Silver Cauldrons & Dragon Tails
Rating: PG … just to be safe
Albus Dumbledore had been looking forward to this particular Friday evening all week. Between being called away to the Ministry for several long meetings with Cornelius regarding first one thing and then another, answering owls from concerned parents or donors to the school, and even his own paperwork regarding the finances, he was utterly spent. All he truly wanted to do was light a warm fire, open a bottle of wine, put on some soft music, and curl up with Minerva in his arms.
She, too, had been affected by the increased workload. Her students were entering a phase of Transfiguration that required them to fully understand the mechanics of the spells before attempting them. So, she had assigned essays on them, but those had to be graded, and they were proving to be very long and tedious. Hermione Granger's papers were almost too analytical, while those of persons like Neville, Ron, Crabbe, and Goyle were lacking in even the most fundamental aspects. Clearly, Miss Granger had not helped her fellow Gryffindors with this assignment.
Minerva removed her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose, trying to ward off an impending headache. But remembering her evening plans with Albus, she brightened up a little, and without another thought, she made her way to the cupboard for a headache potion. It was nearly time to head upstairs and into his waiting arms. They had both agreed to work for two hours after dinner and then to forget about work until Sunday afternoon.
As she rode the staircase up to his office, Minerva began to unpin her hair, letting it flow freely down her back and enjoying the sensation of running her fingers through her hair. She couldn't wait to go to their rooms, kick off her shoes, put on a cozy dressing gown, and enjoy the rest of the evening. She stepped into Albus' office and smiled as she saw him speaking softly to Fawkes.
"Won't be long now, old friend," he said softly just as Minerva entered the room. "And here she is now." He turned and his eyes began to twinkle as he crossed the room to greet her. "Ah, Minerva! It feels like days since this morning," he sighed, hugging her tightly to his chest and pressing a light kiss to the top of her head. "To what do I owe the pleasure of seeing you with your hair down this early?" he teased, toying with the ends of her hair.
"I was in a hurry to start our evening, so I removed the pins on my way up the staircase. I hope you don't mind," she said with a smile, knowing very well how much he loved it when she wore her hair down for him.
He leaned back and kissed her soundly on the lips. "Let's hurry upstairs and settle in for the evening. It seems we've had to wait all week to be able to spend any significant time together in the evenings. I am in desperate need of enjoying a quiet evening at home with my wife," he said softly, sending a shiver of anticipation over her body.
"Sounds heavenly. Let's start with a hot bath and see where things go from there, hmm? I think it would do us both some good to just relax amongst the bubbles."
"Have you been practicing your Legilimency skills? Because you stole the very thought from my mind?" He chuckled and wrapped his arm around her waist, drawing her into his side as they left his office and climbed the stairs to their private rooms.
After a long bubble bath, in which they both nearly fell asleep, Albus and Minerva continued their evening by the fireplace. Albus spread a blanket on the floor and stoked the fire while Minerva gathered pillows and another blanket in case they grew chilly later. Once they were settled, he opened a bottle of wine and poured them each a glass.
After the first glass of wine and halfway through the second, Minerva began to feel a bit playful and Albus quickly followed her lead. Their tender kisses and light touches began to grow more passionate, more arousing, more heated. Albus rolled Minerva onto her back and began to run his hand over her silk covered body from her shoulder down to her thighs and back up again.
"Mmm, Albus, this is exactly what I needed tonight," she purred as she unbelted his dressing gown.
Following her lead, Albus slowly untied the emerald green dressing gown but left it closed as he kissed her, sliding his hand inside and caressing her from her breast to her hip and back again. She began to arch into him and was about to beg him for more when the familiar sound of an owl pecking at the window caught her attention.
It took another moment before Albus realized Minerva wasn't focused on him but on something else. "What's wrong? Did I do something you didn't like?" he asked, his face hovering above hers and his eyes dark but confused.
"Owl … at the window," she said with a frustrated sigh. "Damn the Ministry! I'll hex Corenlius myself and declare it was justified if it's another one of his …"
"It's not a Ministry owl," he said, waving his hand and opening the window permitting the little tawny owl to enter. He took the bit of parchment, though making no move to open it. He gave the little bird a few of Fawkes' treats and sent it happily on its way. Since the bird did not wait for a reply, Albus assumed the owl was of little importance and could wait until a more appropriate time to be read. "Now, where were we?" he asked, attempting to regain the momentum that had been shattered just seconds ago.
"Aren't you going to look at it? Even if it's not a Ministry owl, surely it's important if they're sending it this late," she reasoned, her curiosity about to get the better of her.
"Nothing is more important to me right now than spending the rest of the evening in your arms. I believe you'll agree," he said, pressing his hips against her and letting her feel the evidence of his arousal.
She started to protest but the touch of his hands on her skin and the taste of his kisses on her lips banished any thoughts of the owl from her mind. He was right. Whatever it was could certainly wait.
As their slow lovemaking progressed, nothing seemed to matter more than being together and enjoying the time they had this evening. But it was short lived. They were reaching a powerful release when suddenly Aberforth's head appeared in the fireplace and he let out a startled swear at the sight of his brother and his wife.
"For Merlin's sake, Albus! You should have shut the damn Floo," he yelled, covering his eyes with his hand and waiting for them to cover themselves.
Minerva gasped and drew the blanket around them both, then snuggled against Albus' back as he faced the fireplace.
"And what the hell are you doing contacting me this time of night using the Floo?" Albus shot back, clearly angered and irritated.
"Well, if you'd answered my owl from an hour ago, you'd know why! That was the whole point of you buying me a Dicto-quill. You wanted me to be able to owl you when I needed you and not have to rely on the network."
"Aberforth, that is beside the point now," Minerva interjected, hoping to bring about some quick resolution. "Just please tell us what's wrong, since it is late at night and as you no doubt witnessed, we were rather busy."
Aberforth's cheeks burned hotly as the image resurfaced in his mind. He cleared his throat and shook his head. "Sorry about that, Minerva. Had I known …"
"Yes, well, that's neither here nor there at this point. What's so urgent that you felt you had to owl and then Floo us at this time of night?"
Albus discreetly cast a charm on the blanket and it wrapped itself tightly around them so Minerva could move from behind him to a place at his side. "Yes, if our evening is to be so rudely interrupted, I should hope it's noteworthy."
Aberforth grinned. "Oh, I think it is, and the Headmaster of Hogwarts should take better caution with his staff." Albus and Minerva shared a look, each wondering what could have possibly happened. "Seems Wilhelmina came into town tonight with some of the staff and they had a few drinks at Rosmerta's place."
"That is hardly a crime, Aberforth." By now, Minerva was growing irritated with Aberforth's obtuse way of explaining the situation. "Can you please get to the point?" she asked, trying not to show her frustration.
"Right! Apparently the party broke up and Wilhelmina was invited to join a group here at the Hog's Head. First one thing led to another and she kept ordering drinks. Never took her for a drinker or even one to hold much past a gillywater … no offense, Minerva. But the ole girl kept ordering and drinking. Thought she'd pass out after the first two or three Dragon Tails, but she proved me wrong."
Albus sighed and ran his hand over his face. "Get to the point, Abe. There's no harm in going to Hogsmeade on her weekend off and drinking, even if it is to the point of being drunk. Merlin knows we've done it before!"
"It's not the drinking that's the problem. She's starting to cause a scene and I don't want any trouble with the Ministry! You don't want that for me, either, big brother."
Minerva patted Albus back and tried to help speed the conversation along. "What's the problem, Aberforth? Why would her drinking cause a problem?"
"She overheard some of my darker clientele in here talking about things and she started getting vocal about how she felt about their conversation. She's threatening to turn one bloke into a silver cauldron and use him as a chamber pot if he doesn't shut up or leave! Albus, I can't have that sort of ruckus happening in my establishment. My business will dry up if people think you're sending your staff down here to spy on 'em!"
"Albus would do no such a thing and you know it, Abe. She's merely had too much to drink and needs to sleep it off. Can you put her up for the night, or should we come get her?" Minerva didn't miss the look of disbelief in Albus' eyes at her suggestion that they venture into town and help their colleague back to Hogwarts.
"I can probably keep her quiet with a few more drinks, but you'd better hurry, or else I can't be responsible for what happens. Sorry to have interrupted your … well, your evening. Last thing I wanted to do was have you coming down here, but I didn't see any other choice."
"You could have sent her home earlier instead of selling her the drinks!" Albus added, his irritation barely concealed.
"Not my business to tell a witch or wizard how much they should or shouldn't drink. If they're of legal age when they come through the door of the Hog's Head and have money in their pockets for what they're ordering, it's none of my business!"
"Let's not argue, hmm? Aberforth, give us a few minutes to dress and we'll be there to take here home. Open the Floo in your office and we'll enter and leave that way instead of having to go all the way to the gates and Apparating or walking. If she's as bad as you say, I'm sure she's in no fit state to do either."
"Just hurry. I don't want any trouble, and the less I'm involved with the Ministry, the better we'll all feel."
Albus grumbled and closed the connection, sighing heavily as he did so.
"It's fine, Albus," she said, kissing his cheek and rubbing his back. "We'll go see that Wilhelmina gets home safely. There will be no trouble for Aberforth, and we can pick up where we left off once we're back here."
"Not exactly the relaxing, romantic evening I'd been planning all day, though," he grumbled, starting to sound like a petulant child.
"No, it's not the one I had envisioned either, but we're helping your brother and a friend avoid the Ministry. That's very important at least to both of them, I'm sure."
He sighed and nodded his head, knowing she was right once again. "But at what point do we stop taking care of everyone else and take care of ourselves?" he asked before standing and Summoning his dressing gown. With slumped shoulders, he retired to the bedroom to cast a few freshening charms on himself and put on his robes and boots.
Minerva swore under her breath as she watched her tired and aggravated husband retreat to the bedroom to once more take care of someone else's problems while putting his own needs and desires to the side. As quietly as she could, she called for their house-elf and made a few arrangements before joining Albus in the bedroom to freshen up and change clothes.
It took nearly an hour to Floo to the Hog's Head, convince Wilhelmina that she'd had more than enough to drink, and to get her settled in her own rooms. Minerva called for Grubbly-Plank's house-elf to sit and watch the witch, making sure she stayed in her rooms for the remainder of the night and to call the Infirmary if assistance was needed.
Once they were out in the hallway, Minerva wrapped her arm around Albus and gave him a little squeeze. "Cheer up. It's not quite daybreak," she said with a grin.
"So much for a relaxing evening. I will have a word with her about this on Monday, for certain."
"I'm sure you will, and rightly so. But don't take out your frustrations at having our evening interrupted out on her. She had no way of knowing how the evening would end and that Aberforth would contact us, or even what we might have been doing. Be fair but firm."
"I will simply remind her that while term is in session, it is wise to know when to follow the advice of other Hogwarts staff and return home and when to continue with your evening. If she'd been out with someone else, it would have been a different story entirely."
"Agreed, and I'm sure you'll find a very polite way of explaining that to her, and maybe even to the rest of us at a staff meeting." She took his hand and gave the password to the guardian of the staircase. "Fizzing Whizbees," she said, tugging him onto the staircase with her. Once the gargoyle slid back into place, she leaned down and kissed Albus hard on the lips until they reached the top of the stairs. She didn't say another word to him until they were at the door to their bedroom, where she paused with her hand on the door.
"Something the matter?"
She shook her head and began slowly unfastening his robes while nuzzling his neck. "Just starting to make up for some lost time," she whispered into his ear before nipping it teasingly.
He scooped her into his arms and opened the door and stepping inside. He stopped immediately at the sight that greeted his eyes.
"You … when did you have time … Minerva?"
She slid out of his arms and stood before him. "You were so upset earlier, I couldn't stand it. We've both had a long, hard week and needed the time to ourselves. So, while you came up here to change, I asked Daisy to take care of this for me. I think she did a fairly good job on such short notice."
Albus took a moment to look around the room. There were dimly lit candles in every corner of the room, casting a soft glow that mingled perfectly with the shadows from the fire in the grate. Their bed had been turned down for the evening and a bottle of wine chilled by the bed near a plate of cheese, grapes, and strawberries. In the far corner of the room, the music box was playing soft chamber music and the faintest scent of lavender hung in the air.
"You are a marvel, my dear. I should have thought of doing this for you instead of grumbling about doing something for others," he said softly, his voice filled with an emotion Minerva couldn't quite detect.
"Shh," she said, placing a finger to his lips. "By doing something nice for others, you allowed me the chance to do something nice and unexpected for you. It's not often that I get a chance to surprise you, especially like this." She wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his chest. "I love you, so very much, and the way you put yourself out for others is just one more reason to spoil you whenever I can." She took his hand and took a step backwards, pulling him with her towards the bed.
Once there, she saw to it that all thoughts of Grubbly-Plank, silver cauldrons, and Aberforth and his pub were driven far from Albus' mind. It would be well into the next day before either of them felt the need to call for something to eat before resuming their relaxing weekend together.
A/N: This story was written in response to the Triplet Challenge on the Charming Roots board. The story had to include a person (Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank), a place (the Hog's Head), and a thing (a silver cauldron). Thanks for taking the time to read and review the chapter! Your encouragement in reviews keeps our muse happy! And a big thank you to MMADfan who was kind enough to go over the story to check for any errors.