Remus Lupin walked down the street ashamed of himself. He had hurt her again. Why did he do this to her? Why couldn't he just let himself love her as they both longed for him to do?
He thought about his excuses for not letting himself have a relationship with her. Yes, even he thought that they were excuses. "Too old"? He knew that she didn't care about the difference in their ages, and truefully, neither did he. "Too poor"? This was a bit of a real concern for him because he didn't want people to think that he was with her so that she could provide for him. "Too dangerous"? That was his real worry. He didn't want to hurt her physically. He didn't want to infect her. He didn't want to risk killing her. He wouldn't know what to do with himself if she were to die, especially by his hands.
A vision of her swam into his mind's eye's vision. He saw her mouse colored hair, her new Patronus standing beside her, her eyes full of love whenever she looked at him. Then he saw the heart-break that was written on her whole body as he still refused her after Arthur, Molly and McGonagall had taken her side and backed her up.
She had stayed in the room until McGonagall, Hagrid, and Harry had left. Then she left after she had given him one last look that screamed her heart-ache to the room. "Good-bye," she said, then she turned and fled as fast as she could walk without tripping over her robes.
Once she had left through the doors, Fleur had walked over to Remus and planted herself in front of him. If he was surprised to see her there like that, it wasn't half the shock that he got when he felt her hand on his cheek.
After the echoes of the slap, stopped Remus looked back forward, his cheek stinging. He knew that everyone in the room could see the shock of being slapped on his face, but he didn't know that the adults saw the hurt of having let her go again. The all knew how he felt for her, even if he wouldn't admit it.
Everybody spun around to the man lying in the bed when he spoke, no one realized that he was awake, "Remus, I can see that when you look at her, you love her, we all can. You look at her like I do Fleur…Like Dad does Mum."
"I don't deserve her," he had said, even less with all the hurt he's caused her he felt.
"Do you think any of us believe that we are deserving of the women that we love?" Arthur said.
"If I give in, she would be more hurt in the long run. People would shun her for being with me! She doesn't know what it is like to be as different from those around her as I am! I will not allow her to learn!"
"Too late for that, Dear," Molly said. "She's a Metamorphmagus. She grew up being unable to completely control her ability to change her looks, until she was almost out of school. Why wouldn't she know how it feels to be seen as different?"
"At least people had to be told about your difference before they realized that they were supposed to shun you," Bill said. "Her difference was always right out for everyone to see."
Something inside of Remus snapped then, or maybe it clicked. Either way he couldn't just listen to what they were saying any longer. He left the hospital wing suddenly, without saying a word. He made his way out of the castle and out of the school's gates without talking to anybody. He didn't even look up as he passed the Minister of Magic and the group of Witches and Wizards with him.
His mind was reeling. Did his feeling for her really show that easily? Did she truly love him as much as she claimed?
He knew that his feelings for her would never change. Did she feel the same? Could he risk his heart only to be rejected later?
He was afraid. He was afraid of what could happen to her if he let her in. He was afraid of what would happen to him if he let her in and she realized later that she really didn't love him. He was a coward. How had he ever made into the house of Gryffindor? How could he still call himself a Maurder? He could picture Sirius and James laughing at him. "Come on Moony!" he could hear them saying, "Are you a werewolf or a mouse?"
He was ashamed of this fear of getting hurt and the fact that he kept hurting the woman that he loves because of it.
So he found himself walking along one of the few streets in Hogsmeade ashamed and wondering why he couldn't just let her in.
Suddenly a feeling came over Remus like something was very wrong. Then he heard in his mind, the way that she said 'Good-bye'. It might have been his imagine at this point, but this time it sounded more final than saying good-bye for the night. Had he finally pushed her away enough that she gave up on him? Did this mean that she now wasn't going to be pursuing him? Part of him thought that he should feel relieved.
But all of him panicked. He had to find her! He had to tell her how he felt for her! He had to tell her that the only reasons that he held back from her was because he was afraid!
He knew where she was staying since she had been put on the assignment of protecting Hogwarts. He made his way to the Inn as fast as he could, not caring about if anybody heard him at this time of night, he had to reach her soon.
He hoped that she was in her room sleeping, or maybe even finishing up her packing, if she wasn't going to stay until after the funeral. He prayed to whom-ever would listen and grant his wish that she would not be gone by the time that he got there. He knew that this was his last chance to reach her before he lost her forever.
Remus made his was up to her room, where he knocked on the door not so gently. He listened but heard nothing moving inside. He knocked again even harder, hoping that was loud enough to rouse her if she was sleeping. Listening again, he still heard no movement inside.
The door opened a little and Remus could see her red, swollen, tear-stained eyes through the crack that she peered through. For a few moments his heart soared that she was indeed in front of him. But it sank and almost broke at the icy-glare that she fixed on him once she realized who it was.
He wouldn't let his eyes leave hers as everything he wanted to say to her buzzed around in his mind, but none of them wanted to make their way to his mouth. For the first time he could recall his be-loved words failed him. "I'm-sorry-I-love-you-I-was-afraid-please-forgive-me!" he said in one gush so fast it sounded like one word.
She opened the door a bit wider. "What?" she said, confusion over-riding the cold look she had.
Taking a breath, he tried to calm himself before trying again. He couldn't believe how nervous about talking to her, when at one time he had felt that he could tell her anything.
"I am sorry for the way that I have been towards you. I know that I have probably pushed you away too many times for anything I have to say now to matter, but I want you to know that…" He paused seeing the icy look re-appear on her face. He could afford to lose his nerve now.
He had to lay his heart as bare to her as she had hers to him so many times before. If she chose to trample it, it was no less that he deserved for all that he had put her through.
He started he last thought again, "I love you!" The door started to close on him again, and he panicked even more. "Wait! Please, hear me out."
"Why?" she asked him through the crack of the door.
"Because there are things that you should know about why I did what I kept doing to you. The real reasons why I kept pushing you away," he explained, his breaking at every word he was saying. "Please, let me have my say, then I'll go and leave you alone," he could feel the tears in his eyes but he did not fight to hold them back. If he wanted her to see how he felt about her, then she needed to see how he was feeling now as his heart was breaking, as he was losing her.
She opened the door all the way and invited him into the room. "I've hard a rough night and would like to get off my feet if you don't mind," she said as she walked away from the door.
He walked silently in behind her and shut the door. When he turned around to face her, he felt a second slap that night, on the same cheek. He couldn't say that he was as surprised about her slap as he was the one from Fleur earlier.
"On with it then," she said to him. He could see that even his being here now was hurting her. He didn't dare hope that meant that he still had a slight chance, he knew that he probably blew any chance he had with her earlier that night for sure.
He looked her in the eye, and started his thoughts from the beginning. "I wanted to say that I am sorry for how I have treated you. You may not believe me, hell, I wouldn't blame you if you don't, but I do love you, more than I know how to express."
"Then why have you been pushing me away if you love me so much?" she asked him.
He could hear the confusion in her voice, and suddenly felt his shame even more acutely and couldn't look her in the eye anymore. "I was afraid. Afraid I would hurt you while transformed. Afraid that you would realize that you really didn't love me like you though. I was afraid of being hurt. I was….I AM afraid of losing you. I know however that I have hurt you too much for you to forgive me." He gave her a few moments to process what he had said.
When she was still silent he gave a little nod and made his way to the door. He felt tears sting his eyes but he did nothing to hold them back. There was nothing more for him to say. He didn't know what he had expected, he realized that she most likely wasn't going to fall into his arms after all the times that he had held her at arms length, but the silence was more than he could handle. It spoke her refusal louder than words ever could. The tears started to run from his eyes down his cheeks.
As his hand turned the knob on the door, he felt her smaller hand on his arm, pulling him back around to face her. He allowed her to turn him around, but he couldn't meet her eyes.
"Afraid? Remus J. Lupin, afraid?" she asked, her voice full of shock. He just nodded, looking at his shoes. "There is nothing to be afraid of," she said, as she gently put a hand on the cheek that she had earlier slapped. She wiped away the tears with her thumb as she angled his face so that they could look into each other's eyes. He was shocked to see the love that was shining in hers as she looked into his. The icy look that had been on her face had melted and was running down her face in tears of her own.
He looked at her questioningly, wondering if she was meaning what he thought she was. She shook her head, answering his unasked question. She knew he was wondering if this meant that she wasn't going to turn him away like he had her so many times.
He took the step that was separating them, and pulled her into him, wrapping his arms around her tightly. When her arms wrapped around just as tightly, he couldn't hold back the sob that overcame him. He felt her shaking as she cried as well.
They held each other, crying. They both knew that they were crying out of more than relief. They were also grieving the loss of a teacher, a mentor, a friend.
When both of their crying eased, Remus eased her away slightly so that he cold look into her face. He gently cradled her cheek in the palm of his hand and tipped her head back so that he could see into her eyes. "I do love you, Nymphadora. And that is what scared me most of all, the intensity of my feelings for you," he said, "I couldn't risk hurting you when I'm transformed. If anything were to happen to you, I don't know what I'd do. Especially if I was what had happened."
"Remus, I'm an Auror, I know how to protect myself, even from werewolves," she replied.
"I know, but I still can't help but to worry about what I could do to you while transformed. I am a dangerous, dark, creature after all."
"You are no more dangerous to me than Sirius was a murderer. It's not in you nature to do something to hurt somebody, that's just part of why I love you. You haven't let the dark side of you take over. You haven't given up on yourself and let the beast within win."
She yawned, and he realized the time. It was nearing daybreak, and they had been up since sometime the day before. Maybe even longer for her, with the shifts she had been pulling, guarding the village and the school. She seemed to be dead on her feet with exhaustion, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Remus gently bent down and scooped her up so that she was cradled to his chest with one arm and the other was under her knees, she wrapped her arms around his neck to be able to remain close to him. He carried her over to the made bed and laid her down on it. He then removed his cloak and both of their shoes and put everything neatly by a chair that was in the corner of the room.
He climbed onto the bed with her. Using his wand he conjured a blanket to cover them with. He wrapped his arms around her, as she snuggled into his chest. Kissing her temple, he whispered, "I love you."
"I love you, too," she whispered back to him.
They laid like that for a while, when he thought that she had fallen asleep, she said, "Oh, and Remus?"
"You are the only one I like to call my Nymphadora," she said as she drifted off.
He smiled a small grin, which stayed until he followed her into slumber, sharing their first night together, asleep in each other's arms. He knew that Dumbledore would be smiling where ever he was, because like McGonagall had said, he would be happy to know there was a little more love in this world.