Summary: They met by accident one August afternoon. The incident happens three times. They become friends. He doesn't tell her that he's been crushing on her since day one. He's her friend. Surely, that's enough?
(or: the All-Human Modern AU, First Meeting-to-Friends-to-Lovers-kinda-Slow-Burn that I needed and ended up writing because somebody had to do it. Now edited. Now has a serious outline, so let's just hope I won't be too lazy. If I am, I'm sorry, I did my best. Please, R&R. Please! Title because I'm a Virginia Woolf fiend. Quotes because I love Keats). Please not that I managed to write this back in October, but was stuck by the 5th part ^^'
"I love your hills, and I love your dales,
And I love your flocks a-bleating –
But O, on the heather to lie together,
With both our hearts a-beating!
(The Devon Maid, v.9-12, J. Keats)
Minerva hadn't noticed anything peculiar that night as she'd gone to bed. Well, sure, it had been a full moon. And she was certain that she'd seen Severus Snape smile genuinely – not the sarcastic knife-edged upturn of the lips with which he usually graced them – at the prospect of spending two months working for a small pharmaceutical company for research purposes. It was a trial period, and they might keep him on is he proved to be what they needed. But the children had been no more or less annoying than usual. Albus had been his regular preternaturally childlike/manipulative self. Rolanda, Poppy and Pomona had not even annoyed her about Rubeus.
She'd simply called Rubeus and agreed to come down to his for the weekend. Maybe she'd have to take some work with her, but it was still better than staying at home with only Socrates and the telly for company as she finished her goddamn marking. But she'd missed him. A few texts during the week couldn't sustain her when she'd been used to much more contact between them. And she also felt guilty about having had to detach herself from him these past few weeks. She'd noticed his disappointment when she'd had to put all their plans on hold. Besides, she really did need a break. And surely, she was entitled to a little bit of time for herself. It wasn't often that she could let go and just be without anyone interrupting her for inane or stolid purposes.
Was it bad that she just wanted to spend time with her best friend? Instead of working or staying with her work friends, that is. But she didn't think that she'd met anyone quite like him. Or even had a friendship quite like that before. Rubeus was the only one who seemed to really get her. Who didn't bother her with gossip about people she couldn't care less about. Of course, this might very well be because she'd come to actually like hearing about all the people from the village and was genuinely interested in Rubeus' life. She was definitely never mentioning that one to Mr Albus "I'm patronizing you without looking it, all innocent-like" Dumbledore. Bastard would never let her live it down. "I always knew deep down that you were a fully functional and empathic human being, yadda yadda yadda" she mimed, before she snorted.
Basically, she'd simply slept like a baby. It all "started" the following night.
She'd been enjoying her nearly scalding lavender-scented bubble bath, a glass of 10-year-old Talisker in her hand, back reclining lazily on the warmed curve od the tub. She'd let her mind wander to her happy place. Funny how, these days, her happy place mostly comprised his cottage, his dog, his tea pot and ridiculous tea cosy, his bench in the garden, and him. Always him. Always Rubeus who was so warm that she'd come to associate memories with him with a sense of belonging, of warmth, of-of…
Well, whatever it was, she couldn't get enough of it.
And there she was, thinking about him already. (These days, he always was in one way of another. Not that she'd ever admit to it, of course. Not to herself, anyway.)
What would they do as soon as they'd see each other again? It was only a few days away, now, and she felt like champagne bubbling over the edges of a glass. Maybe she'd bring him to Mrs Getty's café on Sunday. Or maybe not. They'd have gone to Mrs Jones' on Saturday already, and she wanted to keep him to herself a little. Longed to hear how he'd been doing for the last few days, watch Fang running around chasing red-tailed squirrels as a drizzle trickled down and chilled them. There'd be tea afterwards. And warm toasts with butter or strawberry jam. If they were on an outing in a public place, he'd be entertaining, sure, but still mindful of company. She didn't want that. She didn't want to share him. (Yes, she was possessive. She didn't care.)
And, well, maybe… If they were going for a walk, maybe they'd walk arm-in-arm. Maybe she'd lay her head on his shoulder – well, the upper part of his arm. Rubeus was so tall, after all. And he'd give her a kiss on the forehead. She could almost feel it right now on her skin, if she focused properly. The warmth of his breath. The softness of his lips. The rough tickle of his beard and moustache. The tingle that it would leave on her skin.
With a sharp intake of breath, she brought the glass back to her lips without thinking. The slight burn of the liquid warmed her throat and relaxed her. She let herself dream of it. Their future time together. Laughing and talking and being with each other. She pictured how his arm would feel around her waist. Big and strong (all those muscles!) and tender and warm. How he could easily hug her or tug her low. Mesh their bodies together. She could smell his scent as if she'd buried her nose in his neck. Soap, musk, pine trees and humus too.
How he'd cup her face with a roughened paw and would bring their lips together deliciously slowly.
The taste of him. The hint of tea and sweet and savoury – horseradish, rucola, beef and strawberry jam and vanilla sponge.
He'd tangle his fingers in her hair and tug just sharply enough, and she'd moan and shiver. And his other hand would…
Her glass fell of her hand into the water, and the splashing sound brought her back to her now cooling bath. She turned bright red, red as a boiled lobster. Did she just? Shit! Oh, fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck! She had, hadn't she? She had just fantasised about kissing with her best friend. While she was in her bath. Naked. And, well, kissing didn't quite cut it, did it? No, she'd been well on her way to imagine them in bed together! In fact, even now, even as she felt that she needed a good double shot of the strongest scotch that she owned, part of her wondered just how endowed he was. And what his sweat and other fluids tasted like. And, she really should quit while she was ahead. At least there'd been no one in front of whom to embarrass herself. This time.
"Get a grip, Minerva!" she growled, trying to quell down all embarrassment.
After all, it was fairly normal, wasn't it? To fantasise about one's friends. It just meant that one was horny. The brain had to naturally conjure up the image of the single male with whom one spent the most of one's free time, right? There was nothing there.
Wasn't it? Wasn't it?
Except she could smell her own arousal as she dried herself. (Just a testimony to how much she needed sex, she tried to reassure herself. Nothing to do with how much she wanted him.)
Except that thoughts of him kept plaguing her as she dried herself. His smell. His voice. The warmth of him. The calluses on his hands. How that roughness would feel on her own hands. On her arms. On her face. On her lips. On her neck. On her breasts. On her nipples. On her-
And there she went again.
Except that she could almost feel his hot breath at the juncture of her neck, hear his voice gravel out her name in an enticing whisper.
Except that she'd missed too much these last few weeks. They hadn't seen each other. They'd barely talked.
After drying herself, she directly went to bed, and fell into a restless sleep.
The next morning cam and found her swimming in embarrassment. Her first reflex had been to call him or text him to ask him what he wanted to eat that weekend. She'd quickly found herself blushing, however, at the prospect of spending time alone with him.
What if he noticed? What if, just by looking at her, he knew? What if he saw in her eyes that she'd fantasised about him?
And if that wasn't enough, what the fuck did it mean, that she couldn't stop wanting him? Couldn't stop wanting to be near him? Couldn't stop imagining the perfect Saturday tea where he'd tell her all about village life and she'd be unable to do anything but smile fondly as he shared all those stories about others who had been granted his affection? That she was unable to do anything but be entranced by his tones and his smiles and his mannerisms? Or by the micro-expressions that decorated his dear face? Or his endearing idiosyncrasies? And oh, how she could feel contentment and affection bubble sweetly at the thought of spending time with him. (Urrgggh. Now, she sounded like a cheesy Victorian romance novel!)
Of course, Poppy and Rolanda just had to notice right away at breakfast that something was off with her. She'd never been so jittery. Boiling over with excitement and terrified that he'd notice and that things would become awkward between them. Because he'd never noticed her like that. She was sure of it. It was unrequited on her part. Besides, it would fade away quite soon, this attraction thing. Better that he not notice anything, right?
Her two friends had a very different opinion on the matter, of course. They'd seen their friend talk about him. Seen the bashfulness. Her eyes lighting up. The slight flush as she positively lauded the man. And the soft fondness each time she thought about him. (Which had been happening more and more lately.)
"But Minerva" said Poppy "don't you think you should tell him?"
"You want me to tell him that I fantasise about having sex with him?! 'Ave ya cracked yar head or sumthin'?!"
"She meant tell him that you're in love with him, Minerva." supplied Rolanda helpfully.
"What! In lo-?! No! Nononononono! I'm not in love with Rubeus! I- Really. I'm not. Honest!" she cried out. "I just want to…" I
just want to kiss him. Hug him. Laugh with him and go on walks with him. And wake up in his arms. And sleep in his arms. And play with his dog. And do the dishes and the cooking with him. And share my life with him. And spend most of my time with him. And – Oh My God! I'm in love with him!
"Well, shit!" she cursed. "I bloody well am in love with him, aren't I?"
And of course, her two idiot friends couldn't be happier that they'd manage to make Minerva "Ice Queen" McGonagall admit to having feelings for someone. They were happy for her.
But, well, she wasn't. What the fuck was she going to do?!
"Quiet, you two. It's hopeless. There's no way this could work."
"And why would that be, Minerva?" asked Poppy, elbowing their friend in the arm.
"Ouch!" yelped Rolanda.
"Because he's not interested in me!"
As her friends looked at her in disbelief, she went on: "He really isn't! He just sees me as a friend. A best friend, maybe, but nothing more!"
"Minerva" said Roland, enunciating clearly as if she were talking to a 7 year-old "Minerva, what did he do, the last time that you got that horrible cold?"
"Well, he came to the house and made me soup." she answered, her tone clearly indicating that she had no idea what her friend meant.
"Minerva, and I say this with all the best intentions in the world, you are a complete moron!"
"Rolanda." said Poppy, trying to calm her friends down.
"No man would ever go to a friend's house more than three hours away from them if they weren't interested!"
"But it's- it isn't… what I mean is, well it isn't like that. He's just a good friend. That's all there is to it. That's how generous and sweet and kind and wonderful he is. It has nothing to do with me, personally. "
Her friends just shook their heads in disbelief at the strength of her denial.
She couldn't focus properly for the rest of the day. What the fuck was she going to do this Saturday?