Disclaimer: How many times? They're not mine…
Another Hideaway contest entry; A fic over 1000 words about a dance, it must include a glass of wine.
Thanks to Vamps and OSUSprinks for their scary knowledge and research. The SS/HG and Mona/Fil is for you…
So, on with the story…
She watched the couple whirling around the dance floor, gazing happily into each others eyes as they spun in graceful circles. Severus Snape and Hermione Granger looked as happy as she had ever seen them and she had no doubt this was the beginning of a long and happy life together.
The Ministry had organised the ball to celebrate the defeat of the dark lord and to honour those who fought in the final battle. Severus was finally free from the fear of discovery and torture at the hands of the Death Eaters. The wizarding community was now free of the threat posed by Voldemort; she snorted at the thought she had once been afraid to speak his name.
A frayed, patched witch's hat flew across the room and landed at her feet as Filius Flitwick spun Pomona Sprout in a wide arc. The couple collapsed in a fit of infectious giggles as she threw the hat back towards them. Severus and Hermione had now moved to a quiet corner of the hall and she watched as he pulled the younger woman into his arms, holding her close. A relationship would not be easy for them, of that she was certain. There would be those who accused Hermione of being concerned only with money and status. Some would suggest Severus was looking for a trophy wife. They had accused her and Albus of the same all those years ago. At the thought of her late husband Minerva blinked back tears; he should have been with her now, if it had not been for his strong sense of duty perhaps he would be. Suddenly she couldn't bear to be standing there alone. Silently, she slipped out through the doors onto the large balcony. At one end, a small group was talking amiably. She slipped into the shadows and made her way to a small bench. Draining her glass of gillywater, she allowed her thoughts to wander back to Albus.
They had become a couple at a dance very much like this one, celebrating the fall of Grindlewald. She drew her arms tightly around herself and rocking gently, allowed the tears to fall.
A hand resting softly on her shoulder made her start. Looking up she was met by the concerned face of her good friend Pomona Sprout.
"I saw you leave. You looked so sad…I thought you might need this." Pomona held out an intricately decorated pewter goblet. Taking it Minerva tasted the smooth, rich red wine.
"His favourite," she whispered. "Everyone always thought it was hot chocolate, but…" Unable to continue she lifted the glass with trembling hands and drank deeply.
"Too many memories?" Pomona asked, stroking her friends greying hair tenderly.
Minerva shook her head defiantly, "I'm fine Mona, honestly. You should get back to Fil, you know what he's like with punch if he's not supervised.
Pomona giggled and then her worried expression returned. "Are you sure you'll be ok, Min?"
"Yes, it's just Severus and Hermione, they remind me so much of Albus and myself…Now go, before we end up having to levitate Fil back to Hogwarts."
Alone again, Minerva continued to sip the wine and felt it warming her. She closed her eyes and imagined the warmth was her husband's strong arms wrapped tightly, but gently around her. With a deep sigh she let her mind wander back to the night she first danced with him.
She had been standing in a corner of the Ministry ballroom when she had seen him, resplendent in robes of deepest amethyst. His auburn hair flowing down his back, shone like a halo around his head. He had taken her breath away that night and she had realised how much she was in love with her former professor.
Minerva had always shied away from the limelight and that was just how she liked it. She had fought side by side with Albus during the final battle, had been protecting him as he cast the spell that defeated Grindelwald. Albus was now the most recognised face in the wizarding world and she was barely recognised by those she had been at school with only a few years before. Not that she minded. Albus looked slightly uncomfortable with all the attention, particularly from females, he was receiving. Catching her eye he raised his glass slightly in greeting.
Sometime later in the evening, Minerva found herself out on the veranda in the company of several children. They were watching the adults dancing and the girls discussing how pretty the women looked. Bertie Bott, one of the boys was staring intently at the couples waltzing around the hall.
"Can you do that?" He questioned. Minerva was taken aback.
"Oh, well I learned when I was a child. But I haven't danced since I was a little girl." It was true; she had always been more concerned with studying at Hogwarts and had never been asked to accompany anyone to the dances. Her work undercover in Europe had left little time to sleep, let alone dance.
"Show me…Please," Bertie looked so pleadingly that she hadn't had the heart to refuse.
"Oh, alright, now you bow and I curtsy, then you take my hand and place your other around my waist." Bertie had tried so hard bless his heart, but at ten years old his lack of height and co-ordination was against him. After several minutes of having her toes stepped on repeatedly and one unsuccessful attempt at a spin, Minerva heard the deep rumble of a fully grown man clearing his throat.
"Err, do allow me will you?"
Minerva was startled to find none other than Albus Dumbledore standing behind her. As Bertie released his clumsy hold on her, Albus reached out his hand toward hers. Glancing around and finding no-one but the children, she slowly nodded, a crimson flush rising in her cheeks.
Her chest felt tight as he softly took her small hand in his larger one and placed his other firmly on the small of her back. She gasped unconsciously at the heat radiating from his body as he held her close. As he began to lead her in elegant circles across the floor her only coherent thought was how surprisingly light on his feet he was. His scent enveloped her as they danced, a comforting mixture of lemons, chocolate and something else, something uniquely Albus. Then he was speaking.
"May I say how absolutely beautiful you are, Minerva."
Neither Minerva nor Albus noticed the children leave, Bertie, an unusually perceptive young man had realised what a private moment it was to become and ushered the small group towards the buffet table.
She blushed deeply. "Thank you Albus…you look very handsome tonight too. Have you enjoyed the evening? I've seen you dancing for hours."
She had watched earlier as Albus danced with nearly every woman at the ball, Tilly Toke and Celestina Warbeck twice.
"Ah yes, but only now am I dancing with the one woman that I hoped to when I arrived this evening."
Minerva blinked, unsure that she had heard him correctly. He surely hadn't meant her; had he? As he spun her away and then back to him she found herself pressed much closer to him than she had been. Glancing up into his face she was met with the most intense gaze she had ever seen; it was as if he was staring right into her soul. He drew her hand to his lips and lightly brushed them against her fingers; she realised they were no longer dancing.
Her hand now rested on his shoulder and she felt his hand on her face. His touch felt like a jolt of electricity as he brushed his fingers lightly down her cheek. Her eyelids fluttered closed as he leaned down to brush his lips tenderly against hers.
How long they stood there she would never know, later she found that Albus had no idea either. They remained locked in a loving embrace until interrupted by Albus' good friend Oswald Beamish.
"All that needless worrying Albus, you thought you wouldn't find a friend at the party."
For the umpteenth time that night Minerva coloured and buried her face in Albus' robe. She was worried he would regret kissing her and leave; Oswald's arrival would be the perfect opportunity for him. It wasn't until he spoke that she realised she was holding her breath.
"I believe Minerva and I have much to discuss Oswald, if you will excuse us. Minerva, my dear, would you do me the honour of accompanying me on a walk around the gardens?"
It was on that walk that her relationship with Albus Dumbledore had begun. They has talked, and kissed, for hours; Minerva had never felt happier.
Minerva was drawn back to the present by Hermione's soft voice.
"Hermione, how many times? I am no longer your professor, Minerva will do fine."
Hermione glanced at her feet uncomfortably, "Umm…ok, Minerva. Is everything alright?"
Minerva regarded the young woman in front of her, "Yes Hermione, everything is fine."
She reached out and squeezed the girl's hand. "Just remember Hermione, whatever happens, remember how much he loves you."
Minerva turned her head to hide the tears that once again threatened to fall. "Now, what was it you wanted?"
Hermione stared, momentarily nonplussed by her former professors words, before their meaning finally dawned and she nodded her understanding.
"Poppy and Pomona need your help, something about Rolanda, Filius and the punch."
Rolling her eyes and with a deep sigh, Minerva rose to her feet.
"When will they learn not to let those two anywhere near the punch," Minerva giggled, as she laid her arm around Hermione's shoulder.
"Come on, we may need your help too, last time it took four of us to disarm Filius. Did you know he was a duelling champion? Unfortunately he and Rolanda become rather competitive after a few glasses of punch. Has Severus brought any hangover potions with him? Last time Poppy vowed she would never waste another one on those two."
Shaking her head Minerva allowed Hermione to lead her back through the hall.