Chapter 12 : Chapter Twelve
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Another dull, grey Monday morning in September. Another lack of a note from Mary informing me on what the hell was going on in 2020.
Which would have been really handy right about now, as the tension between James Potter and Sebastian Barton could have been sliced with the knife I was using to butter my toast, and I had no inkling of the reason why. Although something told me it had to do with me/Mary, due to the guilty glances from James and the death stares Barton was throwing my way.
My lack of knowledge wasn’t helped by Gemma, who was completely oblivious to the tension surrounding us due to her face being glued to MacMillan’s. Lacey was nowhere to be seen, and Charlotte had opted to spend the morning making some last-minute touches to a pair of earrings she’d been making rather than eating breakfast. I scowled, threw my untouched toast back on to the plate, and left the hall, unable to stand the tension any longer.
Classes progressed much the same way that morning. Barton and Potter sat in stony silence, separated by Gemma and Connor, who were too busy making goggly eyes at each other to notice the angry glares the boys were casting one another’s way between them. Lacey was there, but not there at the same time – staring dreamily into space. I wondered vaguely where she’d been during breakfast.
Lacey and Charlotte finally decided to join us during lunch. Charlotte was sporting her newly-created earrings, and Lacey was continuing to stare into space.
“Lacey, you’re spilling the gravy,” I stated, breaking her out of her trance.
“The gravy,” I repeated, “you’re pouring it onto the table.”
Lacey slowly turned her eyes towards the table – and yelped. She was holding the gravy jug about two inches to the left of her chicken dinner, garnishing the tablecloth rather than her meal.
“Is everything okay, Lacey?” I asked as Charlotte and I helped to mop up the spillage. Lacey whipped her wand out and vanished it in an instant.
“Oh, yes, fine thank you,” she said, flushing.
“So you meant to spill the gravy, huh?”
“Er, no, not exactly.”
“Didn’t have anything to do with a certain Hufflepuff you were staring over at, did it?” I winked.
A crimson blush crept up to Lacey’s hairline.
“Where were you this morning?” I demanded.
“You know where I was,” she bluffed, “I’ve been in classes with you all morning…”
“You know what I mean. Where were you at breakfast?”
The blush grew darker.
“I know where she was.” Charlotte stated in a sing-song voice, playing with her earrings and grinning like a Cheshire cat.
“Where? Where?” I asked.
“She was with Louis,” Charlotte smirked.
I squealed girlishly. Barton glared at me from along the table. I waved back sweetly.
“Soooooooooo?” I asked.
“So what?” Lacey asked innocently.
“What happened? Did you snog?”
“You sound like Gemma,” she frowned, glancing down the table at the girl, who was again sat with Connor and the boys. I noticed both James and Barton were moodily stabbing at their potatoes, refusing to look at one another.
“I wonder if she’s going to sit with them forever. Like, has she ditched us now for MacMillan?” Lacey inquired.
“Don’t change the subject,” I smirked, “Your impromptu meeting with Louis. Tell us about it. Did he or did he not confirm his intentions for the Hogsmeade visit?”
“He might have,” she smiled coyly.
“So he did.” I said bluntly.
“He did,” Lacey relented, “Apparently the date’s been released; the first weekend in October. He asked me what time he should meet me and I said ten o’clock.”
This time it was Charlotte’s turn to squeal.
“How exciting! What are you going to wear?”
“I hadn’t thought about it,” she murmured, “What do you think?”
I allowed Charlotte’s mental dissection of Lacey’s wardrobe to wash over me as I glanced down the table again, towards James and Barton. James looked unusually smart today; his hair gelled back in a cowlick and his robes uncharacteristically neat. Barton, meanwhile, was looking a little worse for wear; tie loose, shirt untucked, hair unnaturally messy. Leah le Hufflepuff had arrived however Barton was paying her very little interest, preferring instead to scowl at James. What was going on?
“Hey,” I said, looking around at the girls, “So what’s the crack with Potter and Barton?”
“What do you mean?” Lacey asked, frowning.
“I mean, they’ve been looking like they’re on the brink of duelling one another all day. What’s going on there?”
It was Charlotte who answered.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” she said.
Lacey and I looked at her blankly. Clearly it wasn’t obvious. Charlotte laughed.
“They’re fighting over you, Marissa!”
“That makes sense,” Lacey stated, contemplatively. When I stared at her, nonplussed, she continued, “You flirted with Barton the other week – ‘ill’ or not – and he accepted it and returned the favour. Clearly his behaviour towards you since first year stemmed from him trying to convince himself that he didn’t fancy you. But now, just when he realises that he does in fact like you, you go and flirt with his best friend. Potter obviously likes you and it’s clear the feeling is mutual, but Potter knows Barton has a thing for you, and that Barton’s pissed off that you like Potter and – ”
“Stop, stop!” I exclaimed, “My head hurts. I’m so confused. You’re saying Barton fancies me? Are you crazy, Lace? We hate each other! And he’s with Leah!”
“She’s not crazy, Marissa, it’s obvious to everyone other than you,” Charlotte sighed, “but I noticed you didn’t deny that James fancies you, and you like him too…”
“I do not… I don’t fancy him!” I spluttered.
“Then why did you go over to him in the common room the other night? And why did you ask him to Hogsmeade? And why did you ask him for private flying lessons?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted, asking myself the same questions.
I startled, the voice pulling me from my reverie as I strolled back to the common room after afternoon classes.
“B-Barton?” I asked, squinting into the shadows.
“In here,” a gruff voice said, before it’s owner tugged me unceremoniously into a dark room.
When I say dark, I mean pitch bloody black.
“Barton?” I called out, “Is that you?”
“No need to shout, Marissa, I’m right here,” a voice directly in front of me scoffed.
“Oh,” I said, “Why are we in a broom cupboard?”
“I needed to talk to you. In private.” The voice said.
I heard him take a sharp breath.
“I need you to tell me,” he started, “What are you doing with Jay?”
“Are you with him?” he demanded, “Do you like him? Or are you just trying to make me jealous? Tell me the truth, Marissa. I need to know how you feel.”
“What – I don’t – ”
“You can’t string me along like this, Marissa, it’s not fair” he huffed, and I felt a hand on my elbow. I cringed away from it as he continued, “One minute, you’re giving me that look across the common room, the next you’re giving it to Jay. Then you’re flirting with me when we’re alone…and the next, you want private flying lessons with Jay. Do you actually like me, or Jay, or are you just playing some sick game to tear us apart? Because it’s bloody working, Marissa, it’s fucking working. We’re already starting to fall apart and I hate it. Jay’s my closest friend. If you like me, then tell me. If you like him, then tell me too, so I can leave you to it and carry on with Leah. I want him to be happy just as much as I want myself to be and I’m not having you come between us.”
Holy Merlin. What game was Mary pulling, trying to lure Barton in? Or did she actually like him? She must do, I thought. She must like him, and show him affection on the days she lives my life. And then I come back and flirt with Potter. Of course Barton was confused. I almost felt sorry for him.
“Look, Bar – er, Sebastian,” I began, “I’m…I’m just not sure what I want right now. I’m having a bit of a er, identity crisis, and I know it’s not fair on you, or Jay… but I sort of like you both right now and I’m not sure how to decide between you. I need to sort a few things out in my head and – ”
“No, Marissa, that’s not enough,” he said firmly, “you either choose one of us, or you stop playing us off against each other.”
And then he left, leaving me staring blankly into the dark confines of the broom cupboard.
Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck. Fuck.
First there was Sirius.
Then there was Jay.
Then, Grandfather Potter gave me weird funny feelings.
Then Sirius hooked up with McKinnon, which made me feel shit, despite barely knowing the guy.
And now Barton’s cornering me in broom cupboards.
What the fuck is going on?
I slapped myself on the forehead, as if it would relieve some of the confusion going on up there in my frazzled brain.
Oh for FUCK SAKE.
“Oh, hi Jay,” I turned, smiling sweetly.
I was getting real sick of smiling sweetly.
He was shuffling awkwardly, left foot to right foot, and then back again.
“So I was wondering, if you er – needed any more flying lessons? I mean, not that you’re bad at flying, but you sort of said that you could do with more - ”
“Jay, stop,” I smiled warmly, feeling heartened all of a sudden, “I’m shit at flying, we both know that I need the lessons.”
He could barely conceal his grin.
“So, you’ll be wanting another one?” he asked eagerly. Then, clearing his throat, he said, “I mean, I do have like a lot of stuff to do…it’s NEWT year and everything and I’ve got Quidditch training myself, and Head Boy duties and all of that…but you know, if you really need the help I suppose I could possibly fit it in somewhere…”
“Seven o’clock, Wednesday evening?” I proposed.
“It’s a date,” he smiled.
WHAT AM I DOING?
Tuesday 23rd September, 1977
I was in a foul mood.
I knew that back home, in 2020, Mary would be leading Barton on, probably flirting over their morning crumpets as Leah le Hufflepuff watched on enviously.
I also knew that I’d led Jay on, and he’d be witnessing their weird crumpet-flirting first hand, likely with a hurt expression plastered across his face.
And I also also knew that I needed to stop staring apologetically and heatedly at Jay’s grandfather, who was seated directly opposite me. Next to Sirius, who was next to Marlene McKinnon.
She wasn’t even a Gryffindor.
As I was about to point this out, Lily suddenly placed her hand atop mine.
“Everything okay, Mary?” She asked.
“Fine thanks, Lily,” I seethed through gritted teeth.
Sirius turned and laughed.
“What’s up, Mary?” He asked, “Forget to apply your lipstick this morning?”
Why was he being such a dick recently?
“You do look like you’ve missed out on the most recent edition of Witch Weekly,” Remus observed, amusedly. How shallow was Mary, seriously, that everyone assumed she could only be peeved over lipstick and magazines?
Marlene giggled. I shot her a look.
“Seriously, Mary, who pissed in your cheerios?” James guffawed.
I promptly placed my spoon back into my bowl of cereal and pushed it to the side.
“I’m fine,” I repeated, “I’m just tired.”
“Tell me about it,” Peter yawned, “I only got eight hours sleep last night.”
Everyone turned to Peter, incredulously. I was glad the onus was officially off me, and slipped out of the hall before they noticed I was gone. I really missed actually eating breakfast.
Although it was difficult to be around Sirius and James, to separate the feelings I’d had for Sirius and the feelings I was developing for James’ grandson (it still felt weird to say that), it was actually sort of nice to see Sirius so happy and carefree. Had I been dragging him down?
Lily and I spent most of our classes in the company of the Marauders, as they called themselves, and the six of us were quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Things were still awkward between Sirius and I, and I got weird butterflies whenever I looked at either him or James, but my friendships with Lily and Remus were blossoming, and I was even becoming closer with Peter – who I suspected just tagged along with the others to leech off their popularity.
My anger from the morning had quickly evaporated as we spent the majority of classes lolling around laughing and joking. I’d even relaxed around Sirius and the two of us engaged in friendly banter during charms.
But I still couldn’t get Jay out of my head – probably unaided by the presence of Grandfather Potter. I noticed the differences between them more prominently today – Grandfather Potter was missing the light smattering of freckles that spread across Jay’s nose and beneath his eyes; Jay’s eyes were like treacle whereas Grandfather Potter’s were more like hazelnuts; Grandfather Potter’s hair was jet black, whilst Jay’s was dark brown, flecked with ginger.
Despite this, the pair still remained remarkably similar, from their looks down to their mannerisms. Both James Potters had the same, razor sharp nose, turned up at the sides. Both had the same dimple that appeared on their left cheek when they smiled. Both had a similar Quidditch-influenced physique. Both had the same nervous disposition of running their hands through their hair, and rolling their shoulders when faced with confrontation.
I couldn’t help but stare at James as I contemplated the similarities and differences between himself and his grandson. I knew I appreciated Jay’s good looks, and he did seem to have a lovely personality…and he actually liked me. He was a good looking, well-liked, popular boy with a kind heart, who actually liked me.
Or was it Mary he liked, not me?
I pushed that thought to the back of my mind, refusing to entertain it.
But did I actually like Jay in the same way, or did I merely see him as a good looking male friend? I wasn’t sure, but I liked the way he made me feel good about myself, and I liked spending time with him. Only time could tell.
I also knew that no matter how hard I tried to push it away, I still liked Sirius. I hadn’t forgotten about the kisses we’d shared in Hogsmeade, and the things we’d talked about. I missed having closer contact with him. We now spent time together as part of a group of friends, as acquaintances, whereas before, we had spent time alone together, talking about this and that. I missed it. Especially when I saw him having those moments with McKinnon – whispering into her ear to make her giggle girlishly, pushing locks of hair behind her ears affectionately. James (Grandfather Potter) had said she was just a fling – his flavour of the week – but I thought the opposite. He seemed to really like her.
I tore my gaze from Sirius and his soft-looking black hair that I so desperately wanted to wind my fingers through, and instead placed it upon James, pretending he was his grandson to test if the notion evoked some deep-rooted feelings inside of me.
It worked, and I felt myself closely studying the slope of his nose with admiration, until –
“Mary, could I have a word please? Outside?”
“Sure, Lily,” I replied, turning to follow the frowning girl through the portrait hole and out into the quiet corridor.
As the portrait swung closed, Lily swung around to face me.
“Do you like Potter?” she demanded.
“Wha – well, yeah, sure, he’s a decent guy, good er – Quidditch captain…” I stuttered.
“Don’t play daft with me Mary, you know what I’m talking about,” she seethed.
“Yes of course you do!” she said exasperatedly, “Do you like him Mary?”
“No!” I cried, thinking of the future of the wizarding world. If I came between Lily and James, would she ever become Lily Potter? Would they ever produce Harry Potter, who saved the wizarding world? And most importantly, would Jay exist? The answer is no, to all questions.
“I’ve seen you looking at him, Mary, I’m not stupid,” she said, “You do realise that he is Sirius’ best friend, right?”
“Of course I know that,” I stammered, “He just…reminds me of someone I used to know, that’s all. That’s why I look at him, because he looks so similar…”
I was going to hell for my bullshitting, seriously.
“Oh,” she replied, brow furrowing, “so, that’s why you wouldn’t let Sirius in? Because you still have feelings for this other guy…who looks like Potter?”
“Erm, yes,” I nodded vigorously, “that is exactly it.”
“What was his name?” She asked, eyes narrowed.
“Er – Mike!” I exclaimed.
“So…you don’t fancy Potter?” She asked.
“No, of course I don’t – wait, why do you care?”
“What?” she asked, eyes wide, “I don’t! I don’t care!”
“No!” she cried, frowning, “I just thought I’d warn you that getting with Sirius’ best friend after breaking it off with him is a low move. That’s all.”
“Is it, though?”
Wednesday 24th September, 2020
No note from Mary again today. The usual antics: Gemma and Connor had almost certainly become Siamese twins, attached at the face; Lacey was sharing shy smiles across the hall with Louis le Hufflepuff; Charlotte was busy between lessons, creating signs for her jewellery stand; Barton kept raising his eyebrows at me questioningly to which I would shrug in response, and James had been sending me little winks and smiles throughout the day.
Speaking of Jay, it was time for my private flying lesson, and the butterflies in my stomach were not only an indicator of the nerves I felt for flying, but for also spending time with Jay again.
The man himself was currently faffing around with a large crate in the centre of the pitch. I walked towards him, sporting some attractive shin pads to protect myself from further bruises similar to those I’d acquired from last week’s flying sessions, and smiled. He was dressed decidedly smartly for a flying session; a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and smart black jeans, and white trainers.
“Alright, coach!” I yelled as I approached, feeling a little self-conscious in my scruffiest grey sports shorts and black oversized jumper. It was cold up in the air, alright?
He actually jumped at the sound of my voice. I chortled.
“Nice,” I grinned, “Hope you’ve a bit more nerve up in the air, Jay Jay.”
“You know I do,” he smiled, straightening up, “And you’re certainly one to talk about nerve, Marriott.”
He had the cheek to wink at me, as I grimaced at the memory of our last session.
“And never call me Jay Jay again. Ever.”
“Noted,” I laughed, sidling over and indicating the large crate, “What’s in the box, cap’n?”
“Ah, those are the balls,” he informed me, “You know what each ball is, right?”
I nodded enthusiastically. This was one piece of information I had actually retained from the Quidditch books I’d been reading.
“The quaffle is the big one that’s used to score goals. The bludgers are the ones the beaters hit, and the snitch is the little one.”
“Good start. Next question is whose job is it to catch the snitch?”
“Er – yours?” I tried.
“Wrong,” James laughed, “I’m the keeper remember? I guard the goal posts and stop the quaffle getting in. The seeker catches the snitch.”
“Ah yeah, seeker, snitch, got it.”
“Are you ready to meet them?” James asked, as the box gave a rattle.
“Who? The seeker?” I asked absently as I eyed the crate apprehensively.
“No, the balls…” James confirmed, without a trace of sarcasm. I look up at him, wide eyed.
“Why are they rattling?”
“It’s just the bludgers trying to escape,” he said, using his wand to unfasten the latches on the crate. I swallowed the lump in my throat as I watched the lid fly back and reveal the four balls – two of which were straining at their chains for sweet release.
James pointed out each of the balls in turn, although I’d already guessed which was which. He then unstrapped the quaffle and began passing it between his hands as he explained the role of the ‘chasers’ and suggested we try some basic passes on the ground, before progressing to passing in the air. I wasn’t sure I was ready to take both hands off the broomstick yet – during practice last week, I’d struggled with one hand on my beaters bat and the other on the broom.
The quaffle was heavier than I’d expected. We practiced some passes on the ground, with Jay increasing the distance between us with each pass. Then, he asked if I was ready to get in the air. I nodded hesitantly and clambered onto my broom, slowly (but shakily) rising to a position about twenty feet above ground, reminding myself not to look down, or close my eyes.
“See, you’re already showing signs of improvement!” Jay shouted over to me encouragingly. I tried to smile in response, but it came out as more of a grimace as I wobbled on the broom.
“Here,” James used his wand to send a jet of yellow light down to the ground beneath me, “You look terrified Marissa – you need to spend some time actually adjusting to being on the broom. Just try to find your balance and grip and find a comfortable position that works for you. Don’t worry if you slip or fall – I’ve put a cushioning charm on the ground.”
The knowledge that I wouldn’t seriously injure myself if I fell helped a little, and I had soon managed to seat myself a little more confidently and comfortably on the broomstick.
“Okay, great!” James called, “You look much better now.”
Why, thank you, Jay. I refrained from smirking.
“So now you’re comfortable, we’ll practice just lifting your hands up off the broom, one at a time, and then when you’re ready you can try lifting both at once, okay?”
I nodded. I felt much safer about flying in his presence. Not to mention the cushioning charm. I took my time carefully lifting my hands up and back down, one at a time, before gradually progressing to taking both hands off the handle.
“Look, Jay!” I squealed with delight, “No hands!”
“Brilliant, Marissa,” he called back, “Just remember you need to really engage your legs now to keep your balance.”
“Gotcha,” I replied, tightening my thighs around the wooden broomstick as I attempted to resist placing my hands back on the broom, testing myself to see how long I could remain non-handed.
“Okay, I think you’re ready to do some air passes,” James decided, “Hold your hands up ready to catch the quaffle, just like we did on the ground, but don’t forget to keep your leg muscles tight around the broom, otherwise you’ll slide around.”
I nodded. James lifted the quaffle and threw it gently towards me, from a short distance. I caught it a little shakily between my hands, clenching my thighs as my arms lifted to grab the ball. James backed up a little, increasing the distance again as I poised myself to toss the quaffle back in an overhead throw. James caught it with ease. We continued this way for a while, until James began to increase the difficulty level by aiming the quaffle in different directions, causing me to dive to the side or rise up a little on the broom in order to catch the ball. I became more and more comfortable on the broom as the evening went on, although I was sweating into my thick jumper when James finally called it quits. I descended back to the ground, dismounting more smoothly than I had yet. James grinned approvingly.
“Nice dismount,” he noted, “You did great today, Marissa, you’re really getting the hang of it now.”
“Thanks, Jay,” I smiled, “You’re a great teacher.”
“I know,” he winked jokily, “they didn’t make me captain for nothing.”
“So, I think next time we should get you moving around a bit more – you know, steering the broom, accelerating, decelerating, that kind of thing. You seem a lot more comfortable moving your body around on the broom, but we’ll see how you do when it’s the broom that’s moving instead of your body.”
It was although his use of the word body had drawn my eyes to his own. His shirt was now plastered tight across his chest and stomach, and I could see some definite definition going on there.
Just as I was admiring this (and repeating the mantra do not reach out and touch his body in my head) a light chuckle brought me back to reality. I lifted my eyes back up to his face.
“Like what you see?” James smirked.
“You caught me,” I laughed awkwardly – there was no point in being dishonest, he really had caught me in the act of checking him out.
“I’m surprised you didn’t catch me, too.” He grinned.
“What do you mean?” I frowned.
“I’m ninety-nine per cent sure you only wore those shorts to distract me, Marissa,” he laughed. I continued to frown in confusion.
“I’m talking about your legs, Marissa.” He rolled his eyes.
“What about my legs?”
“I like them. Even with the shin pads.” He stated.
“Oh,” I stated, simply. “Well…I don’t really know what to say...”
“Then don’t say anything.” James replied, and he kissed me.
Thursday 25th September, 1977
I’d been in a fabulous mood all day. Butterflies would cascade into my stomach each time I thought about the events of my flying lesson from the previous night – and every time I caught sight of James (Grandfather) Potter. Lily had noticed, again, and asked more questions about ‘Mike’. I made up some elaborate lies about having had a brief romance with him one summer. I was busy assuring her that although he bore resemblance to ‘Mike’, I definitely did not have a thing for Potter, when Sirius appeared behind Lily – seemingly out of nowhere. How did he do that?
“I should hope not, seeing how he’s my best mate,” he commented, raising an eyebrow.
Lily shot me an I told you so look. I rolled my eyes.
“What would you care if I did, Sirius? I mean, I don’t. But hypothetically speaking…you’ve got Marlene now, right? So James and I getting together wouldn’t bother you, surely?”
“It’s more the morals behind it, Mary.” He said, suddenly giving me a cold look. “And anyway, Prongs would never go for you, he’s too much in love with Lily to even notice how much you stare at him.”
“I don’t stare at him!” I hissed.
“Actually, you do,” he rolled his eyes, “Everyone’s noticed it, other than Prongs himself. Even Pete noticed, for Merlin’s sake.”
“I don’t mean to stare at him,” I began, fumbling around for the threads of my lie, “I was just explaining to Lily here the same thing. He reminds me a guy I used to date, Mike.”
“Mike who?” Sirius asked, frowning.
“Mike…Wilson.” I lied.
“Who the fuck is Mike Wilson?” Sirius asked, exasperatedly.
“You don’t know him!” I said quickly.
“I’ve never heard of any Wilsons at Hogwarts. Which house is he in?” Sirius demanded.
“He’s – he’s not in any of them,” I licked my lips nervously, “He doesn’t come to Hogwarts. He’s a muggle!”
“You dated a muggle?” Sirius asked, his expression darkening.
“And what would be wrong with that if she had, Sirius?” Lily asked sharply.
“Nothing, Evans, I’m not my parents – I don’t care that this guy is a muggle. I’m just wondering when Mary here met this guy, since she can’t have met him at Hogwarts.”
“I met him in the summer, obviously.” I huffed.
“Ah, of course, the summer, obviously!” Sirius spat sarcastically, “I’m sorry it wasn’t as immediately obvious to me as it was to you, MacDonald. It’s just that I was under the impression that we had been dating over summer.”
“And I strongly remember visiting you during the summer and meeting your parents. So tell me, was it before or after you introduced me to your mum and dad, when you started dating Muggle Mike?”
AN: I'm enjoying writing this story so much at the minute! I'm usually awful for updates - an example of this being that I actually began this story almost three years ago. But, having written the past five chapters within the last few weeks, I'm more eager and motivated than ever to get this show on the road.
I'd love to hear your views, as usual - all reviews make me smile. :) I'd love to hear your favourite moments - mine from this chapter was the flying scene with Marissa and Jay, I really enjoyed writing it.
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