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Another One Goes By by Elphaba and Boyfriends
Chapter 15 : Just a Little Closer
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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February bled into March, the weather growing warmer and wetter (though not any sunnier with the dementors' presence). Clio felt the spring sweeping over and past her much too quickly, leaving her with a collection of bittersweet memories, all blending together in her mind like a photo collage in one of her albums.

After Harry's private lesson the week following the break-in, when he successfully produced a full patronus in the presence of his boggart, Remus stepped through the floo into Clio's office to tell her.

“That frees me to work with you on your boggart. Only when you're ready, of course.”

She exhaled sharply. She'd dreaded this day for the past two months, but was anxious to finally put it behind her. "How about tomorrow night?"

He cocked his head, "You're ready now, then?"

"Yeah, as ready as I'll ever be," she sighed. The memory she'd come up with to ridikkulus the boggart was quite possibly the lamest ever, but it was the best she could summon.

He smiled, "All right, 8:00 tomorrow night, my office."

She met him there a few minutes early, palms sweaty and stomach roiling.

Remus met her wide eyes and took one of her clammy hands in his. “I'll understand completely if you've changed your mind,” he whispered into her hair.

She shook her head, determined to get it over with. He gave her hand a final squeeze, then dragged the packing case out on to his desk.

"Stand right there," he said, quickly crossing the room and pointing to a spot on the floor several feet from the front of the desk. "I'll open it from back here in the corner. Ready?"

She squared up with her feet shoulder width apart, raised her wand and formed the picture she wanted to emerge from the case in her mind. Then she nodded.

"I have complete confidence in you," he said, then released the lid of the case. The paunchy middle-aged man rose up and burst into flames. The unseen girl began to scream.

"Riddikulus," Clio said defiantly. The man transformed into a teenage Henry dressed in boxer shorts and a t-shirt. The flames shrank, now licking out from beneath the lid of a smoking cardboard pizza box. Henry stomped on the box with his foot, setting his sock alight, as well. One corner of her mouth lifted.

The scream resolved into a chorus of disembodied voices that shouted conflicting advice.

“Piss it out!” “Stop, drop and roll!” “Would evanesco work on that?” “Duck and cover!” “Of course it would, it works on anything.” “Where's a fire extinguisher when you need one?” “Then the pizza would be gone, too.” “Where's RA Rob?” “Is the pizza even salvageable now?” "Henry, aguamenti!" “Rob!” “Aguamenti!”

Snapping his fingers, Henry pulled his wand from the waistband of his shorts and pointed it at the box. Water poured from the tip. Suddenly, water poured down everywhere as if he had a personal raincloud hanging just above his head. The flames died, leaving wisps of steam.

Clio laughed at both her memory of the incident and her re-creation of it, here, now. Remus laughed with her as the boggart disintegrated in a final puff of smoke. Clio stood stunned for a second, and then Remus caught her up in a tight embrace, kissing her fiercely.

"That was spectacular," he said.

"Thanks," she said, feeling weightless, head buzzing from the sudden rush of adrenalin.

"So was that another memory?"

She nodded.

"Tell me about it."

"I think it was my fifth year, so it would have been Henry's sixth. The incendio charm we used to try to heat up a pizza got out of control." She laughed nervously. "Then the aguamenti charm he did to put the fire out got out of control, and the dorm was flooded and we all had to wait outside until the RA could summon a professor to clear the water off."

"That may be the most elaborate setup for the riddikulus charm that I've ever witnessed."

"I've had a lot of time to prepare it, and that's all I could think of," she said, face flushing.

“It worked,” he said. “That's what matters.”

"Thanks for helping me."

"That was all you," he insisted, his gray eyes shining with pride. "Now that you've done it once, you know how to do it again, if you need to."

"I would never have dealt with it on my own," she said. She considered telling him the story behind her boggart, but faltered. The longer she didn't say anything the easier it was to just let it go. It might eat away at the edges of her mind for awhile, but would soon wander away until the next time something happened to remind her of it.

If her troubled thoughts showed on her face, then he didn't acknowledge them. He kissed her again, perhaps to chase away her worries, then let her lead him to his private chamber where they undressed and fell into bed.

Their initial awkwardness had dissolved over the course of several nights, and now they began exploring all the different ways they had to bring pleasure to each other. Clio found herself first squirming, then squealing at the magic he very thoroughly worked on her with his mouth and tongue. His reactions were quieter but no less impassioned when she repaid him in kind. They collapsed together afterward in a blissed-out daze, neither wanting to ruin the moment with unnecessary talk.

"So, your birthday is coming up," Clio said at last. Her head rested on his bare chest, and she listened to his heartbeat. One arm stretched across his belly, fingers tracing where it was intersected by the jagged scar. "How do you want to celebrate?"

His own arms lay draped around her. He could barely feel her fingers on the numb scar tissue of his belly. Anywhere else would have tickled, but she'd found the one spot that didn't. He hadn't allowed anyone to touch this scar before, and now he discovered that it actually felt pleasant. His chest rose and fell with each deep, slow breath, and so much time passed after her question that she thought he had dozed off.

"I don't know," he said at last. "I haven't actually celebrated my birthday in a long time."

"Then we should do something special for it."

"It's not an especially momentous birthday, 34," he sighed. "It's just a reminder that I'm getting older."

She lay silent for a moment before responding, "You know, you're only as old as the woman you feel."

His chest shook with quiet laughter. "What?"

"That's Shakespeare," she said with a chuckle. “No, actually, I think it's Groucho Marx.”

"Hmm, he sounds like a wise man."

Clio laughed again, "So what do you want for your birthday? What's your birthday wish?"

"To die in your lap,” he answered, eyes glinting mischievously. “That's Shakespeare.”

“I think I can grant that.” She kissed the skin over his heart. “What else?”

“Aside from not being a werewolf?" he sighed.

"Oh Remus," she said, sitting up and looking down into his clear silvery eyes. "If I could wish for anything it would be for you to be happy."

"I am happy, with you," he breathed.

"And I'm happy with you," she replied.

A shadow passed over his face. "What does that happiness cost you, though?" he asked.

"Cost me? Nothing." Her brow furrowed.

He pulled away from her and sat up as well. "My condition is a secret now, but what would happen if it got out? You need to think about how that would affect you."

"You know that doesn't bother me." Clio pulled her legs up to her chest and hugged them with her arms.

"I know," he answered sadly. They were sitting on opposite sides of the bed, now.

"Are we having an argument?" she asked.

"It's a difficult conversation. One that we need to have," he responded firmly.

"So what else needs to be said? We may as well get it all out there, now," she snapped.

His jaw clenched at her frosty tone, and for a while he said nothing. Finally, he quietly asked, "What have you told your family? Your friends?"

"The ones I actually talk to? They know I have a boyfriend. His name is Remus Lupin. He's a professor at Hogwarts. He's a few years older than me." She paused for a moment. "I figure anything else is your business to tell them, or not, when you meet them."

"Meet them?" He sounded incredulous. "You want me to meet them."

"You've already met Henry. Jenn wants to meet you. A couple of my other friends in Alexandria want to meet you, too. My sister and grandmother want to meet you. My parents … my mom doesn't like any wizard other than my dad, so I've never brought anyone home." She paused to take a deep breath before continuing. "I've been thinking we could do some traveling over the summer."

He sighed loudly, "When were you going to tell me this?"

"I was planning to ask you once we got closer to the end of the school year."

"How can I travel with you when I either have to come back here to take a potion for a week out of every month, or be sequestered in a locked room? And spend up to a week recovering from it?"

"It's one week a month! We can work around that!" She didn't realize that she was yelling until the words were out of her mouth. She regretted her outburst as soon as saw the change in his expression, the light in his eyes dull, his body shrink farther away from her.

"I don't know that I'll be ready for that," he whispered.

"I'm not demanding a decision from you right now," she replied in a more reasonable tone. "Just think about it."

He stood up abruptly and walked away from her to the fire. He stared into it, his back turned toward her. She watched him for a moment before gathering her clothes and getting dressed.

"How did this turn into an argument?" she asked. He shook his head, remaining turned away from her as she finished dressing. Neither said anything more until she, having to walk past him to get to the fireplace to leave, stopped next to him and put her hand on his arm.

"Please don't be mad at me," she said.

He looked at her then, pain and shock in his pale eyes. "Clio, I'm not angry with you. I just need some time to think." He tried, unconvincingly, to smile.

*

Nothing more was mentioned of that summer, or travel or even of their discussion in the days that followed. Charity sensed that something had happened when Clio seemed unusually moody at breakfast the next day, but Clio insisted that everything was fine when asked. Her exchanges with Remus remained warm and affectionate as always, and the only time she worried at all was when she lay alone in bed at night, waiting for a sleep that was uncharacteristically difficult in coming.

It was during these quiet, restless periods that her mind began to turn once again to her grandfather. She'd decided that her grandmother's unwillingness to talk about what he did at the Ministry was proof enough that he worked in the Department of Mysteries. Now she wondered what it was that he did there, and whether it had anything to do with why he was killed.

She remembered only bits and pieces of that day, but they repeated in an endless loop in her head. She was playing in the yard with Domino, who suddenly barked and snarled like he was possessed. Grandpa hadn't been there, and all at once he was, in a flash of light. He said something to her that she didn't understand. Then he fell. Domino began to howl.

The old issues of the Daily Prophet she dug up in the library were unsurprisingly silent on the department, and the wild tales of floating brains and planets in The Quibbler made her laugh. Tired of being left out of her friend's thoughts, Charity pestered her one evening until Clio asked her what she knew about the Department of Mysteries. Charity didn't know any more than Vincent.

"Dumbledore would be the person to ask about that," Charity said. "If anyone knows what goes on there, he would."

"Yeah, I've thought about that," Clio said, hesitant to continue. "I'm not sure how to bring it up without saying too much."

"What do you mean?"

"I may not have been entirely forthcoming about why I wanted to teach at Hogwarts during my job interview."

"Who is?" Charity tutted. "Whatever it is you're hiding, it can't be that bad."

Clio sighed, "My grandfather is part of, a big part of, why I came to work here. I learned all I could about him in Alexandria, and as soon as I saw an opportunity in Britain I took it."

Charity's eyes widened. "You're here because you want to find out what happened to him?"

Clio shrugged, "Yeah, partially. Mostly. But I really like teaching. And with everything else that's happened this year, it hasn't exactly been at the top of my priority list."

Charity tossed her hair and laughed, "Are you saying you've been too busy dealing with the dementors and break ins, and falling in love and actually trying to do your job? You should talk to Dumbledore. He'll understand."

Clio nodded. "I may wait until after my end-of-year review. What's this about falling in love?"

Charity pierced her with her dark blue eyes. "Come on, I've seen how you look at him."

*

Although Remus insisted he wanted nothing for his birthday, Clio racked her brains to come up with something special to do for him. In the end, she baked him a cake using the finest chocolate from Honeyduke's. The house-elves were reluctant to let her invade their kitchen, but acquiesced once she'd distributed a few bottles of butterbeer. She made a bit of a mess with the flour, but cleaned it up before the giggling, hiccuping elves could complain.

She surprised Remus with the cake in the middle of the day, while most of the school was out enjoying the mild spring weather in Hogsmeade. After confirming that he was alone, she stepped through the floo wearing her cloak, with the cake in a box and her guitar slung over one shoulder.

"Chocolate?" he asked, sniffing the box.

"I know you said you didn't want anything, but I thought you should at least have a cake."

"You got me a cake?" he asked, eyes lighting up.

"I made it. So, I hope that it's edible."

“It smells heavenly,” he said, taking the box and setting it aside on the ottoman so he could properly kiss her.

"I have another surprise; I've actually mastered a couple of songs on the guitar. I thought you should be the first person to hear them. But only if you want." She propped her guitar next to the cake.

"Absolutely," he said, sliding his arms around her shoulders. "Are you cold?"

"No." she said, mouth curling up in its devious half smile.

"What are you wearing beneath, this?" he asked, hands running over her cloak and feeling shoulder blades and spine.

"Why don't you look for yourself," she said, eyes smoldering.

His fingers fumbled with the top fastening, eyes growing large as one bare shoulder slipped out. He undid the rest with a flick of his wand, and discovered that she wore only underwear, lacy things that were far less substantial than her usual tiny cotton shorts.

"Music first?" she asked, sitting down on the loveseat and balancing the guitar on her bare thighs.

"Hmm? Oh, yes, that would be nice," he said, sliding onto the seat next to her. She began with the Band of Centaurs song that had been the first to play on his music box at Christmas. Though she warned him not to judge her too harshly, she played it near perfectly, her voice making a fair approximation of the Centaurs' lead singer. Before the last chord had faded, Remus was nuzzling her neck, hands prowling lower. Giggling, she set the guitar aside.

"Happy birthday," she said, tackling him and pulling him down with her onto the floor.

They were feeding each other chocolate cake one bite at a time when Snape's angry voice interrupted, projecting through the fireplace.

"Lupin! I want a word."

Remus swallowed the frosting he'd just licked off of her finger, and had just enough time to throw on his robes before he was sucked through the floo.

"Wait for me," he said as he disappeared.

She passed the time practicing the Django Reinhardt song that she'd learned just for him. When he walked into his office some time later, it was in a completely different state than when he'd departed. He clutched a worn sheet of parchment, face pale and jaw tight. He paced back and forth until Clio ventured out to him.

"Remus, what's wrong?"

"It's nothing," he said, staring at the floor.

"It doesn't seem like nothing."

He looked up at her and sighed. "Snape thinks Harry snuck into Hogsmeade."

"Did he?"

"I don't know for sure. Harry and Ron both claim 'no,' but..." he looked at the parchment in his hands.

"What is that?" she asked.

"Just part of a prank." He walked over to his desk, slid it into the top drawer, and locked it. He struggled with himself for a moment, unsure of what to tell her. "I had a talk with Harry, I don't think it will happen again." He remained standing, tense, mind clearly elsewhere.

"Do you want any more cake?" she asked.

Her question seemed to jolt him back to the present.

"No, not right now. I'm sorry to spoil an otherwise wonderful afternoon," he sighed.

"You didn't spoil anything. If Snape were here right now I'd kick him in the nads."

He smiled weakly.

"Hagrid and Charity want to take you out for a drink later, and I think they invited a few other people. Are you up for that?"

He rubbed at his forehead before saying softly, "Yes, I'd like that."

"Are you sure? I can tell them you're not feeling well."

"No, that's not necessary. I just need some space for awhile."

She nodded, then picked up her guitar and made her exit through the floo.

The incident was swept from her mind when she ran into Hagrid while she was walking Nox a while later. Nox spied Fang near the pumpkin patch and ran down to harass him. Clio followed behind, stopping short when she came upon Hagrid, his arms circling Buckbeak's neck, sobs wracking his enormous shaggy body. The dogs sat side-by-side, dour-faced and sad-eyed.

"Oh no, the trial was today, wasn't it?" A lump rose up in her throat as she realized that she didn't even need to ask him how it had gone.

Hagrid lifted his head. "They're gonna execute 'im," he bawled, eyes swollen nearly shut.

"I'm so sorry, Hagrid," she said. "Can't you appeal it? Is there anything I can do?"

"There's an appeal scheduled, but not until the day of the execution," he said, wiping his eyes on his hairy coat sleeves and blowing his nose on his shirt.

Clio hugged both Hagrid and Buckbeak, and then trudged heavily back up to the castle.

The group that headed out to The Three Broomsticks later that evening was a somber one. Instead of toasting Remus, they all toasted Buckbeak. Remus actually seemed to be relieved to not be the center of attention. Walking home later that night, it took several of them steadying Hagrid with the levitation charm to keep him from falling down.

*

Clio caught Remus putting away the folded square of old parchment when she came to visit him in his office a few times over the next weeks. She didn't ask him about it, figuring that he would tell her about it once he was ready. With so many other things to occupy their minds as the end of the term drew near, it was easy to overlook.

Everyone would face performance evaluations with Dumbledore at the end of the term. As probationary teaching staff, both of them and Hagrid also had to endure reviews by the four house heads. All four would observe at least one class period for each of them. Hagrid was the most distressed about this, but no one looked forward to having Snape sit in on their class. Their only optimism came from the knowledge that Snape's appraisals of the three of them would also be included in his own performance evaluation with Dumbledore.

All staff were allowed to submit comments about any other staff person that they wished, the one caveat being that these comments could not be anonymous. Charity promised to submit comments on their behalf, though she assured them that Dumbledore would never deny a contract to anyone over petty grievances.

"Especially not DADA," she insisted. "Not now that we've actually got someone decent teaching it – I don't mean that you're just decent, Remus, you're excellent. I just mean that you'd only have to be decent to keep your job, no offense."

"None taken," he said, smiling vaguely.

"I mean, Gilderoy Fucking Lockhart, come on!" She continued. "We're all just glad that the curse is finally going to be broken."

Remus laughed nervously, "Don't jinx me, the year's not over, yet."

"I thought you weren't superstitious?" Clio said.

"I'm not, normally," he said quietly, "I just have a lot riding on this." His eyes met Clio's, and she nodded, thinking that she understood him perfectly. Hogwarts meant a lot to both of them, but to him it was everything.

Her fingers went reflexively to the black ring on her right had, twisting it compulsively as if it could grant her a wish.

Remus started taking his monthly round of wolfsbane potion that night. Clio was watching the grindylow stuff chunk after chunk of apple into its mouth when Snape arrived with it.

"Thank you, Severus," Remus said, removing his arms from Clio's waist as Snape stalked into the room. He plunked the smoking goblet onto Remus' desk, glowered at Clio (who smiled back) and slunk out again without a word.

Remus picked up the goblet and shuddered, holding his breath as he chugged its contents all at once. He shuddered again, covering his mouth with his hand as if he might be sick.

"What does that stuff taste like?" she asked.

"It's very bitter," he answered, after a brief hesitation. "It doesn't taste like it should even be edible."

"It's nice of him to give it to you right before dinner," she said sarcastically.

"I'm just grateful that he makes it at all," he quietly replied.

"Any word yet on whether he'll make it over the summer?"

"Dumbledore said he'd talk to him about it. If not there are … other options."

"Like what?"

"When I was a student here, there was a room where I used to be locked up each month."

She winced. "So that's plan B? Either way you'll be here?"

He nodded.

"Are you all right?" she asked. "You look a little green."

"It's the potion. You can go ahead down, if you want. I may just get something from the kitchen later."

She nodded, then crossed over to him for a kiss. He turned his mouth away, and she settled for his cheek. She knew it was the potion and not her, but couldn't help worrying a little anyway.

*

They were sitting in his room the next evening, grading homework (she sitting with her legs curled under her on one side of the couch, and he on the other side with his legs stretched out on the ottoman) when she dared to bring up summer plans again.

"So, have you given any thought to where you'd like to spend the non-furry portions of this summer?" she asked casually.

"You don't give up easily, do you?" he said, then smiled the tiniest bit. She didn't respond, her pleading eyes doing all the talking. He sighed. "I suppose a little sun would do us both good."

She smiled broadly. "So you'll come with me to Egypt?"

"I think that would be all right," he said, smiling faintly. He had to very quickly set aside the rolls of parchment he was neatly marking so they wouldn't be crumpled as she pounced on him.

"Remus?” she asked a while later, breathing heavily. “This may sound like a weird request, but can I stay with you when you transform this month?"

He looked at her for a moment as if she'd just said something totally outrageous, but she just gazed back at him as if her question were perfectly reasonable.

"The transformation is horrible," he said, shaking his head. "I can't imagine why you would want to watch that."

"It's not that I want to watch it. I just want to know what you go through. I can keep you company."

He shook his head again. "I don't want you to see it."

"Okay," she said. "What about letting me keep you company, though?"

"After I transform?" he asked, frowning.

"Yeah, I could come through the floo after the moon rises, and leave before it sets."

"I'm afraid it will be terribly boring. I usually just curl up and go to sleep."

She shrugged. "It won't be much different than hanging out with Nox, then."

He looked over her shoulder, shaking his head. "All right," he sighed, unable to think of another logical argument to keep her away.

"Really?" she said, smiling.

He looked at her and smiled faintly. She pressed herself to him and trailed kisses down his scruffy neck.

"You're an odd one, Clio," he said, marveling at how easy it had become to give in to her. "Don't ever change."

*

Clio perched on her window seat with Snow Crash until she saw the full moon creeping up over the horizon, then waited another five minutes just to be sure. She was dressed in the tank shirt and loose pajama bottoms that she'd started wearing to bed after Black's second break-in. She'd better be prepared just in case Dumbledore summoned them all in the middle of night again, she thought. She gathered up some homework that needed grading and threw it and her book into her bag, then slung it and her guitar over her shoulder and whistled for Nox. The dog trotted up to her with a bone in her mouth. She scooped up the dog in one arm and stepped to the fireplace, reached into the jar of floo powder and tossed a pinch into the flames.

The fire flared green as she shouted, "Hey Remus, here I come." She waited for a few seconds for a response, then realized that that was pointless. What kind of response could he produce, other than a whimper or howl? She tossed a bigger handful of the powder into the flames and then stepped through. His bedroom was quiet and seemingly empty. Nox squirmed in her arms.

"Remus?"

She heard the clicking of claws on the floorboards as he emerged hesitantly from the bathroom, an immense gray wolf with a short snout and thick tail that he carried tucked low. As he slunk into the light, she couldn't help noticing the thin, hairless lines that criss-crossed his sides. Nox dropped her bone and barked a challenge. At least she was wagging her tail, and not growling or raising her hackles.

"Nox, if you don't behave you have to go back to your room," Clio said, setting the dog on the floor. She ran immediately forward to sniff Remus, tail held high, oblivious to the jaws could easily snap her neck. He gazed at Clio sheepishly as Nox circled him, sniffing him up and down. His eyes were the same silvery gray as always. She thought that she would like to run her hands through his fur.

"Has he passed inspection, Nox?" Clio asked sharply, rolling her eyes as the dog nosed his nether regions. His tail wagged half-heartedly as he clicked up to the ottoman, nudging a large shallow bowl and then eyeing her.

"You drink out of that?" she asked. He wagged his tail again, gazing at her sadly. "I guess it's better than drinking out of the toilet."

She walked over to the ottoman and noticed the bottle of mead and a glass standing next to it. A smaller bottle of pain reliever stood next to the mead. She read the small print on the label.

"May cause drowsiness," she said, "I suppose you want a little of this tipped into your mead?" she asked, filling the bowl and then her glass with the drink. His tail wagged again as she poured a modest amount of the potion into the bowl, swirling it to mix it in.

"Yamas," she murmured, tipping her glass to him as he began lapping at his bowl. He was tall enough that he had to bend his neck to reach it, even with it sitting on the ottoman. He drained it before she'd made more than a dent in her glass.

She sat back on the loveseat and he eased into a sitting position on the floor next to her, looking her in the eyes. "I brought my guitar because I really need to practice if I want to get any better," she said, "I hope you don't mind." His tail thumped on the floor. "Okay. I have to warn you, though, that there are few things more annoying than listening to a wannabe guitarist playing the same song over and over again. Lucky for you I have scales to work on."

They regarded each other in silence for a moment, and then she reached out to him, placing one hand on either side of his head and stroking the soft grizzled fur on his cheeks. He closed his eyes as she ran her fingers over his ears, stretching them out and caressing each one from the base to the tip. She leaned forward and kissed him gently between his eyes, then sat back and picked up her guitar.

He sank to the floor at her feet while she played. Nox settled up against his side, holding her bone between her paws as she chewed. Clio worked through her scales before trying a few new songs, sometimes singing along but mostly not. When she did sing she alternated between English and Greek, recalling the folk songs she'd been lulled to sleep by as a small child.

She eventually felt his weight sag against her legs, and his breathing slow; and when she looked down saw that both he and Nox were fast asleep. She set the guitar down and shook him gently.

"Wouldn't you be more comfortable on your bed?" she said when he opened one eye to look at her. He got up stiffly, and she followed him as he walked shakily to his bed and climbed in one leg at a time. Nox, looking slightly put out, jumped up onto the couch, circled once, then plopped down and returned to sleep.

Remus stretched out with a groan. Clio watched him for a moment, then kicked off her slippers and dimmed the lights. She climbed quietly into bed behind him, laying against his back and wrapping her top arm around him, burying her face in the thick fur on the back of his neck. She stroked his side, feeling his heartbeat slow as he drifted off.

"S'agapo, Remus," she whispered, his ear twitching at the tickle of her breath. She was asleep within moments of closing her eyes.

She was wakened by warm breath and a wet tongue on her cheek. It was still dark. "Nox, get down," she muttered, batting the dog away. The muzzle her hand struck with was too big be Nox, though, and covered in shaggier fur. She opened her eyes and saw Remus looking back at her.

"Sorry," she said huskily, "Is it that time already?" He licked the side of her face again, from chin to ear. She sat up and stretched, then threw her arms around his neck. "How soon can I come back? A few minutes after moon set?"

He looked at her dolefully, and she returned his steady gaze. He relented with a single thump of his tail, and she kissed him once again between the eyes before sliding out of bed and scooping up Nox.

She took the dog outside for an early morning pee. There were still stars in the sky, twinkling faintly, but the moon had already dipped behind the forest. She fed Nox, brushed her teeth and splashed water on her face before returning to Remus.

She found him burrowed under the bedcovers, looking pale and feverish. He opened his eyes at her approach.

"Can I get you anything?" she asked.

"No, thank you. I already took some more of the potion," he answered, before closing his eyes.

She hesitated for a moment by the bed.

"You can come back to bed, if you like," he said, eyes still closed. She climbed in behind him, careful not to bump his tender shoulders as she slid her arm around his side. He listened to her breathing slow, and when he was sure she was asleep murmured, "Love you, Clio," before slipping away himself.

She crept out soon after the sun came up, careful not to wake Remus, who stirred fretfully in his sleep. She had bathed, changed, taken Nox outside and was on her way to breakfast when Charity caught up with her.

"So how did it go last night?"

Clio smiled, "It was nice. Like sleeping with a large, shaggy dog."

Charity raised an eyebrow. "You mean that in the strictest literal sense, right?"

Clio rolled her eyes, "Get your mind out of the gutter."

"Hey, you're one to talk," Charity retorted, "Miss Never-Met-a-Double-Entendre-She-Didn't-Like."

Clio didn't talk to Remus again until that night, when he stepped through the floo into her office to thank her for keeping him company.

"What about next month?" she asked. "Same time, same station?"

He looked at her curiously for a moment, "Yes, that would be all right," he said, then smiled thinly. "Snape sat in on my fifth-year class today to evaluate it."

"Great timing on his part," she muttered. "How did it go?"

"Fine," he sighed, rubbing at his neck. "He did nothing but sneer at me the entire time, but that's nothing unusual. I would expect him to visit one of yours some time this week."

She nodded. "Thanks for the head's up. Will you break if I kiss you now?"

He smiled weakly, "No, that would be all right."


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