Disclaimer: None of this belongs to me, the characters belong to JK Rowling and publishers.

A/N: Sorry it's been a while! Got behind in school and life's been a bit hectic. Hopefully I'll be able to update more often, but please follow this so you know when the next chapter's out!

Chapter 3

Saturday mornings were usually a relaxing time for Albus, but not today. Even though Minerva's letter had been sent less than eight hours ago, he couldn't help but be impatient for her response. Deciding to make use of his time, Albus began answering owls and filing paperwork, however, that just made time tick by slower. Finally abandoning the notion of completing any work, Albus left his office and made his way to the staff room.

On the weekends, the staff room was always his favorite refuge when his office became too stressful for him and today was no exception. The oversized arm chair by the fireplace was his favorite place to read because he could sit like a child, a luxury that other chairs couldn't give him. The other professors always thought it was odd for a grown man to sit and read like that, but then again, they were talking about Albus Dumbledore. Whenever he read in his favorite chair, Albus would take his shoes off to expose his mismatched, neon socks and sit criss-cross on the chair with his book.

Today, Albus choose to read Hogwarts: A History to remind him of how much wonder and magic lay in this castle. The hours seemed to fly by and soon he found himself nearly late for lunch.

By the time he reached the Great Hall, it was almost full and many of the staff gave him puzzled looks. While waiting for the remaining students to filter in, Albus began a whispered conversation with Armando.
"Please Armando, explain to me what you were implying yesterday."

"I just wanted to warn you that she might throw caution to the wind and I advise you to do so also."

"We've already agreed that she and I will become friends, so why must I throw caution to the wind."

"Albus, trust your heart."

"About what?"

"About what we're talking about now and your actions after she arrives."

"But wha-"

"Good afternoon, everyone. Before we start lunch, I have an important announcement to make." Armando waited for silence as all eyes turned towards him. "As much as I've loved my years as Headmaster, my time has passed and the next Headmaster can now leave their mark on the school. Please help me to congratulate Professor Dumbledore!"

Applause erupted from each House table, although the Slytherins were a little less enthusiastic for another Gryffindor in charge.

"Now I present lunch!" Armando sat as the food appeared in front of everyone.

Armando and Professor Slughorn began an animated discussion about previous students and their achievements, thoroughly preventing Albus from inquiring again.

Many of the professors were chatting amongst themselves, leaving Albus in his own world as he contemplated Armando's hidden meaning. With so much on his mind, Albus barely touched his food before excusing himself to finish the morning's paperwork.

Back in his office, he sank into his chair as he let out a deep sign. With one swish of his hand, Albus summoned blank ink, two quills and a roll of parchment. His accoutrements landed gently on the desk as he sorted through the paperwork. In the end, he was left with three different piles, Armando's retirement paperwork, Ministry correspondence, and letters from friends and colleagues like Nicholas Flamel. He decided to tackle Armando's retirement forms and his own forms to become Headmaster before attempting the daunting pile from the Ministry. Popping a sherbet lemon into his mouth, he determinedly started the pile.

Three painful hours later, Albus was able to finish all the paperwork for the change in administration, however, the last two piles remained untouched.

With a sigh of frustration, Albus moved towards the Ministry's pile and began the dreadful task. It turns out, the first envelope was another request from the Ministry to run for Minister. This was the fourth time this month, however, Albus gave a courteous refusal and mentioned the paperwork that had just been finished. The next letter wasn't nearly as droll because it was from his good friend, Alastor Moody. Many times during the rise of Grindelwald, he worked closely with the talented Auror and over time, they became close friends. However, due to the nature of his job, they rarely saw each other. Near the end of every year, Alastor asked him if any of his lions were talented and interested in becoming an Auror, however, that was not the case of this letter. Instead of being official business, it seemed that Alastor had a personal matter that required some advice; Alastor developed quite the interest in Poppy and wasn't sure how to pursue her. Never one with the ladies, Albus tried to offer any advice he could by telling him to take show an interest and start getting to know her before trying for anything else.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Ministry pile was filled with requests for his personal opinion on matters within the Ministry. Most of the matters were trivial, so he merely gave them a cursory glance before replying to them with generic responses. However, his helpful and patient nature led him to read the letters and give an honest opinion. When he finished the last one, he let out a deep sign and felt his jaw slacken. It seemed to have clenched while answering letters. The stress was finally getting to him and the bumbling baboons of the Ministry didn't help.

Needing a break from sight of parchment, Albus closed his eyes for a few moments of relaxing silence, however, it was soon interrupted by a trill of notes from Fawkes. It seems Albus has been neglecting the phoenix due to his preoccupied state of mind. In his efforts to make amends, Albus opened the top right drawer of his desk and grabbed a handful of treats before making his way over to Fawkes' perch by the window.

After offering the treats to the majestic bird, Albus sat in the armchair and closed his eyes. He began to imagine Minerva's first day of becoming a professor and how he would greet her. But before he could bring her into his embrace, a light touch on his shoulder and the warming sensation by his cheek told him Fawkes had other plans. Opening his eyes to see Fawkes flying to the window, Albus had no choice but to follow. Flying through the afternoon sky was a familiar owl!
Fumbling with the window's latch, Albus struggled to open the window and allow the tawny owl in. The owl merely watched with amusement as Albus nearly tripped on his way to the desk. After giving the owl it's treat and removing Minerva's reply, he nearly ripped the envelope and letter in his excitement.

Dear Professor Dumbledore,

I would be honored to become Hogwarts' next esteemed Transfiguration professor. Do you have time for the meeting tomorrow? Anytime will be fine with me. Because time is of the essence, would it be possible to continue this over Floo? I will be staying the weekend at McGonagall Manor. Hopefully this will be easier on us and the poor owl.
Sincerely,

Minerva

While reading her letter, shivers flew down his spine as he imagined her voice, thick with it's Scottish accent. Her lips flawlessly moving to form her words and his name rolling off her tongue. But soon he began to imagine the feel of her soft lips against his and as his body relished at the feeling, he knew his feelings for Minerva were true. Taking Armando's advice to heart, he decided to take the first step towards their new relationship during the Floo call. He would invite her for a private lunch so they could reacquaint themselves with each other.

On his way to the fireplace, he sends the owl off to the Owlery and grabs a pinch of Floo powder. Speaking crisply, Albus called "McGonagall Manor" before sticking his head into the fire.

"Minerva?"

"Professor Dumbledore! It's so nice to see you! Well, sort of see you."

"The same for you, my dear"

A shiver went down Minerva's spine as he referred to her as 'my dear.'

"Were you able to find time in your busy schedule?"

"Thankfully, I had nothing planned tomorrow. Perhaps we could meet at 10:00 in my office? You can come directly through the Floo for less hassle. I doubt any other candidate who applies would be as qualified as you, so if you don't have any plans, Minerva, would you care to join me for lunch to discuss the preparation necessary before the next term."

"That sounds absolutely delightful!"

"Fantastic. So I shall see you tomorrow at 10?"

"It's a date- I mean.. I'll be there.." she blushed.

Albus merely raised his eyebrows at her flustered response, daring to think his feelings might be returned.

"Wait, Albus?"

"Yes, my dear?"

"Would you please ask Armando if he's alright with me visiting Poppy and Rolanda after our lunch?"

"You should ask him yourself, I think you can pull a much more convincing 'kitten' face than I."

"I beg your pardon? 'Kitten' face?" with a look of disbelief on her face.

"I'm sorry, was it offensive? I thought it would be better than puppy-dog face because of your love for cats"

"Yes, of course." she blushed. "When would be a good time for me to ask him?"

"As current Headmaster, he must be present during all interviews, so you can ask him then" Albus suggested.

"Oh. That's right. Well, thank you for this opportunity, sir. I'll see you tomorrow" she said with more than a hint of disappointment on her face.

Before Albus could reply, she closed the connection and slumped onto the chair. Her meeting and lunch alone with Albus just changed to a lunch date for three. Now her chances of restarting their friendship had to wait until she moved into the castle. Either way, she just had to tell Poppy and Rolanda. Maybe they could sneak away for a night in Hogsmeade.

A pinch full of Floo powder later, Minerva had contacted Poppy and asked her to summon Rolanda before she continued.

Minutes later, Rolanda came running into Poppy's private rooms above the Hospital Wing. Panting and wheezing, Rolanda sputtered, "So what happened between Minnie and and ol' Dumbleydore?"

"For Merlin's sake, Rolanda, my name is Minerva and your boss's name is Albus Dumbledore!" Minerva sighed at her best friend. No matter how much she objected, Rolanda would never stop calling her by her childhood nickname.

"Fine, Minerva, what happened between you and Dumbledore?"
"First of all, I don't want to talk about it-"

"What the bloody hell do you mean you don't want to talk about it? Poppy's Patronus came to me in the middle of my afternoon flight saying you've come with news and I rush over her to find out you don't want to talk about it?!" Rolanda screamed.

"Let me finish Hooch!" Minerva snapped before continuing, "I don't want to talk about this over Floo. I was going to ask you two to join me after dinner in Hogsmeade, but if you'd rather have an evening flight to make up for what I interrupted, then I'm sure Poppy and I wouldn't mind a quiet night for once!"

Rather taken aback by Minerva's sudden display, Rolanda quietly replies, "Min, I'm sorry, I really am. I would love to accompany you and Poppy tonight if you'll forgive my outburst."

"Oh please! Like we could keep you away from the details of a story after you caught wind of it? I wouldn't dare thinking of sharing the news without you. Which is why the two of you must meet me in Hogsmeade after dinner. I'll procure a small table in Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop near the back. Just tell her you're with me."

This time, a scoff escaped Poppy's lips as she looked at Minerva with disbelief. "YOU are willingly going into Puddifoot's shop? I thought you hated that place?"

"The only time I hate that shop is Valentine's Day. There's too many couples snogging in public, it's impossible to enjoy the tea and ginger newts!"

Snickering on the side, Rolanda added, "Be sure to tell Albus to steer away from there and take it somewhere more appropriate. Somewhere like, his bedroom?" Wiggling her eyebrows, Rolanda began to laugh at Minerva's discomfort and embarrassment in this situation.

Like usual, the mediwitch had to step in and stop the two from their teasing and toying before someone got hurt. "Come on you two. Stop that. Now, Minerva, what time are the reservations at?"

"I'll make it two hours after dinner starts, giving you both enough time to enjoy dinner and finish any last minute work before meeting me. And the both of you may want to request the night off from Headmaster Dippet."

Rolanda and Poppy shared a glance of knowing. It was just like Minerva to plan every detail and step of her course of action. But they nodded anyway as they said their farewells for now.

Before making their way to the Headmaster's office, the two witches decided to stop by the staff room. Upon entering, Poppy and Rolanda began a hushed conversation about, the new Hogwarts were so engrossed in their whispered words that they took no notice of who was already in the room.

Albus, in the process of making his famous hot chocolate, couldn't help but hear snippets of their conversation as their voices drifted across the empty room.

".. She's finally acting on her feelings!"

"Finally! Especially seeing how long she's been love struck!"

"I wonder how long until they become official" Rolanda wonders out loud.

At the sound of the last sentence, Albus's spoon slipped from his grip and clashed to the ground. Upon hearing the sudden interruption, the two witches immediately snapped their heads in his direction.

"So sorry to interrupt you ladies. I was just preparing a cup of hot chocolate to spoil my dinner when the spoon slipped from my grip. Give me another minute and I'll be out of your way."

After preparing his steaming cup of hot chocolate, Albus walked out of staff room and left the witches as they exchanged worried glances with each other. Casting a warming spell on his hot chocolate, he banished it to his office before collapsing in the nearest empty classroom. He fell into the closest chair and hung his heads in his hands.

It's no secret who they're talking about. How could I have been such a fool? I've waited too long and now Minerva's found someone else to hold her heart. Alas, after finally gathering my lost Gryffindor courage, I'm afraid it will all go to waste! If what Poppy and Rolanda say is true, I've lost her forever and all there is left for her to accept is my friendship.

Before leaving, he regained his composure, determined to look for the light even in these dark times. He promised himself that no matter what, he would offer Minerva friendship and support, in hopes that one day, she could feel a fraction of what he felt for her.

A/N: Sorry it's been moving slow, I'll try to update sooner and move the plot along! Please review and follow/favorite!