purplefluffycat: (Purple Cat)
[personal profile] purplefluffycat
Here's a bittersweet story of love and sacrifice...and because everyone's allowed to be small sometimes.

Title: After the Ball
Author: PurpleFluffyCat
Characters:Minerva/Albus
Words: about 1000
Rating: PG13
Genre: Romance, Hurt/Comfort
Summary: Minerva feels melancholy after the Yule Ball...
Notes: I really enjoyed writing this and found the ideas very touching; I hope you do too.




After the Ball

The Yule Ball was finally over, the students shooed at last back to their dormitories, and the pale light of first-dawn stole through the windows of the Great Hall, illuminating the detritus of glasses and plates among the still-impressive towering Christmas trees. Minerva enjoyed the stillness; the fairies that remained as decorations flickered hypnotically, and the weak sunlight restored everything to its proper colours in a way that was both melancholy and truthful. Better for the students not to see this she thought. Better that their lasting memories will be ones of glitter and sparkle.

Her gaze fixed vacantly upon a high, revolving bauble and she remembered.

There had once been a time when she had skipped lightly around this hall, dark hair flowing in her wake and a crimson gown playing about her ankles. All had followed her with their eyes, but the wily, clever young woman reserved her gazes only for one dashing red-haired gentleman at the side of the ballroom. Oh, how she had pined; how she had lamented with the knowledge that what she wanted was not possible. She had received so many offers from perfectly pleasant young men of her own age, but none had come close to the intellect, interest and intriugue of the man she wanted. Therefore, in the no-nonsense fashion that she had displayed even then, determined to do things properly or not at all, her boquet had remained unpicked, her journey never begun.

Minerva sighed as she contemplated the imminent clean-up operation, and heard the final shuddering strains of the slow waltz charmed from the ceiling rafters.

What had happened to Minerva the Maiden? What had happened to the Maiden while Minerva played Mother to most and was becoming the Crone to all?

She wondered whether she could remember what it was like to wear frills, choose perfume, giggle, or let someone else make a decision. Having felt responsible and androgynous for so long now, she wondered whether any of that sparkling young woman remained, whether she could even in principal occupy a special place in someone's heart, even though the actuality was so far from likely. Whether being a responsible figure of authority was all that remained of Minerva? Acknowledged by many, important to several, treasured by none.

It was also rather ironic that for the past forty years that man she had wanted had remained so close, yet still so unreachable. She was a trusted lieutenant, a right-hand woman, perhaps even a friend of sorts. Her practiced businesslike manner and competency had earned her respect and trust, but nothing more. For all the shows of frivolous fancy and bonhomie, nothing could bridge those vast impenetrable walls that he kept around his real self. There was no key to the door, and no response to a knock, no matter how desperate.

The Christmas stars lightly tinkled above her head, and she was once more lost to her sad reverie.

"Hello Minerva." The deep, strong baritone voice sounded directly in her ear.

How could she have failed to notice someone come in? The comforting scent of lemon drops wafted towards her from a source that was so close it seemed almost intimate, but she did not turn around.

"Oh, hello. I was just....yes this tidying must really be-" Minerva was silenced by the sudden feel of two strong hands holding her gently but firmly around her waist. Albus turned her in perfect slow motion, just like the ballerina Minerva had watched revolving in her music box when she was little. The music became softer and slower still, and she was completely rapt by the twinkling blue eyes that connected with her own.

"You're still the most beautiful girl here, you know," he said, then he drew her close. She was overwhelmed by the sensation of being within the folds of those soft robes, inhaling the scents of sweets and mystery and deepest magic, and of being held. She felt a long, elegant nose rest upon her forehead, and a gentle kiss placed upon her lips.

He invited her upstairs to his rooms, and she nodded meekly, her face illuminated by promise and hope like candles upon an altar.


*****


Afterwards, as they lay together under the purple damask embroidered with golden stars, Minerva felt both augmented and broken, ecstatic and devastated, found and lost.

She curled herself into the smallest ball possible and tried to disappear into the dark warmth of the feather bed. Her world was shaken and upended, but was it destroyed? Or was everything better now? As if hearing her thoughts, Albus wound his arms about her protectively, caressing her quivering hands and smoothing the hair from her forehead. She became perfectly still and tried not to think at all, but the emotion boiled too strongly.

Minerva span onto her other side to face him, white hot tears streaming down her cheeks. She buried her face beneath his jaw, and hugged him so tightly while pounding her hands on his chest as she held him close, at once loving him with every strand of her being and and hating him for all her wasted years.

Albus waited and continued to stroke Minerva's hair, making gentle shushing sounds as her pique subsided.

Finally he spoke, "My road has been a complex one, but one that I have always had to tread alone. That was necessity, not my choice. Don't curse me for it, my dearest, dearest girl."

A long pause hung between them.

"I'll be gone soon," he said, "but I wanted you to have this first."
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