Ready, set, snow!
The last days before Hogsmeade weekend flew by without many notable events, unless you count that time when Sirius and Remus spotted Jonathan walking down a remote corridor by his own and cursed him simultaneously (Trip Hex and Leek Jinx), which resulted in a detention for both Sirius and Remus and yet another trip to the hospital wing for Jonathan.
Later that day they discovered Jonathan had only come back briefly to collect his stuff, because the school board had suspended him until the end of the year. And since he was a seventh-year student, this meant he would not be returning to school at all and had to be home-schooled instead.
Personally Mary could not care less about Jonathan and how he would take his NEWTS. There were other – more urgent – things on her mind. Mary still found it hard to pretend she had not found out the truth about Remus being a Werewolf.
It was pretty obvious Sirius had told James Mary knew, though, because he sneaked up on her the day after the party and once again emphasized the importance of keeping "Moony's furry little problem" a secret. So now, whenever Lily or Brice said something about Remus being absent from class again, Mary either quickly changed the subject or hurried off to the loos. For the moment, this tactic seemed to work out pretty well.
Meanwhile Mary was looking forward to the weekend she would be going out with Sirius and freaking out over it at the same time. How was she going to handle dating someone she now adored but had hated for such a long time? It had to be at least a little uncomfortable for him as well, Mary reckoned. The only other person around who could truly understand her feelings was Lily, because her friend was currently experiencing the same change of heart with James.
One night, after they had been thoroughly discussing the pros and cons of dating a Marauder and how weird it would be to spend time with the guys alone, Mary and Lily considered calling the whole thing off. They were already halfway down the dormitory stairs when both of them paused at the same time. They giggled madly before turning around and chasing each other back up the stairs, which resulted in many odd looks from the students in the Common Room, including James and Sirius.
Although Brice appeared to be somewhat amused about their childish behavior, she also felt a bit left out. After all, Lily and Mary would be going on the dates of their dreams and she wasn't. Her attempts to convince Remus that she liked him were (so far) falling flat. Brice was considering to give up on him, but Lily advised her to remain patient.
Brice did not want to goto Hogsmeade all by herself, so on Friday morning she agreed to goto the village with Timothy Brown, a seventh year Ravenclaw-student. He also happened to be one of Jonathan's closest friends. When Brice asked for her permission, Mary could not help but laugh. Who was she to permit or forbid Brice from going out with Timothy? Sirius on the other hand was less benevolent when he found out. "She's going with a mate of that lunatic?"
"What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing. Just the fact his best friend enjoys beating up his ex-girlfriends."
"Sirius listen, just because Jonathan is a jerk doesn't mean you should also condemn all of his friends," Mary said calmly. "Besides, you and I both know Timothy couldn't snap a wand in two."
"Well, I still think the three of you should boycott all his friends out of principle."
She rolled her eyes. "It's not like she's bloody marrying him already, now s she?"
He shrugged moodily. "I suppose not."
Which put an end to their discussion, but over the next few days, Mary did notice that Sirius (and James) were continuously shooting dark looks at the Ravenclaw table.
When Saturday morning had finally arrived, Mary woke up with a start when Lily flopped down on the edge of her bed. Her friend looked nervous, but her beautiful auburn hair shone brightly and her emerald eyes were twinkling. "Today's the day, Mare."
Mary, who was leaning back on her elbows, pulled a hand through her long hair in an attempt to untangle it, grinned at her friend. "Yep. This not your ordinary Saturday but a very special one: D-Day," she added in a dramatic husky voice.
Lily giggled and high-fived Mary. Brice, who was already out of bed and about to head off to the bathroom, frowned. "D-Saturday… What am I missing here?"
Mary laughed. "It basically means this a crucial day for us. Sort of like… If something goes wrong, it can never be put right again."
Brice nodded. "Right. So you mean D-Day stands for Date-Day?"
"Er… Not quite," Mary said, shooting Lily a look.
"D-Day originates from World War II in the Muggle world. It's the day when the Americans successfully invaded Normandy, which was the first step to Hitler's defeat," Lily said matter-of-factly as she swung her legs from Mary's bed. "D-Day was crucial in putting an end to World War II and our dates are also possibly groundbreaking, although probably less important to the rest of the world."
Brice stared at them. "Call me stupid, but I still don't see this war-dates connection."
"Talk to Peter. He can fill you in on about everything Muggle-related from a wizard's perspective. I'm sure he knows a lot about World War II as well."
After the girls had showered and dressed themselves warmly, they went down to the Great Hall where they all had breakfast together. Mary tried to seduce Sirius in getting him talking about what they were going to do today by offering a piece of richly buttered toast with a thick layer of jam on top, but he was not having any of it. He simply took the toast and said calmly: "You'll have to wait and see."
Once breakfast was over, they headed over to the Entrance Hall. Peter and Remus, who was feeling like himself again now that a new moon cycle had started - went off to Honeydukes together and James and Lily (after she had made Mary promise they would meet up again later) joined them in walking towards the village, although James said he had his own plans when they had reached in Hogsmeade.
Mary and Sirius lingered behind with Brice, still waiting for Timothy. When he finally came down and greeted Brice by hugging her, Mary gave him a polite smile "Hi Timothy."
A reticent Sirius was merely shooting him a reproachful look instead. Timothy looked at him nervously and when Sirius's expression did not change, Mary decided to intervene and pulled him along while calling: "See ya Brice, bye Timothy!"
Sirius and Mary did not speak while they were crossing the Hogwarts grounds. It was a cold but bright day and the light of the distant sun was making the snow around them glitter and sparkle. When they were about to cross the school gates, Sirius finally spoke up. "I just hope she knows what she's doing, that's all."
Mary shrugged. "It's sweet of you to care, but honestly, Brice is a grown girl who can take care of herself. Not that I think she has anything to fear from Timothy…"
He snorted and kicked up a little pile of snow in front of his feet. Once again there was silence between them, but this time it was a peaceful one. Mary realized she was feeling quite relaxed around him. She got the sense this was a mutual feeling. Neither of them felt the need to keep the conversation going. She focused on the rustling sound her boots made trapping the snow for another minute or so, merely enjoying his company, before asking: "So what are we going to do?"
"It's better to show, not tell. We should turn left here."
"Well, there must be something you could give me," she said, starting to feel annoyed.
Sirius gave her a friendly push. "Oh, aren't we being impatient!"
Mary huffed before muttering: "I'm starting to think this is all a trick and you've got nothing to show me at all."
"Hate to bust your bubble," Sirius sniggered as he pointed ahead, "But we've arrived."
Mary followed the direction of his index finger and at first, she could not see anything special. He seemed to be pointing at a group of trees on top of the nearest hill. However, once they starting climbing, she noticed fruit was hanging from the branches. In November. Mary looked at the trees in awe. "What kind of magic is this?"
"They're magic trees with ever-growing fruits. I don't know their exact names, but apparently they'e quite rare in Scotland."
"Extraordinary you mean!" Mary said before reaching out and touching the cold bark of a pear tree.
Sirius climbed up a tree to gather a bunch of apples. Next, he slid back down, put some of the fruits in his bag and handed Mary a single shiny red apple, which she started eating at once. The fruit had a magnificent sweet taste.
"Delicious," Mary mumbled with a full mouth.
They set off to their next destination on the "Hogsmeade tour" and when Mary had finished eating the apple, she asked: "How do you know about all this?'
"Lets just say I've got to see a lot from Hogsmeade over the past years. And not just on weekends like this," he added vaguely.
Mary frowned but - considering the last time he had elaborated on the "adventures" with his friends - decided she simply didn't want to know. While they were walking down one of the main streets, Sirius told her that Remus was not ready to inform the other girls about his condition, which meant Mary would have to keep it a secret for another while. She reluctantly agreed to do so, because she wasn't looking forward to continue keeping something important from her friends. It was then that she realized they were approaching the Shrieking Shack. She stopped and looked over at Sirius. "Hey, I've seen this before."
"I'm sure you have. But have you ever been inside?"
"Where? In the Shrieking Shack? Of course not."
"Alright then," he said, stepping through a small hole in the gate and pushing it aside for Mary. "Ladies first," he grinned at her.
"But… That place is… it's not safe in there."
"Really now? I've never noticed anything strange about it. You coming?"
"I'm not going down there."
"Because it's haunted."
Sirius laughed. "Oh yeah, it's definitely haunted. Once a month, that is."
Mary stared at him. "You mean, this is where Remus…"
"Oh," Mary said. Sirius held out a hand to pull her through the hole in the gate. When his fingers first made contact with hers, she shivered, feeling hundreds of little shocks that were spreading from her hands and all over her body.
Sirius did not seem to notice anything and safely guided her towards the Shrieking Shack. When they entered the deteriorated hut, Mary saw it was a very dusty place with lots of damaged furniture. She crouched down near a broken arm chair and gently touched the ripped cover. "Remus?" she asked quietly.
Sirius nodded. "Ghosts could never do such a thing. It's a good thing the villagers are too afraid to set foot in here, or else… Anyway, this is exactly why Dumbledore keeps stimulating the rumors."
"And this is there where you hang out together at the full moon?"
"Yep, but it is only the second time I'm looking at it in human form."
"Are you going to show me now, then?" she asked teasingly, realizing he was referring to his secret Animagus form.
Sirius did not answer, but in a blink of the eye he had gone and there was a large bear-like black dog standing in front of Mary instead. She stared into the dogs grey-blue eyes. "This is incredible," she whispered admiringly. Sirius the dog sat down in front of her and tilted his head to one side, begging her to stroke his fur.
Mary laughed, flopped down on the floor next to him and gently tickled him on his head and behind his ears. Then, in another flash of a second, the scruffy black dog vanished and Sirius had reappeared, meaning that Mary was now stroking him. She wanted to pull her hand away, but he said softly: "Don't stop."
Mary looked at Sirius. She could feel those butterflies starting to jump up and down in her belly, but this time she no longer cared. She started to feel like she was getting lost into those intense grey eyes, realizing this was the moment they had been waiting for. His face was now only inches away from her own, his lips were about to touch hers any second now…
Sirius and Mary looked around in shock and witnessed the kitchen door fall down to the floor with a loud crash. They stood up quickly and stared at the spot where the door had been only seconds ago. Dust was flying everywhere, making them cough.
"Things like that happen sometimes," Sirius said, holding up the sleeve of his robes to his mouth. "We'd better get out of here now."
He carefully guided Mary back out and they walked back to the main street of Hogsmeade in silence. Mary wasn't sure she could have said something if she wanted to; she was feeling too dazed. Did that really just happen? Sirius was about to kiss her - and more importantly she was going to kiss him back – and a door came crashing down, ruining the mood between them completely? She felt like screaming Why? on the top of her lungs.
Mary was on the verge of frustrated tears when Sirius did something that told her things would be alright. His fingers grazed against her fingers casually at first, as though by accident, and then slowly entwined themselves around her hand. His hand felt sure and firm and his thumb was rubbing hers softly, as though to say their time would come. Mary looked up at Sirius and he smiled at her. "I could really use a Butterbeer. How about you?"
Mary nodded and they headed into the Three Broomsticks. When Sirius had gone to the counter and get them some Butterbeers, Mary tried spotting Lily and James in the crowd. She didn't have to look very long. Her friends were sharing a table at the back of the pub and seemed completely oblivious to the rest of the world. They were kissing like crazy and by the looks of it, had been doing so for quite some time. Mary felt happy for them, yet at the same time she felt a stab of jealousy. "At least someone is getting it on," she thought surly.
Sirius joined her and as he passed her a Butterbeer, he followed her gaze and sniggered when his eyes fell on their friends. "Oooh nice. Come on, let's break up that little private party of theirs," he said and pulled her along with him.
"Ooookay! Either you two go and get a room right now or act like the mature Headboy and -Girl I know are hiding in there somewhere." Sirius boomed as soon as they reached the table.
James started. He quickly broke away from a blushing Lily and grinned stupidly. "Sorry Padfoot, I think we've lost track of the hour and well…. Everything else to tell you the truth."
Sirius flopped down next to James and Mary joined Lily, who quickly told her everything that had happened so far. "It's been so amazing. I don't understand why I've never gone out with James before. Oh Mare, He is so sweet and like, the best kisser ever!" She giggled. "Oh great, now I sound like some ditzy schoolgirl."
Mary smiled and sipped her drink. "Nah that's okay Lil, you're in love."
Lily looked at James and could not help but smile. "I guess I am. How about you and Sirius?"
She kicked against the table-leg in frustration. "Nothing."
"Nothing?" Lily asked, astonished. "Look," she continued carefully, "I realize you're probably the most stubborn person in the world and it might be difficult to give in to your feelings, but trust me: once you do, it's the best thing ever. And you can trust Sirius, you know you can."
"Oh, it's not that," she replied, looking annoyed. "We were about to get it on when we were disturbed by a crashing door in a stupid hut that was literally falling apart around us."
Lily seemed stunned. "That's er… What kind of hut?"
Mary, realizing she was would be jeopardizing Remus's secret by telling the whole story, recovered quickly. "Just a hut. Look, I'm sure we'll be kissing before the day is over, so don't worry. What else have you two been doing besides snogging each other's faces off?"
Her friend laughed. "Actually, we've been brainstorming about the Christmas party. And since Dumbledore told us it's not going to work to plan it on Christmas Eve–"
"-We were thinking of turning it into a massive New Year's Eve Party instead," James joined in. "What do you guys think, Sirius?"
"Sounds good to me. Mare?"
Mary, pleasantly surprised he was addressing her by her nickname, shrugged. "Sure, I'll have to inform my parents that I'll be around at Christmas this year instead of New Year's, but other than that, sounds great."
"Brilliant," James grinned. "We've already talked to Remus, Peter, Brice and 'whatshisname' (Sirius laughed and Mary and Lily scowled) and they also agreed."
"And we can count on your assistance throughout the night, right?" Lily asked.
"Of course." Sirius and Mary had spoken at the same time which made them all laugh. They left the Three Broomsticks together, shivering slightly in the sudden cold they were walking into.
"Lil, I think it's about time to be heading back. You lot coming with us?" James asked as he was putting on his gloves.
"Not yet. We have one last spot to visit," Sirius replied with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
Lily beamed at Mary before saying: "Remember to be back at Hogwarts in time, though. The school gates will close at six sharp because of the curfew that has been installed after those Death Eater's attacks from last month."
James wrapped his arm around Lily's shoulder and Mary smiled as she watched them walking off together, hugging each other closely as he guided her through the main street.
"Ready?" Sirius asked.
She slowly tore her gaze from James and Lily and looked down at his offered hand. As Mary accepted it, she asked: "What have you got planned this time?"
Sirius grinned and gently squeezed her hand, achieving in instantly turning her knees into a trembling mess. The warm feeling in her chest intensified when he pulled her closer to him and whispered "Show Mare, not tell," softly into her ear.
~* End of Chapter *~