A sneeze ripped from Remus and he coughed harshly as he tended to his raw nose. His nose tickled furiously and his wished he could just sneeze and get it over with.
He sniffed wetly and felt tears prickle his eyes. Quickly, he brought his handkerchief back to his face. "heh-achuffa! Huh-chuffa! Awauff!" He sniffed and blew his nose again. He felt his head throb, but continued to relieve his nose until his ears popped.
Folding his arms on the table, he rested his head on top of them. The Werewolf Registry was never a pleasant place to visit. Nor did they make it easy for werewolves to get by – restricting employment, limiting healthcare, banning the brewing of beneficial potions, etc. But, their newest play – it was the worst. And, Remus was terrified that he would suffer the same end as so many of his brethren.
He heard the door open and shut. Assuming it was Arthur or one of the other remaining few of the Order, he didn't move. They were even more used to him being pathetic than he was. He closed his eyes and waited for the smothering.
It was times like this he missed Molly. He remembered him making a fuss to get her to stop making a fuss when she was alive. She always used to say that when she was gone people would miss her smothering. They knew she was right then – but after her death, they felt it. Every time they were ill or sad, they felt her absence even more than usual.
Hermione walked into the house. She tried to be as quiet as possible, incase Remus was sleeping. She knew that he had been to the Registry earlier that day – though he had not seen her. Her job at Muggle Arts and Artifacts generally kept her well out of the way of the 'undesirable' places within the Ministry. But, when she heard that they had changed the laws – again, she went there to see if there was any back-door bureaucratic way of stopping it. Of course there was none. But, while she was there, she had seen him – looking more well kept than most of his brethren, but not much healthier. His nose was pinked and his cheeks held a familiar flush to them.
When she walked into the kitchen and saw him, her heart nearly melted. He was sitting at the table, right were Sirius always sat. He had his head cradled in his arms, and he seemed to be sleeping.
Slowly, she moved to his side, brushing her hand along the back of his neck. He was not warm, which meant that his pinked nose was due to some sort of allergy, and the flush must have been embarrassment.
She looked at him, asleep at the table. His mouth hung open slightly, making it painfully obvious that he was unable to breath through his nose. Her heart strings tugged at her, and she knew he would be more comfortable up in his room.
"Remus?" she asked, shaking his shoulder lightly.
He looked at her, blearily. "Good day, Hermione. Do forgive me, I must have fallen asleep." He sat up, and then remembered the reason he had sat down to begin with. Carefully, he moved the papers from the Ministry under his arms.
"There is nothing to forgive," she said dismissively sitting down next to him. "What's that?" she asked, pointing at the paper, although she knew very well what it was. The Ministry had decided that any werewolves without living relatives, or a spouse, were no longer of any use to society. They had two weeks to prove their relations, otherwise they would be sent either to Azkaban or to a werewolf laboratory, in order to "assist in the determination of a substantial or otherwise effective cure for lycanthropy". Many of these laboratories were known as death sentences. As far as she knew, Remus had no living relatives. And, since he and Tonks decided they were best as 'just friends', he didn't have many spousal prospects.
He sighed and looked at the papers before him. "The Ministry has decided that werewolves without family aren't worth the air we breathe."
"They're wrong," she said, gently.
"Doesn't matter. They make the rules. And I get… get… oh, not again…" He raised his handkerchief to his face. "Huh-wuffa! Wuffa! Keshhhhuffa!"
"Blessings," she said, quietly. She knew Remus didn't like to be fussed over. But, he was obviously miserable. "Allergies, huh?" she asked mildly.
He nodded as he cleared his nose. He got up from the table and leaned against the counter, his cheeks starting to turn the same hue that Hermione had seen at the Registry.
"You know, if they're going to call you into the Registry, the least they can do is dust," Hermione said, as she watched him suffer. "I mean, I've been there – they don't keep it well at all. You're human beings – you deserve better than… that…" Her words died on her lips as she looked at the dark and foreboding look that Remus was giving her.
"Hermione, what do you mean, you've been there?" There was no emotion in his voice. Only a cold monotone.
"Remus, I work at the Ministry. Of course I've been to the Registry."
"You can't go there, Hermione. It isn't safe for you. Those people – they're monsters."
Hermione was usually the first to argue, but right now, she didn't know which people he was talking about – the werewolves or the Registry workers. She decided he meant the former, but she would take it to mean the latter.
"Look, maybe I can pull some strings and get them to clean up in there some. Would that be nice?"
He sniffed, as another sneeze started to creep up on him. "Hermione, don't talk to me like I'm a fool. I know that you can't pull that sort of leverage on the Registry." He paused the moment he realized he'd been yelling. He looked at Hermione, with her strong determined chin pushed forward. But, hurt shone in her eyes. There was something else lurking there. Something that he couldn't place. He sighed as he felt the tug of guilt in the pit of his stomach. "Hermione, you cannot go back there. Promise me you won't go back there without me."
He felt his ears start to grow hot. Another sneeze was coming, and it was going to be a doozy.
"I can't do that Remus. If the Ministry sends me there, I have to go."
Hermione's voice was firm, and he knew that there was no arguing it. Not that he was in any position to argue anway.
"Huh-WUFFHA!" He caught the sneeze just in time, but it bent him at the waist. He stood there for a moment, waiting for the dizziness to subside. By the time it had, he realized that she had pulled him back to the table and lowered him into a seat.
"Then you know…" he said dubiously.
"Yea. I tried to find a way around it – but they've got it sealed tight. Bastards."
Remus nodded and rubbed at his nose. "I have to decide where I'd rather go – a Death Lab or Azkaban."
"Neither," she answered seriously. She couldn't bring herself to just let him go to one of those places. He deserved happiness. He deserved someone who cared. He deserved someone to spend his life with. She was certain he wouldn't normally choose her – but she figured she'd do in a pinch. And it didn't get much more pinched than this.
"Hermione?" he asked, and then realization dawned on him. "No, I couldn't. It's very nice of you to offer, but I can't ruin your life like that. You're a sweet girl, but you…"
"Have already signed the paperwork… and they gave me this," she said putting a potion and a bracelet on the table.
Remus felt light headed. "Hermione do you know what it is for wizards to get married?"
"A bond between two people who love and respect each other and choose to spend the rest of their lives together," she answered with an innocence only a muggle could have.
"No dear. That's what it is for muggles to marry." He sighed and pushed down a wave of nausea. "Did you ever wonder why Narcissa never left Lucius? Even after she knew that she was in a bad place?"
Hermione thought about that for a moment. "I guess. But, I figured it was because of Voldemort's involvement and that she was afraid of what he would do to her."
Remus involuntarily shuddered at the mention of the Dark Lord's name. He could understand her logic. But, the longer he stared at the vial and the bracelet, the more ill he felt. She was really considering doing this. Without question. Just to save his life. He couldn't think of anything more touching. Nor could he think of anything more heinous.