She wasn't even going to approach what she was feeling about Remus's part in all this. She opened her book in the common room. Everyone else was outside celebrating the end of exams or elsewhere, and she didn't want to see them.
After the stern talking to last night about how he was the prefect and should be exercising that control, especially with rule breaking as blatant as that, Remus was thoroughly drained. Remus didn't even bother to refute or interrupt Professor McGonagall, everything she was saying was the truth and he knew it. No matter how much he wished the tartan carpet would open up and swallow him whole, it didn't happen. He accepted his three extra-long detentions with a thank you and the promise that there would have been more if it weren't the last week of school. As far as he was concerned, they could carry over into next year. It was deserved.
He'd ignored James and Sirius's enthusiastic inquiries as to exactly how many detentions he'd gotten and shut himself in his bed again, to study single-mindedly for their Transfiguration exam. At breakfast and on the way to the exam when everyone was still abuzz about yesterday's debacle, he avoided talking and even looking at people. He didn't follow James, Sirius, and Peter outside as he had yesterday, instead turned to head towards Gryffindor Tower.
His stomach clenched and he blinked blankly for a moment when he saw Lily Evans looking over the spine of Pride and Prejudice at him. He swallowed and tried to sound off-hand when he said, "How about that exam? I didn't do as well as I thought I could, but the third question was old hat by now-"
"Remus," she interrupted him flatly, and he stopped.
They exchanged looks for a moment. Remus's discomfort was showing and Lily was glancing expectantly. "What?" he asked, holding out his hands helplessly in indication of the bigger question.
"Nothing," she told him with a sigh and looking back to her book.
"It's not nothing," he said, trying not to sound annoyed. Girls were so obtuse sometimes, it was probably just as well there wasn't a sane one out there who could want him once they knew. He sat in the chair opposite the one she was draped over. "So what is it?"
Lily put the book down on her chest, and examined Remus for a moment. He was obviously feeling badly about it, there was no reason to make it worse. But still, she couldn't stay quiet. "Remus, you knew what they were doing to Snape was wrong."
"Yes," he said with barely a flinch.
She sat up. "So why didn't you stand up to them? Allowing something like that to happen is every bit as bad as doing it yourself."
"I know," he replied. "I have been lambasting myself over this and if that's all that you have to say you really needn't bother because I've been over it a thousand times."
"One of us wasn't going to do it, I knew that. But I thought two might get attention," she leaned over to him. She looked up and realized what she felt right now: disappointment. "I'm... disappointed," she confessed to him.
"In me," he added, not a question.
"Yes," she agreed.
"I just don't know why you go along with them all the time. You know it's wrong, so why don't you try to do something to stop it?" she asked.
Remus wondered dryly for a moment if she'd ever met James and Sirius, or him, for that matter. But she had asked a serious question and was looking for a serious answer. He looked down at his hands for a moment and said, "I - I just couldn't." His friends were his friends and he didn't want that to change, as it probably would eventually. But he wanted to keep them while he could.
Lily let out an unmistakable noise of disgust. "I can't accept that," she said flatly.
"I'm sorry," he repeated.
"Stop being sorry, Remus!" she cried.
The silence that followed was deafening. He was probably going to regret asking, but if he was half as perceptive as he gave himself credit for, he already knew the answer. "So, this is it for us, then?"
She gave a little laugh that sounded almost a little sad, but not mean or cruel. "Yeah. I'm sorry Remus, I can't be with a person who can't stand up for himself or others."
That hurt. It did. No point in lying to himself about that. He nodded slowly. "No, I would not ask you to stay with me if that wasn't what you wanted."
"I'm sorry, Remus." Now she sounded regretful.
"It's nothing," he said, and tried smiling at her. "I was honoured."
She almost took it back. She almost took it back and said, No, you're too good of a person for me to let slip away and too sweet. But something like this would inevitably happen again, and they would be back to where they were now. If it was something that changed itself... well, maybe. "So was I," she said. "And hey, it's not like we're never going to see each other again."
That was that. Gone and over in five minutes, wham. Amicable and clean. "Indeed, no," he said, smiling wanly. "You know that all stops are going to be out with James now, don't you?"
"Let me handle James Potter," she said, and then hesitated before adding, "I still count you as a dear friend. I hope this won't ruin that."
"It won't," he promised as he stood. "Good afternoon," he wished her, before climbing the staircase to the dormitories.
"Afternoon," she echoed hollowly, leaning back in the armchair and turning to stare into the fire, unwilling to return to the Bennets and Mr. Darcy just now.
By valleyflowers and coeurdeunlion.