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The Hands of Time by sweetredrose
Chapter 16 : Chapter Sixteen
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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 A/N: Apologies in advance for any spelling/grammar errors in this chapter; parts were written on my phone in a cottage in the middle of nowhere (the English countryside) and my phone goes a little haywire with bad reception and develops a mind of its own, adding in random letters and punctuation here and there...so parts may seem a little nonsensical if I've missed them during proof reading. Sorry!!

*

I had to shake my head to make sure I wasn't hallucinating.

Do mine eyes deceive me? Was I really seeing Sirius whatever-his-middle-name-was Black kissing a girl who wasn't his girlfriend? Sirius, the guy who went absolutely mental at me for pretend cheating on him. Sirius, who held his moral compass high and shunned infidelity. Sirius, who acted like the perfect boyfriend, cheating on his girlfriend.

It made me wonder how many girls he'd kissed while he was with Mary. With me.

A burning heat prickled tantalisingly against my skin, rising as the blood pounded in my ears, at the very thought of Sirius going with someone else behind my back, making me look a fool. Making Mary look a fool. Making Marlene look a fool.

It wasn't acceptable.

The rational part of my brain told me that I didn't know for sure whether he had cheated on me or not, but the other part of me wanted to charge at him, rip him apart from his little play-thing (who even was she, anyway?) and slap the smirk off his smarmy face.

I forced myself to take deep, steadying breaths.

Inhale.
One, two, three.
Exhale.

This must have been the way he felt, when he found out about my 'infidelity' with Muggle Mike. He must have felt this same sickness in his abdomen, the same boiling rage in his blood, the same pounding in his head as he tried to wing his head around the concept.

I softened a little.

But just because I knew he'd hurt, didn't mean it was acceptable for him to hurt someone else. And what he was doing would definitely hurt Marlene, who was obviously besotted with him and under the impression he felt similarly.

I wanted to confront him. I wanted to grab hold of his shoulders and shake him, yell at him until I was blue in the face.

But I knew that would only draw attention to the fact that Sirius had cheated on Marlene, and it wouldn't be fair to the girl if others found out before she did.

It took all of my willpower to force myself to turn on my heel and creep back down the staircase before the illegitimate couple noticed my intrusion on their sordid affair.

I mean, I couldn't really be blamed for stumbling across them, they were hardly hiding it successfully. It was almost as though they wanted to be found. Or maybe they liked the thrill of the risk.

Some people were sick.

My rage returned as I stomped back to Gryffindor tower, thinking about the way Sirius had treated me recently for 'cheating' on him - all the while, sneaking away from his devoted girlfriend for cheeky snogs with slutty little Ravenclaws (or that's what I'm assuming based on the blue stripes on the discarded tie I spotted between their feet).

I had half a mind to turn around, storm back to the fifth floor and drag the sly dog by his hair back down the stairs. Backwards.

But I kept moving forwards, regardless, until I reached the portrait of the Fat Lady.

"Billywig!" I spat.

The Fat Lady scowled at me as she swung open.

"No need to be so ru-"

"Mary!"

Oh, for the love of Merlin, not now.

"I'm not in the mood, Lily." I said, making to proceed into the common room. She grabbed hold of my arm.

I span around, seething.

"I just want to -"

"No, Lily, I don't think you quite heard me; I'm really not in the fucking mood, alright?"

Lily released my arm as though my skin had scalded her. I noticed Remus, James and Peter heading up the corridor towards us.

"Hey," James called, "Has anyone seen -"

"I just wanted to talk." She murmured quietly. The hurt expression on her face did nothing but aggravate me further.

"Oh, now you want to talk?" I raged, "After weeks of ignoring me, giving me death stares, leaving the dorm before I wake up and returning after I've gone to bed JUST TO AVOID HAVING TO TALK TO ME, you suddenly want to TALK?! Well let me tell you something, Lily Evans, I'm done with you. I'm done trying to be your friend, I'm done with seeking your approval, I'm done with your holier-than-thou attitude, I'm done. You can just go and get fu-"

"Hey, that's enough!" James yelled, standing in front of Lily as if to protect her from my murderous words, "What the fuck, Macdonald? Where do you get off attacking Evans like that? She's done nothing, she just wanted to talk and make amends -"

"Oh and you can get fucked as well, Potter, you and your holier-than-thou attitude. You really do make a great match, the pair of you. Always up there on your high horses, deciding what is wrong and what is right, when you don't even see what's right in front of your noses. I bet you don't even realise - "

"Um, sorry to interrupt, but has anyone seen Sirius? I've been looking for him everywhere."

Marlene. 

"Clearly haven't looked very far." I mumbled.

"What was that?" James snarled, clearly affected by my harsh words.

"Nothing. I said have you tried looking in the...er, car?"

Everyone turned to me, puzzled.

I was an idiot. They probably didn't even know what a car was. Apart from Lily, but she just looked equally confused as to why I would be talking about muggle transportation at a time like this.

"We've actually been looking for Sirius, too, Marlene," Remus said kindly, breaking the silence, "Perhaps we could look together?"

They mustn't know. Sirius must be hiding his infidelity from his friends, as well as his girlfriend.

I was ridiculously tempted to expose him, tell them to check the fifth floor corridor. But I knew it wasn't fair to Marlene, to find out in this way, with everyone else there to witness, so I bit my tongue.

"I thought I saw him on the quidditch pitch," I said, "I was in the owlery, and I looked out the window and saw someone who looked a bit like him flying around."

The sneaking scumbag owed me one for covering for his dirty little secret. He had a lot to bloody answer for.

As everyone turned to head down to the Quidditch pitch, James hung back. He turned to look down on me, all five foot eleven inches and muscles towering menacingly over my weaker form.

"If I ever hear you speak to Lily like that again, Macdonald..."

"Ooh, what are you going to do, Potter? Kick me off the quidditch team? Oh wait, you can't, you've already done that one. Send me dirty looks for weeks? Turn everyone against me? Oh, no, wait, too late for that -"

"Need I remind you, Mary, that I am Head Boy, and that Lily is Head Girl?"

I gulped. Ohhh snap.

Were they actually?

Was the headmaster out of his mind?

Oh, wait, I did hear Dumbledore was a bit of a loopy guy. A genius, but also mental.

He was probably off his rocker on acid, this was the seventies after all. I mean, Lily as Head Girl I totally understood. But James Potter as Head Boy? What was the guy thinking

"You know I could have you kicked out of Hogwarts at the snap of my fingers, right?"

"Bullshit," I said, "And even if you did, I'd just come back and work as Hagrid's apprentice. You can't get rid of me that easily, Potter!"

"This isn't funny, Mary, I'm serious. You might put up this bitch front, but I see right through it. If you hurt Lily in any way, I'll personally see to it that you regret it."

And with those dramatic words, he flounced off.

"Hey, why don't you get off your moral highground and ask Sirius what he was really doing tonight?" I called at his retreating back. He froze.

"Yes, Potter, I lied - Sirius isn't playing quidditch at all. He's probably making his way back from the fifth floor now. Ask him what he's been up to, I dare you."

And with those dramatic words, I flounced off.

Through the portrait hole, I mean.

*
My mother and I were close, but not so close that we had to write each other every day. In fact, we could go weeks without communication - but we both knew that no news was good news, and going so long without talking or seeing one another made it all the more special when we did.

But I knew I could always count on my mother for advice when it was needed. She was practical minded and logical, and would always set me on the right path when I needed guidance.

However, she was also very realistic and found it difficult to comprehend abnormality. It had been a real brain twister for her when old McGonagall had appeared on our doorstep on my eleventh birthday and informed her I was a witch and had a place in a magic school. My parents were muggles, you see. My father was extremely laid back and just accepted the situation, however it took some time for my mother to get her head around it. Once she had accepted it, though, she set about making it her mission for me to be the most organised and prepared young witch to step foot inside Hogwarts.

But as it turned out, I didn't inherit her organisation and preparation skills, and I ended up floundering.

And that was probably the reason why I'd ended up in this twisted reality. I knew I couldn't tell my mother what was really happening to me - she just wouldn't get it. But I could mist over the technicalities and try to glean some advice from her. She was always eager to advise with 'boy struggles' - something she could relate to. So it was her that I decided to write my letter to.

Mum,

Sorry I haven't written since the start of term, things have been a little crazy with exams coming up. How are you and dad?

I'm writing because I've found myself in a bit of a difficult situation. I was sort of seeing this boy, Sirius, at the start of term, but he thought I'd cheated on him (I didn't, you know I wouldn't do that) and so he broke up with me. After that, I started talking to another boy, Jay, who I really liked, but his friend Seb (who I hate) also liked me, and I accidentally ended up agreeing to be Seb's girlfriend. Don't ask me how that happened, I really can't explain.

Anyway, I've been seeing Seb for a few weeks now, and Jay seems to have moved on. Sirius got a new girlfriend, too.

But tonight, I accidentally saw Sirius kissing another girl. He doesn't know that I know, and I'm not sure what to do. He's such a hypocrite and I really want to tell his girlfriend Marlene, but I know it has to come from him. Should I tell him that I know? Should I tell Marlene? I sort of hinted to his best friend James as well.

What do I do about Seb? He really likes me, mum, but I can't stand him, and I just don't know how to get out of it. I really like Jay, too, but I think he's moving on. Should I let him move on, or should I tell him how I feel? But wouldn't that make me as bad as Sirius if I told another boy I liked him while I was with Seb?

I really miss you (and dad) and can't wait to see you at Christmas.

Love,
Marissa


I signed the letter and looked at the parchment, wondering... I knew I couldn't send the letter now, due to being in 1977, but I wondered how I would possibly transport it to the future with me. The only possible method I could think of, was to sleep with the letter clutched in my hand. After all, the notes I'd previously left Mary on her bed stand or under her pillow, had remained in the year they'd been written. So I would have to go to sleep holding the letter, or hope for the best - otherwise, I'd risk Mary reading the letter.

*
Monday 20th October, 2020


The good news was that, due to our current lack of correspondence, Mary had no idea about Sirius' infidelity and wouldn't run around declaring it to the whole school before I'd had a chance to speak to him first. The bad news was that I was back in present time, posing as Sebastian Barton's girlfriend again, and I was getting seriously bored with it. The best news, however, was that my plan had succeeded - the letter had safely made it to the future in my hand, away from Mary's nosy nose.

Not wanting to waste any time, I decided to head straight to the owlery to mail my letter. I headed out of the dormitory and was striding through the common room before a familiar voice called my name.

"Marissa."

I was suddenly very conscious of my flyaway bed hair and unicorn pyjamas.

"Jay." I breathed.

"Nice pyjamas," he smirked, "Do you always wear the unicorn ones or -"

"They're my favourite," I cut him off, "But I do like to alternate with my bowtruckle ones every now and again."

"I see," he said, smirk still in place, "What are you doing roaming around the castle in your pyjamas, anyway?"

"I was just going to send a letter before I got dressed," I explained, "I didn't want to forget and leave it lying around and ending up in the wrong hands..."

"It must be a pretty important letter?" 

"It is - well, it's not really, it's just to my mum. But I'd still rather people didn't read it, you know? It's sort of personal."

"Yeah, I get that," he nodded, "I have to open my post in private, you know, mum and dad can be so embarrassing when they write..."

"I can't imagine your parents being embarrassing," I rolled my eyes, "Your dad's a famous dark wizard destroyer and your mum's a quidditch legend. That's pretty cool, as far as parents go."

"You'd be surprised," Jay laughed, "Their careers don't define their parenting skills. What do your parents do?"

"Oh, dad's an electrician, and mum's a secretary at a legal firm."

I marvelled at the ease of discussing my family with Jay, comparing it to my reluctance to even share these small details with Seb during our Hogsmeade date not so long ago.

"That sounds pretty cool to me," Jay shrugged, "Anyway, before you go send that oh so important letter, I wanted to ask you - did you fancy another flying lesson sometime? We had a lot of fun and I quite enjoyed teaching someone how to fly, so I thought it might be cool?"

My heart did a back flip. Jay wanted to give me another flying lesson. Of course, I didn't need the lessons any more, since Jay's own grandfather had kicked me off the team, but the possibility of spending some time alone with Jay again was too tempting.

"I'd love to, " I beamed, trying not to look overly enthusiastic, "How about Wednesday?"

"Yeah Wednesday should be fine, after dinner?"

"Yeah, after dinner sounds good. I'll see you then."

"I look forward to it." Jay smiled.

*

What did he mean by that smile? What did he mean, he'd look forward to it? What did he mean by asking me to go in the first place?

It was dinner, and I was still obsessing over my run in with Jay earlier that morning. Seb was waffling on about something to my right, but I couldn't focus on his words. My attention was directed to the bloke sitting opposite him - Jay - who's attention was equally focused on his chicken stew.

"Did you hear what I said, Marissa?" Sebastian asked.

"Huh - what?" I asked, snapping my gaze away from Jay to look at my 'boyfriend'.

Seb rolled his eyes.

"Honestly, what is up with you recently? Nevermind. I asked if what you said yesterday was true?"

"What I said...yesterday?" I stammered, my stomach suddenly sinking. Of course I had no idea what I'd said yesterday, because it wasn't me who had said it, it was bloody Mary. "I said a lot of things yesterday, Seb. Which part were you asking about?"

"You know the bit," Seb smirked, nudging me, "What you said up in the tower..."

Up in the... Oh merlin, no. What had Mary said? Why were they in the tower? What bloody tower was he talking about?

If it was the astronomy tower I might just hurl.

A horrible thought struck me: what if Sebastian and Mary had...done the deed?

But surely I'd know, wouldn't I? I mean, it was my body, after all.

Oh sweet merlin, what was Mary doing with my body? What was Sebastian doing with my body, for that matter?

But surely, I'd also know if they had been doing the deed, for Seb would probably expect that from me, and so far he hadn't expected anything more than snogging.

"Are you okay, Marissa?" Jay asked.

"Yeah, you look a bit pale." Charlotte, who was seated beside him, asked.

"I think I'm going to be sick." I murmured.

"What?" Seb asked, eyes wide, "You need some fresh air. Come on babe, we'll go for a walk."

"A walk...yeah..."

But I didn't want to go anywhere with him. What if he tried to do things to my body?

Merlin, I hoped Mary hadn't let him touch my body. I couldn't think of anything worse.

I really needed to end this relationship before things got worse.

*
Ten minutes later, I'd calmed down somewhat. I'd convinced myself that I would know instinctively if Seb and Mary had 'moved things on' with the relationship, and so my breathing was back to normal and the colour was steadily returning to my face. Although the latter may have had something to do with the cold October air.

"You weren't kidding when you said fresh air," I joked as Seb led me around the perimeter of the lake by the hand, "I can see my actual breath."

Seb ignored my comment.

"You remember that thing I told you about the other day? About next Friday?" He asked slowly.

"Next Friday...oh yeah, sure, I remember that!" I said, without a sodding clue what he was talking about.

"Well, what do you think? Do you fancy it?" He had stopped and turned to face me, eyes scrutinising my face for my reaction.

"Of course I fancy it.." I lied. What the hell was he talking about? I didn't have any idea whether I fancied it or not! What was I blindly agreeing to?

"Oh, it's just...you didn't seem so keen on the idea the other day, but well, I figured you'd change your mind because - because you always go to the Halloween party and I thought you liked it."

The Halloween party! How could I have forgotten? The annual Halloween party in the common room was my second favourite party of the year (after the Christmas party) and I never missed it, not for anything. I relished getting dressed up and getting drunk with my friends. Last year, I'd gone as a very convincing werewolf. Magic was brilliant at Halloween - it was so much easier to create a convincing costume with the right wand work.

But Mary had apparently seemed not-so-keen on the idea of a party. What was she, some kind of Halloween Grinch? Who didn't enjoy a good party? Girl needed to liven the hell up!

"Of course I'd love to go" I exclaimed, "I was - was just probably in a mood or something, the other day I mean. You know I love Halloween, I wouldn't miss the party for the world!" but at that moment a horrible thought hit me, "What date did you say it was, again?"

"Friday." He said.

"This Friday?" I asked, hopeful.

"No, next. I was wondering, Marissa, do you fancy being my date?"

Next Friday. My heart sunk, a glum feeling resting in my abdomen. Next Friday I'd be stuck in 1977. I was devastated. Excitedly creating our costumes was a yearly tradition and bonding session for Lacey and I, and I was going to miss out on that due to Mary taking over all the good things in my life. She wouldn't even enjoy the party, it wasn't fair.

"I mean, if you don't want to, that's..."

"Obviously I'll be your date," I snapped, "You're my boyfriend, aren't you? I think it goes without saying that we'll be going together."

I suppose that was the silver lining to this cloud - at least I wouldn't have to attend the party with Sebastian.

I swear to Merlin, if Mary got tipsy and frisky with Seb at this party, and ultimately abused her right to my body, I would strangle her.

*

"Marissaaaaaa!"

"Lacey."

"Marissa!"

"Lacey."

"Maris-"

"Cut to the chase, Lacey. What's up?"

Lacey rolled her eyes, slinging her arm around my shoulders.

"It's the Halloween party next Friday -"

"So people keep reminding me -"

"Which means we need to prepare -"

"What's the point -"

"And we haven't spent much time together recently -"

"We're spending time together now -"

"Which is undoubtedly the reason why you're in this foul mood -"

"I'm not in a -"

"Yes, yes you are, Marissa."

"Butt out Gemma, aren't you supposed to be attached to MacMillan's face?"

Gemma rolled her eyes.

"Look, we need to spend time together - all of us - and we also need to plan our costumes for the party. So, I suggest we throw a sleepover this Friday, giving us a chance to share gossip and get drunk, and a week to create the best costumes Hogwarts has ever seen."

"Great." I said glumly.

"You should go as a dementor, Marissa, since you clearly get off on sucking the joy out of everyone around you."

"Shut up, Gemma." I snapped. I knew my lack of enthusiasm and bad mood were unfair on the girls, though, and tried to force a smile. A sleepover would be nice, despite the fact I'd be planning a costume I'd never get to wear, and talking about a party I'd never get to attend.

"Friday sounds good, Lacey." I said, "I can't wait to hear all about Louis."

Lacey squealed and clapped her hands together.

"Oh, I can't wait! I'll go and find Charlotte and let her know!"

*
Tuesday 21st October, 1977

The shady glances directed my way by Lily and James the following morning did nothing to improve my mood. I moodily speared a sausage with my fork and glared pointedly back at them, causing the pair to lapsed into angry whispers together. I wondered vaguely if Mary had done anything to make matters worse the previous day.

Of course, part of me felt a little guilty about the words I'd launched their way, but the feeling of guilt, and their continued glares, only encouraged my bad mood. Sirius was conspicuously absent from breakfast this morning, and I noticed Marlene frowning into her cornflakes. I wondered if James had asked Sirius of his whereabouts on Sunday evening, or if any of them eventually found Sirius - perhaps they'd caught him and his little Ravenclaw bimbo in the act, and that was why Marlene was looking so glum.

"Where's Sirius this morning?" I asked Remus, who was chatting with Lucy close by. He shrugged.

"He wasn't in the dormitory when I left this morning. I thought he'd come down to breakfast early, but I haven't seen him. I suppose he was in the shower, or something."

Hmm. I turned to Lucy.

"What are you doing for Halloween?" I asked. If I couldn't enjoy the festival with my present-time friends, I sure as hell wasn't planning to sit around moping here in 1977. I needed plans.

"The Marauders party, of course," Lucy replied, "Same as every year. Should be a laugh."

"The what?" I frowned. What the hell was a marauder party?

"Mary, you come to the party every year - I'm pretty sure you came as a cat last year, if my memory serves me correctly. And I'm pretty sure I invited you to the exact same party just yesterday, you can't possibly have forgotten already! " Remus said.

"Yeah, the boys throw the party every year, you know that." Lucy, also frowning.

"Yeah, yeah, of course, sorry I'm just - tired."

"Well, I'm not surprised," Lucy smirked, "What time did you get back to the dorm last night, again? Eleven? Twelve?"

I flushed. What the hell had Mary been doing out until that time? Didn't they have curfew in the seventies?

"That is quite late for a school night," Remus mused, his eyebrows disappearing into his sandy hair, "What on earth were you doing out so late?"

"I was erm...studying." I stuttered, "In the library..."

"And Madam Pince didn't kick you out at curfew?" Remus frowned.

"Oh, come on Mary we're not daft. I know you were out with Davey Gudgeon - I saw the two of you sneaking out of the common room together."

Davey who?

So Mary wasn't as loyal to Barton as she appeared to be. Bloody hell.

I flushed again.

"I have no idea what you're talking about Lucy," I said, "Davey was just helping me to study, that's all."

"Riiiight." She said, knowingly.

"Helping you to 'study', we all know what that means," Remus joked.

I rolled my eyes.

"Whatever. So this party - when is it?"

"Next Friday," Remus confirmed, "And it's going to be the best yet. James has sorted all the arrangements and Sirius is on Alcohol Duty. Not that I approve of that, but according to general consensus the parties aren't fun without alcohol."

"Yeah, fourth years party was pretty dull, sorry Remus."

"That was the last time I was allowed to be in charge of the drink," Remus sighed, "Anyway, Pete and I are on food duty as well, so I can guarantee the buffet will be a treat."

"Will James and Sirius mind if I'm there?" I asked, suddenly wary of the idea.

"Of course not, you're my guest." Remus said.

"They don't really care who rocks up anyway," Lucy said, "As long as there's a decent crowd they're happy."

"Oh, okay," I said, my mood improving slightly at the prospect of actual Halloween plans, "What are you thinking of going as, Remus?"

"Oh, I don't know, I don't really like dressing up..."

"I think you'd make a great werewolf," I noted, thinking back of my costume from the previous year. Remus looked uncomfortable.

"No, I - I don't think I'm going to dress up at all, actually."

"Oh, come on, Remus, you've got to dress up!" Lucy exclaimed, "It's tradition! How about a cornish pixie? I might have some blue body paint knocking around somewhere..."

*

After breakfast, I was feeling a little cheerier, but this was diminished slightly by the nagging reminder of Sirius' infidelity. I needed to find him, to talk to him about the situation and convince him to confess to his girlfriend.

But unfortunately, Sirius was evading my capture. He wasn't in morning classes, or at lunch, and he was absent from afternoon classes and dinner, too.

Someone who wasn't absent, however, was Davey Gudgeon. The boy in question tracked me down in the entrance hall after dinner. I'd been heading hastily to the common room in an attempt to find Sirius (to say what, I didn't know - obviously, I hadn't heard back from my mother yet, and I was hoping she hadn't responded today, otherwise Mary would have a very interesting read) when a very average boy, of average height, with average coloured hair and average coloured eyes, and an average nose, very rudely blocked my path.

"Mary," he said, "How are you?"

I'm not Mary, who are you? I felt like saying.

"I'm fine thanks," I said instead.

"Look, about last night - I'm sorry, okay? I shouldn't have tried to...you know."

"What?" I asked, bewildered.

Was this the mysterious Davey Gudgeon?

"Aw, you're not gonna make me say it are you, Mare?" he asked, "Okay fine. I shouldn't have tried to kiss you. I'm sorry. I just thought - with you asking me to help you find that book - I thought it was just an excuse..."

"What, to get closer to you?" I asked, surprised, "Are you crazy? Why would I -"

"Go for an average lad like you, when she's had a taste of the best?" A voice cut in.

I could almost hear the smirk in his smarmy voice.

"Black."

"Gudgeon."

"Leave off, Black, she's not your girl anymore." Gudgeon snarled, nostrils flaring. Ooh, did he have beef with Sirius?

"She's not yours either, Gudgeon, and she's clearly not interested. So unless you want that eyeball actually removing this time, I suggest you clear off."

Gudgeon rolled his - fully intact - eyeballs and cleared off. I rounded on Sirius.

"What was that about?" I snapped.

"He looked like he was bothering you." Sirius shrugged. "And I can't stand the guy, anyway."

"What do you care if someone's bothering me? You can't stand me, remember?"

"Hmm, good point - maybe I should call Gudgeon back. Hey, Dav -"

"Don't you dare!" I cried shrilly.

Sirius smirked, satisfied.

"Truth be told, Mary, I just wanted dear Davey to disappear so you and I could chat. I believe we have a little business to attend to."

"And what business would that be?" I sighed, fearing I already knew the answer.

"You, prying into my business, and spreading gossip to my friends."

"Pardon?"

"Pro- James told me what you said to him. You need to stop spreading little lies like that Mary, it's not very becoming of a young lady such as yourself. Jealousy doesn't suit you. Maybe you should have kissed Gudgeon  after all, it might have taken your mind off me."

"Taken my mind off - Black, I know what I saw!"

"Apparently not. I was down at the quidditch pitch when James and the others found me, and James told me your little fib. I know you're struggling to get over me, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to muck up my current relationship just because you're jealous of Marlene."

They found him at the quidditch pitch? How in merlin's name...

"Right." I said, suddenly feeling rather uncertain about what I'd witnessed. Had it really been Sirius kissing the Ravenclaw girl, or had my mind been playing tricks on me? "I won't tell any more lies about you. Now, can you please move out of my way? I have homework I need to get on with."

"Homework?" Sirius said, seemingly surprised, "Since when do you do homework?"

I rolled my eyes, pushing past him. So it wasn't just my homework that Mary neglected - it was her own, too. What an idiot. Didn't she realise it was NEWT year? Her future depended on this.

*

It didn't make sense. I'd been so sure I'd seen Sirius kissing that girl. But now I was doubting myself. He and Marlene appeared the perfect couple after all - why would he want to throw that away? But I had been so certain that it was him. His shaggy hair, distinctive jaw, dishevelled uniform, calloused hands on her waist...but I'd only seen his side profile. Perhaps it hadn't been him, after all, but some other bloke.

But I had been so sure.

I couldn't focus on my transfiguration homework. Not with these thoughts clouding my mind, and the awkward glances from Lily, and the glares from James, and the questioning Lucy was giving me about Davey Gudgeon. I sighed and closed my book, rolling up my parchment.

"I'm going to bed." I announced to Lucy, "Are you coming?"

"Oh, no, I need to finish this - I'll see if Alice needs some company. Night, Mary."

I headed up to the dormitory and unrolled my parchment, tearing a scrap from the bottom.

Mary, I wrote.

Davey Gudgeon approached me today about your little rendezvous with him last night. I know you didn't kiss him back, but it leads me to wonder what possessed you to meet with him in the first place. Is Sebastian not satisfying enough for you? Speaking of which, I know you don't respect me personally but I'd appreciate it if you could at least respect my body, and my wish to not have Sebastian Barton see or touch any of it. If I find out you have allowed him to do that, I will make sure Gudgeon gets similar treatment to yours.

Best wishes,
Marissa


Of course, I wouldn't stoop so low, but the threat was necessary to stop Mary from getting physical with Barton in my body.

I placed the note on the bedside table and drew the curtains around the bed, staring at the ceiling.

What was I possibly going to wear to the marauding party?

*
Wednesday 22nd October, 2020

Sebastian was in a very touchy-feely mood today. Which was disconcerting and frankly, very uncomfortable.

"Babe, put the quill down, we haven't had a good snog all day." He coerced, and actually, physically, tried to take my quill from me.

"No, I need to get this runes essay finished and right now is my only chance to work on it!"

"You can do it tonight," Sebastian continued, actually taking my quill off me this time. I snatched it back.

"No. I can't."

"Why not?" He asked, placing unnecessary kisses on my neck. They did nothing but make me cringe, and felt cold and clammy against my skin. I shrugged him off.

"I have flying tonight."

"Flying?" He asked, scooting around behind me, snaking his arms around my waist and leaning his head on my shoulder.

"Yes, flying," I repeated, "With Jay."

Sebastian's arms left my waist at once, the space where his head had been on my shoulder suddenly feeling very bare.

"With Jay?" He asked, voice cold.

"Yeah, I'm sure I told you." I muttered distractedly, "He offered me another flying lesson and I agreed. We're meeting after dinner. That's why I need to get this essay done now."

"I'm coming with you." Seb said.

"What?" I asked, looking up from my scribbled essay, "No - you don't need to, I'll be fine, I've rode a broom a few times now -"

"That's not what I'm concerned about," Seb said darkly, "I know how he feels about you. I know we agreed to keep the PDA at a minimum to spare his feelings, but I'm not having my girlfriend alone with him."

"We're just friends, Seb," I said, refraining from rolling my eyes, "Jay knows I'm with you now, anyway. He's not going to try anything. Honestly, it will be fine."

"Fine, but I'm walking you down there and I'll meet you when you're done. Why do you need flying lessons anyway? You're not on the team and it's too late to try out. What are you gaining from this?"

"I just wanted a hobby," I lied, "You know, something fun to do to keep my mind off NEWTs. And I thought flying would be a useful skill to have, as well as a fun hobby..."

Sebastian didn't look convinced, and I didn't blame him; I was an awful liar.

Really, I just wanted to spend some quality time with Jay again. Of course, I wouldn't try to rekindle the old spark. As much as I didn't want to be with Seb, and contrary to Sirius' belief, I wasn't a cheater. But I sorely missed Jay and our flying sessions.

*

"So, what time do you think you'll be finished by?" Seb asked, as he bade me farewell by the goal hoops.

"I'll only keep her an hour, mate." Jay said as he opened the crate containing the quidditch balls. I ignored the flipping in my stomach and eyed the bludgers warily, recalling the last time I'd been in contact with them.

Sebastian made a show of snogging me goodbye, despite our agreement to keep our public displays of affection subtle in Jay's company. I supposed he was marking his territory or something.

Jay watched Sebastian leave, then turned to me, smiling (although I wasn't sure it met his eyes).

"Things are going well with you two, I see" he commented.

"Y-yeah, I guess so..." I stammered. If you call feeling sick every time your boyfriend touches you a functional relationship, that is.

We lapsed into an awkward silence, Jay's eyes conveniently missing every opportunity to meet mine.

"So - what do you have planned for today's lesson, coach?" I asked, attempting to lighten the mood.

"Oh, I was thinking -"

"Jay! Marissa! Hey!"

I turned to see Charlotte jogging towards us, slightly out of breath.

"Sorry I'm late, I got distracted," she breathed, pushing her sleek locks away from her face, "Have I missed much?"

I frowned.

"Char - what are you doing here?"

"Oh, didn't I tell you?" Jay asked, looking genuinely apologetic, "I asked Charlotte if she fancied joining us tonight - she said she wanted to improve her fitness, and I really do want to give this coaching thing a go, so..."

"Oh." I said, trying hard to mask my disappointment, "Well, the more the merrier. James was just explaining what we'll be doing tonight, Charlotte."

He didn't want to be alone with me. Jay had invited Charlotte because he didn't want to be alone with me. But why? Perhaps he didn't trust himself around me. Or perhaps he didn't trust me around him. But then, why did he invite me in the first place?

Because he just wanted to be friends, I realised. He invited me as a friendly gesture.

Or perhaps - even worse - perhaps he fancied Charlotte, and inviting me was an excuse to get close to her.

But he couldn't fancy Charlotte, she was my friend. He wouldn't do that.

But wasn't that exactly what I'd done to him?

Bloody hell.

*

Jay began the session by coaching us through a short strength training session. Short being the positive adjective in this instance, as wall sits were bloody difficult for someone who had the physical strength of a flobberworm, such as me. Charlotte was doing particularly well though, something Jay had clearly noticed, as he complimented her ability to hold her posture (whilst I wobbled precariously in contrast). Jay insisted that these exercises were necessary in order to achieve maximum flying potential, as a strong core was essential for good broom control. At this, Charlotte explained that she regularly practised yoga, which was apparently beneficial for the core. Jay responded - and I kid you not - bloody informing her he could 'just tell' that she worked hard on her core, and 'wasn't surprised' that it stemmed from her yoga routine.

I bet he was imagining her in yoga pants.

Ugh.

The initial strength work out set the tone for the remainder of the session; Jay had us practising broomstick control and specific dives. All the while, he continued to compliment Charlotte's technique (whilst tactfully correcting mine) and I couldn't help but feel a little jealous of the object of my desire paying my friend so much attention.

Charlotte was beautiful. I wasn't just saying that as her friend - she really, really was, in a sort of ethereal fashion. She had sleek, jet black hair, often fashioned in a long plait down the centre of her back, and her pale skin sort of glowed, setting off her jade green eyes endearingly. She was truly mesmerising.

After practice, the three of us walked back to the castle together. Charlotte was discussing a play with Jay, who was carrying her broomstick over his shoulder alongside his own. I, meanwhile, carried my own - having had no offers to have it carried for me - along with dragging the heavy crate containing the quidditch balls behind me. I lagged behind the others, due to the crate, and thankfully couldn't hear the nature of their conversation. My mood had deteriorated greatly throughout the session and was now reaching an all time low, as I watched Charlotte laugh and fiddle with her long plait, whilst Jay ran a hand through his own wind swept hair and gazed at her adoringly.

The realisation that Jay really did seem to like Charlotte hit me in that moment, knocking the wind straight out of me. Jay liked Charlotte and there was nothing I could do about it. He'd moved on. I was technically with his best friend, and he had a thing for one of mine.

The feeling was wounding, and indescribable. Charlotte was my friend, and I loved her to pieces. I didn't want to feel the way I felt about her in that moment. Jealousy. Comparing myself to her. Wondering what she had that I didn't. Of course, I knew the qualities that she had which overshadowed the less honourable versions I held. She was generally a more likeable person. She was Charlotte, she was carefree, she was friendly and sweet and kind and always saw the best in people. She was always willing to help others, putting her own needs on the back burner. Of course Jay was bound to like her.

But I couldn't help but feel hurt by the way Jay had clearly forgotten everything we had and moved on. I felt that the two of us had shared a connection; we had chemistry. I thought he'd felt it too.

But perhaps I was wrong.

As we approached the oak front doors, a familiar figure sauntered into my vision, and perhaps for the first time ever, I was sort of glad to see Sebastian Barton.

"Hey, Maz!" He said as he descended the steps, "Here, let me."

I allowed Sebastian to relieve me of the heavy crate, and diverted my attention to him as he fell into step beside me.

"So, how was flying practice?" He asked, "You didn't mention Charlotte was going too."

"Oh, yeah - I must have forgotten to tell you," I lied, "It was - fine."

"Good, good. Jay's a good coach, isn't he? He learnt from the best - his parents are both incredible fliers. They gave me a few tips over the summers, their whole family are just naturals. Apart from Al. He's not the best, but you know, he never gave much time to actually playing the sport. Al prefers the theoretical aspects - reading about the history of quidditch and all that. Of course, the background and theory is just as important as the physical playing, but I think the two rather go better hand in hand, instead of separately. What's the point in reading about the wonders of quidditch without actually experiencing it?"

"Oh," I said, quietly surprised at the insightful nature of Sebastian's topic of conversation. Usually, he kept the conversation short and cut straight in to the action. It was a damn shame he'd chosen the one time I didn't feel much like talking to actually strike up an interesting topic. "I guess I get what you mean," I continued, "I've read a fair bit about quidditch recently, but you don't really understand it until you actually play it, do you?"

We continued that way until we reached the common room. By this time, we had lost Jay and Charlotte, and I was glad for the distraction Seb had provided.

However, long after Seb had kissed me goodnight, and long after I'd tucked myself into bed, I found myself lay wide awake, staring at the bed to my left and wondering if the girl lay sleeping behind the curtains reciprocated the feelings the boy I liked clearly had for her.

These thoughts could have continued until dawn, had it not been for the disruption of a tawny owl tapping incessantly at my window.

I knew who the letter was from at once. Mum never could comprehend the facfy that the owls usually delivered post in the mornings ("but they're nocturnal, they should only be flying at night!" she'd argue), and her correspondences generally arrived at odd times of the evening instead of with the morning post. I stealthily leapt out of bed, careful not to rouse the other sleeping girls, and cracked the window open for the bird to fly in. I peeled the letter off the owls outstretched leg, and unfolded it's contents.

Dear Marissa, it read.

Dad and I are fine. Dad's in a world of his own, as I'm sure you'd expect, too caught up in fixing his circuit boards to fix his marriage. Sometimes I feel like I hardly exist.

So I'm probably not the best person to ask for relationship advice, Marissa.
However, my advice is to leave things alone with this Sirius bloke. It's not your place to tell him what to do, or even break the news to his girlfriend. She's likely to find out sooner or later anyway, especially if he's so sloppy about it that you caught him in the act. Don't get too invested in it, love, it's really nothing to do with you anymore, and it sounds like you're much better off without him anyway.


In regards to the other bloke (your supposed 'boyfriend') you need to be brave and tell him that you don't want to be with him. It will be kinder for him in the long run. Give it some time for the dust to settle before you pursue his friend again - you don't want to rub salt in the wound, and if his friend really does like you he will wait. If he doesn't, then he isn't worth waiting for himself.

Work hard and remember to write if you need any help with your homework - I know I won't be able to help much with that, but I'm sure we can arrange extra tuition or a personal tutor to support you if needed.

Looking forward to seeing you at Christmas,

Mum

PS. Dad sends his love.

*

Thursday 23rd October, 1977

HERTFORDSHIRE HORROR: SIXTEEN SLAUGHTERED IN MUGGLE MASSACRE

Beneath the heartbreaking headline was a large, black and white photograph of a smoky skull, hanging high in the night sky above a small village hall. Several white blankets could be seen covering the bodies of the innocent victims of the crime, strewn across the car park. Muggles, rendered defenceless, going about their daily business utterly ignorant of the targets on their heads, the horrors that dark magic could inflict on them. And now, gone. Just like that. Murdered. Never to see or speak to their loved ones again.

This was only the most recent of a series of similar headlines. Each day became darker than the last in this time. Each day, a more horrible, unthinkable attack. And it wasn't just muggles; it was muggleborns, halfbloods, muggle sympathisers, blood traitors - anybody who dared to disagree with Voldemort's ethos.

Living it was completely different to reading about it in text books, hearing about it in class. In the text books, in class, one could almost pretend it was all just a fable. Of course the events were shocking, painful to hear about, and deeply upsetting and disturbing. But it was easy to think those times were over, and struggle to imagine a time where such horrors were commonplace. It happened to other people, in a different place, in a different time.

But living it was humbling. Living in this time changed ones perspective on life, and death. I found myself making rash promises to myself to never take anything for granted again. To ensure my loved ones knew they were my loved ones, because you never know what's hiding around the corner. I felt paranoid, scared, helpless. The atmosphere in the castle was similar. People tried to go about their business, carry on as usual, but the dark undertones, hushed conversations, rumours of the guilty and the deceased, set a grim atmosphere which punctuated the attempts to maintain normality.

Life was fragile. I looked around and grimly accepted that many of the people around me would not survive. I actually knew the grim fates of a selection of them. And I knew that there was nothing, nothing at all, that I could do to change their fates. For their deaths were necessary for the future, my future, their children's and grandchildren's futures, to exist peacefully.

Time was unpredictable. My situation, travelling through time, could be just as fragile as life and death. There was no way of telling whether I'd have a tomorrow in 1977, whether I'd be able to come back here and see these same faces. Today could be my last day in their time, it could be the last day I ever saw Lily, the last day I ever saw James. I knew they didn't survive, and it shattered me. If Lucy, Alice, Remus, Sirius, Peter, everybody else, if they survived the war I could have the possibility of speaking to them in the future - their older selves. Whether they would remember me, I couldn't know for sure. But I would never have the opportunity to see Lily and James in the future. They never had the opportunity to grow old. And that was why I needed to make things right with them. This day could be my last chance, and I'd be damned if I had to live with that guilt and regret for the rest of my life.

*

She was sitting by the window in the common room, talking in low tones with James, Peter and Remus. Her fiery red hair shielded most of her face, but not enough that I couldn't see the earnest expression it held as she talked fervently, hands gesticulating wildly as she spoke. She was passionate, and I felt a twinge in my gut as I thought of how in my time, there was no Lily Evans. Not even a Lily Potter. She was gone. Just. Like. That. She could no longer sweep her hair back from her eyes. She could no longer wave her hands in the air. She could no longer argue a point with James. And James himself could no longer gaze at her with a mixture of amusement and admiration. He could no longer sweep his fingers through his shaggy black hair. He could no longer scratch the end of his nose. Because he was gone. Just. Like. That.

I cleared my throat as I reached the window seat, swallowing the lump that had formed there as I'd observed the ill fated couple. They all froze as they noticed my presence. Her eyebrows disappeared into her fringe. He pushed his glasses to the bridge of his nose.

"Was there something you wanted?" He drawled carelessly.

"We need to talk." I said, voice quavering.

"You had your chance to talk, Mary." Lily said coolly, "You choose to jump down our throats instead."

"Yeah, I seem to remember you were done with us." James added.

"I'm sorry," I gulped, "I was completely out of line speaking to you both the way I did. The reason I'm here right now is to apologise, because I don't want to leave things that way. I don't want us to be at odds with one another. I want to clear the air and be - be friends."

I didn't want them to die hating me.

It was surreal, talking to them whilst knowing that they were to die. Knowing their futures. It hit me in waves. Sometimes it was easy to forget that I knew their fates, to get so caught up in the past that it felt like the present. But then I'd remember, and it would hit me like a tonne of bricks. They didn't make it.

I hated knowing. Of course, I knew that everyone had to die at some point. But knowing exactly when, and the exact circumstances, of someone's death, was chilling. I couldn't look at them without feeling guilt, dread, fear and grief.

I'd tried to protect myself under the pretense that I was protecting them. I'd told myself that I couldn't get close to them. But if I was to spend time in their time, I would much rather be their friend than someone they hated. I didn't think I could live my present life knowing that we were on bad terms when they passed.

They were sharing a look, wordlessly communicating their next action. But it was Remus who spoke next.

"I think you should give Mary a chance," he sighed, "everyone talks about sticking together, being united. We're all on the same side, in the long run. It would be better to get along than to fight. There's enough fighting going on in the world at the moment without petty teenage dramas for us to get twisted up in."

The others considered his words carefully.

"I agree with Remus." Peter said.

Well, it was something.

"No." James said. "I can't trust her. We can't trust her. She's already proven to be a liar. Who's to say she won't lie again?"

"I do agree, to an extent," Lily said slowly, "Of course, we are on the same side at the end of the day. But I think that after everything that has happened recently...I'm sorry Mary, but I don't think friendship is an option. James is right; we can't trust you. But we can be civil. We can put our differences aside for the sake of the greater good, and be civil, at least."

"Civil." I said, nodding, "Yeah. Civil is...good. I can do civil."

Remus was smiling encouragingly. Peter was nodding. Lily looked uncertain. James was frowning.

"Right, we'll all be civil - fine." James said roughly, "But I can't speak for Sirius. You know he's royally pissed at you at the moment, Mary, and who can blame the bloke, really? I seriously doubt he'll be willing to play along with this civil act."

"He'll come around," Remus said, "He just needs time."

Time. Everything came back to time.

"Well, one step at a time, eh?" I said, forcing some enthusiasm into my voice, "Thank you, guys - I don't deserve your forgiveness. I know I was a real bitch, I'm just...things have just been getting on top of me a little lately and I...I know I shouldn't have taken it out on you. I really am sorry. So thank you, again, for agreeing to put this all to rest."

Baby steps.

I decided to leave it there, for fear of overstepping the boundaries and pushing them too far. I didn't want them to regret their decision.

It had been easier than I had expected, but nonetheless I was pleased with the outcome. We may not be on 'good' terms, but I was now safe in the knowledge that at least we weren't specifically on 'bad' terms either.

Sirius, however, would be harder to crack. I still wasn't sure how to handle the situation with him. I was fairly certain that he had cheated on Marlene, despite what he said, however, perhaps I should take my mother's advice and leave him to deal with his own mess. After all, she was right. Sirius' relationship had nothing to do with me now. It wasn't any of my business what he chose to do with his free time, and I would be better off staying out of it. Staying out of it might also help my case, and support Sirius in warming to the 'civil' idea. James was right - I knew Sirius would be less than eager to be civil with his ex girlfriend, who supposedly cheated on him. But I couldn't leave things this way with him, I just couldn't.

I just hoped there was enough time to make amends.

*

Friday 24th October 2020

"MERLIN'S PANTS, THAT HURTS!" Gemma screeched, as Lacey held the waxing strip victoriously and surveyed her work.

It was 'girls night' and we had begun the evening by confirming our costume choices for the Halloween party, and had now progressed to a gossip filled pamper session, involving everything from Lacey gushing about Louis' impeccable snogg in technique, to full body waxes. Lacey was currently waxing Gemma's eyebrows.

"Well of course it's going to hurt, it's not going to tickle is it?" Lacey laughed, "Now hold still while I do the other - honestly Gemma, when was the last time you waxed these bad boys?"

Gemma ignored her comment, but held still all the same.

"Say, Marissa, what was up with Sebastian earlier? He looked in a foul mood." Charlotte asked.

I rolled my eyes.

"He's jealous that I'm spending too much time with you guys and not enough with him."

"Are you jok- OUCH! FOR MERLIN'S SAKE LACEY GO EASY ON ME!"

It was Lacey's turn to ignore Gemma this time.

"But that's the whole reason we're having this sleepover," she said, "because we hadn't spent enough time together recently. We're all too busy spending time with our men."

"Maybe he thinks we're all secret lesbians and that's why he's jealous." Gemma remarked.

"Don't be silly, Gemma," Charlotte said softly, "I think it's nice that he wants to spend time with Marissa, it shows that he cares."

"Or that he's controlling," Lacey said, "Louis thought it was a great idea for me to spend time with my girls. He's really supportive. What did Connor think, Gemma?"

"Wasn't really bothered," Gemma said, massaging her eyebrows, "gives him a chance to spend time with the boys, too."

"Well, in any case, Sebastian shouldn't be trying to make you feel guilty for spending time with your friends, Marissa." Lacey said.

"I don't feel guilty," I shrugged as I applied nail varnish to Charlotte's nails, "It's nice to spend some time apart, I think. It can be a bit stifling being together all the time."

"Do you know what we need to get this sleepover rocking?" Gemma asked suddenly, "We need alcohol."

"That's a great idea Gemma, but there's just one problem - we don't have any."

"Ah, you don't have any, you mean. I, on the other hand, came prepared."

She reached into her trunk and produced a large bottle of clear liquid.

"Vodka?" I asked.

Gemma nodded and produced four glasses, a mischievous glint in her eyes.

*
One hour and four shots of vodka later, and I was feeling fairly buzzed. Someone, I couldn't remember who, had come up with the great idea to play truth or dare.

"Laceyyy!" I slurred, "Truth or dare?"

"Tru-huth." She hiccuped.

"Okay," I asked, wracking my fuzzy brain for a decent question, "Erm...okay, so, do you or do you not, love Louis?"

"Ooh, good one Marissa," Gemma smirked. Charlotte nodded her enthusiastic agreement.

"I don't think so," Lacey said slowly, "it's a bit soon, I think. No, I don't love him. Not yet."

"Boring!" Gemma grumbled, "Who's next?"

We were all seated on the floor in a wonky circle, around Charlotte's wand, which was now spinning. We all watched with baited breath until it came to a stand still in front of...me.

"Ha!" Lacey exclaimed, "Payback. Truth or dare, Marissa?"

"Er - truth. I think. No, dare! No wait, truth!"

"Well, which one is it?" Gemma snapped.

"Truth." I said, decidedly.

"Okay, same question. Do you love Seb?"

Easy peasy.

"No." I said.

"Saw that coming a mile off," Gemma laughed.

"Wait, you're so certain. Is there no possibility of it blossoming into love?" Lacey asked.

"I don't think so," I said, shrugging, "It's nothing serious, it's just...a bit of fun, I suppose."

"Oh no," Charlotte sighed, "But he'll be heartbroken!"

"What do you - hic - mean?" I asked quickly.

"He looooves you!" Lacey giggled.

"No he does not!" I cried, aghast.

"Yes he doessss!" She squealed. The others nodded their agreement.

"N-no," I stammered, "h-he knows what it is, we b-both know. It's fine. Who's next?"

The wand spun, this time landing on Gemma.

"Dare." She said.

"I dare you to tell Connor that you love him."

"No wait, truth, I pick truth!"

"Too late!" Charlotte declared, dragging Gemma up clumsily.

We stumbled down to the common room, Gemma grumbling while the rest of us giggled girlishly.

"Connorrrr!" I announced, flinging myself between the boys, who were seated around the fire and smirking amusedly at our arrival, "Gemma has something she wants to say to youuu!"

Gemma rolled her eyes.

"I suppose I won't be able to do this in private?" She asked. Us three remaining girls shook our heads vehemently.

"Fine," she grumbled, rounding on Connor, who wore a look of bemusement, "Iloveyou. There, I said it. Is everyone happy now?"

"Well, I know I am," Connor grinned, "And for the record, I love you too, Gemma."

Gemma's eyes widened. She grabbed Connor by the robes and pulled him in for a rough kiss.

We all squealed and clapped overexcitedly. Seb sauntered over and put his arms around my waist, pulling me in and kissing me on the temple.

"Is someone a little drunk?" he murmured.

"Me? Noo! I'm not even - hic - tipsy!"

Seb laughed.

"Hey, Seb, stop molesting your girlfriend and get back over here - your queen isn't going to defend herself!" Jay called, indicating the chess board in front of him. Seb gave me another hasty kiss - on the lips this time - and shuffled away. I noticed the girls heading back up to the dormitory and quickly hurried after them.

"Oh my gosh, Gemma!!" Charlotte squealed as we all took another shot, "That was adorable! He said he loves you! Connor loves you!"

"I mean, it's not like I didn't already know," Gemma rolled her eyes, but she couldn't conceal the wide smile that hadn't left her face since he'd declared it.

"Wait, so, do you actually love him too?" Lacey asked, eyes wide.

"Of course," Gemma shrugged, "Anyway, who's turn is it?"

It was Charlotte's turn.

"Truth or dare, Char?" I asked.

"Hmmnn...I'm feeling inspired. I think I'll go with dare." She smiled.

"I dare you to..." Gemma began, looking around the room. Then, eyes glinting, looked straight back at Charlotte, "I dare you to kiss Marissa."

"But I'm taken!" I mock gasped.

"Yeah but it's not serious as you say."

It could have been the drink, but my mind heard 'Sirius'. No, it's not Sirius. I thought with a jolt. 

Or Jay. Another smaller voice in my head sounded.

Merlin, what was wrong with me?

"How about it then, Charlotte?" I asked, looking over to the girl in question. She looked unsure, and was glaring at Gemma.

"Couldn't you have thought of something better?" She asked.

"Like what?"

"Like, I don't know, kiss the giant squid?"

"So you'd rather kiss the giant squid than kiss me?" I asked, feigning hurt.

"Oh, no, of course not, Marissa!"

"Come on, Charlotte, it's just a bit of fun!" Lacey laughed.

"Pucker up!" Gemma chuckled.

Charlotte nodded.

"O-okay then." She said, and leaning forwards she gently placed a kiss on my lips.

Not wanting to disappoint Gemma, I kissed back - a little more deeply. Charlotte responded by placing her hands in my hair, her lips roving over my own as I rested my hands on her neck.

"Okay lesbos, that's enough." Gemma said, causing Charlotte and I to snap apart. I wiped my lips, while Charlotte looked anywhere but at me.

"Moooving on," Lacey said, "I believe it's my turn again. I pick dare."

The game pressed on, with many more truths revealed and dares completed. We snuck out of the common room and Lacey played knock a door run on the caretakers office. I admitted to wetting the bed until I was eleven. Charlotte admitted to having a crush on someone in our year (but refused to reveal who). Gemma flirted with a third year. Gemma also revealed that she had slept with Connor, leading on to a series of biological questioning and some very detailed responses. It was now past midnight, and it was my turn again.

"I durrr you..." Charlotte slurred, "Tooooo....go into the boys dorms."

"Easy." I smirked, standing up.

"Wait!" Lacey held her hand up, "Tha's boring!"

"Yeaaaah Lacey's righ', we need to - hic - sp-spice it up! Y-you need to - hic - bring sssomething back!"

"Like wha'?" I hiccupped.

"Sssseb's boxers!" Lacey cried.

Ew.

"I forfeit!" I announced.

"No forfeits!" They chanted back, pushing me from the room.

I stumbled down the stairs and began to stagger stealthily up the boys staircase, aware of the girls' whispers and stifled giggles across the room.

As I reached the door to the seventh year boys dormitory, I paused. What if the boys were awake?

Fuck it.

The door creaked as I pushed it open, revealing blackness and the sound of heavy snoring. I tiptoed into the room, guided only by the dim light from the staircase, and began my attempt to locate Seb's bed.

After several minutes of peering cautiously behind various boys' bed hangings (terrified of what lay behind them) I finally found Seb's bed. He was lay spreadeagled on his bed, wearing a large t-shirt and a pair of boxers. I shuddered at the sight, firmly deciding those would not be the boxers I took from this dorm. I glanced around to find his trunk, and spotted one not far away. Dropping to my knees, I crawled over to the trunk and opened it, tossing books and clothing aside to locate a pair of (hopefully clean) boxers.

Aha! I held up the item of clothing to the light emitting from the doorway, to check that they were in fact boxers.

"M-Marissa?" a sleepy voice murmured. I froze.

"Marissa, is that you?"

I blushed as I realised the owner of the voice, thankful of the dark. I turned to see Jay swinging his (bare) legs over the edge of the bed opposite Seb's. Despite the darkness, it was clear to see that he was wearing only boxers. He shuffled slightly along the bed, coming into the light, and I found myself unable to tear my eyes from his torso.

"J-Jay!" I squeaked as I rose to my feet, still clutching the boxers, "F-Fancy seeing you here!"

Jay rubbed his eyes, still thick with sleep, then focused them on me.

"God, you're pretty."

My blush deepened.

"What are you - are those my boxers?" he asked hazily.

"Er."

He stood up and moved closer to me.

"Why are you holding my underwear?" he murmured.

"I..."

I was lost for words, unable to speak as my face became level with his chest. I glanced up to find our faces inches apart.

"Is this a dream?" He asked suddenly, reaching out to touch my face, "You're not real, are you?"

I skirted out of his reach, knowing I wouldn't be able to control myself if his hand made contact with my skin. My nerves were already on fire just at the sound of his voice.

"I have to go!" I squeaked, and quickly darted from the room, hardly daring to look back.

I raced down the stairs, across the common room, and back up the stairs to the girls dormitories, finding Gemma, Lacey and Charlotte waiting anxiously at the top.

"Merlin, Marissa, you were gone forever!" Lacey exclaimed.

"Did you get them?" Gemma asked, businesslike.

"Er." I glanced down at the boxers in my hands. Jay's, not Seb's.

"She did! She got them!" Charlotte shouted, pointing at the fabric.

The girls burst into peels of laughter and dragged me back inside our dorm.

"Well, I think that's enough excitement for one night." Lacey said, glancing at her watch, "I think it's time for pyjamas and bed."

Once we had all brushed our teeth, changed into our pyjamas, and clambered into our respective beds, Charlotte spoke.

"My head's spinning."

"Put your foot on the ground." Gemma advised, "It grounds you."

There was the faint sound of shuffling as Charlotte fumbled to extract her leg from her bedsheets and place one foot on the ground.

"This has been the best night ever!" Lacey giggled into the darkness, "I've really missed you gals!"

I smiled into my pillow as the image of Jay, shirtless in his dorm, swam to the front of my mind, and I had to agree with Lacey - it had been a brilliant night. 

*


AN: Aaaaand there we have it. 11.5k words later. The longest chapter I've ever written.

I must admit, I didn't intend for this chapter to become so long, but there just didn't seem a right place to stop, and so on and on I wrote until it felt appropriate to stop! I'm super sorry for the super long wait, things have been a little hectic recently, but hopefully the length of this chapter will be enough to make up for that :) I'm really not sure about parts of this, and found it especially difficult to write the girls' drunken dialogue.

Feedback really does brighten up my day, good or bad! :)

And on that note, I hope you enjoyed the read! Until next time :) 


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The Hands of Time: Chapter Sixteen

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