a/n: a day in the life of Theodore Nott, pre-Hogwarts (aged ten).
A quick note about Theo's life: JKR has stated that his mother was much younger than his father, and died giving birth to him, leaving Theo's father to bring him up all alone.
(n, (from the Latin): freedom from passion.)
(six o' clock)
He wakes up at six o' clock AM, on the dot. He reaches to shut off the alarm clock that will not go off for a further five minutes, and then clambers out of bed. He leaves it unmade (what are house elves for, anyway?) and moves into his bathroom.
The tiles are cold against his feet, but his father says that Nott men don't feel silly things like the cold, so Theo does not feel it (much).
He ignores the temperature of the room and uses the loo, then flushes it and washes his hands.
He returns to his bedroom and spends a further five minutes struggling into the outfit laid out for him during the night by an elf.
He spends a great deal of time attacking his hair with a comb – his father's is always perfect, combed just right, and it doesn't matter that Theo has his mother's thick, dark brown hair rather than his father's blond; it will look as perfect as his father's if it takes him all morning.
Theo descends the main staircase, trousers neatly pressed and hair already beginning to become ruffled again at the back.
He enters the dining room and stands ramrod-straight, chest puffed out, his blue eyes fixed firmly on the polished tips of his shoes.
"Good morning, father," he says quietly and deliberately, just like always.
"Laps," his father replies without even dropping the newspaper to look at his son, just like always.
Theo doesn't make the mistake of feeling disappointed. A real Nott man never does.
Theo is breathing steadily, evenly, in that way of his that he first concocted when he was seven and he realised that just gasping like an idiot was not going to help him to make the full thirty laps of the walled property that his father wanted.
His breath puffs out on the freezing morning air, and he puts more effort into it and feels his frozen muscles finally beginning to thaw out a little, his face creased into a small frown as he concentrates.
A bird sings to him from a nearby tree, and he glances sideways to see a little songbird sitting in the branches of a bare oak. He smiles before he can help himself, but then he remembers that he's a Nott man and glares at it instead.
It ignores his glare and keeps singing.
Theo pretends not to be buoyed up by it.
On his seventeenth lap, Theo is beginning to feel trembly all over from the exertion. He ignores the protest of his screaming muscles and pushes himself onwards, conscious of the punishment that will follow if he fails, and as usual keeps his mind from the aching of his body by creating wild daydreams for himself.
He imagines a friend all of his own – girl, boy, he's not picky – and he gives them pretty blonde hair and blue eyes like his and his mother's, and in his mind they play together through all the abandoned rooms of the Nott mansion, hiding under the dust sheets and making the big, empty rooms echo with noise of their laughter.
Theo's heart lightens, and his feet grow wings.
Theo staggers into the entrance hall after lap number thirty, feeling like he is dying. He knows his father is waiting for him in the dining room, however, so he doesn't even have time to steal a couple of minutes of just lying flat-out on his bed like he sometimes does.
Instead he forces his tired body upstairs and shrugs out of his clothes as soon as he hits his bedroom, stepping straight into the shower.
He takes precisely five minutes to clean himself entirely – he's got it down to a fine art – and then dries himself off as quickly as possible while the bathroom is all steamy-warm.
He dives into his new outfit and rushes downstairs, hoping he hasn't taken too long.
Theo sits down to breakfast with his father, whose face is impassive as he neatly begins cutting up bacon and sausages, his paper lying to the side of his plate.
"How many laps did you do?" Mr Nott inquires after a long silence that Theo doesn't dare to break.
"Thirty, Father," he replies proudly, "Like every morning."
"Hmm," is the only response he receives, and they lapse into another long silence until Mr Nott ventures another topic of conversation.
"How is your Arithmancy tutoring coming along?"
"Well, Father," Theo replies truthfully – his tutor has been praising him recently, and Theo is hoping he might finally be becoming able to make sense of all the strange symbols and numbers and turn them into results.
"And your French?"
"Well, Father," Theo repeats, and this continues until they have run out of subjects, and instead they return to silence as they clear their plates.
Theo sits down for his Charms lesson two minutes early, and his tutor is still writing spells down on the board. As usual, Theo pulls a blank piece of parchment towards himself, ready to transcribe them to memorise later.
He cannot help deviating from thinking about the spells up on the blackboard in front of him by imagining what it will be like when he has a wand of his own and can finally try out some of the reams of spells he's memorised over the years.
The tutor lets Theo out two minutes early to get some fresh air. Theo walks once around the courtyard, the air biting into his thinly-clad body, and then returns inside, picking up a mug of steaming tea from a house elf.
He returns to his classroom eventually, and sits to wait for his next tutor to arrive.
In the middle of Defence Against the Dark Arts, Theo catches a flash of brown and out of the corner of his eye sees a little bird perching just outside the window that looks almost exactly like the one that had sung to him that morning on his run.
He forgets to be annoyed with it like he should and instead he stares at it as it sits there preening, its feathers puffed out against the cold. Presently it is joined by another bird, and another, and Theo watches with deep envy as the three birds sit and preen and sing to each other.
His father says that Nott men don't need friends – but some days Theo thinks that Nott boys might.
Theo eats his lunch in the dining room alone. His father is out at work, doing whatever it is he does. Theo thinks that it must be very important, for his father to spend all day doing it.
He chews stolidly through his sandwich, one shoed foot kicking against the leg of his chair, gazing absently up at the pictures of his ancestors that line. His eye is caught by the smiling, dark-haired woman whose portrait is half-hidden in a corner.
Feeling comforted by his mother's painted gaze, Theo stops kicking his chair and stares at her pretty face and wishes he'd had the chance to meet her before he killed her by being born.
He knows his father resents him for it, and he wishes he could turn time around and never be born so his father would smile and his mother, his pretty young mother, could fill this empty place with her laughter.
French is relatively fun today, and Theo has been looking forward to the lesson all morning. His tutor, a young woman with huge brown eyes and a lively manner that reminds him of one of the speckled hens on the farm down the road, breezes around the room, calling verbs at him and getting him to conjugate them.
He does so willingly. He likes her, Mademoiselle Lamonde. She smiles with him and gives him cake when he does things well and sometimes they just sit and talk and it feels almost like what Theo imagines having a friend might feel like.
But she leaves just like normal, and returns him to the solitude that he is supposed to covet.
Theo makes it to the top of the tower just in time and clambers up onto the windowseat to press his nose against the highest window in the mansion. In the distance, he can see children pouring out of the village school gates, Muggle children with their laughter and their toys and their mothers there to pluck them out of the crowd.
Theo is transfixed, like most days, and for a short time his mind is in an entirely different place from the small, circular stone room with the oppressive paintings and shiver-inducing drafts.
He's out there in the playground, with all the other children, running around with his friends and being disgusted by the girls and wrestling and scrimmaging and his mother is waiting for him on the edge of the crowd, a smile on her face as he kicks a football around.
His breath fogs up the glass as he watches, totally entranced, barely aware of his own surroundings.
All too soon it is over and Theo watches as the last of the children are gathered up and herded away by their mothers. He watches them leave the school and then climbs back down from the windowseat, brushing at his clothes to shift the dust, and then heads back downstairs to do his reading.
After Theo has got through six chapters of his new book, a house elf comes nervously into the library and informs him that dinner is served. He follows it to the dining room, slipping into the chair next to his father and avoiding eye contact with the man his father has brought home.
"Theodore," his father says, and Theo almost jumps out of his seat in surprise at being actually addressed when there is another adult present.
"Yes, father?" he replies eventually, still not daring to look up, his head almost spinning with his luck.
"This is Notus Greengrass. We intend to do some business together. He has a child the same age as you."
There is no obvious answer to this statement, so Theo does the sensible thing and keeps quiet, nodding to show that he has heard. The voice that speaks up next is kinder than Theo is used to, and quite by accident he glances up and meets the man's warm eyes.
"My Daphne's going to Hogwarts next year," Mr Greengrass explains gently, his spoon filled with soup but still resting just above his bowl. "She's looking forward to it immensely. Are you, son?"
"Yes sir," Theo asks, after shooting a quick glance at his father to check that it is okay for him to speak up. "A lot."
"Maybe you two will be friends," Mr Greengrass suggests, and Theo's face floods hot with the possibility of this being true. Oh, for this man's daughter to be his friend!
Theo's father is almost smiling, although it is a little too forced around the edges.
"Wouldn't that be nice, Theodore? Now eat your soup."
Theo ducks his head and does as he is told, remaining silent as the two men turn to talking about their business.
Theo goes for another brief walk, the dark no longer bothering him after five years of having to be outside in it at night, and his hands are clenched into fists to keep his fingers warm.
He's trying desperately hard not to imagine Daphne Greengrass – his father has warmed him often enough about the dangers of building up false images of people. One only ever ends up disappointed.
He cannot help it, though. In his head she dances and spins and she's pretty with blonde hair and blue eyes like her father's, and Theo cannot think of anything but the possibility that this phantom-girl might possibly want to be his friend.
Theo collapses into bed six minutes later than he is supposed to, and reaches over to switch his alarm clock to six-oh-five before he falls asleep.
As he twists and turns between the covers relentlessly, teased by sleep as it lingers around the edges of his body but never overwhelms him, like most nights, he turns to daydreaming.
The friend in his dreams is no longer nameless – she's called Daphne, and when he finally falls asleep he dreams of nothing but her.
a/n: I hope you liked this - and if you did, I'm begging you not to favourite without reviewing!