg. Everything else is from the fighting.”


Poppy had been Minerva’s friend long enough to recognize the stubborn set of her chin.  She sighed as she drew her wand and began casting healing spells.


“Papa?” Albus withdrew his gaze from Minerva to stare down at their daughter.  “Mummy otay?”


“Oh, Kitty-cat.  Mummy is just fine.” He hugged Cat tightly.


Cat shook her head against Albus’ chest.  “Mummy huwt, too.”


“Mummy is hurt but Aunt Poppy is making her all better.  Just look and see.”


After a few more minutes of coaxing Cat finally turned her head and saw that the majority of Minerva’s cuts and bruises had gotten better or disappeared all together.


“That’s the best that I can do here, Min.  You should be all right but you need to have a thorough exam and soon.”


“Mr. Dumbledore?” No one had noticed the young nurse approach.  “The healer asked me to tell you that he will meet with you in his office in just a moment.  I’ll take you there if you’d like.”


Albus whispered a few words to Cat then passed her to Aberforth and held his hand out to Minerva.  “Would you… I’m afraid to go alone…”


Minerva nodded and took his hand, allowing him to help her rise.   They followed the young nurse down the corridor quietly, neither speaking nor touching except for their hands. Before they got comfortable in the small office the healer was joining them.


Blood rushed into Minerva’s ears as she listened to the healer’s words.  She wanted to scream, hit him, and do anything to make the awful words go away.  But then Albus’ voice cut through the haze.


“How long?”


“We don’t know for sure, Mr. Dumbledore.  My best guess is two… maybe three days at most.”


“Thank you,” Albus nodded.


Minerva stared at him dumbfounded.  “That’s it?  You aren’t going to do anything else?  Call in a specialist, for Merlin’s sake!  You can’t just give up!  Make them do something else, Albus!  You can’t let that bastard win!”  She flew at the healer in a rage but Albus grabbed her waist as she passed and pulled her close.


“I’ll leave you…” the healer exited quietly, happy to let Albus deal with a distraught Minerva.


“Please don’t let them stop trying, Albus!” Minerva begged.  “Don’t let Daniel take Phoebe away from us.”


Albus soothed her tears as best he could before patiently explaining what she had been too upset to hear the healer say.  They were continuing to treat Phoebe and exhausting every possibility that they knew to try and find a cure for the barrage of spells that Daniel had hit Phoebe within the seconds before Albus had imprisoned him, but thus far they had had very little luck.  Daniel’s twisted mind had been casting so many different spells at once that they had jumbled together and worked in an adverse way on Phoebe but no one knew which spells had worked and which ones hadn’t.


“He is just giving us the worst case scenario, Minerva.”


Three days later they stood together again, Cat in Albus’ arms, just outside the intensive care ward where Phoebe rested.  She’d finally regained consciousness the day before which gave the healers some hope.  She was in a great deal of pain but even in this state, she’d asked to see Cat again.


“Now remember, kitten,” Minerva reminded the little girl.  “Don’t ask Aunt Phoebe a lot of questions.  She is very tired.”


The nurses had cleaned and combed Phoebe’s hair and helped prop her up against thick pillows.  She smiled brightly and held her hands out immediately as the three entered the room.


Albus lowered the child gently to Phoebe’s side and Cat settled next to her against the pillow.


“Ant Peebee feew better?”


“Seeing you makes Aunt Phoebe feel better, little one.  I heard how brave you were.  Uncle Abe told me that you did exactly as I told you.  I’m very proud of you.”


Cat beamed at the praise.  She’d come to adore Phoebe almost as much as her mummy and papa over the summer months.


“You are very special to me, Catia.  Aunt Phoebe wasn’t very nice when I first found out about you but then I got to know you and I love you so much.  All I want is for you to be happy.”


I’s happy, Ant Peebee.”


Phoebe was obviously tired so after a few more minutes Minerva held out her hands.  “Let’s let Aunt Phoebe get some rest, Kitten.”


Phoebe looked sad but she didn’t protest as Minerva lifted the baby away.  But when Minerva reached the door Phoebe called out.  “I need to talk with you too, Minerva.”


“I’ll just get Poppy to watch Cat for a moment.”


While they waited for Minerva to return Albus sat down on the side of Phoebe’s bed and stared at her, love and concern in his eyes.  “What is this all about, my dear?”


Phoebe leaned back against the pillows, her eyes closed.  “You will find out in a moment.  Are you sorry that you married me, Albus?”


Albus was blindsided by the question.  He hadn’t seen it coming but he answered immediately.  “Not for an instant.  I loved you from the moment I saw you.  I walked into Dippet’s office that bright August morning and there you were.  I lost my heart immediately.”


Phoebe smiled at the memory.  “I’d heard all about the fabulous, wonderful, talented, gorgeous as sin Albus Dumbledore for years.  Imagine my surprise to find out that you were just a man… but a loving man with a generous heart… I was stupid to run away from you.”


“That’s in the past.  It doesn’t matter now.”


“Are you sure?  Have you ever guessed the real reason why I ran away?  I left you because I was jealous… of Minerva.  I knew that there was something between you.”


“Phoebe, I swear Minerva and I never…”


“I know, Albus.  I don’t think either of you even realized it, but I sensed it.  And I began to doubt.  Minerva was younger than I… so much prettier… and with an intelligence to match your own.  I realize that I am a marginal witch at best.  I thought that you would be better off with Min… but then I realized how much I loved you and I couldn’t just let you go… The second that boat docked I was going to turn around and head straight back to beg your forgiveness.”


“It wouldn’t have been necessary.  I loved you then almost as much as I love you now.  Sweet Phoebe, I am so much older you but that was never a concern for you.  Minerva is a very talented witch, it’s true, but you… oh Phoebe, you have a wonderful zest for life.  Your smile lights up the room and my heart.  You hold my heart and my future is with you.”


Phoebe’s eyes opened at those words and she haltingly lifted her hand to Albus’ cheek.  “That’s what I want to talk about.”  She saw Minerva slip back in the room.  “Come here,” she commanded when Minerva would have lingered by the door, unwilling to interrupt a tender moment.


“Minerva, I’ve already asked and received your forgiveness for my behaviour when I found out about Cat but now I want to ask you something else.  I want you to forgive yourself.”  Phoebe grabbed Minerva’s hand.  “You have been a true friend to me and to Albus.  I know that you never tried to come between us.  You did what you had to do to help Albus that night but you never demanded more.”


“Phoebe, I…” Minerva stopped speaking when Phoebe pulled her hand over and placed it on top of Albus’ hand.


“The two of you have a beautiful child.  You both adore her and want what is best for her… and what is best for her is to be raised by both of her parents.  The two of you will soon be free to be together.  I want you to know that I wish this for you. Catia deserves to have her father’s name.  Marry and raise Cat together… have other children… love each other and be happy.”


“This isn’t the time, my dear…” Albus tried to interject.


“This may be all the time I have.  I know that I’m not getting better, Albus. Promise me!  Both of you!”  Phoebe commanded.


“You can’t ask us to do this,” Minerva whispered, her face aflame.


“I can and I have,” Phoebe raised an eyebrow.  “My time with Albus is almost done.  Now it is your turn.”


“You can’t just command Minerva and I to fall in love, Phoebe.  I love you.”


Phoebe smiled.  “I know that you do, Albus.  But I also know that you love Minerva and that she loves you.  Maybe neither of you has admitted it to yourself… but that doesn’t mean that love isn’t present.  What you feel for Minerva doesn’t diminish what you feel for me. Don’t let some misguided sense of guilt ruin your chance for happiness.  Promise me!”


Albus spoke the words clearly, a vow voiced to placate his wife.  Minerva muttered her own promise then fled the room, intending to return later when Phoebe was alone and explain why her wishes weren’t possible.  She never had a chance.


Albus sat at his wife’s side through the night and in the darkest hours just before dawn when Phoebe slipped away, he was holding her hand.





“Lord, I look awful.” Minerva muttered to her image in the mirror of the small bathroom.  She hadn’t realized that she was crying until she stepped into the guest washroom to chase an errant toy. She quickly turned the tap on and splashed water on her face.  The cool liquid soothed her eyes and washed away the drying tear tracks from her cheeks.


Strands of hair had worked free of the braid that she normally slept in so she tugged the restraining band from the end then picked up Cat’s brush.  The rhythmic stroking soothed her emotions as well.




“Higher, Papa, Higher!”


Minerva heard Cat’s laughter echoing down the hallway as she stacked the last of her end of the year papers up and placed them in their appropriate folder. Knowing that she would soon be invaded by the greatest wizard of the age playing flying phoenix with their daughter, she carefully tucked everything important away so that it couldn’t be scattered then sat back in her chair.


Her wait was short.  Barely a minute passed before Cat came flying into the room, her arms stretched out in imitation of Fawkes’ wings.  Albus walked beneath her, his arms lifted up so that his fingertips were only inches from Cat’s stomach.


Minerva wanted to chastise them both but found that she couldn’t.  Even though she’d asked Albus to refrain from flying Cat around, the joy on both parent and child’s faces was a sight to behold.  So she simply crossed her arms and stared until they made eye contact.


Albus grinned at Minerva’s arched eyebrow and lowered Cat back into his embrace, ignoring the child’s protests.  “Hello, Minerva.  Kitty-cat and I thought that you were in Headmaster Dippet’s office.”


“Obviously,” Minerva answered dryly.


Cat, who was now standing in front of her father, crossed her arms in imitation of her mother and stomped her tiny foot.  “I wanna fly more!”


“Catia Briana McGonagall!” Cat darted around her father’s legs then stuck her head back out from behind him.  She recognized the tone in her mother’s voice.


“But mummy!  I like to fly!”


“It is time for dinner, young lady.  After that we have to finish packing and then you are going to bed early.”  Minerva recognized the stubborn streak in Cat.  She inherited it from her mother.  But Minerva was determined not to let it get out of hand.  “Go wash your hands.”


Cat pouted as she dragged her feet across the floor to the small washroom connected to her mother’s office.


“Minerva,” Albus began.  “We need to talk.”


“Not now, Albus.” Minerva told him impatiently.


“Then when?  You’ve been avoiding me for months.”  Albus was obviously exasperated.


“You spend time with Cat every day.”


“You’ve been very generous with Cat.  Both of you join me for meals.  You let me play with her every afternoon.  You even let me tuck her in at night.  But once I’m done with that you’ve disappeared.  I would like to talk to YOU, Minerva… without little ears listening.”


Minerva sighed.  She’d been expecting this from Albus for months.  What he was saying was true.  In the aftermath of Phoebe’s death Minerva had encouraged Albus to spend all the time he wanted with Cat, which had turned into every free minute that he had.  Cat and Nanny had moved into Minerva’s quarters at the castle, which had given the little girl free access to her father and she’d taken advantage of it. But Minerva had studiously avoided being left alone with Albus.


“Tonight,” she finally answered, “after you tuck Cat in.  We can talk then.”


Albus nodded, certain that once given, Minerva wouldn’t break her word.  “Good enough.”  He turned to the opening door of the washroom.  “Come on, Kitty-cat.  I hear that the house elves have prepared ice cream sundaes for dessert tonight!”


Apparently Albus had taken Minerva’s words as an invitation to spend the rest of the evening with them because after dinner he escorted them both back to her rooms then went to help Cat pack up her clothes.  Minerva spent the evening in her bedroom sorting through her robes and trying to decide what to take with her.  They were spending the summer at Poppy’s flat in London because Minerva couldn’t face Dippet’s cottage ever again and there was nowhere else to go. 


Cat’s bedtime came and went but still Minerva hesitated.  Another half-hour passed before she knew she had to put her daughter to bed or risk having to travel with a very cranky child the next day.


To her surprise neither Albus nor Cat were in the tiny bedroom although neatly packed suitcases were.  Minerva was about to check the sitting room again when she heard splashing from the bath. 


Cat’s head was barely visible above the mound of bubbles floating on the surface of the water at one end of the tub.  At the other end a flotilla of ships bobbed on miniature waves.  Cat cheered as a vessel flying the English flag fired a tiny cannon ball and a Spanish galleon burst into flames and sank slowly into the tub.


“Sink another one, Papa!”


“The Spanish armada wasn’t completely destroyed, kitty-cat.  There were a few vessels that managed to make it home.”


Minerva laughed at Albus’ comment.  Trust him to work a history lesson into bath time. 


Cat turned and grinned at her mother.  “We finished packin’ so Papa put me in the bath.”


“I see that.  But it’s time you were in bed.”


“I’ll go get her bed ready while you…” Albus gestured toward Cat and Minerva realized that he wasn’t sure of how to get Cat out and dried off.  As he stood Minerva noticed that his robes were wet around his knees and realized that the floor had huge puddles of water on it. 


“What did the two of you do?  Have a water fight?”


Cat cackled out loud.  Albus blushed but said nothing as he quickly disappeared.


“Did you enjoy your bath, Kitten?” Minerva asked as she lifted Cat out and sat her on a towel on the counter.


“I did, mummy.  Papa and I had lots of fun.  I wish he was here all the time.”


Minerva didn’t answer.  She quickly dried Cat and tugged a clean nightgown over her head then pulled out her wand and dried the floor before putting Cat down.  Cat immediately took off running into the bedroom, her mother following at a more sedate pace.


“In you go, Kit!” Albus swung Cat up into his arms and smothered her face with kisses before dropping her to the mattress. 


Minerva moved to the side of the bed and tucked the sheet around Cat.  “Sleep well, little one,” she whispered as she brushed her lips over Cat’s forehead.


Albus bent beside her, one arm laid across Minerva’s back.  “No trolls under the bed.  I checked twice.”


“Thank you, Papa.” Cat sat up and wrapped an arm around each parents’ neck, pulling all of their heads together so that she could swap kisses back and forth.


Finally Minerva pulled away with a laugh.  “Enough of that, Miss.  It’s well past your bedtime already.  To sleep with you.”


Cat reluctantly let go of her parents and snuggled down into the blankets.  “Can we have breakfast tomorrow morning with Papa before we go?”


Minerva shot Albus a glaring look, convinced that he had put Cat up to the question but his demeanor was completely innocent.  “I’ll talk to mummy about that tonight if you promise to go to sleep this very instant.”


“I promise, Papa!” Cat screwed her eyes tightly shut.


Albus would have laughed but Minerva silently shushed him and waved him out of the room, being careful to close the door tightly behind her.  Albus moved into the sitting room, the footsteps right behind him telling him that Minerva was following.


“I was sure you were going to come up with some excuse or simply disappear again,” he told her as he dropped his hat on a table and dragged his hands through his long auburn hair.


“I told you that I would speak to you this evening,” Minerva answered as she wandered around the room, unwilling to meet Albus’ eyes.  She clearly didn’t want to be there.


“Spend the summer with me.” Albus blurted out, not knowing any other way to get the topic out in the open.


“WHAT?”  His outburst finally brought Minerva’s gaze to his.  “Spend the… you must be daft!”


“Why?” Albus pressed forward.  “I want to spend the summer with my daughter and her mother.  I’ve missed so much of her childhood.  I can spend the next few months making that up to Cat… and to you.”


Minerva turned her back to Albus.  “You have nothing to make up to either of us.  It was my decision to keep you apart and I’m sorry but… you may visit Cat any time.”

“She wants me there all the time.  Cat wants me to be there to tuck her in at night.  She wants me to be there at breakfast time.  She wants us to be a family, Minerva.”


“That’s ridiculous.  You are putting words in her mouth.  She’s only two.  She doesn’t understand…”


“And what about when she does?  In a few months Cat will be three. Eventually she is going to realize that most kids’ mummies and daddies are married.  If we act now she won’t really…”


“Act now!?!?” Minerva whirled, emerald eyes on fire.  “What in the bloody hell do you mean by that?  We aren’t going to get married just to satisfy your notions of respectability!  You’ve been widowed less than a year! That’s just ridicul…”


Minerva’s words were cut off by Albus’ tongue, which, after leaning forward he had thrust down her throat.  She pushed him away and, realizing that she had left her wand in Cat’s lavatory, balled up her fist and swung at him.  Albus ducked and caught her around the middle, pushing her back against the wall.  Her fists pounded angrily at his back as he pressed the length of his body against hers, but Albus wouldn’t be dissuaded.  He captured her head between his hands and held her still as he captured her lips again, ravaging them with his own.


The fight drained from Minerva quicker than Albus had thought it would.  He sensed the exact moment when she gave in to her heart’s desires and began to return his kiss.  She opened her mouth willingly to him while her fingers threaded their way through his hair.


“This… is why…” Albus punctuated his words with tiny kisses, his body still holding Minerva’s to the wall.  “… we… are going… to marry…” He pulsed his hips against her, the thick ridge of his desire riding over her mons.  “We are… connected… We are meant… to be…”


“No…” but her hips ground back against his.


“You know… I’m right… You felt it… that first day… You were always there for me, Kitten… I’m falling… in love with you…”


Minerva went cold, all movement ceasing, then with strength she didn’t know she possessed she thrust Albus away from her and fled across the room.


“You can’t run away from it, Minerva.  You’ve been trying to for months but it won’t go away, will it?  Do you dream about me as I dream about you?”


The blush on Minerva’s cheeks as she buried her face in her hands told Albus that she did. 


“It isn’t just the erotic dreams,” he slowly moved toward her, “even though they are so arousing that I wake up wanting to storm your bedroom and bury myself deep inside you…”


Minerva moaned as the image took form in her mind, the feelings flooding through her body.


“I love watching you with Cat, holding her, bathing her, tucking her in to bed.  I was a part of that tonight.  I want to be a part of that all the time.  Yes, I can be a father to Cat without being married to you… but I want it all, Kitten.  I want us to be a family.  I know that you feel something for me,” his hands were on her shoulders now.  “Even if it is only desire right now we can build on that…”


Minerva shook her head so fiercely hairpins flew and her tight bun began to fall, the ebony locks cascading over Albus’ arms and hands.  “We can’t… I can’t… Phoebe…”


Albus knew that Minerva was crying; he could hear the tears in her voice even though he couldn’t see her face.  “Phoebe is gone, Kitten.  I loved her.  I miss her.  Part of me always will.  But life is for the living.  Phoebe wanted this for us.  She wanted it for Cat.  I’m not saying that we get married tomorrow but… spend the summer with me… Give your feelings a chance to grow.”


“NO!  I can’t allow myself… Don’t you understand, Albus?  Phoebe died because of me!  It’s my fault!  I can barely live with myself now!  How could I continue if I took her husband?”


Albus turned Minerva to face him, realizing for the first time just how much guilt she was carrying.  “You have nothing to feel guilty about!  No one blames you.  Don’t you realize that the entire staff wants us to get married?”


“Phoebe would be alive if it weren’t for me.  If I’d given in to Daniel’s demands he wouldn’t have gone insane…”


“You can’t know that, Minerva.”


“I never should have gone out with him.  I knew it was wrong.  I tried to want him… I tried so to love him… but he wasn’t you… and Phoebe died because I couldn’t control my emotions!”


Albus gave Minerva a shake.  “Phoebe died because Daniel O’Connell was an evil controlling bastard who behaved like a spoiled child when he couldn’t have what he wanted.  You didn’t ask him to become obsessed with you.  Phoebe is the one who pushed him on you in the first place.”


“Don’t you dare blame Phoebe!


Albus rolled his eyes at the absurdity of the argument.  “I would never blame Phoebe.  She thought she was doing you a favour.  She wanted you to be happy.”


“I ruined her happiness.”


“Now you are being silly, Kitten.  Yes, Phoebe was upset when she found out about Cat, and understandably so.  But she soon came to accept the situation.  She loved Cat and she loved you.  Phoebe knew how much I loved her.  She realized so much. Remember what she told us? ‘I also know that you love Minerva and that she loves you.  Maybe neither of you has admitted it to yourself… but that doesn’t mean that love isn’t present.  It doesn’t diminish what you feel for me. Don’t let some misguided sense of guilt ruin your chance for happiness.’  It’s been over eight months, Kitten.  Let the guilt go.”


“I… I can’t!”  Minerva flung herself forward, burying her face in Albus chest.  Within seconds he could feel her tears soaking through the light robe that he wore.  Albus held her for a few moments then lifted her into his arms and moved to the sofa where he sat down, cradling Minerva on his lap.  Once there he began to soothe her quietly, murmuring nonsense noises until the woman in his arms was calm enough to listen to him again.


This time Albus didn’t try to force Minerva to look at him.  “You were in that hospital ward with me.  You heard the words that Phoebe said.  She realized that she was going to leave us and she wanted both of us to know that she wanted us to be a family.”


“I don’t want to get married just to give Cat a father,” Minerva sniffed.


“Cat has a father whether we marry or not.  But let’s look at the other reasons why we should consider marriage.  I’m attracted to you, Minerva… and I’m vain enough to think that you are attracted to me as well… aren’t you?”


He was surprised to hear Minerva chuckle slightly amidst her tears.  “I think that’s damn well obvious.”


Albus laughed with her.  “You can’t blame an old wizard for wanting to stroke his ego a little bit.  Beyond the attraction, we have a great deal in common and you know it.”


“We never lack for conversation.” Minerva admitted.


“And the most important reason of all… I love you.” Albus confessed.


“No…” Minerva went stiff again.


“Denying it won’t make it go away.  I don’t really understand this myself, Kitten. I loved Phoebe with all my heart.  I know that part of me will always love her.  What I feel for you is completely different… wilder… more intoxicating.  Phoebe’s smile made my heart sing.  The sight of you makes my blood boil.  A simple touch of your hand makes me hot… I don’t want to spend a second away from you.  I can’t really explain it but I know that it’s love too…   Don’t we at least deserve a chance to see what we could become together?”


Finally Minerva lifted her head.  Her eyes were still filled with residual tears but no new ones were flowing.  “Cat and I are going to Poppy’s tomorrow, as we planned…” Albus’ face fell.  “… but… I’d like for you to visit us often… and maybe… if things go all right  just maybe… we could spend some time with you at the end of the summer.”


Albus smiled and nodded, knowing that he was getting a large concession from Minerva.  He leaned back into the cushions, still holding her in his arms but nothing more.  It was enough… for now.




Minerva dropped the brush to the counter with a loud clatter as memories overwhelmed her for a moment.  Checking her hair once last time she lowered the candle flame then stepped back into the hallway and turned toward her bedroom.  She was only a few steps away when, at the last minute, she turned to a door on the opposite side of the hallway and carefully pushed it open.


Moonlight streamed through the large window, allowing Minerva to easily navigate the maze of books and toys scattered across the floor to the side of the old oak bed.  She smiled as she leaned over and carefully pulled seven-year-old Cat’s thumb from her mouth.  Her daughter mewed in her sleep but didn’t return the digit.  The fact that she had locked on to it at all told Minerva that her baby’s thoughts had also been on the battle she still vividly remembered and the special aunt that she had lost.


They both tended to get a bit melancholy around this time of year and since this week marked five years since that horrible time, Minerva knew that Cat would remember.  That’s why she detoured off to check on her.


Her hand brushed over the long black curls spread out across the pillow.  “Sleep well, my kitten, and know that you have an angel watching over you.” She pulled up the sheet that Cat had kicked off and tucked it around her shoulders then bent over and kissed her cheek.




“Ducks, Papa!  Look!”  Minerva crouched low in the grass as Albus entered her feline field of vision, their daughter tucked snugly on one hip.


“I see the ducks, kitty cat.  Aren’t they pretty?”


“Can we feed them, Papa?”


“Well… I might have a bit of something in my pockets that a few pretty little ducks might like.”  Albus pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and effortlessly transformed it into a blanket.  He spread it over the ground then sat down on it, placing Cat beside him while he dug through his robes.


Minerva settled into the cover of the tall grass, abandoning her afternoon exercise in favor of watching father and child interact.  She fought the urge to swish her tail as a grasshopper leapt by in front of her quivering nose.


Cat threw the crackers that Albus had unearthed into the pond, one by one, while her father held the tail of her dress tightly to keep her from wandering too close to the water.  When she finished she sat down by Albus, raised her knees, put her elbows on top of them, then planted her chin firmly in her palms.




“What, my sweetheart?”


“I don’t wanna go back to the castle.  I want mummy and me and you to stay here.”


The term was starting in just five short days.  Albus knew that Minerva had already packed most of Cat’s things, along with her own, in preparation for their return to Hogwarts.


“Don’t you like the castle?  Just think about the wonderful birthday cake that the house elves will prepare for you in just a few weeks.”


“I like the castle… and Uncle Armando… but… I like here better.  I like you living with me and mummy and being here all the time.”


Minerva almost meowed in frustration.  This had been her main fear when she’d finally agreed to spend the last month of summer vacation at Albus’ family home.


“I’ll tell you a little secret, kitty cat… I like being with you and mummy all of the time, too.  I’m glad to hear you say this because I’ve been thinking… how would you feel if mummy and I were to get married?”


“Married… like you and Aunt Peebee?” Cat regarded her father thoughtfully.


“Yes, except that mummy and I would have you as well.  And one day we might even have more little kittens.  What would you think about having brothers and sisters?”


“Would I have to let them play with my toys?” Cat asked after a moment.


Albus laughed out loud.  “Only if you wanted to, kitty cat.  But you have a big heart so I bet that you will.”


Cat nodded.  “I guess that would be okay then.  When are you and mummy gonna get married?”


“Well… that’s the thing… you have to keep a secret for me.  You see… mummy isn’t completely sure about this yet and I don’t want her to feel like she has to do anything she doesn’t want to do.”


“But I want her to, Papa!”


“Cat… maybe I shouldn’t have said anything to you, but I wanted to know how you felt.  I want you to understand that I will always be your papa no matter what else happens.  Mummy has to agree to marry me because she wants to… because she loves me…and if she doesn’t feel that way then it would be wrong for us to marry… wrong for mummy and me and wrong for you.  I know that you are only two years old but…”


Cat regarded her father seriously.  “I understand, Papa.  It’s like me letting my baby brothers and sisters play with my toys… I have to want to let them.”


Albus was amazed.  Sometimes Cat showed flashes of intelligence that actually scared him.  That’s right… so let’s not say anything to mummy… and if it doesn’t happen… then that’s okay, too.”


“Papa… do you love mummy?  Like you loved Aunt Peebee?”


“I do love your mummy, kitty cat.  It’s different from what I felt for Aunt Phoebe, but it’s no less powerful.  I love your mummy with all my heart.”


“Okay… have you got any more crackers?”


Albus laughed when he realized that to Cat everything was settled and it was time to move on.  He scooped his daughter into his lap and began to tickle her, delighting in her laughing pleas to stop as she attacked him back.


Over in the tall grass a few feet away, a small tabby cat slunk away into the covering of the forest before resuming her human form.  Minerva wandered down the narrow trail that led deeper into the woods, all thought of exercise forgotten.  She had a lot to think about.




When Minerva reached the hallway again she made sure to close Cat’s door tightly behind her then moved a few feet to where light spilled invitingly out of the open door of her bedroom… their bedroom.


Albus was propped up in the bed, his glasses perched on the edge of his nose as he leafed through a thick sheaf of papers.  He smiled the instant he sensed Minerva’s presence and lifted his head to look at her, tossing the papers to the bedside table.  He held his hand out to her.  “Close the door, Kitten, and come to bed.”




“Do you know that you’ve been wearing that sappy disgusting grin all day?  It’s getting damned annoying!”


“Behave yourself, Rolanda!” Poppy scolded.  “You’d be wearing a sappy grin too if you’d just married the man that you loved.  Although in your case that would be plural… and highly illegal…”


The sappy smile on Minerva’s face grew as her two friends bickered next to her, but she wasn’t paying them any mind.  Her gaze and her thoughts were focused on the man standing a few feet away talking to Armando Dippet… Albus Dumbledore… her husband.


“The whole damned thing is just oozing fairy tale mush, Poppy.  Engaged at Halloween, married on New Years Day.  Min will probably be pregnant by morning if she isn’t already.”


“I’m not,” Minerva replied absently as she watched three year old Cat run up to her father holding a heavily iced cake.  Knowing the effect that sugar tended to have on both Cat and her father, the mother in her started to take the sweet away but… Rolanda deserved to have to deal with a hyperactive Cat since she was being so snarky about the wedding.  As for Albus, and at the thought of his name a thrill ran through Minerva, Albus would need all the energy he could muster for his wedding night.  She would see to that.


“Well, I don’t know how you can be so sure!  Professor Dumbledore might be a little long in the tooth but he still looks pretty damned virile to me,” Hooch ran an appraising eye over the groom.


“Keep your hands to yourself, Ro, or I’ll let Cat eat ten cakes.” Minerva replied.


“What is the big deal about that?  If the pipsqueak gets sick I’ll just make Poppy look after her.”


“Sweets don’t make her sick.  They make her hyper.  And Poppy has a date with Alastor tonight so you are on babysitting duty on your own until she returns.”  Minerva smiled evilly at her childhood friend.  “I know I’m not pregnant because Albus and I haven’t been intimate during our courtship.”


Hooch was stunned.  “You lie!  That gorgeous man and you haven’t let him bed you?  I’d have ripped his clothes off on the first date.”


“Or sooner…” Poppy interjected but Minerva’s glare quickly shut her up.  As good a friend as Rolanda Hooch was, very few people knew the truth about Cat’s parentage and Albus and Minerva had agreed not to make a general announcement.


“Albus and I decided to wait until our wedding night, Ro.  There is nothing strange about that.  We wanted to be sure that what was developing between us was based on love and not solely on physical desire.”


“I bloody well couldn’t have waited.” Hooch’s yellow eyes sparked at Poppy as the other woman tried to stifle a giggle.


“I didn’t say it was easy, Ro.  There have been some very… intense… petting sessions recently, and… well… let’s just say that Albus is very talented with his hands and his mouth…” Minerva paused and raised a hand to push Hooch’s bottom jaw up from where it had fallen, “… but we wanted our wedding night to be special.  And it will be.  Now if you will excuse me…” Minerva responded to her beckoning husband and trailed away toward him, a vision in ivory satin, her ebony hair bedecked with flowers and flowing loosely down her back.


The love the two shared was obvious as Minerva reached his side.  Albus’ eyes glowed as he stared at her, his arm slipping loosely around her waist as he bent and pulled Cat up into the crook of his elbow on the other side.  Minerva laughed as Cat fed her a piece of cake then rose on her toes to whisper something in Albus’ ear.  His eyes immediately darkened with what Rolanda Hooch recognized as desire.


“I just don’t get it,” Rolanda shook her head.  “They’ve been dating for five months, engaged for two and they’ve obviously been… experimenting.  But how could Min marry Dumbledore without finding out if they are good in the sack or not.  I mean he’s gorgeous and he certainly looks capable but he does have some age on him.  What if he can’t even… you know… get the quaffle through the hoop.”  As blunt as Hooch usually was, even she was a bit embarrassed to be talking about her friend’s husband and her former professor in that way.


“I think it’s safe to say that Professor Dumbledore most certainly can… play quidditch, Ro.” Poppy answered, highly amused at Hooch being able to work her favourite sport into any conversation.   Rumour has it that he’s very well equipped for the task.  And if you look closely you’ll realize that perhaps the golden snitch has already been grabbed at least once. There is little doubt as to their compatibility.”  With an enigmatic smile Poppy turned and began to move away in search of her date.


Rolanda’s brows furrowed as she stared at the new family, not really understanding what Poppy meant until… by chance… Cat leaned in close to her mother’s new husband, their blue eyes gleaming in unison… blue eyes the same shape and hue…


“What the… Pop… Poppy?  You come back here!  You come back here and look this instant!”  Poppy’s laugh rang back through the crowd.


Before Rolanda could follow she felt a tug on her sleeve.


“Aunt Ro?”  She turned to find Albus holding Cat out to her.  Hooch took the little girl automatically, her eyes still searching over both Cat and Albus’ features, trying to confirm her discovery.


“It’s time for us to go, Ro.  Thank you for keeping Cat this weekend.” Minerva spoke to her friend but her eyes were locked with her husband’s.


“Yes, thank you,” Albus offered although his gaze never left his new wife’s face.  The desire between them was obvious. “Be good for Aunt Ro, Kitty-cat.”


“Sure.  You know I enjoy looking after the little…” Rolanda watched the couple move toward the edge of the crowd and disappear.  “What the hell… Hey kid, you want another cake?”




“A pensieve for your thoughts?”


Minerva smiled ruefully as she pushed away from the doorjamb.  “They are vivid enough in my head without having to relive them through a pensieve.”


Albus held his arms out and Minerva moved to the side of the bed where he lay and sat down beside him.  He pulled her into his embrace.  Silence reigned for several minutes as they simply held each other.


Slipping his hands down Minerva’s back and beneath her bottom, Albus lifted and shifted her across his lap until she was cuddled up next to him in the middle of the bed.


“Puss all settled down?” He asked, his cheek resting on top of her soft hair.  They had decided together to name their second daughter Phoebe Alaila Dumbledore, intending to call her Allie but when she was only a few hours old her father had taken to calling her Puss and the nickname stuck.


“Mmm…” The touch of Albus hands stroking her back gently almost had Minerva purring.  “She had a bad dream but she’s fine now.  Thank you for not coming in and waking her up again.”


“As much as I would have loved some Papa-Puss time I have other plans for this evening.  I didn’t plan on spending the entire day at the Ministry.  I wanted to spend my weekend off with my girls.”


“We missed you… but we went in to Hogsmeade to do some shopping.  Nanny’s birthday is coming up so Cat and Puss had to pick her out a very special and particularly hideous pair of socks… bright orange with vivid green frogs that jump and croak constantly.”


“That’s my girls!” Albus answered proudly.


“They certainly are… in more ways than one.  Cat teased her sister all afternoon.  She kept making Puss’s doll float away.  Thank heavens levitating is the only wandless magic she can do or she’d drive me completely crazy.”


“And how did Puss respond?”


“She punched her sister in the stomach.”


“Ah… I see that Aberforth’s self-defense lessons are paying off.”


“Then Puss felt so bad that she begged me to buy Cat some sherbet lemons from her birthday coins by way of saying she was sorry.”


“How is Cat now?”  Minerva knew by Albus’ voice that he remembered the significance of the week as well.


“She’s resting comfortably.  I actually thought she was the one crying out at first but she slept through it all.”  Nightmares had plagued their oldest daughter for years, especially each year around the time of Phoebe’s death.  “We talked a little this afternoon while Puss was napping.  She told me… Cat said that she knew Aunt Phoebe was happy that we were a family.  She seemed very mature this afternoon… our little kitten is growing up.”


“She’ll always be our baby.”  Albus twisted his torso slightly so that he was facing Minerva.  “Have I told you today how much I love you?” Long fingers from his left hand tugged playfully at the end of an ebony strand of hair.


“You might have mentioned it this morning but since I was still asleep when you left…” Minerva’s words trailed off as her fingers threaded through Albus beard to stroke his chest.  “I was wondering… you mentioned other plans for this evening?”


Albus grinned and leaned closer, his lips brushing teasingly across Minerva’s.  “I had some thoughts on the matter… if a certain witch could be persuaded to join me.”  His fingers trailed over her silk covered thigh to finger the hem of her thin nightdress.


“That depends on the incentive.” Minerva’s fingertips toyed with his flat nipple.


“I was thinking about a reaffirmation of life… a celebration of our love… in the most basic way possible.”  Burgundy silk began to slide upward courtesy of Albus’ deft hands.


“Albus…” Minerva caught his cheeks in her hands and captured his gaze. “Thank you…”


“You’re welcome.  What am I being thanked for?”  The nightgown continued its journey.


“For loving me… for not giving up on me when I was being so stubborn about us.”


At this Albus paused.  “I like you being stubborn.  It just makes winning the prize that much sweeter.  Besides, I knew that you would come around eventually.  How could you help but fall in love with me?”  His eyes twinkled with mirth.


Minerva threw her head back and laughed merrily.  Albus took advantage of her distraction to twist her back into the pillows that he’d been propped up on while stripping her nightgown over her head at the same moment.


“Now, Professor Dumbledore… you wouldn’t be trying to seduce me, would you?”


Albus regarded his wife with innocent eyes as he inched down the bed slightly.  “My dear Professor McGonagall, how could you ever think such a thing?”  He lowered his head to the valley between her breasts and trailed the tip of his tongue from bottom to top then continued around the outer swell of her left breast.


“Albus…” Minerva tried to draw her husband’s attention away from her chest but was unsuccessful.  “Albus!” She tugged at his beard.  Albus paused long enough to gather his beard up and toss it over his shoulder before returning to his exploration.


“Albus Dumbledore!  I am trying to talk… oooh… stop that!” She protested when his soft lips finally found the now tight apex of her breast and began to nibble gently.  “You know I can’t think…”


“Then don’t… just feel.” Albus told her as he sucked the whole of the rosy center into the warm cavern of his mouth.


“But… but…” Minerva’s back curved up, thrusting her body into her husband’s.  “I wanted to talk… I have to… tell…” Her fingers curled into Albus’ hair.  “Oh… bloody hell…” Albus raised his head and pulled Minerva’s hands free from his hair then pushed them to the pillows beside her and tightened her fingers over the fabric.  “Hold on, kitten.”


She gave herself over completely to his ministrations, her low moans echoing through the room as Albus teased and tormented her breasts before beginning a slow trek down the center of her body.


Wedging himself between Minerva’s splayed legs, Albus paused his journey to drink from the well of her navel.  Minerva began to mew… lifting her hips in invitation.  The fingers of his right hand trailed over her hips and down between them.


Albus was pleased to find his wife ready to take him, as usual.  Since the day that she’d confessed to him how difficult she’d found it to become aroused with her previous partners he’d always paid special attention to her pleasure.  But most of the time it wasn’t necessary.  Minerva had admitted that just the sound of her name on his lips had the power to make her core weep.


His fingers teased the plump folds apart as his lips resumed their pilgrimage over her abdomen.  He used his thumb to tease the pearl of her desire out of its hooded covering so that when he finally arrived at the juncture of her thighs she was more than ready for him.


Minerva yelped in delight when the tip of Albus’ tongue flicked across her most sensitive spot, her hips surging forward in response.  Her husband obliged immediately, his lips gently sucking her swollen flesh into his mouth while two fingers slid into her warm wet cleft.


Carefully manicured fingernails cut easily through the silk fabric of the pillow shams as Minerva gripped them tightly.  A low keen rose from her lips, as Albus tasted her, his tongue sliding up and down her distended nether lips, pausing at random to nip or suck a particularly alluring bit.


“Please…” she begged when he began to wiggle his fingers within her.  “More…”


Albus chuckled, the vibrations of his laugh sending eddies of sensation through Minerva’s already sharpened senses. 


“Dammit, Albus!”  Minerva swore when she realized that her husband’s lips and hands had left her.  She opened her eyes to watch as he shifted his elbows over her thighs to rest adjacent to her hips then propped his chin on his folded hands. 


Minerva wiggled beneath him, her enlarged folds brushing the light dusting of red curls on his chest in temptation.  Albus simply smiled and stared.


Minerva’s eyes narrowed into a feline like gaze.  “What are you up to, Albus Dumbledore?”  She knew her husband well and he never teased her without following through.


“I thought you wanted to talk.” He answered.


“Talk…?  So I did… but… now?” A touch of desperation tinged her voice as she rocked against Albus again. 


Albus’ legs bent up at the knees, his feet swinging in the air and a smirk on his lips.  “What did you want to talk about, my sweet kitten?”


“I… we can talk later… please…” Minerva tried to coax Albus by stroking over his calf with the sole of her foot.  She moaned again as the movement lifted her hips even more solidly against his chest.


“But you have something to tell me, don’t you, kitten?”


Minerva’s elbows slid back to support her torso as she rose up to stare at her husband and his cat that ate the canary grin.  “Why would you think that?”


“I just do… it must have been important.  You tried to stop me from loving you…”


“Delay… and it didn’t work… until now… Albus Dumbledore, have you been talking to Po… my friends behind my back?”  Her eyes narrowed into feline slits.


Albus looked completely innocent and properly offended.  “I wouldn’t do that, my love.”  He smiled as he lifted the fingers that had been imbedded in her body just minutes ago to his mouth and lapped them gently.


“Oh no…” Minerva shook her head.  “Don’t tell me… I don’t believe that you could tell anything just by… well… doing that…” Her cheeks grew hot.


Albus’ grin grew.  “I know your body very well, kitten, both how you taste and how you feel.”  His eyes dropped to her belly below him for just a moment.  “Well… am I right?”


Minerva growled as she flopped back into the pillows and crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at her husband all the while.  “I should keep you in suspense, torture you like you are torturing me…”


Albus knew that she wasn’t really mad so he continued to play along.  A sharp turn of his chin pulled the length of his beard back over his shoulder.  He picked up the end and used it to draw lazy circles around Minerva’s belly button.


“But I’m always at the top of my game when I have something to celebrate…” Minerva received his best little boy grin.  “Tell me…”


“Why should I tell you what you already seem to know?”  One side of Minerva’s mouth twisted up.  “But if it will convince you to finish what you’ve started  you are going to need a lot of practice, after all.  You know how… needy… I get in the middle of my pregnancies.  Yes, my love.  The Dumbledore clan is growing. You are once again going to be a father.”


Albus closed his eyes a moment, happiness radiating out from every pore in his body.  He lowered his face to Minerva’s belly and brushed his lips across her flat stomach, whispering a welcome to the tiny life inside. 


“How far?” He asked once he raised his gaze to meet hers. 


Minerva’s eyes were full of tenderness.  “Just two months.  With any luck I should make it through most of the O.W.L and N.E.W.T. preparation classes before my time comes.”


Albus rose up on his hands and knees and slowly crawled back up Minerva’s body.  When his head was level with hers he dropped down beside her and pulled her to him, kissing her breathlessly.


“Thank you,” he whispered into her mouth much later as he broke the stream of kisses that had left them both panting for air.


“You’re welcome.” She mimicked his early words.  “What am I being thanked for?”


“Thank you for being brave enough to have my child… to have my children… Thank you for allowing me to be a part of their lives and of yours.  Thank you for following your heart and loving me when your head may have counseled against it.  Thank you for putting up with this barmy old codger.”


“I happen to love this barmy old codger with all of my heart.” Minerva gently kissed the tip of his crooked nose.  “Now about that celebration…”


“Hmm… where were we?”


With a quickly muttered incantation Albus raised the strongest silencing spell that he knew over the chamber.  Minerva caught her breath in anticipation, knowing what the spell meant.  Albus didn’t disappoint.  Minerva quickly found her fingers wrapped around the top of the headboard and she heard a quickly whispered command to ‘not let go’ before Albus began his systematic onslaught on her body.


The embers of Minerva’s previous desire quickly sprang to life as Albus worked his own special magic on her.  Indeed, Albus’ own excitement grew quickly as well and he struggled to hold it in check until his wife was gently but thoroughly pleasured.  His lips, tongue and fingers teased her over sensitized nipples until they were rock hard, both standing tall and proud as they begged him to continue.


The subtle twist of Minerva’s hips against his own reminded him of his goal and he returned to his travels, although his fingers did continue to stray over the tight peaks.  Albus paused again as he traveled over her belly to whisper sweet words to his child but soon enough he was moving lower.


Minerva was almost whimpering with need by the time that Albus was once again resting between her splayed legs, his eyes drinking in the sight of her damp pink flesh while his nose inhaled her unique fragrance. 


And then he tasted her.


The ceiling above Minerva blinked out as her eyes shut tightly, her body going into overload from the waves of sensation washing through every nerve ending.  She pulled her knees up around Albus’ torso, her feet sliding over his hips to rub his firm bottom, her toes curling into the lower curves to urge him on.


Albus slid his tongue deep within her well while his nose bounced over her center.  He groaned as a fresh gush of her juices bathed his tongue.


“Albus… oh my love… please!”  Albus knew that Minerva was teetering on the edge but when she called out to him he raised his head to gaze up her body.  Minerva held out a hand to him.  “Together…” she whispered.


Albus nodded briefly and, after bending his lips back for one last taste, moved back up the bed.  When he drew even with her he pulled her to his embrace.  She met his mouth with open lips, gasping slightly when she tasted her own essence mixed with the unequaled flavor of Albus.


It was Albus’ turn to groan when Minerva’s deft fingers moved over the hard ridge of his manhood pressing into her belly.  She fingered his length with tormenting caresses before finally encircling him with her fingers.  Her fingers pumped back and forth, mimicking the strokes of her tongue in his mouth.


Albus rolled to his back, his desire-darkened eyes beckoning.  Minerva nodded in understanding and released her hold on him then shifted and straddled his hips.  One of her hands slid along her belly and over her mons to her center, the fingers veeing around her cleft to hold it open.  Her other hand grasped his hard shaft and pulled it from his stomach, the thumb teasing the rosy tip as she pressed it firmly against her hard bundle of nerves.


Albus’ head fell back, eyes closed tightly, lips pressed together as he felt Minerva’s hips rock up and down, her wetness coating his member.  He fought the urge to thrust into her.  Having given her control of the moment he was determined to let her set the pace.


Minerva was well aware of Albus’ struggle, delighted to know that she could bring her husband to this level of desire.  But her own need was pressing as well so she carefully drew the end of his staff back along her moist cleft until he was positioned at the entrance to her sheath and slowly lowered her hips.


A sigh of relief passed Albus’ lips as his weeping head slipped easily through his wife’s drenched folds into her tight heat.  He nodded at her smile of relief, his hands moving to her hips to urge her on.


The slim fingers that still clasped the lower portion of his erection shifted, the tips moving firmly but sensuously over the heavy sacs hanging there.  Albus gasped.


“Oh… Kitten…” he managed to say as Minerva continued to play with him.  “So naughty… but so… go…od!!”


His hips surged up but Minerva anticipated the movement and rose with him.  Albus’ fingers curled around her curvy hips, his fingers digging into her buttocks, but he made no further move to urge her on, using his eyes to tell her of his need.


Removing her hand from between their bodies, Minerva slowly slid down until Albus was fully sheathed within her and then stopped to stare at him; the love she felt for him shining in both her eyes and from every pore of her body. 


She could see strands of gray creeping into the rich auburn of his splendid hair.  Tiny wrinkles, laugh lines, were growing more prominent every year.  But the body lying beneath her was still fit and strong.  The hands that clenched her hips still held her lovingly every night, whether in sleep or in intimacy.  But it was the utter bliss that she saw in his eyes that held her enthralled.


Albus also took advantage of the stillness to take in every detail of the woman straddling him.  Minerva’s hair was as black as ever although she swore daily that Puss was adding gray strands left and right.  Two children had filled out some of the angles of her body, making her figure blossom in all the right places. Knowing now that she was once again carrying their child, Albus would have sworn that he could see a gentle swell in her abdomen.  His eyes swept up to her heavy breasts.


“What are you thinking, lover?” Minerva asked, seeing the surge of raw hunger in his gaze.


Albus hands slid slowly up her sides.  “I was picturing you,” he told her softly as his palms curved around milky white globes, “sitting in the rocker with our baby at your breast, watching you feed our child... another child made from our love, Minerva.  I find that picture so…” Minerva didn’t need for Albus to complete his sentence.  She could feel him lengthening and thickening inside her as he described his thoughts, stretching her completely.


“You are always beautiful to me but… there is something so enticing about you when you are pregnant.”


Minerva chuckled.  “So that’s why you keep getting me in the family way.”  She circled her hips, causing Albus to jerk beneath her.  He cried out as her inner muscles clamped him like a vise.


“It wasn’t my fault you got pregnant on our wedding night…” he protested.


Unable to stay still any longer, Minerva rocked her hips forward and was rewarded with an answering rock from Albus.


“I won’t last long, Kitten,” he cautioned as she undulated over him.


“Neither will I,” she admitted as she kept up the pace, “but we have all night.”


“And many nights to come.”


Words became unnecessary as Minerva continued to ride Albus, her hands planted firmly in the middle of his chest as she slid up and down along his shaft.  Initially the pace was sedate, each of them simply enjoying the feel of being joined together so intimately but soon the fire burning between them flared white hot once again and their gait increased exponentially.


Minerva’s head fell back, her breasts thrust forward and her teeth biting her lips as she poured all her energy into her movements.  Her hair flowed down her back and over her shoulders, playing peek-a-boo with her nipples as she rose and fell.  Albus wanted desperately to taste her there, to pull the rigid peaks in his mouth and suck them into even tighter points but Minerva’s hands still pressed against his chest, keeping him pushed firmly against the mattress.


“Kitten!” Albus yelled out, his fingers digging into the flesh of Minerva’s hips, urging her on, as he felt his sacs tighten and begin to pull back into his body.  He added his own strength to hers, driving her hips down hard while thrusting up with equal force.


“AL…BU…S!” Minerva’s body clamped down around him, a flood of heated moisture bathing his member.  His hands forced her hips slightly forward, the change in angle bringing his drenched member into direct contact with her swollen bundle of desire as they thrust together once more.


Minerva’s head jerked forward, black hair whirling around her.  She screamed her husband’s name over and over as her world turned upside down, the passion inside her bubbling up and finally over, carrying her away on a sea of pleasure.


Albus held Minerva’s hips tightly as she lurched back and forth in the throes of her climax while fighting to hold back his own.  But the feel of Minerva’s juices flowing freely over him and her body clinging so tightly to him was his undoing.  His own body had already come too far.  He exploded into her with a loud shout of her name.  Minerva felt the force of Albus’ orgasm wash over her womb and peaked a second time, her body continuing to ride him hard in an effort to milk him of every drop.


Finally the most intense tremors passed and Minerva fell forward onto Albus chest, panting heavily.  She could feel his body continuing to tremble beneath her and pressed soft kiss to every inch of flesh that she could reach without moving.  After a few more moments the fingers that were digging into her buttocks eased their pressure.


From deep within, Minerva found the strength to shift her head onto Albus shoulder so that she could see his face.  “If only my students knew why I sometimes teach their entire class standing up.” She smirked.  “I’m going to have some lovely bruises down there.”


Albus chuckled tiredly, knowing from experience that Minerva wasn’t complaining about the love marks his fingers and lips would leave on her smooth skin.  His chest would bear evidence of her enjoyment tomorrow morning as well.  His hands moved up to stroke her back, both warming and comforting.  As the heat slowly dissipated, cooling the sheen of moisture coating their bodies, Minerva shivered slightly and cuddled closer into Albus’ warmth.


A flick of Albus’ hand raised the burgundy blanket from the foot of the bed.  Albus drew the edge up to Minerva’s shoulders then wrapped his arms around her and held her close, their bodies still joined although their passion was temporarily sated.  They kissed and cuddled lazily until sleep finally overtook them.




Minerva felt the warm silk beneath her chest and squirmed across the sheets, trying to get closer to her husband.  When she reached the end of the bed she realized that he wasn’t there.  With a sigh she climbed out for the second time that evening, shrugged into her dressing gown and went in search of him.


A gentle breeze blew through Albus’ hair as he propped on the railing of the small balcony off of his observation tower and stared at the stars.  He wondered what the centaurs would make of their positions.  The smell of rain was in the air and he inhaled the scent deeply.  As he did so his nose picked up another scent.  He knew when Minerva stepped through the open doorway to join him but still he didn’t move.


A tiny shiver shot through him when he felt her cheek against his back as her arms stole around his chest.  “Aren’t you cold?” She whispered against his bare back.


“Not now,” he tugged her around in front of him and wrapped his arms tightly around her.


Minerva allowed him to hold her silently for several long minutes before prompting him again.  “Tell me…”


Albus sighed.  He didn’t really want to burden his wife with his worries but she knew why he’d been called to the ministry.  “The signs don’t look good.  It could be several more years but I’m afraid that a new dark lord is rising.”


“But the ministry…”


“They will do what they can.  Auror recruitment is being increased and investigations are already underway but… this wizard has been very careful not to be detected.  I believe that he will continue to do so until it suits his purpose.”  His lips moved in her hair.


“I know why you are worried, Albus, but we will be all right.”


“You know I’m a likely target.  That puts you and the children at risk as well.  And Puss…”


“Very few people know about our marriage or our children.  The concealing spells that we used with my last pregnancy will be just as effective this time.”  We’ll prepare the kittens as well.  Just because Puss hasn’t shown the signs of magical development that her sister did at this age doesn’t mean that she won’t.  Besides, she throws a mean right punch.”


“I know … but if being with me puts the ones I love best in danger…”


Minerva lifted her head to stare into her husband’s eyes, her own green orbs full of reassurance.  “No buts… remember what you told me when you asked me to marry you?  Life is for living… not for spending each day worrying about what ifs or maybes… would you rather these babies had never been conceived?”


“No, of course not.” A smile wobbled across Albus’ lips.  “I can’t imagine life without our kittens.  If dark times do come… I’ll do everything I can to protect all of you.”


“We’ll do everything we can to protect each other and the little ones… how ever many there may be.”  She raised a hand to his cheek.  “It’s cold out here and you aren’t dressed for it,” she glanced down briefly at the soft cotton pajama pants that he’d pulled on.  “Come back to bed and let me warm you up.”


“Mmm… I’d like that!” Albus bent slightly to brush his lips across Minerva’s.


Taking his hand in hers, Minerva smiled and stepped toward the door.  Albus initially followed but his mind was working, latching onto something his wife had said just moments ago.




She stopped and turned back with eyebrows raised.


“Before… when you asked if I would rather our babies had never been conceived… you were talking about all our children, right?  Kitty-cat and Puss, too?”


A sly smile grew on Minerva’s lips as she winked and slowly shook her head.


Albus’ jaw dropped.  “You… you mean…” the hand that Minerva wasn’t holding reached out to rest on her still flat stomach.


“I guess that this is Mother Nature’s payback for giving us a few years off after Puss… two for the price of one.”


Albus’ body began to tremble as the smile began on his face, quickly growing from a hint of a grin to a beaming smirk.  Minerva knew that he was going to yell out at any second so she grabbed him close and kissed him soundly, thrusting her tongue into his mouth hungrily to distract him.


In the next instant Minerva was being swept up into Albus’ strong arms and carried down the curved staircase toward their bedroom.  When they arrived Albus stripped their clothes away then laid her gently on the bed and carefully climbed on top of her.


“I love you with all my heart, Albus Dumbledore.” Minerva told Albus as he lowered her gently to the bed.


“I love you with all my heart, Minerva McGonagall Dumbledore.” Albus answered, his voice thick with emotion, then proceeded to once again demonstrate just exactly how much.




Albus jerked straight up in the bed as a loud clap of thunder split the silence. Beside him Minerva mumbled something unintelligible but slept on, oblivious to the approaching storm.


With a quick wave of his hand the couple’s nightclothes disappeared from the floor and reappeared on their bodies. Seconds later a lightening strike lit the room, revealing the opening door.


"Lumos," Albus whispered softly. A candle flickered to life on the table beside him. He curled his fingers, motioning for the little girl to come closer. As the thunder followed the lightening Puss took off across the floor, diving into her father’s waiting arms and burying her head in his neck.


"It’s okay, little one. It’s only a little storm. Mummy and Papa are here."


Those few words were all Puss needed to feel better. She sleepily kissed her father on the cheek then pulled out of his arms and collapsed on the mattress, her body quickly seeking the heat of her mother’s warm form. Within seconds she was dead to the world.


Albus watched his daughter while he waited, marveling in the contrast between Minerva’s dark hair and the mass of bright red curls that covered Puss’ head. He loved his daughters equally but he was continually amazed by the differences between them.


While Cat was like Minerva in appearance, except for the Dumbledore eyes, Puss was the opposite, a full-blooded Dumbledore except for the startling green orbs that mirrored her mother’s. So far Puss had shown none of her sister’s talent for magic but she more than made up for it with her outgoing personality and bravado.


Just as he had suspected, the next clap of thunder brought another visitor to the room. Cat didn’t even pause at the cracked door; she simply barreled into the room and into the safety of her beloved father’s embrace.


Albus settled back into his pillows with Cat in his arms, her head on his shoulder and her fingers threaded through his beard. He left the candle burning although he did place a containment field around it.


Cat cuddled closer as Albus pulled the blankets up around them.


"I missed you today, Papa." She whispered.


"I missed you too, Kitty-Cat. Mummy told me about your trip to Hogsmeade. I’m sure that Nanny will love her socks. I promise that tomorrow we will spend the entire day together, just you and me and Mum and Puss."


Cat nodded but didn’t answer verbally, a sure sign that she had something else on her mind. Albus was fairly sure he knew what that something was.


"Papa… can I ask you a question?"


"Of course, my dear. You can always ask me anything and I’ll answer you as best I can."


Albus felt the grip on his beard grow tighter.


"Do you still think about Aunt Phoebe?"


Albus sighed. He and Minerva had talked many times about Cat’s amazing memory of both Phoebe and the horrible scene she had witnessed. "I think about her every day, Cat."


"I miss her sometimes."


"She loved you very much, Kitty-Cat. Don’t ever forget that."


"Do you ever wish… that Aunt Phoebe hadn’t died?"


"Oh, little one. You are asking the hard questions tonight, aren’t you?" Albus shifted a little so that he could see Cat’s face. "I never wanted your Aunt Phoebe to die but…"


Albus paused as he tried to put words to his thoughts.


"Did you love Aunt Phoebe?"


"Very much, Kitty-Cat. I remember how she smiled when I walked into the room… it lit up my heart."


"But you love mummy now…"


Albus briefly wondered if Cat had heard gossip from the other children at the day school she attended in Hogsmeade. "Just because I love mummy doesn’t mean that I didn’t love Aunt Phoebe, because I did. Did you know that before Phoebe died she told your mummy and me that she wanted us all to be a family?"


Cat’s face brightened a little and Albus sighed inwardly. Up to this point Cat had never asked about her parent’s marriage or her conception but he knew the day would come. They had resolved to tell her the truth but he hoped that she would be many years older before that question came up.


"Kitty-Cat… I am grateful for the time that I had with Phoebe… just as you and your mum are. But if Aunt Phoebe was still here then we wouldn’t be a family and we wouldn’t have Puss. I guess what I’m trying to explain is that I believe things happen for a reason. We were all blessed to have had a chance to know a very special person for a time… but then her time passed and we had to accept that and move on. That doesn’t mean we love her any less… it just means that things change."


Cat wrinkled her nose thoughtfully for a moment then nodded. "I’m glad I knew her."

"Me too." Albus replied, giving Cat’s nose a playful tap. "You can always talk to me and mum. We love you and Puss more than anyone else on this earth."


Cat grinned, a dark gap showing in her smile where she had recently lost a tooth. "Cept each other…"


It took Albus a moment to understand but then he returned Cat’s smile. "Your old mum and dad love each other to bits."


Cat grinned. "I know, Papa… you’re always kissin’ and touchin’ and stuff! Ugh!"

Albus shook with silent laughter. "You little imp! And what’s this I hear about you making your sister’s doll levitate away this morning!"


Cat had the decency to grin sheepishly. "I was just playing! She got so mad. Next time I’m gonna run before she can hit me."


"Don’t always count on Puss not being able to retaliate. Just because she has shown any sighs of magical talent yet doesn’t mean that she won’t." Albus softly kissed his oldest daughter’s forehead. "Go to sleep, Kitty-cat, or your mother will be very angry with us in the morning."


Cat yawned obligingly. "I love you, Papa." She dropped her head to his shoulder once again, her fingers still wound in his beard.


"I love you too, Kitty-Cat." Albus whispered back.


Still keeping Cat close, Albus shifted so that he could see all three of his girls. The sight of them gave him the sense of peace that had been strangely elusive since his return from the ministry. Seeing all of them together, he knew that no matter what happened, he would never forget this moment. His hand drifted across both Cat and Puss to rest lightly on Minerva’s lower abdomen, wanting to include the lives nestled there as well.


Minerva’s eyes flickered open, glowing emerald green in the dim candlelight. She felt her husband’s hand on her, sensed what he was feeling from the look in his eyes, and moved her hand to rest on top of his.


"Thunderstorm?" She asked as she glanced down at the sleeping girls.


Albus nodded. "I just couldn’t send them back to their rooms…"


Minerva smiled in understanding. "We are going to have a problem though…"


"What?" Albus was instantly worried.


Minerva squeezed his hand in reassurance. "I think we’re going to need a bigger bed!"




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