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Chapter 2: Stupid
Gorgeous chapter image by Marzipan @ tda!
Responsibility is an interesting thing. It’s kind of this sixth sense that people have, closely related to a conscience, that tells them when to shape up and act like an adult. Some people have a stronger sense of responsibility than others. And people also apply it in very different ways. A person’s sense of responsibility is a very defining factor of their personality, I think.
There are those who have little to no responsibility. Those are the people who are often seen as losers, slackers, or criminals. They are considered to be unreliable, incompetent, and sometimes dangerous. That’s not to say that all irresponsible people are going to end up homeless or in Azkaban, but, well, you’re not going to find many responsible people there.
On the other end of the spectrum are those who are very upright and responsible. They are the do-gooders, the teacher’s pets, and the highly successful. People trust them to do their work, follow the rules, and just generally be good people. They’re the type of people parents usually want their children to be, the ones they want them to bring home.
There are, of course, those who fall in between the two extremes. Maybe someone always takes responsibilities for their actions, but is terrible at following through on their word. Perhaps someone is a good citizen, but never does what they’re told. There are always grey areas, people who don’t fit exactly into one category. In fact, I think you’ll find that there are more of those kinds of people than there are people who fit one mold exactly.
To be honest, I’m not one hundred percent sure where I stand. I know I’m somewhere in the middle, but the exact placement is a bit hazy. I’m not exactly the most responsible student. I turn in my homework on time – usually. But I kind of slack a little. Despite what Selene always says - in jest, course - I’m really not stupid. I’m nowhere near as brilliant as my cousin Rose or her mum, but I do fairly well. I’d probably do better if I actually put more effort into my homework and, you know, started it before the day that it’s due. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’d fail if Selene didn’t help me out. And by help, I mean verbally abuse me until I do my work or letting me copy hers so I stop complaining.
I also have a tendency to break rules. Well, not break exactly. More like… bend. I blur the lines a little. I’m nowhere near as bad as my granddad, the original James Potter, but I’m still a bit of a troublemaker. Actually, Selene is usually the mastermind behind all of our pranks. I just instigate her plans and end up taking the fall, because she's far too clever to be caught.
Other than that, I like to think I’m a good person. I’ve never done anything illegal – except for a bit of underage drinking, but who doesn’t? – and I own up to my mistakes. But claiming responsibility for messing up has always been easy in the past, as I’ve never done anything that bad. I can’t say that anymore.
“Pregnant,” I repeated, my mind blank. “You, Selene Diana Liddell, are pregnant. And I’m the dad. I – holy shit. That’s… unexpected.”
Selene blinked, the crazed light in her eye being replace by anger. Shit. “Unexpected? That’s all you have to say? It’s fucking unexpected?”
“What do you want me to say?” I shot back. “’Awesome, I just knocked up my best friend! That’s exactly what I was planning to do!’ My God, Lee, what else would it be? I just… I don’t know what to say.”
“How about, ‘I’m so incredibly sorry, Selene. I promise to castrate myself and spend the rest of my eternally celibate life discovering a way to get rid of stretch marks.’ That’d be pretty ace,” she snapped.
I felt the blood drain from my face. “Uh… I gotta say, I’m not really a big fan of the whole castration and celibacy part. And why do I need to know how to get rid of stretch marks?”
Her glare intensified, the twitch of doom making its dreaded appearance. I’m going to die. I just know it. She’s going to kill me. But not before she cuts off my manly bits. I think that might actually be worse than death.
“You need to learn to get rid of stretch marks,” Selene hissed through clenched teeth, “because women always get them after they give birth. And I am far too young to have stretch marks.”
I blinked, trying to comprehend everything. Everything was honestly happening too fast. “So, you’re definitely having the baby? I mean, you know, there are options…”
I broke off as the anger was abruptly wiped off Selene’s face. Instead it was replaced by… sadness? “So let me get this straight,” she said, her voice dead serious. “You think that killing our baby is a viable option. You would murder an innocent life just to make your own life easier.”
“That’s not what – I just meant –“
She shook her head. “Just forget it James. I guess I’ll just face this pregnancy alone. I used to think you were a good guy, but I guess I was wrong.”
She walked out of the room calmly. I was too stunned to do anything except stare, my mouth hanging open. What the hell just happened?
When I finally snapped out of my shocked daze, I sprang up from my bed and sprinted down to the common room. My eyes fell of Louis and Nick and I ran over to them. “You guys seen Selene?”
They exchanged glances. Crap. “Yeah,” Louis said slowly. “She said she was going on a walk around the grounds and told us to tell you that, er, next time you can fuck yourself instead.”
Putting it lightly, this is not good. At all. Not good, not good, not good. Nick interrupted my panicked internal ramblings. “Did something happen between you two, mate? I mean that comment is a bit… disturbing. And, well, she looked like she was about to cry.”
“She did?” I whispered. That certainly caught my attention. I have known and been friends with Selene for six years. Blokes always say that you should never befriend a girl. They’re overly-emotion and prone to freak-outs. But not Selene. She’s like a rock. She gets pissed off really easily, but that’s about the only emotion she displays to the world. Only her friends see her smile, hear her laugh. There’s just something about Selene that is so… unshakeable. I can’t tell you how many sticky situations she’s gotten us out of because of her ability to keep a level head in the face of danger.
Crying, though… that’s something else. Selene says tears are for wusses. The only time I’ve ever seen her cry was in the summer right after our fourth year ended. She had decided to spend a week at home before coming to my house. But she showed up two days ahead of schedule, tears flowing freely down her face. Apparently, she’d had a big fight with her parents. She made the mistake of mentioning magic and her parents flipped out. They started yelling at her that she was an abomination and that she was unnatural. In the course of the row, they’d ended up telling her that she never should have been born. Harsh.
Granted, these arguments with her parents aren’t exactly unexpected. Selene says there’s always been tension between her and her parents, even before they knew she was a witch. She just never knew why, but that night they’d told her. Apparently, Selene’s mum had gotten pregnant with her before her parents were married. Their parents, who they were both very close to, ended up disowning them. That’s why Selene doesn’t know her grandparents. But anyways, her parents ended up telling her that they’d seriously considered getting an abortion and that now they wish that they had, so they wouldn’t have a freak child. So much for hippies for being mellow.
So yeah, ever since that night so many years ago, Selene has been extremely family sensitive. And even the slightest mention of the topic of abortions makes her – oh, shit.
“Shit,” I breathed, realization hitting me harder than a Bludger. “Shit balls. Dammit, I fucked up. I really, really fucked up. Bloody hell.”
“Er…” Nick said and I jumped. I’d actually forgotten he and Louis were there.
“I’ve got to go find Selene,” I said quickly, before heading to the portrait hole, sprinting again.
When I made it out to the grounds, slightly out of breath, I pulled out the Maurader’s Map, determined to find Selene. Of course, she’d freaked out. She’d almost been aborted and now I was suggesting she get an abortion herself? I was going to have to do a lot of groveling to get her to forgive me now. At least she doesn’t usually hold grudges?
I scanned the Map quickly, my eyes finding her dot with ease. She was darting around quickly and randomly over near Hagrid’s hut, right next to… the Whomping Willow. “Dammit,” I muttered, taking off running.
Of course that’s what she’d been doing. On top of everything else, Selene is also a bit of a daredevil. Therefore, any time she’s troubled she plays a little game she invented, Willow Dodge. Basically, she goes down to the Whomping Willow and tries to see how long she can avoid its violent attacks. Her longest record is 4 minutes and 28 seconds.
I slow down as I reach the Willow. Selene’s face is scarily blank as she jumps, twists, and darts around the flailing branches. In the back of my head, I think how good she’d be at Quidditch. I, unfortunately, didn’t inherit my parents’ talent and don’t play, though I do like to fly, but Selene could make the team if she wanted to. She just chooses not to.
“Selene,” I called. She continued to dodge as though she hadn’t heard me, but I saw her back stiffen.
I sighed. “C’mon, Selene. Stop being stupid! You know this game is dangerous. Remember what happened last time? You were in the Hospital Wing for two days!"
She continued to ignore me, avoiding yet another attack from the tree. Wait, did she just do a backflip? Where the hell did that come from? “Selene, stop it! It’s not just your life you’re endangering anymore!”
She dropped to the ground and rolled away from the tree like a ninja. She stood up as the Willow calmed down, casually brushing the grass off her clothes like this was no big deal. Then she glared at me. “Why do you care? You’re the one who wants to kill this baby anyways.”
“No I don’t!” I shouted, feeling irked.
She scoffed. “Yeah, right. I heard you before. Don’t lie to me, James, you’re pathetic.” She started to stalk off, but I grabbed her arm and turned her around. My life flashed before my eyes for a second when I saw the look she was giving me. But I ignored it, too irate to care.
“Bloody hell, Selene, would you let me talk? For once in your life, will you please listen to other people and accept that there is a possibility that you don’t actually know everything?” I spat. Okay, that might have been a bit harsh, but it still got her to freeze and look at me, a slightly apologetic look on her face, though she was still angry.
I dropped her arm and ran my fingers through my hair. “Look, I’m sorry for what I said. Really, I am. I know how you feel about… that… but I just wasn’t thinking. I do not want you to get an abortion. I was just in shock. And I still am. I mean, bloody hell, I’m freaking out!”
Selene just looked at me. “You think you’re freaking out? How do you think I feel? I’m two months pregnant, James. This baby is due in May, which means I’ll be giving birth before I even take my NEWTs. And my parents? They already hate me, how do you think they’ll react to me being pregnant? I just… I don’t know what to do. I know that I don’t know everything. Believe me, I know that. I’m just – God, I’m just so scared. And I know you are too. But you know what? When I looked at that positive pregnancy test, I immediately knew that I would have to give birth. Never did I even consider an abortion. And that’s the difference between you and me. So thank you for your apology, but no thanks.”
And with that she walked away. And I let her. Right now, there really wasn’t anything I could do or say. If there’s anything in the world that I would consider myself an expert on, it’s Selene. I can read her moods, I know her opinions, and I know how she reacts to things. She’s never been much of a grudge holder, not unless you really offend her. And I screwed up big time. She may know that I didn’t really mean it, but it doesn’t matter. Not to her.
I dropped to the ground, pulling my knees up to my chest. This isn’t exactly how I planned my seventh year, I’ve got to say. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about Selene being pregnant, but there is one thing I know. I need her in my life. She’s my best friend and I’m fairly certain I’m in love with her. But what to do? There’s only one person who can help me now.
“Lily, hey Lils!” I called across the common room. My sister looked up from where she was doing homework with her friends. It may seem pathetic that I’m going to my 14 year old sister for help, but in truth, Lily is probably my closest friend after Selene. She cuts through bullshit like no one else I’ve ever met and she’ll always tell me the truth, even if it’s not what I want to hear. She’s like Selene in that way. Dad always said that Selene and Lily act like they could be sisters. So I guess it’s really not all that implausible that I’m so close to them both.
“What’s up, James?” she asked with a smile. She put her quill down and motioned for me to sit next to her. I shook my head and jerked my head toward a deserted corner in the room. I didn’t exactly want people to overhear this conversation. Lily raised an eyebrow but joined me nonetheless.
As we sat down she gave me a piercing look. “Seeing as you wanted privacy, I’m going to assume that this is a bit of a personal issue. So tell me, what did you screw up this time?”
I leaned my head back against the wall. “Everything,” I groaned. “Merlin Lil, why do I have to be such an idiot?”
“It’s part of your charm,” she said with a shrug. “You blunder through life, but everyone loves you anyways.”
“Yeah, well, Selene certainly doesn’t,” I muttered under my breath.
“Of course she does,” Lily said immediately. “She loves you just as much as you love her.”
“Doubt it,” I shot back, but she just smirked at me. “Wipe that look off your face, you look like Mum does every time Selene comes over.”
“That’s because she and I are both geniuses. But I wouldn’t expect you to understand,” she said smugly. I shoved her lightly and she laughed.
“Okay Jimmy Jams, tell me what happened.”
…yeah, she calls me Jimmy Jams. So what? She’s my kid sister, of course she has an embarrassing nickname for me. Shut up.
I looked at her seriously. “Look Lily, you have to promise me that you won’t tell a single person about this. Not Al, not your friends, and definitely not Mum and Dad, okay?”
She groaned. “Fine, but now you have me worried. What the hell did you do?”
“Don’t swear,” I said automatically. She just looked at me in contempt, so I moved on quickly. “This summer, while you guys were in France, Selene and I were at home, right? Well, er, the thing is-“
“You two snogged, right? Old news big bro,” Lily said, rolling her eyes. I gaped at her.
“What – how the hell do you know that?"
“Don't swear,” she mocked. “C’mon Jimmy, it was fairly obvious something had happened. She went home and didn’t come back and you two have barely looked at each other for the past month and a half. Just because I’m younger than you doesn’t mean I’m stupid.”
I stared at her. “Okay, yeah, we snogged. But that, um, wasn’t all.”
Her eyes went wide. “No,” she breathed. “What, you shagged her?”
“Ugh, please don’t let me hear you use that word ever again,” I shuddered. Lily’s my baby sister. She shouldn’t even know what shagging is, let alone use the word in conversation.
She ignored that. “I don’t really know what to say. I mean, it’s about time and all, but clearly things aren’t going so well if you’re here talking to me about it.”
“You can say that again,” I said darkly. “Wait, what do you mean ‘it’s about time?’”
“Oh, c’mon James, I’m not daft. It’s so obvious that you two like each other. Granted, I was thinking you’d start dating before having sex, but, whatever. To each their own, I guess.”
I frowned at her. “I don’t like this. Lily, go back to be my innocent baby sister. You’re too young to know what sex is. You’re still supposed to think you were dropped off by a stork.”
Lily snorted. “Are you forgetting that I saw Aunt Luna while she was pregnant with Lorcan? And Lysander? And I got the whole sex talk last summer, so it’s all old news. Anyways, can we get back to the point? Tell me what happened with you and Selene, after you guys… you know.”
“Right,” I said, mussing my hair with my hand. It’s a nervous habit that’s apparently genetic. “Well, things were awkward afterwards, right? I mean, I was pretty happy, I was going to ask her out and stuff because I love her and all that –“
Lily interrupted me with a squeal. “You love her? Oh my God, I knew it! I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! Oh, this is so exciting!”
“Easy girl. Heel,” I smirked.
She glared. Dear God, she looks like Mum when she does that. And Selene. How come I’m constantly surrounded by frightening women? Do not even get me started on Nana Molly. My family is filled with a bunch of nutters.
“Right, anyway,” I mumbled. “Before I could tell Selene that I like her, she started acting all weird and left, making up some excuse about her grandparents visiting, which I know is a lie because she’s never met her grandparents before. And then she never responded to my letters and she ignored me on the train. I pulled her aside to talk during the feast, but I may have put my foot in my mouth and pissed her off. So the ignoring kind of continued until today when she approached me and told me… told me…”
I couldn’t say it. The words caught in my throat. Selene’s pregnant with my child. And she currently hates me. What was I going to do?
“What did Selene say?” Lily asked softly.
I closed my eyes. “She’s pregnant.”
Silence. I waited for the explosion. Lily was probably going to beat me for knocking Selene up. Or she was going to yell. But there was nothing. I opened my eyes and looked at her. Her mouth hung open slightly and her eyes had nearly popped out of their sockets. She just stared at me, utter shock written all across her face. Was she even breathing? Oh, she just took a breath, it’s all good.
“Er, Lily? Lillers? Please say something. Please.”
“You – she – I,” she stuttered. Wow, Lils. Real coherent. Then suddenly she was hugging me fiercely. “I don’t know if I should say congratulations, I’m sorry, or if I should just hit you,” she said, her voice muffled.
I stifled a laugh as she pulled away. “Probably all three."
She sighed. Then she smacked me across the back of the head. “You idiot! Ever hear of protection?”
“I wasn’t exactly planning on sleeping with her,” I yelped, covering my head when Lily went to hit me again. “It just sort of… happened!”
“There are contraceptive spells and you’re of age! What were you thinking?”
“Clearly I wasn’t!"
She rolled her eyes. “Obviously there wasn’t enough blood in your brain for you to think, as it was all somewhere else.”
I felt my cheeks burned as I stared at her in shocked horror. “Lily Luna Potter! Don’t – you – I can’t believe you just said that! Ugh, you’re my sister, that’s just wrong!”
“Aw, is poor wittle Jimmy Jams feeling a wittle embarrassed?” She asked in a baby voice, smirking. Why do I talk to her again? Oh yeah, she gives good advice. Right.
“Whatever, just… can I finish the story?”
“There’s more?” She asked incredulously.
“Unfortunately,” I said bitterly. “Anyways, once she finally got the words out, I was a bit, well, surprised, to say the least. And in my shock, I may have, erm, implied that she should get an abortion.”
Lily was the only other person who knew about what Selene’s parents had told her. Before I knew what was happening, she started hitting me. “James Potter, you insensitive prick! How could you do that? You are such an arse, I can’t believe I’m related to you!”
To say that Lily was angry would be an understatement. To her, Selene is the older sister she always wanted. Those two are close and the truth about Selene’s parents absolutely broke her heart. So yeah, it’s understandable that Lily would get this mad. That doesn’t mean I like it any less, though.
“I’m a fuck up, I know that, now stop bloody hitting me!” I cried, fending off her attacks. “Jesus Christ, woman, you are way too strong.”
“You’re just a wimp,” she said, but she backed off, although that might have been because we were attracting stares.
“So yeah, anyways, I apologized to her because I honestly did not mean it, but she doesn’t care. The fact that I even said it is bad enough. And I just… I don’t know what to say. I need Selene in my life, Lil. What should I do?”
She sighed, running her hand through her hair. See? I told you it was genetic. “For now, you just need to give her time. She’s not just mad, she’s hurt. You need to let her heal and get over it before you start groveling.”
I blinked, thinking it over. It was probably the best course, but I was worried. Selene’s pregnant, she needs someone looking after her. I voiced my concerns to Lily.
“I’ll take care of her,” she said with a shrug. “I can tell her you were worried about her and asked me to make sure she’s taking care of herself. She knows we don’t have secrets, so she shouldn’t be too upset about you telling me.”
I let out a long breath. “I guess that’s the best option. Just… let her know how sorry I am and that I’ll be there when she needs me?”
“I’ll talk to her,” Lily nodded. “Don’t worry too much Jimmy Jams. It’ll all pass in time.”
She hugged me briefly before standing up. Brushing off her skirt in a way that reminded me of Selene, she turned to go. But she had only taken a few steps before she turned back, an odd smile on her face. “By the way, congrats James. You’d be a great dad.”
My mouth twitched up. Things may be a bit of a mess now, but it’s good to know that I’ll always have my sister.
The next morning I was quite rudely awakened when something thumped me on the head. I bolted upright, looking around in confusion. After a few seconds of disorientation, I noticed Selene standing in front of me, arms crossed and mouth set in a scowl. Uh oh, what did Lily do?
“Come with me,” she hissed under her breath. Then she turned and left, not bothering to make sure I was following. I scrambled out of bed quickly, subconsciously wishing that I had slept in more than just my boxers. I didn’t exactly have time to put on more clothes if I wanted to follow Selene.
She was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. An odd look crossed her face when she took in my mostly unclothed state, but she didn’t say anything. I noticed that the common room was empty, and when I glanced out the window, I saw that it was still rather dark.
“What time is it?” I asked Selene, both of us taking a seat in one of the armchairs by the fireplace.
She shrugged. “Around 5:30 or so.”
“5:30? Why in the world are you up so early?” I spluttered. The woman was crazy.
Her gaze grew flat. “Because I had to run to the bathroom to throw up about ten minutes ago.”
“Right. Pregnancy. Morning sickness.”
I was feeling more than a little uncomfortable as she continued to stare at me. She didn’t exactly seem angry, more… blank. She looked cold and unfeeling. Eventually, I had to break the silence. “How are you doing?”
She scoffed. “Please, don’t ask me that. I got enough of it last night from your sister.” Selene raised her eyebrow at me, daring to make an excuse.
“Okay, yeah, I told Lily,” I admitted. “But are you really surprised? And mad? It’s Lily.”
“I – fine. I probably should have expected you to talk to her. I just wasn’t expecting her to show up in my dorm and ask how I was, you know?”
“Yeah, sorry,” I said awkwardly. I hated this. I hated how weird we were being with each other. These last two months have been completely awful. I miss Selene and I miss our easy relationship.
“It’s okay, I guess,” she replied. She still seemed so… empty. I wanted to shake her or something. At this point, I’d almost rather she was angry, instead being so uncaring and apathetic. And I really hated that I had no idea why she was being like this.
After a brief, uncomfortable silence, she spoke again. “Look, Lily told me about what you said, I just want you to know that I’m not mad. I’m not exactly happy, but I’ll get over it. Just… whatever. I’ll keep you up to date on what’s happening and everything, I guess. I’m still not really sure what to do, but Lily’s making me see Madam Pomfrey later today. I’ll tell you how it goes.”
“Er, I could go with you, if you wanted?” I offered, hoping she’d agree.
Selene appraised me for a moment. “No, I don’t think so. Not right now.”
I couldn’t stop the disappointment, the sting her rejection caused. “Oh. Alright, if that’s what you want.”
“I’d say sorry,” she said with a shrug, “but I’m really not. See you around James.”
I watched her walk away. I feel like I’ve been doing that a lot lately, every time we talk. I felt a heaviness settle around me, a sort of despair. Lily’s right. I just need to give her time. The trouble is, I want her back in my life, and I want her back now.
I guess that’s another thing about responsibility. Sometimes, even when you want to be responsible and do what’s right, other things get in the way. It’s just too bad that in this case, the things getting in the way are a stupid remark and hurt feelings.