Some would have called the small Presbyterian kirk austere. Minerva called it home. And it had as much to do with the father she adored, who she was currently helping to hang the Christmas greens with, as it did her heavenly Father.
"Raise your side a couple of inches," her father instructed.
He gave a satisfied nod after she lifted the garland of holly up a little bit and he tacked it to the wall. "That's fine. Very fine."
The peace was broken by Malcolm and Robert Junior bursting into the sanctuary like the little hellions they were. She dreaded the day her younger brothers became equipped with wands.
Her father sighed a barely audible sigh, if he only knew the trouble they'd caused that morning his sigh would have been louder. The boys had caused Mrs. Brodie, who organized all the ladies' missions and was her mother's strongest criticizer, to grow a disproportionately large bum.
The boys, seven and five, had dissolved into a fit of giggles at their accidental magic before their mother had shrunk it back down to size and gave the distraught woman a forgetfulness charm. It had been intensely embarrassing and though she would never in a million years admit it to the scamps, a tiny bit amusing.
Mrs. Brodie had most definitely had it coming after suggesting that no minister as good and solemn as Reverend McGonagall could ever produce two such troublesome children, implying the unseemly about the boys' heritage, however veiled.
"Come on, children," her father said. "It's nearly dark, and I imagine your mother will have dinner ready soon."
It was only a short walk to the manse. He was no doubt more worried about them causing damage to the newly decorated kirk than from any sense of hunger or concern over the dark.
Minerva, herself, thought it a wise choice until they came upon their mother in the kitchen. She had her wand out fixing a simple dinner of cock-a-leekie soup and a plain loaf. It was an economical but filling meal that any pastor's wife could have been proud of except that it was made with magic.
"Isobel, how could you?" he said quietly but severely as if he had caught her in some great sin.
Her face colored red with anger. She was clearly ready for a fight. Their parents left them in the kitchen to continue their discussion in the privacy of their room.
"How can you expect me to eat that, knowing how it was made?" he asked, his voice carrying perfectly well in the small house, making the argument not private at all.
"It's not poison, Robert!" she said emotionally. "It's the same thing Muggles eat just a different method of getting there."
"I hate it when you call me that. I am a human being, not a Muggle."
Minerva looked down. "I think Father was wrong. It's only a little after 3. That gives you both almost half an hour of play."
As boys who loved the outdoors, she didn't have to tell them twice. She should have gone with them. She didn't know why she stayed to listen to her parents' argument. It tore her apart inside to hear their discord though she knew despite everything, despite their differences, they still loved each other.
"I didn't call you one!"
"There's no need to shout. What if someone had seen you through the window? Do you do this often?"
"I was careful. I'm not stupid. I just need a little magic every once in a while. Just to keep from feeling so stifled."
"I wasn't aware I was stifling you," he said as terrible in its coldness as her mother's voice was in raised passion.
The conversation ended at that, or at least, she wasn't able to hear anymore. They would make up. They always did, but the underlying tension was always there. She observed it and saw it in many different ways, the sometimes too loud silence, the red eyes, the cover-ups. Their unhappiness pained her, and she wondered if there was a place somewhere on this earth where people could exist together happily just being themselves.