Marianna was, to put it simply, not having a good day. Or even a good week. Her best friend had finally decided to get her act together and date her long-time crush, Sammy Pernickles, which was a good thing in and of itself, but it did mean that she had spent an inordinate amount of time snogging him when she should have been studying.
And because they had been study partners since they had sat together in the first Transfiguration class in first year, taking many of the same classes and coordinating their schedules so that they could complete their homework together, it had taken her several days to find a good solitary rhythm.
Unfortunately, this meant that it had taken her longer than usual to complete the obligatory essays for Charms and Potions (who knew that there were so many distractions in the library when you didn’t have a friend beside you to strike you with their quill when your mind wandered?) and thus her study habits had been delayed.
She had been absolutely mortified when Professor Sprout had questioned her about the proper defenses against alihotsy and she had only mentioned two out of the three. She knew that she would have been able to name all three methods if she hadn’t been frantically trying to finish the last foot of her essay the night before.
Much to her dismay, her friend’s newfound sexuality hadn’t been her only trial. One of her roommates, Frieda Popins, a girl more concerned with the big ideas then the concrete and proven facts taught in class, had stolen her book she had specially owl-ordered about the prevalence of vampires and werewolves in the Wizarding society and refused to return it. She had even denied ever laying a finger on the book! Marianna had proof (she wouldn’t accuse someone without assurance that she was correct) that she was indeed the culprit: she had heard Frieda discussing the startling lack of laws regarding the regulation of blood donors for vampires, a subject she knew was covered in chapter five, shortly after she had discovered that the book was missing.
She needed that book, for she was almost positive that she would have to write a comparative paragraph on the respective situations of werewolves and vampires on the Defense Against the Dark Arts test scheduled for that afternoon.
However, since the book had refused to surface, she had tried to substitute it with the collection in the Hogwarts library. Unfortunately, she had several problems with the library that made it difficult for her to borrow books. To begin, though the collection was vast, it was old and many of the books were older than she was. Granted, the Wizarding world advanced at the speed of an old ghoul solving arithmetic equations but there had been changes in wizard-beast relations and advancements in the fields of potions and mediwizardry. This meant that through the ignorance of the books provided by Hogwarts she wasn’t providing up-to-date research in her essays, a thought that annoyed her to no end. Furthermore, the collection itself was ill-organized; though the books were categorized by subject they weren’t further arranged alphabetically by author or title. This made searching and actually finding the correct books very difficult and time-consuming. Finally, the librarian was a self-important irritant who was unable to recognize the need for quiet conversation when figuring out a puzzle and the benefit of being allowed to borrow more than one book from her library (though the library wasn’t even hers, anymore than it was Marianna’s. It truly belonged to Hogwarts.).
The quality of the service in the library had not improved since she had last visited and after several long and dust-filled minutes Marianna had been able to locate one of the many titles she was looking for. Many wasted moments later she had possessed six or seven heavy books that she had weeded through to find the most current and accurate information on wizard-vampire-werewolf relations. Needless to say, she had not been pleased when she had finally visited Madam Pince to record the title “The Dark Side to our Dark Relationships” and her response had been curt when the librarian had snappishly reminded her of the library’s policies regarding the treatment of books.
She did not forget and she certainly did not damage books, be they hers or not.
To increase her despair, she had only been able to study for a little over an hour once she returned to the Ravenclaw common room before her self-mandated curfew of ten o’clock had announced itself.
Receiving the necessary eight and a half hours of sleep her body required in order to function at its optimum was an essential part of her daily routine, a part that she had observed since her mother had first told her when she was eight. It was a part that her best friend had always done along with her, but that week Marianna had gone to bed alone.
She assumed that her friend was still snogging Sammy.
Perhaps a poor grade on a test would snap her out of her romantic delusions.
Unluckily (though she did not believe in luck), she did not sleep as deeply when she felt as though she hadn’t prepared sufficiently for a test, thus further diminishing her mental capabilities the next day. Throughout the night she was awakened several times by snores from Frieda’s bed (perhaps she should investigate the big idea behind snoring—it definitely could be used as a weapon to disturb the success of intelligent minds) and finally decided to forgive her hunt for sleep thirty minutes before her alarm would have rung.
Deciding that she could use this opportunity to read more about the vicious and violent history of the Ministry’s relations with dark creatures, she swept her curtains open to greet the beginnings of a sunny day. Quickly going through her morning routine of a refreshing shower, a cleansing brush of the teeth and a swift wardrobe check (she placed her outfit for the next day each night at the foot of her bed), she was ready to make up for lost time. Gathering her notes and textbooks from her bedside table was simple and she carefully placed her quills and ink-bottles inside her book bag.
Passing her friend’s bed on her way down to the common room, she noted that her friend looked very tired indeed. She had the beginning of shadows under her eyes and her Transfiguration textbook was about to fall off the side of the bed. Marianna rescued it, gently closing it, and placed it on her little side table. Maybe her friend would take more care with her studies after this, or at least be more careful with her books.
She crept down the stairs and through the common room, making sure to be as quiet as possible because even for Ravenclaws, the hour was early. Whispering a hushed greeting to the eagle knocker (if you were nice to it, it would give you the trickier riddles), she began the sharp descent down the tower stairs to reach the corridors common to all the Hogwarts students.
Even though she hadn’t liked stairs when she had first come to Hogwarts, for her home was a very comfortable ranch-style house that sprawled in the English countryside, she had gotten used to them. At the very least, they were excellent exercise for someone who preferred a comfortable chair and a book to wild winds and a quidditch pitch.
She took her time walking to the Great Hall, reciting small details in the empty corridors and pausing occasionally in areas with good lighting to read a passage to herself. Though she wouldn’t mind being the first person in the Hall (it had happened before), she didn’t want to arrive there before the food.
When she pushed open the large wooden door, carefully cradling the book in her free arm, she was greeted by the welcome smells of fried eggs, crisp bacon, grilled tomatoes, tea and a myriad of fruits and cereals. Her footsteps echoing in the otherwise empty hall, she cleared a spot at her House table and created a small study area amongst the food.
Her studying was punctuated by small breaks to nibble on toast and chew her cereal (oatmeal was great brain food) and the sounds of other students preparing themselves for the day ahead. The table slowly started to fill around her but no one had disturbed her.
The volume in the hall rose steadily until Marianna found herself unable to concentrate. Glancing at a fellow student’s watch, she realized that class was due to start soon and closed the book. After making sure that no crumbs adorned its cover and no jam decorated its pages, she lifted her book bag and secured it on her shoulder.
She opened the book again after standing, with the thought that on the walk back to her room she would have time to verify several facts and reread the conclusion. She estimated that she should have just enough time to return the book to her dormitory before class time if she left now- and with that thought in mind she stepped into the aisle and directly into the path of another student.
Marianna barely registered that the girl, a Hufflepuff, who looked to be several years younger than her and ashamed of her actions, had said sorry as she realized that the contents of the plate of food the girl had been carrying (who carries a plate of food out of the hall?) were now on the pages of her book—the book that she had been so careful to preserve and that Madam Pince had been so protective of.
She watched, horrified, as the grease from the eggs soaked into the pages, staining the white paper and smearing the black text. Her grip loosened and the book tipped backwards, the eggs sliding off and onto the floor.
“Do you have any idea of what you’ve done?”
A book had been damaged.
A tool of knowledge had been ruined.
Ruined. Damaged. Because of her.
Marianna’s next actions weren’t something that she was proud of, but something that she treasured had been desecrated.
She insulted the girl and made sure she knew that she was not the one who was going to face Madam Pince’s wrath. She, after all, hadn’t been the one to spill eggs on the pages of a book.
“You’re a blundering idiot of a toad and it’s because of you that I’m going to fail my test!”
Oh, she sincerely hoped not but she had to make sure that the girl was aware of the seriousness of her mistake. Marianna had wanted to glance over a few minor details before class, something she could not do with an egg-stained book.
With a parting slight, she swept out of the hall, determined to find a spell to repair the damage caused by the Hufflepuff. She hadn’t gone very far before she realized that she wouldn’t be able to reach the library with enough time to research decently and still make it to class on time so she turned around and came chest-to-face with Professor Flitwick.
“Miss Crabgrass, that was not an appropriate treatment of another student. How do you wish to explain yourself?”
Though she was much taller than him, Professor Flitwick had the ability of making the tallest of his students ashamed of their actions. He had been an astounding student in his youth and had made many remarkable contributions to Wizarding society, as well as being a Master Duelist. He was one that many Ravenclaws respected and aspired to be and he commanded their respect well.
“I’m sorry sir. I just- It’s a- She spilled eggs-” She sighed. There was no good way to explain her actions. She knew of no one else, except for Madam Pince, who treasured books as they deserved to be. She had allowed her emotions to rule her actions and she had probably scarred the bizarre Hufflepuff. “There is no suitable explanation for my actions and I must apologize. I’ve been stressed this past week and I needed that book…” She let her voice fade away. They were just excuses, ones that sounded flimsy to her ears without the emotion she felt in her heart, and she wouldn’t allow herself to degrade with them. She focused instead on Professor Flitwick, whose eyes were dim and sad, though his face was soft.
“I know, but you must be punished for your actions. We cannot allow students to scream at other students without repercussion.” Marianna wanted to say that she hadn’t been screaming (her voice hadn’t been nearly that loud), but she bit her tongue. She didn’t want to receive anything more than the detention she was sure to be assigned.
“I am aware that you are busy with your workload, so I will only assign one detention, to be served this Saturday under Mr. Filch’s guidance. It will be up to his discretion what your detention will entail.” Marianna could only nod. It could have been worse—he could have assigned it on a week night when there was less time to spend on assignments or he could have placed her in the tutoring program and left her to help those who couldn’t understand the simple concepts, much less the complex subjects that she enjoyed studying.
“Now, Miss Crabgrass, I believe that classes will be starting any minute. You should be on your way.” He gave her a small smile. “I shall see you in Charms later today.”
Marianna muttered a goodbye.
As she was rushing towards the staircase that would lead her to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, she heard the bell sound through the corridors.