Chapter 9 : Never Be Lonely
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 18|
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We did not change as we grew older;
We just became more clearly ourselves.
- Lynn Hall
Emilie jogged down the stairs to the front door, still smiling as she opened it.
David stood behind it, his dark hair nearly white with snow. ‘Hey Em,’ he said, his lips cold against hers as he leaned forward and kissed her.
‘Hey,’ she said, hoping that her smile didn’t seem too forced. ‘How’s the studying going?’
‘Bleeding radiator broke down,’ David grumbled, and he shivered as if to lend additional credibility to his words. ‘It’s freezing in my apartment.’
She grimaced. ‘Oh, that’s…’ she searched for the right word, ‘terrible.’
David took off his jacket and started to climb the stairs. ‘You wouldn’t mind if I studied here for a bit, would you?’
‘Ehm, well, actually…’ Emilie started, but David had already opened the door to the living room.
‘Oh, hello,’ she heard Remus say. ‘You must be David.’
She entered her flat just in time to see David nod. ‘That’d be me. And you’re a… friend of Emilie’s?’
‘Yes,’ Remus said, his eyes meeting Emilie’s briefly. He stepped forward and shook David’s hand. ‘I’m Remus Lupin.’
‘Remus used to live next to my dad,’ Emilie explained, resisting the urge to bite her bottom lip. ‘We ran into each other a little while back.’
David smiled, eyeing Remus’s apron with amusement. ‘Well, it’s nice meeting you, Remus. I see you’re teaching Emilie to cook?’
Crossing his arms in front of his chest in an almost self-conscious manner, Remus shook his head. ‘It’d sooner be the other way around, I’m afraid.’
Emilie smiled uncomfortably. ‘You could study in the bedroom, if you’d like. It should be quite warm in there.’
‘Oh no, that’s all right, don’t worry,’ David said, zipping up his jacket again. ‘I’ll study at John’s – I don’t want to be a bother.’ But even as he said it, he cast Remus a wary look.
Emilie suppressed a sigh of relief. ‘Grand. I hope your heating will get fixed soon.’
David smiled at her before turning to Remus. ‘It was nice meeting you, Remus.’
‘And you,’ Remus nodded.
David kissed Emilie’s cheek lightly before he walked to the door. ‘Call me at John’s if you need anything, Em.’
‘I will,’ she said.
She smiled uneasily at Remus as David closed the door behind him. The sound of footsteps echoing down the stairs was followed quickly by the sound of the front door closing.
Remus scratched his head. ‘He seems very… pleasant.’
Smiling weakly, Emilie walked back into the kitchen. ‘He is. He’s absolutely wonderful.’ The sound of sizzling water suddenly caught her attention. ‘Oh! The pasta!’ She quickly took the pot off the hub, hissing in pain as some of the boiling water rose over the pot’s rim.
Remus took two large steps in her direction, a concerned look on his face. ‘Are you all right?’ he asked as she put down the pot. He took her hand in his and inspected it. ‘You might want to keep that under the tap for a moment.’
She turned on the tap and held her hand under the cold water. Looking back over her shoulder, she smiled and said, ‘Well, I suppose we’re both disastrous in the kitchen – we’d make a good pair.’
‘The pasta looks quite good, really,’ Remus said, throwing a quick glance at the pot. ‘You might not be as much of a disaster as you think.’
And the pasta did turn out to be quite good – it was, in fact, so good that Remus admitted moments later that it was the best pasta he’d ever had.
‘Please tell me you’re joking!’ Emilie laughed as she finished her plate. ‘I’ll have to cook you pasta again – show you what properly prepared spaghetti bolongese tastes like.’
Remus grinned. ‘Ah, you think you’ll do better without me there to butcher everything up, do you?’
‘No comment,’ she grinned, but then quickly added, ‘No, of course you’ll have to be there. Where would I be without the World’s Greatest Chef to supervise things?’
He laughed quietly. A long silence stretched between them. Emilie brushed a strand of hair behind her ear and quietly studied Remus. It’d gotten dark out, and she had yet to turn on the living room lamp. The curtain-filtered light of the streetlamp outside, though, fell directly on his face, casting it in an orange glow. He ran a hand through his hair, messing it up. Emilie smiled and lifted her hand to his hair, smoothing it down.
He gave her a half-smile. ‘Thanks.’
Remus shifted on the couch, turning so that he faced her, his knee almost touching her thigh. ‘Forgive me if this is too personal... but how did you meet? You and David, I mean?’
Emilie couldn’t quite keep her surprise out of her voice when she answered, ‘Oh – that’s quite a long story, really.’
He smiled weakly. ‘I’ve got plenty of time.’ He seemed to notice her hesitation. ‘But you don’t have to tell me, if you’d rather not.’
‘No, no, it’s not that,’ Emilie said, but she knew that that wasn’t true. ‘We met two years ago. He’s Jackie’s cousin. She’d asked him to show me around when I went to college.’
She turned to Remus and smiled, her knee now touching his. ‘I didn’t want his help at first – told him I’d find my own way. But he asked me out a week later, and the week after that, and he kept asking me until…’ she smiled and gave her shoulders a light shrug, ‘until I said yes, I suppose.’
‘And then the two of you got together?’ Remus asked, his eyes dark blue in the semi-dark of her flat. She considered turning on the lights, but decided against it when she realized that the dark would effectively keep her facial expression from giving too much away.
‘Not at first,’ she said. ‘But he made it obvious – almost painfully so – that he’d like to get to know me better. I went along with it. It felt good, being fancied.’ She smiled weakly. ‘And it turned out great. I really did grow to like him. He’s wonderful.’
Remus looked directly at her. ‘You’re happy, then?’
Her chest seemed to contract. She hesitated briefly and smiled thinly. ‘I - yes - I thought I was.’ Her eyes didn’t leave his, even though she felt as though she might start to cry any second.
He simply looked back at her, a mirthless smile of understanding on his face. He didn’t look away, not even when she felt tears well up in her eyes. She blinked the tears away.
She inhaled deeply and was about to avert her eyes when she felt Remus take her hand into his. His thumb drew feather-light circles the back of her hand, and then he said, softly, ‘Maybe it’s best if... if we see less of each other. If it makes you unhappy.’
Emilie’s breath caught in her throat, and she swallowed before she replied. ‘I’m happiest when I’m with you.’
A gentle smile curved his lips. ‘Emilie…’ he started hesitantly, his fingers moving to caress her cheek. ‘I’ll never –’ He paused, uncertain. ‘I can’t… it just won’t...’ He averted his eyes. ‘I’m sorry.’
She heaved a sigh and sat up straight, brushing her hair behind her ears. ‘I know. Forget what I said, please. I don’t – I don’t know what I’m saying.’
He stood up. Emilie quickly rubbed the tears out of her eyes before she stood up as well. She felt him looking at her while he put on his coat. She carefully looked away as he buttoned it, avoiding his eyes until he’d finished getting ready.
His smile was sad and tender, and didn’t quite reach his eyes. ‘Happy holidays, Emilie.’
It was hard to keep from laughing at that, because at that very moment, she felt as though she’d never be happy again. ‘Same to you,’ she said, her voice hoarse.
He took a hesitant step towards her and took her in his arms, hugging her lightly. His voice caught when he whispered, ‘Take care.’
‘You, too,’ she managed to say. Gathering all the courage she could muster, she rose to stand on her toes and pressed her lips to his. He didn’t push her away. He didn’t pull her closer, either. His lips were warm and soft underneath hers. It took her all her willpower to pull away. ‘Goodnight, Remus.’
He opened his eyes and smiled regretfully. She could barely hear him wishing her a goodnight.’
Remus looked back up at her when he reached the bottom of the stairs, and how she still managed to smile, she couldn’t gather. He quietly closed the front door behind him. Emilie still stood at the top of the stairs long after he’d gone.
David didn’t come by the next day, and she didn’t see him the day that followed, either. It was Monday night when he rang her doorbell, a single red rose in his hand. ‘Hey,’ he said when she opened the door, and he kissed her gently.
She pulled off a smile. ‘Hey. How’d your midterm go?’
‘All right, I think,’ he answered, just like she’d expected him to. He always did all right on his exams – she had yet to see him fail one.
He followed her up the stairs and sat down on the couch while she walked to the kitchen, where she put his rose in an empty glass.
‘No vases left?’ David remarked as she put it on the table.
Emilie smiled faintly. ‘I’ve only got one,’ she said, nodding in the direction of the telly, where Remus’s rose still stood.
David scratched his eyebrow. Something seemed to bother him, and Emilie had no problems guessing what. ‘Did you and Remus have fun last Friday?’
She hesitated for a moment. ‘Uhm, yeah – I suppose it was all right. The pasta was a total failure, though.’
He smiled briefly. ‘Was it?’
A short but heavy silence fell, and when Emilie could no longer bear it, she stood up and asked, ‘Would you like something to drink? Tea?’
David glanced up at her. ‘No, I’m fine, thanks.’
‘No,’ he said again, ‘really, I’m fine. Let’s just talk.’
Emilie managed a smile. ‘All right.’
After she’d sat down, David looked uncertainly at her and asked, ‘Did Remus give that to you? That rose?’
Slanting a glance at the blood-red rose, Emilie hesitated. ‘Why?’
David shrugged. ‘No reason. Just curious.’ He paused for a moment. ‘He did, then?’
Emilie found she couldn’t lie. ‘Yeah, he did.’
‘And he fancies you.’
Her heart sunk. She shook her head. ‘No,’ she said sincerely. ‘I don’t think he does.’
David nodded. He gave her a hesitant look, as though he wasn’t quite sure he should say what he was going to say. ‘But you – you fancy him?’
‘I used to,’ Emilie answered. ‘A long time ago.’
‘You still dream about him,’ David noted, the tone of his voice slightly accusative. His dark brown eyes stared straight into hers. ‘You said his name in your sleep last week.’
She felt dirty, and miserable, and guilty. She didn’t answer his question, but instead said, ‘I don’t think I’ll be seeing him again.’
David shook his head. ‘Emilie, I’ve got no problems with you seeing him,’ he said, gently squeezing her lower arm. ‘None whatsoever. I just need to know where we stand. You and me.’
She buried her head against his chest. Sighing quietly, she took his hand and wove her fingers through his. ‘You’ll know as soon as I do.’
Sorry for all that! I promise I’ll try and make it up to you soon. Thanks again for reading, and hope to see you at the next chapter, despite of the step back Emilie and Remus just made. Hope to have the next chapter up just after New Year’s Eve.
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