"So how's it going?" Peter asked as he joined his friends in the Great Hall the next day.
"How's what going?" James asked, taking a break from shovelling food into his mouth. They'd only seen him a couple of minutes ago so surely he wasn't asking how they were, that was dim, even for Peter.
"The anima –" Peter began.
"Oh that," James cut him off. "It's going…well, not too good. Sirius and I found some information over the holidays but nothing we can really use."
"Yeah," Sirius agreed. "Just keeps saying how dangerous it is."
"Which it is," Remus commented. "I've already told you that. You shouldn't even be thinking about it."
"Yes, we should," Sirius countered. "It's what friends do."
Remus looked from him to James and Peter and back again, they all nodded in agreement. He let out a dejected sigh. "Well, as much as I appreciate it, I want no part in it," he informed them sternly.
"Fine," James said cheerfully, grabbing some more bacon from a plate. His eyes narrowed, "So, Quidditch try-outs in a couple of weeks, who's captain now? Somers, right? Well he'll let me play, bet he'll be a better captain that Sadiron, too. Ego too big for the pitch," he said, quickly changing topic.
"What are you –" Sirius began before being cut off.
"Talking about yourself again?" A familiar voice cut in with a snide remark. "Honestly Potter, do you never tire of it?"
"Nope, I could talk about myself all day," James answered coolly. "I have to wonder though, Evans, is your constant butting into my private conversations an excuse just to talk to me?"
Lily let out a hollow laugh. "Private conversations? About Quidditch? Whatever Potter. And why would I want to talk to you?"
"Lil, just leave it," Tae said from behind her, she could see the glint in James' eyes and knew this wouldn't end well.
James shrugged. "Because you're secretly hiding feelings for me. Don't deny it, Alex told us all about your little crush on me. In fact, I find it quite cute but I'm sorry love, you're not my type. I prefer girls who are a little less…What's the word, guys?"
"Loud?" Remus suggested weakly.
"Tempestuous?" Was Sirius' suggestion.
"Irritating," Peter put in.
"Actually, I was thinking repulsive," James spat coldly.
Lily looked like she'd been hit and desperately fought back tears that threatened to surface. "And yet you're still with Narcissa," she commented in a way that suggested she didn't see the logic there. She turned away from them and stormed out of the Great Hall then, leaving three grinning boys, one exasperated boy and one furious girl.
"Will you please try and be nice to her?" Remus asked James in particular. "She'd be a whole lot better towards you if you were."
"It works two ways," James pointed out. "And besides, she wasn't offended, she never is. The whole thing between us relies on insults and the like being traded, it just wouldn't work otherwise. We both know better than to take it personally."
"When you're talking about everything else, maybe," Tae growled, glaring at James. "But when you start on her looks it all changes you bundimun! Do you not know better than to insult any girls looks?" She spoke fast and loud and continued before they had a chance to interrupt. "No, you probably don't because you're an idiot. You apologize before the end of the day or I'm going to come down on you so hard you're going to wish you'd apologized 100 times, in advance."
Then she too stalked out of the room, after her friend, leaving Remus and Sirius to convince James it would be in his best interests to apologize, they being the only ones to have experienced the full effect of revenge from Tae.
- - - -
Their payback was fast and unexpected but not entirely unnecessary they had, after all, embarrassed the poor girl on her first day. All she'd wanted was to settle in, make new friends and get on with her life, they, alright so it was Sirius, Remus just happened to be there at the time, wouldn't let her. There was she was, eating breakfast alone when they'd approached her.
"It's Tegwen, right?" Remus asked her as he sat at her left side.
"Tae," she answered not realising that Sirius had sat at her right side. "Who are you?"
"Remus, I'm in third year too so we'll be having some lessons together. If you need help in any of them I don't mind," he offered pleasantly. "I assume the lessons are different at Beauxbatons?"
Tae shook her head. "Not really, in fact, from what I've read in the textbooks, we're ahead of you. We were due to start protective potions this year; you're still doing sleeping draughts."
"Really?" Remus asked his interest increasing as he heard this.
As he engaged the girl in talk of subject matter, Sirius was pouring a clear liquid into her drink of orange. Undetected he crept off the seat and began to make his way past them, Remus stopped him.
"Have you met Sirius?" He asked making Sirius stop to turn and smile at the girl.
"No but the name sounds familiar." Tae frowned and then realised. "Sirius Black?"
At hearing his name Sirius' smile turned to a charming grin. "You've heard of me?"
Tae nodded. "Mm-hmm," she sounded as she took a sip of her orange. "Apparently you're a 'bigheaded, prank-pulling, over-the-top little toad'." She looked him up and down noting in particular that he didn't seem at all bothered to be called such. "You don't look like a toad but I can see the rest was right."
Sirius' smile faltered. "Well you don't sound very French considering you're from a French school."
"A French school, yes," she answered, taking a pause to finish her drink. "But not France, I lived in England until about five years ago. I'd love to stay chat but I have to try and find my way around for lessons. I'm sure I'll see you later."
"Can't wait," Sirius muttered darkly waiting until she was out of sight before he grinned. "How long does that potion take to start working?"
Remus stared at him. "You spiked her drink?"
"Obviously and I'm glad I did the stuck up little…."
Tae left them with twenty minutes until her lesson was due to start. She didn't know how long she'd take to get there and she'd rather be early than late, as it was she still managed to get there 10 minutes after everyone else. She'd walked through corridor after corridor and not once had she seen another person and yet, when she arrived at her classroom, she could see the lesson had started. She entered the Muggle Studies classroom trying to be quiet but the door squeaked and everyone turned to stare at her, only for them to erupt into laughter a second later.
"You think that's funny?" The Professor demanded. "You turn up late and looking like…like…that!"
Tae was confused to say the least, as far as she knew she looked the same as always.
"Do you have a tongue girl? Use it!"
Tae tried to speak but no words would come out.
"Professor," she heard a girl say. "I don't think she did it deliberately, please, can I show her to the hospital wing?"
"Very well, but back here in five minutes."
The girl nodded and Tae found herself being steered away by her. Outside the classroom Tae was handed a mirror, her skin colour had been changed to green and blue stripes and her face was swollen greatly. Tears formed but the girl soothed her and introduced herself as Alice. As they walked to the hospital wing Tae found out a number of things; Alice was in Tae's dormitory, this wasn't the first time someone had been pranked in Hogwarts and it probably wasn't the last time Tae would be and it was more than likely that, since she had been in contact with them earlier, Sirius and Remus had done this to her. That was the moment Tae decided to get her revenge, and so she did, the very next night in fact.
"Remus, is that offer for help still available?" She asked him.
"Yeah, what do you need it with?"
"Potions," she admitted. "I know I said we were ahead of you but I could never work out how to do this one potion and…"
Remus helped her; he wasn't much good at potions though, as Alice had already informed Tae, and so he enlisted the other Marauders' help too. Together they sorted through the necessary details and Tae rewarded them with a bottle of butterbeer each.
"Where'd you get these?" Peter asked her.
"I brought them with me, I love the stuff, got a whole collection upstairs but I won't be able to enjoy it much longer."
"Why not?" James asked her.
"Because I'm not going to be around. I got pranked yesterday and, well, there were complications with removing it, apparently there isn't a safe way to do it and so the counter potion eats away at you from the insides. The doctor reckons I don't have more than a week."
"What?" Sirius asked, scared.
"I'm dying," Tae clarified.
There was an unnatural silence and they all drank there butterbeer. Fifteen minutes later the Marauders were sat in their dormitory when Sirius and Remus began to change colour. Their pale skin changed to blue and green stripes and their faces swelled up. The horror that came over their faces was unmistakeable.
"Oh no," Remus said, fear lacing his voice.
"Are we…? Are we going to die too?" Sirius asked.
"No, you can't," James said. "There has to be a counter spell or something.
"You heard Tae, there isn't one, she's being killed inside out and now we will too."
"That can't be right." James said, looking around the room trying to find the book from which the potion had come. Peter had already found it and was scanning the page.
"There's no mention of it," he said panicked.
"There never is!" Sirius was frantic now. "We have to go to the hospital wing; there must be something they can do!"
"Only remove the colour and puffiness," Remus said sombrely.
But still they went to the hospital wing where Doctor Nedalski returned their colour and decreased their puffiness instantly.
"Are we going to die?" Sirius asked him terrified.
Doctor Nedalski began laughing. "Why would you die? It's a simple little potion but I think I'll have to be having words with Professor Dumbledore, this isn't the first case this week."
The boys looked confused. "But we were told…She said…I'll kill her!" Sirius declared loudly.
"Who?" Remus frowned.
"That annoying little thing that's taken over Evans' place. Who do you think?"
"Tae? Why would you…" Remus' face changed from one of confusion to comprehension to a smirk in less than a second. "What a clever girl," he laughed.
"It's not funny," Sirius announced as they wandered through the corridors. "She really got me worried."
"Good," a female voice spoke, Tae's voice. "And next time you try to pull a prank on me I'll give you a real reason to."
- - - -
Being reminded of this incident made James realise that he probably should apologise just to avoid getting some form of revenge of Tae. He tried to talk to her in lessons but she blanked him completely, he searched for her in corridors and the Great Hall at meal times but he could find no sign of her. In the Common Room that night he thought he saw a flash of red hair but it was gone too fast for him to say or do anything. By the time he went to bed he had paled considerably.
"I'm going to die aren't I?" He whimpered to Sirius.
"'Fraid so," he said sympathetically. "Remember that whatever she comes up with will be ten times worse than anything Evans could do to you, which no doubt you'll have to put up with as well."
James' whimper became almost a cry at this statement and for the first time in his life he went to bed fearing something, it was just a shame that something was the wrath of women.
- - - -
In the girls dormitory Lily and Tae were preparing for bed.
"Did James apologise to you at all today?" Tae asked her carefully.
Lily laughed bitterly. "Potter, apologise? Don't be stupid! The day Potter apologises will be the day the world ends."
"Yeah," Tae said distractedly, she was already thinking of a plan to get him back.
A/N: Sorry about the delay, I've been in a real Growing Up… slump while I was writing for a West Wing 'fic that I had to get done while it was in my head and then I had the end of year rush in school, then I had to look after my older sister for a week while she was ill and then…You know what? My life's been hectic lately! But I should be back writing regularly for good now. Now, I only had one review for chapter 39, which I have responded to, I don't know if the lack of them was because you didn't like it or not but I've decided to carry on with the flashbacks of third year anyway and I'm going to be writing a new story The Missing Year which will be the full third year if you don't want to read it all in flashbacks. I have to go now, please review!