14th September 2020
It was a beautiful morning. The early morning sun warmed my face as I gazed fondly at the soft layer of amber leaves sprinkled across the periwinkle surface of the lake from my seat on the windowsill. The almost-bare trees surrounding the water swaying calmly in the light autumn breeze. The dormitory was peaceful, punctuated only by the sounds of my sleeping friends’ slow breathing, and the buzzing inside my head as I reminisced of my date with Sirius. My mind kept flitting back to that kiss, and the many more which followed. The image of his slate grey eyes, speckled with passion, and the memory of his strong arms holding me; his gruff laugh as he retold a story about James, his soft murmurs of affection as he gently tucked strands of hair behind my ears; the way his hand felt warm yet firm as he pulled me from shop to shop. All of these memories, images, feelings washing over me as I allowed a smile to creep across my face as warmly as the sun.
I remained on my perch at the window for some time, just thinking, still and silent, until I heard the unmistakeable sounds of Gemma stirring. I slid softly from my spot, and returned to my bed to locate the most recent letter from Mary. If I was to avoid slipping up, I had to fill my mind with fake memories of yesterday, of Mary’s version of events from the previous day.
But there was no letter. I checked under the pillow – no letter. Under the bed – no letter. In my trunk – no letter. Even in my wardrobe, and still no god damn letter.
“M-morning Marissa,” a very sleepy-looking Charlotte yawned, “what are you doing?”
“Looking for something” I said distractedly as I rifled hurriedly through the wardrobe.
“It’s Sunday,” Gemma, this time, “just wear your pyjamas. That’s what I’m doing anyway – there’s no point in getting dressed on a Sunday.”
“No, it’s not –” I began, before realising that explaining I was looking for a letter in my wardrobe would arouse suspicion, “yeah I guess you’re right.”
Once Charlotte and Lacey were up and appropriately dressed (Gemma and I opted to remain in our pyjamas) the four of us headed to the grounds, where we sat in the shade of a tree by the lake. We’d missed breakfast, as the girls didn’t wake up until past nine o’clock. Of course, I’d been awake for hours before then, but I wasn’t hungry.
Lacey cast a disapproving glance at Gemma and I before resting her back against the tree trunk and producing a copy of The Standard Book of Spells Grade 7 from her bag and burying her face deep inside its pages. She’d almost refused to come down to the lake, arguing that she would die of embarrassment if she was spotted with Gemma and I in our pyjamas, but Charlotte had assured her that she would back up Lacey’s claim that she didn’t know us if anyone strolled by, and so Lacey had reluctantly agreed to come.
Charlotte seated herself next to Lacey now, and pulled some string and beads from the pocket of her robes.
“I’ve taken up jewellery making,” she answered in reply to the quizzical look on Gemma’s face.
Gemma and I looked at one another, shrugged, and flopped down on our stomachs on the grass.
“Put the book down, Lacey, and tell us how your chat with Louis went yesterday.” Gemma commanded.
My head snapped up just in time to see a flash of crimson cross the very little of Lacey’s face I could see (her forehead, if you were wondering).
“You spoke to Louis?” I asked, “When?”
Lacey sighed, closing her book and scowling in Gemma’s direction.
“After dinner,” Lacey told me, “in the library.”
“And?” I asked.
“Did you do the plan?” Charlotte asked eagerly, “Did you ask him to help you to find a book?”
“Well no, not quite,” Lacey began slowly, “I was actually looking for a copy of this book, the standard book of spells, because I’ve lost my copy. But he came over to me.”
“Oooooh!” We squealed in unison.
“What did he say?” I asked.
“What did he do?” Charlotte asked.
“Did you snog?” Gemma asked.
Lacey, ignoring Gemma’s question, told us how Louis had approached her and had helped her to reach her book, before asking her why she hadn’t visited Hogsmeade that afternoon, as he’d noticed her around the castle. Lacey had explained that she liked the peacefulness of the castle during Hogsmeade weekends and sometimes stayed behind when she didn’t have a specific reason to visit Hogsmeade, to just explore the castle and enjoy the quiet. Louis had agreed that he liked the castle when it was quiet too.
“And then – well, he said…”
“What? What did he say?” I inquired.
“He said, ‘maybe next Hogsmeade weekend, I can give you a reason to visit’. And then he sort of winked and walked away.”
Lacey looked around at our faces imploringly, as though asking us a question. We stared back blankly.
“Well? What does that mean?” She asked.
Gemma recovered first.
“It was obviously an innuendo,” she said, matter-of-factly, “he wants to bed you. In Hogsmeade.”
“Shut up Gemma” I said, laughing.
“I think – well – what does he mean by a reason to visit?” Charlotte asked, “Does he mean he can signpost you to some really good shops? Or, like, does he mean… I don’t know, does he mean he’ll give you a reason to visit?”
“What do you mean by a reason
?” I asked Charlotte.
“I, erm, I don’t know.” She replied lamely.
“Neither do I!” Lacey moaned, “That’s the problem! Did he mean he was going to ask me on a date? Or like Charlotte said, will he just give me a list of reasons why Hogsmeade is the place to go?”
“I’m still going with innuendo.” Gemma said firmly.
We all agreed that Lacey should just play it cool and let Louis make the next move. He’d left the situation in quite an ambiguous way, so it was down to him to make his intentions clear. If he asked her on a date, brilliant. If he didn’t, then Merlin knows what the bloody hell the boy was talking about.
“Speaking of dates,” Gemma said suddenly, “here comes yours, Marissa.”
“Huh?” I asked, glancing around dumbly and catching sight of a group of boys heading down the stone front steps, led by Sebastian Barton. But I’d thought he was seeing Leah le Hufflepuff now? Hadn’t he gotten over me/Mary?
“James Potter. Rumour has it, you went to Hogsmeade with him yesterday.”
“What? I didn’t know that!” Charlotte exclaimed.
“Nor did I.” Lacey said, in a hurt voice.
Nor I, I thought. What the bloody hell was Mary playing at – first Sebastian, now Grandbaby Potter? Had she taken a jinx to the head?!
“Yeah, I heard it from Connor MacMillan, who claimed to have been a first-hand witness to Marissa’s proposal.”
“Marissa’s – you proposed to Potter?!” Charlotte gasped.
“No, you dolt,” Gemma rolled her eyes, “She asked him out on a date to Hogsmeade. So, Marissa, care to fill us in?”
“Sorry!” I said, scrambling to my feet and adjusting my pyjamas, “I’ve got to er – go to the bathroom. Yeah, bathroom. Bye!”
Ignoring their calls for me to come back and tell them the truth, I took off across the grounds in the direction the boys had headed. They had crossed the courtyard by now, and were heading behind the greenhouses. Perfect – the girls wouldn’t be able to see.
“Oi – Potter!” I called, tripping slightly over the hem of my pyjama bottoms in my haste, “Potter, wait up!”
The boys stopped and turned to the sound of my voice, before bursting into fits of laughter.
“You know how to pick them Jay,” Connor MacMillan chortled, “Are those unicorns on your pyjamas, Marriott?”
“So what if they are?” I said proudly, sticking my nose in the air.
The group, except Barton and Potter, guffawed, pointing at my pyjamas. I glared back.
“I came to talk to Potter, anyway, not you MacMillan.”
“I would’ve thought you and James would be on first name terms by now, Marriott,” Barton sneered. Potter flushed.
“It was only one date, Seb,” he muttered. Then, turning to me, asked, “what is it, Marissa?”
“I was wondering if we could talk? In private?” I said pointedly, glancing over at the other boys. I noticed Barton was staring at me, his lip curled in apparent disgust.
“What, Barton? Do my pyjamas offend you or something?” I spat.
“It’s more that your whole existence offends me, if anything,” he snarled before turning to the rest of the group, “come on lads, let’s give the love birds some privacy.”
When the boys were safely out of earshot, I took Potter by the elbow and steered him around to Greenhouse Three.
“What happened yesterday?” I demanded, “I need to know.”
“You know as well as I do what happened, Marissa, what’s this about?” he frowned, shaking his arm from my grip.
“I seem to have had a momentary lapse of memory,” I replied, “I need you to fill me in. All I know is that I asked you on a date, and I do not know why.”
“Oh, well, gee thanks for the ego boost,” Potter said, scowling, “Don’t give me this rubbish about you forgetting. I know you did it to make Seb jealous, okay? You don’t need to pretend to me. That’s why you wouldn’t hold my hand or – or kiss me – you know, you can’t go around using people like that Marissa, it’s a shitty thing to do.”
“I – what – I don’t want to make Barton – why would he be jealous?!” I spluttered.
“You know why.” Grandbaby Potter muttered darkly, walking away.
“Wait! Grand-er, Potter, wait! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to –”
“It’s too late, Marissa,” he called back, not even bothering to look over his shoulder, “what’s done is done, it’s fine. It didn’t work anyway.”
And with that, he left. Leaving me very, very confused, and very, extremely, pissed off with Mary god damn MacDonald.
I hadn’t returned to the girls for an hour. When I did so, Charlotte presented me with a red and gold ‘friendship bracelet’ and then they immediately quizzed me on my ‘date’ with Potter. I told them that it hadn’t gone as well as I’d thought and it was a mistake, and that I didn’t really feel like talking about it. Lacey and Charlotte seemed to accept that, but Gemma was clearly bursting to ask more. Lacey kept shooting her warning stares every time she opened her mouth, which she would then follow by giving me a concerned, meaningful look. I’d shake my head and turn back to my parchment. I was drafting a letter to Mary.
It wasn’t going well.
The first few attempts had been full of passive-aggression. My happy bubble from this morning had burst, with almost all thoughts of Sirius pushed to a separate part of my brain. I felt like Mary was actively attempting to sabotage all the relationships in my life – Lacey, Barton, Potter, even Sirius. She’d offended Lacey, hit on Barton, hit on Potter, and was (unfortunately) dating the one boy I was actually beginning to like – Sirius. Granted, she was dating him before I even existed, but that was besides the point.
And poor Potter. He’d looked so hurt and angry. And rightly so – I’d be raging too if some floozy had strung me along on a date only to get back at my best friend and make him jealous. Jealous, though. I still didn’t understand why Mary would think Barton would be jealous – he was my arch nemesis, after all. Perhaps Mary was on more of a similar level to Barton than I was, but that didn’t explain why he would be jealous – he still viewed Mary as Marissa, the girl he’d hated since first year. He certainly hadn’t seemed jealous earlier on when I’d cornered Potter – more angry, if anything. And I suppose that would make sense, as Mary had tried to flirt with him first, and then moved on to Potter. She was making him look like a mug.
But then again, why had Potter agreed to go on the date in the first place? Don’t boys have a code for this type of thing? And there’d never been even the slightest hint of romance between Potter and I … had there? Perhaps there had, and I’d missed all the signs?
I glanced across the common room towards where Potter was sat, with Barton and the others. He was running his hand through his (already messy) hair and laughing at something MacMillan was saying. He was good looking enough, and somewhat charming.
Did I fancy Potter?
I suppose in a sense I’d always appreciated Potter’s good looks, but I didn’t particularly feel anything towards him. Not in the same sense that I felt for Sirius. I was definitely beginning to fancy Sirius, I thought, as a smile snuck onto my lips again.
Potter must have felt my eyes on him, as unfortunately, he turned and caught me gazing at him with a daft smile on my face. I blinked and quickly looked back down at my parchment, heat rapidly spreading up my neck and behind my ears.
“There is definitely more going on between you and Potter than you’re letting on! I saw you looking at him!” Gemma cried, triumphantly.
I rolled my eyes.
“I was actually just staring into space, and Potter happened to be in my eye line.” I lied.
I gathered my quill and parchment and made my excuses to head up to the dormitory – Lacey’s concerned eyes following me up the stairs. I also had a feeling Potter – and, strangely, Barton – were watching me too.
Once in the dormitory, I was able to focus on the letter. I’d calmed, slightly, and was ready to compose an appropriate message.
Please accept my apologies for my lack of a letter last night. I realise now, after having not received one from yourself either, the importance of us corresponding. For example, I had no idea – and would never have guessed – that you asked James Potter (the second) out on a date yesterday. And of course, I didn’t explain the details of yours/my date with Sirius. In case you were wondering, we visited a few shops – Zonkos, Honeydukes etc – and then headed to the Three Broomsticks for a butterbeer, where we talked about our families (well, Sirius’ – I didn’t know enough about your family to contribute) and what we aspire to do in the future. Anyway, you know what Gemma’s like, she interrogated me about my/your date with Potter before I even knew I’d been on it. I had to collar Potter and ask him what had happened – but he seemed pretty angry and actually accused me of using him to make Barton jealous. Please for the love of MERLIN, tell me that wasn’t the reason you asked him out? The
real Marissa has no feelings for Potter and absolutely hates Barton, so please, PLEASE, do not sabotage my life by getting romantically involved with either of them. Please.
I think we also need to address the situation with Sirius – obviously, I can’t pull away when he kisses me, as then he’ll become suspicious (since you’re his girlfriend and everything). But as you and I are clearly quite different characters, he may not feel the same type of feelings towards my personality than he does yours – if that makes sense. Along with that, I’m wondering (hypothetically, of course) what would happen if I started to develop feelings for Sirius as a result of spending so much time in close proximity with him? Obviously I don’t fancy him, don’t worry, but just in case. And what if I start to fancy someone else in your time – like, I don’t know, Remus or Peter? (I don’t fancy them either, just to clarify).
I think we need to set some limits to avoid wrecking one another’s lives.
I felt awful lying to Mary about not fancying Sirius, and for emitting the fact that we kissed from my description of our date. But I felt equally as awful for having begun to develop feelings for her boyfriend, and couldn’t bring myself to divulge that information yet.
15th September 1977
There was no note from Mary as I woke up in her bed this morning, but that didn’t put me off my good mood. Despite the events from yesterday (in 2020), I was thrilled to be back in 1977 as it meant I could spend time with Sirius again.
The butterflies mounted in my stomach with anticipation as I strolled to breakfast with a spring in my step. As I entered the Great Hall, my eyes connected with his immediately. Grandfather Potter nudged Sirius and handed him a basket of French bread, and Sirius turned back towards the table instantly to receive it. I grinned and bounced over to him, the butterflies in my tummy now tap-dancing.
As I reached where Sirius was sat, I slung my arms around his shoulders and whispered, “good morning” in his ear.
“Morning,” he grunted, nonchalantly.
He ripped off a chunk of bread with his teeth.
“What were you saying Prongs?” he glanced up at Potter as though I hadn’t arrived.
A disappointed, sinking feeling replaced the butterflies in my stomach. I’d really thought he’d be happy to see me. But I supposed, to him, he only saw me last night – so seeing me again so soon mustn’t have been a huge deal.
I shrugged it off and began to help myself to scrambled eggs.
“Wormtail’s feeling a bit paranoid,” Potter was saying, “Won’t leave the dormitory. He thinks that ‘You-Know-Who’ fellow is going to jump out of a suit of armour and get him.”
“He’s fine, he’s a pureblood. You-Know-Who’s only after muggleborns, apparently.”
“Yeah well, Wormy won’t hear any of it. He was even too scared to come down for breakfast, and you know how much he loves food.”
This must be why Sirius was offish with me, I thought, they were discussing the war.
“Did you see the paper this morning?” Sirius asked James darkly, “they found the bodies of a young muggle family in Cornwall; the muggles couldn’t figure out how they’d died, but it was obvious to the Ministry that it was his work.”
“Mhmm,” James nodded, “Dad mentioned a few muggleborns from the office haven’t turned up for work recently as well. No one’s sure if they’re just too scared to come in – you know, doing a Wormy – or if it’s something worse. Of course, they’ve sent officials to their homes, but they’re not there. So they’ve either gone into hiding or…”
I put my fork down. Suddenly, my scrambled eggs didn’t seem quite as appetising. James’ words had formed a sickly feeling, which had settled at the bottom of my stomach and was growing rapidly as my thoughts soared.
I reached for Sirius’ hand under the table, but he pulled it away. He picked up his fork and speared a sausage with it instead.
As the day wore on, the unsettling feeling that Sirius was pushing me away grew ever stronger. In potions, he sat as far as possible away from me – so that James and Lily were seated between us. During morning break, he dashed up to the dormitory to get something he’d ‘forgotten’ – but turned up for herbology empty handed. As Peter was holed up in the dormitory, and Remus was feeling under the weather (according to James), Sirius was partnered with James, and I with Lily. After herbology was lunch. I’d arrived before Sirius had, and saved him a seat next to me. However, when he arrived, he sat at the other side of the table, and engaged instantly in conversation with Peter, who had finally emerged from his dormitory (apparently he couldn’t resist the lure of lunch).
After lunch was defence against the dark arts. Peter insisted on being partnered with James. I turned to Sirius but he’d already asked Lily
to partner him. I was instead paired with the Slytherin boy Sirius and I had pranked in Hogsmeade – Sniffles, or whatever his name was – as nobody else seemed to want to be his partner.
Sniffles had an apparent dislike for Mary – or perhaps, everyone other than himself – and was doing his very best to jinx me. He caught me with a stupidly strong expelliarmus – rather than merely disarming me, the force of it launched me across three desks and I hit my head on the stone wall. I was fine apart from feeling BLOODY DIZZY every time I tried to BLOODY STAND UP. After I emitted a choice selection of swear words aimed at Sniffly, I was escorted by Lily to the hospital wing, where I had to stay for the remainder of the afternoon. The matron was adamant that I was concussed and insisted on conducting every possible check before treating me.
Sirius didn’t come to visit. What kind of a boyfriend doesn’t bother to visit his concussed girlfriend in hospital?
I scrunched my eyes up every time this thought crossed my mind, reminding myself that I wasn’t actually Sirius’ girlfriend.
Luckily, I was discharged from the hospital wing just in time for dinner. I’d barely eaten during lunch (having been too preoccupied with monitoring Sirius’ odd behaviour) and so I was ravenous.
“I’m bloody starving,” I exclaimed, plonking myself down on the bench next to Sirius and eyeing up his plate, “what kind of pie is that?”
“Steak and kidney.” He replied shortly.
Oh yes Sirius I’m fine, just a minor bit of concussion, nothing to worry about, thanks for asking.
To confirm my suspicions that he was behaving oddly, and it wasn’t merely my imagination, I decided to test the waters.
I put my arm around his waist and rested my head on his shoulder.
He promptly shuffled along the bench and shoved my head off his shoulder.
Which is not fine when you’re recovering from a minor head injury.
“Stop it!” he hissed between his teeth.
“Stop what?” I asked, not bothering to lower my voice.
“Stop being so clingy,” he muttered, “it’s doing my head in.”
I couldn’t disguise the hurt in my voice.
“If that’s what you want.” I said.
“It is.” He replied stonily.
I turned back to the table, about to fill my plate up. But I’d lost my appetite. Instead, I stood to leave.
“Mary, you’ve been allowed out! That’s great! But - where are you going?” Lily had just come over – with James (surprisingly).
“I don’t feel very h-hungry,” I stammered, “I think I’m just going to head up to bed.”
“Oh, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for you to sleep,” Lily said softly, “I’ve heard about concussions in the muggle world – they say that you’re not supposed to go to sleep for a while afterwards. Are you sure you’re not hungry – you didn’t eat much at lunch, either?”
“I’m fine, Lily,” I said bluntly, “They changed the rule, you can sleep now. And I’ve been treated with magic, so I’m fine. Goodnight.”
I pushed through the middle of Lily and James and made to leave the hall, but James grabbed my arm and pulled me back.
“Forgot to tell you, MacDonald – Quidditch practice on Friday, 7 o’clock, be there.”
“What are you, the captain?” I snapped, wrenching my arm from his grip.
“Well, yeah…” he replied, looking at me like I had eight heads.
“Whatever.” I snarled, and with that I flounced from the hall.
I couldn’t fly.
I didn’t even know what position Mary played.
Heck, I hadn’t even known Mary had played Quidditch in the first place.
Of course James was captain.
And I bet Sirius was on the team too.
Lord, what was up with him today?
I brushed away a few loose tears as I stomped miserably across the Quidditch pitch. Of course his words had hurt; I wasn’t the clingy type, I’d just been acting the part. I’d been looking forward to seeing him so much this morning, only for him to snub me. Not just at breakfast, but all day. And the worst thing was that I didn’t know if it was something I’d done, or something Mary had done. After the amazing day we’d had on Saturday, and now he wouldn’t even visit me in the hospital wing. Granted, the matron had me sorted in a jiffy, but he didn’t know that because he didn’t bloody bother to visit!
I sat in the stands for some time, wondering what I was to do. I had less than four days to learn how to fly. And I’d developed feelings for a boy who clearly didn’t feel the same way. I tried to cheer myself up by joking to myself that Sirius was probably around sixty years old in my time. But that just made me feel queasy.
And slightly dirty.
I looked up. It was him.
“We need to talk.” He croaked. I nodded.
He sat down next to me and looked down at his hands, which were clasped tightly in his lap. I looked at them too. He didn’t say anything for a moment, then unclasped his hands and placed them roughly on his knees.
“Look, Mary. I’m not going to beat around the bush here. I’m getting fed up of you turning hot and cold, not knowing where I stand with you. One minute you’re keen, the next it’s like you’re not interested. Some days I feel like you’ve got someone else on your mind, and I know you say I’m being paranoid but I don’t think that’s true.”
I couldn’t form any words. How could I tell him that one day he’s with me, the next he’s with Mary?
He took a deep breath before continuing.
“It’s turning me into someone I’m not; someone I don’t recognise. I can’t keep up with you. I really thought we’d got somewhere in Hogsmeade, and that you were starting to grow up but…yesterday…I just, I’m sick and tired of it, Mary. Do you know how it feels to be in a relationship with Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, because I feel like I bloody do.”
He took another deep breath.
“So that’s – that’s why I’m ending it. I can’t be in a relationship with you anymore, Mary. It’s just too much.”
He finally looked up and made eye contact.
I stayed on the pitch for long after Sirius had gone, just sitting, frozen to my seat. Numb.
Naturally, I felt awful for Mary. Her boyfriend had just broken up with her, and she wasn’t even there. She wouldn’t know until tomorrow. And how could I put that in writing?
But more than anything, I felt selfishly awful for myself. I’d just begun to like Sirius, and had allowed myself to begin to feel real feelings for him. And I couldn’t help but feel angry towards Mary for being ‘cold’ with him while I was in 2020. The tears were flowing freely now as I wallowed in self-pity. Mary was spoiling everything. She’d made my life awkward back in 2020, and now she’d taken away the one good thing I had going here in 1977.
I eventually slumped up to the castle and back into the common room. As I passed through I noticed Sirius laughing by the fire, with James and Peter. Remus was nowhere to be seen.
I just about managed to skirt around Lily and escape her notice, before I headed quickly up the stairs to the dormitory.
I ripped off a scrap of parchment and scrawled a quick note to Mary before crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head.
Sirius broke up with you/me/us tonight. I’m sorry.