Note: This takes place while Snape and Lily are walking in the courtyard discussing the Marauders and Snape's new friends, told in the 7th book as one of Snape's memories.
The irritated voice jerked Remus away from the Transfiguration book he had been engrossed in a few minutes earlier. He looked up, rather cross that he had been interrupted. It was only a few weeks to their O.W.L.s, after all. "How what?"
James crossed his arms and glared from their side of the courtyard at two people walking across, obviously in deep conversation. "How can she call me arrogant and refuse to go out with me, and yet continue to go around with that git? How can she continue to stick up for him the way she does?"
Remus shrugged; he hadn't the faintest clue.
"Even her friends don't understand it!" James ran a hand through his already-untidy hair distractedly.
"One of life's great mysteries, Prongs," said Sirius cheerfully, casually shaking his own hair out of his eyes. "If you ask me, it's about time you gave up on Evans. She obviously isn't interested."
James shook his head. "You don't understand," he muttered. "She's different, she's really different. I can't just give up on her."
Sirius and Remus exchanged a look. They had never heard James speak about a girl in this way before. They looked at Peter for new insight, but he simply shrugged. After a few seconds, Sirius ventured tentatively,
"Well, why not?"
James didn't answer for awhile, keeping his eyes fixed on the girl with the bright hair and vivacious eyes, gesturing as she spoke to her companion. Remus knew his friend was avoiding looking at her companion, but he scrutinized him anyway: Dark, greasy-looking hair, a hooked nose, mismatched clothes underneath the robes, and a particularly bitter expression on his face today. He wondered what he and Lily were discussing to cause him to pull such a face.
"There's something about her." James surprised them all by answering the question, albeit with a certain hesitation and uncertainty. "There's just something about her that makes me feel… different. Inside." He gazed at the ground, obviously embarrassed at having said those words, but there was no taking them back.
Sirius looked as confused as Remus had ever seen him, which wasn't very often. Peter was looking away, as if just as embarrassed for James as James was for himself, but Remus, feeling that James might want to say more, prodded, "In what way?"
"I don't know, okay? She's just different." James wrenched his gaze away from the ground and continued to watch the object of his thoughts. His confiding session was obviously over. Remus sighed and retrieved his Transfiguration book, which had fallen and was beginning to soak up the water on the ground. He caused hot air to blow out of his wand and dried it, but by the time he had finished and was opening his book again, James decided to speak once more.
"I'm going to get her someday." He spoke with such determination and glared so fiercely at Snape that Remus was mildly surprised he didn't burst into flames where he stood beside Lily.
"How?" said Peter.
"I don't know. I will. Well, I have at least one thing to comfort me—" he laughed rather harshly "—he isn't any competition."
It was no secret to the four that Snape was helplessly in love with Lily.
"Mate," now even Sirius had adopted a serious tone of voice, "Snivellus is one of her best friends."
"Your point is?"
"They're friends, which is more than you can say for your relationship with Evans."
Now James switched his dangerous glower from Snape to Sirius. Sirius didn't flinch. "You're saying I can't make her care for me?"
"I'm saying that maybe it's time you just gave up on her! She's driving you mad, and to be honest, you could get another girl pretty easily. What's the point of pining after one of the few girls who won't have you?"
James looked back at Lily and stared at her for a few seconds, at her earnest gaze as she spoke to Snape, at her eyes as they flashed with each change of emotion. "Maybe I don't want another girl, mate," he said quietly. "Maybe I only want her."
A shocked silence pervaded the group. Finally, Peter risked a question.
"So… so you're saying you—you… love her, or something?"
James continued to watch the redhead, the expression in his hazel eyes unreadable. "I don't know, Wormtail. I really don't know."
He was lost in silent contemplation for a few minutes, and then turned back to Sirius and, grinning as if nothing had just happened, informed him that they were behind schedule with one of their pranks. Sirius looked rather taken aback, but took it all in stride. Soon, they were all chatting merrily, especially about the full moon which was approaching, and James' curious confession was forgotten in the excitement of their imminent excursion. Remus, however, didn't miss the way James quickly glanced every once in a while at Lily (who was now chatting with one of her Gryffindor friends), nor did he forget what James had said.
He kept the memory tucked into a little corner of his mind, like a little paper folded and hidden away, and when he finally stood at James' and Lily's wedding years later, he wondered whether anyone else remembered what he did—how James finally admitted aloud to his friends, perhaps first admitted even to himself, that it was a fact: She wasn't just another girl; he loved Lily.
And as he watched James envelope Lily in a tender kiss, and afterwards yell, for all of the guests to hear, "I love Lily Potter!", Remus smiled.
Okay. It isn't all that sweet and romantic, and I know that will disappoint a lot of you. I love reading romantic Lily/James stories. But... I think it wouldn't be all that in character if James all of a sudden started spouting flowery poetry about how he feels about Lily, especially to his friends. Not many teenage boys are ready to admit to things like love, I don't think. But I hope you enjoyed this little moment of truthfulness on James' part, and Remus' perspective on the whole thing. Thanks for reading, and I'd love it if you could drop a review. :)