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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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Hazel Baum

“It’s nice to have someone at Hogwarts to help you. I have some friends there already, from where I live. But we’re all of magical heritage,” Hazel explained, nodding along with Mary’s words about music. They rang true, because Hazel most certainly was no music scholar. Now, if you asked her about constellations or cloud formations, that was different, as she was highly dedicated to studying the sky. “It’s great you’re so passionate about it. I suppose I am more the type who just finds music I like, admittedly,” Hazel shrugged.

 

The girl smiled at Mary and nodded. “Oh, yes, I’d love to talk more with you about that, I imagine you and I could definitely have some great conversations,” She told the girl serenely, before the conversation moved onto focus on another of her favorite things: nature. It seemed both G and Mary enjoyed nature a good amount, and Hazel couldn’t help but feeling like perhaps she’d found some long-lasting friends. 

 

“I’ve never ridden a horse, actually. Most of the animals we have around the commune are wild, we don’t all keep a lot of pets.” Actually, Hazel had strong views that animals should not be kept as pets, or if they were, they certainly shouldn’t be caged or at all confined. She refrained from uttering this, though, wise enough to sense that telling someone whose family owned a farm to free the animals wouldn’t go over very well. 

 

As G explained more of his own background, Hazel nodded before her brow furrowed as he considered what normal was. His version of normal certainly wasn’t hers, but of course, she belatedly realized there was truly not a “normal” that could be defined. That hadn’t really been what she was going for when proclaiming to be normal, though, so she hurried to elaborate after G had finished. “Admittedly, your normal is much different from mine, G, but I suppose I meant that… a lot of people hear the word commune and think that we’re all… I don’t know. Crazy intense vegans or hippies or… y’know…” Hazel shrugged, unaware she’d surmised some of G’s original thoughts on what a commune might be.

 

While a lot of people on the commune were odd (herself included, if you counted the way she often got lost in fanciful thought or recited constellations), she didn’t think they were quite as odd as the word really made them out to be. “Anyway, I guess my version of normal is enjoying nature and learning about things in the sky, like clouds and stars and everything. I also have a really cool rock collection, and I’m great at climbing trees. Which I suppose might not be normal at all for anyone else,” Hazel let out a little laugh, staying light-hearted despite the somewhat philosophical conversation they’d delved into.

 

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Mary Wilkins

Hazel had friends at Hogwarts too, and when she spoke of her heritage, Mary quickly summised that it would probably be pointless for her to pass on her knowledge of the school. "You'll probably know all about Hogwarts already then" she smiled. She listened to Hazel's admission about music. "That is fine too, we all have our own tastes" she pointed out.

 

G spoke of his own pleasures, and that included riding. Mary was not at all surprised, people who lived on country estates would find horses a convenience after all. "I can't say I've ever been shooting" she admitted "and I wouldn't, personally but that is my choice." She tried to be as diplomatic as possible, explaining her own stance without condemning the practice outright. She would never shoot an animal unless it was necessary, yet she knew that it was a common pastime for the aristocracy. Her father owned a gun, but that was as a means to protect the livestock, particularly the sheep as wild dogs were a concern for many farmers, as were foxes, but still Mary would not hunt the creatures for sport.

 

She did decide to make G an offer though. "Would you like to visit the farm at some point? We can go riding together." Hazel remarked that she had never ridden a horse, and Mary nodded but she had an offer for her too. "Would you like to learn to ride?" She did feel like pointing something out though. "The animals on the farm aren't pets" she explained "they are livestock and working animals." She hoped she wouldn't need to explain to Hazel the purpose of farm animals. Even the sheep dogs had a role to play.

 

Hazel gave some thoughts as to what G might think a commune was, but Mary offered a little more advice. "I don't really think stereotypes are all that helpful. I find the best way to discover someone else's position is to ask questions rather than assume answers."

 

Both G and Hazel had given different descriptions for what they considered normal, but Mary had expected that. Normal was one of those words that never meant the same thing twice. "It's curious isn't it. People talk about what is normal, but their responses are entirely subjective. Doesn't that effectively deprive the word of any meaning?"

 

Something Hazel considered normal was apparently observing the skies, including the stars. Mary hadn't spent a great deal of time studying the stars, partly because she didn't see them often enough. "I can't say I've looked too deeply at the heavens" she admitted "on the farm, we tend to rise with the sun, so we are not up too late. The crow of a rooster is a very effective alarm clock." That being said, she knew that before long she would be learning all about stars, planets and other heavenly bodies. "I bet you can't wait to take Astronomy classes at Hogwarts?" she asked Hazel.

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Godsgift A Moonbeam

“Stereotypes don’t really help much do they? I shudder at you thinking I’m some sort of entitled brat who gets everything he wants with or without a stamp of my foot. Though a lot of it is true, in reality it’s not all fun and games being an Earl. My father has to run the estate, make sure the tenant properties are kept up and the farms turn a profit. Sadly it’s not all shooting parties, soaking up the sun on Mustique or hitting the slopes of Klosters,” G added before turning to Mary, “Your family are freeholders rather than tenant farmers, right?” It was mere curiosity on his part and it occurred to him that his friend might not know. “Not that it really matters much.”

 

He grinned at the offer of visiting the farm but sobered rather quickly, not wanting to leave Hazel feeling left out from the offer, though he needn’t have worried. “It’s not hard to learn, Hazel, and there’s no real need to go riding at anything more than a walk or trot. Though if you preferred you could ride double. And I would love to visit your farm, I’m sure it’s delightful, Mary.  Would I need to bring my own horse? And one for Hazel should she agree to accompany us? And it goes without saying that you both have to visit either Raby or Cleveland House.”

 

G listened and had to agree that he hadn’t ever really paid a lot of attention to the sky either during the day or night. “Well at least I know who to sit next to in class then. I know squat about the stars.”

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Hazel Baum

It was rather the moral dilemma: did Hazel want to learn to ride? On one hand, what young girl could resist the idea of riding on a horse, the smells of nature and hay surrounding her, hair whipped back by the breeze? On the other, she had reservations about using animals the way that Mary freely admitted that they used horses for, and that gave her pause. But at G’s earnest encouragement, Hazel couldn’t help but admit she wanted to give it a try. 

 

“I know it’s maybe a silly question to ask, but… you don’t think the horses mind it? Giving rides to people? As long as the horse is comfortable I suppose I’d like to give it a try,” Hazel admitted. And, after all, if it was fun for both her and the horse, it wasn’t really that bad, was it? 

 

“And anyway, I agree about the stereotypes. I hope you don’t think I was stereotyping you, G. I merely felt a need to explain my own background because I have faced a lot of people automatically jumping to conclusions about me and where I live, that’s all,” Hazel explained with a small smile. 

 

When the conversation turned onto astronomy class, Hazel’s smile only widened. “Oh, yes. I’m very excited for that class, and glad to help both of you as needed. I’m excited for things like divination and ancient runes too, but we don’t get to take those until we’re older. Which subjects are you two most excited about?” Hazel asked curiously.

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Mary Wilkins

Mary smiled at G, concerned that they might think ill of him. "If I thought that way, we would not be friends" she explained, when he pointed out that he wasn't really an entitled brat.

 

He went on to explain more about his father's position, and this made sense to her. Clearly, this was not some empty title; some token from the past. The aristocracy of today still had their part to play. "Duties and responsibilities go hand-in-hand with authority. I suspect you've had those two words drummed into you for most of your life." There would be few in G's world who would sit higher than the king, of course and it was of the monarch that Mary now spoke. "It is said that the king wears a crown, but I wonder perhaps if it is the other way around, if it is in fact the crown that wears the king. It is his station that defines him, isn't it?"

 

She offered some insight into a ruling body, of which G may be a little less familiar. "Did you know that wizarding society has its own government? In this country, that would be the role of the Ministry of Magic." For most people this may be a simple transition, but G was closer to the throne than most. "I wonder what your father would make of that news."

 

He asked if her family were freeholders, and Mary nodded. "The farm has been in the family for generations, and at around 112 acres it is a good size too. I suspected that if it was a tenancy, it would be split into small holdings so that the land could offer a higher rent yield." She smile a little. "It would probably cost father a small fortune if he had to buy his own land."

 

G tried to assure Hazel that riding wasn't hard to learn, which it wasn't but the other girl seemed to be pondering the morality of riding horses, she asked if they minded at all. As one who lived with horses and rode often, Mary knew that she could answer her concerns. "My horse, Layna shows me great affection, and is happy to carry me on her back" she pointed out "If she objected at all, I would not ride her for I will not see animals mistreated."

 

G wondered if he should bring his own hose, and perhaps one for Hazel too. "We have a good sized stables" she explained "and a number of horses but you are welcome to bring your own if you wish. We have more than enough room to accommodate another horse during your stay." She suspected that G would want to ride his own horse anyway, rather than one he did not know.

 

"Of course I'd be happy to visit your home too" she informed G "although you might want to advise me of any customs I might not be aware of." If she was to pay a visit to high society, she did not want to make any embarrassing faux pas.

 

She wasn't at all surprised that Hazel was interested in Astronomy. "It is clear that you are a moon starer" she pointed out, and grinned a little at her own word play as she unscrambled her anagram. "Astronomer" she corrected. She considered the other two subjects that Hazel had suggested. "I'd be curious about Ancient Runes myself" she admitted "but I probably won't choose Divination." She offered her thoughts on the subject. "If the future could be predicted, wouldn't that mean that everything was predetermined, and hat we are merely performers in the play of life?"

 

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