I swear she's doing it on purpose.  But no.  She doesn't know what she's teasing me.  Tormenting me.

            Perhaps I'm doing it to myself.

            Minerva's just sitting there, trying to write as the car bounces and jolts, being beautiful, intangible.  Perhaps it's this fate-forsaken journey that is doing it to me.  But then I'd have no excuse for the rest of the time.

            Of course, the car ride isn't improving anything.  A mission in Leeds seemed well enough; I was in need of some supplies that I could get a good price on there.  Of course, there was a hitch.  We were to disguise ourselves as muggles.  Hence the car.

            Not that it's uncomfortable--on the contrary, I've been in worse--but it's the lack of separation that is irksome.  Apparating is most preferable, but even on a broomstick one can isolate oneself, block the other out.  Riding in a car is equivalent to being locked in a small room with seven others.  Not very enjoyable.

            Except if the person across from you is Minerva…

            Who knew she'd look so attractive in Muggle clothing?  Of course, those green robes have been a feature in quite a few good dreams…  But perhaps these clothes will frequent my dreams now: loose-fitting black pants, a flattering white shirt, and a soft, black duster, I suspect to make up for the lack of robes.

Her hair is down and flowing around her shoulders, because she "woke up too late to do it," she claims.  She's as much of a morning person as Sinistra and I are.  6:30 on a Sunday morning is far too early.  However, she and Sinistra just move a little slower earlier in the day; anyone brave enough to pester me in the mornings is likely to lose a limb.

The car bounces again and she makes a face at a particularly illegible word.  She leans slightly forward to correct it, flipping her hair over her shoulder.  She misses one long, silky lock, which slides down onto the neckline of her shirt, which is cut just low enough to be enticing, just low enough to give me a very nice view…

I turn to look out the window, trying desperately to recite in my head the uses of asphodel.

I swear she's doing it on purpose.

When I look back, Flitwick is passing around more food.  Minerva laughs at something he says and excepts the Muggle snack, a processed, highly sweetened substance that has mockingly been labeled a "'fruit' roll-up."  I scowl when he hands one to me.

"Honestly, you lot haven't stopped eating since we left," I mutter.

"And you haven't eaten anything," Sinistra retorts.  She has gotten over her drowsiness by applying sugar, it seems.  To her left, directly across from me, Minerva is clearly enjoying the sickly-sweet smelling concoction.  I, however, remain unconvinced

"I think I'll wait until we can get some real food," I say.  The others seem to except this, and go back to chatting amongst themselves.  I place a hand on my stomach as it contracts reflexively against the hunger.  It has been a long time since I ate anything.

I thought no one had noticed the motion, but Minerva shakes her head with a small smile.  Making sure the others aren't looking, she pulls something out of her bag and tosses it to me.  Pumpkin pasties.  I look up and offer her a half smile, which she returns.  I can feel a blush start to creep across my face, so I quickly turn to face out the window again.

I think it's easier when we are arguing with each other.  Then I at least know how to act.  But then there are these times when she acts as though we were the best of friends.  The woman incurs such a range of emotions in me that I want to explode in frustration.  There are days when just seeing her invokes such a rage that I almost reach for my wand; days when we forget about wands and almost come to fists; days when we share jokes and discuss unruly students; days when I want to sweep her off her feet, throw her onto my bed, and ravish her late into the night…

I look straight ahead again, and, of course, see her.  Who designed these blasted seats to face each other anyway?

She is laughing again, she and Sinistra singing along to the music that Albus has chosen from his position in the front passenger seat.  Funny, I never would have pegged him--or the two women singing along--as Meatloaf fans…

You took the words right out of my mouth

Oh, it must have been while you were kissing me

I sigh inwardly.  She has a wonderful voice.  Naturally sweet, yet thick with Flitwick's sugar at the moment, and with a tempting lilt to match the song…

I swear she's doing it on purpose.

I don't expect her to feel this way about me.  She is above that.  Why would a higher being like her have any interest in a former Death Eater?  But she is willing to be a friend, on good days, so long as we're not talking about our houses.  So maybe, maybe there is a chance.  But no.  I wouldn't even allow that.  I'm too far beneath her.  Her heart is elsewhere anyway, so there is no need for even speculation.

She is trying to write again but the writing is still fairly sloppy.  She sighs and glances up.  I catch her eye and quirk an eyebrow at her.  She shrugs.

"I have to get some work done, don't I?"

I offer another half-smile, which quickly turns to a scowl as Albus changes the music again.  When and how did he get so much experience with a Muggle CD player?  But Minerva laughs again and she and Sinistra start to sort of half-dance to the music while remaining seated.  They sing along to the salsa-tempo music.

Baby, if you're good to go,

We'll go down to Mexico,

Get a place in Cabo,

Kick back in the sand.

It'll be just you and me

And the moonlight dancing on the sea

To the Spanish guitar melody

Of a Maruichi band…

            When did those two learn all these songs?  The only music I ever hear coming from Minerva's rooms is classical.  But then, I suppose I'm not near her rooms very often.

            She says something to Albus that I can't make out over the music--Hades only knows how Albus can hear it--and he smiles at her in return.  He holds her gaze a few seconds longer than necessary, with that twinkle in his eye gleaming, before he turns back to face forward.  She smiles and returns to her work.

            I know she'll never feel for me the way I feel for her.  Her heart belongs to him.  I don't think she even knows that, though.  It's so obvious to everyone but the two of them.  She belongs with him.  I know it.  It doesn't make me unhappy; if there is anyone worthy of her it's him.  She deserves to be loved by someone like him.  But that doesn't mean that I feel any less for her.  Once again, she glances up and catches my eye.  She smiles softly before returning her gaze to her work.

            But I can still see her face, as clearly as if she were still smiling at me.  Dark eyes framed with long lashes hold concern and caring, and work through me, instilling pain and pleasure with more ease than any curse or charm…

            I swear she's doing it on purpose.