1Chapter 9

Conversing with Nicholas

Nicholas lit his pipe, poured Albus a glass of brandy, and then dropped into his leather

armchair.

Albus slowly descended into the armchair opposite Nicholas's. He could tell that Nicholas had something on his mind.

"So," Nicholas said, leaning back in his chair, "Minerva seems very nice."

"She is." Albus said with an almost wistful smile.

"So, what's the deal with you two?" Nicholas asked with a grin.

"What do you mean?" Albus asked, standing up, and crossing the room.

"I mean that she is a beautiful young woman." Nicholas said with a smile, surveying Albus from across the room.

"I suppose so." Albus said with a shrug.

"Don't tell me you haven't noticed?" Nicholas asked skeptically.

"You know, the other day we were in the garden and..." Albus said breaking off.

"Yes..." Nicholas prompted.

"She made the strangest observation. She said that men think of giving flowers while women think of getting them. Isn't that interesting?" Albus said quickly, turning toward Nicholas.

"Don't change the subject, Albus."

"I wasn't changing the subject. I just thought that you might be interested since you're a philosopher of sorts."

"Of sorts...what do you mean of sorts?" Nicholas asked. Albus smiled slightly at his friend. "Bugger, Albus. Now you've got me off topic." Albus shrugged in response. "But what about you and Minerva?"

"We're friends." Albus said simply.

"That's it." Nicholas asked.

"Yes."

"Really?" Nicholas prompted.

"Yes, why is it so hard to believe that we're just friends?"

"You seem to care for her very much."

"We're friends...very good friends."

"You brought her to dinner."

"I thought that it was about time that you finally meet her. You're my closest friends."

"She's very smart."

"Of course she's smart, have I ever been partners with anyone who isn't smart?" Albus asked raising his eyes at Nicholas, daring him to contradict him.

"She's very beautiful."

Albus's face fell. "Do you really think so?" He asked Nicholas carefully. Why did everyone seem to think that Minerva was beautiful all of a sudden, and why had he never noticed?

"Of course..." Nicholas said impatiently. "You really haven't noticed have you?" He asked, amazed by Albus's blindness.

Albus shook his head in response. "We're friends."

Nicholas put his head in his hands. "Oh, Albus, you're going to be the death of me. You really need to get your head out of your arse. She's a vast improvement over your usual type."

"What type?" Albus asked sheepishly.

"Your usual type. Not too bright, fairly short, very beautiful, not very permanent...like that American witch you dated for awhile...the one you were semi-serious about...what was her name?"

"Gene Adams..." Albus ventured.

"Yes, that's it." Nicholas said. "At least you don't see her anymore."

Albus blushed slightly and dropped his eyes to the floor. "Well, actually..."

"You don't see her anymore...tell me you don't see her anymore."

"Well, I haven't in a long time, but I didn't have a date for the midsummer ball, so I invited her and she agreed to go, she's arriving next Friday."

Nicholas rubbed his head tiredly. "Why didn't you just go to the ball with Minerva? She's twice the woman that Gene is?"

Albus sipped his brandy. "If you must know, she has a date."

"Ah," Nicholas said knowingly that was why he'd brought her to dinner. "Who's she going with?"

"Horace Slughorn..." Albus said, trying not to sound too annoyed. "He asked her this morning."

"Well, if you were going to ask her, shouldn't you have beat him to the punch. You shouldn't have left it to the last minute."

"I wasn't going to ask her. We don't have that sort of relationship. We always go together. She should have known." Albus said setting his glass down rather fiercely.

Nicholas nodded. Albus had a lot of learning to do.