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Mary Wilkins

Don't Mind Me, I'm Just Playing

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Mary Wilkins

Mary was sat under a tree, on the grounds of Ottaine Gambol Centre. Despite her diminutive size, the dark haired girl was clearly noticeable for she did not sit in silence. Mary played the violin, and she was playing right now. The tune was one that might be familiar to people who understood muggle classical music, it was an intricate melody, and one that Mary really enjoyed playing.

 

Her playing was flawless, for Mary was a skilled musician who could work wonders with her violin, yet whilst she loved strumming her violin she did not care to blow her own horn. Mary would never describe herself as skilled or gifted or any other such term that she had heard others use to describe her music. For her, music was just something she enjoyed, and playing the violin was merely a task she liked to perform.

 

She had chosen a secluded, out of the way area to practice her music, but of course the grounds were open for anyone to use so it was entirely possible that someone was nearby. Mary was not looking to perform for an audience but experience told her that if she played for long enough that she was likely to attract one.

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Godsgift A Moonbeam

G lurked silently at a distance that could be considered polite - not too far away so as not to be able to hear clearly but also not hovering uncomfortably close. He stayed silent as Mary continued to play and when it became clear that the playing was going to continue, he sat down and eventually laid down on his back, his eyes scanning the sky and clouds as he continued to listen with great appreciation.

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Hazel Baum

Hazel took a deep breath through her nose, smelling all the scents the small yard the Ottaline Gambol Centre offered. The smell of freshly mown grass was first to hit her sense of smell, followed by the scent of flowers. Of course, the Centre was not so far removed from the city as the Tree Commune was, and after the scent of nature was acknowledged came the less pleasant scents of the city. Car exhaust and pollution also riddled the air. 

 

But Hazel hardly paid this any mind, as a new sort of sensation was filtering through, her ears suddenly engaging in her surroundings and picking up on a beautiful sound. A violin, played exquisitely well by one of her peers. Her eyes located where the sound was coming from, and from there, Hazel strolled with bare feet towards the sound, entranced and passing nearby to a boy who was laying down. 

 

She was not as polite as the boy, and she instead moved close to the violin-playing girl, as if entranced. She sat down, pretzel-legged, directly in front of her, all while quietly proclaiming, “Wow, you play so beautifully!” Hazel was not shy with her compliments or with expressing her emotions, and she didn’t see why she needed to hold back now, even if she was kind of interrupting the sweet flow of music with her voice.

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Mary Wilkins

Mary continued her playing; the music flowing naturally from her nimble fingers. When she was focussed on her violin, she barely noticed the world around her, and at first she didn't see that G had come to sit a short distance away. He didn't say anything, so nothing he did drew Mary's attention.

 

G was soon joined by another visitor; a girl who sat a good deal closer. At that range, Mary couldn't fail to notice her presence, but she still continued to play for the time being. Mary didn't object to her being so close either, that was her own choice after all. When the girl offered her a compliment, Mary felt that she should take a break and respond, but she did play a couple more bars before she did. Mary did not breaking off a song abruptly but she wasn't going to play on to the point that it might appear rude; she had far better manners than that.

 

She shrugged slightly over the compliment though. "I just play" she pointed out "people are free to form their own opinions. I'm happy as long as I don't offend anyone." That was how Mary saw her music, she didn't consider herself an expert or a virtuoso, even though she was. Playing the violin was something she simply did, and enjoyed immensely. "I'm Mary she introduced herself."

 

it was at that point that Mary noticed the other visitor. She smiled at G, who was laying down by this point. "Hello, G. Are you keeping well?" she greeted him.

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Godsgift A Moonbeam

The music stopped and G had to scramble to keep a scowl off his face when it became clear that it was due to a talkative newcomer.  “You play delightfully well, milady,” G applauded with enthusiasm. He scrambled up and moved closer. “I think I can honestly say I’ve never heard anyone so young play so well. You could play professionally if you desired it, Mary.” 

 

A grin lit his face, “I am keeping very well milady. I have managed to redeem myself somewhat in the eyes of our sovereign and have even managed to get an invite to the next garden party...on the proviso I keep my comments on my cousin’s wife to myself and write the offended lady an apology...which is proving rather difficult. I seem to have a small issue with sincerity. I can hear the words ‘up yours’ running silently all the way through; it’s rather ruining my flowery prose. If I’m still struggling come Friday, I’ll get Astra to write a draft for me.”

 

G turned to the newcomer and included her in his grin, “I’m G, and you, miss?”

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Hazel Baum

Hazel’s lips upturned into a broad, toothy grin as the girl paused in her music playing to address her compliment. She hadn’t truly intended to stop the girl’s playing, but she found the girl’s outlook to be pleasant. Hazel too aimed not to offend, even though that didn’t always work out as planned. Some people just weren’t as easy-going as others and Hazel’s temper was quick to ignite. 

 

“Well, you definitely didn’t offend me, Mary. My name’s Hazel,” The girl responded, eyes drawn over to the boy she’d passed, who Mary was apparently already acquainted with. He approached at her beckoning, and Hazel watched him curiously, especially when he began talking about something she couldn’t quite track. He had a peculiar way of speaking, and it intrigued her. She was amused about the bit about lacking sincerity - Hazel too was bad at forcing things she didn’t feel wholeheartedly, so writing a letter such as he described sounded like it would be trying for her, too. 

 

“G? My name’s Hazel. It’s nice to meet you. I don’t envy you that letter you’re supposed to be writing. I too find it hard to force sincerity if I don’t actually feel it,” Hazel commented, eyes flicking back to Mary and then over to G before she inquired, “Did you guys meet here at the Centre or did you already know each other?”

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Mary Wilkins

G suggested that she consider playing professionally, but Mary shook her head. "Place myself on a pedestal?" she commented "wear a sign around my neck which reads 'Look at Me'? Of what value is fame anyway? You can count it and find yourself destitute, seeking it may lead to madness." Fame was not a valuable life goal as far as Mary was concerned. "I enjoy playing for its own sake, if others like my music then that is a bonus."

 

She offered some more thoughts on music, and Hogwarts school. "Joe has told me that some of the instruments at Hogwarts are enchanted so they will play themselves." She shook her head in disapproval. "Music is a form of communication, the performance comes from the musician far more than the instrument. Where is the warmth, the message, the passion or the emotion in a song that is played without a performer?"

 

That was also part of the reason why Mary was not keen on popular music. If a song was played by a talented group of musicians, had a pleasing melody and was sung by someone with a good voice then that might pique her curiosity, but too many songs nowadays were generated on a computer, or prerecorded and mimed on stage. To her ears, such songs were empty, nothing but meaningless noise.

 

She listened as he spoke of his own change of fortune. "Your star seems to be in the ascendant" she smiled "it is good to hear you have found approval among your peers, and from the throne." It seemed he wasn't out f the woods yet though, as there was an incident of sorts involving his cousin's wife. "That might not have been the wisest move" she advised "I don't think anything good ever came from an insult, no matter how you feel about the woman in question. Words can cut deep, and may be difficult to heal. The letter is a step in the right direction though." Mary was always very careful with her words, and she went out of her way not to deliberately offend anyone.

 

She offered a little more encouragement "Humble pie may be difficult to swallow sometimes, but it does have a pleasant after-taste."

 

She did notice how he had addressed her though, and she felt that shouldn't go unremarked, although she didn't mind all that much. "I thought you weren't keen on titles" she reminded him, before turning to point something out to Hazel. "I don't have blue blood" she explained "I'm just an ordinary farm girl."

 

Hazel clearly noted that she and G already knew each other, and asked where they met. "We just met here a short while ago, when I arrived here" Mary pointed out "all in all, I think it went well enough." If there were any rain clouds that day, it was the two girls. One of them just seemed to want to be offensive, Mary was in no rush to speak with her again. Mary though the other girl might be more reasonable once she got to know her, but her first impression had been less than desirable. Mary wondered if, in time, she might help her to dismantle the straw-man she had erected.

Edited by Mary Wilkins

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Godsgift A Moonbeam

“The pleasure is all mine, Hazel,” G assured her with his best-mannered smile. “Mary and I met here. She is most helpful and a font of knowledge about the magical world. And full of wisdom about being civil that I’m afraid I shall never posses.” He turned to Mary with a shrug, “Astra said the same thing...only not so polite. In my defence I was merely using choice turns of phrase that I didn’t quite realise were completely rude and offensive, otherwise I might have limited my response to something more moderate. How was I supposed to know that the entire table would whisper my words like some infernal game of Chinese Whispers until the King overheard? Perhaps I ought to have referred to her as the King’s beloved sister instead?”

 

But he ought to have known better than replying truthfully, if unthinkingly. And, somehow, he was going to have to apologise properly, profusely and promptly. And he really didn’t much fancy his chances, so he changed the topic right back onto anything but his social faux pas.  And even though bloodlines and the like was anything but interesting, learning more about the others he’d be spending time with was worth asking.

 

”So milady is an ordinary farm girl, with impressive musical talents and a sharp brain that she insists are their own reward and I’m a ne’re-do-well rogue, currently in Coventry for my witless tongue, pray tell more about where you fit in, Hazel?”

 

 

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Hazel Baum

Talking of such philosophical matters of whether fame truly mattered, or the meaning of music when played by a person rather than an enchantment, enticed Hazel. She enjoyed stretching her mind to think about things in different ways; to see other points of view and entertain perhaps even taboo ideas. “I too think fame is overrated, and toxic,” Hazel decided with a nod. “It is fueled by greed and vanity, when it really comes down to it.” Which were two things that Hazel had always been taught to avoid. 

 

“Anyway, it’s interesting to know all your thoughts on music. I hadn’t really thought about in that way,” Hazel nodded, still mulling over her own thoughts on the matter. 

 

As the interchange between G and Mary continued, Hazel couldn’t help but wonder if what they were talking about was real. Was G royalty? What was all this talk about the throne and the King? Her mind whirled with questions, so much that she couldn’t help but blurt out, “Are you royalty?” when there was a break in G’s words. 

 

“Sorry, I mean… I’m not blue blood either. I guess I’m closer to what Mary is, but I don’t live on a farm. I live on what we call The Tree Commune. We’re very in touch with nature, though, like I imagine you have to be on a farm. I love the outdoors,” Hazel explained. “But I’m really just a normal girl,” She hurried to add, knowing some people thought that the commune sounded peculiar.

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Mary Wilkins

G remarked that his words spread across the table until they reached the ears of the king, but Mary wasn't all that surprised by this revelation. "Gossip is like that sometimes" Mary pointed out "especially when the subject in question is taboo. Can you really speak, and expect your words not to be heard?"

 

Having offered that little titbit, Mary noticed that G was keen to change the subject so she did likewise. "I'm fortunate in that I have an older brother who attends Hogwarts" she explained to Hazel "and I have been in correspondence with one of his friends. I have been provided with some foreknowledge regarding the inner workings of the school, but consider that I haven't grown up in the magical community. I would ask that you take that into account." This was an admission she would like to have made to Kiara, but that conversation had taken a different path, so the opportunity never arose.

 

Hazel seemed agree with some of her conclusions, viewing fame as a result of vanity and greed. "Exactly. Peacocks may show off their plumage and preen themselves in public, but I really don't care for the practice." Hazel also described her views on music as interesting. "I think a lot of people don't really study music, aside from asking whether or not a tune is pleasing to the ear, or even whether their friends will approve." That latter was more true of popular music, which seemed to be appropriately named. She had observed that some pop groups seemed to go out of fashion, sometimes within a year or two of forming. "When people truly appreciate music, it should stand the test of time, not go in and out with the tides." You only had to look at the most famous classical composers for evidence of that.

 

She gave Hazel an encouraging smile. "I think the two of us might share some interesting conversations" she suggested "what do you say?"

 

Then she mentioned living on a commune and Mary saw that they might have even more in common. "Joe's friend, Verity comes from a commune" she pointed out "Yes, we are certainly close to nature" Mary nodded "we keep sheep, pigs, cows, chickens and horses." There were the sheepdogs too, but Mary didn't feel she needed to mention those. "I ride often, there is some breathtaking scenery, and delightful nature walks nearby."

 

When Hazel pointed out that she was a normal girl, Mary decided to ask another question that might invoke discussion. "I'm curious" she queried "how would you define the word 'normal'?"

 

Hazel asked a question of G, but Mary felt it was only proper to let the boy speak for himself.

Edited by Mary Wilkins

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Godsgift A Moonbeam

Farms were a known quantity, as were the people who lived on them, although, if pressed (and being truthful) G would have to say that it was more like he knew the stereotype of farm folk - capable, hard-working, honest, strong. And his knowledge of communes was also extremely stereotypical: long, free-flowing hair, bathing being an optional task, music, smoking weed, hippy-style clothing and a healthy disregard for authority. But having learnt to keep his trap shut with unasked for truths, he instead went into diplomatic mode.

 

”Living on a commune sounds interesting and being in touch with nature would be very peaceful, I imagine. I must admit I rather fancy a nice quiet ramble on the estate when I can get away long enough. Otherwise a good ride has to suffice. Sometimes I’ve even managed to join the Beaters rather than taking part of the shoot and I must say it’s quite exhilarating and far harder then it’s given credit for being.”

 

G then grinned and both answered Hazel’s question and reiterated Mary’s, “Sorry to disappoint but I’m just your normal, run-of-the-mill aristocrat...but magical apparently. But really what is normal? To me, normal involves lots of bowing and scraping and remembering all the social rules, learning to shoot, ride, and ski before you can even walk properly and having loads of people follow you around, many of them with cameras. And a shocking number of stiff suits and waistcoats and polished shoes. Apparently, though, it is not normal to have a ghost as a best friend. So as Mary asked, what is normal?”

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