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Here we have the next chapter for you all. Again thank you to Lib McGranger for being a great beta and reminding me of the titles of my fics when I can’t seem to type the right thing. Reviews are always appreciated folks. Enjoy 😊

 

August 27th 2006 21:00

 

Hermione was first to slide through the oak front doors, holding them open for the Headmistress to follow. They descended the slightly damp flagstone steps, with Minerva coming to the side of the younger witch. The silence that was drawing longer between them was something that had always been comfortable in the past, seemed to morph into something of an anticipation of what was to come. 

Hermione led the way through the grounds towards the edge of the Forbidden Forest. “I always loved walking down here after dinner,” she said to her companion, breaking the uneasy silence. “I know it wasn’t strictly allowed.” She turned to see the older woman had turned to face her. 

“No, indeed it is not strictly allowed,” Minerva replied with the hint of a smile playing on her lips. “But then again there are a good few things you lot got up to that weren’t… ‘strictly allowed’.” The young witch tried in vain to hold back the guffaw that left her lungs as Minerva used air quotes at the end. There were a fair few things I got up to that weren’t allowed too, she thought as she basked in the happiness radiating from the woman in front of her. 

The smile that had been tugging at Minerva’s lips was now radiating in its full glory. “I’m glad I can amuse you Miss Granger,” she stopped to push her glasses up her nose. “Sorry, Professor Granger.”

“You know, Headmistress I have missed the way I am referred to in this castle. I’m going to miss it once it changes.” Hermione waited in anticipation of the response. 

“You are changing your name?” The headmistresses exclaimed shock emanating as her eyebrows shot into her hairline. “Why on earth are you changing your name? The only reason to do so would be to take another’s is if you are to be…” Her thoughts trailed off. 

“She asked me to marry her when I took the job here, I think she feels rather self conscious about me being back here, back where I am comfortable.” Hermione spoke to the ground not willing to look the elder witch in the eye.

“Back here where your mind can wander to things they shouldn’t?” Minerva questioned rhetorically. “This is going to be a tough year if we are unable to get past this.” Her right hand coming up to rub her left arm trying to quash the goosebumps of shock that had begun to emanate. Her heart hammering as she felt the cracks begin to widen at the thought of Hermione marrying someone. Jealousy that should not be there riled itself up in her veins. Forcing it down she continued. “Let me be the first of the staff to congratulate you.”

Hermione’s shoulders slumped. “It will be a tough year, particularly if you let your jealousy live on your sleeve with everyone else as you have just now with me. Your congratulations is not warranted or wanted. ” she spat back and chanced a look towards her dreams. Her chest rising as a look of defeat passed across her mentor’s face.  “But maybe. Just maybe I don’t want to get past this. Maybe I want to be distracted. Maybe I have been dreaming of coming back to this place, coming back to my home,” she took the woman’s hand in her own. “Coming back to you. Where I belong, where I should have been for the past 5 years and where I would give my life to be forever more.” 

Minerva couldn’t breath, her thoughts were traveling a million miles an hour. This was not what she expected to happen in this conversation. The young woman was supposed to have been happy in her relationship and although back in the hallowed ground, she was not supposed to be openly making advances on her. “Hermoine, we have been over this before.” She gently removed her hand from the beauty before her. “And quite frankly we are in a more precarious situation than we were 4 years ago. You are now no longer single and if you hadn’t noticed I am still married. Have you really not been happy before coming back here?”

“I have been happily distracted. And although I know my time here will always be torturous, I am settling for someone who is easy and comfortable.” The truth hurt both as it was laid before them. “Can you say that you are happy in your marriage?”

“Why are you settling dear?” Minerva responded in order to deflect from her own unease. 

“I am settling for I know that what I want is something that is not achievable. Something that has been out of my reach for as long as I have wanted it. Something that I am aware is taboo and would threaten the very foundations of anything. But I must be some kind of masochist as I want to be here, in the torture chamber.” She ran her hands up the headmistresses’ arms to settle on her shoulder. “And you didn’t answer my question.”

Minerva pulled away, turned around and started to head back in the direction of the castle. Back in the direction of safety, in the direction of somewhere that would get her out of a situation she was slowly becoming aware would not end in a good way. “I have been happy very few times in the past 8 years. All of those times I have been near something I can not have, and the happiest of those days, my dear, was the last time you ventured through the doors of this castle. I have not felt any more alive than I did that day, well except perhaps the day I accepted you back into this castle.” She continued to walk trying to distance herself. “I am not happy in my life, I am not happy in my marriage but I made vows. Vows which you are preparing to take of your own, vows that I have broken once but can not, however tempting, bring myself to break again. My conscience will not allow it.” 

And with that she was gone through the doors, leaving Hermione to make her own way through the empty castle. She had never felt more alone as she did now, heading towards her rooms and the woman she was supposed to spend her life with.