Happy Christmas! So, these were written for a Secret Santa Fic exchange! The prompt for this one was Marlene/Remus with the prompt: Resolutions. It takes place after their time at Hogwarts! please read and review!

The countdown is ticking downward. Music reels, weaving its way through the room and between bodies like a serpent, wrapping couples together and resigning singles to themselves. The newest serpent, a chord progression of creeping excitement, pulls two bodies together, throwing the girl's arms around the boy's neck and pushing his body dangerously close to hers.

Marlene McKinnon beams up at Remus, her heart thudding against her chest and she pulls him close. Over the last year, their friendship grew from nothing at all to something very important indeed. And the few sips of liquor Sirius shoved into her married with the prospect and promise of a New Year fills her with something alien in this time of war: hope.

Remus Lupin, on the other hand, feels nothing but conflict brimming in his chest. His hands wander down Marlene's moving body, searching for a home that will be intimate and yet modest all at once. His eyes wander anywhere but her, and he says nothing as they cling to each other. Remus feels as if he is underwater; he cannot breathe, his sight blurs, and he hears everything as though he is listening through a stone wall. Everything about this is wrong. Marlene should not be in his arms. They are friends, he knows that. But he cannot help but feel like his heart is being ripped and stomped on by sharing the last few intimate moments of the old year with her. Remus could just strangle himself. This was a stupid whim to fulfill. When Marlene and he made promises to share the last dance of this year and the first kiss of the new year, he couldn't have been thinking straight. How could he share something so intimate with someone who didn't return his affections?

He loves Marlene. He can feel her presence and absence in his very bones. He can see nothing but her when his eyes close. She sees him like no one ever has. But he will never be anything more than a passing drunken fancy to her. He is someone to fill a New Year's void but never someone to love. These realizations hit him as his breathing steps in time with Marlene's, as her heart beat keeps rhythm with his, and her lips whisper the time as they inch ever closer to his.

"Five, four-"

The sound of the countdown pulls Remus from the deep waters of his head. The world comes into focus.

"I'm sorry-" he mutters, pushing the girl in his arms aside.

He shoves his way through the throngs of people cluttering the Potter's entertaining room before finally making his way into the blistering cold of the New Year's night. This is the Potter's backyard; he is alone out here with a dense forrest holding camp in the near distance. A thin light emanates from the house, playing on the fresh snow. The frigid winter wind shocks him, knocking full awareness. Once again, he breathes deeply, sees clearly, and hears everything.

The trees whisper wishes of good fortune to each other. The stars shout across the galaxies to give their brothers cheer. The snowflakes dance to some long forgotten tune. A door slams and footsteps break the packing of the freshly fallen snow. The sound grows as the feet near him, and then suddenly stop when they are still behind his turned back. And then there is the voice.

"You do know how to make a girl feel properly shitty."

Remus sighs and lets his chin drop downward as he closes his eyes for the briefest moment. Emotion is exhausting, he suddenly realizes. Loving this person is exhausting. Wanting her to love him back is exhausting. The whole business is exhausting and decidedly not worth it. Marlene folds her arms in front of her chest and looks down at the tracks his boots have made in the fresh fallen snow.

"I just had to get out. It's too much in there," Remus says.

Folding her lips inward, the girl nods, though not out of understanding. She is doing everything she possibly can to ignore the deep, palpitating hurt echoing from the pit of her stomach to the tip of her tongue.

"Yeah," she breathes, her entire body tensed at the cold and his rebuff.

Nothing meets her but silence and the sound of her own inadequacies using her heart as a punching bag. She is a fool, this Marlene McKinnon. So, she mutters a farewell and waves at him, though he cannot see her as he stares into the distance. Taking a few steps away, she tries to return to the party and save the night from total disaster. But the hurt raging in her chest pushes against her body, aching to be free. Unable to contain it, she lets it take over. She whips her body around and feels her voice steadily grow as she gets closer and closer to him. Marlene does that thing that Remus both loves most and hates most about her; she says exactly what she is thinking.

"You just can't hurt all of the people who try to love you, Remus. One day you're going to wake up and you won't have anyone left."

Folding his arms over his chest, The boy rests his weight on his hips and looks at the girl full in the eye. He snaps his words, letting the lash crack against the snowy quiet.

"Who are you to tell me anything about how to live my life?"

Marlene's voice gets quiet and deadly as she leans into him. The words come out frank and sincere, but she gains punch with each syllable.

"Well, it seems to me that I'm the only one out here who manages to give a shit about you."

This is the truth as Marlene sees it, and Remus can feel her honesty throttle him in the gut. He looks at her, his eyes wide and tired and hurt and begging. That exhaustion that rolls over him in waves finally makes itself known.

"Yeah, but you don't love me. Not like I wanted you to."

There is a long silence there. Neither really expected those words to actually come out of Remus' mouth. His eyes fall from hers, dropping the gaze.

"How could I fall in love with you if you never let me know you, Remus?"

The air is thick as the snow stops falling. There is a sense of what could have been and what might yet be and Marlene leaps off of the edge. She grabs Remus' shoulders and holds them with all of the passion she can muster.

"You know what my resolution was last year?"

He doesn't respond. He merely looks into the distance with his hands shoved firmly in his pocket.

"It was to talk to you," Remus allows his surprise to register on his face, "That was it."

She travels back down to that moment, and her eyes become a little lost as a smile finds its way on her face.

"At last year's New Year's Party, you were sitting in the corner of James' basement drinking and reading and pretending that no one else existed. And I promised myself that you would be my friend if it was the last thing that I did."

She thinks on that moment, that realization for a long time. Before that night, they never spoke though they ran in the same circles. And then, she saw him sitting there, and he looked as alone as she felt. Stepping away from the boy, she shrugs.

"But you wouldn't ever let me get close. So I guess I didn't help at all."

Remus grabs Marlene's hand in his own.

"You helped. You helped more than you'll ever know."

Her eyelids slide closed and Remus abandons her hands in favor of wrapping her in his arms. She sinks in his embrace.

"Would you have me now if I let you know me?"

Marlene smirks.

"I would be honored," she mutters against his chest.

A new snow falls, purifying the ground and covering all of their earlier tracks and dirt. Remus smiles.

"I promise, then. That's my resolution."