Summary: A careless comment at an outing…an angry Minerva…a confused Albus…a helpful friend...and a pensieve. Will Albus see the error of his ways and more importantly the love in his heart?
A/N: At first, this story may seem very similar to Resolving a Misunderstanding written by MMADfan (posted here and on the ADMM board) but we assure you that the small similarities are purely coincidental. We have in no way tried to copy her fantastic story and if you haven't read it, then give it a go!
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was decorated for the season both inside and out. The grounds were covered in a fresh layer of snow and the gates were hung with a large wreath complete with a red bow. Inside, the Great Hall held a massive tree adorned with colored bubbles, icicles and shimmering stars. Every room had a touch of the season, even the hallways were sprinkled with various decorations adorning anything from pictures to suits of armor. Christmas was less than a week away and the atmosphere was festive as the students prepared to leave the following day for their homes.
Albus Dumbledore exited his office and made his way toward the front doors. He was expecting a guest to arrive any moment and wanted to be there to welcome her. A flood of students streamed into the hallway signaling a break between classes. He smiled and nodded his head at those who shyly glanced his way and spoke with those who stopped to say hello or wish him a Happy Christmas. It was pure luck that he saw Minerva headed toward him as he straightened from speaking with a first year about her lost toad.
His smile brightened as she looked his way. Minerva was still too far away for him to speak with but he moved toward her hoping to have a word before she was needed in her next class. As he neared, he watched in confusion as she crossed the hall to the opposite side and continued past with barely a nod of her head and the formal greeting of Headmaster falling from her lips. Albus stopped in surprise and turned to watch as she continued down the hall. Her stiff posture made him frown.
Obviously he had done something wrong. Really there was no other explanation for her unfriendly attitude toward him of late. Christmas was her favorite time of year yet in the past week he had had not seen a smile light her face. Now he realized it was because of him. It had to be as she had never in their time together at the school treated him so formally.
He thought back to when she had first started acting differently and realized Sunday at breakfast she had hardly said two words to him. He had chalked it up to the staff outing the previous evening. She had downed a few more drinks than usual as the evening had progressed and he thought she might be feeling a bit under the weather. It wasn't unusual for his staff to over do it a time or two during the year as it was not often that they were able to indulge.
Now that he realized that he was the problem, he knew that had not been the case. In fact, if Minerva had been feeling any ill effects she could have just gone to Poppy who would have been more than happy to help her. Minerva never wished to look anything but her best in front of the students and other staff. As Deputy she felt it was her job to hold up the image of Hogwarts.
Albus continued on his way to the doors his mind a flurry of activity as he tried to figure out what he had done wrong to upset his Deputy and friend. He was not given long to ponder as a voice sounded from the entrance.
"Albus! I was afraid you had forgotten about my arrival today."
The Headmaster smiled as he was pulled into a hug. "Pernelle it was so nice of you to make time in your schedule to help us."
"My dear boy you are like a son to me and you well know it. Both Nicholas and I would do anything you asked if it was within our power."
He grinned at the witch who appeared younger than him but was far older and had been good friends of his parents. He was grateful for her assistance this holiday season, especially since Nicholas was trapped in a conference until Christmas Eve. The two very rarely had parted during the holidays. However, with two of his Heads of Houses requesting time off for important family events, Albus needed the extra help with the students who would be remaining at the school.
"Let me show you to your quarters and once you are settled I will show you around the school."
"That sounds lovely," she answered as she looped her arm through his.
The two made their way to a set of rooms just a few turns from where the Headmaster's office was located. They were reserved for honored guests who would be making extended stays. The house elves had freshened things up and even brought some flowers in from the greenhouses. Pernelle went about unpacking her things while Albus retired to his office to tackle any owls which had arrived.
As always a small stack of letters had accumulated on his desk and his bowl of owl treats needed refilling. He looked at the seals on the first few but could not bring himself to deal with the issues. His mind was still searching for an answer to his problem with Minerva. He mulled over what to do for the better part of an hour before deciding that he was just being childish. He had been sorted into Gryffindor, restrained dragons for samples of blood for research and had defeated a dark wizard – surely he could face one of his closest friends and ask her what he had done wrong. After all, he reasoned to himself, if she was going to be angry she at least owed him an explanation as to why.
He had just congratulated himself on a job well done after sending Fawkes with a message asking Minerva to see him in his office after the evening meal when there was a knock at the door. Pernelle had arrived and it was time to show her around her new home, at least for the next week. He was soon so caught up in his stories and ramblings of facts that it was time to move to the Great Hall for the last meal before the students left on holiday.
Dinner proceeded nicely, if a bit lonely. Minerva had moved down to accommodate Pernelle and the two women had spoken throughout the meal hardly sparing him a glance. On his other side, Horace was busy speaking mostly to himself about the wizard he would be meeting over the holidays. The Potions Professor had spoken of little else since the invitation had arrived in November. It appeared, from what Albus could extract from the man's excited ramblings over the last weeks, that he had received a request to join an Italian herbologist of world renown at his villa for the holiday. The connection was from a former student who had apprenticed with him. He supposed the man was so excited since it would give him an opportunity to see some rare potion's ingredients.
Regardless of how Horace had come by the invitation, the story had gone on long enough that those around him paid him very little attention. As Albus finished his pudding, he looked around at all the excited students and smiled happily. Christmas certainly infused the school with excitement and warmth. And of course the decorations were exquisite this year. Filius had certainly outdone himself.
Albus stood and nodded as he moved down the table. He needed to answer the letters which had arrived earlier and his hope was to have them completed by the time Minerva made her appearance. He began to hum a carol as he realized that between Christmas, a visit from Pernelle and his soon-to-be mended friendship with Minerva, the next week would certainly be one of the best on record.
It was a couple hours later when Minerva arrived to speak with him. Albus had begun to think she would not show up. As she entered he offered her a seat by the fire but Minerva remained standing.
"You wished to see me Headmaster."
Albus frowned at the formal words and sound of her voice. "Minerva, are you sure you wouldn't like to sit down. I can have a cup of tea sent up," he stated in what he hoped was an encouraging voice.
"I will remain standing thank you."
"Very well I will come right to the point. I have noticed lately that you are not happy with me. I have requested you meet me because I wish to know if I did something to upset you. If so, you know I would do my best to right any wrongs I may have committed."
Feeling pleased with his speech, Albus popped a sherbet lemon in his mouth. And nearly choked on it when Minerva gave her response.
"If that is your reason for summoning me to your office, I believe I will take my leave. I have nothing I wish to discuss with you at the moment."
Minerva turned and headed toward the door as Albus sputtered a bit before finding enough of a voice to respond. "My dear, I do not understand."
She stopped and Albus sighed in relief as she turned to face him. He continued speaking before he lost his chance entirely. "I have worked out that you became upset with me sometime on Saturday. However, I cannot decide what event transpired to bring this chasm between us."
"You are right I did become upset with you on Saturday. The events of the evening gave me much to think about."
Albus' mind quickly went over all that had happened during the staff outing and the only event he could call to mind was with the woman who had shown an interest in him. Most of the professors had found their fun in teasing him unmercifully about it. He had been required to say something finally when he felt it had gone too far.
"Really Albus the woman has been staring at you all evening. Surely a man such as yourself could use the excitement in his life."
Albus, in a very calm and serious tone of voice, had addressed the current Dark Arts Professor, Matthew Jenkins, plainly. "Even if I did need excitement as you so eloquently put it, which I do not, it would not be your business to discuss it. Besides, the witch is entirely too young to be any match for me. She was a student around the same time as Minerva I believe." To soften the blow he added one last thought. "However, I am sure if you went to speak with her she might switch her interests."
Surely Minerva was not jealous of the woman at the bar. Maybe she was interested in Professor Jenkins and Albus directing him toward the woman had upset her a great deal. He ignored the twinge in his gut at the thought of her and Matthew together.
"You are not upset that I sent Professor Jenkins over to visit with that woman are you? After all, he did not stay with her for too long. Surely nothing to be jealous about."
Minerva face hardened and Albus backed up a step. "How could you think that? Of course I was not jealous."
"Then please just tell me what it is so we can put this whole silly thing behind us."
It was the wrong thing to say. He knew he should have not have called her anger with him silly. He had not meant to, it had just sort of spilled out. And as soon as he saw the look on her face he regretted every syllable he had spoken.
"If you don't know Albus Dumbledore then I am certainly not going to tell you," Minerva stated as she stalked toward his office door.
"You have to admit my dear that your reasoning is completely illogical. How will I know what I did wrong unless you tell me?"
Minerva made a sound, something between a growl and a roar that had Albus staring at her in shock. "Figure it out!"
She slammed out of the office with enough force that the portraits surrounding him woke from their naps.
"Really Albus do keep it down. Some of us are trying to sleep," Dilys said with a yawn before closing her eyes. The other portraits mumbled their agreement as Albus sat heavily at his desk, confused and upset by all that had happened.