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{ Child's Play }

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“Myers, Rosalind!”
“That’s the Mudblood Malfoy.”

The flickering candlelight throws the girl into shadow; turning her into a myriad of shades and colours. Mutterings surround her as she walks toward the sorting hat, head held high, and Remus watches as the light catches her hair. She has inherited the colouring her heritage; her pale, nearly white hair a definite throwback to the Malfoy lineage. She reaches the Sorting Hat and places it atop her head. She sits very straight, looking ahead at the sea of faces, and Remus feels the rest of the students becoming restless as the hat deliberates its answer.

Apparently, Rosalind Myers is a hard person to place.

Eventually the brim opens wide.

Gryffindor!

There is no applause.

Whispers follow Ros, as if on the wind, but she ignores them all as she sits down at the Gryffindor table and pulls two slices of toast towards her. Remus follows, deliberates with himself, then sits down at her right side. She doesn’t look at him, gives no indication she knows he is there, and he coughs softly to announce himself.

“Hello,” he greets awkwardly.

She looks to the side, eyebrows raised, but says nothing.

“Remus Lupin,” he continues, holding out his hand.

She looks from his face, to his outstretched hand, then to his face again.

“Ros Myers,” she says eventually, extending her own hand.

Remus threads his fingers through hers, surprised at their warmth. Ros exudes such coldness he expected her to feel that way, but her skin is almost feverishly hot.

A contradiction.

One of many.

They aren’t friends, not exactly, but it is Ros who he studies with, Ros who is his Potions partner, and ultimately Ros who figures out his ‘secret’ first. He expects her to be repelled, to not want anything to do with him. Instead she reaches across the table and squeezes his hand. She doesn’t flinch when their skin touches, doesn’t bat an eyelid, and Remus feels a palpable sense of relief.

“There are some things we just can’t help, Remus,” she says softly, withdrawing her hand.

“It doesn’t make it easier though, does it?” he rebuts.

Ros reaches up, and twists her index finger in her hair. It catches the light, so white it’s almost blinding.

“No,” she says, almost absent-mindedly, “no, it doesn’t.”

Ros comes back from her holidays that bit brighter, her skin showing a faint tan, bringing him tales of different countries. One year, Jordan, another Spain, and he listens with jealousy as she recounts her adventures. She is a wonderful story-teller, her eyes lighting up as she describes the hotels she stayed at, the people she met, and his mind fills with images her words evoke.

“I love the muggle world, Remus,” she confides as they study for a History of Magic exam. “It’s so different, in many ways more advanced...”

Sirius walks in and sits down, a grin pulling at his lips.

“What do we have here?” he teases.

Ros rolls her eyes, throws a paper ball in his direction.

“Nothing I intend to tell you.”

Sirius laughs, says something else, but Remus is no longer listening.

“How are you, Mudblood Malfoy?”

The taunt is common, and Ros seems not to care, but Remus occasionally sees her neck tense, the faint pulse of the jugular visible beneath the porcelain.

“Mudblood Mal-”
“моча прочь.”

Reginald Krause, who leads the bullying, stops dead at her words, uttered in a hiss which spills from her lips like poison. The language she speaks is foreign to Remus’ ears, but the harsh tone is unmistakeable.

A warning; a warning to leave her alone, to not speak, to not mention her bloodline.

“What did you say-?”
“моча прочь!

Another utterance, a streak of white light, and Krause is on the floor cradling a broken nose. Ros looks down at Krause with what could only be labelled disdain, and Remus watches as she walks in a half-circle around him, like a cat stalking her prey. Ros’ eyes are almost... predatory and a cold thrill runs through his veins at the thought she might exact her own brand of vengeance.

Instead, she makes a noise of contempt and strides away without a backward glance.

Full moon and the 'Marauders' come back from their nightly tryst, elated. That is, all but Remus, who comes into the Common Room at three a.m and sits by the fire. He shivers; they had passed a muggle, a woman no more than twenty, and Remus had charged towards her, his mind filled only with the desire for blood. Sirius and James, in their animagus forms, had prevented the unthinkable, but it was too close, far too close.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

It is Ros, looking as she always does despite the late hour. He moves over to allow her room, and she sits down, cross-legged. Neither speak, instead Remus reaches out for her hand, surprised and elated when she doesn't pull away.

“You're an idiot.”

Her words, delivered in a flat tone, startle him out of his reverie.

“Pardon?”

“James and Sirius aren't always going to be around,” Ros continues, still looking ahead into the flames.

He looks down at their entwined hands, abashed.

“It's meant to be fun...”

She turns her head, green eyes dancing with firelight.

“It always is until someone gets hurt.”

Remus stays in the Shrieking Shack the next full moon.

She teaches him Russian over the Christmas holidays. Remus' parents have gone abroad, searching for a cure to his lyncanthropy, and Ros opted to stay behind for 'academic reasons.' Remus isn't fooled; he knows that Ros is well aware how lonely his condition makes him, no matter how hard Sirius, James and Peter try. She doesn't try and offer any sympathy, Remus sometimes thinks Ros is incapable of doing so, but her stolid support is reassuring.

The night after the full moon they sit by the fire, as has become ritual with the rest of the Gryffindor House gone. Ros lies on the floor, covering her eyes with her hand, and exhales a slow breath.

“What are you thinking about?” Remus asks.

“This and that,” she answers enigmatically.

He rolls his eyes and props himself up on his elbows, dragging himself forward until he is alongside. She doesn't move, gives no indication she knows how close he is.

“You're infuriating, sometimes,” he says, only half-joking.

She moves her hand, opens her eyes.

“And yet you wouldn't have it any other way.”

They are impossibly close, and he can feel her' breath against his skin. He raises himself and shifts so his hands are resting on either side of Ros' body, holding himself above her. He leans forward, searching her eyes for any sign of hesitation, and when he finds none brushes his lips against hers, surprised at their warmth.

Their kiss is slow, gentle, reverential.

“Ros,” he whispers as he draws back, not knowing what else to say.

He rolls to the side, coming to lie on his back, and is surprised when she turns towards him, her cheek resting against his chest. He shifts, placing his arm beneath her and holds her close.

They stay that way until sunrise.

Another transformation, and Remus comes back from the Shrieking Shack while the colours outside are still pastel. With his fellow Marauders on holiday, he had been alone and had turned against himself, biting and scratching his own flesh. Remus walks slowly, holding his side, but trips and falls to the ground, wincing in pain. He squeezes his eyes shut, bites his lip, and flinches when a hand touches his shoulder.

“Come.”

Ros' voice, calm and soothing, is music to his ears and he allows himself to be pulled upright. She slings his arm over her shoulders and together they make their way to Gryffindor Tower. They are an ungainly pair, Ros straining beneath his greater weight, but she doesn't stop moving until they have entered the Common Room. He tries to draw away, but she holds him back, and they ascend the spiralling staircase to his dormitory. He wants to tell her to 'go', but knows she won't listen, and doesn't protest as she lies him down on the bed.

“Rest,” she breathes into his ear.

He wants to say 'thank you' but his lips don't co-operate.

When he wakes, Ros is still there, and he sits upright registering that he is wearing a clean shirt and that his self-inflicted wounds have been tended to.

“How are you feeling?” Ros asks, her voice full of genuine concern.

“Good,” he answers, embarrassed.

She stands, the chair scratching against the floor, and runs a hand through her hair.

“I just wanted to see if you were okay,” she says, almost awkwardly.

“Thank you,” Remus says.

He rises to his feet and they stand opposite, silent, trying to read each other's thoughts.

“If you need anything,” Ros starts, reaching out and touching his shoulder, “you know where...”

Her sentence trails into nothing as he catches her wrist. She lets herself be pulled forward until they are almost touching. He is a good four inches taller and leans down to capture her lips with his. Their second kiss is more insistent; so much so he rests his hands at her hips and she reaches upward and cups his cheek with one hand, snaking the other to the back of his neck and drawing him closer. They part and Remus looks at Ros, to find her eyes indecipherable. He is reminded that they are sixteen, about to play a dangerous game, but she reaches out and unbuttons his shirt, pushing it over his shoulders, dispelling his apprehension.

He shivers as Ros takes one of his hands and places it at the top of her blouse, next to the first button. Shaking, he fumbles, barely able to perform such a simple task, and his breath hitches as pristine skin is exposed.

He wants to call her 'perfect' but knows she loathes such cliché praises.

Instead, he presses his lips against her neck.

She terrifies him at times, and he catches glimpses, fleeting its true, of a woman (for Ros Myers grew up years ago) who could quite easily have been a member of Slytherin House. She is cunning (to a fault at times), scathing, and thinks nothing of exacting her own brand of revenge.

“Ros, what did you do to Snape?”
“Does it matter?”

There is no denial; Ros sees no point.

He tries to forget that the curse she used is classified as 'dark magic.'

Voldemort is gaining power, muggles and wizards alike are dying, but Hogwarts remains a cocoon of safety. Remus hates safety, and wishes to be out there, fighting the good fight. He confides these thoughts to Ros, expecting instant approval, and is surprised when she merely nods. Remus frowns and looks at her closely, noticing she has lost weight, something she couldn't really afford to do.

“Ros?” he says, reaching across the table and touching her hand. “Are you-?”

“Miss Myers, could you come with me?”

Professor McGonagall interrupts them and Remus watches as Ros gathers her books and puts them in her satchel, following the Head of Gryffindor towards her office. Remus leans in his chair; puzzled.

When Ros returns one hour later, and he asks what she has been doing, she tells him to mind his own business.

“I've been offered a position at Oxford; studying Arabic.”
“You'd leave?”

He is incredulous; that Ros, his Ros, would leave the wizarding world during the midst of a war can't be right. And yet there she was, saying those words. She doesn't answer his question, instead she looks past him, over his shoulder, not meeting his eyes.

Maybe you do belong in Slytherin; they're cowards...” he spits, wanting his words to hurt.

He isn't prepared for the 'slap' that echoes around the common room as her hand collides with his cheek. She glares at him, not saying a word, before she turns sharply on her heel and storms to her dormitory.

His apologies fall on deaf ears.

The war escalates and Remus graduates from Hogwarts, as prepared for the world as he'll ever be. He has already been given a role in the Order, using his lyncanthropy to speak with other werewolves, perhaps convince them not to go the Dark Side. Ros, unsurprisingly, says nothing to him; not during the graduation ceremony, not on the Hogwarts Express which they ride for the last time, not even on the platform.

Instead she walks away without a backward glance, visible only for a moment before she disapparates to god-knows-where.

Three years pass, and he hears nothing about Rosalind Myers. Presumably, she is at Oxford, and Remus tries not to think what she could be doing, who she might be with. Occasionally, his mind wanders and anger flares in his chest that she isn't with the Light, that she isn't fighting with the Order. Sitting in a classroom, somewhere. The words sound bitter, even in his head, and he reprimands himself.

“I have someone coming here who might be of considerable use.”

Remus' brow furrows at Dumbledore's words, but the older man gives nothing away as he leans into the armchair and folds his hands in his lap. Voldemort has been more active, his killing sprees more prolific, and it seems like an uphill fight, one the Light has little chance of winning. Remus rubs his eyes, forcing himself to stay awake, and lets Sirius answer the door. They are James and Lily's, Godric's Hollow offering the most protection.

“I didn't expect to see you.”

Remus can't hear the person respond and isn't prepared when Ros enters the living room. She has become leaner, harder and her eyes are glacial when they lock with his.

“Remus,” she greets, sitting opposite.

She is dressed in jeans and a leather jacket, closely fitted. Remus finds it hard to reconcile this woman with the girl had had fallen for at Hogwarts. The Ros he knew was capable of laughter, this woman was someone else entirely and infinitely more dangerous.

“Ros, here, has been with the muggles acting as a...”

“I've just been begun work with MI-6,” Ros finishes, interrupting Dumbledore. “Meet the wizarding world's new liaison with the muggle Security Services.”

Remus is sure that his expression mirrors Sirius' who stares at Ros, agape. Everything falls into place and he sees the brilliance of Dumbledore's machinations. Ros; already versed in the muggle world, a talented linguist, with a family connection to the deeper level of muggle politics is perfectly positioned to infiltrate the Security Services.

“How are you?” he asks.

“You have something for me, Dumbledore?” Ros says, looking away from Remus.

“It can wait.”

Ros raises a supercilious eyebrow, but says nothing further. An uneasy silence falls over the group, not broken when Dumbledore apparates back to Hogwarts, citing 'school business' as an excuse. Remus fidgets, drumming his fingers against his thigh, unsure what to say or do.

“I have things to do.”

Remus isn't quick enough to stop her as Ros gets to her feet and leaves the room, closing the door behind her with a resounding 'bang.'

Remus waits in the Shrieking Shack, and paces back-and-forth in what was once the living room. The floorboards are broken, dust covers each and every surface, and he clenches his jaw as he remembers the long nights he spent here during his childhood.

“Dumbledore sent you?”

He jumps as Ros appears, as if out-of-nowhere, and leans against the wall, ankles crossed. A smile pulls at her lips, one which he returns.

“Were you expecting someone else?” he retorts.

“Perhaps.”

He can't tell if she is joking, and clears his throat as he withdraws a sheaf of parchment from his jacket.

“I'm to give you these,” he says, holding them out.

“And what are they?” Ros asks, crossing the room in three strides and snatching the parchment from his hand.

“I have no idea,” he confesses. “Dumbledore said you would know.”

She nods as she leafs through the pages, her lips pursed.

“I am sorry,” he says suddenly, causing her to look up.

She studies him; eyes unreadable, before giving a curt nod.

“Thank you.”

He opens his mouth, wanting to say more, but she disapparates with a 'crack' leaving him alone in the empty house.

James and Lily are dead, Sirius has been exposed as a traitor and murdered Peter. Remus' feet are heavy as he walks down the London Street and turns towards his apartment.

“I thought you might like some company.”

Ros sits on the stairs, but gets to her feet as he leans against the rail, suddenly tired. She is at his side in a moment, and ushers him inside, unlocking the door with a flick of her wand. He lets himself be led to the living room, and sits down, leaning forward and holding his head in his hands.

“It's all so wrong,” he says through his fingers.

“Yes.”

Remus hears the floorboards creak as Ros crouches down in front of him. Remus looks up, and without thinking pulls Ros to her feet. They stand barely two-feet apart, and at that moment Remus can pretend that they are back at school, both sixteen, that the Marauders are still strong. He reaches out and cups her cheek in his hand, before he leans forward and brushes his lips against hers.

She doesn't protest as he pushes her jacket from her shoulders where it falls to the ground. Without it, she looks smaller, and he places one hand at her hip and pulls her close, whilst running his fingers through her hair with the other. Clothes are shed, landing on the ground, and Remus pushes Ros against the wall, all tenderness lost. She responds in kind, and he snarls as she digs her nails into his back, almost drawing blood.

“I'm sorry,” he whispers, lifting her from the ground.

What he is apologising for, he has no idea.

Afterward, as they retrieve their scattered clothing, he voices a question he already knows the answer to.

“Are you going to come back?”

Ros shakes her head, looking down briefly.

“I can't.”

She turns on her heel and walks out of the apartment, leaving Remus alone with his grief.

Fifteen years later.

“Bloody hell.”

Ronald Weasley's words seem appropriate as Remus rounds the corner, only to find himself face-to-face with the end of a gun barrel.

“You've been in the muggle world too long, Ros.”