Chapter 2 : Gluttony (Part One)
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gluttony (part one)
Snow falls upon the ground, every flake a shade of brilliant white. Astoria Greengrass does not understand the feeling that courses through her: the bitterness of Daphne's departure to the village of Hogsmeade is a strange emotion that she cannot process. She sits underneath a tree near the frozen lake – near enough for her to see her peers skate across the frozen ice, but remaining enough of a distance away so their excited squeals will not disturb her reading. Her knees are raised to her chest, with the book laid upon her tilted lap in a position that enables her to read the well-thumbed pages with ease, but prevents other people from seeing its contents or the book cover.
Astoria looks up indignantly when she hears a clicking sound, affronted that the person who caused it has invaded her blissful peace. She sees a familiar face, although it takes a moment for her to place the identity of the boy in front of her: the Mudblood on the train, who took photographs of the scenery as it passed, who gave her the very book that she is reading now – and most importantly of all, who insulted her with his pompous, false opinion that he knows her innermost thoughts.
“Sorry,” the boy says, smiling at her as if he had done nothing wrong the day of their first meeting. “I normally ask before I take photographs, but it was a perfect moment I just had to capture.”
Without deigning to ask Astoria's permission, the boy steps forwards and sits in the snow next to her, squeezing onto the small section of the blanket that she brought to sit on. Astoria does not like this boy; she does not like how he invades her privacy – regardless of his meaningless apology – and she despises the way he encroaches upon her personal space with a grin that she cannot understand. What behaviour of hers has encouraged this kind of demeanour from a complete stranger?
“So, Astoria,” the boy begins, but Astoria quickly interrupts.
“How did you know my name?” she asks, focusing her eyes onto the pages of the book as if she has resumed reading; she does not want to be seen to be actively participating in a conversation with a Mudblood, let alone a Gryffindor. And if any of the Slytherins see the two of them, they will assume that the boy is pestering Astoria, and that she did not do anything wrong.
“I asked around,” the boy admits. “You're friends with Draco Malfoy, so everyone knows who you are.”
Astoria looks up to face the Gryffindor, her colour-filled eyes blazing with fury as they meet his blue ones.
“I am not friends with Draco Malfoy!”
The words come out louder and harsher than she intends for them to, but she does not apologize for causing the boy to flinch in shock. Instead she stares at him, resolutely ignoring the students migrating back to the castle for their dinner, and repeats her sentence in a much quieter tone.
“I am not friends with Draco Malfoy.”
“Everyone thinks you are, though,” the boy says with a small shrug. “All the people I've spoken to have seen you two together, walking around with your sister and her friends and the other third-year boys.”
“It doesn't make us friends,” Astoria mutters. “He's horrible, a show-off, and is obsessed with Potter and Granger and Weasley. What's the big deal with them? Apart from Potter being the Boy Who Lived and being the youngest Seeker in a century and everything else he's done with his picture perfect life.”
“Are you sure you're not friends with Malfoy?” the boy asks. “That sounded like something he'd say.”
“And you'd know because?” Astoria raises an eyebrow, looking at him suspiciously.
“I really admire Harry and everything he's done,” the boy admits. “And Malfoy and his friends pick on me because of it.”
“So why don't you just keep quiet about your hero worship of Potter?”
The boy laughs, standing up and taking several steps back so that he can return to the castle – dusk somehow has arrived early, passing Astoria's notice while it has caught his.
“Why should I? That'd be letting Malfoy and his friends control what I do, who I am. That's not right. They're bullies, but I'm not going to let them win. They're not God; they don't have the right to make me do this or that just because it's what they want.”
“You're a puzzle,” Astoria states, failing to conceal the curiosity in her voice. “You draw attention from the bullies, and you hate being bullied, but you won't stop being coni– cosi– conspi– whatever the word is. You don't make sense. You're... I don't know, mysterious.”
“Mysterious but totally awesome,” the boy grins. “I mean, what makes you Slytherins better than us Gryffindors? What's to say that your house colours are silver and green because you're second best and jealous of it?”
Astoria laughs at his comment. “And what if your House colours are because your bull-like rage is the only thing that put you in first place, and not the bravery Gryffindors are renowned for? That's not much of a thing to be proud of, is it?”
“You do have a point,” the boy admits, “although that opinion would mean you just admitted that you're in second place.”
He laughs then, his brunet hair blown askew as his voice carries upon the wind. She takes a deep breath, cold air suddenly emitting from between her lips. Astoria does not understand why her responses to his words fall freely from her lips, but a part of her does not care. No-one knows of their conversation; none of her peers would believe him if he ever said that she had spoken so unfavourably about her own House, especially as he is a Mudblood – his words will always pale into insignificance next to hers.
“Who are you?” she asks, perplexed at how a Gryffindor can possibly think themselves worthy of conversing with a Slytherin, and of insulting her House.
“Colin Creevey,” he smiles, before his bubbly expression is replaced with one of dread. “No...”
Suddenly, the cold bites: bitter, freezing cold that seizes Astoria's bones through her many layers of robes and her thick fur cloak bought from the same clothing shop that Durmstrang students frequent for their winter attire. At first, she does not understand why the change in climate is so unexpectedly abrupt, until she sees Colin looking up at the sky and mimics his action.
“It's the Dementors,” he says. “They're coming.”
“No,” Astoria whispers, and icy white vapour escapes from between her lips yet again. “They're not coming.”
As if the Dementors have heard her, although she is barely audible, one of them swoops down towards the two children.
“They're already here.”
“Greedy!” Draco's sneer resonates within Astoria's mind. “Greedy stupid little fatty won't play with her friends because she's scoffing chocolate cake!”
She can feel the crumbs of the cake in question clinging to her robes unflatteringly. The melted fudge formerly between its layers is smeared across her mouth, the sticky substance causing wisps of her hair to stick to her chin. Draco is laughing, his chortle echoing all around Astoria, and she clenches her hands into fists; angry at being a source of amusement, furious that he views her as pathetic – and she feels the slice of cake break apart in her right hand, the crumbs falling onto the floor needlessly while the fudge makes her hand stickier than ever, and the sound of the chocolate buttons that decorated the top of the cake falling onto the floor is somehow louder than Draco's voice.
And then suddenly she is standing in Daphne's bedroom, eight years of age and staring into the ornate floor-length mirror with a doleful face, wincing every time her mother or Mrs Parkinson attempt to make her dress longer and wider as their fingers thoughtlessly pinch her skin through the fabric they are so desperately trying to stretch.
“Why can't you use an Enlargement Charm, Mummy?” Pansy asks, already dressed and sitting next to Daphne on the latter's bed, her hair slicked into curls. “Or make Astoria wear a different dress?”
“Enlargement Charms won't work on clothing, especially not silk,” Mrs Parkinson explains to her daughter. “Using an Enlargement Charm on this dress would just make holes in the fabric and render this dress unwearable.”
“So why don't you just make Astoria wear a different dress?” Pansy repeats. “It's Draco's birthday; I don't want to be late! He's said because I won Hide and Seek this morning I can sit next to him at the table, but I know I have to be there early or Crabbe and Goyle will steal my seat!”
“Astoria's grandfather – my father-in-law – bought this dress specifically for her to wear to Draco's party. He'll be present, so he'll notice that she isn't wearing it and be offended,” Astoria's mother states with a sour expression on her face.
“He won't if you explain it doesn't fit –” Astoria begins, but she is cut off by her mother.
“Astoria, be quiet! The dress would fit beautifully if you had eaten your dinner when you were supposed to, instead of playing games and letting it get cold. You're bloated now because you've just finished your meal, whereas if you had eaten it at one o'clock, we wouldn't be going through this charade right now!”
“But Draco –” she tries to explain.
“No buts!” her mother snaps angrily. “There. That'll do – but you're not to eat anything at the Malfoys', not even the birthday cake. And no running around playing Hide and Seek like you were this morning – I wish I'd told Caspian to buy a size larger than normal; I obviously can't trust you not to play with your food these days.”
Astoria watches sadly as her mother and Mrs Parkinson rise and leave the room, most likely to fetch their cloaks before they disembark on their journey to the Malfoys'. And then something grazes her cheek, and she looks down to identify what it is before seeing that it is Pansy's hairclip – a small bouquet of pansies blooming – and then Pansy herself laughs.
“Pick it up, Astoria.”
“Why should I?” she asks.
“Don't, Pansy,” Daphne pleads, evidently understanding Pansy's strange behaviour while Astoria does not.
“Astoria, pick it up,” Pansy hisses. “Or I'll tell your mummy that you weren't being nice to me, and she's not very happy with you at the moment, is she?”
For a moment the two stare at each other: Pansy's raven curls so unsuitable for the shortness of her hair that they stick out in all the wrong places despite the effect of multiple charms, and her piercing blue eyes stare into Astoria's chameleon-like eyes, before surveying the chocolate hair that is normally allowed loose, but today has been forced into tight plaits that pull at the roots of Astoria's hair whenever she moves her head. Eventually Astoria surrenders to the older girl, and bends down to pick up the flowery hairpiece. She winces when she hears the sound of the silk ripping at her movement, before feeling cold air touch her bare skin through the now gaping hole in the side of her dress. Pansy only laughs further, and finally Astoria realizes that the destruction of her dress was intended.
“It was her fault!” she blurts out when her mother walks back into the room and exclaims at the state of Astoria's dress.
“I didn't touch her!” Pansy gasps in mock horror, and Astoria's mother waves her wand. Evidently whatever spell she performs indicates that Pansy is telling the truth – that she did not touch Astoria.
“Don't you lie to me, Astoria Lettice Greengrass,” she hisses. “I'm going to find your grandfather and ask him to babysit you, since we don't have the time to squeeze you into another dress. See – you've spoiled his afternoon too; he can't socialize with the other children's grandparents because he has to look after you, all because you can't do as you're told!”
With that, she swiftly leaves the room, allowing the door to slam behind her with a resounding thud that echoes throughout the Greengrass mansion. Astoria turns to Pansy with an expression of hurt.
“Why did you do that?”
Pansy shrugs casually, unaffected by the distress that her actions have caused.
“I heard Draco's mummy tell your mummy that she was going to let you sit next to Draco. You don't deserve to sit next to him; you're just a baby. He deserves a big girl, a clever girl, and that's me, not you.”
Astoria raises an eyebrow sceptically, hearing the voice of Mrs Parkinson calling for her Pansykins and Daphne, and the two of them rise from Daphne's bed to leave the room. Before Pansy steps out of the bedroom however, she turns back to Astoria and utters one final sentence.
“Although now I think about it, I probably didn't need to stop you from going. As if Draco would ever think about having a girlfriend who's a fatty!”
“Fatty! Fatty! Fatty!”
Pansy's voice cackles dangerously close to Astoria's ears as she stands in the Slytherin third-year girls' dormitory, the former's laughter echoing through the dungeon. Astoria stands sheepishly in the middle of the room, surrounded by the very girls she despises – Millicent Bulstrode, Tracey Davis and most of all, Pansy. Daphne is the only exception, but even Astoria is beginning to become disinclined towards her sister as Daphne continues reading their mother's letter aloud, indulging in her own selfish annoyance at the words instead of protecting Astoria's privacy.
“It's only been two months since Astoria started Hogwarts, Daphne; she can't possibly require new school jumpers so soon. She's got two sizes, just like you, and the bigger size is for when the old ones don't fit. Why can't she wear the bigger jumpers? – unless you're trying to tell me that she's so overweight that the larger jumpers won't fit, either? And if that's the case, I want you to get her nose out of those books she's always reading and make her do some exercise. Ask Draco to teach her how to fly – the exercise from that should slim her back down.” At this, Pansy suddenly silences herself with a cry that sounds reminiscent of a person being strangled. “I'm not allowing my daughter to become grossly overweight; we do want to find her a suitable husband instead of scraping the barrel of eligible pure-bloods and then begging them to marry her.”
Astoria looks at her sister with eyes that are tinged with shame, but Daphne merely rummages in her trunk before removing two of her jumpers and proffering them to Astoria.
“Here. You can borrow those, and I'll wear my bigger jumpers for now. Mum gave me some money for the Hogsmeade weekend at Halloween, and there's this shop in Hogsmeade that sells spare school supplies. I'll buy you some bigger jumpers.”
“Why won't Astoria's fit?” Tracey Davis asks, lying upon her bed.
“Because she's fat,” Pansy says before Daphne barely has a chance to open her mouth.
“No she isn't!” Daphne shouts, surprising even Pansy – the older Greengrass daughter is usually shy and reserved, so her outburst is unexpected to them all. Turning to Tracey, she speaks in a calmer tone. “The arms are too short, and the shoulders are too tight. She can't even move her arms properly because the shoulders are awkward, so she can't do spells properly because of the restricted movement when she's wearing her jumpers. Snape even shouted at her in Potions because she wasn't able to put the lacewings in fast enough to stabilize her potion, so it exploded all over her. And because it's winter term, wearing our jumpers is mandatory so she'll lose points and get detention if she doesn't wear hers.”
“But that's the same problem I had with my school jumpers last year,” Tracey frowns in confusion. “Astoria's just growing up, that's all, Pansy. It's only puppy fat. Some kids go through puberty really slowly, some go through it fast. She must be one of those fast ones.”
Astoria's eyes widen at Tracey's admission of enduring the same problem as her, when Tracey rivals Pansy in skinniness. Perhaps her belief that Daphne wears rose-tinted glasses when it comes to Astoria is misplaced after all; perhaps Daphne is genuinely telling the truth when she insists that Astoria is not fat? Pansy begins to raise her voice and argue with Tracey, so Astoria takes the jumpers from Daphne with a grateful smile and exits the third-year dormitory before descending the stairs towards her own bedroom. As she passes a group of older girls, she loses her footing on the circular stairway and barges into a blonde girl.
“Watch where you're going, fatty!” another girl shouts at Astoria, steadying her blonde friend.
She stands speechless as the older girls walk upstairs to their dormitory. If strangers consider her fat – complete strangers who are not biased like Pansy or Daphne – although for different reasons – then surely their words must be the truth? And as for Tracey; the Davises are a tainted half-blood family; even their pure-blood relatives can only be traced back six generations – and as such, are not invited to the same events that the Greengrasses are, so the first time Astoria and Tracey met was last month, on September the first. Maybe Tracey was fat last year, just like Astoria is now, and that is why they share the same problem with their jumpers? The more Astoria dwells on this theory, standing frozen on the concrete steps of Slytherin Dungeon, the more the suggestion that she is overweight makes perfect sense to her.
Maybe that means that she is?
Author's Note: The quote that Colin says, "Mysterious but totally awesome," is from teh tarik who has kindly allowed me to use and slightly alter the quote. The original quote is "Mysterious but totes awesome". Thanks, teh!
And to the readers - thank you for reading and I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter! :)
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