AN: Thanks for the kind words. As always, dedicated to the Butterfly and her world.
As the sun finally slipped below the horizon, Hermione's eyes focused on a tiny speck in the distance. It grew larger as they got closer. At The end of Loch Shivon was a dock jutting out into the deep water. Perched at it's side was the boat house. About twice the size of Gryfindor's common room, the building was sadly in need of a paint job. What used to be white was a dingy grey color. In some places the paint had worm away completely revealing weather beaten wood panels. Hermione tutted, "Minerva McGonagall, as fastidious and neat as you are, this is a crime." Minerva hung her head. "I know. I just never got around to it." Hermione huffed, "Ha! Tabby... you just never got your lazy rear in gear!" Minerva gaped at her lover, "What?... Lazy rear?... Woman, you had better watch who you are calling lazy." Minerva growled deep in her throat. Hermione laughed, "Ah look at my randy witch bluster... Must've hit the nail on the head!" At Minerva's mystified expression, Hermione added, "Sorry... Muggle saying."
Hermione giggled as they got closer. She could see more of the poor, needy building at the edge of the water. "Poor, poor thing." She sighed dramatically. Minerva huffed, "Oh just stop!" Hermione gazed around. "Where's the house?" Minerva indicated the small hill that led away from the loch. There was a stone path with steps cut into the hillside leading to the top. "Shall we take a look?" Minerva asked coaxing her broom higher. They passed above the hill and Hermione's eyes beheld McGonagall Manor.
"Oh my God." Before her was a huge Scottish Manor House rising three stories above the ground. It was made of some kind of grey stone that looked absolutely brand new, even though Hermione knew the house was centuries old. You just couldn't tell. "Talk about magic!" She gushed enthusiastically. Minerva laughed as she steered the broom closer to the front entryway.
As they neared the front courtyard, Hermione could see a large round stone pond with a marble fountain in the center. It was carved into a lion. "What else..." Hermione muttered. Minerva nudged Hermione's cheek with her chin, "What?" Smiling, she asked, "Were any McGonagall's ever in a house other than Gryfindor?" Minerva snickered, "No dear."
"I thought so."
As they neared the courtyard, Minerva eased her broom to a landing position and gently touched the ground and announcing in a nasal voice, "This is your pilot speaking, thank you for flying McGonagall Broom Express. Please watch your step." Hermione cracked up, giggling madly. Gingerly, she dismounted the broom. Glancing at her lover as she too dismounted, Hermione suddenly fell to the ground, kissing the slate stones that created the front pathway to the house. "At last on the ground!!" She wailed dramatically, throwing a hand over her forehead and producing a fake swoon. "Ohhhhh." Minerva cocked an eyebrow at her actress of a lover and snorted, "Oh be still my heart." Grinning, Hermione leapt into her lover's arms. They both chuckled happily. "Welcome home." Minerva whispered clutching Hermione close. Hermione, her face buried in her lover's chest, closed her eyes and sighed happily at that one word... Home.
"Well? Do ya see 'em or not??" A booming voice shouted from a gold framed portrait in the main entry hall of McGonagall Manor. Fiona McGonagall, her ebony hair flowing down her back groused, her hands resting on the edge of the frame. Her forest green eyes were focused on her ghost of a son, Angus as he floated before the nearly floor to ceiling windows that graced either side of the huge mahogany door at the head of the entry way.
"I see them." Angus answered his mother in an amused tone. Another voice, somewhat softer demanded, "Well what are they doing?" Edeen McGonagall, Angus other mother stepped up beside her. Fiona wrapped an arm around her sandy brown haired wife and leaned over to peck her cheek.
"WHAT?" His mother's voices resounded incredulously. Two more figures appeared behind the women in the painting. "Told you so." Said the taller of the two. Fiona turned her head to gaze at the approaching figures. "Fine Shastia, I believe you. Are ya happy now?" Shastia McGonagall rarely left her loch, but when Minerva had flown by with the beautiful young witch, she just had to tell Fiona and Edeen. She'd collected her quieter sister, Shivon and returned to their empty painting in the library. Once in their painting, the sisters searched the other paintings in the Manor until they located Fiona and Edeen.
Shivon gazed up at the taller Fiona and smiled knowingly, "You forget, Minerva brought her broom down to me. They both touched the water. Oh Fiona, they have true love. And more than that..." Her green eyes widened marginally as she leaned closer and whispered, "They have a bonding." She smiled brightly, something she rarely did and said, "I sang it so." Shastia nodded and hugged her sister.
"A BONDING??" Echoed through out every painting in the house. Angus winced at the sound. He floated over to the portrait, now crowded with so many relatives. "Oy!" He yelled to get their attention. "Just behave and let them be. Hermione looks like a lovely young lady and Minerva seems to absolutely adore her." He ran a hand through his unruly black hair. Fiona narrowed her eyes at her son, "How long have ya known of this?" Angus ducked his head and whispered, "As long as you." He was lying of course. He would never betray Minerva's trust. Both of his parent's eyebrows raised, "Are you sayin' true?" Angus' head shot up, "It's not my place to gossip." With that he flew back to the window adding, "Yup, still kissin'"
Fiona was flabergasted, "All the while we've been searchin' high and low for a wife for Minerva and here she shows up, pretty as ya please with someone already?? Edeen patted her outspoken wife on the shoulder. "Be easy now. You know you've got a bad heart." Fiona poked her wife in the belly, "I can't die twice ya know." Edeen laughed at her wife, "Let's just wait to meet the lass, shall we?" She called over to Angus, "What was her name?" Angus grinned, still watching his cousin snog her woman. "Granger... Hermione Granger!"
"Did he say Granger?" A deep voice sounded. The group in the portait welcomed another presence... Keegan McGonagall, Fiona's father." Fiona gazed at her father curiously, "Heard of her Papa?" The elder McGonagall stepped up to his daughter. "Aye. I share a portrait with Armondo Dippit at Hogwarts. I usually don't participate in portrait gossip but this one I've heard of." He looked at the entire group, his emerald eyes piercing all from under his bushy white brows. "She was part of the golden trio... Harry Potter, the Weasley boy and the girl. The smart one, Hermione Granger." Fiona gasped, She's just a student!!" She looked like she was going to burst a blood vessel. Edeen paled, "A student?? Angus... you..." She couldn't continue without accusing her son of deception. The ghost in question, shrugged his shoulders. Keegan raised his voice, "Never mind that! Albus Dumbledore knew about it. He not only knew about it, he encouraged Minerva to pursue the young lass. A beautiful young lass I might add." He took a breathe and continued, "The brightest witch of the age in my opinion... even brighter than Minerva I think." His last statement drew scoffs from family members gathered in the painting. Keegan nodded, "Minerva has more power. She's probably the most powerful witch on the planet..." The family members nodded proudly as Keegan continued, "I've seen that young lass in action... she can out-think Dumbledore, I've seen her do it!" He stated with emphasis pointing his cane at his daughter. "Be easy on them. They're destined for great things. Hence the bonding." He gazed at the family sternly and said, "And one more thing that all of you seem to be forgetting..." He paused, seeing that he had everyone's attention, even nearby portraits were listening. "Minerva is my last living heir. If she goes, what happens to the Manor?" An unidentified voice shouted from behind the gathered family members in Fiona and Edeen's painting, "There are other McGonagalls!" Keegan's bright green eyes darted from face to face seeking out who'd made the statement. Finding no one, he added, "My father's line founded McGonagall Manor, they built it! No one else deserves it! Plus... my father was a direct blood descendant of Merlin. As am I, as are my children." He patted Fiona on the arm proudly. "As is Minerva! Can any of the other so called "McGonagalls" say that? Can they?" There was silence, interupted only by muffled laughter coming from outside. Keegan pointed outside saying, "Hear that? That's laughter. That's happiness. That's love. Minerva's found it with a young lass who's going to help save our line. Merlin's line!" With that said, he left the painting.
"Oy!" Angus shouted. The gathered people in the portraits looked at him. "They're comin' in!" With that, he flew straight through the enchanted ceiling that hovered over the main entry hall.
Hermione's chocolate brown eyes gazed in wonder as she stepped through the entry way into McGonagall Manor. "Oh my." She whispered, gazing at the splendor surrounding her. The floor was made from polished black marble, shining like onyx. Ahead of her at the end of the hall was a grand mahogany split staircase widing it's way in a circular form down either side of the grand room. Directly below the staircase was a hall leading... somewhere interesting, Hermione thought. To her immediate left was a set of double doors. "That's where the McGonagall collection is kept." Minerva whispered, seeing where her young love was gazing. Smiling, Hermione gasped, "Oh I can't wait to see it!" Minerva sniggered. In this, they were completely alike in their love of books.
Off to Hermione's right was the guest parlor. It's double doors open to reveal formal, yet elegant furnishings. Several meters further down on the same side was another set of double doors. "That's the ballroom." Minerva pointed out. Hermione's eyes widened, "Like formal balls and stuff?" Minerva laughed, "Yes, stuff... like birthdays, Christmas and of course... wedding receptions." Hermione's eyes softened as she glanced up to see and equally soft look in Minerva's eyes. They stared at each other for several moments, before Minerva cleared her throat and nodded to the set of doors just down from the ballroom. "That's the living room. The floo is in there, comfortable furniture... and a nice place to..." She paused thinking, then continued, "What young people would say, a place to hang out.. maybe play a game like say.. truth or dare." Referring to that now infamous dinner party she and Hermione had given not too long ago. Hearing that, the young witch laughed.
At that moment, Angus came sailing down the grand staircase. "Hello! hello! hello! Hermione!" He floated up to the couple with a huge grin. He hugged Minerva warmly, "Welcome back cousin." Then he faced Hermione. His features softened as he took in how lovely Hermione had become since he'd last seen her. Leaning in, he winked and said, "Welcome home." Grinning, Hermione reached out and pulled the armor clad ghost into an embrace. It felt strange hugging a ghost, but nice at the same time. He was a bit chilly though. Blushing Angus looked to his cousin to see her giving him "the fish eye". "Come on cousin, lighten up. No one will ever be able to steal her from you." He looked over to see if his mothers were still listening. Of course they were. So was everyone else... including Keegan who'd come back. Rolling his eyes, he added, "She loves you completely..." He buffed his nails on his armor and said, "Although why? I have no idea." Minerva gaped at him, "Oy!" Hermione stood there and laughed merrily.
Her laughter was like music for the Gods. The portraits all smiled at the sweet sound coming from such a lovely young lady. Fiona felt a tear slide down her cheek, "Aw now... she may be a bit young but it looks like Minnie did good." Edeen nodded wisely. Shastia and Shivon also nodded and took their leave. It was time to get back to the lochs. Keegan smiled and called to his granddaughter. "Welcome home Minerva." The witch in question whispered something in the younger witch's ear and walked over to the portrait. As she neared, Minerva noticed that almost her entire family was gathered in one single painting. "Hello all." She greeted, raising an inquisitive eyebrow. Keegan stepped to the edge of the frame. "Very lovely young lady you've got there Minerva." Blushing, she gestured to Hermione to come over.
Keegan watched the young witch gracefully glide over to him. His heart melted. He looked to his daughter to see tears of joy streaming down her face. "Hello young lady." He greeted. Hermione looked at him thoughtfully. She knew this white haired portrait from somewhere. Then it hit her, "You're Keegan McGonagall. I saw you in a portrait with Armondo Dippit in the library at Hogwarts... You never say anything." She looked at him, her dark brown eyes keen with interest. Keegan chuckled, "I told this lot what I'm going to tell you. I never participate in portrait gossip and such." Hermione nodded, "That's right, you stand next to Dippit looking distinguished while he prattles on about some such nonsense. He also looks like he's wearing a tea cozy on his head. What is that?" Keegan let out a loud guffaw. A sound most of the family had never heard him utter. This young lady was charming the laughter out of the distinguised elderly Mcgonagall.
Minerva looked at her lover with such an expression of adoration. Hermione was charming her family like she'd known them all her life. Edeen noticed the expression in Minerva's eyes. She leaned over to her wife and whispered, "I think we might need to start planning a wedding." Grinning, Fiona whispered back, "Ya noticed that too eh?" Both witches snickered.
Meanwhile, Hermione and Keegan were still bantering back and forth. The rest of the family were enraptured. Then Keegan dropped a bomb. "You're muggle aren't you?" There was silence in the room. No one appeared to be breathing. At least those individuals who were supposed to be. The silence spoke volumes. Defiantly Minerva threw back her head and challenged, "So what if she is?" She thrust her chin out aggressively. Hermione gently touched her lover's shoulder, "This is my fight." She stated evenly. Squaring her shoulders, she stepped closer to the portrait. "Is that a problem?" No one answered, but she did notice some shuffling about. Especially with a tall woman with brilliant green eyes and long ebony hair flowing down her back. Hermione took a deep breath and said, "True power has nothing to do with what flows through your veins." She pointed to her chest, "True power lies right here." She patted her heart, "It's what's in your heart that makes you truely powerful... truely great." She stepped back to Minerva and took her hand saying, "This is the greatest witch I've ever known and if you all can't see that, then my business here is done." Minerva squeezed her hand and added, "And I don't belong." She said sadly.
Edeen nudged her wife. Fiona nodded and said in as serious a tone as she could muster. "You're are absolutely right. It isn't about whether you are pureblood, half-blood or muggle. It's what's in your heart that matters. If Shastia and Shivon believe that, then I can believe what my eyes are tellin' me. Hermione Granger, yer gonna make a wonderful addition to the house." With that, the rest of the family cheered and clapped.
Minerva pulled Hermione into a warm embrace, gazing over Hermione's head and into the eyes of her aunt. "Thank you" She mouthed. Fiona nodded and smiled, "Why don't you two get settled in? Minnie can show you the rest of the house." She looked outside at the growing darkness and added, "It's gettin' too dark to show her the grounds. Minnie you can show her that tomorrow." Hermione nodded grinning. Looking up at Minerva, she whispered, "Minnie?" Minerva shook her head, "Just hush."
Minerva guided her love up the grand staircase to the second floor. At the top, where both staircases met was a long hall that ran to the back of the house. Steering Hermione, Minerva pointed out the doors on either side of the wide hall. "These first six doors..." She waved her hand at said doors, "Are the guest bedrooms." There were three on the left and three on the right. Minerva frowned, "I'm putting you in this one." She moved to the last guest bedroom door on the right.
"Now why would go and do a bloody thing like that?" A voice boomed from a painting to Minerva's left. Whirling around, the older witch hissed as she saw her entire family had followed from portrait to portrait. Hermione let out a great belly laugh, much to Minerva's consternation. Waving her arms, the older witch said in her stern "teacher" voice, "All right you lot. Don't you have to be somewhere else?" The family members laughed as they moved from the portrait. Only one figure stayed. Fiona, who asked, "Ya didn't answer my question?" Minerva frowned, her hand resting on the knob of the door, "I just want to do what's proper." Hermione giggled harder as Fiona joined in the mirth. "Proper you say?" She gasped between chuckles. She pointed to Hermione, "Ya bring home a young lass with curves like that and ya want to do what's proper?" Minerva blushed at the implication in her aunt's statement, "Well... er..." Fiona smiled at Hermione, "What would you like my dear?" Hermione smiled briliantly and Fiona felt her heart swell. "I want to stay with Minerva." She gazed at her lover, her desire, her longing, her passion and her love swirling in her soft chocolate eyes. Minerva found herself lost in her lover's gaze. Fiona smiled knowingly, "Take her to your bedroom Minnie." With that she left the painting in search of her wife.
Hermione silently thanked Aunt Fiona as she reached for Minerva's strong hand. "Show me the rest..." She asked, breaking the spell they seemed to be under. The older witch flushed a bit a took a deep breath. She'd never expected her family's quick acceptance of Hermione. She suspected Keegan had something to do with it, but she didn't care. They loved Hermione! They wanted Hermione in the same bed with her! She gazed down at her love and gently squeezed Hermione's smaller hand. "The next door on the left is Angus's room." At Minerva's statement, the ghost in question poked his head through the door. "That's me!" Hermione laughed at his antics, Minerva was not amused, "I trust you will behave yourself and NOT make any unexpected appearances in my bedroom?" She peered at him intently. Her emerald eyes were serious... deadly serious. Angus had the good grace to look embarrassed, "I won't do that... I'll knock first." Minerva frowned, "Oh no." She shook her head, "You are to stay off the third floor... period!" His mouth fell open, "Awww Minnie..." Hermione stepped forward and whispered, "I would appreciate the privacy..." She smiled, "You can come with us tomorrow. When Minerva shows me the grounds... O.K.?" Angus fell into her eyes once again. "O.K." He replied, sliding back into his room.
Minerva sighed, "I see my cousin has a bit of a crush." Hermione snickered, "So did Peeves." Minerva's eyes widened, "What?" Hermione nodded and continued, "Why do you think he never bothered my stuff? Or your's for that manner?" The witch gave her a mystified look. "Because I asked him not to." Hermione said, batting her eyelashes. Minerva grinned, "Saucy little tart!" Hermione nodded mischieviously, "Your saucy little tart." Minerva pulled her love into a heartfelt embrace, "You better believe it."
Minerva pointed out the rest of the rooms, closets, an office, a sitting room. Finally they came to the end of the hall. One last door remained. Opening it, Hermione saw another staircase. This was less grand than the main one, but just as beautiful. Mahogany infused with Egyptian Ebony leading up. "This leads to your quarters?" Minerva nodded, "Our quarters." Hermione smiled joyfully at the heartfelt statement.
The third floor was smaller than the first or second but no less grand. At the top of the stairs was a shorter hall. Two doors on either side were pointed out, "The door on the left is my study. Please feel free to indulge." Minerva smiled knowingly. Hermione nodded and grinned. Continuing, Minerva said, "The door on the right leads to our small art collection and also houses a small art studio if you're feeling creative." Hermione wrapped her arms around her lover saying, "I'm feeling creative, but not in an artsy kind of way." She ran her tongue over her plump lips. Minerva gasped, her eyes darkening with arousal. Quickly she led Hermione through the door directly in front of them. "This is our bedroom." She muttered, ushering her lover through the door...
Moments later the door opened and six paintings floated out to the hall. There they propped themselves neatly by the wall, one against the other. The door closed and a high pitched giggle and a deeper, "Come here to me." Could be heard.
-to be continued
AN: Let me know what y'all think. Be nice.