The swift, steady clip of her footsteps is gone tonight. Exhausted by another day's struggle against the small injustices dissolving the fabric of their world, it is with tired eyes and deliberate stride that she finds the door to her rooms, ready to surrender herself to sleep and—
Before she can flick her wand and light the lamps, hands appear from the darkness on her waist, pulling her close as the door clicks shut. Startled, an initial gasp escapes her, but the shock is short-lived. She knows it is him, half a second later, by the gentle but insistent pressure of his body against hers, of his hair tickling her forehead as he leans in, pressing her against the wall and robbing her of breath. Breath and fatigue.
Their time together is all-too rare, a few moments once a fortnight, if they are lucky, and only when business brings her to London or he can get away from headquarters. The senior faculty members all know about them, the Heads are all Order members themselves, and occasionally will dare to express an idle curiosity as to how the former Defense instructor might be faring, taking care not to reveal too much information to their esteemed Headmistress. She always answers vaguely, as though her information is dated and only half correct, playing along with their game even if she suspects that Umbridge is already well aware of her relationship with a known werewolf. Not that she cares what that vile, duplicitous toad of a woman thinks, but there is too much at stake now that Albus is gone.
So they are careful.
He’s had enough practice at slipping about and avoiding unwanted attention, so she does not worry how he has gotten here. The important thing is that he has. That they are together.
With a contented sigh, the pinching spectacles are lifted from the bridge of her nose, the pins tugged from their tight, practical fashion. The sensation of his fingertips running through the liberated locks sends shivers of pleasure through her body. It is an informal ritual between them, but a sacred one all the same. Symbolic, maybe, of the fact that only he can reveal this side of her, the aspect of her personality so far removed from the no-nonsense professor, rigid and impersonal as stone. With him she is different, able to shed the skin of authority so that the titles garnered and abilities she has learned become second to the woman that she is. In his arms her personas can be discarded, tucked away, and safely forgotten. If only for a while.
Tonight there are no words, in silence they are content with the physical presence of each other.
At other times though, there is not enough to say, not enough words to express the thoughts and emotions coursing through veins and minds and memory, talking into the long hours of the night about everything and nothing. For all they know, the night’s final conversation might be their last. The people he follows are dangerous, and only during these rare, treasured moments does a tightness in her chest and shoulders and brows come loose, like a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. With him she can breathe and live and even laugh a little.
On nights like these she finds herself freed from the chains of duty, her sleep deep and untroubled by dreams of broken children and letters penned in bloody ink.
By morning, she will have found the strength to endure the battles they have left to fight.
For now they have each other.
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