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Chapter 9 : Boxing Break
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Scott's years at muggle school had been hell. Everyone had avoided him like the plague. He was known to his peers as that weird kid who never shut up. It hurt when he was last picked for the kickball team and when he was stuck with no one to work with during a group projects, but he could deal with them ignoring him. The worst was when they came and outwardly picked on him. There was a group of boys at his old school that used to knock his lunch tray into his shirt and target him when they played dodgeball. Once, he was on a field trip he was experimenting with his wizardness and making waves in the shark pool at the aquarium. He had just recently discovered that he could make things move with his mind and he had thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Then the ring leader of the group, Damien Crawford, walked by and pushed him into the tank of water. There was a man there in seconds pulling him out of the water in seconds and he was physically fine. Unfortunately, he spent the rest of the afternoon crying on the bus with his mom who had chaperoned the trip. The kid who pushed him wasn't seen in the action so he never got punished, and a permanent fear of sharks was stuck into his little first grade brain.
When he came to Hogwarts he thought it was going to be the same, except now there would be new magical ways for his peers to punish him. It wasn't like that though. He had a friend now, more than that, he had a best friend. When he was having some muggle school déjà vu with Draco Malfoy, Tom had stepped in. Scott had learned that day that his best friend had some super cool, really advanced magic powers. He also had learned that Tom's father was a death eater and from the looks of it a really bad one. He knew that Tom was hiding a lot about his past, but Scott didn't care. Tom's past is Tom's business. If he didn't want to share he didn't have to. All that mattered was that Scott had a friend now, and he was going to show his new friend his home.
"We are getting really close now," Scott said, pointing out the window, "See that tree I recognize it from going to Hogwarts.
"Tom nodded and glanced at the tree Scott was pointing to. Scott had been telling Tom all about the dynamics of his family's Christmas for the past few hours, and as usual, Tom didn't have much to say. He was clearly paying attention though, so Scott didn't really mind. Most people tuned him out after the first five minutes, even his parents some times.
"What do you usually do for Christmas?" Scott asked, doing his best to involve Tom without prying too much.
Tom shrugged, "My Dad was… he was an atheist. Never really believed in it all, you know so we didn't celebrate much."
Scott nodded, "Yeah, well it's a good thing I briefed you on everything on the way here then."
Tom nodded indifferently gazing back out the window again, "Yeah I guess so," he responded.
Scott was about to start talking again when Tom sat up, "I think we're here."
Scott looked out the window to see platform nine and three quarters approaching fast. As the train came to a stop he looked around for his parents. They were pretty easy to spot, being that they weren't many people out there dressed in matching muggle cloths. His father was a tall, solidly built man with blonde hair that matched Scott's. The two looked extremely, similar though they were so different. His father was a die-hard athlete and was forever frustrated with his son's lack of natural ability. He tried to hide this disappointment though. Scott couldn't remember a time when his father looked more proud than when they had found out that he was a wizard. The man had walked around the house all day calling out, "You see that letter that means our son is something special, Ann. You see that. He's got more gut than that bucket head across the street alright." Gut that was the word he used to describe talent. Whenever a friend bragged about their kids good grades or how their kid was the star soccer player his father would always tell them that it sounded like their kids had gut. He had rarely used that word to describe Scott, until he got his letter though.
His mother was standing next to his father. Scott didn't resemble her that much a like except for the glasses. She also had a pair, but they weren't as thick as Scott's. Today she had her chocolate brown hair in curls that cascaded down to her shoulders. He did get his curls from her. She had dark eyes that were looking around nervously at all of the adult wizards and witches. This must be weird for them, seeing all of the wizarding community here, and to not be part of it.
Scott led Tom over towards his parents. When they saw him his mom ran over and gave him a huge hug. His father hugged him too, although it was slightly awkward and uncomfortable. Hugging wasn't manly, and was usually avoided in public.
"Hey so this is Tom. Tom this is my parents," he said introducing everybody.
"Hello Mr. and Mrs. McNight," Tom said holding his hand out. Scott could tell Tom was making an effort to be polite and social. Tom was usually more introverted, and meeting new people wasn't on his friend's to do list.
His mother smiled and took Tom's hand, "You can call us Mrs. Ann and Mr. Parker. Mrs. McNight makes me sound like my mother in law."
Tom moved his lips into a small smile. Scott was shocked. It had taken him until November to get that much of a smile out of his friend. He must really be giving a big effort to, well, be a normal person around his parents. Tom turned and shook Scott's father's hand. Tom had a firm hand shake and he knew that would make a big impression on his dad.
Scott's parents led everyone out to the car and Scott hoped in assuming that Tom would go around the other side. All the doors closed though and Tom still wasn't in yet, so Scott stuck his head out the door to see what was taking so long. Tom was standing a foot away from the car and staring at it like it was a foreign object.
"Come on and get in," Scott told his friend.
Tom's eyebrows came together suspiciously, "What is this thing? What do you mean get in?"
Scott rolled his eyes. Of course Tom didn't know what a car was; he was raised by a wizard. Scott got out and pointed to the seat, "Sit there," he commanded. Tom complied, but he did so slowly and cautiously.
Scott's dad looked back from the driver's seat, "Never seen a car before?" his father asked. The man’s eyes were slightly narrowed in disbelief. Not that Scott blamed him, cars were so common that anyone who hadn't seen one must have been born and raised in a cave.
"No," Tom replied looking around the vehicle nervously, "I was raised by a wizard. We got around apparating and using brooms. I've never heard of, what did you call it? A car?"
Scott's father nodded. It was clear that the man thought it was strange by the expression he wore.
Scott's mother turned back looking concerned, "You have a father? We should have invited him over too. You're not missing Christmas with your family to join us are you?"
Scott hadn't told his parents anything about Tom's past. He had kind of hinted that he was an orphan though, and that was when his parents suggested inviting him.
Tom quickly shook his head, "No my father is gone now." Tom's choice of words was interesting. Scott knew Tom's dad wasn't dead, just in jail. He was gone, but the way Tom said it he implied the man died. It was pretty clever actually, like lying without lying.
Scott's mother's eyebrows came together, "I'm sorry hun." She said to Tom.
Tom nodded stiffly," Its fine," he replied. No emotion registering in his face or voice as Tom talked about his father.
Christmas day arrived before the two knew it. When they had gotten home the four had sat down at the table and they told his parents all about Hogwarts. Well, Scott had told them about it with some occasional comments from Tom. The next day was Christmas Eve and the boys helped Scott's mom cook all day, so that most of the food would be ready for Christmas. It was pretty funny watching Tom cook. He looked like a handicapped person holding kitchen utensils. He had tried holding everything like one would hold a wand and Scott's mom had to keep correcting him. Then finally the day had ended and they went to bed. Scott was bouncing off the wall with excitement. Tomorrow they would be receiving their presents.
Scott woke up the next morning to light pouring into his window. He had laid there for a second before realizing what day it was. Then he had jumped out of the bed and shaken Tom- who was sleeping on the floor- awake.
Tom jumped a little when he woke up," What? What happened?" he had asked kind of panicky. After Tom looked around the room for a second and calmed down after.
"Come on its time for presents," Scott said impatiently. Tom nodded and followed him down the stairs. The tree had exactly four presents under it, one for everybody. His parents weren't the richest people in the world so there was always only one per person;however, the one present was always really well thought through.
Scott sat down and looked through the four boxes, picking out his and Tom's. He tossed one of the boxes to his friend who looked down at it questioningly.
"It's yours," Scott said.
Tom brought his eyebrows together, "Nobody had to buy me anything," he mumbled.
Scott's mom who was sitting on the couch, with his dad shook her head, "We weren't going to invite you over and then not give you a present now. Open it.
"Tom and Scott both tore at the gifts in their laps. Scott opened his to find a box of chess. Not any chess though, wizard chess. He grinned really big at his parents, "How did you get these. You have to go to a wizard store.
"Scott's father smiled," A woman that we met the day we dropped you off at the platform helped us. What was her name Ann?"
"Molly," his mother replied, "Molly and Arthur. Her husband thought that non wizard people were fascinating. We talked to her husband while she went to get them for us. Strange man he was, but they were nice."
Scott glanced over at Tom who was holding up a pair of boxing gloves looking very confused, "They are boxing gloves," Scott explained. Tom nodded though he still looked pretty confused, "Boxing is a muggle sport. My dad is a coach for one of the arenas around here. He teaches everyone from a beginner to some amateur professionals at the ring nearby."
Tom nodded again and smiled appreciatively. Scott could tell this smile wasn't as forced as the one from the platform. His friend really did appreciate the gift, "Thank you," Tom told Scott's parents.
Scott's dad nodded expectantly, "You can't consider yourself a member of this family until you have your own pair of boxing gloves. In fact every proper man should have a pair." He said matter-of-factly.
Tom's eyes darted up at Scott's father at the mention of the word family, "Thanks," Tom said again.
"We're going to have to go break those gloves in today," Scott's father declared.
Scott's mother rolled her eyes, "Breakfast first," she said.
The four went and ate a large breakfast that matched even the food served at Hogwarts. It was not long before the boys headed out to the boxing ring down the street. The ring was located in a large warehouse type of place. From the outside it looked pretty run down. Once inside though, one could immediately tell where the money was spent. The lockers were lined with brand new practice helmets and unopened mouth guards. The ring floor had a polished logo on it and the punching bags that could be found hanging from various spots in the ceiling were a bright red color that wasn't worn in the slightest. Even on Christmas the place was active with all the die-hard boxers going at punching bags and their own kids, trying out new boxing equipment. Scott lived half his life in this arena watching his father fight and coach. Scott was never the best one at his own classes, but he wasn't the worst. He was the coaches son though, people looked down on him for not being the perfect boxer. Scott’s father was just happy that he wasn't the worst. Whenever he was beat by another kid, his father always told him that he had great technique. The other kid was always just ‘bigger’ and more ‘powerful’.
Scott's father had gone over to talk with one of his buddies, and left Tom and Scott to get ready. The two went over to the locker room. Scott started to take his shirt off like he normally did. Proper fighters always fought shirtless so they could intimidate their opponents with their muscles his father used to tell him. It took him all of five minutes to have his gloves secure and his mouth guard and helmet ready in case his father wanted him to scrimmage someone. Then he looked over at his friend who was looking at the new pair of gloves lost.
Scott laughed, "Here take your shirt off and I'll show you how to put the gloves on."
"Um Scott I don't think that's a good idea," Tom said nervously.
"Why now?" Scott asked as he started to untie the knot holding Tom's gloves together.
"Um you know how I wear bandages on my arms all the time?" Tom said. Scott nodded, "Yeah well there is a reason for that and that reason is on my chest too."
Scott looked quizzically at his friend. Tom was doing his usual not explaining thing though, and Scott sighed, "Just keep your shirt on then. If anyone asks just say it's your exercise shirt and you always wear it when you practice." Tom nodded looking relieved. Scott proceeded to show Tom how to fasten the gloves and how to put the helmet on. He opened a new mouth guard and gave it to his friend.
"We probably won't need the helmet and mouth guard since I don't think we are actually going to be fighting any one so you can keep them off for now just know how to put them on," Scott told his friend.
They went out to the ring now and joined his father. His father nodded to Scott and told him to warm up while he showed Tom the basics. Scott walked over to a punching bag and started to go at it. It the back round he could hear his father talking to Tom.
"You always need to protect your face," he was saying, "That's why you always hold your hands up like this. I don't have time to show you all the different punches but when you do punch you want to put your whole body into it like this. That will give you the most force."
Scott had heard this talk a million times before. His father gave it in the beginning of every seminar for the more advanced people. That way people didn't have the excuse of saying they didn't know the basics when they screwed up. Fifteen minutes later his father called them over and started to put them through what he called a boxers work out. There were three versions of the boxers work out and a good boxer was supposed to alternate between them over the course of a week. The work out would allow the boxer to stay in shape and practice their technique. Each of the three work outs worked slightly different muscles to make sure you never over worked anything. Even though Scott didn't have a passion for boxing or exercise in general something about the familiarity of the work out made Scott feel at home.
"Hey look who’s back in town. Heard that you went to some fancy private school on scholarship this year huh McNight," a voice said from behind him. Scott felt a knot form in his stomach. The voice was coming from a kid named Damian Crawford. Damien was often referred to around the house as that bucket head from across the street. He was also the kid who pushed Scott into the shark tank. Scott had fought him many times before in the ring, but he had yet to win against him. Scott turned and looked at Crawford. He was wearing new pair of gloves and Scott could see Mr. Crawford talking to the receptionist in the front. At the moment Scott's dad was talking to a friend and was too preoccupied to do anything about the other boy being here.
Tom was by Scott's side though in a second," Hey kid what's your name?" Tom asked with a very fake politeness.
Crawford paused for a second. Scott didn't blame him. Tom was new at the ring, so Crawford didn't know he was a newbe. That meant all Crawford saw was a tall thirteen-year-old boy coming to Scott's defense, and possibly threatening to fight Crawford's ten-year-old-much-smaller self. Even with Tom being new, his height and weight might be enough of an advantage to win a fight against the top fighter in the ten-eleven group.
Crawford never was one to back down from a challenge though, "Who the hell do you think you are?" he spat.
Tom brought his eyebrows together and feigned offense, "All I did was ask your name kid. If you must know I'm quite sure that my name is Tom Riddle. Now who do you think that you are?" Tom’s manner was familiar. He had used the same slight insubordination when he had challenged Malfoy earlier this year.
Just like Malfoy, Crawford seemed to be falling for it. At the moment his face was turning red and his arm came foward nailing Tom in the stomach. Tom tried to block it but being that he was a first time boxer he reacted too late. Scott could hear the wind leave Tom's lungs when the punch hit. Tom didn't hit the ground though, which is more than you could say about Scott if he got hit like that.
Tom righted himself quickly, "You punch like a little girl." Tom taunted. He said it as if he were telling someone they had a terminal disease.
This made Crawford worse and he swung again at Tom. This time Tom was ready though and he ducked. This threw Crawford off balance and Scott jumped on that throwing his fist into Crawford's vulnerable gut. The boy made let out a high pitch cry on impact and staggered backwards.
"Nice shot," Tom breathed next to him.
At that moment Scott's dad realized what was happening and ran over to break it up, "You should know better than to fight someone out of the ring Scott," his father said. For a moment Scott thought his dad was actually mad at him.
Then they got into the car, "You two really gave it to that bucket head didn't you. I remember when I was your age. I got into a fight a week never lost one of them," his father started. Scott never had won a fight against Crawford and even though this one technically didn't count, his father was still beaming over the victory. "I got to say you boys have got some guts," his father said, "Not many people can take a hit like that Tom. And well Scott, let’s just say I am an excellent teacher of the right hook." His father gushed the rest of the way home. The only thought that was going through Scott’s head was BEST CHRISTMAS EVER.
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