5. Venice: Gallerie dell'Accademia

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The next morning found La Serenissima's skies churning with storm clouds. When Albus got up to use the lavatory, Minerva rose and peeked out the window. The rain that had soaked them on their way back to the hotel the previous evening had turned to sleet sometime in the night.

She hurried back to bed and burrowed under the bedclothes. Albus returned from the bathroom and retrieved his wand from the nightstand to cast a Warming Charm on the chilly room.

"We'd best get moving if we don't want to miss breakfast," he said.

"But it's so nice right here," Minerva protested. "And the weather is dreadful."

"Why don't I go downstairs and get us something to eat? You can stay snug in bed."

"You don't mind?"

"Not at all."

Albus dressed quickly and went to the hotel's breakfast room. He returned with a tray bearing a plate with toast, a small pot of coffee, and a jar of jam.

He kicked off his shoes, and they had their breakfast in bed. When they'd finished, Minerva Banished the crumbs with her wand and Albus moved the empty tray to the nightstand.

"You've got a bit of jam here," Minerva said, touching a finger to his moustache. Before he could wipe it off, she kissed him, licking away the jam with a dart of her tongue.

As she had hoped, he deepened the kiss and pulled her down, rolling on top of her.

"Again?" she said when he released her mouth.

"Always."

~oOo~

They stayed in bed most of the morning, making a lazy sort of love, dozing, and talking, and ventured out of the room only when Albus's belly began to gurgle with hunger. Bundled in their warmest clothes, they huddled under a large umbrella that Albus had Conjured, and hurried down several small streets and through the fish market until they found the restaurant the concierge had recommended for their lunch.

The Antica Trattoria Poste Vecie, she had told them, was the oldest restaurant in Venice, housed in a former post office from the 16th century. A small bridge led directly to the entryway, and, despite the awful weather, the restaurant's main salon bustled with diners and crisp-jacketed waiters ferrying plates to tables full of both tourists and locals.

After a twenty-minute wait, a table became available, and Minerva and Albus took the time to enjoy a leisurely lunch, sharing an appetizer of sarde in saor—fried sardines in a sweet-and-sour sauce of pickled onions, raisins, and pinenuts. Albus followed with a dish of sliced veal in cream sauce served with polenta, while Minerva ordered the eel in a tuna-and-lemon sauce and a side of braised fennel. A bottle of mild, floral Soave complemented their meals and kept the conversation animated.

"Have you given any more thought to that research project you told me about?" Albus asked as he broke a piece of bread from the hunk the waiter had provided for the table.

"Which one?"

"The— I've forgotten the name ... the something-or-other cycle and the differences between Transfigured beings and natural beings?"

"The Krebs cycle?" she asked, amused.

"That's it."

"As a matter of fact, I was going to talk to you about it when term started again. I'd like to use an empty classroom to conduct the experiments, if you approve."

"That would be fine. Do you need any special materials or equipment? I might be able to massage the budget if it's something we could use in the curriculum."

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