My dear readers, here's the last chapter of my little story. I never intended to write so many chapter, but in the end it was necessary to explain everything. Thank you for your kind and wonderful reviews! I really appreciate every kind of feedback!
Denial – Chapter 13
"You're a what?" Snape asked in utter disbelief.
"You heard me," Deidra said with glittering eyes and turned her attention back to Dumbledore. After breakfast they had gathered in Dumbledore's office, because Snape had insisted on a meeting. It was obvious, he didn't like Deidra, but now that he realized his fears were unsubstantiated he looked a little bit more relaxed.
"You see, Severus, there's nothing to be worried about."
"You certainly don't look like a…"
"And you don't look like someone who trains students in Defence against the Dark Arts but rather like someone who practices them," Deidra snapped and he repaid with a special nasty glance.
"Since when has Hogwarts been searching for a new librarian?" Snape asked Dumbledore.
"Since Madame Pince has decided to enjoy an early retirement," Dumbledore answered calmly and added: "I've always admired the library of Salem, because it has a profound and effective way to classify and index its stock. And ours needs a complete check up. I'm afraid we've neglected this for too long."
"Aha." It was obvious Snape didn't believe a thing of this, but he decided to keep quite about this. As long as he kept his new job, he would endure the addition of a librarian.
"I already explored your collection a bit and I have to say I hope you'll use a better researched work for your classes than your predecessor had. I never understood why the British insist on working with literature that is antiquated."
"Don't worry about that. I can assure you, I know what I'm doing."
"Oh, I believe you."
Snape left the office and Deidra chuckled mildly, after she was sure he had left.
"That was interesting…" She remarked with a shrug of her shoulders. "A really strange person. So what else did you want to tell me?" She asked curiously.
"Actually, I want to tell you a story."
"Yes, a story about two people who used to teach here at Hogwarts a long time ago. A young gifted and beautiful witch and a carefree young wizard who became the first victims of a jinx Lord Voldemort put on the post of the Defence against the Dark Arts teacher…"
Minerva awoke with the strange feeling that something was different. This wasn't her bed and she wasn't in Hogwarts. But she recognized the scent. His scent. So special, so unique and beloved.
Unsure, if she could open her eyes without getting her heart broken. She had awoken this way more than once and every time she had been alone.
"Good morning, my love."
She opened her eyes to find him looking down on her. He had had to watch her while she was asleep; supported by his elbow he was right next to her. Closer than she had expected. He reached out to stroke her black hair and gave her a warm smile.
"Are you really here?" She asked doubtfully and didn't dare to move, because she feared it could destroy her fantasy, if it was one.
"Yes, I am. And I'm proud to say I didn't even think about leaving you alone."
"And," he added with a blink. "I'm even prouder to say I managed to peel off that tartan stuff."
"It's traditional," she said and turned on her back.
"It's a pain for the eyes," he retorted and slipped his arm around her waist. She touched his cheek with her index finger and ran tenderly down his face.
"Why did you come back?" She finally asked.
"Maybe I was tired of hiding." He answered and bent down to kiss her. "And I missed you."
"But you ran away," she insisted weakly. "Time and time again. I felt cursed. Do you know that?"
He looked pensively at her and moved closer against her. He pulled her closely to him and then he admitted lowly: "I was scared. I knew you left Cornelius because of me and it scared me to know you loved me that much. I feared I didn't deserve you."
"I know some people who think, you exactly deserve someone like me," she said dryly and planted a kiss on his bare chest. He chuckled gently and wrapped his arm tightly around her.
"Forget about Umbridge and Cornelius… I've taken care of them."
She raised her head and gave him a questioning look. "You took care of them? How?"
"Let's say I had a long talk with Rita Skeeter." He played with a strand of her hair. "I know her quite well, you know."
"I don't want to hear about that," she said briskly and he noticed the dangerous sparkle of jealousy in her eyes and enjoyed it. It's always been like that between them. "I know how she operates and decided she and her quill needed some treatment. I think it's quite safe for you to read the Daily Prophet this morning."
"What have you done?"
"I just made sure, Rita wouldn't publish one of the lies Umbridge was feeding her."
"Even if not everything was a lie?" She had lowered her eyelashes to hide her embarrassment.
"Your private life is non of other people's business and…" he made a meaningful pause and reached under chin to turn it up to him. "And since it's my child's privacy they intended to disrespect as well, I had no other choice."
"Can you ever forgive me?" She asked lowly.
"What for? For ensuring no one could harm our child? For giving her a secure home even though this happened to be on another continent? There's nothing to forgive, Minerva. I'm the one who has to beg for forgiveness."
"Let's say we're even then." She laid her cheek on his bare chest and closed her eyes while listening to his strong heartbeat. "I'm just glad I didn't have to convince you that Dumbledore isn't her father."
"I'm not as blind as Cornelius is. Don't forget I've been a spy, a journalist and teacher at Hogwarts. I know Dumbledore and if there's one thing I know for sure is that he wouldn't let his second in command play his mistress and let her send away his child. He's a noble man… much more than I am."
"He arranged the adoption for me… he's been a true friend to me."
"And what will we do now?" She asked with a trembling voice. "How can I be sure, you won't run away again like you did the night after we learnt what happened to Frank and Alice? I'm afraid I'm too old to get my heart broken again."
"I can only give you my word," he answered after some moments of silence. "Or we could get married…"
"Now, don't exaggerate," she said briskly and he laughed in response. "Just promise me to tell when you feel like running away… prepare me."
"I promise." They sealed the deal with a long and tender kiss that got interrupted by the sound of an owl that crashed against the window.
"We've got mail." Reluctantly Minerva watched Julius while he left the bed to pick up the letter the owl had left on the small window ledge.
"It's for us," he said, as he climbed back into the bed.
"Exactly," he confirmed after he had opened the envelope. He read the first lines with a smile on his face and then he handed Minerva the letter.
"Seems we have to return to Hogwarts as soon as possible. Someone is waiting there for us."