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Chapter 7 : Making Choices
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I’ve learned that sometimes in life people, such as myself, act against themselves; not in harmful or self-destructive ways, but in lieu of what would truly satisfy a person, they go after a shadow of their desire. In my case, it was pursuing a man I didn’t really want because I felt too intimidated by the one I desired. I clumsily hurt another man’s heart, a good man, but not the one for me.
I can’t really say what made it seem like a good idea. I think it was the subtle jokes, our mutual career path, and his ardent, penetrating gaze that gave me those weird goosebumps that don’t have anything to do with the weather. I didn’t think that I’d be the first woman to show interest in more than a long time and I didn’t pause to consider that he was far more invested in our relationship than I was. To me, it wasn’t as much a relationship as friends, sleeping together.
I laid awake a few nights wondering what I was doing. It’s not that I didn’t like Moody but rather I finally accepted that I loved Remus. And yet I was sleeping with Moody. I felt ashamed and confused. I didn’t know how Remus would react if he knew what I was doing. He didn’t seem very judgmental, but he seemed like a bit of a prude. I didn’t know if he cared for me enough to look past my flaws, and even more difficult to handle, my voracious appetite for intimacy. I had been with more men than I was proud to admit.
Meanwhile I spent my days at work, a few nights a week at the Ministry standing outside of the Department of Mysteries. Moody and I would take a few recreational minutes in between our respective guard duties each day. Moody wasn’t a romantic man, but he was passionate. When I think of his ardent demeanor when talking about proper wand care, it pales in comparison to his passion in a more intimate setting.
The Order met less frequently now that things cooled down. Harry was well protected at school, which relieved us of half our work-load. I still went to Grimmauld Place frequently and I reserved full moons for Remus. There was one night soon after I started my fling with Moody when Sirius had a letter in his hand. He looked worried and contemplative.
“What’s worrying you?” I asked settling myself into a chair. Sirius looked up at me; there were lines under his eyes. He thrust the letter at me and I read it. “Wow, he’s had quite a week. Do you think that Hagrid is okay?” I asked worriedly. It didn’t seem like Hagrid to be late for school, but Dumbledore wasn’t preoccupied by his absence.
“He’ll be fine…It’s just—” Sirius looked bleak. “I can’t go to Harry. He needs me. I’m useless as a godfather. I think Molly was right about that.” I hadn’t seen Sirius look so depressed befire. He usually carried himself in an upbeat way, but everyone was down once and a while. I wished Remus were there; he was better at cheering Sirius up.
“You won’t be in hiding forever,” I said consolingly. “Once You-Know-Who is out in the public you’ll be able to go a free man. And I’m sure there are ways to communicate with Harry that wouldn’t compromise you or him.” Sirius looked at me with a dubious look. I had to admit, I didn’t quite believe that one either. I decided to plow on with my words of comfort. “Harry has good friends that will stick with him through thick and thin.”
Sirius did look a smidge cheerful after that. Then he took a good look at me. “Right then, now it’s your turn. What’s bothering you?” I pursed my lips slightly; feeling a bit upset that I was so transparent.
“It’s nothing,” I said not wanting to spill my guts to Sirius. I didn’t think he’d understand. But, he gave me a look that said he wouldn’t let this go. “Have you ever been with one person but wanted to be with another? Not in the sense that Person B is making you unhappy, but you’re only with them to fill the void of Person A?” Sirius stared at me for a few moments. “Never mind,” I said quickly.
Sirius held a hand up and said, “Yes, I know what that’s like. All I can really say is that you’re going down a dangerous and uncomfortable path. As you stay with Person B longer, you’ll start to have more reasons to stay with them and not go for the person you’re really pining for. You’ll start to feel guilty for your feelings for Person A. Even worse is the feeling of leading someone into a relationship where you’re only partly invested and the other person is there 100% falling for you.”
Sirius finished with a look of regret and dived into a story where he had fallen for a girl at school, some Hufflepuff who was pretty and brilliant and unmoved by his advances. He had several other girlfriends, but he would have left any of them in a heartbeat for her. He said how he ended most of his relationships once the girls started in with 'I love you’ and ended up hurting quite a few of them. When he was done, he looked at me and said, “So, who’s Person A and who’s Person B?”
I looked up, somewhat startled that he asked me. “I’m not going to tell you,” I said abruptly. I didn’t think he’d mind that I pined for Remus every night and wanted to lie in bed and run my fingers through his hair, but I didn’t think I could bear his reaction if he learned that my substitute was Mad-Eye Moody. “What do you think is the best way out of this?” I asked earnestly.
Sirius gave me an uncommonly penetrating stare. “Is this Person A someone you’d really want to be with, more than anyone else in the whole-wide world and you’d give up one relationship without knowing if there’d be a next just of the shot of trying this out?” He paused, “In short, do you love him?” I nodded my head. “Then it’s simple. End things with Person B. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but he doesn’t deserve to be drug through this and have his heart torn out, and you should level with Person A.”
I couldn’t believe what good advice Sirius gave, being a reckless man like he was. I didn’t work the nerve up to break things off with Moody for a few weeks. He seemed to take it well. I explained that I wasn’t looking for a relationship and I felt that I wasn’t able to equal his devotion or commitment. I emphasized that he was a great man, and if things were different then, who knows. Moody hugged me tightly then told me, in a gruffer voice that usual, that he’d always be there to catch me when I tripped over myself. I left his house with a heavy feeling. I associated this feeling with having simultaneously having broken a man’s heart and gave him false hope. I was quite sure that my feelings for Moody were physical, whereas my devotion to Remus was, well love.
I decided to play the friend card with Remus. I didn’t want to jump at him with my avid devotion and scare him off. I managed to find my way over to where he worked more often. I mean, we were still pseudo-dating. He seemed to notice the renewed attention from me and, from what I could tell, enjoyed it. As a friend, of course. I was relieved that Moody didn’t start to go down the Dawlish road after we stopped seeing each other. Things went to how they were before, more or less.
In the first part of October, when the full moon reached its height in the sky, I made my trip over to Remus’ house. The house was dark as usual. I entered without knocking. “Remus, it’s me,” I said into the darkness. I lit my wand. He came in from the other room. I scratched his head behind his ears. He liked that the best. Remus, showing uncharacteristic enthusiasm, jumped up and licked my face. I snorted laughing.
I took out Remus’ dinner and sat down with him on his couch. I made myself some sandwiches and he chewed on a large, raw steak. While Remus’ appetite changed quite a bit while he was transformed, it was obvious he kept his mind. After chowing down a raw steak, he would go and wipe his snout on a towel in the bathroom. It always made me smile.
I wasn’t sure what about it he liked, but Remus always listened to me go on in a long monologue about my life. He seemed to find my ‘time at Hogwarts’ stories amusing. I often abused Snape’s teaching methods. I had him all the way through N.E.W.T. level. I was an open book with him. I even told him about my first kiss. “It was so embarrassing,” I said clasping my hand to my forehead. “Hector Smith and I were dared to kiss. It was more like he was dared to eat my face. And his name was Hector.” I laughed. “Not too many men are really good kissers. I think I’ve had four really good kisses. Well, five.” I said decisively.
Remus sat up a bit and cocked his head at me. His interest was piqued, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him that kisses in which the kissee pulled away could not be added to my list. That, and it would be slightly revealing to say that Alastor Moody was the number five. I knew Remus and I weren’t dating when I was with Moody, but it still had felt like cheating.
I tried to cover the awkward silence with a loud yawn. Remus followed me into the bedroom and jumped on the bed. He still pulled the covers back for me. I saw him watching me undress that time. I didn’t mind; I was glad to see him ease up around me. I got into bed. “You really should sleep under the covers,” I said exasperatedly. Remus did the same routine each time we were together. He’d start off on top of the duvet, then when then the moon set he’d crawl under. Remus got under the covers with me. His fur was more like a wool blanket than anything, but I didn’t want to say anything about it. “You’re better in bed than Elvis,” I said with a laugh.
In the morning, as sure as the sunrise, Remus was nude. I smiled at the sight. His thinness did worry me at times, but I couldn’t deny how handsome he was. Delicately built, he still carried quite a bit of strength in his build. I curled up next to him; he was sprawled out on the bed. His chest made a good pillow. Remus slowly opened his eyes and smiled. He seemed to give up his phobia of being seen in the buff. “How are you feeling?” I asked looking into his eyes.
“Better than usual,” he said. “Having you here… it makes waking up easier.” I smiled. I counted this as progress in destructing the ‘just friends’ barrier, which seemed to be more of an obstacle than the Berlin Wall. “Nymphadora,” I huffed at the use of my first name. Remus laughed, “I can’t have you in my bed and call you by your surname.” He kissed my forehead. “You have no idea how much you being here helps me. It makes me feel more… more human when I transform.” Remus pulled me close and held me. I let out a sigh of relief. I thought I had another ‘we can’t do this, blah blah blah’ spiel coming at me.
“I would do anything for you. I always want to be your friend, Remus,” I said, immediately thinking that one day soon I’d like to be more, but failed to voice that thought. My hand was idly rubbing Remus’ back, then without really thinking I ran my hand down his side and up his abdomen. His body quivered slightly and he let out a quiet moan. I knew I was crossing into dangerous territory. I decided to hold off on the touching. Remus was still likely to give me that dreaded lecture. Again. I got out of bed to avoid the temptation to smother him right then and there with kisses and sexergy.
”Do you want to go out with me on Friday?” Remus asked tentatively. I was changing and I looked over my shoulders at him. He looked oddly nervous for asking out a woman who slept in his bed on a semi-regular basis.
I smiled, turning around. I was careful to hold my t-shirt to my chest. “You mean on a date?” I clarified raising an eyebrow.
”As a friend-date,” He said stubbornly. Anymore, it seemed that the friend status was just to keep his conscious clear. I repressed a laugh thinking of the day when we’d start having friend-sex or a friend-apartment together.
”I can’t Friday. I have Duty. How’s your Saturday?” I asked finally pulling my shirt on. Remus got up and started to get dressed. I let my eyes linger on him this time. He did watch me the night before.
“Saturday sounds great. Let’s meet in Leaky Cauldron. Does 7 sound good?” I nodded, pulling my pants on and tripping over them onto the bed with a loud “aah!” Remus came over to help me up. He extended his hand and I took it, pulling harder than I should have, which caused him to topple on top of me.
“That’s it, I quit for today,” I announced. “I’m just staying here.” I took in Remus’ face. He looked tired and very peaky but he smiled at me.
”I think you’re doing just fine,” Remus said his raspy voice. He seemed to realize that he crossed a friend barrier; he got up quickly and said he would make breakfast. I couldn’t remember ever being so for a date. I hoped that it would be something to remember.
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