Title: Can you believe it? (1/1)
Summary: An incident with one of her students leads Hermione to reveal her feeling to Minerva.
"I never thought you'd be one to stand me up, Miss Granger."
Hermione was surprised at being addressed as Miss Granger, it had been almost a decade since she had left school and almost half that time since she had returned to Hogwarts to take over the Transfiguration post, and absolutely no one called her Miss Granger anymore not even to tease. When she turned around she wasn't surprised at all to see the Headmistress standing with her hands on her hips looking non-too please, though when she looked closer Hermione was able to see that the bright green eyes were sparkling with humor. She would have to ask Minerva some day how the hell she managed to look both stern and playful at the same time.
"Stand you up, Headmistress?" She asked turning back to watch the clouds' shadows dance across the black lake.
Minerva sat down beside the younger woman. "Don't play coy with me Miss Granger."
There was the Miss Granger thing again. She didn't know why Minerva had decided to tease her. Every single one of Hogwarts staff knew she didn't like it, at first because she had been hell bent on earning her colleagues respect and now because only students were addressed that way, but of course Minerva didn't seem to notice this tiny fact. She was the only one that dared to call her Miss Granger and the only one Hermione was willing to forgive for such an offense.
"I'm not playing, Headmistress."
Minerva turned to look directly at her with curiosity obviously written on her face. "You honestly don't know what I'm talking about?" Hermione shook her head in response. "We were supposed to have lunch together, remember? I asked you after the staff meeting and you agreed."
"Ah," Hermione dropped her eyes in shame, "I had completely forgotten."
Minerva smiled at her, "So I noticed."
"I just got lost in my thoughts that's all. You lose all tract of time out here. I didn't realize it was lunch time." Hermione tired to explain, she didn't want Minerva to think she had done it on purpose.
"Anything in particular bothering you?"
"No," she lied. Well it wasn't really a lie, she guessed. There wasn't anything really bothering her as such, more like something had her extremely intrigued.
"Well then," Minerva said standing up and offering Hermione her hand, "shall we have lunch?"
Hermione nodded and took Minerva's offered hand, then began their walk toward the castle.
After a nice lunch Minerva moved to her sitting area taking the bottle of cherry with her. Hermione followed her still a bit absent minded. Their conversation during lunch had flowed beautifully like it always did between them, but towards the end of the meal Hermione's mind had drifted back to the incident of the previous day. She knew Minerva couldn't have missed her change in mood, but ever the gracious hostess she hadn't said anything.
"More cherry?" Minerva asked taking Hermione's glass.
"No thank you, I have to get up early tomorrow and…"
"Come now Hermione it's Sunday and the afternoon is still fairly young." She refilled the glass and handed it to Hermione then refilled her own. Minerva sat back against the sofa and got comfortable, and waited for Hermione to tell her what had captivated her thoughts so completely. She sipped away watching Hermione out of the corner of her eye. By the time she emptied her glass her curiosity had gotten the best of her. "Are you going to tell me what's going on or should I guess?"
Hermione looked up startled by Minerva's voice. She had completely spaced out again. She didn't think Minerva was the best person to share her thoughts with, but maybe she should if only to see her reaction. "I'm sorry Minerva, I know I'm not the best company right now."
Minerva waved the comment away. "I enjoy your company even when we don't speak at all. That is not the problem, well there is no problem really except that I'm extremely curious as to what you've been thinking about."
"Extremely curious?" Hermione teased and laughed when Minerva glared at her.
"Really?" She said in fiend amusement.
"Hermione!" Minerva felt like throwing something at the younger witch, first for teasing her and second for making her want to do something so silly and childish.
"All right! All right, I'm sorry." Hermione said trying very hard not to laugh at Minerva's tone. "Well the truth is that something has been bothering me," Minerva nodded at the statement and Hermione continued, "on Friday after my afternoon lesson Miss Ashcroft came up to my desk and declare as if it was the most natural thing in the world that she is attracted to me. Romantically! Can you imagine? Just like that! I couldn't believe it. I mean… I would have never been able to tell you I was attracted to you when I was still at school. I would have died of embarrassment…" Hermione went on not noticing an obvious change in Minerva's demeanor, "I mean seriously, can you believe the nerve of the girl?"
Minerva sat in front of her as still as a statue, her eyes a little unfocused. "Minerva, what is it?" Hermione asked surprised at Minerva's reaction. She had expected Minerva to be surprised at Laura Ashcroft's forwardness' but she hadn't expected her to be so shocked. "Minerva…" Hermione was about to ask what was wrong once more when it hit her like a bullet to the heart.
She had said it. In the middle of her diatribe about Miss Ashcroft, she had revealed a secret she had held onto for more than eleven years. What the hell had she been thinking? She felt her heart begin to beat harder and harder against her chest as she thought of ways she could escape her present predicament. After sitting there with Minerva's piercing big emerald eyes locked on her, and no hope of the floor opening up and swallowing her hole, Hermione knew she had no potion but to face the music. She moved from her seat to the sofa next to Minerva.
"Minerva…" she said tentatively as she reached on equally cautious hand to touch Minerva's arm.
Minerva seemed to come out of her trance when skin met skin, and she literally jumped off the sofa and walked few feet away from Hermione.
"Minerva, I…" she tried again.
"Would you like more cherry, Hermione?"
Hermione was surprised at how normal Minerva sounded, but then again maybe she shouldn't have been, Minerva was after all a consummated professional and a great friend. She wouldn't embarrass her. "No, thank you…Minerva I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
Minerva poured herself another glass and turned towards her, "Hermione please don't apologize, there is no need."
"I know but I want to."
Minerva sat back down, "Please let's leave it. Now what did you say to Miss Ashcroft. You didn't take point's away did you?"
"No," Hermione said taking in the teasing tone and smile, and didn't know if she should be happy or sad. She was glad her slip hadn't caused more than a few moments awkwardness. She would have been devastated if it had damaged her friendship with Minerva, but at the same time the part of her that still clung to those feelings wouldn't allow her to celebrate the near miss.
Minerva was forced to put her quill down as her mind wondered away from the paperwork yet again. She had been working for most of the morning but hadn't gotten much done thanks to her wondering thoughts. It was extremely annoying. She had things to get done and well the direction her thoughts were going was even more irritating.
"You just need a good cup of coffee old girl," she told herself as she went in search of just that, "that's all."
But it wasn't all and she knew it. If it had been nothing, if it was insignificant, as she would have liked, then it would have been gone already. Instead more than a month later she was still thinking about Hermione's revelation. By God had it been a revelation! Minerva had never known, of course, she had never even imagined anything of the sort being possible.
"I'm fifty-some years older than her for heaven's sake. What could she possibly have seen in me?" She sipped her coffee and sat back behind her desk.
"You're a beautiful woman Minerva, you know that as well as anyone."
She turned in surprise at Albus voice. She smiled at her friend's portrait. Minerva didn't always have the time to speak to him, or nay other portrait, and Albus seemed to understand and rarely interrupted her, but at times like those she was happy to have him there to talk to. "I'm sure she saw in you the same thing you saw in her."
"I doubt it Albus. I saw youth, and was attracted to that, and it is a quality I haven't possessed for some time now."
"Really, youth? And was it youth alone that made you fall in love with her? Don't deny it Minerva, we both know its true."
She tried to suppress her surprise at hearing his words. "I wasn't going to deny it Albus, but youth was among the many reasons why I did fall for her."
"So it wasn't just youth then?"
"No it wasn't. Hermione was the most intelligent, articulate, curious, and brave, not to mention beautiful woman, I had ever laid eyes on. I could not resist her."
She shook her head, "Now there is nothing."
Albus laughed, "Noting? Oh, Minerva she told you she had feelings for you didn't she?"
She ignored the question and picked up her quill again.
She turned to him once more, "No she didn't as a matter of fact. What she said was that she wouldn't have been able to tell me she was attracted to me when she was a student." She finished tersely. There was a bloody difference. All Hermione had said was that once she had felt attracted to her nothing more nothing less. Worst still that 'once' was a very long time ago.
"She said nothing about now, Albus!" She felt the anger rising in her. Why was he doing this to her? Couldn't he see that she was not enjoying it; far from it, thinking about it hurt her.
"Well then maybe you should find out," he said in the most serious tome she had ever heard from him.
"I have work to do Albus." She didn't want to talk about it anymore. There was no point to it.
"Of course, my dear."
"There you are," Hermione said walking up to where Minerva sat, apparently deep in thought, by the side of the lake much as she had been the day Minerva had come in search of her.
"Here I am," Minerva responded without looking up. She found it unnerving for the object of her thoughts to appear all of a sudden in front of her. "Is something the matter?"
"Nothing at all except you promised to help me to finish my research for next week's lesson."
"Was that today?" She was still avoiding looking at Hermione. It wasn't that she simply wanted to be rude, on the contrary. But she was sure Hermione looked beautiful bathed in the sun's rays, her long hair down around her shoulders, and if Minerva looked at her in that moment she would surely keep the memory to be dragged out in her dreams. Yet another reason to dream of Hermione was the last thing she needed. She had been doing that too often of late.
Hermione looked at Minerva closely for the first time since she sat down. Her cheeks were a bit red and her eyes shone slightly as if she had been trying to spot someone on the other side of the lake. Hermione got a bit concerned then, Minerva didn't look normal and her responses were certainly out of sorts. Either something was very wrong or Minerva had simply been sitting out in the sun for too long. "Yes, it was today. Minerva is everything all right?" She asked tentatively.
Minerva shielded her eyes with her hand and turned to Hermione. She had been right, Hermione looked absolutely stunning in the sunlight. "Yes, of course, everything is fine. I suggest we get started on that research, we'll probably be at it for rest of the weekend as it is."
"Hermione, I'm going to make some tea, would you like some?"
Hermione looked up startled. She had been engrossed in one of the numerous books sprawled on Minerva's coffee table. She was about to accept the tea when she felt a hunger pain. It was only then that she noticed that the room was dark except for the fire, which she hadn't even known Minerva had lit. "Actually, I'm a bit hungry. Do you think we could get some dinner?"
"Well we could try the kitchen but I doubt there is anything left from dinner."
When Hermione looked at the clock on the mantle she saw it was indeed late, almost nine. Nothing would be left over since dinner was almost two hours before. "No don't bother. I guess tea will have to do."
Minerva shook her head, "Absolutely not, you said you're hungry. I'll make something fast."
Hermione pushed the book away and picked up her notes, "Oh no, Minerva, please don't bother."
"It's no bother. I can whip up a nice plate of past in no time at all."
"I'll help." Hermione volunteered.
Minerva laughed, "It's pasta Hermione not a six course meal. Why don't you pick everything up, and make this a more appropriate place to dine?"
Half an hour later, Hermione sat contemplating Minerva while Minerva contemplated her wine. Minerva was thoughtful again, as if she were far way, and this time it most definitely not too much sun. Hermione wanted to know what was going on inside that pretty head. She had always been curious when Minerva turned inward. What could possibly compound Minerva's amazing mind?
She reached around and took Minerva's wine glass from her hands, and put it on the table. It had the desired effect, Minerva looked at her. "You were far way again, like at the lake."
"I'm sorry I didn't mean…"
"It doesn't matter. I'm not criticizing, Minerva, simply observing and curious."
"Curious?" The lost look hadn't left Minerva's eyes.
Hermione felt herself blush slightly, "About you thoughts. What could be so important and interesting to keep your thoughts occupied so?"
Minerva didn't even bat an eyelash before answering, "You."
Now it was Hermione's turn to look absolutely lost. "Me? Minerva I'm not nearly interesting enough for you to have been thinking about me so much." Truly, she wasn't, but the fact that Minerva thought so made her feel interesting, sexy even.
"Well more exactly about the incident with Miss Ashcroft."
"What about it?" Hermione hoped she didn't sound too deflated, even though she felt like a total idiot for her previous thoughts.
Minerva looked straight at Hermione trying not to lose her nerve. She had decided to talk to Hermione, to fin out as Albus had put it. "Hermione were you really attracted to me? When you were in school I mean."
Hermione pepped-up immediately, "Yes, I was." She bit her lip and took the biggest leap of faith of her life, hoping and praying to God and Merlin that Minerva would catch her. "Actually, I was literally crazy about you, still am."
"Really?" Minerva asked needing to be sure.
Hermione scooted closer, and touched Minerva's cheek lightly, carefully, remembering that this just might be the most important moment of her life. "Absolutely."
Minerva didn't say anything and Hermione felt her confidence falter a bit. She was about to ask Minerva how she felt when she found herself on the receiving end of what turned out to be a remarkably good though very short kiss.
"Good?" Hermione asked befuddled.
Minerva nodded, and kissed her again. "I'll have to thank Miss Ashcroft for her indiscretion."
Minerva got up and took her wand out. "What are you doing?"
"Giving Miss Ashcroft points of course. Do you think fifty is enough?"
Hermione laughed and moved to her. "I think we should just forget about Miss Ashcroft. There are more interesting things to spend out time on."
"Really?" Minerva feigned innocence.
"Oh yeah," Hermione said before pulling Minerva to her.