Chapter 79 : Secret
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The night had left them alone.
In the expansive school, the night had done them a service in leaving them alone; no sound came from any of the hallways they were surrounded by. Both found themselves at comfort with the night, not intimidated by the night, as it had left them alone. It had left them be.
As Georgiana sat next to Remus on the tower's stairs, however, she had to wonder why the night had left them alone.
She was at no discomfort with the night; she was used to the night, and favored the night because of the horrible things that she had to deal with during the day. On most nights, she found her comfort in being alone, and the night was generally accommodating of her presence, a presence that the night had to have accustomed to by now.
Georgiana was not at discomfort with the night.
She could not say that she was comfortable with her company, however.
Why had the night left them alone? Shouldn't they have been surrounded, guarded, from the mistakes that they each knew they wanted to make? As the night became deeper and darker, it continued to retreat from the two, and Georgiana had to wonder why. She had to.
Because, while she knew that she had become accustomed to Remus Lupin's presence with her the past few months, she had begun to feel that feeling that stopped her in her tracks. He had always comforted her in a way that was unlike the superficial relationships that she had pursued before; he was certainly no Matthew Cornfoot, which Georgiana had enjoyed when she was befriending him.
Now she realized Remus Lupin was dangerous.
A mild-mannered, generally quiet boy had become more dangerous to Georgiana than anyone else. She didn't know when she started to feel that their relationship was more than friendship; she had fancied him before and she had believed that she knew the signs, the signals, the warnings.
Normally she was more alert to these types of things.
But, with a sinking feeling in her stomach, she recognized that she had felt the warnings from the moment she began befriending him. She had felt the warnings, but she hadn't done anything about it.
Was this what Scarlett's ordeal was? At the time, Georgiana's eyes had burned when Theodore had been so cruelly betrayed. Months later, she still knew she could never forget Scarlett's selfish behavior.
Yet...Georgiana looked to her side at Remus. Had it been the same?
Remus hadn't come with an agenda; Georgiana could scarcely believe that Sirius had planned on falling for a Slytherin. Had it been the same, then, that they had all been hoodwinked, betrayed by the notion that they had grown up on that who to love was a choice?
Georgiana knew that it was not a choice, for her. She did not know if she loved Remus Lupin, but she knew that she cared about him enough that she did not want to let him go. The night had left them alone, yes, and that scared Georgiana terribly. She didn't know why she was given this chance, again and again, to be alone with Remus Lupin. To be alone with him, for the night to leave them alone, was danger.
Yet..., Georgiana thought again, though she knew it was danger, though she knew that every second she spent with Remus was a second closer to a disaster, she did not move from where she was. Where they were.
The stairway that led to the courtyard was a part of their Prefect routes, although Georgiana had no excuse why they spent the majority of their nights there, leaving the rest of their assigned hallways unattended. Where they sat provided a view unlike any other of the Hogwarts grounds; dimly lit, Georgiana could see the trees, barely beginning to bloom. In the brisk March air, the leaves peeked out from underneath the snow, suggesting that there was newness underneath a winter that had been especially brutal.
The evidence of the spring season did nothing to comfort Georgiana, however, who only wished to become unburied from the winter but found herself covered by all the new year had burdened her with. With Remus as a presence in her life, Georgiana only found this to be more true; how could she feel warmth if she was not allowed to be with him, not even allowed to choose who she wanted to marry?
At the question, a small chill went through her body.
Remus looked over at her movement thoughtfully; he looked as if he, too, had been thinking along the same lines. "How are you?" Remus asked her, his voice calm and deep and in a tone that made Georgiana shiver again for a reason completely different than the time before.
She recovered in time to scoff. "I hate that question," she said. "What about you, Remus? How are you doing?"
"I'm feeling pretty good, actually," Remus said, lighthearted. "Do you feel like answering yet?"
Georgiana began playing with a lock of her long hair, absentmindedly staring out at the courtyard that was beginning to change even as she was unable to. "I am... frustrated. And confused."
"Why are you frustrated and confused?" Remus questioned. "Is it about Avery?"
Georgiana shrugged. "Avery's fine. He's a little thick maybe, but he's excited for the wedding. There really are worse people I could marry," she said, as if she needed to defend him. "He is considerate. Enthusiastic, I guess, even though he's being asked to do this as much as I am."
"So what is it, then?" Remus asked her. "Are you afraid?"
Georgiana processed his question. "I suppose so," she responded slowly. "I just can't believe that I am getting married so soon. I feel too young. I feel like... like it is another person, another Georgiana, that has to go down the aisle in a few weeks. I feel like I am being separated from myself, in a way."
Remus looked at her for a long moment and she felt her body warm up. "But..." Remus stopped, and she could see that he was trying hard to word his question appropriately, "is it... is it what you want, Georgiana?"
Like Remus, Georgiana had to stop to think about her response. "It's complicated. I have been thinking about getting married for forever, Remus. I remember... when my brother and I were younger, we would go to these parties, these balls, with our parents. We didn't have business being there, but our parents made us dress up. My mother put charms in my hair." Georgiana's nose crinkled at the memory. "And we would walk in, all of us, in our finest robes, and we would have to introduce ourselves as the Notts, this perfect family...and as my brother and I ran off with the others--" Georgiana stopped for a moment as she recalled Scarlett-- "we ran past all of them, all of these perfect couples with their perfect families, none of them in a skin that they had chosen...
"But they were all happy," Georgiana said. "Their lives were picked for them and they were happy about it. Maybe they didn't get to choose who they wanted to marry, maybe they didn't have the choice, but... they fit this mold, and life was easy for them. Life was happy for them. And a part of me really wants that. A life with Avery isn't a life that would make me feel passion. I don't know if I could ever love him. But life would be happy, and life would be easy...
"At the same time, though..." She scrunched up her nose in disgust. "I sometimes wonder what it would be like. For the longest time, that was all I had ever wanted, you know? This nice, easy life. But every so often, I wonder how life would be different if I didn't take that molded path... wonder if I would maybe be a little bit happier if I didn't get married to Avery, even if it wouldn't be easier... wonder if life would be better if I were with someone else... someone... like..."
"Me?" Remus asked, plainly, and turned his body to face her. "Someone like me?"
Remus took a lock of her hair, the lock that she had been twisting and turning, and tucked it shyly behind her ear, his movements deliberate and gentle. The side of her face where his hand was near heated up and though she had just spoken many words to Remus, though they had spoken often since they had become friends, she found herself completely unable to speak.
After he had moved her hair aside he placed his hand on her cheek; as her face heated up further, she nodded in response to his question. "Yes, Remus," she mustered finally. "Someone like you."
Remus's hand, which had been caressing her cheek, slowly wiped away a tear on the side of her face that she hadn't even realized was there. "Georgiana," he said, his accent soft on each syllable so that it sounded like a song, Geor-gi-an-a, and with the melody she felt herself slipping further and further away from being Mrs. Avery and edging closer and closer to being Geor-gi-an-a, Remus's Georgiana...
"I fancy you," Remus said although Georgiana knew the words before they had been spoken. "I think about you all of the time. You're brilliant and wickedly funny and during the day I see you on the other side of the room and wonder why I'm not with you. We have had conversations where... where we talk for hours and hours, we have had nights where we don't even speak at all, and the whole time, the entire time, I just... can't believe I'm lucky enough to spend the time with you. There is nowhere else I'd rather be."
"Remus..." she said, wanting to smile at his words, feeling her insides smile at his words, but feeling criminal as she heard them.
"So this hurts me," he said; the hand that was on her face moved to grasp her hand. "It hurts me, you know? Because I know you want to be with me too. You want to be with me too, right?" he asked for reaffirmation, and she nodded quickly. "Yes, so... it hurts me," he repeated, "because I want to be with you. I want to be with you, and I know that you may not know what you want yet, and I--I understand that, I guess. But I remember what happened--with Sirius and Scarlett--"
"No-" she said, because with the mention of the couple Georgiana could only think of Theodore's pained face--
"With Sirius and Scarlett," Remus repeated, speaking over Georgiana despite himself, for as he thought of the couple he envisioned Sirius's pained face from the wedding and the sparkle in Scarlett's eye that night that had been clear to all that were looking that things were not as they seemed, "things only fell apart because she went through with it. If she hadn't gone through with it...if they had both been open and truthful and--well--clear, maybe things would have been different for them...
"Which is why I am suggesting that we do the same." Remus took a deep breath. "I am not afraid to face anyone, Georgiana... not my friends... not Avery...not Theo--"
"Theo," Georgiana breathed, and that face came back again. In her mind, she remembered the times that she had sat next to Theodore by the fire and said nothing, those times when she looked in his eyes and she saw a world that had crashed by his feet, the times where she had spent hours badmouthing Scarlett and he had said nothing because, weeks later, he still couldn't believe it... and she remembered how, every time, she had wondered how Scarlett could have even considered leaving an entire life behind to be with a Gryffindor...
"Theo, Theo, Theo--Remus, I can't," she said hurriedly, and she moved her hand from under his. "I couldn't do it to him, Remus. I can't desert my family for a relationship. I am not sure if I want to get married to Avery--and I know I would much rather be with you--but..." She blinked again, and bitter tears now fell from her eyes. "I can't desert Theo. Everybody else has."
Remus nodded; Georgiana wiped the tears from her face as he looked down at his lap and then at the courtyard, a courtyard that screamed of new beginnings yet also seemed to laugh at the couple who couldn't have a new beginning because it couldn't begin. Remus was dangerous, and the night had left them alone enough to tempt them, but it could not happen. She could not let it happen.
"I understand, Georgiana," he said finally. The words were rough and jarred against the Geor-gi-an-a that she still heard ringing in her ears. "I understand that you love him. I just wish that things could work out... that maybe you didn't have to get married...it's a lot to wish for."
Georgiana didn't say anything in reply, and Remus took another breath.
"So what does this mean, then?" Remus asked her. "Are we going to just be friends, then?"
Just friends was hard to hear; it hurt her just as much as the memory of Theodore's expression by the fire did. Just friends was something that Georgiana was sure could never possibly happen. As she looked at the boy next to her, her heart pounding wildly at the proximity between the two, she knew that just friends was not an expression of what her relationship with Remus would be. No, the expression was nothing more than a jail cell. It did not mean that she thought of Remus as just a friend... it only meant that she could not act on her feelings, that she was not allowed to be with Remus in a way that suggested to others the true nature of their relationship.
Instead of answer his question, Georgiana turned her body away from Remus, her gaze on the courtyard that rustled as the wind blew. She stared at the courtyard for a long time, and Remus, too, turned his gaze toward his surroundings, his question stagnant in their silence, refusing to be answered for a relationship that Georgiana wanted to be boundless.
She thought of many things in the remaining hour that they were together. She thought of need versus want, considered her marriage again, and was especially thoughtful of how, despite the conversation she had just had with Remus, nothing changed. Her body may have been a little more receptive to his movements, as she hoped that he would chance to touch her hand or her hair again, but other than that there was nothing new, nothing different.
It was as if their hearts had already had the conversation.
Refusing to linger on this... this possibility of their relationship that only existed in the wisps of wind, she kissed Remus on the cheek and stood.
"Goodnight, Remus," she said, and as she departed without Remus she began to acutely understand just how alone the night had left her.
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