Always Something In Between
by Victoria P.

She sat in front of him in Transfiguration. She had long, dark hair. It hung halfway down her back and he had the odd urge to reach out and touch it, to see if it was as soft as it looked. He imagined slipping it through his fingers as he kissed her, wondered if she would taste like the Sherbert Lemons she always bought at Honeydukes, or something sweeter. The scent of lemon and vanilla floated after her, distracting him whenever they had class with the Ravenclaws.

One day, she turned to face him, as if she could feel the weight of his stare. She was olive-skinned, so he couldn't be sure she blushed, but her mouth quirked in a half grin. He knew, then, what he had to do.

As they left the classroom, she looked at him from beneath lowered lashes and smiled. He fell in step beside her, ignoring Sirius, James and Peter as they pushed past, on their way to lunch.

He inhaled, then decided he quite liked vanilla and lemon and Gracie Chadwick. He took her elbow in his hand and smiled back at her. They agreed to go to Hogsmeade together on Saturday, and when it went well, when she laughed at James and Sirius's antics, when she didn't get irritated at Peter's clumsy compliments, he realized he really liked her.

He walked her back to the entrance of the Ravenclaw common room and pushed aside all the fears he'd been carrying for years. He kissed her. She tasted of lemon candy and butterbeer, and something else that was just her.

And he liked it.

Her hair was as soft as he'd imagined, and the feel of it brushing his hands when they kissed made his heart beat a little faster.

"See you at dinner?" she said. He smiled and nodded, leaned in for another kiss.

And as easy as that, Remus Lupin had a girlfriend.

He'd worried about it for a long time. James and Sirius had been hooking up with girls left and right since fourth year, and even Peter managed to get a date occasionally, usually with one of the Hufflepuff girls. But Remus hadn't. He hadn't even really tried.

Remus wasn't shy, necessarily; he was reserved.

He was afraid of the wolf.

He'd read everything he could get his hands on about lycanthropy. He was probably the world's foremost expert on sixteen-year-old werewolves. He knew he wasn't dangerous in human form, despite what most of the wizarding world thought, but he'd always been hesitant to get close to people. He kept a tight hold on his feelings, rarely letting loose the anger that occasionally surged through him, and he was unsure how he'd respond in a situation where he was in the grip of other strong emotions.

But it wasn't like that with Gracie. It was curling up warm and cozy with her, away from the knowing glances of his friends; it was soft touches and the sweet- sour taste of Sherbert Lemons and the rush of heat to his groin when she pressed herself against him.

He liked that they were the same height, that he didn't have to bend to kiss her, that lying in bed, they fit perfectly from head to toe, her curves to his angles. He liked that her body was strong and lithe from playing Quidditch.

When Gryffindor played Ravenclaw, he learned to cheer for her while still rooting for his own House, for James and Sirius. He enjoyed watching her fly, though he had never been much good on a broomstick himself.

He no longer felt sullen when Sirius went off with a new girl; he had a girl of his own, and it was good.

Fall turned into winter and soon the holidays were upon them. His parents were spending Christmas with his mother's family, and he knew he wouldn't be welcome in their house so close to the full moon.

Gracie stayed at school with him, though they never discussed why, exactly, he wasn't going home. She didn't ask, just mentioned that her parents had agreed she could stay at school over the break. She didnŐt press him for explanations of his absences, or question the bruises and scars he bore when he came back to her afterward. She accepted the lies he told, which made him hopeful that someday she would accept the truth, the way James and Sirius and Peter had. He realized later that she didn't have to ask, had known for a long time. She was a clever girl, a prefect; she'd worked it out. He noticed she never wore silver earrings, and was glad.

He bought her a bracelet, a thin gold chain with a heart dangling from it. She spent a week thanking him in ways he had never expected to experience. She had slender hands and a soft, hot mouth that made him want to howl at the moon in a way that was fully human. He was still weak on Christmas, just released from the hospital wing, but she seemed to know exactly how much he could take, didn't treat him like he was made of glass.

On New Year's Eve, he returned the favor for the first time, and enjoyed the sharp, salty tang of her against his mouth, the way her body arched and bowed, the way her breath hitched when he used his lips and tongue, the way she called out his name. He got better at it over time; she encouraged him to practice at every opportunity.

Sirius told him about Narcissa up in the Astronomy Tower and Helena down by the equipment shed. It was all a game to Sirius, meaningless. And Remus smiled, because he had Gracie in the broom closet and in the prefect's bathroom, and it was love, or something like it. For once he had something Sirius did not, and it made him happy, though sometimes he felt bad about that.

He assuaged his guilt by buying candy for Sirius on their weekend trips to Hogsmeade, though Sirius could well afford to buy his own. Somehow, making sure Sirius had a pocketful of his favorite Sherbert Lemons at all times made Remus feel better, as if he could in some small way share his own happiness.

The school year ended and, to his delight, Gracie visited him over the summer. They had sex for the first time in the grass behind his parents' house. He kept his gaze locked on hers, reveled as much in the complete trust in her blue eyes as in her tight, wet heat as he sheathed himself in her.

They practiced that too, over the next few months, and he was careful never to abuse that trust, never to get too rough, too violent. It was easy, because he was warm and comfortable in her embrace. She brought out the gentle, easygoing side of him, and she never knew the wolf. He saved his anger and occasional violent outbursts for Sirius, the only one who could ever push him into a rage with his careless, thoughtless behavior.

She was funny and sharp, but Ravenclaw through and through -- schoolwork was more important than pranks, though she laughed with them whenever they played one. Sirius complained she was something of a killjoy, and couldn't she be more like Lily, but Remus ignored him.

He sneaked her into his room, his bed, sometimes, drawing the curtains and casting a silencing charm over them. His body was attuned to the night; he always woke in time to get her back to her dorm before morning.

And then it was Christmas again, and another December full moon, this time on Christmas Eve itself.

She stayed again, telling her parents that he was ill and she wanted to be with him. Times were dark and her parents understood that; they were glad of the safety offered by the strong walls of the castle.

Sirius stayed too.

Two nights after Christmas, Sirius went into Hogsmeade with one of the Gryffindor girls.

Remus made the most of the empty dorm room. He and Gracie made long, slow love and then fell into a deep, contented sleep. They slept facing each other, hands entwined. Sirius had not yet returned from his date.

When Remus woke, the room was still dark. Gracie's hands were tight around his, her eyes wide, her breathing rapid. She gnawed on her lower lip, dropping her gaze. He looked down and saw a large hand wrapped around her waist.

Before he'd begun bringing Gracie back to the room, it had not been an unusual occurrence for Sirius to crawl into his bed. It had begun when they were first years -- his nightmares had been intense, loud and violent enough to stir the other boys and keep them awake. Remus had actually considered leaving school at that point, because he couldn't climb into his parents' bed while he was at Hogwarts and they were in Southampton, and he was too embarrassed to let anyone know that being held while he slept was the only thing that kept the nightmares away.

The nightmares had never faded, but knowledge of his friends' acceptance of him had made them easier to bear.

He'd never questioned it, never thought it was odd to wake up in the middle of the night with Sirius wrapped around him, warm skin against his and warm breath in his ear. It was just Sirius, nothing more or less.

But now he found himself staring into two sets of pale blue eyes, each ringed with dark lashes that swept gracefully over high cheekbones.

Sirius smirked, his long fingers stroking Gracie's belly. She gasped and licked her lips. She shifted toward Remus, but there was nowhere for her to go -- the bed was barely big enough for two; he was surprised Sirius had managed to fit himself in.

"Could be interesting," Sirius said, and Remus could smell the Firewhiskey on his breath. Gracie swallowed hard, her grip on Remus's hand becoming viselike. Sirius pressed his lips to Gracie's neck, the fall of his hair mingling with hers until Remus couldn't tell where Sirius ended and Gracie began.

He jerked away, falling off the bed. He hit the floor hard, and winced, rubbing his back.

"Get out," he said, and his voice was unrecognizable, a hoarse, cracked whisper. Gracie scrambled off the bed and stood staring at him, and for a second, he wasn't sure who he was speaking to. Then, "Sirius. Get out."

Sirius stretched like a cat and rose from the bed. "It was just a suggestion, Moony. No need to get upset." His put a hand on Gracie's shoulder, and turned them toward the mirror over the dresser. "The resemblance is striking."

Remus slowly got to his feet, closed his eyes against what he saw in front of him, in the mirror. He opened them again, and met Gracie's stare. She pulled away from Sirius, her breathing still ragged.

With a choked sob, she unhooked the gold bracelet he'd given her for Christmas last year. She held it out to Sirius.

"I reckon this belongs to you," she said, and Remus would never forget the pain and anger in her voice. When Sirius didn't take the bracelet, she let it drop to the floor. It made no sound, at least, not one that could be heard over the noise of their breathing and the sudden pounding in Remus's ears.

Shame flooded him, and guilt. She was at the door before he found his voice again. "Gracie, I'm sorry. I didn't mean-- I didn't know--"

She looked back over her shoulder, long hair swinging like a black cape behind her. She bit her lip, her eyes darting to the mirror, and Sirius's reflection there, and then back to Remus. "I should have."

She walked out the door, leaving him and Sirius staring at each other in the dark.

"I'm sorry," he said again, misery settling into his bones like lead.

"Don't be." Sirius grabbed his hand, pulled him close, so they were standing nose-to-nose. Remus's heart hammered in his chest; it was so loud, he was sure Sirius could hear it.

"I--" he began, but Sirius stopped him with a kiss.

And hunger surged through him -- strong, powerful, violent. Different from the warm tenderness he felt toward Gracie. He tried to tell himself it was the wolf, but he knew that wasn't true. It was him and Sirius. It was what he'd wanted so much, and for so long, that he hadn't even recognized it for what it was.

They slid to the floor in a tangled heap, a frenzy of hands, lips and tongues. When he pulled back far enough to look into Sirius's eyes, he saw himself reflected there and knew he was where he belonged.


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