Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter and all who reside therein belong to the woman whose name is on the side of the books: J.K. Rowling. And certainly not to me.
Title: A Quiet Visit
Author: Aeryn Alexander
Summary: Albus pays a visit to Minerva during OotP. AD/MM
Spoliers: Order of the Phoenix
Rating: G (for general fluffiness)
Genre: General/Romance
Author's Notes: Here there be spoliers! If you haven't read the book, don't read this story! (Well, you can, but I advise against it.) This is a one-shot. And it is very short. Reviews are appreciated. Thank you!

A Quiet Visit

When the lift doors opened onto the fourth floor of St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, Albus Dumbledore stepped out and quickly surveyed the bustling ward. Of course, no one seemed to notice him, which was just as well as he did not want them to. He walked briskly down the corridor, past busy and oblivious Healers and aimlessly wandering patients, to the third door on the left of the hall. He took a deep breath as he entered the hospital room, almost as though steeling himself against something.

Most of the beds in the long room were empty. Dumbledore was rather grateful for this as he looked around for a moment before spotting her. Less of an opportunity for intrusions. Less chance of making a fuss or causing a disturbance.

He strode quickly to the nearby bedside of a dark-hared woman who appeared to be sleeping. Minerva McGonagall. She had been struck by no less than four Stunning Spells just the night before and brought to St. Mungo's for treatment. Word had come to him early that morning through sources in the Order, and he had been greatly troubled by the news of her injury.

She looked good, he admitted after a moment of careful study. Her face was a bit pale and drawn certainly, but no so bad as it could have been. Dumbledore nearly shuddered at the thought. Minerva could have died. She very nearly had.

"But she is strong," he murmured to himself.

"Albus?" she whispered.

He knew not whether she were awake or sleeping still, only that she had heard him somehow. He smiled a little and reached down to take her hand, glancing about to be certain that they were not observed.

"I'm here," he said in low and comforting tones.

She did not respond as he held her small, delicate hand tenderly between his own, but there was a peacefulness, a serenity in her expression that had not been there before. Albus was certain that she knew he was there. And he found that strangely heartening.

"My dear, you were so brave," he whispered to her, squeezing her hand.

Her eyelids flickered slightly. He could well imagine her response to such praise. She would have pursed her lips and reminded him that he would have done no less. If in a particular mood, she might have pointed out that he would have been more successful than she in the encounter. Nevertheless, from what Dumbledore had learned of the incident, he was impressed, as always, by her conduct, and likewise enraged by that of her attackers. Although, he admitted only reluctantly, he suspected that had she kept her temper, she could have taken them easily.

"Albus?" questioned a small, quiet voice, rousing him instantly from his thoughts.

"I'm here," he said for a second time, gazing down at Minerva as she opened her bleary eyes. Her glasses were on the stand on the other side of the bed.

"And you shouldn't be," she reminded him, though not with her usual crispness. "You should be attending to Order business. More important ..."

"Don't be foolish. I have times for other matters as well, and I wanted to see you, Minerva," he said.

She smiled faintly, and he thought she would have blushed if she had not been so drained.

"Is Hagrid all right?" she questioned.

"Yes, he escaped," he confirmed, "thanks at least in part to you, I believe."

"Good," she said sleepily.

She started to ask another question, but Dumbledore hushed her quietly and said, "You should rest. I will need you back on your feet soon." His eyes twinkled as he spoke those words.

"I hope so, Albus," she murmured, closing her eyes.

He smiled at her remark, at its many shades of meaning. Of course, when he regained his rightful position, he would need his trusted deputy back, and his Transfigurations' professor, but he also wanted Minerva back. He missed having her ever at his side. He missed her companionship desperately, more so than he could have imagined. For a moment his heart ached to tell her so, but he could tell by the slowness of her breathing and her expression that she had drifted back to sleep again. It was possibly for the best.

Albus reached down and gently brushed a strand of hair from her cheek. He had lingered too long, he realized, and there was much to be done. So much to be done ...

He squeezed her hand one last time, but paused and brought it to his lips before almost lovingly returning it to her side. Then he turned and disappeared down the hospital corridor with no one the wiser.

Minerva slowly opened her eyes and touched the top of her hand where he had kissed it. The look on her face was one of pleasant surprise and astonishment. Her friend was not usually given to such expressions of affection. She smiled slightly and glanced toward the doorway. For some inexplicable reason the future suddenly seemed just a tiny bit brighter than it had.