Title: Hope's Span is Long
Word count: 65 000
Warnings: minorD/s, bondage, anal, rimming, minor bloodplay, rough sex
Summary: After leaving Ron, Hermione escapes to Grimmauld Place where Remus and Tonks reside. She feels a pull toward Remus, who is experiencing a similar draw. Can they find happiness despite all the forces trying to keep them apart?
To the Moon
Oh gracious moon, now as the year turns,
I remember how, heavy with sorrow,
I climbed this hill to gaze on you,
And then as now you hung above those trees
Illuminating all. But to my eyes
Your face seemed clouded, tremulous
From the tears that rose beneath my lids,
So painful was my life: and is, my
Dearest moon; its tenor does not change.
And yet, memory and numbering the epochs
Of my grief is pleasing to me. bHow welcome
In that youthful time -when hope's span is long,
And memory short -is the remembrance even of
Past sad things whose pain endures.
by Giacomo Leopardi
Crossing the threshold of number twelve Grimmauld Place was, for Hermione, a sort of homecoming. She hadn't been back for some time, not since Remus and Tonks had taken up residence there after the war. She'd been living at the Burrow with Ron, as well as Harry and Ginny and numerous other Weasleys.
But now, with suitcases in tow, she felt like she was finally where she belonged. Or, at least, she was no longer where she didn't belong. The door of Sirius' ancestral home had been left unlocked, and the wards, as always, allowed her entry. As far as she knew, the occupants of the house were unaware of her untimely arrival. It was, after all, nearly three in the morning.
She had become embarrassingly used to the fights she and Ron had had, knowing they'd grown more vocal and vitriolic over the years, and it had gotten to the point where she was no longer compelled to take their fights outside, or even throw up a Silencing Charm. Instead, she would let her emotions flow freely, and Ron had done the same. The fights had been satisfying in the beginning. It had felt good to finally say what she kept inside. But the satisfaction was closely followed by guilt and regret. It hurt to see Ron hurt and to be hurt by him. The fights had become more effective, and they broke all the rules: they got personal, name-called, went to bed angry, and brought up long-dead issues. After their final fight—and Hermione was determined that this one was, indeed, final—she'd realised she no longer cared if they made up at all. She'd even thought for a long, betraying moment that it would be so much easier if they didn't make up. Because then it wouldn't hurt the next time they fought.
After all, you're only supposed to say you're sorry when you never plan on making the same mistake again. So when she apologized, it always felt empty because she knew and he knew the fight would carry on the next day, the next week,forever and ever amen.
What was the fight about? Who could know anymore? Maybe the dishes, or Ron's latest bout of drinking, or the fact that Hermione was unhappy in her job or that Ron just couldn't get that promotion. It didn't matter. If it wasn't one thing, it was another. It was always something,and she was just so, so tired.
And that was how Hermione Granger wound up sleeping on a couch in the parlour of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, directly below the bedroom of one werewolf and one Metamorphmagus. Her tears wore out about the time the moon fell and glitters of a new day danced across the worn carpet upon which sat her forgotten matching luggage.
Remus felt the wards tingle sometime in the night and then heard the door open. He sprang from his bed, intending to protect hearth and home—and Tonks—from unknown danger, but upon opening his bedroom door on the second floor, he was immediately assaulted with the scent of fresh tears and the unmistakable aroma of Hermione Granger. Her smell had always been quite strong, not unpleasant—quite the opposite—but hard to escape at times.
He wanted to go downstairs to make sure she was all right, but her stifled sobs stopped him. He paused at the top of the stairs, listening. He had a pretty good idea what had happened; Harry kept him informed of the goings-on at the Burrow, and it seemed things were getting increasingly unfriendly between the epic couple. Remus had been sad to hear Ron and Hermione were unhappy, but he'd always had a feeling they weren't right for one another. Sometimes opposites attract, but like lasts.
An empathetic tug in his chest compelled him to both go forward and stay back. Uncertain, Remus returned to his bedroom and gently shook Tonks awake.
A loud sniff and a, "Hmm?" greeted him. She didn't open her eyes, but directed her face to where she assumed his to be.
"Hermione's here, Tonks. She's upset, I think. Could you see if she'd okay?" He wasn't afraid to go to her himself, but he thought Tonks might be better equipped to deal with a crying woman. Tears always made Remus exceedingly uncomfortable; the smell was too fresh, too pained.
"Oh, Remus. I'm sure she's just upset over a fight with Ron. I'll talk to her in the morning." Tonks promptly emitted a soft snore, and Remus hesitated. He wanted to go to Hermione, but couldn't be sure if she wanted company, and Tonks sounded sure she would be okay.
With reservations, he got back into bed, careful not to disturb his bed partner. His brow furrowed; now that he was still and quiet, he could hear her tears even more distinctly. He fell asleep as soon as her breath stopped hitching, glad that he had the next day to himself and could sleep in.
"Hermione, sweetie, I'm sure this is for the best."
"I think it is. I really do. It still hurts, though. We were together so long. I still love him."
"Of course you do! You were together for five years, best friends more than a decade. I'm not going to lie; it will probably hurt for a long time."
There was a pause, during which Remus began to question Tonk's ability to handle Hermione's delicate situation.
"You're right. I'm okay, really. I just... did I give up too early, too soon?"
"Only you can know that, Herms. I don't think so. If anything, you let it go way too long!"
And that was Remus' cue to enter for damage control.
"Good morning, Hermione." He smiled warmly at the exceedingly small-looking young woman at his breakfast table. She had her hands curled around a mug of tea as if it kept her grounded to this world. Her eyes were red-trimmed and her wild hair competing—and winning, certainly—for most unconquerable mess of the year.
"Good morning. Thank you for having me over." She laughed softly, adding, "Not that I asked."
"You don't have to ask, love," Remus reminded her as he sat at the table, pouring himself a cup of tea from the service. "You are always welcome here, for as long as you need."
Hermione nodded, placated as always by Remus' warm words and soft topaz eyes. He had always seen through her, even when she had been thirteen years old. I don't have to be strong here, I am safe here. She knew it like she knew her own name.
Tonks agreed with Remus, patting Hermione a little awkwardly on the shoulder. "Well, darlings, I have to be getting to work. Bad guys to catch and all that jazz. Be good!" She went to put the tea service on the counter, but Remus stopped her, more out of concern for their dishes than an attempt to be polite. She smiled down on him, nodding to let him know she understood his intentions. He smiled sheepishly.
"Remus, could you please make an appointment for the Medi-witch for me? It's about time I had a check-up. Better make one for yourself as well. Also, could you finish up with the downstairs bathroom today? It'll be good to have, especially with Herms staying here." Tonks winked at their houseguest, and Hermione felt a little uncomfortable at putting them out. Tonks continued, "Oh! And if you could take a look at that shed in the back yard, I think owls are nesting or something. If you have time!"
By the time she finished, she was already out the front door, Auror robes and broom in hand. Remus sighed and immediately got up to send an owl with a request for their Healer appointments. Hermione watched him with undisguised curiosity. It was strange to see him so... domesticated. She immediately felt ashamed at her thoughts, but she couldn't help them. She could sense his disquiet and saw that his skin was practically crawling from captivity.
She knew he'd never been an Alpha wolf, and he'd never displayed outwardly wolf-like behaviour, but she'd seen bits and pieces of it over the years. However, he was still a little sickly looking, a little aged. Hermione had been surprised when Harry had told her Remus was essentially a househusband, only doing odd jobs for a wizarding bookstore and sometimes substituting at Hogwarts for various subjects, but not really holding a consistent position. She'd always thought he was destined for great things, and from his uncomfortable stature right now, she suspected he resented his position in the house.
But she could be reading entirely too much into the situation. His discomfort, after all, might come from her presence. Hermione felt sad at the thought; she didn't really know Remus at all, and here she was making judgements. She took a moment to think about her presumptions and realised she was projecting. Ron had tried to turn her into a perfect mini-Molly and she'd rebelled, unable to fit the mould he'd structured for her. Now she assumed the same was happening here, except Tonks was Ron, and that was all wrong. Remus probably enjoyed his freedom, after having to work so hard his entire life. Maybe he relished his time to himself. Not everyone is like me, she reminded herself, fighting against any and everyone who tries to change me. Maybe Ron is right...
"Hermione?" Remus' gentle voice broke her reverie. She looked up at him, wondering how much of her thoughts showed on her face. She suspected most. She smiled at him to continue.
"I'm going to take your things to your room. Would you like me to show you which one it is?" Hermione knew all the rooms in the house, but agreed anyway, to be polite. She followed him to the parlour where she'd slept and insisted on carrying the larger bag. She'd managed to get them all here, after all. She had packed a few changes of clothes, but most of the pieces of luggage—there were three bags—were filled with books. She just couldn't part with them, and if she were honest with herself, she would admit she'd been a little afraid of what might happen if Ron's temper got the best of him. He'd been known to toss her things around, even Incendioing a book or two in a royal fit. Many of her books were first or second editions, and she would not appreciate seeing them perish.
Remus grunted as he went to lift a smaller bag, obviously expecting it to be much lighter. He smiled at her, and she knew he knew what she'd packed. If the multiple bookcases in the house were any indication, he understood her plight.
The room he led her too had never been occupied, and for this, Hermione was grateful. She would be devastated to have to stay in Sirius' old room, or even the room she'd shared with Ron when they'd stayed here over the years. Remus seemed to understand and so took her to a room on the third floor. It was not even close to being above Remus' own room. Hermione had the brief but wildly inappropriate thought that perhaps this was because Remus was quite loud in the sack. Rolling her eyes at her gumption but blushing all the same, Hermione threw her bag onto the bed. Despite being the bigger bag, it was lightest as it carried clothing. Remus placed the other two gently on the floor.
"Hermione... " She turned to him, hugging her upper arms lightly. "I'm so sorry about you and Ron. I want you to know you really can stay as long as you like. You can move in here if you need to. We wouldn't mind having you around at all. In fact, the company might be nice."
Hermione nodded, suddenly overwhelmed by the gravity of what she had done. Ron had been her true love; she had thought they were soul mates, but they just fought so much... Tears welled in her eyes as she turned away from Remus, wanting to hide her weakness, though she suspected she hadn't been silent in her devastation the night before.
She wondered if it was silly to want to go back to Ron, to feel his arms around her, making her feel safe and loved. But even as she thought it, she knew it had never been and would never be enough. Drawing a shaky breath, she began to unzip her bag. Before she even opened it, a sob escaped her. She placed her hands flat on the luggage, willing her frailty away, and suddenly she felt warm arms surround her from behind. One arm circled her waist and the other came across her chest, grasping her opposite shoulder.
The man really knows how to hug.
Hermione couldn't stop the tears as she leaned back into Remus' silent embrace. It was times like this that she truly missed the unconditional acceptance that her parents had always provided. But their memories had been irrecoverable, though not for lack of trying. They did seem happy in their new lives, and Hermione wouldn't begrudge them that; she just missed them.
Her hands clutched his muscled arms, and she felt the crisp hair beneath her fingers. Her head fell back against his chest, and she just cried for all she'd lost, all she'd given up. She had never expected it to hurt so much, to feel so raw. She'd expected to be numb, like she'd been for so long. Numb to the pain, to the fighting, to what it really meant. That she'd failed, hadn't been good enough, and just couldn't cut it. It just hurt...
Somehow, Hermione turned in Remus' arms and found herself facing his broad chest. Her hands clutched at his shirt, and she felt momentary embarrassment at how wet her tears were making his clothing. She tried to sniff delicately and failed, but Remus graciously pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and gave it to her. She cleared her face and tried to smile. She couldn't deny his arms felt good, and they were unlike Ron's hugs, which had always seemed to be an endeavour to steal her breath away. This was different; it was pure comfort, pure Remus. And he smelled so...
Hermione quickly pulled away, recognising the dangerous direction of her thoughts. Remus looked a little shocked at her abrupt departure from the circle of his grasp, but ever the gentleman, he smiled at her and asked in that quintessentially comforting voice if she was all right.
No. "Yes," she answered. He held her gaze, and again she had the feeling that she had no secrets from him. He nodded sagely, however, and withdrew from her room. She waited until she couldn't hear his footsteps and fell onto the bed. She didn't feel like crying anymore; now she just felt tired. Fitting her body around the luggage in the middle of her bed, Hermione succumbed to a troubled sleep.
Author's Note: Thank you so much for reading my newest fic! This will be updated regularly--at least once a week. If you'd like regular responses to your reviews, please comment on my livejournal (literaryspell); otherwise, I will try to address comments, but I don't always have the energy to put it within the text.