Summary – When two people meet when they least expect it's amazing what can happen *grin*
Disclaimer – I own nothing but the ideas and even they were probably stolen so…
Serverus Snape hurried down the wet pavement, his collar turned up around his ears to ward off the chill night air. It was the middle of the summer but that had never seemed to bother Mother Nature before so why it should now, simply because he had to be out and about he didn't know, but in any case it felt more like February than July. Turning into Grimmauld Road he cursed the protective wards that had forced him into apparating a good mile from his final destination. As he surveyed the street, in his usual paranoid manner, he quickly spotted a figure sitting on a garden wall just inside the light falling from the farthest lamppost. He wasn't terribly concerned or surprised by their presence, at least until he saw who it was.
"What in Merlin's name are you doing out here?" He hissed as he approached.
"What does it look like?" She asked taking another drag from her cigarette. Of all the people he had expected to come across out here in the middle of the night, Minerva McGonagall sitting dressed like a muggle and smoking in the freezing cold wasn't one of them. Add to the fact that instead of the flowery-print dresses he had seen her in before, she was wearing jeans and what looked like and an emerald-green, tailored velvet jacket and the scene was somewhat bizarre. Her hair was hanging loose, the mass of dark curls falling just bellow her shoulders rather than scraped back into her customary bun, and he honestly couldn't remember the last time that had been the case. It was just all very strange. A soft chuckle brought him back to reality and he raised an eyebrow as he stuffed his hands into the pockets of his black leather coat.
"I wish your students could see your face now, you look like a first year who's just sat through double potions – I'm not that scary a sight am I?" She asked and he had to admit that what he from what he could see of her she was anything but scary. It wasn't often that she wore anything but the heavy robes that shrouded what was in fact, quite a pleasant figure.
"Well now that you mention it…" He replied with a smirk. His colleague just rolled her eyes.
"Well I suppose I'd better offer you one." She said picking up the packet that sat next to her. "And for the founder's sake, would you please sit down or at least stop moving around?" He hadn't noticed that he had been shifting his weight from foot to foot a habit that was usually covered by his long robes. He stopped immediately, then took up both offers as sat next to her and leaned in while she used some muggle device to light his cigarette. They both sat in silence for a time, occasionally blowing puffs of smoke into the air.
"I didn't know you…" He lifted his hand indicating the smouldering stick he held.
"Serverus," She began in her
typical no nonsense voice. "I was
probably smoking before you were born."
She paused before she continued.
"But I stopped when I went back to Hogwarts to teach."
"Wanted to be a good example to your students?" He said with another smirk.
"Something like that." She replied deadpan.
"But you started up again." He stated the obvious. "Recently?"
"It's been that kind of a day." She said again deadpanning, and he couldn't help but smile a little. Dropping it to the pavement after one last drag, she crushed her butt before leaning over and picking it up and dropping it in her pocket. It was his turn to chuckle this time; obviously not everything about this rarely seen side of the Deputy Headmistress was different. He continued to smoke as they lapsed back into comfortable silence but it was Serverus who broke it again.
"You never actually answered my original question." He pointed out. She looked up from the ground and it seemed to take her a minute to remember what it was that he had asked.
"Oh. I guess I just needed a little space."
"Feeling a little over protected?" He asked. It didn't take a genius to realise that the consummately pro-active woman would be driven insane by the fact that most of the Order had been treating her like she were made of glass since the 'incident' at the end of the last term.
"Argh!" She growled in reply. "Albus is bad enough insisting I stay at HQ, but then Alastor showed up and gave me a lecture on loosing my temper - I'm sorry but if he'd had to put up with that damned woman all year he would loose his temper too! Then there's Molly and Poppy. I know that they only mean well but I am perfectly capable of doing… things myself and that's saying nothing of Remus, Tonks and the kids who keep creeping around me as if I were at deaths door! And I swear if one more person says 'And at your age too.' I am going to hex them into the next millennium!" Serverus, who had been quite happy to let her rant even if he did have to understand where the others were coming from (injuries like those Minerva had suffered did take time to recover from), couldn't suppress his mirth any longer. Turning she scowled at him before eventually letting her expression soften. He finished his cigarette and flicked it into the gutter.
"Come on." He began. "Nobody should be out at this time of night - especially at your delicate age." He couldn't resist the taunt but was sensible to move out of her arms length as soon as he finished speaking, relying on the fact that she wouldn't draw her wand in the middle of muggle London.
"You are so dead!" She moved faster than he had expected and gave him a slap on the arm before he could retreat. Trying to keep his laughter and his pleads for mercy reasonably quiet he kept backing up as she continued her attack. Eventually he turned and sprinted a distance down the street but she followed him all the way, failing miserably to hide her smile. Though he didn't think that she would actually cause him serious harm he had absolutely no intention of being caught quite yet, so they continued this game of tag until they turned another corner and he abruptly ran into someone else. He pulled back only to stumble forward again when Minerva rounded the corner too and ran into the back of him. It only took a second for him to realise that they weren't anybody sinister, just a couple taking a late night stroll and when he did, he mumbled something approximating 'sorry' and grabbing Minerva's arm continued away at quite a pace. He was aware that she seemed to be having a hard time maintaining her composure, not that he was doing much better. He kept running in no particular direction for a minute or two, aware that he wanted to be out of the public gaze before they stopped. Pulling his companion into a narrow alleyway he let go of her and turned to lean his head against the cool brick. Minerva leaned back next to him, a hand covering her mouth, which did not succeeding in entirely stifling her laughter as her shoulders shook. It was a minute before either of them felt they could speak again.
"What do you suppose," She wondered out loud, her breathing still heavy from the sudden exercise and fit of mirth. "they think we were up to?"
"I imagine that they probably think we're having rampant sex up against a wall in some darkened alleyway by now." He said with a smirk, glancing meaningfully around them.
"Now there's an idea." She said suggestively shocking him into silence. "Oh calm down Serverus, I was only kidding." She reassured him. He had been beaten at his own game. When she spoke again the amusement in her voice was, if anything, magnified. "Can you imagine Albus's face if he walked in on us when we were…." She didn't bother finishing her sentence, as they were already both taken hostage by their amusement again. It had been a long time since Serverus had been relaxed enough to laugh out loud as he did now, but the image she had conjured was beyond comic. Both of them became serious again at once though as something about the air around them changed. Reaching for his wand he saw Minerva do exactly the same and as they drew them they automatically turned their backs to each other in order to cover themselves. The few seconds that followed seemed like a lifetime to the spy as they waited for something to happen. There was a rippling in the air and then before them stood both Albus Dumbledore and Alastor Moody the latter tucking away his remaining invisibility cloak. From their expressions he could tell they were not happy but his instinct told him that it wasn't because they had overheard their conversation.
"What are you doing out here?" Minerva asked as she sighed in relief and leaned back against the wall.
"We could ask you the same question!" Moody replied in his regular, gruff fashion. When Albus spoke it was softer but not altogether kind.
"Looking for the pair of you. You," He looked toward Serverus. "were late and you were just gone." He finished, giving his deputy a reprimanding look.
"Don't give me a hard time! I just thought that Serverus might struggle to get around the extra protective wards you insisted on putting up yesterday." She claimed indignantly looking between the former Auror and the Potions Master. So that was how she was going to play it – leaving him to defend himself. Well two could play at that game.
"And I was going to be in plenty of time until I found her passed out in the middle of the street." She turned to look at him in disbelief and he managed to suppress his grin, sure that she would be able to still read the amusement that lingered in his eyes. It was only a second before the other two men pounced on her. Albus had a hand up against her forehead while Moody made to support her.
"You're perspiring and shivering." The older man commented before taking hold of her wrist. Serverus just kept out of the way, wrapping his arms farther around him to ward out the cold as Albus continued.
"And your pulse is racing."
"You don't look right Tabby." Alistor commented. "You're all flushed." Her protests were going unheard but she continued in vain. He hoped that she realised that he wasn't being malicious exactly, but this really was an amusing sight. The glare she sent him over the Headmaster's shoulder after he had easily swept her off her feet reassured him though. Bending down he picked up the cigarette packet that she must have dropped earlier and tossed it in the air before catching it again. Winking at her he pocketed it and followed them into the night, trying not to think of the revenge that would no doubt await him after this escapade.