Chapter 3 : Gluttony (Part Two)
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The author "S. Cartwright" and the "excerpt" from his book are both fictional and written by me. Any similiarities to published books are unintentional.
Stunning CI made by Apocalypse @ TDA!
gluttony (part two)
When Daphne Greengrass hears the sound of the doors to the hospital wing opening, she springs up from her chair and turns around quickly, expecting her parents and Professor Dumbledore, but instead she is faced with her friends Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson. Astoria is lying silently in the hospital bed next to Daphne, her dark chocolate hair sprawled across the pillow as she sleeps, although her face betrays a nightmare-filled slumber. Daphne takes a hesitant glance at her sister before turning to her friends. She does not understand why they are present when they have never been particularly close to Astoria, even going far enough to treat her with the very disdain that they – and she – usually reserve for Mudbloods.
“What are you doing here?” she asks, a slight tone of concern in her voice.
“Millicent was with you in the Three Broomsticks when Professor Snape came to fetch you after Astoria's fainting incident,” Pansy simpers. “She thought I might want to know – and of course I did, because I'm your best friend and I'm here to support you during such a worrying time! Draco's here because he's a true gentleman and offered to accompany me so I wouldn't have to travel back alone in a carriage – imagine if I had had to sit with Mudbloods!”
Daphne does not answer Pansy, instead silently thinking that if she had to walk through throngs of filthy Mudbloods and Muggles who are filthier still, she would do so if Astoria needed her. Pansy has always claimed to consider Daphne the sister that she never had, but Daphne has long since realized that she and Pansy have differing opinions on what defines a sister.
“It's okay, Pansy,” she says with a weak smile. “You can go to the Great Hall and have dinner with everyone else. Professor's Dumbledore's owled my parents; they should be on their way right now.”
Pansy turns and leaves, taking Draco's hand to lead him to their dinner. However, to both girls' surprise, Draco shrugs off Pansy's hand. When she turns to him with a querying expression, he merely smiles and says that he has to see Madam Pomfrey because his right arm hurts so after he was attacked by that monstrous Hippogriff belonging to their half-breed Care of Magical Creatures professor. Why shouldn't he visit her right now, since he is in the hospital wing? Pansy nods – she cannot argue with her beloved Draco – and sets off alone. Draco turns to face Daphne, his grey eyes glinting with an emotion that she cannot name.
“How is Astoria?” he asks, and Daphne makes an indescribable noise in the process of strangling an ear-splitting scream.
“Take a wild guess,” Daphne asks warily, turning back to look at Astoria. The younger Greengrass sister is now tossing and turning in her sleep, and Draco motions to wake her, but Daphne stops him.
“You can't. Madam Pomfrey said the Dementors would make her have nightmares, and we can't wake her up before she wakes up by herself. Why do you care anyway, Draco? It's hardly out of affection, is it?”
“How would you know?” he asks scornfully.
Daphne scoffs, glaring at her fellow Slytherin. “How many times have you told Astoria that she's fat, or insinuated that she needs to lose weight? How many times have you made her feel guilty for choosing chocolate cake instead of less calorific puddings? She's twelve, Draco, she doesn't need to worry about her weight.”
“Pansy's skinnier than she is – than you both are,” Draco retorts. “No-one's going to like Astoria if she looks like that dreadful portrait of your Great-Aunt Hepzibah, is she?”
“Astoria's nowhere near the weight that Great-Aunt Hepzibah was!” Daphne snaps, desperate to shriek angrily at Draco but fighting to keep her voice as quiet as possible so that she does not wake Astoria. “You can't compare her weight to Pansy! Pansy makes herself sick after every meal so that she doesn't put on weight, just because you tell that resembling a lacewing is beautiful! Pansy is so skinny, Madam Pomfrey's been threatening to admit her to St Mungo's if she doesn't put on at least half a stone! Pansy puts her life at risk because you tell her to, and I will not let Astoria do the same!”
Draco's expression is one of utter shock, while Daphne gasps for breath heavily after her outburst. It feels like years ago since she argued with Astoria on Platform Nine and Three Quarters, although it has been just shy of three months. Back then, she had been utterly convinced that Draco was a refined pure-blood wizard with geniality and nobility as just two of his impeccable traits – something that all the adults and Pansy also believed. She had never understood how Astoria hated Draco so much, but now she does. Now, she regrets that she allowed her jealousy of Astoria's close friendship with their grandfather to rule her emotions, because now that Astoria does not have their grandfather to comfort her, the consequences of the bullying she endures from Draco and Pansy affect her more than they ever did and they have finally become visible to Daphne in ways that they did not before.
The blond wizard is about to say something, but he is prevented from doing so by the doors of the hospital wing opening once more, this time to reveal Mr and Mrs Greengrass, accompanied by Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. Daphne is greeted by her mother with a wail of shock at the restless Astoria and tears upon Daphne's shoulder as the latter is engulfed into a hug by the hysterical woman. She is only vaguely aware of Poppy Pomfrey rushing out of her office to explain the seriousness of Astoria's condition in as few words as possible before asking Daphne's father to kindly remove his wife before she wakes Astoria – her mother is, in true Letitia Greengrass fashion, ignoring every word spoken despite their importance.
“Come on, Letty,” Daphne's father says, putting his hands upon his wife's arms and gently steering her towards Snape, apparently expecting the speechless Head of Slytherin to take care of the crying woman, oblivious to the horror-struck expression upon the raven-haired wizard's face.
Before she leaves, however, Letitia takes a glance back towards Astoria and spots Daphne's shopping bags from Hogsmeade. Frowning at the bag labelled Madam Malkin's, – the shop is a smaller branch than the one in Diagon Alley, usually frequented by students who have lost or damaged their uniform – she Summons it with a wave of her wand and retrieves its contents before turning to Daphne with a glare.
“Jumpers? Why have you purchased jumpers? If you required new jumpers, Daphne, all you had to do was ask.”
“I did!” Daphne answers.
“No, you didn't. You only asked for jumpers for Astoria.” It is then that she understands, and her glare becomes more deathly. “Daphne Letitia Greengrass, I told you that Astoria did not require new jumpers!” she says with a shriek, and everybody else winces – not at Letitia's expression of rage, but at the glass-shattering decibels of her voice. “How dare you blatantly disobey me? I am your mother!”
Astoria stirs from her sleep groggily, pushing off the duvet that was previously covering her body.
“Water,” she croaks. “It's so hot.”
Madam Pomfrey frowns as she rushes to tend to Astoria, as does their father. Letitia ignores her daughter, focusing on how Daphne has disobeyed her. Instead of remaining at Astoria's bedside, she simply motions towards her youngest child while continuing to reprimand Daphne.
“Look at her! Her jumper's loose! How can the arms be too short, and the chest be too tight?”
“Her jumper's loose because it's not hers; it's mine!” Daphne exclaims. “I'm wearing the jumpers I'm meant to wear next summer so that Astoria can wear mine! Ask Professor Snape – she couldn't move her arms quickly enough to put lacewings in her potion before it exploded all over her! Astoria's the oldest Slytherin in her year, perhaps even in the whole year – she needed a uniform for second-years, not first. If you had bothered to let Madam Malkin spend time measuring her instead of buying clothes without trying them on so that we could go to lunch with Pansy and Mrs Parkinson, you would have known that!”
Letitia glances at Snape, who nods frostily, confirming Daphne's reference to the occurrence in his lesson is the truth.
“You could have explained this to me, Daphne,” she says. “If you had spoken about the impact upon her schooling in your letter, I would have been more receptive to your request.”
“But I did!” Daphne cries out in horror. “I told you!”
“Daphne,” her mother sighs, “you're a Greengrass. Greengrasses don't lie.” Turning to her husband, she continues. “Come, Darius. We know Astoria is well – the fact she is awake proves that – and I do not wish to remain in the same room as the despicable liar who calls herself my daughter.”
With a few footsteps, both of Daphne's parents have disappeared as quickly as they came, Severus Snape escorting them out of the castle. The Hogwarts Headmaster and Madam Pomfrey take a few steps away from Astoria's bedside and converse quietly in the corner. Astoria has fallen back asleep, her recovery still incomplete. Daphne turns to look her sister, glad to see that this time her sleep is peaceful. She loves Astoria and she always will. But there will always be times when she despairs of Astoria's attitude; of the way that Astoria thinks that because they're Greengrasses, they deserve so much more than they have.
All Daphne wants is for Astoria to be normal.
Astoria's eyes flicker open in the darkness of the hospital wing, sparsely lit with flickers emitting from the flames located in the lamps adorning the walls. They show enough light for Madam Pomfrey – and presumably any professors bringing in sick students – to get around the hospital wing, but dim enough to avoid waking any students. She feels refreshed, as if she has just slept for a hundred years, and she looks around in search for the school's medi-witch, wondering why she has been admitted to the hospital wing.
And then she remembers. The boy. She remembers the boy; the Mudblood in the year above her. He was laughing, smiling... but then all of the mirth written upon his face faded away in mere seconds. What happened?
“Miss Greengrass?” Madam Pomfrey has suddenly appeared, as if she had Apparated although Astoria knows this is not possible. “Are you feeling better?”
Astoria nods as the medi-witch bustles around the bed, examining her before conjuring a bowl of soup and some slices of bread in front of her.
“What happened?” Astoria asks, blowing on the soup in an attempt to cool it.
“You were in the grounds, walking back to the castle. Mr Creevey was nearby, saw the Dementors approaching and warned you. The two of you ran back to the castle, but you tripped and sprained your ankle. Mr Creevey went to get help, saw Professor Lupin in the Entrance Hall and requested his assistance. Professor Lupin cast a Patronus Charm to drive the Dementors away and brought you here. If it hadn't been for Mr Creevey, I'm sure the Dementors would have Kissed you.”
It is a relief to Astoria that the Mudblood boy did not divulge their conversation; apparently, he possesses some common sense – something most Mudbloods do not. She is not ashamed to admit to herself that this fact is much more important to her than the Dementors' Kiss; she is alive, and her priority is on the consequences of what might alter her future instead of what has already happened.
Another student calls out, and Madam Pomfrey quickly excuses herself to attend to her duties, leaving Astoria alone once more. She puts her bowl of soup and the plate of bread on the bedside cabinet so that it can cool down to a more consumable temperature, not daring to interrupt Madam Pomfrey to ask if she can cast a very mild Freezing Charm – she can see that the medi-witch is busy catering to the other student, who is complaining loudly. After discarding her empty bowl and plate, Astoria notices her school satchel sitting at the foot of her bed and leans over to retrieve the book she adores reading. She traces the title with her finger, wondering if she will ever have the opportunity to meet S. Cartwright and ask him if the seven deadly sins consumed him as much as they consume Astoria at present. She opens the book fully, allowing the pages to fall to a random page – like Colin, Astoria has read this book from cover to cover multiple times – and eventually it settles on a random page.
Defining the sin of Gluttony, Astoria reads, can occasionally be a difficult task. It is a common preconception that Gluttony refers to the overindulgence of food. However, Gluttony is actually an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires. While food is the most common example, an excess of anything can define Gluttony – toys, television, sex or company are other lesser-known examples. The three most common forms of Gluttony are as follows:
#1. Wanting more pleasure from something than it was made for.
#2. Wanting it exactly our way. (Also known as delicacy.)
#3. Demanding too much from other people. (Time, presence, behaviour.)
Astoria closes the book quickly, her heart beating violently against her ribcage. She hates this segment of the book, despite the fact that she continues to read it whenever she reads it from cover to cover – a task she can easily accomplish in one evening. And the reason that she despises it so much is that it reminds her of her family. Her mother is a perfect example of the second form of gluttony; Letitia Greengrass demands utter perfection from everybody. She complains if Daphne gets a single A, even if it was just one A in the whole year and all her other grades are Os or Es. She even pretends that Astoria is still small, and petite, just like Daphne is, when Astoria is anything but.
Even her father is gluttonous; he seeks company from what her mother disdainfully calls “hookers” when he has plenty of company at home with his wife, daughters and father. Astoria does not know what a hooker is, but she does understand from the arguments seeping through the manor walls that her father seeks the company of outsiders because her mother is more obsessed with their place in society than their marriage. It is a classic case, Astoria is sure, of her father wanting more from her mother than her mother is able to give.
And her grandfather and Daphne have not escaped the curse of gluttony. Her grandfather insists that she is a superstar, and a miracle, and special, while Daphne wants Astoria to act dreadfully like Pansy and be cruel to pure-bloods like Draco. Both of them have an imaginary Astoria in their minds, and both possess ideals for her that she does not think she will ever be able to live up to. And then she turns her head to look at her soup bowl, sitting upon a plate laden with bread. She realizes then that like her family, she is a glutton.
But she does not want to be. Astoria wants to be different from them, and so she does the only thing she can think of: she quickly checks that Madam Pomfrey has retreated to her personal quarters before picking up the soup and plate and walking to one of the many bathrooms attached to the hospital wing. Once inside, she lifts up the toilet seat and pours the contents of her meal down into the water. To Astoria, it makes sense: her family all suffer from different forms of gluttony, and so does she. After all, it is an indisputable fact that she is fat – her mother says it, Pansy says it, Draco says it, strangers say it – they are honest, unlike her grandfather and Daphne, who lie to her and pretend that she is normal when she is anything but.
She will do what Pansy does and pretend that she eats when she doesn't, because that is what will make her normal. Astoria Greengrass does not want to let gluttony define her, just as it has defined her family, and so she will become the very opposite.
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