Disclaimer:I own nothing, it all belongs to JK Rowling
Summary:By day they worked together, by night they were lovers but it was not to last. ADMM
By day we worked together by night we were lovers.
The thought rang clear through Minerva's mind.
By day we worked together by night we were lovers.
The words repeated themselves over and over and over again. A thud thud inside her head. A dull ache growing louder and louder. An incessant pain causing her vision to blur.
By day we worked together by night we were lovers.
She shook her head in a vain attempt to dispel the neurotic throbbing but was left wincing. It was a year ago to the day when the two of them had been lying in bed in the early hours of the morning listening to a symphony player on the wireless.
Even then Minerva was sure she detected a note of reluctance in Albus' tone. Looking back she now realised that his able fingers had not strayed far all night. Amongst the crumpled sheets they had ghosted along her spine, tips like soft velvet. He had remained silent until she had carefully turned her head, pecking his bare chest, before catching his gaze.
"A war is on the way."
She had blinked in surprise as she had struggled to find an immediate response. They had gone from muttering meaningless nothings to serious conversation in less than a heartbeat. She had moved to sit upright and remembered the way his blue eyes had left her face for a split second to follow the path where the quilt had slipped. Perhaps unconsciously, his arms had tightened hindering her progress all the more.
At her admonishment he had loosened his grip but kept a hold of both her hands, their fingers entwined. Tracing the ageold grooves of her desktop, Minerva remembered the way the morning sun had touched his auburn hair to the colour of new-kindled fire.
"He's powerful and we are ill prepared."
Albus would be at the forefront of the fight of that she had always been certain. He had continued in a tone she had need strain to hear it was hoarse with such emotion.
"Ruthless. He will stop at nothing."
His eyes had taken on a far-off gaze, in the light through the stained glass windows she had wondered how she ever thought them blue for clouded and lost in memories they were the colour of dusk on the wing of a dove.
"I cannot lose you, Minerva."
His long fingers had trembled as they came up her arms to cradle her neck. Thumbs as soft as warm feather had traced circles upon her dry cheeks. Minerva did not cry, she did not know how to cry, instead she hid her pain deep inside, as deep as the dark secret place at the bottom of a well.
"Do you understand, Minerva? I cannot lose you."
"You shan't lose me, dearest. I'll fight beside you. You need never be alone."
He too had shifted to his knees and at her fierce vow had shaken his head and silenced her, first with his fingers soon followed by his lips.
"No, Minerva, no."
Strands of his long hair had covered his face when he shook his head ardently. Those dimples she adored had been nowhere to be seen, veiled behind a mask of sorrow.
"Families are no longer safe. Women. Children. He will kill any I associate with."
He had not need say the words 'He will kill you'. Unspoken they were heard all the more loudly.
"We have two options."
She had merely raised a regal eyebrow, beyond words.
"Not many know of our…us."
They had never been able to define their relationship. To put into words something as fragile as what they'd had was a risk both had been unwilling to take. Actions speak louder than any words and at the time, stolen kisses confined to the shadows had been enough.
"We could keep it that way and at the end of the school year you could tell everyone that you are moving away, to America or…or even back to India. In reality you would be hidden under the Fidelus charm."
The idea was so ludicrous she had not justified it with a response. All the while she had been fully aware that Albus had found her silence unnerving and so naturally, did nothing to ease his discomfort. Her influence had felt powerful.
"Your association with me would not only threaten your life but also extend to that of your family. To hurt you would be to hurt me. He will exploit any weakness possible."
So she had become a weakness, a burden, a vulnerability – but was that not the reason those three words were not uttered? She had failed to continue to hold her tongue and so had expressed his shortcomings.
"There will be those who join you, their lives threatened, their families threatened. Do you expect each of them to cower in fear too? Not just anyone can perform the Fildelus charm, will you offer each of them equal opportunity?"
Her voice had grown louder as her anger had flared. Their hands were no longer clasped, Minerva had crossed hers tightly across her chest to hold the quilt in place – his focus was not to waver.
"Of course you won't! It would be ridiculous. The entire wizarding world hidden, not just from muggles but themselves! And me? You would have me hide away, solely dependant on you, just for your own piece of mind? I never knew you to be so entirely selfish, Albus."
He made to answer but she knew his reply, he need not play the martyr card.
"I can help! I will help! Do you not believe that I shall feel the same with you at the forefront of this battle? Why is it acceptable that you may risk your life but not I? Perhaps you should go into hiding just to appease me."
Her voice had been shrill as she ended out of breath. They had both remained silent whilst she had collected herself, then in a more composed voice she had reminded Albus that he had spoke of two options.
"I won't endanger you, Minerva. I simply cannot lose you! So…" He had taken a deep breath and she had made sure to hold his gaze. "It would seem that we are left with no other choice but to…to break it off."
A small part of her could have almost believed he was joking but there had been something in his eyes, something hidden so deep that it would have been easy to miss, an intensity that told her he meant every word.
"And how is breaking up with me not losing me?"
"It would be best if this continued to remain a secret. For your safety."
She had staggered from the bed, dragging the quilt along with her. Her legs had been unstable and her hands had shaken as she had gathered a robe about her. She remembered thinking that it was to be the last glimpse of her bare thigh he would ever see. Before slipping out of the door she had whispered one last sentiment.
"What is a war for if not to hold on to what we love?"
Minerva threw her quill aside and in an attempt to ease her headache, loosened her bun allowing several strands to break free. She leant back in her chair, took off her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose. There were essays that needed marking before this evening, she had not the time for a headache and this particular one seemed not to be fading soon. With a barely audible sigh she softly massaged her temples.
His eyes had already held the shadow of farewell even before she had ever entered the room that last evening.
Glancing around, harsh reality came flooding back and she concluded that there was no refuge to be found in her study for it too had served as one of their safe havens for clandestine trysts. The fire had burned all the more intensly for being covered up. With hindsight, she now recognised that she was far too young to live a life confined to the shadows, shrouded in the complex conspiracy of lies and beguiling half-truths. She lacked the Slytherin touch of deceit and although she was by nature a private person, she still wished to share certain aspects of her life.
Memories played out before her eyes. The way Albus had banished each and every item upon her desk in an act of frenzied abandonment almost brought a giggle to her lips. She never did find her peacock quill.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
That thought was followed by a sneer. Everywhere she turned she was surrounded by Albus. Whether she liked it or not, he was as much included in her life as the need to breathe. Was he finding the severance as hard as she? Though Minerva would hardly say she excelled in the twist of separation, with time she had come to realise that stolen kisses held not the prospects of a future. Minerva had not seen hide nor hair of him for several days but she had noticed that the last year had taken its toll upon him. Whether or not the odd strand of grey in Albus' auburn was due to his efforts in the war or of their less than amicable parting she did not know.
Deputy Headmaster, Professor Kenny, had informed the staff at breakfast last week that the Headmaster would be absent for a few days and so they were to all pull together. It was not an unusual occurance, neither was it her place to question. As far as the world was concerned, indeed as far as Albus was concerned, she was no more than an employee, else he would have seen fit to inform her. Ever practical it was not a stretch of the imagination to conclude his absence was linked with the ongoing war.
Undoubtedly the Order of the Phoenix.
Minerva knew of Albus' secret fighting force though it seemed from her quiet inquiries their leader had forbidden her to join. Nevertheless, she had her ways and was not without talent herself, so by nightfall, unbeknownst to most, she too would help in the war effort.
Minerva tried once more to return her attention back to marking but her headache seemed only to worsen so she reluctantly conceded a trip to the Hospital Wing was in order. She conjured a cool glass of water then carefully made her way to the infirmary. Minerva could not say she had taken an immediate liking to the new medi-witch, Madam Pomfrey. The young witch was perfectly polite, if not a little slow on the uptake, as Minerva found Hufflepuffs often to be.
Her heels click-clacked along the flagstone floor. With each step her head panged but she persisted with her confident gait, she knew little better, determination was her forte. On the fifth floor she greeted the stain glass depiction of Eloise – the entrance to a secret staircase leading to the second floor. She carefully passed Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, which had flooded again, and on the first floor almost bumped into an harassed looking Ogg carrying a bucket and mop. Finally rounding the corner and with the entrance in sight, Minerva paused by a window and with one hand upon the sill, took a deep breath determined to obtain a mild potion whilst answering as few questions as possible. A quick glance outside revealed an icy blue sky. When last they met his eyes were as that colour.
As blue as the sky on a frosty winter's morning.
Minerva gave herself a mental chiding, smoothed down her robes, then carefully opened the squeaking door. The sky could be polka dot for all she cared!
A/N: Trying to get back into the swing of things. Unsuccessful? I would also like to take the time to thank all my other readers and to let you all know that I have not abandoned any of my other stories. I vow to update…one day.