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Love and Loss

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"Yes, Minerva?" Albus asked, turning to see a soaking wet Minerva McGonagall before him.

"The ceiling of the Great Hall has begun raining, Albus," she reported, wringing out a corner of her robes. "Not only on a clear day, mind you, but real raindrops! I hate to disturb you, but a disruption of the castle's magic on this scale can be corrected only by the Headmaster."

"I'm afraid we must find an alternate venue for meals for the next day or so, Minerva."

"But…you haven't even examined the problem!" Minerva did not usually sound so impatient, but Albus suspected her wet woolen robes were growing uncomfortable.

"The ceiling has merely heard about the unfortunate events at the Ministry and is mourning its lost true love. As I am the person responsible for the destruction of that love, the Fountain of Magical Brethren, I cannot possibly enter the Hall. I would most likely be struck by lightning, Headmaster or no."

It was not often one saw Minerva McGonagall look gobsmacked, Albus reflected. He feared he had been the witness to such expressions a disproportionate number of times.

***

Two floors below them, the ceiling of the great Hall continued to weep, and occasionally wail. It could never regret the (too few) nights of passion it had shared with its beloved fountain. Deep within (and as a ceiling, it resented any suggestions that it could not be deep) it knew that never again would there be an artifact of magical artistry worthy of its own greatness.

Theirs had been a May-December romance; the ceiling had, after all, been designed and charmed into place by the Founders themselves, while the Fountain had been a mere 200 years old. This occasioned a new bout of more intense rain; cut down, cut down in its prime! At least there was the consolation of knowing that the Fountain had been destroyed in defense of the greater good of the wizarding world; the ceiling knew that was what it would have wanted. But it was cruel, too cruel! Magical artifacts were meant to last for eternity, not mere centuries. Their time together had been all too brief.

How had they met? The ceiling had first heard tell of a new magical monument, rivaling itself in awe-inspiring power, from the students who sat below it each day. Painstakingly it had dictated to one of the castle ghosts a letter to this new wonder, forming words with the clouds which appeared upon it, and convinced one of the brighter owls which flew by it each day to carry the missive to the Ministry.

How pleased it had been when the owl brought a reply from the Fountain! It had hardly dared hope for a response. And the thrill when the fountain had revealed its locomotive abilities, had suggested that they meet! If the ceiling had at first been disappointed to discover the Fountain's rather inferior artistic execution, well, we couldn't all be pure mirrors of the natural beauty of the skies, after all, and the Fountain had soon proved that even if its exterior was a bit gaudy and gauche, its magical construction was beyond compare, and that was what really mattered, wasn't it?

They had met only at night, when the Fountain could sneak away from the Ministry in relative secrecy. The ceiling redoubled its tears at the memory of the Fountain's continual insistence that it preferred this time 'for covered in stars, my dear, your beauty is truly without equal.' Together they had discovered ways to merge their magical essences, tentatively at first, but then more and more deeply until the ceiling found an ecstasy it had never thought possible. If only they had had more time together, what new and sublime artifacts might have been born from that joining! The ceiling keenly regretted that now it would never have a memorial of its beloved, except the tears it now cried, their liquid essence a reminder of the Fountain of Magical Brethren's watery jets.