The even light of a flat-skied morning crept under half drawn shades. An old fan set upon the window sill, charmed for perpetual motion, succeeded only in dispersing pale and flickering shadows across the floor, as unsubstantial as wisps of smoke.
He’d awoken just a few moments before and without a word pulled back the sheets, making preparations to leave in perfect silence. It hardly mattered though, as she was awake already. But Remus was lost in thought, and he did not notice when she stirred slightly, opening eyes that felt too heavy to be her own. He was most likely thinking on the work to be done today: his latest mission for the Order. She knew nothing about it, save that it was one of the occasional tasks Dumbledore barred from disclosure, other members of the Order included.
That fact alone told her it was important. In the life-and-death world of underhanded surveillance and desperate deals for information, important was synonymous with dangerous. Priority and risk seemed to exist on the same exponential scale.
She watched him from a point where sleep was not completely gone, her head resting on folded arms. There was an unfocused, far-away look to Remus’ expression as he peered through an unobstructed portion of the window he had perched beside.
Minerva hoped he wasn’t looking for a reason to keep saving the world. She knew the view from that window. It did not inspire.
The rumpled sheets and untidied clothing scattered along the tops of a pair of armchairs in the corner and upon the floor made her think of other bedrooms, much different from the unfeeling walls they’d been appointed. Happier rooms in happier times when they’d sleep in too long, lazing in pools of sunshine with no worries apart from neglected exams or if England might qualify for the World Cup. Times when the weight of the world rested on the shoulders of other men and women with faces and names they did not know.
She sat up, stretching her tired limbs as she reached for her dressing gown.
“Good morning,” he said too brightly.
“I’ve never thought so.” She fastened the belt, glancing over her shoulder to meet his eyes but he looked away toward the mantle, reading the time on a clock made of bone china and gold.
He stood, walking around the bed to the side where she stood, arms folded across her chest, wishing the same way she did on every morning she had to watch him leave, or anyone else she loved, that it was her going instead. Mortal peril was easy; it was the waiting she hated most.
“I’m due soon, with Dumbledore,” he said. She nodded.
They never said much at moments like this--moments that shimmered with the potential to be their last together. With all the pressure inherent in trying to convey the inexpressible, it seemed a waste of energy at first. Somewhere, in her mind at least, her perception of it had changed and it seemed that it would jinx their luck to try and reverse the habit now. The knowing was enough.
So he said the most natural thing for one human being to say to another. Words that no amount of repetition or bad art or intolerant hatred in the world could belittle.
There were few things in life, she mused, that were worse than meeting an untimely death, but one of them was being left behind when others met theirs.
“I love you, too,” she said. And with a lingering kiss, he left.