The staff meeting drew to a close as I announced that Filius Flitwick was to bring Pomona Sprout to Hogwarts to fill the position of the herbology professor. Once Filius had nodded in acknowledgment, I bided adieu to all my devoted employees. I made eye contact with my beautiful, hazel eyed assistant transfiguration teacher.
"Minerva!" I called out, " Please stay a moment, if you please." It was more of an order rather than a polite suggestion. I had a job for her. She caught on right away.
"Yes, Albus? Did you purposefully forget to mention who will be telling the flight instructor he has been hired? Or are you actually losing your touch?", Minerva added playfully.
"Actually, Minerva, I purposefully did not say who was to be getting her, nor who the her actually is. It is a delicate matter that I wished to speak to you about. I was hoping you could be the one to fetch her."
"Her?" Minerva questioned, skeptically. "I thought you told the whole staff you are hiring a former quidditch player. I don't recall any female quidditch players retiring."
"Yes, a her." I said. "And, no. She hasn't formally retired. You actually know her... well... it's…"
"Come on now, don't be afraid Albus. It can't be too bad. can it?"
I paused, then addressed the few stragglers still left of the prior meeting, "You are free to go." I did not want them all to see the explosion of Minerva's Scot-Irish temper. My staff took the hint and filed out quickly. Minerva looked worried. She'd always been quick, though, so before they had all managed to leave, she began putting the pieces together.
"A female quidditch player I know who hasn't formally retired… It isn't… You wouldn't…" She looked up at me, scowling. Filius didn't quite make it out before she began screeching. "You would. It's Hooch, isn't it? You're sending me? Well, I bloody well refuse! I won't go! Send Filius!" Filius flinched and ducked out before she could draw him into the argument. "He didn't share a bloody dorm room with that harlot for seven years! I'm not telling her. I swear to you, Albus, there is nothing you can do to force me to tell that Holyhead Whore."
"Minerva, you are confused. Xiomara plays for the Holyhead Harpies."
"I'm not confused, I meant what I said."
I stood up and began to pace. "Minerva, you know there is a specific method I use to determine who is sent to fetch whom. I chose you to retrieve Xiomara, not in spite of your past history, but because of it." I informed her.
Minerva strode up to me and yanked me down to her level by my beard. "If you so clearly know our past, then you know why I refuse. Or perhaps you've forgotten, we were involved!" Minerva hissed at me.
I pried her hands from my beard and stood straight again. "Minerva," I said kindly as I placed my hands on her shoulders, "I chose you because I remembered the friendship you had before the relationship. She refused to come and teach unless you had forgiven her. You know she is the best. That is why I want to hire her. She insisted that you forgive her in person before she agreed to teach here. I'll even go with you so you have someone to talk to both, before and after you extend the hand of renewed friendship."
Going with her meant I might have the chance to tell her how I felt, something I hadn't allowed myself to tell her because she had never had that closure after her break-up with Xiomara. That lack of closure had turned her into a cold person. That was a mistake. Minerva was not cold at all, she just didn't like to let others in. Minerva looked as though she understood why I was sending her, if only I could tell her the full reason, and was appreciative. I nodded, "Good. It's settled, then."
Minerva's eyes shot up and she glared. "It bloody well is not!" She turned quickly and began marching towards the door.
"Where are you going, Min?" I asked her.
Minerva spun on her heels and I saw her face was flushed. "If I'm going to see the love of my life after all these years, I'm going to look damn good! I need to buy all new dress robes. I want her to see what she missed! And a few bottles of Firewhiskey for the trip can't hurt either!" She spun again and quickly hurried toward the door. But suddenly, she stopped in her tracks, seemingly tense. She spoke with her back turned to me, "Albus?"
I cleared my throat.
"Although I am slightly perturbed at the thought of this whole disaster to come, I am relieved you'll be there to watch the spectacle," she said, begrudgingly. She quickly softened her tone and went on, " I couldn't face her on my own. Not then, and certainly not now."
I stepped a bit closer and put a hand on her shoulder. I felt her shudder.
"Thank you." she said, then completed her pride-filled stride through the oak doors.
I felt drained. She could barely stand the thought of seeing Xiomara Hooch and I still was having her go through this... But for what reason? A selfish one. A ploy in my own scheme. The scheme I've been planning all summer so I could finally have Minerva fall into my arms in heartbroken irony. I shook my head. "Minerva needs you, don't shy away from your duties as her friend," I encouraged myself. I then left the meeting halls' portraits in peace to discuss all they had heard.