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Chapter 3 : Three
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If there was one thing that Antioch Peverell valued above everything else, then it would have certainly been praise. And Cadmus knew that very well; it was hard not to notice something so overwhelmingly obvious. True happiness came to Antioch in many forms: a present from his parents, a party thrown in his honour, a new portrait of himself... Sometimes it was smaller and less significant things, like a compliment from his mother or a reassuring nod and a proud smile from his father. He refused none of them though and liked to bask in the glory, or what Cadmus preferred to call 'pretences of glory'.
Pretences was a word that Ignotus had introduced him to and Cadmus liked to use words such as 'pretences' because they made him sound smarter, more like Ignotus, and accordingly more like grownups.
Everyone knew that eleven was a little too late for showing magic. Despite that, their mother had assured Antioch that his newest magical accident may have not been his first. She, easily enough, convinced him that he may have done some subtle magic before without noticing, and that he had nothing to worry about.
Cadmus wished he could have said something such as 'I beg to differ', but he knew that his mother was right; Antioch had done magic before but was too dim-witted to realise it.
After the party thrown in Antioch's honour was over, Antioch sauntered into Cadmus's chamber and leaned with his back against the door until it closed, barely making a noise.
"What do you want?" Cadmus grumbled, already in bed. The younger of the brothers could not help about how Antioch was an unwanted guest visiting at a very late hour, not the best of hours for Cadmus's temper. Therefore, Cadmus took on a disagreeable tone, hoping it would drive his older brother away.
Nonetheless, Antioch did not.
Instead, Antioch crossed his arms over his chest lazily and tilted his head to the side as though he was trying to get his eyes used to the room's dim lighting. "Oh, you are still upset about losing the race, Cadmus?"
Cadmus could easily note the pride with which Antioch's words had been spoken; there was no concern in his tone whatsoever, and Cadmus could not, for the life of him, figure out why Antioch was paying him a visit in his chamber. And what was it that could not wait until the morning?
"I am not upset about the race, Antioch; it was just a stupid game," Cadmus answered and rolled over in bed to face the wall. On the wall, he could see his brother's shadow – his sky high nose and his posture that spoke of pride, magnified. "What do you want, Antioch?" Cadmus repeated his question, still looking at the wall. "If you have nothing important to say, you should leave. It has been a long day and I would like to sleep."
"Oh, I just came to thank you for telling Mother and Father about how I have done magic. Now, Father thinks I am finally becoming -what was it that he said exactly? Oh yes, humble. And so, he shall bring me a present tomorrow when we go to Diagon Alley," Antioch said.
Without facing his brother, Cadmus could guess that Antioch was smirking. His voice had this conniving and suggestive tone to it; he had come to bother, to boast, to tease. Cadmus wondered if he had the patience necessary to withstand his brothers' attitude that night.
"You are going to Diagon Alley tomorrow?" Cadmus asked, his head popping up slightly.
"Yes! The new year at Hogwarts will begin in a few months and I do need to purchase my books and the other things students need for Hogwarts. Anyway...I hope Father decides to bring me a broom. I would be the only boy in the entire town who has one!"
And they had gone back to the bragging. For a moment, jealousy actually got to Cadmus. He found himself wondering if his father would actually bring Antioch a broom. And say that he did bring him a broom, would Antioch take it with him to Hogwarts? Would he leave it behind and perhaps Cadmus could try it out?
What if he, Cadmus, asked for a broom... would he have got one?
Despite his eagerness, Cadmus tried to feign ignorance; Ignotus had told him that ignorance was always the answer. Cadmus liked to think Ignotus's faith in ignorance had something to do with the similarity between the word and his name.
In attempt to follow his younger brother's advice, Cadmus just shook his head discreetly to himself before asking, "Can I go to sleep now?"
Ignotus would have been proud of how unconcerned Cadmus had sounded.
"Ah, you surely can, brother. I must go to bed myself if I want to wake up early enough to join Mother and Father on the journey to Diagon Alley. Mother says we must go in the morning; otherwise, it would be very crowded," Antioch explained before unfolding his arms and leaving the room without another word.
"Linn!" Cadmus called out loudly and, momentarily, a house-elf appeared by his bedside. The creature's big blue eyes were twinkling even though the room was mostly dark and her fingers were trembling with fear. Cadmus never understood why Linn was always looking terrorised; he certainly treated her better than Antioch treated his house-elf Buck. "Blow out the candles and make sure that no one comes into my room again tonight."
"Yes, master," the frail pink house-elf squeaked out with a bow before doing as she was told. Linn left the pitch dark room to remain by her master's door until she was told to do otherwise.
The following morning, Cadmus and Ignotus woke up to find that, indeed, the rest of their family had left at a very early hour in the morning. Antioch and his father had headed down to the new shopping area of town, Diagon Alley, and their mother had gone to an early tea party at a friend's household.
"Mistress say young masters have to have breakfast!" Milly screeched at Ignotus when he told her that he was not really hungry and just wanted to go up to his room and sketch.
"Yes! Linn see Mistress tell Milly! Linn has! Young Masters must have breakfast and go see Mistress Loretta!" Linn added in support and put down a plate in front of a nonchalant Cadmus.
"We are going to visit Aunt Loretta?" Cadmus asked, looking up, his brown eyes wide in anticipation.
"Mistress say Linn and Milly has to take Young Masters to see Mistress Loretta after breakfast," Linn repeated, not knowing what else to say to her master.
"Ignotus, did you hear that? Just eat toast or drink your milk so we can go!" Cadmus took up his fork and began to pile scrambled eggs into his mouth until he could barely chew, not even taking a moment to breath before cutting up another piece to eat.
Ignotus, unable to watch his brother eat in such a manner took a slice of toast and slipped out with little notice from his companions and went up to his own chamber once again.
"Linn! Go lay out my robes and I will follow you upstairs right away! Also, make sure my riding boots are polished!" Cadmus ordered loudly, mouthful, and almost choked on the toast he was eating.
Linn blinked twice, startled by her master's behaviour, and dropped the towel she was holding before disappearing from the kitchen with a crack, leaving no one but Milly with Cadmus in the kitchen. Milly's attention was entirely focused on the young master who was devouring his food like a young monster until Cadmus called out her name too.
"Yes, Master!" Milly squeaked out, becoming more aware of her surroundings and her duties that she was not fulfilling.
"Go and see if Ignotus has started getting ready to leave or not. We must leave in no more than thirty minutes! Tell him that!" Cadmus told Milly as he slid off his chair and rushed out of the kitchen.
What was the rush? Well, it had been several weeks since Cadmus had seen his closest –and perhaps his only– friend, Astrid. But just because he had not met her in such a long time did not mean that he forgot what they were doing the last time they had. In fact, that was one of the few things that had kept him occupied during the previous few weeks.
He attempted to get dressed quickly yet manage to look presentable, but failed. When Linn informed him that Ignotus was remotely ready, he began to slow down a little, trying to refrain from looking at the clock every few seconds. He had missed Astrid and he had a lot to tell her; he wondered if she had news for him as well.
Carefully, Cadmus combed his long pale blond hair as he inspected his black robes in the mirror, making sure that all buttons were done correctly. Although they were just fine, Cadmus undid them and began to button his robes once again just to avoid boredom. Patience was a luxury he could not afford.
When Ignotus finally appeared at Cadmus's chamber many minutes later, Cadmus mumbled rather angrily under his breath before taking Linn's bony hand and braced himself for the painful short trip.
Momentarily, a sensation of spinning engulfed him, pulling him forward and almost taking him by surprise despite his anticipation of it. There was something pressing against him, flattening him as though he was being pulled into a rabbit hole.
Shortly, his feet touched the ground, but the spinning didn't stop. Blots of luminescent purple and green flashed before his eyes, blurring his vision.
"Is it safe to approach you now or will you collapse like the previous time?" a girl's voice asked him and he looked in the direction of her voice, spotting the girl in rose-colored robes and a big crimson hat, her features becoming clearer to his eyes as every second passed.
"I think I am okay, Astrid," Cadmus responded with a smile and steadied himself, noticing the green lengths surrounding them. "Ignotus, are you okay?"
Ignotus just nodded and put down his bag on the grass before sitting down next to it, looking yellow and out of breath.
"We should find ways to make our mothers leave to tea parties more often! It has been too long since we have seen each other," Astrid said to Cadmus once she was standing next to him, her green eyes twinkling in the sunlight as she squinted at the bright beams of light.
"Indeed!" the young boy agreed with a nod and grin. "How have you been?" he asked her.
"Fine, I suppose. I have convinced Mother to let me cut my hair again," she responded and took of her hat to show off her pixie-like hairstyle. She ran a hand through her short charcoal-black strands to get the hair away from her face. "How have you been?" she asked him, wondering if he had anything new in his life.
"I have been slightly bored of the late, but I think I am fine," Cadmus said before he slipped out a small wooden box out of his robes' pocket.
Similarly, Astrid unclasped her hand to showcase an identical box. She looked at Ignotus with uncertainty and worry –he was sketching something already.
"Do not worry about him; he knows. I know he reads a lot so I thought he could be of help," Cadmus assured his friend with a nod.
If anyone could be trusted to not say a word, then it was most certainly Ignotus –he hardly spoke anyway– and Cadmus knew that and he used that to his favour sometimes. And not only was Ignotus trustworthy but he was also resourceful and he taught Cadmus many things, which Cadmus took advantage of that too.
"And was he of help?" Astrid asked her friend, one of her eyebrows quirked at him in curiosity as she enclosed the box in her fist once again.
"Yes; you have got my owl last week, correct?"
Astrid nodded, making her hair fall onto her face again.
"Yes, well, Ignotus was the one who suggested that we feed it rat whiskers. Have you managed to get some?" Cadmus asked her and began to walk ahead.
Astrid followed her friend's lead and started to walk too, her index finger tracing the edges of the box she was holding. "Yes, I made one of the house-elves get me a dead rat, and I cut off its whiskers."
Cadmus slowly opened the tiny wooden box and let the small worm-like creature creep onto his index finger before he put the box back in his pocket.
"Oh! Yours changed colour as well? This shade of violet is fascinating!" the young girl exclaimed and kneeled down a little so she could have a closer look, her eyes sparkling in awe. "Can I hold it?"
"Sure!" Cadmus said and held out his hand for her, the tiny creature crawling slowly in the middle of his palm. Without any hesitation or apparent aversion, Astrid took up the peculiar being on her finger and let it crawl its way to her palm.
That was why Cadmus liked Astrid's company –she was not like other girls. She preferred her hair short, unlike other girls who grew their hair out so they could curl it around their wands –like he had seen several of his cousins do– or have it in a different hairstyle every other day. No, Astrid always had her hair cut short so it would not interfere when she was doing things with Cadmus, like racing or kneeling over the lake by her house to find something magnificent.
Astrid could let some foreign creature, one that neither of them knew anything about, move in her hand without even cringing while other girls would be startled by merely the sight of it. Astrid did not cry when she fell over and got a stain of dirt on her dress. She understood his interest in things that went beyond rounds of Hide and Seek or Wizard's Chess. Astrid understood and that was all that mattered to him.
After having exchanged pets and thinking up names that seemed to fit the unidentifiable creatures the two of them were housing, Cadmus and Astrid decided to start a race. Once Astrid had kicked off her shoes and hidden them behind a rock by the pond as she always did, they counted up to three, and they both began to rush across the garden at an incredible speed.
"I cannot... breathe... cannot," Cadmus heard Astrid say loudly after a while as she kneeled over, her hands on her knees as she stared at the grass and her bare feet. "Hello, Ignotus," Astrid breathlessly greeted the boy she was standing to with a brief smile.
Ignotus did not say anything at all; he was still greatly engrossed in the picture he was sketching. And, just out of courtesy, he nodded at the girl before turning back his attention to the drawing as Cadmus joined the two of them.
Cadmus took in a deep breath before accusing his friend loudly, "You took a shortcut!"
"I realise that... I just got tired! I cannot run far with this cursed dress on; it is too heavy!" Astrid said with an apathetic wave of her hand before she sat down by Ignotus on the ground and peeked over his shoulder to see what he was working on.
"Oh, are you trying to draw our snakes?" Cadmus asked, thrilled, as he snatched the parchment to examine it closely.
"They are not snakes and I have told you that," Ignotus said and reached out for his parchment, hoping that his brother would not try to be a bother.
"You specifically told me that they are a breed of snakes!" Cadmus argued and lifted the parchment a little so Ignotus would not be able to reach it.
"I told you they look like a certain breed of snakes. I cannot find those creatures you found in any book..." Ignotus explained and gave up on retrieving his drawing.
"Well, look again; they have to be somewhere if books are useful as you say. We do not want our snakes to die, Ignotus," Cadmus said, his voice full of authority and seriousness. Even Cadmus himself felt that he sounded like his father and Antioch who almost constantly spoke in such a manner.
Cadmus did not exactly know why but having been able to talk in a tone as such made him happy. Perhaps it had to do with how Antioch always got what he wanted, whether from Cadmus himself or Ignotus or their parents. Or maybe with how his father was quite a widely respected man in the society –well, truly, how could one have been a Minister and not powerful and respected?
"Oh yes, please, Ignotus! You must help us; you read so much and you know so much! You must know something!" Astrid joined the conversation, her sweet tone and her reasonable compliments breaking the tension her friend's last words had caused.
Ignotus shifted uncomfortably and started to fumble around with his fingers as he looked at the ground.
"So, will you help us?" Astrid asked, her tone still polite and gentle, sounding almost ladylike.
"Yes, fine..." Ignotus grumbled and looked down at his drawing charcoals, seeming pensive.
"We can help you, too. You can tell us what to do and where to look," Astrid encouraged sweetly, being kind as she usually is.
Cadmus couldn't comprehend why Astrid had to be nice to people. Antioch was hardly ever nice to anyone, yet he got everything he desired. Despite that, he was quite relieved to see his brother nod at Astrid, seemingly less hesitant about helping them.
When Cadmus took a step forward, he winced lightly, his leg aching as though it was too frail to carry his body. He winced again then said, "I think I broke my leg..."
Cadmus saw Ignotus open his mouth to say something, but Astrid talked before Ignotus let even a single syllable out.
"Oh please, do not speak of broken legs in front of me! You have heard that Brianne has hurt her leg, I assume?" Astrid said, looking up at Cadmus expectantly as he sat down next to her, grimacing again.
Cadmus nodded, having heard about Astrid's older sister's injury from his mother a few days earlier, and gestured for his friend to go on with her tale.
"Well, ever since, all Mother ever talks about is how brave and strong Brianne is to wake up every morning and still want to practice her piano and do her knitting. And she compares me to her! It just makes me angry how she keeps telling the story every time we have a guest, like Brianne is just some hero from a book," Astrid told, venomous bitterness apparent in her tone as every word was pronounced. She rolled her eyes and let out a sigh, waiting for either of the boys to concur with her.
Cadmus did not really understand what Astrid's mother could have been thinking. As far as he had known, Brianne had hurt her leg by stumbling upon her own feet at a ball, which was quite a stupid thing to do. Cadmus looked at his younger brother to try and see if Ignotus seemed to understand the matter any better, having spent a lot of time around their mother and her friends on many occasions. Much to Cadmus's dismay, Ignotus was completely distracted, still going ahead with his petty attempts to draw the snake-like creature.
When no one said anything, Astrid decided to speak again, stating her own opinion on the matter. "I honestly do not understand how Mother is seeing this. One of the first thing they teach you when you are seven, when you are a girl, is how to walk in court shoes without falling over on your face, which is exactly what Brianne did. I think it is unladylike and really stupid; I heard Brianne's friends whispering the same thing behind her back as well."
"I completely agree with you," Cadmus said to his friend with a smile.
Cadmus could never disagree with Astrid and he always gave her the benefit of doubt. In his eyes, Astrid was perfect, smart, and kind. And at least Astrid could run in heeled shoes without falling on her face.
A/N: So, originally, the story Valeria's writing was supposed to include Alphard's story only. But after a while of careful thinking, I realised that many things would be easier to understand if she wrote the stories of the two other boys as well.
Anyway, let me know what you think of this chapter in the lovely box below! I'd love to hear what you thought about the world through Cadmus's eyes.
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