VI. the woes of the flint family
𝕴f one thing was certain in the life of Cordelia Flint, it was the sad fact that whatever she did, no matter how hard she tried, she was never happy.
You see, ever since she was a small child, Cordelia had always been involved in internal family affairs that almost guaranteed her to be in a permanent state of misery and despair. It was true that the Flint family had a sorrowful state of mind, as were all the families that were intertwined with theirs (the Blacks were a great example), and they were consistent in making sure their children were well-behaved, blood-supremacy-believers who were constantly down-hearted.
The latest generation of Flint’s was by far the most progressive. The firstborn was Marcus, middle-name Alexander, who was born in nineteen-seventy-eight. He had a good childhood, to say the least, and was most definitely on the road to success by the time he turned seven. He was a gifted student, but he had a nasty temper that always threatened his reputation in and out of his family. He was, without a doubt, the favorite child of Carleton Flint and Emilia Bulstrode.
It wasn’t a secret that the next child born to the second son of Everard Flint was the black sheep of the family. Maximus, no middle name, was, at the very least, loved by only his siblings. Even from the moment he came out of his mother’s womb, crying and hungry, his mother knew from the very beginning that he was going to give her trouble. And she was right-- he would turn out to be a lot for the woman to handle, but only because she did not want to accept the decisions he had made for himself, a mindset that, on her part, would make her child suffer a fate worse than death.
When he was thirteen years old, he was in an accident. Although, due to his injuries (or rather the lack of them) it was quite obvious that it had clearly been due to foul play. But, because of his parents’ influential nature, by the time he was pronounced dead on the grounds of his own home his death had been ruled an accident. It was this incident, in particular, one out of many, that would haunt the nightmares of Marcus and Cordelia Flint for years to follow.
Cordelia Margaret Flint was the only daughter in the family, resulting in her parents spoiling her with all sorts of goods until she practically turned blue in the face. One most memorable of these moments was when she was eleven years old and had returned home from her first term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: she arrived in her bedroom to find a large sack of money on her bed. What on earth was an eleven-year-old supposed to do with 1000 gallons? All she wanted at that age was a pony! It was difficult to relay this to her parents for they turned angry when she told them she didn’t really have any need for the money they had gifted her just because she was sorted into Slytherin. Very much like her brother Marcus, Cordelia had a temper, one that would get into trouble if she wasn’t able to control it, but very mule unlike her brother Marcus, she was able to do exactly that, which meant she could get away with nearly anything-- and that would become both a blessing and a curse.
The Flint family wasn’t the most perfect-- in fact, they were far from it. It was a well-known fact amongst the other families of the Sacred Twenty Eight that the Flints were one of the most blood-supremacist families (aside from the Malfoys and Blacks, but that’s a story for another time)and were definitely and almost always fighting with each other on the inside.
Cordelia could vouch for that. As a matter of fact, she was very heavily influenced by the pugnacious nature of those she grew up with, resulting in her knowing what made her parents and siblings tick-- from not greeting in the morning with a proper ‘good morning’ to even addressing them in the wrong tone of voice, it was these things that she had learned to be aware of in order to stay on their good side (because believe her, it was not a good thing to get on their bad side). Marcus learned, too, but Maximus wasn’t so lucky: he was a little, well, tone-deaf, according to eleven-year-old Cordelia just a few weeks before he died. It wasn’t so much him not understanding how to deal with his mother and father, more so the reason was that he just didn’t care.
Cordelia sat alone in her dorm room in the early morning hours of the following Saturday, a day that was absolutely dreading. Her brother’s would-be sixteenth birthday made her thoughts muddled and left her unable to focus on much other than the photo on her nightstand.
Her younger self was in the middle of the frame, hugging both her brothers tightly and smiling a toothy-grin at the photographer (Winnie, of course-- she had a knack for using cameras that Cordelia frankly didn’t understand). It was obvious they were laughing, but at that moment she couldn’t remember what the reason was, and that made her sigh in distress. She wanted to remember the good moments, but every time she looked at Max’s face all she saw was him as a broken corpse.
She sucked in a breath and forced herself to look away from the photo, where she and Marcus were laughing like maniacs while Max tried to pry himself out of his older brother’s grip. It was the one photo of her brother that she had hidden and the only one that hadn’t been destroyed-- in other words, it was the only thing she had left of him that hadn’t been forced out of her hands and shredded into pieces like the others.
She glanced over at the clock on the wall-- it was only seven in the morning, which meant she had four hours until Winnie was going to drag her out to the disgusting pub (and it also meant she had four hours to pull herself together before facing Harry Potter and his Gryffindor friends). Cordelia’s feet carried her out into the common room, out into the corridors, and into the Great Hall before she even was able to process that her appetite was completely diminished.
She was almost the only person in the hall, the others being a few Ravenclaw’s she didn’t know the names of, one or two Hufflepuffs (thank Merlin the group didn’t include Zach, or else she would have passed out from being overwhelmed), a few of her brother’s friends (who she assumed were waiting for him, he was the captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team after all and he always had practice on Saturday mornings), and Hermione Granger sitting alone at the Gryffindor table, feasting on a simple piece of toast and a side of porridge.
She watched her for a moment as she flipped the pages of what she assumed to be the Daily Prophet eagerly, invested in what was written on the page. Cordelia, on the other hand, absolutely despised reading the Daily Prophet. Each time she picked up the paper, the first thing she saw was always a bold lie that made her sigh in disbelief. Her favorite example was one from last year, when journalist Rita Skeeter was still reporting-- it made her giggle because, right there on the front page, was Harry Potter and Hermione Granger wrapped in an embrace (which, Cordelia had to admit, was very intimate, but she knew the two were best friends-- she’d always noticed Hermione’s longing glances at Ron Weasley’s older brother) with reading Harry Potter’s Secret Heartache. Good times, she thought, but that was the end of an era-- she had bigger things to worry about than what was in the bloody Daily Prophet.
She averted her gaze when Granger lifted her head but was fortunate enough to see that she wasn’t looking in her direction. In fact, Winnie Bulstrode had just entered the large double doors of the Great Hall and was walking towards her Gryffindor friend, and as she walked, Cordelia couldn’t help but notice the blue piece of fabric wrapped around her left hand as she watched the two girls interact-- it was too far away for her to hear what was being said, but it was a short conversation for Winnie waved goodbye to Granger and made her way over in her direction. She quickly busied herself with putting food onto her plate, knowing that her cousin would shove a piece of sausage down her throat so she got at least something into her body.
The girl in question sat across from her, setting her bag down on the table with a slam that made everyone turn their heads, but she paid them no attention. Without so much as a greeting, she began to ladle porridge into a bowl and sprinkle it with blueberries, making Cordelia’s eyebrows knit together in concern as she watched Winnie eat as if her life depended on it.
“What’s wrong with you?” she probed, popping a strawberry into her mouth.
“Nothing,” Winnie promised, the ghost of a smile on her lips as she wiped the corners of her mouth with a napkin. “I’m just exhausted.”
“Why are you exhausted?”
“I had a long night.”
“What happened to your hand?”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Cordelia, stop asking questions!” Winnie whisper-shouted frustratingly as she poured herself a glass of water. “Everything’s fine!”
Cordelia looked at her with worried eyes as she continued to eat, not bothering to take another bite of food herself. Winnie’s attitude seemed... off, but it wasn’t her place to speak on it. She pretended not to notice the muscle in her jaw twitch or the way she avoided using her bandaged hand. She watched her for a few more minutes in the uncomfortable silence before it became too overwhelming, and so she said, “Winnie.”
“Did you have detention with Umbridge last night?”
Winnie blinked. “How did you know?”
“I’m not stupid,” Cordelia crowed, pushing her plate of fruit aside and leaning forward on her elbows that were propped up on the table. “I’ve seen people walking around with a bandage like that. Claire came back from detention the other night with the words ′I will not talk back’ carved into the back of her hand.”
Winnie shuddered. “It hurt like hell,” she said, unwrapping the fabric around her hand and showing her the words that were etched into the back of her hand: Blood Traitors keep their mouths shut. Cordelia’s eyes widened at the sight of it and reached to grab her hand, which still had dried blood caked in the crooks of the cuts which were deep and inflamed, and Winnie flinched as she ran a finger over it. “Ouch! Don’t touch it.”
“Sorry,” Cordelia said, taking the fabric from Winnie’s other uninjured hand and wrapping it around the cut one herself. “Oh, if you want to stop by my common room I can give you some of the leftover murtlap essence I let Claire borrow. It helps.”
“It’s okay, I can handle it.”
She pursed her lips. “You sure?”
Winnie nodded and took another bite of her porridge. “I didn’t even do anything bad. There was this first year in the corridor who Umbitch--” she shot Cordelia a look when she started to giggle at the word Umbitch, “--was giving detention. So I go over there, right, and I tell her to stop yelling at children, and she tries to hex me! Hex me! What kind of Professor would do that to a student for standing up for a bloody child? I was so furious, and Theodore didn’t make it any better.”
Cordelia narrowed her eyes, still processing the fact that Winnie had nearly been hexed by Professor Umbridge-- it was in that very moment that she decided fervently that the vile, evil, wicked woman with the bow perched atop her head was going to be six feet under by the end of the school year. Then the name of Theodore was mentioned and she immediately snapped her head up to face her cousin, whose cheeks were flushed with anger as she stabbed at a piece of sausage with her fork. “Hold on, Theo came to your rescue?”
“He did not come to my rescue,” Winnie scoffed as Cordelia grinned. “I was doing perfectly fine without him!” She shoved a bite of porridge into her mouth, chewed it, and then continued as the brunette watched her with both a confused and amused look mixed into one on her face. “He didn’t need to pretend I was his girlfriend--”
“He said you were his girlfriend? In front of Umbridge?” Cordelia’s mouth fell open as Winnie pointed in the direction of the staff table (thank God the woman wasn’t there-- the fact that there were almost no students in the Great Hall made it very easy for them to be overheard, and if Umbridge happened to be sitting at the table, Cordelia knew that it would not be a good thing) with her fork as she swallowed.
“Yeah! Then he put his arm around me and said we were going to go study. Like hell we were! He’s so infuriating, and sometimes it makes me want to throw up.”
“Oh, stop being so childish,” Cordelia groused, shifting in her seat. Winnie narrowed her eyes at her as she opened her mouth to speak again. “He’s just showing his affection!”
“He could always do it in a more toned-down way. Or, here’s a thought, not at all!" She put more blueberries on top of her porridge and stirred them in. “Why can’t he just leave me alone?”
“That’s a good question, actually,” replied Cordelia. She poured herself a glass of pumpkin juice and lifted it to her lips, taking a sip and letting the drink run down her throat, refreshing her. “I always forget how damn good this pumpkin juice is.”
Winnie raised an eyebrow as she set her spoon back down in her bowl. “You’re aware that we’ve been here for a month, right?”
“You haven’t had any pumpkin juice since we got here?”
“Shut up, you know what I meant,” she said, rolling her eyes as Winnie smiled. “What time did you end up finishing detention?”
Winnie pressed her index finger to her cheek and propped her chin on the rest of her clenched fingers as she looked deep in thought for a moment. “I think it was, like, ten-thirty. We went to the kitchens to get a bite to eat afterward.”
Cordelia’s nose scrunched up in disgust. “I can’t believe you like peanut butter-- wait, did you say we?”
Winnie’s pink lips quirked upwards into a smirk. “Yeah, me and Potter--” her smirk grew bigger when she saw Cordelia’s flushed, pink face, “--were hungry, so we stopped by there.”
“Since when are you friends with Potter?” Cordelia asked, willing that the burning sensation that had just risen to her face would go away, but when she saw Winnie’s satisfied smile, she knew her face was most likely still pink. “I’ve never seen you talk to him once.”
“I’m not. Well, I’d like to be,” she added. “He’s nice.”
“So he’s not as, well, tempered as he is in class?”
“Not at all. He’s an awkward little shite, honestly,” Winnie answered, taking another bite of sausage. “He’s cool, though. You’d like him. Oh, I forgot to ask, why are you here so early? Saturday’s are usually when you sleep in.”
Cordelia’s thoughts about Max suddenly came back with such force that she felt the wind get knocked out of her, causing her to suck in a breath so deep that Winnie’s eyes widened in concern. She had been able to pretend that everything was normal for those few moments when Winnie had been discussing what was on her mind, and now that the attention was back on her, she suddenly felt submerged in the memories of her brother’s death. “Oh, um, I couldn’t sleep.”
“Something’s wrong, isn’t it?” Winnie’s voice was taut and filled with a sudden bout of worry.
“No, of course not. Why do you say that?”
“Come off it. You have that ‘woe is me’ look on your face. You can tell me. You’re not nervous about the Hog’s Head meeting later, are you?” Winnie asked, and Cordelia immediately shook her head.
“No! No, I’m not nervous,” she blubbered, feeling a sudden wave of anxiety wash over her like a wave. The mix of sadness and uneasiness made her suddenly feel queasy. “Today’s Max’s birthday.”
Winnie’s concerned eyes suddenly changed to ones full of desolation as she watched her cousin. “Oh, no... are you feeling okay?”
She took in a shuddery breath as she tried to keep her composure-- it was, unfortunately, not working. She expected that, though, because Winnie had this air to her that made her want to tell her every secret she’s ever kept and feeling like all her emotions were just going to explode out of her at once. “Not really. The day just keeps replaying in my mind and it’s making me feel sick.” She flinched as she remembered the flash. “I’ll be okay in a few hours.”
“We can bail on the meeting--”
“No! I’ll go. I just said I’ll feel better in a few hours.”
Winnie monitored Cordelia’s face. “Well, maybe some fresh air will help. We can talk about it if you want.”
“I don’t want to talk about it with you,” she interjected, but quickly added, seeing Winnie’s face of hurt, “I mean, I want to talk to Marcus. It’ll help me more rather than talking to you because you didn’t know Max like he did.”
Winnie nodded in agreement as relief washed over her face. “You’re right. We can go on a stroll and make our way over to Hogsmeade? Maybe go look at a few shops before the meeting, try and get your mind off it for a couple of hours.”
Cordelia hummed. “I guess. When?”
The blonde shrugged her shoulders. “Now, if you want.”
“That might be a good idea.”
“I think it’ll help, trust me.”
“You better be right.”
Winnie stood up and grabbed her bag. “We can discuss how to get Theo off my back.”
A smile curved onto Cordelia’s lips as she got to her feet and followed Winnie out of the Great Hall, passing Hermione Granger and her Daily Prophet as they left. “Or we can talk about how you’re secretly in love with him!”
An annoyed grin formed on Winnie’s face as she smacked Cordelia in the arm with her bag. “I am not in love with him!”
Cordelia chuckled to herself, rubbing her arm with her opposite hand and shooting Winnie a look. “You’ll forget all about that in twenty years when you two are married with children.”
“Oh, shut your mouth. I’ll prove you wrong.”