He considers her; the severity of her, the sparseness, the feel of her bones within the span of his hands.

'Let me go, Severus,' she says, quietly.

He does not release her. 'You have your wand,' he says. 'If you meant what you say, you would not be merely saying it - now would you?'

She closes her eyes. He cannot read her face. His pride, and, yes, his sense of right and wrong, twisted and bitter though it is with coiling around long years of lies and darkness, will not let him stoop to reading her thoughts. She breathes in, out, slow and softly; like someone resigning herself to a task long avoided.

'There are many reasons why this is a bad idea, Severus.' Her eyes are still closed. An invitation? A refusal? He cannot tell. His lip curls slightly.

'Do any of them matter?' he asks. 'Sex can be just that, Minerva. It need not mean anything - else. Or does the idea of coming to my bed again repulse you?'

She is silent. She is still. An invitation or a refusal. He cannot tell. He takes the wand from her hand. She is still. She is silent. Her eyes are still closed. Severus strokes her chin delicately, traces her jawline, brushes his fingers lightly across her lips, brushes her lips lightly with his own. She is still.

'It has been a long time,' she says, half to herself. Her eyes are open.

'It has been a long time,' he says, half to himself.

In the candle-flicker Minerva sees darkness in his face that has nothing to do with night-time shadows, and wonders what more he has to hide. An invitation, a refusal? She cannot tell. She will not ask. Not now.