Disclaimer: I don't own HP, or anything to do with it. I just use the characters.
A/N: I'm not exactly sure where this idea came to me from, I just know I thought it would be classic for Minerva to start yelling at Albus, and him turning it round so here's what I came up with, hope you enjoy it, I need all the reviews I can get. All opinions welcome.
DatfPenguinofDoom: I have bowed to your wishes, and there is a line in here just for you. Enjoy!
Summary: Albus finally gets the answer to a question he often finds himself pondering, but in a case of bizarre circumstances.
How Did You Know It Was Me?
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was creeping along the Transfiguration corridor when a loud shout brought him to an abrupt halt. He winced as the sound hit his ears, and the paintings on the walls gave him pitying looks as the sound reverberated around the hallways. Students three corridors away heard it and went scuttling round to find another way past her room. Albus unfortunately, had no such luck.
"ALBUS DUMBLEDORE! GET IN HERE NOW!" The voice belonged to one Minerva McGonagall, the current Transfiguration professor, and the most furious woman in the castle by the sounds of it. Albus had a fair idea as to what. But how on Merlin's earth had she known it was him? He tried to carry on, hoping she had just been guessing, but she appeared at the door to her classroom and gave him one of her fiercest glares, her eyes finding his without much trouble. He stopped dead in the middle of the corridor, frozen by the iciness of her look. She stepped back and thrust her hand back into her classroom, saying "In" in such a commanding tone he had no choice but to obey her.
He walked in with a straight back, drawing on his Gryffindor courage, thankful no student was around to see this (little did he know that word had gone round that McGonagall had been in a foul mood since first lesson so all the students were avoiding her corridor at all costs, just in case she decided to take it out on someone). As soon as he was inside, Minerva swung the door shut so hard the shutters on the windows rattled a little. Her eyes were blazing and Albus put up his hands to explain before she literally tore his head from his shoulders.
"Minerva I understand you're angry-"
"Do you really Albus? We agreed that there was to be no Valentines Day Ball, for the reasons I explained, yet you have flouted that agreement and authorised it anyway! You didn't even tell me, I found out from one of my students! We are not a dictatorship where you do as you like Albus, we are a democracy, we decide things together and stick to them!" Minerva had cut in at a reasonable volume which had risen until he thought people two floors away would be able to hear her. Albus set himself a reminder that he must not cross Minerva again.
"Minerva, my dear, the students need a break and so do the staff. A ball would be the perfect distraction…" Albus started but Minerva cut in pointedly.
"Yes exactly! A distraction!" Minerva said a little more shrill than usual but Albus carried on as if she had not spoken.
"And what better cause than Valentines Day?" Albus continued, coming closer and smiling, holding out his hands. Minerva glared at him and spoke evenly, her tone serious and irritated,
"A day devoted to love, however much you may like or dislike the idea, will not help the students with their exam results." Albus sighed, knowing she would not be swayed, and neither would he.
"Minerva, I promise, this is the only time I will go against your wishes. The only time, but we need this Min." Albus' voice pleaded with her but her anger was not as easily swayed as her heart.
"Don't call me that, you know I hate it. And how do I know this will be the last time? Do you not trust my judgment anymore Albus?" She asked her voice dipping to say the last sentence very quietly, wondering whether he had finally given up trying to understand her. He looked appalled at the thought and replied quickly to assure her he had indeed not given up and that he did still trust her, with all his heart.
"I would trust you with my life, as you well know Min," here she gave him another glare and he corrected himself, "-erva, and have done on several occasions. I just feel in this instance, you are perhaps consulting your own feelings rather than the students'." Albus replied carefully, looking Minerva in the eye. Needless to say, that was not the reply Minerva had wanted to hear. She glared at him over her glasses, and folded her arms, her mouth set in a thin line her most misbehaving students would have recognised.
"Albus, I only ever think of the students when I help you make these decisions, that is my job." Minerva replied in a dangerous tone, her glare so cold he wanted to shiver. Albus sighed, and stepped forward, putting his hands on her shoulders but she shook them off and stepped back, her temper still apparent and her face hard. It pained him when she stepped from his touch and moved from him but he replied calmly enough, concern showing through his tone as well as curiosity.
"Minerva, when did you change? You always loved the balls we had when you were a student here; I used to watch you with pride as you whirled around the dance floor, the jewel of every boy's eye and the envy of every girl. But now… you shy away and don't dance at all, even if you make an appearance. Why Minerva? What happened after you left to change you so completely before you came back?" Albus asked, looking straight into her eyes to make sure she would not lie to him. Minerva felt her anger drain away so all she was left with was a desire not to talk anymore, and she turned from him, breaking eye contact, unwilling to enter a realm she had avoided for many long years.
"Albus, this is not about me. Don't use it as an opportunity to probe my past." She snapped, going over to her desk and picking up some of the papers that always seemed to litter her desk. Albus shook his head, went over to take the papers from her and take her hands in his own, turning her to face him with a patient countenance that showed they had often had this discussion. It always ended in the same way, with Minerva walking out and not talking to him for some days. Well, he would not let it happen this time.
"Minerva, I have always hoped we are close. I would consider you my best friend, and I have told you everything you have ever asked for. Why do you refuse me the same?" Albus willed her to look up at him, as her gaze was currently resting on the floor to the side of their feet, and from what he could see, there wasn't a shred of emotion detectable on her countenance, as if it was set in stone. Her voice resonated with control when she answered after a few seconds of strained silence.
"I have one area I will not talk about, with you or with anyone, and that is because it is painful. Please Albus, do not ask me to recall those few years, they were the worst of my life and I relieve them in my dreams almost every night. There, enough." Minerva finished with finality, still not looking at him, and wondering whether to remove her hands from his. As if sensing her thoughts, he tightened his hold on her and drew her closer so she could feel his breath on her skin. She stubbornly refused to move her head still, so he shifted her hands so he was holding both in one of his own, and lifted his free hand to her cheek, turning her head so he could see her eyes very gently.
He was shocked to find just how much pain he could see she was holding within her. Though she tried to hide it, he could see the torture she was in. Doing the only thing he could think of, he pulled her softly into a hug, despite the knowledge that she normally hated such displays of affection. He smoothed a hand over her hair while the other rested on her back, and whispered quietly into her ear, hoping she was not about to pull away and glare at him, as she might normally have done,
"Minerva, I'm so sorry." Her eyes began to glisten, but thankfully, he could not see that as her head was resting against his chest, and she raised her hands now freed from his hold, to grip his robes hard, wishing she could say, explain why she didn't want to remember yet could not forget. It was just too hard.
"Albus, I wish I could tell you." She whispered back, her voice wavering very slightly and she clung to his robes, cursing herself for her weakness. Albus gladly gathered her closer into his arms, having been holding her loosely in case she wanted to pull back but she put her cheek firmly against his chest and he laid his head on top of hers. He moved his hand from her head to her neck, and rubbed his other gently up and down her back, hoping she would find it soothing. She sighed, and a single tear ran down her cheek which she quickly wiped away, albeit on his robes. She was not like some, whose noses go runny when they cry; no only her cheeks were any sign she had cried.
"My dear, I won't force you. Just promise me you will tell me when you feel you can." Albus replied, softly and comfortingly, his own heart a little shaken at how small she seemed at that moment. Minerva couldn't have been more grateful for what he said. She did have hope that eventually, she would find it in herself to tell him, but it could be quite a while before that happened. She took comfort from the fact that he would be as supportive as she could wish anyone to be when she did eventually tell him. She knew that for sure.
When she felt ready, she loosened her hold on him and he let her go slowly, relishing the closeness she had shared with him, for he knew it would be a long time before she let her guard down that much again. She brushed some hairs back from her forehead and straightened her robes, trying to hide the small blush of embarrassment she felt because she had allowed herself to be that close to him. She had not started out this conversation to end like this. She had just wanted to express her annoyance with him, not break down. She sighed, and a hand rose to rub her neck as she always did when she felt a little uncomfortable.
Albus turned away to give her a moment to collect herself as the students' lunchtime would be over soon and no doubt, she had a class next. When the students did arrive, he could not be here. It would not do for more rumours to spring up, he was sure there were some already. He heard her move away, to behind her desk. He considered leaving, but decided to ask something that had been bothering him for a while. He turned to her and smiled when he saw she was already beginning to sort her papers.
"Minerva, when I was in the corridor earlier, how did you know it was me creeping past your door?" He asked lightly. She looked up, startled at his question. He maintained his smile, and looked over at her with interest, eyebrows raised. Minerva thought for a moment then replied matter-of-factly,
"Your step, your smell, and your eyes." Albus' eyebrows shot up to nearly meet his hair-line, and she half-smiled as she explained. "When you were two corridors away, you walked at your normal pace which I know as well as my own. Then when you entered my corridor, your smell of sherbet lemons and musky books caught my attention and I was almost sure it was you. Then, as I threw open the door and met your eyes, I was assured. Though people may try to look like you, though others may have blue eyes, none are comparable to yours. They are unique and they are my last check." She smiled.
Albus stared at her momentarily, then laughed. He muttered "I should have known." to himself. Thinking he would go, as they both knew classes began in a minute, she sat behind her desk and pulled some marking towards her. She was surprised and more than a little pleased when he didn't. Instead, he approached and did the last thing she had expected: He kissed her on the cheek.
He had thought just a few moments before just how beautiful she looked with the sunlight streaming in through the windows and catching her hair and skin just wonderfully. Well, he had not been able to help himself. Striding over to kiss her had seemed the most natural thing in the world, and she didn't back away from it. In fact, he saw a small, pretty blush forming where his lips had touched her. He watched with a shot of happiness inside him as her mouth parted slightly in shock, and he flashed her a smile, winked, then strode out, calling as he exited,
"I look forward to dancing with you at the Valentines Day Ball, Professor." She stared at the door for a good few seconds then recalled herself as she heard the students begin to approach, thundering up the stairs and along the corridors. She sighed happily, and stood to greet her next class all of whom were delighted to find their Professor (who they had all been warned was in foul mood) in rather a glad state of mind.
Little did they know it was down to the Headmaster.