It hadn't always been this way. There was a time when Marianne had a friend that would be by her side, but not for some time now. She walked briskly through the crowded corridor, side-stepping several students to make it to History of Magic before she was late.
There was a sharp chill hanging in the air, possibly from a crack in the stone walls. Marianne shivered to create some warmth in her body but it was useless. The cold within the castle seemed to be constant these days, and she hoped that a well-fed fireplace would be waiting for the Gryffindors by the time they returned to their common room.
Marianne's white-blond hair flew behind her as she quickened her step. Spotting the classroom door, she slipped through it just in time for the bell. At first she was pleased with herself, but became uncomfortable when her fellow third-years turned to look at her. The stares were merely reflex in seeing who entered the classroom rather than interest in Marianne herself, yet she still felt self-conscious as she lowered into her usual seat in the far back corner. Immediately her classmates' attention drew back to their conversations as if nothing disturbed them.
Marianne wistfully glanced down at the swirling wood patterns of her desk, wishing that she could be a part of their conversations. Anyone's conversation, really. It felt so long since there was someone to talk to or confide in. Finding a way to keep friends always seemed to be out of reach. As time passed, they would gradually fade away and Marianne would rarely find them again. Were they purposely avoiding her? Even her brother, Ormond, didn't see her that often; however, she understood that his position as Head-Boy, and the fact that he was a seventh-year, left him distant. He spent most of his time within a bundle of friends and admirers anyway.
Interrupting the chatter, Professor Binns chose that moment to glide in through the chalkboard, his notes and books already prepared on his desk. The Gryffindors had barely composed themselves before Binns started speaking. Parvati and Lavender shared one last giggle before turning forward.
"Last lesson, we began the chapter on goblin serial killers," he said in his dry monotone, "can any of you tell me the most famous of them?".
Marianne and Hermione's hands both promptly shot up into the air.
"Miss Graham," their teacher said, inclining his head at Hermione.
"Yardley Platt", she answered easily, not bothering to correct the professor on her name.
"Very good." Binns looked down at his notes, the lull already setting in. "Born in 1446..."
Marianne lowered her hand, feeling deflated. Professor Binns did not ask questions often, but when he did, Marianne would know the answer. Unfortunately for her, Hermione would, too, and she would usually be called upon. Marianne didn't feel any bitterness towards the other girl, but she did feel disappointed. History of Magic was the only subject she truly excelled at. Historical dates and names came more naturally than wrist movements and incantations; though Marianne still wished her wandwork would improve. She felt no pride in that aspect.
Her classmates all took out a piece of parchment and had their quills prepared for taking notes. Marianne made to reach into her bag at her feet when she felt nothing but air. Her stomach lurched unpleasantly as she realized that in her hurry to reach the classroom, she had completely forgotten to take her bag with her. She shut her eyes tight, mentally scolding herself for easily forgetting something so simple. Swivelling her head, she desperately looked to the nearest person.
"Erm, Lavender?" Marianne whispered timidly, leaning towards the girl, "could I borrow an extra quill and parchment from you?".
"Haven't got any," Lavender said plainly without looking up.
Marianne blinked, confused. There was a schoolbag at Lavender's feet, the plume of a quill poking out of a pocket. "I-I think I see one there," she tried again.
"I said I haven't got any," Lavender grumbled, her voice hardening. Parvati, who was seated beside her friend, raised an eyebrow. Marianne wasn't entirely sure, but she could have sworn that Lavender whispered, "just ignore her". Parvati lightly nodded and focused on her textbook again. Neville stole a glance Marianne's way, but quickly turned back when she made eye contact with him.
Marianne shrunk into her seat, embarassed. She didn't think she said anything out of line, but judging by Lavender's reaction, she must had done something wrong. She made no attempt to ask someone else. The classroom became quiet except for Professor Binns' lecturing.
Reluctantly, Marianne determined that she would have to memorize the majority of the lesson, then catch up on the rest from the textbook later that night. It could have been as easy as asking Professor Binns for permission to leave and retrieve her things, but she couldn't quite work up the nerve to walk to the front of the classroom and interrupt him. Her limbs just stiffened at the very thought of her classmates stares.
A few minutes had passed and, already, some of the students had now propped up their heads in an effort to pay attention, or were taking the opportunity to rest their eyes. If magical history hadn't interested Marianne so much, she would have been doing the same. Binns' dry and reedy voice kept going at it's steady pace, neither rising in excitment at opportune moments, or lowering at ominous descriptions of Yardley Platt's methods.
Marianne clasped her hands into her lap in a show of interested learning. It was her dream that one day she could become the History of Magic professor at Hogwarts, but it was highly doubtful that Binns would give up his profession anytime soon. Death certainly hadn't stopped him, and most people could think of very little that would. Marianne figured she would have to settle for being a Magical Historian if finding a teaching position was impossible. Still, she clung to the hope that if she taught History of Magic at any point in her lifetime, she'd make an effort to be more animated in her approach. Hopefully she would have found some way of getting over her fear of being in front of an audience when the time came.
"In 1500, Platt amassed a small gathering of like-minded wizards..."
Marianne memorized that date as Binns droned on.
Her ears then picked up whispering from nearby. Distracted, she followed the direction of the sound, her eyes settling on Harry, Ron, and Hermione, sitting a table over. She couldn't hear anything specific that they were saying, but instantly found herself feeling unhappy at the sight of them. Her mood wasn't caused by them disrupting her, more the fact that they were usually inseperable. Their camaraderie was something she found very admirable. Before she could control herself, her heart felt empty from the memory of her last friend abandoning her without so much as an explaination.
Harry spoke feverishly in hushed tones. Ron and Hermione would each contribute briefly before Harry took the conversation again. He was either concerned or agitated, Marianne couldn't tell. Whatever it was, there was a sense of urgency in his hand gestures and eyes.
Probably forgot to study for the upcoming exams, she reasoned.
Her sight was still trained on them but her eyes grew distant as she remembered past friends whom she studied with. A smile tickled the corners of her lips as details surfaced. As she recalled, there was much laughter, not much studying.
Before she could collect herself, Harry's eyes darted and spotted the pale-blond staring at them. Immediately, Marianne snapped out of her reverie and turned away fast but not fast enough. Harry had seen her in what looked like eavesdropping. She couldn't decipher a single word they said, but still felt as if she'd been caught in high-profile espionage.
After a few tense seconds, at least on Marianne's end, Harry went back to his whispered conversation. She didn't dare face them again in case they were suspiciously aware of her, so she spent the rest of the lesson concentrating on Professor Binns, filling her head with prolific figures and dates to make herself appear busy. It was hard to really commit to looking occupied without parchment and a quill, though.
The lunch bell echoed throughout the school. Dean Thomas snorted as he jerked awake. He used his sleeve to hurriedly wipe the drool off his desk, smearing some of the ink on his short notes in the process. There was a rumble as everyone gathered their supplies and rose from their seats.
"You are all assigned a fifteen-inch essay on Yardley Platt," Binns said tonelessly, "due this Friday."
Hermione tucked her roll of notes into her bag and rushed to catch up with Harry and Ron, both whom had stood and left the room as soon as the bell sounded.
Marianne stood up as well, waiting for Lavender and Parvati to leave so she wouldn't have to pass them; just in case they'd say anything to her again. Once the gossiping pair were almost out, she trudged slowly to the door, not really needing to be anywhere in a hurry. Passing by Harry, Ron, and Hermione's vacated desks, she spotted a book on the floor. It's corners were frayed and there was a large blot on the spine; possibly belonged to the library. Considering how many books Hermione was usually surrounded by, Marianne guessed that it must have been hers.
The classroom was now empty and Hermione didn't seem to be coming back for it, so Marianne bent down and picked it up. It was only right that she should return it. She ran out into the corridor, looking from side to side, trying to find the book's owner. Near one of the suits of armour lining the walls, she spotted brown, bushy hair.
"Hermione," Marianne tried to call, but her voice caught in her throat from it hardly being in use. She cleared her throat. "Hermione!", she said a little louder, and dashed to catch up to her fellow Gryffindor, holding the book up high. Her throat tingled from the near-shout. It made her feel uneasy and very aware of herself.
Hermione stopped in her tracks and looked around to see who was calling her name. Harry and Ron paused, looking at her curiously. They all turned around as Marianne reached them. Marianne suddenly felt a chill, one that wasn't caused by the frigid castle, and she slowed down as she came closer. Their stares were turning her into stone, they must have been, because her feet sure felt heavier.
"Erm, you-you left your book ba-back in the classroom," Marianne blurted, jerking her thumb behind her. "Here."
She awkwardly thrust the book under a startled Hermione's nose. All three pairs of eyes on her all at once were making Marianne increasingly nervous. She would have felt much more comfortable if she were only speaking to one of them at a time.
"Oh," Hermione said as she accepted the book, "thank...oh, Harry, this is yours."
"Oh," was all Marianne could say, now incredibly flustered. Her eyes flicked to the title and she realized it was a book about Quidditch. Of all the books Hermione studied from, Marianne didn't think she ever saw anything Quidditch related. According to Hermione, they "had no academic quality".
Harry took the book from his friend's hands and looked at the cover. He nodded to Marianne and was about to turn around when Hermione held his shoulder and swung him back.
"Harry..." she said in a warning tone, and pointed with her eyes to the girl who returned the book.
"Uh," he mumbled, "thanks...erm...". He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to think.
"Marianne," Hermione said.
"Marianne," Harry repeated, relieved, "yes, thank you, Marianne. I...I appreciate it. Really."
He nodded politely again, then steered Ron and a pleased Hermione along. Ron looked over his shoulder one more time before following his friends.
Marianne stood rooted to the spot, absorbing what had just happened while watching them go. Once she got a sense of where she was again, a flush of embarassment creeped up on her, making her squirm. Although, somewhere underneath it was a spark of exhileration. She spoke to someone...and they kindly spoke back. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard to start all over again, after all.
A/N: Poor Marianne. She doesn't realize that there isn't really a formula for making friends, it usually just happens xD If you've read this far, I love you!
Even though this is the first chapter, I'm worried whether I'm making Marianne able to have a connection with the readers. Constructive criticism is definitely welcome. I encourage it, I'm always willing to learn! Honestly, I'm my worst critic when it comes to writing.
This story has been floating in my head for a year or two already, but I never sat down to write it. Finally, out of the blue, I just pushed myself to do it. I started five months ago but never posted it anywhere because I was too worried. I kept re-reading it and making heaps of changes. This chapter alone has gone though at least 3 major overhauls, and COUNTLESS sentence and word fixes. If I'm not ready now, then I'll never be ready.
This will be a short story, just so you know, four or five chapters are planned (gotta start out small, testing the waters).
Have any questions? Please ask! I'll be happy to answer. If characters from the Harry Potter universe seem out of character, let me know and I'll correct it right away.
Yardley Platt, the famous goblin serial killer, is from the mind of J.K herself but I made up the part about him starting a group of fellow goblin haters in 1500.