A/N:: I know I haven't written anything in such a long time, and I apologize for that. Part of this particular piece has been saved onto my computer for quite some time now, but I never could figure out where to go with it. I've finally finished it, and though I consider myself very rusty with writing, I'm ready to present this to you all. Please read and review to let me know what you think. It means a lot to me.

Once Upon a Winter Night

To simply say that it was cold outside would be a definite understatement. The temperature had remained below freezing all day, and it seemed there was no possible means of escape from the bitterness of the wintry weather. Despite the cold, however, and the fact that it had already been dark for several hours, Albus was finding himself quite content under the moonlit sky.

"Albus Dumbledore, have you lost your mind?!"

Albus turned, though there was no need in order to recognize the voice, to find his Deputy sweeping towards him, her tartan dressing gown billowing behind her like a cloud of tartan in the breeze. Every step she took on the frozen grass crackled like the distant sound of fallen autumn leaves under her feet.

"I'm just enjoying the view," he replied calmly, tilting his head upwards to indicate the wide, starry sky above them.

"You're going to freeze to death!" she exclaimed, wrapping her arms tightly around herself.

"Nonsense," he chuckled. "I am still quite competent, you know. I'll return indoors before I actually die."

Albus gave Minerva a cheery, twinkling smile. Now that she had taken her place beside him, he could see that the cold wind had already turned her cheeks a most becoming shade of crimson.

"How did you know I was here?" Albus asked.

"Never mind!" she snapped with a hint of playful softness in her voice, not revealing to him that she had been looking forward to inviting him to play a game of chess with her when she had spotted him on the grounds from her office window.

"Stay here with me, Minerva?" he asked her softly.

"It's so cold…" she stated simply, but her gaze fell from the starry sky to the frozen ground as she thought of the duties to the school that awaited her inside the castle, but she knew this was just an excuse to hide her insecurity.

"I'll keep you warm."

Minerva's breath hitched in her throat as Albus took a step towards her. She smiled as she felt his hand slip into hers, noting incredulously that it was quite warmer than she would have expected on such a cold night.

"Albus, what if a student sees us here together?" she asked in a low voice.

He chuckled.

"Then we will have to give him or her an afternoon of detention for being out of bed after hours."

He smiled as he listened to Minerva's melodic laugh. That sound was as rare as a priceless gem, and he had always treasured it just as much. She rested her head softly against his shoulder as he enveloped her slowly, cautiously within his arms. Minerva pulled back from him suddenly, uncertain of what she was allowing to happen. It was quite unlike her to be so open in showing her affections, especially to Albus, but she knew that if it were possible, she would desire nothing more than to spend the entire night under the stars in Albus's arms, despite the freezing weather.

"I'm sorry, Minerva," Albus said, releasing her tentatively.

Minerva shut her eyes tightly, frustration rising within her at him apologizing to her in such a moment as this.

"Why?" she asked as she opened her eyes again, the sorrow becoming evident in her voice.

"I didn't mean to−"

"You didn't," she said, cutting him off. "I just want to be here with you now."

Albus's lips parted slightly in an effort to reply, but as if suddenly thinking better of it, he closed his mouth again. Instead, he took her hand into his again and squeezed it affectionately.

"I'm glad you found me," he confessed.

"So am I," Minerva replied with a small smile as she stepped closer to him. "How can I persuade you to come in from the cold?"

Albus looked for a moment as if he was considering the question, but his eyes were sparkling with childlike merriment.

"How about a game of chess with my dear Deputy?"

She laughed and shook her head at him in mock disbelief.

"If it will save you from eminent death by freezing, then I'll do it."

"Ah, you're so good to me," Albus swooned with a chuckle.

They walked back towards the castle with their arms linked tightly together. As the shadows cast from the castle towers crept over and briefly enveloped them into darkness, Minerva placed a light, sweet kiss onto Albus's temple, leaving his cheeks glowing a soft shade of red that had nothing to do with the chill of the bitter wind.