Minerva had made herself comfortable enough, sitting in Severus's bed, relishing the feeling of her naked back against the soft blankets. She found she almost enjoyed watching her young colleague struggle. She had seen his aversion to showing himself to her, knew from experience in her own quarters that he would rather wait long minutes for her to leave for the bathroom under the covers than to get up and dress in front of her. Minerva could not understand it – she had seen him dressed, she had a creative mind, and she had seen his body with her hands and mouth so many times she felt able to draw and sculpt it. And yet, she had never seen it naked all at once.

Now he stood, peering at a spot about a foot to the right of her head, pocketing his wand slowly, deliberately. It had been worth a try. He trusted her, she knew that, but he would not give up his wand, whatever the situation and she suspected that his aversion to nakedness was partly due to this.

"Undress, Severus," she reminded him, relishing the hiss of the letter and the shudder that seemed to go through him.

His eyes unfathomable, he shrugged off his robes with a slightly awkward movement of his shoulders, then turned and hung them neatly over the back of a chair standing next to the door, apparently for this expressed purpose.

The shape revealed was much less imposing, she found, not disappointed, though more angular and masculine than his usual appearance, covered in the teacher's robes, which did not really flatter anyone and hid every outline, every muscle.

Turning to her again, he stood up straight, face expressionless and moved his pale hands to the top button of his waistcoat, busily fumbling. The waistcoat was plain black wool, like everything the man wore, and absorbed so much light it almost looked as though he was unbuttoning the darkness in spite of the torches illuminating him where he stood. Only the buttons flashed when they were moved towards the torch.

She always enjoyed watching his pale, long fingers move, and seeing them now, flexing and pushing, busy like beings with a life of their own, made her a warm glow spread through her stomach. They wandered down his chest, taking a route her hands had taken so often, and the memory chased a shiver down her spine.

The waistcoat fell open quickly as the buttons were removed and the white of his shirt spilled out, the shirt being rather too wide for his chest. With a jerky movement, he shrugged the waistcoat over his right shoulder and pulled it over his left, placing it on the chair with somewhat less exaggerated care. Thus merely dressed in shirt and trousers, he stared into the darkness again, his shirt curiously bright against the darkness of the doorway, his face less pale against the white.

"Is this really necessary, Minerva?" he enquired, and she could hear the strain in his voice, trying to keep it neutral.

"Yes, very much so, Severus," she replied warmly, noticing that one of her hands had started wandering her own body.

Again, he stood rigidly upright, visibly embarrassed, golden firelight outlining his shoulders.

"Go on," she prompted, and, on cue, he lifted his hands and undid the top button of his trousers, white shirt fabric spilling out.

"No. Take off the shirt first," she commanded.

Severus frowned, ears pinking, hesitated, but then tugged at the hem of his shirt out of his trousers and pulled it up and over his head, his black hair falling sloppily back over his bare shoulders, obscuring half his face, which he bowed quietly, ashamed. Without reason, as she knew. For a second he stood, holding his shirt, then put it aside on top of his folded waistcoat, rather less tidily. He set his chin and turned to her again, his hair falling out of his face, shadows tracing patterns across his skin.

Minerva had always suspected that he was quite a pleasing sight in his own way and found she had been right. Yes, he was angular and carried himself better when he was dressed – now he was standing like a gangly schoolboy as he was fumbling with his belt. As she knew, he was pale as a newt, with only occasional angry red spots, scratches on his arms from his owl and strange bruises, but this shape, his chest, bony hips and back, was loved, and known, and had been covered by her hands so many times it was very pleasant to finally see the complete picture standing in front of her, finally revealed. He had barely any hair and had a few white, puckered scars from where spells had hit him on the right side of his ribcage.

Now, he had succeeded in opening the belt and was hesitating again, peering into the gloom.

"Well done. Continue," Minerva said, both hands now busily exploring the warm, round weight of her breasts and her inner thigh, sending goosebumps chasing the sensation of her fingertips across her skin.

Severus sighed and opened the five buttons of his black trousers with long, pale fingers, then hesitated, peering at her from between curtains of hair, his dark eyes expressionless. She could tell by the slight twitching in one corner of his mouth how tense he must be.

"Continue," she persisted, tantalizing herself with one hand.

He pulled down his trousers, uncovering white, bony legs that were slightly bent as he was standing awkwardly. He stepped out of his trousers, bent to pick them up, giving her a glimpse of the round of his back which shone in the torchlight, rose back up and folded his trousers with swift fingers. He was wearing simple whitish underpants, which were almost covered by the trousers he was taking a rather long time to fold, bits and pieces appearing on either side as he was fumbling.

He was not looking at her, red spots having appeared in his cheeks.

"I want to see you, Severus. All of you," she insisted quietly, feeling warm and contented. Minerva permitted a small sigh to escape her lips as she relished in the sight in front of her. She knew that her lover was not beautiful in the conventional sense. He was rough, and angular, and bruised, but he was hers, and loved, and thoroughly known.

If possible, the quiet noise of air escaping her lungs made Severus even more uncomfortable and unwilling to part with his already twice-folded trousers. After a long while, he put them away and stood, forcing himself to stand up straight again, looking pointedly at the wall.

His hair was now the only dark part of his shape, the strands not reflecting any of the torchlight, much like his earnest black eyes. The white rising and falling of his throat and chest were mesmerising, as was the movement of his stomach and the visible tension in his legs. She longed to kiss his chest and slide her hands around his hips to cup his buttocks, to grasp him, still covered by the once-white linen.

"Go on," she said, surprised at how breathless she sounded.

Closing his eyes briefly, he nodded and complied, sliding down his underpants, his half-erect penis bouncing briefly upon its release, red against the pale skin. She longed to reach out and feel it, caress it.

He made a step towards the torches to extinguish them now.

"Stop," Minerva said breathlessly, unwilling to lose sight of her lover, who was now again staring pointedly elsewhere. "You are beautiful," she breathed.

"What was in that tea of yours?" he enquired tersely, and she cursed herself for having said it, that is, until she realised how tender his voice had sounded, and until she caught the mild softness in his features.

"I'll show you I mean it," she said, moving forward.

With one movement, he had extinguished the torches and met her on the edge of the bed, all limbs and eagerness, the warm, hardening shape of his penis boring into her stomach as they kissed, the welcome feeling sending ripples of warmth upwards from between her legs. They groped at each other, unusually clumsily in their haste, savage, with too much teeth and spit and noses everywhere, until Minerva had had enough. She pulled him down to cover him with her own body, painting a map of what she had seen before her with lips and hands.