Thursday 18th September, 2020
The days that followed the break up were excruciatingly long and emotionally exhausting.
My real world continued as though nothing had changed. Usually, I would be able to confide in Lacey during situations such as these, but as she was unaware of the secret double life I was living that was impossible. Switching between lives, years, personas, was becoming increasingly more draining, and I was finding it difficult to separate people and events between each of my realities. On Tuesday I’d accidentally referred to Lacey as Lily – although she didn’t seem to notice – and each time I saw Grandbaby Potter my stomach would churn as I half expected to see Sirius lolling along by his side.
During classes I was distracted, sifting through my conflicted emotions, trying to work out how I felt about the break up with Sirius whilst simultaneously attempting to ignore it. I needed to focus on the here and now, but it was near impossible with pangs of guilt and something I couldn’t quite put my finger on twanging in my chest each time I thought I heard a bark-like laugh, or saw the back of a head that looked vaguely similar to Sirius’. I knew that developing feelings for him was dangerous, and I needed to preserve my own feelings, but the time we had spent together recently had caused me to form a real bond with him. I knew I needed to distance myself from him, and vowed that I would spend my time in 1977 focusing on Quidditch and classes, forming a wall between myself and Sirius. I would keep to myself and, during times between studying and Quidditch, I would visit the library to really find a solution to this time switching scenario.
The truth was, I had been enjoying my time in 1977, and was curious to experience history, therefore I hadn’t really been intrinsically motivated to research time travel. I hadn’t wanted it to end. But now, there was nothing worth staying there for. The dread of facing Sirius, and having to create a divide between us, mixed with the mounting fear that was bubbling in my stomach at the mere thought of Quidditch practice, was enough to make me want to stay in 2020 and continue my life here, never returning to the past. The fact that Mary was ruining my life by flirting with Barton and Potter was an additional motivating factor into sorting this mess out.
I also hated not knowing what was going on in my friends’ lives. Mary had been suspiciously quiet on the note-front, and so I’d had to gather my intel from Lacey in the subtlest way I could. Lacey informed me that Gemma had developed a liking for Connor MacMillan – Barton and Potter’s friend, and Charlotte was thinking of setting up a jewellery-making business. Barton appeared to be pretending I didn’t exist – slipping up only to cast angry stares in my direction. And Potter himself was acting awkward, avoidant, and angry around me.
During lunch on Tuesday, I’d approached Professor Bell and practically begged her to teach me how to fly; I’d heard she was a star chaser for the Gryffindor team back in her day, and she taught the first years flying lessons. Unfortunately, she couldn’t provide the time to help me. Instead (much to my dismay) she suggested Potter tutor me. Potter hadn’t been able to think of an excuse fast enough, and as a result had reluctantly agreed to tutor me on Thursday evening. He was, after all, Gryffindor captain. The boy couldn’t be any more similar to his grandfather if he tried.
Wednesday had arrived, and with it my return to 1977. I’d worried that Sirius would be cold towards me and pretend I didn’t exist, but he surprised me by being civil and friendly. He was acting as though he and Mary had never been in a relationship. I think that hurt more than anything; it was almost as though he’d forgotten our time in Hogsmeade. But he was happier than I’d seen him yet. He was back to what I supposed were his usual antics – laughing and pranking with the other boys, flirting with girls. Since news of his break up with Mary had spread like fiendfyre around the school, gaggles of girls were stalking him down the corridors, batting their eyelids and conveniently dropping their quills as an excuse to either bend seductively to retrieve it, or if they were lucky, have it returned to them by Sirius himself. In most instances, Sirius ignored this behaviour (Peter was quick to fetch the girls’ quills instead), however, I’d spotted him a few times deep in conversation with girls, holding himself in a flirtatious stance. Whenever I noticed this, I’d find an excuse to return to my dorm or go to the nearest bathroom, pushing the sinking feeling in my stomach away as I reminded myself that Sirius and I couldn’t happen. I’d retired to bed early on Wednesday evening, refusing to write a note to Mary, since she had been so quiet on the other end.
I’d woken up on Thursday morning with a cloud of fear and dread surrounding my body. I hadn’t been able to concentrate in lessons (what else is new?) due to the addition of butterflies dancing nervously in my stomach in anticipation of my flying lesson with Potter, which was scheduled for after dinner. It was lucky that I hadn’t been concentrating, particularly in defence, as it turned out Professor Bell was continuing from where she left off about the wars, and I hadn’t had to listen to her describe the fates of those I was becoming close to in 1977.
Dinner arrived, and I could barely eat. I picked at my food moodily, my nerves building to a crescendo, coursing through my veins until every fibre of my being was on edge.
“Why aren’t you eating?” Charlotte suddenly asked, her brow furrowed in confusion, “You never miss a chance for food.”
“Oh, so now I’m fat, am I?” I snapped. Nerves made me snappy like that. Gemma rolled her eyes.
“Ignore her,” she advised Charlotte, “she’s just moody because she has a flying lesson with Potter this evening.”
“Why are you taking flying lessons, anyway?” Lacey asked, “You hate flying.”
“She clearly wants an excuse to get closer to Potter again,” Gemma smirked, “She never did properly explain that date…”
I scowled at Gemma, before realising that I couldn’t actually tell them the real reason I needed to learn to fly – and that any other excuse wouldn’t be convincing enough. They knew I had absolutely no interesting in flying, or Quidditch. I didn’t think my stomach could sink any lower until I realised I’d have to go along with Gemma’s comment. I glanced up at the girls, who were waiting expectantly, and shrugged.
“I just thought it wouldn’t hurt to talk to him about the date,” I said slowly, thinking on my feet, “and you know, I thought flying might ease the tension.”
“What tension? What actually happened on this date?” Gemma asked. I sighed.
“Well – it wasn’t too bad actually, but um… he thought I’d only asked him out to make Barton jealous, so –”
“But you did, didn’t you?” Charlotte asked.
“What – no!” I exclaimed, “I never fancied Barton in the first place. I’m glad he’s with Leah, I can’t stand him!”
The girls remained unconvinced.
“But you’ve never shown an interest in Potter before, Maz.” Lacey said softly. I shifted uncomfortably.
“Yeah, well… things change don’t they? I mean, I thought I’d give it a go – he’s not such a b-bad guy.”
Charlotte’s eyes lit up.
“So you do like him then?” she squealed, clapping her hands together, “Oh, this is just too cute! Should I make him a bracelet too? Oh! I could make you matching ones!”
“That won’t be necessary, Charlotte,” I said, flushing, “I’ve got to convince him I don’t fancy Barton first.”
“Well, you won’t convince him looking like that.” Gemma said bluntly, eyeing my appearance disapprovingly.
“What’s wrong with the way I look?” I asked, affronted.
She didn’t reply. Just stared at my hair, which was dishevelled.
I hadn’t been in the mood to brush it this morning, still down about the situation with Sirius and stressed with the constant shifts of time. Instead, I’d hastily shoved it up in a rough ponytail. As classes had worn on, my appearance had become more and more straggly, and I now had loose strands of hair flying around my head. I wasn’t particularly bothered by this, but I had to keep up appearances for the sake of my lie. Therefore, I allowed the girls (led by Gemma) to quickly smarten my appearance before I headed down to the pitch. I’d appreciated Lacey’s skills at magically straightening hair, however drew the line at putting on the denim mini-skirt Gemma was wafting at me (I’d be sitting on a bloody broomstick, for crying out loud!) instead opting for a pair of yellow cotton shorts and a maroon tank top. Go, go, Gryffindor, and all that shit. I allowed Charlotte to tie my (beautifully straight) hair in a matching gold ribbon, and quickly headed down to the Quidditch pitch before Gemma could give me any more tips on snogging.
“It’s not going to burn you.” James’ voice called from somewhere behind me. I whipped around, dropping the broomstick I’d been holding nimbly between my fingers.
“Careful!” he cried, “The twigs will bend!”
Oh, please. Broomsticks go through much worse wear and tear during matches, I was sure of it.
I bent to pick the borrowed broomstick up, but a calloused hand appeared before me, stopping me from bending further.
“You’ve got to let it adjust to you,” Potter said, “Remember in flying lessons back in first year? You have to let the broom come to you, it needs to become accustomed to its’ rider. With it being a school broom, it’s had a lot of riders. It needs to get a feel of you, to work properly for you.”
“Oh, like the wand chooses the wizard?” I asked, raising my eyebrows. I’d conveniently missed first year flying lessons, and therefore had no recollection of this.
“Er, yeah, sorta… so, hold your hand out like this,” he demonstrated, “and say ‘up’ really clearly.”
“Okay. Erm, up.” I said, feeling stupid as I held my hand out above the broom.
“You have to mean it,” he explained, “think about how much you want the broom in your hand.”
It took a fair few attempts, but eventually the damn stick flew into my outstretched hand.
“Good,” James murmured, running a hand through his hair in a very Grandfather Potter-esque fashion, “Okay, you’re ready to mount your broom.”
Before I could blink, he was on his broom. I shuffled my feet. Couldn’t be too difficult, right? Right, I assured myself. I lifted my right leg and went to raise it over the broom, but it got mixed up with my arm, which was holding the broom up and I somehow became entangled in a web of my own limbs. Potter was guffawing as he hovered a few feet from the ground, watching my struggle.
Eventually, I was able to disentangle my arms from my legs, and decided instead to put the stick between my legs, rather than raising my legs over it. This seemed to work.
“I suppose that’ll do,” Potter grinned, “Now, kick off.”
“Kick off from the ground.”
“Come on Marriott, it’s not hard,” he laughed, “just push your heels in and kick off.”
I dug my heels into the ground and made to kick off, but chickened out at the last moment. It reminded me of the time I’d tried riding on a neighbour’s skateboard when I was eight. I’d stood on the skateboard, but couldn’t bring myself to make it move, for fear of falling off.
Potter was really laughing now.
“It’s not funny!” I snapped. I squeezed my eyes shut and angrily pushed my feet away from the floor.
I felt myself rise quickly into the air, heard Potter shout, “steady on!”, felt the wind blasting in my face. I opened my eyes, glanced down, and screamed. I was around twenty feet from the ground, and rising faster and faster by the second. I jolted the broom handle upwards in an attempt to halt it, before realising this was a mistake. The broom had stopped but I’d pulled too hard, resulting in the broom slanting almost vertically. I began to slide down the broom, towards to the twigs at the end.
“Help!” I roared at Potter. Well, I say roared, but it was more of a squeak.
Potter was at my side in seconds, and righted my broom for me. I wobbled my way back to the centre of the broom, clutching on for dear life and refusing to look down – I hated heights.
“Okay, bit of a shaky start but we can work on that,” he said, barely concealing his grin. I glared at him.
“Now, tilt the handle slowly towards the ground, and – ”
“What do you mean ‘no’?”
“I’m not going downwards.”
“Well then, you’ll have to stay here forever.”
“No I won’t.”
“Yes, you will.”
I glared at him. He glared back.
“Fine!” I shouted. He laughed again. Ugh. He was clearly enjoying this more than I was.
Ignoring him, I hesitantly tilted the broom handle, millimetre by millimetre, until it was slanting roughly towards the spot we’d started at. It began to steadily descend towards the ground. I closed my eyes again and squeezed my heels together.
“That’s more like - ”
So it turns out that squeezing your heels together makes a broom accelerate. And it’s probably not a great idea to close your eyes when you’re steering a broomstick. I learnt that the hard way, as I landed in a crumpled heap, face-first in the muddy grass.
As I rolled over, I heard Potter chortling heartily behind me. He dismounted his broom in one smooth manoeuvre and offered a hand to me. I ignored it, and pushed myself up from the ground, brushing the grass from my knees.
“Fuck off, Potter.” I spat scathingly. He carried on laughing.
“I said stop fucking laughing at me!” I yelled, anger boiling in my throat. He continued to laugh, pointing at my face – which I knew was covered in mud.
“You think you’re so great Potter, hanging around with Barton, playing Quidditch – well let me tell you, you are NOT. Walking around the school like you own it, flirting with girls just because you can, messing your hair up in that stupid fucking way just like your – ”
My breath caught as I realised I’d almost said his grandfather. He’d stopped laughing, but was still smirking as I ranted. Which incensed me even further.
“And you can quit fucking smirking while you’re at it! Just because you can fly doesn’t mean you can take the piss out of people who aren’t as naturally talented as you are. We don’t all have bloody Quidditch captain blood, you know! You’re supposed to be fucking helping me not –”
But before I could tell him what he was not supposed to be doing, I was interrupted.
Interrupted by the front of my t-shirt, which had been yanked forward until my chest collided with his, and his breath rained hot and sweet upon my face. I gazed for a split second at his chest, and raised my eyes up to his face. His soft hazel eyes were fixing me with a stare so intense it made my legs wobble. I looked up at him through my lashes, my eyes connected with his, and then his hand was on the back of my neck, the other on the small of my back, and his lips…his lips cascaded down upon me, roaming roughly and passionately against my own, and a warm fire ignited in my abdomen. Before I knew what I was doing, I was pulling him into me, wrapping my arms around his neck. I pulled his head down even closer, kissing him just as roughly as he was me, as though our lips were battling.
He was the first to break the kiss.
Pulling away and gasping for breath, our lips swollen, we stared at one another.
“What was –” I began.
“I love it when you’re pissed off.” He smirked.
My head was swimming. I felt dazed as I wandered unseeingly through the corridors. My knees still felt weak, and I couldn’t think straight.
James Potter had kissed me. I’d kissed James Potter. James snogged me and I snogged him back.
I’d been fairly certain I didn’t fancy Potter before now, but that kiss had been something else. Did I fancy Potter? Or had I just got lost in the moment? I shook my head roughly. You don’t fancy James, Marissa, you fancy Sirius. But I can’t fancy Sirius. I’m from the future, he’s from the past, it would never work out. Is it possible to like two boys at the same time? Is it socially acceptable? Could I have them both – a boyfriend in the past, and one in the future? But Sirius doesn’t want to be your boyfriend. And neither did James, probably. He probably just wanted to shut me up. But I’d liked it. Why did I like it? It was different to kissing Sirius. Sirius had been softer, gentler, sweeter. Potter had been passionate, fierce, heated. But you thought of Sirius when you were kissing James. It was true. I’d gotten lost in the moment, and for a split second my mind had become confused, and I thought I was kissing Sirius. But that was only because you kissed him less than a week ago. Of course I was bound to get them mixed up. And why did I feel guilty towards Sirius? Like I’d kissed James behind his back? Sirius existed in the past, and I was perfectly within my rights to snog James – besides, Sirius had broken up with me. I mean, Mary. Right? So he could hardly judge me for getting off with his best friend’s grandson, could he?
Ohhhhhhh, but noooo. Grandbaby Potter looked so similar to Grandfather Potter. What if I saw him tomorrow, and felt that fire in my stomach, and the urge to kiss him? I couldn’t possibly make Mary sink any lower by pouncing on Sirius’ best friend only days after coming out of a relationship with him.
And how would James II act with Mary (me) tomorrow? Would he try to kiss her? I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, whether it would bother me or not. I still didn’t know if I fancied Potter. But that kiss had been something else.
“You’re back! How did it go?”
“Tell us everything!”
“Did you shag?”
My legs had automatically returned my to the girls’ dormitory, and the girls had clearly been waiting up to hear the gossip.
“I – we…” they leaned closer, eyes wide, as I struggled to get my words out.
“He kissed me.” I said hoarsely, slumping onto my bed, still dazed.
“What was it like? Is he a good kisser?”
“Are you two together now?!”
“So you didn’t shag, then?”
“It was…it was good.” I answered honestly.
“Good?” Lacey asked, eyebrow raised, “Just good?”
“We need more details than that, Marissa,” Gemma stated, “Like, what kind of pressure did he use?”
“Pardon?” I spluttered.
“I think Gemma means, was he gentle or was he like…hard?”
“It was…sort of, rough.”
“He didn’t hurt you, did he?” Lacey asked sharply.
“Oh no!” I answered quickly, finally sitting up and looking at them properly, “It was a good sort of rough.”
Gemma waggled her eyebrows suggestively.
“So you like it –”
“Oh Gemma, stop!” Charlotte cried, “Marissa, I’m so happy for you and James! Are you going to become a couple now, then?”
“I’m not sure,” I replied, “We didn’t really…talk about it.”
Things had become a little awkward after the initial after-kiss buzz. James had run his fingers through his hair, and I’d looked down at my muddy shoes. We both stuttered a few excuses, and rushed off towards our separate changing rooms. I’d changed slowly, too dazed to move fast, and by the time I emerged the lights were off in the boys’ changing rooms – he must have gone back to the castle already.
As I changed into my pyjamas and climbed into bed, the dizzy feeling began to subside, making way for the usual sickly dread that had taken over my body for the past few days. I pulled the hangings around my bed and lay my head down on my pillow, allowing the realisation that I was no closer to being an able Quidditch player than I was before the lesson to wash over me.
Maybe if I refused to go to sleep, I wouldn’t wake up in 1977 tomorrow? Then I wouldn’t have to see Sirius, or Grandfather Potter, and I wouldn’t have to make a fool out of myself/Mary whilst attempting to stay upright on a broomstick and overcome my fear of heights at the same time.
But as the darkness surrounded me, my eyes grew more tired, and before I knew it I was waking up to the sound of Lily announcing that it was pancakes for breakfast.
AN - So, which was the best kiss? Sirius' gentle kiss, or James' passionate one? I'd love to hear your opinions! I'm really excited that this story is finally taking off and I'm looking forward to updating more regularly over the next few months :) I'm conscious of the length of the chapters too, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on that, too - are the chapters too short? Chapter 10 was intended to be longer, and cover the events of Friday along with Thursday, but I felt this was an appropriate place to end the chapter. Let me know! :)
I'm 4363 words deep into Chapter 11, I have a little more to add and then the editing process, but I've been so busy with work the past few days I've only been able to add tiny bits at a time. If all goes to plan, the next chapter should be up by the end of the week :)
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