Not Yet: Chapter 1
The door closed quietly behind them and both turned to gaze at it as the click of the key turning in the lock sounded both their doom and their survival. There was no way out now till morning. No way out without the fulfilment of the requirements listed that would save them. No way out without a supreme sacrifice.
Dumbledore cleared his throat awkwardly and motioned to Minerva to sit down. She did so, keeping her eyes to the floor, her face the very picture of misery, he thought. She sat stiffly on the sofa, her hands in her lap, her eyes closed. Her head was bowed, she might have been praying but for the movement of her fingers, which laced and unlaced themselves seemingly without her direction.
She cannot bear to look at me. He said to himself. The idea was painful to him, and certainly not conducive to the evening's task. How on earth was he going to be able to…it was beyond imagining, and went against every sense of decency he held. Abominable, what I must do. He thought. One day, I had hoped…but not yet, not like this! That it should happen like this!
He let out a huge sigh, and Minerva opened her eyes. He is horrified. She thought to herself, the notion of his distaste cutting to her very soul. How on earth can we do this? Her eyes filled with tears as he took a seat beside her. She felt an almost uncontrollable urge to apologise to him, as if it were her fault that they were trapped in this uncomfortable situation, as if somehow her secret years of yearning had betrayed her and conspired to bring them to this. Be careful what you wish for…
He saw her tears and reached out a hand to wipe them away.
"Forgive me, Minerva," He said. "for what I must do tonight." His voice was barely audible, cracked and rugged under the strain of his intense emotion.
She shook her head, and moved towards him, taking him in her arms and holding him so tightly that he thought she was trying to squeeze the breath out of him. His sense of humour resurfaced momentarily as he considered that that may be exactly what she was trying to do - suffocate him and prevent him from carrying out his dreadful charge. But she quickly let go, stroking his cheeks gently as she cried more tears, whispering that he was being ridiculous, that it was no one's fault. It was the only way.
"Whatever will become of us, Albus?" She asked, her hands trembling as she smoothed his beard.
He shook his head and took her hand in his.
"We will go on. We are Gryffindors after all." He smiled wryly. "And I have faith in us. In our friendship and respect for one another."
For a brief moment, they sat together, hands clasped, in their first comfortable moment since the door had locked behind them, concentrating on all that they had gained in their forty years of friendship and marvelling at the many hurdles they had overcome together. Would they overcome this one Minerva wondered? Would their friendship remain untarnished when the door unlocked the next morning?
Their musings turned to all that they risked, and the moment was gone. She took a deep breath and looked towards the table.
"Perhaps a game of chess might help us relax?" She suggested. "We have until morning, after all."
He smiled slightly and nodded at the suggestion, and together they set up the board, working methodically and in silence, placing their own pieces in the appropriate positions, concentrating on the task at hand and desperately trying to avoid the others' eye. Where before Albus had always clumsily set up his pieces, knocking them over with his sleeves and laughing as they shouted at him to be more careful, his hands brushing against Minerva's as together they replaced the fallen figures, now his precision betrayed his discomfort. He was afraid to touch her, afraid that he would betray his secret self, afraid of setting events in motion. It was not time. Not yet.
Minerva sighed to herself. Look what it has done to us already. She thought. We can barely look at each other. She chanced a quick glance at his face, and found his blue eyes gazing back at her. He looked down at his pieces and then back into her eyes and smiled slightly.
"Look, Minerva!" He cried, almost managing to speak with the boyish charm that was so familiar and so dear to her. "I've managed to set them up without knocking down one!"
She congratulated him with a small smile of her own, and they began the game.