Chapter 5 : A... Truce?
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I really, really didn’t want to be awake just yet. I was very much enjoying my dream about the Ravenclaw-Gryffindor Quidditch game, thank you very much.
Although I didn’t quite understand why I was playing as a Beater.
I looked over at the clock next to my bed: five o’clock, just like my wake-up time every other day of the summer. However, today wasn’t just any other day. Today was the day I finally got to go back to Hogwarts. That alone put me in a very good mood, and I tied the laces on my running shoes with extra vigor.
As I ran, I mentally double-checked that I had everything ready for my departure. My final departure. Provided I could find an apartment immediately after graduation (and I would do anything to make sure this was the case), I was gone from this house for good as soon as I left at eleven. The freedom was so, so sweet. I ran down my checklist once again, and by that time, I had arrived at the house, where Pinky was already waiting with a cold glass of water. I thanked her, and ran up the stairs. It was a routine.
In the center of the room sat my trunk, already loaded and shut, with Willow sitting inside her cage on top. I had started packing almost a week ago, taking the utmost care that everything in the trunk was arranged exactly how I wanted it.
I took my time in the shower, relishing that it was the last time I would ever use this particular one. That was a little sad, considering it had jets of water from all sides and could infuse the water with any scent I chose. However, leaving my parents more than made up for the loss of pretty-smelling water. By a long shot.
I got dressed, putting on a pair of khaki shorts and a dark green V-neck shirt and sliding a pair of leather sandals on my feet. I dried my hair as well, and yanked it up into its familiar ponytail. Simply because I knew my mother would say something to me about it before I left, I put on a light dusting of powder and a quick coat of mascara, before spraying my neck with perfume and flouncing out of the bathroom, feeling as if I was walking on air.
Too happy to be bothered with going downstairs, I pulled a protein bar out of the top of my trunk, and quickly ate it, while flipping through the Prophet, as was my usual morning routine. The “Society” section mentioned something about the Potter-Weasley family, but I skipped past it, as the goings on of wizard celebrities really wasn’t high on my priority list. Instead, I found an interesting article on a new piece of legislation that was about to be passed regarding transportation of hippogriffs – apparently there had been some sort of accident that resulted in a missing arm, and the Ministry was cracking down to prevent it from happening again. I chuckled to myself – honestly, who was stupid enough to approach a hippogriff first showing it respect? We really wouldn’t need all these laws if people just stopped being idiots.
I flopped back onto my bed, letting exhaustion pull me into a brief nap.
I slept dreamlessly, for once, without the disturbance of Potter in my nap. However, when I woke up, I glanced at the clock. Damn, it was ten already. I probably needed say goodbye to my parents before I Apparated to the train station, which I would do at first chance, since I had no problem with being almost an hour early.
I walked down to my father’s study, because out of the two parents, his location was the most predictable. However, before I got there, I nearly ran straight into my mother.
She looked at me irritably. “Now where are you going?” She asked suspiciously.
“I’m leaving soon, so I was coming to let you two know.” I told her matter-of-factly, looking straight into her dark blue eyes, which were mirror images of my own.
“Oh. Alright then.” She snapped, and with that, she walked away from me. That was my final goodbye. Three words. But hey, at least she didn’t say anything rude. For once.
One down. One to go. I could do this.
I walked into my father’s study, and saw him sitting in his large leather chair. Next to him sat two empty bottles of Firewhiskey, and he had a third clutched in his hand. Merlin, that was even more that usual. He was dozing off in his chair.
“Father?” I asked hesitantly, half-hoping he wouldn’t hear me.
But he did. “What do you want?” He asked gruffly. This was becoming a pattern of greeting.
“I’m leaving for school soon; I was just saying goodbye.” I said warily, moving towards the door.
With a massive amount of effort, he heaved himself up off his chair and began to stagger towards me. Seeing as my back was literally against a wall, I didn’t exactly have a place to go.
I waited tentatively, not knowing what to expect. If he tried to hug me, it would be about as awkward as hugging Voldemort, which Uncle Draco once told me was quite possibly the most uncomfortable experience of his life.
Apparently there was an awkward back pat in there and everything.
His eyes had a malicious gleam. “What a disgrace,” He muttered under his breath, and with that, he raised his hand.
I tried to jump out of the way, but I had seen his intent too late. With a loud SLAP, his hand connected with my arm. Pain shot up my arm like sparks, and I gasped from the impact.
“Now get out of my sight.” He ordered me, raising the other hand to point to the door.
As quickly as I could, I fled the room, shutting the door behind me. Sure, he had yelled at me plenty of times before, but never had he made physical contact. I stood on the outside of his door, catching my breath and re-living the incident. I looked down at my arm, and sure enough, an angry red handprint was left just above my elbow. Just as a test, I poked it.
Because, you know, that’s a smart idea. The touch burned like fire, and I quickly removed my finger.
I hurried back to my room, knowing that these were most likely the final memories I would have of my parents. But then again, I didn’t care. It wasn’t like any of the previous ones were any more endearing. To them, I was and always would be a blood traitor, meaning I was no better than a Muggle-born itself.
Once again, I looked down at my arm. Walking onto the train with that showing would be a sure-fire way to attract attention, and if I was going to be noticed on the train, it would be for the two badges on my robes, not the welt on my arm.
I reached into my trunk, and grabbed the first sweatshirt I could find. It was ratty and grey, and only reached my belly button, but I was in too much of a rush to look for anything else. I rolled the sleeves up so they sat just below my elbows, and as I glanced in the mirror, the addition actually looked natural, like I had planned to wear the sweatshirt, not that I had thrown it on to cover something up.
I grabbed my trunk and Willow’s cage and Apparated onto Platform 9 ¾. When I got there, the area was already packed.
There were scared looking kids, probably off for their first year at Hogwarts, who were looking pale as their parents tried to encourage them, and tell them how much fun school was going to be. There were also a bunch of reunited friends, and the platform was filled with excited squeals.
Suddenly, I was assaulted by my own personal squeal, and I felt someone jump onto my back. “Maaadisoooon!” Alexa yelled, stretching out the vowels of my name as I attempted to remove her. However, after years of this, Alexa had a technique as to how to stay on my back as long as she wanted too.
She proceeded to jump off my back, and spin me around so that I was facing her.
“Oh my gosh, Maddy, I have so much to tell you!” she gushed. She was a lot tanner than usual, probably due to the time she spent in Egypt. “I met so many boys! There was one in Egypt who had the most amazing abs, and another guy in Australia who could sing, like, REALLY WELL.” Trust Alexa to spend most of her trip chasing after guys.
“I can’t wait to hear about it, Alexa! Now, let’s go find the Head’s compartment, I’m sure they won’t mind if I bring a guest.” I said, hoping she’d catch on to my good news. I hadn’t had a chance to tell her in my letters.
She did. “You got Head Girl, Maddy? YAY! I mean, I knew you’d get it and all, but now it’s confirmed. That is so cool!” She beamed at me, and I returned with a smile just as big.
We walked onto the train, and found our way into the Heads compartment. Unlike the usual train compartments, it was big and spacious, two huge plush couches, ample floor room, a table in the middle, and a set of shelves filled with various treats, complimentary to the Heads.
We lounged comfortably onto the couches; she laid across one and I sat with my legs crossed in the middle of the other one. I listened to her as she raved about all of the great things she did over the summer. Finally, she asked me, “How was your summer?”
“Oh, it was the usual, a lot of running, reading, and flying.” I told her, leaving out the fact that I spent did most of that with one main goal: avoiding my parents.
“Flying over my house, to be specific.” A smirking James Potter stood at the door to the compartment, followed by his friends.
“That only happened once, Potter, and you know it.” I glared at him, which only resulted in his smirk widening. “Plus, this compartment is for Heads and friends of the Heads only.”
“That’s the thing, Flint, we are friends of the Head.” Weasley added, looking ready to burst with laughter.
How on earth did one of them end up Head Boy? Sure, Johnson was Prefect, but I had expected the Ravenclaw Prefect, Jackson Davies, to end up Head Boy, not Johnson. I assumed his association with Potter and Weasley would automatically bump him out of the running.
“Congrats, Johnson.” I said, plastering a smile on my face. At least he wasn’t unbearable.
Johnson looked at me mischievously. “I’m not Head Boy,” He said, a small smirk playing across his features.
I cocked my head to the side, as if the action would suddenly allow the answer to pour into my upturned ear.
At this point, all four boys were smirking at me as I sat there in confusion.
“Then which one of you is it?” I asked curiously.
“Me.” Potter answered proudly.
I couldn’t help it – I burst into laughter. If they were going to try to pull this, they should have at least chosen someone who could plausibly been Head Boy. “Wow,” I said as I caught my breath, “You guys really had me going for a second! Now get out, I’m sure the real Head Boy is probably needing to get in soon; we need to review notes for the first meeting.”
Potter looked a little uncomfortable, and slightly offended by my bout of laughter. “But, I really am Head Boy.” He said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a badge. It looked exactly like mine, except it read “Head Boy” instead of “Head Girl.”
My jaw dropped. James Potter… Head Boy? He was always getting into trouble – how did he get the most prestigious position in the entire school? McGonagall must have finally been knocked off her rocker, because Potter was certainly not the best choice for the job. Hell, half the school was a better choice for the job. What was she thinking?
Potter smiled at me and plopped down right next to me on the couch. “So, didn’t you want to review notes, Flint?” He sounded almost… civil?
“I think I should probably change into my robes, so I look professional for the meeting and all.” I said as I stood up, grabbing my robes and leaving the room.
“I’ll go with you,” He added, and followed me out of the compartment. Ugh, the guy was infuriating. Could he not leave me alone for one second? I turned on him.
“How the heck did you make Head Boy? Is this McGonagall’s idea of a sick joke? Because it sure isn’t funny.” I said, essentially exploding in his face.
He stood there in shock, and I used the free moment to storm away. However, before I could, he grabbed my arm. My right arm, just above my elbow, where a massive welt sat from my father’s hand. As he pulled me back towards him, I yelped unconsciously and yanked my arm out of his grasp.
James noticed my evident pain, and let go immediately, concern washing over his features. “What’s wrong?” He asked.
I quickly tried to come up with something. “Erm… Quidditch. I hurt my arm playing Quidditch.” I muttered. Wow, Madison, real convincing. I don’t even play over the summer, with the exception of flying around. Normally I’m actually a pretty good liar, but, for some reason, my brain spouted off the stupidest possible excuse ever.
He probably knew that, and I could tell he didn’t believe me.
“If you’ll excuse me, Potter,” I muttered as I turned away, a faint blush creeping up my features as I realized we were standing only a few inches apart.
Why did James think he had the right to snoop into my life like that? I was just some girl he played cat-and-mouse with, nothing more.
I quickly hurried down the train hallway until I found the loo, where I quickly changed into my robes. As I was straightening my tie, I felt the train lurch forward. Shit. I was late for the Prefect’s meeting, and it was all Potter’s fault. If I hadn’t been irritated with him before, I was now.
I basically ran to the Prefect’s compartment, before realizing I had left my meeting notes in my trunk. Well, it looked like I’d be winging this one.
I entered the Prefect compartment to see all eyes on me, including Potter’s. Out of all of them, his happened to be the ones I caught. His eyes still showed concern, but I shook myself out of it, and started the meeting.
“Alright, Prefects, I’m your new Head Girl, Madison Flint, and this here’s your new Head Boy, James Potter.” I started, pointing to Potter as I spoke, and fighting off the inevitable scowl that came with acknowledging that he was Head Boy.
“At the end of the meeting, I’ll pass around a calendar for the month, and you can sign up for your patrolling dates. Please, if at all possible, try to serve duty with someone outside of your House, for the sake of promoting inter-House unity.” I said.
“In addition, the first Hogsmeade visit will be on October 30. Please put this on the bulletin boards in your respective Houses. I think that’s about all that needs to be covered in this meeting. Potter, do you have anything to add?” I looked at him, expecting him to blow me off and dismiss the Prefects. However, he surprised me by standing up and beginning to talk.
“This year, make sure you treat all the Houses equally. Don’t just take excess points from a House that isn’t your own purely for the fun of it. You have a prestigious position, so don’t waste it,” he said.
He was basically telling off the behaviour that I expected him to take part in. What happened to the Potter I’d previously had the displeasure of associating with? Hopefully, he'd fallen into a deep, dark hole.
While the Prefects filed out of the compartment, James looked down at me, with that same look of concern he had worn earlier.
“Madison, tell me what happened, because we both know you were lying earlier,” he pleaded. He used my first name again. It sent weird shivers down my spine and I didn’t like it one bit.
“Potter, I don’t feel like talking about it, and even if I did, it’s none of your business. And don’t call me Madison!” I snapped back, irritated by his advances. There was the old Potter again, back from that pit he'd been in for the past few minutes.
It was like he expected me to fall like jelly into his arms and tell him all of my problems. I mentally scoffed. Like that was ever going to happen.
With that, I turned on my heel and left the compartment, heading back to the Head’s compartment, where I at least had the security of company, even if some of it was Potter’s pigheaded friends. At least it was better than being alone with the pighead king himself.
I successfully made it through the train ride and into the Great Hall without being confronted again by Potter. Why couldn’t he get it through his thick head that my life was none of his business?
“… And that concludes our Sorting Hat ceremony.” McGonagall said, making her way to the podium to make her start-of-term remarks. Apparently, I had missed the entire ceremony while drowning in my own thoughts
“Students,” McGonagall’s voice filled the Hall, and everyone automatically fell silent. She seemed to have that effect on people, and I was never sure if there was a spell involved or not. “Welcome to another year at Hogwarts. For some it is your first, and for others, it is your last.” She paused dramatically. “I have a few important things that need to be said. The Forbidden Forest is off-limits. Also, please do not attempt to damage the Whomping Willow, as it will most likely end in a visit to the Hospital Wing.”
Ever since third year, when Benny Middleton had attempted to ride one of the branches of the Willow and been thrown over fifty feet in the air, she had to remind students of this. Honestly, the stupid things people do.
“Finally, after dinner, Heads will report to my office. That is all. Enjoy your dinner.” She finished her speech and instantly, food appeared in front of us. I hadn’t eaten lunch on the train, so I was ravenously hungry. Watch it, Madison. Once again, I heard my mother’s reprimands inside my head. I grabbed a slice of turkey and a small scoop of mashed potatoes. I ate quietly, talking only to Alexa, and avoiding the staring eyes of a certain someone who I really didn’t want to have to deal with at the moment.
After dinner, I started to make my way to McGonagall’s office, but as I left, Potter decided to follow me out. Logically, it made sense, since we were both headed to the same place, but I just really didn’t want a confrontation again.
He opened his mouth to speak, but I beat him to it. “Drop it, Potter. If I wanted you to know the intricate details of my life, you would. But clearly, I don’t, and I also don’t see why you’re suddenly so concerned about my life.” I snapped at him.
He stared back down at me quizzically for a moment before replying, “Fine, Flint, but I will find out someday. But before we walk into McGonagall’s office, we need to set something straight. We can’t spend this entire year bickering. We’re supposed to be role models for the younger students, and we can’t do that if we’re constantly screaming at each other. So, what do you say? Truce?”
I stood there, momentarily flabbergasted as he extended his hand. I looked at his hand warily. “Does this mean you won’t ask me out anymore?"
“Sure.” He replied and I could have sworn I heard a hint of regret. Probably because he would miss watching me turn all shades of pink after he embarrassed the absolute crap out of me. That was all it was, after all.
“Fine,” I muttered, grabbing his hand and shaking it, before turning to the gargoyles and telling them the password to the Headmistress’s office.
We walked into the office, where McGonagall was sitting at her desk. “Sit down,” She instructed, as she conjured two chairs right in front of her desk.
We both obliged, sitting quickly so that she could get on with her speech. She talked about upcoming events and the like, and to be perfectly honest, I kind of tuned her out to let my brain run wild.
How long was this truce going to last? It probably wouldn’t last very long, and we’d be in a screaming match in the Charms corridor in a matter of two weeks. I don’t think he could be not-annoying for longer than 24 hours. The back of my mind felt the need to remind me that he had been relatively civil today, were it not for the fact that he felt the need to find out who slapped me. I shushed that portion of my thoughts, and returned to the original ones.
I was snapped back to attention as Potter began to stand up – clearly the meeting was over. Had I really missed all that? I stood up quickly and went to follow him, but instead turned back to McGonagall, remembering the burning question that had been at the forefront of my mind for most of the day.
“I’m sorry, Headmistress, I don’t mean to be rude, but I was just wondering something.” I said.
“You’re wondering why I chose Mr. Potter as Head Boy, am I correct?” After I vigorously nodded, she continued. “I hoped the position would help his maturity. Headmaster Dumbledore had quite a bit of success with that last time he tried it, with some, unintended, but rather pleasant consequences.” She smiled at me sympathetically, as I stood there dazed, and somewhat confused by her last comment.
Nonetheless, I gathered the scattered pieces of my mind and headed out the door, where I saw a rather impatient James Potter waiting for me.
“What were you talking to her about?” He asked curiously, as we started walking towards the common room.
I could have lied to him, but after the previous debacle I didn’t feel like lying anymore. “I was asking what possessed her to make you Head Boy,” I told him honestly.
He looked quite amused. “And what did she say?”
“She thought it would help you grow up a little faster.” I told him, brushing past.
He chuckled at that, and stopped, which I didn’t realize until I looked behind me.
“Potter? Why are you stopped in the middle of the hall?” I asked him, as he turned towards a tapestry.
He looked at me with amusement. “It’s a shortcut.” He pulled the tapestry aside, revealing a staircase. I turned back towards him, and he followed behind me as I entered. The thought occurred to me that I was letting James Potter lead me down an empty corridor, and that I probably shouldn’t trust him. But we were at a truce for now, so I guess it was okay.
The conversation came to a halt, and we both continued walking in silence, until we finally reached the portrait hole.
“Animos,” James told the portrait, and the Fat Lady looked at us oddly for a moment before swinging open.
“Both of them, I can’t believe it,” I heard her mutter, but I quickly brushed it off. She had the tendency to talk about the strangest things.
I walked away from Potter without another word, up towards the seventh year’s dormitory.
As I entered, I was immediately struck by the sense of familiarity. Well, at least there’s one thing that hasn’t been turned on its head this year.
“How was that Head’s meeting of yours?” Alexa asked, smirking slightly as she looked up from the magazine she was reading.
“Well, Potter didn’t ask me out, so that’s a plus,” I commented, flopping down onto my own bed.
“Well maybe he’s finally come to his senses,” one of my roommates commented. I didn’t need a half a brain to recognize who it was: Gigi.
Gigi Rogers was one of those people who was too perfect for her own good. She was gorgeous, and one of the most popular girls in the school. She had blonde hair, similar to mine, but hers behaved, and fell in a stick-straight line down her back. She was petite and skinny, too; basically every guy’s dream. Except, as it seemed, James Potter, who she had been crushing on for ages. I would know, because I had to hear about it daily for the past six years.
She also hated me. I didn’t really understand it, because I’d never done anything to her, but she just could not stand me.
And because she didn’t like me, neither did Francesca. Francesca was her best friend, and the two were inseparable: the Queen Bees of the school. They each played off the other’s looks perfectly, as Francesca’s hair was dark and wavy, and she had a curvier figure that left most guys drooling.
Yolanda wasn’t bad, per say. She just never spoke, at least to us. She was a Dutch transfer student, and chose not to speak English. Instead, she and her Hufflepuff twin sister, whose name I didn’t exactly know, could be seen together at nearly all times, whispering to each other in Dutch, their matching blonde hair plaited down their backs.
“Hopefully,” I replied back, trying to play off her comment. As usual, I didn’t do a very good job of it.
It’s honestly a wonder Alexa decided to befriend me in first year, when she could have befriended Gigi and Francesca. I mean, they were all kind of similar, personality-wise.
I asked her about it in second year or so. She said something about not wanting to be friends with “girls so shallow they couldn’t even be considered kiddie pools.”
I grabbed my pajamas, and headed for the bathroom.
They may not have been the most enjoyable of roommates, but it was a hell of a lot better than spending a summer at Flint Manor.
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