Fairy Tale Robbery
"Let me run through this again—"
"Again," James repeated. He clasped his hands together and pressed them to his chin. "You want me to break into 10 Downing Street, steal a full copy of the…what, three hundred page long Registration Bill, and plaster it all over Britain?"
Lily pouted. "Are you saying you can't?"
"Can't?" he shook his head. "That's not the issue here. I'm saying I won't."
He raised his eyebrows. "Because that sounds like the most dangerous plot I've ever heard."
"You robbed the royal palace three days ago."
"That was different," said James. "My client provided solid support."
And there wasn't a choice in the matter anyway.
"If it's money you need—"
"I'm talking about actual support," he said over her. "Funds mean nothing if the task at hand is too risky. Don't get me wrong, I love a good gamble with high stakes, but if the odds are my crew and I will get caught—"
Lily frowned disapprovingly. Sadly, this was also, apparently, a new turn on for James. He swallowed and looked at her bag for a moment so that he might regain his composure.
"I can't put my crew in danger like that, Lily," he finished quietly.
"Perhaps you don't understand why I'm asking," she said. She sat down at the desk—his desk—and crossed her legs, something that made his mouth go dry. "The Registration Bill, at its surface, is xenophobic but more of the standard fare we've come to expect from the Riddle administration. However, underneath the basic premise, its true effects are far more insidious.
"For example, the Bill invokes a clause that enforces the policing of any undocumented immigrants. Not only immigrants, but the children of immigrants, and their grandchildren. The Bill requires extra paperwork for any descendant of undocumented immigrants and grants the power to the state to deport anyone who doesn't fill in that paperwork. And how will they even know, when it's all been buried under a mountain of superfluous verbiage!"
"Superfluous verbiage?" Despite his shock at Lily's revelations, James couldn't help but snicker.
Her eyes narrowed and her cheeks flushed pink. "Am I wrong?"
"I can't believe a grown man just called me adorable."
"Am I wrong?"
Lily huffed a sigh. "Well? Will you help me?"
James scratched the back of his neck. "One question—if I don't help you, what are you going to do?"
"Do it myself."
"Well, we can't have that," said James. He hid his smile with a brush of his hand over his mouth. "I suppose I'm going to rob the Prime Minister."
Her victory smile lit up the room.
Lily practically skipped out of James' flat.
Of course she would have been happier if James had gone and made a move, but the second he agreed to help her rob Prime Minister Riddle it was like a switch had flipped. His seriousness had taken her by surprise.
And damn it all, if that wasn't just as sexy as his daring side.
She left the foyer and slid on her sunglasses, a smile twisting on her lips. She hadn't felt this satisfied since…well, since James Potter had done her against a wall.
Just as she rounded the corner, Lily heard a whistle.
Not the "nice legs" sort of whistle, either—a summons.
Down the alley to her left was a mangy lump of coats and a hoodie, shuffling toward her. Lily peeked over her shoulder to see if anyone was watching before she strode toward the figure. She reached into her overlarge purse and pulled out a paper bag.
"Cheers," she said, passing it over.
The figure took it with both hands. His grimy fingers opened the bag up and dug inside, pulling out a bread roll. He shoved the roll into his mouth and tore off a large bite.
"Fanks," he said around the bread as he chewed.
Lily didn't let herself cringe at the sight of half-masticated food. "No, no, thank you," she said instead. "I'm really grateful."
The figure swallowed. "Wasn't much I did," he said. "Just said I knew the bloke's face."
"And if you hadn't told me he lived here, I wouldn't be able to meet with him just now," she replied, smiling sweetly. "That would have made my life rather difficult."
"He's just a bloke."
"He's just a bloke to you, Dung," Lily corrected. "To me he's quite a bit more."
"Oh yeah?" Mundungus Fletcher took another bite. "'S he rich or som'fing?"
"Don't go biting off more than you can chew," she said, eyeing the roll. "And believe me, that bloke in this building is far out of your league."
Mundungus shook his head. "I don't want no trouble."
"I didn't think so." Lily pursed her lips and looked him up and down. "You've got somewhere to sleep tonight?"
"Oh, yeah, I've got a place."
Lily nodded. "Listen, I was wondering—have you looked into that other thing I asked you about?"
"The BLM thing?"
"Yeah, that thing."
Mundungus scratched his scraggly beard and tiny crumbs spilled out of it and onto his coat. "Girly, hate to disappoint and all but that's something you should be asking someone other than a street rat about, yeah? Bit above my paygrade." He laughed at his own joke—a raw, honking sound.
"Can't you…dig through the trash? Or something?" she pleaded.
"They shred everything."
Lily clamped her teeth together to keep from cursing. She didn't think Mundungus would mind, exactly—just the opposite, but that wouldn't be according to script.
Every person in Lily's life saw a different side of her. Petunia saw the bratty younger sister who liked to rebel, while Vernon saw a thorn in his side. Her youth charities saw her as a darling, same as the media, and her friends saw an activist. What Mundungus saw was a posh young woman who wanted information.
That was how she liked it.
Ever since the day Petunia met Vernon (a prince back then, not a king), Lily's life had been put under the microscope by friends and strangers alike, purely because of her sister. She couldn't stop that, much as she'd tried in the early days. The least she could do was control what the microscope focused on.
And if Petunia was going to make her out to be a charity darling in the press, well…so much the better, if she was digging for information. That persona suited her for moments like these, because if Petunia was tracking her movements through a private investigator (like she'd done in the past) then tales of a sweet do-gooder passing out bread wouldn't raise alarm.
So Lily played her role willingly, for once, in front of people like Mundungus Fletcher.
"Well, if you do find anything—"
"I know, I know," he grunted. "Send up a ring. Got anything else for me, girly?"
Lily smiled gently and pulled a tupperware case from her large bag. "Chicken," she said, handing the container over. "Boneless, just as you like it."
"Right then," said Mundungus as he snatched up the chicken. "I'll see you around."
"I'm sure you will, Dung," Lily said. She turned to walk away and called over her shoulder, "Try not to get into too much trouble. I won't have the funds to bail you out for a while."
"Rob 10 Downing Street?" Sirius repeated, blinking, with the vague resemblance of someone who had just slipped on a banana peel.
James shrugged. "Well, why not? We robbed the palace this week."
He felt a bit like a puppet. It might have been his mouth making sounds, but the words were all Lily's. He'd be more bothered by that except he couldn't help but agree with her cause.
Sirius let out a strangled laugh. "Yeah, and I almost got caught! I lost about twenty years off my life that night, Prongs. What on earth makes you think I want to die at a young age?"
"Who says you're going to die?"
"No one dies from stress, Padfoot."
"I've always been one to pioneer."
"It won't be like last time," James promised. He could actually guarantee that, considering there would be no spontaneous billiards room sex. And no Lily Evans. "I'll take point, if you like. It'll be my neck on the line, not yours."
Sirius managed to look both bored and frustrated. "Why are you even considering this job? We got paid well enough for the palace heist to last us a couple of months—and you're the one always going on about spacing out our high profile jobs to avoid suspicion."
"It's a favor for a friend," James said.
"Ha!" barked Sirius. "You don't have any friends that I don't know about. Come on, out with it. What's the real reason?"
"Would you believe me if I told you it was for ethics and morality?"
"Well…it is. For ethics and morality."
"And because of Lily Evans," James added wearily. He couldn't convince Sirius of anything—they knew each other too well.
Sirius squinted. "Lily Evans? The mark from the palace heist?"
"Yeah," said James. He ran a hand through his hair. "She, er, she's the client."
Oh, he was in trouble. Sirius never used his real name unless the situation was, pardon the pun, serious.
"How come Lily Evans is the client?"
"Because she has money?"
He winced. "Because she figured out that I was part of the robbery and tracked me down. She, er…felt my comm link."
Sirius crossed his arms. "James."
"Your comm link was in your ear."
"How did she feel your comm link when it was in your ear?"
"Ahh…with her tongue."
"With her tongue."
"Yes, with her tongue."
"Her tongue was in your ear."
Sirius' lips thinned. He lunged for James and put him in a headlock before James could even blink.
"Her tongue was in your ear?" Sirius roared. "While I was trapped, with the bloody King in the bloody safe room, you had Lily Evans' tongue in your ear? What the living fuck?"
"Some people like that!" gasped James.
"I'm going to kill you!"
"Wait a second—"
Sirius tightened his arm around James' neck. "Are you forgetting I know all your weird kinks, Prongs? You and the bloody mark were shagging, don't even try to deny it."
James could barely breathe. "…Yeah," he wheezed. "Yep."
"Oh for—" Sirius let him go at last. "I hate you."
"I know, Padfoot."
"That better have been the best shag of your life."
"It was, Padfoot."
"Oh, shut up," said Sirius. His glare could have burned through concrete.
James coughed. "So you're in?"
Sirius ran his fingers through his hair. "I can't believe I'm saying yes," he grumbled. "I can't believe you talked me into some stupid scheme of yours, yet again."
"Come on, mate," said James. He took a step toward Sirius and put his hands on his friend's cheeks, pulling their foreheads together. "Come on. Isn't that what we do? What we've always done? You and I, we're the ones who pull off the impossible together."
"The improbable," Sirius corrected him, but he looked slightly mollified. "We pull off the improbable."
"It's only improbable because we've proved it can be done," James said. He pulled out his trump card. "Don't you want to fuck with Riddle? After all, he's the one who pulls the strings of your family."
A maniacal gleam enters Sirius' eyes. "Oh, yes. Yes, he is their puppet master, isn't he."
James felt a little bad about playing on Sirius' hatred of his family. It was a low tactic, especially since he'd spent a good amount of time ripping Sirius away from his self-destructive tendencies and steering him to a healthier way to deal with his rage.
Which was stealing.
It was healthier, but not entirely healthy.
"Where did you go yesterday?" Petunia asked over the soup course at dinner.
The question came out of the blue, and it took Lily no small effort to keep from spitting out the lobster bisque.
"Pardon?" she managed, thankfully sounding less alarmed than she felt.
"You went out yesterday," said Petunia. She dabbed at the corner of her mouth with a napkin. "I specifically remember telling you that you weren't to leave to premises."
Lily plastered an innocent smile on her face. "I only went to deliver some bread to the poor," she said.
Keep the lie as close to the truth as possible—that's what Lily had learned the hard way as a teenager.
"Oh? Where, pray tell, did you go to do that?"
"East London," she replied, and took a sip of her water.
Petunia frowned. Clearly, she'd been hoping to make Lily squirm.
"I don't see why she must stay in the palace," Vernon said at the head of the table. His soup bowl was cleaned out and Lily could see a faint line of orange on Vernon's mustache that he hadn't managed to wipe away.
What he said sounded like a helpful interjection—but Lily knew better.
Petunia's lips pursed. "Because she can't be trusted to behave herself in public."
I'm still here, Lily thought, annoyed.
"She can't behave herself here, either. Just let her be. I'm tired of her antics."
"You know what, I'm not hungry," Lily muttered, and shoved her seat out. Though it was a total breach of etiquette to stand while the king sat, she got up and stormed out of the dining hall.
James was just about to go to bed—his alarm was set for four o'clock the next morning—when his phone started ringing. He didn't recognize the number. Usually James didn't like to answer unfamiliar calls, but for some reason he answered on the third ring.
"Hello?" he said cautiously.
"How do you feel about phone sex?"
He sighed. "Lily."
"Getting started already?" she laughed.
"As enticing as that sounds, we currently have a professional relationship," James pointed out. He went to the front door and checked the locks. "At the risk of being cliché, I don't mix business with pleasure."
"Didn't you mix business with pleasure when we first met?"
James sighed again as he went through his flat, turning off all the lights. "As I explained to you earlier today, that was a one-off."
"Perhaps I should take my business elsewhere, then."
"That's an interesting bluff."
Lily laughed again. "Fine. You've caught me. What will you do with me now?"
"Spray cold water on you," he muttered.
"Don't pretend you aren't attracted to me," she said. "Neither of us believe that."
"Of course I'm attracted to you," said James. He went to his bed and pulled the covers back. "Why would I pretend otherwise?"
Lily made a tittering sound that had him smiling despite himself. "Lover, there is no doubt in my mind that you're trying to keep your distance."
Well, she wasn't wrong.
James had yet to tell Remus and Peter about his tryst with Lily during the palace job. They weren't likely to put him in a headlock, but James didn't doubt they would be almost as angry as Sirius. It wouldn't hurt to keep Lily at arm's length.
As James climbed into bed, he said lightly, "Isn't distance necessary for phone sex?"
"Oh? You've changed your mind?"
"Not a chance, lover."
"Keep teasing me like that and I might just come over there."
"Why are you really calling, Lily?"
She paused, and James waited patiently. He took a sip of water from the glass on his nightstand, not saying anything.
"I suppose I wanted to talk to someone who doesn't despise me."
The matter-of-factness in her tone felt like a punch to the gut, though James didn't have any reason to be so affected by it.
He cleared his throat. "Well, you've come to the right place."
For some reason the "with her tongue" part was just the funniest thing to me. Hopefully you were just as amused as I was while writing it!