Chapter 8 : A Leap of Faith
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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any other of the characters mentioned (except for Emilie, her friends and her family). They belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Books, The WB, etcetera. No copyright infringement intended.
Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
- Rabindranath Tagore
“One week, Moony. We leave you alone for one week, and you go and find yourself a girlfriend?” Sirius shook his head in disbelief, an ear-splitting grin on his face. “I think our lessons finally paid off, Prongs.”
James, whose eyes were fixed – permanently, it seemed – on the picture of Remus and Lily standing upon Remus’s desk, nodded distractedly.
Scratching the back of his head, Remus sat down on his bed, folding his long legs beneath him. “Well,” he started, biting his bottom lip, “technically, she isn’t my girlfriend.” Yet, he added quietly, and his heart skipped a beat at the thought of actually asking her to be his.
“Spoken like a true Marauder,” Sirius said, slapping Remus on the back. “Never give your heart away, mate.” He pulled up a chair and sat down beside Remus’s bed, resting his elbows on his thighs and his head in his hands. “But, hey… from the looks of it, we interrupted a full-out snog-session – right, Prongs?”
“Hm?” James momentarily tore his eyes away from Lily’s smiling face. “Oh, yes. A full-out snog-session, definitely.”
Sirius’s grey eyes shone mischievously when he leaned forward, a conspiratorial grin upon his lips. “Did you do the tongue-thing I mentioned last term? Girls love that.” He smiled nostalgically and shook his head, his eyes taking on a far-away look. “Susie Dogberry sure did.”
Embarrassed beyond words, Remus buried his face in his hands. “Merlin, Sirius! Is nothing sacred to you?”
“No,” Sirius said, his lips twisted in a merciless smile. “So…” he grinned, nodding his head encouragingly, “Did you?”
“Padfoot, take my advice and let it rest. A gentleman never kisses and tells,” James reminded him, sitting down on the edge of Remus’s desk with Lily’s picture in his hands.
Sirius barked with laughter. “Our Moony? A gentleman?”
“Hey,” Remus said, half-offended. He reached in one of the drawers of his nightstand, rummaging through its contents, looking for a game that could distract Sirius. “I’ll have you know that I’m perfectly capable of being a gentleman. In fact, I actually am a gentleman – most of the time.”
“That’s true,” James said absent-mindedly. He ran a hand through his messy hair, his eyes still on Lily’s face. “He’s more of a gentleman than you and I will ever be, Padfoot.”
Sirius’s eyes widened in shock. “Hey! You’re supposed to side with me on this,” he grumbled, seemingly affronted. When James didn’t reply, he kicked him in the shin.
Looking up, James gave Sirius a mildly irritated look. “What? You know it’s true. And he’s the only Marauder with a girlfriend, now isn’t he?”
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Remus objected wearily, rubbing his temples. If only she was! he thought, his stomach clenching.
“My point exactly. She’s not his girlfriend,” Sirius said with a nod, flexing his fingers when Remus took a game of Exploding Snap out of his nightstand.
James slid off Remus’s desk and put Lily’s picture down. “Not yet,” he said knowingly. “You really like her, don’t you?”
Feeling how his cheeks heated up, Remus threw the set of cards into Sirius’s lap. “She’s… she’s brilliant, yes.”
Sirius shuffled the cards and glanced up at Remus. “Are you going to ask her to be your girlfriend?”
Remus shrugged, his heart speeding up at the mere thought. “Perhaps. Should I?”
“If you like her enough,” Sirius said, biting his lip pensively, “then yes. You’ll regret it otherwise.” A strangely sad expression flashed across his face, and James gave Remus a knowing look. They were both aware of how much Sirius had liked Susie, no matter how many times he had tried to tell them otherwise.
“She’s a Muggle,” Remus spoke up, a pained grimace on his face. “I’ll never be able to tell her what I really am.”
Sirius slung his arm over his friend’s shoulder. “All the better, mate. You’ll have the summer of your lives, and when it’s over, then that’ll be the end of it.”
Remus felt as though his heart was being slowly crushed. He knew Sirius was right – after all, he’d never be able to tell Emilie what a monster he really was. Heck, he couldn’t even tell her he was a wizard.
He sighed dejectedly. “Maybe I should break it off now. I mean…” he raised his blue eyes to the ceiling, “I know it will never last. I can never tell her. And the closer we’ll get, the more… the more it will hurt when it ends.”
“Listen, Remus,” Sirius said earnestly, dealing the cards, “you know that, in general, I hold your intelligence in a very high regard. I mean, you’re right up there with Evans, right? But this, my friend, is the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. And when I say ever,” he continued, levelling Remus with a serious look, “I mean, ever.”
Raising his eyes from his cards, James nodded in agreement. “You obviously fancy her. It’d be silly to miss out on this just because you know it won’t last. Nothing ever does.”
When had his friends become wiser than him? Remus sighed as he waged an internal battle. He longed to be closer to Emilie, but, on the other hand, he desperately wanted to prevent getting hurt in the end. He turned to Sirius, raising his eyebrows in question. “What happened to ‘never give your heart away’?”
“Not unless it’s worth the risk,” Sirius said, throwing his Ace of hearts on James’s King. “And then you’ll never want it back.”
It was past ten in the evening when Remus climbed over the fence separating Emilie’s front garden from his. The light of the waxing moon illuminated the large beech tree standing tall in the garden’s centre. Remus held his breath as he snuck past the kitchen window, moving from shadow to shadow.
A light summer breeze rippled the greenish water of Mr. Applewhite’s pond, distorting the moon’s mirror image. He passed the pond quietly, his heart pounding in his throat. The top-right window at the back of the house belonged to Emilie, he knew, but her curtains were closed, and he couldn’t tell whether her lights were still on.
Picking up a small pebble from the pond’s shore, he aimed for Emilie’s window. He missed it the first time, but a second pebble hit the glass before falling down to the sand, forlorn. With suspended breath, he waited for a sign, but the curtains did not move. He threw another pebble towards her window. This time, the window opened, and Emilie stuck her head outside.
Her mussed, dark brown hair framed her face, and he couldn’t help but think that she looked prettier than ever.
“Remus? What are you doing here?”
Smiling sheepishly, Remus tilted his head and looked up at her. “I needed to see you,” he said, his voice hoarse.
She smiled. “We do have a doorbell, you know.”
“Wasn’t sure if you were sleeping,” he explained, brushing his hair out of his eyes.
Emilie cast a quick glance over her shoulder before turning back to him. “Would you like to come up?”
His heart skipped a beat. “If… if that’s all right with you?”
Smiling down at him, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and said, “Of course it is. I wouldn’t be asking if it wasn’t, would I?”
After Emilie closed the window, he stole across the moonlit garden once more, making his way to the front door. A heavy feeling pressed down on his chest as he waited for her to open the door.
“Hello,” she whispered, the light from the hallway’s lamp silhouetting her figure. “Come in.”
He cast an anxious glance into the hallway. “What about your dad?”
“He’s in the living room,” she said as she stepped aside and ushered him in. “We’ll have to be quiet.”
He swallowed hard when he noticed she was already wearing her pyjamas – a light blue top and dark blue bottoms – and fought hard to ignore his racing heart. He followed her up the stairs, letting him lead her to her room.
He folded his hands together, ill at ease, and smiled a little when her dark eyes met his. “Please,” she said, gesturing at her bed, “sit down.”
Her room was surprisingly empty: it contained a closet, a bed, and a desk and chair. The walls were bare, although the wallpaper was starting to peel off at certain places, and only a few items stood on her desk.
“I’m sorry,” she suddenly said, sitting down on her chair. “For this afternoon. I shouldn’t have left so suddenly.”
He nodded slowly, still glancing around her room. “That’s all right. James and Sirius can be quite… intimidating, sometimes.”
“They seemed really nice, though,” she said, smiling insecurely. “That is – you seemed quite close to them.”
“They’re very good friends,” he agreed. He smiled at her before lowering his eyes, fumbling with one of the corners of her pillow. Could he do it? Tonight? Could he ask her to be his?
“So…” Emilie started, biting her bottom lip, “Are they staying at your house tonight?”
He shook his head. “They left about an hour ago. They’ll visit Peter tomorrow.”
“The boy we met in London, right?” she said, cocking her head to the side. “That’s nice of them, to visit the both of you.”
“Yes, it is, isn’t it?” he nodded, and he fell silent once more.
She smiled uneasily, her eyes searching his face. He could feel his cheeks burn, and he took a deep breath before speaking up. “I… I actually wanted to ask you something.”
She raised her eyebrows in surprise. “You do?”
“Yes,” he confessed, placing his hands in his lap. “Would you…” he struggled to find the right words, but none came to him, “would you like to go out? With me, I mean?”
A surprised smile came to her face, and she nodded shyly. “I’d like that,” she said softly, brushing her hair out of her face.
All anxiety seemed to leave him in a sudden rush of euphoria. “Really?” he asked, not daring to believe his ears. “I... I was worried that you’d say no.”
She giggled lightly, taken aback by his confession. “Why?”
“Because…” he started, but then frowned, unable to come up with any of the reasons he’d repeatedly listed in his head that same afternoon. He shook his head, confused. “Well, I can’t really explain it. I just… I suppose I was just scared.” Flushing a little at the admission, he watched her smile.
“You needn’t have been.” Her eyes sparkled when they met his, her amusement easily readable in them.
A nervous chuckle escaped him. “But you could’ve said no. It could’ve happened.”
“No,” she said, shaking her head as she sat down next to him, the mattress shifting slightly under the added weight. “No, I don’t think I could have.” Her hand gripped his and held it tightly.
He smiled, his confidence growing when she smiled back. “I suppose I should take you on a date, then,” he said, faking a grimace.
“Oh, yes, I’m afraid so,” she agreed, a grin playing upon her lips. “Ah, the sacrifices I’ll have you make!”
He bent forward and lightly kissed her lips. “I’ll make them gladly,” he said when he pulled back. “Tomorrow evening?”
A light blush kissed her cheeks. “Tomorrow evening sounds great.”
“The cinema?” he suggested, caressing her hair with one of his hands, sliding his fingers through it. “Or dinner? I could cook for you.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. “You can cook?”
Remus gave her a lopsided grin. “I can try.”
“Well, that settles it,” she said, sighing over-dramatically. “You’re going to have to marry me.”
“It’d be my pleasure,” he grinned, and the sincerity in his voice surprised even him. He tried to cover up his slip with a hoarse laugh, but he felt his cheeks redden almost instantly.
Emilie either didn’t notice, or pretended not to, and simply smiled back at him, her eyes, large and dark, never leaving his. His stomach did a funny swoop, and he was filled with delight when he realized that she wouldn’t mind if he kissed her; in fact, she probably wanted him to. He didn’t have much time to think this over, however, because before he knew it, Emilie had already reached up and brushed her lips against his.
Tangling one of his hands in her hair, he pulled her closer and responded. It was even better than the kisses they’d shared that afternoon, he thought idly when closing his eyes, because this time, he was certain she felt the same way he did.
“It’s a date, then?” he asked breathlessly when she pulled back, her lips slightly swollen.
Startled, she stared up at him. “The wedding? I thought –”
He flushed. “No. No, I meant the cinema. Tomorrow?”
“Right,” she laughed, sounding partly relieved. “The cinema. Yes, that’s a date.” She giggled lightly, her voice taking on a teasing tone. “Because, I was going to say… I don’t think my dad would approve of–”
“Don’t say it,” he interrupted her in his most threatening voice, but he could feel the beginnings of a smile upon his lips. “Don’t say the word.”
She arched her eyebrows, feigning innocence. “What word?” His eyes narrowed, and he shook his head in warning as his hands moved to her sides. She bit her lip and tilted her head, tempting him more than she could ever imagine. “Do you mean… marriage?”
Remus let out a low growl and launched himself at her. He tickled her sides relentlessly, rejoicing in the sound of her tinkling laughter.
“I didn’t mean it,” she pleaded, squirming underneath him. “Honestly, I didn’t!”
He considered her words briefly, cocking his head to the side. “Hm. I suppose I should let you go then?”
Nodding wildly, she glanced up at him, a hopeful smile on her face.
He grinned, biting on his lip before bending down. “Never,” he whispered hoarsely into her ear, and kissed her earlobe gently.
She giggled and was about to reply when the sound of another voice drifted up the stairs.
“Em? Are you asleep?”
Remus froze, the hairs at the back of his neck standing up. This was his nightmare come true. “Your father?” he mouthed silently at Emilie, but he already knew the answer to his question. His face paled when she bit on her lip and nodded.
He held his breath. It was so quiet in Emilie’s room that, overpowering the sound of their rapid breathing, he could hear every step her father took. When he heard a door close, Emilie jumped up from her bed and opened her bedroom door. “That was the bathroom door,” she explained, ushering him outside. “If you hurry, you might make it downstairs in time.”
His voice broke, and he paled even further. “Might?”
“Don’t dally,” she said flippantly, giving him a quick kiss. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He gulped as he glanced down the stairs, which suddenly seemed ten times as long as it’d been when he’d followed her up to her room. “Tomorrow. Right. If I’m still alive, that is.”
She smiled, no doubt to try and ease his worries. It didn’t work. “Don’t be silly,” she said, her hand touching his briefly. When he had taken the first two steps, he looked back up at her. “Goodnight, Remus,” she whispered, and he the soft sound of her laughter reached his ears when he tiptoed down the stairs.
When he had reached the bottom of the stairs, he smiled up at her, hearing the sound of a shower being turned on. He relaxed a little, knowing that her father was indeed in the bathroom and couldn’t suddenly leap out of a closet or a hidden corner.
“Goodnight, Emilie,” he said, unable to suppress a chuckle when she blew him a kiss.
He waved shortly before turning on his feet and reaching for the door handle. He was reluctant to go, but he didn’t want to test his luck any further. He stepped into the warm summer night, feeling happier than ever before.
Thanks for your absolutely brilliant replies, everyone. I’m not sure how I managed to finish this chapter – I’ve been sick since Saturday, but I suppose that staying in bed all day left me with some spare time on my hands. I hope you like Sirius and James's appearance in this chapter - I found it very difficult to describe them right.
Either way, thank you very much for your support, and for reading, of course.
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