Rating:
R
House:
Astronomy Tower
Characters:
Hermione Granger Remus Lupin
Genres:
Romance Drama
Era:
Multiple Eras
Spoilers:
Prizoner of Azkaban
Stats:
Published: 05/10/2004
Updated: 05/10/2004
Words: 9,350
Chapters: 1
Hits: 1,516

Tuesday at Eight

Lissanne

Story Summary:
When Remus Lupin agrees to come back to Hogwarts for Harry's final year, he doesn't expect to fall in love with Harry's best friend. When the trio leave school and enter the order, Remus is torn between wanting the best for Hermione and giving in to his feelings for her... what happens when he finds out she feels the same way? A story which shows that love doesn't always happen the way we might expect.

Posted:
05/10/2004
Hits:
1,516
Author's Note:
My thanks go to maartexx and Sue for their most excellent and insightful betas. This story is dedicated to Jori.

It's with bated breath that Remus Lupin pushes open the door to the DADA classroom, and he allows himself a small smile as the collective seventh year jaw drops open in surprise. He knows they have not been told who their teacher for this year is and he's secretly thrilled when loud cheers and whistles reverberate throughout the classroom after a few seconds of stunned silence.

Remus watches as Harry unashamedly gets out of his seat and embraces him; he and Harry have grown much closer since the death of Sirius. He's aware that Harry now considers him, along with Ron and Hermione, as the closest thing to family he's got, and Remus loves him for it. He doesn't shy away from embracing the boy who is now a man, and waits until Harry is seated before greeting the class.

His gaze roams over the familiar faces and he sees huge grins splitting the faces of Harry, Ron and Hermione. When his eyes meet the latter's, he notices she is relaxed and seems genuinely pleased to have him back. He can sense she's bursting with a thousand questions and he's anticipated that she will seek him out before long.

He manages to rein the class in and together, they plan out their year. He includes them on the decision of what topics to study and asks for their input. Everyone groans when Hermione whips out a long list of topics written in her small, neat handwriting; she appears to have had this ready for whatever teacher they happened to get this time round. Remus takes the list from her and tells her he will peruse it later and accommodate her where he can; silently he thinks a mind as brilliant as hers should be encouraged as much as possible.

It turns out he's not wrong about Hermione approaching him. As soon as he releases the class for lunch, she hovers behind the group, sending Harry and Ron on their merry way and either not noticing or pretending to ignore the puzzled looks on their faces. Once they are alone, she approaches Remus with hesitation and smiles.

"I'm so very pleased to have you back, Professor."

"Thank you, Hermione. I'll look over your list after dinner tonight and see what I can work into the course."

"I'm glad you brought that up," she says, and it's now that she seems a little hesitant, which Remus thinks is unlike her.

"What's on your mind?"

Hermione appears to be going over something in her head, because she takes a deep breath, stands up a little straighter, and looks him properly in the eye. "I was wondering if you would consider privately tutoring me outside of regular class hours."

Remus pauses; he's both wary and intrigued. Intrigued because he wonders what he could possibly teach her that she doesn't already know or can't find out from a book, and wary for reasons he can't yet define. All he knows is that he has a niggling deep in the pit of his stomach, telling him to tread carefully here. He ignores it. "What did you have in mind, exactly?"

"Well, I have some topics on that list that I'd dearly love your guidance on. As you know, we have the N.E.W.T.s coming up, and..." She trails off her and bites her lip, averting her eyes for a moment, then looks back up at him. "I want to learn some extra things for Harry. Just in case."

She doesn't need to elaborate; Remus knows exactly what she's talking about. She wants to be as trained and prepared as she possibly can be in case she needs to fight for, and with, Harry. Remus has half expected Hermione to ask this of him; and while he still has that niggling feeling, he looks into her wide brown eyes, eyes full of dogged determination and love for Harry and a little bit of fear, and finds he cannot deny her.

"Okay, Hermione. How about we get together once a week after dinner to go through things? Let me have this week to settle in and work out my schedule, but let's say Tuesday at eight. How's that?"

"Oh, that would be wonderful!" She claps her hands excitedly and her eyes are shining, and Remus wonders for a moment if she really expected him to turn her down. She takes a step forward and throws her arms around his neck, and Remus pats her back, unaccustomed to such displays of affection. She whispers, "Thank you" in his ear and releases him, then turns and gathers her books and notes. She shoves them in her bag and exits the room without a second glance at him.

He perches himself on the edge of his desk and stares at the door long after she has departed. He's quite unprepared for her effect on him; he could smell the scent of vanilla on her, probably faint to most others but more detectable with his keener sense of smell. Her body is soft and warm and he notices himself reacting to her nearness in a way that he finds both disturbing and unwelcome. She is his student; her education in Defence Against the Dark Arts has been entrusted to him. He cannot abuse that trust; he is the adult. She is not a child anymore, a small part of his brain taunts him. She'll be seventeen in a few weeks; that legally makes her an adult in the wizarding world. You know she hasn't been a child in a very long time in many ways. That much is true; Hermione Granger has long carried her intelligence, her friendship and her loyalty to Harry -- and the danger that being Harry's friend carries -- much better than most adults would.

Remus brushes away these dangerous thoughts and shakes his head to clear his mind; it must be the change in living arrangements and the approaching moon that has him a bit addled.

~*~

On Tuesday of the following week at precisely eight in the evening, there is a knock on the door to the DADA room, where Remus and Hermione have agreed to meet for their session.

"It's open," he sings out, not at all surprised to see she is prompt in her arrival. The door swings open and in Hermione strides, apparently free of her usual bags and books.

"Good evening, Professor Lupin," she says formally, and Remus manages to contain his laugh at such proprieties.

"I think that for these private sessions, Hermione, it's perfectly okay for you to call me Remus."

Hermione pulls something out of her pocket that fits into the palm of her hand, then puts it down on one of the tables and places the tip of her wand against it, murmuring a few words. The object instantly gets bigger to reveal a book bag, bulging with whatever Hermione has packed into it. Remus can't hide his smile as she pats it and turns to him. "All right, Remus." She says his name slowly, as if testing out the way it sounds coming from her lips. "Are you sure that's all right?"

"Quite sure. Now, what have you brought with you?"

They spend the next two hours going over the various books and notes Hermione pulls from her bag, and together with the list she presented him with in class last week, they hammer out a timetable they're both happy with. By the time they're done, though, the hour is late, so Remus suggests they start the next week. "Can I get you a cup of tea before you go?"

Hermione looks around the room, a little puzzled as there does not appear to be any tea-making facilities in the room. "Tea?"

"I keep some in my office for in between classes."

"Oh. Yes, please. One sugar, no milk."

He wonders what Sybill Trelawney would make of the fact that they both drink their tea the same way.

~*~

They continue meeting every Tuesday at eight, even through the Christmas holidays, which Hermione has chosen to spend at school (although Remus suspects it's largely to be with Harry and Ron, since this will be their last Christmas together at Hogwarts). Hermione is an excellent student, willing and eager to learn, and her knowledge of many topics continues to astound him. Sometimes he feels as if he is the student and she the teacher, and he finds it unsettles him that a woman twenty-two years his junior appears to be his intellectual match.

The Tuesday before Christmas is spent practising some hexes they have been studying. Hermione has been applying practical training to her written study and Remus has been teaching her how to dodge certain hexes and cast counter curses. Whether she is distracted this night by the excitement of the season or her mind has simply wandered elsewhere Remus isn't sure, but it's clear she's not paying attention when she fails to move quickly enough to dodge the hex he throws at her, and it knocks her backwards onto the floor, although the cushioning charm cast for this very purpose softens the blow.

"Hermione!" Remus tries not to sound panicked as he rushes over to her side and drops to his knees. He puts a hand behind her head, his fingers curling themselves around her bushy hair, and says her name quietly. She opens her eyes and her mouth moves as if to speak, but there are no words. Remus uses his wand to cast a useful spell he picked up years before and runs it over her body, ascertaining there are no broken bones. He surmises she is merely winded. "Can you stand?"

She nods her head but as she tries to move, Hermione groans in pain, so Remus hesitates just a moment before picking her up in his arms and carrying her to the couch. When they are practising here, the room is transformed into a slightly more elegant version of the Gryffindor Common Room. Remus does this for Hermione's comfort, so she is in familiar surroundings to help her relax and concentrate on the task at hand. When he discussed these sessions with Professor McGonagall, the Head of House suggested to Remus that he take away Hermione's comfort zones as her enemies are not likely to grant her such niceties, but Remus wants her to master everything before he ups the ante and Hermione is still not confident enough to go further.

He crouches down by the couch in front of her and smooths her hair back as he encourages her to take deep, long breaths until she is feeling better. Once she nods her head, he helps her to sit up and slides onto the couch next to her. "I'm sorry about that, Hermione," he says. "I thought you were ready."

"It's fine, Remus, my fault," Hermione answers in chuffy breaths. "I should have been prepared. Besides, it's not as if someone attacking me will wait until I'm ready for it."

"Point taken." Remus looks down and realises he is holding her hand, and can't figure out what is rattling him more -- the fact that she hasn't pulled away or the fact he can't remember when he took it in the first place. "I think perhaps we should call it a night."

Hermione glances up at the old grandfather clock above the fireplace. "But it's only just before nine!" she protests. "I'll be fine in a few minutes. Please, Remus. I really wanted to go over the Grappulus Hex tonight."

Remus sighs, knowing he will not say no. "Let me at least make you a cup of tea, then." He makes the tea and comes back over to her, but sits on the chair next to her. "How is Harry doing?" Harry is a large part of the reason why Remus has agreed to come back to Hogwarts; he wants to be close enough to keep an eye on him. He also found he couldn't say no to Dumbledore's request and, given Harry and his friends are in their last year, there was no reason for him not to return.

"He's okay," Hermione says, sipping her tea carefully. "He's tired a lot. I think he's having nightmares, but he won't tell Ron or me what they're about. I can tell, though. I can see it in his eyes."

Remus studies her with the air of one who has been through this very situation before. "You love him, don't you?"

"Yes." Hermione's answer is swift and sure. "Of course I love him. He's my best friend." She looks over to Remus and their gazes meet. "I'm not in love with him though, if that's what you're thinking. There is a difference."

"Oh." He doesn't say anything, allowing her to either continue or end it there as she desires.

"Yes," Hermione carries on. "I love Harry dearly, but it would be extremely complicated for us to be in a romantic relationship."

"How so?" Remus looks at her over his tea cup and pretends to be rather nonchalant about her response.

"Well, I'd always be worried about him. Even more so than I am now. And then there's Ron -- it would be too hard on our friendship. It's rare for anyone to have just one friend like them, let alone two. I wouldn't want to jeopardise my friendship with either of them. And besides," Hermione looks directly at Remus at this point, "I just don't love him like that."

"Fair enough, then."

They continue to drink their tea in silence until Hermione suddenly bursts out with, "Have you ever been in love, Professor?"

Remus is so startled by this question that his tea cup shakes, sloshing the liquid around inside. "I beg your pardon?"

"I'm sorry, I know that's a personal question." Hermione's face is flushed, but her eyes are sparking with interest. "I just wondered how someone knows they're in love, that's all."

Remus is torn between wanting to make her leave lest he say something he shouldn't and being mature enough about the matter to answer her question. But he realises as he stares at her, taking in her heart-shaped face with a smattering of freckles across her nose that appear to come out only in the winter time, her large dark brown eyes tinged with long eyelashes, and her pink, perfectly-shaped lips that he is starting to feel something for Hermione Granger that he, as her professor, most certainly shouldn't. But as a man, he cannot help it, as much as he wants to. Emotions cannot be turned on and off like a tap, as Remus Lupin has most certainly discovered over his thirty-nine years of living. Whatever feeling it is that is stirring within him for this young woman, it must be held in check. Even though in six months time she will no longer be his student, he is still old enough to be her father, not to mention the not-so-small fact that he is a werewolf, no easy burden for any woman to bear.

When Hermione clears her throat politely, he apologises for having lost his train of thought and answers her question as neutrally as he can. It's different for everyone, he explains lightly. But you'll know when it happens.

She seems happy enough with this explanation, if that's what it can be called, and she proclaims herself ready to continue on with the lesson.

~*~

They get through the next five months as the N.E.W.Ts draw nearer, yet the feeling does not fade; in fact, it does the opposite. Remus Lupin finds himself more and more attracted to Hermione Granger. The time he spends with her alone every Tuesday prove to be the highlight of his week and he is ridiculously thrilled that she has become more at ease with him, happy to confide in him. One night in May, she cries on his shoulder, the stress of worrying about Harry and putting herself through a punishing study routine getting the best of her. Remus tries to comfort her, placing an arm around her shoulder awkwardly, and that's all she needs to fling herself into his arms. Cursing himself mentally, Remus slowly puts his arms around her and holds her tightly, rocking her until her weeping subsides.

When she is quiet, he releases his grip on her, although he doesn't drop his arms and she doesn't appear to want to move. "Are you all right?" he whispers in her ear. He feels her nod and can't resist pressing his lips lightly against her temple, closing his eyes and breathing in her scent. "I know you're stressed right now, the N.E.W.Ts are enough to stress anyone. But you are one of the strongest and most intelligent witches I've ever met in my life, Hermione. If anyone can get through this, you can."

Hermione pulls back, her watery eyes searching his. "Really? You think that of me?"

Remus wonders why she sounds so surprised. "Of course I do."

She blinks a few times and looks at him, and he notices her hands, which are still on his chest, are shaking slightly. He opens his mouth to ask her what's wrong when she speaks. "Is that all you think of me?"

Remus is rendered speechless. They are suddenly treading on very dangerous ground. "What--" He stops and tries to unscramble his thoughts. "What do you mean?" He wishes his voice was more than a whisper.

"I mean..." Hermione trails off and just looks at him, and Remus realises that all this time, he has hidden nothing from her. She has been able to see through the carefully constructed fa├žade he's put up every time she's near him. He isn't able to figure out if that's good or bad before she leans forward and brushes her lips against his, ever so lightly.

Remus is frozen in place. He wants to move, to get as far away as possible from Hermione, but it's as if someone's thrown a Petrificus Totalus his way and he's stuck. He manages to whisper Hermione's name, and she brings a finger up to his lips, murmuring a "Shhh".

As they look at each other, only one thought goes through his head -- this could be the only chance he'll ever have to kiss her and he'll regret it forever if he doesn't. It's a struggle, because his conscience is screaming at him to pull away, but his heart won't listen. So he gives in and closes the distance between them, Hermione removing her finger as a barrier, and his lips touch hers.

Remus is lost. Her lips are willing and pliant under his and she seems to be kissing him back with equal enthusiasm. His tongue seeks entry to her mouth and she grants it with a small moan that comes from the back of her throat. Her hands come up to fist through his greying hair as she angles her head slightly to deepen the kiss.

He gives up the fight and pulls Hermione as close as he dares, taking everything she is willing to give, kissing her for so long that it's only when they can't breathe that they allow a scant distance between them. Sucking in short breaths, they gaze at each other before coming back for more. The kiss this time, however, is slower, sweeter. Hermione curls her hand around Remus' neck, playing with the fine hair there, and his hands skim her body, brushing against her breasts. His erection, which he's pretty sure Hermione can feel given they're not wearing robes, is so hard it's almost painful and she is doing nothing to assuage his discomfort. Instead, she rocks against him slowly, unconsciously.

This can't go on forever; there is only so much restraint a man can have and Hermione and her body have pushed him to breaking point, so he reluctantly ends the kiss and moves away from her. He tries to explain why, but the look in her eyes tells him she already knows.

She goes over and picks up her robe and her book bag and slings them on without a word, then heads for the door. When she gets there, however, she turns back. "Thank you," she says quietly. "For everything." And with that, she is gone.

He's not at all surprised when she doesn't turn up the next Tuesday.

~*~

June comes, heralding the end of seventh year; Harry, Ron and Hermione celebrate by taking a jaunt across to Spain, courtesy of Harry. Remus is pleased for them, because they have all worked hard on their N.E.W.Ts and he feels this time together will do them the world of good.

When they come back, slightly tanned and very well rested, all three are summoned to the current headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, located at 13 Wandagon Circle, and immediately indoctrinated into the Order. The trio take this seriously and the months pass as they slot into their respective places within the Order.

It's Hermione who breaks the unspoken stalemate between them, seeking him out one afternoon in late July. "Remus?" He turns towards her, startled by her presence. She shuffles towards him shyly, her eyes averted. "It's okay for me to still call you that, isn't it?"

Remus softens instantly. "Of course it is, Hermione." He watches as she comes over to him and takes his hand, and he can't help but weave his fingers through hers, relishing any contact, no matter how small. "How have you been?" he asks quietly.

Her bottom lip trembles a little and she takes a deep breath. "Good, thank you. Ron, Harry and I had a wonderful time in Spain and everyone seems pleased to have us here."

"Yes, I got the note Harry sent from Barcelona. I'm glad you had a good time, you all deserved it. And we are pleased to have you as part of the Order, you're all assets."

Hermione looks directly at Remus of her own accord for the first time since she entered the room. "Are you pleased?" she whispers, and Remus feels a slight crack in his heart at the uncertainty in her voice.

He considers lying, to save them both, but can't bring himself to cause her any pain, even though he suspects it would be the right thing to do in the long run. "Yes," he says in a low voice. "I'm pleased you're here."

"I missed you."

"I missed you too, Hermione."

They stare at each other, wondering where to go from this point, and finally she just squeezes his hand, nods and walks out of the room.

~*~

They hold a small party for Harry's eighteenth birthday on July thirty-one at the Burrow. Molly Weasley fusses over the birthday boy as if he was her own (and Remus knows that Molly does consider Harry to be another son), and everyone appears to enjoy themselves for the day, their worries left behind at Headquarters. Dumbledore makes an appearance to see Harry, and he tracks Remus down near the lake in the small quarry behind the house.

"You seem troubled, Remus." Dumbledore has never been one to beat about the bush.

"I have a lot on my mind." Remus has crossed his arms over his chest and slows down his pace as they circle the lake's perimeter.

"I sense there is one in particular who is on your mind a lot."

Remus doesn't even bother to ask how Dumbledore knows; there are many things a wizard like Dumbledore knows that cannot be explained. "I'll get over it," he offers.

"Do you really want to?"

Remus is not expecting the question and he stops mid-stride, turning to face the older man. "I don't have any choice."

"Of course you have a choice, Remus. Just as Hermione does."

"She's young enough to be my daughter."

"She's an adult who can make her own decisions."

"I'm a werewolf."

"If it bothered Hermione, she'd have said so long before now."

"It could never work between us."

"Love can overcome many obstacles, Remus. But only if you allow it to."

Love. The word hangs between them as if it is a dark curse. There has never been any mention of love; Remus has not allowed him to think of love and Hermione in the same sentence. He cannot afford to.

"It cannot work," he finally says, his voice strained. It's clear from his tone that the discussion has come to an end, and Dumbledore does not push. He puts a hand on Remus' shoulder briefly and then walks away, but stops after a few paces and turns back.

"Life offers us a thousand chances, Remus," he says, his blue eyes calm and serene. "All we have to do is take one."

Remus watches as Dumbledore heads back to the house and when he is out of sight, goes back to circling the lake, his thoughts dark and heavy. If only Dumbledore wasn't right.

~*~

The months go by and September brings Hermione's eighteenth birthday. She chooses not to do anything to celebrate other than a dinner because the Order is busy. Remus has spent many hours trying to decide on the perfect gift, one that she will treasure but not something that would be considered too personal. He settles on a rare first edition of a book he knows Hermione likes as he's seen her thumb through it many a time, and she is touched by his gift, allowing herself to embrace him for the first time since their kiss. He closes his eyes as he holds her and tries not to get lost in the feel of her warm body pressed against his, but the sense of loss when she pulls away is overwhelming and it is then that he realises his feelings for her have not faded over time.

It's in October that the Order receives word of a new league of Death Eaters having been formed, and they begin to splinter into small groups and spread out. Remus wonders whose doing it is that Hermione is assigned to partner him in Glasgow. They leave at the end of October to take up their assignment and gather what information they can.

Remus manages to get through the next few months without giving anything away, and he's grateful for the opportunity to spend so much time with Hermione. The more he learns about her, the more he loves her, and although it's killing him to be so close without touching her in the way he wants to touch her, he's pleased to have had the opportunity to gain insight into what makes Hermione Granger tick. He finds out her favourite colour is cerulean blue and that her favourite flower is a tulip. She regales him with tales of her childhood and her love for her parents is evident whenever she speaks of them. She asks questions about his past and he answers as truthfully as he can without giving too much away.

The Order comes back to Wandagon Circle for Christmas and New Year, partly to take a break and recharge and partly so they can gather all the information their investigations have garnered over the past few months. There have been Death Eater attacks all over Britain and Europe, and there are those demanding to know what the Order is doing to stop them.

1998 becomes 1999 with little fanfare and the months slip by, the Order being kept busy. Remus has stopped fighting the fact that he is in love with Hermione Granger, but this is knowledge he keeps strictly to himself. He sometimes catches her looking at him when she thinks he does not notice, and he would give anything to be able to read her mind. He has no idea how she feels about him and it's driving him mad.

The full moon is approaching in April and, as always, the days leading up to it find Remus feeling weary, his face pale. He is in his room when there's a knock at the door one Tuesday night around eight, and he calls for the visitor to enter. To his surprise, it's Hermione, carefully holding a potion in her hand.

"This just arrived for you from Snape," she explains, putting the large flask down. "It's your Wolfsbane."

"Ah, thank you."

Hermione smiles and nods, but makes no move to leave. Remus studies her, taking in the curves of her breasts and hips, the way her hair falls down her back. She is dressed casually in a blouse and jeans, but she looks beautiful. Remus is itching to tell her that, but once again his courage fails him. Some Gryffindor he has turned out to be.

"May I ask you a question?" Hermione breaks the awkward silence and Remus nods. "Do you love me?"

His breath hitches as he stares at her, scarcely unable to believe his ears. "What?"

"You heard me," she replies with quiet conviction. "I... I need to know. It can't go on like this between us." Her eyes shimmer as she looks at him. "I need to know."

He wants to say no. He wants to tell her there's nothing between them and march her out the door. But Remus Lupin is a Gryffindor after all; he cannot lie, no matter the consequences.

"Yes," he croaks, not attempting to clear his throat of the huge lump that has formed there.

"I see," Hermione says in a voice so low he has to strain to hear it. Then she crosses the room and places her hands on his face, pulling his lips down to hers.

It's just as it was the first time; Remus is lost. The wall he has carefully built around his heart crumble as her tongue seeks entrance to his mouth and slides over his. He pulls her to him as tightly as he can and kisses her fiercely. Before he knows what is happening, Hermione pulls away and grabs her wand, placing a locking charm on the door and a silencing charm on the room, and then kicks off her shoes and pulls her blouse up and over her head.

Remus sucks in a shallow breath at the sight of Hermione in a bra. He wants to run his hands over her bare skin, to touch her in places that will make her moan. He doesn't resist when she tugs off his shirt and kisses him again, and when he stops fighting the fact that they are going to make love, he undresses her slowly, kissing her skin as it is bared to him. He doesn't ask her if she loves him back, because it's obvious in the way she kisses him. It's obvious in the way she runs her fingertips over his chest. It's obvious in the way she allows him to enter her body, clutching him to her until the pain subsides. It's obvious in the way she moves with him until they are both sated, and it's obvious in the way she curls herself into his arms as they fall asleep.

He is the first to wake the next morning. Hermione is lying on her stomach next to him, her bushy hair all around her. Remus is content to lie there and stare at her face, occasionally glancing down her body. He cannot remember a time he felt more relaxed and... safe. Hermione makes him feel safe, something he has not felt in many years.

Eventually he rises and hops into the shower, grateful that his room has a private bathroom. He washes his hair and is rinsing when he hears the shower door open. Hermione is standing there in all her naked glory, and not for the first time, the breath is knocked from him. "Can I come in?" she asks, looking a little shy.

"Of course you can." He smiles at her and leans in to kiss her softly, then moves out of the way so she can stand under the spray for a few minutes. She reaches for his hand and their fingers entwine, and Remus lifts their joined hands up to his lips so he can kiss Hermione's fingers. "How are you feeling? How did you sleep?"

"A little sore," she admits with a small smile. "And I slept wonderfully."

"I'm sorry," he says sincerely. He hates the thought that he has in any way hurt her, but she lifts a finger up to his lips.

"I'm not." A slow smile spreads across Hermione's face and Remus can't help but think that she looks happy. And it's because of him. A warmth spreads through his body and he pulls her closer to him, their naked bodies pressed together, and kisses her.

They enjoy a leisurely shower together, washing each other tenderly, before Hermione dresses and says it's probably best if she Apparates back to her room and meets him at the breakfast table. Remus nods in agreement, although he wishes he could keep her in bed all day.

"I'll come back tonight," Hermione promises, but then her expression changes. "If you want me to, of course."

"I want you to."

With one final kiss, she is gone.

~*~

They manage to keep their relationship a secret for months, not acting in any way differently around each other than they did previously. Remus is extremely proud at how restrained he is around Hermione in public, although he's getting to the point where he is tired of hiding how he feels about her.

They are lying in bed together one night; Remus is propped up on pillows and Hermione is on her stomach, her body half draped over him. He is stroking her back as they share deep, lingering kisses. Remus thinks he loves kissing Hermione almost as much as he loves having her in his bed. There is something so intimate about kissing and he loves the feel of her tongue in his mouth, sliding against his.

Eventually they break apart and Hermione snuggles against him further, her chin propped on his chest. "Something on your mind, love?" she asks quietly, looking into his eyes as if they are the doorway to all his secrets.

He's torn between denying it and speaking the truth; somehow he's not surprised she's picked up that he's been distracted by something other than her for the last few days. "I've been thinking about us," he says quietly.

Hermione shifts upwards so that she is eye level with him. "What about us?"

"You know I love you, Hermione," Remus begins, and Hermione nods. "But you are still so young. You have your whole life ahead of you. Are you sure--"

Hermione cuts him off, lifting up a finger to place it on his lips. "This is not some fling for me, Remus. I love you. I want to be with you. I wouldn't continue to see you if I wasn't completely serious about you, and about us as a couple. You're right -- I do have my whole life ahead of me. But I want you in it." She leans in and kisses him slowly, and by the time she releases him, he is short of breath. "I want to tell Harry and Ron about us."

"Oh." He processes this new information before replying. "How do you think they'll take it?"

"I really don't know. I think Harry will be surprised but okay. Ron, however...."

"You think he'll take it badly?"

Hermione bites her lip. "You know Ron. I love him dearly, but sometimes he can fly off the handle a bit. I'm sure he'll come round in time."

Remus studies her face, pushing back a stray tendril of hair and tucking it behind her ear. "If it's important to you that they know, then we should tell them. Of course, once they know, everybody will." He places one hand on her cheek, caressing it gently. "Are you ready for that, Hermione?"

"Yes." She answers with no hesitation. "I don't want to hide how I feel about you anymore, Remus." She kisses his forehead, then his nose, and then his lips. "I want people to know."

"Then let's tell them."

~*~

They break the news to Harry and Ron first. Just as Hermione predicted, Harry sits quietly as he digests the news while Ron walks around the room and rants. "Have you gone mad, Hermione?" He whirls on Remus. "And as for you... you're old enough to be her father! And you're a werewolf -- what if you hurt her?"

"I would never purposely hurt Hermione, Ron," Remus said in a calm tone which belies how he's really feeling. "I realise this is a surprise to you both, and I can understand that you might have some reservations. But listen to me, both of you... what Hermione and I share is real. This is not something we've entered into lightly, and Hermione had hoped, as her best friends, that you'd support her decision."

Ron ignores him, turning back to Hermione, who is standing her ground. "What about your parents? What do they think of this?"

"We're going to see them tomorrow to tell them," she says quietly. "I know they'll be surprised, but I'm quite sure they'll be fine about it."

Ron paces the room and everyone falls silent; Harry hasn't said a word, staying slumped on the couch. Remus and Hermione exchange a glance and he can see she is hurt by Ron's reaction, although she is trying not to show it. "I just..." Ron runs a hand through his hair. "I'm just trying to understand it."

Hermione goes over to him and places a hand on his arm. "I know, Ron. I really do understand how you're feeling right now. I wanted you to hear it from me. You and Harry are the first ones we've told." She tugs on him until he faces her. "This is important to me, Ron. I love Remus. I know that maybe you're finding that difficult to hear, but I can't help how I feel. I didn't mean to fall in love with him." Remus tries to tamp down the flare of hurt at her words. "But you can't help who you fall in love with, Ron."

Ron's face screws up almost comically. "You're only eighteen, Hermione. How do you know this is what you want forever?"

"I don't. But I do know that if I don't give this relationship a chance, I'll spend the rest of my life regretting it. Forever is a long time, Ron. Nobody can guarantee anything will last forever, but you can't not try."

For the longest time, Ron merely stares at Hermione as he absorbs her words and processes them. "I still think you're making a mistake. But if this is what you want...." He isn't able to get anything else out because Hermione has flung herself into his arms, holding him tightly. He hugs her back and they stay that way for such a long time that Remus thinks if he didn't know better, he'd believe they'd been cursed.

Ron finally lets go of Hermione and Harry rises off the lounge. Both young men look at Remus and he tries not to show his anxiousness at the entire situation. Ron eventually just nods at him and turns towards the door. Harry moves closer to Remus, his green eyes thoughtful. "Don't hurt her," he says quietly but firmly. With that, he goes to follow Ron, stopping to kiss Hermione's cheek. She puts her arms around his neck and embraces him, then lets him go to join Ron at the door.

When they are gone, Hermione bursts into tears, her emotions no longer able to be contained. Remus gathers her into his arms and holds her until she quietens. "Is it going to be this hard all the time?" she sobs.

He wants to say no, but he can't. "I don't know, sweetheart. I hope not." She pulls back to look at him and he wipes away her tears with this thumbs. "I love you," he says.

"I know," she manages a shaky smile and stands up on her toes to kiss him, and somehow Remus knows they'll be okay.

~*~

They go to see her parents and her father insists on having a private talk with the man his only child proclaims to be in love with. Remus can tell John Granger is shocked by Hermione's declaration, but it soon becomes very clear to him that John and Beth Granger love their daughter very much and only want her happiness. The talk with Hermione's father doesn't go half as badly as Remus anticipates and they somehow reach a truce of sorts. He senses her parents want to be supportive and he does his best to reassure them that he loves their daughter too and her happiness means the world to him. He answers every question they throw at him honestly and does not attempt to lie about his age or his background.

Word doesn't take long to spread and the Order finds out about the relationship between Remus and Hermione. Some throw disapproving looks Remus' way but most are supportive, especially Tonks, who squeals loudly at the news and embarrasses them both on many an occasion with jokes that are sometimes crude and always amusing. Fred and George especially enjoy Tonks' behaviour and clap whenever she does it. Remus and Hermione don't mind the good-natured ribbing that comes their way and eventually it becomes old, much like the media headlines.

Remus buys a cottage and moves out of Wandagon place when it no longer becomes necessary for the Order to remain at Headquarters, close to a year after he and Hermione begin dating. Hermione promises her parents after a heart-to-heart discussion with them that she will wait until she is twenty-one before she moves in with Remus. Although she is a little disappointed, she honours that promise and instead moves with Harry and Ron into the house Harry buys with the money his parents left him. However, she spends as much spare time as she can with the man she loves as possible.

The day after her twenty-first birthday, she moves her belongings (the ones that aren't already there) into Remus' cottage with the blessing of her parents. They have now been together for two and a half years, and are still in love as much as they ever were. Remus is now forty-three and occasionally it still bothers him, this huge age gap between them, but they settle into domestic life with relative ease. They shoulder the sometimes thoughtless comments they still get; Hermione has learned from a reluctant Snape (after a great deal of coercing and steadfast refusal to leave him alone until he teaches her) how to make the Wolfsbane potion Remus needs every month and takes great care when making it; and Remus teaches Hermione how to cook.

Before they know it, their four year anniversary is coming up. They are lying together on the couch, making small talk and discussing Order business, when Hermione goes uncharacteristically silent.

"Something on your mind, love?" Remus asks, slowly stroking her hair.

Hermione is silent for a good few seconds before she speaks. "Are you happy, Remus?"

He is completely caught unawares with this question and stammers his reply. "Of course I am, Hermione. Why would you ask me that?"

Hermione tilts her head slightly, looking thoughtful. "No, I meant are you happy with us the way we are... just living together."

He finally understands what she is talking about. "You're talking about marriage."

Hermione nods. "I'm just saying it might be nice one day, that's all. We've been together for four years now, so we both know this isn't some passing fancy."

"And you'd like to make it legitimate?"

"Yes, I would."

He leans in and kisses her slowly, his lips moving against hers in the way that makes her melt against him. When she wraps her leg around his, there is no more talking.

~*~

It's a Tuesday night in May and Remus has cooked them dinner. Hermione has come home from work in a dreadful mood, having had a bad day, and he massages her shoulders and neck which relaxes her. Hermione then talks about what happened and Remus gets them wine. He holds her while she cries from the stress of it all and she murmurs something about how lucky she is to have him against his shoulder.

When the clock nears eight, Remus mentally prepares himself for what he's about to do. He shouldn't be nervous, but he is. He blindfolds Hermione and leads her into one of the spare rooms. When he removes her blindfold, he hears her gasp of surprise as she sees they are standing in a replica of the Gryffindor common room.

She looks over at him questioningly, not understanding what is going on, and he takes a deep breath and pulls the small box from his pocket. It's now or never. Going over to where Hermione is standing, he takes her hand as the clock strikes eight. "This is the room where I fell in love with you," he explains quietly. "When you asked me to tutor you privately, I never expected that it would be you who would end up teaching me. You taught me how to love, Hermione, something I never thought possible." He gets down on one knee and looks up at her. Hermione's eyes are filled with tears and she smiles as he lets go of her hand to open the box. "Will you marry me?"

"Yes," she says instantly as tears stream down her face. Remus rises and slides the ring onto her finger, kissing her knuckle, then picks her up and twirls her around, hugging her tightly. She lets out a squeal and hugs him back, and her feet have barely touched the ground before he's kissing her.

~*~

Remus and Hermione exchange their vows at eight o'clock on a Tuesday in December. Since they expressed their desire for a small ceremony, Molly offers the Burrow as a venue and they accept. John Granger walks Hermione down the aisle; Harry stands with Remus as his best man and Hermione insists that Ron stand with her, much to the amusement of the twins and Ginny, who make jokes about Ron wearing a bridesmaid's dress and advise him that pink would not be a good colour for him.

Once the simple but moving ceremony is over and Dumbledore tells Remus he may kiss his bride, the celebrations start. Since snow is falling lightly in the backyard, a marquee has been erected, charmed with warming and deflection spells so the flakes falling from the sky don't ruin the occasion. They cut the cake and then Remus leads his bride to the dance floor for their first dance as husband and wife. He places one hand on her waist and holds the other out for her to take, but Hermione instead wraps her arms around his neck. Remus then slips his around her waist and holds her to him as they sway slowly to the music, kissing for most of the song. He has moments throughout the night where he still can't quite believe he is now a married man, but a glance down at the gold band on his finger reminds him that he is indeed awake and not just having a wonderful dream.

Once the dance is over, they separate with a kiss and mingle amongst the guests. Remus finds Harry standing in the darkened corner of the marquee, looking out at the snow which is still falling steadily. "I wish I could see the stars," Harry says as Remus reaches him.

Remus places a hand on Harry's shoulder. "I wish he was here too, Harry. I really do." He does miss Sirius, especially tonight. He wishes his best friend were here to share in his joy, but he also wonders whether Sirius would have approved of his choice of wife.

"He would have been happy for you that it's Hermione," Harry says, as if reading Remus' mind. Remus nods and tries to swallow, only to find a lump in his throat. "I know that Ron and I were a bit funny about you two at first, Remus, but I truly am happy for you. I know Hermione loves you and you her."

"Thank you, Harry. That means a great deal to me." The two men embrace, then turn back to look at their white surroundings, both still silently wishing the stars were visible.

~*~

They discuss the issue of children before they marry, of course, and Remus has made it clear that he is not keen on the idea of a child. Three years after their marriage, Remus finds himself to be the ripe old age of forty-six. Certainly old enough to question whether fatherhood is an option; age aside, his being a werewolf is a huge factor in his decision. He does not know for sure he won't pass the gene down to a child and he can't bring himself to saddle another human being with the curse inflicted upon him.

Which is why he is surprised one evening to find Hermione in her study, poring over two large stacks of books; one contains tomes on werewolves, the others on babies and child-rearing. "Doing a bit of research, darling?"

Hermione looks up and blinks owlishly. "I'm trying to see if there's been any confirmation that a werewolf passes the gene down to a baby."

"Hermione, we've discussed this. I thought we agreed we wouldn't be having children."

"No, Remus. You decided we wouldn't be having children. I never agreed to it." Remus wracks his brain and believes that she just might be right. He doesn't realise he's frowning until Hermione rises from her chair and comes over to kiss him. "Can we talk about this?"

They spend many hours that night discussing the positives and negatives of having a baby. Even after having gone to bed and ceasing the baby talk for awhile to make love, Hermione is keen to continue the discussion as they lay together, curled in each other's arms. She makes it clear she understands his reasons why he might be reluctant, but as she talks, Remus' heart aches -- it is painfully obvious that Hermione wants very much to have a baby.

It is the number one topic of discussion over the coming weeks and Remus finds that the more they talk about it, the more he is warming to the idea of fatherhood. Somehow, he doesn't think his reservations will ever go away, but when he sees how important it is to Hermione and when he thinks about just how wonderful it would be to have such a precious token of their love, Remus finally agrees one night that they should try for a baby. Hermione is ecstatic and promptly proceeds to show her husband just how happy she is.

That happiness fades, however, when months later, Hermione is still not pregnant. They celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary without the news they will become parents, and Hermione researches more than ever, trying to find something that will explain why she is not pregnant.

Remus tries to be pragmatic about it, telling Hermione that perhaps it's not meant to be, but this only upsets her more. Remus does his best to comfort her and hides the fact that he's horribly disappointed too. After having finally come to like the idea of having a child, it looks as if he won't get one after all.

When he arrives home one Tuesday night in April, he finds Hermione in an odd mood. She seems a little jumpy; he watches her carefully as they eat dinner (and he notices she doesn't eat much, instead pushing her food around her plate) and asks her if she is feeling all right.

Hermione gives him a small smile. "I'm fine, love. Just a bit tired. I had a long day."

They're sitting on the couch together, Remus going over some parchments he received via owl from the Order, Hermione reading a book. The small clock on the mantelpiece chimes eight times and Hermione jumps up off the couch. "I have something for you," she says, her eyes twinkling.

Remus sits up as she disappears, only to come back moments later. She is carrying a small white box adorned with a gold ribbon. "What's this?" he asks as she hands it over.

"Just open it," she grins.

Remus does as instructed and pushes the tissue paper aside. He stares at the contents for a few seconds, his brain unable to register what he's seeing. Setting the box down on the coffee table, he pulls out two small white booties and holds them in his hand, then looks up at his wife.

"We're having a baby?" He can't keep the surprise out of his voice.

Hermione nods as tears shimmer in her eyes. "Yes, Remus. I'm two months pregnant."

It's hearing the world 'pregnant' that breaks Remus out of his spell, and he pulls Hermione into his arms as she bursts into tears.

~*~

Hermione's pregnancy progresses without any major problems; Remus constantly finds new books scattered around their house. He takes great joy in watching her tummy expand, and he's lying with his head in her lap the first time the baby kicks. It brings him to tears, the feel of his baby kicking against his hand as he lays it on his wife's stomach. Their child is inside her. The child they created together, out of their love for each other. It's an amazing thing and sometimes Remus is just overwhelmed with it all.

Hermione undergoes tests in the second trimester to ensure there is nothing wrong with their baby, and they choose to learn the sex of their child. They discover they are having a son. Hermione immediately begins to decorate the nursery in blue and she puts away the extensive list of girls' names she has compiled since finding out she is pregnant. They spend months bouncing names back and forth, not really agreeing on one up until the baby is almost due. They narrow it down to three names and decide they will wait until he arrives to see what suits him best.

Remus enjoys Hermione's pregnancy very much and is almost sorry when she reaches her final months. His love for his wife grows stronger each day and he loves doting on her, although sometimes she protests and gets annoyed with his fussing. He confesses one night that it bothers him he is not a younger father, but Hermione strokes his hair and tells him that their son is lucky to have such a wonderful father.

Jonathan Sirius Lupin makes his arrival one November morning. His parents are tired but thrilled by his arrival, and once he has been introduced to his grandparents, aunts and uncles, the new family are left alone to bond. That night, as Hermione sleeps, Remus takes Jonathan out of his crib, pausing to kiss Hermione's forehead, and sits in the rocking chair, just holding him and talking to him quietly, relishing the opportunity to bond with his son. Jonathan clearly belongs to both of them; he has light, wispy hair like his father did when he was born and he has Remus' chin, but his mouth is exactly the same shape as Hermione's and their noses are identical. All Remus' fears and doubts are instantly vanquished as his tiny son lies nestled safely in his arms, and the same thought seems to repeat itself over and over in his head.

Remus has finally found the peace he has long been seeking.

~*~

The line "Life offers us a thousand chances, all we have to do is take one" spoken by Dumbledore is not mine -- it was used in promos for the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun", which is where I got it from.