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The Art of Breathing. by AC_rules
Chapter 13 : Quizzical.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 68


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I’d snuck into Mummy’s old study again. Nobody came in here anymore. Mummy was gone and the room was left untouched so I snuck in and sat under the magic desk where none of them could find me. I didn’t want them near me. I hugged my knees in tight and pulled out a packet of sweets from the magic draw and stuck one, with my thumb, into my mouth. I was crying. I wanted Mummy.

She had a special softness which would wrap me up in silk and flowing materials which was slippery against my skin as he smelt her perfume and her warm which wasn’t half as nice of Daddy’s but still lovely.

I wanted her.

My little eyes widened as the door swung open and Dad collapsed into Mummy’s seat in sobs. Weight was put on the desk and I imagined he had his elbows placed on the wooden surface as he cried. He wasn’t sobbing loudly, but crying silently, the only difference was that his breathing was quicker and I wouldn’t have noticed at all under the magic desk if I wasn’t so use to that breathing – quick and painful – from all those nights I crawled into Mummy’s place in her bed and tried to smell that sent. It was fading with every day.

Dad hadn’t cried so hard in the past few months and it scared me. His tears were bubbling over and I could tell there was something more wrong than the few tears he shed last night – this time they were flooding down in waterfalls which I could tell, even without looking at him because I associated that sound with the first week. The first week had been the worst. The second had killed me. The third Johnny started asking for mummy. The forth Becky had lost more weight and stopped going to the special hospital. Then it had gone uphill from there.

Until now.

I wanted very much to climb out for under Mummy’s desk and wrap my arms around Daddy’s neck, but it was harder to do with every passing week and out friendship was drifting away. Plus this was my secret spot and I didn’t want anyone there. I didn’t want anyone to find me, not that any of them had tried to look for me in the hours I spent hidden under the wood, but I felt safe here. No deaths were going to creep up on me under the desk – they couldn’t! Here Mummy’s scent was the strongest and here it was silent so I could remember her in peace and cry without breaking Daddy’s heart even more.

Then the door opened again and someone else came in. I didn’t recognise their footsteps or their breathing because the second person wasn’t crying.

“What’s wrong?” the voice asked and it was old and weary. Grandpa. I didn’t like Grandpa much he was old and crinkly and insisted on giving me old smelling hugs and calling me a ‘poor poor baby’. I’m not poor: I have lots of money - Mummy left me some. I told Grandpa this at the funeral and he smiled wryly and gave me another crinkly hug. 

Mummy’s gone – that’s what wrong Grandpa.

“Becky,” Dad chocked out and my eyes widened and my ears pricked up as I tried to listen for this new information. “She’s not been good, since...” He trailed off.

“Since Sandra passed away.” Grandpa put in.

Dad’s tears picked up pace. Silly Grandpa!

“She’s in the hospital.” Dad said and for a second of stupid hope I thought he meant Mummy. I thought Mummy was well and any second she’d get back from the hospital and she’d stick her head down and yell at me for being in her special room – I wouldn’t care. She could yell all she liked and I’d sneak into her room every night and make her wrap her arms tight around me while she slept. The boys at school would call me a baby, and so would Mummy and Becky, but I wouldn’t care because I’d be lulled to sleep by her delicious smell every day.  Then she’d smile at me and take me up in her arms and tell me I’m the richest girl alive and no one could tell me any different.

“Becky,” Dad continued, and my thoughts stopped in their tracks. Becky. Becky!

“She’s going to be okay,” Grandpa told him.

“She tried to kill herself Dad!” Dad told him and I froze under the desk.

Becky.

I woke up with my eyelids sandwiched together with a mixture of make-up, skin and tears which meant I had to wrench them open on Sunday morning. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling and I almost felt ashamed of all the tears I had shed last night in loud shaking sobs which were sure to keep everyone in the dorm awake and annoyed.  Only I had vaguely recognised that I was not the only one crying and I could have sworn there were three other sets of tears, muffled by their curtains, filling the dormitory. Rachel, Alice and Lily were the solutions I came up with as I pulled the warmth of my covers closer around me.

My pillow was covered in mascara. Black smudges showed up how I had spent a considerable amount of last night in sobs: pathetic. I pulled my covers around my closer as I realised it was Sunday and I didn’t have to get up at all.

For once the memory had started way before I fell asleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about yesterday. Karen telling Becky’s boyfriend about the abortion. Becky crying and crying over her newfound singledom. Dad yelling at Karen about just how much we’d suffered before. Johnny begging me to make it stop. The other standing still as statues behind me. It was like a nightmare.

The tears were returning now as I tried to forget the second time. The second time she had tried to do herself in – when I had been the first to see – when I was the one to call 999 because my sister had taken too many pills, which I had counted, when I got back from school. Dad was working late. Johnny was at a friend’s house. She’d got better since then, she’d been good, happy even.  University suited her amazingly well – as did the boyfriend (Pete? Or was it Daniel?) but she seemed to have lapsed back into the Becky I knew from years ago and I positively hated it. As much as I complained about her, Becky was apart of my life that I couldn’t change, she was my sister.

I dragged myself out of my covers – I wasn’t going to waste my time tucked up in bed when I should be living. I should be living for mum not wasting my life away with complaining.

Plus I was too angry to be sad anymore. I was angry that I was stuck with this crappy lot when everyone else in the world got better than I did. I could bet there wasn’t another person in this school who was half-orphaned, had a suicidal sister, an evil step-mum, has x amount of time left to live (I’m still betting it’s a year and a half, so I just won’t be able to finish Hogwarts) and who seems to be the subject to a million negative rumours and unwanted attention.

I needed a shower, I decided standing up and wiping the few tears that were still present on my cheeks away and walking towards the bathroom. I hated crying all night; it always meant your eyes felt so strange the next day. There was a rim of pain around them which reminded you you’d cried yourself to sleep and I didn’t need to think about that all day, really. It made your eyes puffy and achy for the rest of the day and if you recognised the signs you could tell.

All the others were still in bed and now my thoughts were clearer I could be almost certain that I was not the only one to be crying last night. Still, that wasn’t particularly important at the moment I had bigger things to worry about.

Surely Becky wouldn’t try a third time? She’d been in the mental hospital for a while, and she’d even gone down to green light! (Red light meant gaining a bed in the ward at a weeks notice, orange meant two to three weeks, and green meant waiting an infinite amount of time – it was the way they prioritised it so no lives were lost, if they got it right at least...). The point being – she was well! She was fine! She’d lost a bit of weight surely, but her weight tended to fluctuate and sure she thought she was fat, but when hadn’t she?

No. I decided as I climbed into the shower. She wouldn’t do that again. It had been because she lost mum, hard for anyone to deal with, let alone someone like Becky! She’d get over it this time. She had Dad, she had Karen, She had Johnny and Ria. And she had me.

But what would happen when she didn’t have me?

No. I told myself, shaking my head as the water flowed down. Becky was just fine; it was just a bad week. She was fine.

Problem number 2 – the others all witnessed that. It made me a selfish cow that I was worrying over that when Becky, my sister (sort of), had much bigger problems but it still made me so uncomfortable to know that they knew a little more about me than I’d ever planned on them doing. If I kept myself to myself, no one could judge me and tell me I was wrong, because I knew I was.

I needed to talk to Nate. That’s what I needed to do. I hadn’t spoken a word to him yesterday which made me edgy. After the... encounter with my family we’d gone to dinner and acted like nothing was wrong. Lily complimented my hair. We joked about the weather and then when I’d seen Nate coming towards me, presumably to talk, I had bolted and ran up to the common room to avoid talking about it (rumour fuel?). Now I needed to talk about it, and Nate was the person to see.

I forced a smile onto my face and got out the shower. Ten minutes later, I was ready.

The others were still asleep as I walked out the door and down the stairs working myself up to seeing Nate and begin talking to him : even talking to Nate was difficult about some things, and even he didn’t know me that well, just better than everyone else. So I wasn’t really concentrating on the common room, not that I expected anyone to be down there at seven in the morning, when I realised that there was.

                                                                                                                                       

Two people in fact.

Occupying themselves on the sofa.

Hands and arms, legs and feet, hair, skin and lips everywhere as my eyes widened in horror. The worst thing however was the sounds – a symphony of groans and moans that I just didn’t want to hear!

“I didn’t pay for free porn!” I exclaimed shielding my eyes. The girl squealed and sat upwards, grabbing her clothes (I assumed) as I kept my eyes welded shut. It was like seven in the morning on a Sunday? I was actually quite disgusted.  Sure I wasn’t exactly a religious believer but still I’d never do it in a common room (emphasis on common) at an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning! It’s just not right!

“Next time, use a broom cupboard!” I exclaimed looking away and walking towards the portrait hole just wanting to get away from this weird and embarrassing scene. I was at the door when I realised I recognised who at least one of the people were.

“SIRIUS!” I exclaimed whirling around.

“Oh fuck.” Was his reply which of course made me madder: I remembered him yelling yesterday, making me feel sorry for him. Making me give him sympathy. Messing with my emotions and then... then he turned on the charm! That moment we had gotten along! The prick! He was just messing with my mind!

Sure I hadn’t slept with him, and I sure wasn’t going to! But that didn’t mean he hadn’t betrayed me. Yesterday we’d acted like friends, we had been civil! It was all purely because I thought I had actually got under his skin and found something worth salvaging.

Of course it had been lies! This was Sirius–bloody–Back! The womanising arrogant git. For a day – nearly 24 hours of life I had thought there may be more to his exterior but now it was as clear as crystal. To him this was all a game. Messing with my mind so I was his friend, then he could screw me over like everyone else in the world. He had said he used to love me!

Love me!

HA!

He didn’t know who I was! He never spoke to me! The only time we really came into contact was that damn party! Sure that old Mary was quiet, she was nicer than me I expected, but he didn’t know her. When I was her, I still had that other me, this me, talking at me like a small voice telling me to do something wild. Live a little.

Now the voices had swapped round. Now the main voice was the wild, crazy, scary one where as the other voice in the back of head was the nice one.

The bastard.

I didn’t say anything – much to his surprise – and instead gave him the dirtiest look I could possible managed and slammed the portrait door behind me.

To anyone walking by I may have looked like a normal Gryffindor girl walking down the corridor but inside my whole spectrum had shifted to a crimson red and I was doing all I could to stop myself shaking.

Why me?

Why was I the one who had to die?

Why was it me who had all these problems?

Why did everyone think it was okay to screw me over?

No one answered.

Shocker.

*

Ten minutes later I burst into the hospital wing fuming with rage to find that, for once, there was no one else there. Except Miss Evil-Bitch-Quigley who was currently lip-locked with Nate.

Fucking brilliant.

The door slammed behind me as I walked directly to my file on the other side of the room ignoring them completely. The anger was building in my heart and burning as if any second it would control me completely and I didn’t like. My skin seemed to be crawling with badly suppressed anger and I was sure I had never been so angry in my entire life.  I wanted to punch Nate – to break his face with my fist and feel his pain as he cried out, because at least then I wasn’t feeling the pain. All sense of reason was rapidly vacating my frustrated brain and I could only pick out one sensible thought from the sea of angry ones.

I wanted answers.

“Hi Mary,” Nate said awkwardly, he could see my eyes were blazing with anger and questions but I only let my bitterness out in uncaring sarcasm before I blurted my real feelings out to everyone. Letting out more of my feelings was not what anyone needed.

“Surely that’s illegal,” I commented dryly riffling through the many sheets of paper in my file. “Snogging at work,”  I explained further trying to ignore my shaking fingers as I shuffled through the sheets of paper which I treated as if each was the point of a sharp knife.

“There’s no one else here-”

“Correction, there was no one else here.” I interrupted not bothering to look around. I wasn’t just the customary pissed – I was full on angry. The main question was why? But others were also whirling around in a mist of confusion into my brain, like how? And that was one I could answer.

Things that I couldn’t answer also pissed me off. It limited my freedom, and really if I didn’t have any freedom, I might as well be dead.

“You’re not allowed to look through other people’s files,” Nate said softly and I could feel his presence draw closer.

“I’m looking through my own!” I said whirling back round angrily. I seemed to be spitting the words out instead of just snapping them, which he was accustomed too; he didn’t really seem to be able to cope with crazy mad Mary though, as displayed with his next comment...

“You could have just asked,” Now that is like telling an angry person to calm down – it merely makes them more likely to hit you or yell that ever comical line – I’M CALM.

“You looked preoccupied to me,” I retorted simply still trying to find a certain sheet of paper and getting angrier and angrier when it didn’t appear.

“Mary! Calm down!” Nate said right on cue.

“I’M FUCKING CALM!” I screamed despite of myself. “I’M CALM AND BLOODY COLLECTED!” I continued trying to make the scene a little less cliché. “In fact! I’m as a calm as a corpse!” I spat out and beside Nate Quiggles winced. Nate was used to me using the death thing to my advantage when in a bad mood – yeah I know, I’m a bitch.  “Well, a corpse who quite fancied living for A FEW EXTRA DECADES!”

“What do you want?” He asked tiredly, knowing me well enough to know I wasn’t exactly in a cooperative mood. Well, most people could see that at as a glance as I was sure my eyes were glowing red with rage and I was spitting words out harshly. I wanted to keep all these things I was feeling in verbally at least. I had enough people knowing my bloody life story.

What do you want?

He shouldn’t have asked that question. What did I want?

“I want to not have to die!” I spat not bothering to identify the emotions in his eyes. “I want to have a nice normal family! I want to have friends who give a shit! I want not to have to worry all the damn time! I want to fit in! I want to be healthy! I want my mother to not be dead! I want to be able to magic! I want a break! I want everyone to stop talking about me! I want a flying motorbike! AND I WANT PEOPLE TO STOP SCREWING ME OVER!” I screamed and Nate’s eyes widened – he obviously hadn’t realised I was in such a bad way, probably because snogging Quiggels gives you brain damage or something stupid. “But I came here because I want to know when I’m going to FUCKING DIE!” I screamed, losing all control of my emotions. Again.  “I want to know something because you’re not doing a fat load of good! I’M SHIT SCARED! AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT I’M EFFING AFRAID OF AND I-”

“MARY!” Nate yelled over my voice. “If I knew I’d tell you! I need another day or two before-”

“Can you just fucking tell me something? Because all I know is its killing me and the name, and I can’t even fucking pronounce that!” I yelled, but not as loudly as the last time.

“Just chill out yeah?”

“DON’T TELL ME TO FUC-”

“MARY ANNA SUE MCDONALD!” Miss Quigley yelled. “I AM ORDERING YOU TO SHUT UP!”

I did so.

 That woman can yell.

“Thank you Kate,” Nate said smiling at her. “Right,” He said pulling out a wad of papers from my file. “Right... Basic Ephaiyadaphia. It’s caused by a Mutation in the gametes at the very beginning of the Ephaiyadaic’s life. It’s hereditary and closely linked to magic-”

“Now I’m beginning to remember I never bothered to listen to this.” I sighed bitterly, sitting down on one of the spare beds. The dull talks of science and crap were bound to calm me down somewhat by boring me out of my senses but I shoved my hands in my pockets and squeezed my robes until my hands hurt just in case. I was sure if I looked my pale white skin would be stretched over the bones in a skeletal way which was so similar to Becky’s that another flash of rage pulsed through my brain like a shock wave.  I  blinked and tried to tune back into the dull answers to the questions I’d so desperately wanted the answers to – they weren’t the answers I wanted though.

“- It’s very rare if not in the history of your family, however once in the genes you only have about a 5% chance of not getting it. In that respect, your brother is very lucky.” He continued, ignoring me completely.

“Yeah, but he can’t do magic,”

“Yes, which is why he hasn’t got it, and we think it’s because your mother had so little magical power when he was conceived that he didn’t inherit magical ability, or ephaiyadaphia. Anyway, I know you couldn’t care less about science...  There’s been a group at St Mungo’s working on a cure for about six years now and-”

“Cure?!?” I asked eagerly sitting straight up excitedly. All other angry thoughts crumbling away in insignificance for the hope. My heart was pounding in my chest as I dared to believe that the life I’d dreamed of could come true! That I could be saved from this thing that was killing me.

He shook his head sadly. “I have contact with them, and every time a breakthrough happens they owl me. Before this year I thought you might have a chance, I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to get your hopes up. The cure won’t be ready for another three years, and then it will be too late.” His eyes were full of pain this time and I could tell he’d genuinely believed that I could be saved.

I looked away feeling angry again. Why couldn’t I have been born a few years later? Why couldn’t the cure have worked faster? Why do I have the worst look in the history of the universe!? “As for symptoms...” Nate continued and my head turned to him in surprise.

“I thought there wasn’t any?”

“There are no early symptoms.” He corrected me pulling out a sheet. “Late symptoms are plentiful,”

“Why don’t I like the sound of this,” I said tiredly lying back on the bed and closing my eyes as he talked. The anger ebbed away nearly as soon as it had come and I was relieved that it had gone in a way. Then the other half of me wanted to cling on to it because it was a strong emotion at least. It made me feel alive and see everything in a warped clarity that, even so, was better than a fuzzy haze of confusion that that contentment seemed to bring.

“Depletion of magical skills, weakening of the body, loss of energy, sleeping for long periods of time, higher susceptibility to well... pretty much everything; colds, flu’s, mood swings, bugs, fever, viruses...” I groaned. “Also, premature menopause.”

“Are you freaking kidding?!?!?” I asked and he shook his head in reply.

“Increased fertility,”

“I doubt that will be a problem.” I said dryly – I couldn’t imagine me ever getting pregnant! Ha! Who would I get pregnant with for a start?

“Joints will be stiff and click a lot, heavy/painful periods, baldness,”

“You’re kidding about the baldness right? Please say you are!” I begged.

“Yeah, I was.” He said and I half-smiled at his feeble attempt to lighten the mood.

“Thank god, I think I’ve heard enough for one day.” I told him and he put my file back. “That’s shit. This whole illness is shit!” I exclaimed hugging in my arms. “I don’t want to become an old biddy over night!”

“Life gives you lemons -” Quiggles began.

“Squeeze them in Sirius Black’s face.” I finished.

“I’m pretty sure the original saying was make lemonade.” Nate commented but there was still sympathy behind his tones.

“Same difference.” I mumbled feeling worse by the minute and curling up into a ball.

“Yesterday,” Nate said sitting down on the edge of the bed I had curled up on.

“Yesterday.” I mumbled in agreement but suddenly my desire to talk and I was just tired.

“Are you okay? He asked and I shrugged into the covers knowing the answer was no. “The Abortion?”

“Bloody Karen.” I muttered angrily.

“Now come on, it wasn’t her fault...” Nate said playing with a strand of my hair as I pressed my face against the pillows.

I mumbled something incoherent in response and I didn’t hear his next question because I drifted off into sleep.

*

My body was heavy. Very heavy. Too heavy to pick out the images that danced before my eyes in the normal fashion. Instead I saw flashes of memories and words mixing together in confusion. I couldn’t move. It was as if someone had placed me into a vat of thick stick treacle and it was very hard to move – I didn’t much want to anyway.

I was free of the red shades that had tinted my vision when I had been awake and this world caused me considerably less pain. Reality was overrated anyways! This was better – like having dreamless sleep potion, but with fuzzy dreams.

Then my nice simple world was cut out by a soft voice hovering in the air. I couldn’t work out exactly what the entire sentence was. I just caught the words ‘letter’ ‘sister’ and ‘school’. They didn’t make much sense so I instead concentrated my efforts on staying in my world.

The world of Mary McDonald. Mmmmm....

Laughter – more a slight chuckle – caught my attention and I found my body protesting against the sleep as I forced my mind to stay in slumber. The laughter continued and I could hear the vibrations in the air because of it.

“A Non-uniform day? That’s crazy!” The voice said. The voice brought goose pimples out across my body and at all seemed to become alert and more awake.

No, let me sleep!

“It’s not crazy!” A female voice protested. “Wouldn’t you like to wear whatever you want some days?”

“It’s just a daft idea!” The voice said and I recognised the tone.

“I think a Non-uniform day is an excellent idea,” A third voice said and even in my nearly unconscious state I recognised that voice as Dumbledore’s. What was he doing here?

“I think a Muggle day, or a muggle week would be better,” My voice said although it was far away and took a lot of effort. I didn’t even remember thinking the words, and they made me feel exhausted.

“Mary!” The voice exclaimed brining the world back into clarity.

I opened my eyes.

“Sirius?” I asked confused looking at him in confusion. He couldn’t be the owner of the voice! It was impossible.

“You’re awake!” Nate’s voice said walking over. “No need to Panic, you’ve just been asleep for two whole days.”

“Oh, okay...” I said unsurely. This whole thing was confusing me, but most of all was the power of Sirius’s voice had on me when I was unconscious. Crazy.

Then all the things that I remember before falling into a deep sleep came creeping back and memories came into focus as I realised it was anger at Sirius that had brought me back.

Sirius. The lying bastard.

“So what was that you said yesterday – what about your heart? Huh Sirius? That you just wanted something real!?!” I said sugary sweet. Sirius’s gaze now looked nervous as he cast it downwards.

“Am I missing something?” Peter asked and I now notice he was here too, along with all the Marauders and Alice Longbottom.

“No, that’s Sirius. And that something just happens to be that heart he said he had. Ha!”

Sirius didn’t say anything but brought his gaze back up to mine.

“Haven’t got anything to say? Run out of lines? Disappointing. This game of yours isn’t much if you can’t spin any more lines. I’m waiting.”

The tension was evident in the room as Sirius seemed to be building up to speak.

“Mary I -”

“Because to be quite frank!” I exclaimed interrupting. “I highly doubt you’d find anything real up her top. Just a lump of well worn plastic!”

I could feel Lily fighting the urge to laugh, and I could see why. I was quite proud of that line.

“And what do you care?” Sirius asked standing up and crossing his arms. “You hate me, remember.” He said smirking.

“Naturally, I’m just disappointed that I didn’t see through those pathetic little lies you were spinning yesterday.”

“Actually, it was three days ago.” Peter said, everyone turned to look at him incredulously and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the kid. Not much though.

“Which brings me to my next point: why have I been asleep for two days?” I regretted asking as soon as I saw the nervous expression on Nate’s face. It was obvious. My condition...

“Because you haven’t been eating enough!” Nate exclaimed as everyone turned to look at him expectantly. It was a crap excuse and sure to cause me more bother, but the poor bloke had tried. “And stress, and exhaustion!” he put in; trying to recover the fact he had basically just told everyone present that I’m anorexic.

Which I’m really not.

Whatever.

“Can you guys piss off; I need to talk to Nate, and Dumbledore I guess?” I said questioningly and he nodded that annoying twinkling smile on his face. “That mean’s go.” I told them all and they stood up and left me with low muttered protests.

“So... Let me guess. I’m getting even worse!” I said to Nate and he nodded grimly. “Lucky me!” I exclaimed my voice dripping with dry sarcasm. “But how come I slept for so long.”

“Extremely strong burst of emotion.” Nate said pulling out a sheet of paper and giving it to me.

...Any extreme burst of emotion can cause long bursts of fatigue and lead to lingering periods of deep sleep... the stronger the emotion, the stronger the desire to sleep...

“So you were really angry huh?” Nate asked and I shrugged looking away from his penetrating gaze. Instead I was met by Dumbledore’s searching gaze.

“Miss McDonald, I am afraid to say I think I have failed you.” Dumbledore said unexpectedly sitting down. “As in, I have not offered you the support you most definitely need – I know you will say you are fine but I believe there is more I could have done to make your time at Hogwarts much more enjoyable for you.” His blue eyes were serious and not sparkling, but more showing a sort of shame.

“What do you -”

“This incident of raw emotion that you’ve experienced put you to sleep for two whole days and I believe it could have been prevented. I have talked to Mr Peacock here and he has told me much about your past which I didn’t know before...” I shot a betrayed looked to Nate who looked at the floor “.... and I think I should have given you more support during your time here. Therefore I propose instead of continuing with one of your lessons, which seems pointless anyway with your deteriorating ability, you instead talk to a councillor to help you through this time.”

“No.” I said flatly standing up. “Not a chance in hell.”

“Miss McDonald, I do insist that this would be so good for your-”

“No! I’m fine!” Dumbledore looked at me carefully and sighed.

“You will not be swayed – you are very stubborn.”

“And you’re very annoying and nosy, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.” I said back to him, he chuckled.

“Okay Mary,” He said pulling something from a pocket in his cloak (magical pockets obviously). “Instead I ask you will accept this,” He said presenting me with a sink. I briefly wondered whether he’d known I would reject the councillor idea – it seemed he would know.

“Good party trick.” I said looking at the basin warily. “I mean, someone goes ‘what have you got in them pockets? Everything but the kitchen sinks?’ then you pull out this.” Dumbledore smiled again.

“Its not a Kitchen sink actually,”

“Good, because it would be pretty useless if it was.”

“It’s a pensive.” He said his eyes twinkling again.

“Oh! Obviously! How stupid of me!” I commented sarcastically. I didn’t have a clue what a pensive was! Dumbledore looked amused.

“Let me show you,” Dumbledore said reaching his wand up to his head and pulling out a shinning, glittering, beautiful substance from the skin and putting it into the sink. “Thoughts,” He explained further but I was still confused. “Mr Peacock said you’d been having memories in your dreams? Well this may help. I’ll leave you to work it out.” He said placing it down at he side of my bed.

I eyed the basin warily.

It still looked like a sink to me.

*

“Mary, you’re awake!” Quiggles said loudly as I walked into her classroom.

“No. I’m sleepwalking.” I retorted going to sit in my normal spot (next to Sirius).

“No your not!” Peter protested from his seat – his face scrunched up in confusion. It didn’t suit him at al.

“Wow, your brain cell sure is working overtime today!” I said clapping.

“Miss McDonald,” Quiggles said (I noted that she’d reverted back to being on second name terms). “You’re sitting here now. As I told you, due to your prank you are exempt from all practical work for the rest of the year.” Sirius shot me a smirk. “And because we have odd numbers, today Mr Black can sit out with you.” She said and I glowered at her.

Sirius scowled and moved to sit next to me, crossing his arms and shifting away on his seat.

“Found anything real yet Sirius?” I asked sardonically. “Because I’m sure not all the Ravenclaw’s have plastic boobs, maybe you should try there.”

“Shut it.” Sirius said glaring at me. “Your sister – she’s thin.” He said his voice softening slightly. “You’re not going to turn into her are you?” He asked and I remember Nate telling them all I didn’t eat, as a pathetic excuse to explain sleeping for two days straight. Damn him.

“No.” I said through gritted teeth.

“She’s too thin. You know that right? It’s not healthy? You don’t want to be like her do you?” He asked looking truly concerned with a touch of urgency hidden underneath.

“No more than I’d want to be you, or some form of slug.” I snapped back. “Now will you stop reminding me that my sisters anorexic! I remember enough as it is!”

“So she starves herself?” he asked his voice full of pity.

“That is none of your business.”

“Well, I thought you might want to talk?”

“If I did, the last person I’d go to would be you. I hate you if you don’t remember!”

“Oh yes. That’s right.” He said slamming his book on the table angrily.

“You may want to cool down those mood swings – I’m getting whiplash.”

“Funny.”

“That’s me.”

“Miss McDonald, Mr Black, now you’re both sitting together and conscious. Your tests, to see if you completed your assignment on Saturday – tonight at my office, seven.”

We both groaned.

*

Lunch was awkward. All the Marauders plus Alice were watching me wearily as I ate heartily. The others, who had all been convinced I didn’t eat just like Becky, were more than confused but I ignored them all. Sleeping for three days straight had been highly random and thrown me out of sorts for a bit. Anyway, I hadn’t eaten since Saturday and I’d barely eaten then due to the unfortunate experience with my family.

“This bacon is good,” I said cheerfully with everyone’s eyes on me. Of course even more rumours had started spreading round in my absence. Primarily because I had yelled how Sirius had ‘broken my heart’ in the middle of Hogsmeade – Nice one Mary.

I didn’t half do some dumb things sometimes.

Like trust Sirius Black.

“So guys, did you have fun when I was asleep?” I asked attempting to be cheerily. “Oh my gosh.” I said as my eyes caught to figures entering the great hall, all cheeriness evaporated. Rachel had dyed her hair a dark black almost purple shade. Her skin had suddenly become paler, I had a feeling it was something to do with magical foundation, and her lips had been tinted red. She looked like a vampire. “Is she..? Is that...? Was that....? Has she? She hasn’t? Because...? What the hell?” I asked as her eyes fixed on me and they began her way over (Charlotte walked with her, only Charlotte looked normal).

“Mary.” Rachel’s voice said her eyes fixed on me looking plain evil. Her voice was icy and cold and I fully expected her to hex me into next week (which wouldn’t be too hard – one decent spell) but instead she slapped me round the face. “Bitch.” Charlotte spat and they stood their waiting for me to defend myself.

“Why is your hair purple?” I asked resisting the urge to put my hand to where my face was stingy painfully. This seemed to be the wrong question to ask because Rachel let out a scream of fury and my eyes widened. “I was only asking! Take a chill pill!” 

“YOU STOLE MY BOYFRIEND!” She screamed at the top of her voice, glaring down at me. As if everyone hadn’t been watching me anyway. Great.

“I thought you were worried about Amanda not me. What was it – Amanda is pretty, clever, popular, rich, good, sporty and single?”

Lily blushed, ashamed she hadn’t stuck up for me then.

The Marauder’s faces registered a mix of shock and pity at my words – I guess they’d thought we were all besties up there. The thought made me laugh.

“Precisely. There’s nothing great about you!” Rachel said her face twisting into rage.

I stood up at this point, my face fixing on hers and extending my height to just above her. “Well, at least I have a few more brain cells than you. Do you not have a memory? You know, when you screamed at me for having to go with him to Hogsmeade for HOMEWORK.”

Rachel’s lipped quivered, then tears were spilling down her cheeks and she ran from the great hall.

“I’m not even going to ask.” I said dryly shooting Sirius a dark look and standing up. “I’m going.”

“You haven’t finished your dinner?”

Damn Nathaniel Peacock.

“Do I look as though I care? And I want to write a letter to Dad, he might be worried. Actually, scratch that last bit. He might have gotten rid of Karen though.”

That shut them all up.

*

“Right you two, first you answer the questions for the other person. Then you’re going to answer the questions for yourself so they can be marked. If I think you’ve failed, you’re going to spend every evening together until you do. No talking.” Professor Quigley said sitting at the front of the classroom and giving me a paper.

I was too angry to do it properly it seemed.

What Is Sirius Black’s favourite colour? why?

How the hell was I supposed to know? I knew he preferred Black to White, but his favourite colour? Not a clue. And Why? I didn’t know why Purple was my favourite colour, let alone why Sirius’s favourite colour was his favourite colour.

Pink, because he’s feminine.

I wrote down after great concentration for a few minutes. I wasn’t going to come up with anything more likely than that.

Who is Sirius Black’s favourite family member? Why?

Bit of a personal question don’t you think? Not a clue though.

Himself, because he thinks he’s so great. He thinks he’s smoking Hot and looks in the mirror for hours every day.

 I smirked as I re-read the words on the page. I might as well have fun with this!

What is Sirius Black’s favourite animal? Why?

Himself, because he has lots of cool animal like features. Like a snout, fur and horns.

What is Sirius Black’s favourite pastime? Why?

Looking in the mirror because he’s under the impression he’s actually attractive. HA!

It didn’t take long for me to finish the paper and not one had I known the answer too, still it had actually been quite amusing till the paper, once finished, flew to Professor’s Quigley’s desk and I realised I’d brought myself a one way ticket to detention for months. The second paper appeared in front of me and this one was identical only about me and I knew the only way we had a chance of passing this is if I could guess his responses to the questions about me, and him me. We were so screwed.

*

I went to bed as soon as I had completed the quiz because I was till tired, even after those days full of sleep. Still, I had rather hoped I would get a nice long refreshing slumber before I woke up slowly on that Wednesday morning.

I did sleep well, but the waking up slowly didn’t work quite so well.

“Rachel!” A voice said angrily. “Apparently I’m not a shower until you’ve had one!” Lily snapped and I realised she was in a bad mood for once. Plus we’d never had that girly chat! Sleeping for days was so inconvenient!

“I don’t care. I’m not getting up.” Rachel’s voice mumbled from under her sheets.

“I want a damn shower!”

“Piss off!” Rachel yelling pulling the sheets around her as I sat up. “It’s your new little friends fault!” I assumed she meant me here.

“No, it’s your own bloody fault.” I snapped standing up. “Now get up before I drag you out of bed!”

“No!” She protested gripping the sides of her bed.

“Fine, just lie in the same bed he fucked you and mope!” I exclaimed and Rachel shot up.

“ERRUGH!” She exclaimed and slammed the door of the bathroom behind her.

“They did it?” Alice asked mildly surprised. I nodded.

“And how the hell did you know?” Charlotte asked me angrily.

“Because I’m amazing like that. Girly chat tonight Lils?” She nodded glaring at the door.

“Yeah, we need to talk. How long is she going to take?” Lily asked angrily.

She get’s more like me everyday – poor girl.

**

“Yes but in P.E. you can just look at Quiggles.” James argued over the dinner table. The Marauders, who apparently sat with us now Rachel and Charlotte had gone weird, were having a debate about which lesson was the best. Lily wasn’t happy about the above comment, or sitting near James. To his Credit, James hadn’t actually asked her out yet, but he’d still ignored most of my advice.

“But you have to run,” Sirius countered.

“Quiggles!” James said raising his eyebrows. “She is one hot-”

“Black! McDonald!” Quigley’s voice rang out and James jumped, chucking his pumpkin juice down his white shirt which made it completely see through.

Not that anyone looked of course.

Sirius scowled at me, and James grinned as Lily’s eyes fixed on Quidditch defined chest.

Then I remembered Quigley was yelling at us for something or other... bummer.

“Your tests.” She said folding her arms over her chest. Oh... that. “You got 90%” She informed us and my eyes widened in shock. “But, I know full well that your answers weren’t real. “I refuse to believe that your favourite colour is pink, like you said, and that the reason behind was because you’re feminine,” She said to Sirius and I laughed, although I was the only one. “Or that your favourite animal is a pig, because you look like one,” She said to me and I smiled. “So tell me, did you cheat?” She asked her eyes blazing.

“No,” We both answered truthfully.

“Did you spend Saturday making up fake responses? Did you?”

“No Professor,”

“I don’t believe you,” She said looking at us sharply.

“Professor, it’s true,” James said, “We ran into them, and I had to talk to Marry about something so they couldn’t have made up all their answers, they were only alone for about an hour or two, they must have just made it up as to what they thought the other one would say, so it’s my fault really miss,” James said and I glanced over at Lily whose eyes widened in shock, James was willingly taking the blame for someone!?!?! (Good tip from me there....). Lily didn’t seem mad at him, and it helped that his shirt was sticking to his skin and showing off his semi –toned shoulders. I knew for a fact Sirius’s muscles were better – but I wasn’t complaining.

“Mr Potter, you were there when I told them they had to spend the day alone together, and why didn’t you protest?” She asked us.

“Because I was yelling about how Marry and Sirius fancied each other, and that I wouldn’t stop until she came and helped me, with...erm... potions,” James piped up and Mrs Quigley looked at him her eyes calculating.

“Okay, Potter, detention with me tomorrow, Black and McDonald, you will re-sit the test and spend every evening this week together,” She said a smile forming on her face, “and I will know if you don’t,”

I grimaced.

“Mary,” Nate said waking over to where I sat. “I need to talk to you. 6.30 Tonight.” He told me and I nodded, dread building in my stomach.

*

“Tomorrow,” I told Lily when she inquired about our girly chat. I wasn’t in the mood for it anymore. I was worried, pissed, confused and all together mixed up.

It’s not a good mix.

“Just one question?” She had asked the curiosity burning behind her green eyes. “It wont kill you,” She said looking at my concerned expression.

“One question and I’m allowed not to answer.”

“Sure,” Lily said waving that afar. “Don’t get scared here, well I was talking about you to Sirius and he was telling me about what you guys were talking about before I got there – don’t give me that look, we were worried about you! You were unconscious. Anyway then Sirius asked what happened in your worst breakup, I said it was James and he should know but he said it was someone different, from the holidays.”

“Oh right.” I said dryly. “No comment.”

“I haven’t asked the question yet!” Lily proclaimed. “Was he the trigger that made you dye your hair purple?” She asked looking at me careful from her bed. I was lying on mine in a similar fashion to Lily. I bit my lip as I prepared to answer.

“He was... part of it.” I said finally. “Amongst other things.”

“Such as?”

“How about you trying to live with my family for six weeks and see how anything looks appealing.”

“Oh. About that -”

“I’m late.” I cut across her and leaving the dorm as quick as I could.

I didn’t want to talk about it. All day they’d all made little hints that I could talk to them if I wanted to, but I didn’t much. I just wanted them all to but out. I didn’t like them all being so quizzical. I don’t want to give answers; I’d rather dish out the questions my self.

*

“Hi,” I said softly to Nate as I sat down and presented my arm to him so he could take a blood sample. Instead he sat down on a bed next door to me and surveyed me with a look of complete seriousness, concern and sadness. That looked scared me.

It was that look you got a funerals when you were related to the person in the coffin: that oh aren’t you a poor poor child look, the I understand how you’re feeling look. That look parents gave you before they told you that your sister was back in a mental hospital that: I know you don’t understand look, that I wish I didn’t have to tell you this look. That look teachers gave you when they knew just what was going on at home: that you’re coping so well look, that you can talk to me look.

I despised that look.

“The others are worried.” Nate said looking at me carefully. “They all came and asked me if you were okay several billion times since last Saturday.”

“Why did the ask you?” I asked folding my arms and expecting the bad news blows to come hitting me at any moment.

“Because they know we talk,” Nate said looking confused at my question.

“Yeah that’s what they think we do,” I muttered darkly under my breath.

“What was that?” Nate asked and my head snapped up. If Nate was clueless about those rumours I wasn’t about to go explaining them to him!

“Nothing.” I said hurriedly, too hurriedly. He eyed me with suspicion.

“But we do talk, why would they think anything different?”

I blushed red and shrugged.

“Mary!” Nate said warning me to tell him or else, he seemed to have pushed aside the reasons behind the look all too quickly which made me even more nervous about what he had to say. Did I want to here this news? Or endure the conversation in which I’d tell Nate that everyone thought we were shagging?

“It’s such a lovely day don’t you think. I’ve got to meet Sirius soon, maybe I should go now-“

“I know for a fact that you have at least half an hour before that. What do people think Mary?”

“They think that...” I trailed of blushing red and really not wanting to say. I could see he wasn’t going to let it rest though. “You know!” I said waving my arms about.

“No I don’t." 

“They think that we’re like... erughh, they think that we’re sort of... ermm... Basically everyone thinks that we’re more than friends. As in they think we’re shagging!” I exclaimed when he still didn’t seem to get it. Nate’s eyes widened immensely and he stood up very quickly.

“It is a lovely day.” Nate continued picking up my conversation. I glanced outside and saw that the sky was a grey white colour and there was no sun to be seen – lovely.

“So the other’s are worried about me?” I asked at exactly the same time as Nate’s attempt at a conversation.

“Yes. Because of what they saw on Saturday.”

“I’m fine.” I spat wondering if this was what the look was about. It seemed unlikely however. “So I told them to wait for you to bring it up yourself as you don’t like being interrogated much.”

“Fascinating.”

“You know how worried they were though Maz, please talk to them about it tomorrow. Or at least Sirius, he won’t leave me alone.”

“Tosser.”

“Seriously Mary! He does actually care, you know.”

“Because it was his fault that a slept through several days!”

“Well, he didn’t ask for you to get that mad did he?” Nate asked knowingly.

“What are you putting off saying?” I asked and Nate paled and a new look of dread slid onto his face.

He bit his lip. Shifted his hands around and stood up to walk over to the rack where the folders were stored.

“Okay,” He began but his voice was shaky and uneven.

“You have my results?!” I asked suddenly eager. Then I realised just what that I entailed.

I would know how long I had left to live.

I wasn’t sure if that piece of knowledge would be a good or bad thing, but that depended on the length of time written on that sheet of paper. I was still counting on a year and half and I was almost positive that it would be written down on that sheet of paper.

A year and a half isn’t bad! I could have a baby in that time, not that I plan on doing that, or anything that could get me pregnant either. I could meet some guy, fall in love, get married, whatever! There was a lot of time in a year and half – 18 months! (don’t ask me how many weeks there are, I don’t know.)

A year though... that wouldn’t be so great. It seems much shorter than a year and a half.

Still I was excited. I knew I shouldn’t be due to the look still plastered across Nate’s face but then you couldn’t exactly be grinning when giving someone their dramatically shortened life expectancy but I was absolutely positive that I was going to take this brilliantly.

I’d read the time, divide it up into ten periods of time and write ten things I wanted to do in my life (or something equally as stupid and cliché) then make grand plans. Transform into a nice person. Do charity work. Go to church. I’d become a saint all because the Lord God almighty gave me another year and a half to live and I was blessed so to have that much time!

See, I had It all planned out. I just had to get a year and a half.

A fifth year girl came into the hospital wing with a nose bleed and Nate sighed with relief and put the folder down.

I grabbed he folder from the side feeling giddier than I had been when opening my exam results because this was more important than that. There was hardly a trace of doubt in me now, I was completely certain that I would still have a year and a half to live. I was prepared to swear my life away if it wasn’t a year and a half! I was sure that it was!

I tore open the envelope and read the words that were going to affect me for the rest of my life. A lump of disappointment rose in my throat as I realised I didn’t have any life to swear away anymore.

Five months to live. 

 


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