The Sugar Quill
Author: Thing1 (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: This Was Falling  Chapter: Chapter 2
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She woke up hearing music running through her head.

ĎAnd the way things go you never know where love will lead you to.í Thatís for damn sure, ladies, thank you very much.

ĎAnd everything weíve ever dreamed lies before me and you.í Iím going to have to agree with that one, too.

She looked at him lying next to her, holding her closely to him with one arm draped over her, and smiled. She rolled over quietly so as not to disturb him, though his arm tightened instinctively around her again when she had settled back in against his chest. The light from the meadow was just starting to show through the trees outside the window, but the birds had not yet started to stir in the garden below them.

It had been a very stressful few days, especially for someone so used to holding everything in as tightly as possible, and who feared emotional outbreaks more than anything else. Except airplanes, of course. Wretched things. No, donít think about that. Just think about this; just enjoy feeling totally warm and safe and free. For once, just donít over think it. Just let it happen. Itís going to be okayÖ. She was aware that she had started crying again. This was getting ridiculous; she so rarely cried, and now over the past three days she felt like she had been making up for lost time. Thirty- odd years of never, ever letting myself cry, and look at me. But at least, these are happy tears.

"Katie?"

She was startled by the sound of his voice, unaware that he had woken up.

"Whatís wrong?" She heard fear in his voice. No. There is nothing left to fear with us. I thought weíd settled that last nightÖ.

She turned to face him, and his hand came up to wipe her face. The small gesture was so sweet, it made her close her eyes and catch her breath. Everything I ever dreamed about, every small touch. Something so in contrast to everything Iíve ever felt, or allowed myself to feel. Everything I ever forbade myself to believe was real. But thatís over.

Katie reached up and pulled Remusí face down so she could kiss him softly on the cheek. "Nothingís wrong, Remus, nothing. Iím just still so wound up from everything, I seem to have taken on the annoying habit of bursting into tears like some git schoolchild over everything and nothing." She moved in closer to him and nuzzled his neck. "Everything is very right. Iím just a little startled over that, I think."

He laughed quietly. "I thought we agreed no thinking for a bit."

"Well, that was at least four hours ago. Thatís a bit, wouldnít you say?" She smiled against his skin. She just loved the way he smelled, that wonderful masculine scent that made her feel protected and loved at the same time. Thatís got to be some ancestral brain-stem response females have to males. Keep them together, pheromone sort of thing. She giggled quietly. That defiantly qualifies as over thinking.

"Did you just giggle, Miss Davies?"

"Beg pardon, Mr. Lupin. Thinking again."

"Well," he said with false solemnity, "that will have to stop. Right now."

She leaned back a bit so she could see his face and gave him quite a look. "Youíll have about as much success there as youíd have trying to stem the flow of the tides, I believe."

"Ah, but the moon and I are on intimate terms. Perhaps she can be persuaded."

Katie was startled at this comment. Remus never made light of his condition, even in the very rare times they had spoken about it at all. He even addressed it in the third person most of the time; Ďthe wolfí, not himself. She looked into his eyes, expecting to find the shadow she normally saw whenever they talked about it. But there was only laughter, and a quiet happy glow she knew he could see in her eyes as well.

"What a long, strange trip itís beenÖ"

"Howís that?"

"Nothing," she smiled as she gently pulled his face down to hers, "just a bit if the Berkeley in me, thatís all."

"Iíve no idea what that means, but weíll just let that go shall we?" He kissed her deeply, and she marveled again at the amazing sensation of falling that brought on. But she was safe, not going anywhere, held tightly to him; never to be let go of again. Never let me get used to this, never let me take this for granted. It was too hard won. For both of us.

They lay there in each otherís arms kissing for some time. Katie could hear that the birds were starting to sing outside the open window. Ah, there you are, she thought absently, running her hands through Remusí hair, good morning to you, too.

She finally, reluctantly, pulled back from him, and reached up to brush the bangs off of his forehead.

"We need to get up soon."

"Why?"

She blushed. "Youíve got a houseful of impressionable teenagers at the moment. It doesnít seem a very good idea to stroll down to breakfast together late. Especially when I donít even live here. Ahem."

Remus seemed rather nonplused at the idea himself. "The entire focus of this household for the past two weeks, in case you had not noticed, was on guaranteeing that we would come down to breakfast together. Late. I would feel badly if we didnít award a prize for all that hard work."

"Youíre joking."

"Not at all."

She looked at him and sighed. "I am getting up and going to get some tea. I guess a couple of thirty-somethings can get away with things the younger generation canít. Oh excellent, youíve just made me admit Iím hardly a teenager anymore. Is this how all our mornings are going to start from now on?" she teased, as she moved to get out of the bed.

Remus turned her back to look at him. He had a serious expression on his face now.

"Youíre right. Thatís not a proper way to start the day. May I suggest we try something else?"

She nodded.

"Good morning," he whispered, kissing her gently. "I love you."

She could feel herself shaking all over as she stared into his eyes. Damn, look at that. He really does.

"Good recovery," she whispered back, then quickly got up, pulled on one of his robes from the closet, and quietly left the room. She felt very dizzy for some reason, and went to sit on the top of the stairs for a moment. She could feel herself grinning like an idiot as she pulled his robe more tightly around her. Iím going to wake up, I just know it. This has just been the best dream Iíve ever had. Itís that same dream Iíve been having for years, ever since he came in to see Mrs. Noyes, and I just couldnít stop myselfÖ.

***

Katie looked over to see a man she didnít recognize speaking quietly with Mrs. Noyes. He was tall and thin, with light brown hair that was starting to grey. His face looked tired, but he was speaking with a warm smile and his eyes were bright. Mrs. Noyes addressed him as Ďyoung Mr. Lupiní, but she didnít recognize the name, either. Perhaps, she thought sadly, the son of another friend sheís lost.

She went back to what she was doing. Katie had come to the south of England to work with Mrs. Noyes a few months ago. She had on good authority that if you wanted to really learn the magical healing arts, this was the way to go. For years, she had divided her attention between both the magical and the Muggle communities, but now she felt tired, and had opted to devote herself full time to becoming a true healer. Katie was reluctant to admit to herself that what she was probably doing really was finding a safe place to hide. But she went on just getting through each day as quietly as she could. At least, if I do this well, I can make a positive difference in other peopleís lives. God knows Iíll never figure out my own. She rolled her eyes at her own words. Stop being such a self-serving prat, girl, and get on with it.

"Katie, dear, could you come here a moment?"

Katie set down the herbs she was preparing, and walked across the room.

"Katie, this is young Remus Lupin. Remus, my new assistant, Katie Davies."

"Hello, young Remus Lupin." He laughed softly, and took her offered hand.

"Just Remus, thank you new assistant Katie Davies." She noticed two nasty looking scars on the top of his hand. Ouch. Wonder how he did that.

"Yes, very amusing you two. Now, Katie, Remus here needs a few things. Please help him, as Iím late for a few appointments. Remus, take what you need, and weíll settle the accounts later."

"ThankÖ."

"Not another word. Wait until you hear what I need done." With that she left, and Remus turned back to Katie.

"What is it that you need, then?" she asked, looking up at him. Goodness, slate grey eyes. You donít see many of those. Very pretty. She blinked. Where did that come from?

Remus handed her a list of tonics and potions written on a small piece of parchment. The handwriting was impossibly neat and even. Wow. This is a controlled gentleman. She raised an eyebrow at him.

"Thatís beautiful script," she said in an amused voice.

Remus smiled again at her, and simply said "Thank you."

"I tend not to be able to even read my own notes, unfortunately." She read the list. "These are going to take some time to prepare. Will you wait? I can get you some tea, if you like."

She looked back up at him as she spoke. His eyes seemed to light up a bit when she asked if he wanted to stay and have tea while she worked, but as he started to answer her, something caught his eye in the street. She followed his glance and saw one of the witches who lived in town standing across the street with her two young children. She looked like she was getting ready to cross over and come into the shop. She looked back at Remus, who quickly lowered his eyes when he saw her returning his gaze. But not fast enough for her not to notice that something dark had shadowed his expression.

"No, thank you. I have several errands to run," he glanced nervously back out at the witch and her family, who were now definitely on their way into the shop. "Iíll be back in a few hours. Thank you." He left abruptly, before the witch and her children had finished crossing the street and entered the store.

That was odd. He definitely wanted out of here, fast. She looked up as the woman entered with her children in tow. Why didnít he want to risk bumping into them? He wanted to stay, he was going to stay. WhyÖdonít I just mind my own damn business? She went to help the witch, but her thoughts stayed with young Remus Lupin, and why he had had such a hurt look in his eyes when he left.

***

Katie was working on Remusí list when Mrs. Noyes returned. Katie wanted to ask her about Remus, whoís abrupt departure still troubled her for some reason. But she didnít want to come off sounding like some old gossip. Luckily, Mrs. Noyes opened the discussion.

"Is this for Remus? Heís coming back to get this today? Good. Weíll have to ask him to stay for dinner."

"Where does he live then? Not in town?"

"Oh no. Young Mr. Lupin lives miles away in that house out at the very end of the road that leads to the meadow in the forest. His parents bought the house years ago, when he was about 7 or 8, I think. Wonderful people. Adored that boy, and with good reason; such a sweetie."

Katie had to laugh inwardly. Mrs. Noyes tended to describe everyone sheíd ever met as a sweetie.

Katie looked out the window in the direction of the woods. She knew the house, as she had seen it once when she had opted for cutting through the woods and across the meadow, rather than following the long road that ran around them. It was an ancient Tudor, and she remembered at the time when she passed it looking at it closely. It was sorely in need of paint, and a new thatch. The wooden timbers in the walls had turned grey with age. She remembered thinking at the time that the house looked, well, tired and withdrawn. Like it had seen too much. For Godís sake, Katie, itís a house, not a Byronic poem.

But the garden stood in strong contrast to the house. It was immaculate, and very beautiful. Funny, she had thought, why put so much effort into the garden and let the house rot away?

"Remus grows the best herbs and flowers for miles. Very talented. The key to every great healer is a great gardener, I can tell you right now. He was away for a long time, but heís back now, thank goodness. And heís just about the nicest young man Iíve ever met, apart from Mr. Noyes, of course. Tends to keep to himself, though, so itís always a treat for me when he does come down to see me."

That explains the immaculate garden. "Is he a healer himself?"

"No, no. Dreadful at potions, actually. I knew his Potions master from Hogwarts, you see. He got good grades, of course, in everything else. A very good wizard. Now, what can we serve for dinner that heíll likeÖ.?"

***

Remus returned to the shop at dusk, just before they closed. He walked in and smiled warmly at Katie, who felt herself returning the smile without thinking. He seems so nice. Why did he go out of his way to avoid that family?

"Everything ready?" he asked

Mrs. Noyes came downstairs from the flat above the store as soon as she heard Remusí voice.

"No, not till after dinner. Now hang up your cloak and join us. No excuses." She turned on her heel and left. Remus stood in the middle of the room looking vaguely stunned. Katie had to smile.

"I can recommend from experience that itís not the best idea to cross her when she tells you to do something in that tone."

Remus laughed as he walked over to her, removing his cloak.

"Yes, I believe that is sound advice." He stopped next to her and looked down into her face.

Think, think of something to say, donít just stand here gazing at him like an idiot.

"Mrs. Noyes says you grow excellent herbs and flowers."

"Thatís very kind of her."

Katie had no idea where her next comment came from.

"Do you think you might teach me something about gardening?" she asked. "I mean, a healer should know how to grow their own gardens, really. Well, grow what herbs they can. At the very least some of the basic medicinal flowersÖ." You are babbling, girl. Look at his face. Youíve gone and stunned another one. Canít learn to leave it alone, can you? Canít figure out that this is just not something youíre meant to be a part of. CanítÖ.

"Iíd be delighted."

Katie felt herself turn slightly red. "Really?"

He smiled again. "Really."

***

Katieís thoughts returned to the present, and she laughed as she stood up on the stairs and started to make her way down to the kitchen to get some tea to bring back up to the bedroom for them. Oh, yes. I definitely dreamed about this one from day one. But it certainly didnít turn out to be some simple little daydream. A struggle of equals, yes. Both equally reticent and equally terrified Step by tiny, step, though we made it.

As she walked down the stairs, her mind drifted back again to that spring and summer he had spent diligently teaching her how to develop and manage a magical herb garden. He was so easy to be with. He was patience incarnate, and she soon came to cherish the sense of calm she felt only with him. But one day in late August they had a frightening row that she had been so certain then would be the end of any friendship they had. How could I have realized then that it would really be the first barrier we needed to pass to get here now? In retrospect, she knew now why he had been as angry with her as he was. But at the time, she could not even begin to understand why he reacted to the situation the way that he had. All she could think was that once again, she had completely screwed up a good thing by wanting too much.

It started because she had not woken him up from an afternoon nap at the time he had asked her to. He had looked exhausted that morning when she arrived, and seemed a little stiff. Still, he said it was nothing, but later in the day he had finally said he needed to lie down.

"Please wake me up at four, would you?"

But at four, when she had gone into the study where he was sleeping on the couch, she couldnít bring herself to disturb him, and decided instead sheíd surprise him by making dinner, and waking him when it was ready. She was working quietly when, around 6:45, he practically ran into the kitchen.

"Katie!"

She jumped, surprised by the sharp edge to his voice. "What is it?"

"I told you to wake me at four. Why are you still here? You need to be getting home. Now." He was absolutely furious.

Katie numbly stopped what she was doing, grabbed her cloak from the chair, and pushed blindly past him to get to the front room so she could use the fire to go back to the shop. See? See what happens when you do stupid things like this? Youíre doing nothing but intruding on him, taking advantage of him. For what? Because you want to live in some fantasy that maybe heÖbut he doesnít. And he wonít. So just stop it right now and get out of this house. You donít belong here.

She heard him swear loudly behind her, then call out her name. She didnít stop. She couldnít face him, she just felt so humiliated, and she was damned if she was going to cry in front of him. But if she didnít get out of there fast, thatís exactly what was going to happen. She was startled when he caught up with her, and grabbed her by the arms.

"Iím sorry," she said in a very shaky voice. "Iíll go now, Iím sorry. Just let go." But he did not let her go.

"KatieÖKatie please; Iím sorry I yelled. I was just startled. I lost my temper. Please donít leave like this."

"Itís all right. You asked me to do something, and I didnít do it. You have every right to be cross. Now Iíll just leave." Her voice was very controlled, and she refused to look him in the eye. She could feel her throat burning, and her eyes were watering fiercely. I am not, not, going to let go. I am not going to totally and utterly humiliate myselfÖ.

She tried to pull out of his grip, but he did not release her. Instead, he suddenly stepped forward and wrapped his arms tightly around her. She was too stunned by this to move. What is he doing?

"Katie," he said in the most miserable tone of voice she had ever heard, "I didnít mean to yell. Please, please forgive me. You need to leave, but I canít let you leave so angry with me, I canít Ö"

Still too shocked to move, Katie heard herself say, in an equally miserable tone, "Iím not angry with you, Remus, but please let me go now so I can leave you in peace."

His grip around her tightened for a moment, then he stepped back. He looked as miserable as he sounded, and Katie had a fair idea that she probably looked just as pathetic. She moved past him to the fireplace, and heard him mumble "Youíre hardly leaving me in peaceÖ." Her cheeks burned again in shame for having taken advantage of his kindness. She took out her wand and started a fire. But as she reached up to grab some Floo Powder and make an escape from this wretched scene, he grabbed her hand and made her look at him. His eyes seemed more wild and intense than she had ever seen them, and they startled her.

"What?"

"Please, come back tomorrow. Promise me youíll come back. Then we can talk."

She had no intention of making any such promises to him. She knew he was leaving in three days and would be gone for several weeks, so all she had to do was stay away from him until then. Then, this will all be overÖ.

"Let me go, Remus. Now. Please."

"No." There was an edge to his voice she had never heard before. His face was paler than usual, the lines more pronounced. He seemed to be in pain, but his grip on her hand was so tight it almost hurt her. "No, Katie. I canít let you leave angry. Promise me we can talk about this whenÖ."

She was not about to relent. "When what?! Iím not making you any promises," she said with a venom that surprised her. But it worked, and he immediately dropped her hand. She grabbed the floo powder and got out of that house as fast as she could. Seconds later she stood shaking in the kitchen of the shop, unable to even begin to understand what the hell had just happened between them. She sank to her knees and finally burst into tears, completely confused and reasonably certain she would never see him again.

***

Katie left the shop early the next morning, leaving a note for Mrs. Noyes saying that she would be gone for several days, looking to collect some ingredients she needed. She did not return for four days, to make certain that Remus was gone. To be sure he had left, she walked home through the forest and across the meadow, past his house. It stood empty, and she stayed on the road gazing at the house for several minutes, lost in thought. She had the odd sensation that something seemed to be missing, but finally turned and walked back to the village.

When she got to her rooms, she was flabbergasted to see them covered with flowers. That was what had been missing from the house. All the flowers in the front beds had been cut, and were now covering her front room. This is ridiculous, she thought, but she felt a smile spread across her face. Then she saw a note, written in neat, even script, propped up against the largest vase of flowers.

Katie-

This seems a very small and rather silly thing to do by way of an apology for what happened the other day. Please, forgive me for upsetting you. I overreacted. Iíll be by the shop when I get back and we will talk about it, provided you have not decided to never see me again. Please, donít decide that. Or, at least, wait until I can see you and talk to you before you decide that.

You should know that the dinner you made was wonderful, thank you. Next time, Iíll cook to make up for you doing all of that hard work and my utterly ruining your efforts. Please note that I am being very positive and saying, "next time", not "if".

Enjoy the flowers. They turned out well this year, I think. You are going to be a wonderful gardener. I have just noticed that I am starting to babble. Please, send a message soon, and let me know what you decide.

Iím not asking you to make any promises.

Yours,

Remus

He was indeed babbling, but somehow that made it much better than if he had composed some dry, formal prose, making it sound like he was making an appointment to see a Ministry official, and not trying to convince her he truly did want to see her again.

She sent him a quick note that afternoon. She said to stop by the shop when he got back, and she promised that she would talk to him.

***

Katie checked on the bottom stair, and looked though the windows by the front door at the garden. The flowerbeds were full again, of course. She smiled at the memory of the wonderful and ridiculous sight of all those flowers in her rooms. Mrs. Noyes confessed that she had let Remus in even though Katie was not there, and hoped that because it was such a sweet surprise, that Katie didnít mind. Katie had laughed and assured her she did not mind at all. She lost track of time while he was gone, and had been startled one day to finally hear his voice again.

***

"Good morning."

She looked up quickly from the potion she was working on to see Remus standing in the doorway. She hadnít seen him in weeks, not since that frightening scene in the living room. She felt her chest tighten and the now familiar freefall sensation he gave her every time she saw him wash over her. Donít blushÖdamn it. This is so unfair. I canít help it, and I canít stand it, but I wouldnít give it up for anything.

"Good morning yourself."

"And what is the new assistant Katie Davies working on now?" He asked in a light voice, smiling at her.

God, what a beautiful smile. She cringed inwardly at that reaction. Snap out of it; you let yourself think that, youíll just hurt yourself again. Spending a lifetime falling in love with men who want nothing to do with you seems more than a little pathetic for someone everyone thinks is so smart. She seemed to have lost what he asked while she was mentally berating herself.

"Sorry, what was that?" she asked a little more sharply than she intended.

Remusí smile faded somewhat at her tone, and he looked away this time as he spoke again, in his normal, controlled, polite voice, "I was just curious as to what youíve been working on the past few weeks."

Idiot, now youíve upset him and heís going to leave, most likely as quickly as possible. Well, thatís probably best anyway.

"Itís the new Wolfsbane Potion. Mrs. Noyes asked me if I would learn how to make it. Itís bloody complicated, but I think Iíve got it down now. I think it is supposed to smell this awfulÖ." She stopped speaking as she turned back to look at him. He had gone quite pale, and his eyes had turned dark and sad.

"I know," she said, looking away from him quickly and back at the cauldron, "I think itís very sad too, that someone has to suffer such a horrific curse. I canít even begin to imagine what it must be like, to be so lost to yourself and helpless to do anything about it. To live with the fear that someday you might pass on the horror, completely out of control of your own senses."

Remus didnít say anything for several minutes. Katie kept her attention on the cauldron, but she sensed that he wanted to say something, so she waited in silence for him to speak.

"Did Mrs. Noyes tell you why she wanted you to do this?" he finally asked quietly.

"I imagine because she knows someone who needs it. I do not tend to question her requests." She answered him softly, still staring into the depths of the cauldron.

There was another long pause.

"Did she tell you who that was?" he finally asked, in an overly even tone.

Katie was very surprised by the question, but kept her focus on the cauldron.

"Certainly not. Anonymity would be key here I think. Who ever it is would want their condition kept a closely guarded secret. Most people are very unkind towards people and things they do not understand. Natural defense mechanism of the brain, I suspect, though what purpose blind cruelty can actually serve, I have never figured out." She turned to look at him now.

He was smiling softly, but he still looked very sad. "Most people would tend to think that this might be a rather important bit of information."

She turned back to the cauldron with a sarcastic grunt. "I rarely give a damn about what other people think."

"But, werewolves are very dangerous monstersÖ."

She turned and looked at him sharply. "Are they indeed? Any more so than the monsters who walk openly through the daylight? The ones who live in Ďpoliteí society and we pretend not to notice? The ones who turn blind eyes on poverty, who dedicate their political lives to securing their own fortunes, who beat their children, who take funding away from medical research and give it to their old school chums to build factories that dump waste in our water and destroy our air? Who shuns and ridicules those monsters? Theyíre far worse, they choose to do those things!"

He said nothing at this outburst, just stood there staring at her. She turned away again, blinded by sudden tears. Just listen to you. So opinionated arenít you? Always have to be right? Why lash out at him like that? Pushing away again arenít you, trying to make him leave you on your conditions, not walk away through any choice. Reject before rejected, as always.

"Katie?" She wiped her eyes quickly and turned around to face him with what she hoped was a defiant look, but what felt more like a blotchy grimace. She jumped in surprise to find that he had come up closely behind her.

"Yes?" she said in a near whisper.

He had a very set look on his face now. Katie had the distinct impression that something rather important was about to happen.

"The potion is for me."

She was totally unprepared for this. She stared at him, the total impact of his statement sinking in. He was watching her now with a vaguely terrified look. Heís waiting to see what Iíll do. He thinksÖwhat? That Iím going to scream? She did actually feel like screaming, but not from fear, but from the total anguish she felt to think of what Remus must go through every day, just waiting until the moon came back and turned him into ÖWhat? I need to sit downÖno, donít. Donít move, donít upset him. Try and beÖ normal. This is Remus, and he hasnít changed from the Remus you knew a minute ago before he said this. Say somethingÖlook at him, heís waiting for something to happen. Donít let him down. Donít do what he obviously thinks youíre going to do. Heís still special; heís stillÖheís still the best thing in your miserable life.

"How does the potion help the lycanthropy?" she asked in what was the most normal tone she could manage, but they both heard her voice waver at the end of the question.

It was his turn to be stunned. This was obviously not what he had expected her to say, Katie noted with an odd feeling of relief. He waited a few moments before answering, and Katie had the impression that he was fighting to keep his composure as well. Oh, what a pair. Both so good at pretending everything is okay, in preventing any emotional outbursts that could rock any boats. Itís the only way we get through the day without screaming, isnít it?

"I havenít actually had the opportunity to try it yet. But I understand that while it doesnít in fact stop the transformation itself, it allows the victim to keep their own mind while in the wolfís body. Then the monstrous, senseless mind of the wolf that only thinks aboutÖabout killingÖ canít get out andÖtake over."

She nodded, not trusting her own voice. She understood what that meant, keeping that mindless fury in check. How could something like this be a part of Remus? Heís the least monstrous person Iíve ever met. And, the most controlledÖ

"Thank you for this," he continued in a small, tired voice, "itÖit will all the difference to me."

She stood there, mutely nodding again. This time she couldnít speak if she wanted to. He caught her eyes, and they stared at each other for a few moments. Say something! Look at what this is doing to him. You need to get your wits about you, now, this instant. But she still couldnít find a voice. She saw his eyes seem to close down, and he nodded quietly, and started to turn away.

That did it.

"No! Donít go, donít goÖ" she reached out and wrapped her arms around him, as he had done the night he had scared her so deeply. She heard him gasp with surprise, but she didnít let go. Donít go. I couldnít bear it. I couldnít stand it while you were gone. All I thought about was you coming back.

After a few moments, he slowly slid his arms around her, and rested his cheek on the top of her head. Katie was amazed to realize that she could hear his heart beating. What an incredible sound, she thought in a daze, what an incredible thing, to hear someone elseís heart beating like that. It was the most soothing thing she had ever heard in her life. After a few moments he began to speak in a low voice. Katie was startled again, as she felt his voice rumbling through his chest. This is too muchÖ

"I had decided to tell you anyway. Decided that this was something you needed to know. This is too important, and I couldnít bear having you so upset with me for going off on you like I didÖ."

She suddenly understood. She found her voice, and interrupted him.

"It was a full moon that night, wasnít it? Thatís why I needed to get home. Thatís why you were so angry I hadnít woken you when you asked me to."

She felt him nod. "If I hadnít woken up when I did, I would have been woken soon enough by the transformation, but then it would have been too late. I donít think I could have bared it if somethingÖ if IÖ God, Katie at best I would have killed you." She could feel him start to cry quietly. "I couldnít have lived with that, you know."

"But you didnít." He didnít reply, but simply tightened his hold on her. They stood there for a few more minutes, and then he quietly let go of her and stepped back. She reluctantly let him go, but she knew that they were both drained and on edge from everything that had just happened. She thought about his words ĎAt best I would have killed youí, and knew that he would have considered it a far greater horror to have simply bitten her and given her his curse. But this was not the time to discuss it. He looked at her quietly, but his face was closed. He still thinks that this is somehow going to change everything. That Iím going to turn around and just walk out and never talk to him again. Not a chance, young Remus Lupin.

He had turned to go, still not speaking. Oh no, this wonít do.

"Iíll bring the potion over tomorrow when itís finished."

Remus looked at her again, his face closed. "Thatís not necessary, but thank you. I can come by and pick it up."

"Oh, I donít think so. I believe you owe me a dinner, and I intend to collect," she smiled at him.

He froze, and then smiled perhaps the biggest, most purely happy smile she had ever seen on his face. It took her breath away.

"Oh, absolutely."

***

Katie grinned at the memory of that smile, as she stepped off the stairway and turned towards the kitchen. It was a smile she had never seen again until last night. A smile she intended to see a lot more of in the future.

//
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