a/n sorry once again this is going to be longer than i thought it was. Maybe one day i'll be able to write a proper one shot! we live in hope! hehe! i hope you like this next installement. Its short but there is more coming soon. Reviews are always nice! cheers

Albus was inexplicably drawn to her. In later years he wouldn't be able to explain it. There seemed to be something magnetic about her. Throughout the evening he watched her. She spoke to many and obviously entertained those she spoke to. Her quick wit, grace and charm would surely win her many offers when the candles would dim and the dancing would begin. And yet, the closer this time came, the more she seemed to shrink away from people. Like she wanted to avoid that level of intimacy with someone she had only just met, and would not be able to recognise in the morning. Albus had rarely seen a witch like her, and was drawn closer.

Minerva had decided that now was the time to make her escape. During the next song she would be able to cautiously slink out of the room and go home, run herself a hot lavender bath and relax. As she turned her head and glanced at the door a movement across the floor caught her attention. There was a tall dark stranger striding purposefully towards her. She quickly tried to ascertain who is was, but to no avail. She was sure it wasn't anyone she had talked to that night, but there was definitely something familiar about him, but she could not place it. Looking around desperately for an escape she noticed Albus Dumbledore doing what looked like a bad impression of a donkey, to the obvious amusement of a terribly ugly warlock. He appeared to have changed his robes, but there was no mistaking the absurdity of his actions. Realising that she could, in no way prevail upon him to save her she turned her attention back to the man, coming ever closer.

"My dear," he began, his voice filled with admiration, "may I have this dance?" Minerva looked flustered and when she couldn't think of an excuse accepted his outstretched hand, a small smile creeping to her lips at the twinkle in his eyes.

From that moment on, when their eyes met over their joined hands they were inseparable for the rest of the night. By mutual agreement they had chosen not to reveal their true identities, but to simply enjoy the night, and the company of the other. Albus was struck with the beauty of the woman in front of him. Not only was she the most gorgeous creature he had beheld in a long time, but she was fiercely intelligent and aroused his intellect. This was the first witch he had met in a long time who he knew could challenge him, stimulate him and make his heart catch when she looked into his eyes. For Minerva the feeling was similar. Most of the young men (and even quite a few of the older ones) were only interested in her because of her perceived beauty (I say perceived because Minerva had never considered herself beautiful. Sometimes she was better than plain, but not often, and she would be shocked to learn that she was considered a beauty.) The man she was dancing with had the ability to lift her out of her skin and make her feel wanted, appreciated and believed her opinions were worth more than her face.

They waltzed for hours; the steps coming easier than either had ever found them. Their movements fluid and graceful, her fitting perfectly into the circle of his arms, and sliding like a puzzle piece into the emotional void in his heart, and he into hers. The perfect couple. Two peas in a pod recognising a potential in the other that would shine for no one else. Two perfect strangers.

The Masquerade ended only with the rising of the sun. Albus and Minerva were one of only a few couples that had remained through the night, dancing snug in each other's arms. She placed her head on his chest and he held their clasped hands to his heart. And yet their masks stayed firmly in place. Neither wanted to ruin the illusion. Both had been hurt, had their hearts broken and were unwilling to reveal the people beneath the perfect union that they had experienced. Both had been Gryffindor's but at this moment their courage had deserted them, and they remained in ignorance.

When the band stopped playing, and began to pack up Albus slowly drew away and taking his hand in hers, sweetly kissed the back, his eyes looking up and catching hers.

"My dear" he said huskily, making Minerva shiver at the emotion barely concealed behind his words, "thank-you for the dance."

"If you say another word, I might lose my heart, and that would be tragic," whispered Minerva.

In the quietest of whispers Albus added, "I'm afraid I already have"

And with that he had turned and strode from the room, leaving a shell-shocked Minerva to sink slowly to the floor and mourn the loss of the lover she had never known.