Author’s Note: From the chapter The Prince’s Tale in Deathly Hallows, we learned that in fifth year, Mulciber did something terribly to Mary MacDonald that really pissed Lily off. But what exactly did he do? And how did it affect Lily and her classmates?
P.S. Since I had been writing about a character called Mary Woods years before the release of Deathly Hallows, I kept that character in (and consequently, left MacDonald out, haha).
Mary had trouble opening her eyes. Although she was aware that her roommate’s alarm just went off for the third time and she was supposed to get up immediately in order to be in time for breakfast, she was too tired to move a muscle. Even a pillow chucked at her head by said roommate was unsuccessful in waking her up properly. “What’s up with you? You’re gonna be late”, the girl was saying.
Mary moaned and opened one eye to look at her best friend. She knew staying up late last night to study for her OWL’s (which would start in two weeks) had been a bad idea. “I don’t want to. It’s no time to get up yet.”
Lily laughed. “It’s seven o’clock in the morning,” she said merrily and Mary once again wondered how anyone could be bright and shiny at this inhumane hour. “If you don’t want to miss out on breakfast and still be on time for Transfiguration, it’s time to get out of bed right this second.”
She yawned. “That may be, but I’m still not getting up.”
“Oh yes you are,” Lily replied while reaching for her wand and waving it around so that the blankets floated up into the air and neatly folded themselves before dropping down on the end of Mary’s bed, who was glaring at her. “You are supposed to be my friend.”
“I am. You’ll be thanking me later.”
“Urrrrgh, you’re evil! Where’s Brice?”
“She went down early,” Lily said, referring to their other roommate and friend. “Something about returning a book to the library. Now Mare, just hop into the shower already. I’ll go downstairs and safe you some toast before Peter gets to it.”
Lily was whistling as she walked out of the dormitory, ignoring any further glares from her friend, and after another moment of glaring at the alarm clock, Mary sighed and dragged herself out of bed, unable to shake off the feeling that it might be better to spend the day in bed.
Fifteen minutes later Mary was all dressed and ready for some breakfast. She was still exhausted and not quite awake just yet, but a cup of coffee (or two) would fix that problem. She headed down to the Great Hall while wrapping her wet hair into a loose bun.
She hadn’t had time to really pay attention to her hairdo, but she didn’t care. There wasn’t anyone in particular she wanted to dress up for at the moment anyway. She passed a group of seventh-year students (including her first ever boyfriend Randall McCormack) like she always did: holding her chin up high and ignoring their whistles.
She was about to round the corner that led to the Great Hall when she spotted a group of Slytherins a little head; a few students were from her year, others were somewhat older. Avery, Mulciber and Snape were among them.
A malicious smile appeared on their faces when Mary approached them, but she wasn’t too troubled. The Slytherins were standing right next to the doors of the Hall; no student would be right in their mind to pull something off with all the Professors nearby.
So she kept on walking, feeling confident, and was about to walk by when Mulciber suddenly stepped forward. He was a tall and muscular guy who mostly resembled a block of cement whereas Mary was slender and rather petite, so she didn’t stand a change when he crashed into her. He gave her a rough push with his shoulder and she tumbled backwards against the wall. “Ow!” she cried when she hit the stone. “What the hell did you do that for?”
“So sorry,” Mulciber said, smiling down sweetly. “I must have missed you there.”
Mary shot him a glare. He and his mates had been watching her attentively when she walked towards them; no way he could have missed her. He had pushed her down on purpose.
“I didn’t see you,” Mulciber repeated, still smiling, although Mary noticed his grin wasn’t quite reaching his cool eyes. “Come, let me help you back up.”
He was holding out his hand to her and, after a brief moment of hesitation, Mary took it. His hand was unusually sticky – sweaty, she reasoned with a shudder – and she let go as soon as she was back on her feet. “Thanks,” she muttered while wiping her hand clean on her skirt.
“Again, I am so sorry,” Mulciber said regretfully, but Mary did not miss the sniggering of the other guys. Something was not right.
“Yeah, whatever. Just watch where you going next time, okay?” she replied shortly before walking into the Great Hall, trying to shake off the thought that those Slytherins were up to no good and she should probably report them to the Professors.
Mary hurried over to the Gryffindor table and flopped down between Remus and Lily, right behind the plate carrying two slices of toast with a thick layer of marmalade on top. “You have about for minutes left to eat. What took you so long?” the latter asked, looking annoyed.
“A blockade of Slytherins”, Mary replied darkly.
James and Sirius, who until that time had been using their wands to play a brutal-looking game of hangman, looked up with sudden interest. “What happened?” James asked.
“To be honest, I’m not sure. When I passed them on my way to the Hall, they pushed me against the wall so I fell down, only to apologize and pull me back to my feet afterwards. It made no sense. All I know is that there was something fishy about it.”
“Who did this?” James inquired.
“Well, it was Mulciber who pushed me. Avery was there, along with three younger boys I didn’t recognize and… ehm… Snape was there, too”, Mary finished hesitantly after shooting Lily a look.
James and Sirius exchanged dark glances and Lily frowned. “Are you sure? Did you see him there with them?”
“Yes Lily,” Mary replied testily. “I wouldn’t be telling you if I didn’t, would I?”
“Mary, calm down,” Brice said soothingly. “You don’t have to bite her head off. It’s not her fault.”
Lily shrugged guiltily. “You said it was weird yourself. All I’m saying is that Sev might have been there by accident. Perhaps he was just walking by…”
James shot her an incredulous look. “Evans, why are you still defending that slimy git?”
“Hang on a sec, all I said was that it’s possible that Severus had noth-”
“Snivellus just attacked your best friend! Surely you should be looking out for her instead of protecting that prat you keep snuggling up to in distant corridors?”
“What I do in my own time is none of your business, Potter. And of course I’m concerned about Mary. But it’s Mulciber who did this, not Severus.”
James rolled his eyes and muttered something inarticulately that only Peter could hear, who started sniggering and choked on his toast as a result. Meanwhile Sirius, who until that point had animatedly followed the latest argument between James and Lily, leaned over the table towards Mary. “Did they hurt you?”
Mary had been staring down at her plate for the last minute, lost in thought, and did not hear him. Sirius exchanged a look with Remus who was sitting next to her before he placed a hand on her arm and shook it gently. “Hey, Woods.”
“Mulciber, did he hurt you?”
She slowly shook her head. “Not really. He just smacked me into that wall, but aside from a few scratches, I think I’m okay.” She swallowed with difficulty. “Although I do feel a bit nauseous.”
“That’s probably because you haven’t eaten anything yet,” Remus said kindly, pushing the abandoned plate towards her. “Eat, it will make you feel better.”
Mary suppressed a sudden upcoming burp. “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll just stick to coffee for now.”
She resolutely pushed the plate back to the centre of the table and spotted the hopeful look on Peter’s face. “Go right ahead, Pete,” she said, rolling her eyes at him. “You eat far too much, though.”
“You eat way too little,” he shrugged before grabbing the plate and taking a bite.
“The man’s got a point, you know,” Sirius said, watching her sip the coffee when most of the other students got up from their table and headed out of the Great Hall to their first lesson of the day. He sighed. “We’d better go to Transfiguration, but Mary, I want you to know that we’ll get back at those Slytherins before the end of the week. They won’t know what hit them.”
“You’ll do no such thing, Black,” Lily said from right behind them. “Remus and I will reporting to McGonagall this afternoon. That should be enough.”
Sirius huffed. “An afternoon of writing ‘I am not supposed to push fellow classmates against walls’ on parchment isn’t going to stop those gits.”
“Perhaps not, but the Professors do need to know about this. They can punish those Slytherins as they see fit.”
“Including Snape, Lily?”
Mary, who was feeling like she had downed twenty cups of coffee instead of one, saw the surprised look on Sirius’s face. She realized he was about to say something like this, but had been beaten to it by Brice. Lily hesitated briefly before answering: “Including him, if he had something to do with it. Which is up to the Professors to decide, not us.”
She turned and walked out of the Great Hall, cleverly zigzagging around a group of fourth-year Ravenclaw girls – one of them, Cordelia Bones, was yelling at one of her friends for snatching her pumpkin juice – on the way.
“Thanks,” Sirius said, looking at Brice. “For backing me up there.”
“Yeah, well,” Brice replied, avoiding his eyes. She, Mary knew, still hadn’t gotten over Sirius and the way he had ditched her for a French exchange student a few months ago. “Someone had to do it. Come on, Mary.”
Her voice seemed to come from miles away. Mary felt like she was walking in a no man’s land between consciousness and sleeping. Everything moved in slow motion and she had trouble standing on her feet until Brice grabbed her by the arm. “Are you okay? Do I need to take you to Madam Pomfrey?”
She could not explain why, but Mary suddenly had a feeling that if she went to the hospital wing, bad things would happen to her. So even though she felt like she was going to be sick, she vehemently shook her head and headed for the exit. Swaying a little bit, she finally reached the entrance doors by herself.
Remus and the others had followed her. “Are you-?”
“I’m fine!” Mary snapped in return. “Just leave me the bloody hell alone.”
She continued to walk and half-expected the others to follow and stop her, but felt relieved when they didn’t interrupt her again.
By the time Mary reached the Transfiguration classroom, the others had already arrived before her and the lesson was about to start. “Hurry up, miss Woods,” Professor McGonagall said when she entered the room. “We don’t have all day.”
Mary felt annoyed with the Head of her house. She was always so strict and without an obvious sense of humour that it made her wonder when the Professor had smiled for the last time; right about the first World War had come to an end, perhaps? Mary considered saying this out loud, but the stern look from McGonagall and an vehemently waving Lily in the corner of her eye made her reconsider.
For now, because something was dawning on her by the time she reached Lily and Brice’s table. She was extremely angry with everyone and everything in this room.
From the boring-looking tables on the chalkboard McGonagall was drawing with her wand to the smug grin on Sirius’s face as he was flirting with a Hufflepuff-girl in the next row and the worried looks she was getting from Brice and Lily. “Why are you so late?” the latter asked.
“Bugger off!” Mary snapped in return.
Lily’s jaw dropped and Brice leaned forward, frowning at her. “What the matter with you?”
Mary suddenly had a strong urge to smack her friend in the face. Why couldn’t they just leave her the Hell alone? “Nothing! If you would just mind your own business, I would really appreciate it.”
“-What part about backing off don’t you understand?” she hissed.
Brice opened her mouth to reply, but she was cut off by McGonagall. “Silence, everyone. Today we’ll practice some more Vanishing Spells.”
The class groaned in unison.
“Don’t give me that attitude. Vanishing Spells are the most important spells you need to have mastered at you O.W.L’s, which, I need not remind you, will start in two weeks.” She waved her wand and made turtles appear on every table. “You have one hour.”
Most students heaved another sigh before they obediently grabbed their wands and started practicing. Mary on the other hand did not move a muscle and stared at the opposite wall with her arms crossed and a grouchy look on her face.
This, of course, did not go by unnoticed. “Miss Woods,” McGonagall asked when she paused next to her table. “Is there any particular reason you have stopped practicing on your turtle?”
“You can say that again.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“This! Stupid Vanishing Spells we’ve practised a zillion times already. I’m bored out of my wits.”
McGonagall’s eyes narrowed. “Unfortunately it is not my concern if I am boring you with the lesson material, Woods. But since you already seem to excel at it, why don’t you demonstrate how it’s done?”
Mary cursed inwardly. The Professor was challenging her! Suppressing the urge to stuff that ugly tall hat down the Professor’s face, she picked up her wand and pointed it at the turtle. “Evanesco,” she said in a clear voice.
Nothing happened. At least the turtle was still sitting on her table. The only thing she had managed to vanish was the animal’s head, which was odd considering she had mastered Vanishing Spells weeks ago. It felt as if she had been using only half of her powers, just like she had no full control over feeling angry and aggressive for no apparent reason.
“Dude, she just decapitated a turtle,” James, sitting a row behind her, whispered to Peter, who sniggered.
Mary wheeled around in her chair. “Say that again and I might do the same thing to you!”
“On the contrary, Woods,” McGonagall interrupted, forcing Mary to stop glaring at a stunned James and turn forward again. “One more word out of you and-”
“Oh, bite me.”
The class gasped. No one had ever spoken to McGonagall like that, not even the Marauders. The Professor’s mouth had turned into a thin line. “Detention, Woods. And if you dare to open your mouth again, you shall be suspended from this class for the remains of your Hogwarts career.”
Mary let out a frustrated cry and glared up at the Professor. When their eyes met, the McGonagall’s furious gaze suddenly changed to shock, but she was grateful for finally getting a chance to say what she wanted to do all along. “I’ve always wondered, Professor: when is the last time you smiled? Because if you believe this stuck up look will prevent you from getting wrinkles, I’d say you’re doing a very poor job.”
James and Sirius burst out laughing in the deadly quiet room, but McGonagall silenced them with one look. She appeared angry, but who looked closer would see that she looked even more worried. “Miss Woods, pack your bag and leave. And listen carefully, I want you to head straight to the Headmaster’s office, understand?”
Mary did not answer. She simply chucked all her belongings (with the exception of the beheaded turtle) in her bag and stamped to the door, refusing to look at any of her friends. When she reached the doorway, McGonagall said something that made her turn back: “And I will be writing to your father about this matter tonight.”
She suppressed the urge to laugh and made a scornful sound. “Wooooh, I’m so scared.”
“Not a good look.” That was the first thing Mary thought when she was staring in the mirror in the girl’s bathroom on the third floor. Her reflection showed a pale and gaunt-faced sixteen-year-old girl with hollow eyes and mad hair.
She hadn’t gone to Dumbledore’s office after McGonagall send her from her class. She was feeling too shaky to make it to the end of the corridor. The peculiar rush of anger and the strong urge to insult everyone she cared about or respected had disappeared.
Instead, she felt like she was about to collapse any second. Mary didn’t understand what was wrong with her. She already had trouble remembering what she had said exactly in Transfiguration. All she knew was that she must have insulted McGonagall in a horrible way.
Mary groaned and rested her head against the mirror. She took a few deep breaths while running some water from the tap over the inside of her wrists before looking up into the mirror once more. She still looked like the bride of Frankenstein.
But she knew what she had to do. She either needed to find Dumbledore, her friends, or even the hospital wing. Fact was that she needed help. Feeling dizzy, Mary stumbled out of the bathroom and – using the wall – slowly shuffled towards the head of the staircase.
Dark spots were dancing in front her eyes and a sudden splitting headache made it difficult to see where she was going. Mary thought she recognized the silhouette and voices of Remus and Sirius at the end. They were talking to a small group of students. “So,” Remus was asking, “that was the third student in a row behaving strangely?”
“Yes,” one of the younger students said. “We were on our way to Herbology when Stuart Nickelby yelled at Hagrid that Giants should be exterminated and the world would be a better place without filthy half-breeds like him. And I heard Cordelia Bones from Ravenclaw tried to seduce Slughorn in order to get her grades up.”
“Weird…” Remus said, scratching his chin.
“Yeah,” Sirius nodded. “And here I was thinking Woods had lost her mind.”
Mary was swaying dangerously close near the top of the stairs when he spotted her. “Woods?! What in Merlin’s name are you doing up there?”
“I… I don’t feel s-so good,” she stammered. “I… think I- Oh!”
She had slipped on one of the steps and lost her balance; there was nothing she could do. Mary tumbled down the stairs sideways, bruising her head and backside with every step she crossed.
The marble floor below was approaching fast and there was no time to break her fall. It looked like she was going to hit the ground with her head, but then a pair of strong arms prevented this from happening. “Woods, you alright?”
Mary moaned before opening her eyes and looking up in the grey eyes belonging to Sirius Black. “Wasgoinon?”
“You made a nasty tumble down the stairs, that’s what.” He carefully altered his position so he was sitting on one of the lower steps and she was pulled onto his lap. “Are you in pain?”
“She fell down the stairs, Sirius,” an older student noted sarcastically. “I’m sure she’s just peachy.”
Sirius shot him a glare when Remus crouched down next them. “Mary,” he asked, putting a cool hand to her face. “Can you tell us where it hurts?”
“Urrrgh… My head.”
Remus carefully touched her forehead, frowning. “We should get a Professor.”
Sirius shook his head. “No, that would take too long. I’m taking her to Madam Pomfrey.”
“And how are you planning to do that?” the older student sneered. “She can hardly sit up straight, let alone walk to the hospital wing.
“Indeed”, Sirius said shortly before getting to his feet and lifting Mary in his arms, “which is why I’m carrying her there.” He looked at Remus. “Go tell McGonagall.”
Remus nodded. “And I’ll warn Lily and Brice as well.”
He hurried off and Sirius headed over to the hospital wing. He was carrying her with apparent ease and his grip felt sure and soothing, but all Mary could think about was that he now had the perfect excuse to get his hands on her bottom after all. “I ’ope you’re enjoying this, Black,” she mumbled when they were rounding the corner into the corridor that led to the hospital wing.
“I’d jus’like to point ou’ that i’s only time you’re allowed to’touch me like this.”
Her face was resting against his shoulder, so Mary could not quite see his face, but she knew all too well Sirius was grinning; a smile that made practically every girl in Hogwarts go weak in the knees. The confirmation she was waiting for followed soon enough. “I’m cherishing every moment of it, love,” he said calmly before entering the hospital wing.
“Good grief, not another one!” Madam Pomfrey called when she spotted Sirius and Mary.
The school nurse was having a point. Almost every bed in the hospital wing was taken by students in various states. Some of them were crying hysterically, others swearing and a few dazed-looking girls were dazedly staring ahead. “How bad is it?” Madam Pomfrey asked Sirius.
“Not too good. She insulted Professor McGonagall in various ways and then fell down the stairs.”
“Tut-tut. Any broken bones?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Alright. Well, put her down there.”
Sirius walked to the bed Madam Pomfrey pointed to and put Mary down as gently as possible. He let his gaze run over the crowd and was amazed by the number of sick students in the room. “What is going on?”
“Couple of students thinking it’s fun to poison fellow students,” she said shortly while examining Mary. “Miss Woods, what is hurting the most?”
It took Mary a moment to formulate an answer and she pointed to her head. “It feels’like it’s about’to burst.”
“Naturally.” The school nurse walked into her office and came back moments later holding a tall blue flask and a small cup. She poured out a sticky potion that looked like mashed raspberries and handed it over.
Mary obeyed and downed the potion in one go. She pulled a face – the potion did not taste like raspberry or any forest fruit for that matter; instead it was like drinking pure washing-up liquid. The result was effective immediately though, because Mary’s headache had disappeared and she felt like she was about to fall asleep.
“What happened to her?” Sirius asked right when the doors burst open and Lily and Remus came running inside, closely followed by James, Brice, Alison Zabini and Peter.
Madam Pomfrey shot Sirius a grim look. “Miss Woods, like the other patients admitted today, was placed under a nasty curse.”
“A curse?” Lily cried, still panting from the sprint to the hospital wing.
“Yes,” Madam Pomfrey said. “Dark Magic, looks like. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to attend to some other patients.”
The school nurse had only just turned around when Lily and Brice hurried over to Mary’s bedside. “I knew you were under some kind of spell,” the latter said.
“I’m so sorry I didn’t realize what was going on sooner,” Lily said guiltily.
Mary shrugged. “You couldn’t have. Heck, even I didn’t know what was wrong with me.”
James, who had been unusually quiet since they got to the hospital wing, suddenly said: “You know what worries me the most? Did you notice that every other student in this room, like Mary, is-”
“Muggle-born?” Remus finished for him. “Yes, I had just worked that one out myself.”
“An attack on Muggle-borns?” Sirius chimed in. “That-”
“-Is a nice theory,” a calm voice spoke from behind them. Albus Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall were standing near the head of Mary’s bed. “But a mere theory until we have thoroughly investigated every other possibility,” the Headmaster continued before looking at Mary. “How are you?”
“Alright, sir,” Mary said, feeling her cheeks turn crimson. She was embarrassed to the core and hardly dared to look at McGonagall. “A bit tired and hazy, but I’ll be fine.” She finally forced herself to look up at the Head of her House. “I’m so sorry for what I said in Transfiguration, Professor. I hope you will accept my apology.”
“I knew it wasn’t really you saying those things, Miss Woods,” McGonagall said kindly.
“How did you know that?” Brice asked.
“Her eyes turned black,” the Professor answered. “Only for a moment, but that’s when I realized she was under a curse.”
“Why didn’t you do anything about it, then?” James asked.
“Because, Potter, lifting a curse when you’re not sure what is affecting the victim can be very dangerous.” She looked at Mary. “Consider your detentions, including the suspension, cancelled.”
“Thank you, Professor.”
“Of course Professor McGonagall will still be writing to your father this evening,” Dumbledore said.
Mary looked appalled. “What, why?”
“To inform your family about what happened today,” he explained. “They have the right to know.”
Mary groaned and hid her face in her hands, thinking it was going to take hours to convince her overprotective father that Hogwarts was not a dangerous place where people got cursed all the time, but the Headmaster ignored her audible embarrassment and looked around at the others. “In the meantime, I trust you all to be wise and trust us to deal with this accordingly.”
“But sir!” Sirius objected. “We know who did this to Mary and probably to those other students as well!”
McGonagall raised a hand. “Innocent until proven guilty, Black,” she said as she shot every Marauder a stern look and ended with James, who was about to open his mouth when she cut him off. “Meaning you shall leave this matter to us. If I detect but the merest hint that you are planning to get back at the perpetrators on your own, the consequences will be severe. Have I made myself clear?”
James exchanged a dark glance with Sirius, but in the end they nodded and mumbled: “Yes, Professor.”
“Good. Now, I suggest you give Miss Woods some well-needed rest and head back to the Common Room. Miss McDonald, Evans, the same goes for you.”
Mary cleared her throat. “Actually,” she asked shyly, “I would really like one of them to stay.”
McGonagall looked at Dumbledore, who nodded. “Fine. Miss Evans can stay.”
Brice got up from the bed and squeezed Mary’s hand. “I’ll come visit again soon,” she whispered before leaving the hospital wing with the other guys.
McGonagall followed Dumbledore to the other side of the room where they tried to soothe a terrified-looking first-year. Meanwhile, Mary rubbed her temples. “Are you in pain?” Lily asked anxiously.
“No. Itchy.” She looked at her best friend. “Godric Lil, I’m so embarrassed. I behaved like a complete lunatic, haven’t I?”
“Well, it wasn’t really you.”
“I know, but…” she sighed. “I sure would like to give that Mulciber a piece of my mind, no matter what McGonagall says.”
“Exactly what I was thinking,” Lily nodded grimly.
Mary stared at her friend in surprise. It wasn’t like Lily to go against anything the Professors said. “Are you serious?”
“Yep,” she said, looking determined. “There’s no way the ones responsible for what happened will get away with a few lost house points and detentions. Besides, our greatest advantage is that we already know who they are.”
“But so do James and the others.”
“True, but seriously Mare, I don’t want to bring Potter and his cronies into this at any time. And you can’t tell them anything either, understand?”
Mary thought it over for a moment before she nodded. “I promise. So what do you have in mind?”
Lily leaned in a little closer. Her emerald eyes were twinkling mysteriously when she said: “Here’s what we’re gonna do.”
~*~ End of Part One ~*~