Chapter 2 : Cinnamon and Straw
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“Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.”- Mark Twain
“I failed, I know it.”
“Will you stop it you did not fail,” argued Lily as she guided a slightly comatose Mary towards the grounds. “So you missed a few questions-“
“A few questions?” Mary stared at the red-head to her left wondering who had taken her best friend and switched her with this pod person, “Lily, the man lit up like a Christmas tree! I don’t know about you but that’s practically begging for a T.”
“No its not, besides it was Care of Magical Creatures you’re not planning on taking it next year are you?” Mary opened her mouth ready to argue and then shut it again. She actually wasn’t sure what she was planning on taking next year to be honest. Her plan for the moment was to pass all of her classes with at least an E so she could actually have the option of choosing what to take. Her plan wasn’t looking all that great now considering that she was failing her exams. As if reading her thoughts Lily stopped dragging her towards the lake and stood in front of her, squeezing her shoulders firmly.
Their friends were waiting for them by the lake, their shoes were already off, robes discarded in a pile and feet cooling in the water. There were pinpricks of students all over the grounds most of them seeking refuge in the shade of trees.
“Dorcas, what are you doing?” shouted Lily when she recognized that the blonde head bobbing in the lake belonged to one of her close friends.
“Celebrating!” Shouted the girl in reply.
“She’s done with her exams,” informed Alice when Lily looked at her puzzled.
Damn her, thought Mary. She dropped her messenger bag on the floor and sat next to Alice; Lily took the space next to her and quickly began removing her shoes. Mary followed suit along with disposing of her robe and dipping her feet into the lake. She sighed as the coolness relaxed her and momentarily took her mind away from the exams. “So how did you girls do in your exams?”Until Alice of course brought her back while tying her dark hair into a messy bun. “God, I hate this hair.”
“I hate this heat,” countered Lily. She was staring at the water enviously the surface of the lake reflecting like diamonds in the bright sunlight.
“You did not fail.” Mary kept her mouth shut knowing that any argument with Lily Evans was a lost one. “She forgot how to properly handle a fire crab and the thing…um.” She looked at Mary unsure if she should continue. The brunette nodded reluctantly. “It jumped on the examiner and set his robe on fire.”
“Can fire crabs jump?”
“Apparently,” replied Mary crossing her arms and glaring at the clear blue sky. The heat was not doing anything to appease her mood and she could already feel the beads of sweat forming under her annoyingly long hair. “Where’s Emmeline?”
“Studying.” And thus another reason for Mary to feel bitter. She knew what exam Emmeline was studying for, the same exam she herself should be focusing on. “Where is Dorcas?” All the girls looked at the lake scanning the surface for any sign of Dorcas’ curly blonde bob, but there was none to be found.
“Maybe she took a dive,” suggested Lily shielding her face from the glare of the sun. They all waited but after a few seconds Mary could feel an unsettling in her stomach. “Can she hold her breath very long?” No one answered.
Alice quickly stood up from her spot and bellowed, “DORCAS!” She looked at the girls biting her lip nervously when no one answered. “Ma-“
There was a screams instantly followed by the sound of something falling in water. Everyone looked to their left and saw that Lily had been pulled into the lake, the sudden appearance of a laughing head next to her showing them who had done it.
“I am going to kill you!” Shouted Lily as she lunged at Dorcas, but the girl merely took a dive and resurfaced a good five feet away from her. “Get back here!”
The girl cackled evilly and started doing the back stroke while Lily attempted to reach her.
Mary sighed envying their fun, sure Lily still had an Arithmancy exam to do but the girl was a natural with numbers and her exam wasn’t until tomorrow.
“You okay?” Mary strained herself from rolling her eyes; she knew Alice only asked her these questions to be nice. The two girls despite sharing mutual friends weren’t that close to each other. According to Mary, Alice Benet always had a knack for killing the mood with her constant realism and annoying maturity. And Mary the happy ending lover that she was liked to avoid reality and planning for the future as much as possible.
“Fine.” Was her only reply.
The whistle blew, the pistons chugged and a great lurch sent anyone who wasn’t seated or possessing a sense of balance crashing to the ground. It was a shame Mary wasn’t born with such balance or sitting down. She lied on the floor for a few seconds to allow her self-confidence to rise back to its usual level and then slowly pushed herself off the ground and entered the compartment to her right. Her friends, if she would call them that, were still laughing their heads off.
“Are you OK?” Lily asked; who was hiding her smile with her hands.
Mary took the space next to her, smiling in hopes that that would stop her face from burning.
“OK, OK guys I think that’s enough,” announced Emmeline her hands in the air. The laughing quickly dissolved into almost silent giggles and immediately disappeared when Mary pulled out her wand.
“I will use this. I swear on my grandmother’s grave I will curse your lips blue.” Everyone stared at her, eyebrows raised and then erupted into laughter again, even Mary joined in this time.
It was five of them in the compartment for most of the train ride. Emmeline had shared out various sticky cakes that she usually got the house elves to make for them and Dorcas had brought the butter beer. They talked about their various summer plans even though they had already done so before and when Lily had to go on patrol Mary went off to visit her cousin Marlene.
She was surprised to find her in the company of Peter Pettigrew and Remus Lupin. Poor Marlene who had a secret crush on Lupin looked like she was going to faint. Her face was a tomato and she didn’t seem to be breathing, it didn’t help that she was trapped between the window and Lupin. Her hands were gripping her robe in fists and she was smiling so hard her teeth looked ready to break. Not sure on how she was going to rescue her cousin Mary took a deep breath, hoped for the best and slid the compartment door open.
“Mary!” She winced at the pitch of Marlene’s voice, oh yes she was nervous. “How are you?” The stuttering was also another dead give away.
“Fine, where’s Helen?”
“’Loo.” Mary nodded. Helen Lattimore was Marlene’s best friend and fellow Hufflepuff. She was also the only other person who knew about Marlene’s crush, at least, she was the only other person that Marlene had told about the crush. As for those who may have guessed, that could be the entire school.
“Hey Remus, Peter.” She received a chorus of ‘hey’s’ in reply. There was awkwardness now in the room and Mary was gradually regretting her rescue mission. Peter or Pettigrew as she was more accustomed to calling him was staring at her with his beady watery blue eyes and Remus kept glancing at the book in his hand as if wondering if it would be rude if he just started reading it and Marlene although now breathing was not any less red.
“So you boys have any plans for the summer?”
“My mum’s been hinting at Switzerland for awhile, might go there.” Peter narrowed his eyes at Remus as if accusing the boy for his interesting summer. He then looked at Mary again and mumbled something about working with his dad. She had been hoping for longer answers filled with uninteresting long winded details like Alice’s extensive description of interning at the Ministry’s auror office. That presentation had lasted at least five minutes.
Come on Marlene talk! Thought Mary, you’re supposed to be the social cousin, speak damn it! But Marlene seemed no closer to talking then Mary was to understanding why Peter kept glancing at her every two seconds. She wanted to yell at him to stop but then he looked like one of those emotional boys and Mary wasn’t big on making people feel better after she’s made them cry.
“Mary, you’re here!” Before she could respond a mass of straw-coloured hair was tickling her face. She could rightly guess that is was Helen hugging her so tightly, thankfully she let go. “I haven’t spoken to you since before exams how are you?” And the awkwardness was broken. Helen kept everyone talking with her questions about anything and Marlene was finally broken out of her coma when Helen made some silly excuse about needing to sit by the window. She then kept up most of the conversation with Remus about talks of last year’s quidditch season and Peter added his little titbits when the conversation steered towards music groups. Marlene even began talking when Peter mentioned a group she liked.
Around half-past four Lily had found Mary and then so did the rest of the girls and if things couldn’t get more crowded both Potter and Black had followed the girls into the tiny compartment. She didn’t know how but Mary had somehow lost her seat and was now squished into the foetal position on the floor between Lily’s and Black’s knees, which kept knocking into her. At least Lily had the decency to annoyingly apologize every time it happened but Black didn’t even notice with Emmeline in his lap talking about a new defensive spell she had learned in duelling club. Mary knew she shouldn’t be bitter, the boy had offered his other knee to her or his friends’ knees if she wanted. Remus had frowned at the prospect however and James had clearly stated his knees solely belonged to Lily and as for Peter he had gone white with terror.
It also wouldn’t have been so horrid if Mary did not know that there was a book waiting for her in a comfortably empty compartment. She could get a whole bench to herself and finally find out the ending. Lily would just lecture me about it later though and Marlene and Dorcas, thought Mary remembering the last time she had skived on socializing to read a book. It had been two years ago but the girls would never let her forget it. It had been a birthday party held in the Gryffindor common room and while everyone was giggling over a kissing game Mary had snuck off with the current novel of the time to read. She knew it had been rude to leave without a good-bye but it had been her birthday party.
Mary yelled when two knees connected with her temples.
“You alright sweetie?” asked Emmeline peering down in concern.
Emmeline Vance was like a sixty year old grandmother trapped in sixteen year old body. She was always calling people dear or sweetie and always making sure that they were healthy and eating their vegetables. You would never know how sweet she was either by just looking at her. She had light blue eyes and held the straightest posture Mary had ever seen. She was always walking with her head held high and cinnamon locks tied in a complicated knot making it feel as if you had to bow to her. The fact that she was gorgeous and tall probably had something to do with it as well. It was nearly a fact that if you were abnormally gorgeous at Hogwarts there was no possible way that you were nice. The entire Black clan had proven that little notion.
“Fine.” Mary replied even though there had been a clear edge in her voice. She quickly stood up with the help of Lily and swayed past the obstacle course of legs.
“Where you going?”
“Need to stretch my legs.” She slid the door open and was free of the chaos.
Mary didn’t get far without hearing footsteps behind her and at first she had thought it was Lily coming to escape with her but was surprised to find Black when she turned around. He smiled at her and jogged to catch up but a sudden vision of an eighty year old man being attacked by a jewelled turtle before being promptly set on fire crossed her mind. She quickly turned around and began walking again.
“Hey wait up.” Mary’s feet sped up and suddenly an urge to run hit her. “Hey!” Mary couldn’t find any logical reason for the running except the fact that she wanted to get away from Black as fast as she could. Despite their little moment of truce that had happened in the common room, the next day in her Care of Magical Creatures exam all she could think about was him. Not that she had been fantasizing or anything it was just that their talk had left her flustered and distracted.
She felt a tug on her robes quickly followed by a pair of arms encircling her in a tight grip.
“Let go of me!” She yelled. His reply had him squeezing her tighter. “Black! I hope you know this is clear sexual harassment.”
“Will you stop shouting.” She did not like the proximity of his words, they sounded way to close to her ear, but Mary obliged and kept her mouth shut maybe if she cooperated he would let go. “Now, why were you running?” She rolled her eyes. Hadn’t that answer been obvious, he had been following her and she did not want to be near him so she ran. I should have just body bind his ass, thought Mary fully regretting her actions or a good stupefy. It took her a second to realize she was being dragged backwards into a compartment. Oh no he’s going to kill me I’ve ruined his reputation, no girl’s probably runaway from him before.
Unfortunately for Mary when Black sat down he didn’t let go of her. His grip may have loosened a smidge but she was nowhere closer to escaping then Marlene was to pouncing on Remus. While she sat on his lap contemplating her next move she discovered that he had a very firm chest and smelled unusually of fresh cut grass and something else she couldn’t exactly pin point. “If you tell me why you were running I’ll let you go.” Mary jumped startled by the heat on her ear. The boy had no respect for personal space.
“Let me go and I’ll tell you.” He ‘hmmd’ for a good five seconds and then let her go. Mary immediately leapt off his lap and was tempted to run again but Black would mostly likely catch her with his abnormally long boy legs. He folded his arms and stretched out his legs in front of him. Mary recognizing it was the compartment her and her friends had abandoned took the bench across from him. “I was stretching out my legs.”
“You were running from me.”
“Of course your ego would think that.” It had meant to be a joke but the words came without a smile. He frowned at her and got up from his seat. Mary watched him stare down at her, she blinked in case he thought they were having some kind of competition and then he left. She felt guilty wondering if she had hit some sort of spot but the feeling went away when she remembered her trunk and the book waiting for her inside.
Author's Note: Thankyou lizzyjonas98 for beta-ing this chapter and thanks to you all for reading! Now please be more awesome and tell me what you think of this chapter. What you like, don't like just be honest and gentle ^_^. Remeber reviews equal happiness which equals quicker chapters.
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