Chapter 5 : Yet Another Secret
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Remus was anxious all day, thinking of what would be said between Lily and himself later that day. He knew she was right – that he would eventually tell her the truth, he just didn’t know if now was the right time. If she really was falling for James, there was nothing Remus could do about it. He tried to rationalize it in his head by telling himself that if he truly cared for Lily, he would want her to be happy; and if James Potter made her happy, that should make him happy.
But every time Remus thought of James and Lily together, he became so distraught it was hard to take his mind from it. He just didn’t understand how someone could go from five years of solid hatred to suddenly having a crush on that same person.
Another thing that worried Remus was what the outcome of James and Lily’s relationship would be if they were to pursue it. Though James had never cheated on a girlfriend, he did get around quite a bit. Girls just threw themselves at James, and James embraced the attention. Remus worried that if he started to date Lily, he might get bored and then just throw her out. And what then? Would Remus have Lily to himself, as he had always hoped he would? And if that did happen, would there be any way that Remus wouldn’t feel like the washed-up second choice?
No, if Lily did chose James over himself, Remus would just leave her alone, he would try to forget about whatever crush he thought he might have had on her, and he would move on. This panged him, because he knew that if that were to happen, they could never go back to being friends. Remus would have to move on, and that meant finding a new best friend.
“Moony, I swear I’ve never seen you this distracted before,” Sirius said while reading the instructions for a potion they were supposed to be brewing. “I’ve had to do my own work this whole time!” he joked, looking up at Remus. “What’s wrong?” he dropped his voice.
Remus looked around. James had gone to work with Lily and her friends today, and Peter had accidently burned himself earlier in the lesson and had been sent to the hospital wing. “I don’t know, Sirius.”
Sirius saw Remus covertly look over at James and Lily. “Remus, stop treating me as though I don’t have eyes,” Sirius said, slightly stung. “I know you like her. And I know you hate the fact that her and James are getting on so well.”
Remus’s eyes widened in surprise. “You know? But – does James know?”
“Of course he doesn’t. He’s so absorbed in himself, I’m surprised he even notices me half the time,” Sirius rolled his eyes. “But there’s nothing I can do about it if you don’t make your feelings known to Lily.”
“But now? After her and James are doing whatever they’re doing? I’d be a horrible friend.” The realization dawned on Remus that those words were true – that he could be giving up his friendship not only with Lily, but also with James if he were to admit the truth.
Sirius shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. “He would back off if he knew,” he said simply.
“No he wouldn’t,” Remus scoffed. “He’s been pursuing her since he hit puberty. There’s no way he would just give up like that.”
Sirius looked at Remus as if he were stupid. “You see the way James looks at Lily, but you don’t see the way he looks at you. He loves you Remus, he loves you more than the thought of having Lily. If he knew how you felt, he would completely give up.” Sirius went back to what he was doing, upset that Remus thought that low of their best friend.
Remus looked back over at James and Lily just in time to catch Lily touching James’s arm and laughing at something he had said. Remus turned back to his empty cauldron and wondered what in the hell he would tell Lily now.
Lily, knowing that Remus would try to get out of talking to her, waited in the Common Room for him. He came down from his dormitory to find her standing by the stairs. She smiled at him and held out her hand for him to take. He smiled briefly back but didn’t take her hand. They walked out of the Common Room in silence and made their way down to the grounds, reserving all their talking for when they were stationary.
Finally, when they reached the birch tree and sat beneath it, Lily turned her hurt eyes on Remus. “Remus, what is this all about?”
He turned his gaze away. “You can’t guess?” he said softly.
“Remus, if you like me, you need to say it now, before things go too far,” she put her hand on his knee.
“Things have already gone too far, Lily. You and James? You don’t think that things have gotten a little out of hand?” he brushed her hand away gently and brought his knees to his chest and hugged his arms around them.
“Remus, never once in the five years we’ve known each other have you admitted to liking me. And now that James has come along and shown some interest you’re all mad about it! If you had wanted me in the first place, you should have said something then!”
“How could I say something, Lily? I would have been risking losing our friendship, and that has meant the world to me! Because of you, I have friends. And what if all the sudden you didn’t want to be my friend anymore? Then I would have nobody.”
“Remus, you’ve made your own friends. Please don’t sit here and tell me I’ve made all your friends for you.”
“Even so,” Remus resisted rolling his eyes at her. “If I lost you, it would be like losing the world.”
Lily, shocked by what he had said, lost her retort. She sat there, looking at the ground because she was too afraid to look at him. “Remus, you know you will always hold a special place in my heart, no matter what.”
Remus froze. “Is this when you tell me we can no longer be friends?” he said coldly.
“Please just listen, Remus,” Lily said sharply. Once she was sure Remus wasn’t about to make some snide comment, she continued. “Throughout the years there have been plenty of boys who have showed interest in me. Did you never wonder why I never went with any of them? Didn’t you ever stop to think that maybe you were the reason?”
Remus looked at her suddenly, looking at her face to make sure that what she was saying was true.
“Remus, you’ve always been my rock. With Severus, you accepted our friendship and didn’t judge. You were the one person who I could rely on with help for that, because no one else respected my decision to be his friend. In all that I’ve done, you’ve always been by my side. You know me better then anyone else, and you’re my only friend who has ever been to my house and met my parents. All these years I’ve tried to show you that I have feelings for you, and you have thwarted my attempts each time. I’ve always thought, maybe, that you were just too shy to move on it. But then James comes along, shamelessly falling for me, trying to make me fall for him. After you tried, twice, to tell me how you felt, and failed each time, I thought you might never gain the courage. So I gave in, I let James spoil me and shower me in affection.”
“So you do like him, then?” Remus asked, dejected.
“Yeah, I do,” Lily said softly. “But I’m in love with you, Remus.”
Remus felt his mouth open in shock, and tried to close it as soon as he was aware of it. He didn’t know what to say, if he should say it back, or if he should just accept it. He was in love with her too, of course he was! But what about James? How would James feel?
“Lily, of course I’m in love with you!” Remus finally burst out. “But what about James? He’s so hopelessly head over heels for you, and how is he going to react to this?!” Remus stood up and began to pace. “Gah! Why couldn’t I have just mustered the courage a few months ago?” Remus swore loudly as he pace angrily back and forth, fists clenched at his side.
Lily, shocked by his sudden anger, watched him. “Remus. Remus! Sit down!” she grabbed his hands and pulled him down, not letting go of his clenched fists. “Remus, it will be okay!”
Remus felt tears burn his eyes and had no desire to hide them or prevent them. “How, Lily? We’re both in love with the same girl? One of us has to lose, and both of us get hurt. He won’t be friends with me anymore, I’ll have betrayed him! He won’t be able to forgive me!”
Lily pulled Remus into a hug and rubbed his back. “Yes he will. He loves you, he won’t let this get in the way of your friendship, I can guarantee it.” She continued to soothe him, saying promising words that Remus knew were probably true. “I’ll just tell him that I can’t be with him.”
“That’s gonna kill him, Lil.”
“How about we just don’t tell anyone about us? I’ll just tell James that I can’t be with him, and I’ll make up an excuse, but we just won’t tell anyone about us? Because then you won’t have betrayed James, and we can all still just be friends.”
Remus sighed heavily. “Something like that can only last for so long.”
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