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Chapter 1 : Left Behind
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The moment he comes in, he is greeted by both a pleasant smell and the sight of Dora with an apron over her usual attire of a t-shirt and jeans. “Hey, Remus,” she calls, her lips upturned in a smile that never fails to make Remus’s stomach turn over. He wants to kiss her, claim her mouth with his and never pull away, because he doesn’t want to leave her. They’ve only just got into this strange and stupid and perfect routine of playing lovers or boyfriend and girlfriend (even though that sounds ridiculously juvenile for someone in his thirties) or whatever the hell they have decided to name their relationship today — they shouldn’t have to give it up now, even if it is the right thing to do and Remus has known from the start that this is not going to last.
They weren’t meant to even be together. It was just meant to be one time, two friends raising a glass to someone they both were still knee deep in grief over. But one time became two and then three and four, and they went from being friends, to friends who held each other and drank together for comfort, nothing more, to friends who kissed each other by accident every now and then, and finally to what they are now, whatever that is.
And now — Remus can’t help but laugh at the mere thought, let alone the sight — Dora is cooking dinner for the two of them. “What are you cooking?” he asks, careful to keep his voice light.
“Oh, my mum gave me a recipe for pasta, so I thought I’d try it.”
“You never cook,” he can’t help but say, and she rolls her eyes.
“Even I can’t go wrong with this, Remus. Besides, I bought this Muggle timer thing so I won’t even be able to burn it. Muggles are geniuses, you know.”
“What’s the occasion?” Remus asks.
She shakes her head. “No occasion. I just had the day off, that’s all.” Taking a step towards him, she places a kiss on his lips, but she quickly moves away when the timer sounds. As she stirs, she asks, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Remus replies — too quickly. Far too quickly. She doesn’t miss a trick, and sometimes, Remus underestimates that.
“Order stuff?” she guessed.
“Something like that.” Steeling himself, he tries to forget about what Dumbledore has told him, and, taking a deep breath, he wraps his arms around her middle from behind her, dropping a kiss on the nape of her neck. “I’d much rather not talk about it, though.”
She leans back against him, and he takes comfort in her warmth. Although he can’t see her face, he can feel her smile. “Suits me.”
Later on, they open a bottle of wine, not bothering with glasses but instead taking turns in sipping directly from the bottle and occasionally sharing a kiss. He doesn’t want this to stop. He likes it, likes her, damn it, and he knows it’s not just a passing fancy or a phase. No, he has no idea what he would do without Dora now, and for a moment, he stops speaking and just watches her, marvelling at the changing colour of her hair. He knows it will turn a darker shade of red the more she drinks, and there is something inexplicably beautiful about her flushed cheeks and the way she matches his gaze unflinchingly that makes his breath hitch. When he kisses her, he can feel the low hum of her moan in his throat and her warmth as her legs twist and tangle with his beneath the table.
His lips still momentarily, and she asks him what’s wrong again, her hand stopping firmly at his abdomen. He should be familiar with her now and should expect every touch, but she still manages to make him near incoherent when she kisses his ear and moves her hand down. So he shakes his head, reaching up and kissing her lips fiercely, and the force with which he does so nearly knocks her out of her chair.
“And you call me clumsy, Remus,” she murmurs, but he barely gives her time to right herself before his lips cover hers and he pulls down her jeans, his fingers slipping between lace and making her groan in the beautiful way only Dora can. His need for her nearly overwhelms him, for he realises he won’t ever be able to do this again. Remus’s agreement to go underground with the werewolves has reminded him who he is — he is a monster, and now he will be with other monsters, where he belongs. And he knows and has always known, deep down, that he will never belong with Dora, because she is whole, human, and no matter how much she might try to convince him that he is, too, Remus knows he isn’t.
So when, a long while later, their mouths meet in a kiss that tastes of sweat and alcohol and liquid fire, Remus braces himself, realising what he knows he has to say.
“Dora,” he says quietly, and he can’t stop himself from stroking her hair. It darkens at his touch, becoming curlier and lengthening until he can feel its softness on his shoulders.
“Mm?” She smiles back, tilting her head to one side a little and surveying him. Her eyes are so rich and full of — dare he think it, let alone say it? — love that, certainly not for the first time, he wonders what he has done to deserve her.
“Look, I… need to tell you—”
“I love you,” Dora interrupts, and it is only when the words leave her mouth that she seemed surprised at what she had just said.
It throws him off, too. “Y-you what?” he whispers.
“I love you,” she repeats, dropping a kiss on his shoulder — presumably to hide her face, and he can’t stop himself placing his finger under her chin so their eyes meet and she says, “You sound so surprised.”
“It’s just a long time since anyone’s said that to me,” he tells her softly, kissing her brow.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve said that to anyone,” she replies. “I’m not sure I meant it back then.”
“Do you mean it now?” Remus asks quietly. He is giving her that chance — the opportunity to take back her words and blame it on the alcohol or just a slip of the tongue or something — but to his relief, she nods quickly.
“Of course I do! D-do you?” Dora looks ridiculously timid now, when, just a few moments ago, her nails were piercing his back and she was leaving a mark just below his neck and he was completely at her mercy, so much so that Remus laughs.
“You look scared,” he murmurs.
“I am scared.” He can feel that much; her hitched breathing is possibly the loudest sound in the room. And he does love her — for her honesty, her complete and utter inability to pour a drink without spilling it, for her swiftly beating heart that she always wears on her sleeve and that she is practically handing to him. Of course he does.
“I do, too,” Remus says at last; their lips meet, and he wishes he could stay like this, with her, forever, and never have to go out and face the world ever again.
“What was it you wanted to tell me?” she asks, the smile so wide on her lips that it threatens to split her face into two (and she is probably the only person he knows capable of doing just that).
She looks at him expectantly, waiting for an answer, and he finally shakes his head and says, “Never mind.”
And though she raises her eyebrows questioningly, she only arches her neck a little as he kisses the hollow of her throat, and his words are lost once more in the sounds of their lovemaking.
He wakes early the next morning, pulling on his clothes hurriedly and trying to ignore Dora’s sleeping presence. She snores, quietly, but whenever he’s told her that, she’s always denied it or blamed him. Remus will miss that.
For a moment, he feels tempted to just drop everything and crawl back into bed with the woman he had declared the love of his life. Forget what Dumbledore said. But then he remembers what he becomes once a month. He thinks of the people that could die if he doesn’t at least try to recruit some of the werewolves — surely, surely that is more important than a relationship that is doomed to fail as it is?
And with that, Remus takes one final sweeping look of Dora’s room. It’s painted bright purple, something that hurt his eyes when he first came in here. He can’t see anything he might have left behind.
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