Yes, it's short. Yes, it's not that exciting. Yes, it's been a while. Yes, that's an understatement. I'm sorry guys. I'm a jerk. I really am. I'm going to try to finish this monster, but I make no promises. You may thank Shingie for my motivation to continue.
Disclaimer: JKR owns all.
Minerva was mad. Confused, yes, but mostly mad. Of all the nerve - expecting her to say yes just because he was Tom Sodding Riddle.
"Who does he think he is?" she fumed. "Kissing a girl in her own house, even after her brother made it abundantly clear that...oh! That beast!" She rolled over onto her back and stared at the ceiling. Her black cat jumped up on the bed and laid down across her stomach. She stroked its head distractedly.
"Just when I finally start to get somewhere with Dumbledore's plans, he has to go and spoil it by being...him! Well, now what am I supposed to do?"
She covered her eyes with the palms of her hands. "If I say no, he'll get mad a leave. And then where will I be? But if I say yes...what if I say yes? What should I do?"
She leaned forward, resting her chin in her hands and tried to concentrate on reading through the journal. That was where the confusion came into made absolutely no sense. For the most part, it was a collection of random snippets from books, even some poetry, that seemed to have no congruent theme. There were a few notes from the research they were doing on the philosopher's stone, but other than that, the entries were a complete muddle.
"What are you doing, Tom?" she sighed, flipping a page. She came to a passage that she recognized from Hogwarts: A History about Salazar Slytherin and his infamous departure from the school. She scanned it quickly while her mind wandered.
"Being a complete louse," she grumbled. "Getting me all strung up over a stupid kiss and stupid question. A question that I had to coerce out of him in the first place! Insufferable."
She turned another page to an article from the Quibbler about strange chicken stranglings in the Black Forest.
"And what is all of this rubbish? Is he starting a bloody scrapbook of random..."
Someone knocked on the door. Minerva's eyes widened and she dove out of bed to hide the book. "Who is it?" she called nervously.
"Your mother. May I come in?"
Minerva sighed in relief and unlatched the heavy oak door. "Of course." She closed the door after her mother and motioned for her to have a seat.
"We missed you at dinner," Berenice said.
Minerva pulled back the sleeves of her dressing gown to look at her watch. "Oh, I'm sorry Mum. I was reading and I got distracted and I must have lost track of time." As if she'll believe that.
True to form, Berenice pursed her lips, unconvinced.
"So this isn't about your fight with Tom?" she asked.
Minerva closed her eyes. "How did you know about that?"
Berenice smiled slightly. "I know a good deal more about what goes on around here than you might think." She folded her hands in her lap. "And Tom was rather listless during the meal. He seems upset."
"Yes, well it serves him right. He ought to be the one upset for a change."
"Mum, you don't understand. He's a right git sometimes - most of the time. And he gets me so worked up, sometimes I just think I'm going to..."
"Fall in love with him." Minerva groaned and buried her face in a large, squashy pillow. "I actually said it, didn't I?"
"You did indeed. But I expected as much. He seems to be a nice boy."
"He certainly does seem it."
"Professor Dumbledore doesn't trust him."
"Do you trust him?"
"Yes. No. I don't know. I do, but then he does things that make him seem so...untrustworthy."
Minerva's thoughts drifted to the previous semester. Outdoor rounds, Smelting's disappearance, trust arguments. "Nothing particular. I just get this feeling sometimes."
Berenice brushed a curl out of her daughter's eyes. "Well, I wouldn't put too much stock in feelings, dear." She rose with a small smirk. "Unless you're thinking about mastering in Divination."
"Ugh. That's not the least bit amusing. Not at all."
"Well, then I'd give him a chance. I certainly like him so far."
Minerva slipped under her covers and allowed her mother to give her a kiss on the forehead. "Perhaps I'll talk with him in the morning."
Berenice smiled and pulled the covers up over Minerva's shoulders. She extinguished the lights with her wand and slipped out the door.
"You're looking exceptionally well this morning," Apollo noted as Minerva took her seat next to him at breakfast. She glanced up at Tom, who raised one eyebrow curiously.
She grabbed a mug and began pouring herself a cup of coffee. She had made her decision, and she was determined to be happy with it.
"Christmas spirit," she lied.
Apollo snorted. "That would be the day."
"And what exactly is that supposed to mean?" she questioned.
"It means, I've never seen you excited about a holiday in my life. Especially Christmas. All that mistletoe, cheer, parties - face it Min, it's not exactly 'your thing'." He looked pointedly at Tom. "Something else is definitely up."
Berenice surveyed her children over the top of her gold-rimmed spectacles.
Minerva glared at her brother. "Well, Tom and I have been getting a lot done with our research." How much does he know? He looks really irritated. I hope he doesn't take it upon himself to rid the world of a Riddle.
"So I've heard," Apollo said wryly.
Minerva glanced again at Tom. He seemed oblivious to her trickery from the day before, and almost happy for once.
"I believe we're close to a breakthrough," she continued.
Tom sent her a questioning look and she met his stare with raised eyebrows.
"Very close," he added.
Berenice smiled "That sounds wonderful. I'm sure Professor Dumbledore will be thrilled."
"What exactly did you say you were working on?" Apollo asked suspiciously.
"Oh, just a little extra credit project," Minerva said quickly. "You know me."
Apollo bit his lower lip. "I see."
They sat in silence for a few moments.
Minerva ran her hand agitatedly up and down her arm. "Well, Tom and I had better start back where we left off. We've got a lot to get done before the holiday." She stood with her cup of coffee. Tom remained seated, staring at her with a look of bewilderment. "Right Tom?" she grunted.
He took his cue and rose quickly. "Yes of course. We'd best be off. Thank you for breakfast, Mrs. McGonagall," he said with a nod.
"You're very welcome, Tom."
He bowed slightly in her direction. "Apollo," he acknowledged politely, then followed Minerva hastily out of the room.
They rounded the corner and Tom began hissing questions. "What in Merlin's name was that all about?"
"My brother doesn't trust you," she whispered.
"Why the bloody hell not?"
"How should I know?"
"Where are we going?"
"You'll see soon enough."
"This is ridiculous. I didn't even get to finish my muffin. And I don't want to work this morning."
"You sound like such a child, Tom."
"We shouldn't have left. It was rude, maybe not for you, but I'm a guest."
"I just didn't want Apollo to hex you into the ground before midday, though Merlin knows I want to," she muttered. He hastened down the hallway after her. "And I needed to speak to you." She passed a large suit of armor and then yanked Tom into a room on the right, closing the door tightly behind them.
"Merlin's beard, Minerva! Will you stop doing that? I have enough to worry about right now with this rather stressful visit with your family, your brother out to get me, house elves folding my bloody underwear, and this ridiculous project breathing down my neck. I don't need some know-it-all witch..."
His tirade was cut short with a pair of lips over his. Minerva smiled at his surprised sudden intake of breath and took the opportunity to back him forcefully into the wall.
He recovered swiftly from his astonishment and flipped around so that she was trapped between the wall and a wardrobe.
"Tom," she gasped between kisses. He began to make his way down her neck to her shoulders as his hands roved down her back.
"Yes?" he whispered huskily.
"Yes." She ran her fingers through his hair, groaning as he placed a line of light kisses along her collarbone.
"Yes?" He stopped kissing her and took a step back. He surveyed her calculatingly. He seemed to hesitate.
Minerva grabbed his tie and pulled him back into a long kiss. "Yes," she said firmly.
They snogged for some time before Tom was able to pry himself away and lead her to a seat by the window. He looked around the room for the first time. They were in some sort of conservatory. He sat beside her and held her hand in both of his. Snow was beginning to fall outside.
Tom ran one of his long fingers down her cheek. She blushed, but leaned in to his touch. What had happened to her? More importantly, what was happening to him?
"So what you're saying is, you'll go steady with me?" he breathed.
"Yes," Minerva replied with a smile.
"You'll be my girlfriend?"
"So you'll go to Hogsmeade with me and hold my hand under the table at meals and snog in the broom closet when we're on rounds?"
He grinned and pulled her into his arms, leaning back against the window. He kissed the top of her silky hair and set his chin on top of her head. This was perfect. Everything was going to plan. He slid his hand into the pocket of his robes to give his journal a reassuring pat. His eyes widened slightly and his breath tensed. It wasn't there.
You lovesick moron. You must have forgotten to put it in there this morning. You were too busy making sure your hair looked presentable for her.
Tom shifted anxiously. Surely it would have been in the pocket from the night before. He hadn't written in it. He hadn't even taken it out. He'd been too agitated after the argument. It must have fallen on the floor when I undressed. That's it. It's in my room. I hope one of those sodding elves doesn't touch it.
Minerva nuzzled closer to him and he smoothed back her black hair gently. "I'm really happy, Tom," she sighed. His throat tightened.
"Me too," he whispered before kissing her once more. The journal could wait a few more hours.