Hi, thanks again for the lovely reviews, hope the super long break has not put you off this, I still intend to finish it! Um, I don't really like this chappie, but guess you deserve an update! Thanks for putting up with my laziness…
Chapter 3 – In which Albus Dumbledore decides that the interviewer is not necessarily always older than the candidate
Albus Dumbledore leaned back into the hard, wooden chair at the dining table lazily and stifled a hippo-sized yawn; his babysitee could still be heard yelling pointless and largely exaggerated insults at the fresh air of the Scottish manor. He fingered the wood of the table gently to pass time, his mind still wondering as to what dreadful fate awaited him when that girl got back…
Damn you, Dumbledore, he told himself, after all, you areten times her age…
As usual, he didn't have a clue as to how misleading his thoughts were.
A sharp, cold voice brought him back to earth with an unpleasant 'thud'; Albus looked up to find Minerva McGonagall staring at him, fuming and red-faced, her deep, green eyes had a weird, steely glint that suggested to a normal person that she was liable to explode any minute now and he would do best to shut up.
But again, Albus Dumbledore was not a normal person; ignoring the ominous flash in her eyes, he turned to cluelessly twinkle at her, a huge, gormless smile plastered on his face as he cried enthusiastically, 'Why, hello, dear!'
Apparently this was a very wrong thing to say; Minerva exploded with the force of a particularly-nastily thrown Dungbomb.
'Excuse me? I AM NOT YOUR DEAR!'
Albus, who had obviously not been expecting this Mt. Vesuvius eruption (as if he had called her a Mudblood! he snorted inwardly), nearly fell out of his seat in alarm, as the young girl calmly took a seat opposite him, placed her hand below her neck and seemingly continued her interrupted survey of his bodily aspects as though she was preparing to write a thesis on the body parts of Albus Dumbledore.
'Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew, are those lemon drops?' she asked him after a brief period of contemplation, wrinkling her nose in disgust as though Albus was a foul, smelly cat that had just landed on her nice and clean Persian carpet.
Albus looked mortally affronted as he squinted down at his choicest robes. Deciding that the last thing he needed was an outburst on the print of his favourite robes, he decided to ignore this unkind and insensitive slight.
Minerva did not seemed to mind his indifference in the least; she continued staring at him, taking in every tiny detail and remarking every minute or so, as though Albus had no clue as to what nightmarish garb he had put on.
'Your hat is lilac,' she said with the oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-this air of someone deprecatingly informing their apprentice (obviously, a fashion dud) that they had just put on a flowery tablecloth for graduation robes.
Albus continued staring politely at her; he was very comfortable with his butt glued onto the chair, thank-you-very-much, and had no wish whatsoever of being blown off by her screaming again.
'It doesn't match.' she added grimly, shaking her head as though in her opinion, it should have been against the law to wear such horribly mismatched garments.
Albus clamped his mouth shut with the force of an oyster, wondering silently, 'Yes, dearie, keep the obvious statements coming….'
'Your hair's frightfully long, isn't it?' she continued contemptuously, giving Albus the impression that she thought men with long hair should be unallowed in her house. 'My first cousin, Angus had long hair as well, it went all the way down his back … and he's twenty five and rather smart. All the stupid, pretty girls who came in with their dads and marriage proposals went all giggly and started blushing right to the roots of their hair and all… and their fathers shooed them in the end and told him rather firmly that in their opinion, they didn't want their precious daughters marrying a sissy. Anyway, he didn't get a decent bride until last year after Aunt Victoria grabbed a pair of scissors and chopped it right down. Cressida's really beautiful and she's clever too; not a twit like the others; all beauty, not a pea for brains … in any case, he admitted in the end, that he was better off with short hair. Personally, I think he's smitten by her,' she finished in an approving voice.
Albus wondered if he was supposed to laugh; the truth be told, his mouth was rather aching to chuckle at her matter-of-fact narration of her poor first cousin's tale and the tragic fate of his hair, but he did not, for the fear of offending her and leading her onto the entirely wrong impression that he was laughing at her story telling skills. He glanced quickly at her, biting back hilarity; she seemed to be pondering on the loss of prospective sister-in-laws and the complexities of men and marriage. Albus speculated as to whether her yarn could have been marriage advice in disguise for him; then, he mentally booed and threw tomatoes at the suggestion – he had never been given marriage counsel by anyone, let alone a "rational" seven-year old. Anyways, he convinced himself (or rather, tried to), there was no way Minerva knew that he was still a bachelor.
'Who are you?' she asked finally, coming out of her reverie; having run out of any more of his clothes to criticize, tales of unfortunate cousins to recount and unambiguous facts to comment on.
Albus thought that the girl must be a bit thick; in any case, Milan had saved him the trouble of introducing himself. Nevertheless, it looked as though he would have to repeat the preamble once more, to avoid being humiliatingly chased out of the house by this most admirable young lady.
'Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.'
The girl stared at him incredulously; reading the sceptical expression on her face, he might as well have informed her that the sky was brown.
'I'm not thick, you know,' she snapped dispassionately, her eyebrows raised in disbelief as a lock of black hair dangled across her face. 'Dad did do me the honour of letting me know who he thought you were.'
'You expect me to believe that you are Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore?' she interrupted, cutting ruthlessly through his stuttering. Leaning forward across the table, eyebrows still raised, she demanded sardonically, 'Just how dim-witted would I have to be to believe that, Mister?'
She held out her arm, without taking her eyes of him; the Daily Prophet zoomed into her grasp and she flourished it in front of his eyes. Albus blinked hurriedly and then, pushed the paper a bit further so he could read more than dancing black and white letters.
The headline obscured most of the page; it read in large, screaming print, "DUMBLEDORE'S GREAT VICTORY, GRINDELWALD VANQUISHED." Below it ran an extremely long (and boring, Albus thought) article about the finer details of the long-awaited defeat of Grindelwald and below, a tremendously uncomfortable, monotoned Albus Dumbledore grimaced morosely back at him. Then, the Prophet vanished and he was once more staring at Minerva's face. She was smirking.
'I expect you noticed, Dumbledore has better jobs to do than running around babysitting a Ministry employee's daughter.' she leered, vanishing the Prophet with no effort at all, surprising Dumbledore by the extraordinary control she had over her magical powers at such a tender age. 'I mean, who are you, actually? You look a lot like him, though,' she ploughed on, looking mightily impressed, 'I don't think it's Polyjuice Potion, it'll wear off in an hour, you can't have been that stupid … you can't have used Transfiguration either, unless you're really good…' She looked thoroughly astounded now. 'How did you do it?'
Albus had never felt stupider in his life. Of all the dumb questions he had been asked in his life, (which included a absurd, "Do you like blonde women?" by the sexy, curvaceous, young journalist in an exclusive interview to the Witch Weekly when he was supposed to be discussing his renowned defeat of Grindelwald and post-Grindelwald fame) he had to admit, this one took the cake. He was being asked how he looked like Albus Dumbledore. Which he couldn't answer. Because he basically was Albus Dumbledore. Which this marvellously clever girl was not going to believe. She either seemed to be labouring under the correct-me-please delusion that Dark Wizards had invaded the world and there was no way he was just another, good, saintly wizard. Or she just read way too much.
'I am Albus Dumbledore,' he said simply, choosing not to voice this long train of thought, (of which he considered the journalist-part too adult for her age, however bright she might be).
The girl's expression morphed from astonishment to exasperation in a blink of an eye. 'You're really dense, aren't you?' she huffed, rolling her eyes and tapping the table impatiently. 'I am Albus Dumbledore!' she mimicked in a voice that sounded uncannily like his. 'Let's try it another way, shall we?' She looked ridiculously sympathetic, like the way someone would stare at a deranged idiot and say, "Oh, I understand!" when they don't understand at all.
'Why do you want to babysit me?'
'Well, your father happens to be a close friend of mine-' Albus began in what he obviously thought was his best now-child-please-understand-and-don't-make-me-repeat-or-I'll-strangle-you voice.
Albus blinked at Minerva, who was now leaning in her chair, arms folded across her chest, looking entirely unimpressed. He felt disconcerted; the girl had a way of throwing him off track, which was not something many could do.
'Well, he was in a hurry –'
'Because no one other than Aunt Maria has ever volunteered to babysit me before. I remember Irene Wellesley, who came in last year … they say she was never the same after I stuffed half-cooked enchanted haggis in her mouth.' She looked up innocently.
Albus stopped short. He privately thought that everybody had a rather good reason for this and was beginning to seriously doubt the sanity of this saintly Anna Maria lady, who was obviously either insane or super-sane if she was capable of looking after such an incomprehensible child; and at the same time, shuddered to think of his condition in twenty-four hours.
'So, you want me to believe that you are the guy who defeated Gellert Grindelwald?' she asked, looking very unconvinced.
'Yes, you can ask me what happened-'
'And have you rattle off answers that you must have by-hearted from the special edition of the Prophet? Puh-lease. Dumbledore's interview runs for five pages and the print's tiny! It has full details about what happened. I can read, you know.'
She rolled her eyes once more at Dumbledore, who was looking defeated and was on the verge of throwing his hands in the air with an embarrassing, 'You win! Can I go now?' when she barged into (hardly unusual) his thoughts again.
'Now let's try a truthful answer, this time! Why do you want to babysit me?'
She flared at once, eyes flashing menacingly. 'MY NAME IS MINERVA AND I RATHER LIKE IT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!' she bellowed furiously, pushing her chair back and glaring at him in adamant rage, the look on her face reading, 'if you dare'. Albus shifted slightly in his chair.
She had cooled down somehow, her temper seemed to switch on and off like those Muggle … what was it … ah, eklekticity buttons, Albus thought jovially.
'Don't try to convince, it's very hard to.'
'Ah, I believe you, sweetheart!' Albus said absently, his mind still on the happy thoughts of Muggle substitutes for magic and the wondrous things they dreamt up. Minerva glared at him, she looked more likely to breathe fire than the Hungarian Horntail he had once chanced upon while roaming around at Budapest; even, it had been more docile (notwithstanding that it was hardly a month old).
'Sorry, it's just that, I mean, you are taking things to a very complicated level, aren't you?' he pleaded earnestly.
'You supposed I'd be a dumb cow, I expect? Some highly flowery singy-songy prat of a seven year old? I'm sorry, I can't stand girlish nonsense and if you're looking for angelic seven year old girls, you are in the wrong house.'
Ah, Albus thought wisely, I figured I'd got the address wrong. He rolled his eyes; this child was impossible. Apparently, she had given up trying to wheedle the truth out of him because she had jumped down the high chair and making her way up the stairs. Albus had followed her to the top of the stairs, when she turned around angrily and snapped, 'I should remind you that this is my house and I'm perfectly capable of finding my way around myself without you following me like an unwanted tail, thank you.'
She stormed into the unlit upstairs corridors, muttering something about unhinged lunatics and Albus wanting a chance to check out the house. Albus shook his head, decided that however difficult she may be, she was his responsibility till dear Milan was back and followed her discreetly anyway. Minerva, however, seemed to have some hidden sixth sense; she already knew he had been tailing her when he ran into her, dressed in scarlet bathrobes with a hand on the door to what was obviously the bathroom.
'And why would you follow me to the bathroom? I am seven years old and have perfect experience of bathing myself without you having to teach me.'
She disappeared without another word, but Albus stood patiently outside the door, wondering whether he was supposed to lift her and scrub her dry with a fluffy towel when she got out like he had seen once in a Muggle movie. Minerva seemed to have planned otherwise though; her venerable sixth senses at work again, she had sensed his continued wait outside the bathroom door.
The door flung open and she stood there, looking very incensed (and very wet). 'I thought I told you I knew how to bath! Why have you come back, then? I really have no interest in exhibiting my bathing self, so, if you'll excuse me, water is a precious resource.'
She turned back, taking care to slam the door in his face, leaving Albus to his very confused thoughts.
To be continued…
Comin' up next (unless I change my mind) – Minerva writes to two friends for help.
Thank you, my lovely reviewers and a special thanks to my friend Hanna for all the help she gave me when I was in bed with a nasty cold (she does not know I write and I think it would be unwise to enlighten her)!
Now here's a poem I got from my mum's old autograph book, modified it a bit, lemme know if it's soppy ;)
Dear reader of mine,
Would you be so kind,
To drop a line,
On this story of mine,
Your reviews and hints written so clearly,
And below signed so dearly
Remind me the fun
I've had while writing this one
SO DO REVIEW!
Ha, bad effort, I know (still, it's nice to do stupid stuff once in a while :) but please, please, please, please, please review!!!!! Love you if you do, you're the best!