Let me begin by explaining that the title comes from William Blake's poem, "Tyger, Tyger." You should look it up if you're not familiar with it. It references another famous Blake poem, "The Lamb," which is the opposite in tone and subject. I picked out this line from the beginning to serve as my title because it hints at the dynamic between Remus and Hermione: the Tyger and the Lamb.
Lastly, I want to say that this story is for Professor R.J. Lupin, who taught me everything I needed to know about defense, except how not to die (you live on in the hearts of those who knew you). And for David Thewlis (you're still charming, despite your weak chin, prominent nose, and that infernal moustache).
The house had not changed.
It had not changed aside from several suspiciously absent wall hangings and what seemed to be an unfinished exercise in carpentry lying bare-planked in the small backyard of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. All things—except one—had remained the same for Remus Lupin. It was still a house of shadows, of secrets kept by draperies, and of memories he would rather have forgotten.
He felt a little more at home in Grimmauld Place these days than he had in a long time, since years before when he was a student spending summer nights here with his best friends. Although James was still dead, he lingered in the house—in his son Harry. Sirius had recently joined James, but something of his dark eyes and wild hair remained in every grim tapestry, every gothic fixture, every crisp linen. Nothing had physically changed within the house, but the continued presence of Lupin's childhood companions had become more apparent than ever.
The people living here were different, of course. Deaths and chaos in the Wizarding society these last several years had taken a visible toll on the house's occupants. Some—like Harry—had grown quiet and their eyes were full of dangerous revenge. A few—like Ginny and even Molly—had developed tremendous fortitude in the face of societal turmoil. Molly had begun to shout less at her brood and apply her passion more in the kitchen, which never failed to turn out a hearty meal.
Ginny had taken up the role of house diplomat. At times there seemed to be no fewer than three of her whisking from this room to that, from one dispute to the next. A considerable amount of her effort seemed focused on mending Lupin's blunders in his own love life. Many arguments were settled by a passing comment of hers or an innocuous suggestion that Lupin go for a walk on such a fine day, just to discover Hermione had somehow gotten the same idea.
Lupin was sure the only thing preventing Harry from avenging both his godfather and Dumbledore was Ginny's tact at keeping peace. Harry was a very lucky man, if the way Ginny clung to his arm at every meal was any indication. Lupin would smile whenever he watched them from his own place at the table. Then he would cover Hermione's knee with his hand, and she would touch his wrist.
She had changed, too, but unlike the others. Hermione had always been a sweet girl, but she was gentler, kinder and more compassionate now than ever. When she had been his student at Hogwarts, she might have formed an intervention group on his behalf: perhaps the Society for the Protection of Every Werewolf. Now she had actually tended the wounds of his profession herself. She had stayed up one night disinfecting cuts and mending fractured bones that his fellow werewolves had dealt him. She had cared for him and—he later found out—grown to love him.
And therein lay the only change that mattered to Lupin. Hermione's heart was one of the largest he'd ever known, and against every law of the natural world, he'd found a place inside of it where he belonged.
He thought it only natural that she would someday share her bed with him. The first night she did so was under circumstances he had not anticipated.
He woke late one night to a soft cry outside his bedroom door. He was curious to discover Hermione's bandy-legged cat sitting in the hall at such an indecent hour. The cat blinked up at Lupin, gave an acknowledging little lick at its whiskered lip, and then frisked away down the hall and up the stairs.
Lupin followed on impulse, thinking to usher the cat back to the room of its mistress. Instead, he found Hermione's room empty. One of Crookshanks' discontented mewls at his ankle prompted him to continue his search, which led him to a sliver of light shining through the crack under a door farther down the hallway. It was the third-floor bathroom.
As Lupin approached the closed door, he heard a muffled sniffing sound that cut off in a startled little gasp when he knocked.
"Hermione?" He whispered through the door.
There was silence for a moment; finally the lock clicked and the handle turned. Lupin first noticed that Hermione had been crying. Then he realized how naked she was, standing there in her scandalously insubstantial white camisole and plain, pink panties.
Perhaps his eyes had wandered; she trembled and her expression became anxious.
Lupin wondered why she should seem frightened of him. Then he recalled another bathroom and an abandoned wand. He remembered a large, bald-headed barman with dead eyes, and the voice of a Death Eater who had confessed to roving intentions with his prisoner.
Crookshanks meowed reproachfully at Lupin's heels.
He held out his palms to show Hermione that he meant no harm. She stumbled into his chest and he held her close while she shook with silent tremors of relief.
"Come on, darling," he murmured into her hair. "You need rest. It's all right," he added when—as he shut off the light behind them and began leading her back toward her room—Hermione stiffened in his arms. Crookshanks joined them presently.
Lupin climbed onto her bed first, lying outside the sheets and leaving plenty of room for her. Hermione followed, slipping beneath the comforter and plastering herself as close as she could be against his frame. She nuzzled his throat so that her cool breath tickled his skin.
"It's all right, you're safe," he repeated until she fell asleep. He lay awake for a while, smelling her hair and memorizing the softness of her bare arm that rested atop the sheets with him.
He would not learn the softness of the rest of her body for several more weeks. On the second evening he would take her to bed, Hermione leaned in toward him after dinner and whispered in his ear.
"Wait up tonight."
Lupin had been waiting too many weeks for a distinct combination of such words. He asked no questions and dutifully did as he'd been told, staying awake almost an hour after the others had gone to bed. He lay atop the comforter and listened to the sounds of the house settling down until finally his door opened and Hermione entered, wearing her pajamas.
He rose to meet her. "Everything okay?" he asked, not because he worried that anything might be wrong, but simply to maintain normalcy and not jump to conclusions.
Hermione didn't say a word. She fit herself into his arms and began kissing him feverishly.
"Are you sure?" he asked, breathless between tastes of her skin, her lips, her mouth. She nodded into his shoulder and he felt himself weaken at the knees for her touch at last. "Okay," he said, catching her lips again.
They started with his clothes. She pulled greedily at his shirt and trousers. He let her trace his many scars and bring her small, delicate fingers across his chest, down his abdomen. Despite his racing pulse, he was slow to slip her shirt up over her head, to hook his thumbs in the waistband of her pajama pants, brushing her hips with his fingertips as he slid the pants off along with her panties.
She looked just the way he thought she would beneath her cotton pajamas. She was small of stature and narrow in the shoulders. The arch of her back was graceful, her arse smooth under his palm. Her stomach was flat, the crest of her hip bones protruded beneath the skin, and her lower abdomen swelled gently with undeveloped muscle. Her crotch was thatched with dark, dark brown—nearly black—curls, and her supple thighs brushed together at the tapering of the small triangle of light between her legs.
He felt, as he took in every feature of her young body, as though he'd been wandering for a very long time in a foreign land and had finally come home. There was something so familiar and comforting about the shape of her, as though he'd dreamed of it many years before but hadn't remembered until now.
Hermione was perfect.
She was also biting her lip under his inspection.
It wasn't the adorable, thoughtful gesture she'd used when he challenged her in class with a difficult question. This was more like the expression she wore whenever she heard about some new victim of the Death Eaters over dinner. The tension of her brow suggested unease.
"Hermione," he said, failing to stifle the chuckle he felt tickling his chest. He kissed her mouth and held her firmly against his front. "God, you're beautiful," he whispered into her hair. He held the back of her head and her arse and felt his erection harden against her belly. Hermione rose up on her toes—causing him to grunt at the friction—and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. He led her with kisses and caresses to the bed, where he lowered her just as he'd imagined doing a hundred times before...
"Professor Lupin," she breathed against his throat one night, lapsing adorably as she did in times like these when the night was late and she was spent from the last of her tremors.
He chuckled. "You have no idea," he said, brushing his lips against her brow. The girl nuzzled his throat and sighed.
It was true, Lupin thought as he wound his arms tighter around her and settled in for sleep, Grimmauld Place had not changed at all. The house had never been—and would never be—a place of real happiness. It would remain a place of shadows and painful memories.
But now and then on a night like tonight, Remus Lupin would rediscover joy with the woman he loved.