Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize belongs to me but to the goddess, JKR

Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize belongs to me but to the goddess, JKR. I have been seeing a few really good Remus-Hermione stories on this site and I thought I would take a crack at one myself. I enjoy writing about relationships that are a tad unconventional and I especially like internal monologues so here goes. If you like this story, please let me know because I enjoy the constructive reviews. Flames will be used to light sparklers on Canada Day ::camera pans out to several Canadian vignettes including Niagara Falls, huge wheat fields, the Rocky Mountains, the Plains of Abraham and the Bay of Fundy while the national anthem plays majestically in the background::

I seriously need a cup of coffee. Oh well, enjoy!

I Cannot Always Promise You a Moonlit Stroll

As I stand at the door to the school, bags in hand, it hits me that it has been three years since I left in self-imposed shame. The time has passed so quickly that sometimes it feels as if I have never been away. That year had been one of discovery but it had brought me a great deal of pain. A supposedly guilty man was suddenly discovered to be innocent. A supposedly dead man was suddenly discovered to be alive. A werewolf suddenly discovered that his heart was not dead. It came alive that year and it has cursed me since.

I have always refused to let my heart feel love. I have always told myself that love was not something that a creature like myself could indulge in. It was and is and always should be something…forbidden. It is not as if I am a cruel person. I am told that I am kind, generous of heart, warm and easy to get along with. It is not as if I avoid people. I enjoy talking to everyone and anyone. That is why I loved teaching so much…the interaction with the students was something I thrived on. Watching as they learned, as their confidence in their own abilities grew, gave me a sense of satisfaction, which is difficult to quantify.

Now, after three years, I have returned, the opposite of a prodigal son because I had originally left to spare the others pain and suffering.

I have returned…what will she say to me?

What am I saying? I cannot think of her and yet cannot bring myself to think of anything else. She has been my salvation over the past three years. The thought of her has given me strength, given me purpose. What I do, I do not do for friends past or present, it is for her. I want her to have what I never could…a chance at a normal life, free from fear, worry, pain and regret. Perhaps it is not realistic but it is what keeps me going when my body screams for rest…and when my screams become heart-wrenching howls in the night.

The Headmaster opens the door for me…he had insisted that I enter through the front entrance. He has never been ashamed of me and I have never felt worthy of the trust he places in me. How does he see what so many others refuse to see? As he leads me through the winding corridors of my new home, I find myself unconsciously looking for her. I remember the first time I saw her, on the train to Hogwarts. I remember seeing Harry and thinking that James could never really die as long as Harry was alive. I remember seeing Ron and smiling, thinking of how kind his parents had always been to me. Then I saw her and thought of nothing else.

She was a pure and innocent child. Untouchable. I felt that my very proximity to her was some form of profanity. I am a creature of darkness. She is a child of the light. The feelings that arose in me were wrong but I was helpless…the animal in me too strong. Perhaps it was her innocence that drew me to her…an innocence that was denied me so long ago. Perhaps it was her fierce loyalty that made me love her…a child young enough to be my daughter. She discovered what I had become and yet did not fear me, did not run away, screaming as so many others have. She kept my secret…did not even tell her best friends.

Yes, I loved her but she and I could never be. Too much time has passed now and she has grown. There must be another whose heart belongs to her, much as mine does. It could even be Harry or Ron. That would not be so bad, would it?

The Headmaster has seen me to my quarters and, with an affectionate smile, reminds me that tomorrow is the first day of class. Yes, tomorrow. Three years of waiting have come to this. Tomorrow I will see her. How has she changed? She is seventeen now, a young woman, no longer a child.

I must not think that. She is still a child. She is still untouchable…my unattainable desire. I still love her because my heart refuses to listen to my head.

I sigh as I look around at my room. It is dark and I magically light several candles…small orbs of light that endeavour to permeate the velvety blackness which is somehow so comforting to me. Perhaps because it reflects the blackness of my soul.

But she saw past the blackness, did she not? She managed to push that aside and saw the person, not the werewolf. Even when she saw me as a ravenous, murderous, cursed beast, still she did not draw back…her eyes reflecting unspoken promises of…what? Friendship? I suppose it is the best I could hope for. Yes, I could go on, taking some small claim on her heart as a friend. It would suffice, would it not?

I have already put away my personal belongings. There is not much and so it never takes a long time. When one is never given a chance to put down roots, one does not accumulate a great deal. It is somewhat sad…my entire life reduced to a pair of travelling bags. Sometimes I wonder if that is any sort of life at all.

There is a knock at my door. I know who it is. I open the door and face Severus with a tired expression on my face, waiting for his caustic wit to injure me once again.

There is nothing but silence.

He does not say anything and I watch him curiously. Gently, almost cautiously, he places a hand on my shoulder. An expression of friendship.

"I have brought you your potion, Remus," he says in a dark voice but one which, my heightened animal senses notice immediately, lacks its customary coldness. He looks and sounds as if…

"I am sorry that I mistrusted you. You have proven yourself to me over the past three years. Now it is my turn to prove to you that even I can change."

I gratefully accept the potion.

"Thank you, Severus. There is no need to prove anything to me. You always made sure that I never lacked for this. That is enough."

His nod is barely perceptible.

"I will see you tomorrow at breakfast, Remus."

"Yes, of course. Good night, Severus."

"Good night," his eyes no longer hold that repressed hatred and I am greatly encouraged by his change of heart.

I close the door and realize that I am not tired any longer. I feel suffocated and must feel the cool night air through my hair. It must be after midnight. No one will notice if I go out for a short while.

I pull my threadbare cloak around me and quietly steal through the corridors of Hogwarts until I reach the door I am looking for. I open it quietly and slip outside, unnoticed. Where should I go? The lake. Of course, the rocks on the north shore are a perfect spot for reflection. I hurry there; thankful that tonight is not the night of the full moon.

Reaching my destination, I take off my cloak and place it on a rather large and flat rock. Sitting down, I remove my shoes and my socks and dangle my feet in the cool waters of the lake. A lazy tentacle caresses one of my feet and I smile somewhat. It seems that I am not the only one who is having trouble sleeping.

As I sit and watch the moonlight playing along the ripples of the water, I allow myself to think of her…freely. Her long brown hair. Her eyes which are the colour of cinnamon sticks. Her superior intellect, the likes of which I have not seen in many years. She embodies the best qualities in both witch and muggle. She is so very beautiful in my eyes…the most beautiful person I have ever seen. My heart still longs for her. My body longs for her as well.

Why did I have to fall in love with her? Why did I feel that somewhere in her heart, there was a place that was only for me? I am only a crazy old fool.

I hear movement nearby. Instinctively, I crouch down on the rock to see who it is that interrupts me. Sniffing the air, I catch the faintest trace of a scent that is very familiar…my eyes grow wide as I realize whose scent that is.

She suddenly appears through some bushes and I cannot bring myself to move. Her beauty has rendered me immobile. I left behind a child. I return to a woman who is utterly desirable. Seeing her causes a strange feeling in my chest and I find it difficult to breathe. I almost feel as if I am going to die. That would not be so bad, at least I had the chance to see her again.

I watch her approach the water's edge. She sits down on a grassy knoll and hugs her knees to her chest, staring out over the water with a pensive expression. I feel like a voyeur, intruding on some sacred and private ceremony and yet I cannot bear to move away. Her scent is so intoxicating, like violets and roses and vanilla and something so much better than any of them. It is a scent which causes my body to react in ways I cannot allow. This is wrong…what I am feeling is wrong but I am helpless. I am seduced beyond redemption.

Somehow, I must get away. I am overwhelmed with emotions and feelings that I have been trying to restrain for far too long. I am just barely in control of myself…it will not take much to tip the balance.

As I turn to go, I hear the distinctive sound of someone crying softly. Turning back to her, I see the tears running down her face. She looks pale and infinitely sad, somewhat older than her actual years. I should not have thought that.

"How will I face him?" I could hear her faint whisper as it floated through the midnight breeze. My anger, the anger of a beast, was instantly aroused. Someone had hurt her! I almost growled in spite of myself, a rage taking hold of my heart that was difficult to contain. I would not allow her to be hurt!

More sobs. My heart is breaking with yours, my love. I will punish whoever did this to you.

"How can I face him and not tell him I love him?"

Rage turned to ice at those words, muttered softly and gently but each one a dagger to my heart. For a moment, I was stunned. Well, what did I expect? She is a young woman and she loves another. Although I can tell myself that it is for the best, a part of me can never accept that. No one can possibly love her more than I do. Yes, it is a desperate love, perhaps even an unacceptable love in the eyes of the world but it is a true love and even a cursed creature like myself, starved for affection for so long and shunned by the world, has the right to feel love, no matter how wrong it may be. I love her. I would gladly give up my life for her. I love her. I admit it, no matter how hopeless and impossible it is. I love her.

I watch her…I cannot do otherwise. She is so beautiful. She wipes her tears with the sleeve of her robe and I instantly wish that I could do that for her.

"Remus," I hear my name whispered in the wind. Did I imagine that?

"Remus, I love you," these words are like milk and honey to me. I stare at her as she gazes at the moon thoughtfully.

I am not dreaming. At least, I don't think I am. In fact, I don't care. If this is a dream, I have no wish to wake up. She said my name. She said she loves me. She loves me.

Trembling, I step away from the rock and try to quietly make my way back to the school. I feel shaken, awkward, triumphant and yet very scared. I soon realize that I cannot walk, my legs simply cannot support me. I fall to the grass and sit there, trying to comprehend what I just heard and saw.

"Hermione," I whisper and my heart jumps about strangely in my chest. There is an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I want her so desperately. The animal that is always lurking inside me recognizes a potential and willing mate and it is all I can do to maintain my human perspective on the situation.

I hear footsteps approaching and I know that she has heard me. Perhaps I called her name purposefully, to determine whether or not she was as attuned to my presence as I am to hers. A part of me tells me I should leave before she arrives but I cannot move. I am a willing victim.

She appears in front of me. Her cloak is torn, as are her robes. It is obvious that she was not careful through which trees she had run. I still cannot move so I simply look at her. I ask for nothing else.

She kneels down beside me and looks at me. There is something in her eyes, which calls to me. There is love in her eyes. I know that she sees the love in mine. But this is wrong. You are still a child. I am a tainted and cursed man…half a man, in fact, the other being a vicious creature of the night. And yet, when I look at your eyes, I feel that there is some hope for us, impossible though it seems.

Her hand touches my cheek tenderly. There are tears in her eyes.

"I heard you say my name," she says quietly, "I have missed you."

The touch of her hand is almost more than I can bear. I can sense her love for me through the slight contact of her fingers and I am overwhelmed with feelings so intense that it takes all my willpower not to crush her in my arms and never let her go. Still, as if with a mind of its own, my hand reaches up to hold hers against my cheek. I do not want to take your innocence.

"I have missed you as well," my words come out in a strange voice, hardly my own. I stop myself before telling her just how much I missed her. How every waking thought was of her. How the image of her in my heart was what helped me survive through my perilous assignments. I had to live, to see her again. It had become the only purpose in my life.

She blushes. She is so beautiful when she blushes. A lock of hair falls in front of her face. Without thinking, I raise my other hand to brush it away. I pause and glance at my hand and at the shining lock of hair wound around my finger like a troth ring. My hand caresses her face gently and her eyes close. The feel of her skin is…wondrous.

I cannot allow this to happen. I drop my hands to my lap, trying to calm the beast raging inside of me.

She has opened her eyes and, without words, questions me. What am I to tell you? You are so young. Do you really want to be with me? With a man who is broken and lives a life many consider to be an abomination? Would it not be better for both of us if we just walked away and pretended this never happened?

A sudden gleam of understanding crosses her face. I am suddenly afraid. Will she leave me here? What am I saying? That is what she should do. She should go now, never look back, fall in love with a handsome young man, get married and have beautiful children.

She does not do that. She takes my face in both her hands and comes closer to me. Please. I cannot bear this expression of love that is shining so plainly in your eyes. Your scent is a drug that I cannot live without. I hunger for you.

"I love you, Remus," she whispers. For a moment I feel a fierce sense of victory. Her heart is mine just as mine has always been hers.

Touching my cheek softly, she closes the distance between us as her lips touch mine. I am undone. My arms encircle her slight form and I return her kiss, hungrily, desperately. She presses her body to mine and I think to myself that I want nothing more from life. If I have only her, it would suffice. I then stop thinking altogether…

She is resting peacefully in my arms. I kiss her forehead and she smiles. I wonder if she is dreaming. I know the future will be difficult for both of us but I have hope now and I have her love, which is more precious to me than all the gold in Gringotts. I am not about to give that up. I will do anything, face anything as long as she is with me. Perhaps I cannot always promise her a moonlit stroll. I can promise to never stop loving her, to never hold her back from her dreams, to always listen and to always be there for her.

I suppose I am lost now, lost in the love I have for her. And I hope that I never find my way back.

Finis

Amor Omnia Vincit