You know this feeling.

You are sitting stone-still in the half-darkness holding your breath, and Remus Lupin is moving in. It has taken a long time for the both of you to reach this point and you are afraid of blinking for the fear that you might be dreaming. You are afraid of ruining things and scaring him away.

Not for the first time you marvel at the way the late afternoon sun catches the gold-brown in his eyes and casts angular shadows across the plane of his face. The crows-feet and lines etched into his skin are like tributaries joining up with the rivers of his scars, well-worn pathways documenting a lifetime of love and loss. If this were one of Molly's romance novels it would say that you have to force yourself to keep from touching him; to not give into the temptation of learning these pathways first-hand beneath your fingertips – but in truth you are paralysed like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. You couldn't budge an inch even if you'd wanted to.

You've been dreaming of this moment for months and you're wondering if it'll be as good as you imagined. Just this morning you fantasized sacrificing your life to save his in the throes of a fierce battle; that he holds you in your final moments, caressing your face and confesses that he loved you all along, presses a trembling kiss to your cold lips and whispers your name; his voice the last sound you'll ever hear.

Reality is far less remarkable and this is why you have been caught off-guard. You'd only popped in under the pretense of a routine 'Ministry Inspection', chatted a bit about your disastrous contribution to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement's annual pot-luck (petrified raspberry jelly), laughing and joking, when the mood had suddenly shifted.

Remus is so close that you can feel his breath on your lips. By almost all accounts you are a pretty confident person, strong and self-sure. However in this instant you are afraid because you don't know if you could ever be good enough for him; if you could ever be strong enough to save from himself (in the back of your mind your mother's voice tells you that people can't be saved and that trying to do so only ends in heartbreak, but you ignore it, as you do most of her advice). You've never been the delicate type, and Remus – gentle, lovely, broken Remus – is almost your polar opposite in his quiet, studious dignity.

But you've been mates for a while now (sort of, if unrequited devotion counts as friendship) and know him well enough to see that he's tougher than he looks. Remus has weathered countless storms and borne the heaviest sadness you've ever seen in a man and still had the strength to do his part for The Order. You admire his goodness, dedication, loyalty and conviction. You have never known a more beautiful man.

His eyes ask the vital question. He hovers at your lips, waiting for a reply.

You close the gap.