Chapter 7 : Wildflowers
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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any other of the characters mentioned. They belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Books, The WB, etcetera. No copyright infringement intended.
The song Could It Be Magic belongs to Barry Manilow.
A/N: Dedicated to Kel and Gail, who know why. Thanks, guys, for your support.
Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.
- John Steinbeck
“Are you all right, sweetheart?”
The sound of her father’s voice broke through Emilie’s silent reverie. “I’m great,” she said as she looked up. “Never been better.”
Her father momentarily tore his eyes away from the road. “Really?” he asked, his gaze crossing hers briefly. “You seemed miles away.”
A blush rose to Emilie’s cheeks. She turned her head and pretended to stare out of the window. She had to avoid looking into her father’s eyes at all costs, she knew; the second he would look at her, he would figure out what she’d been thinking. And, even though she trusted her father completely, there were some things she’d rather not share with him. Things like… Remus, and, more specifically, their kiss.
“I’m fine, dad,” she insisted. “Edinburgh was spectacular. I had a great time.”
A smile appeared on her father’s face. “So did I. I wish we could’ve stayed longer.”
Emilie nodded, but secretly was happy to be back in Little Angleton. She couldn’t wait to see Remus again, and yet, she was strangely nervous. What if he had changed his mind?
She rested her head against the car window and looked outside, her eyes following the blur of trees and houses they passed. Her thoughts drifted to the present he had given her for her birthday – Barry Manilow’s ‘Could It Be Magic’, the song they'd danced on at Marissa's party. On the back of the LP’s cover, Remus had written her a short note:
It has to be. Happy birthday, Emilie.
His words had brought a bright smile to Emilie’s face, and even now - three days after she’d first read them - she couldn’t suppress the feeling of a thousand butterflies in her stomach.
When her father pulled into the driveway, Emilie’s eyes were upon Remus’s window. There was no light on; he probably was asleep. The image of Remus asleep – his eyes closed, his hair in disarray, a small smile upon his lips – invaded her mind, and she didn’t notice that her father was waiting for her until he opened the car’s door.
“Let’s go to bed,” he said as she stepped out of the car, handing her one of their bags. “It’s late.”
She nodded, casting another stealthy glance at Remus’s window.
“Come on,” her father urged her on, softly pushing her towards the front door. A knowing grin appeared on his face, and the look in his eyes told her he knew exactly what she was thinking. His next words confirmed her suspicions: “You’ll see him tomorrow. I bet he’ll be ringing the bell by the break of dawn.”
Absolutely mortified, Emilie kissed her father goodnight and ran up the stairs. Her cheeks were still burning by the time she slipped under the covers.
Emilie ran a shaky hand through her dark curls, checking her reflection in the hallway mirror. She then drew in a deep breath and opened the front door, smiling when she came face to face with Remus.
“Hey Emilie,” he greeted her, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his jeans. His lips were drawn in a wide smile, easing some of her worries.
“Morning, neighbour,” she grinned.
Should she hug him? Or kiss him? He still had his hands in his pockets, and he looked just as insecure as she felt. She bit on her lip and smiled uncertainly. “Where are we going today?”
“Hm,” he said, scratching the back of his head. “Let’s see, shall we? Little Angleton… check. London… hm, yes, check. Well, Miss Applewhite - I say we’re ready for our trip around the world.”
His grin seemed to erase the last traces of nervousness she felt, and she gave him a light punch. “Very funny.” She tried to keep her face straight, but her lips were stubborn and curved into a smile.
Remus tilted his head, his light blue eyes twinkling in the sunlight. “I try.”
“Right,” she said, giving him a funny look. “Let’s go then. Do I need to bring anything special? A book?”
He followed her into the hallway, taking his hands out of his pockets. She caught him looking at her in the mirror. “You might want to take your helmet,” he told her.
Curiously arching one eyebrow at him, she moved around to get her lunch, books and backpack.
“Just in case we finish our trip early,” he explained, smiling. “I’m thinking about exploring the universe in the afternoon.”
He grinned. “I’m not moving.”
“You can’t talk, either,” she reminded him. “Just keep perfectly still.”
Emilie noticed how he opened his mouth to respond, but she silenced him with an reprimanding glare. “Very well,” she said when he surrendered with a smile. His hair fell across his forehead, and his eyes shone brightly in the light of the rising sun. “Here we go. One… two…” She took a deep breath and quickly pushed down the button, holding the camera level. A split second later, the camera clicked.
Remus, who was sitting in front of her, shrugged when she lowered the camera. “I bet it looks terrible anyway,” he said, his eyes meeting hers. “I always look horrible on pictures.”
“I’m sure you’ll look just fine,” she assured him, and she held up her hands in front of her, capturing his face with her thumbs and index fingers. He crossed his eyes and pouted his lips. “See?” she laughed, lowering her hands. “Just perfect.”
“You’re such a liar,” he grinned, his voice playful.
She sat down next to him, the grass tickling her legs. “I so am not.”
“We’ll see who’s right when those pictures are developed,” he said, his eyes meeting hers.
“I guess we will,” she agreed, and she stretched out her arms, holding the camera in front of them. “Think you can manage to keep a straight face for another thirty seconds, Mr. Lupin?”
Remus smiled at her. “For you? I’ll try.”
She took several pictures of the two of them together, and then laid her camera on the grass beside her. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… I actually missed Little Angleton.”
Laughing a little, he lay back and looked up at the sky. “Impossible.”
Emilie smiled down at him. “You’re right,” she said, leaning back on her elbows. “I suppose I missed spending my days with you.”
A light blush grazed his cheeks, and he smiled shyly. “I missed you, too. It’s quiet here, without you.”
She bit on her lip and smiled. Her hand found his, and she caressed the palm of his hand lightly before slipping her hand in his. A comfortable silence fell over them, and she eventually lowered herself to the grass, the strong scent of summer filling her nostrils. Thin, thread-like clouds drifted by, and she watched them as they floated over her; most of her attention, however, was focused on the circular patterns Remus’s thumb was drawing on the back of her hand.
“Tell me something,” she suddenly spoke up, turning her head so that she could look at him.
His eyes met hers, his eyebrows raised in question. “Something?”
“Something true,” she explained, and she smiled when he crunched up his nose in confusion. “Something you’ve never told anyone before.”
An uncertain smile appeared on his face. “Something true. I - ehm…” he scratched his eyebrow and gave her a sheepish grin. “I’ve never really enjoyed my summers here, until now.”
She smiled. “I don’t find that very hard to believe.”
He took a deep breath and released it slowly. A nervous look flashed through his eyes, and her heart sped up when he started to speak. “You… You’re the first girl I… I kissed.”
His cheeks were a light shade of red - she didn’t think she would’ve noticed his blush if she hadn’t been staring at him so intently. Her own cheeks were burning as well, and she had to resist the urge to hide her face in the crook of his neck. “Same here,” she admitted, chewing on her bottom lip. “The first boy, that is,” she added hastily when she noticed his grin.
A low chuckle slipped past his lips, and he squeezed her hand. “I - er - I really… liked that kiss.” His cheeks darkened even further, his blush red enough to conceal his scars almost completely.
Emilie could hear her the pounding of her heart in her ears. “So did I,” she confessed, a giddy feeling rising in her stomach.
Turning partly, he looked her in the eye. “I’d… I’d like to kiss you again.”
His hand trembled lightly in hers, and she squeezed it lightly, trying to comfort him, even though her own heart was racing. “So would I.”
Remus bit his lip, his eyes hesitantly searching hers. “Can… can I?”
Her breath hitched. “Now?”
“Yes?” His voice was hoarse, and he seemed almost anxious, his nervousness visible in his eyes.
Managing a tremulous smile, she nodded and took a deep breath. He didn’t close his eyes until his lips were mere inches removed from hers. When his lips stirred hers, her heart beat so wildly that she feared it might pound its way out of her chest. His lips softly moved over hers, and she only barely managed to keep from moaning. Raising one of her hands, she played with the hair at the nape of his neck, and smiled when she felt him smile.
He pulled back a little, his eyes meeting hers. “I’d like to kiss you again,” he said, his voice unsteady, but more confident than before.
She couldn’t contain the smile that was spreading across her face. “Please do,” she whispered, giggling lightly when his lips covered hers once more.
“And again,” Remus murmured, his warm breath sweeping across her face. He brushed his lips over hers a third time, then pulled back to gaze down at her.
“And again?” she asked, giggling. He smiled and gave her a light kiss on her lips, then proceeded to shower her cheeks with butterfly kisses.
Letting out a surprised laugh, Emilie tilted her head and caressed the skin of his neck. He kissed her on her lips again, his lips soft and gentle. A light sigh slid past her lips, and he used the opportunity to tentatively touch her lips with his tongue. She giggled, and he pulled back, his cheeks burning. “I’m sorry… sorry if that was odd,” he apologized, his voice breaking mid-sentence.
“No,” she said, smiling as she touched his cheek. “It was all right, really.”
He leaned forward and was about to kiss her again when a loud voice interrupted them.
“Moony, you old dog, you!”
Remus almost leapt away from her, slack-jawed. She noticed two boys standing not too far away from them, satisfied smirks spread across their faces. Biting on her lips, she momentarily closed her eyes, mortified at being caught in such a suggestive pose.
The bespectacled boy smiled mischievously as he walked up to Remus and placed his hands on his shoulders. “Who are you, and what have you done with our Moony?”
Slightly flushed, Remus let out a nervous laugh. “James,” he said, and then turned to smile at the other boy. “Sirius.”
Sirius grinned, shaking his head so that his shoulder-length black hair moved out of his face. “Good seeing you again, Remus. Who’s the bird?”
Giving her an apologetic smile, Remus helped Emilie up. “This is Emilie,” he said. “Her father lives next-door.”
Emilie felt a bit uncomfortable when Sirius took a long look at her. “Really, now?”
Putting a protective hand on the small of her back, Remus nodded. “Emilie, these are two of my best friends… James and Sirius.”
She smiled, remembering vaguely that Remus had mentioned them before, and shook their hands. “Nice to meet you.”
Ruffling his messy, jet-black hair, James smiled. “Pleasure’s all ours, really.”
Holding on to her hand a bit longer than necessary, Sirius’s grey eyes met hers. “Figures Remus’d be swept off his feet when we were not there to witness it.”
She laughed a little and brushed a loose curl behind her ear.
Remus, who was standing beside her, his hand still on her back, seemed to have overcome his embarrassment. “How did you guys find me?” he asked, interested.
“We bumped into your mum when we stumbled out of the fireplace,” James said, sitting down in the grass. “She mentioned you went to the forest… though she forgot to mention you weren’t alone,” he added, casting a quick glance at Emilie.
“So we went to the forest and Padfoot’s nose did the rest,” Sirius said. Emilie could’ve sworn he smiled proudly when he said those words, although she wasn’t quite certain why.
“Uhm…” Remus said, scratching the back of his head as he stared down at Emilie, “they speak a local dialect. Very local. In fact…” he continued when he noticed how she’d raised her eyebrows in disbelief, “it’s more like a code language than anything else.”
She bit on her bottom lip. “All right,” she said, smiling a little. An uneasy silence stretched out between the four of them, and she cleared her throat before speaking up. “Well… I - er - I probably should get going. My dad will be home early today.”
Disappointment flashed through Remus’s eyes, and she briefly reconsidered her decision. “Don’t leave on our account,” Sirius said, brushing a dark strand of hair behind his ear. “We’d like to get to know the girl who’s stolen Remus’s heart.”
“Shall I walk you home?” Remus asked, his blue eyes concerned.
Smiling weakly, she shook her head. “No, that’s all right. Spend some time with your friends.”
His hand grazed over hers briefly, and he nodded. “Can I come by later?”
“I’d like that,” she said, smiling, and she bent to pick up her camera and backpack. “I’ll see you later, then.” She then turned to his friends and flashed them a smile. “It was nice meeting you.”
Emilie picked at her food, the Brussels sprouts rolling away from her fork every time she tried to pin them down.
“I thought you liked sprouts,” her father commented, picking up her plate when it became obvious she wasn’t going to eat anything.
She sighed, laying her head upon her arms. “I do. I’m just not very hungry today.”
“Hm,” her father said, ruffling her hair before kissing the top of her head. “Remus giving you a hard time?”
Her head shot up. “What?” she asked, surprised. “What made you think that?”
“You’ve been moping all day,” he said, grinning lightly while serving the dessert. “And you came back early. I figured it had something to do with Remus.”
“No,” she said, “not really. His friends visited him today.” She sighed, stirring her pudding with her spoon. “I guess I’m just afraid he’d rather spend time with them than with me.”
Her father sat down in front of her, and scratched his head. “Did he ask you to leave?”
“No,” she said grumpily. “It was just really awkward, like they didn’t know what to say in front of me.”
“I’m sure it’ll blow over,” her father smiled, reaching across the table to squeeze her hand. “When I met your mother, I never knew how to act in front of my friends, either. He’ll figure it out in time. I did.”
“But you left her,” she said, smiling sadly. “You left mum.”
He returned the sad smile, and nodded. “I did. And it was for the best, really. We were too different to make it last.”
Emilie bit on her lip and stared down at her pudding, a feeling of anger coursing through her veins. “I’m not hungry,” she said, and she pushed it away. “Thanks for dinner, dad. I’ll be in my room.”
Sorry for the long wait, everyone. I had a busy couple of weeks... school's been crazy, and I was working on another story that I had to finish before this chapter. I expect it'll stay this busy for the next two or three weeks, so I can't promise very frequent updates... though I *can* promise that I will try. Thanks for reading and reviewing... and I hope that you liked this chapter.
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