Chapter 3 : Home Bittersweet Home
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Amazingly amazing chapter image by sanadamaiko @ TDA.
A/N: I’m not J.K., nor will I ever be. I own nothing. Sadly.
Instead of the huge hugs and animated greetings that every other parent was giving to their child as they stepped off the Hogwarts Express, my mother looked at me curtly, and held out her arm, preparing to Apparate. In all honesty, I was surprised she had even bothered to come, considering I had gotten my Apparition license in March, not long after I had turned seventeen. It was probably just to uphold reputation. If the Wizarding World knew how the Flints really felt about their only daughter, they might lose status. Not that most people cared about the elite pureblood families anymore, but apparently my family still thought so.
Depsite my expectations, she had shown up anyway. I touched her arm just lightly enough to be considered attached to her, avoiding as much physical contact as possible. I felt the familiar feeling of being squished through a tube designed for a house-elf, and suddenly we were standing in the large foyer of the Flint Manor.
My mother looked me up and down, pursing her red lips as she analyzed me, and smoothing her hair with her hand. Not that she needed to, of course. Her pale blonde was pulled into a tight bun, perfectly controlled, just like the rest of her. She was wearing a black silk blouse and a dark grey pencil skirt, with black heels. To her, anything less was far too casual to be worn in public. No wonder she always disapproved of my clothing choices, as I never strayed from jeans, T-shirts, and ponytails, the epitome of the tomboy she wished she didn’t have.
Now that we were in the comfort of our own (rather large) house, she finally opened her mouth. Even with heels, she was still about three inches shorter than me (I got my height from my father), but she was intimidating nonetheless.
“You’ve gotten fat again.” She pointed out as she walked by, grabbing my stomach and pinching it to illustrate her point. “We’ve gone over this: skinny girls are pretty girls. For some reason, you got the bad genes, and have that ridiculous hair and monstrous height, so you need as much help as you can get.”
I stood there in silence, waiting to hear more, before she finally spoke. “Go put your things away, and go greet your father, he’s in his study.”
She left the room, her heels clacking on the dark hardwood flooring.
Following her example, I left the room, trunk in tow.
Not that seeing my father was going to be much better than this encounter. In fact, it would probably be worse. But I knew better than to blatantly disrespect my mother. At least not to her face; I’d tried that once in an attempt to escape her talons, but the result was the loudest reprimanding I’d ever had in my whole life. Including the one I got from McGonagall after I smashed treacle tart in Potter’s face, accidently initiating a Great Hall-wide food fight.
I was still not really sure how I feel about my parents. I definitely didn’t have that whole family-love-hugging thing you see with most families. As a kid, I was spoiled, and my parents gave me anything I dreamt of. That lifestyle faded with one word, spoken by an enchanted hat at the ripe young age of eleven.
By being sorted into Gryffindor, I had betrayed my family by “cavorting with Muggleborns and blood traitors alike, and identifying with the House that promotes it.” My mother had used this chief failure as ammunition, and every time she spoke to me, she continued to build on it. Not that she wasn’t right, but I was getting sick of her telling me what the mirror already showed.
It was strange, because I constantly felt like I was being pulled in two different directions. Part of me wanted to rebel against my parents as much as I could, and the other part desperately wanted them to be proud of me. So I was slightly bipolar in that regard, alternating between going against their wishes and fighting for them to accept me.
After climbing multiple sets of stairs and weaving down numerous hallways, I finally found my room. I pushed open the door, relishing the sight of it. Despite how uncomfortable I was here, this room was still my home. Most of the room was mint green and silver, since my family always expected me to be a Slytherin, and the mint color gave it a girlier touch because little-kid me was a beauty queen – almost literally the child version of Alexa, minus the whole snogging every guy in the school thing.
After I was sorted into Gryffindor, my parents didn’t bother changing it, either because they were embarrassed of me or didn’t want to spend the money on me anymore. The only reason they ever bought me gifts was because it might look suspect if a pureblood’s only daughter didn’t receive any gifts from her own parents, and to my parents, reputation, along with blood status, was everything.
Just to spite them, I had hung a large Gryffindor flag by the entrance, enchanted to roar whenever either of my parents walked in. It was enchanted by a Permanent Sticking Charm, and I assume my mother wasn’t bothered enough to find an effective countercharm. I’m pretty sure she just avoided my room altogether. It was easier for her to pretend as much as she could that she didn’t have a daughter, than to acknowledge that her daughter was a blood traitor.
I took my sweet time unpacking, pushing off the inevitable run-in with my father, meticulously placing my books on the shelves, organized alphabetically by author, my clothes hanging in my closet, color-coordinated. I was of age, and could have easily unpacked with the flick of my wand, but I chose to buy myself some time, and do it the Muggle way. At last, I decided it was probably inevitable that I would have to go greet him soon.
On my way out, I stopped to look in the mirror. My mother was right. I was getting a little chubby, and I immediately felt guilty for skipping my morning run. Why did I think I deserved to sleep in? I obviously didn’t, as could be seen by the fat on my stomach. Gross.
Apparently my nap on the train had wrecked my hair, because it was slightly crooked and a few long pieces had snuck out and fell to the sides of my face. I was honestly surprised my mother hadn’t commented on the wrecked situation it was currently in. I yanked the tie out and retied it, so that all the stray hairs were out of my face and it was centered on my head.
I left my room, walking down the hall to my father’s study. It was where he could be found at nearly all times. I briefly made a mental bet – how many empty bottles of Firewhiskey would he have surrounding him today? Let’s go with two. After all, the house-elf picks them up while he’s sleeping, so it’ll only be what he’s drunk today. Two sounds about right.
My father had once held a high and influential job in the Ministry, but he quit after my second year at Hogwarts. It wasn’t like income was a problem; we were loaded with “old money.” Fallen out of love with my mother, frustrated that his only child was both a girl and a blood traitor, and angry that my mother couldn’t give him another heir, he turned to the bottle. I couldn’t remember a day when he wasn’t completely drunk, hungover, or in a shitty mood because he hadn’t had enough alcohol.
People probably thought he quit the Ministry so he could control it from the outside, but in reality, that was all a pretense and he just quit so he could get drunk off his ass everyday and no one would have to know. Lovely.
I tentatively pushed open the door, not knowing what to expect. He had mood swings – almost like a hormonal teenage girl, except there was no happy/giddy/oh-my-Merlin-life-is-amazing emotion. It was three choices, based on luck of the draw: angry hungover, angry drunk, and angry alcohol-deprived.
Angry hungover was bad – he would go on about how I was an utter disgrace, muttering curses to himself. Angry drunk was worse – he yelled at me for being a blood traitor and a horrible child and a girl. Angry alcohol-deprived was worst – he threatened me and promised I would die and even fingered his wand a few times. Fortunately, I doubted he could still use it, as being an alcoholic his magic was most likely weakened.
He sat at his desk, taking a swig of Ogden’s. Two bottles were on the floor. Score. I had gotten rather good at guessing after almost five years.
“Father, I’m home,” I called quietly. It was funny how bold I could be at school, and then in the presence of my parents I had all the nerve of a schizophrenic mouse.
“Filthy blood traitor daughter,” he mumbled to himself. So he was in his hungover stage. This was good, because having to deal with him in any other stage resulted in ringing ears, plus, I really didn’t enjoy being on the receiving end of death threats. Most people don’t, I’d imagine.
“What a disgrace,” he continued to mutter. I chose not to interrupt him by trying to leave, so I just let him go. “I gave you everything, stupid daughter, EVERYTHING. And then you go and fuck it all by turning against your own family and everything we’ve taught you to believe and getting sorted into Gryffindor. Do you understand what that means to my family? TWELVE GENERATIONS OF SLYTHERINS. We were a legacy. You bitch, you ruined it all. Not to mention you can’t even carry the family name. I’m doomed to a dead-ended pureblood family. And it’s entirely your fault. We’ll be lucky if we can find you a respectable pureblood husband. Nobody wants a Gryffindor. Much less you.” He bared his teeth at me, and I took a moment to thank Merlin that I hadn’t inherited his crooked teeth: at least one part of me that was normal looking.
I stared at my gold flip-flops, counting the stitches. So far I had gotten to 27 on the left side of my right foot, but my vision was becoming blurry as I fought off tears.
I noted the irony that I normally didn’t cry in front of people – ever. Even when a Bludger slammed into my leg and broke the bone clean in half, my eyes only watered. I had gotten rather good at controlling the tears, especially when physical pain was the only thing involved.
But both of my parents could bring tears to my eyes in a few snappy sentences. Hearing the two people who gave you life say that they wish they didn’t is a little bit upsetting. More than a little. I’m pretty sure my heart cracked every time they said anything to me. At this point it was probably as shattered as the Horcrux locket displayed at Hogwarts. And that thing was pretty broken up.
A tear slid down my cheek, plopping onto the top of my foot as it fell off my face. It landed straight on my big toenail, which was painted bright purple thanks to Alexa, who painted my nails whenever she could get the chance, while I explained Transfiguration or Charms concepts to her. Sometimes it was quite a good thing we were friends: we complemented each other perfectly.
Fortunately, my internal ramblings distracted me from the rest of my father’s lecture, although I could probably predict what he had said. None of it was new to me. I was a disgrace to the family, a disgrace to purebloods everywhere, a disgrace to the whole Wizarding World. Disgrace was definitely my father’s favorite word, at least when I was around. I’m pretty sure he used it nearly every other sentence.
When I looked back up at him, it seemed he had fallen asleep. His head lay on his desk, and he had started drooling. I took the opportunity and snuck out of the room.
If I was lucky enough, I wouldn’t have to deal with him for most of the summer. He stayed in his study, and I kept to the areas of the house where I could best avoid any parental contact. My mother was often out socializing, so that part wasn’t difficult. I ended up eating at awfully strange times, though, so that I wouldn’t run into her in the dining room.
I went back into the room, flopping onto the fluffy down comforter, inhaling the warm vanilla and lavender scent it had. As I inhaled the perfume, I found myself grateful for the house-elves. I loved the fact that my bed smelled just as appealing as it felt.
Well, this was it. I was home for the next two months.
Home sweet home.
A/N: This is kind of a baby chapter, but there was nowhere else where it actually fit. Both this chapter and the next are really fluffy and not exactly funny, but they introduce some plot stuff, so they’re stuck in here. As always, please review… That little grey box is begging for some love!
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