Chapter 1 : You'll Always Have A Place In My Heart
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"That a bird Fina," she reached for the parchment and gave the owl a stroke with her finger. Fina made her way over by the window where there was a dish of water and eagerly helped herself to a cool drink. After a moment she hooted and flew back out the window.
Minerva stood there looking down at the parchment cluched in her hand and then made her way to shut the window before she returned to her seat at the table. She moved her mug of tea back and opened the letter.
I am writing this letter with the deepest regret that I must be the one to inform you that your old friend Dougal McGregor has passed away. His funeral was held yesterday according to Mum. Her and Dad both went to it. I knew that you two were friends before you left for London. I am sorry dear sister.
She read the letter over many times, looking to see if she could find more meaning in the words that were already there. When she couldn't, she cast the parchment aside on the table, and grabbed her mug of tea in her hands. Her head was bowed in thought and consentration. After a moment she lifted the cup to her mouth, taking a small sip, and knowing in her mind what she needed to do no matter what the outcome or her feelings.
It was dusk when Minerva made her way down the path towards her childhood home. The first stars twinkled high above her, suspended in the black canvas that was now the sky. She walked switftly until she reached the gate and hesitated before she continued.
The house sat quiet and dark. No one was home. Instead of making her way to the door, she made her way to a giant willow tree in the front yard. Its branches cascaded down like streams of water being poured towards the earth. She gazed at the tree fondly as she reminised about memories past, and as she walked to the trunk of the tree she saw something that she had forgotten after all these years. A carving. There at the base of the trunk was a heart and the initals M.M. & D.M. carved roughly by a knife. She reached out and placed her hand on the carving remembering the man that those initals belonged.
A lump formed in her throat as she thought about the man she loved. The man she had turned away because she herself couldn't rustle up the courage to tell him her one secret. 'Some Gryffindor you are' she thought to herself as her mind traveled back in time. One that transfered her back to the summer before she left for London and the Ministry of Magic. She never thought that anything like that would happen, but it did. That summer Minerva found herself in a whirlwind relationship.
She remembers the long talks that they would have into the night while sitting under this large willow tree at her parents home. The walks they would take through the local park and around his families farm. He was handsome with a strong build. He had blue eyes that rivaled the the sky, with dark hair and a boyish grin. Then one day as they were walking in the field he dropped to one knee and proposed. Minerva answered with a quick, "yes"
As she readied herself for bed that night she couldn't help but question her answer. If she married Dougal she would almost have to give up everything because she hadn't told him her seceret. She saw what it was like for her father when he found out that her mother was a witch and she was determined to not have to go through the samething with whomever she married.
As day light approached she laid in bed still wide awake thinking of what to do until she finally decided that she would not and could not do that to Dougal. He deserved a fair future and this infatuation that she had with him would eventually cease. As she climbed out f bed and dressed for the day, she glanced out of her bedroom window and saw him by the large tree. He was doing something to the trunk of the tree and she couldn't tell from this distance what it was he was doing. She pulled her shoes on, pocketed her wand, and hurried to find out what he was up to.
As she ran down the stairs a nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach forced her to suddenly stop. Looking at her left hand and seeing the ring that he had placed there less than twenty-four hours ago made the bile rise in her throat. She knew what she had to do, and she had to do it now before she left for London. Regaining her reserve, she made her way to the front door, and to the tree. When she walked up to him, he greeted her with a grin that melted her heart.
'No!' She thought. 'You have to do this now before it is too late and you hurt him forever.'
"Dougal," she called out quietly.
"Minerva, come here! I want to show you what I've done." He reached for her hand and pulled her around to the side of the tree that she had seen him at. "Look!" He pointed to the trunk. There was a carved heart with the initails M.M & D.M. Minerva stood staring at the trunk before she suddenly burst into tears.
Dougal with a worried look on his face, immediately gave her a one armed hug. "What's the matter?"
"I...I can't marry you!" She yelled out in heart wrenching pain. She pulled off the ring and put it in his hand. "I...I have to go!" She took off for the house not even bothering to give him an explanation or looking back to see the tears forming in his own eyes.
In fact she tried to tell him, many times but in the end she broke off their engagement. To stand here now and look at the place where he had proposed was just as difficult as turning him down. Tears stung her eyes and threatened to fall when she heard a rustling noise behind her. Grasping her wand tightly, she turned around to find no one there. Only the moon light now shone through the high branches of the willow tree. Uneasily she made her way over to the old swing the hung from the tree. Sitting down and began to cry. As she sat there gently crying, she felt a hand on her shoulder. In alarm she jumped up, whipping around. A wild expression on her face as she pulled out her wand without hesitation.
There in front of her stood the ghost of Dougal. Her once bethrothed. He looked her over with an incredulous look.
"Why are you holding that stick in your hand?" He questioned her.
Minerva's eyes were downcast as she finally replied, "There is something that I have always wanted to tell you Dougal. This," she gestured to her wand, "is why I wouldn't marry you no matter how much it hurt me to admit that I was making the toughest decision of my life. I," she stopped thinking about what she wanted to say before continuing, "I'm a witch. I was afraid that if I told you and brought you into the secret world that I live in, you would be miserable."
He watched her carefully as she spoke and as a tear ran down her cheek. "Minerva," he spoke softly, "please don't be upset. Why would I have been miserable if I had been with you? I know I married another, but you always held a place in my heart. Always." He finished, moving closer to her still shocked frame.
"You would have been miserable because you wouldn't ever been able to tell anyone about the magical world. You would have had to live in hiding." she lowered her wand slowly as she backed away and finished in a hollow voice.
"I would have loved you regardless." Dougal replied as he moved around her holding out his hand.
She refused to take it since she knew he wasn't real, but she did look him in the eyes as she spoke, "I'm so sorry Dougal," tears were fresh in her eyes, "I should have told you then, but you must understand that the law wouldn't allow me to."
"I know how much doing the right thing and abiding by the laws mean to you, Minerva. That is why I've come to visit you tonight. I wanted to let you know that I forgive you for leaving the way you did." his voice spoke softly. "I don't want these memories to haunt you for the rest of your life. You deserve to be happy in anything that you decide to do with your life, I just wish I could have been part of it."
"Oh Dougal," she responded lovingly and holding her hand to her chest, "I am so sorry for hurting you. You'll always have a place in my heart."
Dougal smiled and started to back away, "You'll always have a place in my heart to. good-bye Minerva." With one last glance at her, he was gone. She stood there for quite awhile looking at the last place he was standing before she allowed the healing tears run from her eyes.
Author's Note: This was really difficult to write. I've never written about Minerva McGonagall before and this is only my take on what would have happened if she had met Dougal one last time. Thanks for reading! I would love to know what you thought about the story. If you have time, please leave a review.