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The Art of Breathing. by AC_rules
Chapter 14 : Unexpected.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 69


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A/N - GUYS I LOVE YoU! I JUST GOT BACK AND FOUDN ALL YOUR REVIEWS :D You're so amazing, all of you, and please keep the reviews comming! I'm going to rush this so I can answer all thoes reviews. Going away next week, so Ithe next wait might be quite long too (just returned from a two week holiday, that's why this chapter took a while to get up). Have lots written though, so waheyy! anyway, much love PLEASE KEEP REVIEWING :D

"Baby I can see your halo,
You know you're my saving grace,"
Halo - Beyonce


I could feel my heart beating quickly in my chest as I stood up slowly then ran out of hospital wing as fast as I could.

“MARY!” Nate called out after me but I sprinted on away from his voice. I ran down a corridor and turned left without really thinking where I was going. I just wanted to get away, so I ran and ran and turned and only stop when my legs gave way from under me and sent me to the floor.

My pulse was going haywire but I didn’t care. I pulled my arms in tight around me and sank to the floor. I had goose bumps up all my arms and I was shaking.

Five months.

Five months.

That’s only twenty weeks. Twenty weeks

150 days. That’s all. That’s my forever.

My forever stops in five months. In five months I’ll just be a distant memory. In five months I won’t be able to cry. In five months I won’t be able to fix any of it. In five months it will all be over.

The tears were flowing down my face stupidly and I tried to push them away knowing it was useless to waste time like this, but I couldn’t stop. I’d always known I was going to die before every other person my age. I always knew I’d have nothing in common with them because I was going to die years and years before them.

A year – how precious that would seem now. Years? What a strange concept.

Things were going to go on without me. I’d never be able to comfort Becky, I’d never be able to help Johnny, I’d never see Lily and James get together I’d never see any of them: not Remus or Alice, Charlotte or Rachel, Pete or Nate. Sirius...

How blessed they were. How unthankful they were for there full lives. Decades and Decade’s they’d live.

I was only just going to make it to seventeen – they’d make it well past seventy.

Seventy years, what an amazing long period of time! How could I even imagine a period of time that long? I’d never have anything like that to compare it with. My lifetime times and times over? But it would be different.

Knowledge and growth and love and happiness.

That’s what I’d be missing.

Love.

Children.

Marriage.

I wanted it all, I wanted all that time, all those opportunities but all I get is five months. Five months.

Twenty weeks

A hundred and fifty days.

Getting less with every moment.

I pulled in my arms tighter as the tears cascaded down in a waterfall of despair. I pulled myself further into the shadows of the corridor as someone walked past laughing with their friends. They were grinning and laughing and talking. I regretted the move soon after when I realised my back was now resting on a clock.

Tick.

Another second gone.

Tock.

There goes another.

Tick.

Never getting it back.

Tock.

Gone.

Tick – bloody – tock. Tick – bloody – tock.

I couldn’t take it. I stood up shakily and ran.

My whole body was aching with the grief and shock that was flowing around me as my legs pumped and worked against the floor to push me forward. In five months I won’t be able to move at all.

Five bloody months.

**********

“You’re late.” Sirius snapped when I walked into the room that we had agreed to make in.

“Sorry, I was talking to Nate.” I said softly still trying to hold back any emotion that was threatening to escape. Sirius needed any less than anyone to see me cry and breakdown in front of him; he already knew far too much about the excessive amount of emotion I tended to feel.

“Yeah, like he’d make you late for something that his fiancé would make you do.”

“Oh shut it.” I snapped back. I hadn’t been to see Nate,  I’d merely wondered around the corridors and tried to get away from the clocks constantly reminding me of them time and making me doubt myself, I failed miserably – Hogwarts has a lot of clocks.

“So you and Nate had a nice ‘talk’?” Sirius asked harshly and I made sure I didn’t catch his eye.

“Lovely thanks.” I spat back.

“Quiggles didn’t walk in on you two did she?”

“Ha ha ha. You’re so funny.” I mocked sarcastically.

 “Aww, Mary. Didn’t know you did compliments. I’d compliment you, but my Mummy taught me not to lie.”

I found tears building up in my eyes at the word Mummy – I was way overemotional for my own good.

“Mary! Oh Merlin Mary I didn’t mean to -”

“It doesn’t matter!” I snapped pushing the tears from my cheeks annoyed at myself for showing such raw emotion. Again I didn’t want them thinking they knew me, because they didn’t know me! Every time I let another thing slip they seemed to push themselves a little closer. I didn’t want them close.

It made me feel even worse for not telling them what was going on.

“Come on Mary, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing!” I snapped.

“Mary! Why won’t you just let me help you?” Sirius asked and before I answered another wave of tears came up and I was sobbing hysterically on Sirius’s shoulder.  He was surprisingly comfortable and put his arm around me. My head ended up on his chest and I practically ended up sitting on him and crying. There was something about males which always means they are slightly warmer than you and perfect to cuddle up to. Muscles and masculinity were just the thing you needed when you felt down – you always felt protected and secure and warm and loved and...

After five months I’d never feel that way again.

“Shush,” He said pulling me closer as I cried. I felt really stupid but oddly comforted at the same time. Hearing his heartbeat made me feel more alive and less alive. He had his strong hot arm pressing me against him in a friendly type fashion. Flesh against flesh in a comforting human way that just made sense – another thing I was going to miss so terribly.

The tears were shaking my whole body as I clutched on to the material of Sirius’s T-shirt to keep me from slipping away, now more than ever I was scared of that. I’d lost so much; I didn’t want to lose my life too. I pulled my face even closer to his chest just to hear the steady beat of his heart through his skin which made me feel oddly comforted,  almost as if I was listening to my own heart, and I could be only sure I wasn’t dead yet if it kept beating. Dum-dum it beat against the walls of his chest and I found I was crying even more onto soaking, mascara stained his T-shirt.

“I’m fine!” I protested as he made soothing circles on my back in an almost brotherly fashion (although that thought sort of creeped me out).

“Sure,” Sirius said, seeming to agree just to make me feel better for some reason or another. It made my head spin faster and more tears slid down my face. I pulled myself closer and pressed my forehead against his chest and cried and cried. He was warm.

I didn’t feel freer because of crying. It didn’t make me feel better in the slightest. I just needed to cry. I needed to cry until every ounce of moisture in my body was gone. Then I would just sob without tears until I fell asleep in Sirius’s arms. Then I’d yell at him and cry some more.

It was inevitable.

The door creaked open, as the doors of old disused classrooms tended to do when opened, and Professor Quigley peaked through the door.

Her eyes widened slightly seeing two students she’d forced to spend time together locked in some sort of tight embrace as one sobbed hysterically.

“I was just coming to check you were both okay...” She trailed off. “Mary, Nate’s worried and -”

I shook my head and buried my head back into Sirius and continued crying.

“I don’t think she wants to talk to Nate.” Sirius told her sharply and Quiggles took her cue to leave.

Then I cried a bit more.

********************************

The man I saw before me was old. His face was crinkled and withered like a walnut, except it had a very pink colour like artificial sweets – as if he’d been out in the sun too long. He also had prickly white hair growing from his chin, under his nose, and all around his eyebrows and I decided that when he wasn’t sticking needles into my arms he grew the hair longer and pretended to be Father Christmas.

Not like a nice Father Christmas. More like a Father Christmas who was actually a robber and only dressed up as Father Christmas to get into people’s houses.

Nice Father Christmas would never stick needles into my arm.

“We’re all done here.” The man croaked sending any hopes of him being able to have a career as Father Christmas out the window. I could smell smoke on his breath and it was less than pleasant – the same smell that Becky reeked off when she arrived home every night. I hated it. It always came along with the smell of vomit, sweat and alcohol.

“Okay.” I said softly standing up and walking back towards the waiting room.

“No. You need to go that way.” He croaked again, he sounded as if he was on the way out, like grandpa had before he died.

“Sorry,” I apologised and followed the direction his fat finger pointed me too.

I knocked on the door twice before sitting down on the chair next to the door. My feet dangled several centimetres off the ground.

I could hear them talking about me.

“Such a lovely quite girl,” one voice said sadly.

“Such a poor poor girl,” A second said in the voice which always accompanied the look; the one ever present at funerals.

I found myself smirking internally – if they could hear my thoughts.

The healers didn’t seem to think I understood what was going on yet. They thought I was too young; too quite to be able to hear those stupid comments.

“It’s a shame.”

“I poor poor shame.”

“The little darling!”

Dad walked through the ward to sit next to me outside to office and I knew he could hear too. He was worried – his forehead was creased up into wrinkles and he could barely look at me.

“You okay?” Dad asked me and I looked at his eyes trying to recognised the way he’d been before  but saw none of it left.
“Hardly.” I answered back.


“What’s wrong?” He asked urgently.

“Well, I’m dying aren’t I!” I exclaimed as the door opened and the two nurses filed out, looking shocked that I already knew my fate. “I’m going to die.” I said. “And soon.”

I jumped out of my bed immediately and grabbed Dumbledore’s pensive from where I had shoved it under the bed hurriedly. The others were all still in bed so I grabbed my normally useless wand from the bedside table and pulled out that memory.
Then I pulled out another.

And another.

All the memories of mum. All the memories of Becky. All the memories of Karen. All the memories of hospitals. All the memories that made me feel ashamed and foolish. All the memories of Sirius. All of the memories of Lily.

The basin was full.

Now what?

It was a weird sensation, it wasn’t like I’d forgotten the memories, because I couldn’t forget all of them, but it was more like I didn’t have to think of them as much and I could probably understand them with more clarity if I stuck my head into them like Nate had explained. I didn’t want to think about them though. So it was a stupid gift.

I was about to shove it back under my bed when I found that there were also a great many glasses and bottles shoved under there with a label in perfect hand writing.

Thought you might need these.

I sighed and poured the silvery substance into the bottles until there was none left and shoved them all back under my bed.

I could deal with that another time.

 ***********

I sat down at breakfast at the far end of the table on my own. Afterwards I realised it would have been better if I’d sat in a group of people because that would probably have more affect on keeping the others away from me.

The last few days they’d eyed me with great concern. It was reasonable of course: I’d almost stopped talking completely; I avoided them all; I didn’t talk to Nate and I tried to look downwards when I could – I didn’t want to reveal anything through my eyes; I didn’t want them to know about any of it.

Of course they all wrongly suspected that the cause of my upset was the incident that happened last Saturday when they all saw my family’s argument – they don’t know my family was always like that. It was a good at excuse at any rate, but I felt they thought I was weak because of it.

I was dealing well if you asked me, considering I’d just found out I had five months to live, I hadn’t done anything too terrible.

Still, today was the day they were going to corner me and talk about it. I was sure of it. It was week after the events and before now they’d been trying to let me bring it up myself, but it was obvious that I was trying to avoid this conversation at all costs and Gryffindor’s aren’t known for being patient (bravery and patience tend not to go along to well – the only person I can think of who is both is Dumbledore, and he probably wasn’t patient when he was a teenager).

“Mary!” James said brightly sitting down next to me and grinning. Sirius slid into the seat next to mine on the other side and he looked exhausted rather than bright and cheerful.

“Morning,” Lily said taking the seat opposite till all the Marauders plus Lily were gathered around me in a way that meant no escapes for me. Damn it.

“Hi.” I said quietly.

“How are you?” James bellowed and Lily shot him a reproachful glance. His grin faded and he looked down at his empty plate. He’d been trying desperately to get Lily on his side since the first ‘lesson’ I’d given him, and I thought he was doing well. Lily still hadn’t even noticed although for some reason we end up hanging around the Marauders a lot – I think maybe she likes him more than she lets on.

“Good, it’s a lovely morning.” I said forcing a smile back on to my face.

“If you like rain.” Remus added in.

“Well I do.” I said sincerely.

“The rain is cold.” Sirius said in a flat tone of voice.

“The rain is refreshing.” I countered.

“The rain is wet.”

“The rain means things can live.” I snapped back as his eyes flashed angrily for no reason.

“The rain means other things die!”

“The rain stops droughts!” I yelled at him across the table. Somehow this odd conversation had turned into a proper argument and I was indignant about him refusing to even listen to what I was saying. Sirius had that ability to get a reaction from be by doing nothing, almost like Lily and James only completely different at the same time.

“The rain causes floods!”

“The rain IS A VITAL PART OF THE WATER CYCLE!” I screamed far too loudly. Sirius’s face was angry for a second, then broke out into a grin at the pettiness of it. Then I grinned too – my first proper smile of the day.

“Bloody hell, you guys just got weirder.” Peter said with his eyes wide open. My expression turned back to stony and emotionless as I filled my plate with grub and began slowly eating my breakfast. That small break in being forced to deal with all the emotional pressure pushing down on me had been a rare occurrence recently – I had a lot on my plate. And not just in the metaphorical sense.

The others were still convinced I had an eating disorder (due to the fact I was dying and had lots of symptoms already, their belief that I didn’t eat had increased tenfold) and so at every meal someone proclaimed that these were the best sausages they’d ever ate! And I simply had to try them! It helped that I was losing weight because of Ephaiyadaphia so it was easy enough to believe. I played along slightly because it was an excellent excuse but also brought way to much focus onto me which was dangerous. It was also sort of insulting my sister majorly...

“Gosh, aren’t you hungry Mary?” Lily said right on queue. “It’s just the day for a fry up!”

“Then why are you eating toast?” I asked sweetly.  She didn’t answer.

Sirius grinned at me and I found myself grinning back.

“Mary, we wanted to talk to you.” Alice said defiantly and I was mildly shocked. Alice was the last person I’d expect to start this inevitably awkward conversation. She didn’t strike me as the brave type to take the first step forward but I guess that she had to be in Gryffindor for a reason. Maybe, if given the chance, she’d be braver than all of us.

 I could see that now actually. You had to be brave to be the nice quiet one in a group of bitches – no offence to the others intended here.

“About Saturday.” Remus added in – again not who I’d classify as the bravest person... there must be something though?

I always figured there were those who were brave because of a situation or those who were just brave. Take Sirius – it was obvious to me now that he was brave because of a situation he had been stuck in and he’d dared to get out of it. He’d changed and done something really brave which resulted in him being an outcast. James, however, had the perfect life and was just brave to the point of stupidity – in the best way possible.

It’s more complicated than that though.

Rachel and Charlotte were probably a mixture of both – I didn’t really know so a mix was easier to guess. They didn’t seem to be brave really, but maybe they’d never had the chance to prove themselves.

I was brave because of a situation. As was Pete and Remus I assumed.

Lily was brave because she was brave, which had helped her through some difficult situations.

Alice was both of them completely I couldn’t help decide as I studied her eyes. She was full of potential bravery ready to fly out...

Intriguing.

“Are you okay?” Alice finished her blue eyes full of concern. It briefly crossed my mind how perfect Alice and Remus would be as a couple together but as I had to give a satisfactory answer, probably in a lot of pointless detail, I had to use most of my concentration towards that. The other option was to have them following me around like lost puppies until I thought of an answer that would satisfy them – that didn’t seem all that appealing to me.

“I’m fine.” I replied flatly – not quite the answer I’d intended to give.

Part of me wanted to tell them that I was used to it, part of me wanted to tell them that it wasn’t that bad as arguments go and part of me wanted to tell them the truth – that no matter how many times we argued it always hurt like someone had pulled out my stomach and twisted it into a giant knot of pain.

Instead all I’d managed was I’m fine.

“Honestly Mary, you’re not and we’re worried.” Lily said and I couldn’t really believe her words. They’d seemed a lot less bothered about me before Saturday and I didn’t want them to be my friends. Especially not the Marauders. Especially not Sirius. “What’s happened with your sister?”

“You saw didn’t you?” I replied dryly wondering how Alice came to be here in the first place. Now that I thought about it, she hadn’t even been their on Saturday! So they’d been talking about it behind my back to other people. Brilliant. “Well at least some of you did.” I added looking pointedly at Alice who flushed pink.

“We were there, but it didn’t make much sense.”

“Thank God.” I sighed with relief. At least they didn’t really understand what that had been about, it was so much easier to just pass it off as a family argument. I could say Becky was just naturally thin and actually ate loads! I could say –

“All we know is that your sister had an abortion. And your step mum told someone something.” Lily said looking up at me for an explanation. Oh. Well fuck.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” I said standing up angrily at this newfound information. “I don’t want to talk about it, and especially not with you lot!” I exclaimed.

Lily looked hurt, as did the Marauders, but Sirius and Alice seemed to have expected that reaction.

“Hasn’t it maybe crossed your mind that if I wanted to tell you, I could have done. If I wanted you to know me, you would do! That if I thought I could trust you, I would have bloody trusted you? No? Well no wonder you’re not in Ravenclaw!” I slammed down my knife and fork and sauntered out the Great hall fuming.

*****************

“You’re not going to make any friends like that.” Sirius said as he walked up to where I stood in the centre of the corridor. I had retreated to my own company at break time to avoid all of them, but somehow (I reckon stalking was involved) Sirius had found me and thought it was necessary to talk to me (It wasn’t).

“Ever thought I don’t want any friends?” I said icily. It was a lie of course; I wanted friends a lot but it was just so hard to make yourself utterly dependant on someone when everyone you’ve trusted has let you down. It sounds stupid, but it’s just so hard for me to trust people.

“Ever though you might need a few friends, when it all get’s too much.”

“What are they supposed to do to cheer me up? Throw me a surprise party? Ha.” I scoffed at him.

“Or maybe just be there for you! I know that underneath that exterior of yours there’s a hell of a lot going on. Maybe, just maybe, if you let it out you could actually be a normal person.”

“What are you trying to insinuate?” I glared.

“That you’re psychopathic mood swings do everyone’s head in!”

“You have friends, well supposedly, and you still have psychopathic mood swings, and you still do everyone’s head in!”

“Well, maybe I have bigger problems than you!”

“Well maybe you’re talking absolute shit and my problems could make yours look like a barrel of laughs!”

Ha! You’re problems? That your family argues a bit - Big deal!”

“My adopted sister’s anorexic!”

“My brother’s a death eater!”

“My mother’s dead!”

“My father beat me up because I said that Lily was clever!”

 “My sister has self harmed since she was five!”

“My mother threatened to kill me!”

 “Karen told Becky’s boyfriend about the abortion she had in secret. He dumped her and Becky’s tried to kill herself twice before and I’m terrified that she’ll do it again because she’s loosing weight again really fast. She hasn’t been this bad since mum died and she stopped seeing her doctor. Last time it was me who found her and called the ambulance but now her boyfriends dumped her she’s living on her own and there’s no one to take care of her and make sure she’s not dead!” I practically yelled and Sirius put his arms around my and hugged me tightly.

“I thought that might be it,” He said quietly.

“You thought my sister might be suicidal?”

“I thought your sister looked really ill, and I could see why you were worried. What I don’t know, is why you just didn’t say?” He asked his voice soft.

Tears were prickling at the edges of my eyes again and I didn’t want to cry again. So many tears I’d cried, and what for?

“Because it’s too damn hard.”

“You told me,”

“That’s different!”
“How?” He asked looking at me curiously.

“I haven’t figured that out yet.” I said folding my arms over my chest. “Who were you with when I walked in on you, on Sunday?” I asked and the emotions displayed on his face changed entirely. He looked downwards and if I hadn’t known Sirius was too cool for it, I think he might have flushed.

“Now why did you have to bring that up?” He asked annoyed. “We were getting on just fine!”

“Because, I want to know how much of an arse you are! And it’s completely relevant! I’ve just told you something that I’ve NEVER said out loud to anyone when I know full well I can’t trust you!” I said poking him in the chest. “Because I know you’re a dick who talks complete crap! Now who the hell were you doing?”

“You don’t want to know!”

“Yes, I do! It doesn’t take a Hufflepuff to know that if someone asks you something, they might want an answer!”

“But you’ll hate me for it!” Sirius protested, trying not to look at my eyes.

“Well then, you shouldn’t have fucking done it!” I glared at him angrily. “Charlotte? Alice? Lily?”

“Merlin no!” Sirius protested. “I couldn’t do that to James!”

“Let’s not pretend you have morals. A 7th year? A 5th year?”

“No she was a 6th year.” He said looking downwards again.

“How can she have been? You just said that – NO! RACHEL?!?!?!” he looked away guiltily proving that I was completely right. To say I was disgusted was to put it mild. Rachel, who he dumped so cruelly hours before – no wonder she was so pissed!

“Piss off Black.” I said shooting him a dirty look before walking away.

********

“Guys,” I said softly no longer feeling angry with them like they expected me to be. I was tired of being angry; being angry all the time. It hurt and it was pointless and it was horrible. I couldn’t be angry for the rest of my life- it was such a waste. “I’m sorry,” I said addressing it to all of them, even Sirius although my brain protested to that one, “Sorry for snapping at you at breakfast. I didn’t mean it.”

They all looked kind of confused about my apology – probably because I usually acted like a stuck up bitch and now my behaviour seemed to at least resemble trying to be nice.

Sirius caught my eye and seemed to know that his words had affected more than I had let on and he was glad of it.  I guess everyone gets to the point where they can’t take anymore and things start spilling out till before they know the whole world knows exactly who they are and why they are who they are. In the books I’ve read this normally woks out well, but it’s always a bit more questionable in real life situations. More uncertain and less predictable because there’s nothing to say you’ll end up with a happy ending.

“So what do you want to know?”  I asked my voice shaking immensely as I spoke. I didn’t want to say any of it for the second time, Sirius had a greater knowledge when it came to sensitive topics than I’d expected, but I didn’t think the others would surprise me in the same way. Anyway, I knew I’d end up blubbing immensely and that wasn’t something any of us wanted really.

“What was the yelling about?” James asked slowly and I sighed looking downwards to my plate.

“Maybe it’s best if I start from the beginning. Becky has problems – mental problems. She has the chemical missing in her brain which means she’s always going to be depressive and down all the time. She has to fight that side of her brain every moment of every day just to keep herself from slipping – it’s not her fault. It because of something her birth mother did when she was pregnant – I don’t know all of it – they never told me. She was bullied at school, badly. All the time there were people picking on her and bringing her further into despair. She was a perfectionist and didn’t help herself by expecting too much. The one time we talked about it she said she started self harming when she was three, but I don’t know if that’s true. You shouldn’t believe everything that she says. All I know is that when I was about six she stopped eating and got really really bad. Mum and Dad started sending her to a clinic once a week but it didn’t seem to help. She was thin – really thin – and I remember her yelling and yelling about how fat she was. I’d tell her she wasn’t and she’d explode at me. Mum would tell me to go to my room and leave her alone because I wasn’t going any good. They were always yelling and I hated her. I hated her for messing my childhood up and ruining everything. It was her fault mum and dad were arguing! It was her fault everything was going wrong!” I took a deep steadying breath realising how much more I’d told them than I’d intended too. “Then mum died.” I said softly this time. “She got so bad. She fainted on the top of the stairs one day and got admitted into the hospital. She was better. She went to university, she got a boyfriend; she was fighting it and doing well!”

“And then?”

“Then she got pregnant. Can you imagine your worst nightmare coming true? Because that’s what it was. When you’re pregnant you balloon outwards! You have a baby sticking out of your stomach. She was terrified of being fat! So she got rid of it before her boyfriend could object. She didn’t tell him about it because she couldn’t stand the thought of being fat. Then at some point she stopped eating again – I don’t know when. Then Karen... Karen the bitch told her boyfriend! She told her bloody boyfriend that she had an abortion behind her back! He wasn’t supposed to know!” I took another deep breath. “Of course he was majorly pissed and dumped her, which is just what she needed!”

Then I couldn’t speak anymore and several arms were thrown around me and pulled me in a few million directions.

“God Mary I’m sorry,” Lily’s voice came from somewhere. James, Remus and Peter’s arms were also wrapped around me and I found the tears coming down my cheeks as they held me close. I opened my eyes and saw that Sirius hadn’t moved but was looking at me with a look of pride.

He was proud of me for speaking which he knew was one of my worst nightmares. I found myself smiling despite of myself and I pushed them off.

“Gosh guys! Enough with the PDA!” I said in a feeble attempt of a joke.
“That Karen was bang out of order!” Pete exclaimed and I smiled at him.

“Poor Becky,”

“I blame the boyfriend!”

I smiled round at them all finding a new set of tears coming up to my eyes at how they were all trying to comfort me so bad. This wasn’t so bad – maybe I should just tell them all of it! I’d left out a few key details (like me dying, the reasons behind mum dying, and Becky’s suicide attempts).

I shuddered at the thought. They knew enough right?

“You guys are great.” I said softly realising that they’d managed to get under my skin and really become my friends in only a week.

“Oh we know,” James grinned throwing an arm around my. “We’re awesome.”

Lily gave him a dark look, and he slumped back and began messing up his hair.

“Aww Jamie, I think you’re awesome!” I said scuffing up his hair for him.

“See Lily, someone wants me!” James proclaimed.

“So bad it hurts,” I said sarcastically. Then I winked at him. He smirked back.

Sirius, across the table, scowled.

“The post.” Remus said and I noticed that he was sporting a red blush across his cheeks. Hmmm...

I looked upwards to see that a few owls were indeed making their way into the hall. The evening post was always smaller than the morning post and most of the time it went unnoticed. However, this time there was an owl heading in our direction; as in my direction.

“Hey Dirt.” I said to the brown owl that landed on the table. My brother had named the owl to match up with the name of my owl – mud. The name originated from a saying that Grandma Janet (Dad’s mum) used far too often. I’d just brought my owl and Grandma was over at our house for dinner and said, as per usual, ‘If you get any droppings on the carpet, your name will be mud!’ I’d grinned and said ‘did you hear that Mr Owl, your name will be mud.’ Of course he got droppings on the carpet, and from then own he was known as mud.

 It was weird I guess, but we’re a weird family. I pulled the parchment off Dirts’s claws and he flew off straight away as instructed. “Who’s betting for bad news?” I asked biting my lip. I pulled it open slowly and was strangely reassured by my dad’s clear handwriting on the parchment.

The black on cream and soft font seemed to be awfully reassuring to me now. It reminded me of Dad and it was almost like a written down hug from him.

Hey Mary,

Becky’s doing okay. We miss you back here and we’ve decided to come and visit you more often. The thing I’m writing about, however, is that we’ve got some really good news. Karen’s three months pregnant – Sorry if this comes as a shock to you, we weren’t exactly planning it ourselves.

Dad xx

“Oh god.” I said quietly. I didn’t know what to think about this new piece of drama that was being laid onto me.  Three months? Plus five months. That’s eight months.

I’d never even see this baby. My heart sank.

“What’s wrong? You look as if you’ve been punched in the face.”

“Pretty much.” I muttered. “Karen, she’s pregnant. Again.” I said and the other’s eyes widened. They obviously didn’t know how I’d react to this news so they all stayed silent for a moment; waiting to see whether I’d take it well or badly. “Are we betting for a mini Johnny or a mini Ria?” I asked my face breaking out into a smile.

At least I knew life would carry on without me – it wouldn’t just stop. They’d be new things, and old things, and change and other people would be happy. It wouldn’t be an end: just an end for me.

I’d miss so much, but everyone else would live and be happy so maybe that was okay. Maybe it was okay that I’d miss it all – at least it would carry on.

“A mini Ria.” Sirius said definitely. “I have a feeling about this!”

“I’ll tell them,” I said turning over the piece of parchment.

Dad, Karen and co.

That’s great! Sirius bets it will be an even minier Ria. Is Becky really okay? Looking forward to your visits.

Lots of love

Mary

I stuffed the note in my pocket and stood up. “I should go tell Nate.” I told them and left the great hall a little happier than I had been before. Whether it was because of the chat I’d had with them or because of the news that Karen was pregnant I didn’t know.

Neither of them should have really made me happy.

************

“So Lily, back to last Saturday.” I grinned sitting on my bed with a massive bar of chocolate in my hands. Lily’s version of a girly chat involved lots of chocolate. It was good.

“Oh god no. I try not to think about it!”

“What happened?” Alice asked eagerly.

“No, no, no! I don’t want to say it out loud – it makes me cringe!”

“Tell, tell, tell!” Alice exclaimed.

“Fine! I kissed Snape!”

“OH MY GOD!” Alice yelled then clapped a hand over her mouth as if it was a sin for her to make that much noise. “You...you...you’re kidding me!” She stuttered.

“I wish I was!” Lily said sighing. “Just, he is, no was, my best friend! Then I just had this sudden rush of feelings and I was confused. So I kissed him.” Alice’s eyes widened a lot. “I love him because he’s my best friend – but I’m not in love with him. For a moment I wasn’t sure but I think I’ve got it out of my system.”

“You ever been in love then?” Alice asked.

“Nope,” Lily said sounding disappointed.

“Nope.” I replied cheerfully.

The other two scoffed. “Pull the other one!” Lily exclaimed.

“Keep telling yourself that Mary!”

“I have not!”

“Pfft.”

“Two words: Sirius Black.” Alice said.

“Two words: sex god.” Lily put in.

“Two words: hot stuff.” Alice added in.

“Two words: bladdy gorgeous!”

“Two words: fuck off!” I put in. “No way. Hell no. Eww eww and don’t make me sick!”

“Whatever!” Lily said grabbing a piece of chocolate off the tray that was flying around. “Live in denial. I don’t care.”

“So, Alice, have you ever been in love?” I asked ignoring Lily completely. She blushed. “YOU HAVE!” I announced.

“Who? Who? Who?” Lily asked then without waiting for an answer. “Mike Longbottom???” Lily asked excitedly. Alice made a face. “Sirius? James? PROFFESOR DUMBLEDORE??”

“NO!” Alice protested half indignant half laughing.

“Remus?” I asked raising an eyebrow. Alice blushed.

“OH MY GOD!” Lily shrieked. Did I mention Lily gets over excited about this type of thing? Well she does. “Remus Lupin?!?!”

“Erm... yeah.” Alice said going back to being practically silent.

“Tell us all!” Lily and I said together. Alice turned scarlet.

“We dated.” She said softly. “It was a big secret because Peter fancied me, and they have this rule not to let a girl come between them. No dating girls two or more Marauders like? Yeah? So we didn’t tell anyone.”

“How long?”

“Five months.” It briefly crossed my mind that I’d never date anyone for a whole five months. That was the entirety of my life span now.

“OH MY -”

“Lily! Please, my eardrums are only just recovering from the last shriek!”

“Spoil sport.” Lily stuck her tongue out.

“So we were meeting up every night -”

“Oh err.”

“ – Shush! Stop interrupting. It was the only time we could see each other. So we were meeting up whenever we could and we were really close. Really really close. I’ve never felt like that before! Never! Then when Pete had a new girlfriend I asked if we could go public. He went mad and yelled and said we never should have dated. He said he loved me but regretted that we’d ever started it and left. He was ashamed of dating someone like me.”

“No he wasn’t!” we both claimed shaking our heads. “There must have been another reason Alice, maybe he was scared the Marauders were just going to chuck him out or something!”

Our words did nothing to help Alice however. She looked so sad in a quite way – like she’d given up and wasn’t going to make a fuss. It was heartbreaking.

“The question is how your date with Mike Longbottom was?” I asked in an attempt to get that part of this conversation over, she obviously didn’t want to think about it, and I can empathise with that. Alice smiled seemingly more comfortable with that topic than the topic of Remus Lupin.

“It was okay. He’s a bit full of himself you know?” She said and both of us nodded. We were used to arrogant boys.

“Next question!” Lily announced. “Mary, who was the guy you dated for five weeks in the summer??”

“Charlie Malone.” I said wearily.

“Tell us -”

“Okay okay! I’d got back from fifth year and I was still all loved up on Sirius. I was heartbroken and I needed to get out the house so I started spending a while in the park. Then there was this group of guys. The first day the looked at me and they were laughing. They made me feel really crap. Still next day I went out to the park and they all came over and introduced themselves to me.” The other two were hooked on to my story as much as we had been to Alice’s story, much to my horror. “Then after about a week of spending time with them at the park this one guy – Charlie Malone – asked me out. I didn’t fancy him all that much, but he was good looking and made me feel good about myself. He was a real gentleman for all five weeks, even calling me every day when we were on holiday, the only thing was he was always pushing me a bit further than I wanted to go. I didn’t particularly like him but I became attached because he was nice to me.”

“Yeah,” Lily and Alice said in agreement.

“Then the last week of the holidays we had an argument. In which I found out a lot of things I didn’t want to know and some unwelcome truths.”

“Like what?”

“It had been a bet. To see if they could get me to sleep with him by the end of the summer before I went back to the ‘mental school.’ He told me I was boring and revolting and he’d never have been interested in me – he said a lot of stuff. I was mad. I went out and brought some muggle hair dye straight away and dyed my hair.

“The bastard.” Lily said shaking her head.
“It’s fine – I didn’t like him! It just pissed me off.”

“I’m not surprised!”

I smiled at them.

*******

I walked up to the gargoyles guarding Dumbledore’s office carefully – they had always scared me somewhat - the way their stone eyes actually followed you around the room. They glared at me as approached because they didn’t like me. I’d done my best to blast them to pieces on several occasions to no avail.

“Tongue twister toffee,” I said and the stone statues moved apart reluctantly. I smirked at them. “Ha!” I said under my breath as the one on the right, who I called Bob, started hissing at me. “Nothing you can do about it sister,” I said sticking my tongue out at him. He hissed a little more. “No use hissing like a sissy,” I taunted and he growled at me bearing his teeth.

Then the other one snapped from behind me. I jumped forwards and ran through to the beginning of the stairs – I’d sworn to my self last time that I wouldn’t tease them again. One day they might actually kill me.

The beginnings of our disagreement was when after first getting a letter from Dumbledore telling me to come to his office and his letter had said ‘I like exploding liquorish Catherine wheels’ I took it completely the wrong way and snuck into hogsmead and brought him some – feeling annoyed about it naturally, why should I buy him some sweets?. Then I had arrived at the gargoyles utterly confused and the two statues had laughed at the sweet packet poking out of my pocket. I’d finally got it but I was unpleased by being teased and taunted by two lumps of stone.

Dumbledore had enjoyed the sweets anyway. So did I. So they didn’t really have to make fun of me, did they?

“Bloody rock.” I muttered now feeling indignant that they’d made me jump once again. I could almost see them grinning behind me. “Arrogant stuff.”

“Indeed.” Dumbledore said chucking from half way up the stairs. “I would assume you would like to talk to me?”

“Yes.” I nodded and Dumbledore turned and began going the opposite way up the stairs with me.  “I have a request.” I said simply following him into his office. Over the years I’d been here quite a few times to discuss the future but it was rare for me to come voluntarily. “I have some toffee,” I said pulling out a packet from my pocket and presenting it to the headmaster. “Just in case you were about to go for dinner or something.”

Dumbledore chuckled. “Bit late for dinner is it not Miss McDonald? Bribery?”

“More a thank you – for the penseive and the bottles.”

“Ah, okay,” Dumbledore said sitting down in his chair behind his desk – I took the seat in front of it and folded my hands in imitation of him. His eyes glittered in amusement.  “So Miss McDonald, what can I owe the pleasure to your presence?” I bit my lip carefully not sure how to say it.

“I would like to request a day off school.” I said.

“I assume you’re not suffering from overwork and instead have somewhere you would like to go instead?”

“Yes.” I said blinking once to make sure I could go through with it. Still half unsure myself. “I want to go home, to visit my mother’s grave.” I said looking downwards.

Dumbledore’s eyes glistened with grief for a moment, but it was gone so quickly I thought I’d imagined it. He had sympathy for me sure, but grief is something entirely different.

Grief was regret - wishing it was you instead - missing someone so terrible that every particle of your body screamed in pain and self pity mixed with the loathing of the situation. You can’t feel someone else’s grief – only be saddened by what they’re going through.

Dumbledore nodded. “I think it’s a good idea.” He said simply. “When would you like to go? I believe you detest Wednesday’s the most?” I looked at him confused at his extensive knowledge of my life. “There are a few students who hold my interest so I make it my business to know about them.”
“So who else is a special as me?” I asked a smile playing at my lips. My talk with Lily and Alice had put in high spirits and I was feeling really rather happy – probably how I managed to get here. I had mentioned wanting to visit my mother’s grave and the other two had practically pushed me to go visit Dumbledore.

“Miss Evans, Miss McKinnon in Ravenclaw, Mr Black, Mr Potter, Mr Lupin, Mr Snape and Mr Longbottom to name a few.”

“Funny – they all seemed to be connected to me in same way. Except the Ravenclaw. Guess I’m extraordinary,” Dumbledore smiled.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about Miss McKinnon.” Dumbledore said his eyes twinkling mysterious. I hated when he did that – it was simply weird. It always sent your mind reeling. What connection did I have with a Miss McKinnon? Sure I recognised the name from somewhere but it hardly made much of a difference.

 “So I can go see my mother tomorrow?” I asked, giving up on trying to solve that riddle, and he nodded.

“Come to my office when you’re ready to go – I will provide you with transport. Would you prefer to go to your home first or -”

“No. Dad doesn’t need to know.”

Dumbledore didn’t seem to approve of my decision but let it slide. I stood up to go, grabbing the rest of the bag of toffees.

“I wanted to ask you one more thing Miss McDonald.” I turned back expected a deep meaningful and mysterious question. “How are you finding team building?”

His eyes were sparking more than normal and I assumed this was Dumbledore’s version of a smirk. I didn’t answer and instead shot him a dark look and left his office.

Why was everyone such an arse these days?

*******

“Where’s my dinner?” Daddy snapped.

“Oh I’m sorry; I’ve waited for so damn long it evaporated!” Mummy said folding his arms over her chest and glaring at him.

“Oh hilarious.” Daddy snapped back walking over to the cupboard and pouring out a drink for himself; filling the glass to brim with golden beer from the green bottle.

“You’re late!” Mummy said trying to keep his attention by following him around.

“Because I was working!”

“I wanted to talk to you, and tell you something really important!” Mummy protested. “But you’re never here when I need you to be!”

“I’m here all the damn time!” Daddy yelled and I winced. It sounded to me if he hated being here, if he hated us, if he hated me. I clung on to the door tighter as I peaked round.

“Andrew!”

“Fine! Say what you have to say for Gods sake! Stop with the guilt trip!”

“It’s good news!” Mummy protested angrily. “It was good news and you’ve ruined it!”

“Sandra!” Daddy warned and mummy slammed the door of the cupboard behind her.

“I’M PREGNANT!” Mummy yelled.

“Oh my God!” Daddy said his voice changing. He threw his arms around her and suddenly all thoughts of being late were gone from their minds.

“Have you stopped yelling?” I asked quietly from my position behind the door. They turned to me beaming and I ran towards them and wrap my arms around tightly.
“I hate it when you argue!” I proclaimed pulling them in tighter.


“Mary fairy, you’re going to have a little brother or sister!” Dad said picking me up and twirling me around. 

My face fell. Potentially another sister like Becky? Or an annoying little brother who’d fight me and take my toys? That wasn’t part of the plan.

“Won’t it damage your health?” Daddy asked quietly.
“It will be fine.”


“Sandra, maybe it’s best if -”

“NO! This is what I want!” Mummy argued back. I crept back out of the room. I pressed my back against and began to cry. Becky stood in front of the mirror frowning at her reflection.

 

I sat up straight shaking: my mind altered completely by the dream.

I shouldn’t have told them. I didn’t want Karen to have a baby. I shouldn’t get close to them. Sirius Black was a dick and I definitely was not okay with having 5 months to live.

5 months less a day.

Crap.

A/N – WOO GUYS! 

What will happen with Mary and Sirius daily chats?? How is Mary going to react to her new sibling? Will Becky be okay? What will happen when Mary visits her mum’s grave? What’s Miss McKinnon got to do with anything?

All to come :D

QUESTION TIME : )

If you were Mary, who would you tell first?

Who do you think Mary will tell first?

Who do you think will find out first (clue... minor character). :D

Love and stuff

AC


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