A/N: I wrote the following story as a remix of Thistle Rose's excellent Minerva/Alastor story called "Even After All These Years." A remix isn't exactly a sequel or a prequel, but a retelling. The original story is from Minerva's pov; I've retold it from Alastor's.

I think it will make sense on its own, but it will probably work better if you read Thistle Rose's work first. It's a quick read (only 1300 words). You can find it at Archive of Our Own (archiveofourown dot org). Just search for "Thistlerose." (Sorry, but FFN won't let me include the URL, not even if I try to disguise it.)

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"Purple Lace"

A Remix of Thistle Rose's "Even After All These Years"

by Kelly Chambliss

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It's still dark when Moody awakens; the moon has long set and the fire in Minerva's rooms is long cold.

But that's one of the benefits of a magic eye: he won't need light to let him find his way to his discarded clothes or to the wooden leg he had dropped, with exaggerated casualness, next to the bed while Minerva pretended not to notice.

She's sleeping only inches away from him, but he avoids looking at her as puts the blankets aside and sits up in the chilly predawn air. No point in getting used to being with her; they'd decided years ago to live their separate lives, and it's too late to change now.

No, tonight's encounter was just a one-time thing, he knows that. They'd needed the comfort, the both of them, but there's a war on, people are dying, and it's not the time for personal entanglements. Minerva would be the first to remind him of that; she knows what they're up against.

He'd seen the understanding in her eyes last night when he'd told her, with deliberate bluntness, that Sirius Black was dead. It wasn't news to her, of course; she knew the fact of the death very well. But he'd needed to know that she understood the meaning of it, too - - understood that there was no room for error now, no room for the kind of mistakes they'd both made in the past: him in leaping to judgment against Black all those years ago; her in not questioning Junior Crouch's year-long masquerade as a Hogwarts professor.

Moody'd been blunt to her about that, too. Reminded her straight out: "Woman," he'd said, "a year ago you and everyone else here mistook Crouch's Death Eater son for me." He wasn't trying to make her feel guilty - - they all made mistakes, one way or another, and what was done was done - - but there was a lesson here, and he needed to know that she'd learnt it.

Minerva hadn't tried to make excuses for herself, which is one of the things Moody likes about her. She'd just looked him in the eye and said, "I know," and he had seen, then, that she did know. All of it. She understood: where she'd got it wrong and where she - - where they all - - needed to get it right this time.

Well. Enough wool-gathering, Moody decides. He's wide awake now as he begins to attach his wooden leg. Once he's mobile again and his trousers are in his hand, he fumbles for his hipflask and takes a little medicinal nip before checking his doublet and breeches carefully. Then he scans his over-robe and his lone shoe. Not that he expects anything to be amiss - - Dumbledore's good at keeping the castle wards secure, and Moody had already given the place a once-over himself, before succumbing to Minerva's charms - - but you can never be too cautious.

That's another lesson he'd reminded Minerva about, last night. The need for constant vigilance. It's not something you can say too often, especially to someone like her. Stubborn, Minerva is. Never likes to think anyone knows better than she does. It's an attitude that's got her into trouble now and then, Barty Crouch being just one example.

But at least most of the time, she's too smart and practical to make many serious mistakes. It's another of the things Moody likes about her, that she's no-nonsense. Oh, not that she hasn't got a heart, too, the old girl, much as she tries to conceal it. Showed it a bit last night, in fact, when she'd let him know that he mattered to her. "I don't want to lose you," she'd said.

They'd warmed him, those words, like a good shot of Ogden's. Minerva had been a little embarrassed at herself afterward, for getting sentimental in her old age, but he'd jollied her out of it. He'd taken her in his arms and kissed her, had unpinned her hair and run his hands through its greying softness, the way he'd wanted to do from the minute he'd entered her rooms.

He'd never admit it to anyone but himself, but he'd been a little unsure whether he'd be welcome in her bed any longer. Ever since he got out of Crouch's trunk, he's been feeling old. Useless, out of touch. He's almost more scar and wood than man now, and Minerva has a thing for physically-fit blokes, always has. What if she'd found him repulsive? It was possible.

Part of him knew better, of course; she's loyal as any Hufflepuff and has never been one to put much stock in looks, not even when they were young.

Still. Lose enough bits of yourself, and even the bravest man will flinch when the pants come off, and there's nothing between his broken-down self and the woman he wants but the revealing air.

Well, in the end it had been all right. The important bits were still there, and still worked, and that had been good enough for Minerva. As he should have known it would be.

He turns to look at her now and would have smiled if he'd been in the habit of it. Minerva's always been a restless sleeper, and she's twisted herself half out of the sheets. Moody stands for a moment, feasting on the sight of long, pale leg and an eminently-squeezable breast.

He can also see the edges of her own scars, the thin lines on her chest left by the Stunners that nearly killed her a month ago. They're still angry-looking, red and raised, but they'll fade in time, as Moody well knows. He's an expert on scars.

There's no point in pulling the covers over her before he leaves; he knows her too well, knows that she'll kick them off again in minutes.

In the sitting room, he pauses to let his magic eye scan the corners once again; you can't be too careful. There's an unexpected small mound on the floor near the sofa, but a closer look and a moment's thought remind Moody that it's Minerva's clothing, dropped where she (or more accurately, they) had removed it.

Dark every-day robe, plain under-robe - - and those lacy purple underthings.

Merlin, but she would have made a fine Auror. Nerves of steel, the ability to think two steps ahead of the enemy, the wit to know when to be predictable. . .

And when not to be.

The lingerie had delighted him, but when he'd uncovered it, he'd merely cocked an eye at her and noted, "Purple lace. Very prim and proper."

"Oh," she'd said, with that note of flustered tartness that also delights him; he loves when he's able to unsettle her. "Oh, a woman needs her secrets."

She'd unhooked the brassiere herself, for he always pretends not to understand how it works; he wants to watch the lift of her breasts as she reaches behind her back. He's never told her that, though. A man needs his secrets, too. Even after all these years.

He looks now at the scraps of purple satin on the floor. A sudden image of a laughing Sirius Black comes into his mind, followed by the memory of Minerva in his arms.

The room, he notices, is growing slowly brighter; dawn is not far off. Time to be on his way. There's work to be done. There's a war on.

Moody gives one last glance around Minerva's quarters. When he's finally satisfied and moves quietly towards the door, it's with his thick staff solid in his fist and a pair of purple lace knickers snug in his pocket.