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Chapter 5 : Dreams
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“Ah!” Mary screamed and sat straight up in her bed. Her sheets were wrapped tightly around her legs like a cage and her face was covered in a thin sheen of sweat. She looked wildly around, not registering that Florence was mere inches away from her. “Wha..?” Mary pulled the blankets tighter around her and huddled against the headboard.
“What the hell, Mary?” Florence said. She looked at Mary with a bored expression on her face. “Calm down, you’re in the dormitory. I’m also freezing, nudge up.” Florence yanked some blanket out of Mary’s hands and dove into the bed. She lay there, looking up at the ceiling for a moment until Mary’s laboured breathing came to a halt.
“What was that about?” Florence finally asked. Her clipped tone told Mary that she was quite annoyed over being awoken at this time of night. Mary looked out the window, it was a calm night and she could even see a few stars peeking from breaks in the clouds. It must have still been quite early as there was no early morning glimmer; the sky still a black hole.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Mary said. Before Florence could reply, a blonde hair girl appeared on the side of Mary’s bed. She yawned widely and fell onto the bottom of the bed.
“You've been moaning and groaning in here for at least a half hour,” Mafalda said.
“And mumblyelling,” Florence put in.
“What’s mumblyelling?” Mafalda asked, looking at Florence weirdly.
“When someone is quietly yelling something, but some words you can’t quite make out, like in a mumble, duh,” Florence answered with a roll of her eyes. “For someone whose supposed to be so clever you couldn’t work that out?” Florence raised her eyebrows in what appeared to be a menacing way.
“I rely on real words for communication. Anyway, you were causing quite the commotion before Florence decided to take pity on you and wake you up,” Mafalda said.
“You really should be thanking me,” Florence said.
“I honestly don’t know what you guys are talking about, I don’t even remember it,” Mary said. She looked at both of them with her large brown eyes. Florence coughed the world ‘liar’ into her hands.
“Right, that’s why you looked like you were going to be killed when I shook you awake?” Florence asked. She looked up at Mary with as much innocence as she could muster. Mary didn’t meet her eyes.
“Whatever it was, it was a dream. It means nothing.”
“You kept mumbling something about ‘don’t, don’t, I didn’t ... anything, leave, no!’ type things, over and over again. Then something about ghosts and walking dead. Honestly, it was kind of scary, Mary,” Mafalda said. She stretched out her long body in a cat-like way, before curling up into a small ball..
“I don’t know, I almost think you’re making this all up for a laugh. Can we all just get some sleep?” Mary replied.
They both gave her a suspicious look, but Mary had already unclenched her fists from the blankets around her. She was currently patting down her matted hair in quick movements as if this was a normal moment for them to congregate on her bed in the middle of the night.
“You’re playing that card, really, Mary?” Florence pushed. She yanked Mary’s arm down from her hair and forced the other girl to look at her. Mary frowned and slowly pulled her arm away from Florence.
“We’re your friends; it may help to talk about it. I wasn’t going to mention it, but this isn’t the first time I’ve heard you with your nightmares,” Mafalda said quietly, in case anyone else in the dormitory was awake and listening.
Mary looked out the window and watched the clouds move slowly across the deep sky. She focussed on the darker patches of sky, it looked like there were holes up there too where the stars and light could not reflect onto.
“I don’t have anything to talk about,” Mary said quietly. She paused, tracing her hand on the patterned duvet on her bed and picked at a gold thread that was coming out. “It was only a dream and I can’t even remember the specifics.”
Mafalda sighed and Florence grumbled and threw herself off the bed.
“Well, this intervention did not work,” Florence said with a loud huff.
“Quiet, Florence, others might be sleeping,” Mafalda hissed.
Florence shrugged her shoulder and tottered off to her own bed. She was muttering under her breath about the gigantic waste of time this was. Mafalda stayed for a moment longer and peered at Mary closely. Mary wasn’t meeting her eyes and was instead watching the clouds outside. If they could talk, what would they say? Would they be able to put a stop to this madness?
“I’m fine, Mafalda, honestly,” Mary said after a time. Her voice sounded resigned, but firm.
Mafalda straightened the duvet before she too left Mary’s side. There was little else the two girls could do for their friend, or perhaps, they did not actually want to see the darkness Mary saw whenever she closed her eyes. So, they’d push, but never hard enough, possibly they both realized they would too be forced to recognize the disease that was flooding into Hogwarts.
Mary lay awake for the rest of the night, blankets drawn up to her chin as she stared blankly at the ceiling above. She occasionally flinched as if trying to block out a memory, but other than that, if anyone were to just look at her figure they’d assume she had fallen back asleep. It would also be assumed that she was as alright as she claimed to be. Mary liked the pretense of it, the illusion that the night would pass and the day would follow and soon everything would be forgotten. Most people worried about their own problems first above others. Mary knew the two girls would slip back into their routine and forget the nightmares.
The day did begin. The clouds deepened, giving Hogwarts a dull and hazy look. The birds flying from the tops of the trees in the Forbiddon forest looked dreary themselves, as if they were lifting a great weight into the sky. The grounds were foggy, and a heavy mist hovered over the Black Lake. It looked eerie, it could have been said that someone would be able to walk upon the ghostly apparition of it.
Mary was in the shower when everyone else started to drag themselves out of bed. She was ready for breakfast and waiting for Mafalda and Florence in the common room before any of them had even put on their robes.
James was in the common room as well. He was sitting by the fire with Sirius and they were playing a game of exploding snap. She meandered over to their game and watched with mild amusement as James’ cards exploded into his face with a hiss of smoke.
“Why, Mary, I think you might have been the bad luck James needed to finally lose a match,” Sirius said with a wink.
“Sorry…?” Mary responded with a slight frown. She was never sure how to take Sirius, she always felt like he was vaguely insulting her. “Though, why are you playing so early in the morning?”
“It keeps the mind sharp; you wonder why we do so well in class? This is the secret to our genius,” Sirius replied. He laughed at his own joke and threw his hand onto the pile. It exploded again, emitting a smelly smoke. James picked up the pile and shoved it deeply into his robes.
“How’s it going, Mary? You look dead tired,” James said.
“Fine, didn’t sleep last night - was reading a really interesting book,” Mary said, she looked at the fire and wished it were higher. She was feeling so cold, she reckoned she could be eaten up by the mist the way her body felt not her own.
“Books? You know, there used to be a time you stayed up all night simply because you were keen on some midnight adventure,” James said with a gleam in his hazel eyes.
“Well, now my adventures are in books,” Mary replied after a slight pause. She did not have to wonder what happened to that girl before. Magic had happened. Hogwarts had changed for her. The walls had become prison cells, replaying the moments she wished to forget. Or the moments that hung on the edges of her mind that she couldn’t quite make sense of why they were even there.
“You hear that Grace went to live with her aunt?” James went on. “As if anything could be safer than here. Yet she runs off out there, she’s sure to be found. Damn idiot.”
“Mate, I’ve heard you say this a thousand times, give it a rest!” Sirius said, rolling his eyes.
“Honestly though, where else is safer? We have Dumbledore,” James retorted. Sirius rolled his eyes and leaned back in his armchair.
“Yeah, because one old man is going to save the world. Let’s be honest here,” Sirius replied sarcastically.
Before the conversation could go further Mafalda and Florence came down the stairs. They were both still yawning and stretching. Mary stood up and, waving to James and Sirius, followed the girls out of the portrait hole.
“How do you stand them?” Florence said with annoyance. She shot an annoyed look over her shoulder at the portrait. Mary imagined that Florence actually thought James could feel her glare.
“He did give you the Beater position,” Mafalda replied. Her book bag started to slide off her shoulder and Mafalda quickly shrugged it higher. “And we all know how much you just love Quidditch and were begging for the spot.”
Florence frowned and didn’t respond to Mafalda’s taunt about her new found interest in the sport. They walked down the winding staircases in silence. They jumped over the fifth floor stair that always disappeared when one stood on it and bypassed the fourth floor staircase altogether and took a longer route. The staircase seemed to always move when someone set foot on it; usually changing so they’d land on a higher floor than they began on.
The Entrance Hall was dotted with other students from different houses. The sixth year Hufflepuffs, Mary noted, seemed more fragmented than last year. They had turned into the Entrance Hall just before them. Florence smiled at one of the boys, Bronson, who was the captain of their Quidditch team. Bronson briefly smiled back before turning back to what sounded like a thrilling conversation about Murtlap root and whether it could be used to prank some boy named Clarence. Mary was sure that was one of their other dorm mates, if she could remember correctly. It was hard to keep them all straight, but they usually stuck together like clams.
Florence outwardly laughed at the conversation, but tried to hide it behind a series of really awkward coughs. The three girls dipped into the first seats on Gryffindor table and Mafalda laughed.
“What was that about? You’ve been ogling Bronson for ages now, Florence, is this why you joined the Gryffindor team? You think that somehow Bronson McMillan will be interested in you?” Mafalda said, still laughing. She hit the table with her hand lightly to express her glee.
“Hardly, if I really wanted him, he’d be mine in a moment. However, he’s a Hufflepuff and honestly, I could do better than that,” Florence replied tartly. She grabbed a piece of toast and filled up her teacup.
The two continued bantering over breakfast as Mary sat beside them with a book in her hands, too tired to try and put out the fires that were starting beside her. It was likely one of them would say something that would actually offend the other, like always, but Mary was far too engrossed in the book to pay much attention.
The Morning Post came and a letter dropped into Florence’s lap and Florence glared at the dark red handwriting for a moment before taking the letter roughly in her hands.
“Who’s writing to you?” Mafalda asked, shoving a spoonful of porridge in her mouth.
“None of your business. God, you don’t need to know everything about my life,” Florence ground out. Her eyes were on the letter though and she tore open it with force. Her lips were white as she read it and she soon gave the letter back to the brown owl that was perched on her shoulder. The owl soared back out one of the high windows.
The group fell back into silence and Mafalda continued to shoot Florence annoyed looks until they stood up to head to Charms. It was one of the few classes they all took together. They were walking behind a group of fourth year Gyrffindors who were excitedly buzzing about the new Hogsmeade trip that was posted in the common room a few mornings ago. It was scheduled for the Saturday of Halloween in a couple weeks. The younger Gryffindors were happily describing the joke products they wanted and the blood lollies they wanted to buy from Honeydukes to give to a younger sibling who wasn’t at Hogwarts yet.
“Am I the only one who goes because I want to get new quills and drink loads of Butterbeer?” Mafalda said after a while.
“Only because in third year James Potter and Sirius Black convinced you to eat one of those eyeballs and you’ve boycotted Honeydukes ever since. Why you’d ever believe they would taste like peppermints is beyond my comprehension,” Florence replied, laughing.
“It’s a sweet shop; it’s supposed to have sweets!” Mafalda replied indignantly.
“She just hates to be reminded that’s she’s secretly a right duffer,” Florence said to Mary as an aside. Mafalda rolled her eyes.
“Like it even matters anymore, ladies,” Madalda said as they walked through the door of the Charms classroom. Students were already sitting in the amphitheatre type classroom and the girls sat down in the middle where there were three empty chairs. Mary noted that Lily was sitting alone in the front. For a moment she thought of calling her up to sit with them. However, knowing the fit Florence would have thrown stopped her from letting it grow from a mere passing thought.
Laura White was usually in the class, but Mary had noted that she hadn’t shown up for class for a few weeks- ever since Laura had joined Ancient Runes actually. Maybe she’d simply switched classes, but this seemed like a fairly important course to be enrolled in considering most jobs required at least an A in Charms to even be considered. Mary pushed the thought away though and focused on the class itself. There was no point of mulling over things that would probably remain unknown.
Mary didn’t really want to know. She had learned to curb her curiosity well and mere thoughts were usually shut down before they grew into a spider web in her mind. She found it easier to focus on the things right in front of her.
The class dragged on for Mary, and what seemed like hours later the girls parted ways for their next class. Mary went to Care of Magical Creatures, Florence had a free period and Mafalda went to the fifth floor where Transfiguration was held. There was no longer any mist covering the grounds of Hogwarts and Mary walked by herself down the path to the paddock where Kettleburn usually started his classes. He promised they’d be learning about centaurs today. Mary felt particularly excited about this as Astronomy had always held a special place in her heart.
“Oh, look who it is lads,” a slimy voice said behind her. Mary felt tension in her muscles almost immediately. She knew the voice all too well. It visited her almost every night in her dreams.
“Poor thing, she doesn’t have anyone to hide behind this time. Where are your friends, Mary?” Avery said. Mulcibur and Avery caught up with her and walked in stride with her. Mary tried to ignore them and her breath started coming out in short gasps as if one of them was literally strangling her.
“Funny thing that happened to Grace’s family, tragic really,” Mulcibur said. He laughed hollowly. “Rumour has it, her father was a bit of a big mouth at the Ministry. Actually spouting off some pro-Mudblood rights shit.”
“Looks like that was the last thing he ever did. Poor fool got mixed up on the wrong side, it appears,” Avery added greasily. His breath tickled her ear.
“Blood traitors must be dealt with, especially when they show such disrespect to their own kind. Don’t you agree, love?” Mulcibur said. His voice was soft, almost said in a way that seemed caring. Mary knew all too well the menace behind it. Mulcibur knew how to hide and pretend to be something he wasn’t. He was a prefect and the perfect actor.
Mulcibur squeezed her hand and she jerked away, tripping over her feet as she did so, ending up sprawled on the ground. Her hands burned from the pebbles crushed beneath them. She remained there until she heard their feet move off towards the paddock. Finally, she moved slowly, noticing a rip in her robes by the knee. It felt wet to the touch and she assumed she’d have an open cut. She’d have to get Mafalda to mend it later. She pushed herself up, ignoring the tears that were threatening to fall and retreated back to the castle. Hopefully Kettleburn wouldn’t notice her absence, but she couldn’t handle facing them again.
She rushed into the woman’s toilet on the second floor. It was overflowing with water, which was coming from one of the stalls. The bathroom was usually out of order because of some ghost. Mary also knew that no-one would be in here and stuck her stinging hands underneath a tap. It didn’t work. She let out an annoyed hiss and tried the one next to it. Cool water gushed onto her hand and she washed away the dirt and grass stains. She rubbed harder as tears began to come down her blotchy cheeks. She bit down on her lower lip the harder she rubbed, letting out a small gasp when fresh blood ran down her hands.
She stared at it for a moment, her eyes wide with horror and turned the tap off. She was shaking. She couldn't stop. No matter how hard she commanded herself to, it was like her body had taken over, leaving her mind behind. She let out a dry sob and sank to the floor. Her hands were laid out beside her, feeling the water around her. Mary was getting soaked and she couldn’t imagine what her parents would say. This was not a MacDonald thing to do.
“Who is in my toilet?” a wispy, floaty sort of voice said. Mary looked up, horrified to be caught in this position by anyone. It was however, only a ghost with large eyes and glasses.
“Nobody,” Mary mumbled and looked down, ignoring the silvery girl. She seemed to take it as an affront though and crossed her arms. The ghost hovered, right above Mary’s left shoulder.
“You don’t look like a nobody, you have skin and bones and everything,” the ghost said in a mournful sort of way. A soft sniffle was heard. “You have everything, and you’re crying, but at least you’re not…you’re not dead.” The girl wailed and zoomed away, throwing herself back into the toilet, water sprayed everywhere.
Mary hardly seemed to notice and she pulled her knees up to her chest. Flashes of the dream came tumbling over, flashes she’d been trying so hard to keep out. She could still feel his hands on her. And sometimes, if the nightmares were strong enough, she could remember a whisper of death, of things walking that shouldn’t be. She closed her eyes and counted to ten before reciting the twelve uses of Dragon’s Blood. She would not think about it. It was simply a dream. It was a dream.
She forced herself to stand up and looked around the lavatory. It was dirty, a door to one of the toilets was hanging on one of its hinges and some of the metal sinks were rusting away. She gulped down another sob and almost laughed imagining what the expression of her parents' faces would be if they were to walk in and see her like this. They’d be infuriated. MacDonalds had much more respect than sitting in toilet water feeling sorry for oneself.
Mary performed a quick drying charm and walked out of the bathroom without a second look back. Dreams, she reasoned, were not worth so much fear. They made a person dwell on the past and forget the present. Mary willfully ignored the problem that her present was not looking so bright either. Not here, in the castle of false hopes. That was for another time.
Note: Thank you so much for reading and thank you to HeyMrsPotter for taking the time to look this over and beta it for me! I really hope you have enjoyed this new chapter!
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