Minerva leaned back in her chair, looking at Albus' portrait. He popped a painted lemon drop into his mouth, smiling at her.
"There's no call to look so smug, Albus," she said, chuckling. "You yourself admitted you didn't know how it would all play out."
"There would be no game in it if the results could be so accurately predicted," he told her. "That's part of the fun. Not knowing how it will end."
She swiveled her chair to look at the framed, smaller paintings decorating the surface of her desk. Lily's image winked at her. "I called the results closer than Albus did," she said, grinning. "Do I know Severus, or do I know Severus?"
"I think we were right to send you in as the Ghost of Christmas Past," Minerva decided. "You were so cold to him, and the fact that he's still madly in love with you was bound to make your lessons hit him the hardest. You paved the way for the rest."
"I tried to go easy on 'im," Hagrid put in from his seat in front of Minerva's desk. "I jus' don' have it in me to be cruel."
"You did just fine, Hagrid," Minerva soothed. "You got the idea across. And after Lily ripped out his heart, he needed a friendlier shoulder, didn't he?"
"I still think you should have allowed him to recognize me," said Tom Riddle from the painting Minerva kept hidden when expecting visitors.
"I think not," argued Albus. "He would have been unable to follow your lesson plan for fear or depression. You pack quite a punch. Even with your face hidden, he was almost too frightened to pay attention to what you were showing him."
"Well, I think he can rest assured he'll not have to carry a chain around with him," Minerva said, her voice softening. "He'll not fear death when it's his time."
"So," said Albus, rubbing his hands together excitedly. "What other soul needs saving then?"