A/N: This was originally posted in 2016 and got a heavy rewrite in 2022. It was previously titled 'I'll Hold My Breath'. New chapters will be out weekly. Huge thank you to lanamarymack for alpha/beta reading!
The library at Grimmauld Place was by far one of Hermione Granger's favorite places in the whole world. She would maintain that the library was the biggest reason why she'd moved back into Grimmauld Place when Hermione had offered up a room after the war.
It certainly had nothing to do with Remus Lupin living there, too.
She had been hesitant to move in with Harry and Ron, not wanting to spend all of her free time picking up after them and dealing with their general laziness, like she'd done while they were living in the tent on the run. But then, Harry had said those magic words and she'd changed her mind.
"Sirius says that you can redecorate the library however you like."
"Sirius?" Hermione had asked, surprised to hear that the mercurial man would have any part in the decision making process. He had left the townhouse to Harry when he died — falling through the veil. They'd hit a very welcome snag in the inheritance when Sirius had come tumbling back out of the veil upon the death of Bellatrix Lestrange. "I thought he said he wanted nothing to do with Grimmauld Place ever again."
"Well, he's decided he wants back in — something about banishing old demons and stuff like that. He wants to change a lot of things, of course," Harry explained with a shrug of his shoulders. "And, Remus will be living there as well."
Hearing Remus's name did send a little shiver of excitement up and down her spine. Hermione put on a sigh like it was a big trouble to her to live with two Marauders. "Alright, Harry, but only if you promise to go couch shopping with me," she said, biting her lip. "I swear those old ones are the same ones from when Walburga was a child!"
Hermione did wonder what people would say about her living in such a bachelor pad, with four unattached wizards, but she was far too excited at the prospect of bumping into Remus Lupin every day to let it change her mind. She'd be embarrassed to admit it, but she'd had a little crush on the pensive werewolf since her third year. After learning that Gilderoy Lockhart was a total fraud, Hermione promised herself that she would never get hung up on a professor again. But then, she'd met Professor Lupin and he'd protected them so bravely on the train, and...
Her crush had only grown from there.
She had known that he was hiding something and it made her pay special attention to him in each and every one of his lectures. It hadn't taken her long to put two and two together — he was a werewolf. Even that knowledge didn't deter her growing crush. And why should it? He was a perfectly lovely human every night of the month except one.
Young Hermione had been absolutely gutted when he had to leave Hogwarts after the nature of his condition had been revealed. Hermione wasn't only upset that her favorite professor — and he wasn't her favorite purely because of the lively and interesting coursework he provided them — wouldn't be back to teach again the following year, but she was also upset that it was purely due to the Wizarding World's reaction to the fact that he was a werewolf.
Once she was out of proximity, her crush on the man had waned over the following year, not the least in part because of the attentions of a very handsome Quidditch Seeker named Viktor Krum. She had barely thought about Remus at all when she was spending hours of time with Viktor in the Hogwarts library. But then he'd had to move back home to Bulgaria, with neither of them knowing when they would see the other again.
As fate would have it, Hermione had then moved into Grimmauld Place the summer before her Fifth Year to be under the protection of the Order. As a result her crush had been reignited in a real way. Seeing Remus laugh with Sirius made her chest tighten. She couldn't imagine the two of them being friends in school. Sirius was cheeky and rude, while Remus — he'd asked her to call him Remus — seemed to be a rule follower just like her. However, she couldn't have been more wrong, as the pair of them got up to their share of antics, much to the chagrin of Mrs. Weasley and to the delight of Fred and George.
Hermione had been in heaven at Grimmauld Place, getting to talk to Remus whenever she fancied or even just spending time watching him. She was endlessly fascinated by his hands, large and with long fingers. Merlin, she wondered what it would feel like to be touched by him.
The only thing that made staying at Grimmauld Place awful was seeing the budding relationship between Nymphadora Tonks and Remus grow. Hermione was on the cusp of sixteen and everything seemed so much more intense than it actually was. There was more than one time that she would cry herself to sleep in the room she shared with Ginny when she saw the cool, pink-haired auror sneak a kiss from the object of her affections.
If Ginny was aware of the real reason why she was crying, she never mentioned it. The one time that Mrs. Weasley had asked her about it — and in front of everyone at the breakfast table no less! — Hermione had lied and said that she was just missing Viktor. Mrs. Weasley's lips had pursed together in consternation, but she didn't ask about it again.
Remus and Tonks' relationship was doomed to failure and quickly fizzled out. It seemed that Remus just couldn't understand why someone would want an old, shabby werewolf (his words) like him and he let Tonks know he just didn't see things going anywhere. Despite his nihilistic view, it had given Hermione's heart a surge of hope that she might have a chance with him.
Of course although the thought that Remus might burst into the library one day and tell her he had feelings for her seemed a little preposterous, it was however, one of Hermione's favorite fantasies. What would his lips feel like against her own? She'd only kissed one boy, but Remus was a man. She was sure he would be an excellent kisser.
By the time that she got through her Sixth Year, things seemed so hopeless that she tried not to think of Remus that much, as she knew a relationship was all but impossible. He had danced with her at Bill and Fleur's wedding, which was lovely, but disappointingly brief. She knew that she would remember how his chest had felt like a firm wall of muscle against her own and she desperately hoped he hadn't felt her heart beating wildly against him.
But then, they were attacked and the bleak reality sunk in again.
She might not survive the war. That was a very real possibility. Her survival wasn't nearly as important as ridding the world of Voldemort. Her and Ron had grown closer during that time, but she was positive now that it was merely a symptom of proximity.
They had kissed quite passionately after destroying Hufflepuff's Cup and had even spent a weekend together, only to find that once the adrenaline had worn off, there wasn't much passion left over. Sex as friends didn't feel right, so they had ended before things got off the ground. It was fine with Hermione. They were still friends, which was the important thing, though things were a bit awkward for a while, until Ron started dating Lavender Brown again.
The first time that Hermione saw Remus at a post war celebration party, her crush had come back stronger than ever. Had he always looked so rugged and handsome? He looked strong and powerful and...Merlin, just looking at him made shivers race up and down Hermione's spine, her legs clenching together in a desperate search for friction.
Now that she lived with him, though, things had well and truly gotten out of control. She didn't think that seeing him do such simple things could seem so sexy to her. She loved engaging him in a discussion about Creature Rights — they both had joined the Department for the Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures after the war, Remus as a liaison to various werewolf packs and she as an advocate for fair regulation.
They frequently had long talks that lasted into the night, over glasses of elf-made wine Sirius pulled up from the cellar, about the best ways to roll back many of the antiquated laws on the books. His eyes would turn progressively more amber from their usual green as he talked. Hermione often found herself staring into his eyes, lips parted, wondering if his eyes would change in similar ways during sex, only to catch herself — cheeks pink in embarrassment.
She was fascinated by his bare feet (of all things) when he would get up in the morning to make coffee, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He was a tall wizard, nearly a foot taller than her, and his feet were equally proportional. She couldn't help but wonder if other parts of him were just as proportional.
Sometimes, he would catch her staring, a confused look on his face.
The worst was the time that she had caught him in the hallway, fresh out of the shower, wearing nothing more than a towel low around his hips. He was much more muscular than she had imagined, with him always wearing baggy jumpers and threadbare cardigans. The muscles of his legs were firm and strong and she'd seen a trail of hair leading from his belly button only to disappear, tantalizingly, underneath the towel.
Remus was embarrassed and ran a hand across the back of his neck, not realizing how it made his muscles bunch and tighten. "Sorry, I, err...forgot my bathrobe," he stuttered out, only to walk away down the hallway.
Hermione had just nodded dumbly, before closing her opened mouth, hustling into her own room. She'd flopped onto her bed, her hands pressed insistently inside her knickers. Oh Merlin, now that she knew what he looked like naked, every fantasy was much more realistic. She wanted nothing more than to be on him.
Once her desire had been slated, Hermione was forced to face the reality that nothing was likely to happen with Remus. If he didn't want a relationship with Tonks, why would he want something with a bookish, swotty girl like her? It was heartbreaking, but true.
So, Hermione hid away in the library of Grimmauld Place, barely bothered by anyone, burying all of her forbidden feelings in books. And it quickly became one of her favorite places in the whole world.
Harry had made good on his promise to let her decorate. The wooden bookshelves that lined every available inch of wall had been sanded and stained a dark brown color. The small fireplace had been cleaned and newly wrought metal held seasoned logs, lending ambiance and warmth to the room. On the outside wall, there were two windows complete with the little window seats, glass newly replaced to keep out the cold and let sunshine in.
There was a little desk on one side of the room, but the center was dominated by a large, fluffy couch in a cream color, with a multitude of pillows to rest your head or feet on. In front of the couch was a long coffee table, the same color as the bookshelves and a pair of chairs that matched the couch.
Hermione liked to think that it was the loveliest room in the whole house, but she would never say that in front of Sirius. No need to hurt his feelings about his decorating skills.
Remus used to spend a lot of time in the room, but it had tapered off as he'd begun to spend more time with Sirius. She didn't even want to think of what that was...maybe he'd noticed her crush and found it too awkward to be in a room alone with her? She didn't really want to find out one way or another. The rest of the boys rarely ever came into the library, although sometimes they would come in to annoy her if they thought she'd become too anti-social.
Because visitors to the library were rare, Hermione was free to read whatever she liked. As of late, she'd liked reading romance novels. She had to do something to deal with her raging hormones! So she let her mind be swept up by cowboys and pirates and vikings, it didn't matter anyways as the leading men all seemed to take the form of Remus in her mind...making her wish that he would sweep her off her feet and take her back to his lair somewhere.
She would just have to content herself with trashy novels and comfortable couches for now until she eventually got over this crush that had been plaguing her for years.
But, she knew that she wasn't going to get over it tonight. The boys had gone out to the pub round the corner, Hermione decided that she was going to treat herself with a lie in. She'd spend her Friday evening curled up on the couch, the fire crackling in the fireplace, sipping on a nice red wine, while a viking chief swept her off her feet...