Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all characters belong to J.K. Rowling. I'm just playing with them for awhile.
Minerva sat on the cushioned window seat, a thick woolen blanket wrapped tightly around her slender shoulders. She ignored the biting cold of the frosted window against her cheek as she stared down onto the grounds. A small group of students, Gryffindors she guessed by the scarves, had gathered in the freshly fallen snow below.
Few students had chosen to remain for the Christmas holiday, but the few that had were taking advantage of the break in the seemingly endless storm that had settled around them. She sighed as a snow ball fight began, their ringing laughter filling the air, reaching her ears.
She watched as the harmless battle commenced, balls flying through the air, most completely missing their targets and others splattering in a great cloud of white powder. She watched as the cold became too much for them and they retreated back to the warmth of the castle, dusting snow from each other and laughing all the while.
By the wild hand motions and barks of laughter she guessed they were recounting their latest adventure, and she envied them. It was a long while after they disappeared that she tore her eyes away from the, now empty, grounds. She leaned back into her pillow, staring at her empty chambers, and shivered against the chill in the air.
She was being silly, childish, but for some reason, she couldn't bring herself to care. Minerva was absolutely and unequivocally lonely. She had friends to be sure; Albus, Filius, Poppy, Rolanda, just to name a few, but she was lonely, and it was all Rolanda's fault.
It all started that first Saturday of December. The staff had gathered to discuss Christmas preparations and to relax before the onslaught end of term always brought. The lists for remaining students had been distributed, corridor patrol delegated, and Severus' complaints ignored. In all, it had been a normal December meeting, even down to Albus' garish Santa socks that insisted on calling 'Merry Christmas' every time the word Christmas was mentioned.
Despite what the students seemed to think, most their professors were happily married, their spouses either living within the castle itself or making weekly pilgrimages for weekend visits. Wrapped up in their own lives, it was hardly if ever noticed or remarked upon. In fact, if the students could be bothered to pay attention, they would notice that all but a handful of professors seemed to completely disappear once the last bell Friday rang and didn't reappear again until breakfast Monday morning looking rather worn but happy.
Rolanda, being Rolanda, was practically jumping on her chair as she announced her husband, a Beater for Ireland, was arriving for the holidays. This caused somewhat of an uproar since his schedule rarely allowed him to visit, and this soon led to the plans of the others.
Suggestions flew back and forth, each more bawdy and scandalous than the last. By the time Filius finished, Minerva was sure she would never look at tinsel the same way again. Thankfully, Minerva seemingly had been forgotten, at least until Albus rose to leave, heading for a meeting, patting her shoulder as he passed.
Rolanda's hawk-like eyes brightened and Minerva inwardly cringed. "What about you Min?" she called across the staff room.
Minerva tried to smile as all eyes fell on her, fighting off the heat that rose to her cheeks. "I'm going to hopefully spend a quiet evening with a good book and glass of wine. That is assuming of course I don't have students complaining about being kept awake with your antics," she added, staring over the rims of her glasses.
Rolanda laughed. "That's why man created Silencing Charms. Really Min, you're still quite the catch. It's almost a sin to spend the night alone. There was a fine specimen at the Quidditch store in town. You could always ask to test fly his broom; it would do you some good."
Minerva sputtered angrily as Severus looked up from his seat in the corner, his eyes never leaving his book. "I would appreciate it Hooch if you would desist. Dinner is being served shortly, and I for one, would still enjoy being able to hold it down. Any more talk of Minerva's extracurricular activities and I may never eat again."
Minerva managed to reign in her temper and smile sweetly. "Than I suppose it's fortunate you're a Potion Master, isn't it Severus? You aren't exactly my idea of a Don Juan either."
Severus sneered. "I hardly feel the need to gallivant through the castle. There have been several fortunate women amongst my acquaintance."
"I think the word you're looking for Severus, is desperate. If you will excuse me everyone, I'll see you at dinner." She swept out of the room followed by the sound of soft thuds and a shout as pillow after pillow found its mark in the glaring Potions master.
Minerva stood and flicked her wand causing the fire to roar back to life. Despite her best efforts, she had spent the last three weeks falling farther and farther into a depression. The fact none of her colleagues seemed to notice only made it worse.
As Christmas grew closer and everyone's excitement grew, Minerva's ebbed. Her laughter and smiles were forced as her heart clenched with every night she returned to her empty quarters. The sheer fact she had contemplated Rolanda's offer at all spoke to just how unhappy she was. Minerva was many things, but blind wasn't one of them. She noticed the stares she received in town, but none had ever interested her. Only one man held her eye, and he was infuriatingly oblivious.
Resigning herself to another solitary evening, Minerva curled up in front of her fire with the copy of A Christmas Carol her mother had given her as a gift years before. She had never before related so strongly as she did to Ebenezer at that moment. The hours came and went as did the ghosts.
Just as Scrooge rediscovered the joys of the holiday, Minerva was jolted by the sound of knocking. Closing the book gently and tightening the belt of her dressing gown, Minerva walked into her sitting room.
The knock came again, and she couldn't have been more surprised when she came face to face with Albus. He was wearing a set of reindeer antlers in place of her usual hat, but his eyes were concerned. "Albus, what are you doing here?" Minerva asked, stepping aside to allow him to enter.
"I was worried; you missed dinner." He took in the sight of her, her hair only lightly braided and her cheeks flushed from the heat of the fire. "It's Christmas eve Minerva. What are you doing in your rooms all alone?"
She led him to a sofa and motioned for him to sit, a cup of tea and cocoa appearing before them. "It's nothing Albus, really. I was reading and simply lost track of time, nothing more."
He watched her nibble on her bottom lip, a habit she picked up during her own school days when something bothered her. She had been out of sorts for weeks, but he was unsure of what to say. His heart ached for her, watching her sparkling personality dim, pull back into herself.
He reached out and ran a thumb along her lip, stopping her movement. She ducked her head for a moment, embarrassed at being caught. "What's wrong Minerva?"
She looked back at him and smiled slightly. "Really Albus, it's nothing. Just a bit of holiday melancholy. It's nothing a good night's sleep and a few days won't cure."
He looked at her skeptically, grasping her hand between his own and squeezing tightly. "Minerva."
She sighed heavily and pulled away, turning. "Albus, I'm fine! If you really want to know, my bed has just seemed a little to big these last few weeks. It will pass I assure you."
There was silence behind her as he stood. It wasn't until she felt the warmth of his hand against her neck that she realized how close he had become.
She refused to face him, so he moved around her. His hand slid to cup her chin, forcing her to look at him. His eyes were twinkling brightly in the firelight, his thumb rubbing against her jaw. It had been years since a man had been this close, and he body was suddenly aching for more. "I had planned to save this for tomorrow morning, but perhaps not."
Out of his pocket came a single sprig of mistletoe. Without a sound, it rose to hang above their heads. There was no explosion of fireworks or flashes of light as their lips touched, only a spreading warmth that seemed to seep into her.
When she didn't pull away, Albus' hand slid down to cradle her head and he deepened the kiss. There was no fierce battle, no competition of wills. Instead, there was only gentle seduction.
When they finally broke apart, their breaths came out in shallow pants and heaving chests. Minerva looked up into his smouldering eyes as her fingers toyed with the top button of his robes. "Do you have any plans tonight Albus?" she asked, her hand sliding inside as the button finally gave way.
His lips traveled along her jaw, coming to rest beside her ear as his hands trailed lightly down her arms. "Well, I do have some extra tinsel."