Addison Toft

Every fall's a lesson

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'You can put me on any patrol time. I'll do anything. My one request is to not pair me with Irene Redgrave, or Silas Harding-Clarke.'

 

That was the request Addison put in with the powers that be, when it came to arranging a patrol rotation for the prefects. And, when the schedule was released, she was pleased to see that her request had been taken into account - no shifts with either the Slytherin or the Ravenclaw! Addison then fulfilled her duties as promised, doing her best at keeping everyone officially within the rules. She hadn't handed out detentions or taken house points yet, and was hoping she wouldn't have to, either.

 

But, someone inevitably fell sick, and wasn't able to fill their patrol shift. Addison was called upon to cover for them, which she agreed to, before realising it was a paired patrol, and she hadn't asked who her partner would be.

 

Fate, why must you be so cruel?

 

Addison milled around the armor gallery, where they'd arranged to meet and begin their sweep of the castle. The bells for curfew were tolling, and students were streaming through the corridors, back to their respective common rooms, and any moment now, she expected a specific Slytherin to pop her head in, so they could begin their long, torturous evening together.

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Unlike Addison, Irene had never asked to have a special pairing for patrols. She'd gone out with Kimber, Bryony, Toby, Silas - sometimes she took her patrols with Luke by herself so that Luke and Darcy could have date night... but she knew enough about their head girl Kelly to know that if she had tried to bribe Kelly with an essay or something along those lines to get out of a patrol with Addison Toft, she would have been out the several hours it would have taken her to do a seventh year NEWT level essay AND then she would have been assigned specifically to Addie's service repeatedly because Kelly was an evil girl. 

 

And that was taking into consideration that Kelly had been her own house mentor when Irene was a first year. She could only imagine what horrors Kelly wrested upon people the Slytherin didn't like. 

 

So when she arrived, reasonably close to on time, in the assigned meeting place for her patrol on this night and saw Addison she was neither shocked or dismayed. Irene never bothered to look and see who she was paired with anymore because she was just too busy to care. Without Quidditch she should have plenty of time on her hands to do anything she liked - she didn't have practice or her teammates to worry over keeping their grades passing as 'team tutor'. Only instead she was trying to teach herself to fight, and work out more than she did when was required to for Quidditch since she hadn't been picked for a tournament team and it was OWL year so she was actually studying for herself again. 

 

So no, she didn't have time to waste on petty trifles like Addison hating and avoiding her. "Hey," she greeted Addison, not unfriendly but resigned to several hours of uncomfortable tension. Irene kept enough distance between them so as not to be threatening and gestured to the hallway. "Up or down?"

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Straight and to the point. Irene keeping things to business was a relief for Addison, because they could focus on the task at hand and not have to think about the complicated matters, although maybe it really wasn't so complicated in Irene's eyes. Maybe she was done with Addison, and didn't care to spend any more brainpower, or heart, on her. Addison chewed on the inside of her cheek for a second, now feeling a small flow of conflicted emotions; was she happy that Irene might have jumped ship? It would make leaving Hogwarts easier, having one less person to say goodbye to, Addison reasoned. But, that was only if she eventually chose not to come back - an option that was becoming more and more appealing, but still a big enough decision that she thoroughly wanted to think it through before setting her mind.

 

"Up. People are always sneaking into the towers and messing about."

 

That wasn't actually the reason she wanted to go up, but the truth was too hard for her to say. The prospect of them swinging by the great hall, and the physical location where they'd fought, was too daunting for her.

 

Taking one last scan of the gallery, Addison stepped out into the corridor, and shut the door behind them (a useless gesture, seeing as the suits of armor would inevitably want to leave, and re-open the door themselves). There was a time she would have been elated to land matching prefect roles with Irene, so the two of them could be wicked patrol-mates together; that was the same time Addison would have been the first to admit it was highly unlikely, bordering on laughable, that she would get a badge. Irene was an obvious choice, but not her. Addison was an obvious rejection. Flamel (and Fjord? She wasn't sure who made the final call) evidently believed otherwise.

 

"Have you given out an actual detention yet?"

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If she was surprised that Addison was talking to her, she tried not to show it, "The only time I've actually seen anyone out - I uh... ran away. It was two seventh years and they were uh.. indecent." Irene blushed thinking of more detailed wording she could have used, shrugged and pointedly avoided making eye contact with Addie. "I'd say I gave them a pass, but I think they were already doing that." The smile at her joke was on her face before she remembered who she was with.

 

She let the silence between them linger. It wasn't as unpleasant as she'd thought it would be though it was definitely still awkward. Anytime she thought of something to say it sounded trite and forced so she swallowed it instead.

 

After the fourth corridor Irene glanced out an archway at the dark grounds and asked off-handedly, "Do you ever wish we were boys?" By ittself it was an odd question and she didn't trust Addie to follow her abstract trains of thought anymore given their distance, "Boys have violent fisticuffs and then they're just over it. Complete and utter besties." Irene's gaze slid down to Addie's shoes. Of course because they were both girls their own physical altercation meant distrust, broken ties, months of not speaking and now an awkward standoff where neither was willing to make the first move towards repairing the relationship.

 

Addison probably had her reasons - though of course Irene wasn't privy to them and had no idea what they could possibly be. For Irene's part she'd been the person to initiate their relationship for it's entire existence. She somehow knew if she didn't reach out to fix it, yet again, Addie would just drift away from her and never come back. But Irene was tired of chasing everyone in her life, begging for scraps of attention. Irene had vowed never to do it again- not with Silas, not with Addie, not with anyone. Let someone decide for themselves, Hey no, I want Irene in my life. I should do something about this to make this happen. Of course... her resolution waned as weeks, months went on and no one seemed to need Irene for anything in their own lives.

 

She was as isolated as she was a year ago, not because she actively avoided people but because no one simply cared to know her. If she wasn't doing their homework she had little value, apparently. Last year this realization would have crushed her completely. This year while she was trying to cling to her policy of 'Screw anyone who doesn't want me, then' she was adding on a personal endeavor to be worth something more. Irene worked out every morning before breakfast - outdoors no matter the weather, she was getting stronger; she read more into the night hours and during the odd boring patrol, she was getting smarter; she'd returned to her practice of journaling observations on other people's interactions in lieu of the ones she didn't have herself, she was getting savvier. Irene would be worth something to someone even if it wasn't a bunch of stupid teenagers in school.  

 

"Boys have everything easier." Universal Truth.


Edited by Irene Redgrave

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"To be a boy?" Addison narrowed her eyes, though kept them averted from Irene. Where was she going with this line of questioning? Did boys get out of trouble easier than girls did? That sort of made sense, when she thought about it; based on her own experience, it was more often to see girls in detention. Herself, Grace, and Rosie were the ones chained up in the great hall. Kat and Kelly had also been put in shackles at various points of Flamel's reign, too. And, of course, the former headmistress had punished Darcy every month by locking her in a cabinet, if the rumors were to be believed.

 

The train of thought was cut short. "Oh, you mean because of that. I dunno. Never really considered it, I guess." Addison shoved her hands into her pockets and kept on walking, not really paying attention to their actual patrol duties. "I used to get teased a lot about basically being a boy, if that counts." 

 

The schoolyard taunts were distant and no longer affected her, but she could still remember them clearly. She didn't dress up like a girl, or enjoy the typical 'girly' hobbies and trends; she wasn't afraid to get rough and hang around the other boys (if they didn't mind her presence to begin with), and so the other children eventually began to point and jeer; she remembered one particular instance in gym class, when she was eight, where another student pulled down her shorts in front of everyone else to 'determine what she had down there'. She beat the other kid senseless, of course, which led to yet another suspension. After serving that punishment, she returned to her classmates having discovered a dictionary of name meanings, and they looked up 'Addison' to find it meant 'Adam's son', and that turned into a whole new round of mockery.

 

Her expulsion didn't come long after that.

 

"Maybe. Maybe not. If you're talking about who I think you're talking about, then maybe it comes easier to him because he's... he keeps things simple. Uncomplicated." Addison shrugged. "Maybe that's our problem."

 

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"Oh, you mean because of that. I dunno. Never really considered it, I guess."

 

Addison's words were so offhand and sounded genuinely surprised. Irene took them to mean she'd never given any thought to what it would be like to be friends again. Small jagged edges of their broken friendship crystalized. Message received. Ouch. She intensified her effort to 'be cool' about it by lapsing back into silence.  Well then...

 

Addie's later response startled her eyes into locking with the Gryffindor's in her own surprise. "I wasn't thinking of anyone in particular. Just boys in general. No one seems to expect anything of them, they just ride along doing whatever they want and the world cleans up after them. We clean up after them." Hadn't Addie and Irene's friendship suffered in part from the choices Silas made? Meanwhile he was all fine and happy and doing whatever he did to make himself complete on his own. Didn't she spent copious amounts of time bolstering Gary's ego so he'd be happy again without any interest from him in her own emotions or well-being? All boys were eerily similar apparently, despite their seemingly different personalities. They all wanted to take what they needed and give nothing in return and it was all just fine and okay because they were Boys, and that made it acceptable... apparently.

 

Her shrug after said she didn't particularly care despite the tenor of her voice. Though she was curious who Addie thought they were talking about specifically. Who was an 'uncomplicated' boy? Silas, Toby, Gary, Luke... Which one... some other?  Her mind reeled.

 

"Maybe that's your problem," she decided. If Addison didn't want to be her friend she was under no obligation to outwardly share the burden of sympathy. She didn't say the words harshly, just carelessly as if it weren't her business either way. Because apparently it wasn't and it would never be. Her fingers, less manicured than they used to be and constantly bruised from her physical undertakings flexed unconsciously at her side. Irene felt the opinion wasn't untrue either. Her world kept simplifying itself on a daily basis as people fled from her.

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She paused a step, and then resumed pace. "Yeah, true. My problem - sorry, didn't mean to... didn't mean anything by it." Half-truth. Addison believed Irene had an issue with complicating things, but to a different degree and fashion than her own. For Addison, things blew up in a ball of fire, because she was ill-suited to dealing with relationship problems, and her own insecurities. For Irene (from an outsider's perspective), it seemed like situations got twisted and knotted around, because Irene... cared? Instead of letting go and running away, like Addison did, Irene wanted to grab things by the handles and figure everything out.

 

But, maybe Addison was reading her completely wrong. It wouldn't be the first time, nor would it be the last; she was terrible at understanding others, and only half-decent at understanding herself.

 

She walked in silence for a moment, cracking open a door to poke her head in and check for any students up to no good. Finding nothing, she shut the door softly and re-joined the Slytherin on their corridor cruise. When they reached the base of the astronomy tower's stairs, Addison motioned to let Irene go up first, even though the steps were wide enough for them both to ascend side by side.

 

"It must be nice, though, what you were saying about them before. To have someone clean up after you, and solve your problems without having to really think about it."

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If Addison could be civil, so she could too. "It's probably the only reason a boy gets married - to replace his mum with someone contractually obligated to put up with him, clean up after him and provide love and support in the absence of a parent." Irene nodded along with what she considered a logical train of thought. She took the offered position in front of Addie, going up the stairs and then stopping abruptly at the top.

 

"Uh."

 

Irene pulled awkwardly at her tie and waited for Addison to join her on the top stair. "Do you think we... interrupt?" She leaned over and whispered with a curious shrug. 

 

A pair of seventh years were romantically engaged in an alcove just off the stairs. Not Irene's first choice for a rendezvous but apparently they'd been overtaken with uh... feelings.

 

Irene's green eyes widened at the odd noises they made and her lips pressed together trying not to laugh. She leaned closer to Addison and cupped her hands around the Gryffindor's ear, "Or maybe save one of them? What if he kills her with that tongue?" If it had been Kaelyn with her, she'd have snuck back down the stairs and they'd have wagered on various locations the pair's hands were under the heavy cloaks that mostly masked the two people. For just a moment they could be mistaken for normal teenagers giggling over inappropriate relationship.

 

In the spontaneous moment she'd almost forgotten her tensions with Addison and when she leaned back, her hands covered her mouth in an attempt to smother the indecent humor. "Sorry," she whispered but her eyes still glittered mischievously. If there was anything she'd taken away from the last year, Irene couldn't afford to let any person completely take away her joy otherwise there was no point in living life.

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Following Irene towards the upper level, she paused and gazed curiously at the Slytherin when something froze her in her steps. Slowing, Addison let one hand drift towards her wand holster, as she cautiously ascended the last metre, her eyes pulling even and over the landing... "Oh." Going up the rest of the way, she stood awkwardly beside Irene, keeping her eyes averted from the 'engaged' pair. They were making a load of noise, with lips smacking and feet shuffling and robes tousling and why was there grunting involved?

 

Despite a limited amount of experience when it came to snogging, Addison was certain that, while a little bit of grunting might be a thing, if a makeout session sounded like there was a warthog involved, something was terribly, terribly wrong with either one or both participants.

 

Then again, it wasn't as if she consciously remembered how she behaved, the last time she kissed someone. That 'someone' being the person standing right next to her. And, technically speaking, Irene was the person Addison had kissed the most, with Mercutio being a close second (during their real-but-not-real relationship).

 

"Was I ever like that?" she whispered, and then caught herself. Addison coughed. "Nevermind, I, um..." Milling about awkwardly, she sighed and loudly stamped her feet. Addison raised her voice to make sure that the seventh years couldn't miss it. "Boy, I sure hope there aren't any prefects around here, who might take away a hundred house points for any reason at all."

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