You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com
View Online | Printer Friendly Version of Entire Story
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
A/N: Dolor Altor – is the title given to paintings that guard an entry way. It means painted protector.
Minerva woke and blinked her eyes blearily in the faint morning light coming in through her window. She lifted her arms above her head and stretched, pointing her toes and enjoying the release in her muscles. She heard a noise coming from somewhere in the direction of her living room and she propped herself up to look through the open doors. Teensy appeared, a tray of dirty glasses piled high on her head while she cleaned. Minerva smiled.
"You don't need to do that," she said gently to avoid startling the elf.
"Teensy wanted everything to be nice for Miss Neva when she woke." Minerva chuckled and started to get out of bed.
"That's very kind of you Teensy, but you didn't need to."The elf gave a toothy grin and resumed her cleaning. Minerva sat up and reached for her dressing gown, the thin strapped night gown letting the chilled air cling to her skin. She wrapped the dressing gown tightly around her and got out of bed.
"Headmaster left Miss Neva a note," Teensy bounded over and handed her the note. "I is getting your tea now." She disappeared before Minerva could respond. She turned the note over in her fingers with a frown. Albus hadn't shown up at all last night and thinking about it, she wasn't sure if he'd returned to the castle after his late night visit to the Ministry. She stepped into her living room and found the letter opener that had been her father's on her desk.
I ran into an old friend at the Ministry, would you take care of my usual morning duties?
I may be in the mood for pineapple jam when I get back, make sure the elf's leave some out.
And one last thing, could you give our newest resident a hand with his lesson plans? I'll have him meet you at 10am.
Minerva clenched the note in her hand and shook her head. That man was infuriating! Of course, the 'old friend' meant he was attending to Order business. She was only too happy to see to anything that needed to be done but did she really have to see to Mr Snape too? At that moment Teensy returned with a tray of peppermint tea and set it down next to the fire place.
"Would Miss Neva like the fire lit?" Teensy asked, pouring tea into a cup as Minerva took a seat.
"No thank you, Teens. I'd like some time to myself, if that's ok?" Teensy nodded, with that uneasy look on her face and Minerva found it amusing that even after all these years, the elf still wasn't used to being treated like an equal.
"Of Course mistress, Teensy has plenty to do." And after collecting the last of the dirty pots she disappeared.
Minerva nursed the steaming cup between her hands, the peppermint smell taking her back to her childhood in Lailoken. She closed her eyes, hearing her father's voice and took a few minutes to remember him. She sipped her tea and enjoyed the feeling of it trickling down her throat after last night's round of drinks. She opened her eyes and chuckled, remembering how much fun she'd had with the others but wishing she hadn't let it go on so late. It had been after 4am by the time everyone started to leave and as she brought her cup back to her mouth she paused, remembering the way he'd looked at her. Severus had been the last to leave and she recalled wondering why he'd stayed so long. He definitely hadn't enjoyed the night, refusing to join in their conversations or play their silly games, no matter how hard Filius tried to coax him into it.
"There's someone wanting to come in," a deep, gruff voice said behind her, breaking her thoughts. She turned to the double sided portrait on her door to see Leander, staring at her. He was tall, blonde and god like. The kind of man that Minerva knew had been worshipped when he was alive. His usual form took that of a lion and she'd picked him for that. He had turned out to be compassionate, humble and very loyal, but something inside her told her when he'd been alive, he probably hadn't been any of those things.
"Who is it?" She asked, sipping her tea.
"I don't know," Leander replied, his deep growl vibrating through her body. She turned to him with a frown.
"You don't know?"
"Wouldn't tell me his name," Leander leaned against the edge of his frame, his shirt opening to show his impressive muscles. He brushed a lock of golden hair out of his eyes. "He's bad-mannered and callous, said you were expecting him. Something I should know?" He asked, that jealous glint in his eyes that Minerva had come to expect. She sighed.
"It has nothing to do with what's going on in that mind of yours. I suggest you let him in." Leander observed her for a few seconds. "Now, Leander!" The man scowled and shifted into his lion form before walking towards the back of his portrait.
Minerva quickly vanished the last of the mess from the night before and reheated the tea. She secured her dressing gown and watched the door slowly open to reveal the young teacher. Professor Snape stepped in cautiously, giving the door an evil look as he passed through it and it shut quickly, scrapping the back of his heels.
"Your portrait is difficult." He stated, standing by the door and not showing any sign of moving further into the room. Leander reappeared in his animal body and growled.
"I'm only as difficult as –"
"That's enough Leander," Minerva gave him a stern look and the lion twitched his tail angrily before stalking away.
"Are all portraits like that?" He asked.
"Over time they become protective of their charges, have you been approached by a portrait?" She indicated to the tea pot and he nodded.
"Yes. An old wizard, said his name was John Cul...Cog... something beginning with a C." He shrugged his shoulders and Minerva felt her fists tighten as she poured the tea.
"John Colquhorn?" She asked, so desperately wanting him to say no.
"Yes," he frowned. "You've heard of him?"
"Oh yes, I've heard of him." She sighed, unsure why she felt uneasy about it. "Don't believe a word he tells you." She noticed Severus smirk but she ignored him.
"You know him well?" He asked, his voice annoyingly smooth. He'd made his way over to her and she pushed the teacup into his hands.
"If you must know," she let out a deep breath; he was going to find out anyway. The old coot couldn't keep his mouth shut. "I am a descendant, my family lives on the land he once owned." She glanced up to see him observing her curiously.
"'Sir' John, that's what he prefers to be called." Minerva bristled as he connected the dots in his head. "What does that make you?"
"You're early." She stated, ignoring his questioning stare.
"The headmaster told me to be here for 10am." He sat down in the chair Minerva had been in earlier and sipped his tea. Minerva glanced at the clock on top of the fire place, it was just after 10. Had she really slept so late? Trying to avoid admitting that she'd lost track of time she decided not to comment.
"Then I should change, I trust I can leave you out here on your own?" She made her way towards her bedroom.
"I'm no longer your student, Professor," he said, staring into the fire.
"I bed your pardon?" She noticed his icy tone.
"Do not treat me like I'm still your student!" He turned to look her, his steely eyes cutting into her.
"Then why do you still call professor?" She asked angrily but not really sure why she'd issued the question.
"I refer to you as Professor out of respect." That surprised her and it took her a minute to recover. "And you haven't given me permission to address you by your first name." She knew she should give it to him but she couldn't bring herself to say the words. The thought of hearing him say her given name made her shudder and she turned away from him.
"Keep an eye on him Leander," she said, knowing the man in the portrait would be listening and entered her bedroom.
She closed the door behind her and sighed. This was impossible. How was she supposed to live and work with this man when she couldn't even bare him to use her name? She allowed her head to flop back against the door and closed her eyes. You have to work at it, her own words came back to haunt her and she growled in the back of her throat. There was nothing for her to work at, she had her colleagues, she was at home in the castle and she was... happy. She opened her eyes and sighed. Was she happy?
"Stop it Neva!" She said out loud and pushed herself away from the door. She quickly changed into a long sleeved dress and chose to forgo her robes, knowing she wouldn't need them in her own rooms. She pulled her hair up into a clip, slightly less formal than her usual bun and started to head back out to see to the difficult boy sitting in her living room. Man, her mind reminded her and she froze with her hand on the door handle. He had been just a boy when he'd left this castle, when he'd joined their side but he returned to the castle a man. She thought back to her conversation with Filius the previous day and understood how right he'd been. He was here, that's got to count for something.
"He's gone," Leander said, walking into a still life painting above her dressing table.
"Gone where?" She asked the man.
"I don't care, he's gone." Leander gave her a reproachful look and disappeared from the frame.
"Leander!" She flung the door open and dashed after him as he made his way through the paintings. "What did you do?" She vanished his frame, trapping him in the neighbouring portrait.
"I didn't do anything," he said, with a snap.
"And what do you mean by that?" She asked, angrily.
"It means, dear Neva that he left because of you. You weren't exactly... friendly." Friendly! How dare he? And how dare Severus just leave her rooms like that? She replaced Leander's portrait and stormed towards her door. "Where are you going?" He asked, running after her towards the door.
"Where do you think?"
"I don't think that would be wise, my Lady." Leander stood in his portrait before her, his irritating handsome smile brightening his eyes.
"When I want your opinion I'll ask for it." She swung the door open and she glanced back to see he had turned back into the lion. "And seeing as though I haven't, I suggest you keep your mouth shut!" As she walked away she heard the big cat grumble his displeasure and she suddenly felt guilty. She shouldn't be taking out her anger on him and come to think of it, why was she so angry? She stopped walking and clenched her fists. She knew she was in the wrong, she had been rude and unpleasant the entire time he had been here. She turned towards her room and slowly walked back. She chewed on her thumb nail, deep in thought.
"I'd thought your mother beat that bad habit out of you." Minerva glanced up to see Sir John Colquhorn standing in the portrait with Leander. She dropped her hand away from her mouth and crossed her arms over her chest.
"What do you want?" It came out a lot harsher then she intended but at that moment she didn't really care.
"I came to see what you'd done to upset the boy so much." There was a look that passed between the two painted men that told Minerva they'd already been discussing recent events.
"I doubt my actions will have disturbed Professor Snape, you're just here to get in on the gossip," she pushed her way back into her room and shut the door, she'd had enough of Sir John for the time being.
"The advantage of being a Dolor Altor is that I can now freely roam the entire castle." Sir John was in the portrait above the fire places and she shook her head.
"Yes, how wonderful for me." She gave him a rueful stare and he smiled brightly from behind his dark full beard. She made her way over to the chairs in front of her fire and flopped down in one. "What did he say to you?" She asked, unsure if she wanted the answer or not.
"He didn't say anything, merely mumbled something about 'insufferable, elite women' and I could only assume he was talking about you." Sir John sat down on a log in the painting and she could feel him watching her.
"That's not who I am," she said softly and when she looked up at her great grandfather he was smiling.
"You've shut yourself away for too long Neva, it's time to let go of the past. He's not to blame for what happened to you... or to Robert." She felt tears fill her eyes and run down her face.
"Every time I look at him, knowing what he has done to my friends," a sob racked her body and she felt like she couldn't breathe. "I don't want him here." The truth was coming out of her so quickly and so suddenly that it was difficult to understand.
"He may be responsible for someone's death, but he's not responsible for Robert's." Minerva looked up at Sir John, tears still streaming across her face.
"I miss you," she whispered and Sir John nodded.
"I'll be close by." He gave her a gentle, loving smile and Minerva felt her chest tighten. How much she longed to be held by him, to feel his scratchy beard on her cheek as he kissed her goodnight. He stood up and began to move through the portraits.
"How is he?" She asked, watching him go.
"He's lost," he said and with one last sad smile he left her quarters. Minerva stared into space, remembering how he'd once said the same thing to her and it dawned on her that she'd never really found her way back. Not completely.
She wiped the tears from her eyes and thought over their conversation. For the past two days she had been odious to the young man that had once excelled in her classes, a man that had once questioned her so brilliantly that she had had to look the answers up. Sir John was right, what happened to her wasn't his fault but she'd been blaming him this whole time anyway. She sniffled and wiped the last of her tears away before setting to work for the day. As she headed for the door she stopped at her bookshelf and pulled down an old, worn muggle book and opened it. Inside laid a still photo of a man and she felt hot tears sting her eyes as she followed his smiling gaze to small boy sat at his feet. She slammed the book closed and forced back her tears as she headed up to the Headmaster's office.