Disclaimer: I do not own anything dealing with Harry Potter and I do not suspect that I shall anytime in my lifetime.
A/N: Has it been two weeks already? I don't know. Anywho, I am now updating this story cuz I have been getting a lot of complaints about my lack of updating. Savvy?
Chapter Sixteen (my lucky number): The Astronomy Tower…
Albus stared out of the Astronomy Tower window. The sun was about to set and for the first time in a long time it depressed him. He always thought of sunsets as beautiful' a closing of one day and a hope for what was to come tomorrow. But now, he just saw the sun set on his hopes and close on his future. If only he had told Minerva how he felt a long time ago. None of this would have happened. At least he didn't think it would have. Perhaps he would be holding her in his arms right now.
Heaving a heavy sigh, Albus fell upon his knees and raised his eyes to the sky above. He inhaled the sweet scent which was always associated with evening or early morning. The dew was already beginning to formulate upon the grass, though the sun had not yet set. The sound of the crickets chirping in the distance offered a very light, pleasant tune to the ear. But none of this seemed to truly penetrate his brain. His eyes were focused solely upon the darkening sky above.
"Heavens above," he said. "I pray with all my every fiber of my being that Minerva somehow forgive me. I don't know what I will do if she were no longer part of my life. I love her with all my heart and soul. An errant child I could deal with, or even a pesky poltergeist. But a life without Minerva, even a successful one, would be… empty."
Tears were now pouring from his eyes as he thought of a long, lonely existence without the one woman who held his heart in the palm of her hand. The one woman who had come to mean everything to him. Just the very thought of such a lonely life made his heart ache.
"What am I going to do?" he breathed as he placed his right hand over his mouth.
"Perhaps you should take away house points and give me a years worth of detentions with my head of house." Albus' head snapped up as he heard that voice. That voice was like music to his ears. There, in the doorway of the Astronomy Tower, was Minerva.
Minerva had arrived at Hogwarts about half an hour earlier. She searched throughout the halls of the school, hoping she hadn't completely muddled things up. When he wasn't in his office or private quarters, she decided to go to the Astronomy Tower. Perhaps he was walking on the grounds and she would be able to see him from there. When she saw him there, she was thrilled. But what would she say? Then, he fell to his knees and spoke out loud, and her eyes filled with tears as she listened to his prayer. This wonderful, wonderful man loved her and he wanted her forgiveness. If only he would forgive her…
"Minerva…" he choked out. He stood and she walked over to him.
"Before you speak, Albus, I must ask you to listen." Albus nodded. He was so glad she was back and speaking with him that he would shut his mouth forever if that would please her. Minerva took in a deep breath and sighed.
"You must understand that although those pictures hurt me a great deal, I understand why you took them. After all, I probably would have wanted more proof. And I understand that you just wanted to keep me from harm. I appreciate that more than you can ever know." She took in another deep breath and looked away. Turning around, she began to walk about the Astronomy Tower slowly while Albus stayed where he was, never once taking his eyes off her.
"You know? At first, I was hurt when I found Dameon with that woman. I was hurt that he would treat me as though I were just an object to be had and used at his will. Then, I became enraged. I may not be perfect, but I do not think I was so bad that I would drive him to cheat. Then, a thought occurred to me. What if I cannot satisfy any man? What if I am just at that age where no man would ever want me? That hurt me even more, and that was when I went to your rooms to seek your council, as I so often do." Albus' heart hurt as he heard her, but did not interrupt her. No one interrupted Minerva when she was speaking her mind.
"So you can understand my anger when you showed me those pictures." He nodded as she kept her back to him and began to trace an intricate design upon an old desk which, judging by the dust which was gathering upon it, appeared to be forgotten. Albus nodded, not trusting his voice. "So I ran. I ran from you, my fears, my pain. Well, I tried to run from my pain, but it only followed me. After a few moments, I met up with Severus. I tried to run from him, too, but he would not let me. He took me to Hogsmeade and forced me to tell him everything that had happened.
"So, I told him. He turned even paler, if that is possible." She chuckled slightly as she moved on to a small instrument which looked like some sort of intricate paperweight. She picked it up and rolled it around in her hands as she looked up and continued to speak, her back still facing Albus. "That was when he told me of how you were trying to win me back from Dameon." She stopped and Albus was unsure of whether she wanted him to reply or not. So he cleared his throat.
"Minerva, if I have caused you any harm, aside from those photos, I beg of you to-," Minerva finally turned and faced him and held up her hand.
"Don't, please," she pleaded. The light outside was almost gone so he could not see her entire face. She stood half in shadows and half in light, the light only illuminating the bottom half of her body. "You have done nothing wrong, so please do not ask for forgiveness. It is I who should be asking for it." Albus gave her a confused look, so she went on. "I was the one who yelled at you for those pictures. You were only trying to help me. I know you meant absolutely no harm by them, and it was my fault. I was angry and therefore I lashed out at you irrationally. It is not like me to do such a thing and you know it.
"The truth of the matter is that I am not as angry as I should be for his sins. The truth is I am sort of… relieved. You see, I did not love him as I thought I did. All he cared about was keeping up an appearance. He wanted me as a trophy wife, though I am not sure why. I am not beautiful nor am I anything special. But apparently my name was enough for him. He did not love me and I did the love him. I found that every time I was with him, I could not stop myself from thinking of-of…" She took a deep breath and swallowed. "Of you." Albus smiled. At last they were getting somewhere.
"I am glad that Severus was not lying," he whispered. She looked down.
"No, Albus, he was not lying," she breathed. She twisted a handkerchief she had in her hands. The next thing she said warmed Albus all over. "I-I love you, Albus." His heart fluttered as he heard those three small words escape from her lips.
"Oh, Minerva," he said, walking up to her. He pulled her into his arms and wrapped his arms around her as she linked her arms around his waist and rested her head onto his chest. "I love you so much that sometimes it hurts. Please forgive me for all the wrongs I have done to you. Please say you'll forgive me." She smiled as she inhaled his scent.
"All is forgiven, Albus," she breathed. "If you'll say you'll forgive me for being so cruel and losing my temper. You know my horrible Scottish temper." Albus chuckled.
"Ah, but Tabby, that is just the thing. I love that spirit you have in you. When you believe in something, you believe it with such a passion that it warms me all over. That spirit, conviction, and passion are what make you unique." Minerva smiled. She loved it when he said things like that.
"Thank you, Albus," she whispered. "And I love your childish side. It's nice to know that at least one of us can remember what it is like to be young." Albus smiled.
"Oh, I don't know, Tabby," he said. "I've seen your playful side a time or two and I must say that I like it." She laughed. He looked over his shoulder at the sun. "What do you say we watch the rest of this sunset together, huh?" She sighed happily.
"I would love to, Albus." With his right arm resting over her shoulders, he led her to the window. They stared contentedly for a second or two before she looked at him and he gasped. Her smile quickly turned to a frown. "What is wrong, Albus?"
"Minerva," he whispered, turning her to face him and lifting his left hand to her cheek. "How did this happen?" She gasped when she remembered her black eye. Even in this light, he could see it. She turned.
"Oh, it is nothing, Albus," she said in a vain attempt to pass it off. But he would not let her go without an explanation. He grabbed her shoulders, albeit gently, and waited until she willingly looked at him. Her bottom lip quivered and she closed her eyes, though she kept her head held high.
"Did Dameon do this to you?" he asked angrily. Slowly but surely, she bobbed her head twice. He cursed under his breath as he gently ran the pad of his thumb over her bruised cheekbone. "I am so sorry, Tabby. I am sorry that he hurt you, both physically and emotionally."
"It is not your fault, Albus," she said as she opened her eyes to look into his. His eyes held nothing but love and adoration for her and she loved him for it. "You were not there, so you could not have stopped him from doing so." He leaned in so that their lips were only centimeters apart.
"I know. But I promise you, Tabby, that I will always be there for you from now on. You don't have to be alone anymore." With that, he kissed her softly on the lips, leaving it up to her to decide if she wanted to deepen it or not. She rested her arms around his neck and did, indeed, deepen the kiss, much to his delight. When they pulled back, they rested their foreheads together and smiled.
"You know, Tabby, you lied earlier." She looked at him, rather confused. "You said you were not beautiful, and that you weren't anything special. Those are two of the biggest lies I have ever heard in my lifetime, and believe me, I have heard a lot. You are the most beautiful woman alive. Not even Aphrodite could compare with your beauty. And you are more special than you could ever imagine. I love you, and will see to it that you are never harmed again. The next person to even look at you in a disgraceful manner will have me to deal with." By now, Minerva's unshed tears were overflowing and running down her cheeks; only, they were tears of joy, not tears of sorrow. Albus gently wiped those tears away and was thrilled when she closed the gap between them and kissed him, almost roughly, on the lips.
"Thank you, Albus," she said when they parted. "You have no idea how much that means to me. I love you with all my heart and pray that I can somehow show to you just how much you mean to me."
"There is a way," he said. She looked at him expectantly. He pulled back, got down on one knee, and pulled a ring from an inner pocket of his robes. Her heart was beating quickly as she saw a small, black box; one that had so much meaning. "Marry me, Minerva, and do me the honors of becoming my wife." She bent down next to him, wiped her tears away, and hugged him. She pulled back slightly to look into his eyes.
"Nothing would give me more pleasure than to be called Mrs. Albus Dumbledore. Yes, Albus, I will marry you." She kissed him passionately once more before she pulled back and allowed him to place his grandmother's ring upon her hand. It was a very beautiful ring with a diamond in the middle and an emerald on either side of it.
"And to think I almost lost you," he said. Minerva placed her newly decorated left hand upon his cheek and flashed a large, toothy grin.
"Never," she said. "You shall never lose me ever again. I will always be here for you, forever and ever."
"I am counting on it," he smiled. With that, they kissed each other once again, just as the last ray of sun fell behind the mountains. Together forever and for always.
Forever and for always- that is how it should be. Sadly, nowadays we find ourselves lost in our own selves. Sometimes we lose a loved one, whether it be from death or another means, and we don't have the chance to tell them just what they mean to us. So now that you have finished reading of our beloved Minerva McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore, and you are sitting at your computer wondering what to do next, perhaps you should take the time to go to someone you love and tell them just how much they mean to you. And when they give you that odd, "What are you talking about?" look, just remember this… That look will be important for you to remember them by later, when you will have no more chances to tell them you love them.
A/N2: Okay, I know, I tried a little something different with this fic. I ended it differently. I almost didn't write that last part, but then I thought it might be nice to add it and just try something new. What do you think? What do you think of this chapter overall? The story? Good? Bad? Horrible? Never write again Mayleene? Let me know! I am so thankful to all those of you who have read this story and reviewed, especially Mollisk, SherbetKitty, OSUSprinks, and TartanLioness, just to name a few. There are so many of you, I can't simply thank you all. I'll thank you all in your personal responses that I shall send you when you review. Always Hopeful