Chapter 3 : Tempt Not a Desperate Man
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It had been a day of extra-ordinary little moments.
Evie Ford woke to a room full of floating hand picked daisies spelling out her name.
Lily Evans found herself sitting on top of the Astronomy Tower watching the snow fall, by Henry Vale’s side.
Sirius Black received a detention from his Charms professor…because he had been mysteriously quiet for an entire lesson.
Ana Hill smiled at Remus Lupin for the first time.
Remus Lupin’s heart skipped a beat for the first time.
Margie Bennett successfully made her own hair turn hot pink.
Peter Pettigrew managed to crack a joke without stuttering.
And when Professor Slughorn quite seriously explained that daffodils were amongst the deadliest of potions ingredients and they should be used with extreme caution…Remington Oslo had never laughed so hard in her entire life.
But for James Potter, the day and in fact the week, had been highly frustrating.
Everywhere he went throughout the castle, Lily Evans was right there walking happily hand in hand with Henry Vale. It felt as though fate was tempting him around every corner. But he remembered quite clearly that if this plan was to work, he had to make sure he didn’t interfere.
No one mentioned how damn hard that would be.
With fingers itching to wrap themselves around the throat of one Henry Vale, he decided it best to take different routes between classes to avoid the pair. Until he stumbled on them alone together in a corridor.
Suddenly the entire Gryffindor House was wondering why James was sporting an incredibly bruised fist, when no one else was visibly hurt. Only the paintings on the respective corridor understood. Particularly as one of them now had to be restored.
But to his credit, James kept his head very low and come Friday evening when classes finally ended, he had not hurt a single hair on Henry Vale’s head.
Alright. In his mind, he had pummelled the boy into a worthless gloop several times during the day, but at least he hadn’t actually acted upon those thoughts. Right?
James Potter could now be found on the seventh floor corridor, very much alone, as he left Gryffindor Tower for the Quidditch pitch. Minus his three best friends, James had to get some air and some serious practice time in. Plus being alone on a broomstick seemed to be the best place to avoid another Henry + Lily smooching encounter.
But fate always has other ideas. It’s rather stubborn that way.
As he started along the now almost deserted corridor, James heard two distinct male voices heading his way. One in particular belonged to Henry Vale. Knowing exactly whom the other voice belonged to, something inevitably told him this was suspicious.
And so James very quickly threw a long silk cloak around himself and slipped behind a suit of armour. To anyone watching him specifically, they would have been surprised to find he had suddenly and effectively disappeared from sight.
But James could see very clearly.
From there, he was able to get a decent look at the event unfolding before him. What he saw did not surprise him but it did make him sick to his stomach.
“You’ve got to admit it Gray, he’s practically disintegrating. The plan’s working,” Vale said with a cockiness tainting his words, “He isn’t himself.”
The second boy came into view - a Seventh Year Slytherin named Gray who James knew quite well (courtesy of the number of times Gray had attempted to jinx or hex him before a big Quidditch match. Gray had always been a sore loser and therefore a worse winner.)
“Well as long as he ain’t ‘imself next weekend, that’s when we’ll know you’ve done it,” Gray replied in his thick Highlands accent, “But before that, don’t expect y’reward.”
An expression of childish disappointment flitted across Vale’s face.
“That wasn’t the deal,” he almost pouted.
“And I’m changin’ the deal. Look, Vale, I’m not trustin’ a word you’re sayin’ until I see him take a tumble on the field. I can’t give it to you just because you’re sayin’ that the little lassie is distractin’ him.”
James leaned further around the suit of armour in order to hear more, almost toppling the heavy metal. Throwing himself at the suit of armour, James managed to catch the falling spear in his right hand, balance a toppling helmet on his foot and keep the dangerously tilting armour upright by wedging himself underneath it. His heartbeat skyrocketed as he tried desperately to balance without alerting the two boys to the fact someone was snooping. If anyone could see him, it would have been a rather embarrassing and comical sight to behold.
Finally and very slowly righting the suit of armour, James stepped carefully around it and trod softly towards Vale and Gray.
“Should have known,” Vale said venomously, “You’re a Slytherin.”
This comment was so ridiculously obvious that even Gray chose to ignore it.
“Now y’say he’s shaken up,” Gray continued, “But will he be distracted enough come the match…”
Henry Vale suddenly took a very deep breath that spoke of his frustration. Sticking his hands into his pockets, he stared at Gray in a manner only James had seen his own father do. He wondered momentarily whether that self-righteous thing he had going for him was why Lily was attracted to this twit of a guy. Without realising, James Potter straightened his back.
“Everyone knows how crazy Potter is about her. It’s got to hit him where it hurts if he sees her so happy with another man.”
James took an involuntary step backwards. It was as though the weight of Vale’s words had literally pushed at him.
The pieces of the puzzle fell together.
And a sudden ferocious anger had risen inside him for Lily Evans. It was as though the world had tilted sideways with James Potter’s fury.
“I want more,” Gray said, breaking through James’s haze of emotion, “This is my last season. I want Potter completely broken. Bed the girl if you really have to.”
The hair on James’s arm prickled and with Henry Vale’s next words, something inside him snapped.
“That’ll cost you double.”
And in an inevitable turn of events, James Potter lunged at Henry Vale.
Of course, he had the decided upper hand being invisible and all. As James pinned the boy to the floor, there was a distinct expression of horror and fear on Vale’s face. The shock of being hit by something he could not see (although not rare at Hogwarts) had him lying helpless on the ground. It didn’t help that James was incredibly strong and experienced in pinning people to the floor like this.
As his fist connected with Vale’s jaw, the hood of his cloak shifted slightly.
James could hear Gray shouting and fumbling for his wand as Vale squirmed underneath him. A little voice, that sounded strangely like Albus Dumbledore, was telling him to stop punching the boy and to think about what he was doing.
He did stop, but only for a moment, and only to jinx Gray before he found his wand.
As he turned back to face the boy he was so gleefully enacting his revenge upon, punched him one more time to effectively knock him senseless, James Potter’s hood came down.
“YOU!” Vale shouted, “GET THE FRICK OFF ME YOU CRAZY JERK! WHAT THE HELL-”
James Potter punched him again.
“THAT’S FOR LILY!” James shouted back in Henry’s face, “FOR HURTING HER! FOR USING HER! FOR BEING THE ONE SHE CHOSE!”
Something glistened in Vale’s eyes. It may have been pain tears. James took it as triumph. Looking down at his fist, he felt suddenly sickened by what he’d done. Not for the bruised and battered boy that he’d wanted to hit for a while, but for Evangeline Ford.
This wasn’t him. This wasn’t James. He’d given into his anger, into his hurt and taken it violently out on Vale. He’d effectively betrayed everything Evie was working to do.
“This is wrong,” James whispered to himself. Very slowly he struggled to his feet and pulled the cloak off his back, scrunching it between his hands. Without another look at Henry Vale, James picked up his broomstick and began walking. To where, he wasn’t sure. But his legs carried him along the corridor, slowly at first before breaking into a run. He had to get away from what he’d just done.
Gripping his broomstick, James fought back the sick that he felt rising.
Lily would never have him now. Even if he had done it to defend her.
Was this over before it had barely begun?
Evie Ford was sitting in her dormitory room looking down at the Quidditch pitch as it faded under the night sky. From their room in the tower, the girls had the best overview of the pitch...and in particular the strapping young men that spent their time there. Remington had always joked that Hogwarts knew she was coming and gave her the room with the view that was most suited to her tastes.
Tonight, Evie was just enjoying the scenery.
Down on the pitch, a small figure suddenly appeared, moving very slowly. In the fading light, Evie could just make out the walk that she knew well.
A small smile came to her face as she thought about their plans. What would life be like with a Lily Evans who was in love with James Potter? Or in fact a Lily Evans that just liked James Potter?
But then perhaps, life wouldn’t be nearly so entertaining.
Just today she had sat down with them all bar James himself and begun to plan out their next strategy.
“We’re not involving their undies,” Sirius had interjected amongst their laughter, “That’s just…weird.”
“Sirius Black, are you telling me you’ve never done a prank with undies before?” Evie had managed between her giggles.
“I don’t know…I think if Lily’s undies ended up somewhere public, the first thing she’d go for would be James. And then she’d want to know how he’d got the undies in the first place and then she’d blame you guys. This doesn’t sound very effective.”
“But it would be HILARIOUS.”
And they all burst into laughter again.
“And I thought I was a child,” Sirius had said indignantly, although Evie could make out a little smile.
“Well I had…I had an idea today…” a small voice suddenly came into the fold of the conversation.
“What is it Pete? What did you think of?” Remus asked.
Evie thought for a moment about how beautifully the boys treated Peter Pettigrew. No-one really understood why they kept him around. He didn’t have any of the good looks, talent or humour the other boys enjoyed. She guessed it was a testament to their natures that they counted him as a friend.
“Well I was thinking about what you said Evie, about how Lily needs to see the real James, not the one she expects to see.”
There was a short silence during which Evie blushed.
“So someone was listening to what you were saying,” said the sarcasm in Sirius’s voice, “And here I was thinking you were just nice to look at.”
Evie hit him playfully and then nodded for Peter to go on. With a little more confidence now, he sat up straight and looked at those sitting in the circle.
“Well I thought if we get them alone together…”
“We are not locking them in a broom cupboard. Oh gosh that’s been done to death…” Margie Bennett said.
Everyone ignored her.
“No, no I was thinking in the Room of Requirement.”
Both Remus Lupin and Sirius Black guffawed and began to talk very quickly to each other in their sudden overwhelming excitement and agreement. The girls could see by their faces that this was the beginning of a great plan…they just didn’t quite understand why.
“Um…excuse me…the what room?”
The boys stopped very quickly and stared at each of them.
“The Room of Requirement?” Evie asked, “What is that? Some kind of pub?”
A mischievous smile broke over Sirius Black’s face. In fact, the same smile broke over all three of the boys’ faces.
“Pete…” Sirius began, still staring at Evie Ford, “I think it’s time we showed these lovely ladies…our creation.”
Margie Bennett snorted.
“Your…your creation? Oh please no. I knew you were arrogant Sirius but really? Creation?”
Her words did not faze any of them. In fact, Peter smiled more and from under his bed pulled out a very thick piece of parchment and handed it to Remus.
“This is a map,” Remus began, “But it’s a very special map. It can only be read by certain people.”
“Like a code?” Ana said, her eyes wide with curiosity.
A memory suddenly hit Evie Ford – one of Sirius Black reading a rather large library book about concealing secret messages. She had thought it was strange that Sirius was reading a library book. Now she knew why.
“Yes like a code. And only we have the key. Here,” Remus said, handing the parchment to Ana, “Take it.”
Ana unfolded the large piece of parchment until it was completely flat.
“Is this a joke? It’s blank,” she said, disappointment filling her voice.
But Remus Lupin very carefully leaned over and touched the tip of his wand to the blank parchment.
“I solemnly swear…” he paused, “that I am up to no good.”
And as the three girls watched, the blank parchment suddenly became an intricate map of ink. Lines upon lines fanned out over the pages and it was all Evie could do to keep her eyes open and watch as magic made this code possible.
As Margie Bennett had begun to swear, Ana Hill had very quietly just put her hand over Margie’s mouth, effectively silencing her. Then she removed her hand. All without taking her eyes off the map.
“What are all the names?” Ana asked Remus.
“That’s all the students and teachers. Those names are where they are at this very moment. You see Nearly Headless Nick is in the corridor outside the Tower, and Professor Dumbledore’s in his office and Billy Woods and Amara Smith are in….oh that’s awkward.”
At this even Ana Hill had giggled.
The girls didn’t really know what to say. How would you react to something so extraordinary?
“So this map…” Evie eventually went on, “What does it have to do with this room?”
“Oh right, that’s here on the map. Right here on our floor actually…”
And as Sirius then began to explain what exactly the Room of Requirement was, the girls had once again been struck dumb.
As he finished, Peter Pettigrew’s suggestion began to weave itself into a formidable plan.
“This is going to work,” Evie said, “Using that room…it will work.”
Sirius Black looked into Evangeline’s eyes and smiled.
A smile that had made the bottom drop out of her stomach.
Evie Ford left her thoughts and looked back down at the pitch, smiling at their plan.
But this smile dropped off her face as she realised that another figure had joined James on the pitch.
This one she knew too well.
“Frick,” Evie said to herself scrambling to her feet and pulling on some warmer clothing, “Remington, you are not getting away with this.”
Racing out the dormitory door and through the common room, her heart thumping, Evangeline ran past Remus Lupin and Sirius Black and out the portrait hole. A certain anger and fear about what Remington was doing with James Potter coursed through her. A million reasons went through her mind as she ran.
Finally reaching the edge of the pitch, Evie Ford spotted the two of them in an instant.
But as she walked, huffing and prepared for an argument, another figure joined them. This one she didn’t have to look at. She could hear her from the other side of the pitch.
“YOU JAMES POTTER, ARE A WORTHLESS CREEP!” Lily Evans voice echoed, “YOU COULDN’T JUST LEAVE HENRY ALONE COULD YOU?”
Evie could see Remington trying to calm Lily down. Uh, Evie thought, you were never very good at that Remi.
In fact she was making it worse.
“NO REMINGTON OSLO I WILL NOT STOP SHOUTING!” the redhead continued, “NOT UNTIL YOU POTTER REALISE THAT I CAN DO WHAT I WANT AND WHO I WANT AND IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!”
Finally Evangeline caught up to them and reaching out to Lily, she pulled her best friend away from James and Remington.
“Lily what are you doing?” Evie whispered very quickly, “What happened?”
Lily Evans took one look at Evangeline and all her anger mellowed.
“He…he hit him. Potter physically hit my boyfriend. More than once! He’s had to stay overnight in the Hospital Wing and…ow, Evie you’re hurting me.”
Evie let go of Lily suddenly, her grip having tightened on her friend as she listened. She tried very hard to keep a level head. Everything she’d talked to James about…was he trying to make this fail?
She rounded on James.
“Is this true?” she asked him, searching his face for any sign of defence. Evie was desperate. If James had actually done this, Lily might not ever consider him in any way. No matter how many amazing plans they came up with, Lily would never want to see James again.
Evangeline could not let that happen. She knew, somewhere deep inside her, that these two were supposed to be together. She didn’t know why. She just…knew.
They were meant to do something great together.
“Please…James,” she began again as he didn’t react, “Please tell me it wasn’t you.”
But James Potter didn’t say anything. He stood there with pleading eyes.
Eyes begging for forgiveness and understanding.
And so Evie Ford turned her back on him and took Lily in her arms.
“No,” Lily said forcefully as Evie began to lead her back to the castle, “I need to say something first.”
And Lily Evans spoke words that she would one day look back on…and see them as the beginning of her love for James Potter. Ironically.
“James Potter,” she said looking him in the eye, “I don’t want to ever speak to you again. I don’t want anything to do with you. And as for what you want from me…forget it. You’re a spineless, worthless twit and I would never fall for you. The day I consider liking you will be the lowest point of my life. Stay away from me.”
And with that Lily Evans sealed her fate.
Walking away from the group now clustered on the freezing pitch, she began to cry. They were strange tears. Not of anger against James Potter, but of loss.
Lily didn’t understand yet.
Evie Ford followed her off the pitch leaving Remington and James alone. She didn’t care now.
“You should have told her James,” Remington said when the two girls were out of earshot, “You should have told her what actually happened. Why you hit him.”
James Potter was still staring after Lily Evans.
“She’d never have believed me,” he said, his words catching in his throat.
Remington put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“She’ll believe me.”
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