Title: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Author: RavenclawGrrl (padme_patil@yahoo.com)

Disclaimer: The characters below are owned by JK Rowling.

Rating: PG

~~

Through the years

We all will be together

If the Fates allow,

Hang a shining star

Upon the highest bough,

And have yourself

A merry little Christmas now

~~

Minerva McGonagall shifted uncomfortably in the chair. Damn the man. Did he have to move that thing in here? Albus Dumbledore was sometimes such an insufferably barmy old codger.

Her eyes caught a flicker of motion in the glass and she forced herself to look back down at the papers in front of her. She rifled through them and straightened them again. She straightened her glasses again, too. She thought about straightening herself in the chair but realized she'd have to see 'it' again and kept her head down, studying the papers for the umpteenth time.

It was Christmas Eve and she had only this last set of paperwork for students who would be sitting for their O.W.L.S. next term to review with Albus before she could consider herself finished for the term. They did this the end of every fall term. Only he had never had 'it' in his office until now.

She sighed and looked around the room, trying for all the world to avoid looking into the mirror located directly behind Albus' desk. The Mirror of Erised, it had such a lovely name. Who would believe that something so simple could be so powerful? Albus had had to gently lead her away from it the first time she had come upon it during their preparations for security surrounding the Sorcerer's Stone. After that crisis had passed, he had decided to keep it here in his office. It had certainly made it difficult to focus on the topic at hand during meetings with him. She decided that, as Deputy Headmistress, she was just going to have to tell him it simply must be moved, or at least turned away so that the person seated across from his desk wouldn't be lost in its depths.

She glanced at his clock, whose hands were pointing to "Back Soon" and sighed again. Well, it was Christmas after all. She felt certain she could hear him coming up the stairs before he actually opened the door. Maybe she could indulge herself, just a little.

She looked directly into the mirror and smiled. She leaned forward, elbows on the desk, with her fingers laced together and her chin resting on them and gazed at the couple in the mirror. The auburn haired Transfigurations Professor in the mirror was laughing and accepting a Christmas gift from a seventeen year old girl with dark, straight hair down to her waist. They were both wearing school robes with Gryffindor colors; she had a shiny silver Head Girl badge pinned to her robes. Minerva leaned even farther forward as if trying to catch the conversation between them, even though she knew by heart every word each of them had spoken that day.

"Here, I made them myself. I know how fond you are of all things Muggle, so I want you to know that there's not a 'stitch' of magic in them," the girl said as she handed him a gaily wrapped package.

"Why, Minerva, thank you," he smiled pleasantly at her as he accepted the lumpy package. It was late Christmas Eve. The remains of a fire glowed cozily in the Gryffindor Common room. He and Minerva, along with a few younger students had recently returned from dinner in the Great Hall. The two of them had seen the younger students to their dorms and now all that remained was for them to say goodnight.

"Go ahead, open them now. You don't have to wait until tomorrow morning," she urged him.

"All right, all right," he laughed and gently tore back the bright paper to reveal a pair of wool socks - lumpy, loopy, hand-stitched wool socks in what appeared to be a wavy attempt at stripes of red and gold yarn.

Minerva was chattering in front of him, "I heard you say one day that your feet were cold, and well, my Gran knows how to knit by hand. She does it sometimes when she's thinking, you know, to pass the time. She learned it as a girl and I asked her to teach me because I knew you liked Muggle things. She said it would be simpler to buy a pair or Spell a pair together, but I wanted to learn how to do it by hand. And I thought that they would be practical. And."

He looked at her, his eyes twinkling. "Minerva, Minerva, I'd expect nothing less than pure practicality from you. And I'll treasure them always."

Minerva flushed and said, "I know they're not too neat, but I'll practice and maybe they'll be better next year."

"But you won't be here next year," he said simply. As soon as the words left his lips he wished he could recall them. Pain flickered across her deep brown eyes that only a second before had been sparkling up at him.

"I - I know," she said with a catch in her voice, "but I'll still practice and I'll, I'll, I'll owl them to you or something."

"From Cairo or Constantinople or some other exotic location, wherever your research takes you, I'm sure," he teased her, trying to restore the sparkle to her eyes.

"I'm here, now," she said softly holding her hands out to her side.

"Yes, you are, my dear," he answered just as softly. He cleared his throat slightly and looked around the room; anything to avoid seeing the hurt in her eyes or worse yet, having her see his own pain at the thought that she would be finishing school in the spring. "And just look where you are," he said.

She followed his gaze up to the ceiling of the common room where some of the seventh year boys had hung a sprig of mistletoe. She looked back at him and saw that he was looking at her as if he were seeing her for the very first time.

"Merry Christmas, Minerva," he whispered as he leaned forward to kiss her. She was certain that he had meant for it to be a most fatherly little peck under the mistletoe. But as he pressed his lips warm against hers she shifted forward ever so slightly, hesitantly raising her hands to place them on his shoulders. She heard the crinkle of the wrapping paper as he slid his own hands around her waist and drew her to him. She smiled as his beard tickled just a little and marveled at just how warm and right it felt for him to be holding her like this.

"Merry Christmas, Minerva," she heard a booming voice from behind her. She jerked up, scattering papers and blushing furiously as Albus walked around to take his seat across the desk from her.

"Albus, I, I, I didn't hear you come in," she said, hastily straightening the papers she had just strewn around the room.

"I'm sorry to startle you, my dear. Now, what final task must we complete this Christmas Eve so that you can have a well earned winter holiday from your duties as Deputy Headmistress?"

"Oh, Albus!" she feigned indignation. "Really, we go through this every year. I have the list of students who will be sitting for their O.W.L.S. next term. I simply need for you to review the list and sign here," she motioned to a line at the bottom of the parchment.

"Ahh, of course," he chuckled, "You'd think I could remember that by now." He hastily scanned the list and began to sign at the bottom of the page.

"Is that why you keep the damned thing around - to jog your memory?" he heard Minerva mutter under her breath.

"What's that, my dear?" he asked, looking up at her.

Minerva blushed again, then took a deep breath. "I asked if that's why you keep that, that," she motioned to the mirror, "that thing around? It's really quite distracting you know. The person seated across from you finds it very difficult to concentrate."

"I see," he mused then added, "I suppose it is inconsiderate of me."

"Well, yes, it is, rather."

They sat in an awkward silence for a moment and then Minerva asked softly, "Albus? What do you see when you look in there?" She hesitated then went on, "Do you ever wonder what things might have been like?"

Albus smiled kindly at her. "My dear, I've told you before. What I see is myself receiving wool socks for Christmas. One can never have enough wool socks, you know. As to your other question."

"No, wait," she said suddenly rising from her chair and wiping what threatened to be a tear from the corner of one eye. "I don't want to know. It was presumptuous of me to ask. I am sorry." She sniffled and straightened and said, "Now, about those socks." as she slid a neat package toward him. "Go ahead and open them, you don't have to wait until tomorrow."

Albus tore open the wrapping paper and grinned like a schoolboy looking at the neat, precise rows of stitches and tidy stripes of red and gold yarn. "Why thank you, Minerva, they're just what I wanted."

"I'll see you at dinner this evening then," she turned to go. As she got to the doorway, Albus called to her.

"Minerva, wait just a moment."

"Yes, Albus," she said turning to face him.

He glanced up at the doorway and Minerva looked up to see a sprig of mistletoe there. "Albus, that was NOT there, when I came in."

"Minerva, I am, after all, a Transfigurations Professor," he answered, rising from his own chair to come and stand beside her.

"Yes, but, how did you do that? No Spell, no incantation. How?"

He leaned down to kiss her and it was warm and soft and sweet. When he pulled back he whispered, "I'll teach you."

Minerva laughed, the twinkle in her own eyes matching his, "Merry Christmas, Albus."

"Merry Christmas, Minerva," he said again as he watched her go down the hallway. When she was safely down the stairs and out of sight, he sighed and closed his office door. Then he went and sat down at his desk, but turned his chair to face the mirror.

Briefly, the scene before him was the same couple Minerva had been gazing at, the auburn-haired professor and his student. But then the scene flickered and changed and there was Minerva, precisely as she had looked a moment ago when she sat across from him, sliding his package of socks across the desk. "My dear," he said to the face in the mirror, "I have to keep it behind my desk. If it were anywhere else in the room, I'd never get any work done."

He reached out to touch the face in the mirror, tracing the wisps of gray at the edges of her hat and the gentle creases around her eyes and lips. "Minerva, you grow more beautiful each year." Then he broke away from the mirror and looked at the socks in his lap and laughed. "And your knitting improves, too."

~ Fin ~