Those blasted red knickers.

-0-0-0-0-

The first anonymous gift Hermione received had resulted in horror. It wasn't flowers or chocolates, no. It couldn't be something as mundane as that. Evidently, her secret admirer had bigger plans for her.

It wasn't grand at all, sitting almost innocently in the unassuming, white cardboard box. In fact, Hermione decided, the simple boldness was probably the worst thing about it.

It was just another day in the book shop. Remus had gone out to collect the order of books that had arrived via the muggle post. His store had a section dedicated to the loons who were fascinated with everything non-magical. Novels written by J.R. Tolkien, and Raymond E. Feist were among the most popular bought, mainly because of the comparative opportunities they presented.

Hermione had stared into the box, mildly aware, and extremely thankful that the last customer had toddled out to continue shopping.

Slowly, as if afraid of the innocent object lying within the cardboard was going to start snarling and lunge at her, Hermione reached inside and delicately picked it up, letting it dangle from her thumb and forefinger.

Unfortunately, as soon as the offending gift was at eye level, the front door to the book shop opened with a delicate tinkling of the store bell. Remus entered, arms wrapped around a single, small box. Hermione was sure that it was full of books, shrunk and charmed lighter. She had ordered enough tomes to fill up a quarter of the back storeroom.

Remus had a warm smile on his face, cheeks slightly reddened from the snow; white flecks thus clinging to his shoulders, beanie, and the very tips of his adorably scraggly balbo.

That friendly smile however, turned into an expression of shock and utter revulsion as his bright blue eyes landed on the frilly red G-string dangling from her fingertips.

Hermione just about choked on her own spit as she fumbled to put it back in its box. She dropped it on the floor twice before she managed to return the racy set of panties to their deceptively innocent box, meanwhile spluttering, "it wasn't – I promise – Remus, I – oh, goodness, I can't believe – not me, I swear!"

"Hermione?" Remus croaked, his eyes wide, face drained of all the rosy cheer it had previously held. "was that...?"

Hermione behaved like a deer caught in the headlights, hurriedly stuffing the lid back on the box, her face red with humiliation. "Remus, I promise it wasn't me!"

Remus made an odd sort of choking noise before he managed to croak another reply, "I know that, Hermione. Kindly remove it, however. Preferably in the bin. Far, far away."

Hermione nodded hastily, picking the box up, stumbling to the store room, and shoving the gift in her bag. She would burn those blasted knickers later.

It was only when she got home later that evening that she realised that Remus had perhaps overreacted. They were just a pair of knickers, technically. Hermione was sure he had seen many a set of frilly red knickers whilst married to Tonks.

And with that thought, Hermione froze.

From that day on, she couldn't think about Remus or frilly knickers without an image of the other accompanying it.

-0-0-0-0-

After that, Hermione became inexplicably shy towards Remus. Not only had a once innocent crush on him intensified to a sort of puppy-like mooning, but she now started thinking, dreaming, about all manners of naughty things regarding him.

Naturally, she was terrified. What if she blurted out what she really thought of him? What if she behaved inappropriately in front of the poor man, to the poor man? Good heavens. She was doomed.

She had long ago come to terms with the fact that Remus would never be even remotely interested in her. She was far too young for him, even though, if she looked at it logically, she was more mature in spirit than she was in years.

Hermione couldn't think of any other excuse for them not to be together, but given time, she was sure she could come up with a few things. In any case, it could just be a simple fact that she was just not Remus' type.

Just look at Tonks. She was tall, with legs all the way up to Svalbard. The older woman had a bubbly, carefree personality, who was incredibly smart, unassuming, and extremely affectionate.

Hermione was short and pear shaped, with wide hips and thighs, and narrow shoulders. She was quiet and reclusive, and while relatively smart, her vast amounts of knowledge only came from hard work. She could be judgemental at times, especially when it came to common sense or lack thereof. And she was completely horrified at the thought of public displays of affection.

Ah, there's your list of why Remus would never be interested in Hermione.

As the saying went, opposites really do attract.

'Of course,' Hermione thought pensively, 'that relationship did end with divorce. Perhaps opposites do attract, but can they sustain a relationship?'

Evidently not.

"Hermione? Hello, anyone there?"

Hermione came back to the present with a start, hand flying to her chest as her heart gave a startled jump.

"Remus," Hermione said dumbly, cheeks growing pink, "sorry. Lost in my thoughts there. I'll... just get back to w-"

She attempted to scurry off, but Remus stopped her with a gentle hand grasping her upper arm. "Wait, Hermione, we need to talk."

"We do?" Hermione asked miserably. "Look, Remus, it wasn't me, I promise. Those knickers were just some cruel prank, I should imagine. I'd never be so inappropriate as to bring something like that in the shop!"

"I know," Remus comforted her quietly, his large hand moving from her arm and resting on Hermione's lower back to guide her back to the chair she had just vacated.

"Sit," he urged her gently, voice soothing like warm honey.

Remus leaned back against the counter and gazed at her steadily. Hermione dropped her head to avoid looking at him in the eye.

"Are you never going to look at me again?"

Hermione's head snapped up. "No – I, I mean yes – I – Remus –"

"Stop," he held his hand up. Hermione's jaw closed with an audible clicking sound. "Hermione, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. What happened yesterday was certainly... eventful, but it wasn't your fault and certainly nothing to be embarrassed over. I should imagine you have due course to be quite flattered."

He smiled at her, and his eyes held a subtle sort of intensity in them that made Hermione's knees weak. She was suddenly grateful that she was sitting down.

"Flattered?" she blew a disbelieving raspberry. "No. It was probably just a crude prank from a group of teenagers trying to be rebellious."

"Perhaps," Remus agreed mildly. "Or maybe someone's trying to tell you something."

"Tell me something?"

Remus looked visibly uncomfortable by this point. "You know... maybe that they... wouldn't mind seeing you... in such... attire."

"Oh," Hermione breathed. "Oh."

Remus nodded, eyes now dipped to the ground, lips pursed in what seemed was pain.

"Oh," Hermione said again, giggling uncomfortably. "That's very kind of you, Remus, but I doubt it."

Remus' eyes snapped up to hers, a frown drawing his brow downwards. He opened his mouth to speak, and then shut it again.

When he spoke, it was after a few seconds of quiet thought. "Very well. If that's what you think... Will you stay with me tonight?"

Hermione smiled, relieved that he had changed the subject. "Of course. You really don't need to ask, Remus. I always do."

Remus simply smiled at her, reached forward to squeeze her shoulder gently, and then went about his business.

Hermione watched him go, quiet longing in her whiskey coloured eyes.

He always asked her to stay with him on the full moon, and she always said yes.

-0-0-0-0-

They shared an early dinner in Hermione's secluded home. She made sure he was well fed, despite his rapidly waning appetite. And then, just to make him feel better, she gave him a big serving of homemade chocolate truffle. Remus, naturally, couldn't resist the sugary confection. He gobbled it up, despite his quick tiring, and rapidly paling complexion.

When he went down to the basement to change, he made Hermione stay up in the kitchen. He never let her stay for the initial transformation - not after the first time she had purposefully stayed with him during the full moon. Apparently, he could remember the look on her face as his body twisted and gnarled itself into another shape entirely. He described it as one between horror and panic.

She didn't hear his screams and howls of pain tonight. Hermione knew that he would have put a silencing charm around himself as he made his way down to the basement. She waited somewhat impatiently, quickly washing the dishes and packing them away by hand.

When the last plate made its way back into the cupboard, Hermione turned to look out the kitchen window. The full moon was high and bright in the evening sky. It illuminated the land below, casting an eerie blue over the hills that secluded Hermione's small home.

Turning away from the now disturbing sight, Hermione puffed out a long sigh, and made her way downstairs. She transformed into her animagus form half way down, giving her body a rapid shake to dispel the slight discomfort that came with the change.

She could only imagine the horror that Remus went through when his body was forced to experience such an invasive act.

Quickly nosing open the slightly ajar basement door, Hermione cautiously wade her way into the room.

Remus was curled up in a far off corner; his mangled, frightening form quivering ever so slightly from what Hermione was sure was shock. He lifted his head up as she slowly made her way into the room, her belly low to the ground, ears tipped back onto her head cautiously. Their eyes met for a mere second before Hermione lowered hers politely. He keened lowly at her in a soft greeting, and didn't move. Hermione's head came up again to look at him as his head lowered to the ground, resting tiredly.

Her ears tipped up, alert, as she slowly made her way over to the large werewolf.

He was mangled and sad-looking, with his ears tipped back and eyes averted almost meekly. The ridges of his spine poked out of his skin painfully, his scapulas and hip bones sitting at sharp angles over his lanky body. The fur over his form was thin and coarse, and, Hermione noted with sadness, his nose was dry.

She dropped to a crawl when she came within a meter of him. She chattered softly to Remus when she came close enough to touch noses. He keened to her again, rumbling, and Hermione felt his warm breath puff over her face.

Her tail thumped against the floor as she wagged it at him, and went about licking his snout in a warm, comforting greeting. He attempted to do the same, his large tongue engulfing her face in a slobbery lick. Hermione froze in place, dazed and slightly horrified.

As best as a canid could, Hermione glared balefully at the werewolf above her.

Remus merely made a slight hacking noise, one that Hermione had long ago come to recognise as a laugh. His amber eyes held a small amount of mirth, and despite the now distinctly wet feeling she was forced to experience, Hermione felt glad that her reaction had brought him joy for the evening.

Yipping softly, she turned and toddled to his side, stepping over his thick, lanky legs, and curling up against his warm body. Remus' head turned to look at her, but Hermione's eyes were already closed, awaiting sleep.

The first warm, grooming lick, made her ears tip back submissively, a soft, indolent chatter escaping her nuzzle. The second made warmth bloom in her chest. The third made her relax.

She never felt the fourth, for Hermione quickly fell into a deep, warm sleep.

-0-0-0-0-

Hermione awoke the next morning to the experience of her body being shifted into a large, warm hand. She chattered in slight protest, squirming a little as Remus cradled her to his naked chest.

"Shh," his soft voice soothed her from above. "Go back to sleep, sweetheart."

She chattered to him again, intent on saying, 'thank you,' but forgetting that she was in her animagus form.

She didn't allow herself to go back to sleep as Remus slowly made his way up the basement stairs, across her living room, and into her bedroom. He paused a few times during the trip, not panting, but allowing his body to slouch ever so slightly and take a rest.

Hermione dared not transform and attempt to help him. Remus would shut down and refuse any assistance. She had learned that the hard way.

He slowly put her down on her bed, letting her little body sink into a plush cushion seated against the headboard. Hermione then opened her eyes, watching his naked form with want as he made his way around to the other side of the mattress and sank down onto it with a cavernous sigh.

Remus then flopped heavily to his side, curled into a tight ball, and fell into a deep, restful sleep. Hermione watched his thin body with trepidation. He was getting too skinny again. The poor man went through times in his life when he would look almost emaciated. Whenever Hermione tried to bring up the subject, Remus would shut down and refuse to talk to her. she knew he wasn't consciously starving himself, that all his energy was drained following the change. She knew that he simply didn't have the energy to take care of himself, and that he was too proud or too humiliated to admit that he needed assistance.

Closing her eyes, Hermione concentrated on her human body, and slowly felt the itchy feeling that came with her transformation. Her body sank further into the mattress, her hair flopping over her face as it grew and curled. Slowly, the small, creamy coloured fennec fox transformed back into a human.

Quickly wiping her curls back, Hermione sat up with determination and went about her morning routine. She let Remus sleep for a few hours while she had a shower, ate breakfast, and cleaned the mess in the basement. She then went about making a big pot of vegetable soup. She ensured that it was thick and smooth, so that it was easy for him to eat.

When she returned to Remus, she found him curled beneath her thick duvet. As he slept, Hermione watched him for any other signs of distress. He seemed fine, albeit exhausted.

She smiled at him fondly and sat the tray of soup down on the bedside table. A small growl made her head snap up and look at the werewolf lying on the bed. His lip was curled ever so slightly, his nose twitching. Remus growled softly again.

He must have been dreaming. Hermione thought it was the most adorable thing she had ever seen.

-0-0-0-0-

Hermione went to work the next day, alone. Remus was obviously recovering at his home, and when she last saw him that morning, he was zonked out in his bed. She made sure there was left over soup within Remus' reach so that he could eat when he woke again. A warming charm was expertly placed over the bowl so that the soup would remain warm, but not too hot. Hermione had to thank Molly Weasley for the lessons.

The day was fairly straight forward. Not many of the regulars asked after Remus' absence. It wasn't that they knew he was a werewolf, but they were aware that he was a rather shy person and was more comfortable doing the office work rather than servicing his customers. More often than not, Hermione was the only person in the front store, and she was often mistaken for the owner by newcomers.

However, in the late afternoon, just before the store was about to close, Mrs. Sortis toddled her way into the store.

She was an older woman, perhaps in her mid fifties, who was short and a little dumpy like Molly Weasley. She was a smiling, friendly woman who had the ability to make it all but incapable to dislike her.

"Hello, dear," Mrs. Sortis greeted warmly, hitching her oversized, red leather arm bag higher up on her shoulder. "Is Remus here today?"

Hermione had to resist giggling at the older woman. Penny Sortis had developed a large, albeit harmless crush on Remus since he had opened the store three years ago. The poor sod had quickly tacked onto the older woman, and went about avoiding her like she had the plague. Naturally, Hermione thought the situation was hilarious.

"I'm afraid not," Hermione answered with a trouble-making smile playing about her lips. "I'm afraid he's ill and will be off work for the next few days. Would you like me to leave a message for him?"

Mrs. Sortis' shoulders slumped in disappointment, but Remus' absence (yet again) did not deter her.

"Oh," the older woman sighed long-sufferingly, but a naughty smile played about her lips to show her light heartedness. "Just tell Remus that I'm thinking of him."

Hermione giggled, her smile growing just as naughty as Mrs. Sortis'. "Will do."

-0-0-0-0-

She stopped off at Remus' house on her way home from work. She couldn't help but worry about the poor man. Since he and Tonks had split up, he had steadily been turning into a more sickly shell of himself. In a way, his lycanthropy was a two-person curse. There was no way Remus could sustain himself after the full moon. He was too busy being occupied by his exhaustion. In all honesty, he needed someone to take care of him.

And that was why Hermione was worried.

She wasn't surprised when she let herself into his home that he was still in bed, the bowl of soup on the bedside table sitting untouched.

Hermione moved to pick up the soup with a long winded sigh, but she was stopped by a soft tug on her pants leg. Hermione stopped short and looked down at Remus.

He was smiling up at her blearily, obviously still half asleep. He let go on her pants, and instead moved to curl his arm around her leg and pull her closer.

"'Lo, sweetheart," Remus mumbled as Hermione's knees pressed against the mattress.

Hermione smiled fondly at him, and moved down to brush his hair away from his forehead. "Hi... Feeling any better?"

Remus' smile became slightly strained, but he nodded nonetheless. "Just tired, Hermione. No need to worry."

Hermione's eyebrows rose and pinched together. "You haven't eaten anything all day, Remus. Of course I'm going to worry about you."

"It's not your duty to do so," his voice, still tired, turned slightly bitter.

"No," Hermione agreed. She leaned down, grasped the hand that still curled around the back of her thigh, and tangled their fingers together. "But I want to do it. It's not a duty to me, Remus. It never was and never will be."

She sat down next to him, squeezing Remus' hand comfortingly as she did so. If only the man truly knew how much he meant to her.

Remus' striking blue gaze held hers as he studied her face, his expression softening infinitesimally as Hermione smiled warmly at the bedraggled man lying prone in his bed. "You really are a sweetheart, you know that, Hermione?" he brought their twined hands to his lips and gave the creamy skin on the back of her hand a soft, lingering kiss. The scraggly balbo that he sported scratched at her skin, just before his lips soothed it. Hermione felt goose bumps flare wide from her spine just as her face warmed in a shy blush.

"I'm just doing what any friend would-"

He quickly cut her off. "No, really, Hermione... It means more to me than you could ever imagine. I know I'm not an easy person to live with because of my... condition. It's hard for everyone that associates with me, especially those that try to help me through the full moon. Only James, Sirius, and Peter had the tenacity... and now, thirty years later, it's you."

His eyes bored into hers as he brought his other hand to engulf hers. "It's you, Hermione."

-0-0-0-0-

A/N:

Due to the recent sweep done by the site admin, I have edited my stories so that they contain underage-friendly content. If you want to find my full works, you will be able to find me on AO3 when I'm granted site access.

Due to the site sweep, I won't be uploading any more chapters or new works on the site unless the admin put up an adult friendly section. I know this is unlikely, but I think they'll be doing fanfiction net a gross disservice by deleting a majority of the M rated fics.