Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Written for Liza. :)

He was horrified when he realized the same little girl from the train was his mate. He was unsure just why he didn't recognize her as such at the time, but it was just as well. The Dementors had required his full attention and, after handing out the chocolate, he had rushed from the cabin. It wasn't until that first Defense Against the Dark Arts class that it hit him full on. Her scent, a mixture of dark chocolate and the flowers his mother used to tend to behind their house, had him staggering back before he was able to control himself.

This was not good.

She was just a child! He inwardly cursed his inner wolf and wished he never took Dumbledore up on his offer to teach. But he had jumped at the chance of finally being able to see Harry after years of being kept way. It was worth it, of course, but he just knew he was in for a year of hell.

That ended up being an understatement. His wolf was brassed off at him, being so close to his mate but yet not being able to mate her. It made the transformations harder than normal, even with the Wolfsbane. He must have looked bad because he even caught Snape shooting him a few looks that bordered on concern, especially by the end of the year.

The year came to a speculator end with Sirius exposing Peter for the rat he really was. He didn't know much of what happened after that as he transformed without taking his potion and considered himself lucky the wolf didn't go after her.

The years after that passed slowly, almost as if time for him stood still. His transformations got progressively worse now that he was not in almost daily contact with her. He stayed with Sirius as much as he could, knowing that the man was bored out of his mind, but made excuses to leave whenever he knew she would be there.

"What the hell is wrong with you?"


"I know you heard me, Moony. You look like shit. What's going on?"

"Nothing. I don't know what you are talking about."

"Liar. Tell me or I will just have to assume the worst and think you've lost your mind and fell in love with Snape."

"That actually would be a preferable situation."

"Okay, now you are scaring me. How dare you say such a thing? Are you dying? You're dying, aren't you?"

"I've found my mate."

"What? But that's fantastic! Why didn't you tell me? I could give you some pointers if you need some help wooing her. When did you find her?"

"Four years ago."

The expression on Sirius' face would have been comical if he could find any humor in this whatsoever.

"Four… four years ago! Have you lost your damn mind? No wonder you look like shit. Your wolf must be tearing you apart. What, in Merlin's soggy socks, are you doing sitting around and not claiming her? Who is she? Surely she can't be that bad."

"It's Hermione."

"It's… really? But this is perfect, Moony! She's perfect for you! She likes books and studying and there isn't anyone around smarter than her. Except maybe you. And I know she likes you. Always trying to get your attention. She always seems so sad when she finds out you aren't here. What in the bloody hell are you waiting for? Your wolf to finally kill you?"

"Yes! She's just a girl, Sirius. She deserves so much better than being stuck with an old, poor Werewolf for the rest of her life. I can't do that to her."

"Yes, you can, damn it! Fuck, Moony, it's been four years. How much longer do you think you are going to last going on this way? The girl would be great for you, and you know she doesn't care about the fact that you have a furry little problem once a month. I can't believe… that you are just going to let yourself die like that. We both survived this second war and you are going to go out like this because you are too righteous to claim your mate?"

"She's just a girl," he repeated, too weary to continue fighting with Sirius.

"She's of age and graduating from Hogwarts in one month. Your excuses hold no water."

"Just leave me be."

Sirius stomped out of the room, the chair he was sitting in falling back and slamming against the floor.

That conversation with Sirius was a year ago. There was tension between the two friends as Sirius became increasingly frustrated at his refusal to even talk to Hermione. He withdrew from pretty much everyone, not wanting to put himself into a situation where she might be there. There was no telling what his wolf would do now that so much time had passed.

Everything changed one day after a full moon. It had been the hardest moon yet, and he knew he didn't have much time left. A knock sounded at the door and he groaned, wondering who would dare bother him this close to the full moon. Not even able to pull himself up off the couch in what used to be his parent's living room, he called for whoever it was to come in. If it was someone there to harm him, well, he was practically dead anyway.

He smelled her as soon as the door opened and cursed Sirius in his head, knowing he would have been the one to send her to him.

"Remus? Are you okay? Sirius sent me to check on you, something about rough full moons and needing to tell me something."

The scent became stronger the closer she got, and he could feel his wolf beginning to prowl.

"Hermione," he croaked out, barely having the energy to say anything else. "You need to leave."

Suddenly, she was there, kneeling besides him, touching his head. He could hear her murmuring as her hands roamed his body, looking for injuries. Finally, he could take it no more and used what remaining strength he had to fling her away from him. If his pining wolf didn't kill him, the hurt look on her face would.

"I don't know why Sirius sent me here. You've always seemed to hate me even though I don't know what I did. I'll just go then and have Harry come."

He couldn't let her leave thinking that he hated her.

"Hermione, wait, please."

She stopped, her back still towards him as if she would leave if she didn't like what he had to say.

"About five years ago, I found my mate."

She gasped loudly as she whirled back around to face him.

"But, Remus! Five years ago? Oh you poor man, no wonder Sirius is so concerned. Where is she? Why isn't she here with you? Did… something happen to her?"

"No, nothing happened to her. She's quite well actually. I never told her."

"You… what?! But Remus, you are going to die! I read all about Werewolf mates in my third year and… um never mind," she said, her face blushing bright red. "Is she truly so awful you couldn't bear to tell her?"

"No, quite the opposite actually. She's one of the best people I have ever met."

"Then… why haven't you told her? You're a wonderful man, Remus. Any woman would be lucky to have you."

"Would you consider yourself lucky?"

"Of course I would! Anyone who wouldn't is a fool."

"Well, it certainly can't be said that Hermione Granger is a fool."

"Exactly. Now, tell me who this woman is and I'll get her here right away."

"There's no need for that, Hermione."

"Remus, everyone is so concerned about you. I swear, I even saw Professor Snape looking concerned when Sirius was talking about your state of being."

"The day Severus Snape is worried about me is the day Sirius decides to up and get married."

"Out with it, Remus."

"It's you, Hermione. You're my mate."

"I'm… what?"

"I wasn't planning on telling you, no matter how much Sirius tried to convince me. You are worth so much more than me, Hermione. You have your whole life ahead of you; you can do anything you want. I'll only hold you back. Just let me go."

"Remus Lupin! You are an idiot of the highest order! I've loved you for years! You have no idea how much it hurt me when it seemed like being in presence was a personal insult to you. I am not going to let the man I love as good as kill himself because he can't get his head out of his arse!"

"Hermione, please, you don't under –"

His words were cut off as Hermione launched herself at him, her lips landing on his. His body screamed at him loudly, but he couldn't find it in himself to care about the pain. All he could think was:

Why didn't I tell her earlier?

Thanks to Raybe for betaing.

To all my TBS readers: a new chapter will be coming out soon. My muse had up and left me, but she's come back to visit lately.