A/N:: I honestly feel like I should be apologizing for writing this rubbish for all of you to read. lol. I hope you don't hate it TOO badly... This idea has just been in my head for quite some time now, and I couldn't get rid of it without writing about it.
FanFic 100 Challenge #:: 024- Family
Minerva McGonagall sat uneasily and alone in the Hog's Head bar. It was not that she felt that this particular bar was beneath her in taste or cleanliness; it was rather the mere unwelcoming atmosphere of the place that disturbed Minerva so, rather than the actual filth that seemed to envelop the whole building. Frankly, even the old grumpy-looking bartender gave her the creeps, so to speak. He shuffled around aimlessly, always appearing to be cleaning something, but everything he touched seemed to become dirtier with his attempts. Something else about this strange bloke beguiled her, though. His eyes, which did not quite seem to fit his other physical qualities, were the most unusual, enchanting shade of blue. His eyes, Minerva knew, were the exact same color as Albus Dumbledore's.
Minerva was uncertain as to why Albus had requested that Minerva meet him here at the Hog's Head when there were so many other much nicer facilities. She had to admit, however, that it was true this was undoubtedly the quietest bar in all of Hogsmeade, and knowing Albus, he was probably drawn to the solitude.
"Your gillywater, Minerva," the bartender announced scruffily as he sat a drinking glass down in front of her.
"Excuse me?" she replied, her eyes widening.
"Gillywater," the bartender repeated, almost impatiently. "Isn't that what you ordered?"
"Of course," she said, "But how do you know my name?"
"I take it that my brother, Albus, hasn't mentioned me much, then?"
Minerva's jaw dropped slightly.
"No," she managed to say.
"Aberforth's the name," he went on. "Albus has certainly talked a lot about you. I always said that if I ever saw you anywhere, I'd know immediately who you were. I was right, you know."
"I'm flattered," Minerva replied with a small smile, pleased and touched by the fact that Albus had discussed her to his family.
Aberforth nodded and shuffled away to continue his "cleaning." Minerva mused over the knowledge that this man was Albus Dumbledore's brother, but now that she considered it, there was no denying the fact. It was true that Aberforth and Albus appeared to be polar opposites in character, but a few of their physical characteristics were intriguingly similar. Other than having the same blue eyes, Aberforth and Albus shared the same great deal of long gray hair and even the same hands, though Minerva was somewhat alarmed that she should realize such a thing.
Minerva turned her eyes to the door just in time to see Albus emerging through, smiling contently and looking to Minerva as if he had just been humming to himself.
"Aberforth," Albus said fondly as he shook his brother's hand, though Minerva did not fail to notice the sense of distance between the two.
"What would you like to drink?" Aberforth asked with a tone that sounded somewhat like a grunt.
"Gillywater will be fine," Albus replied, taking a seat at Minerva's table.
Aberforth turned to fetch the gillywater as Albus leaned over the table closer to Minerva.
"I hope my brother has been kind to you," he whispered so that Aberforth could not hear. "He's a bit rough around the edges…"
"He has," Minerva replied with a smile.
She was about to ask Albus why he had never told her that he had a brother, but Aberforth was already on his way back to the table with the gillywater.
"Here you are," Aberforth said as he placed the drink before Albus. "Let me know if either of you need anything else."
"We will. Thank you," Albus said, watching Aberforth walk away.
"Why have you never told me you have a brother?" Minerva asked after Aberforth was out of earshot, returning to the question she had wanted to pose before.
"Aberforth and I are not very close," Albus replied with a sigh and he slowly sipped his drink.
Minerva raised her eyebrows in interest to hear the full story, but Albus smiled faintly.
"I'll have to save that story for another day, I'm afraid."
Minerva was somewhat disappointed for the lack of details over what seemed so hurtful and important to Albus, but she was thankful for the promise of the information.
Albus and Minerva enjoyed themselves as they laughed and conversed together in the quietness of the empty bar while Aberforth occasionally came over to their table to ask if they needed anything. After Minerva had finished her gillywater and Albus had finished two, they paid for the drinks and thanked Aberforth for his service. Albus shook his brother's hand once more before leaving, and again Minerva sensed the unease between them.
"I appreciate you meeting with me at the Hog's Head today," Albus told Minerva when they had walked a short distance away from the bar.
"My pleasure," she said with a smile.
"I'm glad Aberforth seemed to like you."
"What?" Minerva replied with a laugh. "How could you tell?"
"Well, he didn't throw us out, did he?" Albus chuckled. "It went better than my last attempt at communication with him," he added with seriousness.
"You brought me there because you knew he wouldn't make a big 'show' in front of me…" she said evenly, realization of Albus's true intentions finally seeming to surface.
"No, not at all-"
"I would have understood if you had told me Albus, but you should have actually informed me instead of leading me to assume-"
"Minerva, that was not what I wanted to do," he explained honestly, feeling badly for making Minerva feel manipulated.
"Then why did you ask me to meet you at the Hog's Head today?" she asked.
Her eyes met Albus's in search of the truth. Albus stopped walking and returned her deep gaze.
"Aberforth is the only family I have left," he replied in a low voice. "We're not close, but he's all I have... Except you."
Albus paused as Minerva felt herself soften to him despite the misunderstanding.
"I'm sorry," he said earnestly. "I should never have kept anything from you."
Minerva shook her head.
"Don't be sorry, Albus. I'm touched, really."
"Can you forgive me?"
Minerva grinned and kissed him softly on the cheek. He blushed under the heat of her mouth against him.
"I already have."