Chapter 8: With Our Whole Hearts
Albus stared at the canopy over his bed as the late-morning light played between the curtains. The conference had gone exceedingly well—in no small part due to Minerva's logistical genius—and the last participants had left the castle and Hogsmeade the previous evening. He had slept unusually late this morning, and he could honestly describe himself as quite well-rested.
He wasn't at all sure what to expect when he saw Minerva that afternoon. He knew his feelings, first revealed in that summer storm, had only grown stronger over the months of their deepening friendship. And nothing he had learned in the past week had changed them—only deepened them.
But he did not know where her feelings truly lay. On Wednesday her actions indicated that she felt as he did. But she had been emotionally exhausted. At that moment his actions ensuring "Rapier's" imprisonment had made him appear as her liberator. He himself felt deeply uncomfortable at that notion. He felt keenly the hurt his actions fifteen years previously had unwittingly enabled, and that he had been oblivious to her need at the time. But her present relief at knowing she no longer needed to fear the monster had been genuine and understandable, and it had made him appear as more than he was.
And on Wednesday she had also been under the influence of that potion. He was extremely thankful he had managed to stop his physical response where he had. The very last thing he wanted was to for Minerva to be in such a situation when she was not in full control of herself. If anything did progress between them, it needed to be at her initiative and her pace, no matter how slow. He did not know what romantic relationships, if any, she may have had after escaping the horror of her father's abuse—and he had not needed her to specify details to know what that abuse surely entailed. But he was sure her early experiences must have marked her mind and body deeply, and he must always remember that, even if he remained simply her colleague and friend.
His house-elf Quirky popped into view, carrying a breakfast tray bearing, in addition to his usual tea and toast, a Honeydukes gift bag and a rolled parchment. "Present for Headmaster Albus. Little tag says 'From Minerva. With Love.' "
The house-elf seemed to be trying very hard to suppress a smirk. "Hope Headmaster Albus has a very good day." Another "pop" and Albus was alone once again. He immediately unrolled the parchment.
I do hope you have managed to catch up on your rest.
You said as we parted on Wednesday that it was possible we might not think certain developments were as good an idea after further thought as they seemed to us in that moment.
That you behaved in just that supremely noble and considerate manner has convinced me that it was actually one of the best ideas I've had in quite some time! I am hoping to explore its implications further.
Of course I can only speak for myself, and l can understand that your position as Headmaster, among other things, may cause you to view things differently. I hope it is not so, but I realize that is a possibility.
In any event, I have complete trust that our friendship, which I so treasure, will guide us to find the path that will be best for both of us.
I look forward to seeing you later today.
Between her final sentence and her signature she had sketched a slightly whimsical Gryffindor lion.
"Yes, my love, that did take a wee bit of Gryffindor courage," Albus reflected, placing one of the orange-filled chocolates, a current favourite, in his mouth as he swung his legs out of bed and strode to his bathroom.
"Gryffindor courage is something you have always had, and to spare. But in this instance, I do believe your courage is about to be rewarded!"