Curiosity Killed the Cat.
'…Scars can come in useful. I have one myself above my left knee which is a perfect map of the London Underground.'Extract from HP and the Philosopher's Stone, Bloomsbury paperback edition.
It was some weeks after the eventful night on which He Who Must Not Be Named had fallen to little Harry Potter. Some weeks since Albus Dumbledore, accompanied by Minerva McGonagall and Hagrid, had left him wrapped securely in blankets on his last remaining relatives muggle doorstep.
It was night time and Albus Dumbledore, esteemed Headmaster of the famous wizarding school, Hogwarts, was sat comfortably in a large high backed armchair with soft plump red cushions, reading a book. A fire fed with dry logs gave off a comforting glow and a soft crackling noise, whilst opposite the silvery haired man sat a woman with black hair drawn back into a tight bun and emerald robes arranged neatly.
The woman was Professor Minerva McGonagall, and she was trying to concentrate on the novel she held in her hands. A secret addiction of hers, Albus was the only one who knew of her fondness for muggle novels, at that moment she was trying to read, 'The Pilot's Wife' by Anita Shreve. Yet she couldn't focus on the words tonight, she was too distracted by something that had been bothering her for a while now. She chewed her cheek and pursed her lips as she regarded Albus, who appeared totally absorbed in his little book.
'What are you reading?' she asked finally, unable to stay silent a moment longer. He looked up in mild surprise, normally she was the one who insisted on silence whilst they read their books. He held up his book, his lips quirked and his eyes crinkled with amusement as he replied:
'Mr Tickle. It's about a Mr Tickle who can't stop tickling people,' explained Albus, smiling.
'Albus, are you reading a children's book?' asked Minerva, bending her head to take a closer look at the cover, which now she thought on it, was rather small, square and had a picture of an orange octopus, or so it looked from where she sat.
'Do you know, I think I might be.'
'Albus! It can't have taken you more than five minutes to read something that small! What have you been doing all this evening?' protested Minerva, sounding exasperated.
'Covertly watching you, watching me,' glibly replied Albus, chewing the inside of his cheek in an effort not to laugh as the lady across from him levelled a glare that would have had braver men quaking.
'That's… that's no excuse…' she trailed off.
'Something bothering you Minerva?' asked Albus, resting his tiny book upon his lap.
'No. Yes,' replied Minerva, tapping her fingers on the arm of her chair, she'd been filled with nervous energy all night. 'Yes!' she said, decided.
'Can I help?' asked Albus, calmly, ready to be serious if the moment required it.
'No. Yes,' said Minerva. Albus raised an eyebrow at her, and she glared at him again.
'Fine,' she snapped, and abandoning her book to the coffee table she rose from her seat and knelt before his.
'You're not going to propose are you Minerva?' asked Albus, watching her with merriment dancing in his eyes. 'I know we've known each other for a long time, but do you really think we're ready for such a big step forward?'
'Albus!' hissed Professor McGonagall, eyes flashing sparks. 'I'm just curious! That is all.'
'Curiosity killed the cat,' murmured Albus, curious himself about what Minerva was curious about, said lady sent him a death glare before quite calmly taking his left foot in her hand, and undoing the laces of the heeled, violently purple boot.
Albus raised his eyebrows, but forewent comment, content to wait until his patience was rewarded and she told him what this was all about.
Minerva took off his left boot and set it aside, with deft fingers and a neutral, undisturbed expression she rolled his orange Chudley Cannon's sock down and pulled it off to lie discarded next to his lone boot. Then, with steady fingers and a completely dispassionate face she took hold of the hem of his blue trouser leg and began to tug it upwards.
Albus, looked on, astounded by his deputy's odd behaviour, having, for once, absolutely no idea what was going on, and finding the novel experience quite agreeable, he stretched out his leg in good humour as she lifted it to pull his trouser up past his calf.
His lower leg was really quite pale, it being late autumn, and the contrasting dark auburn hairs tickled Minerva's arms as she worked his trouser leg back. She reached his knee, and because his leg was outstretched didn't have to labour hard to tug it over, Albus began to wonder uneasily just how far up she intended to pull his trouser.
Still silent, Minerva, outwardly cool but inwardly flushing, pushed his trouser just up past his knee and then stopped, looking a little relieved.
'So you do!' she said triumphantly, grinning up at him, and looking twenty years younger as she did so.
'I do, what?' asked Albus, bewildered.
'Have that scar. It's been bugging me ever since you said.'
'Oh,' said Albus, everything suddenly becoming crystal clear. 'But why didn't you just ask?'
'You would have left me guessing, Albus. Is it really an accurate map of the London Underground?' she asked enquiringly.
'Oh yes,' said Albus. 'See here.' He pointed at the thin silver lines and bumps that made a very old scar just above his left knee, Minerva shifted position to see better, so that she now knelt the other side of his leg, and rested one arm on his unaccosted leg.
'If I remember correctly that's Kings Cross.'
'It has an Underground connection?'
'Uh-hmm. This here drops you right outside of the muggle parliament, across the road from the Big Ben.'
'This is very handy,' said Minerva, smiling as she traced one of the lines with her index finger. 'Should I ever be unfortunate enough to have to travel by muggle means I'll have to take your knee with me.'
'You do realise I'm attached?' informed Albus solemnly, his eyes twinkling warmly.
'You have to take the good with the bad,' said Minerva prosaically, giving an airy sigh.
Albus laughed out loud, making her jump, before she laughed too.
'How did you get this scar, Albus?' Minerva asked, looking up from where she knelt between his outstretched leg and the other.
'Ah, well, Once Upon a Time…,' Albus began, a glint in his eye, as Minerva frowned impatiently. 'It was before I ever came to Hogwarts, so a very, very long time ago, I was eight I believe. I was playing with my brother in the street outside our home and hadn't tied my left roller skate onto my shoe properly. The result was of course, that it came off, as I was flying down a particularly steep hill. I landed in Old Madam Nosy's garden hedge after a spectacular attempt to imitate a windmill and several yards of scraped road. My knee bore the brunt of it.'
'Ouch,' winced Minerva, in sympathy. 'Old Madam Nosy? Was that her real name?'
'No, but I can't quite recall her proper name. She was the neighbourhood gossip, I seem to remember that she was far too free with her walking stick,' said Albus, staring piercingly at the ceiling in an effort to remember.
'Did your mother 'kiss it better'?' teased Minerva.
'No. She told me I should not have been so foolish in the first place, and perhaps this would teach me.'
'That seems unnecessarily harsh,' frowned Minerva.
'They were hard times,' said Albus, matter of factly.
'Don't go all nostalgic on me,' said Minerva, with a puckered brow.
'I'll try my best,' responded Albus, suddenly abandoning his blues and turning a beaming smile upon her upturned face. 'Are you aware of how this would look if someone were to walk in?'
Minerva stared at him, uncomprehending.
'With you knelt…' Albus left it at that and watched realisation dawn.
'Albus Winston Percival Dumbledore!' shouted Minerva McGonagall, colouring puce and standing abruptly. 'Don't be so crude! How dare you insinuate… that!'
'Minerva!' cried Albus, lifting his hands in an expression of protest. 'I apologise, I sincerely meant nothing vulgar, honestly!'
Minerva McGonagall stood with hands on her hips and glared fiercely at the seated slightly cowed Dumbledore.
'Minerva, I only meant…' he tried to explain that all he'd meant was that it would look intimate, not …
'I don't care!' barked McGonagall, Albus Dumbledore winced, and sighed resignedly, Minerva was very over sensitive about some things, one day he would have to find out why.
'Minerva, in all the time you have known me, have I ever insinuated anything along those lines?' he asked sharply.
She thought for a moment, turning her back to him and picking up her book to hide her indecision, and her embarrassment.
'I jumped to conclusions Albus - I'm sorry,' she said stiffly, finally, carefully not looking at him.
'I'll apologise too, if it'll get you to glance my way,' said Albus lightly, tilting his head to catch her eye.
Minerva turned with a light laugh and for a moment drowned in his intense blue gaze.
'It's late, Albus. I'm to bed, as should you be,' she was back to her usual self.
'Good advice,' agreed Albus, nodding his head, he watched as she paused in mid movement towards the door.
Minerva, made a snap decision, turning she stepped lightly up to Albus, and leant on the arm of his chair.
'It's a little late,' she said by way of explanation, and gripping her Gryffindor bravery by it's throat she dropped a light kiss on his scarred knee.
His response was inarticulate, it felt as though his heart had suddenly leapt into his mouth and impaired his speech ability.
'Uh,' he said. 'Why, thank you,' and managed a warm smile as she quickly retreated and left the room slightly flustered, leaving him to prise his suddenly burning hands from the arms of chair and ponder the insanity of the human heart.
Authors Note: I know it does tend to switch between perspectives, but it should be fairly easy to follow, as it is in the third person. Gosh this was fluffy, unmitigated sop. So nice to write though! Do tell me what you think!