Disclaimer: It all belongs to JK. Rowling.
A/N: I would like to add that I was listening to Cornelis Vreeswijk's song, Cecilia Lind, when I wrote this.
Out of nowhere she came, a goddess of the night. Gown of silver spun from the finest of spiders' silk. It clung to her form like that of a second skin; she was ethereal. She moved with such delicacy her very breath left him mesmerised.
She entered the Great Hall alone, a solitary figure of exquisite beauty. He watched from the shadows as her eyes roved the floor, eyes the colour of emeralds darkened by the deepest of secrets.
"Divine, is she not?"
Otherworldly, but he found he could neither turn to address the Minister for Magic, Verity Dew, nor could he utter a verbal response. Eyes fixed, a sound of affirmation came from the back of his throat.
"Tragic, of course."
The Minister's words fluttered by like leaves on the wind. Enthralled, he watched as the witch descended the stairs. His stomach flipped at glimpsing the turn of an ankle as one hand lifted the hem of her dress whilst the other caressed the finely polished banister.
"Was she seven or eight years of age?"
Those hands could only be described as white and fair, decorated with glittering jewels. Slender fingers for masking a delicate yawn or touching a lover's cheek. Knuckles to be kissed after the longest of days.
"But she's fared well, Malcolm did his best by her."
Her hair was the colour of the darkest of hours, like rippling black waves it glinted deep blue in the hovering candlelight as she moved across the room. Pulled back into intricate plaits it seemed a never-ending coil and left him wondering whether it would tangle around her shoulders like spirals of silk. A loose lock had escaped and fell across her brow, his fingers itched to sweep it back into place, completing picture perfection.
"But surely she can't have left Hogwarts before you began? She's too young."
Dew gave his arm a pat and finally her words began to register. He managed to tear his gaze away from the bewitching woman and turned confused to the leader at his side.
"Hogwarts? She attended Hogwarts? Here?"
"Why yes, I should think she did. They all did. Being so close to home." The Minister's face creased with sympathy, "And I highly doubt Malcolm could bring himself to send her to Beauxbatons."
Albus's brow furrowed in confusion and the look he turned upon Dew deplored her to clarify.
"Malcolm. Malcolm McGonagall."
Malcolm McGonagall? Albus recalled that Malcolm's wife and daughter had died in a fire. Horrific did not begin to describe the disaster that had shocked the wizarding world to it's core.
"The witch you could not take your eyes off of. She's his youngest, the one who survived. Albus?" The Minister tipped her head hoping to catch his gaze. "Albus, are you quite all right?"
Rather uncharacteristically the pieces very slowly came together. It was a rare occurrence for Albus not to hold all the cards and benightedness unnerved him. He breathed his answer aloud more from surprise then any wish for confirmation.
A cautious smile pulled at Dew's lips as she nodded but whether in encouragement or agreement Albus could not decide.
"You have taught her then?"
But Albus found himself robbed of speech as he brought to mind the image of Minerva McGonagall the student. He had begun teaching at Hogwarts in her sixth year and she had been a studious, talented and opinionated young witch. A tongue as sharp as a guillotine, she had had little qualms of speaking her mind. A headstrong Gryffindor prefect, later becoming Head Girl, Minerva had possessed a strong sense of right and wrong. There had, of course, been a lighter side to her, the young witch had been an avid quidditch fan but bearing in mind her uncle it was hardly surprising. However, other than reading the odd article, Albus had given Minerva little thought over the years.
"Albus, are you sure you're feeling well?"
The connection between Minerva and the fire had not once crossed his mind in all his years. He was suddenly overwhelmed with guilt. Though never explicitly close to Minerva, he had been her Head of House for the better part of two years, some sensitivity should have been shown. Then again, if he remembered correctly, she had been a very pragmatic and matter-of-fact student, having worn her feelings very close to her heart.
"Maybe a breath of fresh air, or a glass of water?"
"Yes," Albus found himself answering, whilst she gently tugged on his arm. "I may just step out for a moment."
However, as he looked up across the hall once more, he caught sight of the startling young witch and all was lost. The thin face, which had once looked disapproving and angular, insolent perhaps, was now boldly sensual. The small smattering of freckles no longer spread across her long fine nose, instead there was a dainty flare to her nostrils. Though she was no longer engulfed in an optimistic innocence possessed only by youth, she was still too young for lips stained the colour of blood; her lips were the finest colour of rose. Her complexion fairer than snow. Minerva was a witch to be cherished and so he would unto his dying days.
A young wizard had approached her and a smile graced Albus's lips at the arpeggio of her laughter. Any plans to seek sanctuary within the rose gardens were lost when Minerva felt his gaze upon her and looked up. Through the throng of people her green orbs flashed with recognition. A pretty blush stained her cheeks and Albus took a step backwards, retreating to the alcove of a window.
The melodic tunes of an enchanted cello filled the air, three violins and a piano soon followed suit. His polished boots tapped in time to the beat as the flutter in his stomach grew and his heart soared. Though his spectacles may have twinkled in the waxing moonlight, his eyes never faltered but followed one figure for most of the evening. He looked on her with the brilliance of the moon, complete and utter devotion. Boundaries were to be breached and rules to be broken, common sense had been thrown out the window.
And so he watched as she weaved an enticing spell, her allurement undeniable to any wizard, but the admiring glances received were brushed away with never a thought – 'looks fade' she would later come to say, but such enviable beauty would not spoil in old age.
His bright blue eyes devoured her every move. Ask her to dance, his thoughts commanded, he was tempted beyond reason but still he held back. Despite lingering in the shadows, Albus knew Minerva was covertly watching him under her dark eyelashes. There was an unparalleled seductiveness in her secret pursuit. Others twirled her across the dance floor and she moved with such ease it was enviable. Her hips swayed deliciously adding to her unconscious grace.
As the stars followed their paths across the heavens and the sky reached its darkest hour, the clock had never seemed so alive. Time was running short, the evening was fast coming to an end and Albus had yet to ask the enchantress to dance. It was inevitable of course, they both were well aware. With but a single glance and Albus's path had altered to be forever entwined within the pursuit of Minerva's happiness. He was helpless to follow.
His heels clicked as he made his way across the marble floor. Over the shoulder of her dance partner Minerva could see him coming and her eyes in the candlelight were as inscrutable as a cat's. If ever his courage was to fail it would be in that moment but Albus did not suffer defeat lightly, he swallowed and soldiered on. He was a picture in immaculate clothing, dressed and booted in the finest of materials, his robes a deep midnight blue. His expression, under the curls of faded fire, was one of passion. His actions held purpose, his intent quite clear.
Not a word was spoken as he dipped a bow and offered his hand cutting her dance short with a blond-haired wizard. He found solace in the face that Minerva showed no surprise, the dance had long since been coming.
Her gown dipped low and her back was bare revealing the scars of that violent memory. It seemed improper that his fingers should be granted access to such a vulnerable part of her perfect body so a folded handkerchief set propriety straight. Whether Minerva appreciated this act he could not tell but as he grasped her hand he felt her tremble.
"I see I'll have to hold you close else lose you entirely."
"Yes, you will."
As clear as crystal the witch was forthright but her weakness was disclosed in her whisper. Under the watchful guard of the arch of a thousand stars their secrets were revealed as their eyes captured the blissful moment. With able steps Albus led her but where, neither knew. As they twirled he looked down at Minerva with naked delight. It began with a self-conscious smile but carefully, beneath his fingertips, Minerva blossomed, pure as a flower, unblemished by sin. His roving thumb traced circles across her lower back and her eyes became hazy as they looked back into his face.
It was a night of magic, each and every duckling transforming into swans, frogs granted every opportunity to become princes. A night the tales held truth, a night when secrets were revealed. Beneath a sky blessed with diamonds, stolen moments were granted gift upon this night and this night alone.
The song slowly came to a close and Albus guided them to a halt. He found himself wanting to pull her closer not yet ready for their parting. He watched silently as a demure smile tugged at the corners of her delectable lips. Her hold grew tighter as she stood on the tips of her toes to lean up to his ear.
"Again," she whispered, as sweet as a virigin in confession. As sweet as a sugarcoated lemon.
The scent of her sweet perfume bereft Albus of all words and he found he would have agreed to any of her demands. Her cheeks flushed scarlet with embarrassment, however, ever the Gryffindor, her charmed gaze did not waver but boldly held his eyes of blue. Together they were beyond words so in answer he gently guided her into a waltz. Where he led she trustingly followed and so the next few dances were passed away. Silently enwrapped in each other's arms, the space between the two lay heavy with unspoken words.
Albus found himself wondering how possibly to end such fantasy. He knew Hogwarts inside and out but found himself hesitant to remind Minerva of her old school, reluctant to awaken memories of her former transfiguration professor. Tonight he was just a man and she just a woman. The most adoring creature of his acquaintance, Albus wished to express at least fraction of his sentiment. Dazzled by her brilliance, words choked in his throat.
Her eyes full of fire framed by her long dark lashes, she answered with two words beyond compare.
Softly spoken, sweetly kissed.
A most suitable end to the most perfect of nights.