Chapter II: A Plan is Born

--

Oh, what you do to me
No one knows
And I realize you're mine
Indeed a fool of mine
And I realize you're mine
Indeed a fool of mine

From "No One Knows" by Queens of the Stone Age

--

Her tears blinded her as her two best friends led her to her dorm, muttering the password for her as she just sniffled and cried out incomprehensible moans and groans.

"Come on, Lils," Alice softly muttered into her ear, drawing comforting circles into the small of her back as she and Jack helped her onto her bed. "It'll be okay, Lils, I promise!"

"And you know she doesn't promise a person anything unless she's sure she can deliver!" Jack earnestly agreed.

Lily's tears and cries began to dissipate as they spoke, but she remained nonplused, the sight actually more unnerving that the previous. She frowned, letting herself fall back onto her bed, staring up at her ceiling as she breathed heavily. Her eyes were glazed over and she didn't move, not even a centimeter, despite Alice and Jack's attempts to regain her attention: a slew of things ranging from absurdly waving their hands in front of her face, obnoxiously snapping at her, and gallingly slapping her thigh. All of it was futile as she remained there, limp and lost.

"What the fuck?" Alice groaned, exasperated as yet another attempt to wake Lily from her daze proved to be futile.

Jack sighed, tiredly running a hand through his hair. "Come on, Al; let's just give her some space. She needs to regain composure on her own; we can go into the common room and chat a bit, yeah?" he asked, taking care to speak loudly enough so that Lily might be able to pick up on his words if she cared enough to.

Alice bit her lip, looking back at her best mate, but with a tug on her arm from Jack she mutely nodded, allowing him to lead her out of the room.

"Fucking little cock-sucking, cunt-bitch!" Alice exclaimed as soon as they left the bedroom.

Jack snorted. "Nice use of parallelism there," he complimented as he threw himself onto the chesterfield in front of the fireplace.

Alice rolled her eyes as she took a seat on his back.

"Oi!"

"What? You're lying across the entire damn couch, what more can you expect?!" she sneered, for once more so from her own frustration than out of any ill meaning towards him.

He groaned. "Get off of me and I'll move."

She silently slipped off of his back and he sat up, pulling her back down onto the chesterfield once he was properly seated, throwing an arm across the back of her seat and pulling her into his body.

"It'll be okay," he promised as Alice burrowed her face into his chest.

"How can the slut do that—and to Lily?! I mean they're best friends, how could she?!"

"Because she's a 'fucking little cock-sucking cunt-bitch?'" Jack chanced, his voice weak as he kept his gaze focused on the fire burning before them.

Alice moaned in vexation. "I don't understand her."

Jack shrugged helplessly. "You never did, always said she was two-faced anyways. This can hardly be a surprise now… at least not for you."

"But it is," Alice interjected with a whisper. "I never honestly thought she'd do something like this, always figured she'd pull some other sort of shite. And then Benji… ugh, Merlin, I actually thought the bastard was good for Lils and you know how protective I am!"

Jack smiled softly, but it didn't last long, as a frown soon retook its place on his visage. "Yeah, I know."

Alice looked up at him—pausing, dumbfounded. "Why aren't you reacting more? What the hell could you possibly thinking that's more important than this?"

"I… I honestly just don't know what to think anymore. I've never seen her like that, Al; she's never been the sort to cry over a bloke, it's scary."

"Bastard… him, not you," she was quick to elaborate.

Jack nodded. "Got that. but thanks, nonetheless, kind of nice and foreign to not be the one cursed at by you for once."

She bit her lip, flushing a bit. "Sorry…"

"Eh, it's our shtick, love," he reassured her with a small smile.

They sat in silence for a good half an hour, both simply staring at the fire, watching the flames war with one another as angry flickers sprouted from the hearth, but ultimately Alice was the one to break the peaceful standstill that they'd fallen into.

"Jack?"

"Yeah?"

"What do we do now?" she asked.

He shrugged. "I don't know… anything to make her feel better, I suppose."

"I… she's my only female friend, I don't really know what that entails, you know?"

He chortled softly, turning to look at her for the first time since they'd reentered the room they were sitting in. "Just do whatever feels natural, don't worry about being too tomboy-ish. You're a great mate to her, and she loves you, faults and all."

"But I suck at feelings."

"I'll help you through that part then."

Her eyes flashed with an insecurity he rarely ever saw in her. "Promise?" she asked, her voice timid.

He smiled more fully. "I promise… watch, we'll help her, she'll be fine."

"I hope so, she's too nice… I'd hate to see that ruined by them…"

--

Where do you go with your broken heart in tow
What do you do with the left over you
and how do you know when to let go
where does the good go

From "Where Does the Good Go?" by Tegan and Sara

--

"Hi," Lily shyly greeted the pair on the chesterfield four hours later when she finally exited her room.

Jack and Alice immediately turned to look at her, Alice moving away from him to make space for Lily before motioning for her to sit there.

"Thanks," Lily muttered as she hopped into the spot, immediately moving her head to lean against Jack's shoulder as Alice comfortingly held her hand. "He… he's really bastard, you know?"

Alice couldn't help the loud spurt of laughter that escaped her mouth at that proclamation. "He is," she immediately agreed.

"And so is the slag he was with," Jack was quick to add, never one to be outdone—particularly not by Alice.

"But… you know…" she paused to let out a deep and anxious breath. "I can't help, but… well… still love him," Lily quietly admitted, creating the most pathetic heart breaking picture they'd ever seen. The image was so opposite to everything Lily had ever stood for, a fact that she aware of as a deep flush ran rampant across her face. "I can't help, but want him to need me like I need him. I just… I wish I made him feel the way that he makes me feel—so complete, perfect, even if for a short period of time-"

"Fucking hell, that's it! This is total bullocks, Lily!" Alice exclaimed.

"Alice," Jack groaned, raising his arm, which had been lying across Lily's shoulders, so he could pull on Alice's French braid.

"Oh come on," she shrieked, jumping off the chesterfield and rounding in on the pair. "I'm not about to lie just because you were cheated on, Lils. I get it, you loved him and we all really did think that he was a great bloke, but guess what? He's not. He cheated on you and with one of your best friends so don't you dare even consider going back to him."

Lily gasped. "But I don't know-"

"Shut up!" Alice yelled. "Shut up, Lily. He cheated on you… and with one of your best friends no less, that's the lowest a guy can get!"

"Alice stop," Jack cut in, his tone hushed in comparison to her, but far more acerbic nevertheless.

"Stay out of it!" Alice and Lily simultaneously turned on him, causing a look of utter terror to cross his face.

"You don't know, Alice, you just don't know," Lily resentfully and bitterly explained. "You've never been in love… you've never had someone that finally made you feel like you were worth something, as if you really did mean the world to them. You never got close enough for that and that's your own hang-up, but don't judge me when you don't even know what it's like. It's not fair, Al."

"Come on, Lils," Jack quietly intercepted. "You can't really want him back, can you? Even after this?"

"I… I want him to pay for this, but yeah… I love him. I know you're going to call me weak for it, but I can't help it. I'd rather be sad now and happy in the long run, than the other option…" she admitted, her eyes downcast as she made the admission. She nibbled on her lip nervously when she heard no response; she knew them well enough to ascertain what the thoughts running through their heads then most likely were like.

Finally, after a minute or so of silence, Alice let out a deep growl and sigh combination that sounded so foreign that lily was a bit perplexed as to how she managed to achieve the odd sound.

"Fine," Alice ground out, effectively interrupting Lily's thoughts.

"WHAT?!" was the reply received to that—and simultaneously from both Jack and Lily no less.

"Fine," Alice repeated, her visage emanating fury and annoyance. "If you want him, then I'll help; God knows how you'll fuck it up if I don't anyway," Alice murmured irately.

"Alice, what the hell?" Jack asked.

"What?" she snapped. "This is what she wants, isn't it?—Well then I'm going to make sure she doesn't fuck it up and screw herself over… again, because God knows this is a fucking mistake."

Jack groaned throwing his head back upon hearing that brutally blunt and terse statement as Lily let out a small gasp of shock.

"You can't possibly mean that."

"Oh come on, Lils, you want the bastard back even after that? What the hell do you expect me to say? I'm not going to lie and pretend that I support you, but I will make sure he doesn't fuck you over, again."

Jack raised his head, scoffing. "And how do you plan on doing that, oh omnipotent one?" he asked before throwing his head back down, staring at the ceiling.

"Oh don't even think you're not enlisted, you haven't said a thing about her wanting to stay with Benji, so consider this paying your dues for that misstep," she informed him before he could even retort, and ending the statement with a glare that left no room for protest.

Lily was left dumbfounded, not sure whether to be offended by the crude statements or thankful for the fact that her friend was still willing to help her regardless of her clear disdain towards the situation. Deciding to take the safest course of action, however, she merely asked, "And what do you recommend I do?"

That question took Alice off guard; it was an aspect she hadn't actually considered prior to declaring her plan. Not one to make a fool of herself though, she did what she did best when faced with such a dilemma: she bull-shitted. "Make him jealous."

Jack's head popped back up as he made his return to the conversation with an incredulous look sent her way.

Lily, however, hung on to her every word. "How?"

"Come on, Lils, you can't really be serious about this!" Jack exclaimed, sending her a wide eyed look of appall.

"Shut up," she snapped at him before turning back to Alice. "How?"

Alice resisted the urge to roll her eyes, again, when she heard that predictable reply that broke her heart just a tad. She shrugged as she replied: "Don't let him know that you know, or he'll think he has the upper hand if he knows that you're still staying with him even after he cheated. He'll think he can get away with it again, then."

"So what do I do?"

"Well… he's always been extremely possessive, you know that… I say that you find someone, let him in on the plan and get him to help you make Benji realize just what he might lose."

Jack slapped his face in frustration as he angrily moaned out: "ALICE!"

"No," Lily shook her head. "she might have a point… I know Benji and I really think that could work. If it's the right bloke helping us this could do wonders, I honestly think it could be wonderful for us, really save us!"

Jack stared helplessly as Alice looked on impassively, long ago having decided to follow the old adage that dictated "If you can't beat them, join them."

Lily soon pulled them both out of their reverie by saying: "But what about Rachel? I mean… God, she's one of my best friends, I can't believe she could do that! How am I supposed to act around her now?!"

"He can't know… so pretend to be her friend," Alice offered.

Jack groaned, again.

Lily ignored him, again. "How? I mean, look—ugh!" she cried, angrily wiping away a stray tear that had managed to escape the corner of her eye. "Ugh, look at her, Al. I can't be friends with some slut who goes after my boyfriend, I just… I can't."

"I'm not saying that you have to, but you can't have your cake and eat it, too, here unless you're willing to be a bit conniving."

Those words seemed to settle Lily. "How?"

"Be passive aggressive, don't let her on, but make the right punches, just jabs… but poignant ones, I suppose."

Lily nodded slowly, thoughtfully. "That makes sense… what else?"

"Now you go get ready for dinner so you can see your bloody lover boy," Jack cut in, his tone brusque.

Lily's eyes widened once they flickered over to a clock hanging in the common area. "oh shite! Give me just five minutes and I'll be ready, just need to change out of these damn pajamas."

Jack nodded, but his gaze was focused solely on Alice, biding his time until Lily's bedroom door would close so she'd be out of earshot and he could finally say something that wouldn't be ignored.

Two minutes later, it finally did and Jack almost felt compelled to do a little prayer of thanks when a flood of relief spread through his body as he ambushed Alice with a dark look. "What the fuck was that?"

Alice shrugged for what was probably the twentieth or so time that day as she collapsed onto a loveseat to the chesterfield's left. "A mesh of various crap I've seen in the movies she's forced me to watch over the years…"

Jack winced. "Al, why would you do that? Why would you just push her on like that?"

"Oh don't shift the blame on to me; you know her Jack, she'll do this regardless of whether we help her or not, at least if we support her, she might not get her heart broken in the process. We can look out for her this way… control the situation. Besides, if nothing else, I'm going to exact revenge on that fucking slag, I've hated her from day one anyway…"

"Just don't get your hopes up, love."

She smiled wryly. "Hey, once your best friend has reached such an inane caliber of pathetic, the only place to go is up, right?"

Jack sighed remorsefully, helplessly. "I hope you're right about that, Al… I really do."

--

So give me something to believe
Cause I am living just to breathe
And I need something more
To keep on breathing for
So give me something to believe

From "Believe" by The Bravery

--

"That felt so wrong… so awkward," Lily admitted as the trio reentered her dorm one hour later, following dinner.

"Well what do you expect when you're sitting, flirting with your boyfriend just hours after seeing him shagging your best mate?" Alice condescendingly asked, her tone acerbic.

Lily turned, puzzled. "I thought you said-"

"I said that I'd help you, not that I agree… and I won't let you forget that fact, Lils, I hope that you realize that."

Lily nodded mutely.

Jack, never one for staying in a room where the tension could be cut with a knife, decided to intervene at that precise moment. "Right then," he clapped. "How about we get on with that plan of yours, Alice? We were going to pick a bloke, I think."

Lily's face lit up at the mention as she bounced over to the chesterfield, plopping onto it with extreme enthusiasm. "Who do you think would work? I can't think of anyone who'd do this, I mean it's quite the task… don't you think?"

"I don't know," Alice shrugged, moving towards the chesterfield with much less enthusiasm than her friend had displayed. In fact, it was more so like with regret over the fact that she had to. "How about Diggory? He's hot as fuck and a quidditch captain, quite a catch they say."

--

author's note:

firstly, I am actually searching for a story and am hoping someone might be able to help me with the name. in it Lily must marry James due to some marriage law of sorts (in an attempt to escape marrying James) and I don't remember much save for some other vague details, including: James and Lily fall in love, Lily gets pregnant, she loses the baby, the next Christmas she receives a present full of baby supplies that she then assumes is from James (though you later learn it was from Remus), they get into a fight, James then announces that she can have her lovers and he will have his own, she moves to a dank basement. Much later, she collapses and falls ill while there due to the terrible conditions in it (which she never complained of) and James, in his guilt, leaves on a terribly dangerous mission for the order. For years nothing is to be seen of him until he finally returns, and that is all I remember.

Here's to hoping someone else may recognize it.

Anyway, please REVIEW!

p.s. the play list for this story has been set-up and a link to it is available on my author's page.

And thank you, to all of those that so kindly offered to be my beta as well as thank you to my two betas: you're brilliant and help me so much more than I could possibly properly verbalize!