The Brilliant Summer
A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words
become superfluous. -Ingrid Bergman
The pavement was radiating heat from where he stood, and all around him wizards darted from shady awning to shady awning, wearing muggle clothes or light robes.
This was not - could not - be March 22nd, 1980. It was far too hot and much too lively. He saw that he stood under the awning of Flourish and Blot's, and understood he was in Diagon Alley. The where wasn't so difficult, but the when was another matter altogether.
Had something gone wrong during the spell? He should have been sent back, and either he went too far back or not far back enough. It didn't make sense that this could happen. Remus checked his pockets; his wand was in his left hand, and the moonstone Dora gave him in his right pocket. Nothing of his person had changed. While considering what to do, he ran his fingers along the smooth edges of the crescent moon, turning it over and over in his hand.
There had to be some way to figure out his location in time. Remus looked around in the mirage and saw a Daily Prophet vendor shouting his wares. Some people would stop and grab a paper, depositing a few knuts into the waiting bin.
He made his way over to the vendor.
"Excuse me," began Remus, "But could I just have a quick look at the headlines?"
"Five knuts," said the vendor. He was a wizard of medium height and balding head, and a robust belly. The top of his scalp was gleaming with sweat, and the vendor lifted a hand to wipe the moisture from his skin.
Remus cleared his throat. "I've no money on me," he said. "I just want to check the headlines."
"Five knuts for a paper," the vendor repeated.
"Look, I need to know the date," he said impatiently. When the vendor cast him a suspicious look, Remus added, "I've been traveling."
"July seventh," said the man.
He sighed. "What year?"
"What's the bloody year?"
The vendor edged slightly away from him. "I don't know what you're playing at, but if you're needing some help my cousin works at St. Mungo's -"
Remus gritted his teeth in an effort to restrain himself from launching at the pudgy man. He realized that, from an outsider's perspective, he sounded a bit mad, but he couldn't be bothered with stupid things like that while he was trying to figure out more important things.
"Just tell me the year," he growled.
Either the man was intimidated by him (highly likely), or he'd just realized that Remus wasn't mentally ill. Whichever it was, the vendor held up his copy of the Prophet and pointed at the date line underneath the heading with one shaking finger.
Jul. 7th, 1991.
"Thank you," he mumbled to the vendor, and walked quickly away.
How had this happened? He'd backfired so completely in the spell that he'd launched forward over a year in time instead of backwards. Was the "Chromatem Desperses" spell so horribly off the mark? No, no… because when Dumbledore had used it, the spell worked. It was him, Remus. He had done something wrong.
Remus rang his fingers through his hair and sighed. This was a difficult position. Here he had no money, no clothes, and no means of survival. His stay at Hogwarts had made everything relatively easy because he didn't have to worry about things like providing for himself. Clothes, food, and lodging were free. And he had the Wolfsbane Potion. Who knew how expensive that could be on the outside? And when was the full moon? Was it tonight? Tomorrow?
He let out a grunt of frustration.
There was another problem. Someone could recognize him as Remus Lupin, rather than his persona of Remus McGonagall. Someone who'd known him growing up, or knew him now. It was much more dangerous in Diagon Alley than he could have imagined. And the worst was he didn't even know who knew him. In eleven years he could have met a whole slew of people that could pick him out of a crowd.
All he could hope for was that his future self was a recluse. That and the spell would take immediate effect and send him back a decade. But it wasn't a solstice or equinox. There was absolutely nothing special about July 7th.
Or was there?
Maybe all these trips in time were for a purpose. Merlin, he hoped so. If this wasn't so random as it appeared, then it wasn't him or the spell, but time itself taking a hold.
That was an interesting thought. Time itself was intervening. Remus had never considered time to be a conscious thing, but after this bizarre turn of events anything was possible. Why, he could be bouncing through time in order to find out exactly what happened to make Sirius go bad in the past! He could be sent forward to learn the future in order to change it. He was a possible agent of time.
But… why him? Why would they choose someone whose life was dictated by the waxing and waning of the moon? Remus was hardly fit to do great works when nearly a week out of every month he was all but incapacitated.
All this heavy thought was causing him even more sweat than the day's heat could manage.
Remus pulled his mind away and glanced around at his surroundings. Now he was under the awning of Florean Fortesque's, and that wouldn't do at all. Too many people populated the Ice Cream Parlor for it to be any sort of safe place at all.
He wandered down Diagon Alley, passing Gringotts and the turn to Knockturn Alley. Again, he couldn't help but marvel at the difference time could make. Just like in Hogsmeade, all the shops were open and flourishing, people laughing and running in the street, teenagers snogging in alleyways where they thought no one could see them. It was all so alive.
It wasn't until he'd reached the end of the street, where the shops were met by residencies, that Remus realized exactly what he was looking for.
On the grimy window of the tiny junk shop, dubbed unimaginatively as The Buy and Sell, was a sign that read "Help Wanted."
This was perfect. Remus couldn't imagine anyone willingly stepping into this shop unless they were truly desperate, and most likely the owner was so desperate for work he'd even stoop to hire a werewolf. He released a breath he didn't know he was holding and headed to the door.
The inside was as dirty as the window had warned. Remus glanced around the small interior, keeping the disgust from his face with effort and heading to the desk. There sat the shop owner, staring into a cup of tea and sighing miserably. The man wrenched his head up to look at the intruder of his private misery.
"It says you're hiring?" Remus began hesitantly.
"Great," grunted the shop keeper. "A questioner. D'you finish ev'ry sentence wiv a question, then?"
The man raised his bushy eyebrows. "Alright. Wot's your name?"
"Remus. Remus McGonagall."
Surely Minerva wouldn't mind if he carried on using her surname, he reasoned, given how earlier today (at least to him it was earlier today) she'd nearly gone into hysterics as she bade him goodbye on the grounds. And it was only until September the twenty-first. What harm could there be?
The shop keeper pulled his head completely away from the teacup and frowned intently. "Can you do sums?"
"Clean an' organize fings?"
"You plannin' to steal from me in th' middle of th' night?"
"Hadn't given it much thought," Remus replied dryly. Who on earth would steal from a junk shop? There was hardly anything valuable ten feet away from The Buy and Sell.
The shop keeper sniffed. "You're 'ired. Ten sickles a day. Get to work."
"Get to work," he repeated. "Start by cleanin' out th' shop. I want ev'ryfing displayed." And with that, the shop keeper left the building.
Remus took a turn around the shop, eyeing each and every disgusting piece of junk, and considered briefly that ten sickles was hardly enough incentive to work for the obtuse older man. But, ten sickles was about the same as he'd get anywhere else if he said he was a werewolf, so he refrained from griping and set about to waving his wand and putting everything in its rightful place.
It was dull work, not that he'd expected anything less, but at least it was something to do while he waited for the equinox to roll around. It was either this or starve.
After a couple of hours, as the surfaces were beginning to shine in a way Remus wouldn't have considered possible earlier and his wand swished independent of his thought, the shop keeper came back and surveyed the improvements with an inscrutable expression. He finally let out a harsh laugh.
"You don't waste time, do you?"
It was an ironic question. As far as Remus was concerned, this entire jump into the future - again - was an entire waste of time. Unless some life changing event of epic proportions was to take place in the next two and a half months, he was really just spinning wheels.
But, in an effort to sound friendly, Remus gave a laugh and said, "I've always needed to keep my hands busy."
"You can leave in a couple o' hours," said the man. "If you wont."
"Alright," he said readily, "But I've a question first."
"What's your name?"
The man started, as if he hadn't expected ever to reveal such personal information. Finally, as if wresting a particularly heavy burden from his chest, he said "Fletcher. Harridan Fletcher."
Remus raised an eyebrow and lowered his wand. "I know a Fletcher. Dodgy sort of fellow."
"Mundungus," corrected Harridan. "My good for nothin' cousin. 'E's a right pain in th' arse, that one. Gave 'im a job 'ere, but 'e kept nickin' all th' good stuff. And 'e couldn't do sums or no'fing." Mr Fletcher gave a mighty sniff and headed behind the counter, pulling out a book of records to examine.
Suddenly, his new boss was a lot less bizarre and a lot more amicable. Remus suppressed a smile at the rather single-minded description of the pilfering lout and raised his wand once more.
The next couple of hours passed slowly, but not quite so bitterly as before. When the two hour mark hit, and passed, Remus remained a little longer so as to reassure Harridan that he wasn't a wash-out or a slacker, and then bade Mr Fletcher goodbye after collecting his ten sickles for the day.
The hottest part of the day resides between three and five o'clock of the afternoon during the summer. It's the window of time when the heat is especially brutal, and Remus had just entered the zenith. He nearly gagged on the air.
When Remus had walked through Diagon Alley before landing in The Buy and Sell, the heat was moderate, though hot enough to create a small mirage. Now the temperature was above one hundred Fahrenheit degrees. Considering that Remus' robes, no matter how tattered and old they were, had been made to withstand the chills of winter, he was practically baking inside of his attire. He took a deep breath and stepped back under the awning and into the shade, stripping off his outer layers methodically.
He stiffened and turned, expecting to see someone he knew (and then explain the convoluted time travel experience to), and blinked in surprise. Because while he knew this person well, the odds of meeting her again were so slim he hadn't even considered them.
It was Tonks, or Dora, or whatever he felt like calling her in the moment, and she was staring at him with a radiant face. Her hair - blonde that day, and cropped close to her skull - almost seemed to glow in the afternoon light, only enhancing the likewise shine of her white muggle sundress. Strapless sundress, he noted. And the heat caused her skin to exude sweat in trails that dropped down into her cleavage and along her neck…
For a moment, Remus nearly lost his constant composure.
As he looked her over (and over, and over again), Dora's expression melted from exuberance into hesitance and disappointment.
"Do you… not remember me?" she asked.
"Tonks!" he declared, perhaps too loudly. She blinked in surprise.
Remus laughed awkwardly. "Sorry. No, of course I remember you."
How could he not? For Dora, it had been over a year since they'd kissed in the little niche at Hogwarts, as he bade her goodbye for what he thought was forever. She'd likely forgotten the color of his hair, and the shape of his nose, and all those things that time makes a person forget. But for Remus, it had been only yesterday, and everything about her was clear in his memory, and he had to reconcile the age she had acquired.
When he'd left, Nymphadora Tonks was of age, but she had not totally grown into her body. She was not yet completely rid of her childhood curves, but some of her lines had matured, and she was lovely. Remus knew this to be her true form, because it was the same as the one she'd worn at Hogwarts, and knew that if she wanted to she could make her body more advanced in age. The fact that she didn't affected him in many different ways.
"How have you been?" he asked her, simply for something to say.
"I… well, fine." Dora lifted a hand to her hair and touched it nervously.
"You look lovely," Remus reassured her. Then he had to stave off a blush when he realized what he'd said wasn't such a calming sentiment as he'd intended as she bit her lip and dropped her arm hastily.
She gave an awkward laugh. "Thank you, I suppose."
He took a step forward with care to remain in the shade. "I distinctly remember our conversations being much less awkward."
Some dam in her broke and this time Dora released a genuine laugh. "No, I was a rather chatty sort of bird, wasn't I?" She bore a large smile. "Merlin, looking back… you must have been going up the wall listening to me blather on about all my petty little problems."
In the time span of a year, she had not truly evolved from her state of self-doubt.
"You know how I feel about that," said Remus.
"Right, right… you don't like hearing me talk about my shortcomings and all that," she said with a dismissive flap of her hand. "I forgot."
"What are you doing here?"
"In Diagon Alley?"
"At the end of Diagon Alley. As I understand, it's not a common place to be," he answered slyly.
Dora grinned. "It is if you live just a block away."
"Do you, now?"
"Yeah," she told him. This seemed to be a great source of excitement for her. "Yeah… mum fronted me for the place. It's a small flat, really small, but it's my own and I've got privacy and all that. Just moved in last week, actually, once I left Hogwarts. Would you like to see it?"
Remus started in surprise. "Oh, sure, I'd love to," he replied, hardly believing this to be true.
It all seemed so surreal, that he would find such a ready confidant in Nymphadora Tonks the first jump through time and then wind up in the same street as her for his second time travel experience. He had the niggling thought that perhaps, just perhaps, this was not coincidence or whimsical chance.
He folded his outer robes in his arms and stepped into stride beside her, trying desperately to control his even breaths and mild reactions.
Before today Remus had only ever seen Dora in school robes and the occasional short skirt, which had been quite enough to catch his eye. Now, though, in her revealing muggle attire she was more alluring than ever before. If he so much as brushed her skin he might be undone completely. This was something he could not allow to happen. Remus didn't know if she had a boyfriend, and he couldn't do anything rash before finding such things out.
"When did you get back to England?" she asked him.
"Do you have a place to stay?"
"Not quite yet," Remus told her. He'd temporarily put that worry on hold, and now he played with the sickles in his pocket nervously.
Dora smiled at him. "You're welcome to my couch, if you like. It's a bit grubby, but at least it's a place to stay."
"I couldn't possibly-" he began.
"Yes, you could," she said. "We're still mates, aren't we? I'd be an awful sort of person if I didn't take you in."
Since he'd always struggled with looking a gift horse in the mouth, Remus did his very best to smile and take her offer graciously, though he felt uncomfortable about it. Generosity was not commonly extended to werewolves, and even though Dora didn't know of his condition it was a difficult habit to break.
"How did you do on your N.E.W.T.s?" Remus inquired.
"I think I botched my Arithmancy," she confessed, "But with everything else I think I did just fine so it's not a problem. I know for a fact - well, almost a fact - that I got an O in my Transfig exam, and I'm hoping the same for my Defense."
"And, er," he hated asking this question, "How's Charlie?"
Dora gave an almighty blush. "He's in Romania. He left just after exams to study dragons, and I don't expect him to be back for a year at least."
Remus wasn't sure what to say. "I'm sorry," he said at last. "I know you two are close."
"Sorry, are you?" she teased.
"Perhaps not entirely," he admitted.
She laughed. "Here we are."
They stopped in front of a run down flat complex with about five storeys. It wasn't the classiest of places; the windows were for the most part as grimy as The Buy and Sell's had been before Remus cleaned them. He exchanged a look with Dora, who looked down and fiddled with the fabric of her dress nervously.
"I know it's not top class," she mumbled, "But at least it's mine."
"Tell me it's at least clean."
Dora snorted. "I forgot you're a neat freak."
"It's a failing of mine," he replied dryly.
"I'm not much of a cleaner, but it's no pigsty. I haven't lived in it long enough for it to be messy," she said.
He shrugged and nodded. "Anywhere out of the heat is good, I suppose. I trust you."
She smiled shyly and headed forward, opening the front door of the complex. Remus followed her up three flights of stairs in narrow halls. It was very difficult not to stare at Dora's bum, but out of respect he restrained himself. They climbed to a stretching hall and went down, stopping at the very last door on the right side of the corridor. The number read 312. Dora pulled out her wand and tapped the doorknob with a non-verbal spell, opening the door.
They stepped inside, and Remus surveyed the flat.
The living room was to the left, consisting of a frayed armchair and a lumpy couch. A door lay at the end of a short corridor, open and revealing a bed. He assumed her lavatory was inside the bedroom. To the right was the combination of kitchen and dining room, although calling the area a dining room was a bit generous. There was really just a small table with three chairs and a wilting vase of sunflowers.
Everything seemed clean, if not shabby. This was the condition most of Remus' things were in and he instantly felt at home.
"It's nice," Remus told her.
"I'm serious," he said. "I like it."
Dora gave him a look. "You have odd taste."
He winked at her. "And don't I know it."
The next morning, Remus awoke on the couch with his back mildly aching and the scent of oatmeal in his nostrils. He pulled himself into a sitting position and looked over at the kitchen to see Dora sitting at the small table. There was a bowl before her (and a glass of orange juice) and another in front of the seat across from her.
Remus rubbed his eyes and said hoarsely, "Good morning."
She snapped her head up, a spoonful of oatmeal half chewed in her mouth. Dora pulled down the grains, took a sip of orange juice, and then swallowed.
"That looked like an ordeal," he commented.
Dora shrugged. "You caught me off guard."
She still wore the ratty shirt of the night before, the name The Disarmers blazoned proudly on the black fabric. The plaid pyjama pants she had slung on her hips were rumpled now, the work of restless sleep. There were bags under her eyes.
He stood slowly and stretched, scratching his jaw lazily. It occurred to Remus then that he needed a shave, which he hadn't done the morning before since he believed himself to be going home and returning to the state in which he had left. And he needed to relieve himself.
"Would you mind if I used your bathroom?"
"You don't need to ask for permission," she told him once again. "You're living here now."
The description warmed him and frightened him. Without saying anything either way, Remus moved around the couch and headed through the small corridor to the bedroom. He glanced for a second at the unmade bed and swallowed. The bathroom lay just beyond and he slipped inside, shutting to door firmly behind and running a hand through his hair.
Being in the same flat as Dora, like this, was intoxicating and all sorts of dangerous. Not dangerous in the sense he'd hurt her or take advantage of her, but because the full moon was only a week away and she had no idea whatsoever of his condition. Remus knew he'd have to tell her eventually, though the prospect sickened him, and he knew that if he didn't say something soon he might crack from the guilt of deceiving her.
Remus sighed and headed to the toilet, dropping his fly. It wasn't something to be guilty about, he'd been told by both Sirius and James. Well, he'd rather think of it as something from James because then at least he knew it was genuine. His friends had always told him that being a werewolf was nothing to be ashamed of even though he was raised to believe otherwise. If Remus was going to be completely honest with himself, though (he shook himself dry) then he would admit lying to Dora was something he didn't want to do.
She had shared things with him that she didn't have to. Dora had told him everything about her life, holding back no secrets, and Remus was concealing two things from her. The fact that he was in fact not travelling across the world but through time, and he was lycanthrope.
As he washed his hands, Remus contemplated her reaction. She was a Metamorphmagus and used to reactions of fear and mistrust, but the prejudices surrounding werewolves was hardly the same. And Dora was also a member of a dark family, however estranged she might be, and could relate to the misconceptions surrounding his existence. Dora was uniquely qualified to accept him for what he was.
And yet he was used to hiding himself from the people he cared about most. It had been Remus' curse for fifteen years, his curse to hide his curse. Just because he felt so wholly connected to one girl did not mean he had the power to make her understand him the way he wanted her to.
He went through the motions of shaving and brushing his teeth, going back and forth on the issue. Tell her, don't tell her. Remus might as well have a daisy in his hand, pulling off petals, for all he could make his mind up decisively. Dora might understand - she might not. She might accept him, or she might go running in the opposite direction. This wasn't a concern at Hogwarts because there he did not have to live with her and sleep on her couch.
By the time Remus had finished everything in the bathroom and exited again, Dora was in her room and making her bed with her wand lazily. She wore a spaghetti strap shirt and jean cut-offs, and her hair was a shock white pixie cut. He knew that style - she wore it the same day Remus had first realized his feelings ran deeper for her than he'd originally believed. He had to suppress a groan at the loveliness of her.
Dora grinned at him. "You look a mite fresher."
"I should, after a shave," he said with a laugh.
"Well, I'm off to work in a few minutes, but there's some oatmeal for you on the table," she told him. "Sorry I can't make much better."
"Maybe I'll cook for you," suggested Remus. "I've been told my culinary skills are commendable."
"How can I resist an offer like that?" Dora said brightly, and made to slip into the bathroom.
Remus grabbed her wrist lightly, and she blushed. "Thank you," he said softly. "You didn't have to go out of your way for me, but you did. That means a lot to me." For a moment Dora seemed ready to lean forward and kiss him (and he wished she would so very much), but then she pulled her arm from his and backed away.
"Of course I would," she told him. "I know we only… what I mean is… I consider you to be one of my best friends."
She moved into the bathroom and shut the door.
He headed to the kitchen and sat down to eat, considering what she said. Best friend? A year for her was enough time to form that feeling, but Remus had only known her for a few short months. He couldn't say anything of the sort no matter what their connection. He fancied her, yes, and wanted her badly, but best friends?
Perhaps, since she was younger and had gone through most her life without mind-numbing fear to bring her close to others, the feeling of friendship was different. Dora had a different life experience than him, a different time at Hogwarts, and it proved to be a larger difference than he'd originally imagined.
But Remus couldn't think about that. He hadn't the time to dwell on barriers.
"I'm off," she declared with a smile, emerging from the bathroom. "See you later, then?"
"Yeah, have a good day."
Dora gave him a wave and left the flat in somewhat of a hurry.
He watched her go and waited a few minutes in case she'd forgotten something before taking out his wand and Vanishing his oatmeal from existence, cringing at the lumpy, tasteless concoction. Remus would have to do something about her culinary skills - or rather, lack thereof.
Before he left the place himself, he checked his pockets for the ten sickles. He could only hope it was enough.
Remus left the flat and walked down past the residencies into Diagon Alley proper, passing The Buy and Sell in a quick walk. He'd come back later for it, of course, but there were things he needed to do first. The apothecary was at the very beginning of the street and he sped past the ice cream parlor especially hastily. Remus didn't want Dora to see him where he was going, even though he knew the truth should eventually surface. For now he was too much a coward to tell her.
And for that matter, he didn't even know if they had what he needed on this street. Diagon Alley, wonderful as it could be, was only the bright and sunny side of the Wizarding world, and Remus tread the line between this and the darker world. He was sincerely hoping he wouldn't have to take a turn down Knocturn Alley. For all that Remus could defend himself, he'd rather not risk the ordeal of getting beat in the first place.
The bell rang over the door when Remus stepped in, the shop mercifully devoid of other patrons.
"Come in, come in!" beckoned the cheerful, wizened old man. "What can I get you?"
"We've got a new batch of Veritaserum in today, Ministry grade! And supplies for all beginning Potioneers are stocked and waiting!"
"I need a potion," Remus said stiffly.
The old man practically beamed. "A potion! How grand! What can I get for you, m'boy?"
He was as tense as a tightrope now. "Wolfsbane."
The man's face fell. "Oh…"
"I'm sorry to bother you so early, but I've got no other time of the day I can do such things discreetly," Remus continued, although he was aware of the increasing fear from the old man. "I don't know how much you need monetarily, so that might be a problem."
"It's… it's seven sickles per cup," the shopkeeper was much less enthusiastic. "I've got some in the back."
Remus followed him into the back of the store, sorry to cause such alarm.
The old man went to a cauldron and dipped in a goblet. "Did you take some yesterday?"
"No; I only got into London yesterday."
"Hmm… I'll add some… there, that should make up for it."
Remus waited as some herb went into the goblet.
"You've taken this before?"
"No side effects?"
"No adverse side effects, no."
The old man's hand trembled as he passed the goblet over.
He wanted to say something to reassure the man he was no threat, but knew it was no good. Prejudice and fear were in control when someone learned he was a werewolf and most of the time it was all but useless to try to convince anyone otherwise. Besides, others of his kind were to be feared, and taking that caution away from someone might prove dangerous.
"Thank you," he gagged once the drink was gone. Remus passed over seven sickles from his pocket.
"Make sure you come back every day this week," the old man warned.
"I'll be here."
Though, he considered as he left the shop and hurried back to The Buy and Sell, that could come off as more of a threat than a promise.
The week went by much the same as it started.
Every morning, he and Dora would eat breakfast, sometimes together, sometimes not. Remus would occasionally make the meal so as to avoid the awful oatmeal she provided. Then he'd skip out of the flat (sometimes she would already be gone) and head to the apothecary for his daily draft of Wolfsbane Potion.
In a perfect world, the old apothecary would come to realize that Remus was not like the other werewolves that came in for the potion, and would soften to him over time. This was not the case since the world was hardly perfect. Every time Remus stepped foot into the shop he felt a wave of guilt for scaring the otherwise cheerful man, but it couldn't be helped. He was what he was and there was no denying this to the old man.
After his draft he trudged back to The Buy and Sell, taking care to avoid being seen from any windows of the ice cream parlor along his way. Remus worked for Mr Fletcher for about eight hours and collected his ten sickles.
Once he'd gotten enough money Remus stepped into the secondhand shop and purchased an extra set of robes and trousers. He would come back later, he decided, when he had more money, but for now he was really only gaining seven sickles each day and it was just impractical to live off of that. Without Dora putting him up, Remus highly doubted he would be in any sort of living situation. And though the oatmeal she made was awful it was sustenance.
Evening were nice and quiet.
Dora often picked up a book and read in the musty armchair, curled up in a small, adorable ball. Remus was usually one to read a good book in the evenings, but instead he would walk up and down the residence area, reveling in the alone time.
Remus wasn't avoiding Dora, exactly, but he did like being alone. He was by nature a solitary man and needed those rare moments without the constant presence of another being. This had been a difficultly for his friends to accept at first back at school.
The air was hot and hard to breathe in the beginning of the evenings, turning pleasant only after the sun set. He liked this time best, when there was no sun but the moon didn't show itself for a while. Twilight, the moments between day and night, was only surpassed by its opposite in the morning for the most peaceful time of all. Remus occasionally woke early enough to sit and exist with the blue-grey light before the sun rose, but it rose so early in the summer he didn't bother with it now.
Also at night was the waxing moon, mocking him with its increasing roundness. He could see the outline of the dark side during the twilight moments, and each night it faded away just a little more. No one but a werewolf could tell the minute differences in the moon's shape.
To excuse himself, Remus told Dora he'd be seeing a friend for a few days. This time he wanted to regain his strength before she saw him again. When Dora had seen him after the full moon he had been exhausted and worn, unable to think straight.
When he told her this, a look of upset flashed across her features for a few seconds.
He didn't know why, nor did he know how to find out.
Mr Fletcher had heard a similar story, except Remus changed "friend" to "ailing relative" to ease the upset of a vacationing employee. Harridan had sniffed at him angrily, but allowed for the small break in his work schedule.
The transformation was much of the same. Remus used the Shrieking Shack, knowing Hogwarts to be abandoned and many of the villagers vacationing. There was pain, and the awfulness of it all did not change, but he did not harm himself and he did not feel so great a need to harm others.
And when it was over, he slept for an entire day and night. Remus might have stayed longer if he did not have job to get back to. As it was, he didn't want to be gone so long from Dora. Everything about him missed her when they were parted, and that worried him.
The hottest day of the summer so far began on a Saturday morning and extended its heat well into the night. Remus could scarcely breathe the air, even inside The Buy and Sell. Mr Fletcher had finally admitted defeat a little after one o'clock and sent Remus home with the admission that no one would willingly be out shopping when they could instead be in their homes and enjoying the benefits of a nice Cooling Charm. Except, of course, the admission was made in a thick Cockney accent and with simpler words.
Remus trudged along in the shade, hating the pavement for gleaming at him so brightly. He wasn't exactly excited about sitting at home all day, holding his wand at himself and blowing cold air, biding his time until Dora came home.
But she was already home.
Dora, he discovered upon entering the flat, was in the kitchen with a tank and pair of shorts, her usual attire. In one hand she held an ice cube to the back of her neck. In the other she was using her wand to emit a light mist. Remus choked on his swallow.
"You're back early," she noted, and frowned. "Are you alright?"
"Just fine," he managed to gasp. "Just bloody… fine."
She shrugged. "I suppose the entire street's closing down," she said. "Florean sent me home because even though an ice cream parlor's obviously the busiest place right now there weren't enough people to warrant all the staff he had on today. I'd rather be in the parlor though, 'cause it's so cold."
"I'm sure it is," said Remus. "That's a job I have to envy for the summer."
"I hope I can keep it past summer, too," Dora confided. "It's just been really great working there, and they serve hot chocolates in the winter which I'll probably need after school."
"You sent in your app yet?"
"No, I'm going to the post first thing tomorrow. I should really get myself an owl."
Remus headed into the kitchen area just past where she stood and grabbed an ice cube from the cold bucket, running it along his forehead wearily.
"Good thinking with these," he commended.
"I've been known to have a thought now and then."
"Yes, I suspected for a while now."
"Only problem is, they keep melting," she complained, and reached into the bucket for a pair of cubes. Dora rubbed them across her collarbone, back and forth, drawing the lines of water on her skin in little waves, spirals, the droplets falling into her shirt. Remus stared, though he wanted to tear his eyes away. It was the heat, he reminded himself again. The heat was making everything seem more so than it already was. Merlin, he wanted her…
He finally managed to wrest his gaze away and headed to the couch. Remus tugged off his robes and was left standing in a thin t-shirt and trousers. Instantly he felt cooler, more at ease in his skin. Dora might have been onto something with all her muggle clothing. In fact, muggles themselves seemed to be very smart when it came to the whether, probably from lack of Cooling Charms. Dressing sensibly didn't always mean dressing conservatively after all.
When Remus turned to go back into the kitchen for a glass of water, he saw Dora reaching her arm like a contortionist to get her back cool by way of ice cube. Needless to say, she was failing miserably and he suppressed his laugh.
"You look rather silly," he said honestly.
"Shut up," she snapped, though without true bite in her voice.
"I'm just saying…" Remus pulled out a glass and poured water from the tap while she continued her arm twists.
He drank his water and considered her, in all her foolish glory. Dora tried twisting her arm one way, and then another, a scrunched, frustrated look on her face while she did so. If it were anyone else, or he were not so attracted to her, Remus wouldn't have for a second considered any part of her antics sexy. But it was Dora, and he did consider her that way, and no matter the hilarity of the moment he had to admit there was something about her that turned him on.
At last he took pity on her.
"Stop that," he said gently.
"Why?" she demanded in a sulking tone.
"Because you'll break your neck, that's why."
"Excuse me; are you willing to bet your life on that?"
She paused. "Not entirely."
Remus smirked. "Then would you please put your arms down?"
Dora gave him a glare but complied without comment. She squeezed the ice cube in her hand and then ran her fingers through her hair (bubble gum pink, just the way he liked it) to wet her scalp. She then made to reach for her wand, but Remus stepped before her and grabbed another cube from the bucket.
"Turn around," he instructed.
Her eyes got wide, but she did so, facing away from him.
He took a deep breath and placed his free palm on her shoulder. In his other hand, his fingers grasped the solid water and began to draw lazy loops on her back, occasionally feeling her bare skin beneath the pads of his fingertips. Everything about her was smooth and soft and he sighed lightly.
But Dora didn't seem to be anywhere close to sighing. In fact, were she any tenser he might have checked to see if she'd been put under Petrificus Totalus since he'd first touched her. There was an intoxicating power in knowing that his hands could affect her so thoroughly, and he wanted more… but in the same thought, if she was so very tense then springing himself on her was hardly the smart thing to do. And Remus had to be the responsible, smart one here.
"That feels good," Dora whispered.
"Glad to hear it."
Were his lungs growing smaller? He fought to breathe normally.
"You should do this professionally."
"What, rub people down?"
Her breath caught for a moment; he felt it. Remus moved the ice cube up to her neck and dropped the hand on her shoulder to her waist.
"I don't think very many people would enjoy it."
Loops of water, over and across her shoulders. The ice cube ran completely wet, and he grabbed another. Remus felt his hand growing numb but didn't care.
"Have you seen yourself?"
"Are you implying I'm attractive, Nymphadora Tonks?"
"It's Tonks. Or Dora."
"Of course it is."
Remus noticed that Dora's body had moved fractionally closer to his own. His body reacted to the intense proximity.
"But seriously, you could have a great career."
"I'll rephrase, then; I would not enjoy giving this experience to very many people."
"Well, there are the hairy backs, and the back acne, and the men who would want me to do this as well -" Dora shook with laughter. He shrugged. "And besides, it's entirely too personal an act. I'd only ever do this for someone I valued."
That quieted her, and she remained quiet as he dared to trail the ice cube across her chest, just skimming the tops of her breasts. Remus knew he was being reckless but was beginning not to care at all. He noticed that her body was a hairs' breath away from his now, and he closed that divide. Their forms pressed together. Everywhere there was contact he felt his body burn with need and barely-concealed lust. Dora herself was trembling but she did not push him away.
"Remus?" she asked in a tremulous voice.
"Do you remember the day you left last year?"
"Do you…" Dora inhaled shakily. "Never mind."
Remus threw all caution to the wind and dropped his hand lower, lower, to circle the melting cube around her breast once, and then again, and then to the other. He felt her breathing quicken, sharpen, become gasps and heavy pants as he went back and forth.
"What?" he prompted with a whisper in her ear.
"Do you remember what you said to me?" she breathed.
"Which part? When I said I didn't want you to forget me, or that I didn't want to leave?"
Abandoning all pretense of restraint, Remus wrapped an arm around her stomach and turned her to face him, faster than a heartbeat. He kissed her roughly on the mouth and she met his intensity as her arms wrapped firmly (desperately) around his neck.
Remus gripped her hips and lifted her up to sit on the kitchen counter. The ice cube in his hand (small as it had grown) fell to the floor in a careless clatter as his hands went all over her back, touching her skin, squeezing her lightly, scraping across the soft surfaces and curves. Her knees opened and he moved closer to her. Even through her shorts Remus could feel the heat radiating from between her legs and he pressed even further into her embrace.
Dora had to bend down now to kiss him, and her hands cradled his face. She teased his lower lip between her teeth. Merlin, where had she learned to do that?
He didn't want to know, he just wanted to feel her.
Her breath was hot against his face as their tongues met and moved together. Remus held her hips again, groaning loudly as she made a thrust against him in her want. Dora was so terribly unaware of her sexuality, unaware that every movement aroused him more and more so that by the time she made the same thrust he had begun to harden and grow in his trousers. She parted from the kiss with a loud noise of alarm.
"Oh," she panted, and stared at the place where their legs met. "I didn't mean… is that…"
"Yes," Remus answered in a low voice.
"Oh," she said again. Dora then burst into nervous giggles, shaking against him.
A small part of him (the part most commonly known as pride) bristled at her laughter, but the rest of him knew she was just nervous and unused to feeling anything between her legs. This at least reassured him, because if Dora was this surprised then Charlie couldn't have done very much damage in his absence.
He inched his fingers up from her hips and touched the skin beneath her tank, effectively ending her hysterics.
"I'm sorry," she breathed, and ran her hands through his hair.
"No," he said in a hoarse voice, "Don't be. I like that you're nervous. I like that no one has had you before." And his fingers went higher, higher, touching her ribs, touching the base of her breasts, finding her hardened nipples with his thumbs. "I like everything about you." He pressed his thumbs down lightly.
She bucked into him.
"Remus," she started breathlessly.
"What?" he leaned forward and kissed the hollow of her neck.
"I…" Dora's train of thought seemed to be fading away. "I want you."
He looked up quickly and caught the acute blush on her cheeks. No, it was spreading from just her cheeks to her forehead and her neck, and every part of her face was bright red with humiliation and shame. The color was gone soon, morphed away, but there was no denying its existence - or her confession.
"Dora -" Remus began.
"No, I know what you're going to say," she cut him off. "You're going to tell me that we should wait and that I'm too young, and you're much older than me so it'd be like taking advantage and for all intents and purposes we haven't known each other very long so it's all much to fast, but Remus, I've been wanting you to… to - I've imagined something like this for a year now and now that you're here… and if you say no I might just die -"
Remus leaned forward and shut up her up in the best way he knew how. Their bodies entwined for a few moments, lost in the ecstasy and heat.
He broke away and rested his forehead upon her chest. "I'm not sure what to do," he admitted.
"But… I thought you'd -"
"What I mean is I've never been with a virgin before."
The word hung teasingly above them. Virgin. To some it was the ultimate prize but all Remus could think was that he didn't want to hurt her, as he knew for girls it could be painful to lose one's hymen, and he'd only ever been with someone showing him the ropes. He had no idea of what to do for all that he liked that she was entirely his.
Dora placed a hand under his chin. "I trust you."
Those three little words held more weight in his decision than they really should have. If she trusted him, he really couldn't do anything stupid to muck it up. Remus inwardly cursed himself and forced restraint upon his body, most of which was clamoring loudly for him to just have his way with her already.
"Look," he said, and met her eyes, "I'm probably an idiot for saying this, because when a bloke's got this beautiful girl asking him to have at her there really should be no question, but I haven't been completely honest with you about several things and I'd be a shit person if I didn't say them before anything more happens between us." His hands had made their way back to holding her hips lightly, no longer in dangerous territory. Or at least, less dangerous.
"Tell me later," she insisted.
"It's some rather important information."
Her hand dropped and boldly touched him. Remus swelled a little under her innocent fingers.
"Don't you dare."
"I have to."
"I won't listen."
"You've got to -"
And she used his technique against him, kissing him fiercely and running her fingers all over his swelling part. Remus gave in and released a few desperate thrusts to which she responded with some inexperienced grinds of her own (he realized dimly that his was not part of his mission plan but Dora was a very difficult woman to resist), and soon they were just about making love in the flat's tiny kitchen with their clothes on.
Well, not all their clothes…
Remus grabbed the hem of her tank and pulled up, parting from her lips for a moment to yank the soft material off her completely. He threw the shirt on the floor and touched her bared skin with enthusiastic abandon. She felt so good, with her body moving in earnest against his -
He stopped them again.
"Why?" Dora whined.
"Why? Because I'm not popping your cherry in a kitchen, that's why."
"Couldn't you -"
"Don't be tacky."
"Let me think," he demanded, but most of his blood was not rushing anywhere near his head.
"There's a bedroom not very far away."
"I'm aware of that."
He let out a sigh and finally (very, very reluctantly) backed away from her tempting body. The sight that greeted him from a distance wasn't any less appealing. Chest heaving, green sheer bra exposed, nipples straining against the fabric, knees open - Remus was truly an idiot. He could kick himself.
Air returned to him as he sat down at one of the dining table chairs. "Dora," he said hesitantly, "It's a conversation that can't wait until later."
"Are you always this particular?" she demanded, crossing her legs and arms.
"Yes, but you knew that."
Dora leaned backwards against the cabinets lining the walls. "Remus, did I… do something wrong?" This came out very meekly.
The idea was so absurd he nearly laughed. "No - no! How on earth - no. You did nothing wrong."
"Because," Remus tried to explain, "If we… if I made love to you before you knew all the facts you might hate me afterwards. You might hate yourself. I don't want you to remember your first time with revulsion. Can you understand that?"
"I suppose," she mumbled, and then reached over into that dratted bucket of ice to pull out another cube. Dora traced it all over her body, dipping down in between her breasts, leaving no curve untouched. He followed this exercise hungrily with his eyes and found his mouth had gone quite dry.
He cleared his throat.
"If you're trying to tempt me past the point of reason then congratulations, you've very nearly succeeded. Now please stop."
"What if I don't want to?"
"Then do me a favor, if you don't mind."
Reluctantly she placed the ice on the counter beside her.
"So," prompted Dora, "Tell me what you've got to."
"It's a mood killer," Remus warned.
Her face fell. "Now you're starting to scare me."
"Perhaps we should go sit on the couch -"
He closed his eyes and prayed to whatever deity would take him that Dora wouldn't hate him after he told her what he was. He'd done this so few times he had no baseline for reaction. James, Sirius and Peter had approached him, figuring it out for themselves. Snape had seen for himself. Lily had learned after joining the Order, and so had the rest of the Order upon his arrival. Meghan Walsh he'd told, and their flowering relationship had croaked and died shortly after.
Remus kneaded his forehead distractedly. "It's… difficult to explain." Or rather, he wasn't keen on explaining. The non rational part of him - most of him, at that moment - was screaming for Dora and telling his mind that it was making a horrible mistake. It could wait; she wouldn't care.
But of course she would care. Whether or not she cared about what he was, Remus had lied. That warranted caring.
"When I left last week to visit some friends," he began, "I wasn't really visiting friends."
"Merlin's pants!" Dora burst out, looking horrified.
He frowned. "What?"
"I knew it!" and then she became subdued. "I bloody knew it."
"That you were visiting a girl," said Dora.
"A... sorry?" Remus was thrown.
She looked at her hands and, in typical Dora fashion, commenced babbling. "Well, I assumed at first - but with the way you are with women it'd be no surprise to anyone but me. I mean, I know you fancy me just a little or else this… thing between us wouldn't have just happened, but I always thought there'd be no way for you to travel all the time and not be seeing people when you got to certain places and I really should have seen this coming -"
Remus could only stare. "What on earth are you talking about?" he managed, completely flabbergasted.
Dora looked up. "You and the girl you saw last week."
"The girl I… what? No! No, I didn't see anyone," he told her. Was that what she thought of him? Keeping a string of women in every country? The idea sickened him.
"So, that's hardly what I was going to say… I don't know if I can say it, but it's really a matter of should…" Remus trailed off.
She waited and he could feel the impatience radiating off her, as cloying as the heat outside.
"Do you check the lunar cycle?" he asked awkwardly.
"The lunar cycle?" Dora raised her eyebrows slightly in the confusion. "Really?"
"No, of course not," she said with a too-vehement shake of her head. "Why do you ask?"
"Because if you had checked," he said cautiously, "You would have noticed I was gone the night of a full moon."
Dora shrugged. "What does that matter?"
He could tell, though, that she was only playing dim. Remus saw the understanding sinking in, though she tried to fight it. He felt a stab of pity for the denial she was attempting to access, wishing he didn't have to shatter her comfortable world.
"I'm a -"
"I'm a werewolf."
She was on her feet now. "No! You can't be!"
"I am." Remus felt the two small words corrode his mouth.
"But… but you're Remus!" Dora argued. She was a sight, standing there in shorts and a bra only, panic and confusion and betrayal on her face. "You just can't…"
She turned and put her hands to her eyes.
Remus wondered if he should go over there and hold her, give comfort somehow, but what if that was the least comforting thing he could do. So he sat there and waited for a sign that she did not hate him for what he was.
Then she turned, and her eyes were blurry and over bright.
"I've got to go," said Dora. Her voice was on the precipice of hysteria as she grabbed her discarded shirt and pulled it over her head. "I've got to go."
She walked quickly out of the flat and all but slammed the door behind her. Remus stood and walked over to the bucket and stared in at the melting ice, wondering how something so simple could have triggered such an intense episode.
His stomach heaved and he bent over the sink, expelling everything. Expunging his meals wasn't a rare thing for Remus; he'd used to do it after every full moon, and then with the war in his time it wasn't uncommon to see someone read a Daily Prophet and excuse themselves to a toilet. But the fact that he'd thrown up once with each time jump (at least, once so far) was something to consider. Perhaps he was going about this thing all wrong.
But no, it was the nerves that had caused him to react this way. If she couldn't… if she didn't…
What was he going to do without her?
Remus hadn't realized until Dora fled the building how badly he'd wanted everything to work out in his favor. He cared for her, he wanted her, he was intrinsically connected to her in ways he couldn't even begin to explain. It just couldn't be coincidence that he'd ended up in her life twice. There was surely some method to this madness.
He washed his mouth out and began to pace the flat. His legs grew weary as the hours passed, but she did not come back. He sat on the couch and stared expectantly at the door, but she did not come back. He stretched out tentatively, ready to jump up at any minute for her arrival, but the door remained untouched. Slowly the summer sky grew dark, almost as if it had been forced against its will, and he waited.
This was so obviously a bad idea. Remus remembered when he'd sat Meghan Walsh down in fifth year and explained what it was that he got up to every month. He'd thought himself in love with Meghan; she was his first true girlfriend, and they'd been together for nearly four months when he'd decided to come clean.
Although she hadn't been so upset as Dora, Remus actually preferred the current reaction. Meghan's face wasn't shocked but disgusted by his very being. He told her the story of his bite, and how he was only a child, and she was only disgusted. She felt no sympathy or empathy for his suffering as a little boy. Remus then explained he'd never desired to hurt anyone, and he always worked to lock himself away.
But no, she could care less. Even though Remus had taken her on a date that night to Madam Puddifoots, a place which Remus hated yet Meghan absolutely adored. They talked and flirted and snogged, and Remus laid out a blanket for a moonlit (crescent moon waxing) picnic. Everything was supposed to be the height of romantic gesture as he bared his darkest secret. James had insisted honesty was the best policy - something he'd never been so good at himself - and Remus took the plunge.
The whole time he'd revealed this secret to his girlfriend Remus had kept hoping that she would suddenly understand that he was the same person she was falling in love with the whole time, that he was no different from the Remus Lupin of before. When he'd said this, though, the expression of total revulsion had stopped him short. He'd understood then that Meghan would never love a monster like him, and even if she would she was hardly capable of it.
It was a miracle she said nothing to the general public. James and Sirius had done something, of that he was sure, because if it were up to Meghan Walsh everyone on the planet would know of his condition by now.
So by comparison, denial and upset were highly preferable.
Then again, the state of his anxiety was reaching critical levels without knowing one way or the other. Was she cursing his name (the name of Remus McGonagall, traveler of continents) to every open ear? Was she considering letting him in? No, he shouldn't hope for that. He didn't dare hope for that.
Except he did dare.
Remus looked over at the door again, willing Dora to come through and put his mind at ease.
What if she wanted him to leave?
He would if she asked. Remus would do anything for her if she asked him to, and he would understand if she wanted him out of the apartment. But he hadn't thought of what to do if she did. Where would he sleep? Perhaps Harridan Fletcher would put him up for a little while, but when Dora had found him everything had fallen into place so perfectly.
Even in this short while, Dora's dinky little flat had become as much of a home as his flat with Forrest. More so, in fact. Leaving would be so heart-wrenching, almost as much as leaving Dora herself. What on earth had he been thinking? Why had he ruined something so pure and innocent with a stupid need to be honest of all things? James was wrong about honesty being the best policy with Meghan; clearly it was a sign that he should just stop sharing important and life-changing things.
Remus felt sleep finally overcoming his anxiety, and he blinked except when his eyes opened again the light in the flat was darker. And when he blinked again there was hardly any light to be seen. He nearly dozed off once more, but the doorknob turned and he sat up hastily as Dora entered the kitchen.
With a wave of his wand the flat was lit and he blinked in the harsh light. So did she, and Remus realized her eyes were red and puffy and her cheeks rubbed raw. Dora started when she saw him sitting there and recoiled. His chest contracted in pain.
"Should I leave?" he asked her quietly.
"No," said Dora in a scratchy voice. "Don't."
"I've upset you," Remus said unnecessarily.
She wiped at her eyes tiredly. "I just need a few days to… to understand. I mean, this isn't something you hear all the time and I - I need time."
"But you don't want me to leave."
"No, I don't want you to leave."
"I'm sorry," he said for lack of anything else.
Dora shook her head. "Don't be. I - I'm glad you at least could tell me the truth." She turned and went into the bedroom, shutting the door behind her lightly. Remus stared at that door now, and it came to him that he'd always been staring at one door or another when it came to Dora, hoping that she'd come through.
The next couple of days passed very slowly for him. The flat was an exercise in walking on eggshells for the pair of them; Dora was avoiding him without actually avoiding him, and Remus was careful not to say anything that might upset her or really do anything that might push her away.
Naturally, the most interesting part of the day was when Remus was at The Buy and Sell.
Mr Fletcher was actually somewhat of an amusing man, someone James and Sirius would have loved to know back in their Hogwarts days. He turned out to be a bit of a trickster, one day setting a little trap for Remus that had him dangling upside down the moment he walked into the shop. Mr Fletcher had laughed and laughed, holding his shaking robust belly as Remus desperately tried to right himself.
Eventually, the man had let him down and it was business as usual.
"You like Tourney?" Mr Fletcher asked on the first afternoon after Remus' confession to Dora.
Remus was, as he did so often and so well, brooding about his life. "Beg pardon?" he asked, confused.
"Tourney," Harridan repeated. "The band, the two girls wiv' the hair."
"You mean Journey?" Remus said cautiously. He only knew the muggle band, and it was understandable for someone to confuse Steve Perry with a woman. Peter had found Journey to be particularly enjoyable, though Remus didn't share his old friend's sentiments.
Mr Fletcher glared. "Tourney," he snapped. "Wiv' a 'T'." He put an extra emphasis on the letter.
"I've never heard them," confessed Remus.
"Never 'eard of Tourney? Where've you bin livin', then? Oh, right, you travel. Well shut up an' lis'en."
And he turned on the WWN to a live concert. It was only just beginning, and Remus was introduced to Damia Greely and Rowan Homer, two witches who got a band together in the late eighties. If Remus hadn't skipped over an entire decade he might have heard of these two by now.
Their sound wasn't so awful. In fact, it got better as he listened to it more.
Remus was a huge Disarmers fan, the music he and Sirius had always preferred over the more mainstream Weird Sisters. Not that he didn't enjoy a good 'Sisters now and then, but nothing could take the place of The Disarmers for him. That being said, Tourney was steadily moving up the ranks of his favorite music.
The one woman (Damia, Harridan told him) had a very gravelly alto voice. At first this had deterred him; initially the sound was off-putting and strange. After a while he'd grown accustomed and found himself looking forward to her solos. Rowan sang completely different in a high operatic soprano. That voice didn't belong in a punk-pop environment, yet she brought together all the odd elements of Tourney's music with her clear vocals.
And the sound…
Mr Fletcher explained that Tourney didn't use any sort of string instrument. No guitars, no violins, no harps or bass. To compensate for this absence they used all sorts of things like west African drums, harmonicas, xylophones, trumpets, and of course a piano.
But the interesting thing was how mainstream it all sounded. Remus could easily picture thousands of wizards across the country tuning in to hear Tourney's live concert. This was no obscure band like The Disarmers, this was music for multiple generations. At one point Remus caught himself dancing around and promptly stopped before anyone could see him.
Customers coming in and out sometimes sang along to the lyrics or remarked on the sold out tickets.
By the end of his shift, Remus was a converted Tourney man. It was shame he'd have to wait so long for them to debut in his own timeline.
The next day, Mr Fletcher brought in his favorite album of Tourney and Remus spent a few minutes fixing up the antiquated record player in the shop. He'd found it in the back and had to conjure a needle, but it was worth it.
"So, you feelin' better now?" called Harridan over the sounds of Damia and Rowan describing a beautiful Sunday in Hogsmeade.
"What do you mean?" Remus replied.
"And then we set out a picnic and we laid in the sun
We watched birds fly away till there was only one
And then the clouds came to greet us but we spelled them away
And Summoned the sun back for the rest of the day…"
Mr Fletcher chuckled. "You was mopin' wiv' th' best of 'em before," he said.
"I was not."
"Was too. Don' lie."
"Oh, Sunday in Hogsmeade, out for a walk
My heart in your hand, and my hand on your - shhh!
Passing by Zonko's, stopping for ale,
There's no better way to spend a day
Than Sunday in Hogsmeade!"
"Maybe a little," Remus admitted, "But that's entirely irrelevant."
"If you say so," said Mr Fletcher with a knowing smirk.
Remus concentrated very carefully on the books before him, tallying up sums and avoiding the very nosy shopkeeper. But he couldn't help but think ("Sunday, Sunday, Sunday in Hogsmeade!") about exactly what he'd gotten himself into.
She wouldn't tell anyone about him. Remus knew that much. However, any chance he'd had with this girl had evaporated the moment he'd revealed himself. At least she hadn't kicked him out or gone running, but from now on they would be in a no-touching sort of friendship. He could respect that, if it came down to it.
The loss of Dora, though, that was hard to reconcile. Remus hadn't felt so good in a long time, and he kept replaying that moment between them in the kitchen with alternate scenarios, ones in which he wasn't so much of a complete idiot and he didn't tell her about anything important. Some of the playbacks were downright perverted, but Remus never claimed to be a saint. On the whole it was nicer to dwell in his head about what could have been instead of the reality of what was.
"I don't care," Dora announced when she got home from work.
Remus glanced up from the book he was flipping through at her words. He did not move from his recline on the couch. "Come again?"
"I've thought about it - a lot - and I don't care if you're a werewolf," she elaborated while dropping her bags on the dining table.
He sat up straight. "You… don't care? Just like that?" This moment was almost surreal and he didn't know what to make of it. Remus wished he could put a pause on everything and try to regain his bearings because he couldn't understand
"Just like that?"
"If you don't mind me asking, how?"
"The thing is," Dora said, "When I think about you, and understand me here that's a lot more of the time than I'd usually care to admit, I don't think about how you look. I mean, sometimes I do, but for the most part when you're in my mind I see how you're always sweet to me, and how funny you can be and how smart, and I just decided that I don't care what you look like at any time of the lunar cycle because that's not how I know you."
Something in the way she spoke indicated that she was not, as she stated, entirely over the revelation of his condition. Perhaps it was the rambling, or the contradicting sentences, but Remus got the distinct impression she was nervous around him.
He stayed very still, so as not to alarm her. "And you… are fine with everything?"
"I really am."
"You're sure," pressed Remus. He set the book down.
Dora frowned and headed towards him. "I wouldn't tell you if I wasn't."
"And you're telling me… what, exactly?" he asked.
She walked around the couch and came to stand before him, and her whole body was shaking in nerves. Remus watched her apprehensively. He felt he was like an animal waiting for some great predator to either lie down or strike, though the comparison was somewhat ironic. For the longest time she just stood there as if waiting for something.
Then she lifted a knee and quite abruptly Dora was straddling his lap. Her hands were on either side of his head, and she was looking into his eyes.
"I'm telling you that I want you to stay here for as long as you want," she breathed. "I'm telling you that I'm alright. And that I want you."
"You're blushing again."
"Can you blame me?"
Remus lifted a hand and touched her face. "No."
"I…" she looked down. "I feel these things, when I'm around you. I don't exactly understand what it is I'm feeling because it's never happened to me before, but I'm hoping you can explain it to me." By now she was playing absently with her hair (turquoise and shoulder length with fringe).
"Er, well, you see, when one reaches physical maturity and finds a compatible person to whom they are physically attracted -" he really wished he could shut up, but found he couldn't. In the end it was Dora who managed to make him stop with a finger to his lips.
"I didn't mean in so many words."
Why the hell was he feeling so completely nervous right now? Perhaps because, out of all his relationships in the past, this was the only one that had any chance of lasting past the big reveal. And the very strange thing was, this relationship was a part of his future. Did that mean something for him?
But to be completely honest, Remus knew his anxiety was about this girl, this young woman, opening herself to him in total vulnerability. Even knowing what she did, this beautiful presence before him was willing to expose every part of herself. And that level of trust and affection moved him across worlds. He almost didn't know if he could take from her what she was offering. Remus held himself still and waited for… he didn't know what he was waiting for.
Dora ran one hand down his chest. "You're going to say no, aren't you."
He shook his head. "No."
"Wait, 'no, you don't want me' or 'no, you're not saying no'?"
"No, I'm not saying no."
"So you do…"
"I'm not sure," Remus answered quietly.
She looked hurt. "You're not sure about me?"
"Dora… it's not about you," he tried to explain. "I'm scared."
She stared. "You're… really?"
He let out a heavy breath. "There is so much about you… you're so alive and whole… and I'm broken in so many ways… I don't believe I'm good enough for you. And that you would want me anyway - I can't understand it and it makes me so happy, and all of that… well, I'm not usually in a position to be happy."
Dora kissed him so lightly he barely felt it, at least physically. Inside he felt every spark between them. "Would it be so bad?"
"To be happy?"
"No, that's not bad, I'm just unused to it."
"So… if you were to ignore all that," she said, "And let yourself have a good time for once, what would you be doing right now?"
Remus hid a laugh at her overt implication. "Well, I'll tell you what I wouldn't be doing right now."
"And what's that?"
"I wouldn't be in this position."
She looked hurt. "Why not?"
"Because I'd be taking you out to dinner. That is, if I had enough money. And then I'd have us take a walk around London and look into some shop windows, and I'd pretend I had enough money to buy you something nice, and then we'd grab a cup of hot chocolate from a street vendor which I actually can afford. And at the end of the night, maybe, just maybe, if I were playing the part of a gentleman enough, I would kiss you goodnight."
Remus somewhat undermined his outline of a proper date by caressing her upper thighs.
She placed her hands over his. "I don't think I want a proper gentleman."
"That's too bad, because I happen to be a very proper gentleman."
"I don't believe you."
He raised an eyebrow. "No?"
"And why is that?"
Dora leaned forward to whisper in his ear; he suspected she was hiding yet another blush. "The way you touch me doesn't feel very proper."
Remus felt himself relinquishing control over his determination to wait, and wait, and wait some more. For someone so inexperienced, Dora was learning the art of seduction extremely fast. Either that or she was just very good at reading him. Both were probably true.
He sighed and reached up to touch her face. "You're something else."
"That's what my mother always says," she confided.
For a moment Remus was going to tell her that he knew Andromeda. Sirius had introduced them once, shortly after she'd married Ted Tonks. Remus had just turned thirteen, and Andromeda's belly had been swollen with… with Dora. Remus felt a little sick then. He'd touched her before she was born, in her mother's stomach.
No, he couldn't think like that. He couldn't imagine her as a little child when she was so clearly an adult.
Their relationship wasn't about - couldn't be about - time. It couldn't be about the convoluted age differences between them, or the relativity of their experiences. With Dora, it was all about the connection between them that went deeper than skin or the date on the calendar.
He smiled warmly at her. "Your mother is very right."
"Well, Remus McGonagall," said Dora playfully, "What should we do now?"
"I don't know," he teased, "I was really enjoying my book until you interrupted me."
She gave his arm a light slap. "You're cold."
"Far from it."
Remus picked it up and showed her the cover. "It's a muggle book," he explained. "So it's not quite accurate in all its facts, but it's a brilliant story nonetheless. My mother never let me read Wizarding books when I was growing up because werewolves were usually some sort of villain, so these were the things I read."
"That was caring of her," said Dora.
"Hardly; she didn't want me to get any dark ideas," Remus corrected dryly.
At her uncomfortable expression, he added, "She was a good woman, and she did the best she could, but my mother was hardly perfect."
Dora nodded. "The Last Unicorn," she read the title aloud. "Sounds interesting enough. Would you read it to me?"
He chuckled at this. "Not while you're sitting like that. Come on, climb off now - yes, there you go… alright." She slid into place on the couch beside him and Remus put his arm around her shoulders. He lowered them down to lie against the couch, her back against his chest and his arms wrapped around her.
"This is nice," she whispered.
Remus kissed her shoulder. "You're comfortable?"
"Alright." He cleared his throat and opened the book. "Chapter One. The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.
"She did not look anything like a horned horse…"
As he read to Dora from the book of his childhood (the book he'd read under covers in the middle of the night), he felt a presence of home.
"I saw Hagrid today," Dora commented.
He blinked, unable to keep his gaze from her. All of his thoughts seemed to be floating away, and he had to work to hear her question. "Sorry?"
"Hagrid," she repeated. "Tall, hairy, Hogwarts gamekeeper with a penchant for dragons?"
"Right," he agreed dumbly.
"It was right around noon," continued Dora. "I suppose he had someone with him because he ordered two sundaes. Or maybe they were both for him, I don't know. Seemed right pleased about something, but I haven't figured it out yet."
Dora gave him a funny look. "Are you alright?"
"Hmm? Oh, yes. Sorry, I was distracted."
Her expression changed from bemused to embarrassed, her cheeks coloring. She turned away and wiped at some unseen spot on the kitchen counter. "I wish I could stop blushing when you say things like that to me. It's so awful."
Remus chuckled. "I imagine you'll stop once you engage in some unruly behavior."
"Yes," she consented, "But no one seems to want to do anything about that."
Unless he was very much mistaken, Dora was actually trying to seduce him. Again. Clearly he was giving her too much time to practice. Remus stood and moved to stand behind her, winding his arms around her stomach and stopping her pointless cleaning. He kissed her shoulder, her neck, her cheek. Her breath became shallow.
He whispered in her ear, "And I suppose you want me to offer some sort of opportunity to enjoy such activities? Because I was under the impression you needed some time and space. But if you've changed your mind…" he finished that question with a soft kiss to her temple.
"I thought I made myself clear last night," she murmured.
"Clear? Sorry, no," Remus teased.
"I said…" another blush blossomed on her face. "I told you I wanted you. Isn't that enough?"
"Not enough, my dear. Not nearly enough."
"You're so cruel."
"I just want to make sure that I'm understanding you properly."
Dora gave a nervous laugh. "Remus…"
But after that she didn't speak much more, because Remus was running hands up and down her front, caressing her stomach and breasts, her upper thighs and even a light brush between those thighs. Her breaths came out in hot gasps and she pressed herself against him.
"Why are we always in the kitchen when these things happen?" she managed to ask.
He laughed at that. "It's a mystery."
"Well, I'm not staying here," she said determinedly, and grabbed one of his wandering hands. With a tentative smile, Dora led him out of the kitchen and into the bedroom. Remus could feel her tremble under his palm but something told him not to argue with her resolve. And quite truthfully he was tired of arguing.
She stopped once they'd reached the bed. "I'm not really sure what to do now," she admitted.
Remus raised his eyebrows.
"I mean, I know what happens," Dora said (there was that blush again), "But there's this whole point A to point B I'm not entirely figuring out what I should be doing here, and I suppose you know that because you've done this before -"
He kissed her, effectively ending her babbling. "This is usually how it starts," he murmured when he pulled away.
"That makes sense."
"Shhh," he told her, and kissed her again.
There was an almost surrealistic feel to this moment. Remus was aware of what was happening and how, and he felt every single touch and caress, every flick of her tongue, but the moment had an unreal, dreamlike quality he couldn't shake. He wished he could be fully in the here and now, to experience everything in the way he was meant to. Perhaps in time that would be the case.
With that same unreal awareness, Remus trailed his hands to her hips and began to lift her shirt, little by little. Dora sighed when they parted for that brief second.
He felt every curve of her body. He unclasped her bra, let the material slide off her in slow stages. Her breasts were shaking with her nervous tremors, though her nipples were hard with want. Even though she'd been the one to initiate this, it was obvious Dora was terrified.
Remus broke their increasingly passionate and rested his forehead to hers. "I feel like I should say something inane and cliché, such as 'do you trust me' or 'we don't have to do this,' but I already know your answers," he said quietly. "I just want you to know I'm not comparing you to anyone else."
"I know," she murmured; however, he could read a touch of relief in her voice.
"Just making sure."
"Don't worry about me."
"Sorry, not an option."
"Then…" she put her hands on his chest and began unbuttoning his shirt. "Then please, don't keep stopping."
The invitation was really all he needed. Remus hadn't the restraint to stop now. For all that Dora had taken them into her bedroom, he'd been the one to start things between them. And not just today, but when everything actually started with that damn ice bucket. She probably didn't realize how badly he wanted her and how infinitely difficult it was for him to hold back, and quite honestly he was so tired of that restraint.
Dora pushed his shirt off his shoulders and to the floor. She brushed his shoulders with her palms. He bent to kiss her neck.
Light brushes of his lips, down from her neck, to taste the swell of her breasts. She moaned in surprised pleasure.
A small scrape of his teeth against her tender skin.
He could feel himself hardening in his trousers, but did nothing.
She found some of his scars, traced their lines gently.
Everything fell into place for him, then.
Remus reached down (slowly) to unbutton her jean shorts and pushed them off her hips. Her trembling grew into shakes and he had to stop himself for a moment, holding her tight against his body and running a soothing hand up and down her back. She quieted.
"Please," she breathed in his ear, and broke from him to sit on the bed beseechingly.
He groaned at the sight and bent to kiss her.
Slowly, he guided her back, scooting them from the edge of the bed to the middle, wrapping his arm around her waist, easing her into place beneath him.
And then he sat up and began fumbling with his belt buckle. Dora reached up to help him with clumsy fingers. And then - gone - she tugged at the top of his trousers - she pulled. In her haste and inexperience she tugged down his boxers as well, and stared at him in shock.
Remus couldn't help but to laugh, and her blush ran freely.
"Shut up," she demanded.
"I'm sorry," he said, and tried to choke away his laughter.
Dora turned away. "I don't mean to be so silly," she said. Unless he was mistaken, Remus heard tears threatening to come out in her voice.
"No, don't -" he leaned forward. "It's my fault, I'm very sorry." Another laugh threatened, and he added, "It's really not about you, I just remembered something funny. My friend, he stole one of his girlfriend's romance novels to make fun of and he happened to turn to a page quite similar to what's happening right now."
"So…" Dora looked back at him.
"So I'm not laughing at you," he assured her. "Especially since you're not saying something ridiculous."
"It's so big," she mocked shrilly.
He laughed again, and she joined in.
"There, see? I knew you were sensible."
She nodded and explored the lines of his face with her fingers. "I've just never seen… I mean, it's all sort of - completely new to me."
Remus shucked off his trousers entirely. "I believe we've established this."
"What now?" she asked shyly.
"Now?" he pondered for a moment. "Now I'm going to see if I can stop you from feeling so tense."
"How - oh, my…"
Remus peeled off her knickers slowly, his progress somewhat impeded by her knees clamping together. He had to ease them apart to pull the fabric down completely and as soon as he dropped her knickers on the floor her legs were stuck together again.
He noted with some interest that she didn't shave away her pubic hair, the way he was used to seeing. It didn't matter to him but… it was interesting to wonder if she could simply morph away whatever she wanted. What a thought.
With cautious hands, Remus managed to get her knees a little separated again.
She shook still.
He kissed her gently on the mouth. "Just let go," he instructed softly. "I've got you."
"Dora, take a deep breath in," he told her. She did. "Now, let it out slowly. And again, breathe in… and out slowly. Once more… there you go."
"No, don't be."
"But I -"
Remus raised one hand to put a finger over her lips. "It's alright. Just…"
And he finally felt her legs relax and give way to his hand. As slowly as he could manage, Remus trailed his fingers up her inner thigh to touch the place between. Her breathing grew rapid and shallow, and she squirmed below him. He hardened further at her motions.
Dora's face slowly changed from nervous and surprised to arousal and want as he played with that little bundle of nerves, eased one finger in and out of her, two fingers. She grew wet and wanting as he continued, her shaking lessening, slowing.
Her hips moved in concert to his ministrations.
Her hands clenched at the bedspread.
And he couldn't bear the wait any longer.
"Alright," he whispered. "I need you to be calm." He pulled his hand away.
"That's a bit impossible," Dora said in a strained voice.
"Sod all with the breathing!"
He snorted. "Very well. I'm sorry, but this might hurt."
When she opened her mouth to speak, Remus lifted her hips with both his hands and slowly - gently as he could manage - began to slide into her.
Dora's sounds of want became noises of discomfort, then whimpers of pain.
Remus held himself still though he wanted to do the opposite. She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck, breathing through the pain. He waited. Her sounds grew softer and less vehement. He waited. Dora gave a weak thrust in a silent request.
He complied, moving in and out of her - she felt so amazing - she did the same - he grew more aggressive - she let out a cry of ecstasy.
Her movements became quick and hurried, frenzied almost. Remus grabbed her hips to stop her.
"Slow down, my dear," he said. "We've got time."
Wordlessly, she nodded. There was sweat on her brow.
Remus wanted to lose himself in her, to let loose and feel everything.
Now wasn't the time.
Instead, he taught her body the difference between a virgin and a woman who's made love, just as he'd told her that day at Hogwarts when they'd lain under the shade of the tree together and he'd first realized how deep he'd fallen.
And it occurred to him then that he loved her, loved every single flaw and blemish, every babbling sentence, loved her beauty and talent and spirit, and her determination to accept him no matter what he was. He loved her so entirely he didn't know how it had escaped his notice before.
He loved her more than he thought he could love anything in this world.
When Remus woke that next morning, it was not on a couch but with his bare body wrapped around Dora's in her bed.
She was still asleep, and he was more than content to watch her breathe in and out. The revelation that he loved her still stunned him, though in a wonderful way. Remus thought he was in love with Meghan Walsh, but he hadn't been. He thought he'd loved Adrianne Fawcett, the woman who relieved him of his virginity, and perhaps he had loved her in a way. Holly Crane he'd never loved though he'd certainly desired her. Dorcas he'd merely fancied.
Dora, though, he felt as if she were half of him, and as girlish and silly as it was to admit Remus didn't feel quite right unless he was with her. It was enough to simply be in her presence, though he would admit to wanting more if the question was posed.
He watched her wake and stretch, and then pull the covers over her body hastily. Dora began to crawl out of bed and suddenly he didn't want to her leave.
As she began to stand, he grabbed her arm and pulled her back down on top of him.
"Where do you think you're going?" Remus asked.
She giggled and blushed at the sound. "To shower."
"It can wait a little," he said. "After all, neither of us need go anywhere for a while."
Dora couldn't seem to look him in the eye, and he noticed this.
"Nothing," she said sincerely. "I'm just… that was… last night -"
"You enjoyed yourself," Remus concluded. He let his hands roam freely up and down her body.
He touched her face. "Dora, there's no need to be embarrassed."
She sighed. "I'm not embarrassed, exactly, I'm… I mean, it felt so amazing and I want to have sex with you again and again now because I can't imagine life without that, and I'm wondering why I didn't coerce you into doing this the last time you visited, except I feel all sorts of strange since I've always been told it's boys my age who are all hormone driven and girls have more restraint, and the only reason I'm not trying to go again - clearly you're ready - is because I'm all sore."
Remus always enjoyed a good Dora ramble. "There's no need to be ashamed," he told her. "It's your body and you can feel however you like. Personally, I've always enjoyed women with a sexual appetite." He'd intended this last part as a joke, but her face grew hesitant.
"Did I… did I do alright?" she asked.
He sighed. "Remember when I said I wasn't comparing you? I meant that."
Dora bit her lip, unknowingly enticing. "You had to correct me."
"I'd call it coaching," he disagreed. "Dora, in all honesty, I wouldn't want you to change anything. It's not a matter skill or tricks or talent; I'm more interested in your body doing what it wants to do. That's far more exciting than some flexible maneuvers."
"Is this the face of a liar?"
She kissed him.
"Just so we're clear," he informed her, "I would not have slept with a Hogwarts sixth year no matter what age she was."
Dora gave him a mock glare. "Spoilsport."
"I really am," Remus said dryly.
"I don't know why I put up with you."
"Because I'm a bloody good kisser."
"And the sex."
"And because you're entirely too bizarre for anyone else," he added playfully.
Dora smacked him.
"In all seriousness, though," Remus continued, "I have a question to ask, and it's probably the worst timing in the world, but I'm just wondering why you waited to have sex. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, because it really isn't, but I was so sure you and Charlie would… I mean, what happened there?"
He'd never been more reluctant to ask a question, but there was a large and undeniable part of him that wanted to know, no matter what the answer might entail. The unspoken conflict between him and the Weasley boy had been very much present during Remus' stay in 1990, and now that Charlie was suddenly in the heart of Europe and out of the conflict he was curious to know what happened in between then and now. For Remus it had been but a day. For everyone else, an entire year had passed.
"Hmm," commented Dora, and eased herself off him. She rolled to her side and propped herself up on one elbow to face him.
Remus did the same.
"It's a bit complicated," she began. "I mean, I told you that Charlie and I were probably heading towards all that romantic shit last year, and in a way we sort of did. I think what happened began just before you kissed me that day. During finals we'd discussed the possibility of meeting up during the summer, and you've got to understand here I thought you weren't interested in me the way I was in you. Sometimes you acted like you were, but other times…
"Anyway, I was all set to get over you and get back to whatever it was between me and Charlie, except then you kissed me and I was so bloody confused. There I was, fancying my best mate and then this other bloke who just came along out of nowhere. With Charlie I had a pretty safe bet, right? I knew him, he was going to stick around, I didn't have to worry about when I'd see him next. And I think if you hadn't kissed me it wouldn't be such a big deal.
"But you did, which was fantastic by the way, so then I had this whole problem because I knew you felt the same way. You made it pretty clear, I think. Unless I'm wrong, but I'm tired of all that second guessing so yeah, you felt the same way. Me n' Charlie still met up over summer hols, though, and he kissed me too, and that was almost as fantastic. At the time I was still moping over you and all torn up, and that sort of certainty was exactly what I needed, so we decided to be a couple and see how that worked.
"And it worked pretty well for a time. Everyone was happy we were together. They'd all been betting on it for years and if I didn't still have feelings for you - if I hadn't met you - then it wouldn't be such a problem. But see, as things went on I just stopped feeling that way about him so much.
"Well, I still fancied him that way, but I was falling more in love with you," Dora said, and then stopped for a moment as a blush blossomed. Remus waited. "You know what I mean. It was stupid, since you weren't even there, but it just got clearer and clearer to me that I couldn't be with anyone else while I still had feelings for you. And besides it was all sorts of icky after a bit when Charlie and I kissed. Er, not icky exactly, just… there wasn't anything special."
Remus waited for her to continue, but it seemed she was done.
He was very lightheaded. "You were falling in love with me."
"Yeah," Dora admitted softly.
Remus kissed her mouth, her cheeks and eyelids and forehead. He moved to her neck, her shoulder and then her breasts, and he stayed there.
"You - fantastic - girl," he said between kisses. "You amazing woman."
"Come again?" she asked, sounding both confused and breathless.
"What do you think I've been doing?" said Remus, laughing in joy. "How forgettable do you believe yourself to be?"
"I love you," he told her.
Remus paused and glanced up.
Dora flushed. "What I mean is, you said that last night."
He frowned. "I did?"
"If you didn't mean to say it -"
"No, no," he brushed away her concern. "I just hadn't realized I'd said that aloud."
She smiled at him, and he resumed his worship of her body. Remus took care not to do anything too sexual as he was unwilling to carry through with anything while she was still sore from the activities of the night before, but to love and be loved is an intoxicating feeling and he couldn't lay there and do nothing.
After a time, Dora lightly eased him away and went to take a shower. At first she tried to wrap a sheet around herself, but Remus convinced her that do such a thing would only be an insult to him. He wasn't sure she bought his excuse, but didn't particularly care.
For a while, this was his life. He'd go to work, spend time with Mr Fletcher, count the minutes until he arrived back at the flat. The second both of them were home Remus would teach Dora about what her body could do. They'd talk of their days for a while.
Then they'd get up and shower (sometimes together) and get dinner ready. They'd talk about themselves, play around, make each other laugh. Sometimes they went out walking just like Remus said they should, getting ice cream every so often and see who could get more ingredients loaded onto their plain vanilla sugar cone. They embraced the height of innocence as well as the most sexual of activities and the balance felt so serene.
When they came home, they might make love again if they weren't too spent. Remus often read The Last Unicorn to her and she would drift off to sleep in his arms.
He'd never been more happy in his entire life.
But there was a looming worry that Remus didn't want to speak of, though he knew he should; the full moon was fast approaching. Interestingly enough, it was Dora who breached this discussion the morning before he was to get his first Wolfsbane Potion draft.
"What are you going to do for this month?" she asked him in bed.
He didn't understand to what she was referring at first.
"I was thinking more of the same," he said.
"I meant for the full moon."
Remus froze. "Well, I hadn't thought about it too much," he said casually. "But I'll probably go to the Shrieking Shack. That's where I went while I was in Hogwarts. And I went there last month without any trouble."
"Hang on…" Dora propped herself up on her elbow and faced him. "Is that why it's called the Shrieking Shack? I thought it was named that in the early seventies."
Damn her Auror mind.
"It was," he said evasively. "If Dumbledore let one werewolf into the school, it stands to reason there might have been others."
Thankfully, she bought his flimsy excuse, and the matter wasn't discussed until the night before, when he bid her goodbye for the next few days and Apparated to Hogsmeade.
As it turned out, Dora was a blessing during his entire transformation.
Remus felt it when his body began to shift. His arms and legs cracked and popped, his bones grew and his muscles and skin stretched, and he was about to scream before realizing he didn't want to alert anyone that a werewolf was using the shack again. Those in the know might come to question his future - present - self.
So he thought of Dora, and the beauty of her smile and the luxury of her body. He thought of these things while fur sprouted painfully from his nose and cheeks and forehead, and he dwelled on her lips as his ribs rippled and contorted beneath his skin. Remus concentrated only on her as the blinding pain ripped through every part of him, concentrated on the happiness he'd felt while his teeth distended from his gums and bled.
His fingers curled into claws, and then his hands and feet into paws, and his knees snapped backward (he bit his lip and drew blood with his fangs to keep from crying out) and he imagined everything he would do with Dora once this was over - his snout twitched - his back ruptured as a tail grew -
But he thought of her, because his mind was his own.
And when the night had passed and he slumbered after the equally difficult transition back to human, Remus got up on shaking legs and went back to her.
Dora's face when he walked through the door was filled with relief and sadness, and he went to her and he kissed her, and they found themselves on the couch, too eager to walk all the way to the bed, and he took comfort in her, whispering again and again that he loved her.
His life went back to happiness after that, and Remus was glad someone as wonderful as she existed.
There was an owl in the kitchen. True, there was an owl in the kitchen every morning to deliver the Daily Prophet, but this particular owl looked friendly and loved, owned by someone rather than used by an impartial newspaper delivery service. It stared at him with bright, critical eyes.
Remus walked over and reached for the letter in the owl's beak, but the tawny flapped its wings at him to keep him away. He went for the letter again and the owl raised a leg with a very clear intention of clawing his hand.
He was wise enough to concede defeat, and instead examined the Daily Prophet while he and the owl both waited for Dora to wake up.
There were a few articles on Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic, and a certain recent scandal involving leaked papers of - from what Remus could see - very little consequence. From the pictures he gathered that Fudge was a nice enough man, if not particularly impressive. The political battle occurring in his own timeline sprang to mind, and he thought idly that Cornelius Fudge would have very little success convincing people in 1980 that he could lead the Wizarding world.
Again, it was an indication of how different things could become over a decade. While Fudge was hardly a leader for wartime, in peace he represented everything the magical folk wanted to experience, and everything they wanted to forget.
One article did catch his attention, though, and for less innocuous reasons.
"Investigations into Gringotts Break-in Continue," the title read.
Remus felt a little chill run down his spine. A break-in at Gringotts wasn't something to sneeze at on its own, but the fact that an ongoing investigation was needed sat very wrong in his stomach. He read the article carefully.
It was times like these, times when something wasn't entirely placid in the world, that Remus' well-worn battle instincts showed. He'd spent all of his Hogwarts years trying to piece together the chaos outside the castle through Daily Prophet articles like many of his fellow students, and the practice carried on after he left school. It was habit to comb through the words and find the meaning underneath, scrutinizing an event for anything sinister.
From what he could tell, something was wrong in this time, though most people wouldn't know it. The whole temperament of the world around him was light and relaxed. But how could people be relaxed, how could anyone be so at ease, when someone had broken into the most secure place in the world and escaped without incident?
He was reassured that whatever was intended to be stolen had already been removed, but there was still a worry to be had.
Why hadn't he paid attention to the first article detailing the break-in? What had been so distracting that he wouldn't read the Daily Prophet and realize a dark wizard - an unknown, extremely powerful dark wizard - was running loose?
Then he checked the date of the break-in, and the day the story broke, and the answer was painfully obvious.
On that day, August 1st, he and Dora had made love for the first time. And the next morning his mind had hardly been on affairs of the world. It was understandable, though hardly forgivable, that he would be so uninvolved in his surroundings.
Remus knew this was not his time, and the affairs of this time were not his to worry over, but he couldn't help thinking time had sent him to here and now for a reason. And while he believed almost wholeheartedly at this point that reason was Dora, perhaps there was something else, something important. If he allowed himself to be absent and inattentive he might miss something he needed to know.
And though it was stupid, even awful, for a moment he blamed Dora for distracting him.
The knowledge that he could blame her for something he had no control over sickened him. Dora could claim responsibility for several things, but in this she played no part.
No, he couldn't place the fault on her shoulders for any longer than the initial impulse because that rested with him alone.
Another owl flew in through the open window. This was a barn owl, looking rather self-important and carrying a letter from the Ministry on one leg. The barn owl stuck out its leg for Remus, and when he lifted away the envelope it flew off again.
He knew what this letter was. It was Dora's fate on a piece of parchment. It would either tell her she had been accepted into the Auror Academy and could pursue her dream, or it would inform her she should find employment elsewhere. There was no question in his mind to what the answer would be, but he didn't open it. She was so self-deprecating sometimes; he thought he could benefit from finding out directly that the Academy would take her.
Love had a funny way of turning her accomplishments into matters of pride for him, and her failures as a source of sadness.
The pair of them were linked together so closely now - he didn't like to think of them parting.
In fact, the thought was so wholly painful he pushed it away.
Remus was just folding up the Daily Prophet when Dora trudged out of her bedroom. Her eyes were bleary and her hair natural today. She had no shift today and had declared the night before that she would sleep in until noon. Clearly, she had not.
He smiled at her warmly. "Good morning."
"I hate all sunshine," she informed him. "And singing birds."
"What about adorable baby animals?"
"Them too. They should all die in Fiendfyre."
"Aren't you cheerful this morning?" Remus said, suppressing a laugh.
Dora sat down in the chair to his right miserably, slumping her head on her arms. "I want to murder everyone and everything - except you, obviously."
"Oh, obviously," he agreed. "Is there something I can do to make your day a bit better?"
"Fiendfyre," was all she mumbled.
"I'd considered telling you that you've two letters today - one from the Ministry and one from a rather obtuse owl."
Her head shot up and her hands scrambled for the Ministry letter. Remus passed it over, smiling so hard he couldn't contain it. He couldn't wait to see her expression when she read the words telling her she was accepted to the Auror Academy. She was pulling off the seal now, taking the parchment out and unfolding it -
She bit her lip. "I didn't get in."
Remus felt his heart drop at the same time his whole face fell. How could they have not accepted her?
"That's just not possible," he managed to say. "Surely, it's a mistake. They must have sent you the wrong letter, or messed up the application…" he trailed off, unable to articulate his extreme disbelief. He'd never even seen her use any spells, he just assumed because her conviction was so strong.
What if she was really awful at defensive spells? What if she had no aptitude for being an Auror and that's why they rejected her? A Metamorphmagus, while being rare and extraordinary, did not automatically insure magical ability.
No, he'd seen her N.E.W.T.s and Dora had secured an O in every subject she'd taken. She was a smart, capable, hardworking witch and if the Auror Academy didn't accept her Remus should march right down to the Ministry and demand they reexamine her application because there was no plausible reason for her not to get in.
He looked up to tell her this and saw a smile growing on her lips.
"That was too funny," she said.
"You little brat," scolded Remus, but his smile and tone of relief made his words entirely unconvincing. "Don't scare me like that. I actually believed you!"
"Then we know I'll be good for undercover work."
Remus snorted. "I'm not entirely sure that's a good thing."
"Of course it is," she said, waving her hand dismissively. It was then she caught sight of the waiting owl.
A most peculiar expression crossed her face, and he watched it with a wariness he hadn't expected. Dora looked at the owl with eyes of familiarity and longing, and when she stretched out her hand the bird hopped over to her eagerly. It extended the leg with the letter and waited patiently for her to remove it. And when Dora had pulled the letter off, the owl flew to perch on a top shelf in the kitchen as if it had been there before. So why had Remus never seen it?
He watched as she unfolded the letter and began to read. Her eyes were transfixed to the page and a curious, delighted little smile hung on her lips. Remus saw her fingers caress the edges of the parchment and occasionally tracing words, and that slimy, disgusting jealousy inside him raised its head in angered alarm.
Because he knew whom that letter was from. He'd suspected as soon as the owl refused to let him touch the envelope because there was no need for an owl to be so specific unless it was intimately acquainted with the recipient. And though Remus could never truly begrudge something that brought a smile to Dora's face, he had never seen that sort of look on her face caused by anything he'd done. He could never have that effect on her while he was coming and going in her life.
"How is Charlie?" he asked quietly.
Dora's head snapped up. "What?" she asked, false innocence and unwitting guilt in her voice.
"Charlie." Remus gestured to the letter. "Is he well?"
"He's just fine," she said. Her voice was a half-octave higher. "His studies at the dragon conservatory have been going well; he's met a couple of friends there and seems to be getting along with the other wizards." She folded the letter back up with care.
"I'm sorry if I upset you," he apologized.
She shook her head. "It's not you. He's just… he's very persistent."
"He's in love with you."
"I think he's more in love with the idea of us than me," said Dora.
"How do you mean?" he asked, leaning forward slightly.
With a sigh, she leaned back in her chair, almost unthinkingly distancing herself from him. "His parents got married young, and I expect he's got this idealized version of romance in his head where your first love is your only love, and I happened to be that for him."
"And he for you," Remus concluded.
"No, you were my first love," she corrected him. "I mean, are my first love. Inasmuch as I can sort it all out in my head."
He frowned. "How do you mean?"
Dora shrugged. "I never just fancied you. And I only ever fancied him."
"Have you told him that?"
"How could I? How could I tell him that?"
"It's honest, though I'll admit rather cruel." He leaned forward a little more. "Allowing him to believe he's still got a shot with you is crueler still."
Her lips pursed in upset. "You want me to hurt my best mate's feelings because you'd rather I was all yours?"
"That's not what I meant," he murmured. He leaned back and tried to think of the best way to explain. Finally he continued, "When I left you last year and I kissed you, how would you have felt if I'd only done so make you happy and through no feeling of my own? And if I never revealed that to you for a year and you allowed yourself to fall in love with me, believing I reciprocated your affections? What then?"
She sighed. "And now you've thoroughly depressed me."
Remus ran a hand through his hair, much like James would. Unlike James, though, it was from no conscious effort. "I don't mean to be hard on you," he said quietly. "I am a jealous creature, but I don't begrudge you your friendship. I just wish I wasn't so worried that I might lose you."
Dora leaned over and kissed him. "I'm not going anywhere," she assured him.
No, but I am, he thought darkly as she folded Charlie's letter.
"Congratulations," Remus said after a long while.
Dora raised her head from his chest and stared at him in dreamy confusion. "For what?"
Her body was as naked as his, and she was sprawled above him. He was trailing fingers all over her body, memorizing every dip and curve, every birthmark (and she had several) on her body. He'd never enjoyed the feel of another's skin so thoroughly, but with Dora he knew she could perfect her body's faults if she so desired. The fact that she didn't indicated that she was comfortable in her own form and with her own beauty, and he rejoiced in that.
"For what?" he repeated. "You just had your first orgasm."
A slow smile grew on her face. "I did? That's what that was?"
She laughed delightedly. "It was so… Merlin, it was brilliant!"
"I suppose being on top did the trick."
"Yeah… at first I felt a little odd," she confessed, "Because I was so, I dunno, exposed, but once I got it through my head that it was just you I had a lot more fun."
He quirked an eyebrow. "Just me?"
"You know what I mean," said Dora, slapping his chest playfully.
Remus swept her hand up and kissed every fingertip.
"Yes, I do know what you mean."
"So why is that?"
"Why is what?"
"Why do you think I only had an… had one when I was on top?" she asked persistently.
He smiled as he thought about this. "Well, you are a very assertive creature," he allowed. "Perhaps taking control feels good to you."
"Oh." Dora was quiet for a moment. "I would have thought, you know, that you would rather be on top, because…" he saw a faint blush grace her cheeks. Not as pronounced as her blushes once were, but still present. Remus almost missed the full flush she used to don at any mention of sexual behavior.
He waited for her to continue, but she didn't. "Because of what?"
"Er… because you're a… I mean, I just assumed because you mentioned how sex is all primal and animalistic and you've already got an animal as a part of you - it makes sense when you think about it," she defended herself, though he was still figuring out exactly what she was saying. "After all, you growl and do other… things when you're having sex, or you are when you're with me and I just thought it was because you were a…"
Dora hid her face in his chest.
He stared at her. "You… you thought I …wait, I growl?"
"Only a little."
"Why didn't you mention this to me before?"
"I sort of - I guess I like it." She peeked back up at him, the crimson blush back in full force.
Something occurred to him then, and Remus wasn't entirely sure how he felt about it.
"You like it."
"Yeah," she admitted.
"No," he said slowly, "You like that I'm a werewolf."
Her eyes got wide as if she'd been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, confirming his suspicion.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Dora said evasively, and crawled off him.
Remus rolled over and pinned her down before she could escape the bed. He was careful to keep most of his weight off her as he lay above her, Dora's front pressed against the mattress. In many situations he would have considered this a sexual position but he was so thrown by the revelation of her interest it hardly occurred to him.
"Don't lie to me," he said sternly.
She whimpered with embarrassment. "Maybe just a little bit," she answered at last.
"Dora, you do know that I'm not like most werewolves," said Remus cautiously. "Many of my kind didn't grow up the way I did. I'm civilized, they aren't."
"I know that," snapped Dora. "And I'm not about to go out and find the first werewolf I can just to have sex. I like that about you."
He stared at her profile. "You might be the first person to say that to me."
She attempted a shrug.
"I'm asking you, though," he said, "To keep that to yourself."
"Oh, who would I tell," she retorted sullenly.
As if in answer to her question, there was a knock on the door.
Remus sat up, staring at her equally shocked face. For the first time since he'd arrived on her doorstep (for all intents and purposes) there was actually a visitor. This could be all sorts of bad. What if it was Andromeda? She would recognize him and probably hex him into oblivion. And if it was someone else it still wouldn't be any good because he, Remus at age twenty, wasn't supposed to be here in this time. The less people knew the better.
And what if it was Charlie Weasley, back from Romania? The ensuing fight would likely be awful and Dora would be so, so aggravated and upset and Remus couldn't bear the thought of making her upset. He was unsure of what to do.
The knock repeated, a little more loudly.
Dora scrambled out of the bed, jolted into action by the sound.
"Coming!" she called.
"You said that half an hour ago," Remus murmured, unable to resist the juvenile humor.
"Shut up!" hissed Dora. She threw a pillow at him while yanking on her shorts, not a very easy feat. "Get dressed!"
Remus felt his stomach sink but reached over to grab his discarded trousers.
She finished dressing first and tore through the flat to get the door.
"Lisbeth!" he heard her exclaim excitedly.
"When did you get back from India?"
"Just last night," said Lisbeth. Remus remembered her vaguely as one of Dora's friends.
"It's so good to see you," Dora gushed with almost too much enthusiasm.
"You too! So what have you been up to?"
Remus finished buttoning his shirt and gave a deep sigh, readying himself to go out and face the newcomer. The first thing he noticed was that Lisbeth Saunders had sun-bleached blonde hair and very tan skin. She didn't look falsely beautiful, though. In fact, she was really very pretty and wearing a brilliant smile, which somewhat dimmed when she caught sight of him exiting the bedroom. Lisbeth looked from him to Dora and back again.
She frowned delicately. "I remember you," she said.
"Remus McGonagall," he told her dutifully, and extended a hand. She shook it.
"Right… you were there at the end of our sixth year," recalled Lisbeth.
"Yes, I was," he confirmed.
"And you're here."
He nodded. "Dora's putting me up while I'm in London."
Dora stepped between them with an overly cheery smile. "Would you like to go for a walk or something? Head to the Leaky Cauldron?"
"Sure," said Lisbeth slowly. She didn't take her calculating eyes off him until Dora had all but thrown her out of the flat.
"Your friend doesn't like me much, does she?" Remus asked later that night.
He sat on the bed, watching Dora brush her teeth and wash her face in the bathroom. It surprised him that watching her do even the simplest things was fascinating to him. Dora spit out her toothpaste and rinsed her mouth.
"She doesn't know you."
"She doesn't like me," he interpreted.
Dora sighed. "Lisbeth's very protective of me, and she's known Charlie about as long as I have. You've got to understand that for her, me n' Charlie are sort of the couple that you root for growing up because you think they'll be together forever and ever. 'Cept you came along in sixth year and everything got all mixed around, and now Charlie's in Romania and I'm here with you and she's just a bit upset that her whole worldview's been compromised."
Remus found this all very odd. "So she's mad at me because you don't want to be with Charlie?"
"That pretty much sums it up," she agreed. "I mean, the idea of you and I as a couple is sort of strange, and not just for her but for all my friends if they knew."
"Are we what?"
"A couple?" he asked.
Dora stopped washing her face, her towel held still, her eyes wide and upset. "I assumed that once we slept together there was some sort of coupling happening."
"You misunderstand me," Remus said hastily. "This… whatever this is between us, it doesn't feel so trite as to put a label like 'couple' on it. Calling you my girlfriend seems incredibly childish. You matter to me more than the customary labels imply."
"Excellent save," she said, and resumed washing her face.
He pondered her for a moment. "I love you."
She smiled shyly. "You've told me that already."
"And I have to stop at one?" Remus chuckled. "Nymphadora Tonks, I love you. And I'm very sorry your friends don't approve of me."
"Bugger my friends," she said. Dora finished up in the bathroom and walked towards him.
She sat down next to him on the bed. "Bugger them," she repeated. "They don't know how wonderful you are to me. They don't know the first thing about you. They don't know that you love me as much as I love you. So unless they know more about you than I do, what they think doesn't matter."
Remus closed his eyes for a moment. "I won't be here forever," he told her sadly. "I'll be leaving again, in about a month."
"I don't care."
"So what? You're going to moan about how much you don't want to go?" Dora said angrily. "Remus, you've got restless feet. Quite honestly I never expected to see you again, and I hope we'll meet up after this but I'm not holding my breath. I don't care that you're leaving. I care that you're here now."
He began to undress her, for the second time that day. "You're so bloody amazing," he murmured.
She set to work on the buttons of his shirt. "I know."
"I don't deserve you," Remus said. "You realize that, right?"
"Of course you don't," she said. "Now make love to me and stop being so dramatic."
He laughed and kissed his way from her neck to her stomach and lower, lower, until his mouth began to lick between her thighs and suck gently, and she was crying out for the pure pleasure of it all and twining her fingers in his hair, and he was reveling in the taste of her.
Although Dora had told him it didn't matter where he was in a month, Remus couldn't feel the same way no matter how hard he tried. He was sullen and upset, and it showed in the distracted motions of his day to day life. Mr Fletcher told him more than once he was being a tosser and the fact that he couldn't argue spoke volumes.
Dora started at the Auror Academy at the end of August, cutting her working hours to part time and significantly lessening their time together. He sat at home or went for walks, frustrated and annoyed by all the waiting. He was still a solitary man, but the last six weeks being with her had done what years with his mates couldn't dream to achieve. Perhaps he was happy to be on his own unless he knew there was something better out there for him.
He was happy, though. Comparatively he was much happier than most of his life had allowed him to be. Yet Remus felt the change from bliss to this waiting period he felt now.
And he didn't want Dora to give up her dream of becoming an Auror. Remus was just being selfish and he knew that, and he was ashamed of himself for it.
Even his third transformation of the time jump was worse than the ones before. Remus was so angry at his fate that he bit himself once or twice, even though he was fully himself at the time. His behavior smacked of a sulking child.
"Why are you so distant?" Dora asked him one night.
He hadn't thought himself to be distant while they were making love. "I'm not," he said.
"It feels like every day you're pulling further away from me," she told him.
Remus sighed and clambered out of bed to get a glass of water. When he returned, she was not sleeping the way he'd hoped for, or even pretending to sleep the way he'd prayed she would. Instead her arms were crossed and her face determined.
He paused in the corridor.
"Don't you dare avoid me," she snapped.
"I wasn't trying to," replied Remus.
"Truly, I wasn't. I'm just very confused right now."
"What's to be confused about?" Dora demanded hotly. "I'm sorry I've been busy, and I'm sorry you're leaving, but please stop tainting the time we have left!"
The bluntness she exuded was wonderful. It put him in his place, and rightly so.
"You should be," she sniffed.
And he showed her how sorry he was. Not through carnal pleasures or kisses, but by wrapping her up in his arms and holding her until they both fell asleep.
"I'm leaving tomorrow," he told Dora.
She didn't turn around. "Oh."
"I don't want to," Remus insisted, "But it's something I sort of have to do. There's not much choice in the matter."
"I understand," she said.
He moved to stand behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. She relaxed back into him and sighed. For a long time he just held her like that, the simple contact enough to make him happy. The last time he left Dora, he was reluctant. Now Remus was pained by the thought of life without her. There was no way he could be with someone thirteen years younger than himself in the timeline without causing an uproar, let alone what he was.
And when would he even meet up with her, in this regular timeline? What possible reason would a thirty year old werewolf have for tracking down a beautiful young girl who'd only just turned of age? The future of their relationship was tenuous at best. He didn't want to think about it.
Remus pulled her marginally closer. "You've no idea how much I don't want to leave you."
"Then don't," she said, and her voice broke. "Don't do this to me again."
"I'm so sorry," was all he could offer in return.
"I don't want to go through this again," whispered Dora. "It was hard enough last time, but now… after everything…"
He kissed the top of her head. "There's something we need to do."
"Turn around," he said, and she faced him with wet eyes.
Remus put his hands under her hips and lifted her so she sat on the kitchen counter. Dora gave a watery laugh as he began to peel away her clothing, leaving no inch of skin untouched by his lips. If there was nothing else he could remember but this moment when he returned back to his time, it would be enough.
He paused long enough to say, "It's about time we admit defeat to the kitchen," and they both laughed.
"It's fitting," she agreed.
"Everything started here."
"Not everything," he murmured, and she put her weight on her arms while he pulled away her shorts and knickers.
"Enough of everything," she replied.
He tugged off his shirt, unbuckled his trousers.
"I know," he answered her unspoken sentiment.
They marked the kitchen as their own, and it was the saddest sort of lovemaking because it said goodbye.
Remus finished packing his little makeshift bag and slung it onto his back. He checked the bathroom once more, and then bedroom, checking for the fifth time to see if he'd left anything behind. It was an excuse; he knew nothing was missing. He was just delaying his exit.
Packing a bag was probably pointless, but Remus had been transported to another time twice now and if it was to be a third he didn't fancy having only one set of everything and buying what he needed over time. He'd even packed away all the sickles left over from his time with Mr Fletcher - who'd informed him that if he came back to London a job was always waiting for him. At least now he could land on his own two feet.
Dora had left just as he woke that morning, running late for the Academy. She had given him a small kiss goodbye, but it was merely formality. The real goodbye had been the night before. Remus hated leaving, hated that he had responsibilities to return to.
He stared around the flat one last time before walking out and locking the door behind him with a wave of his wand.
The streets were quiet as he walked out of the building for very likely the last time. As he passed one small house Remus could hear the strains of Tourney's "Sunday in Hogsmeade" and thought back to that afternoon in The Buy and Sell. He had such little joy that day. Strange, because whenever he thought of the song now he could only think of how happy the last two months had made him, the brilliant summer days that made waking up as much of a pleasure as going to sleep.
"You picked me up at the station and gave me a kiss
I grabbed your hand up because I felt like it
And then we entered the town in the soft morning light
And we went to the clearing in the woods on the right…"
The song faded as he walked past.
Up ahead was an alley Remus where hoped to cast the time displacement spell without interruption. Perhaps "hoped" was a strong word.
Remus turned around for a moment and walked backwards to see the flat building slip out of sight around a corner. He raised a hand and waved for lack of something more significant to do. That tiny flat had seen the best part of his life to date. If walls could talk, what therapy would they need.
This last thought elicited a chuckle from him.
He stepped into the alley and drew his wand from his pocket.
For a long time, he stood there, waiting for his mouth to say the spell. He had to go back, there were mistakes he needed to correct. He had to do something about Sirius, he had to keep James and Lily from their deaths. In fact, he had to save many of the Order members from their impending deaths. The intel he needed to share, the people he had to save… motivation lessened as he thought of everything he'd be returning to.
And then came the argument contrary.
From what Dumbledore had said in 1990, Remus would return to his original state only a few hours after he'd vanished. This was an established fact. Therefore, it didn't matter how much time passed. It didn't matter if he stayed another three months in 1991. It didn't matter if he stayed another year, living in sin with Dora, because he'd return to his time exactly the way he was supposed to.
It was irresponsible, and foolish, and rash, and it was everything he wanted to do. Slowly, his determination tipped from one side of the proverbial scale to the other until Remus knew what he needed to do.
He pocketed his wand.
Remus wasn't going anywhere for a long time. He couldn't leave Dora, and even if he could he didn't want to. For twenty years he'd made decisions around the concept of should, but the concept of want was rearing its head in retribution for being ignored so many times.
And why should he ignore what he wanted? Here and now was a woman who loved him for everything he was, good and bad, human and monster, and he was going to turn around and return to a time where nothing so beautiful as that could last? He'd be twice the fool if he did so.
He smiled and walked towards the entrance of the alley. Remus could surprise her on her return home. He imagined it already; she'd walk through the door and turn on the light, and he would be sitting there, waiting for her. She would run to him and he would sweep her up in an embrace, and -
The earth opened and he fell through.
So, I realize this was a slightly longer wait than I'd promised, and I apologize. I know some of you thought I'd be going back to 1980 for this chapter, and to that I say gotcha. For any Brits out there, I'm sorry but I cannot bring myself in any seriousness to write the word "loo." I just can't. It's a bathroom. Call me obstinately American, but that's how it'll be with all my stories unless someone's referring to said "loo" in colloquial speech.
I did not rip the lyrics off for that Tourney song. At least, I don't think I did. I wrote them (hence the shitty factor), they have their own tune, and Tourney isn't a real band. No disclaimer issues. Some disclaimer issue for The Last Unicorn excerpt, so it's not mine, written by Peter S. Beagle, released 1968, published by Del Ray, yadda, yadda, yadda, not mine.
Fingers crossed that the sex scenes were tasteful and realistic. I get very tired of sex scenes where everyone has multiple orgasms and know exactly what they're doing on the first try and there's no dialogue. Please, like everyone's telepathic once they take their clothes off.
EDIT: So, as of 7/7/12, there is a new section of this chapter. I found it recently and decided to dust it off and add it. Which also means that I've been digging around with this story and may, one day, finish the absymally long chapter three. Just to be clear, this story was never abandoned or hiatused, it just... takes a while to update.
Please Review ^_^