Disclaimer I own none of the characters or situations. All of it belongs to JK Rowling and Warner Bros. No copyright infringement intended. Author's Note So as the Tom/Minerva trend seems to be taking off, I wrote this one-shot to celebrate the expansion of a marvelous ship! Whoot! Dedicated to MajiKat because she is amazing. ILY Kate! XOXO, Kalina
EMPEROR OF ROME
how far a blossom falls.
His eyes stared at the table in front of him, unmoving, peaceful, quiet, and Minerva wondered. Tom's usually volatile expressions had been stonily repressed into silence. She clenched and unclenched her fists in her robes, wondering at the words not spoken, the things the two of them refused to say. The brightness of day glared above their heads and she felt the surface of the cloud-covered sun graze her elbows and her neck. She had taken out her straw hat that day. It was fastened beneath her chin, her aristocratic chin, and she lifted it in contempt.
So he would not speak. Then, she concluded, neither would she.
Perhaps it was the fact that he, like Caesar, could have had armies at his disposal with a smile and a turn of his regal head, and she, poor girl, hadn't had nought but a stick in her hand. Perhaps it was the fact that he, like Caesar, could have had that magnetic quality about him: perfect and relentless, without regrets nor apologies. But no. She would not be so quickly dethroned.
A hand rested on the table - hers? his? - and the other beckoned to a young waitress as Tom handed her the paid check. The girl bowed, quiet as a church mouse, quiet as the two of them, and rushed away inside the unlucky cafe. Minerva leaned back in her chair, the hat atop her head, and closed her eyes. She crossed her legs.
Tom stared at the table. His white hands clutched at the edge of the table, as if to keep him from falling. Minerva rolled her neck, tired of the game, and glanced at him from beneath her lashes.
"Come along, Tom," she began. Her voice was hoarse and throaty and full. "You shan't keep mum all day."
At her words, he looked up, the Caesar, into her face. His eyes narrowed, his lips curved into a frown. "No," he answered slowly. "Indeed, that would not be wise." Brown eyes snatched a glimpse away from him, unsettled and unsure, and Minerva pushed herself out of the chair. A sudden breeze made flutter her dress, and she reached up a hand to keep her hat from blowing away.
"Walk with me," she said, and Tom rose up to take her offered arm. Her nose wrinkled in pleasure and she pulled him after her towards the cobbled street. The sun peeked through her curtain of clouds, unsure whether or not to take the stage. But Shakespeare had not called for her yet. The clouds, Minerva concluded, thin and stretched, would regale her a bit longer.
"A beautiful day, isn't it?" she asked laughingly, and turned to face him. The small town's passersby did not stop to stare at the odd young couple walking on the street. They had seen them before: the girl with a buffoon's smile and the boy with flint in his eyes. Tom raised a brow, unsure at her words.
"Yes," he answered tentatively. "A beautiful day. One for poets and serenades."
Minerva's nose crinkled again. Distaste. "I disagree," she said airily, spinning wide away from his arm. The short skirts of her summer dress rippled out, and still she kept her hand on her hat. Coming face-to-face with him as she whirled, though, she paused to catch her breath. "Poets," she sighed, "write for the moon, not the sun." She laughed. "Why, Tom, do you think they call it mooning after someone?"
Tom's steady eyes were kept trained on her, wild child and born of an odd easy life. "I cede the blow," he said steadily. "Poets do indeed prefer the mood." Her eyes went wide, and he stumbled to catch himself. "The moon," he repeated. "I meant the moon."
Minerva's lips thinned, and she began to walk sedately along the street, suddenly calm and collected. "Yes, the moon."
They reached the pond, not a word spoken between them after that. Minerva's new parasol hung from her elbow, fashionably printed in paisley. A turtle swam in circles. The stagnant water was littered in lily pads, thick vessels of green on an ancient ocean. Minerva dipped a hand in the dirty water and swirled it around. The ripples she made did not reach past a foot.
"Do you think," she started, "many people know what they are doing when they start the great adventures of their lives?" Her neck reached and she arched her back, one hand still languorous among the ruined rushes.
"Would you care to explain?"
She pulled her hand from the water and flicked droplets at his face. Tom winced. "I mean," she continued thoughtfully, "in literature. Do you think, oh, I don't know, Hamlet knew he was going to die when he took on Claudius? Do you think Anna had had any sense knocked into her when she fell in love with Vronsky? Do you think Don Quixote could have avoided his insanity?"
For the first time Tom smiled. "Obviously not," he replied, "for then there would be no story."
Minerva looked dissatisfied with his answer. She fidgeted, anxious, and spun her parasol on the edge of one finger. "What if some people have no story? What if some people do think?"
"There are some who do. And there are some who don't. And it is impulse which is easier to tell."
Her brow furrowed. "Such boredom."
He laughed, a short, raucous, cruel laugh, and she immediately regretted her words. Rising up from the lip of the pond, she allowed herself to giggle shyly, and without a look back, spun her parasol around her finger once more.
"Come along, Tom," she called, and she felt his cold presence by her shoulder again, beckoned by her soft, laughing voice. But she did not anticipate his words.
"Your mood has changed," he hissed. "You were different not yesterday."
She spun to face him, her face a mask of pleasantry and surprise. "How rather kind of you to notice, Tom." She smirked. "Yes, I suppose my mood has changed. Yours, however -" she shrugged indifferently, "- is as predictable as ever."
"Predictable?" Again he laughed, and she was swift to cover the nervous fear that scampered across her eyes. He bent down to face her, steel in his eyes, and grabbed that aristocratic chin of hers between his fingers. "Minerva, you cannot even predict yourself. Not a minute has passed and again your mood has changed." She wrenched her face away from his grasp. "One second so joyous, laughing -" his eyes cut to her, "- annoying, the next so proud." He stood up. "We are both changeable beasts, Minerva. The wind in the rushes. This later look suits your desirable features so well."
"You I can always count on to twist any situation to your advantage," she replied, eyes flashing, spine straight. "It's boring." She sniffed. "A girl does not want Iago."
All traces of the bemused boy had now faded. "So you find me cruel. Would you want me, Minerva, if I became Romeo?" His voice had dropped, barely cloaking the raw emotions she felt beneath his words. Her flesh trembled, and she smiled prettily at him.
"No," she answered. "Not even then."
They continued up the path, Hogwarts castle coming into view as they drew away from the small Hogsmeade village. April's spring clouds had now parted, the stage set for the sun. Tom's arm wrapped around her waist, a snake in the garden, and he pressed her back against his chest.
"Then tell me, Minerva, I am afire to know." Low. Fast. "How would you want me?"
She had him. She knew she had him before he had even spoken. Her lips broke into her wide smile and she unstrapped her straw hat and swung it from her hand. "I would not want you any other way than you are now," she breathed, "for as you said, we are the both of us changeable beasts."
He was her Caesar.
But she would be his Brutus.
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