“I ask you: what is the one thing that will embarrass a Slytherin the most?”
Mary, still struggling a little bit with the after effects of the curse, furrowed her brow thoughtfully. Was this a trick question? She shrugged. “I don’t know. You tell me.”
“Just think, Mare!” Lily whispered, leaning in closer to prevent a passing Madam Pomfrey from hearing her, ”I say: a proud Slytherin’s worst possible nightmare and you say…”
“Making him hook up with a Muggle-born in the middle of the Great Hall?”
“No, silly!” Lily laughed, giving her shoulder a little push. “Although,” she continued more seriously, “that IS a rather good idea. Should our initial plan fail, then perhaps…”
She trailed off, her emerald eyes suddenly turning distant while thinking this over, until she suddenly forced herself to get back to the current conversation. Her friend waved a dismissive hand. “Anyway, not the point here.”
“So what is-”
Mary was temporarily distracted by a loudly bellowing Bertram Aubrey being carried into the Hospital Wing; he started serenading Madam Pomfrey and had to be strapped to a bed by his friends in order to keep him from jumping on top of her. “Sorry. What is your initial plan?”
“Well, look around you. What happened to you and the others around here was pretty embarrassing, so obviously our payback has to be something really humiliating too. So I was thinking… I remember reading this one interesting chapter in a book about Advanced Transfiguration. It was about making things take form of the opposite sex.”
Lily said this like all of it was making perfect sense, but to Mary, it sounded like she was talking in a foreign language. “I am not sure I’m following you here. You’re saying you want to transfigure Mulciber and the others into girls?”
“Not them in particular,” she replied, smiling mysteriously.
“Only the objects they encounter,” she elaborated. “Those will transform immediately at the touch of the victim.”
“Victim? Geez Lil, you make it sound like we’re really going to hurt them.”
Lily arched an eyebrow. “We are. Not psychically, of course, but the embarrassment will be utterly devastating. Keep in mind that they won’t notice what is going on. Unlike everyone else who’s around, of course.”
She started to grin mischievously again and Mary found herself wondering if Lily was secretly a lot more like James and Sirius than she would like to admit.
“I don’t know, Lil. How can we get close to them in the first place?”
“Welcome to the wonderful world of Advanced Charms. You won’t necessarily need to touch someone to get things done anymore.”
Her friend thoughtfully screwed up her nose. “Although we’d better lurk around the Slytherin Common Room, just in case. Chances are we accidentally hit a few other students if we perform the spell near the Great Hall.”
“Hmmm.” Mary let her herself sink back into the pillows, considering Lily’s big master plan of revenge. “I’m still not sure. I mean, this spell sounds pretty advanced, if you ask me.”
Lily shrugged. “I’m the best in our year with Charms, you excel at Transfiguration - I think we’ll be just fine. And Brice is pretty good at both subjects, so with her on board we’re definitely going to make this work.”
“You really want to drag Brice into all this?”
Lily chuckled. “I think she’d be insulted if we left her out.”
“I guess so.” Mary massaged her temples before stifling a yawn.
“You’re tired. I’d better dash anyway, before Madam Pomfrey realizes I’m still here.” She jumped off the bed and swung her bag over her shoulder. “I’m taking care of everything. I’ll head to the Library right away to see if that book’s still around and I’ll have a talk with Brice tonight. See what she thinks.”
“Thanks Lil,” Mary replied, grateful that her friend had seen what she was trying to deny all day: that she was completely knackered and wanted nothing more than sleep the effects of the curse off.
Lily gently squeezed her hand and winked. “None taken. Besides, we all want you back bright and early tomorrow for the match.”
The match. Of course, how could she forget? Tomorrow morning at eleven o’clock, the highly anticipated final game of this Quidditch season would take place and it promised to be the match of the year.
Gryffindor was up against Slytherin and if they lost, Slytherin would win the Quidditch Cup. But if they managed to beat their opponent by 240 points, they would become champion instead. It was, so to speak, a crucial match and the school had been talking about it for weeks. Even Mary, not exactly the biggest fan of the game, had been affected by the Quidditch buzz. She nodded. “I’ll see you guys at breakfast.”
“Sleep tight.” Lily winked one last time and turned to walk out of the Hospital Wing, cleverly zigzagging on the way to avoid clashing into two third year girls who were fighting over a photograph of Professor Slughorn.
Fighting over Slughorn... Mary watched this rather amusing scene for a while, grateful for the fact that, although the curse had made her turn against her friends and yell at McGonagall, at least she did not develop a crush on any of the Professors. She sunk back into the pillows and closed her eyes to get some sleep.
This however was easier said than done with those fighting girls nearby, not to mention Bertram Aubrey who was still kicking and screaming on his bed, now loudly protesting and refusing to swallow down the antidote Potion Madam Pomfrey was forcing down his throat. With a frustrated groan, she turned to the other side and covered her ear with her pillow.
After a particular restless night, in which Mary got some sleep in the end but had to endure nightmares of insulting McGonagall in various ways, she got dressed in the morning and thanked Madam Pomfrey for taking care of her. Then she headed down to the Great Hall to have breakfast before the game would start. James and Sirius, who played in the Gryffindor Team, had already left to prepare themselves for “the match of the year”.
After having two cups of dark coffee and eating a bowl of yoghurt and fresh strawberries while telling Lily, Brice, Remus and Peter about how she got through the night, Mary and her friends followed the other students outside. They were the last people exiting the Castle and had to hurry to get the Quidditch field in time.
It was a bright but rather chilly Spring morning and Mary, walking aside Peter and Brice, shivered in her thin Summer cloak. She was about to button up her collar when Lily raised her wand behind her and muttered some vague incantation; immediately Mary felt a pleasant warm glow inside her robes that spread down to her very socks and the front of her shoes. Good old Lil, knowing all the handy spells that made life more comfortable, Mary thought, smiling to herself. She turned back to Lily and Remus. “Thanks.”
Her best friend grinned back. “You looked like you could use a little warmth in there.”
“It’s amazing how much difference it makes, I feel much better! Where did you learn this?”
Lily arched an eyebrow. “What do you think we’re doing in Charms Club, drinking tea?”
Remus sniggered – it was no secret Professor Flitwick had a real thing for collecting teas from all over the world and sharing them with his Charms Club students - and she rolled her eyes. ”Besides drinking tea, that is.”
“I get it,” Mary replied. “You must teach me this spell one day, though. My feet often get stone cold at night, I could really do without that.”
“Sure... Or you could just join Charms Club yourself.”
She screwed up her nose. “Nah, I’m more of a Defence-girl, you know that.”
Lily shrugged. With a tiny wink, Mary turned back to the conversation of Brice and Peter, who was just telling her about Muggles making coffee by using an electric grinder, something he’d apparently picked up in Muggle Studies.
They had almost reached the stands of the field. It was really crowded. Most of the lower rows of the Gryffindor Stand were already taken. A minute later, when Mary had crossed the path along the field and was climbing the first stairs, she heard someone going “Psssst” behind her.
She looked back and raised her eyebrows questioningly when she realized it was Sirius calling her, all dressed up in his Quidditch gear. He and his teammates had gathered in front of the front gate, apparently waiting for the signal from the referee to fly out onto the field. Sirius seemed nervous, but looked not nearly as tense as James, who was staring out over the field with a determination Mary had never seen before.
Sirius made the “Pssst”-noise again and ushered her to come down. She turned back and – ignoring Brice’s look – headed over to the gate, pushing her way through a group of Ravenclaw girls, who clearly were only there to flirt with Sirius or one the other Quidditch players. “What’s up?”
Sirius leaned on the fence and smiled at her, but not before shooting one of the Ravenclaw-girls his trademark grin. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m okay. Better than Bertram Aubrey, at least,” Mary replied, thinking of the sheer embarrassment on Aubrey’s face when realizing he had repeatedly declared his eternal love for the school nurse.
He arched an eyebrow. “Meaning?”
“Meaning he can never look at Madam Pomfrey in the same way.”
“What a loser.” Sirius sniggered, shaking his head before turning more serious. “But you’re really doing alright?”
“Didn’t I just say that?”
“I know, but…” Her gaze dropped to his hands that were slightly fidgeting with his brown Quidditch gloves. Was she really witnessing Sirius getting more nervous by the minute?
Must be because of the match, she reasoned matter-of-factly, right before he raised a hand and ran it through his hair. “I’m just saying that, no matter what McGonagall says, we’ll get our revenge eventually, make no mistake.”
“Erm...” Mary did not fail to notice the elegance of his hair falling perfectly back into place and blinked in confusion. How could anyone be this annoyingly handsome without paying any trouble whatsoever?
“Right. Won’t you be getting back at them enough by winning this game?”
“Not even close. Those Slytherins should’ve thought again before messing with you. And- and those other Muggle-borns of course,” he added quickly when seeing the surprised look on Mary’s face. “I’m not alone in this. James and the others want vengeance as much as I do.”
“Thanks, Sirius… But I don’t want you guys expelled over something silly like this. So... I’d rather if you guys just leave it. That’s the most mature thing to do, anyway,” she added seriously for good measure, crossing her fingers behind her back.
“Really?” Sirius shot her a closer look and for a moment, Mary was sure he could see right through her.
She blushed. “Absolutely.”
He appeared to be somewhat taken aback by her reasoning. “Well okay, if that’s what you really want…”
A sharp whistle interrupted them. It was James, ushering Sirius to mount his broom and fly out to the field. The other Gryffindor players had already left. “I’m coming!” Sirius called back.
James nodded once before taking off as well - the crowd went wild at the sight of him and Mary could vividly imagine Lily rolling her eyes at so many people admiring the “star player of the Quidditch team”.
Sirius was still watching her, as if he couldn’t believe Mary was being so mature about the whole thing. Which, truthfully, of course she wasn’t, but he didn’t need to know that. After he had mounted his broom and was hovering close above the ground, he hesitated. “Just so we’re clear…”
Mary faked an impatient sigh. “I. Don’t want. You guys. To do. Anything. At all.”
He grinned. “Alright, alright! Your loss, though.”
As he flew off, Mary called out “Good luck!” after him, but she wasn’t sure if he heard her. She walked back to the stairs and was surprised to find Brice at very bottom, still leaning against the vast wooden pillar. “Was that a little moment between you and Black I just witnessed?” she asked, frowning slightly.
Mary laughed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she replied airily.
“Hmmm.” The two friends headed up the stairs together in silence. “I know what I saw,” she suddenly continued stubbornly. “Was he asking you out?”
“What?! No, of course not! Besides, like I would ever date a tosser like him.”
Brice “hmmpf”-ed and said nothing. She was still not over the fact that Sirius had dumped her for some random French exchange student a few months back.
Mary watched her friend’s moody expression for another flight of stairs until she had enough and sighed. “Look Brice, how many more times am I going to have to explain there is nothing going on? He and I are just… Well, we're not friends obviously, but we simply get along better these days.”
“Which is quite a change from loathing him with all your might.”
“That’s true.” Mary chuckled. “Sometimes I don’t even understand it myself.”
“So what did he want from you, then?”
“He was saying he and James are up to something; they want to get back at Mulciber.”
Brice arched an eyebrow. “Including Snape?”
“Lily will be pleased about that, not! What did you say?”
“I emphasized that I want them to stay out of it, and let the Professors deal with the perpetrators instead.”
She snorted incredulously. “And you’re saying that with a straight face when you are soon going to get your revenge yourself? What a load of crap! Did Sirius actually buy that?”
“Hey, I can be quite convincing if I want to be, you know,” Mary replied a little defensively when they had reached the top of the stands and started looking for Lily and the others.
Considering the loud cheers and the sound of fast passing brooms, the match had already begun. She finally spotted Remus at the other end of the row, and waved. “However, I doubt anyone can talk him out of something he really wants to do, but I hope he’ll make an exception for me.”
“Especially since you’re being so mature about this,” Brice said, raising her voice in an attempt to get over the loud booo-ing of the Gryffindor crowd (Slytherin had just scored the first goal).
She grinned. “Says the one who made James lend her his precious Invisibility Cloak.”
This time it was Brice’s turn to grin mischievously. “You’d be surprised what he does when there’s a chance to impress Lily. I helped him finish the most difficult crossword puzzle in the Sunday Prophet so he can boast about it in front of her and he’s going to give me the Cloak when I ask for it. Simple.”
“And,” Mary said when they finally reached the row where their friends had saved them two seats, “does he know she doesn’t give a crap about crossword puzzles?”
“No,” she replied serenely. “And I never said that she does. I may have dropped something in that direction, but James just jumped to the wrong conclusion.”
“I’m intrigued. What did you tell him?”
Brice shot her a wicked look. “Just that it would impress any of my friends if a guy finishes a crossword puzzle within the hour. He just didn’t realize I wasn’t talking about Lily, but you.”
Mary grumbled and muttered something inarticulately; knowing all too well that her friend was referring to that one time in third year she spent an entire Christmas holiday on solving the crossword puzzle from the Prophet, but failed miserably. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t come up with the final two answers.
It was all the more humiliating when, on the train back to Hogwarts, Remus took one look at it and filled in the answers for her. Ever since, Mary had stayed far away from those evil cryptic things, but secretly she would never stop admiring people like Brice and Remus, who were able to solve those puzzles, no matter how difficult, in the blink of an eye. And Brice knew that.
“I’m sorry? I didn’t get that last part,” her friend said, poking her in a teasing manner.
“It was this one time,” she said irritatibly, trying to block out the cheers around them. “And I don’t think people who can solve them are all that great.”
Brice chuckled while slightly adjusting the Gryffindor scarf on her neck. “Well, if it makes you feel better, Sirius barely even looked up when I told James, said he thinks crossword puzzles are for losers.”
She huffed. “What do I care what Sirius thinks!”
The “what Sirius thinks”-part fell right into a brief silence of the cheering crowd, causing several people in the rows before and beside them to glance back at her.
Mary blushed fiercely, silently cursing the crisp air, making her cheeks flame even more than usual. Their friends had also caught the last part of their conversation. Peter had momentarily stopped eating the Sugarquills he had been shoving inside non-stop and Remus and Lily were both watching them curiously. Mary looked sideways at Brice, who was trying really hard not to laugh.
“What were you talking about?” Lily asked.
Both of them had spoken simultaneously. Lily arched her eyebrows in surprise and exchanged a look with Remus. Mary helplessly turned back to Brice, who shrugged: “Sirius and crossword puzzles,” she elaborated.
Lily quickly lost interest. “None of which interests me in the least.” She turned back to the game and applauded politely when she realized that James had just scored the next goal.
“How are they doing?” Brice asked, clapping a lot more loudly than Lily.
Remus shook his head. “Not too well, I’m afraid. They’re seventy points behind, but they still have enough time to get back in the game. Just as long as Wilkes doesn’t see the Snitch before Frobisher does.”
Unfortunately, Wilkes did. It took the Slytherin Seeker only another twenty minutes before he spotted the tiny golden ball and dove straight at it.
Frobisher followed suit, but since she had started off too late, it was simply impossible to snatch the Snitch before he did. Thanks to Wilkes, Slytherin beat Gryffindor by 190 points and by that, had won this year’s Quidditch Cup.
To say the mood of the Gryffindor student population became low after that, was an understatement. Considering most students of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw had also been supporting Gryffindor in this game, you could say the entire school (with the exception of Slytherin House, of course) was feeling a little depressed.
Especially James, normally the first person to cheer up the team after a lost game, seemed inconsolable. The cheers and sneers he and his team mates got to endure from the Slytherin crowd in the following days did not make it any better; in fact, the taunting comments were breaking down hiss self-confidence more every day.
This development, Mary thought, was not necessarily a terrible thing (James could be far too presumptuous for his own good). But she did feel bad for him.
Surprisingly, she was not alone in that. When she and her friends were spending their afternoon in the Library a few days later, Mary spotted James and Peter at a table nearby. They appeared to be studying some kind of map, but James hastily pocketed it when a group of Slytherins was approaching them.
Wilkes and Mulciber were among them. They sat down at a nearby table and started to chuck scraps of parchment at him. James tried to ignore it, but Mary knew he was going to lose his temper sooner or later. She nudged Lily and cocked her head in his direction. “Look at that.”
Her friends followed her gaze and Brice cursed silently. “Bloody Wilkes, what’s his deal anyway?”
“Yeah,” Lily agreed. “He and his friends already have the Cup, what more could they want?”
“He lost his confidence after the game,” Mary observed, watching how James was pretending to focus on his Transfiguration book in an attempt to keep ignoring the scraps flying at his head from every direction. “And they know it. Now that he’s alone – well, almost alone, I can’t see Peter doing anything to stop this – they go after him.”
“Where’s Madam Pince when you need her?” Brice watched the Slytherins for another moment. “You know, James looks almost adorable. Take away the conceited git he usually pretends to be and what’s left is actually a fairly decent guy.”
“Are you saying you like seeing James being bullied?” Mary asked, appalled.
“No, of course not,” Brice whispered back. “I’m just saying it’s a refreshing sight.”
Lily was sitting bolt upright, still watching the disturbing scene, her frown increasing by the minute. “This is... Potter doesn’t deserve... This has got to stop.”
“Well, go do something about it, then,” Brice said.
“Err... Cause you’re a Prefect?”
“Oh. Right.” Lily stood up, straightened her skirt in an awkward manner before heading over to the other table. “That’s enough, Wilkes,” she called long before she got there.
Peter shot Lily a grateful look, although James, probably feeling too humiliated by being saved by a girl, did not even dare to look up from the table.
Wilkes on the other hand, seemed unimpressed. “Evans... Evans...” he said, smiling gleefully, “Didn’t your mother teach you to stay out of matters that do not concern you?”
“I may not know what this is about, Wilkes,” Lily countered coolly, “but I act on what I see. Now, Since I’m a Prefect, I get to say-”
“-So am I,” Mulciber said, stepping up. “And I see nothing wrong with this. We’re just having a little fun.”
Lily exploded. “Fun?!”
“Evans,” James suddenly said, speaking up for the first time. “Just leave it, you’re only making matters-”
“-Potter, if you think but for a second this is about you, then you’re very mistaken. What I see,” she continued, shooting Mulciber a dirty look, “is a group of students disturbing the quiet and peace of the Library. And that is against the rules.”
"And that is against the rules,” Wilkes repeated in an annoying sing-song voice, making the other Slytherins burst out in laughter.
Mary and Brice had finished gathered their own and Lily’s books and quills and had just reached them.
“Gosh Wilkes,” Mary said sweetly, “I already knew the size of your brains equals that of a Cornish Pixie, but I'm amazed you’ve finally managed to parrot what other people are saying. Congratulations!”
Wilkes looked about to curse her brains out, but Mulciber roughly pushed him aside. “Woods, what a pleasant surprise! How are you feeling today - a bit less waspish, I hope?”
This was the moment James jumped up from his seat. “Leave her alone, Mulciber! Or I’ll...”
“Or what, Potter?”
James pulled out his wand so fast that it startled them all, including Lily, but she managed to push down his arm in time in the end.
“Don’t be daft, Potter,” she hissed before looking back to Wilkes. “Alright, a week’s detention and seventy points from Slytherin for disturbing the peace in the Library. And you-,” she said, turning to Mulciber.
“-I what?” he asked, smirking at her. “You cannot put a fellow Prefect in detention.”
“You’re right,” she replied, nodding seriously. “But what I can do, is warn your Head of House that you’re not honouring the Prefect protocol. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Come on,” she said to Mary and Brice, before taking her bag from the latter and walking out out of the Library without another look at Mulciber and Wilkes, or James.
When they had finally caught up with at the other end of the corridor and started to head down the stairs together, Lily turned towards them.
“This has got to stop,” she said, her eyes glinting dangerously. “We’re gonna get our revenge. And we’re going to do it tonight.”
~*~ End of Part Two ~*~