THEME: Minerva McGonagall has her ghosts. As Hallowe'en approaches, the ghosts come calling.
"I shouldn't have let you seduce me, m'dear," her lover tenderly chastised her as his nimble fingers helped rebutton her shirt. "I know how Samhain takes you."
Being a proper gentleman, he believed that if he helped disrobe Minerva, then he must assist her in getting clothed. However, she was completely responsible for getting her mussed hair respectable once more.
"I'm not ashamed of our loving, why should you be?" His lover informed him in a tone that could only be described as tart. "Are you embarrassed?"
With a wicked grin, Minerva threatened to tighten his tie a bit too tightly if her paramour admitted that he was embarrassed over bedding an old crone.
"I'm not ashamed, but I'm never been bold and audacious like you." He admitted that easily but this time, Minerva saw the truth in his light eyes. He truly believed that, though in the last few years, Minerva had found that courage took many forms. For some, it was facing the man who would kill you with no obvious fear, for others, it was standing in protest against a former student. With a mock glare to hide his gallant protectiveness, her lover gently tapped the tip of her nose with his forefinger. "Plus, you should conserve your strength."
He knew how Samhain took her… how the Veil thinned and her ghosts came a callin'. On the previous All Saints' Day, he had been the one to find her, while she had been keening uncontrollably from her newly rekindled grief. They hadn't been lovers yet, hadn't progressed that far in their new relationship, still he had held her until she had fallen asleep.
The words she would use to describe him did not do him justice. Sweet… attentive… horribly chivalrous… their love making was languorously lustful and indolently hedonistic. He took his time because he was a carnal connoisseur and desired to relish the experience. Plus her lover was amazing for her ego as he adored her breasts. Her breasts had long passed their pinnacle of pert perfection yet he worshipped them and lovingly lavished affection on them. And much to her utter surprise, under his talented tutelage, she had experienced the fabled breast orgasm.
The Hogwarts Hens had gotten absolutely pissed one night and Pomona had commented on how sensitive her diddies were. Ok, she hadn't commented, she had bragged about it. How she could climax just by having her diddies played with. Naturally, Minerva had claimed the same as she seemed to be the only Hen who had not experienced such ecstasy. Not that she had any complaints with her ex-husband who had been a wonderful lover, full of passion and fire.
Frankly, Minerva had thought Pomona had been more than a bit potted when she was bragging about her sensitivity.
Most men went straight for the breasts when a woman was undressed. Far too often there was the seemingly obligatory tweak at her nipples, like they were radio dials. The rare lover like her ex-husband would nuzzle and suck at them until they were pert. Not him. He teased them, gently maddeningly, with his fingertips. He rubbed his stubbled cheek against them. Massaged them with his heavily callused hands and only then did he lap at them, mouth them while she gasped.
He strutted the next day, proud as a peacock because he had been her first lover able to incite that in her, yet… he was uneasy about comparing himself to her ghosts.
"They know about you," she quietly assured him about her ghosts, hoping that he'd hear the truth in her words. "They whole-heartedly approve."
Perhaps that was a white lie, as well, they hadn't exactly approved, but they hadn't protested either about how her new relationship had progressed. Then again, if they had voiced their disapproval, she wouldn't have heard them above her keening.
"All of your ghosts, Minerva McGonagall? All of your ghosts approve of me? You're not so sure about that, Min. Why else would you seduce me just before the Veil thins? Most men do not like sharing their loves with other men, be they living or dead, Minerva. That's a very potent statement we just made, Minerva, especially if He arrives."
"It's not that," Minerva softly protested. "I just needed to be close to you."
She kissed him on his lips, knowing that in years passed, she had helped feed his self-doubts.
"I don't particularly care for my spiritual sensitivity. Other might find it a joy, a blessing; I have found it a heavy burden. When I first discovered I had the talent, my first visitor was my granny who was five years dead before I was born. I was only four… I was quite frightened. I…I… wished to feel you near in case he decided to appear."
"You mean…" her lover paused and she put her fingers over his lips.
"Don't mention that name, please." Her fear of HIM arriving among her dead had been close to overwhelming her. While she understood why her lover couldn't stay the night with her, because of his deep seated insecurities over her ghosts… she had hoped.
In response, he cupped her chin with his fingers and kissed her. It was a gentle kiss of consolation and when they stopped kissing, he embraced her.
"I never thought of that. I'll stay with you," her lover promised. "What do I need to do? Hold your hand? It's a bloody shame that I cannot brew anything to help you sleep through this. You were so distressed last year. Only natural, considering all the many lost souls clamoring to speak with you. "
Her parents hadn't believed that she was seeing the dead when she was four. It had taken her complete hysteria at the tender age of five to convince them that she hadn't been merely imaginative over her nightly visitors. That had been the suggested solution when Minerva had turned six. The Healer had believed that if she was heavily dosed, she wouldn't be aware of her visitor.
However, her guests had still come a visiting even after she had been dosed into insensibility. She had been aware in her dream state and completely unable to respond to anyone. That solution had given her a touch of claustrophobia and a fear of entrapment that lasted until this very day.
Some sixty years later, she still woke in the middle of the night, after reliving being haunted while she was trapped and screaming.
"You have the school party tonight. Go, have fun. You'll still be quite near me tonight." Minerva touched her right shoulder and smiled. It was an amused, knowing smile. "Your sexual sigil will keep me safe from harm."
The older man blushed at her pointed reminder of her physical memento. "Don't show him the love bite. He was never one to share you. I don't know what got into me."
"I know what got into me," a coquettish Minerva teased.
Her risqué banter earned her a delighted dimple.
After a long proper soak in the tub and a light dinner, Minerva was ready for her Midnight visitors.
She was dozing in her comfortable armchair when her first caller arrived. Not with a triumphant trumpet fanfare but a soft whisper of chamber music. Ah, he had been listening to it on the other side of Veil and it had followed him here.
"Good evening, Minerva," her first specter gently greeted her. Then with an outstretched hand, he offered her his trademarked token of confectionary concern. "Lemon drop?"
"Albus," Minerva's relief over her visitor was quite obvious to her deceased mentor. He smiled at her, one of his rare, true smiles of genuine affection.
"Your loved ones will not permit him through the Veil to bother you. Now, are you still vexed with me? Last year, they could hear your righteous chastisement on the other side of the Veil. Severus agreed that I deserved everything you said and more. He added a few perceptive comments as he was ever fond of you. "
Minerva sank back into her arm chair. Her heart was no longer beating quite as hard as it was, but it was still racing.
"Yes and no. Yes, I'm still displeased with you, but my relief at seeing … you… outweighs my righteous rage. I am even glad to see you wearing that pin cushion you call a hat. However auburn hair and lavender have not and will not ever go together."
The auburn haired ghost, still clad in bespangled robes, conjured a chair and sat next to Minerva. He reached out with his undamaged hands and placed them on Minerva's hands. She could feel them on her hands, warm, solid and comforting.
"I'm extremely sorry about last year. We knew about your talent, yes, but you never told anyone how you saw your ghostly guests. We didn't realize that you'd see us like that."
"Like I last saw you, your body shattered after you had taken that long walk off the Astronomy Tower," Minerva stopped and then wiped her eyes.
"You hadn't told anyone. Even your husband didn't know. How many Samhains did he sit with you through the long nights? And you didn't tell him, even while he held your hand? We didn't know, Minerva. And time flows differently there, the Veils weakens and once the world connects… We couldn't prevent our arrivals."
"My ex-husband. We were divorced, Albus, as you well remember," protested Minerva. "There was that hackneyed scandal about a divorcee working at Hogwarts."
"And I knew you two were on verge of reconciling when he died. You were wearing his ring again. I quite approved as I liked you two together. You two made a striking couple and you tempered his edges."
"Stop being a matchmaker," was Minerva's tired dissent. "Must I remind you that your track record speaks for itself?"
"I noticed you are alone tonight?" Albus didn't say more, but one eyebrow was arched in disapproval.
"He's uneasy with my Dead. He does not wish to face the Heroes of the Realm."
That admission earned an understanding nod from Albus Dumbledore. "Is his reticence due to all of us or just one in particular?"
"I'd say all," Minerva snapped. "You three are tough acts to follow."
"You never go out in public with him, Minerva," remarked the auburn Albus. "You just spend most of your time together in your bed chambers."
"Do the dead have nothing better to do than watch?" an embarrassed Minerva asked.
"We read, we converse and when that gets old, we watch the living," admitted Albus, whose blue eyes were twinkling. "Really, Minerva! I never suspected…"
Minerva covered her hands with her face and for a moment, wished she was among the dead. However, her rational mind reminded her, if she was deceased, she would be face to face with someone who no doubt had been watching her. Really, she wasn't strong enough to face her acerbic ex and his biting criticism of his replacement.
"You can go now," she protested in a rather strangled tone. "Be gone with you."
"Minerva, I will go but know I only desire you to be happy. For you to find love again would make me delighted. And perchance the real reason why he doesn't stay with on Samhain is because he doesn't feel worthy of you and he doesn't wish to face the judgment your loved ones? He's rather smitten with you, Minerva."
"Does that make you one of my loved ones?" Minerva asked. Her tone was acidic.
"Yes, and I wholeheartedly approve of you two together. Both a little damaged…"
Dear Heavens, Albus Dumbledore was still pedantic even in death.
"Careful," warned Minerva in a dangerous tone. "I can still hex you even if you are a ghost."
Naturally, once a professor, always a professor, so Albus continued on… "And war-weary from the last battle. His self-confidence is in tatters and you could use a bounce in your step."
"Out, damned spot! out, I say! One; two: why, then, 'tis time to do…" Minerva growled.
"One kind kiss before we part, Drop a tear, and bid adieu; Though we sever, my fond heart…" The damnable Dumbledore, drama queen, placed one hand over his non-beating heart.
"Out!" Minerva repeated. For added emphasis she pointed upward to remind Albus of the direction she had prayed he had gone. At the moment, however, she possessed serious and well deserved fears about Albus being in a southerly dominion. "Out!"
"He's pacing outside, you know. Praying and hoping that this night of torment passes quickly. He heard you keening last year. He tried to break your wards, but they were too strong for him. Much like the walls around your heart, my dearest friend."
Minerva wept then and Albus offered her a scented handkerchief with which to dry her eyes.
Like the ethereal handkerchief would do her any good.
"Once more, I have made you weep. I did not mean to do so," Albus assured her after her last tear had been shed.
She just nodded. He gave her a brief kiss on her cheek and then embraced her. She hugged him back until she knew he had vanished into stardust and moonlight.
Minerva was still standing; her shoulders slumped when Minerva's second Midnight Gentlemanly caller arrived – with the softest of flutters.
"Hello," Minerva greeted. Her eyes were tightly shut as she feared to look upon her latest ghostly guest.
"Open your eyes and look upon me. I don't wish all my practicing to go to waste. Much like my teaching went to waste on those empty headed bumpkins, I had naively hoped for better from you. I see that the Headmaster has created chaos, leaving me to clean up after him. The daft bugger needs to clean up his own messes as I refuse to be his servant boy anymore."
"Severus," Minerva whispered. She opened her eyes and saw him standing in front of her. Not in his black robes, but a dressing gown. Not just any dressing gown, but the one she had Transfigured for him after they had started their tryst.
The Daily Prophet gossip section had run a tell-all expose on her ex-husband, including his new beau. The ink of their divorce parchment had been barely dried and she had been profoundly disturbed by the article. Not to mention that her pride had taken a serious hit with the fact that his lover was supposedly male. Severus had found her weeping on the Astronomy Tower and in what had seemed like a strangely out of character gesture, had offered a most potent brew of his own creation. They had imbibed; tongues had been loosened along with their belts. To her surprise, the night had ended with Severus in her bed.
Fortunately, she had not been so inebriated that she had failed to realize that she had the honor of being Severus' first real partner. Yes, there had been countless others for him, but the two of them were friendly, so it had been… far more profoundly intimate than Severus had anticipated. Claiming that he needed to defer to her due to the tradition of House Heads' longevity in service to Hogwarts taking precedence in all matters, she had seduced him.
She had pounced on him in the morning, tuckered him out and then had the House Elves prepare a trysting breakfast. For added inducement, she took one of her old scarves and transfigured it into a proper dressing gown. Yes, it had been the dark colors he favored, balanced with a multitude of buttons, but it had been delicately brocaded.
Enjoying a good stiff cuppa, she had let Severus wake at his own pace. He came into the room, wearing the robe, not that he had a real choice as she had hung his clothes in her wardrobe. The young man had been all stiff shoulders and straight back, clad in his emotional armor. As though anticipating ridicule.
"Minerva," he had stiffly greeted her.
That would simply never do, so she had greeted him in kind. With a long kiss and soft, "Thank you, you were wonderful last night." Combining that praise with her tight embrace, Severus never knew what happened.
They had continued with their arrangement of being friends with very pleasurable benefits until Voldemort had returned.
"Well, Madam? No tears and no keening, I must have perfected my appearance into a more suitable countenance," drawled Severus. "Shall we sit? Or should you sit? It doesn't really matter to me anymore. My physical state is no cause for concern."
His familiar voice nearly undid her, so she was grateful to sit down. Severus had brought along a glass full of a familiar looking brew and he motioned for her to imbibe. There was the familiar arched eyebrow of mock disbelief when he realized what she was drinking.
"Drinking wine are we, Minerva? Your new beau was never particularly fond of firewhiskey," he remarked. "Your standards have certainly become more genteel."
"I prefer firewhiskey, but tonight, of all nights, I fear to lose my reason," explained Minerva.
"He's not coming through, Minerva."
"It's not Him I'm worried about. I fear I know who my third specter will be. At one time, he was quite the romantic, 'I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hellshouldbar the way. ...' I do not believe that he'll let the Veil stop him. "
"I have been forced to listen to Edgar Bones, Caradoc Dearborn, Benjy Fenwick and Alastor Moody for what seems like an eternity. Considering that they are being touted as heroes of the realm, I have never dealt with a more cantankerous group. I seriously doubt the four of them ever had a romantic thought more complex than a bawdy limerick. Brawling and carousing seem to be their forte."
That snide comment, so reminiscent of their verbal sparring of years past, made Minerva's eyes misty.
"I've missed you, dreadfully," she admitted. "Quidditch isn't quite as much fun as used to be."
"You never told me the real reason why you wished Gryffindor to thoroughly annihilate my Snakes in the Quidditch field."
She had never forgiven Slytherin House for her six broken ribs and concussion due to a vagrant foul during the Championship game of her seventh year at Hogwarts. Though her distaste for Slythern Quidditch was tempered by the knowledge that her soon to be Slytherin boyfriend and future husband had broken the nose of the Slytherin Seeker in retribution.
"So you know my secrets, Severus. Tell me one of yours."
Severus paused and then spoke softly. "You realized how much our lovemaking meant to me. You understood that, even though I did not wish you to know."
"You were marvelous, Severus. You trusted me completely which is a rare gift."
"My secret is that I deeply regretted that I was not able to fully embrace our relationship," whispered Severus. "I felt undeserving of it. Too focused on my past, not believing I had a future. Or that I deserved one."
He paused, as though deep in thought. And while the sentiment was utterly lovely, it was distinctively unSeverus-like as he never confided easily in anyone. Really, did Albus and Severus not realize how bloody transparent they were? Even for ghosts, they were a bit see-through.
"You three are in cahoots, aren't you?" Minerva snapped.
That earned her Severus' look of amused disdained.
"Are you implying that the Purple Plotter, the Greasy Git and your Irascible Inamorato are in … 'cahoots'? From the other side of the Veil?" The disbelieving Severus asked. "I think you need to stop drinking, Minerva. Someone has obviously laced your drink as you are developing an overwhelming ego."
Severus inhaled, about to begin a soliloquy on Gryffindors and their overwhelming pride, when Minerva stopped him in mid-inhalation.
"Have you found peace, Severus?" It was asked softly as it was a question that she wished answered. It had disturbed her for countless sleepless nights.
"The dead have no need for peace."
Minerva pinched the bridge of her nose at the sheer sanctimonious absurdity of it all. Having a battle of words with the very much dead Severus. "Are you parroting the company line? Is that the only way Charon would let you pass? I've never had the same visitors in a row on Samhain. That's the way it has worked for the last seventy years, Severus. One visitation from my deceased and that's it. This year, both you and Albus have arrived once again. Don't tell me the dead have no need for peace, Severus. Why are you back again?"
"The dead have no need for peace," repeated Severus. "It goes beyond a need, Minerva. A craving, an all encompassing desire for peace. Your keening has haunted me and my fellow visitors for the past year."
"The living haunt the dead? You've got it back to front," protested Minerva. "You're the ones that ripped off every scar. I loved all three of you, and you made me relive your deaths. Time had softened the memories. I had nightmares for weeks, as it brought back everything. All those dead students, Severus. You were lying in the dirt… in the dirt… I called you a coward… Albus' broken body… and I had to see his."
Then the last painful admission.
"They desecrated his body, Severus. They mutilated it for their bloody juvenile amusement, and I saw it. They burned the Death Mark into his chest so he wore that damn cursed mark when he arrived last year."
Again, the tears came as Minerva attempted to explain away her emotions. "I kept seeing it, whenever I closed my eyes…"
The Spirit Severus engulfed her in an existential embrace. She could sense his arms around her while she wept on his brocade dressing gown.
"I know… what you are feeling…. To see a loved one dead at Voldemort's hand."
She wept until she was empty and hollow. Severus kissed her on her cheek and began to fade.
"So soon?" Minerva pleaded.
"We're not allowed to stay long, but we wanted you to remember us as we once were," Severus explained. "Take care of my Snakes."
"I will," Minerva promised.
He faded and she looked around her quarters.
"Where are you? I know you're coming through tonight. Where are you?"
No response was forthcoming.
"I'm demanding that you appear. Right now," Minerva's voice shook. "'I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hellshouldbar the way', that's what you always told me. You put me through hell last year, and there's moonlight …"
The bastard, always a contradictory sort, declined to appear.
The hours passed, she drank a bit too much wine and finally, an exhausted Minerva wept herself to sleep.
Minerva was drowsy, but her husband had decided to wake her in the very best way. He was kissing her on the side of her neck in that spot that drove her wild. That earned him a pleased though sleepy smile as she was in quite in the mood for this special type of awakening.
"Keep your eyes closed, love. You just enjoy and let me do everything," he said. His voice was quite soft and affectionate, the tone he only used with her.
The sane, rational part of her mind was sleepily protesting that her husband should not be here, should not be touching her like this… but it just felt so good. Even when he nipped her on her left shoulder.
It seemed he was in a playful mood as he was content just to tease her. He brought her close to the edge then cooled her down, over and over again until she was begging him to stop his delightful teasing.
"Spread your legs," he insisted, his voice rough with passion. "We haven't done this style in a while, since I got too fat. Damn shame as it was my favorite position, as I could watch your expressive face. Remember, keep your eyes closed, love. That way my ugly mug won't kill the mood."
"You're not ugly," she protested. "I always see you as the young man who defended my honor by punching out your Quidditch captain."
"Less talking, Minerva," her husband roughly insisted. "I have to position myself better if you have enough rationality to have a chin wag while we're making love. I don't desire a conversation right now; I wish you to make those noises that drove me to new creative heights."
After that admonishment, there was no conversation for some time. There was a great deal of kissing, caressing and a gentle, leisurely rocking that left Minerva quite incapable of normal speech. When her husband finally permitted her climax, she was suitably noisy, which made him laugh in genuine delight.
"Bastard," she purred. She reached for him, to hug him closer against him so they could cuddle, and her arms felt nothing.
She opened her eyes and saw…. the transparent ghost of her ex-husband who appeared all of eighteen years of age. He was lying on top of her, and he was kissing her neck.
"Alastor," she protested as she sat upright. "What just happened between us?"
Making love with a ghost was a very bad affair. A one way ticket to madness.
"You dreamed it," her ex-husband insisted. "I just helped it along. I wished to give you a happy memory to replace what happened last year."
"Alastor," Minerva protested as Alastor Moody rolled to his side.
"Look," he insisted, pointing at his chest. "No scars, no tattoos. I have both eyes and a complete nose. Minerva, I'm a whole man. I wished you to remember me like that. Not like you saw me last year. I had hoped that you'd stay asleep so we could talk."
"We weren't talking, Alastor," she reminded him.
"Minerva, I don't have a lot of time on the earthly realm. We need to talk about your relationship with your new beau," explained Alastor.
"You three are in cahoots," protested Minerva. "Albus is dead, must he insist on meddling beyond the grave? And Severus… I thought better of him!"
"I approve of him," Alastor explained over Minerva's protest. "Horace is good for you. He makes you laugh, Minerva and he enjoys that chance to spoil you. Throw off your widow's weeds and embrace life, Minerva. You're too young to be so old. Are you ashamed of him? Why don't you go out with him? To a concert? To one of his social outings?"
"Who are you? What have you done with Alastor? The very idea that you'd suggest I'd go out to a concert… in public… is such an anathema to everything Alastor Moody stood for… makes me doubt who you truly are. Reveal yourself specter. Who are you really?"
The ghost who was claiming to be Alastor Moody, but who most assuredly wasn't, gave her a crooked smile.
"I know how I can prove who I am. I lost my virginity to you. It was a god awful experience for you as I was inexperienced as hell. You were older…" The bastard paused. His saucy grin brought back fond memories of what an utter pisser he had been when he was younger.
"Careful," warned Minerva.
"More experienced in the sexual realms and I was green. Green and nervous, and desiring you so badly. I made a right proper cock up of it. I finally had to ask you what I had to do."
Alastor grinned once more, and there was a trace of a blush on his transparent cheek.
"You didn't," Minerva gently assured him. "I thought it was terribly brave of you to ask me what I wanted. You didn't pretend that you knew what you were doing, unlike the others. It wasn't god-awful, Alastor, our first time was very sweet, because you were concerned about my enjoyment."
"I always worried about you," Alastor insisted. "Never stopped even with that piece of paper that dissolved our marriage. Now, let's talk about Horace."
"You called him a fop," Minerva reminded him. "You never liked him."
"He is a fop and I never liked him because he was too fond of you as you were the teacher's familiar. I was jealous, Minerva. However, he is quite besotted with you and he adores your breasts. I can't blame him for either. Plus, he makes you laugh, Minerva. You two are certainly compatible in the bedroom. Now take your relationship public. Your reluctance to do so really bothers him. It feeds on his self-doubts that he's not worthy of you."
Alastor kissed her right shoulder, right on top of Horace's love bite.
"I give you my blessings. Wholeheartedly. Now one final kiss before I must go," insisted Alastor. "Remember, I love you and I wish you to be happy."
"One question, Alastor," requested Minerva.
"Can't we snog? Must we talk?" The youthful Alastor teased.
"Where you alive…" Minerva ceased talking and struggled to keep her composure.
"I was dead before I knew it. Albus greeted me in the afterlife. I felt no pain, just great sadness. I was leaving you alone, after I finally convinced you to take another chance on this broken down mule."
They kissed for some time until Alastor faded.
Minerva then sat upright and pondered her nightly visitors for a spell.
"You three are horrid and impossible, but I love you all," she finally announced. "Go rest in peace, I will be joining you soon enough I'm sure. However, Alastor, please have Benjy , Caradoc and Edgar stop hassling Severus. And for the love of God, please go watch someone else for a bit. I will have a case of severe performance anxiety if I think you three are watching."
Naturally, there was no response, but she knew her three ghosts were laughing. That done, she straightened out her bed and then changed her clothing, noticing with mock disapproval that she now possessed matching love bites on both her shoulders.
"Alastor Moody…" she sighed. "You are a terror."
Her lover chastised, she then redid her hair as it was quite the fright. Alastor did love tangling it into knots as he felt the more disheveled she appeared, the better the sex had been. Pondering the conversations she had with her deceased loves, she recognized the truth in what they had told her.
With a joyful heart, she walked over to the door, and she opened it. Horace Slughorn was pacing in front of it, and he appeared startled when she opened the door.
"Didn't you have a party, Horace?" Minerva gently chastised.
"It was rather dull, so I left early," he lied.
"You never went, you mean. Come on in, Horace."
"I brewed a little vial to help you peacefully sleep. You don't seem to need it, do you?" Horace asked.
"No, I believe if we snuggle together, I shall fall sleep easily," she informed him. "Come on, let's go to bed, Horace. And Horace?"
"Yes?" Horace asked.
"There's a new popular restaurant in Diagon Alley. Perhaps, with your social connections, you can manage to get us reservations for night. I'd like to go out with you."
"In public?" Horace asked, as though stunned.
"As much as I enjoy our lovemaking, I fear that you must think me a tart as we never go out in public. Really, don't you think it's time we took our relationship out of the bedroom?"