We apologize for the delay in getting this chapter to you. It was my, Sensiblyquirky, fault.
Chapter 12: A Sad Day For Women Everywhere
The next summer, Albus and Minerva attended a Ministry dinner. It was a boring affair as far as they were concerned, but they had to put in an appearance. Unfortunately, they were not seated together and all the same women were in attendance that always fawned over Albus at these events. He knew that Minerva trusted him, but Albus could see her watching the women seated next to him out of the corner of her eye; for that matter, he was watching Minerva all through the meal, much preferring to be in her company than anyone else's. He listened politely to the woman on his left through the first course and then the woman on his right during the second, but if anyone had asked Albus would not have been able to tell them what the ladies said.
Minerva found herself stuck between two pompous young gentlemen who tried her patience at every turn. The one on her left talked about nothing but his friend who was a Beater for the Pride of Portree, though Minerva seriously doubted he actually new the athlete, and the man on her right spent the evening discussing his business ventures. To put it bluntly, Minerva was bored and she didn't understand the seating arrangements at all. She stole wistful glances down the table at Albus as often as possible, but that always meant catching a glimpse of the women batting their eyelashes at him. One was practically drooling, it was a disgusting display.
As the meal continued, both their thoughts turned to the evening not quite a year ago when they had last been stuck in a room with the same boring people. Minerva wished she could send Albus a note now without being noticed; Albus just wished he could talk to Minerva for a few minutes. During the dessert course, Minerva completely tuned out on the conversations around her and Albus found himself being invited over for dinner by one of his companions.
"I'm sorry," he said, "but I'm afraid I can't make it. I'm already involved with someone else."
There was a collective gasp of shock from those sitting near him. "With whom?" someone asked rather viciously.
"With a very wonderful woman whom I'm hoping to spend the rest of my life with," Albus answered in a tone that let them know the subject was closed for discussion.
"A sad day for witches every where," Lionel Bishop joked from across the table, earning him several cold stares from the women surrounding him.
Albus knew that within minutes of the dinner ending the news would begin to spread and he was glad. He had never enjoyed all the letters and invitations he received and knowing how much they troubled Minerva he sincerely hoped they would cease now. Fortunately, the meal was over soon after that and he was able to get away a few minutes later. Minerva had managed to escape almost immediately after rising from the table, but she had waited for Albus around the corner so they could travel home together.
They apparated to Hogwarts and walked slowly back toward the castle, savoring the cool summer evening and the twinkling stars above the large stone structure they were both happy to call home. Albus walked Minerva to her rooms and was surprised when she evaded his kiss.
"Don't you want to come in?" she asked with a small smirk and a raise eyebrow.
"Of course, but I didn't wish to be presumptuous," he answered with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Well," Minerva said in a teasing voice, toying with his beard. "I heard a rumor tonight that the eminent Professor Dumbledore is very seriously involved with someone. I'd hate to spend the night with a man who was already spoken for."
Albus wrapped his arms around her slender waist and drew her flush against his body. "There is no one else I would rather spend the night, or the rest of my life with," he said huskily.
Minerva opened her mouth to respond and then stopped when the full impact of his words hit her. "The-the rest of your life?" she questioned softly.
He nodded and looked deep into her eyes, "Yes, my dear, the rest of my life. If you'll have me that is."
She pulled out of his arms and opened the door to her rooms, leading the way inside. "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, if this is a proposal I'm afraid you'll have to do it properly," she said in a commanding voice, though Albus could tell she was teasing him.
"For you, m'lady, of course," Albus said grandly. He took one of her hands in both of his and knelt down in front of her. "Minerva McGonagall, I love you and nothing would make me happier than spending the rest of my life with you. I promise to protect you to the best of my abilities during the dark times I fear we are entering and anything you want is yours if you only ask. Will you marry me?"
"All I want is you," she answered as she pulled him up to stand again. "Yes, I will marry you. I love you so much."
Albus drew her close again and kissed her lovingly. The kiss quickly grew in passion until they broke apart only long enough to rush toward the bedroom, wandering hands impeding the other's progress across the short distance. By the time the happy couple finally fell asleep it was nearly morning and they didn't wake until late the next day.
Minerva woke up slowly and snuggled closer to Albus, sighing contentedly. He reached up and ran one long finger over her cheek, tucking a strand of dark hair behind her ear, before slowly lowering his head to hers for a good morning kiss.
"Good morning," he said quietly when the kiss broke.
"A very good morning," she answered lazily, curling further into him.
"Do you still want to marry me?" Albus asked, planting feather light kisses across her face.
"Of course," she answered immediately before capturing his lips with her own again.
It was a very long time before they finally got out of bed, mostly driven by the need for food. Over sandwiches in the kitchen, which they prepared themselves to the dismay of the house elves, Albus asked Minerva if she had any thoughts on wedding plans yet.
"I want something very small," she answered. "In fact, I think it should be just us."
"Are you certain?" he asked.
"Absolutely," Minerva said with determination. "That is, unless you wanted something bigger."
"As long as I'm married to you, I don't care where or how," Albus assured her, leaning across the table for a quick kiss.
After finishing their sandwiches and putting the plates in the sink, Albus suggested a walk on the grounds. It was a beautiful July day and they walked toward the lake in comfortable silence, happily holding hands and glad to be away from prying eyes.
"When would you like to have the wedding?" Albus asked a while later.
"In two weeks?" Minerva answered after a moment's thought.
"Alright, and then I think we could fit in a two week honeymoon before we have to return to the school," he raised her hand to his lips for a kiss.
"Albus, what about the rising danger? Maybe we shouldn't be gone so long," she ventured.
Albus sighed, she had a point unfortunately. There hadn't been any deaths in a while, but he had heard about a lot of suspicious activity around the Ministry. People were disappearing some evenings for an unspecified length of time and a lot of gold was circulating; the black market trade of certain dark goods was flourishing once again and even people in the smallest of wizarding towns were beginning to ask questions.
"You're right, my dear, a week then," he finally answered. "Where would you like to go?"
"Some place quiet where we won't be bothered with too many tourists, and we don't have to worry about how we act."
"Sounds nice, but do you have any ideas?" Albus asked studying Minerva carefully.
"Not at the moment, but we have two weeks plenty of time," she replied turning to smile up at her fiancé before gently pulling Albus back into a walk.
For the next two weeks Minerva and Albus spent all of their spare moments making the plans for their small wedding. Minerva had purchased a set of simple white robes, and Albus had agreed to wear some blue ones that were not too flashy or gaudy.
They had decided to marry in a small chapel in Scotland not too far from Hogwarts where the Priest had been in Albus' debit for a favor many years ago. He had agreed to marry them with only a trusted member of his congregation and Aberforth as witnesses.
Five days before the marriage was to take place they had still not decided on a honeymoon destination, and were in Albus' sitting room discussing it one night after dinner.
"Why don't we visit what's her name in Glasgow? I'm sure she would be happy to have us," Albus jokingly suggested while popping a lemon drop into his mouth.
"Yes I'm sure she would, but fighting with some imbecile over my," Minerva was careful to stress the word my, "husband does not sound like a decent honeymoon much less a great one. So, no thank you!"
"Oh I do love you," Albus replied moving to the edge of his seat.
"Good, because I'd hate for you not to since you are stuck with me now."
"Well on second thought…" Minerva's mock glare did nothing to abate Albus' jovial mood, so he moved over to the couch and engaged his beloved in a heated embrace. Minerva allowed herself to be carried away until she felt Albus unbuttoning her robes.
Pulling back she placed a hand on his chest, "We need to make a decision now, or we'll never make one."
Albus looked at all the brochures spread out on the table, and randomly picked one up. "Look we'll go here. Decision made, and now we can go back to what we were doing."
Once again Minerva pushed Albus away. "Albus, honestly. Not only am I not making a decision that way, but look at the one you picked up. It's for Paris-"
"What's wrong with Paris? It's the city of love."
"Paris, Texas." Minerva finished.
"There's more than one Paris?"
"Evidently. Besides Paris, France would be too crowded now. I've never been to New Zealand, Albus. How does that sound? I'm sure we can find a nice town to stay in, and then walk around. I've heard the landscape is very beautiful, and we'd be very far away from almost everybody we know. Well hopefully any way; you seem to be well known."
"I don't know too many people that live in New Zealand, so we should be able to go one week without running into someone. That sounds fine to me, my dear." Drawing Minerva back to him Albus whispered against her lips that they could look into the specifics the next day.
The rest of the week had gone by quickly for the bride and groom, and before Albus knew what had happened he was standing at the end of the small aisle awaiting Minerva. When the doors opened and his goddess made her way toward him Albus knew that he was the luckiest man alive. For a second he regretted having spent almost twenty years beside of this wonderful woman and not realize she was perfect for him, but quickly those thoughts disappeared once Minerva reached him. There was no need to dwell on the past, but simply look forward to their future.
Simple and short in no time Minerva and Albus had checked in to the little bed and breakfast Albus had been able to find, and were walking along a beach near by.
"Thank you for agreeing on New Zealand, Albus. It is simply breath taking," Minerva said leaning her head on Albus shoulder.
"Not as breath taking as you," he spoke in her ear before kissing her neck gently.
"Well as much as I love the view I believe we have all week to discover it, so what do you say to starting this honeymoon off the right way, Mr. Dumbledore?"
"Nothing would delight me more, Mrs. Dumbledore."
Early the next morning as Albus watched his wife sleeping he thought that his first year as Headmaster had not been bad at all.