(Would you believe in a love at first
Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the
-John Lennon and Paul McCartney, "All You
November 30, 1944:
I lifted my bow from the strings and stared at the first violinist.
incredible performance from her - I'd never known Medea to play that
She shrugged and grinned at me; I grinned back. "Stand
she hissed. I did, as did she, the second violinist, and the
We stared out at the wildly applauding audience, searching -
And there they were - Medea's and my parents, waving and
horribly proud. I aimed a special smile at them and then followed my
quartet members off-stage, where, being careful of our instruments,
indulged in a jubilant group hug. I couldn't believe it - we'd made
through Cherrytree's Fifth Concerto, long considered the hardest
music written by a wizard, and almost impossible to play well
the Prestissimo Charm on one's fingers and bow. But we had done it,
we had done it justice. Breaking from the huddle, I laid my viola to
in its case lovingly. I rose and turned around -
And there he was. He had said he would come, and Professor
reached out and took my hands, looking pleased. "Minerva, my
that was simply phenomenal. And I notice you did it without any
You should be proud. Very, very proud." He beamed at me. I
and averted my eyes from him, only to see a young man standing next
my former Transfiguration professor. Professor Dumbledore saw where
eyes had gone and said, "Ah, yes. Minerva McGonagall, violist,
Theron Dumbledore, researcher at St. Mungo's - and, incidentally, my
Theron extended his hand and I shook it, inwardly marveling at his
to his father. Theron had black hair, and Professor Dumbledore's was
but other than that, it was quite obvious that they were related -
when one looked at the eyes. They were the same piercing, slightly
Theron said quietly, "An excellent performance, Miss
Quite impressive." He smiled at me, those blue eyes softening,
I blushed again. Except - oh, get a grip, Minerva. He had to be at
twenty-five, if not older. Much too old to be interested in a girl
out of Hogwarts - and a plain girl, at that.
Professor Dumbledore twinkled at me and said, "Minerva, if
not doing anything right now, how about catching a cup of something
the Leaky Cauldron with us?"
Professor Dumbledore had come all the way from Hogwarts to see
perform. How could I say no? Especially considering that young
Dumbledore would be obliged to come along with the two of you,
a horrible voice in my head. I ignored it. "All right," I
"I would be more than happy to join you. Just give me a minute
I collared Medea on her way out the door and said, "I'm going
for a drink with Professor Dumbledore."
She nodded, both at my statement and at the professor.
see you at home, then?"
"Right," I said. She left, and I turned back to the
with a smile, which they both returned. Professor Dumbledore offered
his arm, and Theron walked at my other side as we left the WWN
Professor Dumbledore said, "How does it feel to know that
of people were listening to you just now?"
I laughed and said, "It's quite a heady feeling. Although
must admit that being part of a string quartet was not exactly what
expected to be doing after Hogwarts."
Theron's voice was quiet and more thoughtful than Professor
light-hearted voice. I liked it. "And what did you expect to be
"Oh, I don't know." I was hard-pressed to keep a
out of my voice. He was curious about me. "Perhaps Ministry
We exited the WWN building and I shivered - the night was cold and
and my black performance robes, although rather becoming, were made
thin, fine silk. In one deft, graceful movement, Theron removed his
beautifully woven, and best of all, fur-lined cloak and put it on my
-Did he leave his hand on my shoulder for a bit longer than was
necessary? I said quietly, "Thank you." He smiled at me
turned into the Leaky Cauldron. As I followed him into the pub, I
Professor Dumbledore smile into his moustache.
Paying our respects to the elderly coatrack, we hung up our
garments, sat at a small table in the corner, and ordered three
which were summarily delivered. I looked down at the table, not
sure how to start a conversation. However, Professor Dumbledore
to talk about the merits of various Muggle composers, and we were
engrossed in a most interesting conversation on that subject. Theron
Professor Dumbledore began a mild argument on Scarlatti versus Bach,
technical terms flew back and forth that were soon far out of my
of knowledge. I took that opportunity to study Theron.
He wasn't what one would term as handsome, but there was an
- repleteness about him. Yes, repleteness. He radiated a
amount of strength, but it was softer than his father's. I had the
that he controlled himself very well, kept himself under a tight
Then there were the eyes. They were my main hint that there was
under that polite, warm camouflage. Professor Dumbledore's eyes
Theron's positively crackled. There was an electric quality
them that told me - that told me -
Professor Dumbledore laughed and drained the rest of his
"All right, Theron. Scarlatti was innovative; Bach was
Do we agree on that much?"
Theron grinned - oh, his face lit up! - and said,
"Then we'll have to leave it at that. It's getting late,
I'm expected back at Hogwarts." He leaned over, kissed me on
cheek, and rose. "I see no reason why the two of you can't stay
and chat some, though."
Theron nodded and looked at me. "No objections in this
I swallowed and tried to disguise it by shaking my head.
Professor Dumbledore smiled and said, "I'll leave you to
then. Theron, you take good care of her - she's the best
student I've ever had." I flushed once more - drat my cheeks!
my dear, you were simply wonderful tonight. A wonderful evening.
you." He pressed my hands in his and smiled at me.
Touched, I said, "Thank you so much for coming. It - it
a lot to me for you to have been here."
"Not at all. It was a true pleasure. And I will give your
the full report. I'm sorry he couldn't attend."
"Me too - but he'll be all right. I know you'll tell him
about it, and be sure to give him my love."
"I will." He turned to Theron. "Now, I was not
lightly when I told you to take care of her. See her home. You both
what's been going on recently."
We nodded, and Theron said, "You have my word,
"Good," he said. He rested a hand on each of our
and smiled. "I will see you both - when I see you." And he
I wasn't sure, but I could have sworn he was smiling into his
Theron took a mouthful of butterbeer and sat back in his chair.
must have been a terrific student - Dad doesn't give compliments
that lightly." I blushed. Again. He said, "You have a
I nodded. "Maimonides - he's a fifth-year
"Any other siblings?"
"My sister Medea - she was the first violinist in our
She graduated from Beauxbatons two years ago. She's very into French
"And so you're the middle child?"
I nodded. "Yes."
"You don't seem all that odd to me." He smiled and
a sip of his butterbeer.
For once, I didn't blush. "We got along amazingly well as
"I've always wondered what it would be like to have
he said wistfully.
"You're an only?"
"Oh, yes," he said. "Mum never wanted to have
more, and Dad had plenty of his 'children' at Hogwarts, so I was
I said, "I don't remember seeing you at Hogwarts." I
have remembered - how could I have forgotten? "Did you attend
"I believe I finished school the year before you
I did some quick figuring. "Then that would make you -
My estimate from earlier.
"Twenty-six," he said, smiling. "I had a
That settled it. Too old for me - or for my father's liking, at
"What is it exactly that you do at St. Mungo's?"
"I work with children who have been subjected to
His face took on a closed quality, and I knew why. The dark wizard
had been kidnapping young witches and wizards and doing dreadful
to them - mutilating them, somehow sapping their magical abilities,
them to torture so great that they went insane - and were sent to
Mungo's so that research could be conducted on them to try and find
way to help them. Now that school was in session, Grindlewald had
to resort to taking ten-year-olds who were about to go to school,
fresh graduates - like me. Rumor had it that Grindlewald had created
more powerful variant of the Cruciatus Curse that would drive the
insane after repeated use, unlike the old version that simply caused
It was cruel and horrible, and I was even more impressed by Theron
I was before. It took a gentle soul and a will of steel to keep
back every day, determined to find something to help those
Theron cleared his throat. "You know about my parents -
"Well - " I hesitated. "Mother was a nurse at
Mungo's, but she had to quit to stay home with Father. He was
- he's a Hit Wizard - in the attack on Grindlewald's first
Theron opened his mouth, but I forestalled his question. "He
hit with the new Cruciatus, but Grindlewald shattered both of his
and put some odd sort of poison in his system all at the same time.
almost fully recovered, though - he's going back to work in a few
as is Mother. Tonight was his first outing since it happened. Medea
I were so glad that they were there tonight." It was getting
to talk to him. A good sign.
Theron smiled - at me! He smiled at me! - and said, "Miss
"Minerva," I interjected.
His smile grew brighter. I nearly melted. "Minerva. My
Angus is going to Majorca for a few weeks next Monday, and next
the family orchestra meets. Uncle Angus is our viola player, and we
need someone. Will you come?"
Would I come? That was like asking if grindylows liked water.
would be delighted," I said carefully. "What time - and
"Do you live in London?"
"Yes - in the rooms above Flourish and Blotts." Medea
I shared the flat there.
"I get off work at five. I'll pick you up at six, and
have a quick dinner before we go to Weathervane." Weathervane?
you have your Apparition license?" I nodded. "Good."
pulled his pocket watch out and said, "It's close to midnight,
I have work in the morning. Ordinarily, I would ask if I could
you home, but Dad made it pretty clear that he wants me to do it
you want me to or not. You don't mind?"
"Not at all," I said, venturing a shy smile that he
if more confidently. He got up and went to the coatrack, waiting for
rise before he did so. He retrieved his cloak and settled it on my
closing the clasp with deft, lithe fingers. Like his father, he
me his arm, and as I slid my arm into his, I reflected that walking
holding Theron's arm was a great deal different from walking and
Professor Dumbledore's arm; Professor Dumbledore didn't give me that
I could feel Theron's sinewy arm through the thick fabric of
robes. It made me feel secure, much like Professor Dumbledore had at
Everyone knew that old Armando Dippet was nothing more than a
and when he retired, Professor Dumbledore would get the job of
He was certainly Headmaster in everything but name, although too
to admit it. Even teachers brought their problems to Professor
before seeing Dippet, and what with Grindlewald looming on the
he had the task of making everyone feel secure while getting at
a little education accomplished. He did it admirably well, and I
that I was not the only student who went to him for hot chocolate
crumpets when they needed to talk.
Theron, even though I had only known him for a few hours,
made me feel the same way: that there was a purpose for everything;
despite Grindelwald, I was safe; that everything would turn out all
A shadow flashed in the doorway beside us; I instinctively
closer to him, regretting the move the moment I made it. However,
removed his arm from mine and instead placed it securely around my
Once more, I blushed, although it was too dark to tell, thankfully.
was not accustomed to the attention of males. - He's too old for
Minerva, get back in control of yourself.
We stopped in front of Flourish and Blotts, and Theron took my
"Minerva, I know that Dad's already told you how marvelous you
but let me add to it - and thank you for this evening. He would
say so, but Grindlewald has really been worrying him. A first-year
was taken a few months ago - her mother was sick and Dad gave her
to go see her. I've told him over and over that it wasn't his fault,
he still feels guilty. Being able to come to an evening of music,
when performed by a student of his that made it and is still safe,
a lot for him."
"I - I'm glad," I said. I didn't know what else to
It was disturbing to think that the rock of my school days could
He smiled easily and continued, "That's also one of the
I'm glad that you're coming next Wednesday. Dad will be there, and
you will do him good."
"What does he play?" I asked curiously.
"The viola da gamba," he said.
"Do you not have a cellist?"
"No," he said.
"What do you play?"
There was that grin again. "I conduct."
I suddenly had a vision of a whole host of Dumbledores playing
with Theron at the helm. I liked it. He said, "Dad used to
but he like playing better, and I wasn't good at any particular
so I took over. Strangely enough, they all listen to me." He
seemed to remember the time and said, "Listen, I'll see you
Wednesday at six, all right?"
I had become so intent on Theron's words that somehow I had
that he was holding my hands. I couldn't find words, and so I merely
He smiled easily at me. "Good night," he said.
I managed to get my farewell out without squeaking. He released
hands and went down Diagon Alley. I went upstairs and collapsed into
armchair, mind reeling, suffused with feeling.
It was only as I was dressing for bed that I realized that I
had Theron's cloak.
I slept with it that night.