Start Over?

A/N: This started out as a songfic, but I didn't like how it was coming out, so I deleted the song and wrote it straight. What can I say, I'm a sucker for happy endings.

"Nothing can come of this," he told her softly, noticing how beautiful she was in the moonlight in spite of himself. "I am your teacher, after all. It would be wrong."

"Wrong for whom?" she asked him softly, reaching up to trace his features with a slender finger. "You? Me?"

"Them," he replied, catching her wrist and pulling her hand from his face.

"Who cares about 'Them?'" she demanded, tugging her wrist free of his gentle grip. "All I care about is you."

He held her at arms' length, trying hard not to notice her slender, womanly figure. "I can't let you risk jeopardizing your future."

"What if I don't care?" she answered, closing the distance between them until her body was almost pressed against his.

"But I do," he informed her softly, unable to push her away. "You have such a bright future ahead of you."

She gazed into his eyes for a long moment before speaking. "Very well, but kiss me." He opened his mouth to protest, but she laid her finger over his lips. "Just one kiss and I won't ask anything more of you."

He nodded and slowly lowered his mouth to cover hers, so soft and inviting. Her lips parted beneath his, inviting him to explore. Unable to resist, he did just that, deepening the kiss with a soft growl. She moaned under the onslaught, clutching at his shoulders as her knees buckled. Without thinking, he wrapped his arms around her waist, holding her close. She gasped as she felt the evidence of his desire for her. He dragged his lips from hers, drawing in great gulps of air. He nearly choked when she hesitantly pressed her body more firmly to his. He moved his hands to her hips and reluctantly pushed her hips away from his.

"We mustn't, my Beloved." She moaned softly as she began pressing kisses to his neck and jawline. He groaned as her kisses ignited little fires under his skin. "I have kissed you, just as you asked, now it is time you returned to your dormitory."

"I don't want to," she whispered, burying her face in the crook of his neck. "I want to stay with you."

"I'm afraid you can't," he replied, keeping his hands on her waist to keep her from closing the distance between them again. "Please, return to your dorm before I do something we'll both regret."

He felt a warm puff of breath on his neck as she gave a loud sigh. "Very well, Albus, but I won't forget what you've given me."

He pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. "In time, you will, Minerva. You'll find someone to share your life with and forget all about what has passed between us."

She shook her head stubbornly. "I won't. I never could."

He smiled sadly. "Never underestimate the human heart, my dear. Now, off to bed with you."

He could tell by the look on her face that she wasn't convinced, but she kissed his cheek anyway and it wasn't long before a sleek silver tabby was streaking across the silver-gilded lawns to the castle in the distance. It was a long time later before a wise-looking barn owl with a reddish tint to his feathers flew to the castle as well.

* * *

"Minerva?" She looked up from the depths of her hot chocolate at her three companions.

"I'm sorry, Poppy, did you say something?" she asked of the one who'd called her name.

"You've been awfully quiet," the Healer commented. "Is something wrong?"

Minerva sighed and pulled a letter out of her pocket. "This came today, take a look."

The three other women read the letter and all three had wide eyes by the time they finished reading. "Will you accept, Min?"

The dark-haired witch shrugged, ignoring the nickname for the moment. "I really don't know. I considered teaching for awhile, but the war sort of put a hold on that idea."

The others nodded. "The war's been over for _years_, though, Min," Rolanda pointed out, yellow eyes intent on her friend. "Why didn't you?"

Minerva shrugged again, a little uncomfortable now. How could she explain that the one man she loved did not _want_ that love? That she'd offered it to him _years_ ago and he'd turned her down. That he never answered the owls she sent on a weekly basis. That she could never have what she wanted most in the world. "Never got around to it, I guess."

Rolanda snorted her disbelief. "Yeah, right." The other two looked at her questioningly. "You just don't want to face Dumbledore."

Minerva glared at the petite witch while the other two looked at Minerva, surprised. "Minerva? Is Ro right?"

Minerva sighed. "Yes: I don't want to face Albus."

"Why, Min?" Sylvia, plumpest of the four, demanded curiously.

"Er, well," Minerva could feel her cheeks grow warm, "it's a little embarrassing, but I essentially threw myself at him and he didn't catch me."

"Ouch." Rolanda gave a sympathetic wince while Poppy moved to sit beside Minerva. "but you're a _Gryffindor_, Min. You're supposed to face problems head-on."

"I know," Minerva replied, "but I dread seeing him again. We didn't exactly part on good terms."

"Didn't you two work together during the war?" Sylvia asked, puzzled.

"No." Minerva shook her head. "He avoided me as much as he could."

"I think you _should_ accept, then," Rolanda asserted after a moment's thought.

"Why do you say that, Ro?" Poppy asked, eyeing the small woman cautiously. Rolanda's ideas weren't always the best in the world, but some turned out to be quite good.

Rolanda stood and moved to the window. "They must resolve this between them, Poppy. The only way for this to happen is for Min to force a meeting between them and what better way than when she goes to Hogwarts to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts?"

* * *

"Minerva, welcome back to Hogwarts," Armando Dippet greeted the young woman before kissing the back of her hand.

"Thank you, Sir." Minerva smiled at the Headmaster, who was looking rather frail and old. She turned to the man standing beside Armando. "Albus."

"Minerva." he took her hand and kissed it, but his lips did not linger. "Welcome back."

Her heart sank inside her chest. "Thank you, Albus."

"Well, shall we go in?" Armando asked cheerfully. "It's a little chilly out."

Together, the three of them ascended the front steps and disappeared into the castle. Striding along between the two men, Minerva wondered if it had been a good idea to return after all. It was obvious that Albus wanted nothing to do with her. She sighed softly.

"Here you are," Armando opened a door and Minerva entered a beautiful set of rooms. The furniture was plain, but comfortable and, as she moved through the rooms, Minerva was pleased to see that all the comforts of home were evident. "Albus, would you mind helping Minerva get settled in?"

Before either of them could protest, the Headmaster left, closing the door behind him. They gazed at each other from across the room. She couldn't quite read the expression on his face. "Albus?"

He sighed, but did not move from his spot by the door. "Yes, Minerva?"

"Why have you avoided me?" she asked, letting some of the hurt she'd felt over the years show in her face. "I stopped being your student a long time ago."

"You deserve someone your own age, Minerva," he told her quietly, still by the door. "I half-hoped that you would find someone else to share your life with."

She shook her head, moving across the room. "The only man I ever wanted to share my life with was you." Coming to a stop in front of him, she reached up and traced his features with a slender finger, as she had done on a moonlit night so many years ago. "I still do."

He reached up and caught her wrist, but did not pull it away. "Are you certain, Minerva? I don't think I could let you go again."

Rather than answer verbally, she stood on tiptoe to press her mouth to his. A thrill ran up her spine when his arms came around her waist and pulled her close to him. Her last coherent thought was, _Rolanda was right._