The Hogwarts protective wards need reinforcing, and Severus needs Minerva’s help with a very special ritual.
Anyone who saw Severus standing in the seventh-floor corridor staring at the blank stone wall would likely have thought him as barmy as the subject of the tapestry that hung just opposite.
But he was not mad—at least, not any madder than he had been a week ago—he was employing a simple relaxation exercise that his putative partner for the evening might have recognised.
In his agitation, he had been utterly unable to make the door appear.
Ridiculous! he spat at himself. You can stand in front of the Dark Lord and lie to his face, but you cannot face the prospect of having it off with a woman?
Not just a woman, his near-conscious piped up. Minerva McGonagall. Severus told the imp in no uncertain terms to shut up. He had to concentrate on what he needed.
After seven minutes, the blasted door finally appeared in the wall.
Severus had never been in the Room of Requirement before, and he was unimpressed. He had come through the door into a very ordinary-looking bedroom with an ordinary-looking four-poster bed sporting ordinary-looking bedclothes and flanked by two ordinary-looking bedside tables bearing two ordinary-looking candles. There was an ordinary-looking wardrobe against the wall and a small and ordinary-looking table upon which sat one glass and a bottle of Firewhisky that Severus suspected would turn out to be very ordinary.
A small sigh escaped him. He had arrived nearly one-half hour before the appointed time, thinking he might want to prepare himself, but now he realised that there was nothing to prepare. He would either achieve his aims this evening, or he wouldn’t, and he had already read up on two spells to help him achieve an erection should his long-fallow equipment fail him at the crucial moment.
Waiting was agony. He felt as he had as a boy in Cokeworth when his dad had marched him down to the local clinic held for the millworkers and their families to get his inoculations, sitting and waiting with increasing dread for the sting of the needle, hoping he wouldn’t cry and embarrass himself. This time, Severus was fairly certain he wouldn’t cry, but he might very well come away embarrassed.
He heard the door and saw Minerva come in. She looked around the room, obviously as nonplussed as Severus had been. He wondered for a moment what the Room had provided for Albus and her.
“Good evening, Severus,” she said.
She went to the wardrobe, and for a horrifying moment, Severus thought she was going to undress then and there, but she simply took her dressing gown from her robe pocket and hung it up, then removed her outer robe, leaving her in the simple black dress he had seen her wear a thousand times before.
She hung up the robe, and casting a glance at the Firewhisky, asked, “Is that for you or for me?”
“I have no idea,” he answered. “It was here when I came in.”
“For you, probably, then.”
“I do not want it.”
“Suit yourself.” She crossed to the table, opened the bottle, and poured a finger-worth into the glass. “Slàinte,” she said, and downed the whisky.
Looking around, she asked, “Where’s the bathroom?”
She gave him a withering look. “Didn’t you ask the Room for a bathroom?”
“I am sorry. I didn’t think,” he replied, feeling very much like her student once again.
Perhaps she picked up on it, because her mien softened a bit then, just as it had often done when he had been her student and she turned her attention to helping him correct his error after she had finished chastising him for it.
“No matter. I’ll do it,” she said, closing her eyes momentarily. When she opened them, he saw that another door had magically appeared in the far wall. Minerva crossed to it, saying, “I’ll just be a minute.”
She disappeared behind the door, and Severus hoped she was not going to emerge in some kind of négligée, or worse, naked.
He decided to avail himself of the whisky. Just a drop might help soothe his ridiculous nerves. He picked up the glass and was about to Scourgify it when it came to him that he and Minerva were about to exchange fluids far more intimate than a bit of saliva, so he simply poured himself his drink and downed it without cleaning the glass. He felt momentarily rebellious and free, but whether it was the liquor or his reckless disregard of hygiene, he couldn’t say.
Minerva re-emerged—still fully dressed, thank Merlin—and sat down on the bed.
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