Catching the Flower, Keeping her Near
"JAMES!" Lily cried out as she entered the polished wooden doors of the hospital wing.
Three boys lifted their heads in amusement to look at her, while the fourth continued to sleep. Madame Pomfrey turned from where she was administering potion to another student and glared at her with beady eyes, furious that the serenity of her sanctuary had been disturbed.
Lily rushed at James' figure where he sat in one of the squashy chairs by the bed that Remus slept on. She dragged him from the chair to give him a frenzied hug. "Are you okay?" she asked, her voice just short of hysterical.
"I'm fine," James gave a slow chuckle and ran his hand along the back of her shoulder. He noticed Sirius and Peter mocking Lily behind her back, seeming to delight in her overreaction. James glared at them over her shoulder.
"When I saw your note that said you were in the hospital wing, I freaked," she commented.
"Calm, love," James laughed, "I'm sorry I worried you, but I'm fine, really."
"Why are you guys here then?" Lily asked, her eyes travelling quickly between the three conscious boys.
Peter motioned to Remus' figure which was just beginning to stir. He raised an eyebrow as if to say 'duh' which Lily found rather amusing because Peter wasn't exactly the smartest boy in their year.
Lily shook her head. "No, I meant 'what happened to Remus'? What were you three doing for this to happen to Remus?" she clarified. Sirius found the way that Lily thought they were the cause hilarious.
"Well…" James took a deep breath, wondering what was the best way to give up Remus' secret. He checked around the rest of the hospital wing to find Madame Pomfrey was in her office and the only other student was snoring peacefully after his potion.
After he had left Lily the previous evening, they had gone down to meet Moony as he waited for his transformation. James had asked on behalf of his girlfriend, if she could be let in on the secret. Remus was understandably reluctant at first but eventually agreed it was Lily's right since she was with James.
"You see…" Sirius continued, as the two boys considered how to tell her the information she sought.
"Lily, I have this condition," Remus said, finally revealing that he was awake. His skin was pale and he had large bags under his warm eyes.
"Moony, how're you feeling?" Sirius asked when the boys realised he was awake. Peter and James offered him similar sentiments but they all knew the truth; the consequences of Remus' transformations were never pretty or painless.
"I've had worse," Remus answered, smiling weakly and the boys knew he wasn't lying. They'd seen him a thousand times worse after all the transformations they had helped him through over the years.
"You see, Lily, I'm… I'm… I'm…" Remus frowned; this was the point where he was going to start loosing friends. The boys didn't mind hanging out with him even though they knew the danger but he was sure that Lily, as James' partner wasn't going to allow him to be put in such danger, so often.
"Lily, Remus is a werewolf," Sirius finally said, helping Remus out of the difficult corner he had now found himself in. The fair-haired boy gave him another forced smile to show his gratitude as Sirius answered the one question he didn't want to.
"Oh…" Lily said, looking between the four boys anxiously. "Okay."
James sighed and took her into his arms, ready to defend his friend. "Lily-"
"No, I get it, James, just wow! Remus, I'm so sorry!" she walked over to the bed and took his hand. "I'm so sorry."
"It's fine, Lily, I've gotten used to it by now," he squeezed her hand slowly.
"When?" Lily asked breathlessly as James came up behind her, his arms snaking around her waist and his chin moving to rest on her shoulder.
"I was four when I was bitten, all I can remember is pain, the pain of the bite," Remus shook his head slowly.
"I'm sorry," Lily said again, looking horrified.
Remus watched her; surprised that she hadn't fled the hospital wing yet. He'd underestimated Lily, just like he had the other boys when they first found out. He could tell almost immediately that she wasn't about to abandon him. Not yet. But he wondered how furious she'd be once she discovered what he had influenced James and the others to do.
He could see her slowly working things through in her head and he knew that any minute now she was going to ask the one question that he dreaded.
"But why were the others with you then?" she asked, a frown forming across her attractive features and her teeth sinking into her lower lip while she considered the problem. "I mean, werewolves are lethal to people, you three would be dead in seconds if a werewolf had caught your scent."
Remus was glad to see that she had detached him from the werewolf. After all he hadn't chosen to become a wolf and the wolf was completely separate from him. He wasn't himself during his transformations.
"No, Lily," James said in a deep voice, spinning her around gently by the arm so that she was facing him. "Werewolves are only lethal to people."
"I don't understand," Lily said, her voice detached and indifferent. There was a cold strain in it, the type that demanded answers.
"We wanted to help Remus as soon as we found out about his furry little problem…" Sirius explained, "and we found that the only way we could was to change ourselves."
"Into animals," James confirmed. "Meaning we are…"
"Animagi?" Lily said, her voice sounding awed.
"Yeah," Remus said.
"How? When?" she asked, still too awed by the achievement to realise the true weight of their abilities.
"Fifth year, it took us two years to perfect the charm… but we managed it," James said smirking as if he hadn't performed an exceedingly dangerous charm. Lily could see some of his fifth year arrogance surfacing when he said it.
"Idiot!" she exclaimed, "Do you realise what would have happened if it had gone wrong? How could the Ministry allow it? Three under age wizards?"
"They don't exactly know, Lils," James told her, gulping, his tone apologetic.
"So not only are you underage animagi, but you're illegal, underage animagi…" she said, her eyes flashing. Lily placed her hands on her hips and took a step towards him.
James instinctively took a step back. "That's it, I'm glad we got around that!"
"WHAT IF SOMETHING HAD GONE WRONG!? DON'T STAND THERE AND LAUGH, JAMES POTTER! YOU TOOK A HUGE RISK!"
Remus, Sirius and Peter were all in hysterics as they listened to Lily screaming. James, however, looked petrified.
"I'm sorry, love, but it all turned out okay, right?" he said meekly.
"Fine, but I won't help if anyone ever asks about it!" she told him, her voice icy. "I mean, what would your parents think?"
James chuckled. "I hope they don't ever find out," his voice almost pleading for her not to inform them, "we've gone to so much trouble to keep it a secret."
Lily nodded, reaffirming that their secret was safe with her. "So what are you..? Moony, I get now…"
Remus nodded in agreement as she turned to him.
"A rat," the plump boy said.
"Ah," Lily gave him a half smile and turned to Sirius, "Padfoot-"
"Is canine," Sirius grinned his most doggy grin.
"Prongs," Lily's eyes fell lovingly on James, her eyes caressing his handsome face.
"I think you already know, sweetheart," James told her.
She fingered the charm bracelet he had brought her for Christmas.
The last one is a stag and doe together… um… I'm not sure you'll completely understand this one yet, but I can only give you half the story now. I promised Remus to let him explain to you. The stag and doe stand for us- you and I, and our patronuses."
"A stag," she said smiling softly as James leaned into hug her. She could feel her anger at him dissipating as he held her in his arms. She could see the dangers, but even more she could understand why James had done it. To help his friend. Because he was a kind, caring, loyal, selfless person.
Madame Pomfrey entered the room again. "All of you out! Mr Lupin needs his rest, come back later." She shooed them towards the door.
Sirius and Peter walked quickly back to the common room, while James and Lily followed slowly behind them, hands entwined and even closer than before now that James had shared one of his most major secrets to her.