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The Hands of Time by sweetredrose
Chapter 14 : Chapter Fourteen
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2


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Sunday 28th September, 2020 (still).

I uncurled the fist that was clenched around the letter and unscrumpled the parchment for what must have been the thousandth time that day. The ink glimmered mockingly up at me from the crumpled parchment, and I fought to fight the wall of red that was building in my vision.

I couldn’t believe Mary had done this. Previously, I’d tried to excuse her odd behaviour by putting it down to the stress of the situation we were stuck in. But now, it was becoming clear to me that she was nothing short of actually enjoying the ride. All I could think as I stared at the words she’d written was what a selfish bitch. She clearly had no consideration for my feelings, or the fact that it was my bloody life she was ruining. She had known I didn’t like Sebastian romantically – she knew, in fact, that I despised him. She had known that something was blossoming between Jay and I. She had known that agreeing to be Sebastian’s girlfriend went against every action I had ever taken in his presence, everything I’d ever said to him and to others regarding him. She had known that by accepting his request, she would make me appear a hypocrite. She had known that it would destroy all of my progress with Jay.

And yet, the sly little cow had decided to go and do it anyway. After I’d expressly asked – in fact practically begged – her not to. I’d come to the conclusion that the sadistic floozy was actually wrecking my life on purpose.

I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. She literally didn’t even know me.

For a fraction of a second I allowed myself to explore the possibility that Mary had actually set up this whole time-travelling thing and wasn’t as much of a victim as she appeared. Maybe she’d planned it as a means to escape the horrors of the world she was living, disregarding the consequences for my life – just thinking of her own selfish needs.

I felt like that would be something Mary would do – although, how could I say that when I hadn’t met her either? That would make me a huge hypocrite too.

I knew that the idea that Mary was involved was ludicrous. How could a seventeen year old girl possibly be able to perform the advanced magic required for time travel? It was impossible.

But I still hated her, and decided to blame her anyway.

I couldn’t bear to face anybody after Mary’s revelation, knowing that my new ‘relationship’ would be the talk of Gryffindor tower – if not the whole school. I’d holed myself up in the dormitory, the curtains drawn tightly around my bed. I’d pretended to be asleep when Lacey tried to talk to me from behind the hangings. I’d even pretended to snore when Charlotte took her turn to try to coax me out from my bed of sorrow. I didn’t think I could handle answering the questions they were bound to have about my sudden change of heart towards Barton. I definitely didn’t even want to entertain the thought of facing Barton himself – pretending to be his girlfriend made me feel nauseous. But most of all, I hated the thought of seeing Jay, and the disappointment he was sure to have in his eyes. He was bound to hate me, and who could blame him? To the rest of the world, it seemed as though I’d led him on, just to get closer to his best friend.

Mary had ruined everything.

*

Monday 29th September, 1977

Breakfast was abysmal.

I’d approached the others (Lily, Sirius, James, Remus and Peter) but they had turned away and pretended not to notice me, and so I’d found myself sat alone at the end of the table, solitarily poking at my bacon, willing my appetite to make an appearance.

I could see the others talking in hushed voices, with dark looks clouding their faces.  The reason for this was explained when the post arrived. The fifth year boy seated on my left unfurled his copy of the Daily Prophet to reveal a dark headline splashed across the front page.

MINISTRY OFFICIAL, MAURICE BONES, BRUTALLY SLAIN ON COMMUTE HOME FROM OFFICE.

Beneath the headline was a moving, black and white photograph of a man who looked vaguely familiar to me.

“Hey – isn’t that Ed Bones’ father?” The fifth year looked between his friends for confirmation, eyes wide. A girl seated opposite him nodded gravely.

Ed Bones, I knew that name… why did I know that name?

“Yeah, I heard a rumour he and his sister Amelia have gone home to be with their mother,” the girl said, “I’m not sure how long they’ll be out for, if they even do come back. Looks like Gryffindor will have to start looking for a new beater though since the quidditch season begins soon – you might be in with a shot, Lance.”

It was Red Head Ed. Red Head Ed’s father had been murdered. Holy shit.

The full horror of the tragedy began to sink in. I’d only seen Ed at practice a few days ago, and he’d been so happy and carefree – and now he was at home, grieving the loss of his father.

A terrible thought hit me: what if something happened to me whilst I was in 1977? What if I couldn’t get back to my time? What if I was horribly injured, or died, here?

I’d never see my parents again.

Just as I felt the panic beginning to seep through my bones, the fifth year piped up again.

“I play keeper not beater, Amy, you know that,” He said, “But nevermind that, I want to know why Ed’s mother would pull him and Amelia out of school. Surely Hogwarts is the safest place we could be right now? Everyone says that Dumbledore is the only wizard You-Know-Who is afraid of, so it makes sense to keep your children here – especially after their father’s just been murdered.”

“Maybe their mother just wanted to keep them close,” the girl sighed, “Or maybe they wanted to be with her. I know I’d be going straight home if something – touch wood - happened to my da. I wouldn’t want to think of ma all alone.”

I allowed the rest of the fifth years’ conversation to wash over me as I sunk into my chair in relief. I’d forgotten that Voldemort was terrified of Dumbledore. In my irrational state, I’d forgotten all that I’d ever learned about the war – that Voldemort and his death eaters couldn’t, and wouldn’t dare try to, get into Hogwarts. Not whilst Dumbledore was still alive, anyway. I’d never met Dumbledore in 2020 as he’d died before I was born, however I’d seen glimpses of him here in 1977. He didn’t look very fierce or powerful, more like a bonkers old man with a questionable dress sense, but I knew from stories I’d heard about him that he was a very powerful and well-respected wizard.

I finally pushed away my fear and irrational thoughts, and allowed myself to tuck in to my bacon.

*

Of course, none of the others sat by me during classes or at meal times for the rest of the day. Remus would send me a grim smile every so often, but the others either avoided my gaze (Lily, Peter), or straight up sent me dirty looks (Sirius, James). Although I felt incredibly lonely, I knew that them hating me was for the best. Getting close to anyone here was a mistake, it would just backfire on me – just as getting close to Jay in 2020 had backfired.

And in any case, it was far easier to hide my secret when nobody wanted to talk to me.

*

Tuesday 30th September, 2020.

“Morning babe!”

Oh no. Oh no, no, no.

I’d dreaded this moment since the moment I’d opened my eyes and remembered I was Barton’s ‘girlfriend.’

I refused to play the doting girlfriend. This was Mary’s shit, and I wasn’t having anything to do with it. If she wanted to play dirty, I’d play even filthier.

I ignored Barton and strolled right past him without a backwards glance.

“Hey – Marissa! Wait up!” He was jogging after me. I sped up, racing down the golden staircase and bypassing the Great Hall. I didn’t have the appetite for breakfast, anyway.

“Oh for the love of Merlin – Marissa!” He’d caught up with me and grabbed my arm roughly. I tried to keep walking, but he pulled me back. I sighed and looked up into his face.

“What?” I asked scathingly.

His eyed widened, a frown creasing his forehead.

“Fucking hell, can I not even wish my girlfriend good morning?”

“No.” I stated simply, turning to continue down to the dungeons.

He grabbed my arm again.

“What the fuck is wrong with you, Marissa?” He all but growled.

“Oh, is that how you talk to all your girlfriends?” I rolled my eyes.

“All my – you’re my only girlfriend, you know that. We’re not back to this again, are we?”

“Back to what, Barton?”

“That!” He said exasperatedly, “Calling me Barton, pretending you hate me, being hot one day and cold the next. You were all over me yesterday, Marissa – what’s changed? I haven’t fucking done anything, I thought we were past this.”

I ignored him, wrenching my arm out of his grasp and striding determinedly down to potions.

“Go get some breakfast, Barton, I’m not in the mood for your shit!” I called over my shoulder.

*

Professor Carmichael all but fell off his chair when I barged through the door and flung my bag under my usual desk.

“Ah, Miss Marriott!” He cried, straightening his robes as he attempted to regain his composure, “You’re – er – here. Early.”

I’d never been early for potions before in my life. I grunted in response as I handed him my homework (which I’d had to finish off hastily before leaving the dormitory since Mary had conveniently forgotten to do so). 

Once I had gotten to grips with the ingredients listed on the blackboard, I busied myself with collecting them from the store cupboard whilst Professor Carmichael frowned over a stack of homework for marking. After ten minutes or so, students began filing in to the classroom. I returned to my seat, only to find an unwelcome body sitting in it.

“Move. That’s my seat.” I grumbled.

“Don’t worry babe, there’s enough space at this table for the both of us.” Barton grinned, patting the remaining stool. I sat down begrudgingly and began to organise my ingredients on the table.

“Thanks for collecting the stuff,” Barton said, indicating the ingredients.

“They’re not for you,” I snapped, “You can get your own. I’ve seen your attempts at making potions and they’re shit, we’re not making this together.”

Barton leant back on his chair and ran his hands over his face.

“I thought you wanted to be with me,” he laughed darkly, “You said you were over Jay, that you’d never wanted to be with him and just saw him as a friend. So you agreed to be my girlfriend, and then I didn’t see or hear from you all day on Sunday. Then yesterday you were like ‘oh sorry, Seb, I was just so ill I couldn’t leave my bed all day’ and everything was fine, and now you’re treating me like fucking shit. I don’t fucking deserve it, Marissa, I’ve been trying to be a better version of myself for you and you’re just throwing it back in my face. You could at least fucking try.”

I never thought I’d say this, but Barton was right. As much of a complete twat he was, he didn’t actually deserve this. I tried to envision myself in his shoes and realised that to him, I was being a complete irrational bitch. For some reason, he wanted to be my boyfriend, and as far as he knew I’d agreed – and now it seemed I was chickening out and treating him like shit. I realised I would have to be civil – even nice – to him, as it was no longer fair to treat him the same way I always had.

“I’m sorry,” I sighed, “I’m just stressed with everything. After being sick at the weekend I didn’t have the time to finish any of my homework, and with NEWTs coming up it’s all just getting to me. You don’t deserve it, you’re right. I’ll try not to be a bitch.”

He smiled and placed an arm around my waist, pulling me in to his body and planting a kiss on the top of my head – at the exact moment Jay strolled into the classroom.

My eyes widened. I couldn’t push Barton off me, not after everything we’d just talked about. But how must it make Jay to feel to see me getting cosy with his best friend? Don’t flatter yourself, my inner voice scoffed, he probably doesn’t even care – what makes you think he even liked you that much in the first place?

But Jay’s eyes gave his feelings away – they were full of hurt, even as he tried to casually nod in greeting at Barton. He glanced at me and gave a slight shrug of his shoulders, as if to say whatever, and then walked around our desk to seat himself at the back of the classroom.

I had to explain to him.

*

Dinner was an awkward affair, although it felt nice to be included in a group situation again. I was sat with Barton on my left and Gemma on my right. To Gemma’s right was MacMillan, and to Barton’s left was Jay. Opposite us sat Lacey, Charlotte, and two of the boys’ other friends – Jordan McLaggen and Alex Shields. Barton had an arm slung around my shoulders the entire meal, and was eating with his left hand, whilst Jay was chatting casually to McLaggen and Shields. Gemma, as usual, was attached to MacMillan, however Lacey and Charlotte were unusually quiet. They were eyeing Barton and I suspiciously. Lacey kept looking at me pointedly, as if trying to wordlessly communicate something to me. I pretended as though I didn’t notice, just like I was pretending not to notice Barton’s squeezes on my shoulder, and focused on my apple pie.

Jay left the table with McLaggen, apparently to get in some quidditch practice before bed. My stomach panged as I realised flying lessons with Jay were most likely off the cards forever now. Gemma and MacMillan made their excuses and left together shortly afterwards. Barton, Shields, Lacey, Charlotte and I headed up to Gryffindor tower together to make a start on some of the day’s homework.

After an hour, I’d fake-yawned and declared I was positively too tired to concentrate and was heading off to bed. Barton had jumped up, shoving his parchment into his bag, and insisted on walking me to the foot of the girls’ staircase before heading off to bed himself. This worked well in my favour, as I’d been secretly planning to bypass him and sneak down to the quidditch pitch to speak to Jay. I noticed Lacey and Charlotte were also putting their equipment away.

“Do I get a goodnight kiss?” Barton, the big sleaze bag, asked as he leant ‘sexily’ against the banister.

Aw, fuck. I’d done so well to avoid kissing him all day, up until now.

“Sure,” I said unfeelingly. I leant up on my tiptoes and gave him a quick peck on the side of the mouth, before turning to make my way up the staircase.

“Oh no you don’t, you little tease.” Barton growled in what I assumed was supposed to be a ‘sexy’ voice, spinning me around and planting his hands on my hips. Before my mind had even had the chance to catch up, he had crushed his body and lips against mine. I scrunched my eyes up tightly and counted to five, before pulling away.

“You’re amazing.” Barton breathed, licking his lips.

“Heh, yeah. Goodnight, Ba…Sebastian.”

*

I waited until Lacey and Charlotte were safely behind their hangings before slipping on my shoes and padding out of the room and down to the pitch. It was freezing, and I was in my pyjamas. I’d been worried that Jay would have already gone to bed by the time I’d managed to get down there, but luckily I saw a lone figure flying around the goal hoops.

“Jay?” I called, hoping to Merlin it was actually him, and not McLaggen. How would I explain to McLaggen why I was out looking for Jay in my pyjamas?

The figure suddenly came to a halt. The sky was quite dark now, and I couldn’t make out the person’s features.

“Marissa?” Jay’s hoarse voice carried across the pitch, “What are you doing here? Are you – are they pyjamas?”

All of a sudden, I felt very silly standing there in my unicorn pyjamas.

“Er, yeah. Can you come down here, please? I want to talk to you.”

He flew down and landed beside me, propping his broom against his shoulder. Oh Merlin, he was so handsome.

“What’s up, Marriott?” He asked casually.

Why was he being so god damn casual? Surely, he should be mad at me?

“I just felt like I owe you an explanation,” I began, wringing my hands as I spoke, “You know, because we were talking and…stuff…and now I’m sort of with Sebastian.”

“You don’t owe me anything, Marissa,” Jay shrugged with a smile. I thought it didn’t quite reach his eyes, but I couldn’t be sure. Their usual treacly sparkle was missing.

“You and I were just having a bit of fun, weren’t we?” He continued, “It’s not like it meant anything. I’m happy for you and Seb.”

“Y-you are?”

What? How could he possibly be happy about it? Even I wasn’t freaking happy about it.

He said what had happened between us didn’t mean anything.

Shit.

“Yeah, of course I am – Seb’s my best friend.” He was doing that damn smile again. Ugh.

“Oh, okay.” I said, still frowning. I was so fucking confused. “Well, I’ll just be, er, heading off to bed now then. Goodnight.”

His full lips were still curved into that wry smile and I just wanted to kiss it off his face, replace it with a genuine one.

Better yet, I wanted him to kiss me. Being out here on the pitch, the place where we’d had most of our snogging sessions, brought flashbacks of his hands on my skin, his lips on my lips.

But that couldn’t happen, because I was accidentally dating his best fucking friend.

I gave him an awkward wave, and he carried on bloody smiling. Surely his face must ache with all that fake smiling. 

I willed myself to leave but I couldn’t do it. I just stood there awkwardly with nothing to say, just drinking him in.

In the end, he was the one to leave.

“Night, Marriott.” He said, chuckling slightly – and this time, it was genuine. He shook his head, picked up his broomstick, and strode off the pitch, leaving me standing in the cold with my unicorn pyjamas flapping in the breeze.

*

Wednesday 1st October, 1977 / Thursday 2nd October, 2020

Nothing of particular importance happened for the next few days.

In 1977, everyone continued to hate me. Nobody sat with me; not in classes, not at meal times, and definitely not in the common room. Lily even avoided me in the dormitory, leaving before I was awake in the morning and returning once I’d already gone to bed. Remus – and sometimes Peter - continued to send me pitying looks, and James sent me scathing ones. Sirius was getting increasingly closer with Marlene – they seemed to be together more often than apart now. James had scheduled another quidditch practice for Friday evening – he hadn’t even bothered to inform me personally, but rather sent the dark-haired girl from the team, Lucy, over to tell me.

Back in 2020, things were ‘hotting up’ for Sebastian. It seemed Mary had been all over him the previous day, and he’d expected the same again. I’d turned my head when he’d tried to kiss me during lunch, and he’d asked in hushed tones if it was because of Jay. I’d told him it was, but not in the way he was thinking – more that I knew Jay liked me, and didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Sebastian agreed, saying he didn’t want to do that to his best friend, and so we decided to keep the kissing at a minimum whilst Jay was around. Which suited me fine, as it meant I could just make sure we were hanging around Jay a lot, however Sebastian did keep trying to find excuses to get me alone. Somehow, after a long day of rebuffing his dodgy suggestions, I managed to avoid any awkward snogs in broom cupboards. Lacey was still acting a bit distant with me, which upset me – I didn’t want to lose my friends in 2020 and have them hate me just as much as Sirius and everyone else did. I made a vow to myself to try to find a chance to have a sit down and chat with her at the weekend.

*

Friday 3rd October, 1977

The bright red letter ‘D’ shimmered up at me from the corner of my returned transfiguration homework. I knew it was silly to care, since it was Mary’s grade after all, not mine…but I’d never, ever, received a ‘D’ before on an essay I’d written. Or anything, for that matter. Shame burned inside of me as I promised to make more of an effort to keep on top of my grades – in 2020 at least. Mary could get T’s across the board for all I cared – I wasn’t completing her homework anymore. She never bothered with mine, anyway, which meant I was doing double the workload. I shoved the essay into my rucksack and headed up to the common room, deciding to skip dinner. I knew skipping meals wasn’t the greatest of ideas before an upcoming quidditch practice, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach anything.

I changed into my quidditch gear and used the extra time I had whilst the others were eating to flick through my flying manuals. James’ threat to kick me off the team was still fresh and, although I didn’t really give a shit if he gave Mary’s position away, I knew that if I performed abysmally again I wouldn’t be able to stand the embarrassment.

At ten to seven I grabbed Mary’s broom and headed down to the pitch. James and Sirius were setting up the balls when I arrived, and Sirius glanced up as I approached. He sneered and nudged James with his elbow. James looked up at me, shook his head and murmured something inaudible to Sirius. Sirius snickered before they both continued with their work, choosing against acknowledging my presence. I should have been used to this by now, but I wasn’t. It still hurt a little.

After a short while of me standing awkwardly, pretending to brush fluff off my quidditch robes, the dark-haired girl (Lucy) and the blonde twins (Peter and Penny) rocked up. James straightened up and addressed the group as a whole.

“Okay, team. Glad you could all make it here on time – even you, MacDonald! Now I’m sure you’re all aware of Ed’s circumstances. Because of what’s happened, Ed can’t be here today, and won’t be playing in our match against Hufflepuff. This means that we need to find a new beater, so I’ll be holding try-outs on Sunday. I’ve already had a few promising applicants, so with any luck we won’t be too disadvantaged in the match. Obviously, no one will be able to top Ed, but I won’t be recruiting just anyone – I’ll be looking for the best I can get at short notice, and I’ll be counting on your opinions to help me to make my final decision. You’ll need to look out for the qualities of a player you think would potential fit well in our team. Now, today we’re just going to be practising a few drills – the usual sort of thing, but we’ll be adding a team dynamic. That means everyone must take part in each activity, and work together to complete the relay.”

James pointed over to the pitch, where a sort of mid-air obstacle course was hovering. He nodded to Sirius, who flew up to the goal posts at one end of the pitch.

“To start with, you need to zigzag through the goal hoops, then I’ll throw you a quaffle.” Sirius began to demonstrate as James spoke, “You need to catch it and throw it back. Then I’ll throw you a bat. We’ve charmed some balls to resemble bludgers, and these will be shooting out at you from the cannons we’ve discretely hidden around the pitch. You need to hit as many as you can, as accurately as you can. Be prepared for me to toss you the quaffle whilst you’re fighting off the bludgers. Try to catch it and throw it over to me. Once you’ve tackled the bludgers, you enter the Seekers Net. The Seekers Net contains a number of fake snitches, and one real snitch. Your job is to identify and catch the real snitch. You’ll only be released from the net once you’ve caught the snitch. Once you’re free, you need to avoid the bludgers and zig-zag through the goal hoops at the other end of the pitch. You then fly back to your team mates at the starting point, and toss them your bat. As an added bonus, Remus will be joining us today to help make the teams more even.”

Remus looked just as sickly as I felt. Could I feign illness and be excused? My skill level wasn’t nearly enough to handle this sort of challenge. I was going to either die from embarrassment, or a bludger to the head.

James split the team into two groups: Sirius, Penny and Remus vs. Me, Lucy and Peter.

First up were Penny and Peter. The chaser duo were evenly matched as they zipped through the hoops and caught the quaffles James had thrown at them. They soared through the bludger challenge with relative ease, however both seemed to struggle a little in the seeker pit. Penny emerged first, with Peter hot on her tail. They ducked the bludgers with the skill of true chasers, and before I knew it they were speeding back over towards us.

Lucy caught Peter’s bat and sped off without hesitation. Her natural seeker speed enabled her to gain an immediate head start on Remus, who, despite this, was putting up a good fight – I vaguely wondered why he hadn’t expressed more interest to be on the team. He certainly had the skill.

Lucy floundered a little with the bludgers, but managed to avoid being hit by utilising her seeker reflexes. Remus was caught on the shoulder, but soldiered on regardless. Lucy flew through the seeker’s net and came speeding back around the pitch towards me, a good twenty seconds ahead of Remus, who was busy dodging bludgers.

“COME ON MOONY!” Sirius was screaming, “YOU CAN DO IT MATE. COME ON!”

The rest of the team were shouting amongst his cries, spurring each other on. My group were chanting my name as I nervously took off towards the goal hoops and stiffly steered between them.

“PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN MARY!” Lucy yelled.

“THEY’RE CATCHING UP! HURRY UP!” Peter wailed.

I accelerated towards James, who tossed the quaffle at me. I reached out and caught it between the tips of my fingers, wobbling precariously on my broom. I squeezed my legs tight around the wood and took in a deep, steadying breath, trying to remember how Jay had told me to find my balance. I distantly heard the cheers of the other group as Remus tossed Sirius the bat.

I steeled myself and swung the quaffle over my head, throwing it clumsily back towards James.

“Good job you’re a beater, not a chaser” James sneered as he caught it deftly in his right hand and tossed me a beaters bat with his left.

I just about caught the bat and took off towards the next obstacle – the bludgers. They flew at me, one after the other, each from a different direction. Panic-stricken, I swung the bat aimlessly and hoped for the best.

“MARYWHATAREYOUDOING?”

“YOU’RE A BEATER FOR MERLIN’S SAKE!”

I could hear Sirius chortling snidely from somewhere close by, saw the bludgers zooming away from him as I struggled to keep up with my own share. I’d more or less given up on actually hitting them at this point, and was instead ducking and diving to avoid them. This wasn’t going well, due to my inexperience on a broom. I was still relatively new to flying, and hadn’t quite mastered avoiding bludgers.

I knew from the mingled cheers of Sirius’ group, and the groans and cries from my own, that Sirius had moved on to the seeker’s pit. This spurred me on slightly, and I took aim at the next bludger that flew towards me. I missed, and it plummeted straight into my chest, knocking the wind out of me. The force of the blow had caused me to stagger backwards on my broomstick, rendering me inches from sliding off the end. Just as I was attempting to regain my control over the broom, a second bludger flew into the small of my back, throwing me forwards until I was spread across the broom. Tears pooled in my eyes from the pain of it, but I knew the blow was cushioned by whatever spell James had cast upon the bludgers – he didn’t want his team too injured from practice to actually play in the match, after all. Despite this, the bludgers were still solid balls of metal flying at full speed through the air, and so they still hurt a damn lot. I was now too weak and disheartened to even attempt to block the bludgers, and instead lay on my broom, feebly steering it left to right to avoid a third injury.

Somewhere in the distance, the shrill sound of James’ whistle blew, signalling the end of the relay – and Sirius’ completion of the course.

I heard Sirius and his team yelling and whooping, and the groans and complaints of my own team members. James and Remus appeared nearby and spelled the bludgers back into their crate.

“I want everyone on the ground, now!” James called.

Remus pulled up next to me.

“You okay?” He asked, concern flooding his features.

I sat up on the broom and brushed my hair from my face.

“I’m fine.” I muttered, willing the tears swelling in my eyes not to fall. Remus indicated for me to descend first, and I did so, with him shadowing me from behind – probably to catch me if I decided to fall.

When I reached the ground, I wearily descended and threw my broom on the ground. Sirius was recapping his victory to the rest of the team, whilst the others in my group half-heartedly congratulated him and the others. James watched on, stony faced. When my broom hit the grass, his eyes snapped up to look at me.

“What the fuck was that?” He demanded.

I recoiled, unable to speak. The group fell silent, their eyes swivelling back and forth between James and I.

“Never have I ever seen a performance so utterly shoddy as that,” he spat, “I expect the highest standards from members of this team - one hundred per cent effort, one hundred per cent of the time. I’m not seeing that from you recently, MacDonald.”

He turned to the rest of the team.

“Looks like we’ll be seeking two new beaters on Sunday, lads.”

The silence was deafening. Sirius looked torn between delighted and confused. Remus was looking guiltily at his shoes. The twins were frowning. Lucy looked outraged.

“Don’t you think that’s a little harsh, James?” She asked, “I mean, we all have our off days…”

“It’s not just one off day though, Luce, it’s every fucking day. I spoke to Mary the other day and she knew the score – if she wasn’t up to scratch, she was off the team. If I’d said that to any of the rest of you, I know for a fact that you’d put in the extra effort to prove your worth, but Mary just doesn’t have the commitment, she doesn’t have the same loyalty as the rest of us, and I can’t have a player like that on this team.”

“But surely – ”

“It’s fine.” I said, “Honestly, Lucy, it’s fine.”

I looked up at James, cutting him off before he spoke.

“I never wanted to be on this fucking team in the first place.”

*

I was sitting alone in the common room, playing a lone game of chess. After practice, I’d stormed up to the dorm and practically drowned myself in my own tears in the shower. It wasn’t that I was upset that I’d been kicked off the team, it was more the humiliation of the tasks and the way the others – James, especially – had treated me. I’d freshened up but found being around Lily, who was reading on her bed and ignoring my existence, was too stifling, and so that was how I’d ended up sitting alone in the common room playing chess by myself.

“Mind if I join you?”

I didn’t need to look up to know it was Remus speaking. I shrugged, staring at the pieces on the board.

“Knight to E6.” Remus said. The knight moved forward and destroyed one of my pawns.

“I figured it was time I gave you an apology,” Remus said, as I quietly instructed my rook to move forwards. “Obviously, I don’t agree with what I’ve been told you’ve done in regards to your relationship with Sirius, but I shouldn’t have treated you the way I have been doing. At the end of the day, it’s none of my business and I don’t know all the facts. I wanted to speak to you sooner, but it’s been hard – James and Sirius feel so strongly about the situation, if they knew I was talking to you they’d probably assume I was taking your side, or something.”

He paused. I didn’t respond.

“I know we were never particularly close, but you seem different, Mary, and I’m worried that you’re pushing us away to protect yourself. Suddenly revealing that you cheated on Sirius just doesn’t add up. If there is something that’s bothering you, or if you need to talk about anything, you know you can talk to me, right?”

I nodded and cleared my throat to speak – but my response was drowned out by the unmistakable sound of Sirius’ voice booming across the common room.

“I’VE DONE IT LADS!” He yelled, as he dragged McKinnon through the portrait hole, “Hey, Prongs, Wormtail – I’d like you to meet my new girlfriend, Marlene.”

“We’ve met before, Sirius.” Marlene giggled.

“Where’s Moony?” Sirius continued distractedly, ignoring his new girlfriend.

“Oh.” Sirius’ face fell a little as his gaze settled on Remus and I, but he quickly recovered his grin. “Hey, Moony – guess who practically begged me to be her boyfriend? Couldn’t resist the ol’ Sirius Black charm could you, Marlene?”

Marlene rolled her eyes as he winked at her.

“I’m fairly certain it was you doing the begging, Sirius.”

I stared back down at the chess board as Remus mumbled another apology and shuffled back over to where his friends were sitting, trying my hardest to block out the sights and sounds of their conversation. My mind was foggy with misery. First, Mary had ruined my chances with Jay. Then, I had to play the role of Sebastian’s loving girlfriend. Next, I was humiliated and kicked off the quidditch team. And now, this.

Things couldn't possibly get any worse, could they?

AN: FINALLY, we're in October! Possibly the longest chapter I've written so far - hope you enjoyed the ride! Please don't hesitate to leave some feedback :)

Possibility of chapter 15 being posted within the next two days, so keep checking back! 

15/07/2017 Update: 1,500 words into Chapter 15 and I'm experiencing some severe writer's block! There's a bit of a jump in time from this chapter to the next to avoid the next few chapters being too filler-y so please bear with me whilst I attempt to get the ball rolling again! Will update as soon as I can get past this block xx 


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The Hands of Time: Chapter Fourteen

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