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A/N:  No DH spoilers yet.  Hope you enjoy this one; I really think this is one of my better works :]  Don't feel shy about leaving me some constructive criticism.  Again, watch for that switch from reality to fantasy.

And thanks to Cara Nicole Luvitz for the cpater image!




 




Remus,

     We were hoping you’d help us test out our newest product.  Enclosed is a little purple ball that, upon being chewed, throws you into a real-life scenario of your wildest fancies.  We await your response.

                                      Fred and George Weasley

 

Remus Lupin cautiously removed the purple ball from the envelope.  Turning it over in his hand, he glanced at the clock hanging on his wall.  Five minutes till eight.  Sighing, he placed the candy into his mouth and slowly chewed.

A cautious knocking at his door was what woke up Lupin.  He rolled over groggily and fell off his couch with a thump.  The knocking stopped and Remus contemplated just falling back asleep on the floor—it had been a rough full moon, and he had not been able to properly heal himself yet.  Just as Remus decided not to waste his energy climbing back onto the shabby brown couch, he heard his lock click open and he fumbled around under the couch's cushions until he grasped his wand.  He pointed it at the door just as it opened.

“Oh!  I’m so sorry,” Hermione apologized as she peered into Lupin’s room.

“Not at all.  Please, come in.  I’m afraid it’s not very nicely furnished.”

“Thank you, Professor.”

Remus’ mouth twitched.  “You know, you really don’t have to call me ‘Professor’; we’re not in school.”

Hermione’s cheeks warmed slightly.  “Well, it’s just that…” Remus looked at her expectantly, “Oh all right then—Remus.”

Lupin smiled, noticing how the pink of Hermione’s cheeks accentuated her face, and his stomach flipped.  The next moment it felt like lead as he recalled that she was 17, and just out of school.  Hitching his smile back on, Remus gestured for Hermione to sit down.  “Can I get you anything?  Tea?  Some mead?”

“Tea would be nice,” Hermione replied, sitting back in a squishy dark blue armchair.  Lupin waved his wand and his teapot began to steam.  His hand brushed Hermione’s as he handed her a teacup, and his heart skipped a beat.  Stop it, he told himself firmly.

“So, to what do I owe this visit, Hermione?”

Hermione choked on her tea.  “Oh, well, you know.  No of course you don’t.”  Hermione took a breath, as though steeling herself for what she was about to say.  “Well, it’s just that this was the first day after the full moon, so I thought I’d drop by and make sure you’re okay…” Remus was suddenly very conscious of the cuts on his face, arms and legs, and shifted slightly in his seat.  Well he’d never been much of a healer himself… “Prof—er—Remus?”  He focused on Hermione again, who was giving him one of her noteworthy worrying looks.  Before he had a moment to respond, Hermione had gotten out of her chair and was feeling his forehead.  Remus knew that the heat coursing through him had nothing to do with a fever.

Hermione then proceeded to run her fingers along all of Remus’ cuts as he stared determinedly at the floor.  Taking out her wand, Hermione traced along each of the werewolf's cuts’ cuts and they vanished instantly.  “Thanks,” he said weakly, still refusing to meet her eye.

“Not at all,” she replied brightly.  Hermione had glanced around the room and gave a noise of delight.  There, piled in the corner of the room, were what appeared to be old photo albums.  “May I?”  At last Lupin looked up.

“Oh, yes, of course.”  He walked over to the pile and picked up the topmost one.  Glancing at the date, he dropped it next to the stack.  Hermione would not need to know about his childhood.  The second one was no better: His prized, and rather large, album of his time at Hogwarts, his time with James and Sirius.  The third album was slightly newer, but rather small and worn.  Somewhat worried that the frail brown cover would fall off when he opened it, Remus brought it back to the couch, where Hermione was now sitting, and set it on the table.  “My time teaching at Hogwarts.”

“How did you get these pictures?” Hermione asked, gingerly opening the album and smiling down at the first picture.  It was the welcoming feast, and the whole staff table was in the picture, Hagrid sitting on the ground so as to fit.  Hermione spotted Remus slightly detached from the rest of the teachers, smiling vaguely at the students.  She turned the page.

“Colin Creevy.”  Remus smiled, remembering the little boy who had been following him around, as well as the other teachers, asking for pictures.

“Of course.  He’s always taking pictures, that one.  In fact, some of his pictures were even in the Daily Prophet.”  The second picture showed the cabinet where the boggart had been kept.  Glancing over to the next page, Hermione grinned.  It was Lupin talking to McGonagall during the Halloween Feast.  She turned the page again, and stared for a while at the next two pages. 

The first was of Remus talking to some unknown person, grinning.  He had not been aware that the picture was being taken, and the lighting softened his features, making him look nearly 17 again.  It seemed to be the only muggle photo in the album.  The one next to it showcased a Hermione wrapped in a Gryffindor scarf, her wand emitting red and gold sparks, and her nose and cheeks faintly pink in the cold.  Next to her stood Lupin, his face split into a wide grin, which turned into a cheer as the Hermione next to him turned to give him a hug.

“That’s my favorite,” Remus said quietly enough to have not have said it at all.

The sudden reappearance of his voice shocked Hermione out of her reverie, and she pulled back her fingers that were tracing the photo as though she’d been burned.  “I—oh—sorry?”  Surely he hadn’t just said that.  Before he could reply, and Hermione wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer, she said, “Well, I quite disagree.  I like this one the best.”  She pointed to the still photo on the previous page and Lupin laughed.

“Yes, that one does flatter me, doesn’t it?”  Hermione grinned up at him, and their eyes caught.  Remus could feel his heart thudding in his chest as he stared into her chocolate eyes, but she didn’t look away either.  He could do it now, of course he could.  After all, what was one little kiss?  Remus made a slight movement towards Hermione, then quickly whipped his head the other way as a large silver wolf bounded through the room and landed on his kitchen table.  Rather nonplussed, Remus muttered, “Excuse me,” and did all he could so as not to run into the kitchen, closing the door behind him.

“There’s a meeting tonight for the Order.  Hoping you’re well enough to come.”  The wolf vanished in a puff of smoke, and Remus covered his eyes with his hand.  What in the name of Merlin did he think he was doing?  That was Hermione out there; he was old enough to be her father.  Every ounce of sensibility in his body told him that he really shouldn’t like her, that it was utterly wrong, because he was too old and he was a werewolf for the love of Merlin.  But that didn’t make him want her any less.  Remus hit himself on the head a couple of times before shaking it vigorously.  Okay, he was going to go out there and be a good friend, and her former teacher.  Nothing more. 

When Remus finally walked back out of the kitchen, he saw Hermione sitting on the couch, turned away from him, the album apparently in her lap.  Remus walked over, and only when the couch creaked as he sat down did she jump and knock the photo album to the floor.  “Oh, I’m so sorry!”  Hermione cried, as she collected up the book.  “I was just…just looking at this picture.”  She passed the book to Lupin, and he gazed down at the photo.  It was taken in Grimmauld Place two years ago.  He was standing next to Sirius, who was grinning broadly and who had his arms draped around Lupin and Harry. 

Except for the obvious differences between James and Harry, it really could be as if the Marauders had come back; the principles anyway.  The three of them looked so happy, it seemed impossible that Sirius was gone from him now.  Remus stared at the picture, painfully aware of the stabbing feeling in his heart.  Not just for the loss of Sirius, but in fear for Harry.   He wanted to be there for Harry, to have Harry ask him questions about James and Sirius and Lily.

“I—It’s a really good picture.  His last picture, I think.”  There was no need to say anything more about the dark haired man in the picture.  There was nothing more Remus could bear to say or indeed think about.  He wasn’t sure when he’d stared crying, but the next thing he knew was that Hermione was holding his hand as he gazed, unseeing, at the photo, tears running down his cheeks.  Despite all of his faults, Sirius was still one of his best mates, and Remus had never cared for anyone as much as he had for his fellow Marauders. 

“I know.   It’s okay.”  Hermione wiped a few tears from Lupin’s face.  “All of us are going to be okay.”  Hermione always knew the right thing to do, Remus thought, as the woman hugged him.  Remus thought that his tears subsided too quickly; and all of a sudden she was pulling away from him.  That was not something he wanted to happen.  “I guess I should be going.  I’ve still got to go and see Harry and see the Weasleys.”  Hermione looked at Lupin; he wasn’t quite sure what to do.  He’d never had much experience with girls, after all.  “Thank you for the tea,” she said after a moment.  Her eyes darted to the album lying abandoned on the table.  “Er…Remus?  Do you mind if I…” Hermione picked up the album from the table and turned to the candid shot of him.  “Can I keep this?”  Hermione turned pink.  “I don’t have any pictures of you, see, and well…”

“Oh, yes.  Sure.”  Why she wanted that picture, well he just didn’t know.  But Remus watched as she carefully removed the photo and held it in her hands for a moment before placing it carefully inside her robes, in one of her hidden pockets.  She chanced a glance at him, and stared for a few seconds before looking away.  Remus was quite baffled at what to do.

“Well, I guess I’ll go now.”  Hermione stood up, and Remus mimicked her movements.

“Oh, yes.  Thank you, Hermione, for stopping by.  And, well, you know where I live, for now, so, just stop by again sometime.  I don’t live that far…” What was he saying?  Of course she wouldn’t stop by again, not soon enough, anyway.  They were already at the door.  Would he really count the minutes she wasn’t there?  Probably.  Every last second with her standing in the doorway seemed precious.  “So, send everyone my regards.”

“All right.  I will.  Goodbye, Remus.”  Hermione was already stepping through the doorway.

“Yeah, goodbye, Hermione.”

“Oh, and, Professor?  Thanks for the tea.”  The last impression Remus Lupin had of Hermione was a red face and bushy brown hair as she whipped around and Disapparated.  His lips were still tingling when he shut the door.


Remus moaned and slowly opened his eyes.  He was sitting at his table, and a letter stood open nearby.  What had just happened?  Slowly he recalled something, ‘…real-life scenario of your wildest fancies.’  Fred and George.  The new product.  Hermione.  So it wasn’t real then.  He’d just been imagining the whole thing.  Disappointment seemed to slide down Remus’ throat as he got a glass of water, and it spread throughout the rest of his body.  He glanced at the letter.  ‘We await your reply.’  Bloody twins.


Dear Fred and George,


I’ve tried your product.  And I must say, you two are far too skilled.  That was really ‘a real-life scenario of my wildest fancies.  Surprisingly wild.  I’m sure it’ll be a big hit.  Just promise me next time…it won’t be too real.  Or too wild.

Remus


Remus Lupin sealed the letter and walked to his door, intending to go out and send it off.  He glanced back and noticed an album with a faded brown cover sitting on the table in front of his couch.  Remus smiled and shut his door.      

 

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