Remus sat like a child, cross legged on the hearth, sliding a tiny silver box underneath the Christmas tree. His heart fluttered and he leaped from his seat and listened carefully for footsteps from upstairs.
He moved to the dining table and rearranged the knives and forks again. Then the table decoration. Was it to elaborate? Would she think he was making a fuss?
More importantly, would she know the reason behind it all?
He didn't want her to know of his feelings for her... He didn't want to be so transparent.
But then again, a part of him did. His heart was aching for her to come downstairs in that delectable blue and white shirt of hers, all droopy eyed and sleepy. Her wild hair untamed from sleep.. H e wanted that and then he wanted her to see the effort he had gone too, and then, when she unwrapped her gift, he wanted her to smile that wide toothy smile that she did when she was truly happy and not feeling worried and preoccupied about her slightly larger front teeth and then he wanted her to wind her arms around his neck, and murmur her happy Christmas into his lips...
"Merry Christmas!" Hermione yawned widely and smiled softly. Her hair was indeed untamed, but Remus was not greeted by the longness of her legs peeking from her shirt as she was swaddled in her fluffy dressing down.
"Merry Christmas my dear," he blushed and fought to pull her into his chest by the ties of her robe as she reached up and kissed him on the cheek. She turned and made her way into the kitchen. Remus touched his cheek where her lips had been, his skin tingled and he swore she must have been made completely out of electricity.
"Oh! Oh Remus! Did you- What's all this! It's gorgeous! Oh Remus, you're so cute!"
Remus followed her squeals of delight into the kitchen where she stood beaming over the kitchen table that was set for two.
The decorations were predominantly gold and red, Gryffindor and Christmas rolled into one. The kitchen was scattered with hundreds of tiny red candles and there was holly and ivy wrapped around three candles in the middle of the table. The table cloth glittered delicately in the light and around the candles were mountains of food. Waffles, toast, cereals, sausages, eggs, bacon, marmalade, jam, maple syrup, tea, coffee.
"Remus, you didn't have to do all this!" Hermione wrapped an arm around his waist and gingerly, Remus returned the favour, enjoying the feel of his arm around her shoulder and she snuggled into the crook of his waist.
"It's nothing really... I just wanted you to enjoy the day, from start to finish. It's not nice to have a terrible Christmas, considering all that's gone on... I guess I don't know... I just wanted to make you happy, Hermione" he said softly, brushing his mouth against her unruly curls.
"You do make me happy," Hermione looked up at him and Remus swore he saw lust flicker in her eyes. But then it was gone, as quickly as he thought it had appeared.
"I mean I am happy. I am happier than I've been for ages, I mean look at all this lovely food"
She moved from his grasp and began to pour the tea.
"Let me," he took the teapot from her and filled both their golden mugs.
They ate and chatted happily as the wireless crackles old 1940's hymns and carols in the background.
Hermione nodded her head enthusiastically at something Remus had said as the both reached for the milk at the same time, their fingertips and palms brushing together.
Remus felt her touch burn like wildfire up his arm, lighting a fire in his chest and causing his face to flush. He coughed uncomfortably and sipped his orange juice, in order to hide his face.
After that he cleared his plate quickly and was anxious to move away from her gaze. Sitting opposite her it was difficult to disguise the look he knew he must have in his eyes, every time she spoke he wanted to kiss her, and as he was more than happy to let her ramble away, admiring how her eyes sparkled and grew wide and she spoke with passion about her favourite subjects, then the urge to kiss her was strong and very often.
He cleared the table without magic, so he would turn away from her and finally take a breath. Hermione excused herself and said she had to pop upstairs.
When he returned, she was curled up with her legs underneath her like a cat on the end of the sofa, next to her was a green box, a huge navy blue bow holding the lid on tight.
She beamed at him.
"Come! Sit! I have a present for you!"
Remus hoped that she was his present, he hoped inside that box was nothing and that she would simply through it aside and kiss him long and hard .. it was all he could think of ..
Instead he sat gingerly beside her, longing for as much distance on the tiny sofa as possible. Bu much to his dismay, she shuffled over to him and sat at his side, placing the package on his lap.
"Well open it then!" She grinned, with the impatience and excitement of a five year old. He loved it when she was like this, her walls of intelligence completely down and her true fluttery, and rather Luna-esque personality shining through.
"Hermione, you know you didn't have too. I am very flattered but-"
"But I did. So just open it, I spent ages on it!"
Slowly, Remus pulled the bow away and lifted the lid of the box. Inside was a photo frame decorated with tiny shells. The picture in the centre of the frame moved.
The smiles of himself, James and Sirius beamed up at him and he immediately felt tears brim in his eyes. He sniffed.
"Hermione, this is... This is wonderful, truly. You're amazing. Where ever did you find the photograph?" He glanced up at her, her cheeks pink from happiness.
It was adorable. He looked back down at the picture.
"Ohhh! I am so glad you like it! I asked Harry to see if he could find anything I could have in Sirius' old things, and he sent me this. Took me ages to find those tiny little shells, they're from our beach!" She grinned and then her face dropped.
"Well, not our beach. It's yours isn't it? But I just-"
"Curly, it's yours for as long as you want it to be. You know it is, this home is your home." He said shyly. Loving the sound of the "Our" that escaped her mouth before she thought about it, pleased that she considered this her home... Even if it was, sadly, only temporary.
"Well, I am thrilled that you like it. I thought maybe it was a silly present, seeing as you have so many lovely photos already. But I am glad you like it"
Remus rose and placed the frame carefully on the fire place. He stood back and admired it for a moment, muttering the words "perfect" and "just right" under his breath.
"I love it. It's astonishing, and I love the shells. You really are as clever and creative as you are beautiful" Remus said delicately, sitting back down beside her, not taking his eyes from hers.
He relished the blush that crept up her neck, his own face joining hers at her his boldness. Her eyes clouded over slightly and he saw that she swallowed hard and licked her lips.
She was nervous.
He had made her nervous.
Remus swore that she could hear his heartbeat inside his own chest, beating wildly, like a caged animal. Like a wolf.
"What are you doing Moony?" he though ferociously to himself. "She's much younger than you. She's not been away from Ron more than two months and here you are, calling her beautiful and flirting with a poor girl who is hurt and confused. You stupid old man!"
Remus suddenly coughed lightly and Hermione dragged her gaze off his mouth ... His mouth that looked ridiculously delicious. His strong jaw bone, covered in a light layer of stubble.
She wanted to kiss him. Hermione was startled and powerfully torn between running away and bringing her lips those extra few inches to meet his.
What was she thinking? Why on Earth would this ridiculously handsome, kind, clever, funny man want to do with her? Curly. The frizzy haired fool who had wasted her time on a useless boyfriend because she didn't want to be alone. How attractive.
She hadn't been out of a relationship with Ron for more than two months! What must he think of her, flirting with someone else already? And not just with any old man... She was in his home and she was being ridiculous. Simply ridiculous.
"Would...Would you like your gift?" He muttered, looking down at his feet and already reaching for the tiny silver box below the tree that she hadn't even noticed before now.
"Oh Remus! You've already done enough! You're terrible you know. You're spoiling me!"
The moment of their lips being so close had seemed so fleeting and the moment had faded as fast as it had come, Hermione was able to quickly brush it aside.
"I know, I know...But you got something for me! What kind of friend would I be if I didn't get you a little something?"
She smiled softly and unwrapped the folds of tissue paper and poured her present from the little velvet pouch inside.
"Remus!" she breathed in awe, "It's stunning. I love it. Thank you so much, oh it's gorgeous"
She admired the necklace sitting in her palm.
It was a thin silver chain, so thin that it almost looked like spider webs spun together, twinkling in the candle light. On the end of the chain was a silver sea shell. She flipped it over in her hands ...
"Open it," he whispered, and as she did so, the sound of the ocean filled their ears.
Hermione gasped and stared down at her remarkable Christmas present.
"Remus... You truly have out done yourself. I adore it. Will you put it on for me please? I must wear it now. I'll never take it off!"
She turned her back and lifted her hair out of the way, revealing the back of her neck.
Remus swallowed. He lifted the necklace over her head and fastened the clasp, his fingertips brushing against the heat of her flesh... He felt his chest tighten and it took everything in his power not to stroke her neck with his fingers and caress her jaw with his hand, pulling her back to his chest and nibbling at the delicate skin behind her ear...
Hermione could feel his breath tickling her skin, she was desperate for him trace her skin with his hands, nipping at the softness behind her earlobe.
He brought his hand away and she turned herself around, touching the closed shell with her fingers, the coldness of the silver giving her goose bumps.
"I do love it. And you do Remus...You do what you intend too...You make me very, happy," Hermione voice was almost inaudible but his wolf ears heard.
This wasn't imaginary. Her lips were there, inches away and she leant in slowly. Not taking her eyes from his. Waiting from the signal to go closer ...
"I...Thank you. I hope that I do- I mean, I hope that you are happy here I mean," Remus swallowed hard. Was he dreaming?
He wanted so much to kiss her, but couldn't help but think he must be reading all her signals incorrectly. As if his dream could come true like this...Moments like this never happened to him.
Suddenly she reached up and cupped his face with her hand.
"This has been, a lovely Christmas," and slowly but surely she moved forward, her lips only brushing his. Remus couls taste the orange juice on her breath, mixed with what his wolf senses already recognised as her sweet citrusy taste. He was coming undone.
"Hermione.." her murmured, "what are you doing..."
She pulled away, the Hermione he knew so well bursting out of her. She placed the hand that was on his face onto her hip.
"Well, I was trying to kiss you Remus,"
He grinned at her moody expression and her sarcastic words. But that meant it was true, Hermione Granger wanted to kiss him. She looked so funny, so adorable and charismatic, her cheeks flushed and her head tilted, eyebrows raised that Remus couldn't help himself.
He kissed her.
She was caught of guard for a moment, but she responded almost immediately. Her mouth fighting for dominance, but the weight of him on her, the smell of him, his stubble and feel of his hand entwining itself in her curls, was too much. She wrapped her arms around him and crushed him closer, letting his tongue flick against hers, letting him nibble in her bottom lip. He moved his kisses to the tip of her nose, across her cheeks and on her jaw, then back up to her mouth.
He bit her bottom lip particularly hard and she moaned. She moaned without even knowing she was doing it, not until he was smiling and she kissed his smiling lips did she know that she was groaning into his mouth, pushing up her body against his and running her hand down his torso.
Finally, they came up for air. Remus rested his forehead against hers. He couldn't bare to break the contact, not just yet.
"'Mione... You're making me crazy," he whispered into her hair before he licked her earlobe, enticing a gasp from her lips.
"Remus... Please kiss me again,"
He obliged with enthusiasm. He crushed his lips to hers once more.
Slowly, Remus his hand down the side of her body, feeling her soft curves under her dressing down, and her slid his hand down her leg to the back of her knee. Pulling her legs from underneath her so that she was laying down, and he was laying between her legs. Her nestled himself between them and felt the wolf inside him growl and she ever so slightly bucked up her hips when he bit her collar bone.
He bit her again and she pushed up into his groin.
This time, it was Remus' turn to moan. Her groaned her name into her mouth and kissed her with a closed mouth.
"We should stop. Hermione...Do you want to stop?"
Hermione looked up at him. Her brown eye smouldering with want and heat. Her breath was ragged and she raked her hands up from the bottom of his back and under his pyjama shirt, as he shivered at her touch.
"Just pretend that I am a Christmas present. Pretend this robe is gift wrap. Unwrap me" She licked his bottom lip and bucked her hips again.
This time, he growled aloud. His wolf was slowly but surely being unleashed.
This was all the invitation he needed.