Title: Don't Call Me That
Author: Tartan Lioness
Minerva McGonagall was in a bad mood. And she was not just a little grumpy. She was in a BAD mood. She walked determined down the Halls of Hogwarts to talk to her friend and employer Albus Dumbledore about the ever infernal poltergeist Peeves. He had, once again, let her window open so all her papers went flying from her desk. Somehow he had put glue in her ink-well and thereby ruined her last bottle of black ink and as he had already ruined all her green ink he had left her with only the red and purple one she got from Albus last Christmas as a joke. Then he had put bubblegum in her hair, hid her glasses and her notes, spilled ink (probably Albus', as it was purple) all over her desk and he had taken her Ginger Newts and chocolate. But the thing that had really ticked her off was that when she started yelling at him he had just put on his most angelic face and said, "Why don't you go tell the Headmaster then? And while you're at it, why don't you tell him how much you luuuuurve him? I'm sure he would appreciate it, I'm sure he lurves you too… NOT!" And he had flown away, cackling. He had, of course, no proof of any feelings Minerva may or may not have had for Albus but the truth was that the reason why Minerva was so angry was because it was too close to home. So Professor Minerva McGonagall was definitely not one to cross at the moment as she walked to Albus' office to tell him what Peeves had done. She decided to leave her feelings for him out of this though. Several students had seen her mad but even the most rebellious now pushed themselves to the wall, trying not to get in the way, for they had never seen her this angry.
As she reached the gargoyle to Albus' office, she briskly spoke the password. Knocking on Albus' door, she tapped her foot impatiently against the floor. No answer. She knocked again, a bit harder this time. Still nothing. Finally she just opened the door, expecting Albus to be sitting in his chair, too engrossed in either paperwork or Lemon Drops to have heard her. But he was not there. Sighing angrily Minerva turned and walked out of the office. Looking at her watch she realized that it was almost time for dinner and that Albus would probably be in the Great Hall.
And she was right. The moment she stepped into the Great Hall she spotted him. He was sitting in his usual chair, looking annoyingly cheerful. Minerva was pissed. Her day had not exactly been perfect and he was just sitting there looking like he had no problems in the world. She scowled and walked to her seat.
"Good-evening, Minnie!" Albus cheerfully said. He had had a great day and he was looking forward to his chess game with Minerva tonight. He always enjoyed their games though she usually beat him.
Minerva glared at him. She was not in the mood for his cheerfulness at the moment.
"Please refrain from calling me Minnie, Albus Dumbledore!" she yelled. Several students looked up. They had never heard their Transfigurations professor yelling at their Headmaster. Albus blinked.
"What?" he asked, not sure she had actually just yelled at him.
"I have told you and everybody else repeatedly not to call me Min, Minnie or whatever! And still you do as you please! I've had enough of it!" She turned and walked proudly out of the Great Hall, her chin held high, not giving her students, who were staring openly at her, a look. Albus frowned, not understanding why she had been so angry. He had often called her Min or Minnie, she hadn't minded before. Why now? He got up and followed her out the doors.
He walked quickly in the direction of her rooms but when he cast a glance out a window he saw her running outside, curiously still in her human form. He changed direction, running towards the Entrance Hall. As he ran out the door, Minerva disappeared from his view and he ran faster to catch up with her. But at that moment she transformed into her feline self and ran faster than she had ever run. Albus had to give up, he could never catch her as a cat, he knew. Sighing deeply he began to walk back to the castle to wait in her chambers all night if necessary.
When Minerva was done raging, she returned to the castle and went inside, carefully making sure not to suddenly run into Albus Dumbledore, as she had no desire to speak to him at the moment. She had made her decision.
When she stepped inside her chambers she found Albus asleep in a chair in front of her fireplace. She shook her head at him and went into her bedroom where she found her suitcase. She began packing it neatly, shrinking everything before putting it carefully into the suitcase. She hardly made a noise until she swore loudly when a huge book fell down from her nightstand and squashed her toes. Having forgotten all about Albus she continued packing, never looking up until she heard a noise from her doorway. Albus stood there, his facial expression a mix between anger and hopelessness.
"What are you doing, Minerva!" he asked, his voice strained.
"I'm packing my things, Albus. As you can very well see."
"But - "
"Why do you think, Albus Dumbledore!"
"Certainly not because of what happened at dinner!"
"Yes! Exactly because of what happened at dinner! Ye ken that I dinna like bein' called Min or Minnie! An' yet ye do it anyway!" she yelled, her Scottish tongue taking over. "Ye hae nae respect for me, Albus Dumbledore! Ye nivver hae! Sae why should I stay?"
"Minerva, that is not true. You must know that I respect you very much!"
"Aye? Then how come ye nivver take any notice o' me suggestions aboot Malfoy and Potter? Ye nivver listen, ye simply do as ye want. I'm simply standin' around underfoot, Albus. I'm auld and I canna take this. I need a life too. Ye'll have me resignation on yer desk in the marnin'."
"I don't want your resignation, Minerva! And the reason why I haven't listened to you on the matters of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy is that they need to live, Minerva! We're in a war! They have fun and they train at the same time and neither of them are old or powerful enough to actually do any permanent damage! You are far from in the way! And you are also far from old, my dear. If you do no longer wish to stay at Hogwarts, be that way, we'll miss you, but don't think that we don't need you, for we do. The students love you, your colleagues love you. Please don't leave, Minerva. We need you."
"Well, then," Minerva said, back to only her Scottish lilt, "Why do you insist on calling me Min or Minnie? You know I don't like it."
"Minerva, you have never really minded that I call you those names, with Rolanda and Poppy and everyone else it's different but you've never corrected me so I assume that it's okay. I'm truly sorry but I don't understand why you're so upset by it." Minerva looked down.
"I'm sorry, Albus. I've just had a really bad day and then you're so cheerful and you call me Minnie in front of the students, something that will not exactly gain their respect. And… I don't know, I guess I just snapped. Will you forgive me?"
"There is nothing to forgive, my dear. We all have bad days every once in a while, and we all take it out on someone innocent every once in a while too. Even I, the cheerful, slightly mental Headmaster," Albus smiled. Minerva almost snorted. Slightly mental?
"I don't recall you ever taking any bad mood out on anyone though."
"Oh, my dear, I usually take it out on Fawkes. He really is a great friend, he always forgive me."
"I know. He is quite a special phoenix." Minerva's eyes gleamed. "Now, I believe that we had a chess game planned?"
"Indeed we did," Albus smiled and pulled a familiar bag out from under his robes. "Sherbet Lemon?" he offered.
"No thank you," Minerva politely declined, as she always did. Shaking her head slightly she smiled at his as he popped one into his mouth and sucked on it.
They moved to Minerva's small coffee table, which had a chess board on it and Albus made his move.
Over an hour later Minerva announced her victory just like she almost always did and Albus sat back, held his hands up in defeat, and laughingly marvelled over her.
"You are, indeed, a great player, Minerva. You proved that the first time we played. And how many times have I beaten you since?"
"I believe it's about twenty times, Albus… in forty years," she smirked. Albus laughed heartily.
A few days later Minerva was correcting some essays when Peeves come flying into her office, interrupting her. She angrily looked up from her papers and started yelling at him. And everything seemed to repeat itself.
"The headmaster would probably be more than happy to see you! You know, you really should tell him of your feelings, you are such good friends! We can't have that keeping secrets will ruin your friendship, can we!"
"You have no proof at all of any feelings I might or might not have, Peeves! Now GET OUT OF MY CLASSROOM!"
"Oh, but I do have evidence! You see, I found a big stack of letters in your top drawer! Ring a bell?" he said in a sing-song voice. Minerva paled visibly. "I think I'll pay the headmaster a visit… and show him the letters you have written to him over the years… Do you think he'd appreciate it?"
"GIVE ME THOSE LETTERS!" Peeves flew out the door and Minerva ran after him, forgetting all about her paperwork, concentrating solely on catching Peeves before he managed to show Albus the letters she had written. Unfortunately for her she rounded a corner and ran straight into something solid. She lost her balance but before she fell she was caught by a pair of strong arms. Looking up she stared into the twinkling eyes of Albus Dumbledore. He let her go and gently waggled a finger at her.
"No running in the hallways, Miss McGonagall, how often must I remind you?" he teased. When she was a student she had often run around the halls and for some reason Albus had always been the one to catch her.
"I'm sorry, Albus. But must I also remind you that you have to talk to Peeves? Now he has once again interrupted my work and she stole a stack of letters that I keep in my drawer for safety. They are very personal, Albus, and I cannot have him showing them to everybody."
"Ah, yes, I shall talk to him immediately, my dear. Follow me, let's see if we can track him down, shall we?" Minerva nodded.
She and Albus went in search for him in silence, Minerva wondering about what Peeves would do to the letters. 'He better not read them or I swear I will… do something rash!'
They found Peeves wrecking havoc in an empty class-room, crumbling together balls of parchment, spilling ink and, Minerva's eyes widened, writing excerpts from the letters on the blackboard.
"Peeves!" Albus roared, not noticing the writing. Peeves stopped what he was doing and looked at the angry wizard, putting on his most innocent face.
"Yes, Mr. Headmaster, sir?"
"Give Professor McGonagall back her letters and get out of here. If I hear that you have bothered her again, you will be out of a place to wreck havoc in. Do you understand?" he said with a dangerously low voice.
"Why certainly, Mr. Headmaster, sir," Peeves smirked. Albus glared at him. The poltergeist threw the letters on the desk and floated out of the classroom, singing loudly "The Head and his Deputy sitting in a tree, doing things they shouldn't be…"
Minerva rolled her eyes and made an impatient noise. Albus on the other hand blushed a bit, thinking that he wouldn't mind being with Minerva in a tree… doing things they shouldn't be. Minerva went to the desk and picked up the letters, gathering them with a red ribbon. At the same time they turned to the blackboard where Peeves' words were written.
"'We have been friends for so many years… I couldn't tell you… I thought you'd detest me for feeling this way… I am only an ordinary witch… From the bottom of my heart I apologise but I cannot help but feel this way… You're perfect… your childish behaviour, the way you can light up any day just by smiling… your caring nature… When I was in St. Mungo's, all I could think about was you…'" Albus muttered, reading what it said all over the blackboard. Minerva looked away trying to hide the blush on her cheeks and the tears which were beginning to gather in her eyes. Why did Peeves have to be so mean? Why had he written all this on the blackboard? It was bad enough that he knew of her feelings, did he have to announce them to the world? Angrily she bit back the tears that were threatening to fall. She felt Albus' hand on her shoulder but she couldn't bear to have him touch her right now. She moved her shoulder and his hand fell. She knew that if she didn't soon get out of there then he would see her eyes, her tears, her hurt and her love for him. And she wouldn't be able to keep her calm. She would blurt out her feeling and her thoughts and she would ruin everything they had ever had. Even if that had never been what she really wanted to have with him. She went for the door, stack of letters in her hand, face down. She was not going to let him see her cry, no matter what. However, she didn't even get to take more than a few steps before she felt a hand stop her. Albus wasn't rough or hard in his movements but even just the gentle hand upon her arms stopped her. She closed her eyes briefly but she didn't turn to face him. Her hand crammed the letters in it and her body involuntarily shivered.
"Minerva?" She could hardly make out his whisper. "Minerva?" It was a bit louder this time.
"Yes?" Her voice wasn't much more than a hoarse whisper.
"What--?" Albus didn't say more. He didn't have to. She understood him perfectly. What was the meaning? Slowly, ever so slowly, she turned around.
"Y-yes?" Getting her emotions somewhat under control she looked up defiantly. Her hard eyes immediately softened however when they met the deep blue ones of her friend. This was the man she loved. Would she be able to lie to him? Most likely not. She never had. Withheld information, yes. But she had never lied to him. But it seemed that it would be inevitable this time. She could not tell him the truth, though he probably already knew from the excerpts on the blackboard.
"Minerva," he started seriously, "I need you to tell me the truth. Please, I beg you not to lie or withhold any information, no matter how unimportant it may seem. Can you do that for me?" She nodded. "Will you do it for me?" This time she hesitated. Then she slowly nodded again, knowing what would come, preparing herself to the soft and gentle rejection she would get from him. Preparing herself to hear him tell her that while he was flattered, it could never be. He didn't feel the same way about her. She prepared for what she had known for years would someday come.
"Who, Minerva? Who is it that has earned the love of you? Who is it that has stolen your heart so?" The pain in his voice was obvious.
"It is a man, a wizard stronger than any. He can make me feel happy just by looking at me. He makes or breaks my heart every time I see him happy or sad. He would stand by me in anything and everything. He is the most incredible, amazing person I've ever known."
Albus' eyes were shining with unshed tears. He had lost her. Lost her before he had had a chance to have her. To hold her in his arms and make her his. He had, quite simply, lost her. Slowly he nodded and let go of her.
"I shall let you go then. You have elsewhere to be." A tear fell from the great and proud wizard's eye and slipped into his beard. Minerva, however, smiled softy.
"Where else could I be but with the man I so desperately love? Where else but with you?"
The silence was deafening and Minerva was beginning to think that she had made a horrible mistake. That she had misread his actions. That he didn't really return her feelings. She looked down again as another wave of tears hit her and she couldn't hold them in. She sobbed harder than she had ever sobbed before, wanting to believe that she was not going soft, she was just very emotional still after the Stunner attack. That was all. But she knew in her heart that that was nothing but a small part. She was indeed suffering from a broken heart. When she felt a pair of arms around her she didn't pull back, quite frankly she didn't have the strength to, she just cried into the front of Albus' robes.
Neither of them knew how long they had been standing there when Minerva's tears finally stopped. Albus held the limp body of his friend and love for a few more minutes before he pulled back and looked into her face. It was pale but pink from crying and her eyes were puffy. Her hair was tousled and long black locks of it had come out if the bun in the nape of her neck.
"Minerva McGonagall. Am I really the man you so desperately love?" His eyes bore into hers in a reassuring manner. She nodded silently. Once again he drew her into his arms and held her tightly. This woman, this amazing, fantastic woman loved him. "Say it again," he whispered into her hair.
"I love you, Albus."
"I love you too, Minerva."