The gargoyle came to a halt and McGonagall beckoned Mary to step out and walk straight towards the entrance door of Dumbledore's office. The Transfiguration Professor stayed behind in the gargoyle. After a brief moment of hesitation, Mary knocked on the door. When she heard someone say "Enter", she slowly opened the door and walked inside.
Dumbledore's office looked as it always did (rather messy for a Headmaster's office to tell you the truth) with a large number of heavy bookcases in the corner, moving portraits of former Hogwarts Headmasters on the walls, some odd-looking silver ornaments on the desk and last but not least, Fawkes the Phoenix, who was currently snoozing contently on top of a large cupboard in a corner.
"Hello Mary, I'm glad to see you. Please come in," Dumbledore said.
Contrary to the other Hogwarts Professors, the Headmaster always addressed students by their first name. That, as well as his twinkling blue eyes and the kind soft voice in which he spoke had the effect of making you feel at ease in his presence remarkably quickly.
Mary walked over to Dumbledore's desk and, as he gestured her to sit down in a comfy-looking armchair, she noticed that besides the Headmaster, there was no one else in the room. No Flitwick, no school board and to her utter relief: no Jonathan McLaggen. She relaxed slightly in her chair.
"I understand Madam Pomfrey has fully healed your injuries, so there are no more hidden bruises to be discovered?" (Mary shook her head) "Excellent. Let's start by having a cup of tea, shall we? I take it that you like earl grey?"
Mary looked at him in surprise and noticed the Headmaster's eyes were twinkling mischievously: "I do talk with my Professors when they're planning on informing a student on alternative career moves. And becoming an Auror could come in handy these days, although admittedly, it's also a dangerous profession."
"To be honest, I haven't made up my mind yet."
"As you shouldn't. You still have time after all," Dumbledore said. "However, as much as I enjoy discussing potential career paths, that is not why you are here. Professor McGonagall, Jonathan and Sirius have already informed me about what they thought happened this morning, but I also want to hear your side of the story. I realize that this must be a difficult and rather uncomfortable situation, but sometimes talking about a bad experience will relieve the burden somewhat."
Mary cleared her throat. "Jonathan was here earlier?"
"Indeed he was," Dumbledore nodded. "When you were being treated at the Hospital Wing. Professor Flitwick was guiding him back to the Ravenclaw Common Room and I think we can expect him back anytime... Ah Filius, glad you could join us."
Mary turned around in her seat and saw that Flitwick had entered Dumbledore's office. Their tiny Charms Professor was panting slightly as he waddled towards them.
"Miss Woods, I do hope you are alright," he said in his squeaky voice as he crawled up on a high stool that Dumbledore had conjured for him.
"Yes, sir," Mary said shyly before sipping her hot tea.
"Wonderful. Now that we are all here; Mary, please tell us what happened," Dumbledore said.
And she did. For the second time that day, Mary explained everything and left nothing out, not even that she had lied to Madam Pomfrey about her injuries. Dumbledore and Flitwick listened closely, but allowed her to talk without interrupting once and that worked. Telling them what happened actually made her feel like a heavy burden was slowly being lifted from her shoulders. When she had finished talking, Dumbledore sat up a little straighter and shot her a close look. "Can you think of any reason why Jonathan acted the way he did?"
"Not really. Well, we went out last year for a while, but that didn't work out, because he's extremely possessive. He wanted to get back together, but I declined, so yeah, that could be a reason why Jonathan behaved this stupid. Or perhaps he's just jealous because of Sirius. Well, not that I'm going out with him, but..." An embarrassed Mary paused when she realized that she was discussing her love life with Dumbledore and Flitwick.
Mary shot a look at the portraits on the walls and noticed they were also paying close attention and listening intently. She blushed and stared at her shoes instead.
"No matter how you look at it, he did harass you," Flitwick said thoughtfully. "There's no way we could get around that. Albus, I think that we should inform the school board."
Mary looked up. "The school board?"
Dumbledore nodded. "It's the sensible course of action, Mary. You see, Jonathan may not threaten you again, but what about other students? We need to find out whether or not it's safe to let him walk around the school."
He quietly rose from his seat and (under consenting mumbling of the portraits) walked towards the fireplace, cast some floo powder in it and shouted into the fireplace: "Debra, could you join us?"
The fire in Dumbledore's fireplace blazed up for an instant before a witch crawled out. She was almost as tall as Dumbledore and her short blonde hair was standing up in spikes. The witch dusted off her robes, shook Dumbledore's hand cordially and as she straightened her robes, Mary noticed this witch was wearing such a strict facial expression that it would make McGonagall appear like a happy schoolgirl. She walked straight towards Mary and they shook hands. "Michaels, Debra; chairman of the school board," the witch said curtly, eyeing Mary from head to toe.
"Woods, Mary. It's nice to meet you," she added quickly, remembering her manners.
After Dumbledore had conjured another arm chair and Michaels sat down, the Headmaster asked Mary to share her story once more, which she did, although she avoided eye contact with Michaels as much as possible. She dreaded that one disapproving look from the strict-looking witch would wipe out all her guts to explain what really happened.
"Very well," Michaels said curtly as soon as Mary had concluded her story. "I will have to take this up with the school board, Albus. In the meantime, consider this boy McLaggen grounded in every sense of the word. Miss Woods, you did the right thing by reporting the incident," she concluded before rising from her seat.
After bidding Dumbledore and Flitwick a good day, she chucked some floo power into the fireplace and disappeared.
Flitwick let himself slide off his stool. "I should inform the other Professors about this, and Mr. McLaggen of course." He looked at Mary. "I do hope this... experience will not decrease your focus in Charms. You belong to the top of your class and I would hate to see that change."
"I'll try not to, sir."
Flitwick gave her a tiny nod and left Dumbledore's office. When Mary looked at the Headmaster, he was standing in front of the window as he stared out over the Hogwarts grounds and the lake.
"Sir..." Mary said hesitantly. "What's going to happen to Jonathan now?"
Dumbledore didn't answer immediately. He kept looking out over the grounds for a while before he sighed. "Love is a complicated thing, is it not? When experiencing true love, it is the most incredible feeling in the world. But when one person stops loving while the other does not... It can make people go temporarily mad."
"Sir, are you saying that I-"
"No, no - no one but Jonathan is to blame for what happened. And I certainly will not take this lightly. I've already informed his family and I intend to write to your parents in the morning."
Mary groaned. Her father was very protective about her; she'd expect to have him storming into Hogwarts in about a day.
"Of course, things could have been worse, but thanks to Sirius Black, I do not have to send your parents that kind of owl. You and him seem to have become closer over the last months."
"Er… Perhaps, but like I said before: he's not my boyfriend."
Dumbledore shot her a close look. "Well, I shall no longer keep you. But keep in mind that love is accessible to anyone with anyone, as long as their hearts are open to it."
He give her a significant wink before guiding her out of the office.
While Mary was heading back to the Common Room - she had been in Dumbledore's office for hours and dinner time was already over. Not that it mattered much; she wasn't feeling hungry anyway - she thought about Dumbledore's advice. Did he actually suggest that she should go on a date with Sirius Black?
She guessed that's what meant, but wasn't entirely sure – Dumbledore always spoke in riddles and she wasn't that good at figuring those out. Perhaps she should talk to Brice about this... The instant Mary walked into the Common Room, she was literally jumped by James, Lily, Brice, Peter and Remus.
"How did it go?"
"What's going to happen to that jerk?"
"Who did you have to report to?"
"Guys, relax! Please," Mary said as she flopped down on a chair near the window, grabbed a Witch Weekly from the table and started to read it.
Brice stared at her for a moment before snatching the magazine out of her hands. "Oh come off it! You've got to give us something! How did it go?"
Mary realized her friend was having a point. "I explained everything to Dumbledore and Flitwick. And then I had to tell the same story all over again to this unkind chairman from the school board. Honestly Brice, I do feel like I've done enough talking for one day, so please don't ask me to get into this for the fifth time in one day."
Brice looked a bit taken aback by Mary's snappy response, but nodded and kept her mouth shut. James on the other hand, who was now holding the Witch Weekly in his hands, looked intrigued. "What was the name of that chairman again?"
Mary tiredly rubbed her face. "Debra Michaels or something."
The magazine dropped out of his hands. "The Debra Michaels? Are you sure? Because that means Jonathan is in some real trouble. Michaels used to work on the Ministry and is known for her aversion of men who molest women. My dad told me about her once, said she managed to get a wizard sent to Azkaban for two years because he accidentally hit his wife while he was sleepwalking."
Mary shrugged and gazed out of the window. "To be honest, I don't really care what happens to Jonathan anymore."
After another moment of staring into the dark and cloudy sky, she shot a look around the Common Room. "Where is Sirius?"
"Hospital Wing," Peter said before taking a bite from his Cauldron Cake. "He was constantly whining about his injured hand, so James sent him off to Madam Pomfrey."
"She'll be pleased about that," Mary snorted. "Another "victim" of that fight."
"Oh, she will," Peter replied without a note of sarcasm. "Pomfrey is always very taken with "Mr. Black"." He said those last words in a perfect imitation of the school nurse's high-pitched voice.
Mary chuckled when she noticed her cat Coco had just entered the room. She got up from the chair, picked the cat up and sat down against the back of the couch near the fire, where there weren't so many people around. She pressed her nose into Coco's neck like she always did when she was sad and as if Coco knew, the grey tabby rolled around and put her tiny paw against the tip of her nose. Mary couldn't help but smile over this small gesture of affection and was just tickling Coco behind her ears when she noticed that Sirius was standing next to them.
"Mind if I join you?" he asked, which was completely unnecessary because he had already flopped down before even finishing his sentence.
"Not really," Mary said. "You got Madam Pomfrey to heal your hand."
"Oh." He looked a bit disappointed. "And here I was planning to boast about hooking up with a random girl and spending the last two hours snogging in a deserted class room."
Mary chuckled and kissed Coco on the head. Sirius looked at the cat before asking: "Mind if I borrow her for a sec?"
"Er… Sure. But I should warn you: Coco is like an Unicorn. She doesn't like strangers, least of all men."
However, Coco did not seem to mind getting touched by Sirius at all. On the contrary, she was enjoying his strokes so much that she crawled up on his lap and started to purr contently as he tickled her under the chin.
Mary's jaw dropped in surprise. "This is so unlike Coco. Last time my dad tried to touched her, she attacked his hand," she said, wondering why her cat was warming up to a guy so quickly.
Sirius smirked. "Don't worry, I just happen to have a mesmerizing effect on felines."
"Not just cats," Mary blurted out before she could stop herself.
Sirius looked at her in mock surprise. "Why Miss Woods! Do I dare to assume you just gave me a... compliment?"
Mary narrowed her eyes slightly, trying to conceal her cheeks turned bright red. "Well yes, I guess so. Now don't get too high-handed over this."
He grinned mischievously and - as Coco was now stretched out on her back - focused on stroking the cat's belly for another moment before he seemed to be making up his mind about something. "Say, you know Hogsmeade weekend is due next week?"
"D'you wanna come with me?"
Mary could not say she was very surprised that he was asking her out, but it did have a great effect on her. The partying butterflies in her belly had returned and appeared to have duplicated in the last few hours. Even though she had been dreading this moment for so long...
However, when Mary looked at Sirius, all the doubts she ever had about him seemed to disappear. Dumbledore's words about love resounded in her head one more time before she finally gave in to what she had wanted to do all along. "You know, I'd really like that."
~*~ End of Chapter ~*~