Emmeline showed up at Number 12 Grimmauld Place in the late afternoon. The wet chill of spring had faded and it was nearing summer holidays, which meant that Sirius would be highly focused on Harry and how to keep him away from his horrid Aunt and Uncle as much as possible. It also would mean that her time at Grimmauld Place would be limited if and when Harry joined Sirius there, unless of course she was ready to talk to James and Lily's son. She wasn't entirely sure about that.
But for now, there were still a couple of weeks left in Harry's spring term, and Sirius was fretting about Harry's OWLs.
"You didn't even worry this much about your own OWLs," said Emmeline.
"Yes, but this is Harry," said Sirius, as though that explained it all.
The full moon was that night, so Remus was sitting placidly on the couch waiting for her. He still didn't trust his sort-of-girlfriend with the responsibility of caring for him immediately after a full moon. In fact, he didn't even truly trust Sirius to do so. He gently requested her presence each month, and although each month she reminded him that Nymphadora Tonks would gladly take on the duty herself, he always declined.
She could sense a bit of jealousy from the younger witch at the arrangement: the last time Emmeline had arrived at Grimmauld Place to spend the night outside Remus's locked door, Tonks had been there. She had given Emmeline quite a glare as she left. But persuade as she may, she could never get Remus to allow anyone but her to be his link to the human world after a transformation. Some thing didn't change.
"Where's Sirius?" asked Emmeline as she sat down next to Remus.
"Made himself scarce, I think," said Remus with a shrug. Sirius tended to retreat when faced with the prospect of being reminded of Remus and Emmeline's history.
So there they were, sitting on the couch with both of their significant others absent and grumpy at the arrangement, but if Emmeline was being honest with herself, she wouldn't have it any other way. She cherished the time she spent with Remus; she missed him. As the sun began to sink below the horizon, she followed Remus to the attic and locked the door behind him. A half hour later, a howl told her that the transformation was complete.
Emmeline traipsed back down the stairs to Sirius's bedroom and knocked on the door. She heard rustling and moments later, Sirius opened the door looking rather apathetic about her arrival.
"He's changed, then?" he asked.
Emmeline walked into Sirius's room and sat down on the rumpled sheets on his bed. Sirius was standing in the corner with his arms folded.
"Don't be that way," said Emmeline.
"What way? I'm not being a way," snapped Sirius.
She gave him a look, and Sirius huffed before plopping down on the bed next to her, his arm falling around her shoulders as he rested his head against hers.
"Sorry," he grumbled.
"It's fine," she said, snuggling against him.
They sat like that in silence for a long time before hunger finally stirred Emmeline into rising.
"Want something to eat?" she asked.
"We don't have much," he replied. "Bachelors, you know."
His rogue grin made her smile and roll her eyes, though she still caught the subtle reference to his question from not long ago: the question about whether she would want to marry him. She still didn't really know the answer to that one. But, ignoring the subject, she headed down to the kitchen and summoned a few ingredients to make soup. Sirius cracked open a beer and sat down at the table watching her cook.
"Something's coming," said Sirius.
Emmeline turned to look at him, a confused look on her face.
"What do you mean?"
"Something's going to happen," said Sirius, shuddering slightly as though the thought frightened him. "It's like we've been waiting this entire year for Voldemort to make his move. He's going to. Soon."
"Worried about Harry?" she asked.
"Of course I am," said Sirius. "I'm all he's got."
She smiled at the way his chest puffed out like a proud father.
"Well, you aren't going anywhere, and he's lucky to have you," said Emmeline, stepping over to him and placing a quick kiss on his forehead before returning to the stove.
"Have you decided what to do about Elijah and the Cloak?" asked Emma.
"Not yet," said Sirius. "I'm going to get Harry through his OWLs. Then I'll talk to him about it. Maybe see what Dumbledore has to say. For some reason, this whole thing seems really . . . important."
Emma nodded in agreement. The rest of the night was calm and quiet, and she roused early to release Remus from the attic. He was shivery and distant, but she rubbed his arms briskly with her hands and looked into his amber eyes until she found recognition there. Remus and Emmeline drank tea together, sitting in silence so as not to wake Sirius, and with a quick squeeze of Remus's hand, Emmeline left for work.
She didn't see Remus or Sirius for a couple of weeks after that. Her work had been busy, as it seemed Sirius was not the only one who was on edge about the return of dark wizards. Despite the Ministry's attempts to assure everyone that Voldemort had not returned and they were in no danger, the people were nervous. They wanted to remove their funds from distant accounts and keep it in their mattresses. She'd been so frantic at work trying to reassure her clients and keep up with their demands that she barely had time to think, much less see Sirius and Remus.
And Sirius's worry gave her a strange sense of foreboding. She woke up on Friday and vowed to take the day off and seek out Sirius, for not only did his concern give her a strange itching at the back of her mind, she also had something very important to tell him.
Emmeline was cooking bacon in the kitchen when she heard a pounding knock at the door, startling her almost enough to make her knock the pan from the stove. She cast a spell to keep the pan warm and went to open the front door, unsure of who she'd find at her doorstep, and feeling an uncomfortable sense of dread.
She opened the door just as Remus was raising his hand to pound on it once again. His face was ashen. His expression was haunted. Emmeline's heart plummeted to her feet, her stomach wrenched as she fought a wave of nausea.
"Emmeline," Remus began, his voice cracking. "Emmeline, I don't even know how to tell you this-"
"Don't say it," she snapped, shaking her head briskly and blinking her eyes against tears. "I can't lose him again, Remus. Don't say it."
"Stop," she hissed.
"He's dead, Emma," said Remus.
Emmeline swallowed thickly. He couldn't be dead. He couldn't. This had come out of nowhere. Her mind couldn't even accept the shock of Remus's words.
"No!" she said, tears streaming down her face. "Don't touch me! You've ruined everything!"
She turned away from him, hiding her tears, hiding her emotions. The world seemed to be closing in around her. She had let Sirius back into her life, back into her heart, and now he was-
"Oh, Emma," said Remus.
The floodgates broke open. Her life, her real life, the life with Sirius, was gone. Emmeline fell against Remus and sobbed violently into his shoulder. He pulled her into the sitting room, collapsing onto the couch and holding her as she fell apart, her throat aching and raw from the force of her pained cries.
It wasn't fair.
Why was she doomed to a life of such misery? Why was everyone she loved taken from her? She took comfort from Remus's strong, familiar arms wrapped around her.
She cried for a long time, maybe an hour, and as her tears subsided into hiccups, Remus summoned two cups of tea. Emma couldn't even bring herself to leave the safety of Remus's arms to grab her cup, so Remus handed it to her. She drank it too quickly, the roof of her mouth burning immediately, but it gave her something to think about besides Sirius.
She swallowed against another sob that threatened to break through.
When their teacups were drained, Emmeline leaned back against Remus again, curling herself into a ball against his chest. Her fingers clutched his shirt as she struggled with emotions she didn't know what to do with. Her Sirius was gone. Again. The loss hit her like a cold stone settling in the pit of her stomach. At least in Azkaban he'd been alive.
"What happened?" she finally asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
Remus explained the events at the Department of Mysteries. His voice was shaking with grief and frustration.
"Bellatrix Lestrange got him with the Killing Curse," he said at last.
"Not good," said Remus, his voice choked.
She sighed, shuddering, and covered her face with her hands. Remus's arms were still around her, reassuring her. She felt lost, and she knew Remus was barely holding it together. She gazed into his amber eyes, which carried more pain than she could possibly imagine. And then, without any rational or logical thought in her brain, she leaned in a kissed him.
His lips were familiar, pliable, warm, soft. She could feel their tears mingling on their cheeks as they kissed. His hands began gripping her, holding on desperately, grasping her tightly as she tried to lose herself in his kiss.
It wasn't romantic. It wasn't even really lovemaking. They stumbled toward her bedroom, yanking off each others' clothes as they went, hands roughly grazing over exposed skin, mouths attacking necks, lips, chests. Remus slammed her against her bedroom door so hard it hurt, but she didn't care. Anything to forget. She fumbled with the knob and they fell onto the bed.
He flipped her onto her stomach and entered her roughly, eliciting a strangled cry of both pleasure and pain from her throat. This was not the gentle, tender lovemaking she remembered with Remus, but she found she didn't care. She didn't want to care. About anything. He sank into her again and again, his hands grasping her hips and pulling her to him with each thrust. She could feel something like climax building inside her, but his movements were too forceful and too erratic to bring her over the edge. And again, she didn't even care. It still felt good. It still took her mind away from thoughts that danced around the edges.
It didn't take long. A few minutes later, he spent himself with a shudder and a ragged gasp. She moaned into the sheets. He pulled himself from her and sat at the edge of the bed while she remained prone. It was still and silent in her room.
They didn't move or speak for a long time, but after several quiet minutes, she heard a strangled sound from Remus. She turned her head to look at him. He was naked, sitting at the edge of her bed with his face buried in his hands. His shoulders were shuddering.
"I can't be your comfort fuck, Emma," he snapped.
Emmeline stared at him, momentarily stunned.
Remus let out a mad groan and grasped his hair, pulling at it in frustration.
"Emma, I love you," he said, turning to look at her, his face streaked with tears. "I love you. I've loved you for years. Sirius coming back was the best thing that could have happened for you, for Harry, for everyone. But not for me, Emma. Because you loved him the whole time. You never loved me. I was your comfort fuck. I've always been your comfort fuck!"
His voice had risen at the end. Emmeline was staring at him in shock.
"I can't do it anymore," he continued. "I can't. I love you too much. I don't want to be your backup for when Sirius is in Azkaban or dead."
Emma's breath caught in her throat. She felt tears sting her eyes again, both at the very fresh memory of Sirius's death and at Remus's heart-wrenching confession.
"He was my best friend, Emma," said Remus glumly. "Seeing him go . . . watching him die . . . and then watching Harry, when the realization of what happened passed over his face . . ."
At this, Remus let out a laugh that was more like a sob.
"I've got to go," he said.
"No," he said firmly, standing from the bed. "I'm going."
"Remus, I'm pregnant," said Emmeline.
He turned slowly on his heel and stared at her, his jaw hanging open slightly. The Remus life now fell to pieces as it clashed with the Sirius life, and tears were welling in her eyes. She had found out three days prior, and she hadn't even had a chance to tell Sirius. It was a surprise. Well, they hadn't exactly been careful; she was thirty-five years old, after all. Did it really happen so easily for thirty-five year old women? She supposed so. Remus was still staring.
"You're pregnant?" he hissed.
Emmeline nodded, biting her lip against tears.
"You're pregnant and you let me . . . and we just . . ."
Emmeline nodded again.
"Merlin, Emma!" cried Remus, his fingers tugging at his hair again, looking almost comical as he flew around the room in a panic with no clothes on. "What were you thinking?"
She had no answer for him. She lay back on the bed, staring at the ceiling. Remus had collapsed onto the bed again, his face in his hands.
"This is so fucked up," he said.
"Yea," she whispered.
There was a long silence as dozens of emotions poured over them. She was pregnant with Sirius Black's child, and Sirius Black was dead. And Remus Lupin loved her, and he was sitting on her bed stark naked with slow tears leaking down his cheeks. It was fucked up, indeed.
After what felt like an hour, but was probably more like ten minutes, Remus stood. He methodically dressed himself, picking up the remnants of his clothing from the floor. He looked back at Emma.
"It's going to be all right," he said. "Really."
Emmeline nodded. He stepped to her, kissed her cheek lightly, and left the room. She heard the door to her flat open and shut. And then, she closed her eyes and fell asleep.