Albus led Minerva around the lake, taking her hand in his. They talked occasionally, but mostly just basked in each other's presence. It was much later that Minerva realized just how dark it was becoming. Regardless of the time, Minerva decided to ask to see the journal that has sparked the series of events which had led to this evening. She hadn't really had an opportunity to study it the first time, for fear of being caught. And perhaps if things went well she could ask more of the questions that seemed to be plaguing her.
Minerva looked up at Albus and found him studying her intently, as he always did before the staff meetings. Her cheeks began to heat with a blush and she inwardly cursed herself for her newfound shyness. She had not been timid around Albus in many years, if ever, and she certainly didn't feel she should start now.
She brought their clasped hands up and looked at the way their fingers entwined together. "Albus," she whispered, breaking into the silence that had surrounded them. "Would you mind showing me some more of your sketches?"
Minerva held her breath hoping she had not offended him. She knew some artists were particular about who viewed their work. However, based on their relationship and the revelations which had taken place a short time ago, she didn't think he would mind.
"Come with me," he replied with a look of pure delight on his face. "I have more than just sketches to show you."
Her curiously piqued, Minerva walked beside him and back into the castle. The halls seemed unusually quiet. It was as if the building itself was sleeping. They were both silent except for the rustling of their robes and the click of Minerva's heels as they made their way to the entrance of his office.
As the spiraling staircase brought them to the large door, Albus leaned down and swept a stray strand of hair from her cheek to behind her ear. His eyes shined in a way she had not seen before. He leaned down brushing a kiss across her lips causing her heart to skip a beat. She opened her eyes just as he pushed open the door and she did not miss the mischievous smile on his face.
He led her over to her favorite chair and motioned for her to sit down. "I have several journals. The particular one you saw was the one I keep specifically for staff meetings."
He spoke casually as he removed first the blue journal and then six more like it in various shade of blue, green and even a purple. "Some of the pictures are not of you in some of these older ones, particularly the dark blue, but many of the sketches include you. I have many other journals with landscapes, family, friends, specific events but those can wait until another time if you wish to look at them."
Minerva smiled as she sorted through the books he had laid beside her on a table he had summoned. She decided to start with the one he had specifically mentioned as not having many of just her alone in it. He might see it as her starting from the beginning or with the oldest journal but in actuality it was so she could concentrate on his words just as well as the pictures. She decided now was finally the time to ask all the questions that were still swirling in her head.
"What made you draw me in the first place?" she asked hesitantly as she turned the first page.
Albus laughed, his eyes shining. "Your first staff meeting; I can remember it like it was yesterday. You arrived early and looked so earnest. You were ready to learn everything you could, even though it was just an ordinary meeting. I found it so endearing and refreshing that I couldn't resist."
"Why continue through all these years?" she asked more boldly.
Minerva has never seen Albus blush or look timid before, not really, but he did now and the pink staining his cheeks made her smile all the more. "Let's just say you captured my attention. You have wonderful features for sketching and your personality is so strong and sure. Trying to capture it was like an addiction."
Minerva looked up from a picture of Hogwarts with students playing out front at that remark. "So I was an addiction?" she teased with a playful glint in her eyes.
Albus really turned pink at that comment and Minerva laughed. She put the journal aside and took his face in her hands. "If I had to choose anyone to draw me or study me or love me, I would choose you. I love you and am only flattered that you felt I was lovely enough to spend your time and talent on."
Albus leaned forward and kissed her then, a tender and loving kiss that Minerva wished would last forever. He pulled back much sooner than she would have liked and a whimper escaped her throat. She opened her eyes to see him watching her. "I'd like to show you something."
She couldn't imagine what, other than journals, he could have but she nodded in response. "Do I get a hint?"
"No, and in fact you need to close your eyes."
His mischievous smile had returned and Minerva felt a thrill of excitement and anticipation shoot through her. "Very well," she said as her eyes fluttered closed.
The book was removed from her lap and he pulled her forward slowly as she was led through his office. Albus stopped her and she heard him whisper a spell of some sort just before he guided her forward again. The temperature wherever she had been led was slightly cooler than his office and she unconsciously brought her arms up to wrap around herself after he let go of her hand.
She heard candles flare to life around her and soon Albus was again by her side, his arm wrapped around her waist. "You may open your eyes."
Minerva's eyes widened as she took in everything. A large window taking up almost an entire wall stood in front of her and a few cabinets were scattered around the room. However, her attention was immediately drawn to the dozens of canvases depicting scenes of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, London and places she didn't recognize resting against the walls.
"They are beautiful," she declared as she moved over to study a group to her right.
Albus stayed still as she wandered around and made comments on some of his various pieces. He didn't really speak unless it was to explain something or to tell her what area of the world she was looking at in his art.
When she had finished she looked over and was surprised to see an easel in the middle of the room with a tattered chair. She had not noticed either before. On the easel was a canvas but it was covered by a white sheet. Minerva walked over to stand beside Albus and looked up at him questioningly.
"I worked on this for a long time, trying to perfect it."
Albus reached up and pulled the sheet away causing Minerva to gasp as her hand flew up to cover her mouth. Looking out at her from the canvas was an image of herself. Minerva stepped forward and reached out her hand to touch the figure but her fingers stopped just shy of the paint. She was perfect, sitting by the lake with a book in her lap. She imagined she could feel the heat of the sun on her face and the breeze that blew through her hair.
He had captured her in a way that she didn't think was possibly with only a brush. Her eyes were so luminous that she felt as if she was looking into her own soul. Albus had seen the woman within her and brought it to life in this painting. With her heart beating loudly enough that she was sure he could hear it, she turned.
"Albus, it is amazing," she said tenderly. "You have captured a part of me that so few people see and made me shine in such a way that I feel I pale in comparison to the beauty you have created."
Albus moved closer to her and took her hand which had been gesturing during her speech. He placed a series of light kisses upon her palm before speaking. "Nothing could make you pale in comparison, not anything natural or created. You shine above all else. This is my feeble attempt to capture the part of you that resides in my love for you."
"I love it," Minerva responded. "As I love you."
Albus dipped his head and kissed her until she was breathless. "Your words mean more to me than you may ever know," he said when he leaned back and looked into her eyes again.
Minerva wiped at the tears which had gathered in her eyes from the emotions which surged through her. "Then perhaps you ought to try showing me."
"Albus," Minerva called out as she levitated a large flat box into the sitting room. "Where are you? It's time!"
Albus came striding up the hall from the back of their new home. He had a grin on his face and not much else. "Are you sure it can't wait?" he questioned suggestively.
"Albus," she scolded playfully, "I have been waiting to hang this picture since we purchased our house just before the wedding. Surely you can wait a few minutes longer."
"Hmmm, I think I can manage but let me get you a cup of tea and I will put it in place. You have been working much too hard since we arrived here two weeks ago."
Of course Minerva did not agree with him on the point but she let him make her the cup of tea anyway. She watched as he placed the tea leaves in her favorite pot and took down a cup from one of the cupboards. His dressing gown, which was not tied together at the front, cupped his arse nicely as he bent over to pick up a sugar cube which happened to spill from its bowl.
She could hardly believe they had been married over a month ago. Their relationship had developed quickly because of their repressed feelings for each other and it had been less than a year before he had proposed. The wedding had taken place after the end of the next term when they would have the whole summer to enjoy each other's company.
The honeymoon had been perfect, as they traveled all over the world so Albus could show her all the places he had painted that she loved so much. Now that they were back in the new home they had purchased she had been hard at work getting everything put where it belonged. The last item, the painting of her, was all that was left. The rest of the boxes had been cleared out the day before.
Minerva's eyes traveled around to take in the sight of their home. It was small but it was just what they needed. Easy to take care of themselves since neither was keen on having a house elf full time. The gardens included a pond and some fruit trees. Standing outside the first time they had viewed it Minerva knew this was the house she wanted; it looked like it had been pulled out of a fairy tale.
A warm presence behind her brought Minerva out of her reverie. Albus' arms wrapped around her waist and a cup of tea floated nearly eye level. "You appeared distracted," Albus murmured as he placed light kisses along her neck and shoulder.
Minerva shivered as tingles raced down her spine from where his lips caressed her skin. "I was just thinking about the first time we came here."
"You mean the day we decided to purchase it," Albus joked. "You were set on having it before we ever set foot inside the front door."
Minerva took the cup of tea in front of her, the hot liquid warming her hands through the porcelain. "You agreed that even if the inside was a disaster we could have it renovated. Besides, I remember it not taking much convincing on my part."
"No, it was and still is perfect," he agreed. "Now let's see about hanging the last picture, shall we?"
Minerva settled into her corner of the sofa and watched as Albus unwrapped the heavy, now framed, canvas by hand. He carefully pulled away the wrap to reveal the painting that he had shown her after they revealed their feelings to each other for the first time. It all seemed so long ago, though Minerva realized it had been less than two years. He levitated it to its spot just above the fireplace and attached it to the wall by a hook that had been hung earlier by Minerva and with a powerful sticking charm.
Albus turned slightly to look at Minerva. She noticed the twinkle in his eyes that seemed to be ever present of late, the way his body was outlined by the thin fabric and how he seemed to be a picture himself, framed by their home and the things they both loved.
"How does it look," he questioned with a smile.
Minerva smiled with contentment. "Perfect."
The End…okay well for some of you it's "The End" but for those of you who might be interested…check out the lemon section on the ADMM board. It's labeled Sketches Lemon. Thanks for reading and letting us know what you think!