Thread: In Need, Indeed
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Old September 2nd, 2012, 5:18 pm
Melissa_Potter  Female.gif Melissa_Potter is offline
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Join Date: 11th October 2002
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Re: In Need, Indeed

Maybe for Christmas I should ask for my own owl, Marianne thought as she crossed the uneven terrain to the Owlery. Luckily, she was able to keep an even footing by watching her step. After a long trek, she finally caught up to the looming tower. It's stairs were empty, and no one was entering or leaving through the door. It was a relief that there were no other visitors at the moment. A relaxed ease encased her.

Leaping two steps at a time, Marianne was soon on the landing in front of the door. She tucked her arms in tightly, keeping her letter close to protect it against soiling from above. Once she passed the threshold, however, the owls erupted into a frenzy. Many screeched irritably, some flapping their wings so hard that feathers fluttered down to the white-splattered stone floor. Marianne crouched and covered the back of her head, out of reflex rather than for preventative measures; her new position would do practically nothing to protect her from falling remains or outstretched claws.

"Sorry, sorry!" she called over the racket, "I'll be out of here soon, sorry for barging in!". Marianne felt silly for apologizing to the owls but hoped that they would respond well if they heard a voice that meant no harm. Their indignation brought forth a need to defend herself.

The school owls were always easily spooked and not very reliable. Several of Marianne's letters had been lost in transit, and she would only find out weeks later when the post never arrived. It was if they forgot what their job was in the magical world. Trying to send mail was always a struggle.

She dared to look upward, risking an eyeful, and saw little bits of the grey sky peeking through glassless windows. A set of stairs hugged the wall of the circular building and spiraled up to the second floor. A Great Horned owl, resting on it's perch within a groove in the wall, stared imperiously down at the intruder.

The noise wouldn't cease and it began to grind in Marianne's ears. Noticing something at the bottom of her vision, she looked down at her feet and spotted a tiny burrowing owl hopping across the floor. Smiling, she crouched down and stuck out her hand, clicking her tongue, hoping to entice it.

"Hey there, little guy," she cooed with an inviting grin, brandishing the letter in her hand, "mind helping me out?" It stared back at her with blank eyes, then screeched sharply, extended it's wings and flew up to the beams in the ceiling. "Hmm...," Marianne huffed, swatting a feather away from her face, "must've been a girl."

Not wishing to have come all the way for nothing, she determinedly made her way to the stairs while pressing her back and spreading her arms against the wall. While the steps were wide enough to safely climb, the tower's serious lack of railing made her nervous and her head began to feel light.

"Keep to the wall, keep to the wall...," she coached herself breathily.

Delicate and precise footing took her up to the second floor, which was just as littered as the ground level. Wanting to be far away from the hole in the floor that she just emerged from, Marianne pushed away from the wall and daintily walked to the center of the floor. She nervously looked over her shoulder one more time so as not to have a nasty fall take her by surprise.

"Anybody?" she pleaded, waving her letter in the air. A loud screech came from behind her, and for the second time, Marianne instinctively ducked and covered her head, not even feeling the letter crushed in her hand and pressed against her head. It was suddenly snatched right out of her fingers. Once Marianne felt it escape her grip, she frantically looked upward to see a barn owl circle the room and then fly out the window, rolled up parchment held in it's talons.

A smile appeared on Marianne's face. It felt strange and unnatural, like she was somehow out of practice, but it was genuine. Had it really been that long since she had a reason to smile?

Her relief quickly turned to uncertainty as she remembered how the owl got it's delivery, and her hand flew to the back of her head, making sure the bird didn't take some scalp with it. Her head felt fine and she relaxed, though wondered if her parents would also recieve a few blond strands with their mail.

***


The Gryffindor common room was buzzing with after-dinner chatter. Marianne stood silently by the bulletin board, just in case anyone came forward with her schoolbag. She had posted her Lost and Found note earlier that morning, upon her return to the common room. Throughout the day, she checked in regularly, and was dismayed every single time to see that it went unanswered.

She hovered around the area of the board, waiting. There were just too many students to really move anywhere else. She couldn't even zero in on what anyone was saying, even if she wanted to. She wouldn't even have been able to find her own brother if she was truly looking, but Ormond rarely hung around the common room anyway. Marianne could easily picture him strolling somewhere in the castle or the grounds, surrounded by friends and admirers, completing his story with a punchline that sent them all into hysterics.

Bitterness started to froth in the pit of her stomach and she bit her lip to quelch it. She hated whenever this ugly feeling came around, because she knew that Ormond deserved everything good that came to him. He was bright, responsible, and fair; Head-Boy material in every way.

He wasn't unkind to his sister, but it was his unavailability and indifference that hurt the most. She wasn't even sure if he was aware of her current problem, and if he would be sympathetic if he knew.

Then again, why would he? Besides familial obligation, Marianne knew they didn't spend much time together at all. Whenever they did meet, there was always the necessary sibling mockery and then he'd ruffle her hair with a laugh and catch up to his friends, swinging back into a conversation that was more important than his little sister.

With a heavy heart, Marianne realised that she hadn't always been the best sibling to him, either. When she was occupied, she barely acknowledged him, too.

"Hey, you!" called a stern voice that immediately made Marianne's thoughts vanish with a pop. She jumped and darted her head around to find who it belonged to. A prefect stared her right in the eyes. He meant her?

"Me?" she mouthed uncertainly, pointing to herself.

The badge pinned on his chest glinted brightly in the setting light coming through the window. Marianne went wide-eyed and froze to the spot, his air of authority making her tremble on the inside. She didn't know what she had done wrong, she never got in trouble.

"Yes, you," he said, walking up to the bulletin board. Marianne was already against the wall but still backed up into it, shrinking under his imposing height. "You're not supposed to be in here."

In addition to her nervousness, Marianne was now confused. "B-but...I'm a Gryf-"

"Didn't I just tell you the other day? Out," he ordered, a little more loudly than necessary, pointing to the portrait.

"But I - huh?"

He had done no such thing. Marianne was sure of it. She had no recollection of ever being asked to leave her own common room, and was about to tell him that he must have mistaken her for another student (her eyes even flickered down to her robes to make sure she didn't accidently grab a Ravenclaw uniform), but her voice died in her throat.

Students in the surrounding area began to stare. Marianne looked back to the prefect to avoid the curious onlookers, but could still feel the burning stares that pinned her to the wall. Being forced to face the prefect wasn't any better. He looked at her expectantly, making Marianne's protest of innocence be pushed further and further down her throat, as though it were too bold to say. His eyes moved to the bulletin board and spotted her Lost and Found note. Without a word, he plucked it off and tore it in half.

Wanting to keep from making anymore of a scene, Marianne swallowed her defense and obediently did as he commanded. She kept her gaze firmly planted on the floor, and blindly shuffled through the portrait entrance, absolutely mortified. Only one thing was on her mind - be as far away as possible. Physically and mentally.

Emerging from the Gryffindor tower entrance into the seventh floor, she brushed through Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The words, "...sneak out tonight" were heard clearly, but Marianne payed them no mind. Not even wanting to be near the tower, she walked with the intention of putting considerable distance between them. The farther away she got, the farther away the unfairness would be - at least that's what she told herself. But the massive castle wasn't big enough, and the spectacle played out in her mind's eye in a constant loop. The more she tried to forget it, the more clear the picture became.

Overwhelmed, she slowed down and stopped in front of a tapestry depicting a wizard on a platform who was making grand gestures with his hands, while addressing a crowd of angry goblins. At least, they looked angry since they were all carrying burning torches.

Marianne sat down against it, grateful that this particular corridor was empty, and propped her head up on her hands. It happened again. Someone had walked all over her, and she allowed it. But it wasn't as though she knowingly did. It was hard to recognize it as it was happening. Only in hindsight was she able to see when she failed to defend herself.

Ormond's chastising voice pushed it's way into her head. It was easier to imagine her brother lecturing her, because Marianne rarely would for herself. She was more obedient to him, fabricated or not, than to her own insight.

I can't always be there to bail you out, Marianne...

Don't you think I have better things to do than look after you?

Get a grip on yourself.

You are a Gryffindor. Act like one.

It's not that easy,
she would answer defensively to the imagined Ormond, I am not like you.

Her jaw stiffened. It wasn't the first time that phrase would resonate in her head. Every time, it was said with regret. I am not like you, I am not like you, I am not like you...

Marianne knew she could never say it to his face, for he wouldn't accept it as an excuse. Within the safety of her mind, she could see herself be more outgoing, speaking with and gaining friends with complete ease. However, when it came time to put dream to action, her nerve would wither and die every single time. It wasn't as simple as just willing yourself to change.

A gruff meow broke through her thoughts, making Marianne's head snap upwards. Yellow, lamp-like eyes were peeking at her from around the corner. Mrs. Norris then stalked forward, eyes focused intently on the student sitting on the floor. Marianne braced herself, uncurling her legs and sticking them straight out, hoping the cat would take it as a sign to stay away.

If it came to it, Marianne wasn't going to actually kick her, but Mrs. Norris didn't have to know that. Although, if his cat was here, then Filch certainly wasn't far off. If he saw any physical threat against his pet, detention would be painful. And hazardous.

But Marianne didn't have to do anything. Seemingly done with the inspection, Mrs. Norris turned her scrawny body around, sticking her tail in the air and going back the way she came. It wasn't after curfew, but a run-in with Filch was always unpleasant, in case Mrs. Norris was going to fetch him. Marianne sprang up onto her feet, knowing it was inevitable to return to the Gryffindor common room. A bead of dread was steadily growing in her stomach for having to, but there was nowhere else to go.

Feeling forced to move, she reluctantly trudged forward, practically dragging her feet. There was a temporary comfort in taking the long way back.

In the midst of strongly praying that the Gryffindor prefect was the early to bed type, and even wondering if the whole debacle was a trick pulled by Parvati and Lavender, voices stopped Marianne dead in her tracks. They echoed off the walls, accompanied by footsteps. Panicking, Marianne scurried behind a statue of a plump-cheeked Healer, having barely tucked her foot in before Snape and Filch walked into view.

"-have it on good word that the Ministry will not remove the Dementors," Filch said. Mrs. Norris was at his feet, loyally matching his pace.

"The students are safe within the grounds," Snape firmly assured, but then his face turned sour, "However, there are still those who think themselves above their limits. It is imperative that you patrol these halls tonight".

Their hasty stride had already brought the two to the far end of the corridor, almost reaching beyond Marianne's hearing range, but she continued to stay absolutely still. It was rumoured that both Snape and Filch could actually hear movement. At a moment like this, she completely believed it. Both men disappeared around the corner, their voices gradually fading.

"Any student fool enough to sneak out will-" Filch began to say, but now all Marianne could hear were unintelligible sounds. She leaned out from behind the statue as far as she dared, straining her ears to make sure they were gone. There was an echoing click of a door and then absolute quiet for a long minute. She stayed in place, in case Snape and Filch came back, but not a sound could be heard.

Cautiously, she stepped out from behind the statue, looking both ways. The coast looked clear. Without a single glance back, she bolted to the staircase to Gryffindor tower.

Snape and Filch were long gone, but Marianne could still feel their presence, and that made her feel like she was being watched. Soon enough, The Fat Lady came into view and the prickling feeling at the back of Marianne's neck became less intense.

She slowed down before reaching the portrait, tentatively staring at the sleeping figure within it.

Probably not a good idea to wake her, Marianne reasoned, I can wait outside for a little while.

The portrait's beauty sleep was not what concerned her. Nonetheless, Marianne made herself comfortable in a corner. After several quiet minutes, a relaxed feeling overtook her, and she entertained herself by watching the sky turn orange outside the window. A few surviving clouds that remained from the overcast morning lazily drifted by.

For a while, Marianne was even able to let her mind go blank and peacefully admire the view, forgetting why she was cold and sitting on the floor in the first place.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------

"And then what happened, Professor Wilford?"

Marianne dramatically paused, staring her students in the eye, using the silence to her advantage. Her eyes scanned the entire room. Every single one of the children sat in rapt attention, posture rigid in anticipation, imploring her to go on.

"And then," Marianne breathed, sure that every word dripped with suspense, "Sir Fitzroy, having fallen down the valley and into their nest, found himself staring down five Ukrainian Ironbellies!"

The bell suddenly rang, making half of the students jump and wildly look around, not having realised the time. Groans swept the entire room as the children grudgingly gathered their things.

"But did he live?" asked one wide-eyed student.

Marianne winked. "He couldn't have personally written his autobiography if he hadn't." She then addressed the whole class. "Over the weekend, your assignment is to read the rest of the chapter and write a twenty inch essay on Sir Fitzroy the Ironhearted."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The calm was broken when the portrait swung open. Marianne's far-off, daydream smile vanished as she tensed and tucked her legs in, trying to melt into the wall. Strangely enough, there was nobody exiting the opening, and the portrait swung back into place.

Marianne stared curiously. Suddenly feeling rather defenseless in a sitting position, she slowly stood, not making any sudden moves. The air was still again.

"Ouch, Ron!"

Briefly.

Marianne jumped and stumbled back into the wall, stifling a yelp. The abrupt sound was what scared her more than it coming from nowhere (in a castle with many ghosts, one usually expected an unexpected voice).

"Sorry," mumbled a second, sheepish voice.

Marianne's eyes widened as a disembodied foot appeared out of nowhere, shaking vigorously, and then slid out of existence again. Her cowering transitioned into confusion, and she raised an eyebrow. Was she staring at an invisible wall? Is this some quirk from the castle, like the trick steps?

She cautiously edged forward to test the wall theory. Not wanting to find it with her face, she held out a hand to feel for anything solid. Was there another side to it?

"Careful!" hissed a harsh third voice.

First, out of thin air, Hermione appeared in the middle of the room. Then Harry right in front of her. And...only half of Ron's backside? Marianne watched as his visible hands grabbed where his head should have been, then clenched his fingers and pulled. The rest of Ron came into view and a silvery fabric materialized in his hands, pooling on the floor under his foot.

"Guess we're out of practice," he said meekly, stepping off the cloak.

Harry turned to check the portrait in the hope that they didn't wake The Fat Lady. Instead, he came face-to-face with their alarmed witness, her hand outstretched in the air towards him. Ron and Hermione immediately stopped bickering once they spotted her as well, both looking like they'd been caught by McGonagall.

Once again, Marianne had all of their eyes locked on her, and she didn't like it any better than the first time. It was the same feeling as yesterday: being the odd one out; the intruder. By being outnumbered, it felt like she had been the one caught in wrongdoing.

All that could be heard in that suspended moment was The Fat Lady's snores. Marianne stiffly lowered her hand, the first movement in what felt like minutes.

"You...have an invisibility cloak," she said in quiet astonishment. Even then, it felt too daring to talk through the tense silence. Her instinct screamed at her to pretend she saw nothing and walk away.

Ron, and Hermione exchanged uncomfortable glances.

"Er, yes, I do," Harry finally said. There was no point in trying to explain when the evidence was lying on the floor. Ron scooped the cloak into his hands.

"Look," Harry pressed on, his voice clipped, "this really isn't a good time. It's really important that we go. Now."

"But it's after hours," Marianne said in spite of her inner-objections, concern marring her forehead.

Hermione's grip on her wand tightened, a gesture that wasn't missed by anybody. Whatever small flicker of forwardness Marianne had within her was immediately snuffed out. Her throat went thick, and her voice was retreating so far down into her chest that it threatened to never emerge again.

"Do it," Ron mouthed silently from beside Hermione.


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A/N: A Ukrainian Ironbelly is a dragon, just in case anybody doesn't know what that was. The dragon is from The J.K. Rowls, but I made up Sir Fitzroy and his rather unfortunate predicament

Comments and reviews here Feedback is welcome! http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=131573


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Last edited by Melissa_Potter; September 2nd, 2012 at 11:04 pm.
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