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Charcoal and Paint by ExquisiteAmethyst
Chapter 16 : And Then The Marauders Create A Plan To Avenge James' Honor . . .
 
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Lily Evans:




Lily had had her fair share of the flu during her lifetime. She was quite familiar with the body aches, the fever, the inability to stay warm, the nausea, and the pounding head aches. In fact, Lily, due to a weak immune system or bad luck, seemed to contract the flu more than the majority of people her age. Though she would never say she was friendly with the flu, she was certainly better acquainted with it than most.

This feeling, this achy, nauseous, horrible feeling, was akin to the flu. Lily would feel cold, then hot. Angry, then apathetic. Nauseous, then . . . well, still nauseous.

The mental image of Rose Bennett’s lips glued to James’ was something Lily would probably never be able to stomach gracefully. It was like picturing Professor Slughorn salsa dancing, or the whale man in spandex. Certain things simply went against nature. And Rose Bennett, who was pure evil wrapped in blonde curls and lip-gloss, was one of them.

When Lily arrived home she threw her art bag into a corner, enjoying the loud clunk it made against the wall, and then stormed out into the back patio. As expected, her mother was sitting on a chair out there, reading the newspaper.

“Lily?”

Lily plopped into a chair, a half sick, half furious expression on her face.

Her mother, who appeared quite familiar with this routine, folded her newspaper and set it beside her. “What happened, dear?”

Lily shook her head, unable to speak.

“Why are you so angry?”

Lily put her head between her knees, shaking her head no. The nausea threatened to overwhelm her.

Her mother sighed, “Darling, I can’t help you if you won’t tell me.”

Lily looked up at her, took a deep breath, and then blurted quickly, “Rose Bennett snogged James in front of the entire art studio today.”

She cringed. Even hearing the words was enough to make the bile rise in her throat again. She scooted over in her chair, closer to a watering can, just in case she was unable to suppress it.

Mrs. Evans raised one eyebrow. “Rose Bennett? Mary Bennett’s daughter?”

Lily glared at the ground. “Blonde, skinny, bitter expression?”

“Oh yes,” her mother nodded, “she was so sweet when she was younger.”

“Yes, well she isn’t anymore!” Lily cried, “She’s a horrible cow! She has it out for me, Mum, she hates me.”

Mrs. Evans frowned, “Are you sure? You’re not just being overdramatic?”

Lily shot her mother a dark look.

“Alright, alright,” Mrs. Evans leaned forward, looking at Lily with her piercing green eyes. “Lily, even if Rose is as terrible as you say she is, I still don’t understand why this is so upsetting to you. Do you fancy James?”

“No,” Lily said immediately.

“Then what is it, dear? Why would them kissing bother you?”

Lily thought about it. She had to suppress a blush. Obviously it seemed like Lily fancied James, which was absolutely ridiculous. Lily did not fancy James. Lily disliked Rose Bennett and didn’t want to suffer through the indignity of attending art class without her partner.

“Mum, if James is suspended, then for all intents and purposes I’m suspended too,” Lily explained, slightly calmer, “our project sort of requires both of us to be there. So as long as James is gone, I have to be too. And Rose only did it to bother me, Mum. She’s trying to rile me up.”

“She succeeded,” her mother smiled, “you and your temper. Did you try to talk to Mrs. Briarwood?”

“No, I er, kind of stormed out and came here. She wasn’t done yelling at the pair of them yet,” Lily admitted.

Mrs. Evans nodded, “Alright. Well, Lily, I would go talk to Mrs. Briarwood if I were you. Explain why you’re so upset. And just ignore Rose. You know how to behave around Petunia, and keep yourself calm. Do the same around Rose.”

Lily felt her shoulder sink a little. Her rage had dissipated, but she was still vaguely annoyed.

“Speaking of your sister, she wants to go over flower arrangements later. Will you please be a part of that discussion? She says you’re not helping out enough.”

Lily opened her mouth, outraged, but her mother hushed her. Mrs. Evans eyes twinkled, “It’s just this summer, Lily, and then she’s out of the house. You’ll miss her when she’s gone.”

“Doubtful,” Lily snorted.

She stood up, feeling better. Mrs. Evans reached for her newspaper.

“Oh, wait Mum, Marlene and Alice might stay with us this weekend. Is that all right? I already told them yes.”

“Of course,” Mrs. Evans smiled, “we would love to have them. Are they attending the dinner party?”

Lily nodded, “Yes. Marlene might begin dating one of James’ friends, so it’s all a matter of convenience.”

“A matter of convenience . . .” Mrs. Evans paused, and then shot her daughter a sly, Lily-like look, “be nice to poor James, too. It isn’t his fault Rose kissed him. And he is quite convenient.”

“Mum!” Lily exclaimed, exasperated, and slammed the door behind her. The loud crash made her feel marginally better, but she still stomped angrily up the stairs, enjoying each loud, furious footstep.




James Potter:





Suspended?” Sirius exclaimed in disbelief.

James nodded miserably.

“Like, the slag jumped you, and now you’re suspended?”

He nodded again. He found he was excellent at nodding these days.

Sirius lay back into the grass of James’ backyard, his hands behind his head, “Wow. Is she suspended too?”

Another nod.

“What did Lily say?” Remus asked softly. Remus, at least, was aware that the neighbors were probably asleep. It had been very late by the time James had arrived home. Mrs. Briarwood had made him and Rose scour the entire studio as a manual labor punishment. Then, she had announced they were both suspended for the remainder of the week, and she was thoroughly disgusted with the pair of them. Well, more like she screamed abuses at them the entire time they were on their hands and knees, scrubbing the permanently paint-stained floor. It was at least ten o’clock when he was finally allowed to go home, and face his mates.

James stared up at the night sky, the stars twinkling and dancing, and felt ill. In truth, he didn’t mind the cleaning, or the shouting. Hell, he was used to it, after all the screaming detentions McGonagall had given him. It was Lily that worried him.

Lily had seen, and then stormed off. He had no idea what she must think of him now. Probably that he was every bit the smarmy ladies man he acted at school.

“It’s just,” James swallowed the lump in his throat, “it’s Rose Bennett. She’s like, the pure incarnation of evil.”

“No, my cousin is,” Sirius disagreed, casually ripping up handfuls of grass and tossing them aside, “but I do get your point. Not a nice girl.”

“And she hates Lily. She’s had it out for her since like, our first summer.”

Remus rolled his eyes, “Not that it matters. I’m sure Lily has taken care of herself just fine.”

“Of course she has,” James said, watching a shooting star streak across the sky, “but still. It’s like, we were finally getting along, and then she sees me feeling up her rival! Not that I was, you know, but she was. Lily will hate me now! It’s like betrayal.”

“First of all, you didn’t owe Lily anything,” Sirius yawned, “you’re not dating her. Second, who the hell cares? If this Bennett is as much of a slag as you say she is, than Lily should have no trouble understanding. She’s not stupid, you know.”

Peter, who was sprawled across the dewy grass just like the other three boys, finally spoke, “We should get this Bennett back.”

Sirius smirked, “I like the way you think, Wormtail.”

“The worst part is that with my suspension, Lily is suspended too,” James reflected, not listening to a word his friends said, “I mean, not technically, but she can’t get anything done. Our assignment sort of requires me to be there.”

“I vote public humiliation,” Sirius continued wickedly, “seems like that would rile her up most.”

“No magic though,” Remus reminded him, ripping up a handful of grass and chucking it at the marauder, “it’s summer, and even if you’re of age, I think the ministry will notice you cursing muggles.”

Sirius grimaced, “Fine. But there’s plenty of other stuff we can do.”

“Do you think I should go apologize?” James asked fretfully, “She’s probably furious. She has to go to art class for the rest of this week, but she can’t get anything done because of how stupid I was.”

“Maybe we could utilize all the paint and such? Ruin her clothes?”

Remus shook his head, “It’s art class, she’ll be wearing a smock or something.”

James slowly realized his friends were blatantly ignoring his pathetic musings. He frowned. Only the stars, twinkling and mischievous, seemed to give a damn about his internal distress.

Sirius sat up, “Well what do bitchy blonde cows hate most? I mean, her reputation is probably a huge deal, yeah?”

Remus nodded slowly.

“So let’s do what we did to that one Slytherin! Ysmelda, or whatever. Let’s use the weapons we have!”

“What weapons?” James demanded suspiciously. He sat up as well, staring at his best mate in the darkness. James was usually keen to go along with most of the marauders’ plans. Hell, he created half of them! But cursing muggles, or Slytherins, outside of school was simply too risky. It was the one law the ministry tended to actually enforce.

“C’mon, mate, what are our four most potent weapons?” Sirius asked, excitedly. He leapt up to pace the cold grass around them.

“Er, the cloak, the map, our wands, and our animagus forms?”

“No!”

James was stumped. “Er, our charm, wits, brains, and sense of humor?”

“NO!”

Remus chuckled quietly, “No, Prongs. Us.”

James’ eyes dawned with apprehension. “Oh, right. Us.”

“Exactly!” Sirius exclaimed, “us four, we are our most potent weapons. And which weapon do you think is necessary to, shall we say, annihilate a reputation?”

Three sets of eyes slowly moved, and, simultaneously, landed on a cowering, miserable Peter Pettigrew. The smallest marauder shook his head frantically, “I am not doing that again! Muggles are worse than Slytherins!”

Sirius’ smirk widened, his eyes dark and malicious, “No, you’ll do it Peter. It’s your duty as a marauder. Think of what happened to James today!”

James nodded quickly, suddenly much more keen on this decidedly legal plan of revenge, “Yeah, I was assaulted. It’s your job to avenge my honor.”

The night seemed to grow colder, and darker, as Sirius’ dark eyes practically burned holes through Peter. “Do it,” he insisted. Remus and James watched, interested, as Sirius’ gaze slowly but surely crumbled Peter’s resolve.

“Alright, alright!” Peter finally gave in, slightly panicky, “bloody hell, I’ll do it!”

James, Remus, and Sirius adopted identical, wicked grins. Tentatively, Peter grinned back.

“Time to formulate a plan,” Sirius rubbed his hands together, “Moony, fetch a quill and a bit of parchment. Wormtail, gather your courage. And Prongs, for god’s sake, figure out how to apologize to Evans. It was pathetic listening to you earlier.”

James rolled his eyes. So Sirius, the git, had been listening, and had simply chosen to ignore him. Brilliant.

But of course, James could not be annoyed for long. Now, there was a plan. James’ honor would be avenged. And hopefully, if he were extremely lucky, Lily would forgive him.

The three other marauders saluted Sirius. And, for the rest of the dark, starry night, they discussed the finer details of the ultimate revenge.





Lily Evans:






The next few days passed without incident. Lily had been excused from art classes by a thoroughly peeved Mrs. Briarwood (“The nerve of those idiotic, hormone-driven, bumbling fools! Morons! Why do I bother trying to teach them anything! Stupid, bloody teenagers!”) Her mother, similarly, had allowed Lily to ditch the majority of the wedding planning, in order to save Petunia from being throttled and Lily from a life-sentence in Azkaban.

It was a with a horrible, sickening jolt that Lily realized the repugnant, awful event – Petunia’s wedding – was due to occur in less than three and a half weeks. As Lily had sat at the breakfast table, eating her cereal, Petunia had flounced past with an unbearably smug expression on her face. “Guess what Lily. I’m getting married in three and a half weeks!”

Lily had choked on her cereal, spraying milk everywhere. Eyes streaming, face a hideous, blotchy red, she had peered at her sister with pure horror.

“That’s right, drown in jealousy,” Petunia stalked towards the kitchen, “everyone knows, as the eldest, I’ll get the best husband.”

Lily nearly swallowed her spoon with this little gem. Best husband? The whale man had enough girth to count as three or four husbands, not to mention the ego to count as eight. If ‘best’ meant ‘largest,’ in every sense of the word, then Petunia was spot on. Any other definition of ‘best’ and Lily’s sister was barking mad.

“I reckon Petunia either has never truly seen the man, or she actually likes fat, egotistical gits,” Lily marveled to her father.

Mr. Evans chuckled, “Ah Lily. We all need to support your sister . . . but when it’s your turn, pick one I can stomach, would you?”

Lily grinned. Her parents, at least, were still rational human beings. Rose Bennett may be satanic, Petunia may be deluded, but at least Lily’s legal guardians had their wits about them.


Two days after the infamous Rose Bennett scenario, Lily sat sketching out the street below her bedroom window. Her transparent ivory curtains fluttered gently in the late summer breeze, and Lily’s own tendrils of red hair swept across her face. Impatient, she set down her charcoal and reached up to toss the majority of her long, thick hair into an unruly bun at the top of her head.

Satisfied that, at least for the moment, her hair would no longer be a distraction, Lily picked up her charcoal and critically eyed the street. This drawing was a simple study in perspective, but Lily was still extraordinarily neurotic over every little detail. The cars, the flower bushes, the quaint window shutters . . . Lily slaved over every aspect of her work.

Hours chased each other away, yet Lily hardly noticed the passing of time. That was the beauty of art; it surpassed any hourly limit or time constraint. Art would go as quickly or slowly as it pleased, and Lily had absolutely no control over it.

Her eraser turned black with use, and Lily’s fingers and palms absorbed a near-permanent coating of charcoal from her obsessive need to blend the particles in to the paper. Yet, even with these minor annoyances, the drawing began to take shape. Mrs. Roberts’ house down the street looked perfect in Lily’s paper representation. The clouds, the mailboxes, the little picket fences – everything was turning out brilliantly.

Absentmindedly, Lily considered using a work like this for her final gallery presentation. It was certainly quaint and whimsical, and done with the kind of perfectionist attention to detail that Lily so prided herself on . . .

No, Lily decided, when the time came for her final, she would truly make it a final. Something that illustrated her passion, her dedication, her perfectionism, and her greatest loves. The final would mean something greater.

She blended a charcoal flowerpot with the tip of her pinky finger, and then used the corner of her eraser to swipe a highlight. The pot instantly took shape. Lily could practically see the crack running down the side of it, and the bit of dirt smudged near the bottom.

Sighing, happily, she stretched. This would be finished in another twenty or so minutes. Lily would have another work for her already prolific and beautiful portfolio.

Suddenly, a large, sleek, black owl soared gracefully through her window. It passed over Lily’s head, a rush of wind and feathers, and landed smugly on her bed.

Lily, startled, dropped her charcoal, and then instantly swore. Her white carpet was sprinkled with bits of charcoal powder. Her parents were now liable to murder her due to the potential stain.

Quickly, Lily did her best to clean up the mess. Still, the floor looked a bit shabbier and grayer than before. She tossed a shirt over the spot, and then wiped her hands on the rag next to her drawing board.

“Bloody hell,” Lily muttered, as she stepped carefully over the mess and reached for the envelope tied to the obnoxious bird’s foot.

The owl hooted, dignified, as Lily struggled with the strings. It was truly a beautiful bird. It’s feathers were the deepest black, and impossibly glossy. The bird was practically royalty. Nevertheless, Lily was a bit too peeved to pay it proper respect.

She finally managed to unfasten the letter, and ripped it open. Three pieces of parchment fell out. One was labeled, in neat handwriting, Please read first. The second, characterized by a messy scrawl, said READ ME FIRST. The third was unmarked.

Lily had always appreciated manners, so she picked up the one with the ‘please.’ She unrolled it, careful not to smudge the words with her charcoal-smeared hands, and then rolled her eyes. Remus, as sweet and adorable as he was, seemed to sometimes adopt the most formal tone he could in order to offset the crude language of his mates. The solemn tone of his letter was better fit for a ministry job recommendation, or to tell someone the news of a death in the family.



Dear Lily,

Let me apologize in advance for the antics of my friends. They have chosen to send you apologies and explanations – against my greater judgment – and I fear whatever they write will not adequately express what needs to be said.

May I, as the only reasonable marauder, explain what we truly mean to say. First, James is deeply repulsed by one Rose Bennett, and would like the entire world (including you) to know that he would like nothing more than to feed her to the giant squid. He has been brushing his teeth about twenty times a day since the, ah, assault occurred. Honestly, he is quite torn up over the entire event, and I have been extremely worried for him.

Second, we have planned revenge, but we cannot tell you the finer details. All you need to know is that it will occur at the dinner party, but thanks to the seating chart you will be out of harm’s way.

If you’d like, when Marlene and Alice arrive, we can all go get a coffee or something before the dinner party. It would be a nice opportunity to catch up, and plan for any unforeseen circumstances at the dinner party.

I apologize again, in advance, for Sirius and James. Always remember that they have the combined maturity of a six-year-old.

Yours,

Remus





Lily, who struggled to bite back a fond smile, tossed Remus’ letter aside, and picked up the ruder parchment. Undoubtedly, this was what Remus had felt the need to apologize in advance for.




LILY! IF YOU DO NOT READ THIS FIRST, I WILL NEVER SPEAK TO YOU AGAIN!

Not true, I find you to be a delightful creature, but the threat is daunting all the same, yes?

Anyways, here are the essentials: Rose is a bint, James is traumatized, and we need revenge. So James is very sorry – forgive him, would you? – and we are going to enlist your help to get revenge. Well, we won’t tell you the plan, but we do need you to do a few things anyways. You know how it is.

When McKinnon gets here with . . . er, the blonde one, (what’s her name?) we will have a very, ultra top-secret rendezvous to map out the finer details. Revenge is a very delicate process after all.

Owl us when they arrive! OR ELSE!

Forever and always yours, Lily darling,

Sirius





Lily began cracking up before she had hit the second paragraph, and was positively unable to breathe by the end. Eyes streaming and giggling uncontrollably, Lily placed the parchment gently on her bed beside Remus’ letter. Sirius was wonderful, even if he lacked any of the social skills necessary to be a polite human being.

Finally, when she had properly composed herself, Lily picked up the final, unmarked scroll of parchment. She unrolled it with shaking fingers.

Lily was fairly certain, given the foreshadowing of the first two, that this would be a long, drawn out apology letter from James. Clearly his friends didn’t trust him to impart the correct message. She wondered how shaken up he truly was from this whole experience.

Lily held the parchment flat in front of her. James’ familiar, cramped, slanted handwriting had formed one, short line of text.




Meet me at the creek, 10:00 pm, tonight.





Lily stared at the line for one, long moment. Then, she glanced out the window. The sun was just barely setting. She had quite a bit of time before the anticipated meeting hour.

What on earth did James have to say that he couldn’t write in a letter? Remus and Sirius had certainly gotten the general idea across, and quickly too. James was sorry, Rose was awful, etc. Everything they said, Lily could have easily deduced by herself.

But James had not done what Sirius and Remus expected. Perhaps he was less reliant on his mates as Lily thought. Maybe James was capable of having individual thoughts. Clearly, James had something a bit more important to say than a simple ‘sorry.’

Absentmindedly, Lily stood up and cleared away her sketchbook and charcoals. Then she left her room, and went into the bathroom she shared with Petunia. Ignoring the hundreds of tiny perfume bottles, face creams, powders, and soaps that littered the shelves and counter, Lily shrugged off her charcoal-smeared shirt and turned on the tap.

She washed the black powder off of her hands, and watched the gray water that swirled down into the drain. It took a good five minutes to scrub most of the charcoal away. Still, Lily’s small, pale hands had that slight grayish tinge that would probably never disappear. It was a permanent product of her incessant charcoal use.

Lily looked into the mirror, and chuckled at herself. She had a great big swipe of charcoal across one cheekbone, and another near her hairline.

Painstakingly, Lily washed her face. She stared into the mirror, her eyelashes wet and her green eyes piercing. Suddenly, she felt extremely self-conscious. What would she say to James, after she knew he had snogged Rose Bennett? He had seen Rose, up close and personal. What if he preferred Rose’s picture-perfect features, flawless make up, and crystalline blue eyes to Lily’s own natural, disheveled appearance?

Lily’s hairbrush, rarely used and dusty, rested beside the sink. Tentatively, she picked it up and ran it through her eternally tangled hair.

The result surprised even Lily. Her beautiful, thick red hair, with its golden tints and dark crimson undertones, positively sparkled when smooth. It framed Lily’s pale face and pointed chin, and reached all the way to the underside of her rib cage. Her hair, when not a ratty mess of red curls and snarls, was actually quite pretty.

Pleased, Lily left the bathroom and returned to her room. She put on her favorite white summer dress, tight fitting at the bodice but loose around her knees. Then she slipped on a pair of sandals, grabbed her sketchbook, and glanced out the window.

She had perhaps an hour until the meeting. One hour until she was face-to-face with James Potter, who may or may not prefer Rose Bennett after their impromptu snogfest.

If nothing else, at least this would be a great opportunity to curse the bigheaded git into oblivion. A secret meeting at 10:00 at night? No witnesses, no one to hear him scream.

Lily grinned, and slammed the backdoor behind her.




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