Title: Don't Worry, Love
Summary: Albus and Minerva attend a banquet… and Edward Jones changes their lives…
A/N: This is dedicated to Sandra, who helped me a lot! Also thanks for Kaylee, who helped me with the title!
"Do I really have to go?" Albus Dumbledore's voice came from his bedroom.
"Yes, Albus, you really do have to go!" Minerva McGonagall, who was standing in his living room, answered her employer and best friend.
"But I hate these kinds of parties. They're so unbelievably boring!" Albus whined.
"Boring? How can they be boring? It's not as if you lack company. Especially not female company." She said this with a grin, although it hurt to even think about. Albus came out from his bedroom wearing spectacular deep blue robes, with silver embroidery at the hems and cuffs. Minerva smiled at him.
"You look very handsome, Albus."
"Thank you, my dear," he answered. Minerva moved to stand in front of him, then she smoothed down his robes and made sure everything was perfect. With a small smile she stepped away from him and looked up.
"You certainly won't be lacking female company tonight. Oh no, they'll throw themselves at your feet."
"I do not wish for them to come near me! They're all so dull and boring and all they see is 'the greatest wizard of the century if not longer'. One can't even have a decent conversation with them!" Albus almost pouted and Minerva couldn't help but laugh.
"Poor you, Albus. I just thank Merlin I don't have to go."
"You know, I almost wish you did have to go, then I could leave you alone to be attacked by all your suitors."
"What in the world are you talking about?" Minerva chuckled. Albus let out a dramatic gasp.
"By Merlin's beard," he said in a mock shocked voice. "She doesn't know!" Minerva merely raised an eyebrow. "Honestly, Min, you can't say you haven't noticed how they look at you?"
"How who looks at me?"
"Every single male in the room, who's over the age of twenty."
"Oh, surely not, Albus, you must be seeing things." Minerva gave him a sceptical look. Albus merely chuckled.
"Oh but they do. However, that does not matter, as you're not obligated to go, like certain others," he grumbled. "And trust me, when they see that I don't have a companion, they'll…" He almost shuddered at the thought.
"Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of our time, defeater of Grindelwald, Head of the Order of the Phoenix, can't handle a few love-sick women?" she teased.
"Minerva, have you ever seen a herd of Hippogriffs in heat? That's now they behave," he said matter of factly. Minerva doubled over laughing, until tears were streaming out of her eyes. When her laughter subsided she straightened her robes and looked at Albus. He was giving her a nasty look.
"Are you done?"
"I think so," she quipped with shimmering eyes.
"You know what? For that I should force you to go." Minerva glared at him. Then she turned away from him and muttered, "You wouldn't have to force me, just ask me and I would be happy to go with you."
"What was that?" asked the older man gently.
"Huh? Oh nothing, nothing," she quickly answered. But Albus had quite a good hearing and he was almost absolutely sure he had heard correct.
"Minerva?" Minerva faced him again. "Would you do me the honour of accompanying me to the banquet?" Minerva narrowed her eyes.
"Are you going to leave me alone and defenceless against 'all my male admirers'?" Albus chuckled.
"No, my dear, I'm not. We can protect each other, how does that sound?"
"I don't have anything to wear." Albus smiled and waved his wand. Minerva looked down herself and instead of seeing her normal green school robes, she was dressed in a crimson dress, tighter than her usual attire, with a square neckline, and long sleeves. At the hems and cuffs there was golden embroidery and Minerva thought with a smile that Albus knew her too well.
"It's beautiful, Albus."
"Will you come with me, dear?" Minerva sighed dramatically.
"If I must!" She grinned. "Yes, Albus, I'll come with you."
"Thank you, Minerva. We better hurry then." Minerva looked at her watch and nodded.
"Just one little thing," she said and reached up to pull down her hair. Once it flowed freely down her back, she quickly braided it and they were on their way.
"However can you braid your hair that quickly, Minerva?" Albus asked in wonder.
"Practise, Albus. I've braided my hair almost every night since I was seventeen. It keeps it from getting too messy."
"Maybe I should try that, hmm?" Albus said. Minerva chuckled at the mental image of Albus with a braid in both his hair and his beard.
"Maybe you should!"
As they arrived at the Ministry banquet, Albus and Minerva walked in, arm in arm. Minerva couldn't help but notice the death glares she got from the female population. 'They probably only came, so that they would have another shot at Albus. Poor man, really,' she thought. However, she didn't seem to notice that Albus was getting just as many dirty looks from the male population.
The couples were on the dance floor, enjoying themselves immensely. At the drinks table stood several men, between twenty five and sixty, and none of them could get their eyes off of the beautiful woman with the long black hair, who was sitting at a table, talking and laughing with the famous Albus Dumbledore. They could see that she was so much younger than him, why should he have her then? She deserved someone much younger, why would she want to be with this old man!
One of them finally gathered his courage and went over to the table.
"May I have this dance, Miss?" asked the man, interrupting her conversation with Albus. Minerva looked up.
"Certainly," she answered politely. She stood and he guided her onto the dance floor. A slow tune began playing and the man went to pull her closer, but Minerva stubbornly maintained her distance to the man.
"My name is Edward," he said, "Edward Jones."
"Minerva McGonagall," she answered. She cast a glance at Albus and saw that a few women were already trying their luck with him. Finally one of them got him to dance with her and for a second Albus and Minerva's eyes met, as he cast a desperate glance her way. She smiled at him and returned her focus to her dance partner. He was looking intensely at her and she almost cringed under his gaze.
"So, Minerva, why are you here with that old man, Dumbledore? Surely someone like you can do better?"
"Excuse me!" Minerva was shocked. "I do not think that it is any of your business whom I accompany to a banquet."
"But isn't he far too old for you, dearest?" Edward continued.
"First of all," Minerva hissed angrily, "I'm not your 'dearest', second, not that it's any of your business but Albus Dumbledore is my best friend and no matter his age, he is kind and gentle. So why would I care?"
"So… you're going out with him?"
"No! Albus and I are here as friends, nothing more, nothing less," Minerva said, not realizing it was the wrong thing to say.
"Oh really?" he asked with a smug smile.
"Yes, really." The song ended and Minerva quickly made her way back to the table with Albus. They both sighed. Then they smiled at each other. Albus rose from his chair.
"May I have this dance, fair lady?" He offered her a hand, with a gallant bow.
"Why yes, you may, dear sir," Minerva answered with a smile. He took her hand and led her to the dance floor. As they waltzed, they both enjoyed being in the arms of someone they knew and cared about, not some stranger who couldn't care less about who they were inside.
When the song finished they didn't stop dancing. They just kept swaying gently until a man tapped Albus on the shoulder and asked if he could take over. Minerva tore her eyes away from Albus' and looked straight into the dark grey ones of Edward Jones. Without waiting for an answer from Albus or Minerva, Edward grabbed her arm firmly and led her away from the older wizard, out onto the balcony. Minerva frowned and tore her arm away from him.
"Mr Jones! If you wish to dance, you'll wait until you've gotten your reply and you will treat me with decency and respect!" Edward looked at her with mild surprise, quickly replaced by a sneer.
"Decency? Respect? Do you honestly think that he would treat you decently? All he wants is a young woman in his bed for one night! Come off it, he's an old man! He's not good enough for you, darling!" Minerva was furious.
"How dare you? How dare you! How dare you insinuate that about Albus Dumbledore! Professor Dumbledore is a fine man! He treats everyone with respect unless they've proven to him that his respect is unmerited! And he treats everyone with decency! Everyone! Even those who don't deserve it! He is the finest professor I've ever met, the finest man I've ever met! You'd do well to emulate him!"
"You're in love with him, aren't you!" Edward spat disgustedly.
"There isn't one person in his employ who doesn't love him, man or woman! And every one of us would follow him to Hell and back!" she insisted. "We only hope that he will choose to stay at Hogwarts, not leave us for something better, even though he deserves it! Albus Dumbledore deserves the best life has to offer! So shut your filthy mouth about him!"
"You are just his little whore, aren't you, Minerva McGonagall!" And then he did something Minerva wasn't prepared for. He slapped her. Hard, right across the face. Minerva fell to the ground, holding her hand to her face. She looked up when she heard footsteps and realized that Albus had kept an eye on them. Now he was running towards Edward with eyes hard and cold as steel. When he reached him he didn't even hesitate before punching him in the guts. Edward, who was not prepared for the strength of the older man, doubled over in pain. He fell to the floor and Albus helped Minerva up and away.
When they got outside Minerva swung her arms around Albus' neck and sobbed into his beard. Albus' arms went around her and he held her tight to him as he whispered soothing words of comfort.
"I'm sorry, Albus, I didn't mean to lose control like this," she said when she finally stopped sobbing.
"Crying is not losing control, my dear. And it's quite understandable. I must thank you for your words of praise though. I wasn't aware that you felt that way about me," he said, referring to her conversation with Edward Jones. Minerva almost blushed.
"I got a little carried away, I think."
"So you don't feel that way about me?" Albus teased, eyes twinkling madly. Minerva laughed softly.
"Of course I do, you old fool. I just never meant to say it out loud."
"Old! I'm wounded to the core, my dear!" His eyes twinkled merrily and contradicted his words. Minerva smiled smugly at him.
"You mean you don't deny being a fool?" Albus laughed.