Chapter 5 : Waffles, Quaffles and Madness
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People think that because I can’t cry, I’m heartless. But I’m not! I’m not some kind of ‘Ice Witch.’ Well actually, I am a witch but that’s irrelevant. You see, not being able to cry is a huge disadvantage in life. You can’t make people feel guilty by sobbing all over them. You have no way to let out emotion, like I wanted to last night. I feel almost claustrophobic because I still get the same feeling that comes before crying but without the tears, which are the best bit. Remus calls them ‘Oesophagature spasms’ and I pretend to understand what that means.
Anyway, this morning I was feeling a lot of self pity, so I had a lie in. When Lily yelled at me to get moving I tried to make snuffly noises that were supposed to imitate crying.
“You can’t cry Marls,” Lily ripped open the hangings and poked me. That girl knows me too well. I’m scared.
“Urgh! Show a little sympathy for a poor suffering woman!”
“No,” Lily replied. Dang. Then she committed the worst crime possible…she kidnapped Tiggly Biggly Boggles the Carrot-Eater!
“Noooooo!” I moaned, trying to snatch him back. She dangled him by the tail. I could hear him screaming out in pain!
“Ok! I’m getting up now!” I hauled myself out of bed, snatched Tiggly back and snuggled him against my chest. I glared at Lily,
“Sadistic teddy-killer!” She chucked me my hairbrush. I couldn’t be bothered to make my bed as beautifully as Lily does, so I drew the hangings back around it and pretended the mess wasn’t there. It worked, actually! I put my trunk on my bed too so that didn’t look messy either. Out of sight, out of mind as someone said at some point. I think it may have been my dad. Mary got up. I hoped she’d forgiven me.
“How’d you sleep?” I asked tentatively.
“Really well until I woke up,” she snapped. Fair enough.
“What day is it today?” I wondered, trying to remember what colours I wore on…
“Friday, also there’s a Hogsmeade trip tomorrow,” answered Lily automatically. She just has to answer questions. Right! Blue stuff today. I pulled out sparkly blue eye shadow, lip gloss and dark blue mascara. Then some little blue teddy bear earrings. And just to add some interest I wore a massive sky blue bow in my hair. Then a blue bag. And shoes. I did a twirl for the girls,
“How do I look?”
“Heavenly,” replied Lily sarcastically, “and I love how you’re wearing all of my things.” I stuck my tongue out at her. It was obvious that she was just jealous of my colour co-ordination skills. Now for a long, relaxing breakfast! I started elegantly descending the stairs, thinking about toast and whatnot, when I saw Regulus leaning against the banister at the bottom. My breath caught. Had he seen me?
“Has blue thrown up on you, McKinnon?” he asked lazily. So he has seen me. Interesting.
“I think the colour blue is quite flattering on me, to be honest,” I sniffed.
“Keep telling yourself that.”
“What do you want?”
“Nothing. You assume that because I was at the bottom of these stairs that I was waiting for you. I was just waiting here for Severus.” I flushed slightly.
“Goodbye, then. I’m going to have some yummy slices of toast now,” I announced. I just wanted to get away. As I walked past, he touched my wrist gently and I stopped. He pulled me towards him. Delicious shivers went up my spine from the place where his fingers were resting. This was why he was bad for me; at his touch I melted like butter and would do anything. His lips entranced me as he spoke softly,
“You always want to get away from me, Marlene.” A tiny sigh escaped my mouth and he gazed at me for a moment. Time stood still. Then an image of Marcia and the Dark Mark swam into my head, and using all my willpower I shoved him away,
“Why do you say things like that, Regulus? You hate me now. We’re over. I hate you too,” I whispered sadly before walking off towards the Great Hall again. I tried not to look back. I thought that maybe I’d seen a hint of regret in his fathomless eyes. As soon as he was out of sight, I ran. I’m quite a good runner now. It’s all this practice.
I hate quaffles. I mean, for a start what kind of a name is quaffle? Like a flying waffle with a q- stuck on the front. Qwaffle. And you can’t even eat this type. Then there’s the whole thing about trying to stop other people chucking them through the three big hoops while being yelled at by James Potter and Sirius Black just because they like exercising their vocal chords too much. Oh joy. I saw one of the chasers, Toby Williams, driving up the pitch towards me, a grim look of determination on his face. Ok people, driving is just an expression. He was flying. Anyway, I started to get a little bit nervous as everyone stopped their individual training to watch little old me. I gripped my broom tightly. I’d managed to buy a nimbus second hand with some of the money my parents left me in Gringotts. Until I turn 17, however, I can’t access all the money, which means I am poor for another year. Williams glared at me. Seriously, he is a very aggressive person. He glares at you if you even look at his shoes. I always thought he’d be better suited to be a beater but hey, who am I to question. I focused my mind on the ball. Everything else was gone except for that one thought. Williams and I locked gazes and I smiled sweetly at him. He glared. So rude! He dodged to the left but I predicted the feint and stayed where I was. Then he flew up as high as possible and started spinning in circles over my head. I followed him easily. He then proceeded to drop the quaffle. Clever. James flew up looking stressed and furious. He started yelling at Williams who yelled back. Both of them were flailing their arms about wildly. It was pretty funny but started to hurt my ears, so I spiralled down to the ground. I got the feeling that practice was over.
I changed out of my Quidditch robes quickly and locked my broom away. I had a muggle bike lock for my broom which everyone found hilarious for some reason. I wondered what to do with the rest of the evening; Lily was at a ‘Slug Club’ meeting. Bah! I don’t see why Sluggy couldn’t invite me for once. I could find Mary and make up with her? Remus? Alice? Creaky? Oh, the possibilities.
On my way out I was confronted by Daniel Wood, another chaser on the team. He’d had a crush on me for ages.
“Hey Marls,” he said cheerfully. He was always cheerful. It was sickening. “That was pretty hilarious, what Toby did, huh?”
“So, I was wondering, do you want to come into Hogsmeade with me tomorrow?” he asked eagerly. I sighed and was about to say no, when I thought about what Lily had suggested with rebounds. I looked Wood up and down. He was pretty good looking, fit from Quidditch. And his cheerfulness might keep me more optimistic or at least distract me.
“Erm…sure!” I said brightly. He looked over the moon.
“See you at the Three Broomsticks then?” I nodded. I knew it was bad. I knew I was using him. But I couldn’t back out now, could I? I remembered my mum telling me to always do what was right. But how can you do the right thing when so many people could get hurt, whichever way you choose? I carried on walking. I remembered that Hagrid had some baby unicorns in. I’d go and pay them a visit.
When I got down to Hagrid’s hut, I saw him talking to a Ravenclaw 7th year. I think his name was Zenophilpots Lovegood or something. Apparently he was mad, but he didn’t look mad to me. He was nice looking with dirty blonde hair and eyes so blue that I could see them sparkling from where I was standing. Hagrid saw me and waved. I smiled and waved back, coming over to talk to the pair. Lovegood looked at me interestedly,
“You’re Marlene McKinnon,” he said. I was surprised he knew my name. I smiled,
“Yes. How did you know?”
“Everyone knows who you are,” he answered vaguely.
“Oh…” I was a little taken aback, “And you’re…?”
“Xenophilius Lovegood. Ravenclaw. Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure,” he sang. Ok…
“Can I call you Xeno? It’s just that Xenophilipotus is quite a mouthful.”
“Sure, Xeno’s fine. Lots of people get muddled with my name. Do you want to help me feed the unicorns?”
“Er…sure. What do they eat?”
“Well it depends what mood they’re in or what age they are really. Unicorns can eat most things. These ones are only babies so we’ll give them warm milk.” We walked down to the field where the beautiful, white creatures were playing happily. I watched as two of the little ones gambolled about like lambs or puppies.
“They’re adorable!” I whispered so that I didn’t startle them.
“Oh, no. They’re quite fierce animals,” came Xeno’s dreamy voice, “They can bite off your arm in a playful snap. Accidentally, of course. Want to come and stroke them?” I was a tad put off at this point. I didn’t fancy living without arms for the rest of my life, but I climbed into the pen behind Xeno. A tiny unicorn that only came up to my knee regarded me warily. I held out the bowl of milk.
“Don’t eat me!” I warned it. The Unicorn snorted. I think the little bugger was laughing at me! Grr. It started happily licking up milk with a tiny white tongue.
“That one’s called Starlight,” Xenophilius told me.
“Why are unicorns white?” I suddenly asked.
“Well unicorns came from the white tips of waves. They rose out of the sea aeons ago, and are made of pure sea magic.” I was quite interested now,
“So there are different types of magic? I’ve never heard of sea magic before.”
“Yes. Elemental magic. It’s quite rare and very powerful. I sense some in you, actually.”
“Quite a strong tie…” Xeno trailed off, staring at something in the bushes, “Oh my!” he gasped fearfully. I looked at the bush and saw a little rat looking at us intently. It seemed to be able to understand us. I moved forwards to pick it up, when Xeno warned me,
“Stop! It is the fearsome Blibberdung! A rare and very poisonous creature that inhabits woodland areas.”
“But it’s a rat!” I laughed. Xeno was awesome. I picked it up by the tail and showed it to him.
“Astonishing!” he murmured, “That was a brave and reckless thing to do Marlene McKinnon.” I let the creature go.
“Not really. Although maybe that rat had the plague…” I checked my armpits for buboes hurriedly. Nope, all clear. Phew. I turned back to Xeno who was munching on watermelons. Lord knows where he got them from.
“Want some?” he asked and I shook my head,
“I don’t actually like watermelons, they just look nice.” Xeno nodded, understanding,
“The seeds make excellent necklaces.” I grinned. I noticed that he had no shoes on.
“What happened to your shoes?”
“I like going around with no shoes. If cavemen could do it then why can’t I.” I kicked my shoes off too. Mud squelched up between my toes and I wriggled them happily. I ran around in circles, relishing the feeling of rebelliousness that came with defying the basic human nature of wearing shoes.
“This feels great!” I proclaimed. I knew I probably looked madder than he was at this moment but I didn’t care. Xeno smiled. I saw that the sun was sinking. I’d better get back and find Lily or she’d think I was jumping in the Lake again.
“I’ve gotta go now,” I explained, “But I’ll see you again, yeah?” Xeno shrugged,
“Maybe. It was nice meeting you Marlene McKinnon. You’re a nice person. You’ll always do the right thing.” He walked back up to Hagrid’s hut, leaving me wondering what he meant.
I carried my shoes as I walked back up to the castle, feeling really happy for the first time in ages. What was it about Xenophilius Lovegood? He was quite mad, that much was obvious. But it was attractive. I chuckled to myself; Blibberdungs! Honestly. That was it, his honesty. You didn’t often find that in people, it was usually always secrets and lies. I was imagining that I had a pet Blibberdung called Blibby and feeling like a watermelon sandwich when I heard my name being hissed from behind a statue. I turned to see Marcia MacDonald pointing her wand at me casually. Wait…what? I stepped backwards,
“What do you want, Marcia?” I tried to be nice for Mary’s sake. I really did! But Marcia isn’t actually that friendly anymore. I mean, she was pointing a wand at me for Merlin’s sake. Plus she had taken Regulus. But Regulus hadn’t been mine in the first place. Damn, this was so confusing! Where’s Xeno when you need him? Marcia spoke,
“I’ve come to warn you.” I couldn’t help noticing that she was taller than me. I felt like that little rat. Just not so rat-like or furry.
“That’s nice of you,” I smiled sweetly, drawing my own wand sharply.
“Stay away from Regulus. I know your history with him. And frankly honey, if you even look at him again you’ll wish you were never born,” Marcia inspected her nails, “’Cos I can kinda make that happen. Imagine if say...people started to hear things about you. Hm?” I gaped in shock. Blackmail! No-one blackmails me and gets away with it. Angrily I advanced towards her and she smirked amusedly.
“Well do you want to know something honey?” I fumed, “Regulus will never be yours. He was mine first and always will be. You’re his rebound.” I watched Marcia’s face flash through several emotions; aghast, fearful then angry. I smiled, “Hurts, doesn’t it? He’ll hurt you even more in the end.” I turned and began to walk away, carrying my shoes. I hoped that Marcia wouldn’t shoot a spell at me from behind. My good mood had gone. That's what happens when I know I've just been a mega bitch to someone.
I met Remus on the stairs up to the Common Room. We awkwardly walked back up together. I guess last night was still on our minds. Before we went inside Remus began,
“Look, I’m sorry for overreacting like that last night. I don’t know what got into me.”
“It was pretty strange,” I agreed, looking anywhere but at him.
“Can you forgive me?”
“How can I refuse those puppy dog eyes,” I sighed. But I felt better. We gave the password and climbed through the portrait together. I was very happy to see Lily and Alice chatting quietly on the sofa. I rushed over to Lily and gave her a massive hug. I nearly strangled her.
“Nice to…see you too… Marls!” she spluttered. I jumped on the sofa with them and curled up into a ball next to her.
“Why haven’t you got your shoes on?” Lily asked.
“If cavemen could go about without shoes then so can I,” I declared to the whole Common Room happily. People stared at me and I just wiggled my muddy toes. Then I told Lily about Xeno Lovegood,
“He’s pretty awesome. Mad in a refreshing way. Nice looking too.” Lily giggled,
“Why don’t you go to Hogsmeade with him tomorrow then?”
“Can’t. I’m going with Daniel Wood! Anyway, I couldn’t think about Xeno in that way.”
“Daniel Wood? Why? Oh I see…rebound,” she looked disapproving which was completely unfair,
“Lily you suggested a rebound in the first place! Don’t judge me like that.”
“Well, you’re getting mud on my skirt,” Lily complained, tactfully changing the subject.
“It’s an improvement,” I explained, “My latest art project.”
“Is the picture meant to resemble your face? ‘Cos you’re succeeding.” Lily replied, giggling. I pouted grumpily and traced my lips,
“I have a very kissable face apparently, Evans!”
“Oh and who told you that, McKinnon?”
“Regu-“ I stopped and covered my mouth. Lily and I glanced at Alice who was looking at us interestedly. Nosy parker.
“Oh, Regulanglio!” nodded Lily knowingly, “I remember him.” You know for a prefect, Lily is amazingly good at lying. Not even a blush there! I applaud her.
A/N Ok I admit it! Xenophilius Lovegood wasn’t at Hogwarts at this time (I don’t think he was anyway…) But I really wanted to put him in it! I’m toying with the idea of Marlene/Xeno at some point… Nah, just kidding!
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