Chapter graphic by Jessi_Rose
From One To The Other, It Doesn’t Change by Elivania
It was early evening, after dinner but the sun was still yet to set. The long days of the August summer, and the accompanying warmth seemed to beat into the windows of the large circular office with gusto as the sun seemed to linger in the sky longer than the days before.
The office itself, while spectacular in shape and size, held little out of the ordinary, considering the inhabitant. Bent over old texts which held barely legible writing and hidden behind stacks of old parchment, a man with an impossibly long, white beard sat with a furrowed brow.
Five more hours until he would depart his office for a small house in Little Winging and still much was to be done. Letters to be written, research to be completed and an extra prayer that the boy this man was to be visiting in a short while would be in far better inclinations to listen than he had just a few weeks before hand.
The book open upon his desk, shut with a small cloud of dust billowing up from the old, unturned pages. One hand pushed it aside, the long nimble fingers resting on the cover for a few moments before sliding away. He sat precariously upon the edge of a knife. As did all the rest of the world. Over one hundred and fifty years he had lived and now there was no time, it seemed, for all that still needed to be done.
But there was still Harry.
On the opposite end of his desk, just a foot or two away, on a golden perch a large bird with bright golden and deep red plumes sat sleeping. Under his wing, his head twitched, a small squawk disturbing the otherwise silent room and black glistening eyes peeked out. Staring towards the door to the office, the Phoenix stretched out his wings, a few comforting trills ringing through the office. Albus Dumbledore looked up through the stacks of parchment and texts towards the door, already knowing who stood without.
After so many years, the knock was so familiar he wondered why he even bothered to wait for her to do so before calling her in. Perhaps it was her preference for observing the formalities.
“Come in, Minerva.”
The door opened and in walked his Deputy, striding with her usual stiff posture as though she had not received four stunners to the chest just weeks prior. Her face was set in a familiar thin lipped, narrow eyed expression so often seen when scolding a student. Or, as it had been in more recent times, seen during such scenes as he was sure this was to be.
“Would you mind telling me why I had to find out from Severus that you are leaving to pick up Potter tonight, Albus?”
“I believe I told you I was leaving tonight, Minerva,” he replied, sitting back in his chair and observing her over his half moon spectacles. “Far sooner than I informed Severus.”
“You told me of your trip to try one last effort to get Horace,” she countered, stepping up to the front of his desk. “Not that you were running off to fetch Harry at Privet Drive before you did so.”
Smiling at her piercing gaze, Dumbledore just shook his head lightly. He should have expected this. Minerva McGonagall, suspicious as always, was not nearly dim enough to miss such details.
“My dear Professor, I did not inform you because I did not believe that it was anything that would be of interest to you.” Her protest was halted by the raise of his hand and he stood, pushing up from the chair with his one good arm. “I am not obligated to tell you all of my plans, Minerva. But I would hope that you trust me in what I do. Or has that changed in recent months?”
Her lips pursed again after she opened her mouth and no sound came out. Glaring at him, Minerva took a step back as he rounded the desk and stood in front of her.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Albus,” she sputtered sharply. “Of course I trust you. It has nothing to do with trust—”
“It has everything to do with trust, Minerva,” he cut in softly. “It always does.” There was a short moment of silence as each stood gazing at the other. Those clear blue eyes gleamed with a plan she didn’t know, knowledge she would never be able to find out. After years of friendship, these last few weeks—ever since Harry returned from the Ministry that fateful night—had been like the candle had been blown out. While Professor McGonagall never expected or asked to know everything that went on in Dumbledore’s mind, this new void of information was unsettling. If there was one thing she had been privy too it was the plans concerning Potter. Now, when everyday brought new terrors and deaths, she was put in the dark.
There was no question of whether or not she trusted him. The question lay with whether he trusted her.
“If it is all about trust, then why have you been withholding so much? Surely I could retrieve Potter from his aunt and uncle’s while you try to convince Horace to return to teaching.”
“You are in no condition to take on such a double journey, Albus!” Though her eyes stayed locked on his face, there was no mistaking her meaning. The shriveled, black remains of his right hand twitched beneath the long sleeves of his robe. Cracked and tarnished, a silver ring glinted under the light of the sun and lamps.
With a small, appreciative upturn of the lips touched his mouth as Dumbledore looked upon his longtime friend and he reached out with his good hand and touched her arm. Her concern and willingness to continue her support was good for his own confidence. There were times, such as now, when he was tempted to let her know the quest he had recommenced, that which he was about to pass on to Harry. But the feeling always passed within moments as he previous reasoning reasserted itself. The fewer who knew, the safer they would all be and the better probability of success.
“Your concern is noted and appreciated, Minerva. But I must go, and go alone,” he added when she looked ready to interrupt yet again. “I have things which I need to discuss with him, things which I will not be able to discuss with him once the term begins. There are also a few things I would like to say to his family before we depart.” Minerva’s expression darkened considerably and Albus could not help but chuckle lightly, knowing well enough the thoughts running through her mind. “I also have a use for him—if you will pardon the expression—before I deposit him at the Burrow.”
“Albus…you don’t mean you’re going to…” She trailed off in a mixture of disgust and comprehension, shaking her head. “That damned Slug Club.”
“Indeed, Minerva. As much as his hobby of collecting people has never been one of his admirable qualities, it is a useful weakness.”
Weakness, she scoffed. Weakness indeed. Arrogant, egotistical and pathetic, that was what it was. Horace would fall for it. Put a famous name in front of him and he would snatch him with only a half witted attempt at dismissing the person as no concern. That was, of course, depending on how Potter played it.
“But what of Potter? Have you informed him of the job you have planned for him?”
“No. I will tell him when it is prudent, Minerva, and no sooner.” The conversation lulled again as Minerva sifted through the questions she desperately wanted to ask, the answers she needed to quiet her constant state of concern and worry for her friend as well as the future of their fight against Lord Voldemort.
His walk was slower, gate shorter as he walked across the room—giving Fawkes a soft pet along the way—to the cabinet of still more old texts and silver instruments that were understood only by him.
“I hope that means he has grown to accept your tendency to withhold information,” she said at last, turning from her spot to watch him tap the tip of his wand against one of the instruments. “Your office does not look well after a tempter tantrum.” Dumbledore dipped his head low, contemplating the information from his device as well as the statement, but said nothing. “He is only a boy after all. Prophesy or no prophesy, he cannot be expected to bear this alone and without any information.”
“He is not alone, Minerva,” he replied quietly and turned from his devices. “Nor will he be left uniformed.”
“You say you trust me, Minerva,” he continued, taking no visible notice of her blanched face. “Might I ask you to trust in my faith in Harry? He is no more a boy than I am, my dear, and deserves all of our faith and support more than you know.”
Not in a great many years had Minerva felt so cold in his presence. Those clear, confident blue eyes were darkened with a burden she could not identify and could not understand. It was disconcerting, uncomfortable and shook her to the very core. A mere ten months from now she would understand the look which so unsettled her, but as of this moment, Minerva could only keep her eyes level with his and her body steady.
“Of course I do, Albus. You know I have always kept extra watch over him and his friends. I trust your faith in him as much as I trust my faith in you to see us through this war to the end.”
“You must put your faith in Harry as well, Minerva. This year, I know, will be especially difficult for him. He will need all the support that can be offered.”
He had stepped closer, settling his hand on her shoulder again. She hesitated for a moment, unsure of why he still held that look in his eyes.
“He has it without question, Albus, but—”
“No ‘buts’, Minerva. Exceptions breed doubts, doubts which cannot be allowed.” There was the slightest tinge of desperation in his voice which only deepened her concern and her confusion.
“All right then, Albus,” she said slowly. “No exceptions. I’ll make sure to keep an extra eye on him.”
The dull, dark filter over his eyes swept away and once again she saw the familiar clear blue of her friend. His strong hand squeezed her shoulder lightly as the flittering of a smile touched his mouth.
“Thank you, my dear.” Hand gone from her shoulder, Dumbledore stayed still, studying his dear friend and nodded once. When he was gone, she would stay strong and pull them through. She would stay behind Harry no matter what Tom threw at them in the last hours. “Our support may flit from one person to another,” he began quietly, “but it doesn’t change in strength or resolve.”
With one last fleeting smile (which only made her frown deeper) he stepped away and sighed softly. “I still have some work to finish before I leave for Little Winging…”
“Of course, I’ll just be off to my office then. You’ll send a message when you return?”
“That I will, Minerva,” he replied with a smile that reminded McGonagall much of the Albus of years passed. “Along with an invitation for a late night cup of tea.”
With a final nod, she swept from the office and the door shut behind her. Sitting at the edge of his desk, Dumbledore stared after her for a moment before turning to Fawkes.
“Her faith will be Harry’s strength in the end, my old friend,” he said. “Let us hope that we complete this year as I plan.”
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