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From the Diaries of Minerva McGonagall: January 21, 1982

I got a letter from Elphinstone today. He writes that he wants to see me: “It is strange to think that we haven’t spoken since before the war.” I hadn’t thought it was all that strange; I suppose we could have spoken, but I was at Hogwarts and he was at the Ministry and—honestly, I feel like I’ve become a different person than the woman I was when I worked for him. That was thirty years ago.

I wonder what he’s like, now. The war must have aged him, like it has aged us all. I spent the holidays with my family, who understand my grief even if they do not understand its circumstance—I never told them I was in the Order, nor how close I was to so many people who were killed—and when I returned to Hogwarts I saw my face in the glass and realized how much I had changed. The lines on my forehead and around my eyes, matching the streaks of grey in my hair.

I feel as if I must go to London and meet with Elphinstone, though half of my mind is trying to think of ways to get out of it. How could we possibly sit together and talk about the old times? The thought that he once believed he was in love with me—and now to see each other again, and smile, and discuss everything but that.

Dougal is also dead. I hadn’t heard until I went home. They found him collapsed in his own fields. There’s a part of me that will always wonder if one of the Death Eaters was involved; someone who wanted to hurt me but couldn’t get through the protective wards of Hogwarts. But Dougal and I, to borrow Elphinstone’s phrase, hadn’t spoken since before the war. Since years before that. Long enough that it was hard to grieve him; that I forgot to write it down, in fact, until just now. Because I was thinking about Elphinstone, and love.

I was a girl when I loved Douglas; a young woman when I knew Elphinstone; now I am a middle-aged professor with greying hair pulled back into a bun, a woman who has lost her dearest friends. That’s why I’ll write him back and agree to meet. I know what it is like to be lonely, and to want someone to talk to—even if it’s someone to whom you haven’t spoken since before the war.

Yours faithfully,