The Sugar Quill
Author: Adele  Story: Now  Chapter: Now
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Now

Author’s Note: This is dedicated to my dear beta Helen, with whom I’ve grown so much as a writer – though I’ve still got an incredibly long ways to go.  This piece was my last chance to work with her.  So, here’s to you, Helen, and to you as well, Felina Black, my beta-to-be!  And to friendship!  And romance!  And to you, reader!  God bless you all.  J

 

Now

A hidden corridor is all they need. She a step behind him, he familiar with the nooks and crannies of Hogwarts castle, together they seek out the most private corner where not even a ghost can overhear their words.  His eyebrows are knit with anxiety and his hair disheveled.  She chews the nails of the hand that isn’t jammed into her pocket.


There is a broom closet on the fourth floor, a good two-hundred strides from the Ravenclaw common room and not in the vicinity of any classrooms or offices. It is spacious enough that two full-grown adults can fit inside, yet cozy enough that their knees touch when they crouch. She shivers and he sighs. Now, who will speak first?

“Remus –”

“Nym –” The two mutter one another’s name simultaneously.

“You first,” she insists.

“I honestly don’t know what to say to you.”

Her heart sinks. He sounds tired, nearly exhausted. Is he bored of being force-fed her feelings and everyone’s words of advice?

“Yes you do, you’re just tired of being asked to talk.”

His head falls into his hands and his gray-flecked hair forms a curtain over his face so that she has no clue of his expression. She waits for him.

“I have too many problems,” he says finally, in hardly more than a whisper. “Including one which won’t go away.”

“You know that doesn’t mean anything to me.  I’m not scared.”

“You could do better than me.”

“Remus, no –”

“And you’re too fresh for a washed-out man like me.”

She slaps her knees, feverish with frustration. “You aren’t even trying to understand what’s driving me to this,” she hisses, tugging sorrowfully at her plain, limp brown hair. “You never give yourself enough credit, Remus.  You –”  She hooks her finger under his chin and tilts his head back upward.  The skin under his eyes is sagging with a tiredness that isn’t eased with sleep, yet she smiles at this feature.  “You’ve never looked better to me than you do right now.  It’s ‘cos you’re real.  You never put on a show for anybody.  And you worry too much about what’s good for everyone else.  You know this already.”

“But you’re wasting your thoughts on me!” he whispers, unconsciously running his finger under his chin where her finger had just been.  “I’ve told you this over and over, Nym.  You wouldn’t be safe.  I’d be putting your life at risk every month!  What if I forgot my potion?  Or bit you?”

She looks him squarely in the eye, articulating every word as if challenging him to a duel. “That won’t happen.  I can help you through this, if you’ll just let me!  You can’t always be alone.  That, more than anything, isn’t good for you.”

His words come out slowly, almost hesitantly.  “I don’t think you truly know what you’d be getting yourself in to.”

“Remus, you’re being close-minded.”

“I’m being rational.”

The word stings her.  “No, you –” She emits a soft cry and slaps her hand over her heart as if stricken, and she continues, “you’re breaking my heart!  I can’t move on, Remus.  There’s no one else I could love more than you.  You need to be loved, and love someone as well, whether it’s me, or – or not me.”  Her voice has begun to shake, and she tries to swallow her emotion, but it keeps pouring out.  “The best you can do to cope with the bad – awful hand you’ve been dealt is accept people’s offers to care for you and love you and… You’re only hurting everyone more!”  She exclaims her words loudly and passionately in hopes that she can penetrate his hard head, not caring if people several corridors down can hear her too.  “You are worth all this hysteria.”  She is almost overcome by the urge to smack him and jump him – at the same time. She wants to beat him and then kiss every bruise she plants on his fair skin. There stands a significant pause, and then, ashen-faced, he replies:

“I’m sorry.”

 

She does not reply, but ducks her head to avoid his eyes.

“Nym, I didn’t mean to – I just thought –” Words fail him. And so, he does what is most uncharacteristic of him, most unpredictable – he places each of his hands on either side of her face and repositions her head so that their eyes lock easily. Neglecting the panicky voices of reason and logic echoing in his head, Remus does exactly what instinct presses him to do: he nears his face to hers so that only a thin wall of breath stands between them. He shatters that wall and kisses her.

It is simple and brief, yet it suffices. It communicates exactly what he has meant in resisting her, and it supplies her the exact answer she has fought for.  They both search for sensible words, their mouths still within inches of each other’s.

“That’s all it took,” she finally murmurs, her gaze lingering on his mouth.  She cannot help but be amazed that, only a moment ago, it was on her own. She gulps loudly.

“I was afraid of what could happen someday, when you realize being with me is more trouble than it’s worth.”

That someday won’t come, Remus.”

“You need to be more conscious of time and change.”  Despite the teacherly comment, he offers her a private smile.  Meanwhile, the little space between their faces does not wax or wane but remains perfectly sound.  Their eye contact does not waver.

“I am perfectly aware of time and change; but forget about it awhile. Don’t think of what could and won’t go wrong. Think of now.”

“Think of now,” he repeats, and he thinks of now. Now, he sees his own, distorted reflection in her eyes, his nose is hardly an inch away from hers, and he has finally found something good and satisfying without the aid of his long-gone, marauding comrades. He thinks of now, and he kisses her again.

With her, he feels more alive. With him, she feels home.

//
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