After explaining the plan she had devised to Sirius, the latter burst out laughing.
"I cannot believe it!" he said. "Is this seriously your plan?"
"It's Siriusly my plan," Lily said, grinning. It took a few moments for Sirius to dawn on him.
"Oh," Sirius said. "The awful joke I kept repeating last year all the time,"
"It's the thing I remember you for," Lily said, grinning.
"I must have made a terrible impression on you then," Sirius said.
"Yes, you did," Lily said, laughing; Sirius grinned back at her.
"I'm sorry," Sirius said.
"Oh, shut up," Lily said. "All of James's friends did."
Sirius seemed like he was surprised by the fact Lily didn't hatefully call James by his last name like he did it, but he decided Lily truly just didn't care anymore. Not enough to even hate him. She liked this new Lily a lot, because the James he knew truly didn't deserve anyone's heartache. Not just Lily's. But anyone's. Not even his, even though he wasn't what one would typically call an honest man either.
"All right," Sirius said. "But I don't see how this solves my problem permanently."
"Your financial ones, you mean?" Lily asked. She pondered the question, then shrugged. "I have no idea how to fix that. Your best bet is probably to marry someone rich who isn't a purist, if you go along with this." Her eyes were wide and vulnerable; he could tell she didn't want to hurt him, in fact, she was the only one out of all his acquaintances (including his old Gryffindor friends and so-called 'new friends' from Slytherin) to attempt to help him.
"But you have to realize, you cannot really count on your Slytherin friends," Lily said, her eyes wide and vulnerable. She didn't want to hurt him, but she felt like she had to tell the truth. And there really was no other choice for him if he wanted the Gryffindor house to forgive him. This was the only reason they would accept for his past behavior. It, however, also meant the permanent loss of respect of his family and Slytherin friends.
"But you do know they are going to hate me if I go along with this? Especially given your blood status?"
"It's actually O," Lily said, grinning, trying to brush off the question.
"Huh?" Sirius asked.
"It's a Muggle thing… we classify our blood differently," Lily said, shaking her head to show how unimportant this way.
"Oh, yeah," Sirius said. "I read that somewhere."
"In your Muggle porno magazines?" Lily asked dubiously.
"No, not in those," Sirius said, and they both laughed. "Another one."
A short silence set in, in which both parties smiled at each other kindly, not knowing how to carry on the conversation; Lily didn't want to nag him, and Sirius still had some questions to ask before he agreed to this plan. He just didn't quite know how to formulate them without sounding like a jackass.
"Look, I don't want you to take this the wrong way…" Sirius said. "But… if you don't mind me asking. Why are you so intent on this? What's in it for you that makes you so intent on helping me? You aren't… actually…"
Lily smiled indulgently, even a bit superciliously. "No, Sirius, I didn't make too much of that night. I already told you. You might think you have used me but we aren't locks and keys. It doesn't really work that way. Just like when you trip over your own shoes, that's not Merlin punishing you for Snivellus, that's your own bullshit,"
Sirius laughed. "Seriously," he said. "That's it? You just want to help me?"
Lily shrugged. "That's all that matters to you, isn't it? That's all that should, anyway. I want to help you because I want to help you. I do have reasons, but I don't think those are very important iny our decision making."
"Just let me guess what they are," Sirius said, feeling disappointed that the girl sitting in front of him wasn't the epitome of goodness and purity. He had to realize that that was a myth about girls; they were human beings just like him, and they couldn't be expected to be angels, especially when guys like him were always intent on taking their dignity away to fulfill their own special needs. He realized he had been told innumerable lies about the basics of how the world and human beings worked. But not only him – everyone.
"You're tired of being the victim," Sirius ventured. "You don't like that people think you're still not over your ex,"
"Who would want that lie spread about them?" Lily asked rhetorically.
Sirius grinned. "I get it. What's your other reason? Or is there only one?"
Lily sighed. "Consider it a mutually beneficial arrangement that I have proposed to you. Consider it like that night we spent together."
"Except that started a shitstorm," Sirius pointed out.
"That's why we're smarter now," Lily said. "But I'm not saying it won't start a shitstorm before things go back to how they should be. Life's a rollercoaster. You're at rock bottom now. But if you accept it, I can promise you that we'll start the slow and hard ascension. How 'bout it?"
Sirius grinned. "Why aren't you telling me anything?"
"Why would I tell you anything?" Lily asked, genuinely not understanding.
Sirius didn't say anything. He was just used to girls – and people in general – telling him everything because they were awed by his good looks, financial or blood status. They all wanted to be his friend, and desperately so. He was not used to anyone refusing information from him. He was still curious about his reasons, especially since she seemed unwilling to share them with him.
"We're going to have to be pretend to be a little more than friends if we want this to be believable though, don't you think?" Sirius asked.
"Oh, I can pretend," Lily said. "Don't you worry. But seriously, Sirius, stop asking these questions. I really don't want to tell."
"I know you can pretend," Sirius said. "But can you pretend in front of your friends?"
Sirius decided not to mention how he had slept with one of her friends during the summer, who had told her a few things about her, which he had passed on to James (which had made the latter all the more certain that Lily would return to him.) The girl in question had said that Lily, despite how tough she was acting, had been genuinely shattered on the inside.
"All I am saying," Sirius said. "Is that they're still your friends. Don't you think they can keep a secret?"
"Everyone blabbers intoxicated," Lily said. "But if that ever comes up, we'll deal with that later. I think I can pretend pretty damn well. Made your best friend think he actually wasn't that bad in bed," Lily said. Sirius snorted.
"That's not that hard,"
"It is if you're with someone for about six months," Lily said, grinning derisively. "But come on, if you don't want to do it, I'm not pressing you. I guess you'll just stay in the hospital for a few more days,"
Sirius contemplated it. He decided not to mention that this whole becoming a better person wasn't really working for her, but he guessed overnight changes really didn't happen in real life. And the amount of pain she'd been through… he knew how pain is hard to endure, and it is easier to get over it if you realize you are able to inflict pain too. It makes you feel less vulnerable, and somehow, much more satisfied. It only deprived them of permanent happiness, but the illusion of happiness, a life filled with pleasure, was often enough for human beings in a world where appearances were socially considered more important than how one truly felt. It was an understandable phenomenon, even if it was a very messed up one.
"I'm in," Sirius said, wondering how he could pretend to love the girl sitting in front of him for the remainder of the school year. "Kiss me," he said.
Lily's eyes widened.
"And make me believe it,"
Lily noticed he was looking at someone behind her back, and, without knowing who it was, proved to him that she really was a talented pretender.
Sirius got lost in the kiss despite his best attempts at remaining cold and unemotional. She was a beauty, and he was a guy who didn't even try to control his hormones. Of course he got lost in a passionate kiss with a beautiful girl.
Lily, all the while, felt disgusted. This guy is a slag, she kept thinking. But there was someone who was even more of a slag whom he hated even more than the worthless boy lying, bandaged up, looking sickly and pitiful, on the hospital bed in front of her.
The boy in question, though Lily had no idea, was standing behind them, witnessing the scene with true horror and disbelief on his face.
The best friend and the ex-girlfriend.
Kissing. Passionately. Sirius's hands grapping Lily's luscious red hair. Her gentle hands on his bandaged chest. No, this could not be true. This could not be freaking true. This was like a nightmare come true.
He hoped they hadn't noticed him. They couldn't have seen him from the threshold. He pondered whether to say something or not. He hadn't revealed to Evans that he was planning on getting her back. He didn't want to reveal it either. He didn't want her to know. He wanted her to suffer more, because he was suffering from her absence every day; he suffered because of his own mistakes, but how could one take one's pain out on one's self? It was simply impossible. Taking it out on other people was the only was he was able to cope.
He decided he couldn't take it anymore when he saw Sirius smile at Lily with genuine amazement on his face – what? since when was she such a good kisser? when they met, Lily had still been unkissed and was a terrible kisser; it infuriated him to know that she had since become a better kisser and was making other people happy with her skills, happier than she had ever made him with the skills she had back them. Lily was grinning at him smugly, as if to say, 'Yeah, I have you wrapped around my finger.' She was surely really smug about it because Sirius was – James knew – more handsome than him, and much richer. Had this been their plan all along? Was this why Sirius had stopped being his friend and started hanging out with Slytherins? Because he needed the money to start a family, and Lily had been the woman who had inspired him to do so?
He was furious. Why couldn't she have inspired him? God knew every boy wanted a boy like that. A girl who respects herself and makes him respect her. Someone who was beautiful inside out, who made his life easier and much more enjoyable. James felt that she was being unfaithful by extending that privilege to his old best friend but refusing that kind of gift from him. He became infuriated with her – but also with Sirius, for falling for his ex-girlfriend with whom he was still in love with. And who was supposed to be in love with him too, according to the rumors.
As he stood there, frozen to the spot, he realized just how they screwed everyone over with their act. They hadn't been able to keep it in their pants, that's how drunk they were at that Hufflepuff party, and their secret got unveiled – but they did everything to still keep it a secret. He still couldn't believe it was true, but if it was, he wanted to make sure their plan failed and their dreams shattered. He wanted to see them burn.
"The best friend and the girlfriend," James said, forgetting to speak in past tense, because the vision he held of his life in his head differed from reality. "Classy-ass. Congratulations, you two. You're officially the most two-faced, backstabbing sluts I have ever seen in my life,"
Sirius and Lily turned to him; Lily looked horrified, Sirius looked derisive and angry.
"Since when have you been standing there?" Sirius barked at him, his voice laced with pure animosity.
"Long enough," James said, grimacing to display his extreme disgust. "To see what a slut you have become, Evans. And you too, Sirius. You're such a great fucking friend. You were right not to come to seek aid at my house this summer. I wouldn't have taken you in anyway,"
"And then I'm the bad friend?" Sirius asked, sneering. "Do you even hear yourself?"
"At least I don't pick up your discarded toys," James said.
"Lily's not just a toy," Sirius said vehemently, grasping Lily's hands, who forgot to not look surprised by the gesture. She got herself together just in time before James noticed that something was off about them. He was too infuriated with them to think clearly as it was anyway, however.
"But you're a tool," Lily said, smiling widely.
"Oh, Catherine number two has spoken up," James said, sneering, derisive. "Congratulations on becoming the worthless slut you are today, by the way."
"Congratulations to you too," Lily said. "Though mine's a bit overdue, seeing that you've been a slut since much longer than I have. Still, I congratulate you. What's up with your syphilis, by the way, I hear it's gotten much worse,"
James blushed crimson. "Th-that was just a rumor," James said.
"It's alright," Lily said. "The point is that you got cured." The redhead smiled at him so evilly he wasn't able to recognize her anymore. This was not the girl he had once been hopelessly in love with, even if for a very short time. This is not the girl whom he had ruined. The girl in front of her wasn't Lily Evans.
He decided to sneer right back at her. "Like you hadn't gotten any diseases the summer,"
"Actually," Lily said, laughing. "I haven't. Not all of us are such tasteless tools like you. Sorry,"
James's mouth hung open. This was the last thing he expected from the normally docile and fragile Lily, who had only showed signs of strength after he had broken up with her – when she started yelling at him, and when she was able to spend an entire summer without begging him to take her back. He had honestly expected that, and his ego was shattered when his expectations failed to be fulfilled. Though, of course, he wouldn't admit that to anyone.
He glanced at Sirius – his old best friend was just sneering at him instead of coming to his aid like he had always used to during better days.
"Wow, both of you," James said. "I can't even remember why I had ever given you the time of day. You deserve each other. Maybe you'll even get syphilis from each other. Don't think he won't cheat on you, Evans," James said. Lily just raised her eyebrows at him. "Fidelity is just not in his genes, you know. Oh, but you shouldn't get your hopes up either, Sirius. She's not like the other girls anymore. She's become a bitch," Lily just rolled her eyes and pretended to yawn. Sirius looked angry though.
"You don't know her," he said. "Or anything about us. So fuck off,"
"Oh, you're right, I don't," James said. "But I'll tell everyone what I know. You can say goodbye to your Black inheritance, Sirius. And you can say goodbye to your reputation, Evans. Or what's left of it anyway."
Lily smiled at him with genuine nonchalance. James's blood was boiling.
They're gonna get it back. You're not going to be the only one that suffers after you tell everyone their dirty little secret, James told himself to calm down. It didn't work.
"Fuck off, Potter," Sirius said, and James could take it no longer. His best friend had screwed him over. His girlfriend had become a slag who everybody got a piece of. She was no longer any different than him. He knew it was his fault. He had pushed Lily over the edge. He was the one who was responsible for what was happening to him now. But he couldn't deal with that. He told himself lies to calm himself. They are the ones that screwed you over. They are the only ones responsible for this. This is going to be their karma; this is NOT your punishment. You had suffered enough over the summer already. You are innocent in this matter…
He stormed out of the Hospital Wing, telling Sirius by way of goodbye that he wasn't going to say goodbye soon to the hospital bed if others found out about their betrayal, and that Lily would soon all the respect others had for her too. Neither of them seemed to care.
"Goodbye, James," they had said nonchalantly.
What infuriated James was that they could push him over the edge like this with their actions, but on matter what he said or threatened to do, they were completely unmoved. How was this fair!? He hated, hated, hated them more than anything. He would ensure that his Gryffindor friends would do things to them that made them regret they had ever crossed him. That kept him from falling apart at what they had done to him.
A/N: Short chapter for now, hope you all got an email about the previous one.
If you have questions about why they both had agreed to this deal, then wait till the next chapter please! The next chapter is going to go into more details about the plan and why each individual had chosen to pick it for his or her own good. I do not have enough time to write longer chapters, so the upcoming few chapters will be a little easier on the eyes for those who are reading online (and don't print it out or something, as I sometimes do.)
Thank you for reading. If you want to review, there is one thing I am truly curious about: what do you each think about James's behavior and Sirius and Lily's deal and their own respective attitudes towards it?