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Chapter 4 : Routine
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James Sirius Potter
Perfect chapter image by sanadamaiko @ TDA
A/N: Still not a billionaire author. Darn.
My summer went as usual: me avoiding my parents in any and every way possible. It wasn’t extremely difficult, it was just a matter of keeping myself occupied.
Every morning I woke up at five; my body was used to it. Sleeping in, like I had on my last day of Hogwarts, was a luxury that I couldn’t afford.
Before the sun had a chance to rise, I was outside and running. The ten-mile-long path was familiar: it wrapped around the outside of the manor, off into the forest that was outside of our perimeter. It wove through there for a while, ending in a large meadow, where the grass was grown high, except in the spots where I had run over it so many times that the plants just stopped growing. Eventually, it found its way back into the Flint property, dumping me off by the back door.
I bent over, breathing hard. The sun was starting to peek over the horizon, meaning it was just past six. As pretty as it was, I was anxious to get into the cool air-conditioned manor and away from the sun that was beginning to beam down on my already sweaty form.
I hurried into the house, grabbing a bottle of water from our house-elf, Pinky, as I walked up to my room, heading straight for the shower. I set the water as cold as I could, relishing in the cool streams that tingled as they attacked my body, rinsing off the sticky layer of sweat I had accumulated, as I inhaled the familiar fragrance of my body wash while I rubbed it into my skin. I stepped out of the shower, toweled myself dry, and changed into a pair of running shorts and a baggy red T-shirt that almost concealed the shorts. I wasn’t going out in public anytime soon, so what did it matter if it looked like I wasn't wearing pants? I quickly dried my hair with a spell, and left it down so that it tumbled down my sides.
I padded downstairs, careful to avoid waking my sleeping parents in the large master bedroom on their third floor, to the large dining room, where Pinky was waiting attentively, knowing I would be down soon for my morning meal. As soon as she saw me, she Disapparated with a crack, and reappeared moments later, bearing a tray of food. On it sat a singular cup of black coffee, a piece of toast, and an orange. My mother had a strict diet plan plan set up for me, and Pinky, who was absolutely terrified of the wrath of my mother, obliged. Not that I was complaining. The absolute last thing I needed was free rein of the kitchen.
I sat down, sipping on the coffee, until I heard a familiar tapping on the window. I opened the window to greet my snowy owl, Willow, who dropped the Daily Prophet into my hand, nibbling it affectionately. Occasionally, she also carried a letter from Alexa, but today, obviously, that was not the case.
I flipped through the paper casually as I ate, and upon seeing nothing of interest, I left the dining room, retreating back up the stairs. On the second floor I found the library, where I curled up in a comfy armchair with a copy of Modern Advances in Charms, a book I had found somewhere in the expansive library, one of the few I hadn't already conquered.
I wasn't sure how long I spent reading, but after about 200 pages I grew rather restless, and headed off towards my room.
Upon getting there, I briefly glanced around the room, locating my broom where it hung on a coat rack, next to a thick black winter cloak. I grabbed it and walked towards the large bay window opposite the entrance to my room. In a rather ungraceful set of movements, I managed to get myself out the window and comfortably perched on the broom.
I pushed off of the side of the house, soaring into the sky. It was later in the day, probably about 11 or so, and the sun was beating down on me. As I flew through the air, accelerating and flying as creatively as I could, I felt my hair whip at my shoulders, since it was out of its usual ponytail, and the breeze caressed my face. I flew faster and faster, until the Flint manor was nearly out of sight. I had a pretty good sense of direction, so I figured I could find my way back later. Worst-case scenario, I had my wand, so I could locate the manor if I needed to.
I looked down at the massive forested area below, interspersed with a few large houses, not unlike mine. All these houses belonged to other wizarding families, so there was really no concern of me being seen by Muggles. My family couldn't stand the idea of living close to such "filth."
I started looping around in the air, diving down and pulling up, and testing just how fast my broom could turn.
At one point, I found myself ridiculously low to the ground, close enough that I could jump and land easily on the roof of whatever mansion was below me. Suddenly, I looked into the yard, and saw a familiar black head of hair, looking up at me with interest. Dammit, how could I have forgotten that the Potter Mansion was just a few miles from my house? Potter had made that very clear on multiple occasions, constantly inviting me over. And I’d denied every single invitation. I was not going to his house so he could screw me over and then brag about it, thank you very much.
“Shit.” I muttered to myself. “Shit, shit, shit.” I quickly launched myself into the sky, but not before I heard Potter scream up at me.
“I’M PRETTY SURE RIDING AROUND WITHOUT PANTS ON IS CONSIDERED PUBLIC INDECENCY, FLINT!” His booming voice had an edge of amusement, like he was laughing at me while yelling.
I looked down at my broom. Sitting at this angle, my massive shirt managed to cover up my shorts, giving the appearance that I was, indeed, pants-less. Shit.
I quickly flew down towards Potter, getting close enough to flash him my running shorts, and prove that I was indeed wearing something underneath the massive shirt. After all, I didn’t want him convincing the school I was some kind of weirdo who flew pantsless, because that was probably something he would do.
He wolf-whistled after me, probably at my slight semblance of a striptease.
I rolled my eyes and shot back up into the sky, hurtling myself into the opposite direction. I wanted to get as far away from that mess as possible.
As the afternoon began to set in, I realized I should probably get back to my house so I could have some lunch.
I turned back the way I came, and sped towards the area I knew led to the Flint Manor.
Upon arriving, I crawled back into the window, and, not caring how sweaty I was, hurried down to the dining room. Fortunately, it was around two o’clock, meaning my parents had eaten a while ago and I had the table to myself again.
Pinky brought up food, a large and colorful salad as it was, and I began to ravenously dig into my food.
However, I was interrupted from my dining by a rapping of claws on the window.
I looked over, and recognized the school owl immediately. How could I, in my organized daily routine, have forgotten that it was two weeks from the start of term, the day Hogwarts letters were delivered?
The owl dropped the letter into my hand, where it landed with a loud clunk. That was peculiar; the envelope was even heavier than it had been fifth year, when I was sent a prefect badge, and sixth year, when I was sent the Quidditch captain badge...
I viciously and excitedly ripped open the letter, all thoughts of lunch forgotten.
Welcome to your seventh and final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Please be at Platform 9 ¾ no later than 11 o’clock on September first in order to board the Hogwarts Express.
Attached is the list of supplies you will need for the upcoming term.
I am also pleased to inform you that you have been selected as Head Girl. This job, a prestigious responsibility given to the top boy and girl in the seventh year class that has existed since the birth of Hogwarts many years ago, requires you to lead the other Prefects in their jobs, along with guiding the rest of the school as well. I hope you take this responsibility seriously. Please be prepared to lead the Prefect’s meeting beginning promptly at 11 o’clock aboard the Hogwarts Express. In addition, I would like to see you in my office immediately after arrival at the school. The password is “Sugar Quill.”
In addition, you have been re-instated as a co-captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Professor Longbottom trusts that you and Mr. Potter will be able to once again uphold the tradition that is the excellence of Gryffindor Quidditch.
Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
As I read the letter, my heart soared. Head Girl? I flipped the envelope over, and sure enough, the badge tumbled out and landed on the table with a clanging noise.
I looked at the letter again. Just like last year, Potter and I were sharing the Gryffindor Quidditch captaincy. Obviously Professor Longbottom hadn’t ever seen our Quidditch practices last year. Potter and I did not make a very good team. He got laps every time he asked me out, and at one point I had given him 20 laps by the end of practice. Then he proceeded to use his captaincy powers to get out of it. Both of us were Quidditch Nazis, as we had been so kindly dubbed by our teammates, and putting both of us in charge resulting in long, grueling practices. We had won the Quidditch Cup, but had almost killed the team in the process. And both of us were too stubborn to back down. I guess that would be the only area in which we are extremely similar: we’re both stubborn as anything.
“What are you reading?” My mother snapped, entering the room. Damn. I’d done such a good job of avoiding her so far today. My dad wasn’t difficult to steer clear of, considering he stayed in his study with copious amounts of alcohol, but my mum occasionally wandered the house, doing various activities, and there was always the risk of running into her. For example, right now.
“Hogwarts letters came today.” I said, avoiding her eyes, and instead focusing my gaze on the woodwork of the table.
“And..?” My mother clearly saw the badges on the table; she just wanted me to say it myself. After 17 years, I clearly understood her antics and knew when to take a hint. And I was pretty sure where this conversation was going to go.
“I got Head Girl and Quidditch Captain.” I said, continuing to study the glossy wood.
She scoffed. “Honestly, that school is going downhill, if you’re the best they’ve got. I mean, you’re not particularly spectacular in anything. But then again, that’s probably why they gave you the Head Girl position. The headmistress probably pities you, and wants to make you feel important. In case you forgot, you’re not.”
As she continued her rant about what a horrible person I was, I left the room, not wanting to hear any more, and attempting to hide the tears that were forming in my eyes. After 7 years of this, I should be used to the verbal abuse. Yet, I’m still not.
I walked determinedly up the stairs, and into the room two doors away from my bedroom. I shut the door quickly, surveying my surroundings. A dance studio. The pale wood was perfectly polished, and a barre wrapped around three walls, facing the final wall, which was covered in mirrors. A few shelves sat in the far corner, holding a music player and a few pairs of dance shoes, of varying sizes and uses.
When I was really young, around six or so, I decided that I wanted to be a dancer. As I was still a well-loved child, having not yet committed my “massive betrayal,” my parents immediately jumped on the bandwagon, showering me in pretty and sparkly leotards, taking me to lessons at Madam Ferguson’s School of Dance, hiring me a private teacher, and turning this room, which once functioned as one of our many guest bedrooms, into a formal dance studio.
Sadly, once I entered Hogwarts, my parents suddenly found lessons wasteful, since “I was never going to be a good dancer.” However, I kept up with the art, using the Room of Requirement, which I discovered walking back to my dorm after being berated by the Ancient Runes teacher, Professor Carmichael, for dancing in the hallway. The room morphed into a massive dance studio, and I started coming by multiple times a week. Without an actual teacher, I didn’t receive real criticism, guiding my learning off of books and dance performances I’d seen, so I couldn’t really say I was a good dancer, since I didn’t even know what I looked like while dancing.
All I knew was that dancing was my release. Whenever I was feeling particularly angry, sad, or stressed, I immediately turned to the studio. Dancing made me feel beautiful and graceful, a feeling I was otherwise unfamiliar with.
I quickly walked over to the shelves, picking up my pointe shoes, and snaking the ribbon up my calves, tying the fraying ribbon in a bow just below the back of my knee. I tapped the music player with my wand, and instantly, soft pitches began to play, and I began to dance, letting every emotion release itself, as I focused on my movements. The music picked up pace, and I adjusted to the change, swiftly pirouetting and moving across the room, feeling light as a bird. I let the music continue on, and as the time wore on, I felt the weight lift off of my chest.
Finally, the music player stopped, obviously reaching the end of the record. Simultaneously, I realized that my feet were throbbing. Although I had been en pointe for over five years, the painful sensation of standing on the tops of your toes for an hour never really faded. I looked up at the mirror, laughing at what stared back at me. My oversized shirt had completely overtaken my shorts, and the bun I had yanked my hair up into was falling to the side, and little pieces had tumbled out. I looked borderline ridiculous, resembling a little kid with the exception of the elegant shoes that wrapped around my calves. But as I sat down, all I could do was laugh. Because in that moment, it didn’t matter what I looked like. I felt purged of all worries; I had, if only for a moment, escaped from bitter reality.
Steadily loosening the ribbons, I swapped the pointe shoes for some soft-soled ballet shoes, feeling my feet sigh in relief. I then proceeded to restart the music, drifting off into my own little fantasy land again, where nothing, not even my mother’s biting remarks or my father’s angry hits, could touch me. In the flat shoes, I allowed myself more expression, and left any concern over technique behind as I swiped the floor with my hand, followed by a series of spins. I launched myself in the air, feeling the music as if it coursed through my veins, as the faster, more aggressive tempo matching my feelings exactly.
Once again, the music died out on me. As much as I wanted to stay in the studio forever, I had other things I wanted to accomplish, and I was running out of hours in the day. As I reached to turn off the lights, I made a silent promise to the empty room that I would be back again tomorrow.
I found myself, for the second time in a day, walking back to my room soaked in sweat. I showered quickly, and pulled my hair into a bun, not bothering to dry it. I hated wearing my hair down. I felt like it always got in the way and, as I was constantly reminded by my mother, it had a mind of its own and on occasion looked like it could house a family of small birds.
I crawled into the chaise lounge that sat in the corner of my room, pulling out my Arithmancy notes. I had finished my homework weeks ago, but I continued to review for the purpose of staying on top of things.
With a crack, Pinky appeared in my room. After bowing profusely, which I always insisted she didn’t have to do, she asked me, “Miss has not had any dinner yet. Would Miss like Pinky to bring her dinner?”
I glanced out my window; it was pitch-black outside, apparently later than I thought.
I looked back at her and answered, “Yes, Pinky, that would be great.”
She Disapparated from the room, appearing moments later with a tray of food: this time holding a bowl of soup, a piece of toast, and a glass of juice. “Thanks, Pinky.” I said, as I grabbed the tray from her and she once again left my room.
I ate hungrily, while re-reading my notes from a particularly interesting class last year that involved birthdate numerology, and left the plate on the table.
Finally, after a long day, I padded over to my bed and fell asleep instantly, with visions of a certain raven-haired boy once again haunting my dreams.
A/N: If there’s an award for fluffiest chapter ever, I’m pretty sure this one takes the cake. It’s kinda random, but whatever. I promise, the next chapter will be better! Regardless of the lack of interesting-ness of this chapter, please review!
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