Disclaimer: I don't own much of anything, let alone this brilliant idea.
Minerva arrived at the Ministry's Magical Transportation Department fifteen minutes before their scheduled port-key time. Her trunks were packed, and she even brought along what Moody had convinced her was necessary attire. Minerva found the amount of security they were implementing at this conference somewhat pompous. Almost as pompous as the idea of Minerva McGonagall serving as a "body guard" to Albus Dumbledore. But these Headmasters kept a tight shield around the place that prevented apparating, and the location was an unplottable piece of land in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains.
Part of Minerva had hoped that Albus would be early too, and maybe she would get a chance to talk to him before they departed. Over ten years since the last time she saw him. Well, that wasn't quite true. She had, of course, seen him from a distance at several important diplomatic functions. But she had ignored him, and he was gracious enough to comply with her wish for privacy.
But things can never be the way they were, her calculating, practical mind whispered to her, you saw to that! In spite of it all, she could not deny that she had missed talking to him. Over her years of service defending and meeting diplomats, she had encountered many extraordinary people; but they only served to remind her how much she missed the unique brilliance of Albus Dumbledore.
Alyssia's right, she pondered, sitting down on her trunk and pulling off her too-warm hat, revealing her tightly-bunned hair. Perhaps it is time to move on in this part of my life. She smiled as she thought of the concern in Alyssia's eyes whenever Minerva mentioned her social life. Alyssia constantly encouraged her to find a wizard to come home to, but Minerva was not comfortable with the idea yet.
Albus chose that exact moment to arrive. He stepped through the doors at the port-key station, and halted so abruptly, the witch behind him nearly dropped her luggage. She's even more beautiful than I remembered. He thought as he moved down the station that was bustling with holiday travelers. He approached the designated space for their port-key and set his luggage down. Minerva instantly stood up, jolted from her reverie.
"Hello Mrs. McGonagall. It's nice to see you again." Albus smiled, somewhat awkwardly as he wondered whether to hug this former friend, or simply shake hands with his body-guard.
"Please, Headmaster, McGonagall will do just fine, I'm no longer married." Minerva solved his predicament by extending a formal hand toward him.
"Well, then, you must drop this Headmaster business and call me Dumbledore." Albus smiled good- naturedly. It was time for their port-key, so they stepped toward the text book and each grasped a side of it. I see how it's going to be, Albus thought, as the weird, whirlpool-like sensation gripped his stomach. We're going to pretend we never knew each other. His eyes slipped over toward his traveling companion before they were whisked away, It's not going to work Minerva.
They settled into their suite, and Albus immediately whisked Minerva off for a late lunch in the banquet hall.
"This is a very nice little retreat," Minerva began as a way of easing into conversation, "I never knew that there were so many winter sports. In fact, I never knew that witches and wizards would participate in muggle sports like skiing or snowboarding !" The fact that this resort was dedicated solely to witches and wizards who were interested in winter sports was rather astonishing.
"I doubt any of the representatives will be doing much skiing, though," Albus sighed longingly as he glanced at the awe-inspiring view of the mountain landscape. "It is, however a beautiful location."
Once they were seated at a table, Minerva tried again to close the gap between them, "You know, until Moody told me of this mission, I wasn't even aware that of the situation at Hogwarts."
"Yes, I suppose being gone so often does tend to crimp one's ability to get the latest news. Such a tragedy, Armando's death. Who would have anticipated that a trip to Peru would have been so dangerous?" Albus sighed.
"Well, this must leave you in quite a fix for staff." Minerva prompted. She was determined to carry on a conversation.
"Well, Armando left some positions unoccupied. We are in need of a new Herbology teacher, as well as a flying instructor. I have promise from the current Professors that they will stay for this year, but I need to find others. And because I'm the new Headmaster we need a new Transfiguration Professor and Deputy. " Albus sighed, "Unfortunately, my adds in the Daily Prophet have presented no promising candidates."
From there, the conversation picked up, and before she knew it, Minerva was relaxing and laughing with the Headmaster of Hogwarts. They returned to their rooms after the meal. The evening opening ceremonies were about to start.
The conference itself went rather smoothly. Albus found that there were several teachers seeking positions at schools, who had attended in hopes of capturing a job. That night, they retired to their suite, both very weary from the trip and a night of socializing. Albus began to loosen his dress robes and sat down on the couch to take off his shoes. Minerva couldn't stop herself laughing as she saw the ridiculous neon green socks he was wearing.
"What are you laughing at, Minerva?" Albus froze. It was the first time he had used her give name. There was an awkward pause as both realized this, "I'm sorry. That was very rude of me."
Minerva stepped into her room to remove her outer wrap. She didn't say anything in response to his apology. She had liked the sound of her name on his lips, but couldn't find a way to tell him this. Interpreting her silence as anger, Albus continued.
"It's so hard for me to call you McGonagall." He admitted gently, "Whenever I start to say it I think of Horatio, even after all these years. He was such a remarkable man, and an impeccable apprentice…"
"Don't apologize. This was foolish of me. I just didn't know how to handle this relationship," Minerva slid into a chair across from Albus and put her head in her hands. "There is so much history between us…"
"It's really my fault. I requested that you be assigned to me on this mission. Moody laughed at the idea of me needing a body guard at all. But I have wanted to see you again for some time, Minerva. This seemed like the only way to get to you."
"Ah. I see." Minerva sat up in her chair, feeling very awkward. "I don't know what to say."
"Well, maybe we could play a game of chess instead. I'm sure we can find a board and pieces somewhere in this resort." Albus smiled hopefully. This situation could still be salvaged.
Over the chess board, they slowing jerked and jolted back into a shadow of the old relationship they had held. Albus discussed several of the candidates he was considering for each of the positions.
"Pomona Sprout had recently come back from a long study on rare plants of the African Jungles. She is a very qualified witch. She's done a good deal of pioneering work in her field. I'm just not sure if she's ready to settle down to a teaching job yet." Albus sighed.
"Well, Pomona was in my year at Hogwarts, and she was always a good student, and she helped Poppy, Xiomara, and I pass many a Herbology exam."
"Ah! Speaking of Xiomara, I was considering her for the flying instructor's position!" Albus beamed.
"But she plays Quidditch professionally for the Harpies doesn't she?" Minerva stopped him.
"She did. But she took a nasty bludger to the head, knocked her out cold for five days. Her fall also broke several ribs, and a wrist." Albus informed her, "She hasn't been able to attend practices for a month, and it's believed that she's looking to retire. Thirty is getting rather old to play a professional sport."
"Well, it seems like you have to very good people selected for those positions." Minerva nodded, "But what about the Transfigurations Professor and Deputy?"
"Well, I was really hoping to locate one at the conference." Albus admitted. "But so far, none seem very promising." Albus sighed.
"Well, It's getting rather late, and we have a long day tomorrow." Minerva clucked. She stood up, "You still have Saturday and Sunday to find someone." And she left to her room and shut the door.
Albus stared after her and whispered, "I all ready have."
All day Saturday they moved from one meeting to the next, debating the principles of theory versus practice, student teacher ratios, and homework. It felt like Minerva was back in school again. Even lunch was filled with business as she was surrounded by arguments that had trickled out of previous meetings. The dinner that night was less brisk though. The American coordinators of the event thought it would be a good idea to have a dance to promote a bit of harmony and relaxation in the midst of the discussions.
Albus insisted on escorting Minerva on his arm, despite her protests about professionalism. And they even danced once that night.
"You should be interviewing other candidates for the Transfigurations and Deputy positions right now!" Minerva protested as they twirled onto the floor.
"We're here tonight to relax, Minerva" Dumbledore admonished.
Evening ended on a sour note, when one of East Indian delegates was offended at the Headmistress of Beaubaton's offer to dance. The rest of the attendees slowly trickled away after their heated argument. Albus and Minerva went back to their respective rooms without much conversation.
Sunday, Albus seemed rather dispirited. He was tired of all the international tension. For Minerva, this was fairly normal, and she would often catch herself staring out the massive windows to admire the amazing view.
"May I join you?" Albus whispered as he sat down beside her after particularly loud meeting.
"You just did," Minerva grinned at him.
"Not completely, part of you is still out on those mountains." Albus observed. "What are you pondering, Minerva?"
"I'm so tired of all this!" She sighed, "Xerxes warned me that diplomacy would disappoint me, but I refused to listen. Now it's been ten years! And we're just as close to a world wars as the day I started!! It's like running very fast, but in a circle!"
"Negotiations have always frustrated me!" Albus smiled, "That's why I've never wanted a ministry career! Hogwarts seems very secluded, like a sort of paradise, when compared to this." He added glancing at Minerva
"You know, I've missed talking to you," Minerva smiled, "There was always something between us, and during our conversations, it seemed so warm and natural."
"My dear, there was something between us. But I could never let it show," Albus sighed, "By the time I realized what I felt, you were spoken for. So I was only permitted a shadow of what I felt for you."
"Albus!" Minerva almost jumped away in shock, "You… you had feelings for me?"
"If you want to know the truth, I still do," He answered sadly, "But I understand. We've been through too much, and I probably don't interest you to begin with…"
"Albus, stop! Listen to me!" Minerva took his hands, "I carried the same feelings for you. But we were both reduced to holding only a shadow of substance when I was married. And after that…"
"Minerva, come to Hogwarts!" Albus pleaded desperately, "You could be the Transfigurations Professor and my Deputy! It would mean a great deal to me. And we would have time to explore possibilities we have ignored."
"Albus, I… I don't know," Minerva stood up, rather dumbfounded, "This is happening very fast! Let me think about it. I think I'll go back to our suite. "
"All right," Albus stood as well, and watched her walk quickly away. Lunch was being served, but he could hardly think of food.
Back in the suite, Minerva fire-called Alyssia. She told her Albus's proposal and her feelings about it, and asked for Alyssia's advice.
"What are you doing here?" Alyssia practically shouted, "of course you want to work at Hogwarts!! Minerva, I've been telling you for years that it was time for you to settle down!! Here's your best chance! Now take it!!"
"But what about my relationship with Albus?" Minerva asked desperately.
"Oh, the governors wouldn't mind. Headmasters and Headmistresses have been known to have relationships with their Deputies. As to whether or not it will work out, who can say? He has loved you for years, darling. And I know that you've felt something for him as well." Alyssia smiled at her, "Give it a chance. See where fate takes you."
Minerva came back to lunch slightly breathless.
"Albus," She began, sitting down at the table he was occupying. "I'll accept your offer!!"
"Thank you, Minerva!!" Albus jumped from his seat, to the weird glances of several delegates, "you've made me the happiest man alive!!"
"Thank you, Albus," Minerva smiled at his antics, "You've helped me find myself. And given life to the shadow of my heart."
A/N Whew! That was forever and a half to finish!! Please review, and thank you to my faithful reviewers!! It's nice to hear from you guys! Now, all this writing in the snowy mountains has given me some ideas for fluff…