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Chapter 11: Actually, Things Could Be Worse
James Floos over the next afternoon while Dad’s at work and Emilia’s at Rose’s house.
“How’s it going?” he asks.
“Boring,” I reply. “I have no schoolwork to do and I’m home alone, and I can’t even do magic because I’m home alone and I’m not seventeen yet.”
He pulls a face of sympathy. “What do you want to do?”
“Well, I don’t really have a lot of options.”
James ambles over to my family’s rather extensive library, raises his wand and Summons a few random books. “We could look at baby names.” He comes over, showing me the books – baby name books, I didn’t even know we had those – and opens up an ancient tome entitled ‘Names For Wizards.’ He leaves me with ‘Names For Witches.’
“Let’s lay some ground rules first,” I suggest as he takes a seat.
“No dead people,” he says firmly.
“No dead people,” I echo. “Let’s just say no naming after anyone.”
“What about middle names?” James asks. “I mean, what else are you meant to do for those?”
“Okay. Middle names can be after someone. But no dead people.”
“And nothing too pretentious,” I add. “So no Aeschylus or Arcadia or Augustina or anything ridiculous like that.”
“So, something normal,” James summarises. “Normal, and not after dead people.”
“Yeah,” I agree, nodding.
With this sorted, we settle down to pore over the books.
Over the weekend, Rory comes home to talk to me.
“Why do I always panic when people say they need to talk to me?” I grumble. “Oh yeah, last time that happened, I got kicked out of Hogwarts.”
“Which is grossly unfair, if you ask me,” Rory says. “I mean, I understand why, but it should have been your choice, you were going to leave anyway. How’ve you been?”
“Eh, all right.”
“Been feeling sick? Any aches or pains?”
“Yes, but I won’t bore you with the details.”
“You know I’m graduating in June?”
“Oh, right, you are too.”
“I’ll be a fully trained Healer. And I won’t be living at Mungo’s anymore.”
“Where are you going with this?”
“I’m moving in with Lillian once I graduate,” he says slowly, “And I was thinking you could come live with us.”
“You guys need your own space.”
“We’ll have our own space,” he says wryly, “It’s called our bedroom.”
“Still, you don’t want a pregnant chick in your house. I’m high maintenance and hormonal.”
“I think I’ll be the judge on who I want in my house, and my little sister falls into that category. Besides,” he says, holding up a hand to silence me, “You’ve always been high maintenance and hormonal.”
“What’s wrong with staying here?”
“You’re due in what, October? Mum and Emilia will be back at Hogwarts, Dad works all day six days a week. We don’t want you home alone if something happens. And, as I pointed out earlier, I’ll be a fully qualified Healer by June.”
“Well, that’s all well and good,” I say, “But what about Lillian? I don’t think she’d really want me around.”
“I’ve talked to her. We figured we’d need someone else around anyway, I’ll be working night shifts and other ridiculous hours and she hates being alone in a house. Might as well be you.”
“I don’t have a job. I won’t be able to pay rent.”
“Dad’ll cover your share.”
“Has he said that?”
“No, but he will. You know he will. Stop looking for excuses, Cass, you’re moving in with us.”
“Where’s your flat?”
“London. Close to Mungo’s and not far from Diagon Alley either.”
“All right. So we’re moving in in June?”
“Yep, as soon as I’ve graduated.” He gives me an appraising look. “You’re starting to show, Cass.”
I pull my robes around me. “Am not!”
“Are too.” He grins. “Fatty.”
He does so, giving me a cheery wave as he disappears out the door. Immediately I walk into the Floo, emerging in the Potters’ kitchen. “James!”
“What is it, what’s wrong?” he asks, hurrying into the room.
“I’m getting fat!”
He raises his eyebrows. “You came to my house yelling bloody murder to tell me that?”
“I’m getting really fat.”
He rolls his eyes. “And?”
I scowl at him. “You’re meant to disagree, you prat. You’re meant to be all ‘Oh, Cassia, you’re not getting fat at all, you’re just as wonderfully stunning and beautiful as ever.’”
“Well, you are,” he says, looking me up and down.
“I am what?”
“Just as wonderfully stunning and beautiful as ever.”
“Really?” I ask, smiling.
“Yes. You’re also getting fat.”
“I hate you, Potter.”
“Don’t mind him,” Ginny advises me, walking into the kitchen and squeezing my shoulders. “He still has a lot to learn about women. You look radiant, Cassia.”
I’ve decided I love Ginny. After she got over the initial shock, she’s been nothing short of amazing to me, giving me tea, cake and advice whenever I come round. Which, I admit, is increasingly often because Ginny makes good cakes and gives good advice.
Honestly, if we hadn’t decided against commemorative names and the baby’s a girl, I would have called her Ginny Evelina or Evelina Ginny, and then she’d grow up pissed at me because she doesn’t have an identity of her own and these women she’s named after don’t mean anything to her. I’m Cassia Nymphadora Catherine, I know what I’m talking about.
The Easter holidays pass entirely too quickly, and I’m faced with the prospect of sitting around an empty house all day with nothing to do, knowing full well that all my friends are back at Hogwarts having an awesome time without me. And the idea of sharing an evening meal with Dad every night without Emilia there to diffuse some of the awkwardness (she’s Dad’s favourite, they talk a lot) doesn’t hold a lot of appeal. Granted, I have spent the holidays trying to antagonise them in subtle ways (eg. Talk about pregnancy-induced discomfort in loud voice. Talk about baby in loud voice. Wear head-to-toe red and gold and walk around saying ‘Ten points from Slytherin’) but still, it’s going to be awkward.
Luckily for me, after two days of this mind-numbing boredom, Evelina shows up through the Floo, closely followed by her three youngest offspring, who are too young to be at Hogwarts.
“Morning, Cassia!” she calls merrily, and I peer over my breakfast. I’m still in my pajamas, because really, what better opportunity to spend all morning in your pajamas?
“Morning, Cassia!” one of the children echoes, waving cheerfully at me, and this simple greeting seems to alert the other demon children to my presence. They charge towards me.
“Katie!” Evelina barks. “Aidan! Eloise!”
Eloise, a little blonde fairy child of about six, cocks her head and looks at me. “Mum-my, Cassia looks fat. Is she going to have a baby?”
I take back the fairy child thing. She is the spawn of Voldemort.
“Yes, she is,” Evelina says, giving me a sorry-my-daughter-is-so-offensive look.
“Oh. When is the baby coming?”
“Not for a long time, Ellie darling.”
“It takes nine months for a baby to be born,” Katie informs me, nodding her head importantly. “I read it in a book.”
“Do you know where babies come from?” Aidan asks, and I splutter on my pumpkin juice.
“That’s enough,” Evelina tells her son firmly. “Or I’ll put a Silencing Charm on you, don’t think that I won’t.”
“I wasn’t asking her,” Aidan explains, pointing at me. “She obviously knows. I was asking Katie.”
“Katie’s eight, you’re not telling her.” Evelina narrows her eyes. “How did you find out?”
“Max told me.”
“Max is getting a Howler tomorrow morning at breakfast,” Evelina mutters.
“Oooooh,” the kids chorus.
“So Cassia,” Aidan says, leaning an elbow on the table in a gesture and tone far too casual for an eleven-year-old-kid, “Who’s the father?”
“Don’t be rude,” Evelina admonishes.
“Just a question,” Aidan says defensively.
This kid is also the spawn of Voldemort. “James Potter,” I say, figuring I might as well answer his question.
“No way! But he’s like, Harry Potter’s son!”
“Yes,” I say patiently.
“So that—” he points at the bulge in my stomach—“Is Harry Potter’s grandkid!”
Harry Potter’s grandkid. Not like, my child or anything. Just Harry Potter’s grandkid. I’ve decided I don’t like Aidan.
“I hope you get Sorted into Slytherin,” I tell the kid.
“Nah,” he says in that cocky voice. “I’m too awesome to be in Slytherin.”
“Well, I sure don’t want you besmirching the name of my house.”
“Gryffindor?” he asks, raising an eyebrow. “Don’t worry, I’d rather go to Beauxbatons than be in Gryffindor.”
My hand twitches towards my wand.
“Ravenclaw’s where it’s at,” Aidan continues, nodding. “Wit beyond measure is a man’s greatest treasure. It’s the most – what’s the word, Mum?”
“Discerning, dear,” Evelina says absently.
“Discerning house,” Aidan says triumphantly. “You have to be something to get into Ravenclaw.”
“Ravenclaw’s full of nerds and weirdos.”
Evelina gives me a Look at this point, and I vaguely recall that she was actually a Ravenclaw back in the day and house pride isn’t something that ever goes away, no matter how many years you’ve been out of Hogwarts.
“Uh, nice nerds and weirdos,” I say meekly.