I'm sure everyone's heard of the Knight2King (Ron = Dumbledore) theory by now. Well, with that in mind...

Second Chances
by Beth H.
(c) May 23, 2005

Fortescue and Everard were both snoring softly in their corners of the office, but Phineas Nigellus didn't have to turn his head to know that Dilys Derwent's portrait was wide awake and fixing her beady little eyes on him.

Sanctimonious old cow.

How dare she glare at him as if he shouldn't be watching - as if he didn't deserve a little amusement after all he'd done to keep Grimmauld Place secure for the damned members of Albus's damned Order. Tramping in and out at all times of the day or night as if they'd belonged there. Appalling idea. Most of them didn't even deserve to enter the Black family home through the House Elf door.

This girl - this Mudblood - she was one of them, one of Albus's pets. There was no mistaking her, with those big brown eyes and that untamable mane of hair. A man's fingers could get lost in those curls. If only his fingers weren't just oil paint and canvas, he'd show her a thing or two about what she'd been missing all these years.

Not that Albus seemed to be missing a trick. That's it, boy. Slide your arm around her shoulders under the guise of sympathy, and who knows what might happen?

" . . . did it happen, Headmaster?" the girl whispered. "He was . . . I saw him after the battle. He was . . . fine."

"I know it looked that way, my dear," Albus said gently, pushing an errant lock of hair back from the girl's face with his thumb, " but that curse was created to take effect after thirty minutes had passed."

"Then . . . maybe a time turner would. . . "

"No," he said, shaking his head slowly. "I am afraid that was never an option, for reasons you do not yet understand. I promise you though, Hermione, young Mr Weasley felt no pain . . . at the end."

Ah, yes . . . very sincere, Albus. Very caring.

And oh, look . . . the Mudblood is nodding, but she's biting her lower lip as if trying to keep herself from crying. Perhaps just a touch more comfort would be welcome? That's right! Very good. Rubbing circles on her back as if she were still a child in need of cosseting, but she's no longer a child, is she, you old reprobate?


"Yes, my dear?"

"It's not fair!"

And then she began to cry in earnest, clinging to Albus's maroon robes as if she was never intending to let go.

It was almost impossible to hear what else she was saying, what with all her damned sniffling and Albus uttering "There, there" over and over again, but Phineas could make out the odd muffled phrase - "...waiting until the moment was right..." and "...no one else..." - until finally, a single tear slipped down Albus's wrinkled cheek, and he said "Oh, 'Mione, I feel the same way! Tonight was going to be so special."

The Granger girl pulled out of his embrace so fast, she almost knocked the old man off his chair.

"What did you just call me, H-H-Headmaster?" The look on her face was the oddest mix of shock and horror and...hope.

For a moment, Albus was silent, but his gnarled fingers twitched as if he were deciding whether a memory charm might be called for.

Finally he sighed deeply. "Perhaps it would be better if you . . . "

"You called me 'Mione." She furrowed her brow and looked at Albus as if she were seeing him for the first time. "Only one person's ever called me by that name."

A sorrowful expression crossed his face, and he looked away from the girl.

She frowned, then turned to look at the shelf behind Albus's desk. Phineas couldn't imagine what she was finding so interesting. There was nothing there apart from the usual whirling toys, Albus's signed photograph of the Chudley Cannons seeker, and a half-empty box of chocolate frogs.


"I never intended for you to find out like this," Albus said quietly.

Oh yes, Phineas thought: now Dilys is leaning forward in her chair and gaping like a speckle-bottomed blowfish - so much for her incessant admonitions that I should mind my own business. Hypocritical old witch.

"How could...it's not possible," the girl said. "Is it?"

"With magic, anything's possible, 'Mione," Albus replied gently. "I might have known that you were too clever to be fooled for long."

"Then...then we still have a future!"

The openly ecstatic expression on the girl's face made Phineas cringe. In his day, not even Hufflepuffs looked so vapidly exuberant, no matter what the cause.

"Almost anything's possible, my dear," said Albus, shaking his head sadly. "Surely you can see that I am now far, far too old for a lovely young woman like yourself, and..."

She wiped a stray tear from her eye as she walked back toward Albus. "It doesn't matter, Ron. You're still the one I fell in love with."

"People will...."

"Sod people!" she said, reaching out and stroking his wrinkled cheek with her hand.

"Oh, 'Mione!" Albus murmured, drawing her into an embrace and kissing her softly. "My love!"

Phineas smirked at Dilys (she always did blush easily), then settled back in his chair to enjoy the spectacle before him. It was quite impressive to see how quickly a talented wizard in his hundreds could remove the robes from a nubile young girl without the aid of magic.

The Granger chit moaned softly as Albus stroked the undersides of her breasts, then . . .

"Lemon Drop."

"Bloody hell!" Albus muttered, pulling the girl's robes back over her shoulders. "I can't believe I didn't change the password. Must be going senile."

The door opened, and in walked Minerva McGonagall, her hair no longer contained in its usual severe bun.

"Here you are, Miss Granger! We've been looking for you everywhere. Surely you'd rather be in the Hospital Wing?"

The girl's eyes widened. "Has Harry been hurt?"

Minerva shook her head. "Of course Harry's not hurt, dear. But Madam Pomfrey has finished with your Mr Weasley now, and he's been asking for you."

"Ron has been . . . he's alive?"

She whirled around and stared at Albus, who was smiling sheepishly.

"You utter bastard!" the Granger girl shrieked, then ran past her head of House and out the door of the headmaster's office.

"What in the world!" a shocked Minerva said as the door slammed behind the girl.

"I really couldn't say," replied Albus innocently.

Minerva's eyes narrowed. "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore! This had best not be anything like that time in my seventh year when you tried to convince me that you were a reincarnation of Merlin!"

"Not at all, Minerva" he said, his rheumy eyes not quite meeting her own. "I'm sure our young Miss Granger was just reacting to the stresses of the battle. Lemon drop, my dear?"


Feedback: beth-h @ mrks.org

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