Part Four

"Bannocks?" Minerva asked, coming into the kitchen.

"And apples, pears, a few different cheeses – some Stilton, a nice crumbly Wensleydale, and a creamy Double Gloucester – with a dry Riesling for you and a slightly less dry one for me." Albus smiled at her. "I thought something simple tonight. I often just have fruit, cheese, and bread while I'm here, as it saves cooking just for myself. But I enjoy it and thought you might, too. And for my sweet Scottish witch, I thought perhaps bannocks rather than bread." He poked one of the triangles that he had just taken from the griddle. "I was afraid I might have overdone them, but I think they are right." He quirked a smile at her. "First time I've followed a recipe in years, so you'll have to let me know if they are edible. Then," he said, grinning more broadly, "I can begin to experiment on them!"

"I don't think bannocks leave much room for experimentation, Albus." Minerva wasn't terribly fond of them, but she thought she might not mention that, since he had gone to such trouble. "But I will let you know how they are."

Rather than eat at the table, Albus set their food on the low table in front of the sofa. Although it wasn't a very cool evening, he lit a fire in the fireplace, and he and Minerva curled up on the couch and ate the simple meal. Minerva liked the bannocks more than she had expected to, and told him that.

"They are sometimes . . . heavy and dry, or oddly sweet. These are nice," she said. "Almost as good as Fwisky's. I'm sorry – I just mean that normally, I am not particularly fond of them, but I always liked Fwisky's, and others are always a disappointment. These aren't."

Albus chuckled. "I am glad that I didn't disappoint you, my dear."

"You rarely disappoint me, Albus. And never when you can help it," Minerva replied.

He reached over and took her hand, kissing it. "Never when I can help it, my dearest love."

"You know, Albus . . . I thought that I detected some nervousness on your part earlier, before we made love this afternoon."

"Did you?" Albus picked up a slice of apple and some Stilton, putting it in his mouth and chewing slowly.

"Yes, I did." Minerva looked at him for a moment as he very deliberately ate his fruit and cheese. "I know that you have been nervous before, but I thought we were both . . . past that."

Albus looked at her over his wineglass. "You helped me to get past it, Minerva. We are past it."

"Then . . . was I wrong?"

Albus put down his wine and looked into the fire. "No, you weren't wrong. But it was different." He thought for a moment. "I love you, Minerva, and I know that you love me. And I would have to be a complete fool to still believe that . . . that my touch would repulse you, as I once thought." He sighed. "No, this was different. I was . . . frankly, I was afraid that something might change in our relationship, in the . . . in the dynamic between us. Not terribly so, and it seemed highly unlikely, but you surely do remember what I told you of my youth, of the time after the deaths of my wife and my mother. How I lost myself." He paused, thinking. "The relationships I had with other witches – if one could even have called them 'relationships' – were a means to escape my guilt and my grief. I allowed myself to be used, and I used them, in turn. There was a slight – a very, very slight – worry that you . . . that we . . . that something might change between us if this became some kind of . . . of an exchange. Perhaps that your feelings toward me might be altered, or that my own feelings might, I'm sorry, Minerva, but I feared that my feelings might change if I . . . if I felt . . ." He shook his head, unable to complete the thought. "I am sorry. It wasn't a great fear, you understand." He looked over at her. "And I trust you completely, you know. That's why I didn't say anything. Because I do trust you. And love you."

Minerva smiled gently. "I hope that you are reassured now. We do have a relationship, Albus. And, as you point out, we love each other and trust each other. It could never be the same as it was in those empty encounters. We take joy in each other's joy, and pleasure in each other's pleasure. I tried to show you something of that, something of its truth."

Albus returned her smile. "I shouldn't have needed reminding. But I did enjoy it."

"So did I. Very much. But, fair warning, Albus! If I win another such wager, I might be a bit more imaginative!" Her eyes sparkled.

"I will look forward to losing to you again, then," Albus replied, putting his arm around her, pulling her closer and kissing her head.

"Mmm . . . but it was nice. I enjoyed giving you a massage, although it did take a while for you to relax. But I think we could play some very nice little games, Albus." She gave him a squeeze.

"I know – I think we could. And believe me, I do trust you. I do. If I hadn't . . . well, I suppose I would have said something."

"I know you trust me, Albus. I just hope that now you see that we can play together without it changing anything between us, except to make us more intimate with each other. Remember, Poppy did tell you at the beginning of the summer that you were supposed to help me loosen up and have more fun," Minerva said, amused.

"I doubt very much that she meant it in quite that way," Albus said with a chuckle. "But I will continue to play with you and help you loosen up and have more fun!"

"As long as it doesn't involve skinny-dipping in icy cold water, I will look forward to it," Minerva replied.

"You could have left the water sooner. That would have been sensible, my dear."

"Mmph. I suppose I can be a bit stubborn sometimes," she admitted, "and not as sensible as I usually am."

"I should tell Malcolm – he is a fan of skinny-dipping, after all!"

"You wouldn't! Don't! Oh, Albus!"

Albus just laughed. "It might reassure him of your true Gryffindor character to know you sometimes rush into things in typical Gryffindor fashion."

"Hmmph. As though he were a model I would want to follow – in that respect, anyway." Minerva was proud of her oldest brother, if she did find him somewhat aggravating, particularly his penchant for exaggeration and entertaining his audience with outrageous stories. "But back to the original topic of conversation – "

"Mmm, how very lovely it is to make love to you, my dear Minerva, how beautiful and delectable you are?"

"No, Albus." She took hold of the hand that was slipping under her robes, stopping him from his distraction technique. "Not that – though that is not a bad topic for another time! Playing. Having fun with each other. You remember when we were talking a few days ago after we made love, and you said that you always wanted to know what I liked and didn't like, and I said the same – well, I think that same thing should apply when we are playing. If we like something, that's good, but if there's anything that one of us doesn't like, whether just in that moment because we aren't in the mood or whether it's something we don't like at all, we should say so. And if it's something we'd rather never try, we can just say that it's something that is better off remaining in the realm of fantasy. Hmm? What do you say?"

Albus leaned forward and kissed her softly. "That sounds perfect. We can be confident then that the other person isn't simply . . . tolerating something they dislike for the other person's sake. Not in this arena. It should only be about love and bringing each other pleasure and enjoyment."

"Precisely. We might tolerate . . . I don't know . . . something else we dislike because the other person enjoys it, the way that you might tolerate my having the window open, though I have gathered you don't like it. But you are perfectly correct that when we are making love, if one of us positively dislikes something, we don't do it – as opposed to just not being especially fond of it, if you know what I mean."

"I'm not certain I do, but I'm sure we'll work it all out." He held her more tightly, closing his eyes and sighing. "I must never forget to be grateful, my dear, for every moment you are with me."

Minerva tilted her head and looked up at him. "We should both be grateful. Every moment for the rest of our lives."

Albus looked down at her face, beautiful and glowing, and shook his head. "I have done nothing to deserve you." He kissed her forehead. "Yet you are here," he whispered, "here in my arms."

"I don't think it's about what we deserve. If it were, I have not earned you, either. But we are fortunate. And I am as fortunate as you. It is our mutual good fortune, Albus."

He nodded. "It is, then, that. Yet when I am here with you, it is hard to believe that you are really with me, but at the same time, it is almost as hard to believe that there was a time without you. I feel . . . so much more myself with you. I don't know how I was a whole person before we were together."

"You have always held my heart, though, Albus . . . and you always will."

"And you hold mine. It is yours, Minerva," he whispered.

"I will take very good care of it, Albus. I promise." She placed her hand on his chest and felt the beat of his heart. "Always."

He kissed the top of her head, and they remained in the embrace a long time, saying nothing, simply savouring the sensation of being in each other's arms. After a while, Albus began to take the hairpins from Minerva's hair, sending them flying upstairs to the dresser as he did.

"I think that soon it will be time for us to retire for the night, my dear," he whispered. "And I do not know how you are feeling, but I could use a bath with some of the golden potion in it." He kissed her forehead as he removed the last hairpin.

"We have to clear up, first," Minerva said, sitting up slightly and looking at the leftover cheese and fruit.

Albus drew his wand and waved it, banishing the cheese and fruit, sending them to the cool cupboard; another wave, and the dishes were clean, and he likewise banished them to the kitchen.

"I prefer to use soap and water, but that will do," he said. He turned to Minerva with a smile. "Now, would you like a bath with some of that potion, as well? There's enough."

"I actually would, though . . . couldn't we save on potion and hot water by sharing the bath?" she asked.

"Well, um, yes, we could . . . although if we did, we might need more potion after," Albus said hesitantly.

"Let's share, Albus! Just for fun. I don't feel up to anything . . . strenuous, anyway, if that's what you're thinking. It isn't as though we'll be doing it all the time, after all, taking baths together." Minerva sighed. "Especially as tomorrow, we're returning to Hogwarts."

"You make a very good argument, Professor McGonagall!" Albus said, chuckling. "It would be nice to have someone wash my back, too!"

"After you have washed my back! Ladies first!"

"Mmm, but age before beauty, as I once heard you say – somewhat uncharitably, I thought – to Horace," Albus said.

"Oh. I hadn't thought anyone overheard that." Minerva blushed. She hadn't been very proud of herself after she'd said that. "He just annoys me, and he has an eye that tends to stray from my face, if you know what I mean."

Albus ran his hand over her curves. "The man has an eye that appreciates your feminine pulchritude. That's not such a bad thing – as long as he appreciates you from a distance," Albus replied with a smile.

"Well, he has never said or done anything inappropriate. Though he did once ask me to share some exquisite bottle of wine with him," Minerva said. "I declined in preference to a bottle of butterbeer with Hagrid."

"He probably just wants to get on your good side, Minerva. He knows I value you. But if his attention ever seems to go beyond that, I will let him know that you are unavailable to him," Albus said.

"I can handle him myself, Albus. I'm sure he'd be easily put off. I don't need you to defend my honour – although I appreciate the thought."

"Mmm, but nonetheless – "

"That's enough about that," Minerva said, patting his chest. "Let's go up and take our bath!"

An hour later, they had finished their bath and were snug in bed, all the soreness from the day's activities chased away by the fragrant golden potion in the warm bathwater. Minerva looked at her book, then set it aside.

"I really don't feel like reading tonight, Albus. Why don't you sing me that song you were singing the other day?"

"Oh, well . . . if you like . . . or another, perhaps? There's one I particularly like, an old lullaby," Albus said.

"That would be very nice. I would like that." Minerva settled down in bed and looked at him expectantly.

"But first . . . I think something from you!"

"Oh, Albus, I can't sing. And I can never remember lyrics," Minerva said.

"Not a song, then – a story. Tell me a bedtime story, Minerva."

"A story? What kind of story?"

Albus shrugged. "Whatever kind of story you would like."

"Hmm, I don't know . . ." Minerva thought a moment, trying to remember some of the stories she used to tell Melina when she was little. Somehow, "The Wee Wee Mannie and the Big Big Coo" didn't seem quite the right sort of story, as humorous as it was . . . then she remembered another story that she had been told as a child.

"When I was a very little girl," Minerva began, deciding to tell a story within a story, "I began to have nightmares. It seemed that scarcely a night went by when I did not wake screaming from a bad dream. My parents even tried changing my bedroom, thinking that perhaps it was the move from the nursery that triggered the dreams, although that had been months and months before. But I would waken, terrified, and Fwisky would be there to reassure me, and she would call my mother or father, and one of them would come down to sit with me until I fell asleep again.

"As a Healer, my mother was loathe to give me any potions before bed because of my age, trying just cambric tea, then simple herbal teas, but my nightmares continued."

"What were your nightmares about?" Albus asked, interrupting.

"Usually, I was locked somewhere dark and cold; sometimes, I was being chased, and I could never see my pursuer, but I could hear him and know he would catch me, that I could not escape. I would always awaken with the feeling of falling from a great height, waking before I could hit the ground. They were terrifying for a child, and not like the other strange nightmares that I had occasionally had before, ones that seemed rather amusing in the light of day – like the one of the giant carrots that would talk to me in deep voices, saying things I couldn't understand. But I stopped having those sorts of peculiar nightmares altogether, and only had these others that scared me even after I was awake," Minerva said.

"So what stopped them?"

"I'm getting to that, Albus! You will ruin the story," Minerva said, shaking her head at him.

"Oh, sorry!" Albus said with mock-meekness, settling back down to listen to his bedtime story. "I'm just rather caught up in it, that's all."

"Good," Minerva said, giving him a pat and a smile, her eyes sparkling. "And if you're a very good boy, you may get another story on another night!"

Albus chuckled at that.

"Malcolm came home to spend a few weeks, and he heard about my nightmares. Mother was just beginning to think she'd have to give me some weak Dreamless Sleep, when he said to give him a try at it. He set up a cot in my bedroom and stayed with me. The first night, I woke up crying, and Malcolm was there, ready with a lit candle and some warm, peppermint-flavoured milk . . . very nice, it was, too," Minerva said, smiling at the memory, "and he had me tell him the dream. He had me repeat the dream a few times, in great detail, more detail each time. Somehow, the fear of the dream dissipated as I retold it, and I slept through the rest of the night quite well.

"The next night, he set up his little bed in my room again, but this time, he gave me my warm peppermint milk before I settled down, then he had me tell me the nightmare again, and tell me all about the other bad dreams I had had in the previous weeks. I became afraid to sleep again, fearing I would have another one of those nightmares, but Malcolm told me that he would ask his friend Angus to bring me good dreams."

"Dream Angus!" Albus exclaimed, recognising the figure. "Oh, sorry!"

"Yes, well, as you say, Dream Angus. But Malcolm told me the true story of Dream Angus, you see, not the ones you may have heard," Minerva said, suspending disbelief to tell the story, and beginning to see the appeal that such story-telling had for Malcolm. "He met him, he said, one late night on the hills to the east of our home. And this is what he told me.

"I was out wandering the hills and moors one very late night, little sister, and I saw a little man a-hirpling over the hills, up to his knees in the yellow gorse, bright in the moonlight and fragrantly green underfoot. I hailed the fellow, calling to him across a rushing burn. He splashed over to me, arriving the other side as dry as a desert. He wore a blouse of the blue daylight sky, a bright waistcoat of sunny yellow, and a tartan kilt of every colour of the moor. To look at his kilt caused my eyelids to grow heavy and my mind, confused, so I looked into his eyes, and met the hue of the heather at dawn.

"'Greetings and well-met,' I said with a bow, seeing that this was no ordinary man before me and wanting his favour and not his wrath. It is always wise, little sister, when meeting such a one, to greet them most politely and never to anger them.

"'And to you, young one,' he said to me. 'What be you a-doing out on such a night as this, a night to fill with sleep and beautiful dreams?'

"'Enjoying the beauty of the moon, the stars, and the wind as it sings through the bracken,' I answered.

"'And who are you, who listens to the song of the wind, young man?' he asked me.

"'I am Malcolm of the McGonagall Cliffs, sir. And may I ask how I might address you?'

"'I am Angus Óg, Angus the Young, Angus the Ancient, Angus of Dreams, Dream Angus, they call me,' he said.

"'Dream Angus!' I exclaimed. 'I have heard your name.'

"'And my story, would you like to hear my story, young Malcolm of the McGonagall Cliffs?' And without waiting for my response, he sat on the ground, his legs crossed, and began to tell me this tale.

"'I am Young Angus, and I bring you dreams in the night, dreams of truth, dreams you can reach out and touch when you awaken if only you believe.

"'And I, Young Angus, I dream daily of my love, my one love, my great love, my sweet beloved Cáer, and she it is whom I seek in my nightly travels through the world, and as I travel I give you sweet dreams. One day, you will dream a dream of your true love, and if you believe, you will wake to find her, as I hope one day to find my sweet Cáer once more.'

"'Dreams you bring?' I asked. 'And what of nightmares? When I am troubled by nightmares, do you send those, too?'

"'Never a nightmare do I bring, unless you make it so yourself, and not all dreams are gifts of mine. But ask me for a dream, young one, and I will give you a dream of your greatest desire, and if you believe and your heart is great, you will waken and find it,' Dream Angus said. 'If you do not believe or your heart is weak, that which you love will drift by you, unseen, perhaps lost forever. You speak of nightmares, young Malcolm, and those never do I bring, but ask Old Angus, and I will come into your dream and weave you a basket to contain your nightmare; I will leave you the basket and you can put your nightmare in it, and then romp freely through happy, lighthearted dreams. Your nightmare can never escape from one of Old Angus's baskets. I weave them from golden sunlight and silver moonlight, with lids of starlight and the sparkle off the ocean waves holding them safely inside.'

"'Can you give me such a basket?' I asked, thinking it would be a wondrous thing to have, to keep all my nightmares in, away from my sleep.

"'I give them as you sleep, young Malcolm, as you dream, and only to those whose need is great,' Dream Angus told me. 'But now I must be on my way, though I do not believe I will attain my goal before the morning breaks,' he said with a sigh, looking off toward the east, 'for the morning comes soon on these high summer days and the nights are short.'

"'Where are you bound, Old Angus?' I asked. 'May I help you on your way?'

"I seek the nearest fairy mound, thinking I may find my own true love asleep beneath, hoping that this will be the night I will find my beautiful Cáer, stolen from me yet again, and it is she I seek, and she who awaits me to save her. A year and a day I sought her before, knowing my dream of her was true, and on finding her, we flew off for an eternity of happiness, or so I believed and so she hoped. But she has been taken away again, and I will seek her a year and a day or more until I find her again, my beautiful Cáer.'

"Young Angus saddened and wept then, growing old in his grief there before my eyes. And oh, little sister, his tears moved my heart, and I vowed I would help him, help Dream Angus find his beautiful Cáer, stolen from him, his eternity of love stolen away.

"'Young Angus,' I cried, 'still your weeping, for I will help you, I vow it. Until we restore your beautiful Cáer, I am your servant! Old Angus, cease your tears! Together, we will find your beloved Cáer and your eternity of love will be reborn!'

"And so I travelled with Young Angus as he spread his true dreaming across the land, to folk both magic and Muggle, and we sought his beloved, his beautiful Cáer; forty days and forty nights, we walked, we flew, we Apparated, seeking, ever seeking the one most beloved of Angus Óg, who loved so greatly that he wished to share his true dreams of love with all.

"After forty days and forty nights, we found his true love, his beloved Cáer, weeping beneath an apple tree on a wee small island, surrounded by a loch filled with Grindylows, and the loch was surrounded by bogs hopping with Hinkypunks, and the air of the island droned with Glumbumbles. Together, Young Angus and I confused the Hinkypunks, leading them astray. Then we flew over the loch, angering the Grindylows, who gnashed their tiny teeth and screamed tiny screams. When we reached the wee small island, I played my penny whistle, a happy, cheery tune, too-too-la-too-la-too-roo-la-too, I played, driving the drear Glumbumbles away. And we took up Cáer, beloved of Young Angus, and we took her from that wee small island, saving her from her sadness.

"And Angus Óg, again forever young in his love, so grateful was he, he told me that if ever I needed a true dream or if ever I needed a nightmare basket of light, I could call on him, and he would come and give me that true dream or weave me that nightmare basket. He said he might not come the first night, nor even the second, but that come he would, because I helped him to find his beloved Cáer, saving her from her sorrow and returning to him his eternity of love.

"Never, little sister, have I called upon Young Angus for a true dream, and never have I asked him for a basket to trap my nightmares, but I think that if we call him tonight, Young Angus will come and take your nightmares away, if we call him together, little sister, he will come, if not tonight, then one night soon, and you will dream sweet dreams, your nightmares all bundled away in his enchanted basket of light.

"Then Malcolm sang me a song, a nonsense tune, I think, and I fell asleep thinking of Dream Angus and his dreams of love and his baskets of light. The next three nights, Malcolm slept on a little bed in my room, giving me warm peppermint milk and singing me to sleep, until we decided that Dream Angus had come and bundled all of my nightmares away in his special baskets of light.

"And that, Albus, is the true story of Dream Angus and his beloved Cáer, and of how Malcolm of the McGonagall Cliffs helped to reunite them, and how, in gratitude, Dream Angus took away my nightmares in his baskets of light," Minerva ended, hoping that he hadn't found it too silly.

"That was a wonderful story on so many levels, my dear. Thank you!" Albus said with a smile, raising up on one elbow to lean forward and kiss her cheek. "And Malcolm really slept in your room all those nights?"

"He did. Five nights. I hadn't thought about it in a while. I was . . . five, I think, maybe six. He was in his early twenties, and I'm sure he had more exciting things to be doing than babysitting his little sister. He can be flighty and aggravating, but he's a good man." Minerva's eyes were soft and unfocussed as she thought of the past and of her oldest brother, "the strange one," as she so often called him.

"I should tell him," she said. "Tell him how much I do appreciate him."

Minerva had always been appreciative of her youngest brother, Murdoch, who was only twelve years older than she, and who had spent more continuous time with her as she was growing up, but sometimes with Malcolm, she failed to look past his superficially irresponsible and impulsive manner to see the man beneath, the one she knew was there. Of the four McGonagall siblings, the two Gryffindors, Minerva and Malcolm, seemed the least like each other temperamentally, but perhaps they had more in common than she had thought.

"So," Minerva asked, turning her attention back to Albus, "did I earn my lullaby with that story?"

"You most certainly did, although now I'm so sleepy from hearing of Dream Angus, I'm not certain I can sing it," Albus teased.

"Shall I splash a little cold water on your face, then? That would wake you up!"

"No, no, my dear, I think I can manage," Albus said. "This is a song my mother used to sing to me, and later, to my brother, when we were young. It's just a simple Welsh tune."

Albus began to sing, the soft Welsh words rolling over Minerva. Her spoken Welsh was very rusty, but she still understood some of it from her lessons with her father when she was a child.

The song went on for three verses and and two choruses, then Albus softly chanted the lyrics in English, changing the melody slightly to suit the new words.

"The summer slid unnoticed out the back,
"And the falls of Chynffon y Gaseg run muddy again,
"The oak of Pren Gwyn is whiter than ever,
"And the other trees seem just as old.

"You'll sleep, my darling, you will sleep softly
"Your face as tranquil as a summer's day,
"Your fingers slacken as you let go my hand,
"You'll sleep, my dear, and morning will come.

"The big pool is blacker than peat bog water,
"It enticed me many an afternoon,
"The frost won't leave the old lead mill,
"And heavy tears fall from the oak.

"You'll sleep, my darling, you will sleep softly
"Your face as tranquil as a summer's day,
"Your fingers slacken as you let go my hand,
"You'll sleep, my dear, and morning will come.

"Two showers under shelter will drive me mad,
"In the shadow of the hearth is his shadow too,
"I see only the wall, but when I close my eyes,
"Not one rocks the cradle, but here there are two."

Minerva felt very sleepy by the time Albus had finished singing the song. She loved his voice, and had he been singing in words she understood not at all, she would have found it just as beautiful.

"That's an enchanting song," Minerva said, "but somehow . . . sad or foreboding, as well. And it's hard to tell whether it's winter or spring."

"The seasons always turn into each other, just as morning will always come following night, and twilight at both ends of the day," Albus said softly. "And morning will come soon. We should sleep so that we can enjoy the morning before we leave."

Minerva nodded. "I wish we had been able to spend more time. Perhaps next summer."

"Certainly, next summer. And we might be able to slip away for a few hours on a weekend afternoon, or perhaps even for a day," Albus said.

"That would be nice. Not the same, but still, very nice." Minerva moved closer to him and rested her head against him. "When are we leaving tomorrow?"

"I thought we would have lunch here. We should probably return sooner, but . . . I am reluctant to leave until we must." Albus kissed her forehead. "I thought we could Apparate to your parents' first, then one of us could go ahead to Hogwarts and the other could follow after a short interval. So we should probably leave by one o'clock, since the meeting is at two." He sighed. "Now I wish I had made it for Thursday morning. But there are preparations to be made before the students arrive on Sunday, and I should be available to the staff. There are always questions and difficulties, and although I am sure that Gertrude is more than happy to look after Malcolm, he is new to the staff and I should be available to him, as well."

"He quite likes you, I think. In fact, I think he rather looks up to you. You could be a good influence on him."

Albus chuckled. "I don't know, my darling. We do tend to have a bit too much fun together for me to be a very good influence on him, I'm afraid. We're more likely to lead each other astray, if anything." He grinned at her. "Are you still upset with me about the dragon?"

"I suppose not. It all worked out well, and Malcolm enjoyed himself. Perhaps a bit too much. I think you're right, though, Albus. You two will probably need minding. I will have to speak to Gertrude about that. Splitting the child-minding between us."

Albus laughed out loud at that. "We will try not to test your patience too much. And we do have to think of the students. Set an example."

"Yes, the students . . ." Minerva yawned. "I do think I am quite sleepy, though, Albus. I'm glad you liked my story – well, Malcolm's story. Thank you for the lullaby."

"You're very welcome, my dear." Albus doused the lights with a wave of his hand and settled down in the bed with an arm around Minerva. "Sleep well, sweet dreams."

"Good night, Albus," Minerva said, and she heard Albus beside her, softly humming the lullaby as she fell asleep.

The next morning, Minerva woke first, and she quietly got out of bed and padded to the bathroom. Out the bathroom window, she could see it would be a glorious day, as sunny and bright as the previous morning had been grey and rainy. Trying not to think about their leaving early that afternoon, Minerva returned to the bedroom. She looked down at Albus, asleep, his face completely relaxed, his cheeks rosy, his lips slightly parted. She wished that she had the magical talent that he had and that she could give him a minty Charmed kiss, but an ordinary one would do to wake him.

She bent over and gave Albus a light kiss on the brow then another on his lips, caressing his cheek.

"Mmm, Minerva," he murmured, his eyes blinking open.

"Did you sleep well? It's a beautiful day. I thought we might have our breakfast outdoors. A picnic breakfast. If you'd like. Or at least take our tea out after we eat. I would like to enjoy the island as much as possible before we have to leave."

"I agree, we should enjoy our time here while we have it." Albus yawned. "I think I need to make a visit, my dear." He yawned again.

While he was in the bathroom, Minerva ended the filter charms on the windows, letting the morning light stream into the room. Albus returned, blinking.

"You look beautiful this morning, Minerva. More beautiful than the morning itself." He put his arms around her and kissed her. "I really think that we could enjoy the morning quite well in bed." He kissed her again. "I don't believe you would be at all disappointed," he said softly, kissing her and caressing her back, pulling her to him. "I love waking up next to you, my dear. I don't know when we will have time like this again. We will manage somehow, I am sure . . . but let's take advantage of our freedom." His lips moved sensuously over hers. "Let's return to bed for a while."

"I like being persuaded, Albus," Minerva said, returning his embrace and looking up into his eyes. "Persuade me."

Albus stood back at arms length, his hands grazing her bare upper arms, looking into her eyes. "Persuading?" Albus asked. "I shall have to practise the art of persuasion." His gaze moved from her face to her breasts and lower. "I am a bit out of practise, but I will do my best."

Minerva scarcely kept herself from laughing at that and said, "You do your best, and perhaps you will succeed."

Albus took Minerva's left hand in his right; very softly, he brushed the fingertips of his other hand over her sensitive fingers and palm, then he raised it to his mouth. Closing his eyes, he began to place feather-light kisses on her wrist.

His breath passed over her pulse-point as he whispered, "I would love to return to bed with you, Minerva." Albus softly kissed her wrist again. "You are so nice and warm, so soft and lovely, my dear." His lips moved up her inner arm, his tongue flicking out and tickling her tender skin.

As he began to caress her body through her nightgown, his kisses drifted over her arm, then reached her neck, gentle movement of lips over Minerva's sensitive throat, to her jaw, then to her ear. "I could kiss you everywhere, Minerva," Albus whispered, "everywhere."

Albus kissed the hollow of her throat, then his hands began to tug her nightgown up until he raised it up over her head and off.

"If we went back to bed, I could embrace you and kiss you everywhere, like this." Albus demonstrated precisely what he meant, and Minerva needed no further persuasion.

Quite a while later, they were both lying exhausted on the bed, Albus behind Minerva, his arms around her, holding her close. He raised one hand and beckoned, and the duvet obediently covered them both.

Albus kissed her behind the ear. "So, was it nice to return to bed for a while?" he whispered.

"Mmm, one of your best idea, I would say," Minerva answered, taking one of his hands and kissing it. "I love you, Albus."

"And I love you, my dear. And to prove it further, I will get up and make you tea, and then we can have some breakfast."

"Lovely. But not just yet, I think. I would be quite cold in bed alone if you were to leave right now."

Albus kissed her shoulder and snuggled closer. "Whatever your heart desires, my love. Whatever your heart desires."


Note: The lyrics of the lullaby are adapted from "My Gysgi Di 'Maban" ("You'll Sleep, My Baby") on the CD, "Celtic Lullaby," by elipsis arts. I changed "maban," "baby," to "anwyll," "dear, darling, beloved," to better suit the occasion. I highly recommend the CD. It's beautiful and restful. It also has a version of the song, "Dream Angus." If you want to know more about Angus Óg and the various tales about him, you can search the Web, and I'm sure you will find many of the stories told about Angus, both old and new.