A/N: So this is a lot more angsty than my usual fare, but I downloaded some new music a few weeks ago and the Kelly Clarkson song Already Gone was among some of the songs I got and so this plot bunny started running wild in my head. I was debating on whether this would be a Remus/Hermione story or a Sirius/Hermione story, but in the end, I thought Remus worked a bit better.
A big thank you to Amy, who has always been entirely more supportive than is deserved. I love you, beautiful lady!
Summary: He didn't like the life he led without her. Neither did she.
"Tell me a secret."
"What sort of secret?"
"Any type of secret."
"But there are different kinds."
"Tell me a secret you wouldn't tell anyone else."
Her eyes were focused on the ceiling, contemplating his words as he lay on his side, his head propped up by his elbow and his free hand drawing small, lazy circles on her bare collarbone. He watched her, hearing her brain whirring effortlessly under her unruly halo of chestnut curls. He brought his hand up to one of the beautiful ringlets, wrapping it around his finger and revelling in the silky texture. He had always loved her hair, in spite of it being one of her least favourite attributes. He loved how it was wild and defiant and unpredictable - a lot like her.
"I'm madly in love with you," she finally said, her eyes still focused on the ceiling, the night and the dimly-lit room throwing ominous shadows against the white paint.
"That's not a secret," he said with a small smile, tilting her head towards him and brushing his lips over hers.
She blinked, her eyes unreadable.
"I suppose the secret is that I love you more than any other person I've ever loved in my life."
He gazed into the eyes he loved, watched the lips he loved tremble slightly as a single tear escaped her will power to slide silently down a peach-hued cheek. He swooped down, kissing it away before brushing his lips over every inch he could reach before finally claiming her precious petal lips with his, searing her with the type of kiss that always took her breath away.
When they pulled apart, she looked at him again, her eyes still filled with sadness but dry. She rolled slightly onto her side, curling into him as she ran the back of her left hand over his face. He relished the softness of her skin as she let her delicate fingers run down his neck, over his broad shoulders to settle on his bare bicep. He ignored the glint of gold on her ring finger as it passed his gaze, nor the feel of it against his skin when her hand settled into place.
"Your turn," she said. "Tell me a secret."
He brought his hand to her face, cupping her chin and leaning down to kiss her deeply.
"I would die for you," he whispered as he ran his lips over the shell of her ear, his tongue lapping lightly at the tiny gold stud that sat in her earlobe.
Her eyes flicked over to his left hand - the one that was holding his head propped up as his elbow took the weight of his upper body. He knew what she was looking at. She had one too. For seven years they had been trying to ignore them - to have a few, precious moments where they could exist apart from them. But at the end of the night - that one, stolen night out of so many - they still had to return to the shackles that kept them apart.
He hated it.
So did she.
"What is your greatest desire?" she asked.
"You," he replied without hesitation.
"And if you couldn't have me?"
It was honest. He would prefer death to the life he led without her. Or the life he was forced to lead when she was around but they were in company. She, the wife of a man who was not nearly good enough for her, and he, the husband of a woman who would never understand him the way he needed her to. Both shrouded in the secrecy and hypocrisy of the happily ever after lifestyle prescribed to them but rebelling in scorching, blinding passion in stolen moments for years.
"What is your greatest desire?" he asked her.
She rolled onto her back again, looking up at the ceiling once more.
"To be free," she whispered.
In all the years he had known her, he had never known her to be vague. But for some reason, he didn't question her tonight.
"I love you, you know," he said, curling his arm around her bare waist and pulling her to him.
"I know," was all she said.
Their affair had begun almost immediately after he had pledged a life of fidelity to another woman. She had been young - far too young - but he had been almost desperate for the type of companionship that she knew he deserved. She had been there for him, all young and supple and eager, and he had taken from her like a man starved. She was full of love and idealism, seeing him for the man he was and not the man she wanted him to be. And he saw her the way none of her friends had seen her - as a woman deserving of affection and passion.
"I'm sorry about Harry."
Remus looked up to see Hermione standing at the door of the library in Grimmauld Place, her arms crossed and her hip leaning against the door frame. He hadn't even heard her approach, which he suppose was a testament to the veracity of his anger. In his rage he had stormed to the only place he knew would calm him, and the one place he knew the object of his anger would never follow. It hadn't occurred to him at the time that she was very likely to follow him, but subconsciously he supposed that had been enough motivation as well.
"Don't apologize for him. He's not entirely incorrect," he replied blandly, running a scarred hand over his scarred face and feeling entirely too vulnerable to be discussing anything with the young woman who had suddenly appeared in front of him.
"I didn't think he was. He just has some issues expressing his sentiments," she replied, sitting next to him and placing her hand on his knee. "Anyway, Ron's making sure he's okay, which is why I came to see you."
"Kind of you, but unnecessary," he mumbled, slumping back into the dusty cushions.
"Learn to take the comfort where you can, Remus. There's so little of it these days."
He blinked, turning and looking at her fully for the first time in...well, he really didn't remember the last time he had really looked at Hermione Granger. But there she was, eighteen and every inch the woman he had subconsciously knew she was going to become. She wasn't tall - quite petite by comparison to his own height - but curved and feminine. He had a feeling her eyes could flash a fire that would stop a man cold, though now the soft chocolate simmered with warmth. Her lips were full and welcoming, and he had to berate his sudden, raging libido before he made a fool of himself in front of the only person in the house who seemed to care enough about him to offer comfort.
"When did you become so wise, Hermione?" he asked softly.
"I've had great role models."
He allowed a small smile of his own grace his lips.
"Surely you must be talking about one of your other professors. Professor McGonagall, perhaps?"
"Yes, but not her alone." She ran her hand over his cheek, an act he thought highly intimate for the decidedly inadequate relationship they had had up until that moment. "Are you going to be alright?"
"I couldn't tell you, honestly. A part of me says that Harry's right, and abandoning my wife and unborn child would not be the wisest or the most noble move, and yet..."
He trailed off, turning again to look into her whisky-coloured eyes.
"Sometimes it just feels right to do something else?" she guessed, her body inexplicably closer to his then it had been a moment earlier.
"Yes," he breathed.
"Like, in spite of what's morally correct, doing something else just feels..."
"Yes," he repeated.
He had kissed her then, something he had a feeling she had known he would do. It had been the absolute perfect kiss – soft, simple, and yet sensual as their mouths moved in perfect synchronization. She tasted like blueberries and chocolate and sunshine and heat, all wrapped in a soft, curvaceous package. Her skin was silk beneath his touch and she turned him into pliable clay under her skittering fingers.
She had taken his hand and led him up to her room without a word. He had followed blindly, without care of consequence or ethics. This girl – woman, really – wanted him, unquestioningly, having seen him at his highest point and his low. And he wanted her – Merlin save him, he had wanted her since the moment she had stepped into the library.
The first time they made love was almost too breath-taking to recall. She had arched beneath him, her body fitting him as though she were made for him. She was all velvet heat and as he surged into her again and again he could recall no other moment in his life when he had felt so at home or so alive. He brought her to her climax over and over again until he howled silently in his own exquisite pleasure. They collapsed together, breathless and panting, only to kiss passionately and work themselves into another frenzy of raw sexual desire.
It had been seven years ago.
She had been eighteen and he twenty years her senior, married, with a child on the way.
They met infrequently that year, as her escapades with Harry and Ron had her all over the country and it was not easy for him to find them. He was able to see her sometimes, when she found a way to let him know where they were and that they were safe. They would make love where they could – against trees, in haystacks, on the grassy knolls of the rolling British countryside – and it didn't take long for him to realize he was in love with her. The connection was just so strong and whenever they were apart he would trade a hundred moonlit transformations in lieu of the pain his heart felt away from her presence.
"Do you remember the night of Harry's wedding?" she suddenly asked from beside him, drawing him from his memories.
He smiled in spite of himself.
"Intimately," he replied, his arms tightening slightly around her waist. "What made you think of it?"
"It's their anniversary tonight. Their fifth."
He thought back, his heart aching slightly as he remembered that night as being the only night when he truly felt alone. Harry, dancing with Ginny, reminded him so much of James and Lily that he was fighting back tears by the middle of the reception. It didn't help that Tonks was fussing over Teddy, who seemed unable to sit still amidst the excitement.
"I'm going for a walk," Remus muttered to his shifting wife, downing his third glass of firewhisky and starting to stand from the table they had been sitting at.
"Remus, really. He's a toddler. He's supposed to act like this," Tonks chastised, knowing the exact reason why Teddy's crying was bothering Remus and deciding to ignore it.
"I know, I just…I need some silence," he murmured, turning on his heel before his wife could say anything else and walking toward the garden gate.
As he stepped out into the narrow dirt road, he heard voices shouting:
"I'm tired of having to wait and wait and wait for you, Hermione!"
"It's not a decision I'm likely to take lightly, Ronald, is it?"
"It's been two years! And we've known each other for almost ten! I don't see why…"
"It's a lot to think about, Ron."
"I'm bloody asking you to marry me, 'Mione! What's to think about?"
"I don't know if I'm ready, and judging from your reaction, I need to think about whether I think you're ready!"
"Of course I'm bloody ready! I wouldn't have asked if I wasn't."
"Please, Ron, don't ask me tonight. It's Harry's celebration and…"
"You've been using every possible excuse for the past month, and to be honest, I'm sick of it."
"I'm sorry you feel that way, Ronald."
"Am I interrupting?" Remus said casually as he found the feuding lovers further down the way, tucked into one of the apple groves that flanked the little country lane.
He could see Hermione's eyes brighten as he approached, though Ron's bright blue were simmering with anger.
"Lupin," he said and Remus could have sworn his eyes narrowed slightly. "Actually, yes, you are interrupting a bit. Do you mind…"
"No, I think we're done here. What brings you away from the festivities?" Hermione asked mildly, though her eyes pleaded with him to take her as far away from there as he could manage.
"I just needed a bit of a walk. Night before the full moon. I'm a little restless," he said, though the tone of his voice was fiercer as his gaze shifted to Ron. The younger man had enough wherewithal to acknowledge the silent warning with a stiff nod.
"Right. Looks like we all need a bit of a cool-down. I'm going to get a drink. Would you like one, 'Mione?" he asked curtly.
"I…er…no, thank you," she said politely.
"Lupin?" Ron asked, though he was halfway back toward the party by the time he asked.
"Uh…nothing for me, thanks," Remus replied, and watched as the tall, gangly young man disappeared into the backyard.
"Thank you for interrupting that," Hermione said softly, coming out of the shadows with a sigh as she smoothed the beautiful coffee-coloured bridesmaid dress she wore. "It was getting a bit out of control."
"Why didn't you tell me that he asked you to marry him?" Remus asked immediately.
She looked up into his eyes, and he could see the defiant spark start to blaze.
"I didn't realize it was any of your business," she replied.
His nostrils flared.
"No, I don't suppose it is any of my business. I'm just the man you're fucking on the side, right?"
Her jaw set.
"You know it's not like that, and I'm not having this discussion with you so close to the full moon. You know how you're like."
"Yes," he hissed, grabbing her arm and heaving her into his body. "I know exactly what I'm like. Scary, isn't it? That I'm such a monster for one day of the month but so easy to manipulate the other 28 days?"
Her breathing was shallow as he held her, her face upturned and her lips slightly parted. He groaned, his cock jumping to attention as he looked into her eyes. The mixture of fear and desire spurred both the man and the wolf and he claimed her lips in a burning, passionate kiss that had them both clinging to each other.
"Not here," she whispered as he ran his hands up her dress, groaning at the fact that she wasn't wearing underwear.
"Yes here," he breathed in her ear as he pressed her against the trunk of an apple tree. "I want to fuck you knowing that your fiancé could catch us at any moment."
"He's not my fiancé," she argued, though her fingers were working nimbly on his belt buckle.
"He will be soon enough. But right now you're mine," he growled before burying himself deep inside his witch.
Their sex had been frantic but as they came together, Remus's hand clamped over her mouth to muffle her cries as he muffled his own against the soft satin of her shoulder, he had known that she truly was his. He knew she never gave herself fully to anyone but him. And though she had accepted Ron's proposal later that night, the relationship between them had only strengthened, and by the time Ron and Hermione were actually married, Remus knew that theirs was a love that would transcend both of their relationships.
"I think I knew that night that you would never give me up," she said, once more bringing him back to her.
"Never," he replied, burying his nose in her hair again. "You're stuck with me."
She said nothing, though her hand once again found his arm, running those delicious fingers up and down his skin. He sighed, snuffling deeper into her, wanting more and more despite having had her for over seven years now. If anything, the time had only strengthened his love for her.
"Remus," she whispered, her hand running through his hair.
"Yes, my love?"
He looked into her eyes and she opened her mouth to speak. After a second of silence, however, she closed it again and smiled slightly at him.
"I love you," she whispered, bringing her palm to his chest. "Always."
She kissed him deeply as she slowly pushed him onto his back, falling on top of him as he stretched out beneath the sheets. He groaned as her delicate weight settled on top of him. He loved the feeling of skin on skin, the swell of her breasts pressing against his chest, the small curve of her stomach pressing intimately against his torso.
She straddled his hips, settling herself on top of his growing erection, her lips still upon his in single-minded concentration. He ran his hands through her tousled hair, gripping the curly strands as she rocked her hips against his shaft, massaging the sensitive organ with the slick folds of her slit.
He gasped, gripping her hips and pulling back to look at her. Her lips were plump and pursed – just the way he liked them – and her eyes were hooded with desire. The fact that he could inspire such passion in her made his cock twitch, and he groaned as her tiny hand snaked between them to give it a tender squeeze.
She guided herself upon him, slowly impaling herself with a deep breath and a contented sigh. He gritted his teeth, gripping her hips as she sheathed him perfectly inside her tight, wet, hot body. He wished he could bottle the sensation of being inside her, opening it when she wasn't around or – most especially – when he had to perform his husbandly duties with his wife. Hermione always made white-hot heat sear through him every time they made love.
He leaned up on his elbows, catching her lips as she met him halfway. They knew each other's signals so well that, when she started rocking her hips, he moved effortlessly with her. He barely needed to guide her hips as they moved together at a blissfully mind-warping pace, their bodies coming apart and joining together as perfectly as a well-oiled machine.
"Tell me you love me," she whispered as she moved her hips a little faster, her breath catching in her throat as his hands slid up her stomach to caress her breasts.
"I love you desperately," he groaned, the pads of his thumbs swiping her nipples as she started to bounce harder against him.
She moaned, tipping her head back as she moved her back and forth, up and down, gaining friction and speed between them. He thrust up into her body, his fingers running up her stomach, over her breasts, down her sides and back over her bottom, guiding her as he caressed her skin. Her short, shallow pants and flushed face signalled that she was almost there; almost ready.
"Tell me you love me," he demanded as he flipped them over, falling heavily into her body and continuing to thrust his hips at the new angle, hitting the spot within her that he knew he was the only one to ever touch – the only one to make her toes curl and her back arch in sheer and utter ecstasy.
"I love you!" she moaned, her eyes closing tightly as he bent her leg over his hip, plunging himself over and over into her greedy body, his hip and lower back muscles tensing and relaxing with each movement.
He buried his head into her shoulder as he felt the last of his own self-control start to slip when he felt her nails digging hard into his shoulders. Her thighs tensed, her back arched high, baring her breasts to his eager lips, and her heels dug painfully into his butt. In spite of his own, swiftly approaching climax, however, he pulled back to watch as she shattered completely beneath him.
If there was anything he had to say he loved most about the woman he was making love to, he would definitively admit that he loved how she looked when she came. Her eyes shut tight, her lips parted in a look of absolute bliss, her cheeks flushed a beautiful pink, her smooth neck elongated as her back arched, her stomach starting to quiver, and her fluttering inner walls suddenly squeezing him in exquisite pleasure that often had him tumbling over the edge with her.
But he did love to watch her.
"Oh God…I'm cumming…" she moaned as she raked her nails down his back.
"Yes…" he hissed, welcoming the pain as he thrust hard within her, spilling his seed within the woman he loved more than anything in the world. The sparks that always lit up the backs of his eyes shone a little bit brighter that night, his pleasure lingering just for a second longer as he collapsed on top of her.
His lips found hers and would not leave until their fatigue turned their passion into a slow descent into unconsciousness, their limbs still entwined and their bodies sated in a way that only the other could provide.
Remus woke the next morning to the feel of sunshine on his face. Groaning at the sudden light that seemed intent on drawing him from his sleep, his arm shot out for the familiar body that always lay next to him on mornings like that.
He frowned slightly when his arm hit nothing but fabric.
Sitting up, he realized he was alone in the room. Frowning, he glanced out the window to ascertain the time. It wasn't much past seven, which meant that she wasn't sue home for another three hours. He wasn't due home for another four, and he was sure she knew that.
And yet there he lay, alone, in the cosy little hotel room in the cosy little Muggle hotel in a far-away hamlet that no one they knew had heard about.
As he ran his hand absently over the sheets, he heard the crinkle of parchment and looked over to see a note on her pillow. He frowned. That was also very new. They didn't leave notes for each other. It was too incriminating and seemed almost sordid.
He opened it, and read in her neat scrawl:
'My dear Remus,
By the time you read this note, I'll be back home where I belong. I don't expect you to understand why I'm doing this now, after seven years, but you need to understand that we were never destined for a happy ending. I realized last night that all our memories are slowly being haunted by our realities, and I don't want that to happen, Remus. Not with you.
I know that looking at you would make this good-bye harder, but I knew that in the end, someone would have to just leave. And I suppose that someone was me. I want you to know that you couldn't have possibly loved me any more, or any better, than you have, and I will love you desperately for the rest of my life. But I want you to move on. Go back to Tonks. She's a good woman, and while she doesn't always understand you, give her a chance. She might surprise you.
I never wanted to hurt you, my darling. But I suppose it's inevitable. Just know that I love you, and I always will.
"Could you pass the eggs, darling?"
Remus heard their voices coming from their tiny country cottage as he started toward their gate. The warm air whipped around him and his heart ached as he paused to listen to her voice – sounding so light and uncaring in spite of the fact that she had managed to rip his heart out only hours ago.
"Ron, dear," she said, and Remus's nostrils flared as she used the endearment on the man he knew to be unworthy of her.
"I have something I need to tell you."
Remus froze. He knew that tone. It was her matter-of-fact, let's-speak-plainly tone that she didn't often use with people anymore. For one, brief, fleeting moment, Remus allowed himself the hope that she had changed her mind – that she would tell Ron everything and bring it out in the open – and that she would come back to him the way she was meant to.
But her words were not what he was expecting.
"I'm pregnant," she said breathlessly to her husband. "About two months. It's a girl."
There was a pause of silence before a cry of happiness and she was laughing as the sound of a chair scraping was heard through the quiet countryside. Remus felt a hot lump in his throat, and a brief thought crossed his mind that it might not be Ron's child.
But he knew better. She knew better.
"Remus?" a soft voice said behind him and he whipped around to see his wife standing there. Her long hair blew in the light breeze and for the first time Remus noticed that it was no longer a wild, bright colour, but instead her natural black.
"Dora," he whispered, his eyes widening as he realized where he was, and what that meant.
She smiled softly.
"I know," she said. "I've known for awhile now."
"I…I don't…I…" but he was at a loss for words.
"Hermione sent me an owl this morning," she said, taking a step forward and taking his hand. "Seemed to think you wouldn't take her note as a final answer."
"Remus," she whispered, her eyes revealing brave tears. "I love you. And I know you love me. Perhaps not as…completely…as you love her, but…but I can live with that."
He blinked. The woman in front of him was hardly the woman he had married, and yet he was not disappointed by that discovery. And as she took him by the hand, leading him away from the one woman he had ever truly loved completely, he realized that Hermione was already gone from him the night before, when they had made love so passionately.
Her one desire had been to be free. And now she was.
And in a strange way, so was he.
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!