A/N:

A one-off response to a challenge from Hogwarts Duo on the ADMM boards: "Write a story in which it's super hot at Hogwarts (kid-friendly, lemony, or somewhere in between, makes us no difference since we love 'em all) and for some reason Albus and Minerva get caught in a summer rain shower. It can be set during any time period, any stage of their relationship, and as fluffy as you want it to be."

Appropriate for all ages, I think. They aren't together yet, and aren't aware of their feelings for each other, though such feelings do exist. Set in my home time zone of UST.

Of course the characters aren't mine. Thank you to JKR who lets us play with them.


Sudden Storm

(Summer 1958)

Minerva relaxed into the chair she had conjured and arranged her books and journal articles on the table beside it. She poured herself a tall glass of cold lemonade from the pitcher in the charmed picnic hamper the kitchen elves had prepared. It was incredibly hot out, even for early August, but the overhanging branches of the tree provided shade, and at least a small breeze moved across the lake.

Dressed in a very thin white cotton blouse, khaki culottes, and sandals, she was actually quite comfortable. She was the only resident of the castle or grounds at the moment, everyone else but the Headmaster being away on holiday, and he was in London at a Ministry meeting. While she was required to stay on the grounds while Albus was away, there was no reason she couldn't enjoy the summer's day by the lake, and the seclusion, and dress considerably more comfortably than usual. Reveling in the unusual privacy, she had even foregone her usual chemise in the interests of being as cool as possible. She could do her research for the article she'd promised to submit for the autumn issue of Transfiguration Today here just as easily as she could in her study. Soon she was lost in the minutiae of a detailed article on advanced organic transfiguration.

Several hours later she looked up from her reading with a start when a bolt of lightning flashed over the castle with a deafening "crack" and a split-second later a vicious thunderclap caused the very ground to tremble. She quickly banished her reading materials as huge rain drops began to pelt her, whipped by a sudden wind until they cut like knives. The initial lightning bolt was only the first of a sustained salvo which seemed to come closer with every flash, now bracketing the lake. Running across the open land up to the castle would be suicide. The air crackled with electricity. She hunkered down on her heels a foot away from the trunk of the tree, eyes scrunched shut. The smell of singed grass from a nearby strike reached her nose.

Her desire to be an even smaller target as the bolts seemed to close in on her overwhelmed her, and she reflexively transformed into her feline form. As a cat she was smaller, but she was unfortunately also partially subject to a cat's fears and instincts. As a human she'd been extremely frightened, now she was terrified. Her feline fear overwhelmed her human mind and she sprinted up into the tree and clung to a branch.

Albus looked up from the report he'd been reading at his desk. It had grown suddenly dark in the office. He lit a few wall sconces, and moved to the window as he heard the first crashes of thunder and lightning. A real summer thunderstorm had come up from the valley on the far side of the castle and had now overtaken the grounds.

He was surprised Minerva hadn't come to see him when she re-entered the castle. He had seen her from a distance, picnicking by the lake, her head buried in a magazine, when he first returned early in the afternoon, but hadn't disturbed her. But it was very unlike her to not check in with him once she'd realized he was back from the Ministry ahead of schedule.

Surely she wasn't….he quickly summoned the Headmaster's Map from its warded drawer as he watched the lightning strike furiously all around the lake. His heart clenched when he saw the map's small image of a cat in the tree. Glancing out the window again, he saw that very tree silhouetted by yet another near-miss.

As feline Minerva saw a sudden flame out of the corner of her eye, she leapt to the ground and away from the tree, suddenly heedless of the height, simply amazed the bolt had not incinerated her. When no branches fell, she looked back and up. The tree was intact, and a phoenix grasped the branch inches from where she had clung. The bird flew down and hovered in front of her as she quickly transformed back into her human form. She grasped its tail and with another fiery flash found herself standing in the Headmaster's office.

Transforming as soon as they landed in his office, Albus wrapped the trembling and sodden Minerva in his arms and held her close, one thumb tracing soothing circles on her back through her soaked paper-thin blouse. "Thank you," she gasped, her arms wrapped around him, "thank you." A pool of water gathered on the flagstone floor as they stood there in silence for several minutes, Minerva's breathing and heart-rate gradually slowing.

Taking a deep breath, she brought her hands around to his shoulders and straightened slightly from his chest. "Gods, what a fool you must think me. How utterly stupid and careless. Thank you for coming after me. I didn't think you were due back yet, but I am certainly glad you were here!"

Stepping back, she still did not meet his gaze, staring resolutely at his chest. "I got so involved in what I was reading I didn't even notice the storm coming up until the first big lightning strike, and by then it was too late. At least I managed to banish the books and journals to my rooms—I think they only got a few raindrops on them," she added ruefully. "Unlike me."

She looked down at herself, and gave an involuntary gasp as she took in her appearance and the state of her blouse. She might as well have banished it as well. Her face flushed as she realized the sight she presented to her superior.

"You could never be a fool, Minerva, never." The unusually soft tone of the Headmaster's voice, and the way his hands lingered on her upper arms, caused her to look up. His gaze remained fixed on her, his lips slightly parted, for a long moment, before he stepped quickly back and finally met her eyes with his own, which seemed a deep indigo in the shadows.

She hastily pointed her wand at herself to cast a strong drying charm, but he quickly caught her wrist. "No, you will just scorch yourself, and your clothes. Here, let me…" With his other hand he gestured to the wardrobe at the back of the office and a winter cloak and wool stadium blanket sailed across the room.

He pulled the cloak around her shoulders gently. She was shivering slightly, which he hoped disguised the tremble in his fingers as he fastened the clasp at her throat and smoothed the material over her collarbone. His left hand lingered on her shoulder and he once again had trouble meeting her gaze. She shivered sharply.

With a sudden wave of his hand he shortened the cloak enough to allow her to walk and guided her up the stairs to his private quarters. "You're getting chilled. The bathroom has an automatic warming charm on it, and you can transfigure this blanket into whatever you like. I'll just dry myself by the fire down in my office. Take your time."

Ten minutes later she stood at the top of the stairs, her hair dry and in a perfect bun, dressed in a severe green robe similar to what she wore during the school year. Her face was no longer flushed, and she had overcome the shivering.

Albus had arranged a table and two chairs in front of the fireplace. A hot chocolate service sat on the table, and as Minerva descended towards him he lifted the pot to pour.

"No, no, I shouldn't keep you any longer. My foolishness has already detained you too long from whatever brought you back early from the Ministry."

"You're not keeping me from anything at all, my dear. Several Ministers wanted to get away early for the weekend, so we adjourned at noon. I sorted through some papers when I first got back, so now I am at leisure. And you definitely need some hot chocolate. It will warm you and banish the last thoughts of that lightning. Sit with me."

"No, really, I'm fine now. I need to finish my notes on what I was reading." She turned away from him and towards the office door. "Thank you for the cloak, and the blanket. I'll send them back with a house elf this evening."

He followed her across the office. "No need to hurry--I won't need them 'til Quidditch season. I take it nothing happened while I was gone that you need to brief me on?"

"No, nothing, even Peeves was quiet." She turned half-way towards him in reply, but kept one hand on the doorknob.

"Well, then, at least make sure you have some tea or bullion while you work. I can't have my Deputy getting sick."

"You mean your foolish Deputy who you had to rescue like some hapless first-year because she didn't have the sense to watch the sky? That Deputy?"

"No, Minerva, the strong Deputy I rely on."

"Well, that Deputy does need to get back to her research. I'll be fine, Albus, really. Good night."

"Good night."

The door shut behind her with a firm click.

He rested his forehead against the weathered wood. "I'm sorry, Minerva," he whispered with a sigh to the closed door, "I'm the one who's acted the fool today."

-Finis-