Author: Saint Potter

Rating: M

Category: General/ Romance

Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns everything. No money is being made.

Summary: Is there truth behind this sentence? Takes place during OotP. Minerva's POV.

A/N: A big Thank You to all the reviewers of my first story The Tears of Those Left

Behind. You made me continue!

The Eternal Loneliness of Great Men

by Saint Potter

She wasn't old.

Nevertheless, she admitted that sitting in her office chair and starring at her desk for hours wasn't doing her any good. In fact her neck was as stiff as a piece of wood. The pain dissolved from her neck up into her head, forming the worst kind of headache she ever had. Every pore of her back was begging to be released from this position, her teeth clenched with every move.

What frustrated her even more, was the never shrinking stag of parchments that lay next to her on the table, seemingly leaving her pain and effort in vein and increasing her headache into as of yet unknown territories.

Sighing, she swished her wand and summoned another cup of very hot and strong tea.

Bringing the cup to her lips, she simultaneously focused her attention back to the essay before her. It was mediocre; not really bad but not good either. Those essays were the hardest to correct, the grade always depending on little things: a theory that was basically right but wrong in the completion, or a fact with some correct parts, while the rest was utter rubbish. She needed to look explicitly for those hints, while other essays were either bad or very good on first sight.

"The Inanimatus Conjurus spell forms an essential part of the Conjurus spells. It can only be used to summon up unanimated things, objects like a pincushion or an apple..."

Minerva took her quill in order to correct the first serious mistake the author of the essay had made. The Inanimatus Conjurus spell didn't allow the user to conjure organic materials.

Dipping the tip of her quill into the inkpot she looked up and froze in her movements.

Opposite from her, leaning nonchalantly against the doorway, stood Albus Dumbledore, glad in deep blue robes, a smile gracing his features. Something in his mimic bothered Minerva to the root.

"My excuses, if I scared you," he seized the word before Minerva was even able to open her mouth, "but after endlessly knocking at your door, and many curious glances from passing students, I took the liberty of letting myself in." His silver eyebrow went up, waiting for her reply.

He looks too sure of himself.

Minerva quickly lowered her gaze and searched for her inkpot. "Nevertheless you could have made yourself noticeable," she said absentminded.

"I'm almost certain," she could hear him sitting down into the chair before her desk, "that you wouldn't have noticed me even if I had danced on your table, stark naked."

The line Minerva was drawing under the passage went further as intended. When she looked up, Albus was innocently thumbing through the newest edition of "Transfiguration Today".

"Albus, I certainly don't want to be rude, but as you can hopefully see," she spread her arms, pointing at her overstuffed desk. "I'm working."

"That you do, my dear. And far too much, in my opinion," he laid the magazine down and folded his hands in his lap. "Minerva, I worry about you. It has been 3 weeks since you did something else in the evenings than working. Life isn't just about working but also about enjoying oneself."

"Well, thank you, Albus, for sharing your wisdom with me," she answered bristly, swinging her wand to erase half of the red line, "but unfortunately, the essays don't correct themselves. After all, this is what I get paid for, isn't it?"

Silence followed her somewhat sharp reply. She fought the temptation to look up at him, but merely continued to correct the essay as calm as she could.

"...This spell has been known for quite some time; the first occurrence was reported at Hogsmeade in the 14th century. While no one knows who it was-"

After having read the sentence six times and not grasping its contents, Minerva looked up, annoyed to the boot.

"Albus, are you going to sit there all night?"

"If I have to," was his calm reply.

"Well, then better get comfortable." She knew very well that she would not get any work done with him sitting opposite of her, starring. And she also knew that he knew she couldn't work. But if he wanted to play this silly game, she would be the last to back out.

"Minerva," he sighed and leaned forward, "This is not healthy. You need to come out of here from time to time. Come with me; join me in a walk around Hogwarts. It is a wonderful evening."

Another attempt to read the essay was needed to let her resolution crumple to pieces. This time however, her brain successfully processed the information. What in Merlin's name is this student writing about?

Sighing she laid down her quill. The prospect of having a walk in the fresh cool autumn air was getting more and more tempting. Something, however, had her pinned to her seat.

"I think I cannot walk straight again," she said silently, "I think I cannot even stand up from this chair."

Albus seemed to understand. "You sat in there too long, didn't you?"

"Perhaps I really overdid it, "she whispered as a jolt of pain shot through her. She closed her eyes, and tried to loosen the knots herself.

"Let me try." Albus' voice was deep and soft and…near.

Minerva's eyes flew open as she realized that he had come around her desk to stand behind her.

"No, thank you. It gets better with time," she quickly assured him, and reached for the quill once again.

"No it doesn't get better with time. In fact it only gets worse. ," Albus said firmly, took the quill out of her hand and laid both hands on her shoulder. "I'm sure you don't appreciate being dragged into the infirmary, so you are stuck with me," he grinned. "There are people who would give their last lemon drop just to have me massage them."

Minerva smiled slightly. "That's because no one in their right minds would want to eat something like that-"

"Close your eyes and try to relax," he interrupted. "It has been quite some time, I must own, but I'm sure I can still master it. My mother had always had a stiff neck; it was really bad, especially when she was pregnant with Aberforth. And I was the only one in the family, who -"

Even years later, Minerva couldn't tell what it was that Albus was the only one of in his family. The initial stiffness she experienced once Albus laid his hands on her shoulder disappeared as fast as it came. Showers of delicious pain pinned her to her seat as Albus slowly moved his thumbs in little circles, just underneath her shoulder blades. She tried to keep all her senses up, to listen to what he was saying but her body seemed to have taken a life of its own, deciding to drown out every noise, and leaving her with nothing else but her feelings. As the circles became larger the pain dissolved and her muscles began to relax. His hands began to join his fingers in their work and started to massage the top of her shoulders.

Seemingly cooperating with the majority of her senses, her thoughts began to leave her. The nasty voice that sat in her head and reminded her to keep the situation in mind was getting fainter and fainter with every circle of Albus' hands, until it was completely drowned. Closing her eyes, she leaned her head back against the smooth fabric of Albus robes. She didn't know whether he was still talking or if he was observing her. Honestly, it didn't matter.

Suddenly those wonderful hands stopped and left their place on her shoulder. Momentarily she felt cold and disappointed. But before her brain even had time to formulate a descent complain, his hands were on her again, coming in touch with the very sensitive flesh of her neck.

Minerva felt shivers running up and down her body, when Albus laid his hands gently around her throat. He kneaded the skin above her collar and Goosebumps appeared on her arms. Slowly descending further up, he reached her hairline. Minerva leaned her head forward, away from him, giving him better access.

Another wave of shivers ran through her. Heat began to well up in her stomach, spreading out into every pore of her body, especially the lower parts. It was a sensation she had almost forgotten, a sensation which she knew she shouldn't have. She opened her mouth in order to say something, anything, but what came out was nothing more than a sigh. The next attempt ended in a moan, as Albus increased the pressure of his fingers, successfully convincing her to forget about whatever it was she wanted to say. Rationalism didn't seem to belong here.

She could feel him shifting behind her, and suddenly she was painfully aware of just how close he was. Without leaving his attention on his hands he leaned into her. Warm air reached her neck, letting her hairs stand high on end. His face had to be only centimetres away from her skin, hovering beside her head. But his breath was not even, not as calm as it always was. His heart was beating irregularly, faster than usual.

A small sigh escaped his mouth, increasing the warm flow of air on her neck for a short moment, before, slowly, his head bended further down.

His lips brushed her neck in a feather light kiss. Nevertheless it had quite an impact on her. The tingling sensation his lips left behind rushed through her to her stomach, increasing the warmth that had already built there, and into her feet. She moaned once again, urging him to go on.

Hands laid on her shoulder, squeezing them as if he was trying to express his longing to her, his lips once again grazed her sensitive flesh with kisses, one as light as the other. Finally, he flicked his tongue out and sucked the very spot he had been massaging before.

Moaning, Minerva lifted her arms above her head and laid her hands on the back of his head, directing him to the front of her throat.

Suddenly, however, he paused. She opened her eyes and was taken aback by the light blue eyes that hovered in front of her face. All of sudden her senses came rushing back, making her gasp.

Oh Merlin.

Albus closed his eyes, and took a deep breath, trying to even out his irregular breath. When he opened them again, they were shadowed with sadness, and something else.

Guilt?

They looked at each other for a very long moment; neither moved nor spoke a word. Minerva was desperately trying to come to terms with what had just happened. They had been friends for so many years, and never had something like this occurred. They may have flirted on more than one occasion but they had never crossed the line; the barrier between friendship and something much deeper and complicated. It went without saying that they weren't allowed to push their relationship onto a higher level. He was her superior, after all. And, honestly, Albus has never made his intentions clear.

Although Albus had been her friend for many years, she rarely ever saw behind his calm exterior. His façade was almost always perfect in place, his mind blocked from its surroundings. He could let his brain work out the most complicated theories without showing it to the outside. He could talk to you about the weather at one moment, and in the next he would start discussing the theories he had just thought out about the combined effect of Conjurus spells.

It was his unorthodox way of thinking, his seemingly never ending knowledge and his slight eccentric behaviour, which made him unique. And it was this ability of his that drew Minerva to a man 80 years her senior when she was young.

It was not uncommon. Albus had the ability to bewitch every woman in a radius of two kilometres, regardless what age they were. But oddly enough, she had never seen him act on even one of the affections that he was showered with. In all the years, he did not once let a woman become more than a friend to him. "The eternal loneliness of great man," a few had said in explanation. She had wondered more than once if there was truth in this sentence.

Minerva never found out whether Albus knew back then that she held affections for him. She suspected that he did, though. Sometimes it seemed he knows everything. And although she had been curious as to why he lived this privately she'd never asked him, but instead she cherished the wonderful friendship they had built over the years and did everything to keep it like this.

And now, so many years after she had stopped loving him, they had given in to desires that should long have been buried. Desires that she knew both of them hadn't experienced in a very long time.

"I'm more than sorry for what happened, Minerva," Albus whispered softly, gazing at her with eyes full of emotion.

"Really sorry."

Tears sprang into her eyes. Why she did not know. Maybe it was a result of the rapid change from longing to sadness that took her over the edge, or the realization that this sentence indeed must bear some truth.

He does not let her love him. Nevertheless how much he wanted to.

"Don't," she urged him hoarsely, surprised that she had spoken. "Don't-"

Albus laid his finger onto her lips, hushing her. He used his other hand to wipe away a tear that has found its way down her cheek. He didn't look her in the eyes, but instead concentrated very hard on his own hands, his forehead laid in wrinkles.

Finally he spoke softly. "I beg you not to think that I did this on purpose. I did not want to use you. Merlin, no-"he shook his head. "Nevertheless this is completely my fault, and should consequences arise I will accept them."

"What do you think I would do?" Minerva asked almost desperate. "Ignore you for the rest of my life? Quit this job, and leave the Order? Do you really think I would do that?"

He shook his head once again. "I would not hope so-"

"Why don't you let anyone near you, Albus?" She blinked, trying to chase away the tears that threatened to follow the first one. "Why don't you let me love you?"

Once again, he shut his eyes, taking his time to answer. "Minerva, you have to understand-" he croaked. "-I cannot. It is too dangerous."

Never, in all their years had she seen him this desperate and lost, without a hint on what to do. Running away or staying? She could see his will struggling.

Minerva grabbed his large hands with her delicate ones. "How can you know that? Albus, you are human. It is in human nature to love and thinking you could avoid something as basic and- important as this is just ignorant. You know what happens to those who despise love and think them able to live without it? Haven't you seen it often enough?"

"But I don't despise love, Minerva. On the contrary," he said smiling sadly. "I still love, and I will cherish it until the day I die."

"What is this? A selfless love?" Minerva said unbelieving. "Always the noble one, aren't you?" What was meant to be biting didn't come out as more than a whisper.

"Minerva, it is not in my power to ensure the one I care about a secured life. People I considered family have been murdered because they knew me. I'm not willing to go through this again.

"I love the friendship we have. A friendship, that has kept me sane over the last years. I need you, Minerva. Right now, I need you as my friend, as my right hand, as someone I can trust and who supports me. You have to be able to take over the school and the Order should I die. And you have to do that without second thought. No looking back and no grieving. Our friendship is the most important thing for me. I just hope I didn't ruin it with my unwise action tonight." His last words came out as a whisper.

Minerva didn't bother about the tears that rolled down her cheeks. She understood the meaning of his words, although he had so gallantly evaded spelling them out. He loved her. But her friendship is more important at the moment than any possible relationship between them. Should he die –and good heavens, let it not happen in the next 20 years- she had to remain calm enough to take over his business and take care of everything he had left behind.

She doubted that remaining friends would change anything in her way of grieving.

She doubted that maintaining a friendship would make it any easier for her.

And deep inside her, she doubted that they were given another chance.

"I will always be there for you," Minerva said softly, managing a sad smile.

Albus laid his hands on both sides of her face and brushed his lips lightly against hers. Minerva closed her eyes, desperately trying to hold onto this feeling as long as she could, engraving this moment into her brain. The softness of his lips, the light scratching of his beard, the warmth that once again flooded her, vanished all too soon and before Minerva knew what was happening he stood and left the room.

She didn't even hear the door close, as she sat transfixed in her chair, the ghost of his kiss still lingering on her lips.

"Right now, I need you as my friend."

Right now.

All her hope would be put into those little two words.


Spoiler

This was written before HBP came out. I wanted to change it after I read the new book, until I noticed that it wouldn't fit. Albus has his hand burned so I couldn't possibly let him massage Minerva, now could I? I liked the massage part, however,and soI left it that way.

Hope you liked it. If you did, then please review.