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Chapter 1: Salt Skin
Amazing chapter image by Killer Queen at tda!
Minerva twisted her ring absent-mindly, unsure of how to approach the situation. Glancing down, Minerva considered putting her plain silver ring on its rightful finger, but decided against it.
She missed him. Just as she hoped he once missed her. She missed his touch against her cold and painted skin and his hot breath as he leaned down to kiss her.
“Minerva, are you ready?” looking up, Minerva saw the new Minister of Magic standing in the doorway; his new emerald green robes swaying behind him.
“As I’ll ever be,” she replied, standing to her feet. It was do or die today. The minister nodded and showed Minerva into the courtroom.
As she entered the circular room a wave of nostalgia washed over her. The last time she had been in this room she was watching the trial of Bellatrix Lestrange. Those many, many years ago when frivolous things like love seemed within her reach. Oh, how childish she was.
Holding her head high Minerva walked to the chair and sat down. Every eye in the room bore into her skin but she did not feel vulnerable. Just as she did not feel any regret.
“Miss Minerva, please, for the court’s knowledge. State your name.” Said one of Minerva’s old friends; Dyke Tate. She noticed, with a small amount of smugness, that he only gave her forename.
She smiled. “My name is Ms. Minerva McGonagall.” Minerva stated.
"And your marital status?" he inquired.
Minerva, with hands shaking and a fake smile, addressed her audience with a clear conscience.
“Widowed.” Her words echoed through the courtroom as tumultuous whispering broke out throughout the court.
“That’s not possible.” Dyke snarled, not daunted by Minerva’s sudden confession. “Your file clearly states that you are not–nor have ever been–married.”
“I eloped secretly when I was eighteen.” Minerva explained. For once, Minerva had the upper hand—she knew what others didn’t. “Would you like to hear the whole story?”
Dyke extended a hand to Minerva with distain, “Please.”
“I will need a Pensive because my memory tends to fail me at certain times.” Minerva said as she extracted the memories that she clung too. "Old age, I fear that is it catching up on me." Pouring them into the Pensive that had appeared before her, Minerva delved into her unwanted memories.
Minerva paced up and down the charms hallway, her fingers twisting with anticipation and nerves. He had promised to meet her here but now, as she stood alone in the hall she wondered if he meant it. He was, after all, a Slytherin; worse than that, he was Tom Riddle. What would he see in her? She was the Gryffindor girl who immersed herself in studies and winning the Quidditch Cup.
Minerva heard him before she saw him.
"You came.” Minerva stated staring at Tom Riddle.
He only nodded, looking down upon Minerva–like a king looking upon his people. The couple stared at one another, surrounded in blissful silence.
Tom cupped Minerva’s face in his hands and leaned down to kiss her.
“And so,” Minerva said, watching her first kiss replay before an audience. “We fell in love.” Minerva heard several whispers and, pursing her lips together she attempted to ignore them. She knew what they were saying.
‘How could she love that monster?’
‘Did she really just kiss You-Know-Who?’
‘I never knew this about Minerva,’
‘This changes everything,’
The whispers were always the same. “Shall I continue?” Dyke nodded. The lights dimmed as Minerva replaced the memory.
“Why won’t you tell anyone about us Tom?” Minerva challenged Tom one day in the library. They had been stealing kisses for three months now and no other soul knew about them.
Tom finished the page that he was on before answering Minerva. “Imagine the rumors Minerva,”
“But I don’t care Tom! If we are together then I want everyone to know. I want to be able to walk hand-in-hand with the guy that I lo- that I am dating. I want you too look at me when your friends are around, is that too much to ask?” Tom smiled and pushed himself to his feet. Placing his book on the bookshelf that lay nearby, he walked over to Minerva and brushed a piece of hair out of her face.
"No, my love that is not too much to ask. In fact, you’re asking too little. You are quite right though, we should not be ashamed of our relationship, but, the point still stands that where there is Valhalla there is also Perdition.”
“Tom?” Minerva asked, not understanding him.
“I mean that we could tell everyone of our little slice of paradise but when we do people–being the flawed humans they are–would tear at our paradise until there was nothing left. That’s the problem with people; if they see an unreachable paradise in someone else’s world they will tear at it until it is beyond repair.” He explained, kissing her forehead.
The scene dissolved.
Minerva sat among a flurry of parchment and books that night. She knew Tom was right; as long as it was a secret they had the upper hand.
She allowed herself a moment of pride when she found what she was looking for.
Valhalla. – a hall in which heroes killed in battle were believe to feast with Odin for eternity.
Perdition. – a state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful person possess after death.
“Miss Minerva why are you showing us this?” Dyke questioned as the scene faded to black.
“To show you that all even the Devil was an Angel once.”
Minerva’s eyes scanned around the room until they found the warm eyes of Pomona Sprout. Pomona gave her a small nod of encouragement. Only Pomona knew the whole story, but, by the end of the day, the whole world would know.
Feeling a rush of confidence surge through her, Minerva delved deeper into her memories, “But,” Minerva said, pausing for a moment. “We all know that Lucifer eventually became Satan.”
Minerva was early. Nine minutes early to be precise. Pacing around the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest, Minerva settled down at the base of a strong tree. She rested her head on the trunk and closed her eyes, inhaling the cold breeze.
“Are you sure that is wise, My Lord?” Minerva heard the distinct voice of Bellatrix Black.
“It is a necessary sacrifice Bellatrix. For one to succeed, some must fall; collateral damage must be expected in extreme cases such as these.” Minerva’s heart skipped a beat.
‘Of course,’ Minerva thought, resting her head on the tree in defeat and despair and closing her eyes, ‘how could I be so stupid?’ she didn’t stay to hear anything else. Minerva stood to her feet quietly and ran back towards the Castle.
The sun rose steadily in the sky the next day. Minerva, whose mind was still reeling, climbed out of bed and headed downstairs to the Great Hall.
“What do you want Riddle?” Her voice cold and icy.
Tom smirked. “Back to last name basis are we? Two can play at that game McGonagall. Now,” he grabbed her arm and pulled her close to him. “Where were you last night? I presume you did not forget because I saw you running back up to the castle,”
Minerva’s spine stiffened and, confidently she replied, “I heard you,” her voice barely a whisper.
“Oh, is that so?” Tom smirked, his grip tightening on Minerva’s arm. “And what, pray tell, did you hear? Nothing too sinister I hope,"
Fear engulfed Minerva’s body and every instinct that she possessed was telling her to run, but, fighting her better judgment she stayed. “I heard you talking to Bellatrix… What are you doing Tom?”
Leaning down, he whispered into Minerva’s ear. “I’m winning.”
“And what happens next?” someone called from the crowd.
“Left?” someone echoed, “What do you mean left?”
“By the end of the week he was gone.” Minerva’s voice was starting to go hoarse. “It took another six months before I laid eyes upon him again,” Minerva carefully extracted her next memory.
“Well, this is an interesting turn of events isn’t it?” Tom asked when he saw Minerva. Only six short months had passed, in which Tom had grown from a teenage boy restricted by rules to a man with a goal within his reach. Minerva, however, was not shocked by these sudden and abrupt changes but she was more shocked that they were together at a time like this.
“Hello Tom how goes the day?” she asked, her fingers tracing her forearm.
“Quite well,” he replied in a formal fashion. Tom took a step towards Minerva and she took a step back.
“What?” he teased, the corners of his lips turning upwards into a smile, “Are you scared?”
She shook her head, “No, just unsure.”
“How so?” Tom stepped forward. Slowly, his hands slipped around Minerva’s wrists and he pulled her closer.
She didn’t pull away. “Last time we met you said that you were winning. Tom, you scare me,” she admitted shamelessly.
“Is that so?” Tom asked slyly. “Then, why are you here?”
“Curiosity killed the cat.” Minerva said.
“Care for a walk?” Tom asked, his eyes boring into Minerva’s skin. She accepted.
As the couple walked through the Garden, they allowed silence to befriend them. Sitting down on a nearby bench both Tom and Minerva stared at the lake that lay before them. Tom was the first to break the silence. “If were to marry Minerva, how would it be done?”
Minerva pondered upon the question before answering, “It would be simple with no white dress in sight. Why, are you asking?” her voice raised an octave.
“Maybe, maybe not.” He taunted Minerva. As silence eloped them again Tom reached into his pocket and pulled out a plain silver ring. “But, if I were to ask you, what would your answer be?”
“The world wouldn’t allow us.” Minerva replied in barely a whisper.
“Then forget the world. Damn it to Perdition if we must. We’ll make a world of our own imagination if we need too.” Tom declared.
“Make our own Valhalla?” she suggested lightly. Tom hide a smile and agreed. Taking Minerva’s answer as a ‘yes’ Tom took ahold of Minerva’s hand and slid the ring onto her wedding finger.
“There,” he declared. “It is done,” they declared their love without vows but with a single kiss.
Minerva held up her right hand and sure enough, upon a finger, lay the same silver band that had Tom had given her all those years ago by the lake.
“It’s on the wrong finger!” someone from the laity pointed out.
Minerva smiled cruelly, “That was Tom’s idea. He thought that it would be best if no one knew.”
“If that is all you have to show us Minerva-” Dyke said, but Minerva interjected.
“I have one final memory.” She declared. “I must warn you, this memory has no happiness nor is it our Valhalla. No, this memory is our Perdition.”
Minerva enclosed the letter with her signature and gave it to her owl to send. She sent a silent prayer that Albus would receive her information before it was too late. The flutter of paper told Minerva that someone had apparated into her room. She didn’t need to turn around to know who it was. “You shouldn’t be here,” she sighed, placing her quill back into its holder.
“Where else should I be?” Tom replied, his voice melancholy. Minerva was surprised he was so calm considering all that had happened in the last twenty-four hours. Standing to her feet, Minerva faced her husband.
“Hiding,” she replied smoothly. “The entire world is out looking for you Tom.”
He merely shrugged his shoulders. “This is the last place they would expect me to be. Minerva,” his voice suddenly become hollow and rushed. “Please, I beg of you.”
“You beg of me to what Tom? To lie to everyone that I know!” Minerva exclaimed, pushing herself away from him. “I cannot! You may ask anything of me and I shall give it willingly, but not this Tom, anything but this.”
“It is but one little lie Minerva, surely the world would forgive you for that,” he pleaded. For one instant, one small instant, his eyes showed how tired he really was. Then that tiredness vanished, replaced by a look of conceited evil.
“Look at you,” Minerva whispered in fear, “you seem holding onto the last string of humanity you have left: me.” She took another step back. “Tom, you killed an entire family because they refused you. I cannot, no, I will not, allow myself to play in your game.”
“They were just collateral damage Minerva surely you can understand.” Tom reasoned as if his cause was just. “If you... If you do not do this for me than I shall be forced to take actions.” He threatened. Minerva fought back tears and, with all the determination she could muster, she shook her head.
“I won’t.” She said clearly.
“Very well, but remember Minerva, you did this to yourself. Whatever happens tonight, McGonagall, it is entirely your fault.” Tom snarled and then vanished. She followed in suit, knowing his destination.
She apparated just outside her mother’s house and, brandishing her wand she went inside. But she was too late. There, in the front room was her mother lying on the floor with a halo of blood encircling her head. Minerva let out a strangled scream and fell to her knees.
“Mama,” she cried through her tears.
“I told you I would take actions Minerva,” Tom stepped out of the shadows; his hands encased in blood. Her mother’s blood. Minerva didn’t look up at him. She couldn’t bare the sight of him.
“Mama,” Minerva whispered, shaking her mother’s body slightly. “Come back to me, please Mama. I can’t do this on my own,” Minerva let go of her mother’s fragile body and pulled her knees up to her chest. “Why did you do this?” she asked, still not looking at him.
“Because this is my happy ending,” he replied. There was no emotion in his voice. The Tom she knew was gone.
“Go away,” she whispered, staring at her mother’s blood that had ever-so-clearly stained her hands.
The room was silent. No one dared utter a word, even Dyke, who had held a manner above everyone else, could not find a word to say.
“To answer the question that is all in your minds, I never saw him again and I never loved him well enough after that. The reason that I asked for this meeting to be held was to show you that, despite your beliefs, Voldemort was once Tom Riddle and Tom Riddle once loved. However, what he did to my mother was unforgivable.” Minerva collected herself before continuing.
“She used to tell me when she tucked me in that angels were watching over me. She was wrong. There was nothing protecting her. There's no higher power, there's no God. There's just chaos and violence, random unpredictable evil, that comes out of nowhere, rips you to shreds.”
A.N: I hope you all enjoyed this. The original draft of this story was completly different to this but I was watching a certain episode of Supernatural and a quote caught my eye and my story just turned into angst city.
Also, please kindly ignore the fact that Bellatrix didn't go to Hogwarts the same time as Tom and Minerva. For the sake of this story, she does :)
The quote in the summary and the last line of the story is not mine; it is said by Dean Winchester in Supernatural. Also, the title for this chapter is from Ellie Gouldings song 'Salt Skin'