Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
December 6, 1944:
Theron's cloak was a rich, thick blue. The blue of his eyes.
paisley swirls danced over the brocade that tumbled down from the
and fell into soft pleats that simply radiated confidence. The
of it was lined with soft, warm fur - I thought it was rabbit, but I
certain. The collar was brown fur that I was sure was mink. The
was silver and intricate - a Celtic pattern. The cloak smelled of
and cedar. It fell nearly to the floor on me, and would have been
mid-calf on Theron.
In the six days that passed between our initial meeting and the
that I was to play with the Dumbledore family orchestra, I got to
that cloak rather well. I slept with it. When I read at night in my
I tucked it around me to keep warm. I wore it when I worked at
and Blotts, which wasn't much warmer than our apartment upstairs.
saw, but did not comment - she knew that I did not want to talk
young Mr. Dumbledore. After her initial inquiries, she understood
he was very much something to be kept to myself for a while. I
told her things in my own time and in my own way, when I was
There hadn't been enough developments for me to think things
logically. I had not heard from him or Professor Dumbledore since
Thursday. There had only been the first meeting and the invitation.
it were not for the cloak, I would have taken it all for a dream. As
usually went, males simply were not interested in me. I was plain,
and quiet, and that did it for most young men.
However, Theron was quite decidedly not most young men.
On that Wednesday, I worked until three. Medea knew that I was
out, and she herself had a meeting with the man that she was seeing.
not 'seeing' Theron, I told myself with disgust.
I went upstairs and took a long, hot bath. Then it was time to
dressed. I had used part of my savings earlier that week to purchase
new robes. They were a deep green, and rather elegant. Green was one
the few colors that looked good on me, other than black. I liked
but not for tonight. The Dumbledores were notoriously vivacious, and
did not want to appear stiff.
Medea came in as I was fussing with my hair, and she sighed as
began to pull at the unruly wisps that for some reason simply would
stay up. "Minerva, it looks better down, especially with those
I said through clenched teeth, "I am performing. It goes
She laughed and picked up the brush. "Minerva, darling
you're not performing. You are going to play with an ensemble of
and no audience. Your hair is going to be down, and it is going to
down, and it is going to look marvelous."
"You know I never listened to those twits when they were
each other makeovers in the common room," I said fretfully.
Medea tapped me on the shoulder gently, making me look at her
in the mirror, where she was grinning. "That's what older
are for. Relax."
She twisted the hair at my temples back and joined it with a
clasp, where it fell straight with the rest of my hair to the middle
my back. The mirror said, "You should listen to your older
Medea laughed. "There now. Someone appreciates my styling
Despite myself, I laughed too. "Medea, you're
She put her hands on my shoulders. "Listen. It's not a
It's not a date. It's a family gathering - and you know the family.
everything you've ever written me, it sounds as though you're good
with Professor Dumbledore, and everyone knows that the Dumbledores
friendly, if a bit strange. And you're doing what you know best -
Don't worry about it."
I nodded and tried to smile. Medea hugged me. "Little
it'll all be fine. Just don't worry - and be yourself."
her cloak, she settled it on her shoulders and her hat on her head.
off to meet Finn - I'll catch up with you later tonight."
I found my voice. "Have fun."
She smiled. "You, too." And with that, she was out
door and gone. I was on my own.
It was five o'clock. Theron would arrive at six. I found my own
- green, but not fur-lined - and set it on a chair by the door with
Staring around the room for a moment, I then realized that it might
a good idea to change the strings on my viola. I had bought a
nice set on Monday, and they would do wonderfully tonight. I sat
at the table in the kitchen and set to work. After I finished, I
my bow and began to run through exercises. I had to do something to
the butterflies in my stomach under control.
All too soon - and yet, not soon enough - the doorbell rang. In
quavering voice, I cried, "Just a minute!" I stashed away
viola and bow, shut the clasps on the case, and ran with it to the
door. I took a moment to pinch my cheeks, gather myself together,
take a deep breath. And then I opened the door.
He was there. He was really there, smiling at me - and looking
"Hello," he said.
"Hello," I said. Oh, this was going horribly
"Ready to go?"
I nodded, picking up his cloak and handing it to him. "I'm
- I forgot to give this back to you."
"Quite all right," he said, taking it, looking as
he was thinking. We stood there, him looking at me, me looking at
floor, and then he spoke. "Miss - Minerva? May I come in and
I nodded, showing him to what Medea and I liked to jokingly
the 'divan'. "Please - sit down. May I get you something to
Etiquette was firm ground for me. I was grateful for that.
He waved a hand at me. "No, thank you - but sit.
Theron brushed a hand through his hair. "Minerva, I feel
I can talk to you. Not just because you know Dad - this is about
by the way - but because…there's just something about you that tells
That was the greatest compliment that I had ever received.
had dismissed me as unapproachable; Theron viewed me as someone he
talk to. I nodded and he continued. "Do you remember that
Ravenclaw that I told you about last Thursday?"
"She - she was found in an alley last night. And I had to
with her today."
I felt horrible. "Oh - Theron - "
He spoke to his hands lying palms-up in his lap. "She was
Positively raving. Wouldn't let anyone touch her - she just kept
Hex marks all over her. Hair all singed off. It was evident she'd
submitted to the new Cruciatus. It…it was horrible."
Deciding to be bold for the sake of comfort, I reached out and
one of his hands, squeezing it firmly. He let out a long, shaky
"I haven't told Dad yet, and as far as I know, he hasn't been
I've asked for him not to be notified - I want to tell him myself.
- if you don't mind - I'd like for you to be there. He trusts
I nodded. How horrible. "Of course."
"Well." He cleared his throat. "If we're going
have dinner, I suppose we'd better get moving. We're due at
We rose together, and he helped me into my cloak. Before we
he rested a hand on my shoulder. "Minerva - I can't tell you
much this means to me, having you come tonight. Dad has always told
how solid you were, and now I really believe it." He smiled at
and I smiled back. Like Medea said. Relax.
We left the building and went to Julian's, a small café
the end of Diagon Alley. Dinner passed quietly. We discussed music
little else. Theron insisted on picking up the check, although I
badly about it. He then took me to a small alley that was generally
as an Apparition point by the visitors to Diagon Alley. He said,
is a few miles outside of Oxford, so it's really not all that far.
hang on to me - you'll be all right." I supposed that he picked
on my nervousness. I clutched my viola to me with one arm and his
with the other and nodded. "On three, then.
And we were off, leaving behind Diagon Alley for what looked
a very odd bright blue manor house with twelve gables. On each
there sat a bright pink -
"Weathervane," said Theron. I couldn't help but
Each weathervane was different, showing the twelve traditional
Guardians. We went up to the purple plaid - plaid? - front
and Theron lifted the ring on the phoenix-shaped knocker. Before he
let it loose, the door opened, and a small, rotund woman beamed up
me and Theron. "Allo, dearies!"
Theron swept her up into a hug. "Aunt Alyce, it's so good
She laughed. "And likewise, young Theron. We're just about
get started - go on in and warm up the winds. I'll see to Miss
It was startling that she knew my name, but then I figured that
probably told them that I was coming.
He clipped a smart salute. "Yes, ma'am." I laughed.
was a beautiful side of Theron - much better than seeing him worried
his job. He then swept inside, cloak trailing after him.
The woman said, "Now, dear, let me take your
I said, "Thank you…"
She beamed again. "Just call me Aunt Alyce. Everyone else
I smiled back and said, "I'm so sorry Uncle Angus couldn't
"Uncle Angus?" she said, somewhat confused.
"Uncle Angus, the viola player who's in Majorca…" My
trailed off as she got a very shrewd sort of smile.
"Is that what young Theron told you?"
"Well, dear, just between you and me," she said in a
tone of voice, "the only Angus we've ever had in the family
in 1364, and he certainly never visited Majorca, much less played
I was dumbfounded. Why would Theron lie to me? "So there's
been a viola player in the family orchestra?"
"Not since Cousin Anselm died twenty years ago." She
my surprised - and hurt - expression and said, "Take it as a
Miss McGonagall. If I know young Theron, he was too shy to ask you
He hasn't brought a young lady to the house for years."
I nodded, rather stunned. I would certainly have a lot to
with Medea later tonight. The ramifications of this development
Aunt Alyce said, "Now, dear, I think he's finished warming
the brass - " we heard a resolving B flat come out of the
at the end of the hall - "and he'll be tuning up the strings
Run along - it's Handel tonight."
I thanked her and went down the hall, opening the old,
oak doors to find a ballroom with pink-and-white-checkered tiling, a
conductor's podium, and about forty people warming up and tuning
instruments. I saw a sousaphone, several recorders of various
a flugelhorn, a trombone, a set of tympani, two piccolos and a fife,
flutes, and lots of violins. There was a string bass, what I thought
a contrabass clarinet, a piccolo trumpet, a marimba (and marimbist),
clarinets, a soprano saxophone, and a very familiar viola da gamba.
Dumbledore waved me over to the empty seat beside him, and Theron
at me as I took my seat. As Theron tried to get everyone's
Professor Dumbledore whispered to me, "Glad you could come,
We'll start off with a scale or two as an ensemble, and then we'll
run straight through the program. Handel's 'Water Music', and
relatively new by that nice young Gershwin fellow."
I nodded as I opened my case and made ready to play. Theron
"F concert scale, please, one octave, up and back, in half
He set the tempo with his free hand and then brought us in. After
first few notes, he let us play the rest of the scale on our own,
us listen to each other, making us play together. It was subtle, and
much like what I was finding Theron to be. I liked it - and him. I
to take Aunt Alyce's advice and see Theron's little white lie as a
The Dumbledore in question cut us off at the end of the scale
said, "All right, then. Let's open up the Handel and take it
down. No stops."
A querulous voice cried from the back, "I need a drink of
Aunt Alyce stalked in the room and thrust a mug in an old man's
despite the trombone slide the hand was occupied with. She put a
on the rest of the winds. "Do all of you have
They all nodded vigorously. I hid a smile.
"All right, then." She took up a chair on the other
of the room.
Theron said, "Er - thank you, Aunt Alyce. If you're
He raised his arms, gave us the tempo, gave us a downbeat, and we
I was familiar with the piece, so that gave me the opportunity
study the players around me. Professor Dumbledore stared straight at
music with an air of concentration, oblivious to everything but his
the sound of the ensemble, and Theron's baton. The principal
simply played. Because I was sitting on the front row, I couldn't
anyone else but Theron. And Theron? He was fully in sync with the
pulling in the various parts, using his beautiful hands to keep a
time and yet keeping everything light and intense. He was an
I wondered at the orchestration. 'Water Music' was not
written for a flugelhorn, or recorders, or a marimba. I could only
that the flugelhorn was playing the trumpet part and the recorders
alternately playing the oboe and bassoon parts, as was the soprano
As for the marimba, I thought it was echoing the string bass part.
was quite interesting.
We finished the Handel and moved on to the Gershwin. It was a
entitled "Rhapsody In Blue". I was not familiar with this
and I flipped through it as the marimbist put up his mallets and
to roll the grand piano in the corner in front of Theron's podium.
his long blond hair out of the way, the marimbist propped up the top
and opened up the keyboard. In a deep voice, he called out,
have a ribbon?"
Aunt Alyce rose and gave him a delicate lilac ribbon that she
out of her pocket. She tied his hair back and said, "Good luck,
Aelfric grinned at her and then looked up at Theron. "I'm
when you are," he said.
Theron nodded and brought up his hands once more. We all
into our instruments, and Theron cued a young clarinetist, who
set up a huge wail that evolved into a rather catchy theme. And
I knew it, we were off on the most amazing symphonic ride I had ever
It was classical, but it had definite elements of the stuff that
listened to - the music that they called jazz. It was incredibly
and not dull at all. Aelfric was a first-class pianist, and it was
for me to remember to count measures because I was listening to him
closely. In the corner of my eye, I saw Professor Dumbledore
Aelfric as well. All too soon, it ended in a flourished
with a beautiful crescendo, and I heard a crash of cymbals at the
Theron brought down his arms with a grin, and Aunt Alyce
broke into wild applause. The members of the ensemble all looked
pleased with themselves, and Professor Dumbledore stood up.
such a performance, we should reward ourselves with some
A minor stampede occurred, with the majority of the ensemble
out of the room. I stared after them. An interesting bunch.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. When I turned around, I found
it belonged to Professor Dumbledore. I hugged him. "That was
wonderful!" I exclaimed.
His shoulders shook as he laughed with pleasure. "Wasn't
though? Young Aelfric did a fantastic job. Gershwin would be pleased
he was here."
Theron suddenly said, "Dad - can I talk to you?"
Professor Dumbledore released me and turned to Theron, raising
eyebrow at the look on Theron's face. Theron glanced at me, and I
what the subject was to be. Professor Dumbledore said, "Of
Other than the three of us, there was no one left in the
All the same, Theron said, "Let's go out on the terrace.
- you, too."
We went out the French doors - turquoise - at one end of the
onto an Italian-style terrace. The night was cold, and I wrapped my
Theron faced his father. "Dad - Iona Westhaven -
The moonlight shone on Professor Dumbledore's suddenly grave
"What about her?"
Theron passed a hand over his eyes. "She was found last
I worked with her today."
I saw Professor Dumbledore clench his fists.
Theron looked at the rough-hewn flagstones at his feet.
coherent. Hex marks. The whole bit."
Professor Dumbledore sank down on the stone wall beside him,
in his hands. Theron was beside him in a flash. I sat on his other
unsure what to do. And then Professor Dumbledore would do something
I would remember for the rest of my life, especially considering the
to come: he said, "I must go after him."
Theron said, alarmed, "Dad! Don't be insane! He's too well
- too powerful - wait for him to make a mistake, and then the
will get him."
Professor Dumbledore immediately leaped up and faced Theron,
usually placid blue eyes blazing. "How many more children must
taken before you realize that Grindelwald must be stopped at all
"Dad - "
"Do you think that this is something to be trifled with? A
petty thief to be watched and waited on until he is caught
He is decimating the future of the wizarding world. How long before
finds out how to get through the Hogwarts defenses? How long before
takes another? How long before I - before I - "
Theron picked up his slowing sentence quietly. "Before you
another mistake, Dad?"
Professor Dumbledore fell silent.
"Dad, this isn't your fault. You had no way of knowing
Iona would be taken. Her mother was sick. What were you supposed to
keep Iona from her mother? You couldn't. You did what you were
to do. Grindlewald - Grindlewald just interfered. It's not your
Theron fixed his father with an intense, searching look.
not your fault."
Professor Dumbledore closed his eyes briefly, then gathered
to him in a tight embrace. Theron hugged his father just as tightly.
slipped inside in order to give them some time alone.
I put my viola in its case and brought it over to Aunt Alyce's
where I curled up and began to think.
The way that Professor Dumbledore had gone from euphoria from
music to such a grieving guilt was disturbing. I wished, for his
that we could play "Rhapsody In Blue" one more time.
Thinking about our last piece made me think about Theron. He
good with people. He worked with people every day who needed help,
he gave of himself without question, as he had given himself to the
tonight. As he was giving to his father right now.
Living in such parlous times as these made everyone treasure
families and friends more. The shadow of Grindelwald's atrocities
fallen on most of the wizarding world, and people closed in on their
circle of family. Theron was one of those rare people who had fallen
the shadow and still managed to let people in.
To let me in.
At least, that was what I assumed that he was trying to do. Why
would he have tried to deceive me in order to get me to come visit
Dumbledore family? I needed to talk with Medea. I needed…
The euphoria wore off; the concern and grief wore off as well.
was just tired.
I saw Theron's cloak on the ottoman; he must have put it there
assuming the podium. It was cold in the ballroom. I threw it over
rested my head on one of the soft wings of the chair, and went to