It was the first day back and students were dragging their feet to their classes. Eighteen detentions had been given to students in the first two hours since school had started. Dumbledore waited for the first years to arrive, he was going to start them on more complicated spells than the previous semester, but what he worried most about was his favorite student. Ever since the death of her friend, she had been keeping to herself as much as possible. He had sent her to the Hospital Wing on more than one occasion for Dreamless Sleep potion but he learned from Madam Clancy that she never went.
The first years arrived and sat down, Minerva taking her usual seat. ''Welcome back. I will be taking your homework, thank you'' he said as he waved his wand. Thirty scrolls of parchment flew to his desk. ''Today, we will be Transfigurating hedgehogs into pin cushions'' he said. The students started to whisper excitedly, which he had expected. He smiled and gave them the spell, had them practice and then start their assignment.
He walked around, helping students who were having trouble, giving praise to others. He arrived at Minerva's desk and his smile disappeared. She was staring at the hedgehog in front of her, petting it. ''Ms. McGonagall'' he said. She turned to look at him, ''please demonstrate the spell'' he said. Minerva took out her wand and said the spell but nothing happened. He raised an eyebrow as she tried again but to no avail. After a few tries she was getting desperate, yelling the spell but nothing was happening.
The students had stopped and looked at Minerva, not believing that the most brilliant student couldn't master a spell. Dumbledore put a hand on her shoulder, a quiet way to let her know to stop. She looked up at her teacher and then around her, Dumbledore saw the tears in her eyes but before he could say anything she took her things and ran out. ''I believe you all have a task to do'' he said and the students returned to their task.
The rumor that the brilliant first year couldn't manage any spell went through the school like a wildfire. Minerva arrived for supper and the hall immediately quieted down and looked at her. She sat down and the hall started to whisper. Dumbledore saw the tears going down her face and wished to shield her from it all but knew he couldn't.
She suddenly got up and left. The whispers got louder, ''yeah. I swear; she couldn't do a simple spell in Transfiguration'' said a student from the Slytherin table. Dumbledore excused himself and left through the staff room. He headed straight to the Gryffindor common room. ''She's a mess'' said a painting on his right, he nodded towards it and went up to Minerva's room. She was laying down on her bed, crying her eyes out. A small fire had been started at the base of the drapes, which he immediately put out.
He sat beside her and rubbed her back, not knowing what to tell her to ease her pain. ''Will it ever go away?'' she asked in a shaky voice. He sighed deeply, remembering his own pain when he lost his sister. ''With time, it will'' he answered her quietly. He continued to rub her back, trying to soothe her. She turned around and looked at him, her eyes red from crying. He smiled down at her, ''I'm at a lost here, Professor'' she said. ''I can't do anything right, it's like I lost all of my magic'' she said sadly.
Dumbledore wiped the tears from her face, ''you were born with magic, my dear. It is in your very being. Your grief is blocking it but it is there'' he said. A kitten suddenly jumped on the bed and lied down beside Minerva's head, Dumbledore petted it. ''Her name's Luna - she used to belong to Althea'' she said with a strangled sob. Dumbledore rubbed her arm and wiped the tears from her face, ''It's normal to feel this way, Darling'' he said quietly. She sat up and he took her in his arms, giving her the security she needed.
They remained that way for a few hours, her rubbed her back and let her cry. He didn't have the heart to push her away after she had calmed down, so he kept her to his chest. ''Everything will be alright, Minnie'' he told her quietly. She nodded and moved back against the wall. Luna came up to her and Minerva took her in her arms, ''Minerva, why don't you stay with Professor Merrythought for a couple more weeks? I believe it would be beneficial for you'' he said. She nodded and he smiled.
He watched as she gathered her things and followed her out. Thankfully there weren't any students in the common room. They made their way to Professor Merrythought's office and went in when she invited them in. ''Galatea, I was wondering if Ms. McGonagall could stay here for a while'' he asked. Professor Merrythought smiled and held out her arms to Minerva. She cautiously walked up to the Professor, not expecting her to be hugged. ''You can stay with me for as long as you want, dear'' she said.
After making sure Minerva was alright, Dumbledore returned to his office and sat down. He felt a small tug at his heart as he remembered the pain his star pupil was feeling. She was so young but she felt a lot more than she let on. A knock on his door pulled him from his thoughts. ''Galatea'' he said as she entered, ''Minerva's asleep'' she said, seeing the question in his eyes. ''Albus, I've known you for many years, but never have I seen you be so concerned about a student'' she said as she sat down. He passed a hand through his face, ''I get it; she's your favorite student. But there is a fine line between teachers and students, Albus. And you are close to crossing that line'' she said before heading out.
She was right, he was getting more involved than he should. But how could he explain to her or anybody, the connection he felt to this bright student? He shook his head and went to bed, knowing he'd have to be careful to not let his heart cross over to his professional life.