Disclaimer: You see, I own everything here, cause my name just happens to be J. K. Rowling and... Oh, c'mon, gimme a break.
FanFic 100 Challenge - 096 - Writer's Choice - Memory
Albus knocked on the door to the Transfigurations Professor's chambers and, upon not hearing response, presumed she was in her office. Exactly what she was doing in her office on the summer holidays was beyond him. He thought about asking her to accompany him in a walk to Hogsmeade, since he had run out of lemon drops and needed to buy some more at Honeydukes. She could use a break, the girl worked too hard. Not girl, he scolded himself, woman. She'd graduated ten years ago, and had been working at Hogwarts for the past three. She's the most intelligent and smart woman he had ever seen (not to mention how beautiful she was). She was definitely not a girl.
He carefully opened the door to her office and was surprised when he didn't see her sitting at her desk, preparing lessons plans. He started closing the door, when something caught his eye: a Pensieve lay on her desk. He entered the office to examine it more closely; it was, indeed, his Pensieve. She borrowed it from him the week before, when she complained that she had too many things on her head and was afraid that it would affect her work. As Albus got closer to the Pensieve, he saw, dancing around in its surface, images of Minerva, who turned into Poppy, who turned into Xiomara, who turned into…himself. What was he doing on the Pensieve? Then he remembered these were Minerva's memories, of course he was in them; they had been the bests of friends ever since she'd returned to Hogwarts to teach.
The Headmaster still wanted to know what he was doing in his Deputy's memories. Looking around, he saw the door to her office had closed. He smiled; it was almost like the castle wanted him to enter the Pensieve. Slowly, he started approaching his face to the surface, and when his nose touched it, he found himself with the familiar sensation of having the world around him changing.
When the images stopped spinning, he found himself in a Gryffindor decorated room.
Poppy, Xiomara and Minerva were in Minerva's chambers. Bottles full of Firewhiskey laid on the floor, waiting to be consumed, and those which already had been could be found in the foot of the bed in which the three witches were spread over. Minerva was laid down on her stomach, her hair free from its bun, and cheeks flushed from the alcohol. She's beautiful, Albus thought.
"Minerva, you should tell him." Poppy's voice awoke him from his musings.
Minerva let out an exasperated sigh, and the expression on her face showed that they had had this discussion many times before.
"No, I should not"
"You know, Min, Poppy is right" said Xiomara
"No, she's not" Minerva buried her face in her pillow "And don't call me 'Min'"
"You'll never know, maybe he feels the same about you" insisted Poppy.
"You are drunk, Pomfrey" Minerva's voice was barely audible, muffled by the pillows.
"Right now, he's on his office, alone, and it's too late for anyone to interrupt…" Xiomara let her voice trail off to add a double meaning to the sentence.
"So, I'll go up to his office, out of nowhere tell him I've loved him since I was sixteen years old" started Minerva too romantically, as an actress on a stage "Surely, he'll tell me he loves me too and can't possibly live without me, kiss me senseless while slipping a diamond ring onto my finger. We'll live happily ever after, with many children and grandchildren." She stopped for a moment before continuing "And please, detect the sarcasm here" she added, and her shoulders fell a little too dramatically, as did Albus' smile.
She was in love. That memory couldn't be more than a year or two old, so probably her feelings for this man had not changed. But who was him? It was someone of the castle, since Xiomara mentioned his office. But there wasn't many people still living in the castle that Minerva knew since she was a student. Oh, wait, Slughorn had been her professor. Maybe…? Maybe. Albus had never dared to hope that she could return his feelings for her, but he had never imagined that she would be in love with someone. But, it was a free world, wasn't it? Minerva could fall in love with anyone, at anytime she wanted. And that thought saddened him.
"Minerva Agathe McGonagall!" Poppy's stern voice awoke Albus from his musings. "Tell him! You've nothing to loose!"
"I have everything to loose, Poppy" said Minerva sadly.
"Min…" started Poppy and Xiomara at the same time, but Minerva didn't let them finish.
"Stop it, both of you!" she was visibly irritated "I'm not telling Albus Dumbledore I love him. Not now, not ever."
Albus didn't have a chance to let the information sink in, cause he was suddenly taken into another memory.
He was now at the staff room, surrounded by the Hogwarts professors, all of them laughing and drinking. A banner hanging on the ceiling above their heads said "Happy 1952 It was the staff New Year's party of 1952, and he remembered that night like it was yesterday: it had been the first (and the last) time he had brought a date to Hogwarts. He spotted Minerva sitting on the sofa, staring into space, oblivious to the commotion around her. Standing near the fireplace was his past version, and a beautiful (but not half as beautiful as Minerva) and young witch, Ms. Holland. The present Albus approached Minerva and sat beside her, eyeing her. Albus knew now how much he must had caused her that night, chatting animatedly with another woman, his date, right in front of her. Minerva placed her glass in the table in front of her and stood up. Albus followed her through the dark and empty corridors of the castle, until they reached the doors to her private chambers. Minerva sat in front of her mirror vanity, her reflection looking back at her. Albus stood behind her, his reflection not showing on the mirror. He watched as Minerva slowly loosed the pins that held her hair up on its bun, and let her shiny and soft ebony hair cascade down her back.
"Terrible" said Minerva to the mirror. Albus wanted to protest, but remembered she couldn't hear him.
"It's not hard to imagine why he never noticed you, is it?" continued Minerva. "Of course he would prefer Ms. Holland, far more beautiful than you." Again Albus wanted to protest, but shut his mouth just in time to be shoved into another memory.
Albus found himself in the middle of the Forbidden Forest, Minerva nowhere in sight. It was odd; how could it be a memory from Minerva, if she wasn't in it? Looking around, he saw himself, looking older than ever, lying on the ground, and a stain of blood on his forehead: he was dead. Suddenly, Minerva appeared wand in hand, her hair escaping from its bun, and, upon seeing him dead, fell to the ground beside him and sobbed with her head resting on his chest.
"Oh, Albus, Albus, you promised you wouldn't leave me." She said in between sobs. But the dead Albus and the Forbidden Forest had disappeared, and Minerva was on her bed, sweating. It had been the memory of a nightmare.
Her eyes shot open and her breathing steadied when she came upon the same realization as Albus: it had been just a nightmare. But she didn't go back to sleep. Albus watched from the foot of the bed as she stood up, put on her robes and when she ran out of the door, he followed; it was hard to keep up with her. She finally stopped when she reached the stone gargoyle that led to the Headmaster's office. Whispering the password, she stepped on the spiral staircase, Albus doing the same. Coming face to face with the door, she didn't knock; instead she pushed it open and stormed inside, ignoring the complaints of the paintings. Not even glancing at the office, she went to a door on the far end of the room, the door to the Headmaster's private chambers. Without any hesitation, she opened the door and in a heartbeat she was sitting on the bed, with an asleep version of Albus lying safely down on it.
Minerva spent a few minutes the asleep Albus, while the present Albus stood on the doorway. He saw when she slowly lifted a hand to trace his features, and when his past version muttered something on his sleep (something that sound an awfully lot like "Tabby"), and he also saw, with a smile playing on his lips, when Minerva lowered her head to give the sleeping form a kiss on the forehead and whispered, "Sleep well, darling". He was still smiling when he was taken into the next memory.
It was the graduation ball of the class of 1952. Albus smiled to himself; there Minerva was, dancing happily in the arms of none other than him. He noticed that the both of them looked radiant, and circled around the room in perfect tune. He approached the couple.
"You look lovely today, my dear" the Albus of one year ago said.
"Thank you, Albus" he could swear he saw her blush slightly.
"It seems some students are having more fun than others" he said chuckling, pointing to where a couple of students sat, kissing. Minerva started moving to where the students were, but Albus hand around her waist kept her in place.
"Albus, I have to…" she started, but he interrupted.
"No, you don't. Pardon me, my dear, but you need to… what is it that the students say? Oh, yes, cool off. Let them have their fun, is their graduation ball, after all."
"That is not an excuse to…"
"You are right, it is not. But, tonight, why don't you enjoy yourself, Minerva? Please." He asked, his eyes twinkling madly.
"What wouldn't I do for you?" she said playfully.
"Good." He said, satisfied, and a comfortable silence fell between them again. Minerva closed her eyes.
"Tired, Tabby?" Albus asked, and Minerva opened her eyes suddenly, too ashamed to even notice his use of her nickname.
"Oh, no, Albus, I was just…" she trailed off.
"You're just what?" he asked
"It wasn't nothing, tell me"
"You would think me silly"
"That, my dear, is impossible."
"Alright." She sighed "I just wanted to… I don't know, I guess I just wanted to memorize the moment."
He smiled, satisfied with her answer.
"Well, that makes two of us, then."
She smiled, and it seemed that she was about to say something when the present Albus felt a firm hand on his shoulder bringing him back to Minerva's office.
Nothing had changed in there but the fact that he was not alone. Staring at him, her face so close he could feel her breath on his lips, was Minerva McGonagall herself.
"What in Merlin's name were you doing, Albus Dumbledore?" Her voice was steady and low, he couldn't tell if she was angry or confused. Maybe both.
"I was just… I mean, I was…" he started.
"Well?" her eyes were shining with… fury?
"I… I am sorry, my dear. My curiosity took the best of me" he knew it was a lame excuse and she would never fall for it, but it was either that or keep stuttering until she get annoyed enough to hex him into next year.
"That is not an excuse for doing what you did! You saw my private thoughts, Albus! That's completely…" Suddenly aware of their proximity, she walked back a few steps. Safe now, she thought.
They stood there, staring at each other for a few minutes, neither of them daring to say a word, although they knew words were necessary. Minerva needed to ask what he had seen, and Albus needed to apologize, but didn't want to. He was not sorry for entering the Pensieve, for he had discovered something he'd been wanting for years.
"How much did you see, Albus?" her eyes were dull and her voice barely above a whisper.
"Pretty much everything, I suppose." She could have left it at that, but she wanted to know everything.
"The nightmare?" she asked reluctantly. He nodded.
"The staff party, the graduation ball, and…"
"The night with Xiomara and Poppy?" she questioned, afraid of the answer.
There was silence for a moment; neither of them knew what to say. Should Minerva apologize? But, apologize for what, for loving him? She couldn't help the way she felt.
"Honestly, I don't know what to say, Dumbledore" She could feel tears welling up in her eyes, but she didn't know exactly what kind of tears they were. Obviously they weren't tears of happiness; she was feeling the most miserable person in the world. There she was, in front of the only man she had ever loved, preparing herself for the thing she had always feared the most: rejection.
"You don't have to say anything, Minerva." He said, as he took a step closer to her.
"Neither do you" Thank Merlin, he was making things easier. "We can just pretend that this never happened" she said more confidently. He was really close to her face now.
"Ssh, don't say a word, love." He smiled when her eyes widened in surprise.
With a silent agreement, they closed the distance between them, and their lips met in a soft, timid first kiss that ended before it had begun.
"Does this mean that you…" she said, afraid that the kiss had not happened that it had been her mind playing tricks on her.
"Yes, it means that I love you too"
She dared not believe her ears, so she just put her arms around his neck and pulled him to another kiss, a more heated one, different from the chaste first kiss they'd shared just the minute before. He kissed her back with equal passion, and that moment she knew that yes, he loved her, and had for a long time, probably as long as she'd loved him.
"Shall we continue this somewhere else, my dear?" he asked as they crossed the 'only a kiss' line. She smiled; she had always loved when he called her 'my dear'.
"Definitely, my love"
A.N.: You wanna put a smile upon the face of a young girl? Help spread the joy all over the world and review.
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