Chapter 7 : Chapter Seven
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Despite spending breakfast with my closest friends, I somehow felt a million miles away. I sat between Lacey and Charlotte, vacantly watching the bubbles in my pumpkin juice rise to the surface of the glass, and then – pop- melt into the liquid just as quickly as they’d arrived. Lacey and Gemma (who was seated directly opposite me), were gossiping about an incident which had (presumably) occurred the previous day. Although I didn’t usually care for mindless gossip, I was usually at least aware of the hottest topics around the school. I was able to nod along, and laugh in all the right places, pretend I cared. But right now, I didn’t have a single clue what the girls were discussing. And I quite frankly didn’t care; my mind was on far more important matters. I was thinking about the events of yesterday (the day I’d spent in 1977). I was drowning in a vat of constantly changing emotions; guilt, dread, fear, sympathy… and something strange, a tingly feeling I couldn’t quite put my finger on. But most importantly, I felt guilty for the way I’d treated Sirius last night. He was right, he was just trying to cheer me up. He was trying to make light in a terrible situation. And of course, I’d ruined it. I’d shouted at him and stormed away, and I had no chance of apologising. I hadn’t even explained the situation to Mary, and so I felt even more guilt for not providing her some form of warning. This guilt had intensified when I’d found the letter she’d written me this morning, detailing the events of the day she’d spent in my life yesterday.
Dear Marissa, it read,
Although tiresome, I thought I’d summarise the day’s events, as I still believe this would be beneficial to the both of us.
The day started slowly – I had toast for breakfast whilst Lacey talked my ear off about some Hufflepuff boy she’s got her eye on. Louis, or something along those lines. I didn’t really pay much attention, but pretended to for your benefit. You’re welcome.
First lesson was Divination. Why do you take Divination? There are so many subjects which are more worthy of my time, such as Care of Magical Creatures. Palm reading, seriously? So I had to read your friend Gemma’s palm. I like Gemma, although somebody needs to tell her when to stop talking. I told Gemma that her palm said she’s going to die in three months. She was really upset and I almost felt bad, but then Professor Firenze explained that I was reading the wrong line; she was actually going to live a long, happy life. Oopsie.
Next was Herbology. We were extracting bulbator pus. I refused to participate (I’d rather not get covered in pus). Professor Longbottom deducted ten points from Gryffindor for my attitude, and said it was very out of character – I’m guessing the real Marissa is a model student. Sorry to bring your reputation down, but there is no chance I’m touching pus. Even if Lacey did lecture me about how we’d need to be able to extract the pus for our NEWTs. Whatever.
Had Lunch. Pretty uneventful. Ate a ham sandwich with salad.
After Lunch was Transfiguration. Where’s Professor McGonagall?? I’m a dab hand at Transfig, turned a table into a Shetland pony. Earned those ten points back.
Dinner was eventful. Lacey swooned over Louis le Hufflepuff. Gemma and Charlotte discussed celebrities – none of whom I’d heard of. Who on Earth are The Bezoars? Sebastian turned up with a new girlfriend – Leah le Hufflepuff – and proceeded to eat her face. James II looked like he was going to puke. Everyone did, actually. It was disgusting. Put me right off my beef stew.
Spent some time down by the Quidditch pitch this evening – I’m not really into Quidditch, but I must say, those Ravenclaw chasers are looking pretty good.
Other than that, not much else to report. Went to bed after my Quidditch rendezvous.
Hope you’re not ruining my life,
Although blunt, she’d taken the time to write down details of the day which I might need to know to get through today, and I’d left her with nothing. I picked up my glass of pumpkin juice and took a large, guilty gulp.
“You were there, weren’t you, Marissa?” Charlotte asked suddenly, pulling me from my trip down Guilt Lane.
“Where?” I asked, swallowing the mouthful of juice and looking around the table inquisitively. I’d zoned out from the conversation and had no idea what topic the girls were now discussing.
“She was!” Gemma butted in. For once, I was thankful for Gemma’s interruption, as I had no idea where Charlotte was talking about, and whether Mary had been there or not.
“Where?” I repeated.
“Yeah, she saw the whole thing,” Laced sighed sympathetically, whilst ignoring my question.
Why was she giving me sympathy? I supposed wherever I’d been must have been somewhere undesirable. The Slytherin common room, perhaps? But why would Mary go there? Maybe it was the Gryffindor boy’s dormitory? But surely Mary wouldn’t have gone there either… unless she still had a thing for Sebastian… except, didn’t she say he’d brought a new girlfriend to dinner? So it couldn’t be that…
“Oh Marissa, I’m so sorry,” Gemma was saying, placing a hand on my shoulder, “I bet you felt awful. How did it make you feel?”
“Err…” I still wasn’t entirely sure what the topic at hand was, so I thought I’d flip it around, “Well, what did you think, Gemma?”
“Ugh, I thought it was grim!” Gemma shrieked, pulling a face.
“It was disgusting,” Charlotte agreed, nodding, “To just bring her over here and start snogging her like that - ugh!”
Ah, so it must have been the Sebastian incident. But why would that affect me? Why would Lacey be giving me sympathy about it? Why would it matter what I thought of the situation?
“And to do it right in front of you as well,” Lacey added (shaking her head sympathetically – again), “I could just imagine how hurt you were feeling at that moment.”
“Why would you think I’d be hurt?” I asked, bewildered, “I loathe Sebastian!”
The girls looked at each other, then back at me.
“Oh Marissa,” Charlotte said, touching my hand gently, “you don’t need to pretend anymore. We all saw how you and Sebastian acted around one another the other day. You don’t need to pretend anymore. We support you whatever you choose to do, whoever you choose to like, whoever you choose to date. It’s okay, really! You just need to accept your own feelings and run with them!”
What was going on here?
“You… think I… fancy Sebastian?” I asked, looking at each of my friends in turn.
They nodded in unison.
“Of course you do,” Gemma snorted.
“You know he doesn’t really care for Leah, right?” Lacey said softly.
“Yeah, he’s only doing it to make you jealous,” Charlotte added, “It’s because you rejected him so suddenly after flirting with him. You shouldn’t mess him around like that, Marissa. This is why you need to accept your feelings. Perhaps this will work, and you’ll realise the reason you feel jealous is because you secretly like him.”
“But I’m not jealous!” I protested, “I genuinely do not fancy Sebastian Barton! I wasn’t in the right frame of mind the other day – I was delirious with a... a fever! I’ve never liked him in that way and I never will. I find him foul, and loathsome, and generally just a Grade A prick!”
The girls all exchanged exasperated glances.
“Me thinks the lady doth protest too much,” Lacey said in a sing-song voice, as Charlotte said, “if you say so!”
“Whatever,” Gemma said, gathering her things together ready for class, “I’m bored of this conversation. Let’s go to class.”
Our first lesson, Defence Against The Dark Arts, was a theory lesson, and so I was able to slouch at the back of the classroom, lost deep within my own thoughts. I couldn’t help but think about the absurdity of the situation. Mary must have genuinely fancied Sebastian for my friends to actually believe I liked him. And Sebastian himself must have put on quite a convincing show for the girls to think he felt the same way.
Perhaps he really did like me?
“Ha!” I scoffed, aloud. Lacey (who was scribbling down hurried notes beside me) shushed me curtly. I quietly returned to my thoughts.
Of course Sebastian didn’t fancy me. Clearly, he was playing some twisted sort of game. Not a very funny one, if you ask me, but that was Sebastian for you. He always did have a warped sense of humour.
I felt dissociated from my classmates as I pondered the reality of the emerging war back in 1977. I kept having to remind myself that the war was won in the world they knew, and that although I knew good had conquered evil, I still dwelled on the innocent lives lost, and the families torn apart by the war. My classmates knew of the war, and although they sympathised with those who had suffered, they were detached from the reality, whereas I was almost experiencing it first hand in a sense. Obviously I wasn’t on the front line, duelling Voldemort and his death eaters. But I was dipping in and out of the lead up to the war, and it was a humbling experience. I felt helpless to protect the people I was developing friendships with back in 1977. I couldn’t change the past – if I did, who knew what could happen to the future? If I managed to save just one life, that life could change the entire future.
I was beginning to care about my – Mary’s – friends. Lily, Sirius, Grandfather Potter, Remus, even Peter, who I had barely spoken to. Whenever I was in the present time, I began to miss spending time with them, wondering what was happening in their time. But once I was back in their time, I missed my real friends desperately, and hated not knowing being able to keep up with their lives. I hadn’t even asked Lacey about ‘Louis le Hufflepuff’ – whom I assumed was Louis Weasley (Grandbaby Potter’s fair-haired cousin). I had no idea what was going on in Gemma or Charlotte’s lives. I vowed to make more of an effort, but it was so difficult to juggle friendships and schoolwork whilst switching between decades.
After Defence, we had Charms. Today, Professor MacMillan was teaching us about summoning charms. Yesterday (in 1977) Professor Flitwick had taught us about summoning charms. Although the two professors had slightly different teaching approaches, the lessons were largely similar. Was this what my lessons would be like for the next year? Would I be simply experiencing repeats of the same lessons? Perhaps I’d miss important lessons and fall behind on my schoolwork.
Although these technicalities were making my life difficult, I couldn’t help but admit I was beginning to enjoy my time in 1977, and would miss it if the switches suddenly stopped. However, the realistic, sensible side of me knew that I needed to find a way to end the switches – particularly in case I somehow ended up trapped in the past, in the midst of a dreadful war. Nevertheless, part of me wanted to continue, to see what would happen.
I knew I had to find a way to stop it. I knew it. I just didn’t know where to begin.
At lunch time, I noticed Lacey glancing toward the Hufflepuff table, and made an effort to ask about Louis.
“You really like him, don’t you?” I asked. She jumped, blushing furiously.
“Well, I mean, he’s – he’s alright, isn’t he?” she stammered, avoiding my eyes.
“He’s cute,” I observed, watching as the boy in question laughed at something his friend had said, “You’d look good together.”
“Do you really think so?” Lacey asked, eyes bright.
“Of course you would,” Charlotte joined in, “but you’ll never be able to prove the theory unless you make a move.”
“B-But he doesn’t even know I exist!” Lacey sighed dramatically, poking at her potatoes with a fork.
“You should talk to him,” I said wisely, “Just take it slow and start a conversation with him sometime. Do you two have anything in common? You like gobstones don’t you, perhaps he does too?”
Lacey shook her head.
“No, I don’t think he does. I’ve never seen him at gobstones club anyway. And I just can’t picture him playing gobstones in the Hufflepuff common room either.”
“Maybe he’s more of an exploding snap sort of guy,” Gemma said thoughtfully, “We could host an inter-house exploding snap championship!”
“No,” I said, “That’s going too far just to hook them up. Maybe you should just go over and introduce yourself sometime.”
Lacey looked mortified.
“I can’t just swan up to the Hufflepuff table and introduce myself! He’ll think I’m some sort of stalker!”
“Well, aren’t you?” Gemma asked, eyebrow cocked.
“No!” Lacey cried.
“Louis and Lacey,” Charlotte sighed dreamily, “It has such a nice ring to it.”
Lacey blushed again, poking more holes into her potatoes (yet not actually eating them).
“I… I guess I’ve seen him around the library… maybe I could, you know, ask him to help me to find a book or something?”
“Oh my GOSH!” Gemma shrieked, “What a fabulous idea! Why didn’t I think of that??”
“Because you’re an idiot,” I replied, “But it is a good idea. You should definitely try that, Lacey.”
Lacey nodded, and finally tucked into what was left of her potatoes.
I didn’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before. It was so simple. Such an easy way to gather information about life in the 1970s.
History of Magic.
Professor Bell had treated us to a double period devoted to a recap of the wars against Voldemort. Most students were only vaguely interested – they’d heard it all before countless times – however, I was paying avid attention to each and every detail that Professor Bell told us.
She explained the rise of Lord Voldemort – the rapidly increasing incidents, the disappearances, the deaths. She told us how the Ministry mobilised it’s Aurors, intensified and advanced their training. She explained how people fought to remain strong, to keep themselves and their friends and families safe. She described the horrors of the imperius curse, how Voldemort and his followers grew stronger and more determined each day, how the deaths and disappearances became commonplace. How people lived in fear that they would be next. How people crumbled and gave in to Lord Voldemort, agreed to join his ranks in order to save themselves. She told us of the prophecy, and how Voldemort had marked Harry Potter as his equal.
But despite it being a double lesson, of course there just wasn’t enough time to cover the whole story, and that was where she left it. I more or less knew the rest of the tale, however that hadn’t been the reason I was listening. I was listening out for familiar names – names of those I knew and cared for back in 1977 – waiting with baited breath as she spoke of the fates of those who encountered Voldemort.
It had hit me hard when I realised who Harry Potter’s parents had been. The parents who Voldemort had murdered in order to get to baby Harry. The parents who had protected their child to the end and beyond.
Lily and James Potter.
Of course I’d known James Potter had been murdered, but I just don’t think I’d processed it properly. It sunk in now, as the reality became clearer, that Grandfather Potter never survived to see the end of the war, to see his son defeat Voldemort, to meet Grandbaby Potter and his other grandchildren.
And Lily. As much as I tried to deny it, hoping that it must have been another Lily, I knew it could only be Lily Evans. She was always described as having long red hair and startling green eyes. And that was definitely the Lily I knew.
As everybody filed out of the classroom, carefree, I stayed in my seat, rooted to the spot in horror as the realisation that my new friends were in fact dead washed over me.
“Miss Marriott?” Professor Bell’s voice drifted into my reverie, “Marissa, is everything okay?”
“Oh,” I started, “I … it’s just horrible isn’t it? What happened in the war, I mean.”
Her face softened.
“It was,” she agreed sombrely, “And of course, that was only half of it. I know it’s hard to hear about, but it’s so important that we remember. We have to remember, to remind ourselves of our values, and our morals. To respect one another, and to overcome prejudice. And we must remember, as a mark of respect to those who lost their lives in order to allow us to live ours freely.”
Professor Bell had a very grave look on her face. I realised that she must have lived through the war – part of it, at least. In fact, most of my professors must have experienced it to some degree. They must have loved, and lost, friends and even family. How naïve I had been not to realise this earlier.
“Professor Bell,” I said softly, “I’m so sorry – of course I respect those who suffered for us. Did you – I mean, were you – I…”
“I was honoured to be friends with some of the bravest people I knew, who fought valiantly against the dark side. I don’t speak of this very often, but I almost died myself. Had it not been for Harry Potter, I almost certainly wouldn’t be here today to teach you about the history of magic. Now, Marissa, what is it that’s upset you so? You look so troubled. I’m sure you’ve heard this story countless times before now, it’s so famous. Is there any reason it’s affecting you like this now?”
“I just can’t help but think about the people who lost their lives,” I hung my head, “They used to just seem like words on a page, names in passing… but now I keep thinking about what those people were like, you know? Their personalities, their families, their friends. Their hopes for the future. L-Lily and James Potter. They never got to see their son grow up, or meet their grandchildren. I keep thinking how different life would be for them, if they had survived. They didn’t deserve to die.”
Professor Bell didn’t speak for a while. She looked thoughtful.
“They didn’t deserve to die,” she eventually spoke, “nobody did. I had many friends who lost their lives in the war, and I grieve them every day. I wonder how their lives would be now, and I think about the hopes and dreams they’d had for the future. But of course, everything happens for a reason, and I thank them every day for the life they’ve given me. If things were different and they had survived, others would have died. Voldemort may have won the war. Things would be thrown out of balance. Everything happens for a reason, Marissa, you’ll do well to remember that.”
That night in the dormitory, Lacey asked me what I wanted to do once I’d graduated from Hogwarts.
“I’m not sure,” I eventually answered, after pondering the question for a moment, “I always fancied myself becoming a healer, but now I’m not so sure I could handle it – you know, if a patient wasn’t going to survive, I’m not sure I could bear to tell them, not to mention their families. Perhaps some sort of Ministry job. Maybe something to do with the Law.”
“I would have thought you’d be more into becoming an Historian,” Gemma said, sneeringly.
“What do you mean?” I frowned.
“Couldn’t drag your attention away from Professor Bell today. Never knew you were so interested in History of Magic,” she replied, “or do you just have a thing for Prof. Bell? Didn’t realise you swung that way.”
“Well if she did like women, it wouldn’t be a problem,” Charlotte interjected, “We’d still accept her for who she is. You don’t fancy Professor Bell though, do you Marissa?”
“No, no,” I said, “I just wanted to pay attention as I know it’s something that’ll come up in the exams.”
“Exams aren’t until the Summer,” Gemma rolled her eyes, “You’re such an overachiever.”
Lacey cleared her throat.
“I think I’d like to become a teacher,” she said timidly.
“What, you want to work at Hogwarts?” Gemma scoffed, “Merlin, I love Hogwarts as much as the next Gryffindor, but I at least want to try other things first before coming back!”
“No, I mean I want to start my own school. Teaching younger children the basics of magical theory, along with reading and writing and arithmetic. Children born into magical families are mainly home schooled until they come to Hogwarts, and muggleborn children usually attend what they call primary schools, so first years are often at different levels before they arrive at Hogwarts. I want to bridge the gap so children are all on a similar level during first year. I was thinking about opening a Summer school for muggleborn children too, in order to prepare them for Hogwarts, so they don’t feel so far behind when they start.”
“Wow,” Charlotte breathed, “That’s such a lovely idea! I wonder why nobody has thought of that before?”
“Nobody really cares, do they?” Gemma said, “They don’t think about things like that. Lacey’s a naturally caring person, of course she would be the first to do it.”
As everybody revelled in the rare compliment from Gemma, my thoughts drifted back to 1977. What were Mary’s plans for the future? What were Sirius’ dreams? What jobs did Lily and James go into after Hogwarts?
Did Mary and Sirius survive to fulfil their hopes and dreams? How about Remus and Peter?
I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to know. Of course, I already knew that Lily and James hadn’t survived. But they’d been happy, at least for a short while. They’d found one another, fallen in love, gotten married. They’d had Harry and bought their first home.
It was devastating that their happiness had been cut short, but I’d decided not to dwell on it. It was far too horrible to think about. To me, Lily Evans and James Potter were still alive. They’d always be alive in 1977. That’s all that mattered.
Ignorance is bliss. I didn’t want to know the fate of the others, not now anyway. I wondered if Mary was curious about her own fate. I decided it was time to write her a letter. I announced that I was going to bed, and quickly changed into my pyjamas. I climbed into bed, pulled the hangings closed around me, and began to write.
I’m so sorry I didn’t write to you last night – I was just too tired that I forgot! I’m not sure if you have found out or not, but yesterday there was news of Dorcas Meadowes and her family in the Daily Prophet – her father’s body had been found, and Dorcas and her family had disappeared. This news was understandably upsetting to those who knew Dorcas, and although I didn’t know her personally, it hit me hard as I hadn’t realised the magnitude of the war.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, things are different in 2020. There aren’t disappearances and deaths reported regularly in the morning paper, which is why I found it so difficult to process the news. I think it finally dawned on me that I’ve been spending time in the ‘70s, living a life I’d only heard about in history textbooks and lessons. In fact, I had a History of Magic lesson today all about life in the 70s and early 80s. I won’t go into too much detail and I know you’re not keen on Divination and if you know too much about your future, people might begin to think you’re a seer. But surely you’re curious about what happened? From coming to 2020, where it is clear good overcame evil, you must want to know details? I have been wondering myself, what happened to yourself and the others (Lily, Sirius, James, Remus, Peter, Marlene, etc). I wonder if you’re all here in 2020 – you’d be, what, 60 years old? But I guess I’d rather not know, for the time being. I think I’d find it far too weird, knowing what everyone does with their lives. I’d probably slip up and tell people what their futures hold, and ruin the surprise for them.
In other news, I suppose you’re wondering what I’ve done to upset Sirius. Well, as I was upset about the news, Sirius and James thought it was a great idea to pull a prank on a second year in order to cheer me up. I was in such a mood that it had the opposite effect, and I shouted at Sirius. Of course, Lily backed me up.
I finished the letter by quickly scrawling a run-down of the current day’s events and signed off. I rolled the parchment up into a scroll and placed it beneath my pillow, then rested my head atop it, exhausted.
AN – I’m finding this story sooo impossible to get moving! I’m loving writing it but I feel the pace is so slow, mainly because the story jumps between the two different years one day at a time, and there is so much detail to include. However, I’ve started to plan Chapter Eight and it should (hopefully) span more than just the one day and should be faster paced, although the obvious drawback will be a smaller amount of detail.
There’s the slight problem of the fact that I have misplaced the entire plan I wrote for this story (which I started over a year ago) and I only have a vague idea of where the story is headed. So if it ever seems to veer off topic, I apologise in advance. I know the finish line, just the hurdles inbetween are a bit obscured.
I’m really enjoying writing this story and I’m loving seeing the view count go up, but I’d also love to hear your opinions so I can get idea of how the story is being received! So, dear reader, I’d love it if you could take the time to drop me a quick review :)
Thank you for reading! xx
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