Authors Note: I apologise for the delay in posting anything but am just not motivated at the moment due to some personal issues. Thank you all for your encouragement and words of support.
'Twas the night before Christmas and Hermione was relaxing in her flat. Unprecedented amounts of snow had fallen over the previous week and the capital was blanketed in white, making it look more like a Christmas card than the grey metropolis that she was used to. She had left the curtains open so that she could watch it fall. Candles littered every surface throughout her flat and she was lounging on the sofa drinking a glass of mulled wine. A book was lying forgotten on the coffee table and Hermione was beyond relaxed.
This could have continued for the whole night but the doorbell suddenly chimed, interrupting her quiet time. Hermione gave a sigh and got up to answer it. The snowy street outside was very quiet, most people having long ago gone home to their families. Standing on her doorstep was the distinctive form of Minerva McGonagall. The younger woman could not believe her eyes, it had been months since she had even bumped into her former professor and so she was the last person Hermione would ever expect to be at the door.
The older witch was looking good. Snow was settling on her ebony hair and on the shoulders of her black coat. Thin lips lifted into a smile and emerald eyes twinkled when she realised that Hermione was staring at her. "Hello."
"...Hi... Would you like to come in?"
A little awkwardly Hermione stepped aside and allowed her former mentor to enter. Remembering her mother's advice she fell back on formality. "May I take your coat?"
"Thank you." Minerva shrugged out the heavy woollen garment. Snow began to melt on her boots, hair and clothing – she whispered a drying charm and watched the younger woman hang up her coat.
"Would you like a drink? I made some mulled wine."
"I am not sure what that is."
"Oh." Hermione gave a grin, "It must be a muggle thing. It's red wine heated up with festive spices and rum."
"That sounds... interesting... good but interesting."
They both laughed and Hermione led her into the kitchen. "How did you know where I lived? I only moved in a week ago."
"I have my sources."
"Very mysterious..." The young woman teased, making Minerva smile again.
"I was... curious and so I made enquiries."
Hermione reached for another glass and ladled rich smelling red liquid from a simmering saucepan into it. She placed an orange slice into the glass. "Voila..." It was handed over before she questioned, "Curious?"
Deftly the older woman sidestepped the question and took a sip. "This is nice."
"I'm glad you like it." Hermione summoned her glass from the living room and refilled it. "Would you like to come into the other room?" Magically she assembled some snacks and sent the plate floating down the corridor ahead of them.
Minerva nodded and followed the younger witch. Hermione sat down and suddenly remembered the book that she had been reading and tried to hide it under a cushion.
"What do you have there?"
The Headmistress smirked, "Hermione..." From her tone it was obvious that she knew that the brunette was lying.
Blushing profusely the young woman handed the book over. Minerva took it and arched a brow as she read the title – idly she flipped through a few pages. "Does your girlfriend know that you read trashy romance novels?" There was a smile in her voice.
"It's my hidden passion. Besides I'm not seeing... How did you know I was gay?"
Minerva gently placed the book back on the table, "I have always found your babbling endearing."
"Is that why you always used to put me on the spot?"
Hermione frowned, "You haven't answered a single one of my questions yet."
Minerva sipped her drink again before rubbing both hands across her face, seemingly embarrassed. "I have been talking to your friend Neville."
"Yes I'd heard that he was doing an apprenticeship at Hogwarts."
"He is a very wise young man. Not very magically talented except with Herbology but he has an insight into people I have only seen in one other person."
Hermione nodded, "I see the similarity but that fails to explain why you are here all of a sudden."
"Neville speaks of you often. Especially to me. I have no idea how he knew of my feelings towards you but it is because of him that I am here."
Hermione heard nothing after Minerva's confession. She was consumed by the thoughts running through her head at light speed. A thousand times she had imagined her former professor saying something of the sort to her but never in her wildest dreams had she thought that it would be because of Neville Longbottom.
She could see the older woman's lips moving but nothing registered. It was only when gentle fingers brushed against her cheek that she snapped out of her reverie. The young witch suddenly felt dizzy from Minerva's proximity. "Hermione... Hermione... If you swoon on me I am going to blame those questionable romance novels."
That broke the trance and the young woman chuckled, noticing that Minerva remained close.
"Say something young lady." The teasing tone faltered for a moment and vulnerability crept into it, "Please."
"You... like me?"
Minerva chuckled faintly, still worried. "Yes, I am afraid so."
"I am afraid that you will not love me back; that you might think I am a perverted old woman, not good enough for you or that the social stigma might be too much to bear. I am afraid that I will have just ruined my chances of even having a friendship with you and that..."
"And you say that I babble?" Shocked emerald snapped up to lock onto warm chocolate. Hermione was smiling at her with tears threatening to fall. "Minerva I thought that the way I felt about you was just a schoolgirl crush but it deepened into something more. I realised that I loved you when the boys and I appeared in the Great Hall, right before you kicked Snape's butt. I hadn't seen you in so long and you were standing there – looking so strong and powerful; elegant, graceful, beautiful, passionate, fierce..."
"Did you just swallow a thesaurus?"
"No... too many bad romance novels."
"Obviously not that bad."
Hermione chuckled and leaned in to kiss Minerva's cheek – it was intended as a brief gesture but she found her lips lingering on the soft skin that they had found. When she pulled back the older woman was gazing at her in a way that made her want to do more than just kiss. An elegant hand found her chin and Minerva pulled her even closer. Their lips brushed for the first time.
It was new... hesitant... sparks flickered into life and grew into a flame as their magic touched and began to merge. They parted breathless and trembling. "When did you know?" It was scarcely more than a whisper but Minerva knew what the younger woman was referring to.
"I had watched you for a long time Hermione. You were the most intelligent young woman who I had ever had the honour to teach. In addition you were honest, kind and completely devoted to your friends. You became an excellent conversationalist, challenging me like no one else ever had or could. And then you matured into a stunning young woman. I started to admire you from afar in your sixth year but it was only when you failed to return in your seventh that I realised how much you had come to mean to me and how much you could mean to me if I allowed myself to dare."
"Why wait this long?"
"It would not have been right, you needed some time on your own before I could say how I truly felt but without Neville's prodding it would probably have taken me another five years."
They kissed again, tenderly, allowing their passion to rise but not consume them. It was still too early to give into hormones and repressed desires. When they broke apart they shifted position so that they were sitting next to each other. Minerva had one arm around the younger woman's shoulders and Hermione rested her hand on a surprisingly shapely thigh.
"Do you have plans for tomorrow?"
"I am going to my parents, we usually have an open house. Friends and relatives drop in either for dinner or afterwards. It's pretty relaxed."
"Is that why they didn't mind when you decided to stay at Hogwarts?"
"Yes. They raised me to be independent and while I'm sure they would prefer me to go home, they would not ask me to change my mind about something that I truly wanted."
Minerva quirked a lip, it was quite different from the strict way that she had been brought up but she could not deny that the Grangers had done a fabulous job with their daughter.
"Would you like to come with me?"
The Headmistress gaped.
"...If you don't have anything planned that is."
"I have no plans Hermione but are you sure that they would even want me there?"
"Yes they never mind an extra guest."
"What if they think I am some old woman corrupting their daughter?"
Hermione laughed, "There is almost thirty years between my parents, they would be the last to judge us based upon that."
The two women sat like that for several hours, just talking - interspaced with kisses at regular intervals. Between them they finished the wine and a bottle of brandy intended for the younger woman's father. Hermione giggled at the noticeable slur that had appeared in Minerva's voice. "I thought Scottish people were s'posed to be good at drinking."
"Not so my dear... While I hic do have a penchant for good whiskey, I hardly ever drink."
The younger woman gave a grin and took another swallow of the alcohol. "Thish is good stuff."
"Indeed hic." The clock in the hallway struck the hour and they listened as it announced midnight, neither knowing quite how the last few hours had passed without them noticing the passage of time. "Merry Christmas Hermione."
"And to you."
Minerva stuffed her hand into a pocket and withdrew a shrunken gift wrapped package. "I brought you something."
"You didn't have to get me anything."
With unnatural clumsiness the older woman waved her wand and returned it to normal size. "Open it."
The weight and feel of the package told Hermione that it was a book. She lifted an eyebrow, "You bought me a book?"
"Do not be disappointed when you find a dearth of bad erotic fiction contained therein."
The young woman laughed, despite the slurring of certain words they were classic Professor McGonagall. She tore open the wrapping paper and discovered a book that she had been trying to locate for the previous several months. "How did you get this? It's almost impossible to find."
"I already had it in my collection and I heard that you were looking for it."
"Thank you Minerva." She threw her arms around the older woman and kissed her soundly. This time was the charm, it was tender but passionate – with their inhibitions lowered by alcohol they crossed boundaries that they might have delayed crossing. Hermione ran her tongue across soft lips and begged entry, which was readily granted.
Tongues brushed together as the two women explored each others mouths for the first time. Minerva tightened her embrace, ran her free hand over a shapely hip and onto Hermione's waist. The younger witch slid her fingers into ebony locks and pulled her closer. When breathing became an issue they parted but remained touching. "But I never got you anything."
"But I didn't."
"Do you know how long I have wanted to hold you in my arms, to touch you, to kiss you? You have given me the greatest hic gift. You granted me my Christmas wish."