As they reached her flat, Minerva could feel the tension between them rise to a new height. After unlocking the door, she turned to him. "Here we are." She said airily. She turned to face him "Would you like-" The raw emotion on his face stopped her cold. His eyes, which had so often been her guide to his true emotions, were a stony and implacable blue. All the complications between them came back, buffered and enhanced by their earlier argument. She fell silent, not knowing what she could say—were there any words to make this right?
As though he sensed her thoughts, his eyes lightened and he kissed her hand gallantly. A courtly gesture of old and a standard element of their own courtship, it brought familiarity back to their encounter. Minerva let out a breath she hadn't realised she had been holding. Their eyes locked and conversation was briefly rendered useless as their very souls communicated. All too soon the moment was over. "Good night, my dear Minerva. I shall see you in the morning." And with that, he opened her door and guided her inside. He turned to walk back into the night, and for an instant Minerva felt that he was leaving forever.
"Wait! Albus, please, can we…can we at least just talk about it?" She cried out, hoping against hope that all would be well with time.
He turned and looked into her eyes. "Would you like me to come in, Minerva?" he asked, watching her closely. She nodded. "I do not think that wise. If I came in, I might want to stay."
Minerva took a step forward. "What if…" she looked up at him, watching the blue of his eyes darken. "What if I wanted you to stay?" His eyes bore into hers, looking into her soul. She flinched under the scrutiny but did not break the contact.
"Minerva…I would like nothing more than to stay. But if something happens between us, I want it to be because I am the man you want in your life. Not because you feel guilty or are afraid of being alone. Don't feel obligated to do something before you are ready." His finger traced her cheek. "No matter how long it takes, I will be here." He said simply.
He stepped down, toward the street. She took a deep breath, considering the implications of what he had said. Unbidden, images of their brief relationship flashed through her mind. As she watched him walk away, she made a decision. It did not matter that she had made mistakes in the past. Their lives up until this point were not binding. Her job was irrelevant. In her musings on her future, many things changed—children or not, whether she continued as an Auror or began another career, even where she lived—but one thing was constant. In every vision of her future, Albus was there. She realised, then, that she loved him above anyone and anything.
Was this true love, the kind of love romantics speak of? Did this mean that she had finally found the answer? If it was, did she have the right to deny it because of her career goals? She watched as his figure disappeared down the street and found that she didn't care what changes she would have to make to accommodate their relationship in her life. All that mattered was making sure that he knew she loved him. Not caring about the cold, she ran down the street. Oblivious to the wind and the snowflakes catching in her hair and cloak, she ran toward her future.
"Albus!" He turned, and she saw the question in his eyes. She stopped in front of him, taking him in with her eyes, and said: "French toast."
"Pardon?" he replied, uncertainty colouring his features.
"French toast." She replied with a smile. "You once asked me whether I prefer pancakes or French toast. I like French toast because pancakes make me sick. Has to do with university." Realisation beginning to dawn in his eyes, Albus nodded.
"You also wanted to know what my favourite colour is. It's yellow, but I look awful in it." He laughed and her heart skipped a beat.
"You said you wanted to know if I like rainy days. I do, but I hate getting wet."
Albus was now standing directly in front of her. "I remember asking you those questions." He held her hand, his fingers tracing tiny circles on her palm. "I also remember telling you why I wanted to know these things."
She hesitated, looking into his eyes. "Because you wanted to be the only one who knew me that way." He nodded, stepping closer, holding her to him and surrounding her with his warmth.
"Minerva-" he began.
"I want you to be the only one who knows me that well." She said hurriedly. He stared at her, mouth slightly open in shock. "I want it for the rest of my life." He continued to stare, seemingly unable to formulate an answer. "You don't believe me."
"Well, it's just so sudden." He answered.
"Sudden? Do you think falling in love is something I jump into?"
"Do you mean that, Minerva?" He asked, tightening his grip on her hand and staring into her very soul.
"Yes." She whispered. His eyes softened and she felt him pull her into his embrace. "I do, Albus. I realised it as soon as you left. I…I can't blame you for that. I know you forgave me, but it…I need you to know that you are the only one I can see in my future. I know that I love you. I love you with all my heart, with all my soul…I can't imagine…" She was silenced when his lips met hers. Smiling, she closed her eyes and gave herself up to the kiss. Yes, there were issues to be resolved. Yes, they would argue and yell. Yes, there would be tears and frustrations. Yes, they would fight, probably more often than they should. But there would also be this—this incredible love which made everything else worthwhile. As they broke apart, she smiled and looked into his eyes. The happiness she saw in them was combined with desire and love. Laughing, she pressed herself against him, reveling in this moment, this embrace, this love, knowing that they would work through whatever difficulties life offered together. Reaching up to cup his face in her hands, she decided that it was enough. As he drew her into another kiss, her mind hazily corrected her former statement. It was more than enough.