A/N:: This story feels like it took me forever to write compared with most others because I often got stuck in various points of the story. I hope you won't notice!
FanFic 100 Challenge #:: 059- Food
A warm summer rain poured in sheets against the foggy windows of the humble, cozy restaurant where Albus sat alone at a table for two. A mixture of the low light of the glowing candles and the soft melody of stringed instruments playing magically by themselves in the background gave him a peacefully drowsy feel. The sudden chiming of the clock sounding the seventh evening hour gave Albus somewhat of a jolt.
Then, he saw her.
Albus watched as if spellbound as she began making her way towards him.
"Good evening, Minerva," he said to her, standing to pull out her chair.
"Thank you, Albus," she replied with a smile.
"You look lovely."
"Oh, Albus, I look almost the same as I always do."
Albus nodded and could not help but stare at her new green dress robes and her hair in a soft bun instead of its customary tight style.
"Yes, but you always look lovely."
She smiled and dropped her head slightly in hopes to cover her lightly flushed cheeks.
"Ah, what an adorable couple!" came a cheery, unfamiliar voice. "My name is Aaron, and I'll be your waiter tonight. Now, how long have you two been a couple?"
Aaron, a short balding man with shiny brown eyes and a slight Italian accent, smiled brightly at Albus and Minerva.
"Actually," Minerva replied, "We're not-"
"Oh, don't be shy!" Aaron exclaimed, the smile never leaving his face.
Aaron leaned over to Albus and nudged him in the arm.
"Have you told your lady how beautiful she looks tonight?" he asked.
"Yes, I have."
"Well, have you told him how handsome he looks?" Aaron asked, nudging Minerva.
"No, but he does," she said in a low voice.
"Don't tell me! Tell him!" Aaron said, inclining his head towards Albus.
Minerva cleared her throat.
"You look very handsome, Albus."
"Thank you," he replied with a kind smile.
Aaron grinned as if examining his own handy-work.
"So, what would you two like to eat tonight?"
After Aaron had taken their meal orders, Albus and Minerva were alone again.
"I apologize for having you come out in the rain tonight, Minerva."
"No, I love the rain," Minerva said. "And besides, I won't melt in it," she added with a smile. "If you'll excuse me, Albus, I need to go to the ladies room."
Albus nodded and helped pull out her chair.
"What did you do to her?!" Aaron asked, returning to the table.
"I did nothing to her," Albus said, taken aback.
"Mm, perhaps that's what you did wrong. Well, go after her!"
"I don't think that would be appropriate," Albus replied seriously.
"Ah, look, she's coming back! Maybe she's giving you a second chance."
"I think she's just coming back from the bathroom…"
"Regardless, you need to do something to make her happier. Kiss her, tell her you love her."
"I don't think I'm ready for that."
"Ready for what, Albus?" Minerva asked as she sat down in her seat.
"I'll just leave you two alone," Aaron said.
As soon as Aaron had gone again, Albus cleared his throat.
"Minerva, have I done something wrong?" he asked.
She looked quite perplexed.
"Wrong? What do you mean?"
"Never mind," Albus said, shaking his head.
She looked at him for a few more moments as if waiting for him to confess something, but he said nothing. Minerva took his hand, then, and squeezed it lightly, lovingly. Her hand felt warm and smooth against Albus's hand, and he dared not to breathe for fear he would lose the precious moment between them.
"Thank you for bringing me here, Albus."
"My pleasure," he replied in a low, raspy voice.
"Ah, my favorite couple is happy again!" Aaron declared in a boisterous tone as he sat their meal before them.
"Again?" Minerva mouthed to Albus.
Albus shrugged and was thankful when Aaron decided not to stay and "encourage" the situation. Albus and Minerva ate and conversed together with a certain familiarity and ease. When they had finished eating, they remained caught up in their various discussions, oblivious to the fact that they were quickly becoming one of the only couples remaining in the restaurant.
"May I bring you anything else?" Aaron asked jubilantly as he cleared Albus and Minerva's dinner plates from the table.
"Oh, no, thank you," Albus replied with a smile.
Aaron nodded as he handed them the check for their meal.
"I'll be right back," Albus told Minerva.
Before she could inquire as to where he was going, Albus was already away from the table, leaving Minerva to attempt to look preoccupied in order to prevent Aaron from coming back and having a chat with her. Somehow, thankfully, it appeared to work, as Aaron was now instead focused on clearing the other dinner tables around them.
"Are you ready to go?" Albus asked upon his return.
Minerva nodded, and Albus pulled out her seat for her. Minerva opened her mouth to speak, but Albus interrupted her.
"I paid for our dinner," he answered, as if reading her questioning mind.
She began to protest, but he shook his head, and she stopped.
"I wanted to," he replied simply.
Minerva could not help but smile despite herself. Albus extended an arm to her, and she took it into her own.
"Come back soon!" Aaron called to them from the tables he was clearing.
Albus and Minerva answered with a nod and a smile.
"I was thinking we may need this," Albus said, looking out into the heavily pouring rain once they had walked outside.
Albus opened his hand into thin air, producing a strange contraption unlike any that Minerva had ever seen before.
"What is that?" she asked him. "A Muggle device, no doubt."
"Yes, but a very useful one. It's called an umbrella."
"What does it do?"
Albus slid his hand up what seemed to Minerva to be the stem-looking part of the umbrella. In return, it popped into a dome shape, causing Minerva to jump slightly from the unexpected noise and transformation.
"It will protect us from the rain," he answered with intrigue.
"Albus, we have spells for that…" Minerva offered, as she was not yet too sure of the safety of this Muggle umbrella.
"Yes, but this is much more fun. Now, stand close and hold on to me."
Minerva did as he said, feeling quite thankful for being able to stand so very close to him for more reasons than just fear of a Muggle object and the cold of the pouring rain. Albus lifted the umbrella to cover them, and Minerva moved closer. She closed her eyes briefly as she deeply inhaled Albus's warm, clean scent. Albus smiled, enjoying the nearness of her. They walked slowly along the sidewalks of Hogsmeade, Albus all the while checking to make sure that Minerva was dry and comfortable.
"Albus, they're staring at us because of this thing," Minerva said, indicating the umbrella once she had noticed a few people watching them from the windows of the stores.
"No," he said with a laugh. "They're staring at us because they wish they were as lucky as I am to be walking with such a beautiful lady on my arm."
"Oh, Albus!" Minerva said, squeezing his arm playfully.
Minerva leaned up and kissed him softly on the cheek and watched as his face turned a pale pink.
When they had made it back to Hogwarts, a dread washed over both of them as they realized the end of the night had arrived.
"I had a lovely time tonight, Albus," Minerva said with hopes to prolong their time together.
"So did I," he replied in a low voice.
Albus leaned down to kiss her, pausing only to ask permission with his eyes, which she eagerly granted by pulling him closer in an embrace. Their kiss was brief but smooth and loving.
"Good night, Albus."
"Goodnight," he replied, lacing their fingers together momentarily before bringing her hand up to his lips and kissing it gently.
Albus watched her as she walked away towards her own chambers, leaving him with a sensation quite unlike any he had ever felt before. He was filled with passion for her and happiness for the evening they spent together, but his heart pained him as she walked away.
"Sleep well, Minerva," he whispered into the thick, damp air of the night. "Sleep well."