Lily and Sirius needed to tend to the potion almost hourly over the next day, and more often than not they found either Remus or James hanging around with them Lily began to notice she never saw James and Remus together, alone. When they were all in a group, Remus and James seemed to be ignoring each other. As she was eating lunch in the kitchen and suddenly found herself alone with Peter, she asked the question she found herself strangely curious about the answer to.
“Are Remus and James fighting?” Lily asked Peter.
“Sure, they are always having some debate or another. I noticed they’ve been a bit weird lately. Probably just about Quidditch or something.”
Lily realised her suspicions of Peter never being in the loop of things was correct, and supposed she would have more luck asking Sirius. There was no way Remus and James would be fighting about Quidditch, she knew from Remus that it was, in fact, the first thing they had bonded over, though Remus rarely played. She went to the potions room where Sirius was guarding the potion.
“He doesn’t like the fact that James likes you. He’s all against it.” Sirius said, looking angry. Lily knew he was probably angry at himself for revealing it.
“Why? What’s he against?”
“I don’t know,” Sirius mumbled, although he was clear he did. “It’s nothing, he’s probably just sick of James talking about you and stuff like that.”
“Does James talk about me still? I thought he was past all that.” She said, though she had really only hoped he was, instead of actually believing he was still going on about her to his friends. She shook her head. “Never mind that. Why exactly are Remus and James fighting?”
“I don’t know, Lily! I won’t say! Marauders confidentiality agreement!”
“But-” Lily began.
“Marauders confidentiality! Marauders confidentiality!” Sirius chanted, running away from her. Lily realised she would have to ask James; James was the only one who would break a Marauders confidentiality agreement for her.
She literally bumped into him in the first floor hallway. She pushed him into the nearest room, which happened to be bathroom, and shut the door behind her.
“Knew you’d come around, Evans,” James smiled coyly at her.
“Not this time, Potter,” she said, shaking her head. “You know if there’s one thing I can’t stand, its people who should be friends that are fighting.”
James immediately looked like he’d been caught in the act of doing something forbidden.
“Yeah, I know you hate that,” he said, edging towards the door. “Little Miss stop all the fighting, you are.”
“Sirius said that you and Remus are in some sort of argument about your liking me,” Lily said in a rush, getting straight to the point.
“There’s never a shortage of drama, is there? James pondered out loud. “We are having a small misunderstanding.”
“About what?” Lily asked, frustrated. “You’re best friends, you guys should support each other, and he should want whatever you want.”
“He does want what I want, Lily,” James said, looking her in the eye. “That’s the problem.”
“Oh,” Lily said softly. She’d never thought of Remus in that way, and would never have guessed that he liked her.
“But he’s my best friend,” she said.
“I’ve been saying the same thing,” James shrugged. “Don’t tell him anything, okay? Don’t tell him I told you.”
Lily shook her head.
“I have to sort this out.” She made to leave. As she was walking past James, he grabbed her arm gently.
“You don’t like him too, do you?” He looked so scared Lily almost laughed.
“No, James. I only see him as a friend.” She tried to leave once more, but as she got to the door he asked another question, in a quiet voice.
“How do you see me? As a friend?”
Lily answered honestly.
“I’m not sure.”
Lily couldn’t find Remus all day, but Sirius found her, after a day off with Mia.
“The potion needs to be watched all night,” he said.
“Isn’t that quite unlikely?” She pondered. Yes, any unwarranted change in the colour of a potion needed to be fixed immediately, but the potion they were making was made up of fairly stable ingredients.
“We’ve just started adding more to it, it’s at an...unstable state.”
So Lily accompanied Sirius to the potions room, complaining a little about James still liking her and now Remus as well. Once they got to the room, and cleared the yellow haze that had filled it since that morning, Lily realised Sirius had been silent the whole time.
“Don’t you have an opinion on this?” Lily asked Sirius as he settled himself on the desk, looking bored. “About James I mean. Can’t you tell him to back off or tell me to-”
“Back on up?” Sirius interrupted cheekily, glancing up at her.
“Black...” She said warningly.
“Look, when it comes to you and Prongs, I could tell him to back off, but I’m not sure he would,” he shrugged. “I am the one person that can boss him around and get away with it, but you seem to cast some sort of infallible spell on him.”
“Well I don’t mean to,” Lily defended.
“I don’t know why he’s so mad for you. I mean, you’re nice enough, and bloody brilliant at potions, I know I only passed last year because you were my partner, I’m not afraid to admit it,” he smiled at her. “But he’s really crazy for you. There is one thing...But you don’t know Lily, you just don’t get it.”
“What don’t I get?”
“I’m staying out of it, right? I’m definitely staying out of it.”
“Yeah, fine, you’re staying out of it,” she nodded, and then snapped her fingers at him. “Now what is it that I don’t get?”
“You like him too!” Sirius blurted out, throwing his hands in the air in front of him as though it was the most obvious fact in the world.
“I do not,” she said, turning away from him, looking back towards the shelves as if searching for another potions book.
“But you’ve never really said that,” Sirius leapt of the desk, walked up to her and pointed a finger in her face. “You’ve never definitively told him that. So either you are completely evil and are leading him on, or you like him and don’t know it, or you like him and know it and hate it.”
He backed off, walking to the potion and sitting on the desk beside it. Lily stood still, feeling as though she’d been slapped.
“Mind looking after it for a while? I need to talk to Remus.”
“Yeah, fine. There’s a good idea, go and talk to Remus. At least then you’ll have half the marauders in false hope.”
“Actually I need to tell Remus that he and I will always be friends. Just friends.”
“Great,” Sirius said in a disinterested tone, gazing into the potion. Then suddenly he leapt to his feet again, looking horrified. “Actually, don’t talk to Remus. Um, not now. You have to watch the potion.”
“Why? You saw Mia today didn’t you?”
“Yes and we snogged for hours and it was brilliant but...uh....but, you’ve got to, um, talk to James.”
“Talk to James?” She asked him. “I thought you were staying out of it?”
“No, I mean, I’ve got to talk to James, so you’ve got to stay here. With the potion. All night. Okay?” He seemed in a state of panic.
“Fine,” she said, scared by his sudden change in attitude. She took Sirius’ place on the desk next to the potion, watching it like a hawk for any change in colour, although occasionally glancing out the window to admire the beautiful full moon.
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