I'm back, finally. I don't think I've ever taken such a long break from fanfiction but I'm hoping I haven't lost all of my readers to impatience with lack of updates. Still, a huge thanks to my reviewers from the last chapter: JohnMayer1207, emeraldeye, vintage bluejeans, cosmopolitan, HalfBloodHannah, UnderworldBabe, thestralwhisperer, Heaven's Flying Fish, Kat, Jente Bidernais, Prongs'LilyFlower, LILYandJAMESareCUTE, IWantToMarryJames, Weird Not Boring, JP's girl 4 life, kayPOTTER x, MourningBlade and JustAnotherCrazyWriter! This is by far my most popular fic I've written so I'm hoping it can live up to expectations and I'm realy sorry for the huge wait in updates. The next one will not be anywhere near as long since I'm finally on holidays. Yay!
Ch 3: Catch Me If You Can
Owls bombarded the house tables in descending spirals of feathers and mail. Retrieving her soggy, orange newspaper from her pumpkin juice and casting a simple drying spell, Lily flipped open the cover and disappeared behind the expanse of paper.
She'd barely read the headlines when panicked voices reached her ears. Emerald eyes glittered interestedly from the edge as she observed the faint traces of smoke emitting from a scarlet envelope clasped tightly in James Potter's fist.
"Just open it mate. It'll be worse if you don't."
Even from her unobtrusive spot behind her paper, Lily didn't miss the panicked look so foreign on James' easy-natured face.
"But I didn't do anything!" He squeaked pathetically, so far from his usual deep, drawling tone.
Sirius snorted while hopelessly attempting to arrange his face into an expression of sympathy. "And I suppose your mother was never going to notice that one of her house elves now sings in limericks, her antique and hideously expensive set of defence books are now soaked with stink sap and the pet rabbit is sporting a Mohawk."
With time running too thin to ponder it, the letter began to smoke profusely, furling around James' terrified face and an echoing voice screamed from the folds of paper.
"Congratulations my little cherub! Your father and I are just so proud! President of the knitting club. Oh, it's just wonderful Snookums. You'll never guess what Jamie, I heard from dear old Mrs Forster and her lovely daughter Mildred yesterday. You remember Mildred don't you sugar-pie? You used to run around naked in their backyard, do you remember? You two used to have a lovely time dressing up as princesses and getting into all my old make up.
Oh dear, I'm all of a flutter now. Anyway muffin, your father and I just wanted to let you know how proud we are of you and that we've completely forgotten about your little accident over the summer. I was telling Healer Jeffreys and he said it's perfectly normal to go through your teenage years with a weak bladder so I've enclosed some more pull-ups for you - extra snug. And camouflage to disguise any stains. We love you baby-cakes and send all our love."
A loud squelchy sound like an overly-loving mother blowing a kiss rang across the silent hall as James Potter sat stock still, humiliation and shock still coursing through his veins. It wasn't long before gales of laughter broke out accompanied by mocking cat calls.
"Is it just me or is James' mum off her rocker?" Peter stage whispered across the table to Remus who shot him a 'shut up this instant' look and returned to his cereal.
Still dumb-struck and gaping wildly, James seemed to struggle to find his voice. "That's not my mother you idiot. I'll admit she can be a tad eccentric at times but that was just beyond sane."
Remus and Sirius both offered sympathetic looks but James could have been staring at a blank wall for all the acknowledgement he gave. "Someone's out to get me." He whispered frantically, a slightly deranged look crossing his features.
Behind her newspaper, Lily gave a loud snort of laughter attracting the attention of half the table. Blushing slightly she lowered her gaze back to the headlines with an airy, "Bless me. Hay fever's really causing a stir this morning."
In turn, James turned back to his friend insistently. "I'm serious. Someone's trying to ruin my reputation and they're doing a damn good job of it. First the paper, then McGonagall and now this." His face was alight as if just struck by a brain-wave of realisation. "I bet it's Snape."
There was no denying that this next blow had caused a major dose of paranoia inside James and the whisperings surrounding him did nothing to abate his suspicion.
"James, no one is out to get you." Remus said calmly with expression that clearly showed his worry for his friend's sanity. His words however seemed to have the reverse effect and a minute later James was standing on his feet.
"I'm not joking." He all but yelled, attracting even more of the population's attention. "They're after me!" He gestured wildly, as if to illustrate the gravity of the situation and sending a nearby first year head first into the scrambled eggs.
Shooting fierce looks at his two friends to warn them to keep their stupid mouths shut and not laugh, Remus adopted his best therapist expression. "James." He said in a voice of such calmness and serenity it seemed it wasn't only James' sanity Sirius now feared for. "I think you should calm down, drink some herbal tea and breathe deeply."
James stared obliviously into space as Sirius eyeballed him as if he'd just asked him to shave his eyebrows off – not a good look by the way. "Merlin, they've got you too." He wailed despairingly. "Don't touch the pumpkin juice Peter."
A jet of orange shot across the table as Peter, in his shock, managed the incredible effect of shooting his mouthful of juice spraying out of his nose like a hose. With only a dirty look in his direction Sirius turned to Remus, taking him by the shoulders and shaking him rather roughly.
"Moony my friend. Snap out of it. Do you understand me? Look, how many fingers am I holding up?"
Lily was beginning to wonder if she'd turned all the Marauders loopy.
A wail emitted from a despairing Sirius. "Merlin he's so far gone he can't even count. Moony my fine, furry friend, this is three remember. Look, one… two… three… oh shit now I look like a real idiot don't I?" he added with a sheepish look.
Remus nodded with a withering look.
"I think you should stop worrying about me and worrying about getting him to the hospital wing." He jabbed a finger in James' direction with a concerned look.
His concerns were entirely understandable as James was currently staring wildly around the hall as if waiting for a hit man to jump out at any moment. In a sore attempt to be useful, Peter poured James a cup of pumpkin juice.
"Here Prongs. Drink up. You'll feel better." He said in squeaky voice.
In an instant James was on his feet again, another stream of juice soaring across the Great Hall.
"You're in on it too! I can't trust anybody!" James was backing away from a cowering Peter as if he were a deadly poison.
Sirius nodded to Remus in hasty agreement. "Grab the prisoner. And I'll…er… make sure he doesn't strangle you to death.
Dancing shadows darted across lush green grass as the wind blew lightly across the grounds of Hogwarts castle. Three girls lay stretched out under the shade of a large beech tree.
"Cross-dressing? You know, I've always fancied seeing James in a thong." Cameron suggested dully as she closed her eyes lazily against the glaring rays of the sun overhead, her legs stretched out in the hopes of attaining a golden tan.
Eyes closed against the harsh sunlight, Lily barely moved in response.
"This is not the time to indulge your kinky fantasies." Emma snapped in retort.
Tension was brewing between the girls. A flaring anger boiled constantly inside Lily as she longed to turn him into a goat and sell him off to a nearby muggle farmer. Although, knowing their recent luck, James would probably turn bleating and chewing socks into a fashion statement too.
Somehow, after all her effort in not only sending a howler but hitting James with a tricky paranoia charm he'd still managed to turn his three day stay in the hospital wing into a new craze. It was no longer an uncommon thing for two or three students to retreat to the hospital wing during a particularly difficult lesson for some 'me time' and the common rooms no longer existed without the calming sounds of spiritual music. Above all, Lily was most displeased that her favourite couch by the fire was now hidden in the darkest, gloomiest, coldest corner of the common room as apparently it 'had bad feng shui and created a negative atmosphere.'
"I think," Lily muttered quietly, "we're not hitting the right spot. All we're proving is that James Potter can overcome any humiliation, that he's worthy of admiration. What we need, is not to embarrass him, but to get him back. Teach him what it's like to be us."
Nodding agreeably, Emma piped up in encouragement. "So, how do we do that?"
And there came the unravelling of the brilliant scheme. In fact, the unravelling of all their brilliant schemes.
"While as funny as it would be to see Potter running out of the girls toilets screaming about 'internal bleeding' or else experiencing the pain of eyebrow plucking, I'm certain that gender change potions are just a tad against the rules." Cameron pointed out unhelpfully.
A desolate silence descended from the upper branches of the shadowy tree.
"Date him." Said Emma suddenly.
"Bless you." Lily murmured politely as she idly plucked the petals from a miniature daisy.
"No," clarified Emma with a trace of excitement evident in her voice. "I said date him. Teach the legendary James Potter the game when he's not the one in power. Show him just what it's like to have his heart smashed to pieces."
She looked around impressively, as if expecting praise to hit her from every direction. Instead, she was faced with two dumb-struck girls gaping like gummy serpents.
"You mean, date him and dump him? Use him mercilessly? Date like a man?" Questioned Lily, as if unsure she was really grasping the true intentions of the plan.
"No. No." After a short bout of pensive silence, Lily shook her head defiantly. "I can't think of a plan that could go more horribly wrong. And besides, he's already dumped everyone here."
Hoping to exchange an eye-rolling glance with Cameron, or else hear her disparaging retort, Lily was sadly disappointed. Not to mention, their unsettlingly knowing smirks as they stared at her.
"You can't be serious?"
It made no sense. Pretend to date somebody? Make them fall in love with you and then dump them in the cruellest, most ridiculing way possible? To Lily, that seemed beyond the cruelty even James portrayed. No, that was too malicious even for James Potter to warrant.
Even more ridiculously however, was the way both Cameron and Emma made it sound even possible to break James' heart. He had proven long ago that he was immune to such vulnerable emotions like love. And why, in heaven's name would he ever fall for someone like her? It was fairly common knowledge that she was not his type. James had proven long ago that his type was tall, leggy and with a chest like two watermelons.
"Come on Lily." Emma wheedled persistently, like a buzzing mosquito you longed to swat. "James' Potter broke my heart, not to mention the hearts of so many innocent girls. Don't you think he deserves a taste of his own medicine? That maybe it's worth a chance to change him for the better?"
Her eyes were full of a sincerity, a seriousness that Lily had rarely seen and something about the pathetic edge in her voice made Lily's resolve crumble.
Maybe I should just do it. Lily thought uncertainly.
"No." Lily heard herself say firmly. "I won't do it."
"You know we're not doing it to be malicious or cruel don't you Lil?" Emma persisted. "This isn't about us anymore. Maybe it started out that way but it's more than that now. It's about making him understand exactly how we feel. Don't you think the benefits outweigh one tiny little white lie?"
I suppose it could work. A little voice in the back of her head insisted reasonably. And if it really would help… it certainly wasn't any worse than what he did everyday.
"It's completely ridiculous and doomed to fail." Replied Lily flatly. "And I suppose you've forgotten that I loathe him with the intensity of a thousand suns?"
"Don't forget you have us here too." Cameron added. "We'll teach you everything you need to know to win his attention, take his control and break his heart."
Well, I supposed it could be worse. Like pretending to date Peter. At least James is reasonably… okay very attractive.
"He looks like a mutilated troll with spattergroit and ears big enough that he could take flight." She retorted snappily, those damned voices tweaking her last nerve.
Just think of everything he's done. Continued that incessant voice. Think of how much you'd like to wipe that slimy smirk off his over-large head. The way he's so certain he's invincible. Remember his determination to make you his next victim. You can't say that that didn't hurt.
"Fine." Lily heard her voice say, though she was certain that the words had not been spoken voluntarily by herself. "I'm going to regret it. I know I will. But fine. I'll do it."
A mass of hair obscured her vision as she was engulfed into an excitable, squealing tangle of arms.
"I swear, James potter will not know what has hit him."
By the breakfast time the next morning, if Lily's sleepless night and mind boggling self doubts weren't already making her regret her decision, Lily was onto the point of wishing James Potter's parents had never procreated.
"Voila." Proudly, Emma set a mirror in front of Lily's face, smiling happily at her handiwork. "So, what do you think?"
Lily knew from her smug grin that Emma didn't really want to know what she thought. Somehow she wasn't sure if Emma would thoroughly appreciate being told her skills would be better suited for drag make-up and that she couldn't breathe in Emma's skin tight clothing.
"No. I completely and utterly refuse to leave this dormitory looking like this." Lily replied stoutly as the smile faded quickly from Emma's lips into an insolent grimace.
"Lily, I think you're being unreasonable –"
One glance at the mirror gave Lily the very clear message that she was not being unreasonable in the least.
"No. Absolutely not. I would rather die." Lily stated firmly. "I look like a common prostitute."
Sensing rather that actually seeing it through her heavily made up eyes, Lily interrupted Emma's protests.
"Look. I've unwillingly agreed to do this but I draw the line at looking, dressing or acting like a cheap hooker. If I'm going to do this, then I'm doing it my way which starts without this," She pulled unhappily at the clingy, velvet, leopard print 'dress'.
Sensing – wisely – that Lily would not take no for an answer or else completely unravel their carefully plotted plans, a short silence followed this pronouncement.
In a swift wave of her wand, Lily's face was void of makeup, although she allowed her waist-length dark red hair to remain in its silky straight state after the copious amounts of Sleakeazy's hair potion that had been instilled to strip it of its natural curl. Eyeing the two, now silent, girls scarily and her face set, there was no arguing with Lily Evans.
"James doesn't want another dim-witted, painted Barbie doll to dump a week later." Lily said firmly, instantly realising her mistake and grimaced in apology at the girls watching her. She'd forgotten in her generalisation of James Potter's 'type' that her friends had once upon a time been arm-candy to said boy. "If you want me to win James Potter's heart, not just his momentary lust, I need to play this differently. He has to be captivated, enthralled, completely driven wild out of his mind with desire before I let him catch me. This is a game James Potter has never played and one he just can't win."
Her grin was filled with a half-hidden cheekiness and her eyes glittered with a scheming brilliance. Lily couldn't be exactly certain where that spiel had come from but it certainly sounded rather impressive to her own ears. But perhaps it was just her as two dumbstruck girls stared right back at her as if they didn't know what had hit them.
"Whoa, Lily." Emma said eventually as she let out a long bath she'd been subconsciously holding. "Who knew you had it in you."
Snapping out of her reverie, Cameron flicked her hair suddenly all business-like. "You're right."
Lily and Emma looked up in amazement. Cameron… and a compliment? That was a first.
"We have to keep him on his toes, never getting too comfortable. James Potter can never be in control." Cameron agreed approvingly.
"So, where to from now?"
It was all well and good to check off their list of accomplishments to make but James Potter was no easy mosquito to swat. The added truth of Lily's past rejections of the popular boy only served to make things that little bit harder. However, shifted to the back of her mind that she'd only just remembered, Lily felt certain that it wouldn't take much to spark the handsome Marauder's interest after his recent admission of his desires to add her to his hit list.
Her lips curled into a smile.
"Well, if there's one thing James Potter cannot resist..."
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Eyes glazed over with boredom, Lily watched the rhythmic tick of her watch. The sky was beginning to grow darker as the orb-like sun began to sink behind the distant mountains. Wind rustled the trees above her and an array of bird songs surrounded her but she gave no sign that she could hear a sound.
She was waiting. For what, it was hard to tell but her sharp gaze was directed, unblinkingly at the great oak front doors to the castle.
Like a watch dog scenting prey, her back stiffened as the great doors opened and a student to doubt made his way slowly down the stairs, a broomstick clutched in his hands. Quick as lightening Lily was on her feet and dashing into the change rooms behind her. It would take him, she knew, at least five minutes before he reached the quidditch pitch.
James Potter was a man of habit. Each and every single evening, just as the sun was beginning to sink and the light would hold for another half an hour at least, he went for his customary fly. James' quidditch prowess was legendary amongst the student and teacher population alike and he was known as one of the best quidditch players the school had seen in years.
The time passed slowly enough but her desire to begin 'The Plan' made it easier for Lily not to begrudge the wasted time spent spying on James. Her plan, she felt sure, was fool proof.
The sound of the irritatingly squeaky door was welcoming to Lily as she waited patiently for the sounds of his footsteps. She was ready for him.
Knowing he was now within hearing range, Lily casually let the shower door behind her slam. She suppressed her grin at the loud bang that echoed through the confined space. There was no doubt that he'd heard and certain he'd come to investigate the source of the sound.
"Hello?" James called out as he rounded the corner, heading towards the showers. "Who's in here?"
Knowing the timing was crucial for its success, Lily counted slowly to three before rounding the corner as steam billowed behind her. Her hair was wet and cold against her bare shoulders and the cool air causing a breakout of Goosebumps to cover her damp skin.
Time seemed to halt as the two came face to face, far closer than Lily had predicted but okay nonetheless. She noted with satisfaction that James looked positively shell-shocked at the sight of her, more so with only a small white towel clutched around her and a whole lot of bare flesh on display.
"P-Potter?!" Lily shrieked in perfectly rehearsed shock. "What on earth are you doing here?"
James lost no time in acting shocked and his characteristic grin was unfurling with rapid speed. "I could ask you the same thing." He replied amusedly, not even trying to hide his appreciation at the sight of her so skimpily dressed.
A flush grew across her cheeks at his leering gaze but more unexpected was her feeling of... well delight. There was no question that James was having a very hard time dragging his eyes away from her but now was not the time to throw away her carefully structured plan.
"What do you think Potter?" Lily raised an eyebrow questioningly. "I was having a fly and decided to have a shower before heading back up to the castle."
The fact that her face was adorned with subtle makeup despite her wet hair seemed to go unnoticed by James. His watchful gaze was beginning to unnerve her and she wished he'd just look away, even for a second.
Lily had known it'd be risky but there was nothing like a girl dressed in little more than a towel, fresh from a fly on the quidditch pitch to capture James Potter's interest. After all, they were his two biggest passions: quidditch and half-naked girls.
The fact that she'd been cajoled into doing this for 'a good cause' didn't make her feel any less like a tacky whore standing in front of James Potter in next to nothing but she supposed it was a lesser sacrifice to make compared to dressing like – and acting like - a tart in front of the entire school. And while it was a small consolation, it made her feel better that she still at least had her underwear on underneath the towel. Not that James Potter knew that.
"Evans, you play quidditch? I thought you hated quidditch." An unreadable expression covered his face and Lily guessed he was trying to hide his surprise.
"Correction, I hate snooty quidditch players with superiority complexes. And besides I only said I'd been flying." She smirked and James' face relaxed back into an easy grin.
So it should. Lily thought bitterly. This was the first conversation that the two of them had successfully had without a shouting match.
James took a step towards her so that he was standing a mere meter from her minimally-clad form. His eyes unabashedly roamed every inch of her bare skin and again she could feel a rush of colour rising to her cheeks.
"Have I ever told you that you look beautiful when you've just stepped out of the shower?" James asked flirtatiously and taking another large step closer to her. If only she did look like that when she'd just stepped out of the shower.
Lily's skin tingled uncomfortably at his proximity. Clearly James Potter had forgotten just what kind of girl she was and had more on his mind than quidditch at that precise moment in time.
He lifted a hand to run his fingers lightly down her arm and Lily felt sure the assumptive pig was envisaging some hot and heavy action in the change room before dinner.
Lily stepped back and hid her disgust at him with a coy smile. "I think you're forgetting just what kind of girl I am, Potter. You didn't really think that cheesy line would work did you?"
James grinned and gave a casual shrug. "It was worth a try."
A cool draught whooshed past her, turning the tiny droplets still clinging to her skin icy and inducing a small shiver to run down her body. It was definitely time to put on something a little more substantial than a thin piece of cloth.
As if sensing her thoughts James said, "Despite the lovely view, I suppose you'd better get dressed before you catch hyperthermia. Can I walk you to dinner?"
Lily's eyes widened in surprise at the offer. Did James Potter actually just make an almost gentlemanly like gesture? With satisfaction Lily noted that he was hooked.
She nodded. James didn't move. Inclining an eyebrow at him questioningly, James smirked again and shrugged.
"Turn around Potter." Lily said sharply. Grudgingly James turned his back on her. "And no peeking."
"Spoilsport." James murmured just loud enough for her to hear.
Always having been a modest girl, it was hardly surprising that Lily felt rather uncomfortable displaying herself in only a towel to a boy she hardly knew and didn't like let alone changing in front of him even if his back was turned. It cajoled her that at least she'd kept her underwear on underneath, not that James knew that, but nonetheless she wasn't thrilled about getting dressed with him still in the room.
"It's not like you're wearing any less than you would if you were in bathers." Cameron's voice reasoned in her mind as she hesitated to remove the towel to slip on her robes. It was true but again, hardly filled her with confidence at the unsavoury prospect.
Within ten seconds flat and some expert manoeuvring beneath the towel – James being James, even with his back turned wasn't particularly reassuring – and Lily was once again fully clothed.
"Alright, let's go."
They walked in relative silence back to the castle and Lily dreaded the assumptions that would follow her entrance into the hall with James at her side. Even less did she like the thought of the inevitable whispers and remarks once she finally 'went out' with James which considering the plan was only a matter of time. She got little comfort from knowing that it was all just a game of revenge. She may know that. Emma and Cameron may know that. But the rest of the school didn't and to them she'd still be just another silly to girl to fall for James Potter.
Just before they reached the oak front doors, James stopped her.
"You know something Evans; I don't think you ever really hated me. In fact, I'd even been as game to say, I think you might even be warming up to me." He smirked confidently and it took all of Lily's self control not to roll her eyes at him. "How about Hogsmeade this weekend?"
She'd been waiting for it and James hadn't disappointed her. Lily leant in close until her face was mere inches from him, her breath washing teasingly over his moist lips.
"Keep dreaming Potter."
With a smile sweeter than sugar, Lily turned and opened the doors into the entrance hall. There had been no missing the expression on his face at her words: frustration, disappointment, humiliation. A triumphant smile lit up her face.
Not a bad night's work. Who's in control now Potter?
I must admit, until I started writing this, I completely underestimated authors who write fics based on movies. While in one respect you have the basic plot all laid out for you, I'm actually finding this the hardest story to write. On one hand you're battling all the expectations that people who have liked the movie will like your fic, yet you're almost obligated to completely change every aspect apart from the actual plot in fear that it will be considered 'plagiarising.' Honestly, it's really hard trying to come up with a different yet still humorous way to 'faux-date' somebody. But still, I am finding this a generally enjoyable fic to write – despite the rather slack updates – and I can't say that the challenge isn't good for me.
Yes, James is an arse at the moment – but a lovable one all the same - but he won't always be. No there will not be another girl in on the plan like in the movie since I don't think this fic should need one. There are differences between this fic and the movie – like the absence of the third girl and most obviously that Lily and James do end up together obviously but Kate and John Tucker never do. And just as there are differences there will be plenty of similarities too.
I didn't really come up with any fantastic pranks ideas and I got a mixture of responses so I tried to put some pranks in but still a progression with the plot so hopefully that worked out okay. Anyway, I'm sure you're all sick of my massive author notes and Marry Christmas to everyone!
As always, I love reviews and comments on how you like the story so far, any improvements/constructive criticism or any suggestions / things you'd like to see happen. Love you all :D