A/N – A couple of weeks ago, I posted a one-shot in which Remus and Tonks peruse a romance novel and Remus just happens to know where to find the good parts. Lady Bracknell rightly asked me, "So how does Remus know where to find the good bits in a romance novel?" This humble one-shot attempts to answer just that very question…
Disclaimer – I make no money off of this. Everything in the story belongs to JK Rowling. Except for the titles of the Romance Novels. Those are mine. : )
Novels of Romance
Remus Lupin never bothered to push his hair out of his face anymore. It simply took too much time. Time that should be spent studying. How could winter exams only be a week away? What had he done with his time?
The answer to that very question seemed to be creeping back into the Common Room. Seeing that the room was empty save Remus and Peter Pettigrew, James Potter and Sirius Black threw off the Invisibility Cloak. They flopped down in separate chairs, both with smug looks on their faces.
"Moony, you really should have come with us," grinned James.
"Rosmerta was in rare form today, mate," said Sirius. "She gave us free shots of fire whisky when no one was looking."
"Really?" asked Peter, the longing on his face evident. "Free whisky?"
"But no," mocked James, folding up his Invisibility Cloak carefully. "Moony and Wormtail wanted to study."
"On a Saturday night, no less," scoffed Sirius. "A Saturday night!"
"Exams are in a week," mumbled Remus. 'You should be studying, too.'
"I don't need to study," said James with the casual arrogance of someone who truly didn't need to study to get his desired results.
"Why does it matter, anyway?" said Sirius, sounding bored. "N.E.W.T.S. aren't until next year. Sixth year is for goofing off."
Remus looked at the pair in amazement. They truly didn't understand. Those two didn't need good grades on their exams. They both had trust funds waiting for them once school was over, no matter how many O.W.L.S. or N.E.W.T.S. they received. Remus, on the other hand needed to get as good of grades as he can if he was to have any career at all.
"Only our future's at stake," muttered Remus under his breath, not quite wanting his friends to hear him. They didn't.
Just then, the door of the common room opened and a girl Remus recognized as a fifth year snuck in. She looked at him in horror. Remus sighed, knowing that as Prefect, he should say something.
"Erm…" started Remus, not being able to think of anything better.
"I'm sorry," said the girl in a rush, whose name Remus thought was Elinor. "It won't happen again."
Remus gave a curt nod. "Seeing as this is your first offense…" Elinor blushed fiercely, giving the instinct impression that this wasn't her first offense at all. "Just try not to get caught in the future."
"Thank you, Remus!" said Elinor happily. "You're much nicer than the other Prefects, you know."
She took a few steps in and tripped on a rug that had bunched up. Her shoulder bag went flying and books, quills and parchments tumbled out. Remus went over to help her put everything back together.
"I'm such a disaster," said Elinor hopelessly.
"There," said Remus, giving her a grin. "I think that's everything."
Elinor stood up and looked at him, smiling embarrassedly. "Thanks," she said quickly. "Good night!"
Remus watched her hurry up the stairs. When he turned back towards his mates, Sirius was grinning like a kneezle who swallowed the cheese. "What are you looking at?" asked Remus, eyes narrowing slightly. He had a sneaking suspicion that he was about to get made fun of.
He was wrong. Sirius held up a book. "Look what I just found," he said with a self-satisfying grin.
James snatched the book from Sirius' hands, took a look and started laughing.
"Did you just take that from Elinor?" asked Remus as he settled back down into his chair.
"She's the one who got caught sneaking in by a Prefect," jeered Sirius, not even comprehending the irony that he and James snuck in after curfew. And Remus didn't say a word.
"He's just borrowing," laughed James. "We'll give it back. Take a look."
James threw the book at him and Remus caught it with one hand. "The Despair of Longing," read Remus off of the cover. He felt his cheeks go red when he looked at the picture on the cover. A woman wearing a corset (and not much else), was kneeling at the feet of a man wearing breeches (and not much else).
Peter leaned in over Remus' shoulder and looked at the cover. "She's practically naked!" he exclaimed with a squeak.
"We know what Wormtail's going to think about tonight," grinned Sirius.
"Go on, Moony," said James. "Find us the good parts."
"You want to read the book?" asked Remus in disbelief.
"No," said James mischievously. "I want to read about sex."
"Think you'll pick up hints on how to talk to Evans?" laughed Sirius.
James shot Sirius a dirty look, who just shrugged his shoulders.
By then, Remus was flipping through the book, looking for the sections that James and Sirius wanted to read. He had seen a few of these types of books in his house before; his mum, being a muggle would occasionally read one. But he never, ever thought of actually reading one himself.
His eyes caught the word 'breast' and he stopped. "Here you go," said Remus, handing James the book.
"What, you don't want to read it out loud?" laughed James. He took the book and started reading. Remus couldn't help but think that what ever he was reading must be good the way James' eyebrows kept raising higher and higher until they practically were off his face.
"Let me have a peak," said Sirius. James tossed the book over to him. "What page was it?"
"Hell that I know," said James, holding back a yawn. "I'm going to bed."
"Where he'll have dirty dreams about Evans," snickered Sirius.
"Take that back," demanded James. There was a look of surprise on Sirius' face. "I mean it, Padfoot. Evans is a lady."
"I don't think Lily would appreciate being called a lady, Prongs," said Remus thoughtfully. Lily liked to duel and make a mess in classes just as much as any of them.
"You know what I mean," snapped James. "Come on, Wormtail."
Peter followed James dutifully up the stairs, leaving Remus and Sirius to stare at each other. "You really should have come tonight, Moony," grinned Sirius. "We had a blast."
"Next time," promised Remus. Though he knew he wouldn't go unless next time was after exams were over and done with.
Sirius shook his head. "Your loss. You coming to bed?"
"Nah," said Remus. "I want to look over my History of Magic notes."
"Work and no play…" Sirius trailed off and whistled lazily up the stairs, leaving Remus to his studying.
He lost himself in the world of Goblin revolts when the Common Room opened again. Remus sighed. It was well past curfew. He might just have to say something to whoever was sneaking in. But then he was that it was Lily Evans and he breathed a sigh of relief. He really did hate having to make a scene.
"Hi, Remus," said Lily with a smile. She looked slightly flushed as she settled into the armchair next to him. "I'm glad it was you and not someone else. I'd really hate to have to give the, 'I'm-a-Prefect-so-I-can-stay-out-later-than-you' speech."
"What were you doing?" asked Remus.
To his surprise, Lily blushed. "I was out…"
Remus couldn't keep the grin off of his face. He knew he should be indigent on James' behalf, but Lily looked really happy at the moment.
"I was taking a walk with Jeremy Johnson," said Lily with a hint of embarrassment.
"I don't recognize the name," said Remus.
"He's in Ravenclaw," said Lily. "A seventh year. What are you reading?"
To Remus' horror, Lily picked up The Despair of Longing, which Sirius had left next to his school books.
"I didn't realize that you this was your type of reading material," said Lily. But instead of teasing him, Lily swung her legs over the arm of the chair and leaned back. "This is a good book."
"You've read it?" asked Remus in surprise.
Lily nodded easily, not noticing the red flush Remus was sure that was creeping up his neck. "Most of the girls have, I think. Even the pure-bloods. Some of us Muggle borns have a bit of a blackmarket going with theses types of books."
Remus' eyes widened in surprise. Lily simply laughed. "You can pick your jaw up off the floor now, Remus," she said as she skimmed through the book. "Now, since I can't imagine that you're reading this for the love story, let me tell you a little secret. There are three spots were you can generally find the good parts. Page 128, page 256 and a few pages before the end."
"I don't want to know how you know that," grinned Remus.
"Merlin, Remus, I've probably read close to a hundred of these types of books," said Lily. She looked at the cover of the book and sighed. "It's not the sex scenes that I like. It's the romance." Her eyes gazed over slightly as she looked out the window. "Every girl wants to be swept off their feet."
"Really?" asked Remus interestedly. Not that he planned on sweeping girls off their feet any time soon, but it would be good to know when…if the time came.
"Really, really," grinned Lily, who then let out a loud yawn. "Well, I'm knackered. Here's your book back."
"It's not mine-"
"I'm joking, Remus," said Lily mischievously. She tossed the book to him. "Good night."
"Good night, Lily," said Remus. He watched Lily leave the Common Room. His eyes flickered towards the book he was holding. Then he glanced back at the staircase. With a sheepish grin, Remus opened the book at the beginning and started reading.
Remus spent practically the entire next day in the Common Room, reading The Despair of Longing. He charmed the cover so that it looked like a Transfiguration text book.
He entered a world of Lords and Ladies, where the villain always lost, the hero always won and everyone lived happily ever after.
What Remus was most interested in was the romance, just like Lily. How did the hero or heroine know they were in love? How did they know who was the one? Remus wanted to learn and this seemed like the best way.
His friends wouldn't be of any help. Peter was still in the phase where he was afraid of girls. Sirius prided himself in falling in love with a different girl every other week. And the lady in question seemed to have very little difficulty falling in love with Sirius as well.
But Remus wasn't interested in that type of fleeting love. He wanted to know about the type of love that lasted, the type that could take someone's breath away.
Of his friends, possibly James might have some idea. He had been in love with Lily now for almost two years. How was he so sure that Lily was the one? But the thought of actually asking James those types of questions…Remus couldn't bring himself to do it.
The next day, Remus gave Lily the finished book, asking if she could return it to Elinor for him. Lily grinned and asked if Remus wanted another book. Remus took just a second too long to respond and Lily rummaged through her bag and brought out a book.
"The Witch's Guide to Etiquette?" asked Remus skeptically.
Lily tapped the cover of the book with her wand and it became 'The Warlock's Guide to Dangerous Sports.'
"Much better," grinned Lily. "It's called Blaze to Glory. One of my favorites."
"I can't even imagine what you think of me," started Remus.
"I think it's great," said Lily enthusiastically. "I wish more blokes took the time to understand what women want. You might try to get your friends to take a page out of your book…no pun intended, of course."
Remus grinned. "Sirius was only interested in the sex scenes."
Lily rolled her eyes. "Of course he was. Let me know when you're finished and if you want another one."
"We'll see," said Remus, thinking of the upcoming winter exams. "We'll see."
Remus didn't get a chance to really read over the next week because of exams. But once the holidays were in full swing and he had some free time, Remus tore through book after book. Lily was a great help. He'd owl her a finished book and within the next day, she'd send him a new book to read.
He read about Cowboys and Indians, Scottish Clans, modern Muggle living in big cities and even a fantasy book involving a shape-shifter. In every book, he asked the same questions. How did the main character know they were in love? And more importantly, what exactly was it that women wanted?
The Holidays came and went quickly. When he returned to Hogwarts, Remus couldn't help but notice that Elinor kept looking at him from across the Common Room. And he also couldn't help but notice how nice her smile was, how pretty her laugh was or how her eyes seemed to match the colour of the sky when the light hit them just the right way.
He wasn't quite sure what to do. There had never been a girl that he liked enough to actually ask out before. Remus knew he had to say something; the last thing he wanted was for her to get on Sirius' radar.
Remus should have realized that his friends would notice his interest.
"Who are you mooning over, Moony?" asked Sirius one Sunday morning when they were all still lounging around in their dorm.
Feeling his face flush, Remus looked down and ignored the interested stares of his friends. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said guiltily.
"Why are you holding out on us?" demanded James.
"I'm not holding out on you," muttered Remus. Though the truth was, he was holding out. He wasn't quite sure why. His friends would be delighted for him. They would inundate him with advice. But Remus didn't want that. Girls were like a mystery and Remus was beginning to fancy himself a detective. He wanted to figure this out for himself.
"So I chucked Rachel last night," said Sirius conversationally. Remus was relieved at the subject change.
"How'd that go?" asked Peter a little too eagerly.
"About how it always goes," sighed Sirius. "Why am I always destined to break girl's hearts?"
"Got anyone else in mind?" asked Remus as he thumbed though his latest book from Lily, a medieval epic called The Forbidden Passion.
"I think I'd like to switch to someone in Gryffindor. Make having a quick snog a bit easier," said Sirius, sounding very contemplative, as if he had given the matter a great deal of thought. "Perhaps Lindsey Davenport."
"She's only a fourth year," said Peter quickly.
"Really? She seems older. Don't want to be seen as a cradle robber. Maybe…" Sirius tailed off, sounding like he would be pulling the name out of thin air. "Maybe Elinor Peakes."
Remus' head jerked up involuntarily.
"Gotcha, Moony," cried James gleefully. "Why didn't you tell us?"
Remus paused and looked at Sirius. "You don't want to date Elinor?"
"No, you prat," laughed Sirius. "But you obviously want to date her."
"Maybe," blushed Remus.
"She is very pretty," said James eagerly.
"Are you going to ask her out?" asked Sirius. "Hogsmeade weekend in two weeks."
Remus shook his head. "Too close to a full moon," sighed Remus.
Sirius jumped up and grabbed his calendar out of his trunk. He stomped over and shoved it in Remus' face. "The full moon isn't until Tuesday, Moony," said Sirius angrily. "There's no reason why you can't spend the day with Miss Peakes."
"I really don't know," wavered Remus.
"Do it, Moony," said James.
"Exactly," snickered Sirius.
"I meant ask her out, Padfoot, you git," laughed James.
"Alright," said Remus so forcefully that it surprised himself and his friends. "I'll ask her today."
Both Sirius and James start talking loudly at the same time, overlapping each other.
"Fine," said Remus, slamming his book down on his nightstand. "I'll ask her right now."
James and Sirius looked far too satisfied with themselves as Remus quickly pulled a pair of jeans over his boxers and put on a dark orange button down shirt. He walked to the door, and before he opened it, he turned to his friends. "Do I look presentable?" he asked awkwardly.
"Smashing," said Sirius with a grin.
"Erm…you might want to comb your hair," said James helpfully.
"Right," said Remus, walking briskly to his trunk, taking out his brush and giving his hair a quick comb through. "How's that?"
"You look fine, Moony," said James. "Knock 'em dead."
"Here goes nothing," said Remus, taking a deep breath and leaving the room. Elinor wasn't in the Common Room. He headed towards the Great Hall, his mind swimming with the lessons he had learned from the romance novels. Confidence, Remus told himself over and over. Women like a man who is confident with himself.
And mystery. Women don't want to read a man like a book. They want a gift, with layers they can unwrap.
Remus walked into the Great Hall with his head held high, looking for Elinor. But his head drooped a bit when he saw that she was talking animatedly to Snape of all people, though Snape simply looked bored.
Remus walked by and heard Elinor say, "I really appreciate this, Severus. I'm sure you're very busy."
"Seven o'clock in the library," said Snape moodily and he stalked away, but not before giving Remus a dirty look as he passed.
Once Snape's back was turned, Elinor stuck her tongue out at him. Remus couldn't help but snicker to himself, but Elinor heard him. "Hi, Remus," she said, blushing slightly.
"What was that about?" asked Remus curiously.
"I'm having trouble with Potions, and I really want to get an O.W.L.," admitted Elinor. "Professor Slughorn suggested having Snape tutor me."
"If Snape knows anything, it's Potions," said Remus, wondering if this conversation could go any worse. Talking about Snape was certainly not how he planned this in his head.
Remus gulped. It was now or never. He took a deep breath. Confidence. Mystery. Piece of cake.
"Doyouwant-" Remus stopped suddenly. He sounded like an absolute prat. He started over. "Would you like to go to the next Hogsmeade visit with me?" asked Remus with what he hoped was a charming smile.
Elinor smiled widely, and Remus hoped that meant yes. "I'd like that," she said shyly.
They quickly planned the logistics and Remus walked away feeling better than he had in a long time.
"You realize I've been providing you a service that I normally charge five Knuts for, for free?" asked Lily good naturedly.
"This is the last one," promised Remus. "I won't need them after today."
"If you're sure," said Lily, handing Remus the book he was looking for.
"Thanks," said Remus happily as he raced down the stairs to meet Elinor in the common room.
She was waiting by the door. Remus felt his skin tingle a bit when he looked at her. She was wearing a very pretty blue dress and her blonde hair was up off of her face.
"Confidence. Mystery," muttered Remus to himself. When he reached Elinor, he held out his arm like so many heroes in the books had done before him, and she took it with a smile.
They started walking towards Hogsmeade, simply talking and getting to know each other more. But before they reached the town, Remus stopped.
"I believe I have something of yours," said Remus sheepishly, reaching into his robe. He handed her Despair of Longing.
Elinor turned bright red when she saw it. She closed her eyes tightly. "I want the ground to open up right now and swallow me whole," she moaned.
"Don't be embarrassed," said Remus, touching her shoulder lightly. "It's one of my favorites."
Elinor's eyes opened wide and looked at him in surprise. "You've read it?" she asked in disbelief.
"I happen to enjoy the stories," said Remus with dignity.
"So do I," grinned Elinor, looking rather pleased.
Instead of holding out his arm again, Remus took Elinor's hand and they walked into Hogsmeade. Remus couldn't help but smile to himself. His first case as a detective of romance, love and women seemed to have gone quite better than he dared hoped.