FIC: "Sixteen" for istalksnape Recipient:istalksnape Author:arcadian_dream Title: Sixteen Rating: PG-13 Pairings: Minerva McGonagall/Sybill Trelawney Word Count: 1584 Warnings: angst, femmeslash, hurt/comfort, implied sex, and a substantial age difference between the characters (I’ve estimated that Minerva is approximately 25 years older than Sybill – at least, that’s how it works here). Summary: Minerva breathes deeply and, for a moment, she wonders how it is that she has come to be here. Again. Author's Notes:istalksnape: thank you for a wonderful set of prompts, and affording me the opportunity to write Minerva. I really hope you like what I’ve done with it all. Many thanks also to T, for giving this the once-over.
In the dark of night, Minerva opens her eyes; the lashes fluttering softly against her cheek. She yawns. Her mouth stretches awkwardly, her bottom lip slightly lopsided. She rests back once more allowing her head to sink into the pillow. Her eyes flit across the expanse of the bed and, even in the dark, she can see her.
Minerva breathes deeply and, for a moment, she wonders how it is that she has come to be here.
“Ah, Minerva,” Dumbledore said as Minerva stepped into the headmaster’s office. Around her, various magical objects ticked and whirred; the phoenix, Fawkes, sat, preening atop his perch.
And, at Dumbledore’s desk, a woman sat. Lean and awkward; she hunched forward, her shoulders rounded, as though shielding her from some unknown cold. Like Fawkes, she was perched: her bottom clinging precariously to the edge of the chair in which she sat. She did not turn when Minerva entered, and, instead, she kept her gaze on the wizened headmaster, and her back to Minerva.
“Minerva,” Dumbledore rose from his seat, ushering her to come forward, “This is our new Divination professor, Sybill Trelawney.” Minerva extended a hand. The woman – Sybill – half-rose from her chair and accepted it. Her palms were clammy and, as Minerva released her grip on the new professor’s hand, she noticed that her fingers trembled a little. She was nervous.
“Sybill,” Dumbledore continued, “This is our Transfiguration professor, and head of Gryffindor House, Minerva McGonagall.” She nodded in order to convey her understanding. Minerva stood, an eyebrow arched; curious as to the woman’s anxiety.
“Minerva, show Sybill here to her chambers. I’m needed at the Ministry. I’d delay it in order to give Miss Trelawney here the full tour, but you know how Fudge hates to be kept waiting.”
“Certainly, Headmaster,” Minerva nodded.
“Shall we?” she asked Sybill. Her voice was curt as she ushered the young woman out of Dumbledore’s office and through the corridors of Hogwarts.
“Just what do you think you’re doing, young man, traipsing about the castle at this late hour?” Minerva asked a trembling first year. Her face glowing with the light of her wand as she spoke, illuminating the tiny ravines that wrinkled her visage; the beginnings of sagging pockets of skin that would later cling to pronounced bones.
“I’m sorry Professor,” the student muttered. He shuffled his feet.
“As well you should be. I shall be deducting ten points from Hufflepuff.” The boy’s face fell, his mouth open as though he were about to protest his sentence. Minerva raised a thin eyebrow, “You are lucky to be escaping a detention, young man,” she said, “Now, off you go, back to your common room.” He nodded, scurrying away toward the kitchens.
Minerva shook her head slightly, but could not prevent the flicker of a smile passing across her normally stern features. As the boy’s footsteps faded, she made to return to her chambers when she heard rustling emanating from the direction of the Great Hall.
She padded across the floor. The soles of her slippers making a scuffing sound as she walked. Rounding the entryway of the Great Hall, her wand held aloft to light her way, Minerva called out: “Hello?”
Her voice reverberated off of the walls; a hollow simulacrum echoing in her ears.
She walked forward and, as she did, the light of her wand cast a cloak of light over an eerily still body; waves of tangled, curly hair were laid out across the floor.
“Sybill?” Minerva asked.
She tried again.
“Professor,” Sybill said. Her voice was little more than a hoarse exhalation of breath, straining against the enveloping darkness of the hall.
“Sybill, what in Merlin’s name are you doing here?” Minerva walked to where Sybill lay. She crouched down beside her.
“The stars,” Sybill replied.
Sybill nodded and, with one hand, gestured to the bewitched ceiling.
“I come here to see them, sometimes.” Sybill’s voice seemed to shrink against the dense blanket of the mimicked sky.
Minerva, who had been resting on her haunches, adjusted her position so that she was now seated, her backside flush against the floor. She crossed her legs, as would a child, and smoothed the crumpled fabric of her robes over her knees. She placed her wand – the tip still lit – on the ground between them. Slivers of light danced across Sybill’s abdomen as she breathed in, and out.
Sybill inclined her head to one side. “They are all I know,” she said quietly, “All I believe in. They are a comfort to me.” She turned her attention away from Minerva at that moment and back toward the ceiling.
Minerva shifted her weight, rocking softly from side-to-side, as though attempting to extricate herself from the situation in which she now found herself. She was uncomfortable, as she often was when in Sybill’s company. It was, Minerva thought, almost as though her awkwardness attached itself to those around her; chafing against them.
Minerva cleared her throat, piercing the silence that hovered between them. “Well,” she said as she made to stand, “Goodnight Sybill.”
In that moment, Sybill turned her face to Minerva once more. She reached out, and upwards, extending her fingers. With upturned palm, she offered her hand to Minerva.
“Please,” Sybill said quietly, “Don’t go.”
Minerva stood. Still and silent. She looked down upon the young woman: at her eyes, made large by her glasses; at the fragile space she seemed to inhabit; at the cool darkness of the evening in which she sought comfort.
She slipped her hand into Sybill’s.
As she got to the floor, Minerva reached for her wand with her free hand. “Nox,” she whispered, plunging she and Sybill into blackness, the moment lit only by pinpricks of light impersonating the stars of the midnight sky.
“Sybill,” Minerva said as she knocked three times on Professor Trelawney’s door, “Sybill, are you alright?”
Sighing, Minerva heaved the door to the tower room open, “Sybill,” she said once more as she approached the sunken figure: she was seated, her shoulders rounded and drooping. To Minerva, Sybill almost appeared shrivelled. Indeed, it might have appeared that she were entirely motionless, save for the sporadic heaving of her chest as she sobbed; and the white-knuckled grip of her knobby fingers on the arm of the chair.
Sybill continued to ignore Minerva’s presence. She merely sniffed and moaned, softly, as Minerva moved toward her. She kneeled before the chair and, placing a hand on Sybill’s knee, finally drew her attention. She looked out from under the wild mane of her hair, peering out over the rims of her large glasses.
Her eyes glittered with tears; tears that clung to lashes and rolled, stuttering, over her face.
“What am I going to do?” Sybill asked, “I know what you all think of me – yes, Minerva, I do. Even you. After ... after everything.”
Her voice was a cracked whisper; the words jagged and harsh as they scrambled up from her throat. The breathy cloak – the pantomime of the last sixteen years – was gone at that moment; evaporated, writhing among the curls of smoke that spilled from the incense.
“Oh, Sybill,” Minerva whispered as she gazed upon the woman sitting before her: all awkwardness and fragility; in possession of a self so slight it could be swallowed up, whole, at any moment. As she patted Sybill’s knee, Minerva reached into her robes with her free hand. Extracting her wand, she muttered an incantation under her breath. Above, the ceiling began to ripple: solid shapes conceding, momentarily, to fluidity.
“Sybill, come join me,” Minerva said gently. Taking Sybill’s hand in her own, she helped her to the floor.
Smiling, Minerva gestured to the ceiling. Sybill’s eyes followed her and, as she looked up, she was met by the sight of a blanket of stars, shimmering against the darkness.
Squeezing Minerva’s hand, Sybill lifted it to her lips. The dry skin brushed against Minerva’s; her lips lingered.
Minerva inched across the floor, closing the space between them. Cupping Sybill’s chin in the palm of her hand, she coaxed her forward; Sybill’s lips parted as they met Minerva’s. Tongues, lean and slender, moved tentatively against one another. Faltering, at first, until they began to recall the familiarity of one another’s mouths and movements; of fingertips and caresses: of sixteen years ago.
In the dark of night, Minerva opens her eyes; the lashes fluttering softly against her cheek. She yawns: her mouth stretches awkwardly, her bottom lip slightly lopsided. Lifting a hand to her mouth, she rests back once more allowing her head to sink into the pillow. Her eyes flit across the expanse of the bed and, even in the dark, she can see her.
Minerva raises herself up on her elbows, the sharp angles of her bones digging into the mattress, shifting against the rumpled fabric of the bed sheet. She rolls onto her side, and stares into the darkness. She cannot see, but she knows that Sybill’s greying tresses lay, knotted, against the pillows; and the vertebrae of her spine protrude from beneath stretched skin.
Minerva breathes deeply and, for a moment, she wonders how it is that she has come to be here.
Minerva cannot be sure for, as she slides across the bed, she moulds her own body to Sybill’s and she thinks that, perhaps – perhaps – she never truly left this place.