A/N: Written for Ravenclaw homework on the Hogwarts Online forum. My characters were Remus Lupin and Lily Evans, and my prompts were the color brown, a log, an old coat, a Transfiguration textbook, rain, and "You'll never guess!" Pairings (of my own choice) are Lily/James and Sirius/Remus. Also a part of the Song Collection.
This was a bunch of fun to write. I hope you enjoy!
Girl, don't be proud
It's okay you're in love
~ I Won't Say (I'm in Love), from Disney's Hercules
Remus Lupin climbed the stairs two-at-a-time to the boy's dormitory. Sticking his head in the door, he called, "Hey! Is anybody here?"
There was a rustling from James's bed, and a messy, black-haired head appeared from between the partly drawn curtains. "What's up, mate?"
"Nothing much," Remus replied carefully, and couldn't help but wish that this conversation could have happened with anyone but James. "You haven't by any chance seen Lily recently, have you?"
Right on cue, James scowled. "Why the hell would I know where she is?"
"Never mind, then," Remus said hastily, starting to back out of the room before James could get any angrier. "I'll just go ask someone else."
"No, wait," James said, pulling the curtains open and swinging his legs over the side of the bed, curiosity temporarily winning out. "Why?"
"We were supposed to meet in the library for a study session, and she didn't show up."
James shrugged. "Maybe she forgot."
"That's not like her," Remus pointed out, coming back into the room despite himself. "She's never forgotten before, and I just reminded her yesterday about it. Plus, her Transfiguration book was sitting on the table where we usually work." He paused, considering. "Now that I think about it, though, she did seem distracted when I told her…"
"Well, she's been acting weird recently," James said dismissively. Remus thought that for someone who regularly professed undying love for the girl, he was doing a fairly good job of pulling off a "I really couldn't care less" attitude.
It all crashed down with James's next words, though, to Remus's amusement. "Do you think she's okay, though? Should we go look for her?"
Remus shook his head. "Not yet, anyway. I'll ask around, someone must have seen her. She's probably just stressed about schoolwork and NEWTs, and forgot. It's no big deal." He started back down the stairs again before James could say anything else. "See you later, Prongs!"
"Bye, Moony." James sounded depressed again. Remus was deep in thought as he descended the stairs. Lily had been acting strange lately, now that he thought about it. At the beginning of this year, the Marauders and Lily – and most of the school, in fact – had been horrified to find out that James and Lily had been made Head Boy and Girl. Remus thought it was hilarious – the biggest prankster in school history, Head Boy? James didn't exactly share his view.
But there was one good side of the situation – James and Lily were being forced to spend large amounts of time together for the first time ever. Remus couldn't help but wonder whether this had happened on purpose And the funny thing was, it had sort of worked. They hadn't pulled as many pranks as they usually did, and he and Lily had actually formed something resembling a friendship, as she loosened up and he matured.
A few weeks ago, though, Lily had gotten more distant towards all of the Marauders. Remus hadn't thought much of it until she abruptly stopped talking to all of them – including, in non-academic situations, Remus, with whom she had been good friends since they had ended up seated next to each other at the Welcome Feast at the beginning of their first year. They had quickly become friends – they were very much alike, both quiet, studious, somewhat bossy, and very smart – and that fast friendship had survived even Remus's friendship with James, Sirius, and Peter, all of whom she disapproved of, or at least she had up until this year. But now she wouldn't talk to any of them. He shook his head – it just didn't make sense.
Remus was so deeply in thought that he nearly crashed into someone standing at the bottom of the staircase. The someone grabbed and steadied him before he could fall, his hands gentle. "Hey, Moony!"
Remus felt a grin break out across his face as he peered upwards in the dim light. "Hi, Padfoot! Merlin, but I'm glad you're here. Tread carefully up there, would you? I hope you're in a better mood than James."
"Why, what's wrong with him?"
"It's Lily," Remus started to explain, but Sirius cut him off.
"Good Merlin, Moony, I almost forgot! You've got to help me!"
Remus frowned at him, wondering where he had lost track of this conversation. "Sorry?"
"She hexed me," Sirius explained. "Came storming into the common room in a complete temper – I haven't seen her like that yet this year, I don't think. So I asked her if she and James had had a fight-"
Remus groaned. "Sirius, can't you keep your mouth shut for once?"
"I tease Evans all the time, Remus, why is this time any different?" Sirius looked annoyed. "Anyway, the point is, she hexed me!"
"Well, what did she do to you? Hurry up and tell me so I can fix it, and then tell me what happened after that so I can go fix her."
"She went storming out again," Sirius said, and frowned. "Actually, I don't know what she did to me." He paused. "Come to think of it, I don't even know if she did do anything to me."
"You're on your own, then, sorry," Remus said, and started to move past him, but stopped. "Wait. Did you just say Lily didn't actually hex you?"
"I don't think so," Sirius said, looking disturbed. "Now that's weird. What's up with her, anyway?"
"I have no idea," Remus said, "but I'm going to find her. Go cheer James up, but don't talk about Lily, whatever you do. I'll see you later."
Sirius ruffled his hair fondly, and they separated.
Out in the common room, Remus ran into Lily's good friend Alice. "Alice, have you seen Lily?"
"I wouldn't go looking for her right now, Remus," Alice said seriously. "She's not in a very good mood."
"Why does everyone know she's in a bad mood, but nobody knows why?" Remus was starting to lose his patience.
Alice gave him a significant look. "I'm her best friend, Remus. I know exactly what's going on with her, and I can assure you that you are not a good person to go ask her what's wrong. Will you just trust me on this?"
Remus was, by this point, completely bewildered, and more than a little angry. "Lily is my friend, too, and I'm going to find her and find out what's bothering her whether you like it or not. Will you tell me where she's gone, or will I have to find her myself?"
Alice merely glared at him. Remus stormed back up the staircase and into his dormitory, where he was greeted with James and Sirius trying to figure out how to Transfigure their pillows into anteaters.
"And why," snapped Remus, "are you doing that, when I already asked you not to? Several times before?"
Sirius made begging eyes at him. "Don't be mad, Moony. I'm trying to cheer up James just like you told me to!"
Remus rubbed his forehead. "Couldn't you have picked something less… I don't know, alive?" He sighed. "Anyway, that's not the point right now. Where's the Map?"
"Dunno," said James absently, frowning at his wand. "Try a Summoning Charm."
Remus did so, and the map flew into his hand after a minute of waiting from the direction of the bathroom. "I don't even want to know," he muttered, tapping it and murmuring the necessary words. "See you guys later."
"Where are you going?"
"Um…" Remus answered, frowning at the Map, "apparently, I'm going nowhere, because she's right outside the-"
An extremely exasperated voice cut through the room. "Will you four please open up in there?"
Sirius swore in surprise and jabbed his wand in the direction of the voice, causing the door to their room to slam open and reveal one Lily Evans.
"What the hell-" Sirius started, but Remus cut him off before he could do any more damage. He loved Sirius to death, but his boyfriend was not the world's most tactful person, especially when he was already in a bad mood.
"Lily, where have you been? I've been looking for you everywhere. You missed our study session in the library today." He held up her Transfiguration book as proof. The angry look on her face abated somewhat.
"I did? Oh, Remus, I'm so sorry. It's just that I've just been really distracted lately…" her voice trailed off as she took a good look around the room. "Don't you four ever clean this place?"
"No," said James cheerfully from beneath his bed, where he was trying to rescue his half-Transfigured anteater from eating his Charms book. "If we were dating, you could see it all the time, Evans. Won't you go out with me?"
Remus expected her to hex him, or something of that nature like she always did, but instead her mouth twitched, as if she were about to laugh – and then her whole face closed down, and before Remus knew what had happened she was running back down the stairs and away.
"Lily? Lily!" Remus called after her, but she didn't stop.
Alice's voice floated up the staircase. "Oh, well done," she said scathingly, and he heard a door slam. The portrait hole, again.
"Oh, for Merlin's sake," Remus muttered, retrieving the map from atop his bed and tapping it with his wand once more. James appeared from beneath his bed, looking crestfallen.
"Where did she go now?"
Remus didn't bother answering him, as he was too busy frowning at the Map.
"Where's she going?"
"I don't bloody know! It looks like she's going outside!" Remus frowned and glanced out the window at the threatening black sky. "Merlin, what is she doing?"
"You can't go outside, Moony, it looks like it's about to start pouring!" Sirius sounded upset.
"I'll be fine, Padfoot. I'm just going to go find her and bring her back," Remus said firmly.
"Why do you care so much, anyway?" Sirius said, trying – and failing – to look put-out.
Despite his annoyance, Remus smiled. He walked over to Sirius's bed, where he lay sprawled, and dropped a kiss on the top of his head. "Because she's my friend, and something's wrong, and I want to help her. Don't worry about me, okay? I'll see you soon." Pulling on an old, soft dark brown coat that had once belonged to his father and that he cherished – and also happened to be waterproof, thanks to some spellwork he had done a few years ago, he threw a wave behind him and departed their dormitory.
Remus followed the map all the way out to the lake. It looked as though Lily was sitting on the far side; her solitary dot was unmoving. Remus folded the map and walked briskly through the cold air, hoping that it wouldn't start raining before he could convince her to come back inside.
She was seated on a log by the water's edge, where he had often seen her laughing with her friends on warm summer afternoons. Her head was bowed, red hair spilling like a veil over her face, and she was shivering violently, but didn't seem to know it.
Remus sat down quietly beside her and didn't attempt to speak. After a long while, as thunder rumbled far in the distance, she raised her head, eyes swollen and red. "Hey, Remus," she said softly.
His voice was solemn. "Lily, what's wrong?"
She started to shake her head, but he put a hand on her shoulder and started rubbing her back in what he suspected was a rather futile attempt to offer her a little comfort. "Come on, Lil. I've been your friend for seven years. You can tell me, surely."
She closed her eyes, and Remus put an arm all the way around her shoulders, giving up any attempt at subtlety. "Come on, Lily. It's freezing cold out here, you're shaking like a leaf, and I for one want to get us both back inside, but I'm not going until you tell me. Please, don't make me hex you," he said, trying for a little humor, and was gratified when a small smile appeared on her face.
"Oh, Remus, it's stupid. I shouldn't even be upset about it. Honestly, I probably should have seen it coming years ago."
"That's okay," he said gently. "And you know I won't think it's stupid anyway. What's bothering you?"
Lily shook her head, hair swinging gently from side to side. "You'll never guess."
"Probably not, which is why you have to tell me before I drive us both crazy."
Lily grinned for a second, then stood up and started pacing in front of him. Remus, felt sort of relived by this action, as it was one that he had seen from his friend many times when she was extremely stressed or worried about something, simply watched her and waited.
"I don't really know how to say this, er… Well, see, the thing is… I'm in love with James Potter," she said all in a rush, and stood breathing heavily as though she had just finished running a race.
Remus's jaw dropped. "What?" Almost before the words were even out of his mouth, he realized that that was not the best response he could have given, and raced to think of something to say. "I mean, that's…" What she had said finally caught up to him, and a huge grin broke out across his face. "That's fantastic!"
"No, it's not!" Lily shouted at the top of her lungs, nearly startling him out of his wits. "It's horrible!"
"Why on earth would it be horrible?"
"Because he's James bloody Potter, and he's had an obsessive, stalker crush on me since the first time ever set eyes on me, and I'm Lily Evans and I'm supposed to hate him, and what kind of messed-up world is it that I fell in love with him, instead? And if anyone ever finds out about this they'll laugh and think I've gone crazy, and, God, if James ever found out, he would probably make a fool of me in front of everyone! But, Remus, I love him. I really, really, do, and I don't know how in the world this ever could have happened." She sounded close to tears again.
Remus had listened to her speech with a small smile on his face, and now he patted the space on the log beside him. "Sit down."
She glared at him and remained standing.
"Really, sit down, because this could take awhile and you might want to be comfortable."
Lily sat down as far away from him as she could, seeming to hunch down upon herself. "That's all you have to say? Sit down?"
"No," said Remus, "that's not all. Just hear me out, okay?"
Lily nodded. Remus knew that it was a mark of how torn-up and awful she was feeling about this that she was willing to take relationship advice from a gay wizard who also happened to be one of James Potter's best friends.
Remus tried to organize his thoughts – counseling was not his forte; that was Lily's strength – and think about where to start, but the only thing he could think of to say was, "James is going to be so bloody thrilled that he's going to bounce off the walls for weeks, you know that?"
"That's exactly my point!" Lily snapped, frustrated. "You're not understanding me, Rem-"
"No, you're not understanding me," Remus interrupted her. "Hear me out. James is not going to – to play around with you and then dump you in a hole someplace, he's not going to run around parading you in front of people like a prize he won, he's not going to be that kind of boyfriend."
"That's exactly the kind of boyfriend he would be, because that's the kind of person he is," Lily said, but she didn't sound as sure of herself as she had before.
"No, it's not," Remus repeated patiently. "That's the kind of person he was a year ago. He's changed now, Lily; he's grown up. You never would have fallen for the old James. But this James is someone different. That prankster is still in there somewhere; you'll never completely get rid of that part of him, it's just who he is. But being Head Boy has really helped him to see that he has to be at least a little responsible, and what's more," he added with sudden inspiration, "you're a big reason he's changed, too."
"Sirius and I finally managed to get it through his head that he needed to grow up a little or you'd never look twice at him, because he treated you like a joke, not something serious like you wanted. So, he changed – for you, Lily."
"But," said Lily, with the air of someone grasping at straws, "isn't it just a crush for him?"
Remus shook his head vehemently. "No way. Maybe it was at first, you know, but it's grown into something more. He really loves you, Lily. He's head over heels, believe me."
Her breath came in little puffs in the cold air as she silently contemplated his words. Neither of them realized it when the first few drops of rain began to fall.
She shook her head, hard, and blinked. "But I can't."
"Why not?" Remus demanded. "You love him, he loves you – that's all that matters, isn't it?"
"It's not that simple. We have too much history, we can't just ignore that."
"Maybe not, but it can be. Why can't you two just... move on from the past, and what you did, and just start over? You see love stories in everyone else, can't you see the one in your own life?"
She grinned at him, for a second looking free and untroubled. "Like you and Sirius?'
"Yes, like that," Remus answered, amused. "It was blindingly obvious, in hindsight, but we had no idea until you knocked some sense into our heads. So I'll say it one more time: James loves you, you love James, and just like you said to me before, that's all there is to it. There's no reason why you can't just - start over."
Finally, Lily looked over at him. "You really think so?" She whispered.
"Yes, I do," Remus said firmly. "I wouldn't tell you if I didn't think it was true." He glanced up at the sky and the rain that was falling more steadily every moment. "Can we go back inside yet?"
"I thought that was up to you," Lily said, sounding confused.
"Yeah, but we're not going back until you feel better. Do you?"
Lily thought for a minute, then nodded. "I think I do." A slow smile spread across her face as she looked at him. "I really think I do." She flung herself at him and hugged him tightly. "Thank you, Remus, for everything."
He hugged her back, smiling. "Any time, Lily, and I mean that."
They started the long walk back to the castle in the rain. Remus was going to Transfigure an umbrella or something to keep them dry, but when he caught a glimpse of her face, he changed his mind. She had tilted it up to embrace the rain, eyes half-closed, and she looked happier than he had seen her in a very long time.
After a few minutes she spoke again. "How am I supposed to… go about it?"
Remus burst into laughter. "That didn't take you long!"
Lily hit him on the shoulder. "Don't tease me," she ordered, but she was laughing, too. "He'll eventually ask me out again, I suppose… should I just say yes? He'll think it's a joke!"
Remus shook his head. "If I were you, I'd ask him."
"What if he thinks that's a joke, too?" She sounded extremely nervous, and Remus put his arm around her shoulders again.
"Shh, Lily, calm down. I promise he won't, okay? If it'll make you feel better, I'll tip him off. But believe me, even if you did ask him out just as a joke, he'd gladly go with you just for the one chance to be with you."
Lily turned red and spluttered indignantly, and Remus hastily clarified, "Not like that, I mean, just for the chance to go out on a date and spend time with you… oh, never mind," he sighed, as Lily started giggling. "Let's hurry up and get back inside before we both get pneumonia." Grabbing her hand, he pulled her into a run back to the castle.
Remus burst into the dormitory, still smiling, and was immediately accosted by Sirius. "Bloody hell, Moony, where have you been? You've been gone for ages and you took the Map, so we couldn't find you!"
"Is Lily okay?" James demanded over his friend's inquiries. "Where was she? What was she doing? Did she come back with you? What happened?"
"Everybody, please stop talking at once!" Remus nearly shouted. "Sirius, I was out by the lake – which you should have guessed from my wet clothes, silly, it's pouring down rain out there – talking to Lily. She was upset and worried about something, but I think I helped. James," he continued, "she's much better. In fact," Remus grinned, "if my guess is right, you owe me one."
James looked confused. "What?"
Remus flopped onto the bed beside Sirius, who promptly shoved him off again. "You're all wet!"
"That's why I'm on your bed, not mine," Remus said, and Sirius made a face at him. "It doesn't matter, I'm off to take a nice, hot shower right now, anyway."
"Remus," James asked, "what did you mean?"
Remus grinned at him. "Oh, just wait. You'll know soon enough if my guess is right."
Two weeks later, Lily Evans asked James Potter if he wanted to go to out with her to the next Hogsmeade weekend. A slightly stunned but thrilled James immediately said yes, and a satisfied Remus watched their relationship progress over the rest of the school year from good friends, to something more, to completely in love, feeling absurdly proud of himself.
A/N: Please leave a review!