A Friendly Intervention
"He did WHAT?"
Lily momentarily abandoned the Screechsnap she was supposed to be milking for their Herbology assignment of the day and stared up at Sirius in disbelief.
"Shhh!" He hissed, hoping to get Lily to lower her voice. She had been practically staring at him non-stop ever since he walked into the greenhouse. James and Remus also looked curious - all of them had noticed Mary did not show up for class - so he quickly informed the others about what had happened to her as soon as Sprouts lecture on how to carefully milk a Screechsnap ended.
James made an angry sound through his nose while a tired looking Remus (full moon was upon them) merely looked confused.
"I don't understand," he said. "You say Jonathan beat up Mary in the courtyard, but that place is literally swarming with people right before the first class of the day. How could this happen when there were so many people around?"
"She had forgotten her book," Lily said quietly, answering the question for Sirius. "We were running late and hurrying to the greenhouses together when she realized en had to go back to get it."
"As it happens, I'd also forgotten my book," Sirius continued. "The courtyard was pretty much deserted by the time I got there. It was more luck than anything else that I ran in on them. Who knows what might have happened if..."
He didn't finish that last part and focused on milking his Screechsnap instead. James exchanged a look with Remus and Lily. "What happened exactly, Padfoot?"
"Jonathan had forced her into that tight little corner on the left side of the courtyard. It looked odd to me, since I was under the impression they were not on speaking terms, so I approached them carefully. At first only out of curiosity, I admit, but then I saw Mary was crying and Jonathan was pushing her back against the wall to hit her. I'm not entirely sure what happened next, because it went a little dark before my eyes. I do remember pulling Jonathan away from her and… Well, I might have hit him one black eye. I sure would have loved to punch that arrogant tat again, but – unfortunately - the coward decided to take a run for it instead."
For a moment no one spoke. There was a tense silence - one that was broken only by a high shrieking noise and, subsequently, a loud splatter. Lily had been squeezing her Screechsnap so tightly that it had burst and was spilling its white fluid all over their table.
"Please be careful, miss Evans!" An annoyed-looking professor Sprout called from the other side of the greenhouse. "I trust you know how to clean up this mess."
"I'm sorry, Professor, I will take care of it." Lily quickly picked up her wand and waved it around. The Screechsnap and all the fluid disappeared from their table at once.
She placed her wand back on the table and shook her head in a dismayed manner. "I knew something like this was up. Mary never took Jonathan's temper very seriously, but I'm telling you: that guy is a nutcase."
James shrugged. "No one can argue with that. However, I dare to bet Sirius did knock some sense into the obnoxious prick," he said as he pushed his untouched Screechsnap over to Lily to share some of his plant's milk.
As she reached for it, her hand accidentally touched his hand and both of them pulled back immediately. Lily was blushing intensely when she reached for the Screechsnap again and muttered "Thanks" to James, who mumbled "Anytime" in return with his hand going straight towards the back of his head, ruffling his messy hair nervously.
Sirius witnessed this amusing spectacle before his mind went back to Jonathan McLaggen. "I said I'd kill him if he ever comes near her again."
"That's my lad," a now confident-looking James (with newly messed up hair) said proudly, patting Sirius on the shoulder. "And McLaggen would do well to believe you."
"What did McGonagall have to say about this?" Remus asked, looking up from pouring his collected Screechsnap juice into a flask.
Sirius frowned. "Oh yeah, that's another thing. Mary refuses to report Jonathan to McGonagall. In fact, she doesn't even want to go and have Madam Pomfrey look at her injuries."
Sirius could hear Lily grinding her teeth from his end of the table. Her emerald eyes were glinting dangerously when she muttered: "Letting Jonathan get away with this? Oh, I don't think so..."
"Eh Lil, she seemed pretty determined about it, though," Sirius said cautiously.
"Give me one minute. I will talk some sense into her," Lily said, looking even more determined.
As soon as Sprout ended their lesson, the four of them hurried back to the castle. Along the way they passed Hagrid and Professor Kettleburn who were instructing a couple of fourth year-girls how to guide a mother Unicorn and her foal back to the Forbidden Forest. "Since when is Hagrid able to approach a herd of unicorns?" Remus wondered aloud.
"Oh, he didn't," Lily replied. "Hagrid asked us to do get the Unicorns for him."
"How did you manage to do that?"
"We created a diversion. While Mary and I were distracting the stallions, Brice managed to capture one mare and her foal."
"Distract them how?" Sirius asked
"They're stallions. What can I say? We just stroked them gently and whispered gently into their ears."
They were now heading up the stairs of the castle. A grinning James, who was walking beside Sirius, turned towards him and said excitedly: "Have you ever wanted to turn into an Unicorn? I wish I was now!"
James was not even talking that loud, but his voice was clearly not quiet enough, because Lily heard every word. However, when she turned around she did not look angry or even offended. On the contrary, she was actually smiling. "You guys are unbelievable," she said, laughing as she shook her head and continued walking to the Entrance Hall.
James looked at Sirius in surprise. "No retort?" he asked, looking confused.
"I guess not," Sirius grinned. "You're making massive improvement here, Prongs. I think she's actually starting to like you."
The three of them decided to look for Mary together and they walked to the Common Room, but there was no sign of their friend there nor in the girls dormitory. And she wasn't studying in the library either. After discussing that since it was nearly lunch time, she might just be hanging out in the Great Hall, they decided to take a look. And indeed, Mary was sitting at their end of the table, staring at a page in her Charms book and scribbling something on a piece of parchment.
"Mare, I just heard!" Lily said as they reached their end of the table. "The nerve of that jerk! Are you alright?"
Mary looked up and Sirius immediately noticed her cheek no longer looked swollen and red. He wasn't the only one who noticed. "Say Padfoot, when Jonathan was trying to punch her, are you sure he actually hit her?" James asked, looking at Mary. "She doesn't look hurt."
Sirius shot James an annoyed look and walked over to the table, leaving James and Remus behind. He could see Cassidy waving frantically at him from the corner of his eye, but he ignored her and sat down next to Mary, who was trying to convince Lily that she was doing just fine.
"Hey, you okay?" he asked softly.
He gently touched her cheekbone. "I see you decided to pay dear Madam Pomfrey a visit after all."
"Just like you said I should. She healed my cheek in about ten seconds."
"What did she say?" Lily asked.
"About Jonathan beating you you, silly!"
"Oh, that. Well eh... Actually..." But Sirius didn't need her to finish that sentence. He softly pinched Mary in her waist. When her hand shot to her side at once and she cringed from the pain, he knew enough.
"Not the pillar-excuse again," he groaned, shooting a desperate look at the enchanted ceiling.
"Pillar-excuse?" Lily asked, shooting him a confused look.
Mary glared at Sirius (who managed to stare back reproachfully without blinking once) before rolling her eyes. "Fine!" she snapped while she continued to carefully nurse her ribcage. "I told Madam Pomfrey the same thing as when I talked to Zabini: that I wasn't being careful and ran straight into a pillar."
"And she believed a crappy story like that?" Lily asked incredulously.
"She said I was the second student that morning who walked into a pillar and bumped his head. I think we all can guess who that other person was."
"Jonathan," Sirius growled, shooting a dark look at the Ravenclaw table.
"You hit him pretty hard, you know," Mary said, staring at his hand. "Perhaps you should let Madam Pomfrey have a look at your hand as well."
Sirius, whose hand was throbbing a bit, shrugged. "Maybe, but not now."
Mary arched an eyebrow and Sirius laughed. "I suppose you're right. Lets make a deal: I'll let Madam Pomfrey look at my hand if you report Jonathan to McGonagall."
Mary seemed to consider this for a moment before shaking her head. "No."
"You are going to report this to McGonagall eventually, right?" Lily said.
"I don't know," Mary shrugged. "Everything ended well, didn't it? I just don't think it would do any good, that's all."
"Any good?" she snapped. "He hit you, Mary. Well, if you're not going to report him, I will."
Mary stared at her best friend in horror. "You wouldn't."
"On the contrary. As Headgirl, it's my duty to do so. Now, what's it to be, then? You telling McGonagall directly or letting me inform her about this, which means you'll have to talk to her sooner or later anyway."
Mary looked from Lily to Sirius, who was whistling innocently as he stared down at her Charms book and back at Lily again. "You're not leaving me any choice here, are you?"
A tiny smile crept over Lily's face. "Nope. But only because I know what's best for you."
Mary stared at Lily for a moment, silently begging her not to do this, but this appeared to have the exact opposite effect. Her friend jumped up from her seat, walked around the table with a determined look on her face and pulled Mary up by her arm.
"Ouch!" Mary cried as she felt a sharp pain at her right side.
"Hey careful!" Sirius told Lily while also rising from his seat.
"Oops, I forgot about that injury for a second. I'm sorry, Mare."
"None taken," Mary grimaced, nursing her side as she straightened up a little more carefully by herself.
The three of them headed over to James and Remus. "Are you alright, Mary?" Remus asked with a concerned look on his face.
"I'm fine, really. You on the other hand look no less than exhausted. Perhaps you should sit down."
"We really need to get going," Lily interrupted. "McGonagall should be in her office at this time and we don't want to miss her." She looked at James. "You're coming too, right?"
He nodded. "Of course."
"I think I'd better stay behind and inform Peter and Brice when they get back," Remus said. He smiled at Mary and patted her softly on the shoulder. "Good luck."
Remus sat down at their end of the table while the others head out of the Great Hall together. They walked on in complete silence for a while, only bidding good day to Nearly Headless Nick and the Grey Lady who were floating down a long corridor together. When they were climbing the stairs to the fourth floor, Sirius was the first one to break the silence. "Hey Mary, what did Zabini have to say?"
"He just wanted to analyze my performance in the maze."
James snorted. "You kicked ass, that's what! To beat both Remus and Snape like that without being prepared, it was nothing less than amazing."
Mary shrugged. "That's what Zabini said. He asked whether I've ever considered becoming an Auror and stated that scouting promising 'Aurors-to-be' is 'another' one of his hidden talents. He also said he's only spotted two other potential candidates so far: you and Sirius."
"Seriously?" James said, exchanging an excited look with Sirius. "Well, I guess I'm not that surprised; we rock when it comes to Defense. It would be cool, though, the three of us hanging out together at Auror training."
"But Mary has been dying to become a Healer ever since she got into Hogwarts, right?" Lily asked.
Mary shrugged. "According to Zabini I could easily become an Auror with a specialism in Healing."
Sirius looked at her. "Is that really what you want? Don't get me wrong, I certainly wouldn't mind having you around in the same classes for the next three years; gives me something pretty to look at. But are you sure?"
Mary was so unsettled by Sirius's penultimate remark that she forgot what their conversation had been about. It was only because he continued to stare at her curiously that she managed to figure out they had been discussing the possibility of Auror training. "Er… No, I'm not. I need some time to think about it, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued."
Sirius grinned at her and she smiled back, and much too soon for Mary's liking she heard Lily say: "We're here."
They were standing in front of McGonagall's office. The door of the room of their Transfiguration Professor stood wide open and although they couldn't exactly see the Professor at the moment, they could hear her and it was very clear that she was not in a good mood. McGonagall was currently delivering one of her numerous sermons on inappropriate behavior to a couple of students who - apparently - had thrown three bags of Dungbombs into Filch's office.
Mary heard McGonagall's stern preaching voice, imagined the flaring nostrils that usually came with it and shivered slightly. There was no way McGonagall would be understanding about what Jonathan did, what had she been she thinking? "I think it might be better to try this another time," she mumbled and turned on her heels, only to be halted by both Sirius and Lily.
"No Mare, you have to do this. And remember that we'll be there with you," Lily said.
"It'll be fine. Go on..." Sirius said encouragingly as he gently pushed her into the direction of McGonagall's office.
The four "Dungbomb"-students (second-year Gryffindors by the looks of it) were walking out of McGonagall's office. James looked down at them with an approving and somewhat proud look on his face. "Look Padfoot, it's the next generation of the Marauders. Way to go, guys!" he said, putting his thumbs up at the boys, who continued to walk down the corridor with their heads bowed.
Sirius laughed and Lily shook her head (although the corners of her mouth twitched), but Mary merely swallowed. This was it, then. She was really going to do this. She hesitantly walked into the office and knocked on the wooden door post. McGonagall looked up, apparently still annoyed about her previous meeting with the young students, because her nostrils were flaring dangerously.
"Good afternoon, Miss Woods. To what do I own this honor of you-" she noticed Lily, Sirius and James were also stepping into the office "Miss Evans, Mr. Black and Mr. Potter paying me a visit?" She shot them a stern, yet expecting look.
"I eh... came to... report a fellow student, Professor," Mary said quietly.
"Who? And perhaps more relevant: why?"
Mary looked back over her shoulder at Lily for help. "Mary has been attacked by Jonathan McLaggen earlier this morning, Professor," her friend said, stepping forward.
The head of Gryffindor House frowned. "Attacked? By that you mean he jinxed her?"
"No, more like beating her up."
McGonagall's bad mood disappeared within the blink of an eye. She looked generally concerned as she ushered Mary and the others to sit down. "Tell me exactly what happened," she told them.
And they did. Mary told McGonagall the whole story, from oversleeping to forgetting her Herbology book and finally, getting thrown against the courtyard wall by Jonathan. When she had arrived by the part of where Jonathan was beating her and Sirius coming to the rescue, McGonagall's mouth had became so thin that it barely existed. "So he hit and threw you around. Did you get seriously injured?"
"Well, my cheekbone got a bit swollen, but Madam Pomfrey was able to heal that in an instant."
"Good. Anywhere else?"
"Ehm well, my side got bruised when I hit the wall, I suppose, but Madam Pomfrey didn't heal that."
"And why not?"
"Because she didn't know."
McGonagall lifted an eyebrow, but seemed to understand why Mary chose not to tell Madam Pomfrey about it. "Would you mind if I take a look?" she asked, not unkindly.
"Eh no, I suppose not," Mary said, standing up slowly.
"You two," McGonagall snapped as she turned and glared at James and Sirius. "Look the other way."
The guys exchanged a look before shrugging and turning around, but Sirius did not move that much. He narrowed his eyes slightly, but didn't entirely close them and (once Mary had lifted up her sweater and blouse to show her side to McGonagall) when he heard Lily gasp, opened his eyes. What he saw made him swear inwardly. Mary's ribcage had turned black and blue; it had been badly bruised and there was a large scrape that was an exact indication of where she had hit the wall. He instantly wished he would have punched Jonathan a little harder.
"I've seen enough," McGonagall said, straightening Mary's official Gryffindor sweater in a highly unusual, almost mother-like fashion. "Mr. Potter and Mr. Black, I would like you to go and alert Professor Flitwick and accompany him to the Headmaster's office."
She shot them a close look and, as if she was able to read Sirius's mind, said: "Should you come across Mr. McLaggen or his friends on the way, I insist that none of you will do anything rash. This matter is out of your hands."
James and Sirius nodded gravely before leaving McGonagall's office together.
"Miss Evans, you will accompany Miss Woods to the Hospital Wing where Madam Pomfrey will take care of her remaining injuries. Afterwards both of you will come to Professor Dumbledore's office."
Lily and Mary stood up from their seats and walked straight towards the Hospital Wing. They didn't talk much along the way, besides wondering what was going to happen to Jonathan. Madam Pomfrey was - at the very least - not pleased with Mary. After calling her a stupid girl and a liar for about twenty times, the school nurse eventually did heal Mary's ribcage and she and Lily were ready to go again.
When they were almost near Dumbledore's office, Lily suddenly said: "Aren't you glad you reported him?"
"I suppose so. But even if I wasn't, there's no turning back now."
"I guess not."
They had arrived at Dumbledore's office, where James was waiting for them in front of the gargoyle, leaning back against the wall. "What happened?" Lily asked. "Forgot the password?"
James laughed. "Of course I haven't forgotten the password. They're questioning Sirius up there right now."
Mary frowned. "Why is that?"
"To tell his side from the story, I reckon. He did save your butt after all."
Before James could have said anything else, the gargoyle came down and when it opened, Sirius stepped out. "How did it go?" James asked.
"If that didn't get McLaggen expelled, I don't know what will," he replied, looking as confident as ever.
"What in Merlin's name did you tell them?" Mary asked anxiously.
"The truth of course, what else? How's your ribcage doing?"
"As good as new, thanks to Madam Pomfrey."
At that moment, McGonagall appeared in the gargoyle. "Miss Woods, we are ready for you now. The rest of you can go back to the Common Room."
Mary looked at Sirius who seemed to mouthing "Go get them!" and, still feeling hesitant, she stepped into the gargoyle. As Mary and McGonagall were slowly moving up to Dumbledore's office, she thought about what was waiting for her behind that heavy wooden door.
Would - besides Dumbledore of course - Flitwick be there? What about Jonathan, his parents, the entire school board? She honestly had no idea what to expect, but she did know one thing: if telling Dumbledore and whoever else was in that office about what Jonathan did to her meant he would never be able to do that to anyone again, it might be worth the trouble after all.
~*~ End of Chapter ~*~