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Nine Lives by Sunflower

Format: Novella
Chapters: 2
Word Count: 5,851
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Drama, Romance, Angst
Characters: Dumbledore, McGonagall, Sprout, Pomfrey, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 01/22/2014
Last Chapter: 11/04/2014
Last Updated: 11/04/2014

Summary:
Beautiful banner by niika@tda





It's like the saying goes; a cat has nine lives. 

Minerva had one. 

--

Minerva/Dougal

May Featured Story at the Golden Snitches
& Winner of Dobby Award for Best Wielding of Pottermore Info


Chapter 1: An Annotation
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: This was a one shot, which I have now turned into a novella. There will be (yes, you guessed it) NINE chapters. I'll skip back and forth in time, but they will all be centered around Minerva. Each chapter represent a moment where Minerva could have chosen another path.

- Also, I mean no offence to any Scotsmen out there. I am only part Scot, thus this accent is merely an attempt to create an illusion of Scottish. I apologize beforehand on any mistakes on my part. It is meant as flattery and a way to remember my grandad and his black teas and strong, Scottish accent. Look at the bottom for glossary, if needed.
 

--

NINE LIVES 

SUNFLOWER



It’s like the saying goes; a cat has nine lives. She had one.

--
 
Preface

(1981)




 It’s like the saying goes, a cat has nine lives.

Such a waste, she thinks on those quiet nights when the rain paints the window a sea of blue. Nine lives for one little cat, and then just one for everyone else.

It’s the early dawn before the New Year, and she sits, watching the last sunrise of the year, feeling more than a little nostalgic. She watches the minutes as they leave, ticketing into the lake as the rays of shine dip deep into indigo blue.

Somehow, familiarity has sneaked in with the sunrays. His laughter is beating like a hollow echo against the walls between the pelts of rain, and she feels old again – ancient in her heaving sighs to this silent room. It’s like searching for the proper words, figuring out how to mention his name.

In a silent act of bravery, she scribbles his name across the foggy window. Minutes pass, and after beats of breath, she watches warmth erase him once more. His name is stillborn, lodged in her throat.


You don’t get over Dougal McGregor, not when he was never really yours.
 

---





1. An Annotation 

(Don't board the train)

(1956)



 
They always meet again.

The pub is scrummy with worn down wooden panels and a mud brown orange painted hazardless on the walls, missing dents and bumps along the way. She smoothes a hand down her pencil skirt, self-conscious for a minute, before stepping inside, escaping the bitter winds of London.

 The bells clings, lonely in its ring as it announces her entrance. The silence that follows seems to cling to her body, drenching her in unease. Sweat pools at the back of her neck. She runs a hand through her hair, cursing the fact that she’s let it hang loose, suddenly overcome by nervousness.  

He always loved her hair hanging loose.

Such inane, irrational thoughts drive her in these weak, brittle moments when his tender words corrupt her. It’s useless, like many human things. As if by realizing these mortal weaknesses, it shall somehow stop them from corrupting her. It won't help.

That's evident.

He’s sitting, facing her. Their eyes meet as soon as she steps into the pub. She feels like a young schoolgirl, stepping forward in too large shoes and twisted hair in a feeble attempt to make him feel something. Maybe regret. Maybe even love.

Perhaps then, they shall be joined in something again, even if it is despair.

His navy eyes hold hers, revealing nothing, giving nothing away. He’s always been very guarded and she sees that this has, in fact, not changed one bit. She sinks. He’s wearing half a grin, a lager in his hand, his cap low on the head. He looks like his dad.

He takes the hat off when she steps closer, rising from his seat. They stand there for some time in front of each other, halted in a moment of reconnection.

You fall in love, you fall out of love. It should be as simple as that.
 
He clears his throat. "Minerva."
 
There could be an ode here, she thinks. To quiet nights and open land with the star-speckled sky reaching beyond borders, bridging the large gap between two young people. You don’t feel it here, not in London’s crammed streets, but there is a land beyond the hills, where the flowers bloom and a young lad, a wee lad, thrives.

It’s a simple life, it’s a life she’s condemned all her life, yet as this man stands before her – aged in weariness, her heart sings out to him like the wind beneath the trees upon those high hills and mountains. Her own breath allows the Highlands to pass through her, into her. And it doesn’t seem as foreign and alien as she often makes it. Instead, all it seems to do is reverberate home.

They awkwardly exchange “hellos”, before commencing on a conversation that’s stilted, yet heartfelt to the extent that is allowed when meeting a long lost stranger again.

“How’s it goin’, lass? Saved the world yet?”

He’s smiling, despite it all. She must admit that his gentleness awes her. She can still recall his touch, the humming smile he used to offer her. Even after two years, she sometimes finds herself tripping over the what ifs, listening for the sound of the train again and him calling her name, desperately.

It had been the same kind of day then. The skies heavy with rain, grieving perhaps in accordance to them and this destiny that has befallen them. At times, though, she fears she is being punished for her ambition.  That the culpable one is only her, the grief resting heavy hands upon her shoulders.

She keeps on glancing at him out of the corner of her eye, still unsure how to look at him straight on. She’s reverted to nervous mannerisms, twirling locks of hair and touching her neck in a nervous pattern like she’s thirteen again, meeting the neighbour’s son for the first time.

“It’s a work in process. Rome wasn't built in one day, as they say.”

"It wasn't, no." His mouth twists.

She brings the cup to her mouth in a vain attempt to hide her mouth. The liquid scolds her tongue, the taste sour. She coughs, setting down the cup.

“I see they serve their tea the Scottish way here.”

“Aye. The only true way.” There’s a warmth on his face that she hadn’t realized was missing until now.

His hand is lying on the table, upturned and open. She eyes the rough palms, remembering the way her fingers fit between his so intimately.  It’s those delicate memories that wash over her in the presence of her past.

He’s still got the same two wrinkles by his eyes when he smiles. She stares at them, somewhat transfixed.

“It tastes appalling.”

“I see the capital got to ye, then. Made a right Southerner out o’ ye.” There’s a stand here, his mouth defiantly set as he reaches for his lager again, like a bad habit of controlling his anger.

See, they’re both returning to old habits.

And she can see it now. His cap on the ground behind him, his running feet flying higher than ever, running after her train. Hollering her name. Merlin, he could run like the wind, he could, faster and faster. And her outstretched hand on the window, her ring finger suddenly feeling ever so light. And then the rain had come, drowning out his voice as the train turned the corner. It’s funny, she finds, how quickly you come to depend on idle things.

The last image she has of him, is of him standing on the platform in the pouring rain.

“Doug.” Her voice is soft enough so that it blends into the room. He looks away from her, eyeing the buzzing street outside.

She takes the moment, just to watch him. His long, beacon nose, wide set blue eyes and those dark locks of hair. His pale skin only marred by freckles spotted along his cheekbones. He’s so Scottish that it almost hurts her eyes, the sorrow twisting deep in her stomach.

It’s like a brand of brotherhood, those dark-haired beauties from up North. The same piercing blue eyes like the sea, the fairness of skin. The stubbornness. Those broad cheekbones and solid jaws. Her father looks the same, and so do her brothers, all graceful enormity with blunted fingers and stubborn chins.

“Is it your first visit to London?” She asks, trying hard not to dwell on his frown. “You should go see the Cathedral, you’d like that. Shame ‘bout the rain, though.”

“It isna me first visit to London, lass. I’d rather ye’d no’ think o’ me so ignorant.”

“I don’t. Honestly.”

“Mpmhf.” His frown deepens.

Quiet descends for a moment, the half empty pub playing background to their defiance. It starts raining. People are leaving the streets, seeking shelter in the downpour. Yet it seems nothing like the storm raging inside this room.

“Dougal.”

His name slips from her lips as she folds her hand across his. He flashes her a half-smile, retracting his hand slowly. It takes her a second, blinking twice before she pulls her own hand back, the sting of his refusal burned across her skin. It crawls up her arm in an ice-cold chill as it settles inside her bones. Unwanted.

“I’m… I heard about your dad. I’m so sorry.”

He draws a long breath, his eyes bright indigo. “So that’s why ye summoned me? To give yer condolences? Lass, ye could’ve done that through a greeting card. I havena got time fer this. I’ve a business to tend to now.”

She keeps on forgetting about the years.

They seem insignificant to her, like a wave coming to land. Quick and gone in a moment. Leaving nothing behind but wet sand in its wake. That’s how quickly time seems to pass now. Living it, though, was quite a different experience. So many years have come to stand between them, heavy in faces passed by windows and names she’s learnt and forgotten. Accomplishments annotated to her name. In the end, all she wanted to be annotated to was him.

She had forgotten about the world that drifts between them. There was a time she used to believe nothing like that mattered. She doesn’t remember the bad times anymore. She does remember songs around campfires and jumping into the lake with his hand in hers. She remembers his laughter, his stupid jokes and his clear voice singing Highland hymns on open land. She remembers all those promises they vowed to keep, but didn’t.

“No. Dougal, no.”

Dougal sighs, leaning back in his chair. The light from the window pierces his eyes as he blinks at her, slowly.

“Weel, he was an old chap, lass. Dinna take it bad. It wasna anybody’s fault, ye ken. That’s just what happens to people. They die. T’is as natural as breathin’.”

They come to stand.

She’s forgotten how tall he is, but remembers it with stark clarity as she has to crane her neck to meet his soft gaze. There’s something indefinable in there, hidden from view. She should be uncertain, yet his warmth is a better constant than any she’s ever experienced. It’s like he knows how to root her.

Her fingers brush across his jaw tenderly. “How are you?”

“Minerva.”

Her name surprises her. She lets her hand drop. She feels him exhale, heavy against her face. Sea salt and headiness.

They exit the pub in silence. The rain has eased to mist, cooling against her burning skin. Dougal sighs beside her. They‘ve somehow aged into traditions once again. It’s dangerous, how easily you come to forget. A vow. Ambitions. Perspectives.

“I am sorry, you know.”

He looks at her, the dim city lights cutting shades off his face. There’s this moment, and she gathers they’re no longer talking about his deceased father.

Dougal smiles. “Ah, the truth at last. Ye ken, dinna worry ‘bout it, lass. I’m not a man to hold grudges.”

“Oh, I know.” She nods and her throat feels kind of funny, kind of heavy and tight.  “You’re about as good as they get, Doug.”

It isn’t easy to say that. She has about ten different versions of how this talk should go, yet sorry is never quite as easy as it sounds, is it?

Her hand finds his. His fingers clench hers with a strength that both frightens and assures her, expressing those things left unsaid in the void between them. For once, he doesn’t let go. And it means the world to her.

His eyes are very wide.

“It’s never just simple wi’ ye, is it?” he asks gruffly and she feels the icing stab of the words.

It’s not a question. Minerva shrugs.

“It’s been two years. Two years.

“I know.”

He makes a sound, a deep guttural sound, and he presses his thumb and finger against his eyelids. “Ye’re being mighty unfair, Lass.”

She steps closer, tentatively. He remains standing, eyeing her form as she inches closer, a hand outstretched. His skin is warm and soft to touch and his shoulders sag the moment she slides her hand through his hair.

“I’ve missed you.” Her whisper is hot against the side of his neck as she presses her face into the hollow of his shoulder. She can feel his body relaxing into hers, hip to hip.

His answering hand presses into the curve of her back, fitting into the space that seems to have been made for him. He breathes out heavily.

“Aye, I’ve missed ye, too. But. Ye don’t… Get to come here and tell me… all these things and act like nothin’ happened. Ye left me, Minerva. Standing on a train station wi’ no clue as to why ye left me.”

“I know. I know. It’s…” She stands back to look at him. “I loved you. I still… love you. But… We’re not… You know how some people have all the luck in the world, finding the perfect match?”

“Aye.”

Her eyes are wet. “We’re not it.”  

His hand comes up to frame her face, wiping away her tears. “If it wasna me hand in marriage, what were ye hoping fer?”

“I… I was hoping to be your friend.”

His smile is warmer than the sunniest day. “Ye already are. That never changed.”

They stand there for quite some time, wrapped together tightly before she pulls back.

“I have a train to catch,” she says quietly, her voice reluctant.  

He stares at her for a long time, somehow seeing through her. It feels like being hit with a thousand spells, a thousand tingling spells that all warm her up.

But Dougal doesn’t know that.

He doesn’t know half of her. All that magic that’s brimming over the top of everything she is, threatening this feeble thing between them. Driving the train off its rails, feeding the burning carnage of them. There are a thousand anecdotes in the space between them, yet none of this matters anymore. There are faded photographs of their laughter and records beholding their love and it still doesn’t matter. She can think of a sea of metaphors and he still won’t be hers.

In the end, the train will leave the platform. She’ll board the train and commit herself to this. In the end, all she’ll ever be is this – no matter what she does and how she bends and breaks. She’ll always be this.

He walks her to the station, their steps slow with the silence shared between them. She turns to him as they enter the platform.

"I - I took a position in Scotland. At a school. I -" She stops herself, wide-eyed.

"That sounds nice." He flashes her half a smile.

"Can I... Can I come visit you? Sometimes, maybe?" She asks in a tentative whisper, the words nearly lost to the wind.

He pulls her against him, his fingers pressing into the nape of her neck, a hand tangled in her hair. His lips move against her forehead, hot and wet.

"Ye're verra welcome to visit, Minnie. Always."

They stand on the platform, wrought tightly together, breathing together as she tries to remember her reasoning.

The train comes.

They pull apart, and she stares into his eyes, her smile tightlipped. She wants to say something, to tuck him inside her chest and keep him sheltered, with her at all times. He laughs then, his laugh abrupt and choppy as he gazes down at her.

“Ay, lassie. Ye’d no be worrit. Ye’ll save the world.” 

He tucks his hand underneath her chin, brushing a thumb across her lips, smiling. She stares at his fingers, wrapped in hers. Two years is enough to know that this is real.

"I sent ye letters, ye ken."

"I know." She swallows thickly. "I saved them all."

She really did. In a cardboard box underneath her bed in which she hides all her fears. Each letter wrinkled and soft from fingertips tracing the o's and e's. They're tucked neatly into the corner beside a small blue box she's never looked at again. She supposes we all hide our fears in dark corners.

It still feels unreal, him standing here, the train calling her name.

Dougal presses a kiss to her temple. She closes her eyes for the moment, memorizing the scenery, his smell and the sound of his voice, the train hooting in the background.

“Tara.” His voice is soft.

“Tara.” She smiles.

In the end, the train will still leave the platform. In the end she’ll still board that train.

It has always come down to this.


--






Glossary

Ye - you
Ken - know
verra - very
isna - isn't
canna - can't
wasna - wasn't
dinna - don't
worrit - worry
weel - Well
fer - for
Lass/Lassie - girl
Tara - goodbye
Aye - yes


Chapter 2: Wee Minnie
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: First of all, I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted on this story - life's been a bit messy and my muse has been hiding as always. Secondly, thank you so much to everyone for voting for this as a Dobby nominee. It's my first win and it's mind boggling. I am very honoured.
- Also, I mean no offence to any Scotsmen out there. I am only part Scot, thus this accent is merely an attempt to create an illusion of Scottish. I apologize beforehand on any mistakes on my part. It is meant as flattery and a way to remember my grandad and his black teas and strong, Scottish accent. Look at the bottom for glossary, if needed.
 

--

WEE MINNIE 

NINE LIVES

--
 
Chapter Two

(1953)

 

She’d known he was dangerous from the moment she saw him.

The summers in Scotland have always been unforgiving and incalculable in their nature, and she supposes that it was natural to find herself stranded in the middle of a road, leading to Inverness city.

Standing on the dirt road, watching a hoard of sheep cross the road in front of her, she is immediately reminded why it is she’s happy to have left this world and all it’s impromptu occurrences. She should have calculated this, surely – the logic of Scottish weather is inescapable… Yet somehow, it finds her here, in the middle of nowhere without her wand, without a clue as to where she is.

“Sorry ‘bout tha’, lass. They tend to do as they like!”

A bright voice rings through the chaotic cooing of the sheep. It takes a moment for Minerva to realize he’s addressing her.

“Sorry?”

A young man makes his way through the group of sheep, smiling widely at her. His dark hair and blue eyes twinkle at her like a midnight sky.

“The sheep, ye ken. Those buggers do as they bloody well please.”

“Oh.”

“Wha’re yer name, lassie?” He eyes her, completely ignoring the sheep that have now spread out across the road, blocking the entire path.  

He really shouldn’t let them wander.

There’s a hesitance as she holds her breath, trying to remember why she’s so cautious at giving her name. It’s just a name, she reasons. Yet… It’s never just been a name, has it?

Eyeing the sheep, she finally answers, disapproval tugging into her cheek,

“Minerva.”

“Ah, ye’re a Minnie then, aye?” The lad blinks slowly at her, his gaze too akin to something else; dropping eyes like he knows her. “Minnies are always great company, eh?”

He doesn’t. He doesn’t know her at all.

“No. It’s Minerva.”

“I’m Dougal.” The man holds out his hand, brown with cracked dirt. “S’pose ye’re not from ‘ere, then?”

“No, I am.” Minerva shakes his hand firmly, in an effort at politeness, albeit finding it hard to meet his imploring stare. “I’ve just been… away for some time.”

“Ye have? Well, if ye need guidance, I live right up the road, there. Dinna fash.” He points up towards a small path that leads to a square house amidst a bunch of green fields, its entrance half-hidden by a large oak tree.

“I’m a farmer’s boy, see.” He adds with a grin.

Minerva nods slowly, not quite sure why he’s spending so much time talking to her. He stares at her for a while, his beard twitching as if caught by some queer notion she must have missed.

“Sheep.”

“Yeah, we’ve sheep, too, lassie.” Dougal smiles, scratching his head.

“No,” Minerva says impatiently. “Your sheep. They’re running away.”

Dougal turns around to look at the now moving herd of sheep, cursing lowly before setting into a run.

Oi! Ye rutty old flock, ye’re no goin’ anywhere withou’ me!”

The sheep march onwards, steered slowly by Dougal. Minerva finds herself watching them depart, slightly amused. She thinks he’s forgotten all about her, until he turns back to face her, his splitting grin shining at her.

“See ye ‘round, Minnie!” Dougal waves his hat at her.

“It’s Minerva!”

--


“Any gaud down toun, dear?”

When she asks her, Minerva has just returned, with the winds of the hills still blazing on her skin and the smell of greenery engulfing her. The crammed, stuffing air presses on her throat as she enters the shoebox room, a stark unbearable contrast to the highlands.

>Minerva eyes her mother’s back for a long while, as she stands in the doorway leading to the kitchen. The radio is on, a soft voice bellowing hymns in an echo of normal, the walls a mustard yellow with small violet orchids lined on the wall. Her mother’s washing the dishes, her soapy hands wrinkled by time and tear.

“No.” Her voice is dull. “It hasn’t changed one bit, that town.”

Her mother doesn’t move a muscle, her hips swaying to the music. There are stints of grey in her dark hair, her shoulder low and without pride.

“S’pose it hasna, no. Lovely, i’n’it?”

Minerva doesn’t nod, doesn’t acknowledge the sentiment. She can hear her father in the next room with the telly on, watching the racings. He must have returned from church already.

“Da finished at church?” She asks, picking up a Muggle paper. The Guardian rings familiar, yet she’s spent years distancing her of such sentiments that it doesn’t comfort her the slightest. No news seems to hold enough significance, her years lacking in experience and overflowing in arrogance, still.

“Yeah, it wasna a verra long service. No’ much has happened out ‘ere, ye ken.”

“Suppose not.”

“Ye should come to a service, Da’d appreciate tha’.”

Minerva gives her mother a steady gaze. “Not really my scene.”

Her mother tuts, “Aye, I know it isna. But ye da would appreciate it, tha’s all.”

Minerva nods silently and she catches her mother studying her.

“How’s schuil?” She asks, looking at her, and in that second, she doesn’t seem like this pitiful stranger, whom Minerva makes her out to be in her dreams, but rather a fellow kinsman, someone who might understand her predicament.

Minerva sinks, her throat bobbing up and down. She’s craved such a question for so many years, so that now that it’s here, it seems impossible to answer it easily, the words dry in her mouth.  It’s a latent desire, to share this world, yet with her mother standing in her childhood kitchen with her soapy hands, it’s never really been her choice.

“They’ve made me Head Girl, Ma.” She answers, her voice small. And suddenly, she’s seven again, with her pillow and nightgown on as she fights to please, to satisfy.

“Head Girl.”

Her mother tastes the word, nodding slowly. There’s a moment there, and she thinks she catches the flutter of a smile at her. She’s not certain of it, but she knows that she wants to believe it’s a prideful smile.

That part remains true.

“Guid lass.” Her mother returns to the soapy water.  

She finally gives in to that terrible itch in her throat.

“Why don’t you make the dishes do themselves? It would save you a lot of time.”

Her mother pauses to look up. “Wha’? Use magic?” She shrugs indifferently. “Nae, dinna fash, I like getting ma hands wet. Besides, wha’ else would I dae wi’ ma time, then?”

Her tone holds a twist of drained impatience as she continues scrubbing at plates, her movements snappy.

Minerva’s lip turns. They could talk about the reality. There are things that seem important in the light of things. How she’s found her mother’s wand hidden in the outside cupboard behind boxes of old clothes, its length dusty and grey. How that same wand had matched her own so closely it still frightens her to think of it. How her own wand has been stored in her bags, still unused since two weeks ago when she arrived here. She’s noted the looks. She’s felt the disapproving stares.

She knows this. She knows the logic of it, but feeling the tear; these stark differences that map their patterns? It tears her heart apart by the seams.

Her mother slowly turns to face the sink again, some Muggle singing a slowly fading song. The conversation is as much over as the song, this much is clear.

Slowly, Minerva turns and walks out the door.

--

 
“Ye sure ye’re from around here, Minnie?”

Dougal eyes her sideways, his green gaze steady as he blows smoke out the side of his mouth. “Ye sure dinna talk like one from ‘ere. Too… wha’ dae ye say?” He pauses to taste the words, rolling the r’s.  “Prim and proper.”

“Please,” She rolls her eyes. “I’m no such thing.”

His wry smile is annoying. “Aye, ye sure are, ye wee besom. Ye talk like a proper lady.”

She looks away embarrassed. It’s a huge gathering of people, sitting around the fire, drinking ale, the air a tight buzz of laughter.  There are no familiar faces, but in this town no one’s looked familiar to her for years. No one knows of her, no one’s here to greet.

“I’ve been… away for a while, that’s why.”

They stare at each other. Dougal does a double take as she says this, glancing away for a beat.

“The war?” He asks then, in a sober voice.

“The war?”

Dougal clears his throat, drawing back to look at her. “I ken lads who went there… Some never came back, ye ken. But others…” His mouth turns with bitterness. “They came back, but they were different… Ye dinna forget somethin’ like tha’, I suppose.”

Minerva sinks, thumbing the neck of the bottle in her hand.

“No, I suppose not.”

“Makes ye think, aye. Tha’ the lucky ones; it wasna the ones who returned. It was the buggers who dinna return.”

Dougal clears his throat and stretches forward and adjusts some logs in the fire. He doesn’t quite meet her eyes and he suddenly looks years older than the boy she met in the hills before.

She remembers then, where she’s seen him before. He’d been sitting in an alcove with a lass perched on his lap, mirth splayed across every feature. That was a year ago. She had been jealous then. She remembers it quite clearly how the sting of longing had been sharp and painful to the heart.

And of all ironies, he doesn’t look one bit as happy anymore.

She feels a rush of remorse at his shaded looks, running a hand across the smooth surface of her tightened bun. It escapes her, this sweet secret that will open up her heart to him.

“I didn’t… fight in the War, Dougal. I went to a boarding school. I’ve been going there for six years. Returning every summer.” She adds then, her hesitance scathing. “I am sorry to hear about your friends.”

“Oh. Good thing tha’.” Dougal looks relieved. “Ye no be good off it tha’ had been the case. Nutters the whole bunch.”

Minerva laughs then, abruptly and loud at his frown. “Sorry,” she sniggers. “That’s so inappropriate.”

And Dougal grins, tugging an arm around her waist, and she finds her body sinking into his dips and curves, her body somehow fitting into his.

He squeezes her waist gently. “Nah. It’s guid to hear ye can be inappropriate, too, lass. ‘Bout time I got a giggle out o’ ye, wee Minnie.”

“It’s Minerva.”

--


They didn’t agree on anything. In fact, all they ever seemed to do was fight. He used to bring her to the campfires where she'd listen to his soft voice, rising above the Highlands. Everyone would stop to listen. Even the birds halted their singing to listen in on the phenomenon. Those were the only moments in which they would not bicker about inconsequential things.

She won't admit it, but those were the defining moments, when the dusk broke the eve and the air had seemed so full of something that held much more significance than mere playfulness of a summer night. She'd watch the light flicker across the span of his broad cheekbones, his solid jaw that moved with graceful ferocity and it would not matter that he knew nothing of her darker side, it did not matter that what they had was only this: the quiet timber of his voice in the midnight-hour as his gaze warmed her heart, this summer, this one summer was theirs and that was all.

He'd follow her home every night, politely tipping his cap at her in farewell, before trotting homewards, whistling a familiar tune. She'd watch him, half-hidden behind the curtain of the kitchen-window, holding her breath until his shadow disappeared from view.

Those had been the defining moments. She's quite certain of that.

--


"Ruddy bugger, shush! Off wi' ye!"

“That cat hasn't done anything to you.”

“Nah, nasty buggers. They smell and wee wherever they please. Remind me a bit o’ ye, actually.”

Minerva laughs, “What? Smelly and weeing everywhere? Gee, thanks!”

“No. Resolute and independent.” There’s something there in his voice. His fingers brush through her hair, toying with the end of a stray curl. Minerva's throat gets stuffy, her eyes flickering away for a beat.

She turns and reaches for the packed lunch she’s brought with them, trying to escape the sudden turn of the air, feeling sadness creeping in. “We should eat our lunch before we head back.”

“I dinna want to head back, Minnie.”

“Dougal –“ She looks up, torn between anger, sadness and a little too much endearance. The ferocity of his stare frightens her, but suddenly his face softens and leans forward on his knees.

“Ye ken, I havena seen ye enough and already ye’re leaving me.”

The words shock her in their honesty. She glances up to find him staring down at her, a sad frown on his face. It surprises her time and time again how quickly she forgets his bluntness, how quickly she lulls her mind into the daily routines of the day. All her life she’s lived a numbed existence and Dougal pushes her over the cliff again and again.

And she keeps on falling.

“I know.” In her throat she tastes something like poetic justice, her head heavy and light at the same time. Like she’s balancing on the mountain’s top that's resting against the horizon to their right.

“It doesn’t seem fair.” Her legs uncurl from underneath her and press against his.

“Ye sure ye have to return to that schuil? Ye cannae go to another? Closer?” He stretches forward, catching her fumbling hands on the lunchbox, encasing them in his.

“Yes.” It comes out too certain for her comfort. The air thickens and she can feel how the words renovate against his marble skin.

They stare at each other. He says nothing and it’s strange, she thinks. It's Dougal, always Dougal, who's so different with his imploring stare, so intimate without letting her stop him. And there's Minerva, so adamant at staying proper and ignoring glances and completely self-aware of how they differ, of how they fit perfectly imperfectly together.

Dougal nods then, straightening slightly as if coming to terms. “Are ye happy?”

She draws back. "That's a big question."

"It's a simple question. Are ye happy?"

Her lungs have no air. “I’m... I'm going to be.”


Her voice shifts and she’s quite sure he’s not going to react, but then Dougal’s mouth curves and dips, and that sudden, honest laugh that falls low and deep, it belongs to her. She’s quite certain of that. She’s most certain of that.

“Only if ye mean it, lassie.” He leans in and let his lips brush against her forehead, and she lets out a little sigh, eyes closed.

His murmur is soft. “Only if ye mean it.”

---


Minerva stays an extra week in Scotland.

---


A/N: I know this strays slightly from the Pottermore info saying that they met the summer after her last year, but it somehow made it into my head that they had to meet a year before, letting him be the guy she tried so adamantly to forget. Hope you enjoyed it!

Glossary

Ye - you
Ken - know
verra - very
isna - isn't
canna - can't
wasna - wasn't
dinna - don't
worrit - worry
weel - Well
fer - for
Lass/Lassie - girl
Lad - boy
Tara - goodbye
Aye - yes
Dinna fash – don’t worry.
Dae - do
Toun – town
Wha – what
Tha – that
Schuil – school
Dae – do
Bonnie – pretty
Wee - little
Ma – my
Guid – good
Naw -no
Bairn – child




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