Chapter 7 : Wish I Could Fall
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Wish I could fall, on a night like this,
Into your loving arms, for a moonlight kiss
- Bap Kennedy, Moonlight Kiss
Finally, Sirius cottoned on as well. ‘It’s a girl, isn’t it?’ he suddenly said in the middle of a conversation with Alastor Mad-Eye Moody and Aberforth Dumbledore, throughout which he’d studied Remus’s expression with narrowed eyes.
Remus’s cheeks flushed. Moody’s magical eye turned to him in interest, while Aberforth Dumbledore raised a bushy eyebrow.
‘I can’t believe it – Moony’s found himself a bird!’ Sirius continued, a gleeful expression on his face when he took in Remus’s reaction. ‘What’s her name? Do I know her?’
‘I have no idea what you’re talking about,’ Remus replied with as much dignity as he could muster. He folded his hands together and turned to look at Moody, hoping he’d pick up the conversation they’d been having.
‘There’s no way I’ll fall for that,’ pressed Sirius, clearly amused. ‘It’s obvious! You’ve been walking on clouds ever since you came in today. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure it out!’
‘There’s no girl, Padfoot,’ Remus said in a calm, levelled voice. ‘So let’s just continue our discussion, shall we?’
‘“Discussion”, he says,’ Moody grumbled, rubbing his hands together. ‘You haven’t said a single word since we brought up Crover’s plans.’
Remus scratched his eyebrow. ‘I’m tired.’
‘Full moon was five days ago, wasn’t it?’ Aberforth Dumbledore said, leaning forward slightly. ‘Surely you have recovered by now?’
Unsure what to say to that, Remus sat back and folded his arms over each other. Sirius grinned mischievously and said, ‘Well, let’s have it then. Don’t leave us in suspense any longer, Moony – I don’t think I can bear it! What’s her name?’
Remus pressed his lips together.
‘All right,’ said Mad-Eye, who seemed to have lost his patience. ‘Enough of this childish nonsense – let’s save it for after the meeting.’ He plunged right back into their discussion. Remus tried very hard not to tune him out, but about halfway through, he gave up.
At the end of their meeting, Remus Apparated back home before Sirius could interrogate him any further. The remaining hours of the day he spent reading, his eyes darting to the clock after every page he turned.
Around ten, he made his way to Charing Cross Road, his hands stuffed deep into his coat’s pockets to ward off the cold.
‘Remus!’ Emilie greeted him, stepping out from behind the counter when he walked into Dilley & Littleton’s. ‘How have you been?’
Remus greeted her back with an awkward sort-of hug. ‘Fine, thanks. You?’
‘Oh, I’ve been all right, thanks.’ She sent him another dazzling smile as she stepped back out of their embrace and slipped her coat on. ‘I haven’t eaten yet. Do you like Chinese?’
‘I do,’ he said, ‘but I’m afraid I’ve already eaten.’
Emilie bit her lip the way she used to do years ago, sending Remus back into the past. ‘Would you mind terribly…?’
‘No, not at all,’ he reassured her. ‘Where would you like to go?’
Emilie slung her backpack over her shoulders and smiled at Mr Dilley, who was eyeing them warily from the back of the bookshop. ‘A couple of streets from here,’ she said as they left the shop, the bell tinkling overhead. ‘They have the best Chinese food I’ve ever had.’
‘Sounds like an excellent idea, then,’ Remus said. He let her lead him in the right direction before he said, a bit uncertainly, ‘Did your boyfriend mind… last week, I mean?’
She gave him a surprised glance. ‘Well, he almost called the police. He was a bit worried – he’d expected me home by eleven.’
‘But it wasn’t a problem, then?’
‘We had some words about it, but he was right to be worried, wasn’t he?’ She gave Remus a faint smile. ‘I’m glad he was, really.’
Emilie gestured at a brightly coloured restaurant on the other side of the street. ‘That’s it. Are you hungry?’
‘Not really,’ Remus said, smiling at her.
While Emilie ordered her food, Remus looked around the restaurant. It looked exactly like any other Chinese restaurant he’d ever been to – red walls decorated with Chinese signs and pictures of lakes, mountains and trees, and orange-golden lampions dangling from the ceiling. He scraped his throat and gathered all the courage he possessed. ‘You and – what was his name… David? – are still going strong, then?’
Emilie smiled and nodded slightly, a strand of her dark hair slipping out of her ponytail. She brushed it behind her ear. ‘Yeah, we are. I mean, we have our ups and downs,’ she answered, and the way she said it made Remus think this was one of their downs, ‘but we’re good together.’
A lady wearing a golden kimono brought over Emilie’s food not much later, balancing plates of steaming nasi goring and babi pangang on one arm, while holding a teapot in her other.
‘It looks very good,’ Remus observed.
She looked up, twirling her chopsticks between her fingers so that he could take them from her. ‘D’you want to try some?’
‘No thanks,’ Remus smiled, pouring both of them a cup of tea. ‘I think I’ll just have some tea.’
He looked on in amusement as she dug into her meal, eating her food with chopsticks and spoons. ‘Hey, do you remember how you promised me you’d cook for me?’ she suddenly asked, about halfway through her dinner. ‘Even though you didn’t really know how to?’
Remus ran a hand through his hair. ‘Did I?’
‘Yeah, you did,’ Emilie said, grinning. ‘We should cook together some time soon. I’m sure you picked up quite a few tricks over the years.’ Her grin faded a bit as she looked up at him, somewhat uncertain. ‘I mean, if you want to, that is.’
‘Er, yes, certainly,’ Remus nodded, ‘it sounds like a splendid plan.’ He grimaced. ‘I’m still not much of a cook, though, but, er, for what it’s worth… I’ll try my best.’
‘Brilliant,’ Emilie smiled. ‘Here,’ she said, taking a fortune cookie from her plate and handing it to Remus. ‘Let’s see what our destinies are, shall we?’
‘Ah, but you are aware that there’s nothing more fickle than the future, aren’t you?’ Remus said, thinking about all the Divination classes he’d followed at Hogwarts, but taking the cookie anyway. ‘The smallest things can change it.’
Emilie stared at him. ‘Such as…?’
He regarded her carefully. ‘Collisions in hallways. Missing the bus.’ He felt his cheeks heating up. ‘Buying a book in a dodgy bookshop just off Charing Cross Road.’
Emilie gave him an amused smile. ‘Well, that’s true. It’s sort of like the Butterfly Effect, really.’
‘Exactly,’ he said, nodding. ‘The future can't be predicted.’ He looked down at the fortune cookie in his hands.
‘Well, fortune cookies don’t always tell you the future,’ Emilie said, turning hers in her hands. ‘Sometimes it’s an old proverb, or some words of wisdom. Besides,’ she continued, ‘it might not tell us the future, but surely – if the future’s as fickle as you say it is – it will change it.’
Remus scratched his head. ‘Perhaps we’re over-analyzing this. I’m quite certain we are, actually.’ He gave her a lopsided grin.
She grinned. ‘I guess we might be.’ She broke her cookie and read her fortune out loud. ‘ “Soul meets soul on lovers’ lips.” ’
He grinned teasingly. ‘Well, that’s an… interesting… fortune you have there.’
Smiling, she folded the slip of paper and said, ‘Sounds very tempting, actually.’ She gestured for him to open his own cookie. ‘Let’s hear yours, then. Who knows – your fortune might hold even more exciting things in store…’
Remus scraped his throat. ‘ “You can do whatever you set your mind on.” ’
‘Ah, but that’s very encouraging,’ said Emilie, a bright smile on her lips. ‘Always nice to hear.’
‘I suppose it is,’ Remus agreed, although he wasn’t sure the fortune was right – there were definitely some things he could not do.
By the time they left the restaurant, it had started raining. They waited in the door opening for a bit, until the restaurant’s owner sent a cross look in their direction. ‘Let’s take the bus to my place, yeah?’ Emilie said, glancing up at Remus. ‘We should be able to catch it just in time.’
Remus peered up at the dark, starless sky. ‘Sounds like a good idea.’
They ran to the bus stop and found shelter under a nearby shop front.
‘Your mascara is running,’ Remus noted as they stood waiting for the bus.
Emilie lifted her hand to her face, and he thought he could detect a blush when she looked back at him. Was she thinking about their first kiss as well? Remus felt his cheeks flush. ‘Right there,’ he said, clearing his throat as he guided her fingers to the smudge of mascara.
She smiled awkwardly, rubbing at her cheeks. ‘S’pose I should get some waterproof make-up, shouldn’t I?’
‘I’m more than convinced that that’d be a sound investment,’ Remus agreed, glancing up at the dark rain clouds covering the sky. ‘English weather and all that.’
The bus rounded the corner just then, its bright, yellow lights visible through the foggy darkness. They jogged from their shelter to the bus stop, hands above their heads to shield themselves from the rain.
Emilie shivered as she sat down in the bus. ‘Well,’ she said, wrapping her arms tightly around her chest. ‘At least it’s dry in here.’ She leaned forward and blew out her breath, steaming up the window.
Remus smiled, his eyes lingering on Emilie’s reflection in the window. She blew out her breath once more, fogging up the mirror image he’d been looking at. ‘I thought you liked rain?’
Her eyes met his briefly. ‘I do. I just don’t like the cold.’ She smiled. ‘Summer rain’s great. It’s the autumn and winter rains that I don’t like.’
The bus ride to Emilie’s flat was much shorter than Remus thought it’d be, judging from the length of their walk back last week. He was more than relieved when Emilie said, ‘David’s not in,’ whilst walking up the stairs to her flat. ‘He’ll have midterms next week, so he’s studying.’
‘In the library?’
‘Oh, no,’ Emilie said, placing her keys on the kitchen counter. ‘He has his own flat – he goes there when he wants to be alone or needs to work.’ She stepped aside so that he could enter. ‘Tea? Coffee?’
‘Uhm, a glass of water’d be grand,’ he said, glancing around the apartment. Black-and-white photographs hung from walls that had been painted in a light blue colour. ‘Interesting photographs.’
‘Oh, Jackie took them,’ Emilie said, looking back over her shoulder as she filled his glass with water. ‘Do you remember her? I think you met her while we were in London.’
‘I’m not sure,’ Remus frowned. He took off his coat and put it across the back of the couch. ‘Did she live in that semi-attached across from King’s Cross?’
Emilie smiled. ‘That’d be her. She’s studying photography at the moment. I get a framed picture from her every Christmas – they’re really good, too.’ She sat down on the couch and motioned for him to sit next to her. ‘Here’s your water.’
‘Thanks,’ he said, sinking into the bright red couch cushions.
‘What about your friends?’ she asked, reaching for the cookie jar on the living room table and taking one out before handing it to him. ‘How are they doing?’
‘Er, all right, really,’ Remus answered, fishing a cookie out of the jar. Considering the circumstances… he thought. ‘Do you remember Peter? We met him in London that day as well.’
Emilie nodded, interested. ‘What about him?’
‘He’s done quite well for himself,’ he told her. ‘He’s working for the Ministry. Speaks with the Minister himself every now and then.’
Emilie’s eyes widened in appreciation. ‘He must’ve done very well for himself indeed.’
‘And Sirius – I don’t know if you remember him?’
Emilie nodded, smiling sheepishly. ‘Yeah, their interruption did make a – er – lasting impression on me.’
Remus chuckled, recalling how Sirius and James had barged in on the two of them kissing. ‘Well… he has settled down at last. I think he’s finally found the right girl. I haven’t met her yet, but he seems changed, really.’
Emilie smiled. ‘That’s good to hear.’
‘And eh, James, I take it you remember him as well? Well… he’s recently become a father.’
Emilie’s reaction didn’t disappoint Remus. She gasped, her eyes wide. ‘A father? James?’
Nodding, Remus answered, ‘Yes, and a surprisingly good one, too. How exactly he managed to woe Lily into marrying him, I’ll never know, but they’re great together.’
Emilie shook her head in amused disbelief. ‘He was such a kid when I met him – I can’t imagine him as a father at all!’
‘Neither could we,’ Remus grinned. ‘Not until Harry was born.’
Emilie smiled at him, her dark eyes looking directly into his. ‘It does sound like your friends are doing very well. You must be really pleased for them.’
He nodded, distracted by the way she looked at him – it made him want to reach out and touch her. Her smile grew a bit wider, and she placed her hand on top of his. He swallowed.
Emilie then said the last thing he’d expected her to say – ever. ‘Marissa still talks about you every now and then – did you know?’
He scraped his throat and withdrew his hand, pulling it out from underneath hers. ‘Er, no – really? Why, ehm... why would she?’
Smiling, Emilie nudged him in the side. ‘You know she fancied you back then.’
‘Yes, but er – that was back then, wasn’t it?’ Remus said. ‘A whole lot has changed since then.’
Emilie smiled faintly, and she placed her hand on top of Remus’s thigh this time. ‘Not everything.’
Remus felt as though they were no longer talking about Marrisa. He avoided Emilie’s eyes carefully and quickly finished his glass of water. ‘It’s getting late,’ he said awkwardly. ‘I should probably be heading home.’
He stood up from the couch and slipped his coat on.
‘Right,’ Emilie said quietly, standing up as well. She stuck her hands into the pockets of her jeans and smiled weakly at him. ‘I’ll walk you to the door.’
Their walk down the stairs was spent in complete silence, while Remus was racking his brain for the right thing to say.
‘I’m sorry,’ he blurted out when they reached the front door. ‘I didn’t mean to be rude or anything – it’s just – it really is quite late, and I can’t…’ He sighed and mustered a smile. ‘I just can’t…’ He didn’t think he needed to finish his sentence – he was fairly certain Emilie’d understand.
Nodding quietly, Emilie opened the door for him. ‘Don’t worry about it.’
He nodded, still feeling quite miserable indeed. ‘Goodnight, then.’
Emilie opened her mouth, no doubt to return the pleasantry, but closed it before she’d uttered any words at all. Instead, she flung her arms around him and hugged him tighter than she had ever before.
Surprised, Remus gasped for air before hugging her back, a little uncertainly.
‘I'd like to see you again,’ Emilie said quietly, her mouth so close to his ear that he could feel her breath skim across his skin.
Remus closed his eyes, overwhelmed.
She withdrew slightly, looking up at him with pleading eyes. ‘Come by next week? We’ll cook together.’
‘Emilie…’ he protested, but he knew he was giving in to her already.
Smiling up at him, Emilie replied, ‘Remus…’ The throaty sound of her voice made his heart beat faster. She reached up and touched his face, her fingertips cold to the skin of his burning cheeks. For a second, Remus thought she was going to kiss him – her lips were unbelievably close to his. She suddenly took a step back and ran a hand through her hair. ‘Sorry,’ she whispered.
‘Next... ehm... next Friday, then?’ he said, uncertain he was doing the right thing.
Her smile was unsure, as though she couldn’t quite believe what he’d said. ‘That’d be – yeah – that’d be great.’
‘I’ll… er… I’ll see you then.’ Remus leaned forward and, after a moment’s hesitation, kissed her on her cheek. ‘Take care.’
Emilie smiled weakly. ‘You, too.’
Remus walked back to his own flat in complete silence, his head spinning. Everything had gotten so complicated, so fast, and he was no longer sure of what it was that he wanted.
Hope some of you are still reading this,
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