Summary: Minerva has always been curious by nature. When an opportunity to look into an old journal that Albus writes in at every staff meeting presents itself she finds the temptation too great to pass up. What she finds will change their relationship forever.
Rating: Safe for Everyone!
"New brooms have been requested this year…again," Professor McGonagall stated in a tone that clearly indicated her feelings on the subject.
"Now Minerva, I know you don't feel like flying lessons are as important as the academics but I do believe we have a bit of room in our budget this year."
Albus Dumbledore looked over his half-moon spectacles at his deputy with the same twinkle in his eyes that he reserved for those times he was vested in the outcome of their conversation. Minerva was well aware of what he was attempting to do and frowned. They did have a rather large group of full paying students this term. The allotted number of scholarships had not been used up as usual and therefore they could afford to be generous in the class budgets. Still, she had been hoping to steer him toward a more scholarly use of the extra galleons. However she had to agree that five years was a long time on brooms that were abused by first years.
Tapping her quill on the parchment before her, Minerva decided to agree. "Very well, I will let Xiomara know during the meeting."
"Splendid," Albus said jovially.
His eyes never strayed from her face but Minerva paid him hardly any attention as she jotted down the results of their meeting. She had long ago become used to the intense attention he placed on her when they met before staff meetings. She was much too busy recording everything and preparing her mind for the weekly staff gathering. She had taken over running it a few years before while Albus simply sat in and made his comments known here and there.
"I believe our first guest has arrived," Albus' said just before a knock sounded on the door.
Minerva looked up and shook her head. She was still amazed by how he always seemed to know not only when someone was to arrive, but also who it would be. She believed it was due to his legilimency skills but Albus had never confirmed her suspicions.
"Come in Filius, the door is open as always."
The small Charms instructor came in at the Headmaster's bidding. "Good morning Albus, Minerva," he greeted before taking his usual seat.
As the two men in the room began to visit about a recent conflict in Ravenclaw, Minerva put her papers in order and poured herself a fresh cup of tea. She looked around the room and noticed Albus had added a new trinket to his collection. The gleaming silver tin had a very pretty lid which was encrusted with a few stones. Next to it was a pile of journals which Minerva realized was her weekly loan. Albus received so many free academic and leisure publications that he had long ago begun lending her the ones she found of interest before having them either put in his personal stores or sorted into the library's large catalog.
"You should really try to have more fun," a voice sounded from Minerva's right.
"Really Poppy, I was simply letting my mind wander a bit before the meeting."
"Or more likely grading papers in your head," the witch said smartly. "You work entirely too hard. Don't you agree Xiomara?"
"Completely," the flying instructor added in from farther down. "I believe it may be time for a night out at The Three Broomsticks."
"I hardly think that is appropriate," Minerva remarked to her two colleagues and friends. "The year has barely begun."
"All the more reason," Pomona muttered under her breath as she took a seat next to Poppy.
Minerva looked up at the Head of Hufflepuff surprised. "Have a hard week?" she questioned.
"She sent three to the infirmary on Friday," Poppy chimed in.
"And four detentions," the normally cheerful witch added. "I still have a headache from yesterday's spectacle."
"You should have stopped by dear," Poppy said sympathetically. "I just got a new batch of potions in."
Minerva became distracted from the conversation when out of the corner of her eye she saw Albus take out an old, worn journal. It did not surprise her for it was his habit, but she found herself oddly drawn to it on this particular meeting. Every time the staff met Albus would take out the same faded blue book, open it and begin to write things down. Except Minerva did not believe for a moment that he was taking notes. The way his hand flowed over the page did not look like any writing she had ever seen and often he would pause when the most intense discussions were taking place or when decision were finally reached.
"Definitely next weekend, don't you think Minerva?"
"Of course," she replied customarily to the voice, her eyes still on the journal on Albus' desk.
"I will let Rosmerta know to expect us then."
"What?" Minerva questioned as she spun around.
Three sets of wide, innocent eyes stared back at her startled expression. "I just said I did not think it appropriate."
"Well you must have changed your mind since you just agreed. No backing down now."
Xiomara seemed much too pleased with herself and Minerva cursed her curious mind. "Xiomara Hooch, I will have you know…"
"I think it is time we got down to business," Albus' voice cut through all the talking causing a silence to fall over the gathered instructors.
Minerva glared at her three friends as she turned her attention to the task at hand. She would deal with them later, for now she had a meeting to run.
Everyone turned their attention to Minerva and the bits of parchment she handed them, detailing the list of topics they needed to discuss. Based on some of the items up for debate it could prove to be a rather lengthy meeting, though Minerva hoped to stall any long winded rants before they could progress too far. One item in particular, the new brooms, would certainly save her a half hour of listening to Xiomara bemoan the injustices done to her department yet again at having been denied funding. Minerva inwardly smiled. She had Albus to thank for that but Xiomara didn't need to know everything that went on between a Deputy and the Headmaster behind closed doors.
Albus sat back comfortably in his favorite chair, his leather journal perched on his lap but arranged so that he was the only one to see the pages. It was his custom to always use a particular brand of ink and a quill that never needed dipping into said ink well. He would always take a moment to fill the same faded green quill with the special ink moments before the meeting started. Minerva had often commented on it and he would smile and answer that some habits were hard to break and that sentimentality was one of his lesser known traits.
In truth, it was the same quill she had given him as a student during her last Christmas spent at Hogwarts. He had cherished it as having been one of the few gifts he had received that hadn't been bound printed matter. And the fact that it came from his star pupil only made it more special. Once she returned as a professor, he had been somewhat unnerved to admit he was still using the same quill, especially since she seemed to notice yet never mention it specifically. During that first staff meeting, he had used the quill and had done so in the same manner ever since. But after that initial staff meeting with Minerva, he would place a charm on it to make certain it never ran out of the ink.
Still, here he sat in his favorite chair, listening to Minerva going through the usual preliminaries of the meeting. Each Head of House was required to give an update on their students, noting any odd occurrences or disruptions that had transpired since their last meeting. Minerva would then give an official update on the points standings, delivered with a smile especially when her Gryffindors were in the lead.
It was these moments he enjoyed the most during a staff meeting. Minerva would be demonstrating her excellent leadership skills; Xiomara Hooch would be her highly animated self, Severus the scowler, Poppy and Sprout the gentle additions to the scene, Filius and Trelawney giving their opinions though holding back. But it was always Minerva that captured his attention. His eyes would focus on some feature, some aspect he may never have noticed before and he would study it, as if trying to capture the very essence of that particular trait and burn it into his memory. He had watched her surreptitiously for years and with each passing staff meeting discovered even something more wonderful about Minerva.
"Albus, are you going to answer the question or do you not care to voice your opinion?" Minerva asked, startling him out of his reverie. His quill had been dancing across the page and everyone assumed he was busy taking notes on the matter, acting as their unofficial secretary.
"I'm sorry. I missed that last bit. If you'd kindly pose your question once more, I shall do my best to answer it as best I can." He could feel the slight blush in his cheek as the warmth infused them and colored them pink. This wasn't the first time he had been caught daydreaming or appearing to be less than his attentive self at a meeting so he should have been used to this by now.
"We were discussing the allocation of the funds regarding the broomsticks," she answered, giving him a knowing glare. "I suppose, Xiomara, that maybe this year we can grant you the money for new broomsticks, though I would like to request that you not buy the most expensive models on the market. Remember, these are first years and do not need expensive racing brooms as beginners."
Albus smiled to himself and directed his attention back to his journal. Just as planned, Minerva had managed to make the flying instructor very happy, while making herself look like the hero. He never minded that at all since they were all great friends, well most of them anyway and at the end of the day everyone knew he held the purse strings of Hogwarts.
By the end of the meeting, Albus had nearly completed his journal entry. Only a few minor details needed to be added for it to be complete, though he could add those later. The main points had been masterfully covered and to his great satisfaction. As one by one the staff members began to retreat to their own chambers, Albus closed his book and placed it on his desk.
"Minerva, would you care to stay and join me in a cup of tea and perhaps some light sandwiches?" he asked hopefully after the last person left his office.
"I'd love to, Albus, though I'd like a few moments to return to my rooms first. I need to drop off a few papers and send an owl I neglected this morning." Her features had softened considerably from a few moments prior. She always pretended to be the stern Professor McGonagall in front of her colleagues when they were discussing business. But he knew the softer, more delicate side of her and it pleased him to be counted among the few to have been privileged to see it numerous times.
"Take as long as you need. I have a few things I could take care of here as well. Shall we meet back here in half an hour for lunch and perhaps a game of chess? It's been quite a while since you've given me the chance to defeat you." She agreed and he watched as she slipped from his office, leaving him once more with his thoughts.
She had barely been gone for more than a moment from his sight when an owl began pecking incessantly on his window pane. Permitting the zealous bird into his office, he offered the weary owl a treat and took the parchment from his leg, noting the seal as having belonged to the highest member of the Wizengamot.
Albus' face fell in disappointment as the read the note. He was needed urgently but was assured it would take no more than an hour if everything went well. He reached into his top drawer of his desk and removed a spare bit of parchment and dipped his purple quill into the ink well, dashing off a quick note to Minerva.
Unfortunately, I have been called away to an unexpected meeting of the Wizengamot. I am assured I will only be needed for an hour. If you'd be so kind, I'd love to have that lunch with you when I return. I will have the house elves make all the arrangements and I shall meet you here around one o'clock this afternoon. Please feel free to make yourself at home if you happen to arrive before my return.
See you soon!
"Fawkes, please deliver this to Minerva. We were to have the pleasure of her company this afternoon but I'm afraid it will have to be postponed just a little bit longer. If we're lucky, we can convince her to share dinner with us as well," he winked before holding out two sherbet lemons in the palm of his hand for the red plumed bird.
Gratefully, the bird accepted the offering and soon disappeared in a flash of fire, followed shortly by Albus disappearing in a flash of green flames from the fireplace.
Minerva dropped her pile of papers, and the catalogs she had snatched from Albus' table, onto her desk. She was pleased that he had invited her to lunch today and wanted to move quickly so she would have a few minutes to freshen up before going back to his office. She found the note she needed to respond to and had just opened it when Fawkes appeared in a burst of flames.
"A phoenix is never subtle, in travel or in presence," she said affectionately to the beautiful creature.
Minerva moved to where he had settled on her bird stand. She stroked his head for a moment before taking the bit of parchment from his claw. She knew what this meant – Albus had to cancel. She tried to hide her disappointment as she opened the letter but Fawkes seemed to sense it anyway and chirped encouragingly. Her eyes traveled across the page and a smile lit her features.
"It is not so bad; you are right Fawkes. A delay of an hour will give me plenty of time to finish my correspondence and freshen up a bit."
The phoenix moved toward Minerva along the stand and tilted his head up at her. Minerva laughed at his antics and then sighed. "You can stay for now if you wish but I must insist that you return to Albus' office with me when I leave."
A noise that sounded incredibly close to a whine emerged from the bird. "Now I know you like the view from my rooms but after your disagreement with Persephone I am afraid I can't leave you unattended. Don't worry, she will be back with my parents next week once they return from their trip. She really is very nice if you would give her a chance."
Minerva smiled when Fawkes perked up at the mention of Persephone leaving. They had not got on well from the first day and she knew that the phoenix would be thrilled to see her parents' cat go. Persephone had not meant to attack him on her first day here, Minerva was sure of it. She had just been surprised by Fawkes' sudden arrival in her rooms. And ever since that day it had been war between them unless someone was around to mediate.
Luckily Persephone was out wandering the halls of the castle so Minerva could actually get some work done. With one last stroke of the red plumage, Minerva moved to her desk and sat down. She reread the note and started to compose her letter back to the journal. It was amazing how many forms and questions one had to fill out in order to publish academic research. Not that she was complaining since it meant every author's background and work was investigated for authenticity and met appropriate standards.
She was soon finished and had placed it in the basket with her outgoing mail. A house elf would pick it up that afternoon and make sure it was sent out with a school owl. She looked over the grounds and smiled to see a few students wandering around enjoying the sun. Soon enough winter would be upon them and the opportunities for such abandon would be limited. Not that a bit of cold and snow stopped her charges from being outside. However, the sniffles and coughs that followed such activities were not often pleasant. She stood and stretched and made her way to her bedroom and the bathroom beyond so she could freshen up.
When she reappeared a few minutes later Fawkes was still entranced with the scene outside her window. She smiled and moved over to stand beside him. They stood that way for a time and watched the breeze move through the trees and ripple the water on the lake. The sun was warm on her face and Minerva relished the small space of peace she had been gifted. With a contented sigh she stroked Fawkes' feathered back and moved to the door.
"It is time for us to go."
The bird looked back at her and seemed to issue a sigh of his own. He disappeared in a burst of flames and Minerva summoned the tail feather he had left behind to her. As always she would give it to Albus to make sure it was properly taken care of. As she made her way to Headmaster's office, she nodded to several students in greeting, gave a few warnings to those who were running in the halls and signed a permission form for Gryffindor to practice on the quidditch pitch.
By the time she reached the office she expected Albus to already be there. She knocked on the door and when she received no response she went inside and took a seat in her usual chair. Her eyes once again wandered around the room as she waited for her lunch partner to show. However, Minerva was not the sort of witch to sit still for very long so she was soon up and perusing the shelves and shelves of books that belonged to Albus, though she knew nearly his entire collection by heart.
She found a muggle book she had been wishing to read and picked it up before moving toward some of the rarer editions of magical text on the opposite side of the room. It was as she passed his desk that she noticed it. She looked around to make sure she was still alone and moved closer. The blue book from the meetings seemed to be calling to her as it sat there right in the middle of some scrolls, quills and sherbet lemons. She had always been curious by nature and now her curiosity was growing exponentially as she looked down on the journal that had been left out. It seemed to be enticing and mocking her at the same time. She wanted to know what kept Albus so busy during the staff meetings that he could lose track of the conversation. She needed to know.
She glanced around again to be sure there were no eyes to witness her. All of the portraits were either asleep or absent and Minerva took a deep breath. Her stomach filled with butterflies as she reached out her hand and opened the first page, leaving the book where it rested. A name was printed on the inside in a familiar scrawl. Albus Dumbledore. She turned to the second page and dropped the book she had been holding which smacked into the side of the desk and then tumbled to the ground, the pages bending under its own weight as it rested face down and open. However, Minerva did not move to scoop it up and restore it back to its pristine condition. She hardly even noticed what she had done. Her eyes were riveted on the sight before her.
It was her, or rather a sketch of her in dark ink. She was much younger than she was now. She was sitting in a chair, the one she favored when she first started working at Hogwarts, and was furiously scribbling notes on the parchment which rested on her lap. Her hair was loosely pulled behind her with several strands escaping. It had to be from one of the first staff meetings she ever attended. Unconsciously she smoothed her hair back before realizing it was in its customary bun.
Laughing a bit at herself for her foolishness she turned to the next page and then the next. As she moved through the journal she found that every sketch was a picture of her and every one appeared to be from the various staff meetings that had been held over the years. Albus had drawn her as she took notes, spoke her mind, commanded meetings and even when she had sent a charm at Filius the year that they had tried to surpass each other with outrageous pranks. They were all breathtakingly beautiful in form and only improved in artistry as the years of pictures passed.
Her shock had finally begun to wear off and a warm, pleased sensation started to take its place. However, she was not able to appreciate it fully as the fireplace suddenly roared to life and Minerva found herself slamming the book shut and jumping backwards. She hastily picked up the book that was on the floor and tried to right it as she moved toward her seat.
A/N: So, what did you think? Are you wondering what happens next?