About a month later, Lily had another substitute partner for evening patrol. This time it was Benjy Fenwick. "All right, Evans?" he greeted her. "Lupin told me this afternoon he wasn't feeling well, so we traded patrol duty."
Again? Poor Remus, Lily thought as she and Fenwick left the common room to patrol the corridors in the moonlight—
In the moonlight.
Just like the last time.
Passages from her Defence Against the Dark Arts textbook echoed in her memory. It can't be. Remus? Of all people! That's just not possible.
But she thought about the frequent illnesses. The exhaustion and pallor. The mysterious bandages. Even Remus's worries about finding a job after Hogwarts. Suddenly, everything made a little too much sense.
. * . * .
Lily went straight to the library after lessons the next day. She combed through the Magical Creatures section without finding what she was looking for. Then, with a sinking feeling, she moved over to Dark Creatures. Remus is about as much a Dark creature as Dumbledore is, she fumed. But yes, there they were—a handful of books on lycanthropy.
She took the books over to a table and sat down to look through them. One book fell open to the sign-out card, where the names of previous borrowers were written, and a particular signature caught her eye: James Potter. On an impulse, she checked the cards in the other books. James Potter. Sirius Black. All signed out in October of their second year.
Well, that pretty much confirms it, she thought numbly. And then—Second year? Potter and Black were onto this three years ago! Of course, the boys did all share a dormitory. It made sense that Remus's roommates would have noticed the pattern sooner than she had.
Lily signed the books out and went down to the Great Hall for dinner, her thoughts racing. She saw Remus come in a few minutes later. He looked exhausted again, and seemed a little unsteady on his feet. He joined his friends, sitting halfway up the table from Lily's crowd. Black clapped him gently on the shoulder while Potter and Pettigrew piled food onto his plate. She smiled a little, watching them, but then Potter looked over and smirked at her, so she dropped her gaze to frown at her roast beef. Supportive or not, Potter's still a prat.
. * . * .
Lily kept an eye on Remus as the next full moon approached. Sure enough, he started looking pale and tired again. He was staying up later and later, too—he was usually still studying when Lily and her friends went up to bed. That worried her. From what she'd read about the werewolf transformation, he needed to be getting more sleep than usual this week, not less.
Three nights before the full moon, Lily and Remus were among a handful of students still in the common room at half past ten. Potter and Black had finagled permission to stay out flying on the Quidditch pitch after team practice (Lily didn't ask herself why she knew that), and Pettigrew had already dragged himself sleepily upstairs. Most of Lily's friends had gone to bed as well.
She looked up in surprise when Remus made an uncharacteristically angry noise and threw down his quill in frustration. Then he sighed, rubbed his temples, picked up the quill again, and looked around the room. He brightened a bit when he caught her eye.
"Lily, could I ask you something about the Potions essay?"
She went over and sat at the table where he was working. "Of course."
He sighed again, frowning at his textbook. "I've read this description of the Warming Potion about six times, and I still can't figure out why the horseradish root has to be grated, not sliced, and why the extract of ginger can only be added after the mixture is stirred." He gave her a lopsided smile. "Do you understand this rubbish?"
"Wow," she said casually, watching his reaction, "that essay isn't due until Friday! You're getting an early start."
He looked away for just an instant, and when he looked back, his expression was guarded. "Well, you know, Potions isn't my best subject. I'd rather get this done now than have it hanging over my head all week."
Or maybe it's because you already know you'll be missing lessons on Friday, and you're trying not to fall behind, Lily retorted silently. She was grudgingly impressed at Remus's skill in misdirecting without actually lying.
She launched into an enthusiastic description of the magical properties of horseradish and ginger, drawing diagrams on a scrap of parchment, until Remus was satisfied with her explanation. While he was thanking her, though, he was briefly incapacitated by an enormous yawn.
"Remus," she said gently, "you ought to go on up to bed. It can't be good for your health to push yourself so hard."
His mouth quirked into a wry half-smile. "I'll have plenty of time to get caught up on my sleep after O.W.L.s."
Lily didn't find that particularly reassuring, as O.W.L.s were still more than six months away. Should I tell him that I know? she wondered. Maybe if she did, she could convince him to take better care of himself.
"But you need the sleep this week, don't you?" she asked quietly.
He looked up quickly, his expression closed and wary. "What do you mean?"
"Come on, Remus," she said, her voice too low to be overheard by anyone else in the room. "I've noticed what a regular schedule your illnesses follow. It'll be Thursday night this time, won't it?"
He went completely white, eyes wide with shock and dismay. "Lily—I—" His voice was a choked whisper. "Have you told anyone else?"
"Of course not." She was a little hurt that he would even ask. "It's your secret, not mine."
"Thanks," he muttered, but he still looked unhappy. He swallowed. "I'll be turning in my badge, then."
She stared at him. "Why would you do that? Who cares if you have to trade patrols with Prewett or Fenwick every few months?"
He shook his head glumly, his eyes on the quill in his hand. "You won't want to patrol with me any more, now that you know."
Lily sighed. "Go on like that, Remus, and you'll really be hurting my feelings." He looked up again, surprised. "I thought we were friends, but now it's sounding like you don't trust me."
Now he looked confused. "It's not that..."
"Look," said Lily, "you've got somewhere safe to go at full moon, right? You must."
"Okay," she said. "That means I won't run into you then."
He shuddered at the thought, but nodded again.
"So for the other twenty-eight days, what's the problem?"
Remus looked at her for a moment, searchingly, and then managed a faint smile. "You sound like you actually mean that."
"Of course I do. You were my friend before I knew about this, and you're still my friend now that I've found out. As far as I'm concerned, it makes absolutely no difference." Lily tilted her head to one side, considering. "Actually, that's not quite true. Here's a difference." She gave him an impish smile. "You can count on me for notes when you have to miss Ancient Runes. I've noticed none of the rest of your crowd is in there."
Now his familiar wry grin was back. "I'll take you up on that offer for Friday's notes, then."
"But anyway," Lily resumed, "I think we were talking about how you need to be getting more sleep."
"I appreciate the concern. But the more homework I can get done before Thursday night, the less catching up I'll have to do next week. So I'd better get back to the Warming Potion." His expression was friendly, but his jaw was set. Clearly, he was prepared to be stubborn. Lily didn't know what else she could say to persuade him, so she returned to her own seat and her Transfiguration textbook.
. * . *.
Half an hour later, the common room had emptied out except for Lily in her deep armchair in the corner and Remus at his table by the window. The portrait swung open and Potter and Black burst into the room, muddy and dishevelled from Quidditch practice in the rain. They were heading for the dormitory stairs, their incessant banter reduced to a stage whisper in deference to the lateness of the hour, but they skidded to a halt when they noticed Remus.
"Oi, Moony!" Potter hailed him softly.
That ridiculous nickname! Lily realized. They're such subtle prats.
Remus looked up with a tired grin. "How was practice?"
"Excellent," said Black. "But the hour is much too late for good little prefects to be doing homework. Especially this week."
"I'll be upstairs in a few minutes," said Remus. "I just want to finish this."
"Oh, no you don't," Potter returned. "Bed. Now."
"In a minute," Remus insisted, but he was outnumbered. Black began scooping up the books and parchment from the table, while Potter grabbed an elbow and hauled the reluctant prefect to his feet. Apparently stubbornness was no match for brute force.
"Upstairs with you," Potter ordered. "It's definitely bedtime."
Black nodded emphatically, his arms full of books. "And what's more, you're not sleeping through breakfast tomorrow like you did today. In fact, you're having porridge for breakfast. I will personally feed porridge into your ugly maw if necessary."
Remus went a bit pink, but he punched each of the others on the arm and let them herd him toward the stairs. "'Night, Lily," he said over his shoulder. "Thanks for the help with Potions, and—things."
Potter whipped around. (Black smirked.) "Hi, Evans!" He stood grinning foolishly at her, his friends forgotten for the moment.
Lily sighed and rolled her eyes. She had almost—almost—been touched by Potter and Black's obvious concern for Remus. And then Potter had to go and be a prat again. But at least they had succeeded where she had failed, and Remus was going to get some sleep.
"Weren't you on your way to get Moony up to bed?" she asked pointedly.
Potter froze. Black's jaw dropped. They both turned to look at Remus, who was smiling a little. He gave a tiny nod and a shrug, and the other two turned back to gape at Lily again.
"Prefect Evans," said Remus, disappearing up the stairs, "is no fool."
. * fin * .
A/N: Thanks once again to jadzialove. I couldn't ask for a more helpful and supportive beta!