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
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?
“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
“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
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:
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
“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
“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.