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Chapter 2 : Wee Minnie
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- 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.
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.
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.”
“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,
“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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.
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.
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.”
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!
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
Bairn – child
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