Hermione sat quietly in the room she shared with Ginny, running her hands over her most beloved books. She had finally made up her mind, she was just left trying to gather the courage to follow it through.
"Come on girl, get up," she encouraged herself and made her way downstairs and outside.
"Going for it then?" Charlie asked unexpectedly from the side.
"Yes," she confirmed.
"Nice." He smiled, reclining back on the grass. "Love a good romance."
She grinned, her confidence growing as she took a deep breath, and apparated to the front porch of Remus and Sirius' flat. After a moment's hesitation, she rang the bell.
"Come in," Sirius called.
She stepped inside and looked cautiously around. "Sirius?"
"In the kitchen, Pet."
"Hey. Is Remus here?"
"You just missed him," he answered, turning to face her with an icepack on his face.
"Oh my god! What happened? Are you alright?" She inspected his eye.
"'M fine, we had a little misunderstanding, no big deal."
"No big deal? Your eye is nearly swollen shut."
"My fault. Full moon's only two days off, I should've known better than to pick a fight."
She sighed. "Well, why don't you use a charm or potion or something?"
"Don't have any and it's been so long since I had to do it myself, I couldn't remember the charm."
Hermione shook her head and aimed her wand at his face.
"Just so we're clear," he interrupted before she could start. "You've forgiven me, right?"
"For being repulsively presumptuous or for turning me into a hormonal shadow of a man?"
"Er…all of the above?"
She narrowed her eyes for a second then conceded, "Yes." She pointed at him again, muttering the charm and smiling at both the lack of swelling around his eye and his new ultra spiked, neon green hair. "Mostly."
He sighed. "What did you do to me?"
She shrugged and headed towards Remus' bedroom. "I'm going to wait for him."
"Figured you would. Does this mean…"
"That we're going to talk about it," she finished in a careful voice. She entered his room, but hesitated in the doorway. "Hey Sirius?"
"Yeah?" He appeared behind her, laying a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"The day before I left…"
"Yesterday," he corrected.
"Right," she agreed in amazement, forgetting that only eight hours or so had passed for her friends while she was away. "Yesterday. That argument in the kitchen."
"That was about me?"
She took a deep breath. "So Tonks…"
"No. You're the only woman he can see, always have been."
"You know, if it's even possible, he fell even more in love with you the year that I escaped."
"I doubt that; I was fourteen."
"No, it's true. In the shack, when he found out that you already knew he was a werewolf and trusted him anyways and kept his secret… Well, you should've heard him ramble on about it. At least until he remembered how young you were."
"But he already knew that I knew."
"Yes, but you never revealed how you found out. We assumed it was after knowing him for several years; that you had a solid basis for your acceptance, like we did. Never imagined that you would have figured it all out on your own within a few months. He was quite in awe."
They stood there for a few minutes, silence falling over them. Eventually, Sirius moved away.
"I am not nosy." She grinned when she heard his laugh.
"You are who you are Granger, nothing to be done about it now."
"Very funny Black," she retorted dryly. It was nice to have her old Sirius back. Young Sirius was fun, but he just wasn't the kind-hearted man that she cared for so much.
She looked around Remus' small room with a new appreciation for who he was and the rough and lonely life he had led. As she sat on his bed, thinking of the nights he had soothed her, of sleeping peacefully in his strong arms, she realized that she had already been a little bit in love with him before she had ever met his younger self.
Remus arrived home late, sore and bone tired. He kicked off his shoes and stripped away his socks and sweaty shirt. Popping the button open on his trousers, he skipped his room and went straight for the shower.
It was a relief to wash away the dirt and sweat he had accumulated over the past few hours of running. At least he was finally exhausted, perhaps he'd be able to sleep without dreaming. Clean, but unwilling to leave the hot spray, he braced his arms and head against the wall, waiting, thinking of her until the water ran cold.
Giving up, he stepped out and wrapped a towel loosely around his waist. He passed Sirius in the hallway and felt ashamed of the bruise surrounding his eye.
"It alright?" he grunted, gesturing with his chin.
"Fine. Pretty lady fixed it up for me." Sirius shrugged.
"And your hair?"
He sighed. "Yeah, she did that too. Suppose I had it coming. A little delayed, mind you."
"Well, revenge being served cold and all that."
"Did she stay long?" he half whispered, daring to hope.
"Few hours. She's waiting in your room."
"What? Right now?"
"Yeah, and she's a light sleeper too," Hermione answered from his doorway. "Or it could be that she's impatient."
"Or nosy, most like."
"Sirius," she growled, rolling her eyes when he laughed.
"Hermione," Remus said tentatively, approaching her cautiously, stopping several feet away. He felt a small bubble of hope in his chest when her eyes slowly lowered, taking in his appearance and she licked her lips. "How are you?"
"…Alright, I guess. Sad."
He ducked his head. "I'm sorry you had to go through that. I wish there was something I could do to make it easier."
She swallowed hard and looked up at him with tear-filled eyes. "You could hold me."
Remus didn't hesitate to take those few extra steps and close the distance between them. Their arms went around each other, holding tight, pressing their bodies close.
"Ron and Sirius. They said that you still…But how could you possibly," she cried into his chest.
"Of course I do. You're so wonderful, and kind, and funny, and smart. You're…everything."
"No. Don't, don't say it. I'm not the same man I was back then. Everything's different now." Despite his words, he held her tighter, squeezing his eyes shut against the moisture gathering there.
"But, I do know who you are, Remus," she insisted, stroking a hand up his back. "I knew you like this first. You're the man that I had a crush on for years. The man that comforted and assured me when I woke up in the Hospital Wing. The man who gave me confidence in my ability to defend myself and my friends. Gave me the strength to wander off after Harry last year. The man that held me through the nightmares when I had no one else to turn to. I do know you. You're not really so different from that young man who stole my heart. You're still Remus. You're still the only man I've ever loved."
She looked up into his eyes, one hand caressing his cheek softly, while the other tugged him down towards her. She touched her lips to his, parting them sweetly. His tongue slipped in, gliding smoothly along hers as his hand buried deep into her curls. She clung to him, not sure who's tears were on her cheeks.
Slowly, she pulled back to press her face to his chest.
"I love you," she mumbled into his body.
"I never stopped loving you," he confessed, kissing the top of her head.
It was a minute before he realized Hermione was laughing softly.
"What?" He smiled down at her.
"Are you aware that your towel fell down like five minutes ago?"
"Huh?" He released her and looked down. "Oh. Oops." He started to pick it up but she caught his hands.
"Maybe we could just leave it there."
She kissed him again, running her hands up his chest and leaning into him heavily. His arms surrounded her, lifting her up as he took a few steps backwards; he twirled her arround and dropped her lightly onto his bed, following quickly.
Together they quickly divested her of all clothing. Hermione gasped into his mouth when he slid inside of her a moment later. When he failed to move afterwards, she began to wiggle.
"Wait, wait, wait," Remus pleaded, pushing his chest away from hers.
"Why? What's wrong?"
"It's been a long time," he rasped. "I just need a minute to…settle down. You feel too good."
"No little orange pill this time?" she asked with a grin.
He chuckled, "No, I wasn't prepared this time." He took a deep breath, shimmied his hips with exaggeration and announced, "Alright, go."
Hermione laughed but immediately began to rock her hips, making them both moan.
"I've wanted this for so long," he whispered against her lips.
"I never want to be without you again," she gasped, nails digging into his back.
"Good, because you're stuck with me this time."
He bit down on her neck and Hermione half-screamed as the climax washed through her. He followed, grunting seconds later. Remus rolled off to the side, pulling her with him.
"That was-" he panted.
"Oh shit!" Hermione screeched, grabbing frantically at his discarded covers.
"Do we need to have this discussion again? " Sirius began calmly, continuing despite Remus' hoarse shout. "Barriers are our friends."
"So is my door! Which was-"
"Open," Sirius supplied.
"No, Hermione closed it."
"No, I didn't."
"No, she didn't."
"Dammit," Remus groaned.
Sirius shrugged with a smile, leaving them alone humming "The Way You Look Tonight."
The End. (no epilogue this time kids, sorry)
A/N: Huge thank you's to the wonderfully talented Clover Bay! She's the best beta ever.
Thank you all for reading and all of the subscriptions and favorites. But thank you mostly to all to the amazing reviewers! Without you, I'd be a sad shell of a women with a partially finished fic. *Kisses and cookies*