The Sugar Quill
Author: Sarah  Story: Choose  Chapter: Default
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*****

Remember when your mother read about Sirius Black in the paper? She shook her head and said 'Murdering traitor.' She spat out the word TRAITOR. Like being a traitor was a truly awful, detestable thing.

Then why....

*****

"You can't stay here forever," Cho said. "I'm sure you...I mean...haven't they thought of any way..."
"No," Marietta said. "They haven't."
"Maybe I could ask Hermione Granger," Cho said uncertainly. "I mean, she...er..." She trailed off.
"I don't think Hermione Granger would be the least bit interested in repairing...this." Marietta gestured to her face and fought back tears.
"Well, you could wear the balaclava I brought you," Cho said with forced brightness.
"I suppose."
They fell into silence, and then Marietta said, quietly and suddenly, "Does everyone hate me?"
"What? Oh...um...no," Cho said quickly. "They're...a bit angry, obviously, but I don't think they..."
The conversation was interrupted as Madam Pomfrey walked in. She cast a disdainful eye over the girl in the bed. "Miss Edgecombe. I think you've definitely been in the hospital wing long enough."
Marietta nodded wordlessly.
"You will go back to your dormitory tonight, understand?" she said coolly. She turned to leave, then turned again and added, "Oh, and Professor Dumbledore wants to see you."
"He does?!" Marietta exclaimed in panic. He'll be furious. He'll expel me.
"Right now, if possible," Madam Pomfrey snapped and turned her back on her. Cho left a few minutes later.

*****

Harry Potter. Famous Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived. And his true and loyal bunch of friends. Bravery, love, loyalty.

I was jealous of them.

They were heroes. They saved the Philosopher's Stone and rescued the Weasley girl.  I would never get to be a hero. Most people don't. It was them. They were so lucky.

Well, I've missed any chance of being anything really, I think...

*****

She'd never been in Dumbledore's office before. She was a model student really. Never in trouble.

She examined Dumbledore's office. She'd heard a description of it from a friend who had gotten sent there for trying to imitate Professor Moody and turn someone she disliked into a ferret, but it was nothing like seeing it for herself.

Then there was a noise behind her, and she turned around to see Professor Albus Dumbledore.
"Have a seat, Miss Edgecombe," he said, and conjured one up for her. She sat down and neither spoke.
"Well," Dumbledore said finally. "Aren't you going to ask me anything?"
"What happened?" Marietta whispered. "How many meetings were there? And how many people? And why can't I remember...some stuff..."
"As we have said, your memory was modified to prevent you giving anything else away. I know you have a right to know what these memories were, so I will tell you," he said calmly. "You all met regularly over the past six months. Roughly twenty-eight people attended the meetings, I believe."
I nearly got twenty-eight people expelled...
"Now what?" she asked, as quietly as she could.
"What do you mean, Miss Edgecombe?"
"Aren't you expelling me?"
"I think you may have been punished enough," he said, and she knew he meant her face and felt a jolt of sickness. "Rest assured, though, we are working on a counter-curse. At the rate we're going, however, we possibly won't find one until the next school year at best."
She felt sick all over again. "The next school year?!"
Dumbledore did not reply, and it was a while before he said anything. "Do you think you deserve this, Miss Edgecombe?"
How can he ask me that?
"I...Professor..."
"Answer me, Marietta," he said firmly.
"I...maybe I shouldn't...maybe I was a bit stupid...but...this!"
Something came into her head and she plunged on recklessly. "Why? Do you think I deserve this?"
"What I think," Dumbledore said with infuriating calm. "is irrelevant. What matters is what you think."
Marietta lapsed into silence, feeling foolish. "I don't know what to think."
"Then you should think about what you think," Dumbledore said without a trace of humour. "Who knows, Miss Edgecombe...maybe when you have discovered why you have the mark of the sneak on your face, it will go of its own accord."
"Did Hermione Granger tell you that?" Marietta asked miserably.
"No, she did not."
Even more miserable, Marietta turned her attention to the various instruments in the office and watched them for a while. Dumbledore did not seem to mind.
Finally he said. "I do understand the pressure you were under, Marietta. I am sure it wasn't an easy position to be in."
"Have you ever met my mother?" Marietta asked, and was shocked at the bitterness in her voice.
"I believe I may have done."
"She's awful!" Marietta said angrily. "She's always furious...at me, at everything, she calls me useless, calls me fat, calls me...ugly!" Remembering just how ugly she was now, she burst into tears. Dumbledore watched her for a while.
"Marietta, is there anyone in this school you can trust?" He sounded like he might know the answer.
"I dunno. Maybe Cho...but she's always got some boyfriend or other...or always crying...I never know how to stop her crying...no, no-one!" She tried her hardest not to burst into tears again, and succeeded.
Dumbledore looked at her. "Marietta. In a few moments the bell will ring and you will go to lunch with the other students. You have managed to avoid them for a long time. I have even allowed you to take your O.W.L.s without any other students present, though I think that may have been...another...mistake on my part. You will go to lunch today, and they will see your face, or the covers over your face, and they will find out what you have done. So I leave you this advice." He lowered his glasses. "This time, Marietta, no-one you...betrayed...died. But the consequences could have been worse than they were. A war is starting, Marietta. You will have to choose a side."
Marietta nodded without realising she was doing so. "Sir...I got you thrown out of Hogwarts, didn't I? Sorry."
"Your apology is accepted, Miss Edgecombe. But you must think - think hard - about what I've said."
His blue eyes met hers and she felt he could see right inside her. The bell rang and she moved to leave the chair.
"No, Miss Edgecombe, allow me to finish. You know, I presume, that Lord Voldemort has returned."
Cho had brought her a newspaper that morning. "Yes, sir." She wished he would say 'You-Know-Who' instead, but knew he wouldn't.
"This war, I fear, will involve all witches and wizards, including you," he said heavily. "So here is my advice: We will have to make choices. I want you to think long and hard about yours. Listen to yourself, Marietta, not your mother. Perhaps not all of us do trust, but I, Marietta, will trust that you will make the right choice."
She was completely dumbstruck. A part of her was dying for him to tell her how disappointed he was, snap at her, expel her...
"Thank you, sir."
"You may leave now, Marietta."
So she left, catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror on the wall as she did so.

*****

My face still has 'Sneak' written across it. I will make it come off.
But not for my face.
For me.

//
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