Chapter 1 : Expensive Chocolates
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“Remus! Oh, Remus!”
Remus Lupin swallowed nervously before turning towards the voice calling him. He knew that voice, he’d know it anywhere, the owner was Esperanza Desiderio, a Hufflepuff student. Esperanza looked as exotic as she sounded, long wavy black hair that flowed down her back, deep brown eyes like melted chocolate and a heaving chest that was extremely distracting.
“Hello, Esperanza.” Remus responded, he could feel his palms sweating already at her close proximity to him. She was one of the more popular girls at Hogwarts, always surrounded by her friends with a trail of teenage boys in her wake. There was just something about her other than her appearance that drew people in, and Remus was no exception to the rule. He did however transform into a blubbering wreck whenever she was close to him, stammering and stuttering all over the place and sweating like a crazy person.
“I’ve brought you something, Remus, for all your help recently in transfiguration. You’ve been such a help to me.” She smiled pleasantly at him, handing him a box of chocolates.
“Oh….right….um….er…thanks, Esperanza.” Remus fumbled with his arm full of books, juggling them around in order to be able to accept her gift. “That’s no problem, glad I could help.”
Her lips, painted a light shade of red curled into a slow smile. “Oh how wonderful, I was hoping you would say that.”
“You were?” Remus was doing his level best to keep his eyes on her face, but when he looked at her for too long he began to get extremely nervous and fidgety, but dropping his gaze wasn’t an option as he would then be staring at the large cleavage she sported.
“Yes,” Esperanza flipped her long hair over her shoulders, it tumbled down her back in long, silky waves, curling slightly at the end. “You see, I’m having a little trouble with my divination work, and as your so good at the subject I wondered if you might help me?”
“Me? Oh, yes, of course I’ll help you,” He agreed, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “When?”
“Whenever your free. I know you have a lot on what with your own work and prefect stuff. I wouldn’t want to take up all your time.” She smiled sweetly at him again, eyelashes fluttering like wings of a butterfly.
Remus smiled back, making a conscious effort not to grin like a Cheshire cat. “I’m free tomorrow night?”
“Sounds perfect, Remus.” Esperanza stroked his arm in a seemingly absent gesture. “I’ll see you then.”
“Um, yeah, see you then.” He agreed shifting away from her long, elegant fingers topped with red nail polish that were giving him shivers; and backing away down the corridor. “Bye.”
Esperanza quirked an eyebrow at him, her eyes twinkling with unhidden amusement. “Bye, Remus.”
Flushing scarlet up to the roots of his hair Remus turned and scurried away to the safety of the library. He liked the library, most people found it a boring and dull place to be, but Remus Lupin liked the dusty old books and their hidden secrets. A part of him; a small part of him tucked away in the hopeful corner of his heart thought that by spending so much time around books; that their wisdom would one day show him the way towards a cure for his little problem or perhaps an easier way to deal with things.
The reality of the situation was extremely different. It was never going to happen, but Remus lived in hope.
Rolling his eyes at himself Remus entered the large library, as usual not many people were around and he made his way over to a darkened corner where he guessed Lily Evans would be. She was a prefect in Gryffindor just like he was, and she was the one girl he wasn’t nervous around.
The object of his best friend James Potter’s desire, Lily was a friend to him, someone to talk to, to work with, she was just as concerned about good grades as he was. Plus he seemed to be the only one of his three friends that she could stand to be around for more than five minutes at a time.
Rounding the corner he spotted her tucked away at the farthest table, her nose buried in a potions text book. Potions was Lily’s forte, and although he was good at the subject she was the best in the class and Slughorn’s favourite. Lily looked up as he came abreast of the table, her long red hair was pulled back into a braid with tiny tendrils curling at her temples. Her emerald green eyes narrowed a little and her brow creased as she surveyed him closely. “Have you been running?”
“Running? No.” Remus shook his head in surprise. “Why would you think I’ve been running?”
Lily sat back in her chair, “Well, your all pink for a start,”
Remus flushed again, “Oh that, no, I’ve just spoken to Esperanza that’s all.” He explained letting out a frustrated sigh and plopping down in the chair next to her.
Lily giggled, leaning forward on her elbows she spoke in a low voice, “I think she likes you.”
“What? Oh no, you’ve got it all wrong, she just needs some help with divination that’s all.” Remus dismissed Lily’s claim with a flick of his wrist and hastened to sort through his books and parchment. “She’s much better at Transfiguration now, and she knows I can help her, explain things differently so that she can understand them easier.”
“Uh-huh, that’s all it is.” Lily agreed, her eyes shining mischievously.
“It is.” Remus insisted, resisting the urge to fidget under Lily’s laughing eyes. “I could never get a girl like her.”
Lily snorted and went back to her book. “You could get any girl you wanted to, Remus. I mean, look at Black and Potter, they’re the most annoying, irritating fools in the school and they have girls swooning all over them. Someone like you wouldn’t have any problem at all.”
“That’s nice of you to say, but your biased, you’re my friend and you don’t like James and Sirius.“ Remus laughed easily. “Besides, Esperanza isn’t the girlfriend type is she?”
“No, but no-one said she had to be your girlfriend did they?” Lily sighed softly, “Have some fun, Remus, you worry too much. You spend all your time cooped up away from people other than myself and your friends. People can be ok if you give them a chance.”
“You mean like all the chances you give to James?” He wondered innocently.
Lily frowned, “Potter is a special case.” She conceded.
Lily made a small humph, “Yes well, Black is a basket case.”
Remus laughed, “Thanks for all the advice, Lily, but I’ll stick to what I know.” Bending his head he began to flick through his potions book for the relevant page.
He really did appreciate Lily’s help and consideration, but she didn’t know the problems that he faced, she didn’t know what happened to him, how tainted he was. Only his friends knew, they were so supportive of him; but Lily couldn’t know, no-one else could know. Glancing up at Lily through his lashes Remus imagined that sweet expression twisting to one of disgust, her helpful and friendly attitude turning to fear and ice within seconds should she ever find out what he was. The beast he became at every full moon with no control over his body and urges.
“You know, Remus,” Lily began slowly. “When a girl tells you she wants to look at the stars, she doesn’t always want to actually look at the stars.”
Remus sighed heavily. “I’m helping her with divination, we can’t really avoid looking at the stars can we?”
A teasing smile curled the corners of Lily’s lips. “No, but I bet she’ll be waiting for you to make a move.”
Growling deep in his throat with annoyance Remus handed her the box of chocolates. “Have a chocolate and stop interfering.” He scolded lightly making her laugh.
“These are expensive chocolates, where on earth did you get these from, Remus? You can’t buy them in Hogsmead.” Lily’s eyes widened in delight, her fingers wiggling from one tempting chocolate to the other as she dithered as to which centre she would prefer.
“Present from Esperanza.” Remus could have bitten his tongue. He’d spoken without thinking and now Lily was looking at him with a triumphant expression on her face. “What?” He demanded defensively.
She sighed dramatically. “Why is it so hard for you to believe that a girl could really and truly want to be around you for you and not because your smart?”
Remus shrugged, “I’m not the usual type of guy a girl goes for.” So far as he was concerned he figured girls tended to go for the normal type of guy, the guy who wouldn’t attack them and ruin their life because of a full moon.
He had so far managed to keep a healthy distance between himself and most people at Hogwarts, letting a girl too close, falling for her and then having her run in the opposite direction as soon as she found out what kind of person he really was, well, that was not something Remus wanted to go through anytime soon.
“Sure you are. Oooh, strawberry centres. Oh, hello, Peter.” Lily greeted selecting a chocolate.
“Alright, Evans? Hi Moony, can I have a chocolate?” Peter’s beady eyes were fixed longingly on the box in front of him.
“Help yourself.” Remus reverted back to his book. “Where have you been then? Where’s Padfoot and Prongs?”
Peter shrugged and settled himself in a seat to Remus’ left while he read the back of the box of chocolates. “Not sure, I think Prongs said something about Quidditch, but they should be back in the common room by now.”
Remus snorted, “More than likely sitting around and not doing their homework. Well, I’m not bailing them out this time. I don’t care if they get detention for the whole week. This time I’m putting my foot down, Wormtail. I’m not giving them my notes or my essay to copy from …..” He sighed heavily, “I’ll sort them out when I get back.”
He knew it was pointless to continue with his usual spiel. James and Sirius were his best friends, they were the layabouts, he was the smart one. Naturally he was going to help them even if he made them stew and sweat it out for a while; he knew it and they knew it.
“Oh, Remus, your so masterful.”
Remus looked up in surprise at Lily’s softly spoken statement. She was sitting there with her chin in her hand gazing dreamily at him. He frowned, “What?”
Lily sighed again, reaching out she touched the tips of her fingers lightly to his lips. “Such soft lips…” she murmured, running her hand across his jaw bone to cup his cheek. “Be perfect to kiss….”
“What!?” Remus jumped to his feet, his brown eyes wide with shock. “What did you say, Lily?”
She looked slightly surprised at his forceful reaction. “Oh don’t be shy, Remus. Our kiss will be simply lovely.” Lily moved forward to take his hand but he swiftly side stepped her.
“Lily? Are you ok?” He squinted down at her. “You do know what you just said don’t you?”
“Well of course.” She replied, a look of surprise crossing her face. “I want to kiss you, Remus. Come here.”
Remus backed away as Lily began to advance on him. “Lily? Lily, what are you doing? Stop it now, this isn’t funny.”
Lily giggled, “Oh come on, darling, don’t play hard to get.”
“Hard to get?” Remus echoed stunned as he shifted around the table away from Lily who was advancing on him, arms outstretched, fingers flexing. “You can’t kiss me, Lily.” He told her desperately.
“That’s right, you can’t kiss him.” Peter said, standing suddenly in a protective stance just in front of his friend.
“Thanks, Wormtail.” Remus ran a hand through his hair as he gazed curiously at Lily over Peter’s shoulder.
“He’s my Remus!” Peter informed Lily forcefully.
Lily’s hands rested on her slender hips, her eyes narrowing, “I don’t think so, Pettigrew. Now move!”
“I’m not going anywhere, Evans.” Peter spat, glaring straight back at her.
Remus’ jaw worked silently for a few horrible seconds as they both turned to look at him. Peter with a look of utter adoration on his face, and Lily with glassy eyed worship.
“Oh Merlin.” He let out a hiss of a breath as Lily began to move around the table towards him.
Knowing that the fastest Peter ever moved was at best described as an amble, Remus darted between his friend and the book shelf and headed for the door at a run with the shout of “no running in the library!” following him.
“Remus! Darling, come back!” Lily called chasing after him.
“Darling?” Remus muttered as he hurried along the corridor, the sound of Lily’s high heels echoing behind him. He knew he could make it back to the common room well ahead of her if he used the secret passage ways he, Peter, Sirius and James had discovered during their time at school. He needed James and Sirius right now, he needed someone to tell, some place to think about what had just happened.
A few minutes later Remus barrelled through the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. “Prongs! Padfoot! Help me!”
James and Sirius who were sitting by the window playing exploding snap looked up simultaneously. Quirking his eyebrows Sirius surveyed his panting friend with interest. “Alright, Moony?”
“No! Everything is not alright, Padfoot! She’ll be here any second, she was right behind me.” Remus bent double, placing his hands on his knees and drew a much needed breath into his lungs.
“Who?” James frowned, “What’s going on?”
“Lily.” Remus replied shooting a worried look at the entrance to the common room. “She wants to kiss me!”
James’ jaw dropped open. “She wants to do what?”
“Kiss him.” Sirius supplied in a helpful tone.
James scowled at his friend. “I heard him the first time, Padfoot.”
Sirius shrugged, “Then why ask?”
Remus stamped his foot in an act of frustration. “Stop it! Stop arguing and help me! Lily isn’t the….”
“Remus! There you are!” Lily flew into the common room, her eyes wide and a satisfied smile on her face at discovering his whereabouts. Latching onto his arm before he could move she gazed adoringly up at him. “If you run, I’ll find you.” She sang out, poking the end of his nose with the tip of her index finger.
James and Sirius exchanged confused looks. “What the hell is going on?” James demanded rising to his feet and crossing his arms over his chest.
Lily smiled sweetly at James, “I’m in love with Remus of course.”
“Your what?” He asked dumbly.
“In love with Remus.”
“Padfoot!” James yelled irritably. “Stop doing that!”
Sirius grinned and ran a hand through his wild black hair. “Well you seem to be a bit deaf today, Prongs. I just want to make sure that you fully understand the situation.”
“How did this happen?” James asked, adverting his eyes from Lily’s doting expression.
Running a hand through his hair distractedly Remus sighed heavily. “I don’t know, I haven’t had time to think. But this isn’t the worst bit.” He added with a grimace.
“No?” James responded dryly, “then what is?”
“Moony my love! You shouldn’t run so fast.” Peter exclaimed as he huffed and puffed his way across the common room, small beads of perspiration standing out on his hair line.
Sirius started to snigger, “I think that’s the worst part.”
“It’s not funny, Padfoot. Stop laughing.” Remus snapped.
Hiding his grin behind his hand James surveyed the scene before him. Remus was now sandwiched between Lily and Peter who were alternating giving each other evil glares and Remus loving looks. “Well, the first thing to do is figure out how this happened and then we can put everyone right.”
“Really? What would I do without you, Prongs? I hadn’t thought of that.” Remus replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
Lily sighed dreamily, tracing his jaw with her finger, “You’re so handsome, Remus.”
Sirius burst out laughing. “Where do we start then?” Shaking his head and grinning he added, “And I thought today was going to be boring.”