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A/N: I own nothing, save for my small collection of words and phrases. It all belongs to the creative goddess of our generation, which sadly, really isn't me. The song belongs to Alanis Morissette, and I apologize for rearranging portions of the song to better fit my plot line.

This is un-beta'd, so any mistakes are my own. Also, I suffer a deplorable lack of a Brit-picker, so my apologies for anything I get wrong. I'm from the Deep Southern US, and can only dream of a trip to the British Isles.


For two nights, and the days between them, Hermione stayed closeted in her room, only leaving her bed when nature required it. She ate and drank very little; water from the bathroom tap and some cream crackers she kept for when studying and research kept her from meals.

Late on Sunday night, her tears finally began to dry up, and her brain began to think again. Suddenly aware of how long she'd been moping and subsequently how she must smell, she decided to take a shower.

As the hot water washed away the stress she'd been feeling all weekend, Hermione ruminated on the cause of her distress. Minerva's words echoed in her mind, along with their actions. Something just wasn't adding up. If she was truly uninterested, Hermione was convinced that she would have been pushed away when she initiated the first kiss, but the way Minerva had grabbed her shoulder, had pulled her closer, had opened her mouth to deepen the kiss... It didn't fit.

Hermione lathered her shampoo in, remembering the way Minerva's hair had felt when she released it from the signature bun. Gods, who would have thought that tightly wound bun held such long and lustrous hair? She thought she could spend an eternity just burying her face and hands in it, breathing Minerva in.

Rinsing off, her thoughts returned to the pieces of the puzzle she'd been trying to put together. She just couldn't figure Minerva out. She had been so passionate, and then to be so cold the next morning. Something must have happened, she decided. She just couldn't resolve the situation in any other way. Something had changed Minerva's mind while Hermione lay sleeping. She just needed to figure out what that had been.

"Tempus." It was nearing midnight. Instinctively she knew Minerva would still be awake. Another confrontation was necessary. Her mind was made up. She had to find out what caused the turn-around.


Minerva sat, slouching deeply in her chair by the fireplace in her bedroom, a drink in one hand, and a burning cigarette in the other, slowly disappearing unheeded into ash. She was lost in thought, paying no attention to the contents of either hand.

She cursed quietly when the the burning end of the cigarette reached her fingers, flicking its remains into the fire. It was a filthy habit, smoking, and not one in which she regularly indulged, but there were times when the urge was too strong, when the stress of her life got to her, and she had to have one. The fact that she'd gone through a couple packs since Saturday morning was testament to her state of mind. She straightened in her seat and downed the remaining contents of her glass in one gulp, the expensive fire-whiskey burning its way down her throat nicely. Setting the empty glass on the small table next to her chair, she placed her hands in the small of her back, arching to work out the kinks that slouching had twisted her muscles into.

That done, she reached up to release her hair, allowing it to fall down her back. Relief flooded her face as its weight dispersed. She remembered Hermione's hands tangling through it, and the memory made her moan lightly. She hoped she hadn't hurt Hermione too much. She valued their friendship too much to allow … this, whatever it was … to get in the way. She sighed. She would have to figure out how to salvage the relationship without allowing for any more impropriety. As for her personal feelings... they would have to be pushed aside, as ever.

Sighing again, Minerva stood to go to bed, beginning to unfasten her robes. A noise, like the scrape of a shoe on the stone floor outside her door, startled her. Her robes were quickly buttoned back up, and a whispered spell had her hair bound back into its bun in seconds. Pushing Minerva aside, she became Headmistress McGonagall, and strode toward the door, intent on finding out the cause of the sound.

"Murus Invisibilis!" The wall was rendered invisible, but only from Minerva's side. She saw Hermione pacing in the corridor, apparently fighting with herself over whether or not to knock. Minerva sighed, realizing their talk was going to happen sooner than she'd thought. As she watched, Hermione stopped pacing and leaned her head on her hand against the portrait's frame. She reached up to pinch the bridge of her nose with the other hand, and a tear slid down her cheek.

"A thaisce, tha mi duilich." She breathed in, steeling her Headmistress front, cancelled the invisibility charm, and opened the door.

"Miss Granger?"

Hermione stumbled back, feeling the slap of her formal name.

"Why are you pacing about in my corridor after curfew?" She tried not to put too much coldness in her voice, but desperately needed to keep the Headmistress, and not Minerva, in control.

Hermione bolted.

Mirroring Hermione's earlier gesture, she squeezed the bridge of her nose between her fingers and set out to find Hermione and make sure she was okay.


Hermione had instinctively run for the seventh-floor corridor that housed the Room of Requirement, hoping to find a place to hide and think without the possibility of interruption. As she reached the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy, she began pacing while thinking of the room she needed. She paced back and forth for several minutes before realizing that the doorway wasn't appearing as it should. Frustrated by the process not having worked, she slid down the wall next to the tapestry, bringing her knees up and burying her head on them, wrapping her arms tightly around her legs, loudly venting her pain and frustration.

That's how Minerva found her, having used a Point-Me charm to track her down. She sank to the floor next to Hermione and slid her arm around her shoulders. She knew her bones would later remind her of the grievous injuries she was doing them by sitting on the cold stone floor, but she couldn't be bothered to care as she tried to comfort the woman she had so wronged.

"We still haven't managed to repair the Room. The Castle's charms let me know the fiendfyre is still burning in remote corners, and it will not allow anyone in until the flames have finally gone out," she said by way of explanation.

Hermione's head jerked up when she heard the softness of Minerva's voice, and not the clipped coldness of the Headmistress. "It's still burning?" she managed to whisper.

"Aye. Nothing to do but wait. There was entirely too much junk piled in there. Too much fodder for the fires." Minerva tugged lightly on Hermione's shoulder in invitation. Hermione acquiesced and laid her head on Minerva's shoulder, unsure what to do with her arms. Sensing the discomfort, Minerva thought for a moment and leaned up slightly so Hermione could squeeze one arm behind her, then she reached with her free hand and grabbed Hermione's other hand, stroking it comfortingly with her thumb.

Hermione relaxed and curled into Minerva's side, inhaling to take in the clean, herbal fragrance that she identified as "simply Minerva," also picking up an unfamiliar scent. She tried and failed to identify this additional smell.

Minerva sighed deeply, enjoying the impromptu cuddle more than she wanted to admit, but they were in a very exposed, very public place, and her bony bottom was already beginning to protest against its hard seat. "It seems we have much to discuss, Hermione, but this is not the place to do it. Let's go to my office." She gave Hermione's hand one last gentle squeeze and let it go, prompting Hermione to give her shoulder a last nuzzle, squeezing her around the waist before reluctantly getting up to offer a hand to assist the older Witch to her feet.

Minerva's lips twitched in a rare smile at the thought of having to be helped up. "I'm not quite that old and infirm yet, Hermione. I could have done it myself."

Hermione basked in the warmth of the smile. "Oh, yes, Professor," she teased, waggling her eyebrows lasciviously, "I know just what you're capable of."

Minerva's face flushed as she sputtered, "Yes. Well." She cleared her throat. "Shall we?" she squeaked out. Hermione chuckled at having discomfited the normally stoic Headmistress.

"Of course."


Like any uncharted territory
I must seem greatly intriguing
You speak of my love like
You have experienced love like mine before
But this is not allowed
You're uninvited
An unfortunate slight


Seated at her desk in the Headmistress' office, Minerva looked over her glasses at Hermione. "We didn't get much out in the way of explanation yesterday morning. I think there are some things we need to discuss, and some things that need clarification." She readied herself for the questions she needed to ask.

"Have you ever been with another woman?"

Hermione was surprised at the intensely personal turn of the question. "No, I've never wanted anyone like I want you."

"And have you ever been with a man? Perhaps Mr. Krum or Mr. Weasley? Or … Mr. Potter?" Please let her say no. Please let her say yes. Please just let her answer the question. Either answer is going to hurt.

"I … yes. Twice." She paused briefly to swallow hard, remembering.

"Both times were with Harry during the time Ron was absent from the hunt, leaving us alone with an active Horcrux. We found ourselves both craving other people, and needing to feel something other than the dark despair that the locket released in both of us. I know I wasn't thinking about Harry while it was going on, and I'm convinced that neither was he thinking of me. It's not something that will ever be repeated. I've known for years what my sexual preference is, and those incidents aside, any public interest I've shown in a boy has been strictly to be seen to conform to societal expectations since homosexuality seems to be a very taboo subject – both in the Muggle world where I was raised as well as here in the Wizarding world." Her eyebrows furrowed sharply. "But Minerva, I don't see the relevance in this line of questioning. I want you; only you."

Minerva sighed inwardly. She knew that was going to hurt, but Merlin she didn't know it would be such a deep cut. The Headmistress took over.

"I understand that being sequestered in the castle for so much of the year leads to certain … unwise and usually quite false feelings, especially for someone in a position of power; for someone you respect. However, it's also perfectly normal for these feelings to pass in time, leading to lasting, committed relationships with other people. It's a passing fancy, Hermione. You speak as though you've had enough experience to know what love is, but you have not." Her eyes softened slightly. "I'm sure that, in time, it will pass."

"It won't." Anger flashed in brown eyes. "I may be young, and I may be inexperienced, but that doesn't mean I don't know who and what I want. If youth and a fleeting crush are the excuse you seek for my behavior, what excuse do you give yourself? Have you forgotten what happened two nights ago? Does age and experience truly give you an exclusive certainty of who and what you want? Because my current experiences – with you! – are telling me that my feelings are not only real and true, but that despite all your arguments to the contrary, they are also neither unwelcome nor unreturned."

She stormed behind Minerva's desk, lightning in her eyes and sparks in her hair. She pulled a stunned Minerva to her feet, a hand on each arm, and crashed their lips together. Shocked, Minerva's mouth had dropped open, and Hermione took full advantage, plunging unhindered into her depths. The kiss was bruising in its intensity, and Minerva couldn't help but return it. Hermione's hands left their place on her arms, and rose to cup her face between them, thumbs caressing her jawbone on both sides while the kiss went on, relentless in its passion. Minerva's hands rose of their own accord, settling on Hermione's waist, her right hand stroking upward toward the swell of her breast. As questing fingers reached their intended goal, Hermione broke the kiss off, hissing from the sensation. Both women were gasping for breath, their chests heaving. Hermione's fingers were still cradling Minerva's head, and she looked into the vivid green of half-closed eyes, seeing the solution to her puzzle click into place.

"Minerva," she breathed, almost voicelessly, "I know what I want, and I won't lie about it. You need to quit lying to me about how you feel, and quit lying to yourself. This is no passing fancy for either of us, and I will do everything in my power to get you to realize it." She tilted Minerva's head forward, pressing one last, chaste kiss to her forehead before pulling her hands away and releasing Minerva from her grasp.

She spun on her heels, stalking from the office, determination shining from every pore. As she disappeared from view, Minerva dropped back into her chair, one hand resting at the hollow of her throat, the other tightly gripping the arm of her chair. "What in hell just happened?" She wondered aloud. The hand at her throat rose to rest at her mouth, her fingers touching swollen lips reverently, a shudder passing through her body as she pondered the kiss.

"I believe, Minerva, that's what the kids are calling a damn nice snog." One of the portraits spoke up cheekily, for which he received a death glare.

"Oh, dùin do bhuel, you auld fool."


Notes: I'm sure I used enough context to explain the meaning of my spells as the story went along, but just in case:

*Murus Invisibilis – Invisible Wall. I just put the two Latin words together. I don't know if anyone else has used this before or not, as a form of spying. As I see it, it turns the wall into a one-way mirror, allowing Minerva to see out, but Hermione to not be able to see in. As Hermione is on the dark side and Minerva is on the light side, a traditional one-way mirror would function the other way around, but hey, this is Magic, so let's just roll with that.

*Tempus – Time. I've seen this used in several other stories, and thought it was a canon spell, but I can find no reference to it. I don't know who initially began to use it to help characters keep time when there is no clock or watch handy, but I give them my thanks.

*A thaisce, tha mi duilich – Gaelic. "My treasure, I'm sorry." I wanted to find an endearment for Minerva to use, but didn't want to use the same "my love" or "my heart" that is commonly used. I found a list of endearments and "my treasure" jumped out at me as something I feel my version of Minerva would use. She does dearly treasure Hermione, both as a friend and as someone she desires.

*Dùin do bhuel – Gaelic. "Shut up." Literally "Shut your mouth." Should really be self-explanatory, but I like to explain.