Tea for Two
Harry Potter fan-fiction - Romance
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters herein. This is a not-for-profit fan-fiction.
"Miss Granger, could you stay after class please?"
Hermione Granger looked up from the table where she was gathering her books. "Of course Professor McGonagle." She glanced over at the young man sitting next to her. "I'll see you and Ron later, ok Harry?"
Harry Potter smiled at Hermione, his emerald eyes crinkling in amusement. "Of course you will Hermione! Hope you aren't in TOO much trouble, little miss perfect..." His eyes silently laughing.
Hermione's eyes narrowed and she fired a hard (but not too hard) fist into his shoulder. "Prat!" As Harry walked to the door with Ron, her eyes tracked them until they were lost from sight. Hermione sighed lightly.
Footsteps paused at her table. "Well Little Miss Perfect" whispered the obnoxious voice of Draco Malfoy, "enjoy your detention... Mudblood..."
Hermione clenched her teeth as her grip tightened on her wand as Draco stalked out of the classroom snickering.
Placing her wand back on the table, she sighed, ran her fingers thru her hair, and reflected on the identical words the two boys had both spoken to her. Spoken one way, they had reflected friendship and caring - the desire and belief that she could not have screwed up. Spoken another way, they had reflected hatred and despite - the belief that she was a poseur and worthless. Same words, different sentiment - friendship versus dislike, light versus dark, love versus hate. Her lips curled into a smile, sounds like a great term paper subject. Shaking her head, she looked to the front of the classroom to find Professor McGonagle watching her intently.
"This is your last class for the day I believe, is it not Miss Granger?" Waiting for Hermione's nod, the Professor continued. "In that case, would you join me for tea? I have several things to discuss with you."
Hermione was taken slightly aback as she had never had a Professor ask her in to tea before. "I would be honored to Professor."
Hermione followed the Professor thru the halls of Hogwarts until they came to the teacher's wing and McGonagle's suite.
Hermione placed her schoolbooks down on the couch and looked around at the attractive living room. "The bathroom is the second door on the left, if you need to freshen up." said Professor McGonagle as she bustled about in the kitchen making tea.
Ten minutes later they were sitting at the small dining table, drinking tea and eating crumpets. They chatted about various students and teachers, until finally Hermione asked what she had been wondering about since the invitation - "Professor, why did you invite me to tea?"
Professor McGonagle looked at her favorite student over the edge of her tea cup. Taking a small sip, she lowered it so that she could stare into the tea leaves. "To be honest dear, I'm meddling..."
"Meddling? Professor, I'm sorry I don't understand..."
"I would like to tell you a story about my past. Would you care to hear an old woman's story? A story of love and loss and tragedy? A story of how I gave away my heart and lost my love?"
Hermione's face reflected her shock. She and many of the other student's had speculated on their teacher's past lives, but she had never imagined one of them confiding in her. Hermione bit her lip and nodded.
Minerva McGonagle's Story
Minerva was the smartest witch in her class, but also the loneliest because she was both shy and introverted. Growing up, her only real friends were her books and her parents.
That changed early in her 2nd year at Hogwarts when she made her first real friend, a young boy named Albus. It changed again in her third year when she became friends with another young boy named Markus.
She was inseparable from them and could inevitably be found either with one of them or in the library. Albus and Markus had never really hit it off, so it was rare for the three of them to do things together. But she was no longer lonely and the sad introverted girl was slowly blossoming with the knowledge that she had friends who cared.
In her fifth year she was startled when one her friends, Markus asked her out on a date. Although she dearly loved both her friends she was hesitant about dating one of them. What if it didn't work out? What if it ruined their friendship?
In spite of her hesitation, she accepted and she and Markus began dating. This came at a price however, as her other friend Albus became more distant and reserved.
Two years after graduation, she was married to Markus. At their reception, she ensured that she had a dance with her other best friend Albus. And she asked him again, what had been bothering her for years. Why, oh why had he become so distant, and reserved, and formal with her?
He had merely looked at her and smiled and she thought that he would once again not answer her question. At the end of their dance, he leaned over and kissed her cheek. Before pulling away he whispered in her ear, that he loved her. He had always loved her and it had broken his heart when she had chosen her other best friend. He wanted her to be happy, even if that was with another man. His last words to her before turning and leaving were that he would always love her and be there for her. He then gave her hand a last squeeze and left the reception.
Everyone knows that women cry at weddings. But it is unusual for the bride to break down in the middle of the reception and cry inconsolably. Her husband accepted that it was just "nerves", but it was still thought odd.
Four years later she received a letter that Albus was marrying someone. He said she was sweet and kind and that he cared deeply for her. He regretted however, that he could not invite her to his wedding. He said that while he cared deeply for his wife to be, he did not love her the way he loved Minerva. He could not possibly have gone thru with the wedding knowing that Minerva was there.
This letter touched off a crying jag that lasted over a month and a depression that lasted for over a year.
Two years later she was in the middle of a messy divorce. When it was over she was an emotional wreck and had begun drinking and taking painkiller potions. Three months after that she made her first and not very successful attempt at suicide.
Her second suicide attempt was much more successful and came within a hair of working. She spent 3 months in St. Mungo healing and undergoing therapy. Upon her release, Albus escorted her home and spent every day taking care of her and apparating home to his wife by night.
At the end of that month, Minerva finally worked up the courage to tell him. Tell him the secret that had been burning inside of her for years. She loved him. She loved him so much it hurt, it turned her world upside down. She had loved him all the way back to Hogwarts, but had never told him.
When he asked why, she answered that she was scared. Scared of rejection, scared that he didn't think she was attractive, scared that it would ruin their friendship.
He held her in his arms for hours until her tears finally calmed. She looked into his eyes and asked him why they can't be together.
His answer both broke her heart and gave her strength. They couldn't be together because he cared about his wife, his wife loved him, and he was a man of honor and would not simply leave her because he loved Minerva more.
Minerva had sagged against him. If she couldn't have him as her husband, she at least wanted him for one night. An affirmation of their friendship and their love. And although it was a betrayal of his wife, he felt it would have been a larger betrayal to deny a single night to the woman he truly loved.
They had their night together. It was tender, passionate, and magical. It put every other experience either had ever had or would ever have to shame. And when it was over, it was the hardest thing either did to bid the other goodbye.
Nine months later, Minerva had her first and only child. The world 40 years ago had been a very different place. The world was not an easy place for a single witch having a child out of wedlock. Although it broke her heart she gave up the child for adoption.
Both women, the young and the old, had tears dripping down their cheeks as the story wound to it's conclusion.
"Professor, why are you telling me this?" asked Hermione, as her mind tried to process the tragic tale.
"As I said child, I'm meddling. Parents sometimes meddle in their children's lives, grandparents sometimes meddle in their grandchildren's lives, and teachers sometimes meddle in their favorite student's lives. They want to try to make sure that the young people in their care don't make the same mistakes they did. Hopefully you will forgive an old woman for attempting to meddle in your life?"
Hermione nodded and sipped her now cold tea. "It's a tragic story professor, but what does it have to do with me?"
Professor McGonagle smiled a wintry smile at Hermione, "You would be surprised child..."
Her eyebrows drew down into a frown, "Hermione Granger! You honestly see no parallels between my story and your own life?"
Hermione froze. She had been thinking about the tragedy of the professor's story and wondering about both her lost love Albus and the child she had put up for adoption. She had not even tried to relate it to her own life. "What?" Hermione's voice cracked.
"Honestly Hermione, you are as clueless as I was at your age. So smart and yet so blind. You have two male best friends. You obviously care deeply for both. You can't end up with both of them. Are you by any chance suppressing your feelings for one, because you think it's impossible?"
Hermione was blushing like a beet and her mouth was opening and closing like a fish out of water.
"Those who do not learn from history, tend to repeat it. I wasted the love of my life, because I thought it impossible - when in fact he shared the same feelings as me. We both lost." The Professor bit savagely into a crumpet. "Unless I am completely blind, you are preparing to repeat my life story." A fresh tear tracked down her face, "I don't want that child, I truly don't. I want you to be happy... I want you to be so happy, your heart feels like it will burst..."
"Professor, I... I..."
"Collect your thoughts child and freshen up, while I make some fresh tea."
Sitting down and sipping their fresh hot tea, Hermione spoke up first. "Is the Albus you loved Albus Dumbledore, our headmaster?"
Minerva's eyes widened and she looked down into her teacup with a rueful expression. Hoist by my own petard she thought. "Yes Hermione, he is"
"Do you both still love each other?" asked Hermione over her teacup.
"Very much child, very much."
"Were you ever able to continue your relationship - as more than friends?" asked Hermione with a light blush.
I so do not want to tell her this. "Not until his wife died about 5 years ago. Since then, yes... We keep it very discrete."
Hermione opened her mouth to ask another question, but Minerva beat her to it. "What are your feelings towards Ron and Harry"
"I love them both, they are my best friends"
"What feelings do your harbor towards Ron Weasly beyond friendship?"
None of your business professor! "Ron's nice enough. I could see myself marrying him and having a nice life together."
"And what feelings beyond friendship do you harbor for Harry Potter?"
NONE! HE'S ONLY A FRIEND! I CAN'T... Hermione struggled to say what she wanted to say, but found herself speaking totally different thoughts and feelings. "I am totally head over heels for him. He means everything to me, I would sacrifice my life for him without a second thought... His friendship is the best thing that ever happened to me, but God I love him so..." Hermione dropped her head into her hands and wept.
Hermione felt an arm wrap around her and she leaned into the Professor's embrace as she wept deep wracking sobs. "Shh, it will be all right child." Rocking her gently back & forth. Hermione felt a cool glass pressed into her hands, drink this child, it will make you feel better. Hermione threw the cool minty liquid down her throat and immediately felt the tension ebb from her body.
"It's a mild relaxant" The Professor dabbed at Hermione's eyes with a handkerchief. "I wish I could say I'm sorry child, but..."
Hermione sat up and leveled a look, which was almost but not quite a glare, at the professor. "Professor, the words that came out of my mouth were NOT what I wanted to say!"
Minerva raised an eyebrow and blew out a breath, "I'm sure they weren't my dear. It was obvious that you've been suppressing & denying your feeling for Harry, just as I did mine for Albus. What did you intend to say, something ridiculous like - we are just friends?" Ignoring the look on Hermione's face, she went on "That's why I put a touch of Veritasum in the second pot of tea, my dear. It makes you speak the truth even if you won't admit it to yourself. That relaxant I gave you contained an antidote, so it's no longer in force."
Hermione glanced down at the small empty glass of liquid next to her and noticed a similar full glass next to the Professor. Which means that she is still under it's influence.
"Professor, what ever happened to your child?"
Minerva smiled at Hermione, "What every mother hopes for their child. She grew up, met a wonderful man, got married, and had a child of her own. Her life wasn't perfect of course, but she lived happily ever after."
"Was she a witch?"
"She was, but some kind of screw up at the agency led to her adoption by a Muggle family instead of a wizardling one. She had the ability, but never received any instruction. She had already decided on a Muggle career when she got her letter for Hogwarts and so she turned it down. Which took away my chance to see her again..."
"What did she want to be?"
"She wanted to be a doctor, the same as her mommy & daddy. Her adoptive parents were both doctors, who couldn't have children of their own."
"Did you ever meddle in her life?"
"Only once, only once... She was dating a man who was using her - a nasty, evil sort. He was very handsome on the outside and very ugly on the inside. Her parents were quite wealthy and he planned to use her to get at their money. I wrote her a letter telling her the truth and gave her a vial of Veritasum, suggesting that she use a single drop in his drink and ask him about his true feelings and plans for her. She was shocked by what he said and broke things off with him instantly."
"When she met the man she would eventually marry, she did the same thing with him. The good and kind things he said, convinced her that he was right for her. And they lived happily ever after."
"Did you tell her it was you, her biological mother who was looking out for her?"
Minerva smiled, "No I signed the letter - your fairy godmother. It's kind of a tradition for us meddlesome old witches."
Hermione started and narrowed her eyes as a memory struck her. Her parents had taken her to the train station and were saying goodbye to their daughter as she prepared to leave for her first year at Hogwarts. Her mother leaned down and hugged her with tears in her eyes. "Hermione sweetie, do your best, have fun, maybe make some friends. We love you very much." Her mother started to get up, but then sank back down to both knees. "And sweetheart, if you ever get any advice from a fairy godmother, promise me you will take it seriously."
The Professor looked down and realized that she still had not taken her antidote. Raising the small glass to her lips, she muttered "cheers" and downed it in a single gulp.
"Professor, do you have any pictures of your daughter?"
If Hermione had not been watching the Professor's eye's she might have missed it. As it was she saw her eyes flick quickly towards the bookcase against the wall.
"Of course Hermione, it's in my bedroom I'll be right back. The professor quickly returned with a framed double picture. A beautiful young Minerva held her newborn daughter to her chest, her baby's face scrunched up as she slept. The second picture held a child of 5 dressed in a pretty yellow dress and a sunhat."
"She's beautiful professor, but don't you have any albums?"
"Why would you want to see them Hermione?"
"Professor, let's just say I have a suspicion that I would like either confirmed or denied
Minerva looked down and smiled at the carpet, "You are nothing if not persistent, Hermione. Yes I have albums of my baby, pictures which span her entire life from her birth to the present."
Minerva pulled three albums from the bookcase against the wall. "The first album is her life from birth to age 10. The second covers 10 to 22 when she married. The last covers her life from 22 to the present.
Minerva handed the third volume to Hermione. "You are welcome to look thru them all, but I think the last page of this volume should answer your question."
Hermione opened the album to the last page and found a picture of middle age couple with their arms around their 16 year old daughter. Hermione stared into the face of the woman in the picture. She could see a clear resemblance to the picture which had shown a young Minerva McGonagle and a fainter resemblance to the face of Albus Dumbledoor. Her eyes looked at the familiar face of the 16 year old girl in Hogwarts robes. A girl she saw everyday - everyday in the mirror.
"As I told you Hermione, grandparents sometimes like to meddle."
Seeing Hermione enter the great Hall, Harry waved her over and shoved enough over that she had room to sit down. "Mione, you were gone a long time."
Hermione sat down and picked at her food.
She awakened 10 minutes later to Harry shaking her shoulder, "Hermione, Hermione"
"Sorry Harry, I'm just so sleepy. I think I need to go to bed early."
Standing up Hermione almost fell over from sheer exhaustion, but Harry caught her and held her up.
The two of them left the Great Hall with Harry's arm around her waist, steadying her. As they came to the Staircase that led to the dorm room, Hermione said "Harry I'm too tired to climb stairs, could you carry me?"
Harry looked down into the face of his best friend, his exhausted best friend and replied "Sure." Harry swept her up into his arms and she closed her eyes and put her arms around his neck. As he climbed the stairs he could not help stare into her face - at how beautiful and precious she was to him.
Just before they entered the Griffyndor common area, she opened her eyes and stared at him. "Harry, will you have tea with me?"