Authors note: So, here's something a little different for y'all, let me know what you think. Also I am updating my other 2 current stories but have reached fight scenes with both, I find those hard to write so it's going slowly.
"Say something please Hermione." The was an odd note of desperation in Minerva's voice as she pleaded with her pupil.
Hermione raised her gaze from her clasped fingers to Minerva's face, "What d'you want me to say?"
Lowering both her eyes and her voice Hermione spoke, "Have you really thought this through?"
"I'm sorry to do this to you Hermione."
"The potential ramifications..."
Minerva turned to look out of the window, not wanting to face the expression on the girls face. Regretting that she had ever spoken. Regretting the necessity of what she had had to do.
"Professor." Minerva turned back to her, "You're asking me to give up everything."
"It doesn't have to be that way."
"Is there no other cure?"
Without answering Minerva unerringly lifted a book from the shelf and opened it, placing it on the coffee table in front of Hermione she went back to the window. Leaving her to read and take in the information. She closed her eyes, leaning her forehead against the cool glass. She could smell the apple scent of Hermione's shampoo, hear her breathing.
For the longest time Hermione said nothing, read and re-read the information on the page.
"Why me?" When there was no immediate answer she opened her mouth again, "To cure the curse you need to 'bond' with your soul mate." Minerva still didn't answer. "How long have you been in love with me?"
There was something in Hermione's voice that made Minerva turn around.
"I honestly don't know... You are a student, I had never even considered my feelings for you. When I was cursed, I..."
"Minerva?" The older woman smiled tremulously at the question, Hermione had never before called her by her first name, nor had Minerva ever allowed her to do so. It seemed an unconscious reaction on her part.
"I knew what the cure was but there's no one..." She broke off, came to sit on the table facing Hermione. "Then I started to see your face, in my sleep, whenever I close my eyes."
Hermione closed her own eyes for a moment, "So you decided to propose to me?"
"If I'm going to make a permanent bond with someone, may as well be official. Maybe I am a little old-fashioned in that respect."
Hermione was calm, just stared inscrutably into Minerva's eyes. "Hermione I don't want to hurt you or force you to do anything you don't want. I would rather die than subject you to that."
"You aren't leaving me much choice though, are you?"
"Perhaps not." She reached out and tenderly brushed her fingers across Hermione's clenched fist, for the briefest moment before pulling back, "There is always a choice, the options may not be easy but there is always an alternative."
Minerva watched as something crossed the girls serious face. "I need to... need to think."
"Of course Hermione." She remained sitting on the table for a long time after Hermione left, knowing that her fate was entirely in the hands of a sixteen year old girl.
Adjusting her uniform slightly Hermione strode down the corridor, heading towards the place where she could get the answers that she sought. Whispering a greeting and password to the Gargoyle guarding Minerva's office she climbed the staircase. She stood before the wooden door for a long moment, knowing that she was invading her professors privacy but figuring that she wouldn't mind given the circumstances.
She opened the door and almost smiled as she greeted the multitude of portraits, though her gaze was preserved for one. She greeted Albus Dumbledore and sat in front of his portrait. That intense gaze met hers, seemingly looking into her soul.
"Rather late, is it not Miss Granger?"
"Yes Professor it is. I hope you do not mind the intrusion but I needed to talk to you."
"Not in the least, what do you wish to discuss?"
She took a brief deep breath, "I wanted some information about Professor McGonagall."
His expression turned stern, "Any information that I can give you, will also be found in the library."
"What I need to know is not there, I understand your reticence but I need to understand her."
Hermione told him all about Minerva being cursed during the recent battle and prescisely how she was cursed. He suddenly began to comprehend Hermione's demand. "I think you should ask her, Minerva is a very private person; she would not be pleased with either of us for discussing her."
The young Griffindor hardened her gaze, she had not been her Head of House's protégé for six years without picking up some of her mannerisms. Her voice was cutting as she replied, "I'm sure you have noticed Professor that she is neither forthcoming nor open with regard to herself."
He nodded, "I see. What do you want to know?"
"She has asked me to marry her and yet I know nothing about her. While I am sure she will tell me the basics, I need someone else's opinion, I need to know what makes her 'her'."
"She was not always so distant, nor as serious. When I first met her Minerva was a brilliant student, very talented at Transfiguration and most other subjects – much like yourself Miss Granger. She was perhaps a little introvert but she had a number of friends, was a well respected member of the Quidditch team. Despite her seriousness she used to play practical jokes on occasion, had a subtle sense of humour, her laugh was so infectious you couldn't help but join in. All in all she was a wonderful girl."
"I was a little in love with her yes. Once in a while every teacher has a student that they have feelings for, I never acted on it and I'm not sure she even knew." He took a deep breath and continued.
"Minerva had a best friend called Alice, a muggle-born. Her parents strongly disapproved of their friendship..."
"The McGonagalls were Slythrins for generations before Minerva was sorted into Griffindor. They did not approve of muggles and did not want their daughter associating with them." He took a deep breath, "Shortly before Minerva left school her parents discovered that she and Alice were in love, were in a relationship. As a traditional pure-blood family they were not willing to have their only daughter become a lesbian or involved with a Muggle. They did everything to split them up, even offering Alice a substantial sum of money to stay away from Minerva."
"Did they succeed?"
"No. Minerva refused to stop seeing her. Her family disowned her, leaving without a home or money. She and Alice got a small place in Muggle London, supported themselves through Auror training. They were happy, poor but happy."
"Why am I getting the impression that this story does not have a happy ending?" The question was rethorical.
"Several years later they were both captured by Grindlewalds followers. It was several days before a rescue could be mounted, they were tortured, beaten and Minerva was forced to watch while Alice was tortured to death. When she recovered she went into the war single-mindedly, trying to get revenge against his followers and she succeeded, by Merlin did she succeed. After the war she began to teach at Hogwarts but she was changed, once her anger subsided – it seemed like there was nothing left."
The horror on Hermiones face was obvious. "And what has happened since?"
"Very little. She does her job, did most of my job, she keeps herself busy. Sometimes she laughs, sometimes she drinks too much, sometimes she has dinner with friends."
"No. I think she has had the occasional one night stand over the years but nothing more than that." When Hermione didn't respond he spoke again in a softer voice, "Despite her condition she would not have spoken to you without feeling something."
"She is a woman with strong principals, too strong in some cases and so she would rather die than tricking you into something like this."
"She said the same thing."
"Then believe her Hermione. For this to work the bond between the two of you would have to be mind, body and soul – if she was going into this in a half-hearted way, it would not work, she knows that. Do you need to know anything else?"
"I think that will suffice for now thank you Professor."
"Then may I ask you something?"
"What are your feelings regarding Professor McGonagall?"
She looked at him as she stood, "I think that my feelings are irrelevant to both the situation and this conversation."
His voice followed her out of the room, "That's where you are wrong Miss Granger."
Many hours later Hermione found herself sitting on the gravel at the side of the lake. She had been there for a long time, the sweater she had pulled on over her uniform wasn't quite thick enough to keep out the cold and she had her arms wrapped around herself. The sun was starting to rise over the lake but she hadn't made a decision yet.
By nature self-sacrificing, generous and compassionate Hermione could and had risked her life to save another. Did she have the courage to marry to save someone? Could she do that to Ron? What would her parents say?
She pulled herself to her feet, it took a few minutes to get the feeling back into the numb limbs but as soon as she could walk, she did so. She headed back into the castle leaving the vista that she loved behind her.
Her movements were quick and decisive as she made her way back to Minerva's private rooms.
She opened the door, not surprised to find Minerva awake and sitting on the sofa. For a moment she idly wondered if she looked as tired as her professor. The older woman was pale and wan, she didn't even look up as Hermione walked into the room.
"I did consider not saying anything you know?"
"Where's the logic in that?"
Minerva looked up and smiled. While only a soft gentle smile it transformed her face and made her look much less severe and more approachable. Hermione laced her hands together behind her back, her tension obvious but fighting the urge to stick them in her pockets and show the defensiveness that she was suddenly feeling.
"Logic isn't the most important thing here."
"Oh I disagree Professor."
"I wouldn't expect anything else from you Miss Granger." She stood up, "Would you like a cup of tea?"
Hermione sat down on the sofa, "I think coffee might be better at this time of morning."
She heard Minerva making the drinks in the next room, looked around the familiar room that somehow looked different this morning. "Haven't you been to bed?" She came back into the sitting room.
"I haven't either."
There was a brief period of silence before Hermione spoke.
"I've made my decision."
A.N. - Do you want this continued??