A/N: Written for myrrhmonkey96 's Suffering from Writer's Block? Challenge.
Yes, I have been.
129- "For a long time after that winter..."
11- "A funny thing happened on my way to..."
21- "Today, I will..."
4- "There was once a chance I didn't take"
"Um Professor?" Hermione asked nervously, shuffling into the kitchen of Grimmauld Place where Lupin currently resided, sipping at some tea and reading the Prophet, looking worn out.
Lupin had to smile despite himself. "I haven't been that for...some years now Hermione. I keep telling you to call me Remus."
She grinned back sheepishly. "Sorry Prof- Remus... Old habits."
"I quite understand." He replied, sipping a bit more, giving room for her to ask what was so clearly on her mind.
"Well, Remus." She said, still looking embarrassed, though they were alone. To cover up her awkward silence, she took a seat across from him, but remained staring at her hands.
"I- uh." She cleared her throat. "You might've noticed, I'm not sure how it must seem to others, but well..." And she rushed on so that Remus barely caught, "Well-I-actually-like-Ron-just-a-bit."
This time Lupin forced himself not to smile. Of course he knew, who didn't?
"I know." She nodded, growing beet-red under the older man's gaze. "The thing is, well I need some advice."
"And you've come to me?" Lupin was... honored, but perplexed. Why not Tonks? Or Molly? Even Fleur occasionally flitted by.
At this the girl seemed to grow even redder. "Well Remus... I knew."
"Knew?" Remus' mouth seemed to dry. She could be talking about anything, nothing to fret over. "Knew what?"
"A-about you and Sirius."
Lupin felt a need to avert his own eyes. "Oh." He repeated. "You knew." She was a very smart girl... how could she not? The signs were all there, just no one looked.
"I didn't tell anyone." She hurried on.
"Doesn't matter." Remus said, whispered really, feeling his own face heat up. "Not now that he's gone." Not now that he left me alone in this world, he added mentally in scorn. Remus did not even need to feel the wetness sizzle on his face to know he'd let a tear slip. He wiped his eyes, ashamed, and let Hermione continue.
"I'm sorry." She added, but with a nod from Lupin she went off her own thought train. "Ron obviously isn't... the ambitious type. I just feel that if I don't do something, I'll miss a chance." She concluded in a mumble, but she made her intention clear.
"There was once a chance I didn't take..." He whispered, looking up into Hermione's anxious, yet nervous, face.
"Well," he cleared his throat, taking solace from her determined mindset. "It was the winter of our sixth year. Hogsmeade visits, you know. The heart and soul of living at Hogwarts for over-third years and non-Quidditch players- like Sirius and I."
For a second Lupin considered just stopping there. Reliving the memories seemed painful enough, but reliving them under the pretext of telling someone not to follow his footsteps- to learn from his mistakes- was possibly unbearable. But he felt it was the right thing to do, almost as if Pads was urging him to continue. Willing others NOT to make their decisions.
"We were all ready to go. Peter, Sirius, James and I, each sat upon our own goals." He swallowed at an overpowering lump in his throat and continued. It was not a painful memory he was reliving, so why was he sad? Was it because he alone remained true to the Marauders bond? That he WAS alone, truly and utterly?
"James probably trying to serenade Lily- who knows, wacky brain of his." Remus smiled reminiscently. "Me to buy some Zonko's for an early present for those pranksters in our group. Who knows with Peter. Sirius was different though...
"Anyways. A funny thing happened on my way to the Hogwarts village. Would you believe it? I fell in love.
"You should have seen him. Oh I was so foolish. Breathless. A bloody arse I might've been, wouldn't've made any difference.
"I took to calling him my Angel after that, even if he did despise it. He saved me though. Sirius did, my Pads. On those days I would've rather died than live with myself, with what I was. And he was always there. Talking me off my cliff. Talking my hands off the wand. Living with myself wasn't so hard when I was with him."
At this the girl gave a small mutter of, "that's horrible," but let Lupin continue without contempt.
"They way the snow fell in his hair, that lovely dark hair. Oh I could get lost in that hair." And for a second Moony was transported back to the days spent combing nimble fingers through the cologne smelling locks. The closeness seemed to soothe Lupin on even the days before the full moon. A warm body. His.
"His thick lashes. Little cold flecks against his face, heating up. It was so refreshing, watching him be joyful. He enjoyed himself that day. Well he told me it was because I was there, and that was all the reason he need. I didn't believe him.
"That was my reason too."
Remus saw the boys face swim in his eyes, imprinted on the backs of his eyelids. His face broke in that heart shattering smile, his red nose, a flush coloring his cheeks. He looked at peace with the world. If he'd sprouted wings Lupin would not have been surprised. Completely angelic.
Yet Lupin had only just realized these dormant feelings in the snow on his way to Hogsmeade. How long had these feelings festered?
But then he was back in Grimmauld Place. The place his Padfoot had hated, despised, so much. He was ashamed again. Ashamed that he'd let himself remain here. It was so wrong. Even without the other man with him, in his arms.
"For a long time after that winter I couldn't breathe. I couldn't function. Not do a single thing. I needed him.
"It was all I could do to stop myself staring, dreaming. Just grab him there and yell some sense into him. Ask him why he was stalling, what he was waiting for."
'Just the right moment.'
'Why not every moment you struck me breathless; heartbroken?'
'Were there many?'
And his Pads had been so innocent, so helpless. They were two young boys fighting against their feelings to wait for the other, and it tore at Remus every minute of every day.
They had wasted so much time in the act of not acting.
How much time could they have had together?
He sighed and pulled himself from the candied memory. He hadn't wanted this to happen. There sat Hermione, a tear in her own eye, and it seemed to strengthen Lupin's resolve from the inside out. A glowing light. She needed to know, to take her chance.
He leaned forward. "I want you to go to him, Hermione. Take your chance. Don't wonder years from now what could've been. Please."
The young girl wiped hastily at her own cheek and looked to him. "I will Remus." She got up and smiled down at him in an affectionate way, like someone who could feel the same pain. "Today I will..."