A cloaked figure stood by the gates, waiting. His auburn beard seemed to sparkle in the moonlight. His soft blue eyes reflected the stars, a hopeful glint gleaming somewhere deep within.

A faint 'POP' sounded a small distance away. His heart pounded anxiously against his ribs, something he was not completely used to. He imagined that fourteen years earlier he would have chided himself for allowing such a strong feeling to overwhelm him at the mere thought of her. The situations were completely different, though, seeing as she had been his student fourteen years ago and was now his colleague. Nonetheless, he was delighted to see her. "Minerva?" He called into the darkness. The headmaster could hear the familiar swishing of robes approaching.

"Professor!" A sweet voice returned his greeting with such warmth that he felt as though the biting cold subsided. A stunning witch stepped out of the forest, emerald eyes aglow in the dark. Long, raven hair and black traveling cloaks alike billowed behind her thin shape as she hurried to meet him.

"Please, dear, call me Albus." He sighed happily when she embraced him, nodding her agreement. It felt so right, holding her in his arms after more than a decade without her. Albus noticed that she had ceased shivering once he had wrapped his arms around her.

"Oh, Albus, it's wonderful being back." She pulled away, gazing up at the castle behind him.

Albus could only smile at the witch, overwhelmed once again by the intense feelings that had appeared so suddenly at her arrival. It was true, he had fallen in love with his student some fourteen years ago, and it was also true that he still harbored very strong feelings for this beautiful, intelligent, passionate woman. He allowed his thoughts to take over as she stared at Hogwarts, his eyes never leaving her face.

..

He was sitting in his office with Minerva. They had been working together alone every night for the past four months on her Animagus training. It was their last lesson.

Minerva had completed the training with little difficulty. She now sipped her tea quietly, seated across from Albus in an armchair identical to his. She had been rather subdued all night, and he had noticed. There was very little that slipped by Albus without him noticing. "Whatever is on your mind tonight, my dear?" He prompted after a long period of silence.

"Everything." Minerva sighed with a small shrug. She looked utterly defeated, something that Albus wasn't used to seeing in his most talented student.

Usually he would have taken the hint, accepting that she was uncomfortable talking about whatever was bothering her, but tonight seemed different. "I hope you have realized that you can tell me anything, Miss McGonagall."

Her eyes snapped to his in surprise. The look she gave him tore at his heart; the shocked, hopeful, yet terrified expression with those green eyes filled to the brim with tears. He wasn't accustomed to seeing this side of her so it was only natural that his surprise was evident as well. "Oh, of-of course Professor." Minerva frowned slightly at her tea, swishing the liquid around in the cup as she sorted out her thoughts before continuing. "I feel like I need to confess something to you. I do hope you won't be angry with me." She paused again, taking a deep breath. A sickening feeling of dread had crept into both of their stomachs. Her hands were shaking, he noted with a grimace of his own. Would it be wrong to reach out and take her hand in his, if it was only to comfort her? "You see, over the past few months –perhaps years – I have begun to develop very strong feelings for you. Some, I daresay, that even I am unfamiliar with."

"Minerva, I-" She cut him off with a shake of her head.

"Please, Professor." She noticed that he had used her first name, but she decided not to acknowledge it yet. "I tried denying it for quite some time, but it was of no use. I love you. I know that you can't –and more than likely don't—love me back. I don't expect you to. I'm only telling you this because I leave soon to train with the Ministry as an Auror, and I couldn't go without telling you that I am truly and sincerely in love with you." The quiet that followed filled the room, washing over the student and her professor as if a bucket of water had been dumped upon them. It was painful. The lack of sound was deafening. She straightened her back slightly, taking the silence as her answer and moving towards the door. "I really should be going. I have an essay to finish and it's getting rather late. Thank you so much for the private lessons, Professor. I really do appreciate it. Also, I am very sorry if what I said was out of line." Minerva bit her bottom lip thoughtfully for a moment before turning back to the door. "I suppose I will see you at breakfast tomorrow. Goodnight, sir." Her hand was on the door knob when two strong hands gripped her waist, turning her around sharply.

Before Minerva knew what was happening, her back was pressed to the door and their lips had met with unwavering passion. She had never experienced anything like it before. She savored the taste of lemon drops on his lips, enjoying the feeling of one of his hands tangled in her hair while the other rested firmly on the small of her back. Suddenly the kiss was over, leaving them both to stare at each other in shock. Albus held her tightly against him, refusing to let her go. Minerva didn't mind. She felt as if this was where she belonged. This was home.

Albus finally pulled away, all too soon in her opinion. They were both left with a lingering unpleasant feeling of emptiness, though neither one wished to address it at that time.

"Minerva, my darling, I love you too."

..

With a sense of finality, Albus managed to look away from Minerva and smile. Was she thinking of the same memory? Did she remember? Albus couldn't resist wondering.

He reached for her hand and stroked the back with his thumb as he followed her gaze. The castle towered above them, looking mysterious and rather unearthly. At the same time, it was entirely familiar, therefore the sight was quite comforting.

There was an infinite amount of things he wished he had the courage to say in that moment. Instead, he settled with something simple that could be interpreted in many ways. He hoped that she would understand the hidden meaning behind his carefully chosen words.

"Welcome home, Minerva. Welcome home."

She understood.


AN: Hello! I'll start out by saying this: I am deeply sorry for being so late in posting Chapter 3 of Forever and a Day. Hopefully you won't have to wait too much longer, I'm almost finished. I have been on vacation with my family in California for the last week and a half. Seeing as I wasn't allowed to bring my computer along with me I wasn't able to update at all. However, I did manage to transfer this story from one of my many notebooks purely to reassure you all that I am still alive and writing. Personally, I'm not all that pleased with the way this story turned out. It was much better in my head, but I was feeling rather scattered on the plane when I wrote it. Anyway, as always please tell me what you thought! Constructive criticism is always appreciated as well! I fear I was a bit too comma-happy while writing this... but when am I not?

Quick question: I meant for this to be a cute, short one-shot, but I have another chapter written and I can definitely write more if you want more. What are your thoughts? Would you like to see what happens next? Or are you content with this ending? I'd be happy to continue, but I'll only post if you lovely people review and tell me that I should. You know what to do!

Much love,

Jamie