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Chapter 6: Head. Buried. Sand.
“Can we talk?” I ask James. We’re sitting in the common room pretending to do our Transfiguration homework, working under the logic that if we get it out, write a heading and leave it in front of our faces for a while, it counts as an honest attempt.
I glance around. The common room is barely half full. “Yeah. Muffliato.”
“Have you…decided yet?”
“Yes. I’m keeping it. And destroying my entire life in the process.”
“It won’t destroy your life,” he says uncomfortably.
I just look at him.
“It’s not your fault. Just shit luck.” Insensitive maybe, considering I’m talking about the existence of my own child, but it will never know.
“Shit luck,” he repeats.
“Not the best choice of words?”
“Eloquence was never your strong point.”
I shrug. And because eloquence is not my strong point, and I’m talking to James again and it’s a relatively serious thread of conversation that I’m not going to waste, I blurt, “James, what the hell’s going on with us?”
He shrugs. “Don’t ask me.”
I look at him incredulously. “You don’t know?”
“Well, do you?”
“I rest my case.”
“Can we try and reach a consensus on this?” I suggest desperately.
“We can try.”
He’s not going to be very forthcoming with information, I can see that now. Damn Potters. And I am not dragging it out of him. Too much effort.
“You gonna say anything?” I prompt.
He thinks for a moment. “Nope.”
“But you said—”
“Ah,” he says, holding up a hand to stop me. “You brought it up, you want the consensus, you start.”
I sigh. “We slept together, James. Twice.”
“Yes, we did.”
“There was a question implied in that statement.”
“I chose to ignore it.”
I hate this boy so much. “What did it mean to you?”
“If I told you that, I’d have to kill you.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Me, and your unborn child.”
“Exactly. Don’t make me a baby killer, Cass.”
I’ve come to the conclusion I was an ostrich in my past life. Not that I believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I would most firmly believe I was an ostrich, because ever since that last weird conversation with James I’ve done nothing but bury my head in the sand.
That was three weeks ago. And in that time I haven’t seen Madam Pomfrey, haven’t told Dom, haven’t told either of my siblings, and certainly haven’t told my parents. James is reluctant to bring it up again; I think he’s entertaining the vain hope that I was somehow mistaken, realised my mistake and am letting the whole incident blow over.
My daily Homenum revelios in the bathroom dispel that notion, however.
“So I think we need to think about telling our parents at some point,” I say casually to James, and he promptly chokes on his pumpkin juice and sprays it over the table.
“Timing!” he manages, recovering enough to clean up his mess and drag me out of the Great Hall. “At breakfast, Cassia, really?” he asks, looking annoyed.
“Your reactions are the best.”
He rolls his eyes. “Glad you’re taking this so seriously.”
“You’re the one who said we need to lighten up about this.”
“Not about telling the parents. Have you met my mother?”
I can almost feel the colour draining from my face when I picture Ginny Potter finding out her son impregnated someone.
“Exactly,” he says, seeing the look on my face.
“Look, I’m not keen on doing this either. But we have to.”
“I’m not ready to do this,” he says, looking almost desperate. I feel a wave of guilt for putting him in this situation. It’s not his fault.
Yeah, but it’s not mine either.
Just shit luck.
“When will you?”
“I don’t know. Can we at least start with Freddy and Dom? I don’t want to launch straight into the parent thing.”
“What, like work our way up?” It makes sense, when I think about it. Maybe if I vocalise the words ‘I’m pregnant’ enough times, they’ll stop terrifying me.
“Yeah. They’re our best friends, they should be the first to know.”
Apart from Jeanette the school counsellor. “Okay. We’ll tell Dom and Freddy.”
James glances at me as we join Dom and Freddy in the quadrangle at interval. “Now?” he whispers.
“Sure.” I shouldn’t feel nervous. It’s Dom and Freddy. And besides, they already know me and James…you know. Now I’m the one using euphemisms.
“So Cassia’s pregnant,” James says almost offhandedly, dumping his bag on the grass. Wow. Way to just put it out there.
Dom peers up at him. “Whatever, James.”
“It’s true, right, Cass?”
There’s a hint of a smile on his face, one that I can’t help but return. It feels like some kind of inside joke, though I can’t for the life of me explain why. We’re just telling our best friends that I’m pregnant, and I get the giggles. James has taken a seat on the grass, chuckling to himself.
This is quite possibly the most inappropriate time I’ve ever chosen to laugh, but seeing their confused faces sets me off again. I collapse next to James, and slowly Dom and Freddy are laughing too, saying things like “You guys are such idiots,” and “You couldn’t even keep a straight face.”
“The funny thing is,” James hoots, “You guys actually think we’re joking.”
“Wait a minute,” Dom says.
“I’m not that gullible,” Freddy says indignantly. “As if you two would…” He trails off, looking from James to me and back again with wide eyes. “Holy shit, you did too.”
“This is elaborate,” Dom says. “I’m impressed. How much did you engineer for this one? The fight, was that all staged as well?”
“I knew they wouldn’t believe us,” James says.
“The laughing didn’t help,” I agree.
“Did you guys actually have sex, or was that part of the joke?” Dom asks.
“That would have actually made an amazing April Fools,” I say. “James, imagine if we’d thought of that for April Fools.”
“Should have done it last year,” he agrees.
Dom and Freddy exchange glances.
“I’m actually pregnant,” I tell them.
“Whatever, Cass,” Dom says. But she doesn’t sound so certain.
“And I’m actually dead,” James adds.
“I’m deader than you are,” I point out.
“Because I have to give birth to the damn thing.”
Dom stares at me. “You’re actually pregnant.”
“Yes. Yes, I am.”
“Holy shit,” she articulates. This was more the reaction I was looking for.
“What are you gonna do?” Freddy blurts.
“I don’t know, but immigration seems like a good idea. Preferably to Australia.”
“I hear New Zealand’s lovely this time of year,” James says.
“Fantastic, I’ll immigrate to New Zealand.”
“Are there even wizards in New Zealand?” Freddy asks curiously.
“They have a Quidditch team,” James says.
“Of course you would know that.”
This conversation has taken an interesting turn.
“Bro,” Freddy says to James, “You know Professor Rutherford’s gonna kill you, right?”
James goes pale.
“She knows Dark magic,” Freddy continues.
“Oh, shuddup,” I interrupt. Normally I would find the whole Mum-knows-Dark-magic thing funny, but there is the slight danger that she might actually use it in this situation.
“So, wow,” Dom says, filling the ensuing silence. “You’re pregnant. Dude.”
“I’m aware,” I say dryly.
“You guys are being overwhelmingly supportive,” James mutters.
“We could be worse,” Dom points out.
“And you could also be better.”
“Hey man, what do you expect?” Freddy asks, annoyed. “We only just found out about this—how long have you guys known, anyway?”
“And you didn’t say anything?”
“Head. Buried. Sand,” I explain briefly.
There’s a long, uncomfortable silence.
“So, uh, what’s up with you two then?” Freddy asks awkwardly.
“Well, we’re having a baby,” I explain patiently.
“No, I mean, like, are you two together?”
“No,” we reply simultaneously. I can’t help but wonder if James hates saying that as much as I do. Who am I kidding, I’ve wasted three years of my life being in love with him and I’m over it. I can’t do it anymore.