Chapter 6 : Your Heart, My Home
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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. All things you recognize belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Books, The WB, etcetera. No copyright infringement intended. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find to whom the quote cited at the beginning belongs… I read it in on a card once. The title of this chapter is derived from a Wonderwall song called Together Again.
‘I've learned that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.’
Remus had not lied when he’d said his flat was near the point of falling apart. It consisted of one big room into which a bed, a couch, a coffee table, and a single chair were placed. In the right corner of the room, a tiny oven stood in front of a small, dingy kitchen. Emilie wrapped her arms tighter around her body and gave Remus a weak smile. He looked quite embarrassed when he closed the door behind them. ‘Told you it wasn’t much.’
‘It’s not that bad,’ Emilie said, lying through her teeth. ‘It could do with a lick of paint, I suppose, but …’ she looked around, trying to find a positive aspect of his flat to comment on, ‘…but your couch …’
Remus gave her a half-smile. ‘What about it?’
‘Well, it seems quite … sturdy and, er, very decent.’
He laughed. ‘Well, I’m very glad you approve of my couch.’ He took her coat from her and folded it neatly before laying it on top of a chest of drawers. ‘Would you like some tea?’
Emilie rubbed her hands together – Remus’s flat was unpleasantly chilly – and nodded. ‘Yes, please,’ she said. ‘After all, that’s what we came here for, isn’t it?’
He looked over his shoulder, a hint of uncertainty on his face. ‘Yeah, it is. Uhm, Ceylon Orange, then?’ He grimaced as he peered into his kitchen cabinet. ‘It’s the only thing I have.’
‘Yes, that’d be fine.’ She smiled at him, trying hard to ignore the ball of excitement that had settled in her stomach upon seeing Remus again. She was not sure why she’d agreed to go for another cup of tea at his place – it had seemed liked the right thing to do at the time. Just one cup of tea, she thought to herself. Just one and I’ll go back home. Nothing wrong in that, is there?
Sitting down on the couch – which was very sturdy, indeed, she thought smilingly – she stared around his flat with interest. It was not at all what she’d imagined his place to be like, but not necessarily in a bad way. Old maps of London, Britain and Europe were plastered against the walls – to hide holes in the wallpaper, she suspected – a feature that gave the room an academic appearance. It reminded her a little of the secondary school classroom in which she’d been taught Geography. An old gramophone stood on a rickety chest of drawers. Some records lay next to it, one of which looked suspiciously like a Leo Sayer LP. There were books piled up in one of the corners of his room. Typically Remus, she thought with a smile.
She frowned when she noticed how Remus was fidgeting with his water kettle. ‘Are you OK?’
He looked slightly startled. ‘Yeah, I’m fine. Just trying to find –’ He grinned. ‘Ah, there it is. Couldn’t find the switch.’
Emilie thought this was a little peculiar, seeing how the water kettle looked just as old and used as everything else in his flat; he must’ve had – and used – it for years.
She shivered lightly, smiling uncomfortably at him as he sat himself down on a nearby chair.
‘Are you cold?’
‘Just a little,’ she admitted.
Remus’s face flushed. ‘I’m so sorry,’ he said. ‘It’s quite chilly in here. The heating broke in June, and I haven’t gotten around fixing it. I mean, I tried, but it’s more complicated than I imagined.’ He stood up and apologized again. ‘Would you like a blanket?’ he asked, rummaging in the drawer underneath his bed.
She was about to tell him that she was fine when he pulled a flowered eiderdown out of the drawer. ‘Here you go,’ he smiled, handing it to her. ‘It should be quite warm.’
Emilie took it from him with a smile. ‘Thanks,’ she said as she placed it on top of her legs. It was one of the strangest experiences she’d ever had in her entire life: having tea with Remus Lupin in a small, windy apartment with an eiderdown across her knees.
A strange silence fell over the two of them – nothing but the water kettle could be heard. ‘So … er, what is it you do now?’ Emilie asked. She had almost been too afraid to ask him, thinking he might interpret it as an indirect insult, a question resulting from having seen the state his rundown flat was in.
His eyes met hers hesitantly. ‘I’m, er, doing a little of this, a little of that. I do some odd jobs for friends every once in a while.’
‘Oh, all right,’ she said. She found it a bit strange that Remus, the motivated, intellectual boy she’d met in Little Angleton, was now making so little of his life. ‘Don’t you want to go to University? Study Literature, or, well, I don’t know … Geography?’
Remus fiddled with the hem of his brown jumper. He smiled weakly at her. ‘I can’t afford studying at the moment.’
‘But there are student loans,’ Emilie said. ‘You’re smart – it’d be a shame if a mind like yours would go to waste, don’t you think? I think that my English Literature teacher will know where you can–’ her voice tailed away when she noticed Remus did not seem thrilled by her suggestion at all.
‘It’s not just the money,’ he said sombrely. A frown creased his forehead, but when he noticed that she was looking at him, the frown gave way to a small half-smile.
‘Oh,’ she said quietly. ‘All right. It was just an idea.’
He smiled. ‘I know. And though I think it’s very sweet of you to care, I’m fine, really.’
The water kettle, which had become louder and louder during their conversation, went off with a click, the water inside boiling. Remus stood up and made their tea. Emilie watched his hands as they deftly reached inside a box of teabags, pulled one out and hung it inside the teapot, his other hand balancing the water kettle as he poured the boiling water into the teapot – she had always liked his hands, she recalled, reminiscing their time in Little Angleton. Such gentle hands.
She smiled awkwardly when he walked over to the table, the teapot in his left hand, two big mugs in his right. One of the teacups sported a bright red sports car, whereas the other appeared to be a souvenir from Holland – a pair of small wooden shoes and some tulips were depicted in front of a tiny windmill. He handed her the sports car mug, smiling impishly.
As he poured her the tea, Emilie absent-mindedly noticed that the mug’s rim was chipped at several places. The Holland mug, she observed, was in an even worse state.
‘Cheers,’ Remus said as he sat down on his chair. He raised his mug and inclined his head at her, a pleasant smile upon his lips.
Emilie smiled and wrapped her fingers around her mug, the tea’s heat seeping through the porcelain into her numb fingers. ‘Cheers.’
Two cups of tea and many minutes later, Emilie stood up from the couch. Her cheeks were flushed with excitement, and she took, somewhat reluctantly, her coat from the chest of drawers. ‘I really should get going,’ she said, casting a glance at Remus’s old grandfather clock. It was half past two already – she’d had no idea it’d been that late!
‘Sorry if I kept you too long,’ Remus said, his eyebrows drawn together in concern. ‘I’ll walk you home.’
‘Oh, you don’t have to. I’ll be fine.’ Emilie ran a hand through her hair, messing it up, and smiled. She had to stifle a yawn, noticing for the first time that evening how tired she was.
‘It’s not safe to be out on your own this late,’ said Remus, shaking his head. He slipped his arms into his coat and fastened the buttons slowly. Emilie couldn’t help but watch his hands as they slid button after button into the appropriate holes. ‘Especially not in this neighbourhood.’
‘I’m taking the bus,’ she said as though that made all the difference in the world.
‘Despite, perhaps, the general consensus,’ Remus said, a self-mocking smile on his lips, ‘I can afford to buy a bus ticket – thank you very much. Besides, I can just drop you off at the bus stop – I trust your neighbourhood’s less dodgy than mine?’
‘Yeah, that’s true. And I didn’t mean it like that,’ she hurried to say, but he cut her off, smiling reassuringly. ‘I know you didn’t.’
When they stepped outside, the wind immediately took hold of their hair and the ends of their coats. Remus locked the door to his flat – though Emilie couldn’t see why; any mugger risking imprisonment over a bunch of records and a pile of books had to be out of his mind – and they then set off for the bus stop.
‘Oh, bugger,’ Emilie groaned when they arrived at the bus stop a mere five minutes later, her hands already freezing. ‘The last bus came by two hours ago. Didn’t think of that.’
Remus blew out his breath, the air he’d exhaled forming tiny clouds of vapour in the cold night air. ‘Is it a long walk?’
‘Twenty minutes at least,’ she said morosely. She resisted the urge to slap herself – how could she’ve been so distracted to not have noticed the time; to not have thought of the bus schedule and the long walk home that now awaited her? ‘And it’s bloody freezing, too.’
Remus raised his eyebrows at her choice of words. She blushed slightly. ‘Oh, don’t pretend you never cuss, Remus Lupin,’ she said defensively.
Remus grinned and threw up his hands in defence. ‘I didn’t say anything!’
‘But you were thinking it,’ she said, her eyes narrowed in mock-anger.
‘Oh, so now you read minds, too, do you?’
Emilie narrowed her eyes further until all she could see was Remus’s face, framed and partly obscured by her own eyelashes. The golden glow of the street lamp was fractioned, broken down into tiny little stars that fell upon Remus’s face like snow. She found she quite liked the view with her eyes half-closed. ‘I think I’d like to be able to read minds,’ she said offhandedly.
Remus looked down at her with mild interest. ‘Would you, now?’
Her lips curved into a smile and she opened her eyes wide again. ‘Yes. I’d like to know what people think of me. Although I suppose I wouldn’t want to be aware of others’ opinions all the time.’
‘I reckon you wouldn’t,’ Remus agreed. ‘I think you’d find it very distracting.’ His blue eyes seemed particularly light that night, perhaps because the night and everything else was so dark. She could get lost in those eyes.
Emilie smiled weakly. ‘Well,’ she said, stuffing her hands in the pockets of her coat, trying to shield them from the cold, ‘I suppose I’ll just have to walk home, then.’
Remus nodded. ‘Not much else to do, is there?’
The walk home was actually quite pleasant, though very cold. At a certain point her fingers felt like blocks of ice attached to her hands; she pulled them out of her pockets and held them in front of her mouth, blowing warm air against them. ‘Aren’t you cold?’ she asked Remus, who, even though his cheeks and nose were red from the cold, seemed otherwise unaffected.
‘Not very much so, no. Here,’ he said, standing still and taking her right hand in his left.
His hand was surprisingly warm. She sighed in delight as she could feel her own fingers warming up, sensation returning to her fingertips. ‘It’s like I can feel the blood starting to flow again,’ she said happily, looking at her fingers, whose pale white colour had darkened to a rosy red. ‘Thank you.’
He smiled in a way she’d never seen him smile before – almost mysteriously, she thought. ‘Don’t mention it.’
After having warmed her other hand as well, they set off along the path again in agreeable silence, the noise of London’s nightlife the only sounds they could hear. Emilie tried hard to keep herself from asking the question that had popped up in her mind the day she’d seen him again because it was, she knew, absolutely none of her business. She didn’t think she could control her curiosity any longer. ‘Can I ask you something?’
With an almost indiscernible nod, Remus smiled down at her. ‘Of course you can.’
‘Are you … well … seeing anyone?’
His eyebrows lifted in surprise, but his voice was very well-balanced when he said, ‘No, not at the moment. Would you mind if I asked why?’
Emilie smiled and gave her shoulders a slight shrug. ‘Just curious.’
‘It’s not like I didn’t try,’ Remus elaborated, forehead wrinkled in thought. ‘It just never worked out. The girls I dated … it was like they all missed something.’
A shudder went through Emilie, but she tried very hard to disregard it. ‘Same thing I lacked?’
He considered her silently. ‘I’m not entirely sure.’
She took him by the arm and steered him around the corner, into a small alleyway. ‘This way.’
‘What about you?’ he asked, looking at her curiously. ‘Anybody special?’
Emilie bit her lip. She knew she could’ve expected him to ask the same question in return. ‘Yes, actually. We’ve… well, we’ve been together for over a year now.’ She forced herself to smile at him. ‘His name’s David. He’s a good lad, really.’
If this news had disappointed Remus, he hid it carefully – he even smiled when she looked at him. ‘Well, yeah – he better be,’ he said.
‘He’s probably worried crazy right now,’ sighed Emilie. ‘I honestly had no idea of the time … and if I know him at all, he’s sitting by the telephone, chewing his nails off. I think he expected me home round eleven.’
Remus scrunched up his nose. ‘I suppose I’ll just walk you to the front of the building, then. Wouldn’t want to face a disgruntled boyfriend.’
‘Would you mind terribly?’ Emilie asked. ‘I’d invite you in for a cup of tea, but I think we’ve had more than enough of that already.’
He grinned. ‘Yeah. Never thought there was such a thing as too much tea. The amount we drank today really stretches the limit, though.’
‘Well, then,’ said Emilie, coming to a halt in front of her flat. ‘This is it.’ She removed her hands from her pockets and brushed her hair out of her face. ‘Thanks for walking me home.’
‘Any time,’ Remus said sincerely, and she knew he meant it. ‘It was great seeing you again.’
She smiled. ‘You, too. We, er, we should do this again sometime.’
‘We should,’ he agreed. He gave her a tender smile.
Remus seemed a little surprised, but nodded anyway. ‘Next week would be brilliant. I’ll come pick you up at Dilley & Littleton’s again, then?’
‘Yeah,’ Emilie smiled, ‘I think that’d be best.’ She gave him a quick hug – long enough to smell his aftershave but too short to really feel the warmth of his body – and then pushed her hands into the pockets of her coat. ‘Thanks for everything. See you soon.’
‘No problem. Take care,’ he smiled.
She gave him a long, lingering look before she turned around and opened the doors of the flat’s main entrance. She smiled at him one last time – he gave her a short wave – and then stepped into the darkness of the flat, still smiling when she reached the top of the stairs.
Hey all, I’m so sorry for the long wait… I’m absolutely one of the worst updaters in the universe. Also, I feel like I must apologize to those of you who were hoping for some Emilie/Remus action – I was actually hoping for it myself, but at the same time I felt like it’d be way too soon to have them fall into each other’s arms again. I actually wish for them to rebuild what they had in Little Angleton, and that will unfortunately take some time. A lot has changed since they last saw each other!
Well, thanks for reading and reviewing (you should see how excited I can get when I notice there’s a new review!) and until the next update.
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