Disclaimer: Like last time, the characters aren't mine. These lovely people belong to JK Rowling and the respective publisher.

A/N: Sorry it took me sooooo long to update. I got swamped with school and robotics, then I got sick! Been having a hard time writing because I'm not in the mindset for it now, but I'm trying to get through it. Still hoping to speed up the plot slightly to keep interest. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 4

Hearing a clattering noise, the witches snapped their heads in the direction of the sound. Both hands stopped midway towards their wand as they recognized the wizard in question. But before they could react, he gave his apologies before exiting the room.

"Bloody hell! How much did he just hear?!" Rolanda exclaimed.

"He was in here first, he probably heard everything!" Poppy wailed.

"Well we can't tell Minerva! She WILL kill us if she finds out that he found out from us!"

"Then we just won't tell her!"

A sharp intake of breath could be heard from Rolanda as she gaped at her best friend. "What did you just say?"

"I said.. We don't tell her that he knows."

"Who are you and what did you do with Poppy?"

"Oh hush up! Besides, didn't you want me to be more devious like you?"

"I meant in baby steps like hiding Filius's glasses near Pomona, not deceiving the Scottish Temper!"

"We aren't going to lie to her, but we won't tell her the truth either. If she asks, then we just say he walked into the room as we were talking, and it couldn't be helped."

"I can't believe this.."

"Get over it Rolanda! If I really was a goody-two shoes, I would've turned you and Minerva in after all the pranks you two pulled."

"It's not that. I can't believe that after all these years together, only now I'm rubbing off on you!" Hooch complained with a mixture of irritation and happiness in here voice..

"This is a one time only, Rolanda! And hurry up! We still need to confirm our absence with Armando!"

Within a half hour, Rolanda, Poppy and Armando made their way down from the Headmaster's office to the Great Hall for dinner. He allowed them to take their leave after a brief appearance during dinner. No other restrictions were given, as long as they were fit to see to their duties the next day.

Whispering among themselves on their way to the staff table, Poppy and Rolanda took no notice of the different atmosphere in the Great Hall. And it wasn't until after seating themselves that they realized the room was lacking levity. Glancing around the table, everything was fine until they reached Albus.

Usually, Albus had a smile plastered on his face but somehow, it didn't look right. The smile didn't reach his eyes and face seemed clouded as if a thick fog had rolled in. But before they could question Albus, Armando announced dinner's commencement. All throughout the meal, Poppy and Rolanda tried to catch his attention, but it seemed he was in his own world. Halfway through the meal, Albus muttered his excuse about feeling lame to Armando. But before he could rise to leave, Poppy intercepted him.

"Are you alright, Albus? Is there something wrong?"

"I'm fine, Poppy. Just a lot of things on my mind." he replied as his eyes fogged over once again.

"Perhaps I could be of help then? I'm quite accustomed to being as one would say 'a shoulder to lean on.'"

Seeing his eyes bug out, Armando decided it was finally time to intervene.

"Don't fuss, Poppy. I'm sure he's fine. I'm sure it just dawned on him that he's going to be in charge of this crazy place next year. And I believe now is the perfect time for the two of you to take your leave for the night." he added with a hint of command in his voice.

Eying the two men, Poppy elbowed Hooch to signal their leaving. After shoveling another piece of potato into her mouth, Hooch waved her hand as a farewell and the witches left to prepare for their rendezvous.

After changing their robes, Poppy and Rolanda met near the gates of their school. Their pace was kept brisk by the lingering spring chill in the air. In no time, the iconic chime of Madame Puddifoot's Tea Shop was heard as the two witches pushed through the doors. Just like the plan, Minerva procured a table near the back of the shop, less visible to other customers. Already set on the table were three cups of steaming sweet tea.

The two witches took a seat next to their friend and, like usual, Rolanda cut straight to the chase.

"Come on, Minnie! Out with it! We're dying to hear!"

The use of her childhood nickname prompted her to glare at Hooch and cross her arms as her lips pursed into this lines.

Sighing in defeat, Rolanda corrected herself and sat waiting for her best friend's answer.

Breathing deeply, Minerva ordered her thoughts before releasing them. "First of all he was pleased to see me- er well, see me through the Floo anyway. Then we scheduled an appointment for tomorrow at 10. And he actually believes me to me the most qualified so right after we will be discussing my lesson plans and all the preparation. He said it's rather extensive so either we'll be working late and I get to spend the entire day with him, or we'll be meeting often and I can finally try to catch his attention! The only downside is that Armando will be attending most of the meeting tomorrow."

As Minerva caught her breath, Poppy and Rolanda struggled to stifle their laughs at her exaggerations.

"That's it? We thought there would be more to get you so riled up." Poppy commented.

"Well a lot can happen in one afternoon. I might also be stopping by tomorrow after the meeting."

"Wait, don't you need to confirm with Armando?"

Remembering Dumbledore's earlier words, a light blush rose to Minerva's cheeks and the tinted lighting of the café wasn't enough to cover up her embarrassment.

"Minerva McGonagall, what are you keeping from us?" Poppy demanded.

"Dumbledore believes that I'll fine if I ask him tomorrow because Armando won't deny.." she drifted off as her cheeks grew hotter.

"Minerva? We're waiting."

"He won't deny my 'kitten-face.' He says thinks it adorable and adjusted the name to fit my preferences." Minerva couldn't stand the attention and had to cover her face.

"Ooohh Min! You've got it bad! I haven't seen you blush like this since Dumbledore praised you in 7th year for that spell only you could do!" teased Poppy

"How do you remember one time out of so many? " Rolanda added sarcastically

"Wait, if Armando is present the entire time, that doesn't leave you two much time with each other?" questioned Poppy.

"That might have been why he was slightly disappointed during dinner.." Rolanda suggested.

"Disappointed? What do you mean?" Minerva warily asked.

"Yeah, Ro. What do you mean?" Poppy began eying the spiky haired woman. Just what is she up to now?

"I'm just saying that he didn't look right during dinner. I figured he was hoping for some alone time, but if Armando is there, you guys can't get… more acquainted, if you know what I mean.."

Once again, the temperature of Minerva's cheeks rose at Hooch's teasing.

"Oh! I got the perfect plan, Min! You and ol' Dumbles can talk throughout the entire lunch, and even go past that. I'm sure Armando will get bored and leave by then. Then you and him can have some 'alone' time." she answered as her eyebrows wiggled suggestively.

"I think I'll take that advice, but alter it slightly. Maybe just bore Armando to death, then slowly turn the conversation to something more personal. I can't be too forward or what will he think?"

"Maybe he'll finally realize that you love him just as much as he loves you?" Rolanda muttered loud enough for only Poppy to hear, causing both to chuckle softly.

"What's so funny?" Minerva warily asked.

"Nothing.. We just thought of the time he left class and you took charge to keep everyone in order. And the look on his face when he walked back in to find silence and order!" she said between her fits of laughter.

"I still think he knew what you did! Everyone kept shooting you looks throughout the class! Besides, he knows everything! Well, almost everything." she giggled at Minerva's confusion.

"There's something that the two of you know that I don't.." she deduced.

"You would know if you opened your eyes, Min." Poppy replied in a tired voice.

Sighing, Minerva held her hands up in defeat. "Obviously this conversation is going on without me. I'm going to head back to the Manor to get my rest. Enjoy your night." She left seven Sickles and seven Knuts on the table for her part of the bill before rising to leave.

"Minnie! Stay awhile more, we haven't seen nearly enough of each other this past month!" Poppy pleaded.

"I will be seeing your two tomorrow after dinner. Then I can tell you about any other developments in one of your private quarters. Good night." And with that, she walked out, leaving the other two to pay for their drinks before starting the trek back to Hogwarts.

After exiting the shop, the two witches walked through Hogsmeade, commenting on the little things like how busy the Three Broomsticks was. But as they walked along High Road, the conversation slowed as they each mulled over their own thoughts. In no time, the two witches reached the Entrance Hall and began slinking through the corridors.

"What do you think he's upset at?" Rolanda suddenly asked.

"I honestly don't know. We definitely know that he heard us, but shouldn't he be pleased?"

"He should have been ecstatic during dinner, but he wasn't. It was almost as if he lost her.."

"If she was gone from his life he would be a real mess, worse than if he could never eat a sherbet lemon again!" Poppy exaggerated.

"Wait! What happens if he believes he's lost her, but not completely?!" Rolanda shouted.

"Merlin's beard! You might be on to something!" Poppy exclaimed with wide eyes.

"Hmph! And you lot just think I'm nothing more than a pretty face!"

"That's not true! You're also the muscle! And now some of my brains have finally rubbed off on you!" Poppy countered in a playful tone.

"That's insulting that you think that way of me!" Rolanda answered as she faked a tone of hurt.

"Well then, Miss Brains, what exactly do you think Albus interpreted?" Poppy replied with a hint of sass.

"Hey! I'm bright, not a miracle worker. Give me some time to think this over!"

A sharp gasp escaped Poppy's mouth, prompting Rolanda's wand hand to flinch towards her inner pocket while her other arm shifted into a protective stance as she whipped around. But instead of an attacker, Poppy had grasped her arm and yanked her into the shadows.


"Shush!" Poppy hissed before pointing at the staff room.

Turning, Rolanda caught sight of a pair of sky blue robes disappear through the doors. All she could do was gape in return before Poppy pulled her along.

"We're going to follow him in, but he can't know we're there! Maybe he'll start to think out loud and we can figure this out!" Poppy whispered as the reached the door.

Cautiously pushing the door open, the two witches peeped their heads through the door before sliding towards the couches. Dumbledore was by the cupboards to prepare himself a cup of hot chocolate.

Amongst the dim noise he made, they could hear him as he began to voice his thoughts.

"I can't believe I've wasted my gathered courage and there is no future for us, not even a chance!" he sighed loudly.

The two turned towards each other, both with eyebrows raised.

'Not even a chance?' Poppy mouthed.

Rolanda just shrugged before turning back.

"She's found someone else right as I decide to wear my heart on my sleeve."

Rolanda's mouth dropped as Poppy let out a startled gasp before slapping her hand palm to her mouth. Both witches crouched lower to hide in case Albus turned in their direction, however, he was too engrossed in his self-pity to hear them.

"And now I'll have to see her everyday, living her new happy life without me." Albus continued sadly.

As he continued his self loathing, Poppy and Roland snuck back out of the staff room and nearly ran to Poppy's office.

"We have to owl Minerva! She'll be thrilled!"

"But she doesn't like being too forward!" Rolanda reminded Poppy.

"Hey! Maybe we can start pulling the strings here.. We can direct Min, and we already know what's with Dumbles." Poppy suggested.

"How about we owl Min with some directions or topics to bring up with him as ideas and she can hint that she's single. If he catches on well enough, we can start baiting him to go and sweep her off her feet!"

"Alright, I'll send one out tomorrow morning. What do I write?"

"Tell her to ask about communication with family and others, then have her ask him who he keeps in touch with. She has to ask about a significant other and throw in some flattery." Rolanda answered.

"Oh! Then she can wonder out loud, and mention how there's no one to really keep in touch excluding her parents and us. That will be enough of a hint to Dumbledore yeah?"

"Perfect! If you have any problems, Floo me. I'm heading back to my quarters for a well deserved nap!" and with that, the hawk-eyes Quidditch instructor was nothing more than a billowing cloak in the distance.

After paying for her drink, Minerva walked out into the cool night air and Apparated to the Manor. She enters to hear a loud crack as her house elf Pokey entered the room.

"What can Pokey bring for Mistress tonight?" Pokey inquired with a bow of her head.

"Good evening, Pokey. Can you prepare a cup of earl grey and leave it on my table in the bathroom. Thank you, my dear." Minerva requested.

"As you wish Mistress." Pokey replied before leaving with another loud crack.

Minerva ascended the main staircase and worked her way to the bedroom. The house was still silent because Minerva's parents were still tending to her ill great-aunt on the other side of Britain. Gather her sleeping robes and bath salts, Minerva entered the bathroom to find a cup already waiting for her, as well as a full tub of steaming water. Slowly entering the steamy tub, Minerva reached for her cup of tea and began to ponder the day's events.

I can't fathom why Albus was disappointed today. Maybe he really wanted alone time with me? Or maybe he's just worried about all the preparation for him and myself. Hopefully tomorrow I can lift his spirits..

Minerva finished her bath before drying off and finishing her cup. With a big yawn, she slipped under the covers of her bed and her breathing slowed. Her last thoughts before drifting off to sleep were of Albus and what could be troubling him.

A/N: Okay, so I didn't finish the interview, but I'll be working on it soon! I just wanted to start off the year with an update! It should start to get a little more interest after the next two or three chapters, so please stick it out! I'll try to update ASAP, but I have to finish homework and get ready for school, so I will make no such promises. And kudos if you caught that reference. Please review, follow, favorite, ANYTHING to let me know that you're reading!

P.S. Sorry about any mistakes, I proofread this at 1:30 AM before posting it!