Summary: Response to Challenge # 35 on the ADMM Board. Albus and Minerva recall the past on the night that Harry's broom was destroyed by the Whomping Willow.
Disclaimer: None of it belongs to me. Anything you recognize comes from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling. I just borrow it to play with for awhile. I always return it.
Rating: Age 13 and above (for a little snogging.)
How a Broomstick Brought Us Together
Minerva McGonagall stood in the doorway of Poppy Pomfrey's office and watched as the Quidditch team stood around Harry's bed in the Hospital Wing. She felt tears come to her eyes as she watched Hermione hand him the bundle that contained the remains of his Nimbus Two Thousand. She knew how hard Professor Flitwick had tried to repair it, but some things just could not be repaired. Apparently, a broomstick that crashed into the Whomping Willow was one of those things.
She removed her glasses to wipe her eyes with the back of her hand. She knew what that broomstick had meant to Harry. Minerva sighed deeply as she felt two hands on her shoulders. She leaned back against the man who had recently become her husband, unknown to most of the school of course, and replaced the square glasses on the bridge of her nose. She and Albus both watched from the shadows of the office as Madam Pomfrey shooed the rest of the team out of the Hospital Wing so Harry could rest. The medi-witch tried to get him to give her the bundle, but Harry would not part with it. He curled up on the bed clutching the broken broom to his chest, and buried his head in his pillow. He had not cried over it yet, but Minerva knew that he would when no one was watching.
Poppy returned to her office and joined Minerva and Albus in watching Harry.
"I couldn't get him to give it to me." she remarked.
"I don't blame him," Minerva spoke up quietly, the sadness evident in her voice. "He loved that broomstick. I think it gave him more joy than anything else in his life. It was always a symbol of our world to him and how much he loves it here. He has always felt so much freer when he was flying. Now it is gone. Oh, Albus, why did the Dementors have to come out on the pitch today? Why do they have to be here at the castle? Why?"
The agony in his wife's voice tore at Albus Dumbledore's heart. He too, grieved over Harry's loss of the beloved broom.
"They came on the pitch today because they are hungry, Minerva. All that emotion in one place was just too tempting for them. They will not do it again. I have just come from a discussion with Cornelius. The man refuses to see reason. I have warned him that if any thing like this happens again, they will leave this school, and I don't care what he says or does." Anger radiated from him as he spoke. "As to why they are here, you know that, as well as I do, Minerva."
"I know why, yes, but I don't have to agree with it, or like it." the emerald eyed witch snapped angrily.
Albus Dumbledore took the angry witch in his arms, hugged her, and planted a loving kiss on the top of her head.
"I know you're angry. So am I. But, we can't change what has happened, and it is late. Poppy, if you will please excuse us, I am going to take my wife up to our rooms and see if I can calm her down enough so that we can sleep tonight."
"Good night, Albus. Minerva, don't worry about Harry. I've put a monitoring spell on him, and I will know if he needs me." the motherly medi-witch said softly. "I am going to get him a Dreamless Sleep potion so he will rest. I'm not going to take the broom away from him."
Minerva nodded wearily, "Good night, Poppy. Let us know if you need us."
The Headmaster of Hogwarts and his Deputy left the Hospital Wing, and walking slowly through the castle, they returned to his office. He gave their personal password, Sweet Tabby, and they rode up the spiraling staircase together. They walked through the office and into the private rooms behind it. Minerva sank down on the couch and put her head in her hands. Albus moved to sit beside her and drew her into a warm embrace.
"You loved that broom almost as much as Harry did. Didn't you?"
"It was something that was special between Harry and me. Remember, I bought it for him that first year. Oh Albus, I know I'm not supposed to be partial to any of my students, but sometimes it's hard not to be. I loved James and Lily so much, and Harry's had such a hard life, that it is hard not to have a soft spot for him." She felt the tears begin to fall down her cheeks again. Albus gently wiped them away with his thumbs and then cupped her face lovingly. "Of course, most of the students could never imagine me…straight laced…strict…never give an inch…Professor McGonagall, having a soft spot for anyone." she finished with a wry chuckle.
"Then they don't know you very well, do they, love?"
He pulled her closer to him and kissed her. She put up a token resistance at first, but gradually was drawn into his loving embrace and allowed him to deepen the kiss. They spent several minutes snogging (as the students would say) on the couch before breaking out of their embrace.
"I think I need a cup of hot chocolate before bed, how about you." Albus inquired.
"You and your hot chocolate. Make mine a cup of tea, Earl Grey, please."
Albus conjured up the two hot drinks for them. He handed the tea to his wife. She took it from him absentmindedly, and began sipping it. There was a faraway look in her emerald green eyes.
"What are you seeing, Tabby?" he asked with quiet concern.
The raven haired witch looked at him sadly. "I was just remembering how Harry got that broom. Do you remember?"
Fast and furious footsteps echoed up and down the deserted hallway in Hogwarts castle. At that moment in time, most of the inhabitants of the castle were in their classes.
The exception to that rule was the tall witch in green robes and square glasses, and the small first year boy who jogged along behind her glumly. Neither spoke to the other as they traveled up a set of stairs and along the hallway.
Professor McGonagall came to a stop outside of a classroom. She opened the door and poked her head inside.
"Excuse me, Professor Flitwick, could I borrow Wood for a moment?"
"Certainly, Professor McGonagall. Wood, you may be excused."
Professor McGonagall waited impatiently as a burly fifth-year boy exited Flitwick's classroom looking confused.
"Follow me, you two," said Professor McGonagall, and they marched on up the corridor. Wood looking curiously at Harry Potter, who looked just as confused. He had thought that wood was a cane she was going to use on him.
Professor McGonagall pointed them into a classroom that was empty except for Peeves, who was busy writing rude words on the blackboard.
"Out, Peeves!" she barked. Peeves threw the chalk into a bin, and swooped out noisily. Professor McGonagall slammed the door behind him and turned to face the two boys.
"Potter, this is Oliver Wood. Wood! I have found you a Seeker."
"Are you serious, Professor?"
"Absolutely." said Professor McGonagall. "Potter here is a natural. I've never seen anything like it. Was that your first time on a broomstick, Potter?"
Harry nodded silently.
"He caught that thing in his hand after a fifty foot dive." Professor McGonagall told Wood. "Charlie Weasley couldn't have done it."
Professor McGonagall had a look on her face like the cat that had eaten a canary and Oliver Wood looked as though all of his dreams had come true at once.
"Wood is captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team." Professor McGonagall explained to Harry.
"He's just the right build for a Seeker." exclaimed Wood. "Have you ever seen a Quidditch game, Potter?" Harry shook his head.
"We will have to get him a decent broom, Professor. Maybe a Nimbus Two Thousand or a Cleansweep Seven?"
"I will speak to Professor Dumbledore and see if we can't bend the first-year rule. Heaven knows that we need a better team than last year. Flattened in that last match by Slytherin. I swear I couldn't look Severus Snape in the face for weeks…"
Professor McGonagall peered sternly over the top of her glasses at Harry.
"I want to hear that you are training hard, Potter, or I may change my mind about punishing you." She glared at Harry and watched as he gulped and nodded quickly.
Then she suddenly smiled.
"Your father would have been so proud," she said. "James was an excellent Quidditch player himself. Now then, Wood, you had best be getting back to class. Please tell Professor Flitwick thank you from me. Potter, come with me."
She started back along the hallway at a fast clip. Harry jogged to keep up with her. When they had reached her office she opened the door and motioned for Harry to enter.
"Have a seat, Potter, and have a Ginger Newt." she said, taking her seat behind the desk and indicating the tin on it. "Now, I hope you realize that you have been given a rare privilege here. First-years are not usually allowed to have broomsticks and very seldom make the team. As I said, I want to hear that you have been training hard, or you will receive the punishment you deserve for disobeying Madam Hooch. Also, I don't expect you to go bragging about it all over the school. The less said about it, the better. Do you understand?"
"Yes, ma'am. I understand. I'll work really hard at it and I won't brag.
"Alright, Potter, you may go. It is almost time for your next class."
As the door closed behind Harry, Minerva McGonagall sat back in her seat with a sigh. She could tell it was going to be a very long year with Potter in her house. Shaking her head, she took out a quill and a sheet of parchment. Dipping her quill in the pot of green ink on her desk she began writing. When she finished, she rolled it up and tapped it with her wand to seal it.
"Tibby." she called out. In a flash and a crack, a small house elf stood in front of her.
"Madam Professor called Tibby. What can Tibby be doing for Madam Professor?"
"Would you take this scroll to Professor Dumbledore for me, Tibby?"
"Oh, yes madam. Can Tibby be doing anything else for Madam Professor?"
"No, Tibby. That will be all. Thank you."
The small house elf disappeared with a crack. Minerva shook her head. Those small creatures were always so eager to please and so hyper. The rest of the day she went about teaching her classes and grading their papers, but in the back of her mind she kept remembering the small, messy haired boy catching the Rememberall after that spectacular dive. It just kept running through her mind, and she couldn't wait to tell Professor Dumbledore about it. She knew that he would be just as excited as she was when he heard about Harry's talent. After all, he too had been quite disappointed in Gryffindor's showing for the last year. Now, a decision had to be made as to which broomstick to get him. Personally, she leaned toward the Nimbus Two Thousand. But, the question was, could she afford it?
The minute her last class was over, she quickly returned to her office. Looking around, she spotted the catalogue for Quality Quidditch Supplies that she had asked Albus for. He had been kind enough to put it on the desk in her office. Picking it up, she moved to stand in front of a large painting of Hogwarts Castle. She spoke the password "Pride of Lions" to it and it swung forward to reveal the doorway into her personal rooms. Entering, she took off her heavy, green teaching robes, folded them, and laid them over the back of the couch. Conjuring herself a cup of tea, she sat down on the couch, flipped the catalogue open to the broom section, and began browsing.
She flipped past the Brooms for the Family section, the Business Brooms, the Children's Training Brooms and Multi-purpose Brooms, to the section titled Sporting Brooms. First she looked at the Cleansweep Seven. It was, after all, one of the brooms that Wood had suggested. Wood kept up on all of the brooms made, so she knew his suggestion would be a good choice. Yes, she thought upon reading the description, it would be a good broom for Harry. Lightweight, speedy, easily controllable, definitely affordable, yes…but, still there was…nothing special about it. It just didn't strike her fancy. It wasn't that she didn't like it; she had had a Cleansweep Five when she was growing up and had played Quidditch for Gryffindor as a Chaser on one. She knew it was a good broom. It just wasn't the right one for Harry.
Moving on, she examined the Arrowsmiths, the Comet 200 series, the Lightning series. For one reason or another she rejected them all in her mind. Then she came to the pages (a double spread with full color pictures) of the Nimbus Two Thousand. It was touted as: The newest and most popular broom on the market today.
The Nimbus Two Thousand is the newest and most competitive broom on today's market, she read. It is aeronautically designed for speed and maneuverability. The Nimbus Two Thousand is constructed for the rigors of professional Quidditch. Made of oak and ash it is almost indestructible and is made to withstand many years of hard use. It comes with a full warranty for the first two years.
Yes…oh, yes! This broom was exactly what she had in mind for Harry. He deserved to have the best she could get him. The only thing that really worried her was the price of it. She had not located it on the page yet. Her green eyes quickly scanned the pages again. Ah, here it was in the corner. Her eyes became very wide and her eyebrows almost reached her hairline. She gasped out loud.
"Oh my goodness! Two hundred galleons. Merlin, that is one expensive broom. I don't know if I can afford that."
She turned back to the Cleansweep Seven. It was only seventy-five galleons. A much more reasonable price, and yet, she really wanted Harry to have the best. She knew she could afford it if she could just get the money out of her vault at Gringott's. She glanced at the clock on the desk. It was after five thirty, on a Friday, and by the time she walked down to the apparition point outside of Hogwart's gates and apparated, it would be after six o'clock. Gringott's closed at six and would not re-open until Monday morning. She really wanted the broom to be delivered to Harry on Monday morning so he would have it to begin training with.
She placed the catalogue on the desk and walked to the closet. She would just have to hope she had enough money on hand to order the broom. She took a large pink piggy bank (yes, a muggle piggy bank) out of the closet. One of her muggle students had given it to her many years ago and she had modified it so that it would hold wizarding money. She took her wand and cast a gentle version of the Reducto curse. The bank broke into several pieces revealing the galleons inside of it. Carefully, she scooped the galleons out of the shards. When they were all out, she said "Repairo." and the bank was whole once more. She put it carefully back into the closet.
Carrying her stash of galleons to the desk, she sat down and began counting them. She counted them twice to be sure of the amount she had. Not enough, she only had one hundred and forty-eight galleons. She was fifty-two galleons short. Now what? She began searching her rooms for places she might have accidentally left galleons. First, she pulled everything out of her desk. She didn't find any galleons in it. Next, she went through the pockets of all of her robes. She found some small change in sickles and knuts, but no galleons. Putting the change on top of the desk, she looked around the room for more places to search. Ah, the chairs and the couch. She searched both chairs quickly…nothing. She moved to the couch, removed the cushions, and started digging behind the springs. Her green eyes gleamed with pleasure as she pulled out a dusty galleon. Well, one down and only fifty-one to go. She kept digging.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK.
Minerva, startled, pulled away from the couch and spun around to look at the clock. It was almost seven o'clock. That must be Albus wanting to walk her to supper. In a panic, she looked around at the dismantled room.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK.
"Minerva, it's me. Are you ready to go down to supper?"
"Just a moment, Albus. Wait outside and I'll be with you shortly."
Albus tapped is foot and hummed as he waited. Why on earth had she wanted him to wait outside? She always invited him in. He let his curiosity get the better of him. He softly spoke the password and swung the door open. His eyes took in the room's destruction.
"Merlin, Minerva! What hit this room? I wasn't aware that we had had a tornado in the castle. Have you lost something? Maybe, I can help you find it"
"Ohhh…Shut up, Albus. I haven't lost anything. I am just trying to find something." the annoyed witch snapped at him. "I thought I asked you to wait outside."
"But, if you haven't lost something, then why are you trying to find it?" Confusion was in his voice.
"Drop it, Albus." she hissed, sounding very much like her feline form.
He watched with his mouth open as she furiously began casting spells to clean up the room and quickly put everything back in its place. Turning to the desk, she swept the pile of galleons into the top drawer and cast a locking spell on it. Grabbing her green robes from the couch, she pulled them on as she strode past Albus and out the door.
"Well, are you coming or not?" she called back to him.
She was halfway to the Great Hall when he caught up with her. He offered her his arm, but she refused it. She also refused to say anything to him until after they were seated and eating. When he brought up the subject again, she quickly changed it to tell him about Harry and his remarkable catch that afternoon.
He smiled as the sparkle he loved came back in her green eyes. Yes, he agreed, they could bend the rules a bit this once and let a first year on the teams. He reminded her that it had been done before now, it just didn't happen very often.
"I need to check, but I do believe that he will be the youngest Quidditch player in a hundred years." Albus remarked thoughtfully.
"I didn't know that, Albus."
"Well, I'm not really sure. I will have to check when we go upstairs. By the way, are you up for a game of chess after supper?"
Minerva hesitated. She really wanted to do some more searching to see if she could find more galleons. Realistically, she knew she probably wouldn't. Chess would be a nice diversion. Maybe she could come up with an answer while playing.
"Sounds like fun" she replied.
Not long afterwards, Albus began setting up the chess set in his quarters, while Minerva conjured up tea and hot chocolate for them. As they began playing, he noticed that her mind didn't seem to be on the game. She kept looking at the board but he had a feeling that she was not really seeing it. After she lost three pieces in a row, all of her chess pieces were beginning to rebel against her. When she lost the fourth piece, he reached over and took her hand in his, causing her to look up at him. He smiled and raised his eyebrows at her.
"Your mind is not on our game this evening, is it?" he inquired gently.
She shook her head silently. He could see the beginning of tears in her eyes. He stood up and pulled her over to the couch and sat down beside her. He put his arm around her.
"What's wrong, Minerva. Can't you tell me about it.? Surely, I can help. Let me help."
Upon hearing those kind words, Minerva burst into tears. She hated herself for doing it. Most of the time she kept strict control of her emotions; it was when she was feeling extremely frustrated or angry that they got the better of her, and then she felt foolish. Right now she was very frustrated by the problem of getting Harry the broom she knew he needed. Sobbing, she tried to get the words out.
"I just…I wanted to…Harry the best…not enough galleons…find any more…Monday morning delivery…Oh, Albus." she sobbed.
He took the distraught witch in his arms and began rubbing circles on her back to comfort her. He spoke quietly to her.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, darling. Stop crying, slow down, and back up. I can't understand a thing you are saying. Something about Harry, not enough galleons, and Monday morning. What ever it is, I am sure it is not the end of the world. We'll find a solution. But, Minerva, love, you need to stop crying before you make yourself sick."
He put a gentle hand under her chin and forced her to look up at him. She looked into his bright blue, untwinkling eyes. All of a sudden, she missed that twinkle and wanted to see it. He gently wiped the tears from her face and made her blow her nose in his handkerchief.
"Minerva, I love you. Surely, we can fix whatever is wrong."
She looked at him in shock. He didn't just say what I think he did, did he. I know that I have loved him since I was sixteen. He has always just been a good friend. I never expected that he could love me. I don't want to lose my friend. She bit her lip.
"D…did you say you love me?"
"Yes, Minerva. I have loved you since you were a student here at Hogwarts. Because I was your teacher, I couldn't show it to you then. I have always loved you. When you became a teacher here I wanted to tell you, but I didn't dare. I thought it would ruin our friendship. I'm sorry. Can't we just go back to the way it was before I said that?"
"No, Albus. We can't go back."
His face fell at her words. She smiled softly through her tears and took his face in her hands. She ran her fingers through his beard and she laughed at the astonishment in his face at her next words.
"I love you, Albus Dumbledore. I have always loved you, and I always will. I have loved you since I was sixteen years old. I didn't tell you because I valued our friendship too much and didn't want to lose it. I guess we have both wasted too much time."
Albus took Minerva in his arms. They kissed each other softly and marveled at the fact that they had loved each other for all those years in silence. Albus trailed a row of gentle kisses down Minerva's jaw that set her spine to tingling. Then, she found a spot behind his ear that made him moan with pleasure. They spent quite some time kissing each other gently. When they broke apart, Minerva was pleased to see that the sparkle she loved was back in his eye.
"Well," she said, with a soft, satisfied sigh, "I guess we have Harry to thank for this. Of course, he will never know that."
Albus gazed lovingly at the happy witch beside him. He laughed out loud.
"How in the world do we have Harry to thank for our being together at last?" he inquired, his eyebrows raised. "There must be something I am missing. Does it have anything to do with your being upset earlier?"
"Yes." she said in a soft voice that he could barely hear.
"Remember, I said that we can solve anything together. Come on, tell me, please."
Minerva finally gave in and explained about wanting to get Harry a broom…no, not just a broom…the best broom available. Albus listened carefully. When she finished speaking he spoke up.
"Why do you want him to have the Nimbus Two Thousand? I admit it is the better broom, but surely a Cleansweep Seven would do for an eleven year old boy. I'm sure he would be happy with it, and you do have enough money for it."
"You don't understand, Albus. I knew you wouldn't."
"Then make me understand, Min. I want to."
"Albus, he has been unwanted and deprived of things he should have had all of his young life. He has grown up without the parents who loved him. He has grown up in a home that doesn't accept him and away from our world. He has been made to sleep in a cupboard under a staircase for most of his life; he has had to wear hand-me-down clothes that were his cousins. Even, with all that, he has grown up into a loving child. How I don't know. I just want him to have some of the things that he should have had growing up. He has the same talent that James had for Quidditch, maybe even more, and I want him to have the best broom that I can give him. Maybe, it will help make up for some of the things he has had to live without.
"Minerva, you are just an old softy. You should let that side show more often."
"Maybe, but don't ever let Severus know that. I would never live it down, and I would never get the upper hand with him again. And, it would shock the students to death."
"Where is the catalogue now?" Albus asked.
"It's on the desk in my rooms."
"Tibby." Albus called.
A few seconds later, the small house elf appeared before them.
"Did you call Tibby, Professor Headmaster, sir. What can Tibby do for yous?"
"Tibby, we need the catalogue that Professor McGonagall left on the desk in her rooms. Would you bring it here, please?"
"Oh yes, Tibby can do that, Professor Headmaster, sir. Tibby will be right back."
With a crack, Tibby vanished and then reappeared in a few seconds with the catalogue in her hands. Albus thanked her and she vanished again.
"Now, let's look at this broom." Albus turned to the Nimbus Two Thousand pages. "Wow! That is really some broom. Minerva, are you sure he can handle it."
"Albus, if you saw what he did with that old, decrepit, school broom, you would know that he will have no trouble handling this one."
"I will take your word for it, love. Ok, it costs two hundred galleons. Now, my next question is, how much do you have."
"Well, I had one hundred and forty-eight galleons saved, and I found another one in my couch. Yes, that is why my rooms were such a mess. I was hunting for more galleons, but I only found the one. I would have enough money for it if I could have gotten to Gringott's before they closed. I really wanted to order it tomorrow so that Harry would get it in the owl delivery Monday morning."
Albus moved over to his desk. He took out a carved box, unlocked it, and began counting out galleons. Minerva watched him.
"Albus, you don't have to…" her voice trailed off as he walked over to her and kissed her soundly to stop her from saying anymore.
"Yes, I do. When you love someone, you help them. If someone loves you, you let them help you. I…love…you…Minerva McGonagall…with all my heart, forever."
On Monday morning, Albus and Minerva watched as six owls delivered the package to Harry. Harry looked up at the Head Table and grinned. Minerva smiled back at him and winked. They watched as Harry and Ron read the note, and then the two boys grabbed the package and ran for the dormitory so they could open it in private. Albus took a hold of Minerva's hand under the table.
"I think you made their day, my dear."
END OF FLASHBACK
Albus cuddled his wife against him, and she snuggled deeper into his beard.
"I love you, Tabby. Just think. Without that broom we might never have declared our love for each other."
Minerva smiled at him sleepily and he could feel her purring. He loved the way her feline form came through when she was happy and relaxed. He stood up and scooped her into his arms.
"Let's go to bed. After all, tomorrow is another day."
She simply nodded and kissed him soundly. No other answer was needed.
"I love you Albus, forever."
"I love you, Minerva, forever and ever."