I.Remus never asked for her friendship. She just had a way of making him accept things whether he liked it or not: friendship, a compliment, a piece of her last chocolate frog.
The year he was made a prefect, James and Sirius teased him mercilessly about it. All in good fun, of course. On the Hogwarts Express, they each gave him an affectionate slap on the back before they parted because he had to go sit with the other prefects. When he went inside the compartment to find Lily Evans sitting by a window, it felt like his stomach was dropping to the floor for a second.
There were no seats left but the one right next to her. He just sat in a nervous silence, not even looking at her. By all rights, or at least by an association with one James Potter, he supposed she should hate him. But soon she was doing all of these peculiar things like asking him how his summer was and offering him a piece of gum - "Nothing special, just this stuff my sister had," she said, for it wasn't Wizard gum. Her dark red hair was a little feathered out, just like his mother always had hers. That was the style for Muggles then.
They managed to talk the whole ride without any mention of his friends that she disliked so much, and once the train reached Hogwarts and they were getting off she smiled at him and said, "I'll see you later, Remus."
He never told his friends about talking to her and had no idea what they would think. But he liked Lily. He felt like they shared something he didn't even share with his best friends. A level of maturity, perhaps.
But it wasn't long at all before his friends figured out that the selection of Fifth Year Gryffindor prefects this year seemed to have brought together two kindred spirits. Lily even started to sometimes come up to their group at dinner or in classrooms to talk to Remus and would completely ignore Sirius and James with practiced skill. They silently accepted it, James in particular never acknowledging with words that Remus had managed to gain the favor of a girl that he still could not even get a civil word from. This sometimes made Remus feel a little guilty. But maybe James didn't really care. It wasn't to be friends with Lily that he wanted, after all.
But after a while, a very perceptible rift between him and Lily started to grow. She knew he had a secret. What haunted him all the time was wondering if she already knew what it was or if she had no idea. But she was obviously bothered because he kept it from her; it perhaps didn't even matter what it was. It just seemed to have gotten to a point where she felt like him not sharing it with her kept her from truly knowing him.
He kept silent for a long time. They often sat next to each other in some of their classes hardly saying anything to each other. Then one morning after a full moon when he was too tired and ill to go to classes yet, he woke up in bed to the sound of someone moving a chair next to him, and found her sitting there.
He self-consciously gripped his sheets up over his chest and sat up in bed. "Why aren't you going to school?"
She crossed her arms, looking less angry than like she was just trying to be brave. "What about you?"
He just looked at her. Did she know? Had she figured it out? She must have, he thought. She was too clever not to have by now. Everyone knew her as one of the best students in her year, and he knew it was not without good reason.
But perhaps reading about things in books, tackling certain problems theoretically in a written assignment, is much different from dealing with the same things in real life. Learning about something horrible and terrifying like lycanthropy from a knowledgeable professor is not the same thing as hearing about it because of experience from someone you know. From a friend. And even the most intelligent and sensible minds can deny the obviousness of what they don't want to see.
"You look terrible," she said.
He smiled weakly and said, "Thanks."
She laughed quietly, hardly smiling with it.
It couldn't stay in for another moment. In a strange way, the monster could cause even more harm just being kept deep inside than when released. He just said it in one breath, like ripping off a band-aid quickly.
"Lily, I'm a werewolf."
He couldn't tell if she had already known or if she had just already prepared herself for absolutely anything. Either way, it was obvious it sounded a lot worse when she heard it from him than she had expected. She looked away from him a second, and he saw tears glimmering in her eyes. He couldn't imagine why she was crying.
She turned back to him quickly. "It doesn't matter, you know," she said. "I mean ... of course it matters. It's awful. But..."
He smiled. "Actually, when hearing you say it like that, it doesn't seem like it matters that much."
She laughed, smiling back at him warmly. And before he knew it, she'd stood up and leaned over him, taking his face in her hands and kissing his forehead.
"Get some rest, Remus," she said.
She left him smiling a little in the empty room, feeling an enormous weight finally taken off of his shoulders.
Remus could hear them, but was staying completely out of it as usual. Lily's voice carried right up to his dormitory from down in the common room, yelling at James for doing something in violation of about five different school rules that was more likely than not some kind of horrible attempt to impress her. Remus wasn't even sure how these things always turned into such huge arguments between them. It was as if she felt the need to prove how much she despised him.
Sitting on the floor against his bed, Remus sighed and covered his ears a moment, looking down at the open book in his lap to continue reading. Not even having heard the approaching footsteps, he was very alarmed when the dormitory door opened and Lily stormed inside.
She came right toward him, her face hard and determined, and in a brief moment of the sudden warmth of another body and soft hair falling on him she sat herself down in his lap and kissed him. He made a noise of surprise into her mouth, but she did not back off, touching his hair and face soothingly and making him open himself to her. He'd never been kissed like this before and it was like waking up; his whole body suddenly felt warm all over. Losing all sense for a moment, he closed his eyes and relaxed too much into it, his hands moving up her waist...
Lily put a hand to his chest, her body suddenly stiff, and she pulled back. He looked at her face, and with the way she was staring downward in such deep thought for a moment, it felt like he may as well not even be there. Then she just shook her head, muttered, "Sorry," and got up and left him there with his heart thumping and his hands empty, her head bowed as if in sudden shame.
Lily found him outside reading a chapter of his Potions book and came to sit in the grass beside him. He just looked to the side at her and gave her a timid smile.
"I'm sorry I did that last night," she said very seriously.
He stared straight down at the pages of his book. "...It's alright."
"No, it's not," she insisted. "I wasn't thinking. I guess I just wanted to see ... Oh, I don't know. But it was a very unkind thing to do." She looked up at him with some hesitation before going on. "Especially ... if you love me."
He wouldn't meet her eyes.
"Do you love me?" she asked him, sounding almost afraid of the answer.
After a long moment of silence, he finally looked back over at her. "No."
He said it just so that she wouldn't be burdened. But truthfully, he didn't really know the answer. He had never known any other beautiful girls who were so kind to him. How was he to know what his feelings were for sure, if he would feel the same way no matter who she was?
She looked neither relieved or let down. He felt once more a little bit like he didn't even need to be there; it was herself she was contemplating.
"You know, Remus," she said, "I guess sometimes I just get sick of being good all the time. The teachers all like me. I never get in any trouble. Everybody seems to think I'm perfect. I'm not. Sometimes I can do things that aren't very nice, like last night. It ... gets kind of tiring."
"Maybe that's why James fancies you," Remus said.
She looked surprised by that, but not too much; she had already had him on her mind. "But does he really? Or does he just like a challenge? An impossible conquest?"
He held his tongue before making a comment about how it seemed it wasn't that impossible and hopeless, especially these days. "He doesn't just think you're perfect like everybody else, I can tell you that," he said. "Some days he'll even call you a bitch."
Both of them widened their eyes at the same time, Remus because he couldn't believe he had just told her that. But Lily just started to laugh, looking in disbelief, and he laughed with her for a moment.
"Who knows?" Lily then said quietly. "Maybe we deserve each other."
But she didn't say it with much conviction. He looked at her face and still saw nothing but confusion in her eyes.
"I just wish I'd fall in love with someone ... nice," she said musingly. "Someone who really needs and deserves love. That would make it so simple."
Remus took that in for a few seconds and then turned Lily's face toward his with a finger hooked under her chin. Then he did just about the most daring thing he'd ever done, and leaned down and kissed her. It was not like she'd kissed him the night before - brief but full of his heart and all kinds of things he didn't know how to say.
"You're not a prize to be won over," he then said to her surprised face. "You decide what you really want."
She took his words to heart the moment she actually knew what she wanted.
James had seemed, for a couple months now, to just have given up on her. He had even stopped completely ignoring Sarah Locket, a Ravenclaw who had been trying tirelessly to get his interested attention every time she saw him for what seemed like forever. In History of Magic class one day, Remus noticed Lily sitting very still at her desk and glaring at her as she batted her eyelashes stupidly at him, complimenting him on how well he'd done in the last Quidditch match.
Then came the day that the Marauders would hate to remember for the rest of their lives, but which James would always have a reason to look back on a little fondly.
It was sunrise after a full moon, and Remus transformed back into himself to find that he was almost completely alone rather than with all of his friends; only Peter was there. He explained as he helped Remus get back to the castle in his weak state. Something very bad had happened. Or almost happened. Both.
It was an unreal horror story: Sirius sending Snape into the tunnel where he could have easily attacked him. James having to go stop him. And what was more...
"And even Lily got involved," Peter said breathlessly, "because she saw me trying to convince Sirius that we needed to tell a teacher where James had gone and wouldn't stop bothering us until we explained what was going on. She called us some nasty names and ran off and told Professor McGonagall everything."
Remus had to stop walking at this news. "So Professor Dumbledore...he...?"
"Yeah," Peter said grimly. "He knows. James, Sirius and Snape have been up in his office for a long time now."
Remus thought a moment, and started moving again. "Where's Lily?"
They found her sitting in front of the fire in the common room, leaning over with her face buried in her hands. As soon as they came in, she ran to Remus and hugged him tightly, saying nothing. It was only a few seconds later that the portrait hole opened to admit Sirius, and everyone looked over at him expectantly.
"I'm not expelled," he said quietly, nonetheless looking very defeated and somber. "Nobody is."
Lily stared at him, shaking her head and starting to look furious. "You goddamn well should have been expelled! I could kill you after what you did! Do you have any idea what could have - ?"
"Lily," Remus said gently, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Don't."
She whirled around to look at him in shock. "Don't? Oh, right! Because you should be the one screaming at him right now, not me!"
There was an awkward moment of silence between them all, and then Sirius just miserably sunk into a chair. Then the portrait hole opened once again, and in came James.
Remus saw something much more intense than the anger she'd had in her face before come into her eyes, but this was something a little different. She walked forward, stopping James from saying anything in the midst of opening his mouth to look down at her in some surprise. Then she slapped him hard across the face.
James raised a hand to his cheek, his eyes now wide. Everyone watched in bewilderment as she then slapped the other side of his face and went on to hit her fists against his chest repeatedly, yelling, "You idiot! You could have gotten yourself killed! Why do you have to be such a bloody show-off all the time? He wouldn't have been worth it!"
Looking a little mad now, James managed to get a hold of her wrists and stop her. Then as they looked in each other's eyes for a still moment, some barrier seemed to finally break, and after he loosened his grip on her she slid her arms around his neck and they kissed each other passionately.
The atmosphere in the common room slowly transformed to the opposite of what it had been before. Peter looked so confused by what they were looking at it was almost comical. Sirius' brow slowly raised first, and then a greatly amused smile spread across his face.
Remus met eyes with him, and he couldn't help but smile with him. It was quite funny, no matter what the perspective.
Sirius was facing severe punishment for what he did to Snape, but Dumbledore had been too relieved that nobody was hurt to be very angry about the whole thing. As a reward for his bravery, James was going to be made Head Boy next year. This meant that Remus would not be, despite being an obvious candidate as a prefect. It didn't really matter to him; he had never particularly wanted to even be a prefect in the first place.
When she found out, Lily sat beside James with his arm around her shoulders and said happily, "This means we may get to sit together on the train! Who thought that would ever happen?" Sirius had apparently learned nothing from the near devastation he'd caused them and was already excitedly planning what pranks he could get away with doing next year with the Head Boy and Girl being a little biased and less restrictive.
Remus didn't mind at all. But nobody asked him if he did.
For almost a year now they had all been living together at the Order of the Phoenix headquarters. It was safer for them that way, and very convenient for Remus, who since graduating from Hogwarts had still not figured out what he was going to do about getting work and could not really afford a home of his own yet. He had his friends there with him all they time. They were like a family.
Yet he had never felt more alone and alienated in his whole life.
His transformations were getting to be more horrible than they'd ever been. He had become so adapted to always having his friends there with him in their animal forms, but now he had to be chained up in a small room of the house they used as headquarters, completely alone and without prey. With how busy other Order members were all the time now, sometimes he would be the only one in the house during a full moon. The floor in this room had been torn to splinters by now, and sometimes after changing back he would find the walls stained with his own blood from him running into them.
Full moons had meant something for all of the Marauders for a long time, but not anymore. It wasn't fun anymore. They'd lost the map, and their nicknames were even wearing off. There was no longer anything the others could do for him. And they couldn't help it. Remus couldn't blame them for it. But they just became tired of him being a werewolf. It did nothing to acknowledge it all the time, so sometimes his friends just didn't acknowledge it anymore.
Except for Lily.
It was Christmas Eve, and nearly every member of the Order as well as some of their family members were gathered at headquarters having so good a time it was as if they were not in the middle of a terrible war. Sirius and James were at a table pulling crackers with all the loudness and excitement of young children. Right by the enormous Christmas tree at one end of the room, Gideon and Fabian Prewett were drunkenly singing Muggle holiday songs that reminded Remus of his mother. Sturgis Podmore was dancing with Lily, both of them giggling so much they were being a little clumsy about it.
But Remus just stood by a window by himself, looking outside at the moon like he may as well be on the other side of the glass and not inside this house with everyone. He certainly did not feel included in the party, able to share everyone's light mood.
Lily had stopped dancing with Sturgis; she saw him there and frowned. She crossed the room to him, her face looking concerned.
"What's the matter?" she asked.
He smiled a little, for he was suddenly reminded of something from a long time ago. He shook his head and said, "Never mind. When hearing you ask like that, it seems like it really doesn't matter that much."
Her smile spread across her face slowly. She stepped forward and hugged him tightly around his shoulders, and then kissed his cheek and said into his ear, "I love you, Remus."
And at that moment, all of it really didn't matter. At that moment he wasn't alone.
"You may now kiss the bride."
For a couple seconds, James just looked down at her first, staring at his wife lovingly, like he couldn't believe this was really happening. Then he leaned down and kissed her softly, and it was all as perfect as a dream. They both looked so full of emotion they might catch fire with it.
Remus remembered something very daring and unlike him he had done when he was fifteen, and the quite different kiss he and Lily had shared the day before, which James knew about now and which they all just laughed about these days. And he realized that no matter what Lily may or may not have been to him the whole time he'd known her, he could not be happier for her and James today.
That may have just been because after all Lily had done for him in his life, he couldn't possibly want anything more from her. She had not allowed him to isolate himself from everyone and bear his burden completely alone even though the condition he lived with made him always alone at least in a way. She had been one of few people in his life to show him the tremendous sort of kindness he often forgot could even be found. Her love had pulled him forcibly through his life, had always been there to show him it was not hopeless and that he was not all on his own in his suffering.
He had never asked for her friendship. But perhaps that was why she had given it to him. His whole life, Remus had always been one to only end up having the love of those who were persistent and stubborn enough to not give up on him, despite all the reasons he might expect them to abandon him. She had made him accept it.