Chapter 1 : Our Play is Cast, Our Stage is Set
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“Sirius Black must die."
In all her almost seven years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Evangeline Ford had never seen her dorm room in such disarray. Trunks were emptied of their contents, the gilded mirror on the wall sported a prominent crack through its centre and a large pile of black cinders (what Evangeline suspected to be the remainders of their school spell books) lay to the side. One particular bed, Remington Oslo’s of course, had even lost its deep mahogany curtains. That oak bed now stretched and strained from its ancient placing, creaking as it bent and arched in desperate search for its coverings.
The more immediate concern for Evangeline however, was the enraged and clearly erratic Lily Evans standing in the middle of the room. Covered in downing feathers, Lily’s blazoning green eyes were seeing red far beyond the brilliance of her mussed hair.
Evangeline approached her as one would a snorting rhinoceros.
“Lils?” she asked, careful not to make a sudden movement, hands stretched forward in surrender, “Lils, please do not attack me. You can explain to me why Sirius Black needs to die after you sit down and take a couple of very deep breaths.”
Lily Evans blew upwards, a strand of soft red hair flicking away from her face accompanied by a number of feathers floating gently to the wooden floor. The anger in her face, particularly her bright pink cheeks and slitted eyes, faded a little as she sat slowly on the edge of her bed. Evangeline flicked her wand and the bed ceased its creaking search. Another flick returned its curtains.
“Right. Now tell me why the likes of Sirius Black and I’m beginning to suspect, respective Marauders, must forfeit their lives.”
“That boy completely and utterly humiliated me in Hogsmeade today!” Lily suddenly sobbed, flopping backwards like a rag doll, “He had rose petals following me the entire day! I was asked to leave the Three Broomsticks because they were making such a mess. Oh, why is my life such hell?!”
Evangeline waited a moment for her hearing to return after the squeal on Lily’s last word reached deafening decibels.
“Sirius did this?” Evangeline asked in hushed tones, hinting for Lily to do the same.
“NO! JAMES SODDING POTTER DID THIS! But I figured if I murdered his best friend then he may actually stop!” Lily screamed, her hands flying to her face.
“But wasn’t today your date with…oh.”
Lily Evans sat up and looked Evangeline quite seriously in the face.
"Exactly. And it would have been quite lovely and romantic if I wasn’t being stalked by bloody singing flower petals courtesy of Head git!”
“He had them singing?” Evangeline gasped, momentarily distracted by the extraordinary magic Potter had lavished on Lily.
“Yes. Evangeline. They. Sang. This is not a moment for your intelligent little head to go running off to ask him how he did these things, just to help me dump the body afterwards. Clear?”
“Crystal,” Evangeline said with a yawn, “Coming to tea?”
Lily Evans stood up and screeched, throwing her hands into the air with her usual wave of dramatics.
“Look, I think the best thing to do is probably ignore what happened today. You know he only does it to get a reaction out of you. Of course, today the reason may have also been to ruin your date with Henry,” Evangeline stood linking arms with a huffing Lily, “but you can spend tea boasting about how romantic and whatever it wasn’t, to annoy him. Hmm?”
Lily nodded, her small pout and delicate frown lines almost comical to her best friend Evangeline. After all, she had witnessed this behaviour daily since James Potter first truly noticed the frenetic and beautiful Lily Evans in third year.
“Now, why don’t you fix yourself up, love? You know it will drive him mad if you swan into the Great Hall looking gorgeous.”
This even drew a small laugh from Lily who then took a deep breath and hugged Evangeline quite tightly.
“Oh Evie, what would I do without you?”
“Probably murder Sirius Black. Now hurry up. I’m starving.”
As Lily almost skipped into the adjoining bathroom, Evangeline wondered silently if Lily would ever relent to James’s advances. After all it had been four years. And he had not looked at another girl in such a way in all those years. Most of the female population of Hogwarts was in love with him just because of the way he looked at Lily. Evangeline moved around the room, salvaging their belongings with the spells she had mastered from having to deal with her friend’s tirades so often. As she did so, she thought about her recent conversation with James Potter.
“But what was it James?” Evangeline had asked, “Why did you start noticing her?”
“I have an idea now,” James had begun, staring wistfully at the Common Room fire, “But in the beginning I wasn’t sure. We were such good friends beforehand. I mean one week she was there and then the next…she was…there. It was like the first time I got glasses and could see properly. The colours of the world were suddenly so much brighter and more interesting…and I just couldn’t keep her off my mind. I can never keep her off my mind for long.”
“Except during a Quidditch match,” Sirius had quipped, turning the page of his rather thick library book, “Otherwise you’d likely be dead.”
“True,” James had nodded, “But even that’s getting difficult.”
“I can see it now,” Remus had piped up from his lounging position next to Evangeline, a friendly arm slung around her, “In a hundred years, Professor Binns will be teaching a class on ‘James Potter – the first man to die from over-thinking’. You could be a revolutionary Jim.”
The other boys had guffawed whilst James smirked, reaching over to punch Remus playfully in the shoulder. Evangeline had enjoyed seeing that side of her close friends. This was the James who Lily refused to believe in. If only she knew.
“EARTH TO EVIE!”
Evangeline snapped out of her thoughts, straightening up from her attempt to rebind their schoolbooks. Lily was standing by the door, one hand on the knob, looking enquiringly at her.
“I thought you said you were hungry?”
“Oh right. Sorry. Just thinking.”
“That we should plead insanity before the Wizengamot so we’re put into a mental institution instead of Azkaban,” Evangeline covered, “I’d take a white jacket over Dementors any day.”
Lily giggled and headed towards the portrait hole, leading the way down the stairway to the Common Room. Fortunately for Lily and perhaps the remaining living members of Gryffindor House, the Marauders were already down at dinner. Evangeline rolled her eyes. Boys and their stomachs.
However, as they walked through the almost empty room, Evangeline spotted the hefty book Sirius had been reading during their conversation. Curiosity too much for Evangeline to resist, she sidled over to the couch chair and glanced at the title, bold and emblazoned on the leather binding in gold lettering.
Cryptographic Primitives; The Secret to Sharing Secrets Secretly
Evangeline laughed and dropped the book back on the chair. Seemed like the Marauders were trying to invent their own codes now. How very Scarlet Pimpernel of them.
“Psst. Evangeline,” came a hiss from the uninhabited air around her. Evangeline stopped, rocking on her front foot, wondering if she had just imagined her name being whispered. This had to be a first…
No. That was definitely not imagined. Evangeline looked down to see Peter Pettigrew hiding, rather in vain due to his portly size, behind the couch. She flicked a glance to see Lily distracted by a charming Henry Vale before crouching down to face Peter.
“What do they have you doing under here Pete?” she asked tiredly.
“Did it work?”
“Did what work?”
Evangeline rolled her eyes again.
“No of course not! What was James thinking this time? He should have left her alone!”
“Oh,” Peter looked from left to right, biting his lip, “Right. Well I’ll just go tell James then…”
“Don’t forget to mention that Lily called him Head git. I found that rather funny actually.”
“Evie, are you talking to the couch?” Lily piped up from the open portrait hole.
Peter squirmed and disappeared quickly, while Evie stood up, for the second time that day, rather too abruptly.
“Yes. I’m talking to the couch. It was asking me whether I had seen its’ lost…uh…its lost…tassle?”
“Its lost…tassle…” Lily looked at her as if she had gone mad. Evie knew it was only a matter of seconds before Lily noticed Peter, and then all hell would break loose.
Saved by the Potter.
“Did you enjoy your midday gift…OOF!”
To the amazement of the entire Gryffindor Common Room, Lily Evans had just landed a punch squarely on James Potter’s jaw. It hadn’t knocked him over but it had certainly shocked him.
“DON’T!” Lily shouted, the finger in James’ face saying much more than her one word. She walked out, forgetting about Evie in her anger.
There was a moment of shocked silence following Lily Evan’s departure from the room.
“I think,” James Potter began with a smile, rubbing his jaw, “I just fell in love.”
“Lily. Lily!” Evie called after her, jogging to keep up with the power-walking Lily, “Are you alright?”
“Am I alright…Am I…alright…” Lily seemed to mutter herself, her strides becoming longer, “No I am not alright Evangeline.”
Evie could see there was no getting anywhere with Lily in this state. Apparently Remus Lupin was thinking the same thing as he joined her. The two of them let her walk off on her own, a moment of silence as they watched her go.
“Intervention time?” Remus suddenly said.
“Do you think it’ll work?” Evie continued to stare after Lily.
“I think we could make it work,” he answered her thoughts as much as her words, “I think we need to collaborate and plan something dastardly.”
“You’re a right villain you know that.”
“I vote we form an Alliance, Remus Lupin. You and me plus the rest of your sordid crowd. What do you think?” she said.
“Agreed,” he said, sticking his hand out, “Do you swear Evangeline Ford that you will assist me in Operation Happy Ending even if it means detention, Howlers, McGonagall’s rants, serious hexing injury…or even death?”
“I hereby swear. Allies?”
The two of them shook hands with a mocking formality before two very large wicked grins spread over their faces. Remus let out a short laugh as he slung an arm around Evie’s shoulders and began to walk back up to the Common Room with her.
If either of them had known what this decision would lead to, it may have prevented them from making that promise to each other. On the other hand, one cannot underestimate the bravery and selflessness with which either of them made that deal that day. Can it ever be known what the consequences of one’s actions will be?
Or whether they will bring out the good or evil in people?
So instead Remus Lupin and Evangeline Ford headed back to the Gryffindor Common Room together, gathering their Seventh Year peers in the form of Sirius Black, James Potter and Peter Pettigrew and began very slowly to hatch a plan.
Should they have known that their actions would one day indirectly bring about the saviour of the modern wizarding world and the end to an age of terror… add this to the adventures, tight spots and tragedies that they would experience along the way… they may have put down their quills and pondered.
But only for a moment.
“Evangeline…Are you…are you alright?” Sirius Black said to her, a quill wedged in between his teeth and a stack of parchment in each hand a few moments later.
“No,” she answered. “What kind of name is Operation Happy Ending anyway?”