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The Art of Breathing. by AC_rules
Chapter 9 : Good Day?
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 43


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My eyes slowly opened and I felt the sun-light scattering over my face.

The dreamless sleep potion had cleared all those thoughts from yesterday right out of my head. I felt the sun on my skin as I moved slightly to an even more comfortable position. My body felt completely and utterly relaxed – every muscle seemed to be comfortable as my body lay indented on the bed. The pillow – different to what I was used to – was soft and altogether lovely. I was warm, not too warm, but blissfully warm at a temperature that would take years to get just right. I didn’t move. I wasn’t in a rush. I just lay there on the bed looking at the white of the ceiling feeling wonderful.

“Morning,” Nate said and I moved my head over so slightly to see him. If this was heaven (which is sure felt like it) I could fully believe that Nate was an angel. Forgetting all of yesterday’s drama I was so glad that I had Nate and this morning, seemingly so perfect, made me appreciate all the little things for some weird reason.

Maybe it was the sleep potion (which I had managed to take the exact amount of). Maybe it was because for once I was not surrounded by screaming, hysterical, bitchy teenage girls and instead in the company of my very own angel (in the most platonic way possible). Maybe it was some painkiller that hadn’t worn off, so I was high. Maybe it was just one of thoes random freaky things that happen... I don't know.

But somehow I had woken up in a good mood, and I absolutely loved it. The sky, cleared from the storm last night (which I had been unconscious for), had cleared to a beautiful blue and one of those beautiful end of the summer days – admittedly a late one considering it was now October. The hospital wing seemed to be a heavenly white (rather than the glaring hygienic state that it normally seemed to be) and I was quite happy to just lie in bed forever.

“You woke up just in time, you better get ready,” Nate said. Wow. The right time? Maybe I'd just died, heaven had exsisted and I'd managed to get in... hahah. Me, in heaven! What a weird thought. Then this was an extremely weird suitation - good things like this just don't happen!

I climbed out of bed without putting up much resistance, without trying to spend as long as I physically could in the warmth of bed because the outside world, for once, seemed to not be a hostile environment but just as pleasant as being tucked up in bed. Madness.

I got changed quickly (probably because I didn’t have a mirror so I couldn’t do my make-up) and sat down on my bed whilst Nate did my final assessment to decided whether I could go or not.

“Nate, I like that dreamless sleep potion,” I told him, a smiled playing at my lips as I looked up at his familiar friendly (and gorgeous) face.

“I thought you would,” He said dryly, although I could tell he was amused and glad that, for once, I appeared to be happy. “And before you ask, no I’m not giving you some for every night; you’ll become addicted to it.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad to me,” I said happily and he laughed slightly. 

“I’m not having you sleeping the rest of your life away,” He commented writing something on my notes.

“It would save me a lot of trouble!” I claimed.

“No.” He said flatly and I found myself laughing: it was only then that I realised how long it was since I’d last laughed, it felt a long time at least. Thinking back it would have been only Wednesday, but before then laughter had been pretty scarce and it was a shame – a real shame. I loved to laugh; it was such a free happy feeling which seemed to loosen the weight pressing down on my chest just slightly.

“You look happy,” A voice said and I looked around to find Sirius standing there looking at me appraisingly. It pained me to refer to him as another angel in my head, but it did feel that way somewhat, he seemed to fit with the image I had of this heavenly morning simply because he was bloody attractive. His voice shattered this image slightly; bitter and unhappy, but it still fit somehow in my head and I even found myself wishing that he was happy too. It seemed like such a waste of a morning to be unhappy.

“You don’t,” I retorted cheerfully because there really was nothing else to say. I found myself examining his features carefully with all the lines of annoyance, that usually mirrored mine, engraved on his face. As far as I could remember, before this year those lines had very rarely occupied his face but they now seemed omnipresent. Then, so were mine.

There was something about this year that just oozed distress in a big way, or maybe it was the whole dying thing... Then most people seemed to be a lot less content than last year, which didn’t even make sense considering O.W.L.’s were over and N.E.W.T.’s were a year away. On the other hand it could be to do with the growing tension between Slytherins and Gryffindor (which I was mostly isolated from by luck) and the bad feeling in the wizard world (which I had heard being discussed over meals). N.E.W.T.’s, prejudices and waging wars didn’t bother me all that much because I was dying and wouldn’t live to see it, as selfish as that was. So what was bothering me?

My family – obviously, no one has such a screwed up family and doesn’t worry about it.

Dying – obvious again.

What else? Because all these things had bothered me for years and years, so what made it worse this year? What else was bothering me?

Sirius Black – that’s what. Even now here he was facing me and searching me for some kind of answer to a question I wasn’t going to bother considering – it wasn’t like I would ever understand the male mind. I had tried, I had failed, why bother trying again? ( I know McGonagall would be proud of my attitude).

Then I remembered why Sirius was here in the first place: how Remus had been ill, so they’d all insisted on staying in the hospital wing all night. “How’s Remus?”  I asked not even feeling stupid or abashed for staring at Sirius for a good few minutes while sorting out my thoughts.

“I’m fine,” He said stepping out from behind a curtain (which is where you have to get changed in this place) He looked tired, but then all the Marauders did, but not utterly unhappy. He still looked ill, but there was a wildness in his eyes like a small child just let into a sweet shop, and something else too which I didn’t understand.

“How’s your grandmother?” I asked in an attempt to be polite. As if...

“Oh... good,” He replied quickly grinning at me. There was definitely something in his eyes which was different, and I noticed as his eyes flicked to the sky, then back to me. Then he looked at Sirius and there was a flash of guilt, but it was so quick I thought I’d made it up.

“So what was up?” I asked trying to work out where Remus had looked, my eyes travelled over Sirius looking for something because there had to be something. Sirius gave me an odd look as my eyes traveled up his legs, onto his arms, chest and finally his face.

“Just cut my arm up pretty bad on some wire,” He said and he was looking at me, looking at Sirius. I looked back up at Remus and studied his face, waiting and wishing that he would look back at Sirius so I could identify just what was wrong.

“Really?  Cause I swear you looked ill yesterday?” I commented suspiciously.

“You really can’t talk, you look ill everyday.” Sirius said, and although Sirius always talked like that, it was more to capture my attention, away from Remus. They were hiding something.

It was after this revelation that James stepped out from behind the curtain in his school uniform. “Hey look, it’s Mary!” James said as if he was surprised to see me. I stretched my hand out for him to shake it and he looked at it questioningly.

“It’s so good to meet you captain obvious, I’m a fan!” I said once he’d taken it tentatively.

“Ahh Mary! You are oh so witty and you’re looking dashing this morning,” He said grinning.

“Yes sir, captain obvious sir!” I said and he laughed.

“Excited for Hogsmeade?”

I felt a grin spread across my face at the thought of it.

“I think we’ll take that as a yes,” Remus said though I’m positive they were just to keep me talking as long as possible.

“Got a date then?” James asked cheerfully. I shook my head.

“Well, I suppose Peacock over there doesn’t think Quigley is that dumb so can’t take you anywhere, and it’s not like anyone else would be interested.” Sirius said and I raised my eyebrows at him.

“I’m sure I could find someone, you manage to find people desperate enough all the time, so it can’t be that hard.” I said cheerfully enough. “Anyways, why would I want a date when I have the delight of James’s company?” I joked, but it was without the edge of annoyance my voice normally carried.

 “Someone’s not bitter and angry today?”

“Someone got laid last night,” Sirius commented, “And for once it wasn’t me,”

“I assume you’re referring to me, in which case you’re completely wrong, out of order and plain stupid.” I said smiling slightly.

“Woah,” James Potter said looking at me careful. “No yelling? Explosions? Slapping? What’s happened to you?”

“Just basking in how satisfying pranks are,” I retorted. “And not having to wake up to screaming girls,” I said wrinkling my nose and reliving yesterdays unpleasent expereince in my head.

“Ah, you understand the beauty of a prank? That’s good, a good quality in a female, or a male really... rare in females...Lily seems to have that quality, buried deep down inside of her-”

“I’ll come back in twenty minutes,” I said as James slipped into a sort of daze. “About Hogsmeade, I think you’re doing great with Lily, so you’ll be fine...”

“Yesterday she said she hated me. She hexed me. She ignored me. Yelled at me and refused to look at me all in a space of ten minutes while you were unconscious, because I complimented her!”

“Let’s just let love play it’s natural course?” I suggested, having no desire to attempt to fix all the things Lily found annoying about James potter... it was just not worth it. It would take me several years to work out what Lily acutally found annoying because I had feeling it was just the fact that he exsisted that bothered her most. There was a simple way to fix that but I doub it would do James any good. Although...

“You don’t want to do it?” James asked bluntly. It was a fair and accurate question which should be replied to in a fair and natural way.

“No. Not really.” I replied flatly. “I don’t want to and I don’t see why it will do me any good,” 

And the award for the most selfish person ever goes to... Mary McD! 


I remember reading a book once about a girl who was dying and became all nice and saintly, it annoyed me to hell, how could anyone be like that?

“Alas, we thought we might run into this little misunderstanding,” Sirius smirked. “But you no longer have a choice,”

“And why would that be?” I asked with an odd feeling that I already knew, but just didn’t want to admit it.

“I’d recognise personalised–tabooed–skin –writing–tablets anywhere.” Remus said simply. “Plus, we saw you in our dorm from outside - purple hair is easy to identify -we were down in kitchens when you were-,”

“I would have seen you!” I interrupted but Remus talked over me. I had to admit though, they had me pretty good as I'd just admitted it was me with my last statment. Nice one Mary... Sirius smirked at me and I folded my arms in mild annoyance.

 “We could smell the stuff from Sirius’s drink and we have some stuff missing from our supplies including skin-peeling-gunk.” I took me a second to comprehend what they’d just said, but then when it clicked I was livid. Bloody livid.

“You knew it would peel her skin off?” I asked glaring at the four of them. “You knew and you didn’t tell me?”

“Woah Mary, we didn’t know about the gunk. We just thought you were going to write all over her.” It sounded convincing enough but I still didn't trust the Marauders that much, it wasn't generally a wise thing from do as I had learnt from expereience. "We thought you would have read the packet."

Well, that would have been a good idea wouldn't it. I worry about myself sometimes.

“So why didn’t you tell of me?” I asked curiously, I know I probably would have had no qualms about handing them in. Or maybe just blaming it all on Sirius...

“Sirius said it would be amusing, and he was right, it was brilliant.” James said and I wondered whether I should take that as a compliment or an insult but then another thought hit me and I was angry again.

“Why the fuck do you have skin-peeling-gunk?” I asked angrily, they looked at each other guiltily.

“Snape,” Peter said after a few minutes of an awkward silence.

“You thought Snape deserved to have his skin peeled off?” I yelled angrily. “That anyone deserves that? Right. Rule number one – Pranks will be funny, not cruel. No harm to anyone other than embarrassment, and that’s minimal! No protesting!”

“Right, now you sound like McGonagall.”Sirius said flatly, pushing past me and giving me an evil look. Nothing new there then.

“Well, that’s a step up from sounding like you,” I retorted, but it was more playful than my normal snapping.

“Which a few billion steps up from sounding like you normally, as in a stuck up cow!”

“Cows,” I said picking up my school bag to look though what books I would need, “Are lovely creatures,”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t be insulted,” James said cheerfully. “They have big udders,” He said looking pointedly at my chest.

“And you have a really big...” I began looking at a random point on James’s head. “Oh, no wait, sorry. My mistake.” I corrected myself once James had reached up to the spot I had stared at.

“Clever,” James said wryly. “Come on then guys, time to go for breakfast.” He said and they turned away, stopping to pick up their bags which they seemed to have already packed – as if they knew they’d end up here...

That’s when I saw it – the point that Remus had started at on Sirius’s arm. A cut – obviously healed by magic (not very well mind you)– stretching from his wrist upwards and under his robes so I’d never see how far it went.

“What’s that-” I began but Sirius quickly, a little too quickly, pulled down his sleeve and they walked away, Remus the only one of the four looking anxious.

I briefly wondered what it was, but cast it aside; It was no use trying to work them out.

The Marauders were a mystery that everyone was trying to unfold – it was part of what made them so desirable.

I sat there pondering for another few minutes about the Marauders and the mysteries around them will Nate took my temperature, blood test, pulse etc... (Yeah I know, overkill much?)

“Well,” he said after hours of prodding and probing.  “You seem fine – enough.”

Wow. Reassuring.

“Nate, can I go have a shower before school?” I asked and he nodded.

“I’ll write you a note, and then you can have breakfast afterwards in the Kitchens. I’ll show you -”

“I Know where the Kitchens are,” I said simply and Nate rose an eyebrow at me.

“Well then, as soon as your done you have to go to Transfiguration,” He told me and I grinned standing up and hurrying to the dorm so I could have a nice, long, peaceful shower with none of them there...

No one was in the corridors as I made my way thought them and I could almost here the corny music in my head like some cheesy film but it only made my smile. I walked slower than normal because I was in no rush, I had all the time in the world (the power of the note Nate had given me) so I took the time to appreciate the fact that I lived in a castle.

How cool is that? I, Mary McDonald, live in a castle! If I told my muggle friends (the whole one of them...) that I lived in a castle they wouldn’t believe me. Yet, I did!

Erm... yeah... defiantly high from something.

“Cogswald,” I told the Fat Lady, who appeared to be in a dreadfully mood. She scowled at me but swung open without a word. “Thanks,” I said stepping over the threshold and absorbing the wonder that was... the empty common room.  I was definitely seeing the appeal in skipping lessons – you got the comfiest sofas and could do whatever the hell you wanted and I loved it. I climbed the stairs and threw open the door fully expecting to be completely alone but my expectations were not met.

The back of a head (attached to the front of a head, and a body) and waves of red shiny hair were visible; Lily. She was sitting on her bed and appeared to be sobbing into her hands and thus my shiny-happy world was shattered.

“Lily?” I asked even though she wasn’t talking to me I figured she needed someone to talk to now at least. She looked so morose and just un-Lily like. Lily was... well. It’s hard to explain her because she has so many different levels. I suppose she get’s pleasure out of the simple things – just talking about anything much, scoring well on a test, a sunny day...  it was all good to Lily so she was mostly smiling. Then she had a BIG temper; she wasn’t as mood swingy as me (which is pretty hard) but she wasn’t exactly stable. She had brilliant comebacks when she was angry and usually put them to good use against James (who was generally the cause of all her anger anyway). Then she’s clever, pretty and popular. It’s hard to really get underneath her skin and she’s very stubborn when she makes her mind up about something or someone. She hates being wrong but will admit it readily to anyone who isn’t James Potter when she is and at times she can seem shallow but I know that’s not true. She’s a control freak who follows rules as if they’re laws and sometimes has difficulty lightening up.

I knew all of this because of our years of friendship, yet I could barely remember seeing her cry.

“Mary! You’re better!” She exclaimed but her voice broke as she spoke. The person I knew, or thought I knew, was lost and in a much worse way than I’d ever seen her – maybe there was more to Lily Evans than even I knew. “I was worried, I came to see you,” She explained trying to talk over her tears. “And then Potter... he was being a dick! Then they all went out and...” She trailed off into a renewed wave of sobbing.

I walked over to her bed and sat down next to her. I was reminded of when Sirius had been in this state, then all I’d had to was sit and be there, but Lily seemed less angry and more likely to want to talk.

“I’m not going on a Date with James,” I told her because I couldn’t think of anything to say and didn’t fancy probing because I knew if she wanted to say it she would. “I’m just helping him with Potions because he was struggling, you know that’s not his best subject,” Lily sat in silence for a good few minutes with tears still falling down her face.

“Transfiguration.” She said. I gave her a puzzled look. “That’s James’s favourite subject, but why do I know that Mary?”

“I don’t know-”

“And why does he make me so angry? Why does he make my blood boil!?!? How can he get to me so easily!?!?” She asked and I knew I didn’t have the answers. “Don’t you get like that with Sirius; don’t you wonder why he annoys me so much?”

“Well that’s because he’s a twat.” I said simply, that was an answer I could supply easily. Lily laughed through her sobs but it still sounded slightly uneasy. “Is that what’s up, James? He didn’t steal your trousers again did he?”

“No,” She answered stiffly. “He stole my make-up and claimed my ‘natural beauty was being covered up’ which means he basically called me ugly! But that wasn’t it, it’s just... I miss Sev.” She finished lamely. “He was like my best friend, and then...”

“Yeah,” I said softly. “Have you ever thought maybe you should forgive him, it was just a slip of the tongue?” I suggested and she shook her head angrily.

“He’s a death eater. My old best friend – he’s dead.” She finished standing up. “That thing is just a twat inhabiting his body,”

“Now come on Lily, that’s not fair. What sort of twat would choose Snape’s body? It’s hardly desirable.” Lily laughed again, and it was a little lighter this time.

“Maybe twatness is just in the air then,” She said joking slightly.

“Well duh, have you talked to any male recently? It’s like they’ve been employed to annoy us,” I said trying again to lighten the mood. “Come on now Lils, you need to go to class. Can’t lose your top position of the class can you?” I asked and she nodded wiping her face with her sleeve. Her mascara, by some insane miracle, had stayed around her eyes. Her cheeks hadn’t puffed up red and she didn’t look like she hadn’t slept in years.

Now why can’t I cry like that?

“Right, I’ll have a shower and I’ll join you in Transfiguration in a few min -”

“I can’t go in on my own!” Lily claimed. “Everyone will ask where I’ve been, and they’ll all look at me and-”

“Whoa, let’s avoid the hysterics. Seriously though, I need a shower and I need food. I probably have blood encrusted in my hair and all that crap.” She sent me a pleading look that I couldn’t ignore, especially in my good mood which rendered my quite charitable it seemed. “Can’t you just wait for me to have a shower? Or eat?”

“We’ll miss half the lesson!” She exclaimed and now al thoughts of Snape and James were out of her head – bang! – as she realised that she was, god forbid it, late! Oh no! Tragic!

“Damn you Lily Evans.” I said standing up. “If I starve to death, or someone dies because I smell or the sight of my hair then I hold you responsible!”

She smiled, but she still didn’t look her normal self so I decided to avoid the sarcasm and my warped sense of humour until later.

“And you won’t get told off, I have a note,” I told her and she smiled in appreciation.

*******

My good mood lasted through to lunch, which surprised me greatly. So I found myself sitting on the lunch table happily as I tucked into my food.

Strange to think this time yesterday I had been very pissed off and almost told Sirius about the whole... dying thing (the thought still made me nauseous). So I was content enough to be sitting by myself eating my healthy, well... more so than normal, food. It didn’t even bother me that the Marauders were sitting awfully close because they were engrossed with a serious conversation about something or ever which, from the looks of it, was Remus trying to convince the other three something but failing miserably. On further inspection I noticed that the wild look in Remus’s eyes was gone and the guilt, which had only flashed into existent before, now held the most power in his expression.

“I’m telling you she doesn’t know, and even if she did she wouldn’t tell anyone!” Sirius claimed, his voice carrying across to me. “She wouldn’t! Trust me, I know her better than you three.”

“Sirius, I highly doubt that.” James said shaking his head. “Because that would make no sense whatsoever!”

“Arghh! I’m going to be kicked out!" Remus exclaimed dramaticaly.

“She wouldn’t care! I swear-”Sirius said when Peter interrupted him.

“Mary!” he said overly-loudly. “How lovely to see you!”

“Erm... yeah,” I commented confused. The others shut up immediately and I decided that Peter’s voice, which was normally very quiet, was put on to capture their attention; he was playing look-out and I wasn’t supposed to hear. Sirius sent me a dark look, and I turned around unable to look at him, and instead turned back to my plate. I was still listening, but they were silent and I knew that conversation was over.

“Mary,” A voice said and I turned around to see Lily. I hadn’t seen her since we’d walked to transfiguration together this morning, so we’d had no chance to talk.  “You know what I said earlier, well that isn’t all that was bothering me.” She said sliding into the seat. She seemed very determined to say this and so hadn’t notice the Marauders sitting behind us. “Because we used to be really close Mary, and I don’t think we’ll be best friends forever, but I really valued your friendship. I know that you have a lot of things on your mind, and I know you won’t want to talk about them to me, but I want to be honest with you.” She said and I looked at her in mild shock. This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting her to say. “My sister hates me.” She said in a rush, her words coming out muddled and desperate. “Me and her used to be good friends, not best friends but it was good. She’s jealous of me being magical. She calls me a freak all summer and I can’t stand it because I love her so much and I know your problems are way bigger-”

“No Lily -” I interrupted her about to tell her that her problems were such as big and scary as mine were. Even if mine were more life changing, but it was how they affected the person.

“Because I know you’re not over your mother’s death, and I can’t even begin to imagine that! I know you don’t get on with Karen, your family is dysfunctional and I know that Becky has more mental problems than most family trees are and I know you have something else that you’re not going to tell me, and I get it! I do! I know you don’t want to share it, but I just thought you should know: if you ever need me, I’m here.” She said before standing up and walking back to the others again.

I looked down at my plate and gripped my knife and fork as I tried to comprehend what had just happened. My eyes, unfocused and dazed, were staring at my plate but not really seeing it as I thought about all my problems condensed into a sentence and admittedly, it didn’t sound that bad. It didn’t sound too great either thought.

A fork fell to the floor and turned to source the noise. Peter. Then it occurred to me that the Marauders heard every word of that.

Shit.

I smiled sweetly at them, as they were all staring, and continued eating my dinner again. It was nice of Lily to come out with the big speech, but it would have been nicer if she’d looked around first, or at least not left me to sit on my own afterwards. That didn’t make much sense, but I figured if she was anything like me that would have been really hard for to say and she’d most probably rehearsed it and still couldn’t stand to watch and see my reaction. Lily was quite a lot like me it seemed. Isn't that a terrifying thought?

The sister thing was something else to consider – who knew eh? I certainly didn’t. It seemed like a lot of things were being kept under the surface in this place.

“So, mental problems run in the family eh?” Peter asked jokily, again displaying his skill at making a joke at exactly the wrong moment.

“She’s adopted.” I said simply no longer feeling all that hungry.  “Anyway. I have a date with the shower if you’ll excuse me.” I said standing up and hurrying out of the great hall. How was it possible that all the drama just kept on coming and coming? It was insane to me. When I’d say hogsmeade was only four days away I’d been under the impression they’d be four nice simple days. Well, my luck’s never got me very far in life has it, and it’s not likely to get me any further.

My good mood, although not shattered, was definitely not as strong as it had been this morning which seemed to be a life time ago. Let alone the beginning of the year! It was only October, only just October, so how was it that so much had happened? If life went as slow as this a year and I half (which I was positive I would live for) seemed awfully long.

I smiled slightly at the ironicness and nonsensicalness of me: half the time I was scared shitless of dying, the other half I was shared shitless of living. Tragic really.

I walked up the stairs with a lot less enthusiasm than I’d had when I walked up them this morning – still more than normal however – and just got in to the shower without any delay, pausing only to glance at my bag which I had deposited on my bed at the begining of lunch.

In the shower I decided to try and concentrate on the thing that had been getting me through the past few days: Hogsmeade.

The prospect wasn’t looking quite so good as it had at the beginning of the week what with all the things I had to do: babysit my sister, dye my hair, teach James how to not be a dick and buy shampoo and conditioner... but it would be good at lest to be out of the castle and just anywhere else. Plus it looked like it was going to be a nice day, something I never would have predicted given my pessimistic attitude. So all in all it would be good, even if some parts would be challenging (as in I was actually going to see my family, dang.)

I stood in the shower for a long time letting the water run over me as I tried to sort out all my conflicting thoughts about tomorrow and the events of the past few days. My family – I wanted to improve my relationship with them I really did, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounded... I was so used to being a moody cow around them that it would be harder to be nice. Like when you’re little and you go into a sulk, and then they try and talk to you and you ignore them, then you wish you’d talked to them because now if you started answering you’d looked silly. Then of course you just have to stay silent because otherwise you feel stupid, but you feel stupid anyway because in the end you have to unlock the bathroom door and sprint to your bedroom and try and make it look as if you’ve been there all the time. Not that I ever sulked as a child...

Lily: what she said made a lot of sense – I wanted to be closer to Lily again because it had only been since the summer that I’d pushed her out of my life with no replacement. Then what she said about James? It was obvious to me, and everyone else in the world, that she was in love with him. If that was the case, why did she compare her and James to Sirius and I. That didn’t seem to follow any semblance of sense to me.

Then the Marauder’s secret. I’d often thought they were hiding something but last nights trip to the hospital wing was just weird. Thinking back I could remember other weird trips like that but I was far from making sense of them.  I had a feeling if I just paid more attention I could work it out, but that it would better if I just left it as it wouldn’t do me any good in the long run.

I sighed with all the confusing thoughts that fogged my otherwise relative positive brain (for today at least) and climbed out of the shower. I pulled out the fluffiest towel and wrapped it around my soaking body. I found myself looking intently at the fogged up mirror and my distorted reflection. Even from here I could see the purple blur that was my hair and I was momentarily shocked by the weirdness. It was really odd to see someone with purple hair, even if it was me who I was looking at – which probably made the whole thing even more bizarre. I rubbed the mirror clear of steam and pulled a few strands close to my face to see what I should colour it next. Another bright colour would only result in and couple of detentions, so something normal maybe? So the choices: Black, brown, blonde or red... so limited. I tried to fluff up my wet hair but it just returned to hanging down in front of my face. I grabbed another towel and attempted to dry it but it just made it bigger and knottier. Never mind eh. I smiled briefly at my reflection and decided it didn’t suit me (smiling I mean), before exiting the bathroom and sitting on my bed.

So... The Marauders knew I wasn’t over my mother death, they knew my family was a mess and they knew Becky had serious problems. None of that was part of the plan. The plan you ask? The plan was to just deal with it and maybe blurt it out near the end. You’d think that them knowing a lot of it would make it easier to tell them the last bit but I was struggling to find reasons why I should tell them. What good would it do? Then I’d have to watch their reactions... it doesn’t sound all that great to me.

All these questions, all these mysteries, all these people locked up and waiting for someone to open them up, all of them needing to be saved. Saved from themselves.

But my hero was already too late.

I sighed leaning back on my bed and staring up at the ceiling. I blinked once and my eyes stayed shut for a little longer than necessary: with every blink it took a little longer to force them open until, eventually, I slipped into sleep.

**********

Lily shot me a smile as I sat back at my desk in Defence. I sent one back though admittedly it was weaker than the smile I had received – more just a forced upturn of the lips than a genuine show of emotion. She didn’t seem to notice, and if she did she simply turned back to the front to watch Professor Collins - this years Defence teacher, she wasn’t exactly pretty but the guys liked to wind her up so the lessons usually ended up pretty funny.

“We’re going to sing a song!” She told us and I looked at her as if she was crazy, the others it seemed thought it would be funny and hence all cheered rowdily (the Marauder’s mainly). I glared at them but none of them even looked my way. Exactly four months ago had been the party in which Sirius had snogged my face off and since then my respect for the Marauders had vastly deteriorated. They were loud, annoying and utterly selfish.

I gripped my pen tighter as she began teaching us some ridiculous song to help us remember the spells. Apparently it was to a well known song but I’d never heard it, so I kept quite and focused my concentration on glaring at the head in front of me – James Potter. He didn’t notice me, surprise surprise. My brown hair fell in front of my face as I scribbled down the first line of the song just to have something to do.

“Everybody sing!” She instructed and they all began belting out the lyrics in purposefully bad voices. Sirius grinned and turned around to James. How could he be so happy, when I was so unhappy? 

“Miss McDonald, why aren’t you singing?” Professor Collins asked me. Asked and all eyes turned to me as a blushed profusely. I began miming the words but everyone knew I wasn’t singing.


“Make her sing it on her own!” A voice yelled and I gripped the table in horror. “On her own! On her own!” Everyone chanted and I saw Sirius and the other Marauders among them. Professor Collins laughed slightly. “Come on Miss McDonald, at the front!”I froze in horror as they all looked at me, chanting.

*****

Mary!” Alice said and I found myself being jerker out of reality. “Sorry, but lunch is nearly over, and this letter just arrived for you. Sirius said you were up here,” She told me and I nodded sitting up dazed. How had I managed to fall asleep? It could only have been for a few minutes because my hair was still wet and lunch must have been nearly over when I got out the shower.

“Right, thanks,” I said putting the letter down. “I should probably come and eat something in a minute,” I said remembering Nate’s words about food and how I’d fainted yesterday. Considering I hadn’t had breakfast, or lunch now, I was hungry and it wouldn’t be healthy to not eat. She smiled and left the dorm so I could get changed.

Five minutes later I was sat at the Gryffindor table with my bag so I could leave for Potions straight after I’d eaten lunch. My mind was fixed on that dream and where it would have gone if I’d stayed asleep longer – the mere memory sent my blood boiling as I thought back to that day. It was slightly ironic that my brain kept picking out these significant days from my past and I was slightly reminded of what I’d heard someone say so many times – when someone dies their life flashes before their eyes. Maybe this was it starting to happen, slowly but surely every night.

“Professor, were you like her when you were in School?”

The memory. I hated that memory.

“Well... My school was different; it was designed for snobby girly swats,”

“You and Mary sound like the perfect match then!”

I stood up angrily pushing my plate away as the bell rang. That Memory.                               

I glared at him; Sirius Black. He smirked back at me as everyone laughed around me. I pulled my arms in tight around me and just walked back to my desk with no emotion on my face. Sirius Black: the first time he ever used my name, he actually remembered my damn name! Not that I care, no. No fucking way.

You don’t know me Sirius Black. What gives you the right to decided I’m a snobby girly swat when you don’t even know me? You don’t know me and I wanted you to so badly but not any more. No way.
I wanted to say all of this, the words were on the end of my tongue but they refused to come out. So I stayed quiet and let them get away with murder.

I looked around for a friendly face amongst the crowd of people who were laughing at the joke. I turned to see Lily but she was merely laughing along with them. She didn’t look at me as I glared at her. My hands balled into fists under the table. Why did everyone always think I was the swat? Lily was geekier than me, but she was popular and wanted! Yet me? I was just looked over and forgotten about.

Just Mary. Just Mary Fucking McDonald.

“Woah Mary,” A voice said as I slammed into a body. Frank was sent to floor (just proving how forcefully I’d been walking)

“Sorry Frank,” I said forcing the words out as I held out my hand to him, he took it and I pulled him up.

The change I had made was a good one. No one thought I was a swat anymore. No one thought I was boring. People saw me and they looked at me. I was different. Every one knew my name.

“You look pissed,” Frank said and it took me a moment to realise he was talking to me. Frank Longbottom didn’t talk much, mainly because he had no friends. Reality is a harsh thing it seems.

“Yeah, well looks can be deceiving.” I said dryly. “But then they can also tell the truth.”

“Wow, insightful,” Frank said and I sense a tone of sarcasm behind his words.

“That’s me I guess, full of wisdomosity,”

“Indeed,” he said nodding wisely.

“You’re in Potions with me right?” I asked and he nodded. “Obviously. Duh Mary, let’s go,” I said and he seemed surprised that I was walking with him.

That’s the person I used to be, and no one gave me a chance to break the stereotype, so I transformed myself and here I am.

“So, mind me asking what you were thinking about?” He asked.

“Just an unpleasant memory.” I said simply as we walked down the corridor.

“Story of my life,” he retorted cheerfully.

“Agreed,” I commented blandly.

“Doesn’t look so bad from where I’m standing, your life I mean,” He said and I gave him an odd look. “You’re pretty, clever, you have good friends and people talk to you. No one even talks to me,” He said, not in a whiny way, but more of a hey look what you’ve got, be happy fashion.

“Why does no one talk to you? No offence or anything, but as far as I can see you don’t smell or anything,”

“Oh, it was this rumour my darling brother spread about me, then I’m so clumsy, everyone just finds me embarrassing.” He said and I shook my head.

“I don’t find you embarrassing at all, you’re better than them lot anyway,” I said gesturing towards the Marauders. “You just need to find yourself a nice girlfriend,” I said winking. He blushed and my eyes widened. “Who is it? Who do you want?” I asked and his eyes shifted towards Alice. “Oh my days! That’s so perfect!” I announced and the attention of everyone shifted over to us.

Some one wolf whistled and I had a strong suspicion I could identify just who it was. 

I sent Sirius the finger and Frank and I began walking towards Lily, Alice, Charlotte and Rachel as there wasn't anyone else I coudl talk to. I didn't quite make it however because I was met half way.

“Mary!” Lily said rushing over with the others in tow. “Guess what?” She squealed as Alice came up behind her red-faced with embarrassment. “Alice has a DATE!” Lily exclaimed excitedly, poor Frank. “Guess who?”

Alice looked so embarrassed I felt sorry for the poor girl; Lily was wayyyy excitable with this sort of stuff (although I can’t remember her squealing about Rachel and Sirius). Frank just stood next to me like the awkward being he was. I felt sorry for him I really did because he was right - he didn't have any friends, no one talked to him and Alice had a date...

“I have no idea.” I said dryly. I was going to be told whether I liked it or not and probably very loudly and at a higher octave then necessary.

“MIKE LONGBOTTOM!” Lily yelled excitedly. Mike Longbottom: Frank Longbottom’s hot older Ravenclaw brother.

Wow. Complicated.

******

“I’m not stupid.” I spat at Sirius who just smirked at my impression.

“Alas, we haven’t proved that have we. You have yet to complete the stupid test and you seem incapable of this simple transfiguration spell...” He said and gritted my teeth together.

“Look. Stop being an annoying dick.” I told him flatly crossing my arms over my chest. “I don’t see why I have to put up with you all the time!” I told him angrily. Potions had tried my patience, but now I was pretty sure my patience had gone out the window. “When you’re just a selfish arse who thinks they can judge anyone however the hell they like simply because people like you, for a reason I have yet to comprehend!” 

My good mood had been slipping away but it was the memory that broke the Camals back. The memory had made me especially angry and irritable towards him due to the fact it brought back horrible feelings that just made me cringe. I hated the way I'd been and I didn't much like the way I was now.

“I wouldn’t expect you to comprehend it, but it’s basically because I’m sexy, funny, hilarious, wonderful, brilliant...”

“I was talking about you, not me!” I exclaimed.

“Are you dating Longbottom?” Sirius suddenly asked and I gave him a weird look.

“No. Now shut up and leave me alone.” I snapped because I wasn't in the mood for Sirius Black (not that I ever was) because I knew he'd treated me like shit. I could barely even stand the fact that I once fancied the pants of the guy. I shuddered.

“You need to do the stupid quiz, we spent hours doing that...” Sirius whined and I groaned and lifted up my bag from the floor.

“I swear my bag has got heavier,” I complained as I pulled it up onto my lap to find the ‘stupid test.’ I pulled out the papers and put them on my test and began to write.

“It will mark itself,” He told me. “So once you’ve written something down, that’s your answer. I sighed wondering why I'd agreed to do the damn test and read the first question with trepidation.

What is the 7th letter of the alphabet?

I rolled my eyes. What a ridiculous question. I picked up my quill and scribbled down the answer: G

A cross appeared on the parchment in front of me and I glared at it. I knew full well that it was right and decided to tell Sirius is test was the stupid thing as the self marking thing didn't even work!... once I'd finished the whole thing (which was sure to take about two seconds).

There are nine apples, you take two, how many do you have?

Seven,

I wrote on the parchment and another cross appeared. Sirius laughed next to me and a glared at him. Anyone can do simple maths, this was stupid and wrong. The answer was seven. Seven I tell you!

“These questions are wrong! You can’t win!” I protested angrily. I was right and he was a dick. Back to normal... but why was he smirking?

“Wrong Mary!” He said laughing. “Look, the 7th letter of the alphabet?”

“A, B, C, D, E, F, G!!” I exclaimed.

“No. T, H, E, A, L, P, H!” he explained. “7th letter of the alphabet! This one,” He said pointing to the next question. “If you take two, how many do you have? two!”

“That,” I said slamming it down on the desk, “Is bullocks.”

He just smirked.

*******

 “How the hell is that supposed to help?!?!?!” I asked angrily, as Sirius suggested that we should try lifting someone up. “Everyone has to have their feet on it, so how is lifting someone up going to help?!”

“Well, you come up with something better then? Oh yeah, I forgot, you can’t because you’re so thick!!”

“I AM NOT THICK!”

“You haven’t been able to do a single spell in transfiguration this year! And my little test just prove it” I flushed with anger. How dare he pick out things that I had no control over? When he was a complete dick anyway! What the hell!

“At least...” I began but I was cut off.

“SHUT UP!” Alice screamed over us. “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU ARGUING!” she yelled stunning us all into a silence, Alice was always kind, sweet, caring and NEVER shouted. “Now, Frank has an idea,” she said gesturing towards him. I think she was trying to be nice to him because she was going on a date with his brother, but still the sentiment was there.

“Well, if the smallest person stands in the middle, and then everyone else puts their arms around each other, then everyone can step up at the same time...” Frank said.

“There’s still no way we’re all going to fit!” Sirius said dismissively, trust him to be judging and discard all people he considers to be below him. How bloody typical that he should think he can walk over whoever the hell he likes? Well I'll show him who's boss!

“Well how do you know if you don’t try it?” I snapped heatedly. Sirius seemed to be angered by the fact that I had got angry with him so quickly, so his reply contained just as just much venom as mine had.

“Because it won’t work!” Sirius said back angrily.

“WELL HOW DO YOU KNOW? YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING!” I screamed knowing I was right and he was wrong. Maybe he should accept that sometimes.

“WELL AT LEAST I KNOW SOMETHING!” He yelled and I was just about to scream something obscene back at him when we were interupted by the devil in Proffesor form.

“Right, that is ENOUGH!” Professor Quigley yelled coming over and looking at me and Sirius angrily. “This has been going on far too long! Mr Black, and Miss McDonald, you have been disruptive and not useful in the slightest! I AM SO DISSAPOINTED IN YOU!" She said using that parental voice which actually mde you feel ashamed of yourself. "So I am pulling you out and setting you extra homework.” She said and we both groaned, crossing our hands over our chests. We were over-reacting however, homework wasn’t so bad and she would have most likely forgotten about it so it wasn’t that big of a deal.

“For your homework, you have to go to Hogsmeade together,” She said and my heart sunk suddenly. 

Have to go to Hogsmeade together?

Me go to hogsmeade with Sirius Black? 

Mary McDonald and Sirius Black spending TIME with each other?

Me, go to Hogsmede, what I had been looking forward to for ages, together. WAS SHE FUCKING SERIOUS?

“HELL NO!” We both yelled at the same time. For once we appeared to be in agreement that this was not a good thing. Far from it. This was terrible. Torturous!
We both looked at each other with dread etched on our faces. I wanted to be out of this place and at least spend some time together; she was basically FORCING me to go on a date with Sirius Black. Of course, it wasn’t really a date, but everyone would THINK it was. I groaned as I imagined Rachel’s over the top hysterical reaction and the time I could have spent having a good time slipping away from me tomorrow.

“Yes,” She said simply. “You two WILL get along, I picked these pairs where the relationships were weakest so I could try and make your house as strong as possible, and you are letting your house down! So you will spend Saturday together and next Monday, in detention, I will have to set you a test on each other, and if you fail it, then you will repeat it,”

“But I can’t Miss, Professor McGonagall said I had to have my hair changed to a more appropriate colour, and then I offered to babysit for my half-sister!” I protested grabbing hold of any argument that could get me out of that.

“Baby Ria?” She questioned and I nodded, trust Nate to tell her all about me when I hated the woman a ridiculous amount. “I thought you hated her.” She commented and I grimaced, why don’t I just write my life story down and let everyone in the world read it? Not a bad idea of telling them acutally! I'll write it down...

“Well, yeah, I was trying to be nice, so I said I’d babysit...” I said scrunching up my face. “Regretted it straight afterwards, but dad was delighted, going on about how I’d finally gotten my attitude sorted out, bloody idiot...”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,” She said wryly. “So take Sirius with you.” She suggested in a voice that left no room with manoeuvre.  Basically it was, take Sirius with you, or you’ll regret it.

“He’ll be a bad influence on Ria,” I pointed out instantly without even turning to look at the horrified expression that was sure to occupy Sirius’s face.

“I’m good with babies,” Sirius piped up and I turned around and glared at him with a look that clearly said you’re-a-bloody-idiot-and-we-could-have-got-out-of-that.

“Perfect!” She said happily. Sadistic bitch.

She has a fucking weird concept of the word perfect.

*******

"You read that letter yet?" Alice asked me over dinner, her faces were still flushed pink and she looked absoultely delighted over the prostpect of her date and was thus much more talkative and cheerful. 

"Oh... no," I said reaching down and feeling it in my pocket. "I'll probably read it in a minute," I said tucking into my first proper meal of the day.

"It's been such a long day," Lily complained wearily.

"Agreed, I feel like my shoulder's about to fall off." I commented, rubbing the place where my bag had rested on my shoulder all day.

"Over dramatic much?" Charlotte asked dryly. Rachel was last seen having an argument with a pissed off looking Sirius but the other Marauders were all present and correct sitting on the otherside of us, and having a potatoe eating contest.

"Seriously, try holding that!" I said and she shook her head and gave me a whithering look. Lily saw this, and due to our new found understanding she picked up the handle of my bag and dropped it again in shock. 

"What have you got in there?!?"

"Only my school books!" I claimed and Lily appeared to have a realisation.

"I knew they were up to something!" She said and I could quite easily guess who they were. "I saw them, looking really shifty at the begining of lunch, you were already at lunch. Then I checked all my stuff and I couldn't find anything missing or new so I assumed they just always looked like that..."

"I left my bag in the room!" I said groaning as I began to pull out all my books. "No wonder I've been having trouble!" I complained as I pulled out a big rock from the bottom of my bag. And another. And another. 

"Oi! Potter!" I said chucking a few peas from my plate at him to gain his attention. "Who's the master mind for this?" I asked holding up the rocks. "You know what, stupid question? Where is the son of a bitch?" I asked and James smirked. 

"Woah Mary, is your shoulder bleeding?" Remus asked and I pulled my jumper back to find that, yes, my shoulder was bleeding and I had ugly blue bruisers were my bag had indented my skin. 

"Well isn't that just great, your stupid prank means I have to go to the hospital wing again! I swear when I find Sirius Black I'll curse something that he probably doesn't want cursing or jinx his arroangance off - if that's even possible - or something so just, piss off.

*******
 
The search for Sirius was not easy because Hogwarts isn't exactly a bungalow - there's a lot of space to be in, and therfore lots of space to me to search. Plus, I'm pretty sure he moves. I gave up after a few minutes (yeah, I'm determined) and decided I could pull his parts off tommrow and instead turned my attention to the letter in my pocket. 

I hadn't looked at carefully this morning so I hadn't notice that it was actually written by my dad rather than Karen which usually meant bad news. When I read it however, I was utterly shocked. 

Mary, 
As we are comming tommorow to give you Ria (all of us our comming after a change in plans) we thought you should be caught up to date with what's been going on at home. Becky has done something more stupid than normal and was pregnant. I say was because she only told us about this after she came back from the abortion clinic, and no, she didn't tell her boyfriend. Johnny has grown as has Ria and we all miss you. 

Dad.

The Drama just kept on comming. Becky, pregnant? Now that was a scary thought. The child would most likely be even more screwed up than she would be. I didn't know what to make of that so I just pushed it back into the depths of my pocket and leant back on the wall. 

It was to my great surprise when the broom cupboard door next to me burst open and out walked... Sirius Black and Rachel Moss.

Their appearences were somewhat scruffy (big hair, and undone buttons) and they were still eating each others faces off which was only mildly disgusting. 

"Wow, you really have no shame." I commented after recovering from the shock of two wild animals just appearing from no where pratically having sex infront of me. 

They broke apart.

I raised an eyebrow at their scurffy appearences and waited for Rachel to explode at me (about going to hogsmeade with her boyfriend... you could understand it I guess).
Sirius looked uncomfortable but Rachel just looked livid.

"DON'T STEAL MY BOYFRIEND!" She screamed and I stepped backwards.

This could be a long conversation...

*******

“You’re going out with my boyfriend.” Rachel said sharply when I came into the dorm after my incredibly boring detention (A result of pranking Professor Quigley yesterday). Although we'd covered this topic already early which had been much too hysterical for my liking, but she had eventually accepted that I hadn' t meant for it to happen. I'd helped my cause by then yelling at Sirius till my voice went croaky about the state of shouldres. 

He'd asked why I hadn't just gone to see my 'nurse boyfriend' and got it fixed. Rachel had laughed at that like it was hillarious, then I had given up and just gone to get it fixed.

“Which is not my choice and I don’t want anything to do with them and I’d rather pull out all my eyelashes than ‘go out with your boyfriend’ so believe me Rachel there is nothing to worry about!” I snapped walking over and dumping my bag down on the floor. It had been considerably later since I had taken the whole of stone henge from the bottom of it (slight exaggeration there). "It's hogsmeade tommorow," I commented although it wasn't needed - they were all in night-before-hogsmeade mode anyway. "So, what shampoo should I buy tommorow?"

“If you touch my boyfriend then I swear to Merlin...” Rachel said attempting to sound menacing but failing miserably.

“Does this look okay?” Alice asked bursting out of the bathroom in some jeans and a top.

“No, no, more flesh.” Charlotte said looking over at her.

“More cleavage,” from Rachel.

“Less tightness,” Lily said as she sat on her bed painting her nails.

“More colour?” I suggested and I was sent three withering looks. Apparantly my style isn't to their tastes...

“Arghh! I don’t know what to wear!” Alice claimed sinking down on to her bed. “He’ll hate me!”

“No he won’t,”

“How could he hate someone like you,”

“He’ll see past your looks!”

“Your lovely Alice, don’t worry,” We all answered in unison: it amused me that girls all acted this way as soon as one of them mentioned a self esteem issue we all rushed to the point to reassure them they were just fine (well, Charlotte only did because it was Rachel, she wouldn't bother if it was me.)

“What are you wearing tomorrow, when you meet my boyfriend?” Rachel asked through gritted teeth as they all began rummaging round for clothes for Alice.

“Erm... I don’t know?”

“No skirts, no shorts...”

“Shut up.” I said simply over the top of her.

“You know that Transfiguration essay –?” Lily began.

“I think you should shorten that a little-”Charlotte said waving her wand around Alice’s clothes.

“He’s going to hate me –!”Alice moaned.

“I swear that I will pull your –!” Rachel threatened.

“What colour do you think I should dye my hair?” I asked over them all and we continued in that manner for some time, but while the silly mundane conversations circled round not making much sense all I could think about were Sirius’s words from that memory.

“Well... My school was different; it was designed for snobby girly swats,”

“You and Mary sound like the perfect match then!”

I surge of anger pulsed through me as I looked around and realised I could identify each of their laughing faces in that memory. All laughing at stupid, studious, quite Mary McDonald.

No one’s laughing now.

 


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