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Chapter 10: Here With Me
And when I awoke and felt you warm and near,
I kissed your honey hair with my grateful tears.
Oh I love you, girl. Oh, I love you.
For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her, by Simon & Garfunkel
Nearly two weeks passed after that moment in Emilie’s flat, and they were the longest two weeks Remus had ever experienced. Knowing where Emilie was and not being able to see her was a thousand times worse than not knowing at all.
Christmas came and went, and although spending it with his friends momentarily took his mind off things, he couldn’t help but wonder if he had done the right thing. Emilie had practically told him outright that she would choose him over David. Had he been right to tell her it wouldn’t be possible? That he couldn’t? At the time, he’d felt it’d be for her own good. Having met David, he’d felt horribly adequate. David would give her a better life than he would ever be able to give her.
Remus leaved through Aberforth Dumbledore’s report of their latest Order meeting, but found it hard to give it his full attention. His mind kept wandering to Emilie, and the way she’d kissed him before he’d left. It had lasted only briefly, and he had barely responded, but it had made a lasting impression on him.
When the doorbell rang, Remus wondered – after a glance at his clock – who could possibly call by at four in the afternoon. He suddenly remembered that Sirius had mentioned that he would try and get Remus a date for Lily and James’s party. And although Sirius was quite the charmer, until now, Remus had thought it unlikely that he would be capable of finding a girl willing to spend New Year’s Eve with a complete stranger unable to find himself a date. Worry started to set in when Remus stood up and walked towards the door. He didn’t care much for entertaining a girl he didn’t know – a girl that wasn’t Emilie – and he was thinking of excuses to cancel any date Sirius might have arranged by the time he opened the front door.
Behind the door stood Emilie, a hesitant smile on her lips.
‘Emilie!’ he replied, taken by surprise. ‘Hey.’
She folded her hands together. The way she looked up at him unsettled him – she seemed almost afraid of him, as if he could wound her with just a single word. ‘Can I… can I come in?’
‘Yes, of course,’ Remus replied, hastily stepping aside to let her pass. ‘Are you all right?’
‘I’m fine, thanks,’ she said, rubbing her hands together to warm them. ‘It’s cold out.’
‘They say that it’s going to get even colder next week,’ Remus said, reciting what he’d read in The Prophet, trying to make conversation. He followed her into his flat and took her coat from her.
She smiled at him and said, ‘You fixed your heating.’
‘A friend of mine got it done,’ he said, folding her coat and hanging it over the back of a chair. ‘What about David’s heating? Has he gotten it fixed yet?’
Emilie, who walked past his bookcase, reading the titles on the backs of the books, said absent-mindedly, ‘No, I don’t think so. He said he’d call someone tomorrow.’ She sat down on his couch, careful not to wrinkle her skirt. ‘It’s hard to find a handyman willing to work around the holidays.’
‘I’m sure it is,’ Remus agreed. He scratched the back of his neck. ‘Would you care for some tea?’
Emilie stared at the maps of London and Britain that hung from his wall. ‘No, I’m all right, thanks.’
After a moment’s hesitation, Remus chose to pull up a chair, rather than to sit down next to her – it was easier to keep his thoughts together that way.
‘I… well, I was around – at Rebecca’s, actually,’ Emilie said, breaking the silence. ‘Thought I’d drop by and wish you a happy New Year and all that.’ She rummaged in the bag she’d brought with her and pulled out a green bottle. ‘I brought you a bottle of champagne.’
He smiled as she handed him the bottle, the glass cold in his hands. ‘Oh – er – thank you.’
‘It’s nothing, honestly. I just thought…’ her voice tailed away. She looked down at her hands. ‘Well, I don’t know what I was thinking, really.’
Remus didn’t quite know how to respond to that, so instead he just put the bottle of champagne down on his rickety coffee table. ‘Do you and David have anything special planned for tonight?’ he asked, unable to come up with anything better to say.
Emilie seemed to stiffen. She seemed to hesitate before looking up at him. ‘Er, probably not. We’d been invited to a party at his friend’s house, but…’ she trailed off, fidgeting with the corner of one of the pillows on his couch. Her eyes were downcast, fixed on the pillow’s embroidery. ‘But we broke up a couple of days ago.’
‘Oh, I’m…’ Remus tried to grasp what he’d just been told – in a way, he’d never seen Emilie breaking things off with David as a realistic possibility. Now that it had happened, things seemed even more complicated than before. ‘I’m sorry.’
Smiling sadly, Emilie sat up, folding her hands in her lap. ‘Well… it’s probably better this way.’
She seemed to study him closely, as though she expected to read something on his face, or in his movements. He was careful not to give away his emotions. Her eyes swept over his body. ‘You look nice,’ she said quietly. ‘Ringing in the New Year in style?’
Glancing down at his white shirt, sleeveless pullover and freshly ironed slacks, he realised he probably did look more festive than he would on any other day. ‘James and Lily are throwing a party tonight, so I thought…’
She smiled weakly. ‘You look very handsome.’
‘Thank you,’ he said, feeling the beginnings of a blush on his cheeks. ‘Are you sure you don’t want anything to drink?’ he asked, half-rising from his chair. ‘I should still have some orange juice left.’
Emilie shook her head and stood up. ‘No, no – I really should be going. I didn’t mean to stay long.’
Mildly surprised, Remus handed her her coat and watched her put it on. ‘Are you going to celebrate the New Year with friends?’
Strands of hair fell in front of her eyes as she looked up at him and gave him an unconvincing smile. ‘I might. I haven’t really decided yet.’
‘Why don’t you –’ Remus started, but he paused, his mind going over everything at full speed. Peter would be bringing Jenny, his Muggle girlfriend, tonight, so James, Lily and Sirius already knew they had to be careful with what they said and did – especially when it came to things concerning magic. Transport to the Potters, however, would be tricky. Remus had wanted to Apparate to their house as it was just outside of London, but he supposed that they could always take the bus, if need be. He made a quick decision. ‘You could come along to James and Lily’s, if you’d like.’
‘Oh, I couldn’t,’ Emilie objected. ‘They haven’t counted on an extra person.’
‘If I know Lily at all,’ Remus said, grinning, ‘then she has stocked up on food and drinks. James loves to eat the leftovers after a party.’
She seemed to hesitate. ‘Are you sure?’
Remus nodded. ‘I’m absolutely sure. It won’t be a problem. Besides,’ he added, ‘she’s been pushing me to bring a date for weeks now – she’ll be thrilled.’
Something that he said obviously changed Emilie’s mind, because she nodded slowly. ‘All right, then. If you’re sure that they won’t mind…’
‘Brilliant,’ he said, a childish feeling of exhilaration taking a hold of him.
The beginnings of a grin dimpled her cheeks. Remus’s elation grew when he realised that this was the first time in weeks that he had seen her smile fully.
Her eyes ran up and down his body quickly. ‘I really do need to get changed, though,’ she said, looking down at her own outfit. ‘When does it start?’
Remus glanced at the clock. ‘Lily said to come round after eight. If we catch the seven o’clock bus, we should have plenty of time to get there.’ He grabbed a dark blue tie out of his wardrobe before realising he couldn’t use magic to fasten it. He fumbled around with it, his cheeks warming when he noticed Emilie give him a bemused look.
‘Here, let me,’ she eventually said, dropping her bag to the floor and taking the tie from him.
She stood close enough for him to kiss her, and for a moment, he seriously considered pulling her in for one His lips tingled at the thought. But her eyes were on his neck, where her fingers were deftly knotting the tie. ‘You would think you’ve never worn a tie,’ she said absent-mindedly, focused on fastening it. ‘There,’ she continued, inspecting the result, ‘that should get you through the night.’
‘Thanks,’ he mumbled, somewhat embarrassed. He tucked the tie into the V-neck of his pullover and quickly put on his coat. His cheeks only cooled when they stepped outside, and the icy winter wind cut into their faces.
‘How about these, then?’ Emilie held up a dress with light purple flowers, a yellow-and-red-striped skirt, and a deep green dress. ‘The skirt’s too bright, isn’t it?’
‘Try the dress,’ he said, trying to picture her in it. ‘The green one.’
She held the dress in front of her and looked at the mirror. Remus thought she looked pretty enough as it was – in her faded flower-skirt and loose-fitting T-shirt – but the green dress would look lovely on her as well.
Emilie tilted her head and bit her bottom lip. As she turned the dress in her hands, she seemed to have made a decision. Her gaze crossed his in the mirror. She smiled and arched one eyebrow. ‘Could you wait outside for a bit, please?’
His cheeks flamed. ‘Of course.’
It didn’t take her very long to change into her dress, and when she opened the door of her bedroom again, Remus thought he could feel his heart stop. Emilie looked stunning, the green dress outlining her figure in a way that left little to his imagination. He was used to her wearing T-shirts, or blouses, or skirts – not something this… revealing.
‘You look…’ he swallowed, and although he knew that he was staring, he did not even try to look away. ‘You look wonderful.’
Emilie tugged at the hem of the dress’s neckline and looked down uncertainly. ‘You think so?’ She walked back into her bedroom and glanced at the mirror. ‘My mum bought it for me for Christmas.’
‘You look beautiful,’ he said, getting himself together.
She smiled at him and twirled around, the dress’s skirt flaring up and revealing the dark tights she was wearing underneath it. ‘Well, I’m ready to go, then.’
‘You might want to bring something to sleep in,’ he said, suddenly realising they wouldn’t be able to get back to London after the start of the New Year. ‘There probably won’t be any buses or taxis riding tonight.’
Emilie’s smile fell. ‘We’ll have to stay the night? Are you sure I can come with, then? Where will I sleep?’
He couldn’t help but grin. ‘I’m absolutely positive.’ He couldn’t wait for her to see where James and Lily lived.
The bus ride to Lily and James’s house took longer than Remus had expected, but then again, his calculations had been based on estimations solely, as he’d never taken the bus or any other Muggle form of transportation to their home. After she’d rung the doorbell, Emilie gave him an anxious smile, her hands deep in the pockets of her pea coat.
‘They must be multi-millionaires,’ she said uncertainly. She took a step back as if it would help her to see the Potter mansion more clearly. ‘How can they afford a house like this? It’s a villa!’
‘It used to belong to James’s parents,’ Remus whispered, his eyes going over the high windows and balconies of the house. ‘He inherited it when they passed away.’
Emilie took a deep breath, clearly nervous.
Before he could take her hand in his or tell her to relax, the front door swung open. Lily, wearing a dark blue cocktail dress, smiled brightly at him. ‘Remus! I was starting to think you weren’t going to make it!’ She hugged him tightly.
‘We took the bus,’ he explained as she let go of him. ‘It took longer than I thought.’
Lily smiled forgivingly. ‘Well, you’re here now,’ she said. ‘That’s all that matters.’ Her gaze drifted to Emilie, who, Remus noticed, had moved to the side when the door had opened. Lily smiled and stuck out her hand. ‘Hi, I’m Lily.’
Emilie shook her hand and gave a nervous smile in return. ‘I’m Emilie,’ she said, glancing uncertainly at Remus. ‘I hope you don’t mind me showing up unannounced.’
‘Mind?’ Lily smiled. ‘Not at all! The more, the merrier. Oh, but come on in, please,’ she said, ushering the two of them inside. ‘I don’t want to let out the heat.’
In the semi-darkness of the hallway, Remus took off his coat. ‘How’s Harry?’
A proud smile graced Lily’s face. ‘Very well, thanks. He’s grown quite a bit since you last saw him. He’s sleeping now, though.’
When Emilie walked to the far end of the hallway, Lily leaned close to Remus and whispered, ‘Is she…?’
Remus understood her immediately. He nodded and smiled shyly. ‘Yeah, that’d be her.’
Smiling broadly, Lily looked at Emilie, who had taken off her trainers and was now putting on a pair of high-heeled, open shoes. ‘She seems really nice.’
‘She is,’ he managed to say before Emilie rejoined them. He was still smiling when Lily opened the door to the living room, the shouts of his friends welcoming them.
I know it’s slow, but we’re getting there, I promise. Hope you all had a good New Year’s Eve (I can assure you that Remus and Emilie will!) and I wish you all the best for 2007!
Thanks so much for the reviews; they mean the world to me. Someone asked how Emilie is pronounced. I think it’s pronounced as Emily – it’s just a fancy way of spelling her name, I suppose!
Thank you for reading!
P.S. Would you be interested in an adventure/romance story in which the Marauders, Lily, and maybe some OCs make some mysterious discoveries while at Hogwarts? It’d probably focus on Remus/OC, but there’d be Lily/James in it as well, and maybe a bit of Sirius/OC, too. It’d be similar to The Philosopher’s Stone, adventure-wise. There’d be hidden rooms, riddles, secret spells and the like. Let me know what you think, please? Any other story ideas are welcome as well!