A/N: another rarepair challenge response... This prompt is as you were. I like writing silly, stupid little things. So sue me (but really, don't. I own nothing.)






"Not on your life."

"On my life? What on earth does that mean? My life is not a tabletop, my dear professor, for you to place things upon willy-nilly," he responded with a smile, eliciting a laugh from her, though she had hoped to remain stern in her refusal. Their conversation, which had thus far been whispered through the corners of their mouths so as to hide an apparent argument between the headmaster and his deputy, quickly became something toward which many eyes fell—McGonagall, laughing? Curious students forced her to rearrange her features in an expression more expected from her as Dumbledore extended his hand toward her with a knowing smile on his ever-smug features as he peered at her over the rim of his spectacles, obviously anticipating that she wouldn't refuse. Which, naturally, she didn't—who could say no to Albus Dumbledore?

"You are an old fool," she chimed affectionately as they strode out onto the dance floor, their fingers intertwined, his spare hand clutching tightly her waist, hers on his shoulder.

"Am I?" he queried abstractly, a smile tweaking the corners of his lips.

"Someone will notice," she said, a little more seriously as he spun her about, forcing her casually nearer to him. Her expression did not belie her disapproval.

"Notice what, my dear? How lucky I am to have the first dance with the loveliest creature in the room?"

She rolled her eyes as he adjusted his fingers against the small of her back.

"How radiant you look, perhaps?"

She snorted a laugh as he pulled her closer yet, so that she couldn't help but feel they were pressing uncomfortably against the bounds of propriety; it was a borderline she found very important, but she could never quite resist him, which appeared to be a terminal problem.

His face dipped nearer to her in the motions of the dance, his breath on her ear as he whispered, "or that you will be spending the latter half of the evening in my private rooms?"

"Albus!" she hissed, her tone somewhere between indignation, frustration, and pleasure; her cheeks reddened despite herself. His fingers cinched around hers where he held her hand, his thumb briefly rubbing the inside of her wrist, just enough to make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. He squeezed her to him in a too brief embrace—his lips brushed her cheek, daringly, as he suddenly spun away and left her on the edge of the dance floor, looking flustered for the moment before she remembered herself once again and disappeared into the crowd as well.

Minerva found Albus a half of an hour later, sitting at a table in polite discourse with a rather wealthy wizard who contributed impressive funds to Hogwarts on a biyearly basis—enough, at least, to garner an invitation to the ball and some of the headmaster's valuable time. She slipped into the chair beside Albus, pulling it up tight to the table so that when she placed her hand on his knee beneath the tablecloth, it could not be seen. "Good evening, Headmaster. Mr. Bartleby, how are you?"

"Ah, Minerva," Mr. Bartleby responded, obviously pleased that she had remembered his name. "I'm good—well, that is! How are you?"

"Well, thank you," she answered with a smile before Albus inquired after some business venture Minerva hadn't heard of. After listening for about three minutes, however, she was able to ascertain that Mr. Bartleby was an absolute blockhead when it came to finances, and that should he continue down the lane he seemed so apt in pursuing, he shouldn't have enough money to donate to a mouse, let alone Hogwarts. The realization made her look askance at Albus, for he seemed quite enraptured by the bumbling man's explanation—however, a brief wink made her note the sarcasm that so thickly coated his words. She had to resist a laugh.

Her hand slid further up the headmaster's knee, stopping at the top of his thigh where she allowed her fingers to curl downward and halt. She was gratified to hear Albus gasp, cover it with a cough, and recover with, "I'm sorry, but I just remembered some paperwork I promised the minister I would have finished tonight. I'm quite heartbroken to break off conversation—you have so many delightful insights—but I will have to speak with you later. Professor McGonagall, would you be so kind as to lend a hand...?" he asked, reaching beneath the table and removing her hand from his leg, his hand lingering in hers even as he stood. He drew her hand to the crook of his arm and began to lead her out of the Great Hall.

"This is your fault, Albus, I hope you know."

"My fault?" he repeated jovially as the exited, veering to the immediate left of the doors. "Oh, I do know, Minerva. I take full credit." Before she could come up with some sort of rebuttal, he had pressed her against the castle wall and touched his lips to hers, his hands fastened tightly to her waist, inching lower and lower; she could tell he was itching to pull up the hem of her dress. Though Albus Dumbledore's tongue was persuasive and omniscient in ways fans of his public speaking knew not of, she managed to push him away, her hands against his chest: "are you mad, Albus? Someone could walk by at any—"

"Do desist," came the voice of a very displeased Severus Snape from behind Albus, interrupting Minerva's warning. The Transfiguration Professor groaned. Though their relationship was something they hid, even amongst those they trusted, such as Severus, it had become little less than common knowledge amongst the staff that the Headmaster and his deputy were involved. The knowledge had at first come about as an insistence, particularly among the women on the staff, that Albus and Minerva ought to confess their feelings for one another. It had then evolved to narrowed eyes and suspicion that perhaps they already had, and eventually, a handful of Professors had become positive that they were, in fact, involved, and probably had been for a very long time.

The way you touch sometimes, Severus had told Minerva once as she shifted uncomfortably in her chair, is very... intimate. The way you speak—here Minerva had begun to squawk that she had never been anything but professional—no, it has always been very professional... it just doesn't seem natural. Not to one who knows the both of you well as I do, anyway...

"Aren't there masses of hormonal children in formal wear you ought to be harassing?" snapped McGonagall, stepping away from the Headmaster and tucking her hair behind her ears.

Severus stared at the two pointedly.

"Teenagers, Severus—that's your duty this evening."

Severus raised one dark brow, peering at the couple over his hooked nose. Though McGonagall was obviously mortified and stood with her arms folded over her chest, she allowed the Headmaster's hand to linger at the small of her back. Albus, for his part, was looking vaguely amused by the whole situation, and though he peered at Severus when he spoke, his eyes continually darted back to Minerva.

That was what he hadn't told McGonagall when he had confessed knowledge of their affair. The give away had not been their touches—which were few and far between in public—nor the way the spoke—which was never anything but polite and professional. No, what had told him had been the way they looked at one another. The way the headmaster never looked more at peace than he did when looking at his deputy; the way McGonagall's stern lips would turn up slightly when he met her gaze.

Severus was a cynic, a realist, an atheist, and an absurdist—but if he believed in love and purpose and heaven, he would have thought that the two found such things in one another. And so he heaved a heavy sigh that was mostly for show, careful to keep the expression of disgust upon his face as he turned on his heel.

"As you were," he drawled as he walked away, and had anybody been around to see it, they would have noticed a small smile playing about his otherwise miserable features.