A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

Welcome Back! It's time for our 20th Start of Term!

 #28013  by Minerva McGonagall
Location: 12 Grimmauld Place • Date: Summer 1996
Time of Day: Evening • Weather: Raining

Minerva had not intended to attend, an array of responsibilities had been offered as an excuse to avoid the meeting. Yet Albus had insisted. As the items on the agenda had been addressed, the professor had found herself wondering why her presence had been so hastily requested. Though in times of war every matter becomes a personal concern, she struggled to identify the true purpose of her presence. Even as tasks had been distributed, her name had been overlooked.

She had been getting ready to leave, cloak on her shoulders and undesirable walking stick in hand when Albus had interrupted her. He wanted a word with her if she was willing to wait a few minutes. A conversation with Severus appeared to require his attention first; an occurrence Minerva had observed repeatedly as of late.

While the Order members left, the two men retreated to another room to have their conversation. Leg already stiff due to the weather, Minerva sat at one of the many vacant chairs. Left without the chatter of Order members, silence forced her to contemplate her grim surroundings. Nothing like the mischevious young man she had taught, everything in this house echoed of the heritage he had vehemently resisted.

The all too familiar pang of grief she felt when she thought of her fallen students seemed to intensify as the times grew darker. As the disciple of discipline she was Minerva dismissed the grisly sentiment and waved her wand towards a nearby teapot. Might as well have a teacup while she waited.

"Would you like some tea?" She asked the only other person who seemed to have lingered behind.
 #28219  by Thelma Falklands
Sirius Black had not been the first friend to die and Thelma knew that he indubitably wouldn't be the last. She ought to have been used to this terrible, terrible feeling by now, the woman had told herself, but she wasn't. The news had spread like a wooden house on fire among the Order members. The sickening blow of his murder hit all the soft spots within the secret organisation. For Thelma she had her own way of grieving for friends. Isolation, tears, red wine, sleeping draughts. This time it felt like James and Lily's death all over again for Sirius had been her friend during their days at Hogwarts. Thelma had been a Gryffindor of the same alumni as the recently deceased man and although the two had not been especially close, she had known him for a great many years.

It was her own damned fault to join the Order again and burden herself once more with the continual casualties of war. She wasn't a fighter, was never on the front lines. She stayed behind at Head Quarters and mended broken bones and soothed broken hearts with warm stew and freshly baked bread. That was all she could offer to the world and it bloody hurt to know that her dear friends whom she had gone to school with were out there dying one by one. And all she did, all she ever did and ever could do, was watch and listen from deep within the fortress. She was not a fighter and sometimes Thelma wondered why the Sorting Hat had placed her in Gryffindor, for she doubted her courage, her pluckiness and gallantry. And most of all she was scared. Scared out of her mind. Of duels, and of Death Eaters, and dying.

She hadn't yet left the office unlike her fellow Order members and instead hovered by the door apprehensively. She waited patiently until the last person had trickled out before she raised her gaze to meet the older witch's.

"Tea would be lovely," the healer croaked. Her eyes were glassy and rimmed a noticeable scarlet. "Sugar and milk if you don't mind."
 #28259  by Minerva McGonagall
Silent instructions were sent and the teapot quickly fulfilled its assignment. Two cups were filled, one with milk and sugar and the other one without. The familiar odor of the fuming liquid did little to uplift the professor's spirits.

Falkland had been of Potter, Evans and Black's cohort, a group of graduates who had been confronted by mortality at an age where the future should have been full of promises. A little over a decade had passed since then and yet they seemed to be at a similar deadlock. The polite thing would have been to spark conversation by inquiring about her former student's wellbeing, but those questions brought upon so much grief that she couldn't bring herself to ask them. Not as a way to start an exchange.

"Did Albus ask you to stay behind?" She had not heard him say as much, but she couldn't think of another reason to spend one more second in this sorrowful house.
 #28383  by Thelma Falklands
Timidly drawing herself a chair, Thelma morosely watched the teapot brew itself an aromatic Earl Grey. She didn't say anything until Minerva had spoken, more from her own doubts and uncertainty on whether she would suddenly dissolve into a crying mess or not. The nurse cradled the teacup in both hands and lapped at its contents like a hungry child. The sweet liquid scorched her throat. She ignored the pain.

"No, I actually just didn't want to go home if I were to be honest with you" came Thelma's wretched admission. She crossed and uncrossed her legs tersely. "Its just awfully lonely there... so quiet and empty. I think too much when I'm by myself. Perhaps I was looking for a distraction." Thelma smiled weakly. Her eyes were glass platforms. She spoke with a callous hoarseness, as if her throat had been parched and bone-dry.

"Forgive me for being so soft, but I just didn't want to deal with all this sadness alone. Not today, at least."
 #28521  by Minerva McGonagall
Minerva was used to hearing individuals apologize for voicing their feelings in her presence. Their request for forgiveness usually warranted a slight nod of acknowledgment or perhaps a few stiff words of reassurance, but today the apologies knocked the wind out of her.

She lived in a castle with a few hundred individuals, but when she retired to her quarters at night she was utterly alone. The recent war hadn't allowed her much time to dwell on such pitiable feelings, but as she heard her former student voice the all too familiar sentiment Minerva felt ashamed that she would prompt the young woman to ask for forgiveness when she felt something similar.

"Don't apologize," she spoke with an earnestness that reminded her of Albus. "As far as distraction goes, I'm not sure I can offer much comfort, but you don't have to be alone." She could offer her presence, though she didn't supply the warm comfort of a motherly embrace as Molly Weasley would, at least she hoped it could somewhat soothe Thelma's loneliness.
 #28679  by Thelma Falklands
"You'd think that we'd all be used to this by now," Thelma whispered coldly. Her hands were trembling and holding her teacup still proved to be a demanding job. A fresh tear trickled down her cheek, already sore and patchy from crying earlier. She thought it all so tragic and horrible that she referred to death as this.

"How do you do it, Minerva?" the healer suddenly asked after a lapsed silence. It was a spiteful question, incredibly harsh and unbelievably insensitive. Thelma immediately felt her cheeks boil with humiliation. She was mortified at her question, but nevertheless she was desperate. Minerva had outlived many more wars than she had. This was just the beginning of her second. How could she be a healer of all professions, and not be able to face death clearly and confidently.

She set down her teacup, fearing that in any given moment it would fall out of her unstable grasp. "I don't mean it that way, I just mean... why does this affect me so much? It's so terrible." A mournful wail threatened to claw its way out from her throat. Thelma swallowed it in despair. She had always been the over-emotional type, but the witch knew that she couldn't let her composure fail her now. Only in the privacy of her own room would she allow herself to cry so pitifully like an unguarded green summer's child.
 #28770  by Minerva McGonagall
Time had granted her a better understanding of her father; she no longer mistook his aloofness for disinterest. He had built a fortress to protect himself from torment and she found that similar walls surrounded her. She understood the sentiment Thelma had expressed. They had suffered an absurd amount of loss, grief should be a painless affair by now. Alas, one did not grow immune to heartache. She had tried.

"Albus would argue that our pain is a strength we have yet to exploit," she offered, finding that his words offered more comfort than her own.

She heard the accusation behind her former student's question. Thelma was not the first one to cast such a judgment on the stern professor. While her walls did not protect her from grief, they did give an impression of imperviousness.

She had lost more than most. Dougal McGregor, her first love had also been her first loss. From that grief, she had understood that suffering could be all-consuming. In memory of him, she had gathered the strength necessary to feel without drowning. A lot of that meant that her expectations for others as well as herself had risen. For Minerva McGonagall, resilience came from hard work and grief was to be felt privately. Rare were those who knew how much she had lost, how much she had grieved.

She would not explain how she did it, she feared she did not have the words to reveal such a personal and intricate side of herself. "You know recovery is a misnomer. We never truly recover from loss, we adapt and find new ways to cope. We never really go back to who we were before grief," she paused for a moment but felt that this terrain of sentimental thoughts was too foreign to linger. She trudged through. "I can't speak to why you feel the way you do, I can merely offer that perhaps you care just as intensely as you suffer. And I can say that the grief will never truly leave you, but that it will eventually feel different than it does right now. It will someday be bearable."
 #29141  by Thelma Falklands
Silent tears manifested in the form of her sorrow. Clenched white knuckles gave away her agitated grief. The air tasted stale and brittle in Thelma's mouth. Still, she tried her best to feign a sad and watery smile.

"Every time I get used to one of us dying, another one follows" was the healers dismal response. "James and Lily were murdered over fifteen years ago. Fifteen years is a long time, I can come to terms with my grief. But then it happens again, and again, and it's always the people we love, people we fight with."

The cup of tea was still steaming but Thelma picked it up and drank it regardless. "I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. These wars don't end."
 #29474  by Minerva McGonagall
Defined by those terms, Thelma was right, wars did not end, but Minerva would not let that become an excuse for submission. Wars were not to be suffered, they were to be fought. Fought through suffering at times certainly, but suffering could not be mistaken for defeat.

"Why did you become a healer?" The old professor asked as her fingers clutched the hot cup of tea. The question was not as unprompted as it might seem.
 #29592  by Thelma Falklands
"Well I'm not much of a fighter, am I?" came the younger woman's throaty response as she wiped her cheek with the craggy back of her palm.

"Couldn't duel if my life depended on it, horrible with hexes and slow as a flobberworm. There wasn't much alternative back in the early days of the Order. I wanted to do my part."

She had been decent at potions and herbology during her studies as an adolescent, and found that her maternalistic disposition seemed to fit well with the sick and injured. She hadn't been ready for all this blood though, or all the blood that would stain her hands as she tried and failed and tried again to keep those she loved alive.
 #29806  by Minerva McGonagall
"Now, Miss Falklands," Minerva linked her hands together. An astute eye would have noticed the alteration in her posture. The patient and vulnerable conversation they had been having had come to an end. "Do not minimize your skills. Bereft of healers, the Order would be futile." They did not only see to the wounded, they also played an important part in keeping the order secret.

"It is not an easy burden to play the role of one's last hope." She conceded, willing to acknowledge her former student's survivor's guilt. Thelma had saved many of them, but she had also seen life slip away and give way to eternal darkness. "Pain has been and will be inevitable," she warned. "But misery is discretional," cautioned. "Why did you want to play your part?" She now asked as if quizzing her former student.
 #31360  by Thelma Falklands
"I don't even know if I can play my part," wept Thelma as she thought of the many fallen witches and wizards who had died in her arms. It was misery business, this war after war. She considered those who got the killing curse to be lucky. There had been some witches and wizards inflicted with such dark magic that their final breaths still tormented her for as long as she continued to live.

"I just don't understand this world..." she said in the weakest voice she had ever heard herself muster. "and You-Know-Who... and all this destruction."
 #31424  by Minerva McGonagall
She wished she could emulate Albus and offer one of his polished pearls of wisdom, but nothing came. As a person who liked to value rational thinking, Minerva could have explained the intricacies of war, but that was not what her former student was asking. It seemed every avenue she considered fell short.
"I wish I could offer reassurance," she finally murmured. "Perhaps I cannot help you understand, but I can confirm that feeling helpless is not unheard of." She may not be willing to admit it, but Minerva herself had experienced such feelings. "Especially when confronted by mortality," she added knowing this all too well.
 #31835  by Thelma Falklands
A spur of compassion overcame Thelma in that instant, and she leaned forward to grasp Minerva's hand in her own. The nurse held the older witch's hand tightly, with a desperation that was often detected in her expression. Today tears clouded her vision and her weeping had rendered her throat hoarse. But Minerva's words soothed her. McGonagall was not a honey-toned women, but there was solicitude to her disposition, and more importantly understanding. Understanding for this morbid feeling, this wretched most dreadful feeling.

"You will always have me to rely on," Thelma urged as she held Minerva's hands tightly in her own. "I will always be loyal to the Order."
 #31869  by Minerva McGonagall
Shoulders stiff and squared, the Scottish witch felt her fingers twitch beneath the younger woman's firm grip. Rare were those who dared pierce through her invisible yet perceivable walls. Even rarer were the times when she dared not rebuke such flagrant displays of empathy. She had been the one dispensing reassurance, she did not know why the tables had so suddenly turned.

"Thank you," she articulated as she could not muster a complete sentence. Gently she pulled her hands from her former student's grasp. In the blink of an eye, her fortress had been rebuilt.