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The Art of Breathing. by AC_rules
Chapter 22: Tranquillity.
A/N - Guys I am SOOOO sorry about this update, it's been like a month and I'm so sorry! I hope it will never happen again and you don't all hate me. Work, depression, friend-issues, school, parties, revision, exams, families visiting, illness, bad reaction to injections, christmas (I know it's ages away but I'm pretty involved in several churches and they aall want me to do something :O) coursework and finally a play I'm in. Hopefully you can relate to at least one of the above and forgive me? I've started the next chapter, but I've scrapped it, this chapter is quite exciting so hopefully you'll forgive me?
On another note, this is the first time of the history of the story that both me and Mary are in the same month - November. I'm hoping to write christmas at christmas when my exams are out the way so updates might be a bit better? Also please check out my meet the author page and ask me lots of questions as it makes me happy and please review! I know I've taken ages in responding to them all (again for the above reasons) by they really help me to write, and feel good enough about myself to write (which has been a problem recently) and I will always respond to them now.
Okay, I'm done rambling, but honestly I'm so thankful for every single person who takes time to read this and review and favouritises it. Also, I can't remember the exact person, but someone who's username begins with Y - thank you! I now have someone favourtising for every letter of the alphabet. That's how cool I am. ;)
In these days of cool reflection
You come to me and everything seems alright
In these days of cold affections
You sit by me - and everything’s fine
-Heaven for Everyone - Queen
A body slammed down on the end of my bed, and I felt my body being jerked upwards due to the springiness of the mattress. The mattress hit me painfully as it bounced back up, and I found that my whole body ached painfully. I pulled myself into a tight ball and buried my face into my pillow. There was no chance that I was getting up any time soon.
“Morning,” Lily’s voice said cheerfully, grating on my ears, and I inwardly cursed her for being such a morning person and not having picked up the negative vibes that I was sending out with my mind (very violently I might add). I pulled the warmth of my duvet tighter around me and mumbled something that even I didn’t understand, attempting to swat Lily away with my left hand.
“Oh leave her alone,” Alice’s voice said.
“Yeah Lily. Piss the hell off,” I mumbled, burying my face deeper into my pillow and feeling absolutely bloody awful. I imagined this feeling was similar to a tequila-induced hangover, or being run over by a bulldozer: I’d never felt so exhausted and I knew that I’d probably never looked so hideous in the last sixteen years, thus I was in no rush to get up. I pulled my duvet around me more and squeezed my eyes shut tight.
“Be nice Mary,” Alice said, and I inwardly cursed her too for being so bladdy lovely.
“You can get stuffed too,” I muttered darkly, and ran my fingers down the edge of the bed, glaring at the inside of my eyelids.
I groaned, sat up, and glared at them instead. “You going to tell me why the hell you’ve woke me up at the crack of freaking dawn...?” I complained, my voice croaky and far too deep.
“Mary, class starts in twenty minutes,” Alice said, rolling her eyes. “We thought we’d be kind and wake you up.”
“You’ve never bothered previously,” I scowled, glaring at the clock and wishing death on the whole world.
“Well this time we thought you might have had a reason to sleep in, given that you went all hysterical and weird on Sirius yesterday and let him carry you into a deserted classroom – which we want details about by the way – and then Frank carried you into the common room saying he’d found you crying in the corridor. Then when Sirius tried to talk to you, you passed out, and then we carried you up the stairs and dumped you on your bed. So we figured something might be up?” Lily suggested, her eyes wide and annoyingly questioning.
“Ok, A) why didn’t you freaking levitate me? And B) your powers of deduction never cease to amaze me,” I said, pulling myself from my covers to find myself fully dressed. “Your skills at lying, however, do not. What’s this crap about me passing out?” I said, feeling a little like the day had started backwards – waking up fully dressed and feeing awful, despite the lack of dream, and having Alice and Lily fully dressed and waiting for me.
“You don’t remember?”
“It’s hard to remember something that didn’t happen,” I snapped, frustrated, pulling a fresh uniform from my suitcase. “Why would I pass out? There wasn’t even anything wrong! Just the wrong time of the month!” I exclaimed, deciding that I’d keep all of yesterday quiet for the time being, and lying through my teeth. I was going to tell them, it would most probably be hard to keep it a secret for too long (although if what Marlene had said was true, they might not have picked up on a thing. Although the thought that they could be so oblivious did piss me off slightly). I’d tell them, in my own time, just like I was going to tell them that I was dying in my own good time.
My stomach sank and I felt nauseous at the thought. How would they react?
I’ve never even considered the prospects of how they’d react. Lily would probably over-react. Alice would go quiet, maybe... I didn’t know! I couldn’t even begin to consider how the Marauders would react... James? Remus? Peter?
Oh god. Sirius.
What the bloody hell would Sirius say?!?!?
“Really?” Alice questioned disbelievingly, and I blinked myself back to reality trying not to let the others know that I was hyperventilating internally. “You’re telling us that Nate dragged you out of class for no reason?” Alice asked, and I tried to keep my face under a level of control that said I-woke-up-in-a-bad-mood, not my-sister-tried-to-kill-herself-Sirius-is-pissed-at-me-Marlene-is cheating-on-her-secret-boyfriend-that-only-three-people-know-about-and-snape-know’s-my-deepest-darkest-secret-and-is-threatening-me.
“Oh that,” I said casually. “Karen was having a scan, and she wanted me to be there for some unknown reason – goodness know why she thought I’d ever want to see that thing growing inside her,” I said, hopefully with enough bitter annoyance in my tone that they’d believe me and think nothing was amiss. “So Nate dragged me out to go see this pathetic scan – you can’t see the thing anyway – and then I had an argument with Dad about the stupid baby and then I just lost it somewhat,” I said, shaking my head. “It was all Karen’s fault!” I exclaimed, then cursed her loudly for effect.
“Nate seemed really worried.”
I laughed humourlessly, and found the lies spewing from my mouth far too easily – should I be concerned that it was this easy? Most probably. “Well, Nate’s big on the whole family thing, and he knew I’d refuse to go, so he tricked me into thinking there’d been something wrong with the pregnancy to make me go – dick head. Now if you’re finished with these daft questions, I’m going to get ready,” I said, adding in a glare.
“Oh okay,” Alice said, nodding. “That makes sense.”
“We should have just woken you up. Bloody hell, you had us worried,” Lily said, shaking her head in annoyance. I noted that she had more make-up on than usual and looked very pretty.
I sighed disbelievingly and considered how tragic it was that they believe I would get so worked up about something so trivial. The most tragic thing – I probably would have got worked up enough to pass out at something like that. I groaned as I shut the bathroom door behind me and ran my hands through my hair.
I had probably passed out due to overexertion, and who can blame me, which probably meant that I was meant to be unconscious for a few days more, but Lily had still managed to wake me up.
You’ve got to admit that she has serious talent.
I pulled my dead (well, nearly) body over to the mirror and looked at my reflection in surprise. I really did look bloody awful: my skin appeared to have gone an interesting shade of yellow, highlighting the few spots that I had (my skin was generally pretty good) and showing off my paleness magnificently. The bright red hair really wasn’t doing me any favours today; my side fringe was sticking out at odd angles, my hair had gained an extreme amount of volume that could have been attractive on any other day, and the colour was clashing with general redness of my eyes. Then, to round it all off beautifully, my lips seemed to be a strange shade of blue.
I had two choices, I decided, looking at the mirror disdainfully. I could have a really quick shower and make myself feel better, or I could spend the time applying make up to make myself look better.
I dragged myself over to the shower and turned it on.
“She said she just had an argument with Karen,” Lily was explaining to someone as I came down stairs. “She’s fine. She was back to her normal, moody self this morning – there’s no need to worry.”
“You didn’t see her!” Sirius protested, revealing the person she was explaining it to. “There was definitely something up.”
I found myself being oddly pleased that he cared enough to send the others to check on me and report back (and a little pissed that my supposed friends weren’t doing it off their own back).
“You’ve heard what her family are like when arguing – can you blame her for being a little, you know.”
“Of course I wouldn’t,” Sirius scoffed. “I know what it’s like to have a rotten family, but she was absolutely lost, and... desperate,” he said, and I winced at his words – did he honestly think I was that pathetic? Or did he think that I wouldn’t have kissed him if I hadn’t been so desperate?
I wouldn’t have.
That’s not the point.
The point is, I would have still wanted to. I think.
Well, no. The truth of the matter is I know I would have most probably wanted to kiss him, but I wouldn’t have let him know that, and I wouldn’t have given in to that temptation, because then I would have nothing to hide behind.
“I’m telling you she’s fine,” Lily said defiantly. “It’s just the wrong time of the month!”
“The shower’s stopped running; you should go, but thanks,” Sirius said, the annoyance obvious in his voice. I heard them go out and went down the remaining steps and into view. Seeing Sirius there caught me off guard for a second. I think I’d pretty much forgotten how good he looked, and seeing him made me feel a little bit happier and more in control than I had – even if he was pissed at me.
“You look like shit,” Sirius said, looking me up and down. Nice to know he was always truthful at least. One up on me.
“Because that’s a chat up line and a half,” I said, my voice coming out a little more bitter and hurt than I’d intended it to. “Make sure I don’t look in a mirror till my hairs dry,” I requested, knowing that with my red hair hanging in wet strands around my face, it was hardly going to improve my appearance. Sirius pulled his wand from his pocket and muttered some charm I’d never bothered to learn so that my hair was instantly dry.
“You still look like shit,” he added. “Admittedly, you do look better than before. What I’m interested in is why you look like shit?”
“You want an answer? Because I assure you, you won’t find it pleasant,” I asked, sighing.
“Why else would I ask?”
“To amuse yourself with my annoyance at your persistent stalkerishness?”
“Well, that’s always a bonus,” Sirius said, smirking. “But stop stalling.”
I sighed and pulled out a string of feasible lies before I began talking. Let’s just go with the ‘wrong time of the month’ thing – at least that might shut him up. “Well you see Sirius, I have been kept awake all night by the most painful stomach ache in the history of the universe, which only felt slightly better if I lay on my front. Then I’ve had to deal with the most heinous mood swings you could imagine – I burst into tears about a hot chocolate, and then laughed till I cried about this really amusingly shaped cloud. There’s been a distinct rise in hormones, which have caused me to be impulsive and do really stupid things. Plus the fact that due to that I’m losing blood as it’s leaking out of -”
“Enough. I’m beginning to understand the phrase ‘the devil is in the detail’ – really, was that necessary?” he said, looking slightly pained.
“Would you have accepted ‘the wrong time of the month’ as an answer?”
“No,” Sirius conceded. “And surely this happens every month?”
“Well, you’d think, but of course my body has to suffer from irregularities and therefore I’d say, not really. Then as it’s late this time, it’s a lot worse. You’re lucky you have a penis you know.”
“I am very aware of this fact,” Sirius said, smirking. “And Mary, you know I don’t believe a word of that garbage,” he said, looking at me seriously as we stood in the doorway of the Great Hall.
“I think I’d be disappointed if you did,” I muttered truthfully, looking straight back up into his eyes.
“Well I’d hate to disappoint you,” he said softly, but I could tell there was amusement in his voice, and I realised for the first time that I was leaning on his chest.
“I’m sorry, about yesterday,” I told him, looking up at him feeling even more exhausted, but warm at the same time.
“I know,” Sirius said, wrapping his arms around round my back. I felt even more comfortable this way and I was sure I could have fallen asleep at any moment. “And I’m sorry about freaking out. You sure you’re all right?” he asked, and I nodded as he hugged me tightly.
“Honestly, it’s my fault. I should never have used you I just-”
“Excuse me,” a voice interjected, and I recognised it instantly. I moved away from Sirius quickly.
“Snape,” I spat, my anger at him suddenly resurfacing as I realised what he’d done – what he knew.
“Black. McDonald,” Snape said, looking over at us with a slight smile. “Cosy?” he questioned, and we both scowled back at him.
“You all right Black, you look a little... doggish,” Snape said, looking more confident than I’d ever seen him, as he paced around us with a slimy, sly smile. “Hey, if I throw a stick, will you go away?” he asked Sirius, who seemed to growl back at him, forcing himself to keep control.
“Piss off Snape,” Sirius said, glaring at him.
“Why, have you marked this territory because -” Snape began, and I realised something. He had something on Sirius too – nothing else would explain these seemingly flippant remarks. They were all connected (even if my brain was working far too slowly to connect them) – he was threatening him, otherwise Sirius would have already lashed out. He was blackmailing him.
Oh god. That’s how he was going to use the information against me. My stomach churched at the thought and wondered what he could possibly want.
“Come on,” I snapped, glaring at Snape as I grabbed Sirius’s hand to pull him away. I dropped it quickly once I realised what I’d done, and Sirius muttered curses under his breath.
I’d been holding up quite well as far as I was concerned this morning, and I didn’t want it to be ruined just yet. Sirius was still muttering profanities under his breath as we walked over to the Gryffindor table together.
We sat down opposite Remus and Alice, and I paused to take in the changed seating arrangement. Normally it had always been me, Alice, Lily and Peter on one side of the table, and the others on the other. Somehow today Lily had ended up being placed in between Peter and James, with Remus and Alice next to them leaving just enough room for me and Sirius to sit down.
I glanced up at the staff table, trying to quench the bubble of hope in my throat as I looked for Nate’s face. He wasn’t there still, and I found my breath catch and my stomach tie in knots again – nothing had changed, Becky was still ill and unconscious.
“Have some toast,” Sirius implored, watching me carefully. He knew there was something wrong, and I knew that I had to tell him, but I couldn’t do it just yet. He wasn’t pissed at me anymore for the whole using him thing, and he was actually being really nice. My head was spinning with the abnormality of it all.
“Okay,” I said, my voice coming out awkwardly. “Toast,” I said, taking a slice from the big plate in the middle.
“Yes Mary, it’s toast,” Lily snapped at me. “Can someone pass me the orange juice?” she asked, looking meaningfully at James, who appeared to be ignoring her completely. Another button of her shirt had somehow come undone since I last saw her, and her excellently made-up face was twisted into a scowl.
“Sure,” Peter squeaked, reaching out for the jug.
“No, no Peter. It’s fine. Potter’s closer,” she said, oh so subtly. James wasn’t, actually he was quite a bit further away from the nearest jug of orange juice, but no one was going to argue with Lily, who was well known for her temper.
“Potter,” she snapped. “Could you pass me the orange juice?” she said, her finger doing and undoing her button, probably to bring attention to that area.
“Sure, here you go Lily,” James said lightly, picking up the jug and passing it to her without really looking at her. “Could you pass me the toast please?” James asked distractedly.
Lily reached over for it, and slammed it down onto the table loudly.
“What the hell are you doing!?!?” Lily snapped, angrily.
“What?” James asked, looking up in confusion. “I’m only being polite,” he defended himself, his voice thick with innocence. Lily scowled and looked in the opposite direction, only then James caught my eye and winked at me. I had told him to be polite, but really!
He was doing it on purpose.
Sirius laughed softly next to me and I shook my head.
It was going to be a bloody long day.
“Watching James wind Lily up is getting kind of dull,” Sirius said sadly, and I nodded in response even though I’d barely spared a thought for their bickering on the other side of the room. My head had been, understandably I thought, fixed on other things and I knew full well that Sirius knew this.
I had been startled to find Marlene McKinnon was actually in some of my classes, whereas previously I had managed to miss it completely. Either that or she was stalking me. I highly doubted the latter, because she’d made it clear that she didn’t care enough about anyone but herself, or maybe it was me who was the one who never thought about anyone but herself. The point being that she was here, and I couldn’t help but worry about everything.
“So, Mary, it’s your job to entertain me,” Sirius said, leaning on the desk so that I couldn’t see her or Snape anymore.
“How?” I asked dryly, knowing he was doing this totally for my benefit, and was fine with listening to McGonagall for the rest of the lesson.
“Why don’t we play a game?” Sirius said, and I was sensing that it wouldn’t end well.
“Why not?” I asked, forcing myself to carry on with this big charade, because I was quite touched by the fact that he was bothering to try and cheer me up. It was more than any of the others were bothering with.
“What game?” he asked, obviously having not expected me to accept so readily.
“I don’t know any games we could possibly play without moving, speaking too loudly, or drawing attention to ourselves, so why don’t we just...” I sighed and glanced around the classroom in the hope that there was something I could distract myself with.
“Truth or dare, except dares would be a bit hard here,” he said, gesturing around the classroom. “So just truths.”
“Truths?” I questioned doubtfully. “I really don’t want to -”
“But only about other people,” Sirius finished. “Nothing personal.”
“Oh,” I said, suddenly tempted by the idea for the first time. I found a smile pull at the corners of my lips for, possibly, the first time of the day. “Can I start?” I asked.
“Sure,” Sirius said, a smile playing at his lips, and the amusement thick in his voice as he realised he had actually succeeded in cheering me up slightly.
“Okay, which of the Marauders do you find most annoying?” I asked eagerly.
“Remus,” Sirius answered after a slightly hesitation.
“Something about his bookishness, I feel like I should find Peter more annoying, but I really don’t. Not that I find any of them particularly annoying,” he said, looking round quickly to make sure none of them had heard him. “My go: who’s more annoying – Lily or Alice?”
“Lily,” I sighed. “No, Alice... Lily... erm... They’re both bloody annoying,” I said finally. “Lily is just Miss Sunshine, and then Alice is Miss lovely. So they’re both annoying, but yeah...”
“You guys not close?”
“I guess,” I shrugged. “I mean, it’s not like some of the girls you see where they’re all inseparable, but I like spending time with them and there’s no one else I’ve got. It often feels like that with us lot though, like we were just thrown together and haven’t really gelled, but just go with it. Whereas you guys are really close,” I said, looking over at the others’ heads. “I always figured it was supposed to be the other way round.”
“Yeah,” Sirius said. “But you guys look really close from the outside,” he added.
“Anyway, we said no personal things, and that was personal.”
“You came up with the question,” Sirius said, half laughing.
“Your wit never seizes to amaze me,” Sirius mocked.
“I am that brilliant,” I agreed solemnly. “So next question – best Marauder story,” I said, smiling and leaning on the desk.
“Black. McDonald, have you -” McGonagall began, but stopped short when she saw the two necklaces on the desk. “Miss McDonald, you did this?” she asked, looking down on me sharply.
“Yes,” I said defiantly. “I thought the colours might go with my skin,” I said charmingly.
“Okay,” she said, nodding before walking off.
“She didn’t believe a word of that,” Sirius smirked. “No one would ever believe you to be so-”
“Insulting me aside, you need to answer the question,” I said, smiling sweetly.
“Best Marauder story – bloody hell there’s been a few,” Sirius said, smiling slightly. “Okay, so there was this one time...” Sirius began, his eyes glazing over. “Well, what we were trying to do was sneak into Slughorn’s office to get something and finish making this potion– big prank. You know the drill.” Sirius grinned. “Well then, we were running away from some one – I can’t remember who, with this potion, – and then James fell over.”
“Please tell me that isn’t it,” I said, feeling slightly let down.
“No, no,” Sirius shook his head, “So then James was lying on the floor and had spilt this mystery potion. I can’t tell you what it was, but somehow some of this potion had gotten in his mouth.”
“Yeah,” Sirius nodded. “So then this potion turned James into me, right on the second floor corridor.”
“How was this the best?” I asked, sighing.
“Well, so then Charlotte, who I was dating at the time, came out of nowhere and saw James on the floor, as me. I was erm... invisible, so then she grabs James and starts kissing him – quite a lot. All of us lot were still invisible, which I can’t tell you about, then James didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to ruin my relationship so he just went with it, or that’s what he says, when McGonagall suddenly comes round the corner,” Sirius said, grinning as he glanced up at her. “Then Charlotte scarpered. While they’d been kissing James had turned back into himself and not noticed. So he thought he’d embarrass me.”
“Oh really?” I asked, feeling a smile tug at my lips again.
“Yep. So he starts on this long rant about how much he loves her, and how much he finds her attractive. How he wears woman’s underwear. How he’s always thought she’d been having an affair with Dumbledore, which broke his heart because he loved her so much and has always wanted to transfigure himself so he could be with her. Then he started crying, quite badly, and asking for relationship advice because he doesn’t know how to let anyone through his skin, as he’d blocked himself off from the world due to the pain she had caused him. Then McGonagall goes crazy and started screaming at him, he got detention for three months, and it was only when she yelled MR POTTTEEERRRRR that he realised what a complete and utter twerp he had been. We were all, still invisible, shaking with laughter. It was pure genius,” Sirius said, and I found myself laughing too.
It was weird how a couple of days ago we’d been completely at each other’s throats. Now Sirius and I were acting like real friends, and I liked it, I really liked it.
“My question,” Sirius said, grinning. “Juiciest secrets Alice and Lily have ever told you.”
“Okay,” I said immediately. I glanced around quickly to make sure no one was listening. “Alice dated Remus secretly for like... six months or something.”
“No!” Sirius exclaimed, sounding more girly than I could have ever imagined causing me to laugh loudly.
“Yes! I tell no lies!” I said, grinning back at him.
“Bloody hell, they kept that quiet,” Sirius exclaimed, and I glanced around to see that most of the classes attention had returned to us.
“I know yeah – An extra Hogsmead trip before Christmas!” I exclaimed, looking away quickly, trying to draw the attention away from us. “Lily,” I said, my voice much quieter once the general noise of the class had picked up enough to hide our conversation, “kissed Snape.”
“Why?!” Sirius asked, his eyes wide.
“I don’t know,” I said, my voice still quiet, “she just had a sudden rush of feelings and confusion and she wasn’t sure what she was feeling and then...” I said, suddenly realising how close Sirius was to hear what I said. He was doing that looking right into me thing, and the words froze on my mouth as I looked right back. “Then she just kissed him,” I said, still looking at him very intently without meaning too. I blinked and dragged my eyes away, blushing.
“My question,” I said, my voice coming out a little weirdly.
“Shoot,” Sirius said, his voice amused.
I bit my lip and smiled at him before glancing around the room to try and find something I could ask him.
“Okay, so you have to rate everyone here on how pretty they are,” I said, glancing around at the class. “How attractive do you find them?” I added.
“Attractive and pretty are two different things,” Sirius said, glancing around the room.
“How so?” I asked, and he smiled a little.
“Well, pretty is governed by the world. It’s a widely accepted way of looking – physically attractive would probably be a better term as that includes people who are still very... good looking but not exactly pretty. To judge how good looking, or physically attractive, you’d have to get everyone wearing exactly the same thing, with exactly the same make-up, and exactly the same expression and not consider their personalities at all. Being attractive is a lot more personal,” Sirius said, and I was stunned into silence by how it seemed he’d thought about it a lot – or was just waffling to stall his answer. “Being attractive is to your own set of rules. It’s almost impossible to separate the two, but they’re different, but it’s hard to get a situation when you can judge how physically attractive someone is because there’re always going to be things about them that you like. I might be more attracted to you in certain clothes than others, or the way you smile, the eye shadow you wear – it all makes up part of your personality, and we’re more compatible with some than others.”
“Wow, that’s actually really sensitive. I always thought you just thought with your -”
“Oh we do,” Sirius cut me off. “When I say compatible, I mean we know the kind of girls who are going to be the best for us to-”
“Okay, I get it,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief. “But are you saying it doesn’t matter how pretty you are?”
“Of course it matters, just not as much as you guys seem to think. Spending so long on your hair and make-up is a bit of a turn off you know, usually we just sit back and watch the pretty ones, then go for the ones who we’re attracted too.”
“Okay, back to the question. Who is the most attractive in the room?”
“But we said no questions about ourselves, and that my dear, is completely about me.”
“Just answer the damn question,” I snapped, and he smirked back at me.
“Least attractive...” Sirius said, smirking as he looked around at everyone. “Susan Bones. She’s too shy. Amanda,” He said jerking a thumb over to her. “No personality. Then... Charlotte – too fake. Sarah Abbot. Alice – too reserved for me. Eziabell Atherton, as much as I hate to admit it” he said, looking over to the only female Slytherin in the room. “Then... Lily, Rachel, Nadine Fisher... which leaves Marlene,” he said, and my body stiffened slightly at her name, I hadn’t even realised she was in this class. Should I tell him what she’d done to his brother? That I eavesdropped on his conversation? He’d most likely never talk to me again. Also, my mind stopped on the fact that Marlene had been so close to the top.“And you,” he finished, looking at me appraisingly as to why I’d stiffened at her name.
“Sorry, what was that?”
“I said, Nadine Fisher, Marlene McKinnon and you,” Sirius said again, leaning back lazily on his chair.
“Hmm... okay,” I said, my mind straying back to the whole Marlene situation. “Wait, who was that last one?” I asked as the bell rang, and we began stuffing our things into our bags.
“Come watch us play quidditch later,” Sirius said, and I nodded confusedly, forgetting that he hadn’t answered the question and that I bloody hated quidditch. “Good,” Sirius said, smiling. “Got to run,” he added, before practically sprinting out the classroom with the Marauders in tow.
The solid, tiled ground dug into my knees as I knelt on the floor. I bent over the toilet, retching my guts up into it.
Nate wasn’t back yet. She still hadn’t woken up.
I’d walked into the hall for dinner with my eyes fixed on the staff table to find an empty seat. She should have woken up by now, surely she should be awake. I gripped the edge of the toilet and heaved myself dry.
I was in the dormitory toilets this time, where I had come when I thought I was done throwing up my lunch and breakfast but it had turned out I wasn’t.
My legs felt weak, which brought back the reason why I had come to the dorm - nourishment potion. I thanked God for Daniel McKinnon and pulled my body over to the trunk. I scrabbled through it till I found the vial of liquid – bright green and disgusting looking. The smell made me need to heave, but I knew I had no other choice. Nate wasn’t here, so I could hardly go see him.
I brought the bottle to my lips warily and allowed a drop to slip off the rim and into my mouth. It tasted a bit like candle wax.
“What’s that?” Lily snapped from the doorway, almost causing me to send the liquid spreading against the floor.
“Nourishment potion,” I answered immediately, noting the accusing tone in her voice, and feeling slightly offended. “Nate gave them to me,” I added. I silently cursed myself for again reinforcing their idea that I was anorexic – excellent.
She took the bottle from my hand and sniffed it before handing it back.
“You’ve been sick,” she said, and I downed the potion and grimaced. It made me feel instantly better despite the vile taste, and I straightened myself up to look at her.
She waved her wand around the room, producing a gorgeous scent from the tip of her wand.
“What’s that?” I asked, standing up. “I recognise it...” I said slowly. It took my brain a few seconds to realise why I recognised it. It dawned on me and I grabbed a tub from the bathroom and presented it to her. “This,” I said sniffing it.
“Basic body butter?” Lily asked with an eye raised.
“No.” I shook my head and poured some on my skin, remembering the charm Sirius had put on it. “Now smell,” I said, and she smelled my arm where I had put it. “Sirius brought it me, what is it?”
“Sirius brought it you did he?” Lily asked, smiling to herself. “Describe it.”
“It smells like... vanilla, spices, summer, parchment, fire whiskey, perfume, and mango’s...” I said, inhaling the scent, which instantly made me feel slightly warmer inside.
“Interesting,” she said, considering this in her head. It’s a magical scent,” Lily said simply. “It’s like love potion – it smells like what you find attractive.”
“Oh,” I said, intrigued by the idea and trying to inhale it more.
“What does it smell like to you?” I asked, feeling slightly weak still and sitting back on my bed.
“Pfft. I’m not telling you. Now come on, you’re not living off nourishment potions,” she finished, grabbing my wrist and pulling me out of the dorm to dinner.
“Well if it isn’t Mary McDonald!” James exclaimed loudly as I sat down at the table. “Oh, and hi Lily.” James said looking to her for a split second.
“Fuck off James,” Lily said darkly. “I’ve had enough of your big headed, arrogant, stupid, ugly face and every single damn word that comes out that STUPID mouth of yours.” Her voice was rising in volume and pitch. “You walk around here acting like you fucking own the place because your parents are rich and told you that you were special – YOU’RE NOT! As far as I can see there’s actually nothing good about you. You’re a complete wash out: you’re not clever, good looking, talented, remotely nice and you’re not even funny – you hurt people for the fun of it because you can - and to be frank, I would rather spend my time with Slughorn and any Slytherin you could throw me with than you!”
“Will you go out with me?” James asked – almost automatically - and I felt like banging my head on the table. We’d just regressed several months.
“NO!” she screamed, finally losing it completely. “I would rather kill myself.” She spat out her words, turning more venomous than they had been for a while. “I’d rather stick pins in my eyes. I would rather eat a hot poker than go on one single date with you. I’d rather kill every single member of my family with the back of a spoon than go on a date with you. WHY CAN’T YOU JUST DIE AND LEAVE ME ALONE,” she finished, grabbing a slice of cake, before striding out of the hall.
“I think you pushed her too far,” Remus put in oh-so-helpfully (I could totally see what Sirius meant about annoying).
“Oh for Merlin’s sake!” Alice exclaimed, glaring at him. “What the hell did I ever see in an insensitive bastard like you?” She shook her head at him. “I’m going to see if she’s okay,” she said, and I started to stand up too. “Don’t,” she said, turning to look at me. “Don’t think you’ve done enough damage?”
“What?” I asked, utterly stunned.
“Don’t think we don’t know what you’ve been helping Potter with,” Alice said, her voice implying that me helping him out was some kind of betrayal. “We’re not thick! Why don’t you just get them to make you a fucking Marauder badge now?” she suggested.
“I do not need this right now,” I said, standing up, wanting to do nothing but run from the scene and crawl up in a ball and cry.
“Oh yeah, that’s right. You don’t need us. We’re just the people you got thrown with.”
“No, it’s not like -!” I began, realising what she must have overheard this morning and suddenly feeling terrible.
“I don’t need this right now either,” Alice snapped, sounding angrier than I’d ever heard her.
“You don’t understand-”
“Don’t worry, I’ll leave.” Alice said, before turning around and walking away from me, leaving me with the Marauders. I watched her disappear at the doorway, looking downwards and tucking her fringe behind her ear self consciously.
“Thanks for that,” I snapped, looking up at all of them. “Thanks a bloody lot.”
“It’s not our fault!” Remus exclaimed angrily.
“It was your bloody advice,” James put in.
Sirius shot me a look, warning me not to continue.
“Yes it is your bloody faults! It was your stupid bloody game! You being a complete and utter twat and did you really have to say that -”
“Mary. You agreed to play the game, and do you really want to annoy the only four people who aren’t pissed at you? Now that you’ve successfully managed to piss off Lily, Alice, Marlene, Nate and your family, do you really want to carry on with this?” Sirius asked sharply. “No,” he finished. “Now shut up before you put your foot in it again,” he said, and I looked down at my plate feeling awful. He gave me a few seconds to feel guilty before speaking again. “Now cheer up, because none of that was your fault, and you get to spend time with yours truly.”
“You’re watching us play Quidditch.”
“Fuck my life,” I muttered under my breath, staring at my plate of dinner.
If there was one thing I could say for the guys, it was that they obsessively loved quidditch, and could manage to bring a certain amount of amusement and happiness to absolutely anything, even if they all felt awful. I’d watched them, rather gloomily, zoom around on brooms for awhile before Sirius had decided that it would be more fun if I was flying too (considering I was pretty sure he’d only invited me to watch them because he wanted to keep an eye on me, and he had realised that this wasn’t making me that cheerful – which seemed to be his message).
“Come on Mary, just get on the broom,” the others urged, and I shook my head. I didn’t see how this was going to make me happy.
“I can’t fly,” I said simply.
“But when did you last try?” James asked. He was smirking, but the smile didn’t quite reach his eyes and he kept running his fingers through his hair in frustration.
“If at first you don’t succeed,” Remus quoted, his voice sounding falsely light.
“Try, try, try again!” Sirius exclaimed. “I’m sure you’re a natural,” he said, grinning a little too much for it to be a true smile.
“Up,” I muttered with my hand over the broom, forgetting I had no magical ability for a second. I sighed and bent down to pick the damnable thing up, imagining all the hundreds and thousands of things that could go wrong.
“Get your leg over it,” Pete added, causing the others to laugh.
I sighed and stepped over it, so I was hovering slightly off the ground.
“You know, Nate’s not here so if anything goes wrong...”
“We’ll patch you up.”
“We’ve had lots of practice.”
“Fine,” I muttered darkly, pushing off from the ground and rising from the floor wobbily. I decided I had definitely not inherited my mother’s quidditch talent as I leant forwards slightly to urge the broom forward.
I moved less than half a centimetre.
I’d always hated the sensation of having nothing below me but a small piece of wood and only having that to balance on – it didn’t feel any better than it had in first year.
“You’re too tentative,” James said, soaring up on his own broom and whooshing past me. If he had meant to reassure me, he’d vastly miscalculated my jumpiness, and the sudden rush of air and noise made me scream in shock, sending my broom spinning. I leaned forwards automatically to grab onto the only thing that was keeping me up – my broom. The sudden change in the broom’s balance sent me shooting forwards at a faster speed than I’d ever gone before (not that that’s particularly fast). I screamed at the top of my voice at the sudden shock of it.
The quidditch stand suddenly came flying towards me in a swirl of mixing colours, which caused me to scream even louder.
I found myself jerking the broom around instinctively, and turning right sharply. I breathed a sigh of relief and was suddenly filled with a confidence. One stupid turn made me feel invincible –unstoppable – better than I’d ever felt in my entire life. I felt so much freer than I had done before, and all I wanted was to spin and turn in circles for as long as I could. To feel the wind in my hair and go as fast as I possibly could. I circled the pitch and large loops, watching the stands and the castle fly around me in blurs of colour and motion.
“SLOW DOWN!” someone yelled, sounding panicked.
I ignored the voice, finding that this feeling wasn’t as bad as I’d thought; it was liberating just to be able to go wherever I want and feel the wind whipping against my face. It wasn’t like running where gravity was holding me down and my whole body was gasping for air. This was just pure and utter adrenaline. I pulled myself round in loops, and dipped the broom up and down because I could.
“STOP FOR MERLIN’S SAKE!” James’ voice yelled, and he sounded like he was having a heart attack, so I stopped in mid air and looked down.
Obviously in my excitement at flying, I’d forgotten that I was scared of heights, and thus had climbed higher and higher without realising it. Now I was miles up and looking at the others on the ground as tiny dots. I jerked my head upwards, not being able to look any longer.
I screamed and gripped hold of the broom tightly. I stopped breathing and I could hear my heart filling the silence of my ended scream. I could feel the full cold of the November wind now and my fingers began prickling with it. I swore never to move again in case it sent my spiralling to the floor.
“Erm... you can move again?” James yelled up to me, but I was still paralysed by fear.
If I fell off this tiny pole of wood now, that would be it. Dead. Gone. Nothingness.
I could imagine the falling sensation now, my stomach still way up here as my skin hit the floor, my bones instantly breaking on contact with the floor and blood spurting from places I hadn’t know had existed; red liquid seeping over the green turf, and my mangled and crumpled body being peeled off the floor. I shuddered, concentrating everything on keeping the broom steady.
“What’s wrong with her?” I heard someone ask from a long way away – the voice sounded far too distant (which wasn’t helped by the wind) for it to be remotely comforting.
“I have a feeling she’s scared of heights,” Sirius said, his voice clearly recognisable, even from up here. “Give me your broom,” he added, and I wanted to look down and see who he was talking to, but I knew if I looked down again I might tilt the broom forward, and send myself flying to my death.
What if the broom just stopped working; if the magic wore off and just dropped from under me?
That couldn’t happen right?
“Right,” Sirius said, soaring up to greet me after a few more moments of me being frozen in mid air. “I think you need to come down now, yeah?” he suggested, his voice light.
“No,” I answered slowly – scared to move my body any more than absolutely necessary
“It’s not that far,” he said reassuringly. “And you’re not going to fall, you’re a good flyer.”
I snorted and he laughed, still holding his broom in full control.
“Come on,” Sirius said, flying closer and putting a hand on my arm. “You were flying better than me earlier, just...”
“No!” I almost yelled when he tried putting enough pressure on my arm to move the broom. “I don’t want to die!”
“Don’t talk bollocks; you’ve still got decades to live,” Sirius said reassuringly, which only made me begin to cry – the pure irony of that sentence.
“Come on, I’ll take you down,” Sirius sighed. “In the least perverted manner possible, get on my broom.”
“You think I am getting off my broom this far off the ground?” I asked, gesturing with my hand wildly. Then I realised what I’d done and gripped hold of my broom again as tightly as I could. “Then I’ll have to get on the back of yours, if you’re not going to move there’s nothing else I can do, except leave you here.”
“Please don’t leave me,” I whimpered, my voice sounding more pathetic than I could have imagined. Tears were still falling down my face in salty drops and I felt more vulnerable than I possibly had ever.
“Come on,” Sirius said, flying so our brooms were practically touching. “I’m just going to swing my leg over your broom,” Sirius said softly. “Then I’m going to move the other leg, and it’ll be fine.” Sirius said, moving his broom closer. “Trust me Mary,” he said, running a hand down my arm comfortingly. He was looking at me intently and as if he really cared about me.
I’d had the worse two days in the history of the universe, yet Sirius had managed to make me laugh and kept me all right for the most part – he’d made it a personal mission to make sure I was okay even though he didn’t know what was wrong.
Now he was flying a million feet (slight exaggeration) in the air, ready to swap brooms because I was a complete fool and hadn’t remembered that I was scared shitless of heights.
He was trying to pull our brooms closer, and had his hand resting on my broom. The change in the weight didn’t even make the broom shudder, as my body seemed to be levelling it out instinctively.
“Sirius,” I said, looking at him and feeling more pathetic than I had done before. “Thank you.”
“It’s f-” he began, but I cut him off by leaning forwards and kissing him softly on the lips. It wasn’t like any of the times before – maybe because of the circumstance – but more because it wasn’t pushing itself forward into anything else. I just kissed him softly, and then pulled away without even feeling embarrassed.
This is why I should never give in to impulse.
“That doesn’t count as using you,” I said, turning away from him, and glancing back down at floor, which had just got a lot closer.
“No, it doesn’t,” Sirius agreed, putting his full weight on his own broom again, allowing me to do what he probably knew I was going to do, before I’d decided.
I shot towards the ground in a steady dive, wiping away the tears from my face and trying to pull myself together. I circled the pitch once more to savour the glorious freedom, which had returned after that moment. I landed. “It was fun,” I said to the others, depositing my broom (well, Sirius’s broom, he’d leant it to me) on the floor and speeding away. I was at the castle gates before Sirius had landed, a small smile on my face.
“No! I’m not doing it to make you jealous!” Alice snapped. “If anything, it’s you who are trying to make me jealous!”
“Ha! Not likely!” Remus returned, as they both skittered around each other behind me. “Let’s face it! You couldn’t deal with me moving on, so you grabbed the first guy who’d have you, and locked lips like some common slut so you could get back at me!”
“HOW DARE YOU!? And if you use all three of your brain cells, and think back, you’ll remember that I went on a date with him first.”
I was choosing to ignore them. I didn’t think Alice was talking to me, and I didn’t know what else I could possibly do except make everything worse. Instead I was curled up in my slob clothes (hoodie and fat tracksuit bottoms) on the sofa. I was immensely comfortable. The sofa had possibly never felt so cosy – I felt like I was sinking into its cushiony softness, and being hugged by sleep. I imagined this is what it would feel like to lie on a cloud and felt very, very content, despite everything happening around me.
I shut my eyes and allowed myself to just think about how bladdy comfortable I was. I reckon I deserved to catch a break, just for a moment, before life caught up with me again.
“Oh come off it!” Remus yelled behind me, ruining the mood slightly.
“You look comfy,” Sirius mocked, and my eyes opened slowly, sticking my tongue out at him. It was strange how awkward the situation should be, and how it really wasn’t. It was a few hours since the whole quidditch thing (in which I’d done so homework and had a shower – how rock and roll am I?) but instead of being embarrassed I felt more comfortable around him than I’d ever done.
“Don’t stick that tongue out unless you’re going to use it,” he smirked, and I smiled back at him warmly. “May I join you?” he added, glancing at Remus and Alice and deciding not to intervene, just the same as I did.
I nodded in response and made room for him next to me on the sofa. I closed my eyes again and rested my head on his chest. It was, surprisingly, even more comfortable than before.
“Don’t call me a slut,” Alice said, her voice low and dangerous.
Sirius laughed slightly at my expression.
“If you’re going to sit like that, you might as well sit on me,” Sirius joked, and I shrugged and moved myself so I was sitting on him completely with my legs draped over the arm of the sofa, and his arms supporting my back. I felt more comfortable than I had done in an awfully long time, and definitely the most comfortable I had ever felt around a person. I completely trusted him and I knew that it should scare me.
“Stop breathing on me!” I said, scrunching up my shoulder to stop his breath tickling my neck where the skin wasn’t covered.
“Ticklish?” he mocked, breathing on my neck deliberately. I squirmed slightly and wriggled away from his breath.
“Well, what are you then?” Remus asked, his voice cold and vicious.
“Stop it!” I exclaimed, swatting him away with my hand in a more playful manner than before. He smirked, bringing his lips even closer to my neck so that his breath was even more ticklish than before. “Stoopp itt!” I whined, but I didn’t bother moving myself off his lap. Then he moved even closer to my neck so his lips were pressing against it. I stop fidgeting and closed my eyes. He ran his lips up the line of my neck, and I could feel him smiling against my skin. Then he followed my hair line and kissed my forehead. I smiled up at him, opening my eyes, and he moved his lips from my forehead and kissed me softly like I had kissed him up in the air. I smiled into the kiss and felt a little like I was melting into it. Neither of us pulled away this time.
“What is his problem?” Lily exclaimed, bursting into the common room and throwing herself down on the sofa opposite. “Oh I’m sorry,” she said sarcastically. “Are you two busy?” I could practically hear the sarcasm dripping from her words.
“Hi Lily,” I said, shifting myself off him slightly, but so I was still leaning on him mostly.
“Well maybe I just really like him! Yeah, I really really like him!” Alice said, poking Remus in the chest. Lily looked over at them, and then turned away, back to us so she could rant.
“How the hell can anyone’s life revolve around freaking quidditch so much?” she snapped. “And why the hell would anyone -”
“LILY!” a voice exclaimed, and James threw himself down onto the sofa next to her. I sighed and buried my head into Sirius’s arm, not wanting another argument to start around us. Sirius brushed a lock of hair away from my face.
“Oh for Merlin’s sake!” she shrieked, at a much higher decibel than I was expecting. I closed my eyes in pain and Sirius laughed slightly, his chest vibrating with it, and jerking me from my comfortable position.
“You moved,” I moaned, rearranging myself.
“I apologise,” he said, smiling back at me.
“DO I LOOK LIKE A PEOPLE PERSON?” Lily screeched.
“You look like my kind of person.”
“I’ll forgive you,” I said dryly, looking over at Lily and James, then to Alice and Remus. For once it felt like we were having the most functional relationship in the entire room, and I was glad of it.
“Good,” Sirius said, stretching his legs out. “Because for once neither of us are mad at each other.”
“I’m very mad at you,” I told him. I kissed him lightly and curled up in his arms.
“I think we should-”
“We?” I interrupted.
“You and me,” he clarified, and I found myself warming up even more. I could tell what was coming, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted it quite yet. Sirius had been so lovely to me today, and I felt more than comfortable right now, but it didn’t seem right.
“I think we – you and me – should continue with that game from earlier,” I finished for him. “It’s your go.”
“I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP!”
“Why did you tell me all that stuff earlier?” Sirius asked softly.
“I guess you make me trust you. That was an easy one. Now – why have you been trying to cheer me up so much today, even after I was so horrible to you yesterday?”
“Easy. Seeing you like that was horrible, and I told you it’s fine Mary. It just... reminded me of stuff.
“My question,” Sirius corrected. “Why are you no longer talking to Marlene?” Sirius asked, and the moment broke completely, and I was suddenly so much aware of everything going on around us, and my shoulders stiffened.
“SHUT UP!” Lily yelled, although I’m pretty sure everyone was ignoring them by now.
“Like I’d ever believe that load of bullocks!” Remus snapped.
“Has anyone seen my cheese?” Peter asked, coming down from the boy’s dormitory (which didn’t surprise me, surprisingly enough).
“Oh,” I said simply, and I could tell Sirius realised that he’d asked the wrong question. “Well...” I began, suddenly feeling self-conscious about my appearance. I pulled myself off Sirius’s lap so I could answer him better, but more to move away in general, and leant on the cold sofa instead. It wasn’t as comfortable anymore. I glanced around again, needing to make sure that no one was listening this time (everyone was too distracted by one of the other arguments to listen to us). “She’s cheating on Regulus,” I said, very quietly and rushed. “I walked in on her and...” then I froze, realising something so ground-droppingly awful.
I wasn’t supposed to know.
The stone of shock dropped between the both of us, and suddenly the little body contact we’d had after I’d moved away was gone and he’d moved further away from me.
Then the panic was settling over my stomach, which churned uncomfortably as I took in the disbelief on his face.
It took him a few seconds to work it out.
I could see the clogs turning and everything spinning into place in horror. Knowing he knew exactly what I’d done to find that out.
“Tell me you walked in on the two of them by accident,” Sirius said, his voice low. I shook my head weakly, knowing that he knew the answer already, and I couldn’t lie now. His face was scarily emotionless and made me want to cry.
“Tell me she told you in confidence,” he implored, his voice angrier and slightly more desperate.
I shook my head again. He stood up and backed away from me.
“Tell me you didn’t,” he said finally, and now all the other arguments and conversations had ceased to exist and everything else was silent – or else I just couldn’t hear any of it anymore.
“It wasn’t -” I began, but he was suddenly out the door. “Sirius!” I exclaimed, stepping over the entranceway and glancing around for him. “It wasn’t like that!” I protested, slamming the door behind me and almost begging him to listen, to understand.
“Like what? Like you followed me? Eavesdropped on my conversation when I specifically told you that I didn’t want to talk about it? When I told you!” Sirius yelled, his hands gesturing wildly as he paced around the corridor.
“I just wanted to understand, I didn’t mean -”
“Then you don’t even tell me that you fucking know!” he yelled, banging his fists on the wall in anger. His face was contorted into lines of anger and distaste, and I was amazed how quickly things had changed between us. I’d never expected something so stupid to hit us at just the wrong moment and screw things up, but now they had I couldn’t help but think how it had all been too good to be true.
“Then you yelled at me,” Sirius said, his voice thick with more emotions than I’d ever imagined him feeling. I’d yelled at him. I’d found out and I’d screamed at him – all those awful things when I knew he was down. My heart sank to the bottom of my body, and I clenched my fists at my side and looked up at him, hoping against hope that he could forgive me for this. I’d never wanted a time turner more in my entire life. I wanted to go back to when I was nine years old and tell my mum I loved her, and start again from there.
He glared at me, and I could see that it was taking all his self control not to hurt me, not to spit out every damn thing he’d ever thought about me and crush me. He wanted to scream and yell at me, but for some reason - maybe his mission to keep me happy today, maybe he was scared of himself, maybe he thought whatever we had left was worth saving – he kept his body in frozen and in control.
Images of arguments we’d had before were flashing through my memory, we’d got through things before, and we would get through this now we were so close to sorting our relationship.
He’d never looked this angry or hurt before.
Something flashed in his eyes and for a moment I thought he’d snapped and was going to lash out any second with words like knives.
No, Sirius was better than that.
A/N - So so SO SO SSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sorry about the length of time it took to update :/ andd preetttyy pleaaassseee review? :) The next chapters nearly half done, so it shouldn't be such a long wait this time :)