Disclaimer: I don't own things from Harry Potter. I only borrow them. Thanks, J.K. Rowling, really.
A/N: This isn't the most creative plot, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. Happy early Valentine's Day!
When Professor Minerva McGonagall awoke on the morning of February 14, sunlight was pouring into her bedroom in Hogwarts. The professor, however, was not feeling so sunny. She rolled over in bed and groaned.
An epidemic of a flu-like disease swept through Hogwarts over the past week, much like Sybill Trelawney, the Divination teacher, predicted a month earlier. Although Professor McGonagall had little tolerance for the practice of Divination, she was finding it hard not to believe the prediction. Many students had succumbed to the rapidly spreading illness, and it seemed Minerva was its next victim.
Glancing at the clock, Minerva saw that it was 7:52 A.M. Breakfast would be starting in a mere eight minutes! When this information registered into the professor's brain, she hastily tried to get out of bed.
"Merlin, I've overslept!" she muttered hoarsely and immediately fell into a coughing fit. She broke free from the tangled web of bed sheets and scurried to the bathroom for a rushed shower.
This is just great, Professor McGonagall thought. The year I finally get up the nerve to confess my love to Albus, I get sick! And I'm late. What a way to start my Valentine's Day!
As she exited the bathroom, she magically dried her hair. It was 8:03, so she was already late, which frustrated her greatly. She was never late for anything.
Professor McGonagall threw on her clothes and robes, and then she stuffed her wand and a tartan handkerchief into the pockets. She haphazardly pulled her hair into a bun as she stepped into her shoes. Just as she was about to walk out the door, Minerva realized that she forgot her hat. Feeling too weak to search for it, and not having any more time, she pulled out her wand.
"Accio hat!" she croaked. The pointed witch's hat soared across the room and into her hand. She placed it on her head as she hurried out the door.
Professor McGonagall was nearly running down the hall, all while practically coughing up a lung. She knew she was sick, but missing work was not an option to her. She figured at this pace, she could make it to breakfast by 8:30 which was, although very late, only half an hour past the start of the meal.
However, the floor suddenly became very slick, and Minerva slipped and fell, hitting the floor with a thud! Peeves zoomed out from behind a suit of armor, cackling.
"Peeves!" she yelled with her lack of a voice. She straightened her glasses and shot a furious glare at the poltergeist as she got to her feet.
"Mwehehehehe!" Peeves guffawed gleefully. "Just thought the corridor could use a fresh coat of wax, Your Deputyness. Do you like it?"
"I don't have time for this, Peeves!" Minerva said through gritted teeth. Of anyone I could've run into, it's Peeves! she thought, frustrated at her terrible luck.
"What was that? Could you be a bit louder?" Peeves snickered and showered her with candy hearts.
Professor McGonagall brushed the hearts with various love messages off her robes and said, "I shall tell the headmaster, Peeves!"
"Ahh, but he won't be able to HEAR YOU!" Peeves laughed and zipped out of sight.
Shaking with anger, Minerva continued toward the Great Hall. When she got nearer, she could hear the students' voices and smell the scent of food at the Valentine's Day breakfast. As she bounded down the marble staircase, a wave of dizziness swept over her. Minerva took a moment to regain her balance, but as she proceeded toward the Great Hall again, she became very lightheaded, and her senses began to fail.
"Minerva?" a male voice called. She could barely hear his footsteps as he rushed over to her, and then she felt herself begin to collapse. Fortunately, a pair of strong arms wrapped around her and brought her close.
"Minerva?" the voice said again. All Professor McGonagall could do was lean against his body for support.
"Minerva!" the man said, urgently this time. Professor McGonagall's eyes fluttered open.
"Albus!" she gasped, recognizing it was the headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, who caught her as she fell.
"My dear, are you all right?" Dumbledore asked, pulling back a little and gazing intently into her brilliant green eyes. Worry was etched into his face.
"I- I think so," Minerva whispered, taking a few deep breaths. Her sight and hearing seemed to be restored to normal after her near-faint. "Y-yes, I'm fine now, Albus," she said, a little more confidently this time.
"Are you sure, Minerva?" Albus asked, bringing a hand to her forehead. "My dear, you're burning with fever! Perhaps I should escort you to Madam Pomfrey?"
"No!" Professor McGonagall cried out. She absolutely didn't want to spend a day in the hospital wing with Poppy fussing over her. "Let's just have breakfast, Albus. I'm fine."
"You and I both know that you're certainly not fine, and that you should be in bed," Professor Dumbledore chided her gently. "I suppose you wouldn't want to spend your Valentine's Day in the hospital wing, though."
"Exactly," Minerva said, relieved that she wasn't being forced to see Poppy.
"All right. You should get something to eat anyway, Minerva," Albus said, squeezing her hand. She squeezed his in return, and they walked up to the staff table hand in hand.
Many of the students casted them curious stares, but not because they were holding hands. It was a usual occurrence for Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore to walk together, so they didn't even notice that. They did find it odd, however, that Professor McGonagall had arrived over half an hour late, and she was looking rather pale. Most of the students, though, were too busy exchanging valentines with each other to even pay attention to anything else.
I should be doing that with Albus, Minerva thought, annoyed at her immune system for failing her. She originally planned to get up early, send him a valentine before breakfast, and, later that day, go up to his office and kiss him senseless, no matter how he reacted to the valentine. New circumstances prevented her from doing that.
Finally they reached the staff table. Most of the other faculty members gave Professor McGonagall concerned glances. Fortunately Poppy Pomfrey was stuck in the hospital wing, much to Minerva's relief. The only person to say anything was Severus Snape, the Potions Master and Head of Slytherin.
"Decided to join us, eh, Minerva?" Snape drawled. He was smirking triumphantly, as if he were positively delighted to see Professor McGonagall late for once.
Minerva ignored him and sat down next to Dumbledore. Snape was very surprised that she didn't give him a snappy comeback. He shrugged and resumed eating his breakfast.
Most of the teachers and students left, having already consumed their morning meal. Only the Heads of House and Professor Dumbledore remained. Professors Sprout and Flitwick were chatting with each other, and Snape was taking a swig of pumpkin juice. Minerva quit staring at them, and her eyes turned to the many stacks of heart-shaped pancakes on plates across the table, as well as the several smaller plates, that only had some crumbs remaining.
Isn't there any more toast? she thought unhappily. She wasn't feeling quite up to eating pancakes. All she really felt like eating, she realized, was toast, but there didn't seem to be any left.
"Albus," Professor McGonagall said, but he didn't seem to hear her. "Albus," she tried again after clearing her throat.
"What is it, Minerva?" he said, turning to face her. His eyes noticed her empty plate. "I thought you said you wanted breakfast, my dear, and you haven't got anything on your plate!"
"I know," Minerva whispered. "All I really feel like eating is toast, and the only thing here is Valentine's Day pancakes."
"Hmm. There was plenty earlier. Would you like me to fetch you some from the kitchens, dear?" Albus offered.
"That's okay," Professor McGonagall said. "You don't have to."
"All right, Minerva," he said, turning to his plate. "You can have mine." He picked up his own piece of toast and gave it to her. "You do need to eat something, after all, my dear."
"Thank you, Albus." She smiled.
"You're very welcome, Minerva dear," he said. "Would you like me to walk you back to your rooms after breakfast?"
Professor McGonagall swallowed a bit of toast.
"What do you mean, Albus? I've got a class at 9:15."
"Surely you don't believe you're still teaching today, Minerva!" Professor Dumbledore said incredulously.
"Of course I do!" she said a bit too loudly, straining her voice, and she fell into another coughing fit. When she could speak again, she insisted, "I'm fine, Albus, really."
"You are not, Minerva. You almost passed out in the corridors," he pointed out.
"That was nothing!"
"You can hardly speak, Minerva. You are obviously in no condition to teach."
"You need rest, my dear. I will not permit you to teach today," Dumbledore said in a final sort of way.
Professor McGonagall sighed heavily. She rarely ever missed work.
"Okay, you win, Albus."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "I'm sure the other teachers will be willing to help cover your classes." He turned toward Professors Flitwick and Sprout, who were still talking to each other. "Filius, Pomona," he said for their attention. They both looked up automatically.
"Yes, Professor Dumbledore?" Filius Flitwick asked.
"Would you mind covering the Transfiguration class that takes place during your free period? I'm afraid Minerva is not well today," Dumbledore said. Everyone's gaze turned toward Professor McGonagall. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair, feeling awkward. She hated having to have someone cover her class.
"Certainly, Headmaster," Professor Flitwick answered. Professor Sprout nodded in agreement.
"Excellent," said Dumbledore, smiling. "Filius, could you please inform the other teachers?"
"Right away!" Professor Flitwick squeaked and hopped off his chair. He swiftly left the Great Hall. Then Professor Sprout rose.
"I'd better head up to the classroom, then," Professor Sprout said. "Get well, Professor McGonagall."
"Thank you," Minerva called hoarsely. She offered a weak smile before she began to cough. Professor Sprout left, and the Great Hall was now empty except for Albus and Minerva. By the time Minerva finished her single slice of toast, the bell for morning classes had already rung, and the halls were free of students.
"Shall I help you to your rooms, dear?" Albus said, standing.
"If you wouldn't mind," Professor McGonagall replied.
"Not at all." He extended his hand, and Minerva grasped it graciously. He helped her stand up. "Are you all right?"
Professor McGonagall nodded, but she clutched onto his arm for support. Dumbledore noticed this and wrapped his arm firmly around her shoulders. They walked slowly out of the Great Hall. After they climbed up the marble staircase, Minerva leaned even more heavily upon Albus. She had become sheet white again and was shivering feverishly.
"Albus..." she murmured, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Minerva?" he asked worriedly. He steered her into a vacant classroom and sat her down.
"I- I feel faint again, Albus," Minerva whispered.
"I should take you to Poppy," he said with a sense of urgency in his voice, but Minerva shook her head.
"Please don't, Albus," she pleaded. Professor Dumbledore sat down next to her and patted her knee.
"You really don't want me to take you to the Hospital Wing?" he asked her.
"Please... I'd rather be in my rooms," she told him.
"If that's what you'd like, Minerva," he said and stood up. Professor McGonagall carefully got to her feet and allowed Albus to hold her again. She still felt a bit shaky, but Albus made sure she was okay. When they approached the slippery portion of the corridor, Professor McGonagall warned Albus that it was extremely slick. He conjured a rug and it unrolled itself onto the floor. They crept carefully across it and finally made it to the corridor where Minerva's rooms were located. Dumbledore spoke the password and let Minerva into her rooms first. Albus closed the door and joined Professor McGonagall on a small red and gold sofa.
"Thank you, Albus," Professor McGonagall said. "I don't know what I would've done without you."
"Oh, you know you're welcome, my dear," he replied. Minerva smiled. She inched closer to Albus and dared to rest her head on his shoulder again. He took off her hat and placed it on the coffee table. He embraced her with one arm and, with the other, summoned a tartan blanket from across the room. He draped it over Minerva's curled-up body.
"Mmh, thank you, dear," she said, snuggling even closer. "This is just what I wanted."
Albus put on a playful smile. "Is it? I thought you wanted to work today," he teased.
"Not anymore," Minerva answered.
"What do you want to do today, then?" he asked, stroking her dark hair.
"This," she said, but her response was muffled because her face was buried in Dumbledore's crimson robes.
She turned her head so that he could hear her clearly.
"This. Have you by my side all day," she said honestly.
"Hmm. Seems my day is suddenly free of other plans," Albus replied.
It was only a few minutes before Minerva fell asleep next to Albus. He took off her square glasses and placed them on the table. Then Albus kissed her lightly on the forehead and murmured, "Sleep well, my love." Moments later he drifted to sleep, too.
A/N: Okay, there's supposed to be another chapter to this. I hope you like it so far!