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Realising that it was Sirius and (thank God!) not Professor McGonagall, I felt myself slump into his grip, angry tears running down my face - anger at Severus and at myself, for losing control, for getting myself into trouble, for making a spectacle of myself in the middle of what turned out to be quite a crowded corridor just outside the Great Hall just as dinner was ending...
“What happened, Rem?” Sirius asked me in a whisper as he and Professors McGonagall, Slughorn and Dumbledore escorted Severus and I to the Hospital Wing.
I shook my head at him. “Not now,” I mumbled into his shoulder.
Thankfully, the professors had ordered us straight to the Wing without questioning us in front of the crowd of people who had gathered around us out in the corridor.
When we reached the Hospital Wing, Madam Pomfrey bustled around us, not speaking to me other than to ask me to pass her something to bandage my split knuckles. Apparently, she didn’t think I deserved magical treatment. Once she had done that, the professors ushered me into her office while she worked on Severus. Sirius was told to wait outside, away from Severus.
No one seemed to know what to say to me at first. Finally, Professor McGonagall awkwardly cleared her throat.
“Mr Lupin...what...would you care to tell us what happened?”
I looked down at my bandaged hands. If I told them, I would ruin Lily and James’ chance to tell everyone about their engagement. I had the feeling that Severus wouldn’t tell - even though he’d probably ruined his friendship with Lily beyond repair, he would probably still feel some loyalty to her - plus he must’ve known that he’d have Sirius and James beating the crap out of his as well if he ruined everything.
Professor Slughorn coughed. “Well, Lupin?”
I shook my head. “No, Professor,” I mumbled apologetically.
“Excuse me?” McGonagall asked, shocked.
“Never in all my time at Hogwarts...” Slughorn started, but Professor Dumbledore interrupted him.
“You know that if you don’t tell us, you may be punished severely, Mr Lupin,” he said gently.
I nodded, not meeting any of their gazes.
“Perhaps you could wait by the door?” Dumbledore suggested.
“Away from Snape!” Slughorn interjected sharply.
From the doorway, I could hear them talking.
“- should take away his prefect position -”
“Remus has never done anything like this before -”
“- never been more in trouble than a few harmless pranks -”
“- outrageous -”
“- we didn’t make him Head Boy because the strain was too much -”
“- he keeps his temper so well normally -”
“No, I don’t believe that he will lose his temper again like that, Horace!” McGonagall cut in indignantly. “He’s never been trouble, in the last seven years he’s been here. He’s trustworthy. If he isn’t telling us what happened, he’s probably protecting someone else.”
‘God bless you, Minerva McGonagall,’ I thought to myself.
“Mr Lupin,” Dumbledore called, cutting into my thoughts.
I went back into the office quietly. “Detention,” McGonagall said swiftly, I suspect before Slughorn could interrupt with his opinion again. “Two weeks’. And...50 points from Gryffindor.”
I stared at her, wide eyed. Two weeks’ detention and 50 points from Gryffindor?! I had escaped seriously lightly and I knew it. I nodded at her.
“Yes, Professor.” I paused. “Can I - can I talk to you quickly, please?”
She nodded and the other two professors left the office.
“Remus,” she said sternly. “I don’t know why you did what you did and you know full well that you should be in a lot more trouble than you are. I’ve talked Horace - Professor Slughorn down from suspension because I trust you and this isn’t like you to behave like this.”
“Thank you, Professor,” I murmured gratefully. “I - I don’t know what to say. I don’t deserve this at all. I - I’m sorry I’ve caused trouble for you.”
“I have to speak to the other professors. Don’t expect treatment like this again, Lupin.”
“It won’t happen again, Professor.”
I refused to speak until we reached the Gryffindor Tower. As I entered the Common Room, everyone turned to stare at me.
“Mind your own business!” barked Sirius and everyone turned away guiltily.
We made our way up to our dormitory. As we went inside, we saw James sat on his bed, his arm around Lily, anger radiating off of him.
“Remus, where - oh shit!” James exclaimed as he saw me. “What happened to you?”
As Lily took in my appearance, guilt coloured her features - she already knew exactly what had happened to me.
“Oh Remus,” she sighed. “Please tell me this isn’t because of me.”
“You need to go to the Hospital Wing!” James urged me, getting up from his bed and coming over to me.
I laughed hollowly. “I’ve just come from there. This is the extent of the treatment you get when you start the fight, apparently.”
“Oh, no, you didn’t,” James exclaimed, wide-eyed.
Sirius cleared his throat. “Anyone feel like letting me in on what’s going on?” he asked sarcastically. “One minute I was in the Great Hall, the next you’re beating the crap out of Snape and then you give me the silent treatment from the minute you calm down!” he finished bitterly.
I flinched away from his anger and remorse filled his eyes. “I’m sorry, Rem,” he muttered. “But what the hell happened?”
“Well,” James began angrily...
Once James and Lily had explained everything up until the point where I’d left, they all turned expectantly to me. I sighed ashamedly.
“Lily, I’m really sorry -” I began but she held up a hand.
“Don’t be,” she firmly. “Whatever you did, Rem, don’t be sorry for it.”
I nodded silently, then rubbed my temples and ran a hand through my hair.
“I - I lost it, ok?” I sighed, the self-directed anger bursting out of me. “I don’t lose control - ever! I can’t. I can’t let myself. But today...I lost it. I couldn’t bear it,” I exclaimed, meeting Lily’s gaze. “No one has the right to speak to you like that, Lily! I don’t care who it is, you shouldn’t have that kind of treatment from anyone, least of all someone who is supposed to be one of your best friends.”
“So what happened after you ran out?” James prompted gently.
“I’m not sure. I was running - just running and running...I didn’t really know where I was going...and then I ran into Snape - literally ran into him. He was angry...and then said something like, “Brilliant, just who I wanted to see,” really sarcastically - and I just lost it with him, it was like I couldn’t stop hitting him, I just wanted to hurt him, as much as he’d hurt you, Lily, and then Professor McGonagall saw and then Sirius stopped me - thank goodness -”
“Yeah, thanks for that punch to the face, Remus,” he interjected.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” I rambled. “It was like I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t realise who you were until you spoke and then I stopped, didn’t I, and then...well. We were taken to the Hospital Wing and treated, well, Severus more than me, and I had to speak to Slughorn, Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall, and then I was sent back here with Sirius,” I finished, the anger still radiating from me.
I made myself look over at Lily and James and was shocked to see - fear? - in their faces.
“Oh, Remus,” Lily sighed. “Oh Remus. What have you done?”
“How much trouble are you in?” James asked nervously.
I took a deep breath as my three friends waited on tenterhooks.
“I didn’t tell them why I did it. It wasn’t fair to ruin it for you. Not any more than I already have, anyway. Oh God, guys, I’m so sorry.”
Lily nervously took my hands in hers. “Remus, if you hadn’t done it, James would have. We’re not mad at you. Honestly. Just tell us how much trouble you’re in.”
“Put it this way,” I said quietly. “I owe Professor McGonagall massively.”
They all looked at one another, hope flashing between them.
“Two weeks’ detention and 50 points from Gryffindor,” I admitted, and they all stared at me incredulously.
“Are you serious?!” James exclaimed.
“Please tell me you’re not joking,” Sirius said, grabbing my hand from Lily’s.
“I swear,” I replied sincerely. “Detention and house points.”
Lily let out a deep breath that she’d been holding. “Oh thank goodness!” she breathed. “We thought - oh God, Remus, we thought they might expel you - or at the very least take your prefect position.”
I shook my head. “I seriously dodged a bullet,” I admitted. “I shouldn’t have done it. I never want to lose control again. But...well, thank God for Professor McGonagall and me not having done anything like this before.”