Albus turned in the darkness, waking when he encountered an unexpected fragrance, like jasmine and rose with a hint of spice. Reaching out, he found another surprise. Soft hair, soft cheek, bare neck, bare shoulder. Slowly, memory seeped into his sleepy brain; he smiled. He touched Minerva’s cheek again, reassuring himself of her reality, her continued presence. Rousing to his touch, she breathed deeply, letting it out with a content sigh, and moved closer to his warmth.
Her arm around him, Minerva whispered, “You’re really here.”
“For as long as you will have me, my dear.”
“Forever,” she replied. “Forever.”
The next morning, Albus stretched and smiled. Minerva was already awake, watching him, and when he turned toward her, she kissed his cheek. What a wonderful way to wake up, although he wished he had been awake first and able to wake her with loving touches.
“One of your special good-morning kisses, Albus?” Minerva asked.
He raised a hand and drew her closer. As his lips touched hers, his minty-fresh charm passed from his mouth to hers and Minerva deepened the kiss, moving to lie on top of him. She kissed him a few more times, then smiled down at him, rocking her hips.
“I like the feel of this,” she said, shifting her weight.
His eyebrows rose. “More than my good-morning kiss?”
“It is difficult to say . . . but I do believe that this,” she said, pressing her pelvis against his morning erection, “holds more promise for longer lasting pleasure.”
“Let’s see if I can live up to that promise, then,” Albus said, rolling her over onto her back and kissing her. “Mmm, you are so warm and lovely.”
He moved further beneath the sheet and began kissing her chest and breasts as one hand sought and found her warm crux. His tongue teased one nipple as his fingers lightly played with the other and he began to stroke against her clitoris. He began to suckle as his tongue still tickled her nipple. His fingers slipped inside her, and he moaned in appreciation. Minerva gave an answering moan and spread her legs further as his arm began to move energetically, thrusting his fingers within her. Albus moved to the other breast, licking and teasing the nipple, before bringing his hand to his mouth and licking his fingers clean. He moved his other hand down to her warmth, where he began to rub her clitoris again. He sucked and kissed one breast as he flicked his thumb over the other nipple.
Minerva wriggled and moaned, clutching at his hair. His mouth and fingers were stimulating her and causing her throbbing warmth to grow, his beard was brushing against her skin, and his large, firm erection was pressed against one leg. Electric thrills passed through her, from her nipple to her crux and back again.
“Oh, gods, Albus . . . more, more,” she moaned.
Grinning, Albus moved down her body, kissing, nipping, and licking as he still stroked her clit. Then he slid his fingers inside her and nosed her folds, then his tongue found her clitoris, and with rapid strokes of his tongue and thrusts of his hand, he increased her stimulation, causing her to moan and rock. He licked from her opening to her clit, circling her nub, then licking it first up and down then back and forth, all the while thrusting his fingers within her.
Minerva’s legs were around him now, urging him closer as she arched her back. Her breath was coming in gasps and she gripped the sheet spasmodically as she began to come, calling out his name. Albus didn’t pause, but continued pleasuring her, flicking his tongue over her clit and fingering her vagina, carrying her through her orgasm.
As Minerva relaxed back onto the bed, catching her breath, Albus began to kiss his way back up her body as he slowly withdrew his fingers from her. He kissed each breast, then his head emerged from beneath the sheet, and he kissed Minerva’s lips. Minerva deepened the kiss, urging his tongue into her mouth then gently sucking on it, causing him to groan with desire. He put his arms on either side of her, slipping his hands beneath her shoulders. Her hands were on his buttocks as the head of his cock found her crux and Albus deliberately slid against her, rubbing his length over her clit, sliding over it again and again as Minerva gasped and rocked, until he finally rose up and pressed the head of his penis against her vagina and slowly, slowly entered her. When he was half-way in, he pulled all of the way out again and repeated his action, this time entering just a bit further. On his fourth entry, Minerva was moaning as she pulled him toward her, and he buried himself completely within her. He withdrew and thrust four more times, fast and hard. The fourth time, he remained deep inside of her, and with his legs, he urged hers together. He pushed himself up so that he could look down at Minerva’s face and into her unfocussed eyes as he thrust and pumped, again and again. Albus shifted as she arched her back, and he could tell by the intake of breath and the change in her expression that he was stimulating her in all of the right spots, inside and out, as he rubbed her clit with each downward thrust, pounding within her, and then she was coming again, calling out to him, and he could feel the warm, rushing flow as her vagina contracted in waves around him, and he continued to pump, prolonging her orgasm, until finally he could hold back no longer, and he thrust once more deep inside her and came as he pushed against her, unable to breathe as he spent himself within her.
Minerva tightened her arms around him, holding him on her and in her, relishing the feel of his weight on her, the thrum of his pounding heart, and the sensation of his magic flowing through him in rhythm with his pulse.
“I love you, Albus . . . I love you so . . .” The words seemed inadequate as she whispered them, but there were none others that she could find, and she emphasised them with a squeeze of her arms around him and combing her fingers through the long hair flowing over his shoulders.
Albus turned his head and kissed her ear lightly, then whispered, “And you, my dear Minerva, you are my breath, my light, and my sweet, sweet delight.” He kissed her once more, sighing with contentment. How in his life he had come to have Minerva’s love was almost incomprehensible to him, and he would never take it for granted, not for one moment, not as long as she wished to be with him, and if she ever left him, he would remain grateful for every moment.
“I am so very lucky,” Minerva said as she ran her hand over his back and shoulders. “So very incredibly lucky.”
“I had wanted to awaken you like that, my dear, but you woke first,” Albus said, raising his head and looking down at her with a smile. “Not quite fair to my idea of a perfect first morning together, but I don’t suppose I will complain.”
Minerva slapped his back playfully and grinned up at him. “You definitely shouldn’t complain! That was marvellous! Although if you ever want to wake me that way, I don’t suppose you will hear any objections from me.”
“It was a nice way to begin our holiday, wasn’t it?” Albus said, kissing her nose. He rolled over onto his back beside her and cast a few cleaning and freshening charms on them both.
Minerva’s stomach growled and Albus laughed. “Did the activity whet your appetite, my dear?”
“Well, I was also lying here awake, watching you sleep for an hour,” Minerva said, wishing her stomach would stop gurgling. It wasn’t particularly romantic or attractive.
“Why don’t you use the bathroom first, if you like, and I could find my dressing gown and call your house-elf to bring us something to eat?” Albus suggested.
Minerva thought a moment, then nodded. “I won’t take long, though. I think your charms were sufficient, and I want to leave as soon as possible.”
It hadn’t taken very much to convince Albus that it would be nice if they were to take a brief holiday before the school year began, although the suggestion had initially surprised him, but deciding on their destination had proven more difficult.
“Your cottage,” Minerva had said, pleased with her sudden inspiration. To her mind, it would be perfect: quiet, isolated, remote. “Perhaps we might go to your cottage, Albus. We could be alone and undisturbed, and just be Albus and Minerva together.”
Albus shook his head. “I don’t know, Minerva . . . What about Brighton? A little sea air? Some sun? The Muggle arcades can be quite amusing. It would be warmer in Brighton, too,” he said as a particularly sharp gust of wind rocked the glider they sat in.
“Brighton? There would be crowds of people there. And I have nothing against Muggles, but I would like us to be able to relax, be ourselves. I can’t do that if I have to constantly remember not to do any magic and try to figure out Muggle gadgets,” Minerva replied. “I think your cottage would be perfect.”
“No . . . no, I don’t think so. What about Paris, then? It’s a beautiful, romantic city. I know a sweet little wizarding pension where we could stay. There are wonderful Muggle museums, and the museum of magical history there is quite fascinating. It has exhibits from around the world. And we could visit Perenelle and Nicolas. I don’t believe you have met them.”
Minerva sighed. “That would be nice, some other time. I would like that and it does sound lovely. Perhaps next summer. But for these few days . . . I just would like to be alone with you. Your cottage sounds ideal.”
“It’s not. Not at all,” Albus replied.
Minerva furrowed her brow. “Is it because of Valerianna? Memories of her there?” Minerva asked, thinking of the nasty witch who had treated Albus so poorly.
“No, no, it’s not that,” Albus said, shaking his head.
“Because it wouldn’t be at all the same with us – ”
“No, it isn’t that. It is not even the same cottage,” Albus explained. “I gave my cottage to Aberforth for his birthday that year. He insisted I take his. So it’s not that.”
“Are you sure?” Minerva asked, looking at him sceptically.
Albus laughed. “Of course I’m sure – my old cottage in the Dales is perfect for Aberforth and his sheep and goats. And the other cottage suits me. But it isn’t suitable for our holiday.”
“Why ever not?” Minerva asked, baffled.
“Oh, it simply isn’t suitable, my dear,” Albus replied.
Minerva’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “Not suitable? Why?”
“You deserve a nice, romantic holiday. Something special and perfect. What about Greece?”
And so the conversations continued, on and off, over the next few days, Minerva suggesting Albus’s cottage, which seemed more and more ideal to her, and Albus thinking up alternatives, many of which seemed romantic, indeed – including Nepal, Egypt, and the French Pyrenees – but none sounded right to Minerva. She almost was ready to give up on the idea of a holiday altogether; the more that Albus insisted that the cottage was unsuitable, the more she wanted to spend their holiday there. It was perverse, really, and Minerva recognised that she was being somewhat unreasonable, but she couldn’t understand why Albus didn’t want to go to his cottage. She even wondered at one point whether he just didn’t want to have her in his home.
“I know it’s silly of me, Albus, but . . . I just would love to be alone with you, no one else around, just the two of us, and other than your cottage, I can’t think of anywhere else. If Mother and Dad were going to be away, I would suggest the Cliffs, but even there, the family always feels free to drop in whenever they wish – as they should – but they aren’t going to Amsterdam again until the thirtieth, and I can’t very well ask them to leave just so that we can be alone together. And we could stay at Melina’s, as she and Brennan will still be on their honeymoon and she has a room fixed for me, but that doesn’t seem right, to be in their home before they’ve even had a chance to live in it together as a couple. Not to mention that Edinburgh, as much as I like the city, is not precisely the sort of setting I had in mind. Although I suppose we could Apparate and spend our days elsewhere . . . but in that case, we might as well just stay here,” she ended dispiritedly.
“No, my dear, we will find a suitable destination, I am sure,” Albus replied, taking her hand.
A few days later, after Albus had once again suggested Andorra, Minerva didn't even mention the cottage, having almost given up on persuading him, and feeling slightly rude that she had continued to harp on it when he had offered so many romantic alternatives.
“I suppose we could still go camping, the way that Malcolm and Gertrude did.” Minerva hated that idea, but slightly less than the prospect of completely abandoning any plans to get away from Hogwarts.
“No, definitely not,” Albus said with a shake of his head.
The next day, Albus was suggesting that they go to Heidelberg, where she had done her apprenticeship, and Minerva pushed out of his embrace. “No. Not Heidelberg. I loved Heidelberg. I still love Heidelberg. But we both know people there. And we’d still be surrounded by other people, even if they were all strangers. Let’s just . . . let’s just stay here. Or we could borrow Malcolm’s flat, I suppose. If he stays here at the castle for those days with Gertrude, I think he wouldn’t mind.”
Minerva was disappointed, but she didn’t want to make Albus miserable about it, too. Malcolm’s little flat in a wizarding cul-de-sac in the heart of Aberdeen was not precisely the retreat Minerva had been looking forward to, but they wouldn’t have to go out. Or they could Apparate from there, take walks and picnics by her beloved cliffs . . . .
Albus was quiet for a moment. “If I still had the other cottage, Minerva, I wouldn’t have been so hesitant. I lived there for decades, made it a home. It was large and comfortable. And at the time that I gave it to Aberforth, I was happy I had – and I still am. He is able to keep his goats and sheep there much more easily than he had, since the grazing is much better, and I rarely used it any longer, not since coming to teach at Hogwarts. It was a waste, really, to keep it for the few weeks a year that I spent there. And I do like the little cottage that he gave me in exchange. It seems well-suited for the occasional use I make of it. But it is much more rustic, and far less spacious, than the other one, although I have made a few changes to it. Since I have never spent more than a few weeks at a time there, though, it isn’t . . . it isn’t what it would be if I had made it my home, you see. I am afraid you wouldn’t be very comfortable there.”
“Albus Dumbledore! Please don’t tell me that you are worried what I will think of your cottage! I never thought it would be like the Gamp family mansion, or even like our place. You don’t think the McGonagall home is . . . is unsuitable, do you, just because it’s modest and a little run-down?”
“No, not at all! I find the McGonagall house most charming! But it is quite large and rambling, and it has many conveniences that my little cottage doesn’t possess,” Albus said.
“Well, other than the very obvious difference in their sizes . . . the McGonagalls have multiple bathrooms. The cottage has one small loo and one bath. And the plumbing is almost completely Charmed, and there’s no shower – which I don’t miss, since I rarely ever used a shower until a few years after I began teaching at Hogwarts, always preferring baths as that’s what I was used to. So there’s only a tub.”
“Are these facilities indoors?” Minerva asked.
“Oh, of course they are!”
“Well, as long as they aren’t outdoors like some primitive Muggle farms I’ve seen, I don’t see what you are apologising for. There’s only the two of us, after all. And even if they were outside, I am certain I could manage for a few days. And I suppose that next, you’ll wish to apologise for the inadequate nature of the kitchen, but I will stop you before you get that far. My culinary skills are barely adequate, and I doubt I would notice any deficiencies in your cooking facilities, let alone notice that they weren’t up to the most modern wizarding standards.”
“Very well, then! We shall go to the cottage. I am glad I did some maintenance tasks on it earlier this summer. And you needn’t worry about cooking. I cooked for myself for a long time, until Wilspy returned from Canada, in fact, and quite enjoyed it. I don’t cook very often anymore, obviously, but it will be fun!” Albus smiled brightly, now looking forward to the holiday at the cottage and for a moment seeming to have forgotten any of his reservations. “But you will tell me, my dear, if you are at all uncomfortable? We can always go somewhere else if you don’t like it once we are there.”
“I doubt that will happen, but yes, I will tell you if I would rather be somewhere else,” Minerva promised, being unable to imagine that herself.
So that morning they were to leave for his cottage. Minerva was still unclear exactly where it lay, knowing only that it was the sole habitation on a small island, and she was eager to see it.
Minerva emerged from the bathroom, dressed and ready to start the day, and joined Albus in the sitting room. He had not only put on a dressing gown, she noticed, but also his nightshirt and slippers.
“Planning on returning to bed?” she asked with a smile.
“No, no, my dear, I simply thought that Blampa might be more comfortable if I were in something more than just a dressing gown.”
“Of course. Blampa would be more comfortable.” Minerva couldn’t hide her amusement.
“And so am I,” Albus admitted with a self-deprecating shrug and a smile. “Breakfast will be here shortly. I just asked her to bring whatever you usually eat.”
“I don’t know as I have a usual breakfast,” Minerva said. “I will be interested to see what she decides to bring.”
A few minutes later, the two sat down to an enormous breakfast. Apparently, Blampa had interpreted the instructions to mean, “bring anything you’ve ever served her for breakfast.” There was porridge, eggs, both boiled and fried, toast, scones, apricot preserves and lemon curd, fruit, haggis, potato cakes with butter, and grilled tomatoes and mushrooms – and, of course, a large pot of tea. Minerva chose fried eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, haggis, and toast. Albus muttered something about bacon, and Minerva called Blampa and asked that she bring bacon for the Headmaster.
“I should have asked for fried bread, too,” Albus said after the cheerful house-elf delivered the bacon, taking a piece of toast, instead.
“Apparently, that’s not considered part of a usual breakfast for me – though believe me, I don’t normally ask for all of this at once!” Minerva said, thinking that Albus really didn’t need the fried bread with his fried eggs and fried bacon, for all he seemed healthy enough. She was trying very hard not to fuss too much over him, as he seemed to appreciate a little fussing but a little went a very long way. Instead, she tried a more subtle approach. “Would you care for some fruit, Albus?”
He quirked a grin at her, seeing through her attempt at subtlety. “Yes, Mother McGonagall, though I thought I would finish this first.”
As they ate, Minerva said, “So, you never said where this little island is, or what it’s like, other than that it’s rocky.”
Albus shrugged. “It’s to the west of Muck and north of Tiree and Coll. As I said, it’s fairly small, rocky, mountainous. There is some wildlife, and you can see seals on one end of the island. It has been a wizarding island, I suppose you might say, since about the eleventh century, and is uncharted by Muggles. But it is a small bit of rock, anyway. It’s also unplottable, and I added to the wards, so it would be very difficult, nigh on impossible, for anyone to gain entry but myself or Aberforth, unless we were to bring the person by Side-Along or Portkey.”
“It sounds something like the island where Grandmother Siofre’s family all comes from, Tiree Beag. That’s just to the north of Muggle Tiree.”
Albus nodded. “It isn’t far from there, I suppose. But it has never had more than one family living on it at a time, not for several centuries, unlike Tiree Beag.”
Minerva finished packing as Albus dressed in the bathroom. He had left the door slightly ajar, and she could hear him singing to himself. It sounded a bit like nonsense to her, but he had a nice voice, and she wished she could hear him better. She didn’t want to make him self-conscious, though, so she didn’t open the door further.
“What was that you were singing, Albus?” she asked when he emerged, brushed, washed, and dressed in his copper and turquoise robes.
“Singing?” He paused and thought. “It was just an old tune, something my mother used to sing to us when we were boys.”
“It was nice, very pretty. I would like to hear it sometime – if you would care to sing it for me, of course.”
“It’s just a silly little nursery tune, Minerva,” Albus said.
“Still, I liked it, and I’m unfamiliar with it.” Minerva didn’t want to press Albus about it. He did have a beautiful voice, though. “You have a very nice voice.”
Albus chuckled. “It’s nothing special, though I do enjoy singing in the bath.”
“Yes, well, I can carry a tune, and that’s about it, so I appreciate it when someone has a good voice, and you do,” Minerva replied.
Albus came over and kissed her softly, putting his arms around her. “You sing very nicely, Minerva. Your rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ was the nicest I ever heard.”
Minerva returned his kiss, then said, “That’s because you were surprised, that’s all. And you don’t usually celebrate. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m all packed, and if you’re ready, we can leave now. Are we Apparating?”
“No, my dear. I thought I would make us a Portkey rather than have everyone in the castle know within five minutes of our departure that the Headmaster and his new Head of Gryffindor House were seen leaving the grounds together, complete with luggage,” Albus explained. “I doubt anyone will notice our simultaneous absence, as there are others coming and going over the next few days, but I would just as soon not have people speculating about the fact that we both left at the same time. And someone with sharp eyes might notice if I give you a Side-Along, which would be necessary, as neither are you acquainted with the island nor are the wards set to recognise you. We can Apparate on our return, however, and I will set the wards for you so that you may come and go as you please.”
Minerva nodded. They had already agreed that it would be wise to remain discreet about their relationship, something that had bothered Minerva initially, but now that a few close friends and family members knew – though by no means all of them – she actually could appreciate the value of discretion, especially as she was now Head of Gryffindor, the new Head of Gryffindor. Best not to have people speculating about the extent of their personal relationship and how it might have affected her selection as Gryffindor’s Head of House – despite the fact that their relationship had little to do with it, and they had only been friends at the time she had agreed to serve as the next Head of House.
“That sounds fine. Have you made the Portkey already?” Minerva asked.
“No, and there’s one last thing that I need to do before I leave,” Albus replied. “If I might make use of your study? Or I could Floo to my office – ”
“No, don’t do that. Of course you may use my study!” Minerva was certain that if he went to his office, he would become distracted or someone would find him, and their departure could be delayed by hours.
“I just need to write Gertrude a little note; I told her I would let her know where we’ll be, confirm that we’ll be back sometime Wednesday morning, and let her know that if there’s an urgent message for either of us, she can send Wilspy with it, as Post Owls won’t be able to reach us,” Albus explained. “Johannes is expecting me to transfer the care of the wards to him, but I needn’t see him for that. I also thought I could have her tell your brother that I will prepare his rooms as soon as I can after the staff meeting on Wednesday.”
“Yes, well, I don’t think he or Gertrude object to sharing,” Minerva said with a smirk.
“We gave him a set of guest rooms yesterday afternoon, just for the sake of appearances with more of the staff present now, although I won’t inquire as to whether he spends any time in them at all,” Albus said with an answering grin.
Fifteen minutes later, Albus had written his note to Gertrude and called on Wilspy to see that it was delivered. When he finished, he took the quill he had been using and charmed it with the Portus spell, then he, Minerva, and their luggage Portkeyed away to spend a few days in peace before the beginning of the school year was upon them.