Her Chance Gone

A/N: I know I said that the last chapter was my last but this was begging to be written. So…enjoy!

Chapter Seventeen: Epilogue

Albus Dumbledore looked ar ound the room and gave a happy sigh. His life couldn't be much better than it was now. It had been a year since he and Minerva had declared their love for each other and time had simply flown by. Albus couldn't remember a time when he had been as happy as he was at this moment in time. Tonight he planned to ask Minerva to marry him and, though he expected her to accept, he was still rather nervous. He wanted the evening to go without a hitch.

He had taken his Grandmothers ring to a jeweller in Hogsmeade to make the ring a wee bit smaller so that it would fit Minerva's ring finger perfectly. The ring had always belonged to Minerva, at least in his heart, and it was about time that she owned it properly. They hadn't spoken of marriage or their future but she had moved into his rooms four months ago. By many respects they were like a married couple already yet Albus wanted it to be official.

He had planned for this evening for weeks now and made sure that Minerva was occupied with other things while he prepared the rooms. He had managed to get Poppy Pomfrey to take Minerva into Hogsmeade in the pretence of looking for boots and that would take up a lot of time. Poppy Pomfrey wasn't the most decisive of witches, especially when it came to footwear.

Albus had brought a small table out on to the balcony and complemented it with two chairs close together. He placed a royal blue tablecloth on the table and added a small vase with a red rose inside along with two silver candles. He had arranged with the kitchen to make Minerva's favourite foods, which included chicken with a creamy mushroom and herb sauce, chipped potatoes and chocolate fudge cake for dessert.

He had told Severus Snape and Filius Flitwick that the Headmaster and the Deputy Headmistress were not to be disturbed unless Hogwarts was falling down around them. They had agreed with a knowing look evident on their faces but they didn't pass comment. He placed the small black velvet box that contained the engagement ring on the table until he finished his preparations. He had decided, that when the time was right, he would place it on the tray that would contain her dessert. He smiled as he tried to picture her face as she lifted the cover off her dessert and she saw small the box. He loved to watch her and he would always remember this night. He was sure that he would remember this night for years.

He took one look around him before picking up the ring and placing it in his robe pocket then drawing the heavy curtains across the window that led on to the balcony. He wanted to hide what he had planned from her view. He sat down and casually waited for Minerva to return from her shopping trip. An hour later, a rather exhausted looking Transfiguration professor stepped into the rooms that she shared with man she loved more than words could comprehend.

"Hello, Darling," greeted Albus as he rose from his seat and made his way over to her. "How was your day?"

Minerva slipped her lightweight coat off and placed it on the chair. She would put it in the bedroom once she was settled. She met Albus halfway on his way to meet her and she wrapped her arms around him, burying her head into his chest.

"Oh it was a nightmare," she said with a sigh. "Poppy must have tried on all the boots in the shop and we still came away empty handed."

"Oh dear," he said as he pressed a small kiss on the top of her head.

"Remind me to be busy when Poppy suggests another shopping trip," she told him. "Please, do that for me!"

Albus tried to suppress a little chuckle but failed miserably. It earned him a look from Minerva, who didn't have the energy to grill him about why he had been amused. Albus led her over to the couch and put his hands on her shoulders. He eased her down into a sitting position and moved around so that he was behind her. His hands returned to her shoulders and gently began to massage her tension away. Minerva tilted her head to the side and began to purr softly as the massage progressed.

"Mmmmmm Albus," she said softly as she leaned back against him. "What did I do to deserve this?"

"You are…you," he told her simply before withdrawing his fingers from her shoulders and standing up. "You must be hungry!"

"Not really," Minerva answered as she closed her eyes and relaxed in the warm patch that Albus had left once he got to his feet.

Albus nearly cursed out loud when she said that. She had to be hungry, otherwise the whole evening would be ruined and how would he propose to her then? He looked at her and saw that she was indeed tired but he couldn't help but be disappointed. He had been looking forward to this moment and now it seemed to fall flat. He had told Poppy not the tire his would be fiancée but it looked like that the medi-witch had taken no notice of him. He looked at the grandfather clock and saw that the house elves would have sent the food up now and it would be awaiting them out on the balcony.

"Oh, I can smell something," said Minerva perking up a bit. "I can smell battered brie pieces."

Albus chuckled at her sense of smell, something else she had inherited from her animagus form. She moved and stretched with feline grace as she took in everything with her eyes. He had even noticed that when she was concentrating deeply her nose would twitch. She had denied this over and over again but Albus had seen her do it and that was all the proof he needed.

"You can indeed my dear," he answered, hoping that the smell would entice her.

"I suddenly feel hungry," she said as she sat up and looked around the room to see where the smell was coming from.

"Your table awaits my love," said Albus as he pulled the curtains apart to reveal the star filled sky and the table ready for two. "Chez Albus is open for one night!"

Minerva looked out at the balcony and then back at Albus with a smile on her face. She had not expected to come home to this. Albus must have gone to a lot of work preparing this evening and she couldn't thank him enough.

"Oh Albus, you are full of surprises," she told him as she got to her feet and made her way over to him, slipping her hand into his and walking out on the balcony. "It's wonderful!"

"I am glad you like it Min," he whispered into her ear before pulling out her chair for her and helping her sit down before joining her. "We have brie pieces with garlic dip followed by chicken in that mushroom and herb sauce that you adore. And to finish the evening off, we have chocolate fudge cake."

"Sounds utterly divine," she answered. "But darling, what is this all in aid of?"

"Nothing," he told her with a smile. He wasn't going to tell her yet.

Minerva looked at him suspiciously. She didn't mean to search for a reason but the last time he had prepared a dinner like this was when they received their Honeydukes bill. It had been more that she had expected and she soon discovered that Albus had decided to order his actual weight in sherbet lemons.

"Come on," he urged. "I am starving!"

Minerva shook her head and smiled at him. She watched with a passion as he removed the tops covering their food and placed them on the floor. She had been so happy this past year and it had all been down to the wonderful man beside her. He treated her like a Princess and she couldn't complain. If she was honest, she enjoyed all the attention from him. Albus fed her a chucky piece of brie and accidentally got some of the garlic dip on her nose. Without hesitating, his tongue slowly traced over her nose, licking it off her, causing Minerva to giggle and blush. Their evening progressed with couple like behaviour. Tender words of love were passed back and forth and their hands touched throughout the duration of the meal until it was time for dessert.

"Oh I don't think I can eat anything else," laughed Minerva as Albus produced the final platter.

"We can share this piece," he said with a smile as he took the top off revealing the cake and the box.

"Albus?" she asked as her eyes fell upon the box. Her heart was beating faster that it had been before.

"Yes darling?" he replied as he tried to look innocent.

Minerva reached out and picked up the box. She slowly opened it and gasped with delight as her emerald green eyes fell upon the most beautiful ring she had ever seen. It was made of white gold and a simple but elegant diamond in the middle surrounded by two emeralds. It was breathtaking and Minerva could feel tears in her eyes as she looked up at Albus and waited for him to say something.

"Minerva," he said as he dropped to one knee, "you are the most important person in my world. My love for you grows each day and I can't bear to spend another day with you. Will you do me the greatest honour and consent to becoming Mrs. Albus Dumbledore?"

Minerva couldn't answer him. Her throat had seized up with all the emotions she was feeling at the moment and all she could do was launch herself into his arms and kiss him. They tumbled backwards on the floor and Albus wrapped his arms around her waist. Moments later the kiss ended and they looked at each other.

"I take it that means yes?" he said with a smile.

"Yes, it does Albus," she answered with a smile as he placed the engagement ring on to her left hand.