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Niobe

by Victoria P.

[Story Headers]

Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2003 2:34 PM


     "At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with
     the dawn, rejoicing." - Psalm 30:6

His hair is almost completely grey, she notices. It's been a hard few years, and his life wasn't easy before. She finds nothing poetic about the way it gleams silver in the light of the waxing moon.

She can't say exactly how it happened, how she came to be lying in bed next to him.

She didn't cry when she watched Ron die. She didn't cry at his funeral, or two weeks afterward, at the victory celebration. She hated them all, hated them for celebrating while she'd lost everything. His parents understood, but they were wrapped up in their own grief, two sons lost in the war and another maimed for life. Harry had his own burdens and she had long ago resolved never to add to them with her own.

She'd gone back to Gryffindor and found Lupin in the common room, sitting alone, face buried in his hands. He was always alone, even when surrounded by people. His solitude was even more a defining element of his personality than his condition. Though, of course, it was his condition that had forced solitude upon him.

The silence made her edgy *(stop thinking. You think too much. Ron's voice, laughing as he said it)*, but it was better than the tentative comfort offered by everyone in the Great Hall, the way their eyes slid away from her, reminder of what was lost, sorrowing in the midst of their joy, discomfiting them all. She'd thought to be alone here, herself, now that the school year had ended and the war was over. Everyone could go home. It didn't matter that people like her, people like Lupin, no longer had real homes to go to.

"Hermione."

He said her name *(simple as that. It was never that easy for Ron.)* and something inside her broke. She crawled into his lap, his woolen trousers scratchy against her bare legs, and was finally able to cry.

*(cry as if she would never stop, could never stop, until the end of the world)*

One minute, she was sobbing into his shoulder, soaking his jumper, and the next they were clawing each other's clothes off, eager for the warmth of skin on skin, the harsh sound of mingled breathing and racing heartbeats, proof they were not dead and buried with their lovers.

She should be embarrassed. He's old enough to be her father, though her father does, in fact, have a few years on him. And he was her teacher.

*(he's teaching her still, in every movement, every stillness, every word, every silence)*

Both of them were embarrassed that first morning, waking tangled together on the sofa in a dark corner of the common room, its red velvet cushions shapeless and worn from a hundred years of hard use by the Gryffindors. She tried not to think of so many lovers' trysts on this same spot in times now past, knows he must have done the same. A morning of awkward scrambling for clothing, a few halting sentences of comfort, apology and the words escaped before she could stop them, No, please don't. I needed-- I wanted-- and the so quiet she almost didn't hear it, Me, too, that catches at her heart every time she thinks of it.

He tastes of chocolate and smells of the soft, summer rain of early mornings; the warmth of his skin is like the languid heat of lingering twilight. He knows better than anyone the pain of a betrayal that really isn't betrayal at all. He understands how you can hate yourself for loving someone and then hate yourself for hating them, all in the space of a heartbeat.

She tries to forget the sharp afternoon sunlight that left nothing in shadow, forget the strained look on Harry's face as they watched Ron shake off Imperio and kill himself. She shudders and burrows closer to -- Remus. She still stumbles over it, especially under the gimlet eye of Mrs. Weasley, who knows *(how does she always know everything?)* and clearly doesn't approve. *(I should call him Remus. It's okay to be on a first name basis with the man you're sleeping with.)*

She lies awake nights, determined not to remember, and only his presence coaxes her into bed at all. He'll find her regardless of where she broods, and she's learned that the windowseat isn't comfortable and the old sofa creaks too much for the sex they always have when he finds her. It is a ritual now; he always stirs at moonset, rousing her with leisurely kisses or surprising her with quick, rough touches that set her on fire before she can think of all the reasons they shouldn't--

*(too old, too young, werewolf, Mudblood)*

He wakes and puts an arm around her, warm and strong. She was surprised by his warmth and strength, though she probably shouldn't have been. Now that she knows what he lived through, lived with for twelve years...

*(lost, regained and lost again)*

She's amazed at his capacity for gentleness. The past few years have hardened them all, but he's retained enough of himself to pull her close when she needs it, to bury his face in her hair and call her by name.

"It'll be all right," he murmurs, voice hoarse with sleep. She wants to believe he's talking to her when he says it, though she's never been sure. His sleep is haunted by nightmares that were old before she was born, and the years have not been kind.

His lips find her neck, tracing words she can't quite fathom on her skin and she arches against him. He's very careful and yet very intense; if she weren't beyond fear by now, she'd be frightened at the way he focuses on her, as if she is the only thing that exists once they are alone.

She will never ask, but she can imagine the heat he must have generated when that intense regard reflected back at him in Sirius's eyes.

But they've yet to speak of Sirius, or of Ron. The silence replacing those words says more than they are capable of now, maybe ever.

She doesn't know, and when his hands slide along her hips to cup her bottom, she doesn't care.

He rolls on top of her, thin and scarred and far stronger than he looks, and she opens to him, wants him so badly it hurts. This is pain she can handle, pain he can transmute into pleasure, a human philosopher's stone.

*(It'll be all right. It will. It will.)*

He kisses away the tears that slip from her eyes as he pushes inside her. She keeps her gaze locked on his as they move together, her legs wrapped around his narrow hips, her hands threading through his soft silver hair as she pulls him down for another kiss. She wants to drown in him and let him drown in her, but all they have managed so far is this -- a few minutes of aching pleasure so sharp it cuts open barely healed wounds.

*(Please. Yes, there. R- Remus. Yes. Remus.)*

When they are done, he brushes sweaty hair back from her forehead and kisses her -- brow, eyelids, the arch of her cheek, and finally lips, tender and salty with her tears. She clings tightly to him and he lets her.

He says it again, "It will be all right."

And in the moments before she drifts off to sleep, with the murky predawn light creeping up the worn chenille duvet, returning color to the world, she wants so badly to believe that one day, it will be.

End

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Fandom:  Harry Potter
Title:  Niobe
Author:  Victoria P.   [email]
Details:  Standalone  |  R  |  6k  |  02/11/04
Pairings:  Remus/Hermione
Summary:  "This is pain she can handle, pain he can transmute into pleasure, a human philosopher's stone."
Notes:  Thanks to Jen, Pete/Melissa, Dot, and Meg. Thanks to Bow for suggestions and Gail and DD for betaing. Obviously, post-OotP, sometime after seventh year. You can read the myth of Niobe here: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/n/niobe.html
Spoilers: The major one for OotP
Disclaimer: Hers, not mine.
Archive: Lists, Muse's Fool.
Feedback: Wouldn't it be loverly?

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