Chapter 11 : Remus - Finding Reasons
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I sat anxiously in Transfiguration as Professor McGonagall addressed the class briskly, striding to the front of the room. There were several empty seats - four, in fact - and I knew exactly who was supposed to fill them: Peter, Sirius, James, and Lily. Why were my four closest friends suddenly missing when they were all present in Defense Against the Dark Arts last period? It was oddly suspicious that they were all not here - surely they weren't planning something without me, right? No, Lily wouldn't miss class for anything.
Professor McGonagall surveyed the class for a moment before her mouth's usually straight line curved downwards into a frown. "Quite a few absences today," she remarked, nonverbally summoning her clipboard from her desk. Her eyes moved quickly down what I supposed was a list of students before she looked up and locked eyes with me. "Mr. Lupin, are you aware of the whereabouts of Mr. Potter, Mr. Black, Mr. Pettigrew, and Miss Evans?" she asked sharply, clearly suspicious. I didn't blame her - I was suspicious, too.
"No, Professor," I answered honestly. "I have no idea where they are."
"I do," someone piped up from the front, pointing out the doorway. I heard a strange laughing and was surprised to see it was coming from Lily, who was looking happily around her as she was guided in by James. And James had his arm firmly around her, smiling broadly. My mouth dropped open. Lily Evans laughing crazily next to James? Had I lost? Had one of the other three managed to convince her to go out with James?
"Sorry we're late, Professor," he said casually, leading a giggling Lily to the back of the room. Sirius and Peter followed shortly afterwards, apologizing briefly to a baffled-looking Professor McGonagall. I could hear whispering on all sides of me as my mind raced furiously.
How could this have happened? Lily had been completely furious only fifteen minutes ago. Now she was grinning and allowing James to put his arm around her. The whispering got louder, and I knew that rumors would be all over the school by next period.
"What caused all four of you to be late?" Professor McGonagall finally asked the four tardy students.
"Well, we had a slight dilemma to sort through, Professor," Sirius answered lazily.
"All four of you?" Professor McGonagall asked suspiciously. James, Peter, and Sirius nodded, but Lily just continued smiling pleasantly.
"Do you have anything to add, Miss Evans?" Professor McGonagall questioned, giving Lily a curious look. "It is most unlike you to be late."
Lily didn't even glance at her, instead beaming at James. James quickly answered, "She was also involved in the dilemma. Don't worry, Professor, the issue is resolved."
"I see." She didn't look at all convinced, but kept her eye on the four as she began speaking to the class at large once more. "Now, today we will be studying more theoretical Transfiguration, as it is early in the year. Once you get the concept of it solid, you should be able to transfigure small parts of a human's face with little--"
A hysterical laughter rang through the room, cutting off Professor McGonagall, who looked highly frustrated.
"Miss Evans, what is the problem with you today?"
"Well, actually, Professor, that was the dilemma that caused us to be late," Sirius explained quickly.
Professor McGonagall delicately raised an eyebrow. "Laughter?"
"No, no," he clarified, "A poorly done Cheering Charm. Now she's a bit… loopy."
"I see. Well, Mr. Potter, since you and Miss Evans seem to be quite comfortable with each other, please escort her to the Hospital Wing," she said briskly.
James grinned and rose, as did Lily. "With pleasure, Professor." He and Lily strode out of the room cheerily.
"And then come right back!" Professor McGonagall called to their retreating backs, but neither one turned around, and James did not return to the lesson.
So it was Sirius who got Lily to go out with James. I sighed inwardly, knowing that I should feel happy for my friend but wishing I could have been the one to help him. After all he'd done for me…
I'd never minded lessons before, but today I was practically begging for dismissal throughout the long double-period. When Professor McGonagall finally uttered the two words I had been longing to hear ("Class dismissed"), I sprang out of my seat and bolted through the door, heading directly for the Hospital Wing that was only two corridors away. After what felt like only moments, I skidded to a halt on the stone floor directly in front of the door to the Hospital Wing. I reached out my hand to open it before coming to a halt merely inches away - the voice inside was familiar, but the words were surprising.
"Come on, Lily, you can do it. Just say 'yes,' it's easy!" It was James, clearly begging. Lily only gave a weak laugh in reply, not quite like earlier. "Will you go out with me? Come on, please, Lily!"
"Mr. Potter," said the stern but kind voice of the matron, Madam Pomfrey. "I will have to ask you to leave Miss Evans alone. She should fully recover in only ten minutes if she is secluded."
"But Madam Pomfrey--" James began rather desperately.
"You've been here for two hours, Mr. Potter, you can wait ten minutes. Now out!"
I sighed in relief. So she hadn't agreed to go out with him yet, meaning I still had a chance! The door opened in front of me, and James left rather sulkily, not even noticing me as he passed by.
I knew that all four of us had a free period now, and that the others might be wondering where I was, but I didn't think about that. Instead I sunk into a small stone bench right beside the Hospital Wing and pondered my next move.
Judging by the way things were going, this contest could be over any day now. Sirius, Peter, and James were all very determined to win Lily over, and so was I. So if I was going to be the one to win this, I'd have to work fast. We had developed a solid friendship over the last couple days, and I wasn't only glad of that because of the contest - she was witty, a good listener, and had a number of highly amusing and intriguing stories herself. Lily and I had similar taste, and it was quite enjoyable to have philosophical discussions with her along with the fun ones. Anytime I mentioned any subject even remotely related to education, Sirius would just grunt, "Put a sock in it," and James and Peter would silently agree. I wished I had become good friends with her earlier.
But now was no time to reminisce - I needed to plan. My mind sharpened as it focused on the issue - she was clearly interested in James's positive points, but didn't seem keen at all on going out with him. What was stopping her? Maybe if I could find out why exactly she didn't like him so much, I could help James fix his issues and then ask her to go out with him again. It seemed like the best course of action, so I smiled to myself, rose from my seat, and took a few long strides to the door. When I went inside, I saw Lily lying on a bed, faintly smiling.
I quickly made my way over to her. "Hi, Lily," I greeted her happily. "You seem to be in a better mood than this morning."
She made a face. "Oh, ha ha," she said sarcastically, though she was soon grinning again. "I guess Peter meant well, though it'd be nice if he had executed the spell better."
"I agree. Today's Transfiguration lesson was pretty important," I admitted. She groaned, so I quickly continued, "You can borrow my notes if you want, I took them nearly as immaculately and detailed as yours usually are."
"Aw, thanks, Remus!" Lily exclaimed in a relieved voice. "You're a real friend."
Friend. The word reminded me of my goal, which I had momentarily forgotten. Surely I could casually steer this conversation where I want it to go.
"I just wish I could have been there when the incident happened," I said wistfully. "I could have helped you out--"
"Oh, it's no big deal, Remus," she assured me calmly. "I'm fine."
"Yeah, it's a good thing James was there to help you," I said carefully. She stiffened a little but said nothing. "He made sure you didn't go running off or anything."
"True," she sighed, "But I remember him trying to get me to go out with him for over an hour in here."
"Well, he does care about you a lot," I told her before asking as nonchalantly as I could, "Why don't you like him, by the way?"
"Oh, loads of reasons," she answered immediately. "He's arrogant, conceited, a complete show-off, a braggart, extremely egotistical--"
"You know as well as I do that those are all synonyms," I said kindly.
"Yeah, well, it's true," she concluded, sounding a little disgruntled.
"Surely there's more to it than that?" I asked, a bit perplexed. "I mean, he gives you six years of devotion, and you continuously turn him down because he's a bit arrogant?"
Her gaze shifted a bit downwards and to the left. "Yeah, that's it. I don't want to inflate his big head any further." I couldn't hold in my laugh at this, and she grinned appreciatively.
"Well, see you around, Lily!" I waved to her as I exited the Hospital Wing.
"Bye, Remus!" she called back brightly. As soon as I opened the door, I bumped straight into Alice and Mary. "Oh, excuse me," I said politely, stepping aside.
"No worries, Remus," Alice bubbled, standing on her tiptoes and peering into the Hospital Wing. "Is Lily still here?"
I nodded and quickly explained, "She's fine now, she'll be leaving in a moment. Well, once Madam Pomfrey finally gives her permission, that is, so maybe in an hour or so." Both girls giggled at this, and an idea suddenly came into my head. "Say, Alice, are you and Frank okay now?"
"Oh, yes, he understood completely," she nodded happily. "Well, actually, he was a bit confused about the whole mess. But we've straightened it out, and he knows a love potion's involved, so it's all good."
"Glad to hear it," I grinned. "Sorry for my idiotic friends." The two laughed again.
"No problem, James has been getting a bit desperate lately, it seems," Alice replied conversationally.
"It'd be nice if Lily would just give James a chance so we don't have to put up with these schemes of his anymore," I joked.
Mary smiled, brushing some of her straight blonde hair out of her face. "I agree, but there's nothing we can do about it."
"Why doesn't she like him, anyway?" I asked, as if the answer was of no real importance to me.
"Well, according to her, he's arrogant, conceited, a complete show-off, a braggart, extremely egotistical--" Mary began.
"How many times have you heard her say that?" I asked, quite sure that this was Lily's speech verbatim.
"Far too many," Alice said wearily, "And we're not even done."
"I feel like there must be more reason for her to dislike him though," I frowned.
Mary shrugged. "So do Alice and I," she confessed, "But Lily's always fiercely denied anything more anytime we asked."
That wasn't good. Alice, Mary, and Lily had been close friends since the first day of Hogwarts. If she didn't tell them in six years, it wasn't likely she would tell me in two days. I exhaled slowly, trying to think of a new approach. "Well, nice talking to you," I said with a rather forced smile. The two girls waved cheerily and skipped into the Hospital Wing.
As I strode away, I turned and noticed a boy standing nearby with long, carefully styled black hair framing his familiar face.
Sirius Black had been eavesdropping. And he had a wide smile on his face.
AN: Exams are over, and I now have time to update again! :D Two more chapters, and then the story is over. Thanks so much to all of the people who have read, reviewed, or favorited this story. It means so much to me! ~WaterLily :)
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