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Chapter 1: Weddings, Deaths & Truths
“… you may kiss the bride, Mr Potter.”
Everyone stood up and applauded, as James leaned down and kissed Lily. I couldn’t help but grin widely, even if I had only moments ago complained about the flowers making my eyes water, or how the lady behind me smelled bad, or how the entire ceremony was totally overdoing it all – this was Lily Evans, getting married with James Potter.
That alone was a miracle, and forgave everything I had complained about earlier.
“That’s going to be me and you next,” Sirius teased, his voice barely audible over the cheering.
I continued to clap my hands together, as I glared at him. “Dream on, Black,” I growled.
“Oh, I will,” Sirius laughed, throwing his arm around my shoulders, as we all followed the newly wed couple out from the church.
The wind outside was cold, and I shivered just by looking at Lily in her wedding gown – even if I had to choose between death and wearing something like that in this weather, I would choose death.
Atleast I would be warm there. In hell, I mean.
I mean, come on – that’s where I’d be heading, right?
Someone was about to close the car door behind Lily, when she suddenly jumped out – as well as a person could while wearing a wedding gown – and ran towards me.
“Oh my God,” I muttered, my smile widening. “She’s going to run for it!” I gasped, as she made her way through the crowd.
“Susie!” Lily breathed, hugging me.
“Lily!” I coughed, trying to squirm away from her embrace. “What—“
“I’m pregnant, Susie,” Lily whispered in my ear, and I felt my eyes widen. “I’m pregnant!”
I glanced at Sirius over Lily’s shoulder, unable to think of anything to say. “That’s… nice,” I said, as Lily pulled away.
“I’ll see you in a month,” Lily giggle, already running back towards the car, where James waited – looking highly anxious. “I’ll leave the rest to you!”
“What was that about?” Sirius wanted to know, as everyone watched the car drive away.
I remained silent, trying to put the pieces together. I had figured out that James had no clue about Lily’s pregnancy – that was pretty much obvious, considering the look on his face just moments ago. And second of all—
“Oh, hell no!” I called out angrily. “They’re going to skip the reception party!”
So half an hour later, there I stood, looking stupid and helpless, in front of an expectant wedding crowd.
And I had no bride or groom.
They had literally left the country to Merlin knows where.
“SPEECH!” some man shouted, and I recognized him as one of James’ co-workers from the Ministry. “COME ON, GIRLY! GIVE US A SPEECH!”
“OI!” Sirius called out, standing up. “She’ll give you a damn nice speech, if you’d just hold your knickers on, mate!”
A few of the guests chuckled at Sirius’ remark, but I couldn’t help but feel more humiliated. They all expected me to introduce Mr and Mrs James Potter – and I had no Mr and Mrs James Potter to introduce – and I had absolutely no idea about what to do next.
“Erm,” I began, and found mama sit at one of the tables with Sienna, Ali, and their four children. “Ehh… the thing is…”
“Psst!” someone hissed, and I looked towards the voice, spotting Chuck. “Soozer!”
“What?” I hissed back, ducking my head. “Can’t you see I’m kind of in the middle of something here…?”
“This is important,” he went on, raising his eyebrows.
I glanced at the wedding crowd, watching them shift nervously in their seats. The Evans – Lily’s parents and sister, and her sister’s awful walrus look-a-like husband – sat at their table, looking very out of place among all the witches and wizards, even if Mrs P tried to create small talk with them.
“One moment, please,” I said cheerfully, and skipped over to Chuck. “WHAT!?” I snapped loudly, as the entire room fell silent.
Chuck glanced nervously at the crowd, before pulling me aside. He sighed deeply, looking down.
“Chuck, please, just say what the fuck you—“
“Okay, I’m just going to say it, or I won’t be able to say it at all,” he rambled, his hands shaking. “Susie, your dad had a heart attack this morning.”
I watched dad’s still body, his pale and emotionless face, as the machines around him kept beeping regularly. Everytime one of the machines jumped out of the regular, I jumped in my seat and watched the numbers and different curves go crazy, but soon stabilize again. Our entire family was gathered in the small room, but only I stayed by dad’s side. Sienna cried silently against Ali’s shoulder by the window, their children were creating havoc and chaos somewhere in the hospital, while mama hovered by the door, her arms folded across her chest, as she stared blankly ahead. Sirius had offered to stay with me, but I had refused at once. I knew, of course, that he was somewhere in the hospital – just in case.
That’s Sirius Black.
“Chuck found him,” I said quietly, staring at dad. “Chuck wondered why dad was late for the meet—“
“Susan,” mama snapped, and everyone looked at her. “Enough.”
I sighed, as I looked back at dad. “He seemed normal this morning.”
“What would you know what’s ‘normal’ anymore – you don’t even live home anymore! You never visit…” mama said, her voice breaking. “You live with that… that… that boy, and—“
“Sirius has nothing to do with this, mama,” I cut off. “And quite frankly, I have no intentions of listening to any of your lectures of how I’m living in sin with a man, and not being married, or even engaged. Dad accepted Sirius, and that’s fine with me.”
“Sienna!” Chuck said, as he barrelled into the room, carrying all the four girls with him. “Could you please tell your kids to not—“
“GET OUT, CHUCK!” mama and I roared, making Chuck leave the room with the girls as soon as humanly possible. “Sienna, Ali,” mama continued, more composed this time. “Could you please leave us for a moment?”
Sienna managed to glare at me through her tears, before she let Ali lead her out from the room. Mama waited until they were gone, before she approached me.
“What?” I said, looking away.
“What you just said—“
I gasped, and hurried to grab dad’s hand, as I noticed his hand twitch, and eyes flicker open. “DAD!”
“Mon cherie?” mama breathed, leaning over my shoulder to peer at him. “Mon dieu, you’re awake! You made me worry so much, cherie! I—“
“Be… quiet, Morticia…”dad said in a raspy voice, and I blinked my eyes.
Dad had never ever in his entire life told mama to be quiet.
This was absurd.
“W-what?” mama stammered, gaping at him.
“Dad, are you in pain?” I whispered, looking around for the nurse button. “Let me—“
“Susie,” he rasped, and swallowed with much effort. “You need to know… the… the truth…”
“The truth… what are you—“ I said, frowning.
“Morticia… tell… her… the truth…” he said, giving my hand a gentle squeeze. “It is time.”
“No,” mama said at once, her eyes suddenly hardening.
“Tell her, or I will,” dad insisted, suddenly talking clearer than before.
“I will never—“ mama began.
“Susie…” dad said, pulling me closer. “There… was another….”
“Another…? Dad, another what? Another heart attack, another what, dad!?”
“Man,” he whispered, tears forming in his blue eyes. “I’m not your father, Susie…”
His grip of my hand loosened, and he fell heavily against the pillows. The machines went wild at once, and this time, the room was filled with nurses. Mama and I were both pushed away, as they took dad away from the room, leaving a long, awful silence behind.
I slowly turned to mama, my eyes wide, as I looked at her. “Dad’s… dad’s not my dad?”
Mama never answered me. We were soon joined by Sienna, Ali and Chuck – and the four girls – as soon as dad had been taken away. Not long after that did a doctor join us, and told us the situation. He told us dad wouldn’t have much time left, and that we should say our goodbyes when he woke up, because that would be the last opportunity.
Sienna wanted to go first with Ali. Mama and I sat quietly outside, staring at each other, while the girls played around us. One of the girls – Aaliyah, perhaps? – played with my hair, tugging it fervently, and trying to make it even messier. I let her, because I honestly didn’t give damn anymore.
A set of familiar, loud and sure steps echoed down the corridor. I looked up quickly, and felt a small, humourless smile tug at the corners of my mouth, as I saw Sirius walk towards us. I stood up, and tried to walk up to him, but my feet were heavy as rocks. So instead, I ended up being embraced by him, practically pulled into one, enormous hug.
“Are you okay?” he whispered into my hair, and I felt everyone suddenly stare at us. I pulled quickly away, and nodded stiffly. “Susie?” Sirius said, frowning at me. “Are you okay, Susie?” he asked, rubbing his thumb carefully against my cheek.
I barely felt it.
I could only imagine what I looked like. This kind of me was probably the last kind Sirius wanted to remember; it probably reminded him of something he didn’t want to remember, something he wished to forget.
So because of that, I smiled, and nodded again. “I’m fine,” I heard myself say.
Before Sirius could ask anything else, Sienna and Ali returned, and Sienna walked straight up to me. “Susie,” she said, sniffling. “Dad wants to see you. He kept saying your name the entire time w-we were there…”
I watched as Ali embraced the crying Sienna, giving me a small nod. I glanced at Sirius one last time, before entering the room where dad was.
The room smelled weird, almost like at the dentist. I hadn’t visited the dentist that much, only twice, but the smell was something I would never forget. A nurse sat in the corner of the room, eyeing me sadly. She quickly looked away, and started to move some papers around. I kept looking at her, until I sat down in the chair next to dad’s bed.
I knew dad didn’t have much time. I knew it the very moment I looked at his face. I also knew he knew it.
And for a moment, I forgot all my hatred for him. He was, afterall, my only dad.
“Dad?” I said quietly, biting my lip to keep the tears back. “You… you wanted to see me…?”
“Susie,” dad sighed, searching my hand with his own. “My little Susie…”
“Dad, I’m here,” I whispered, and took his hand. I sniffled loudly, and tried to smile as he opened his eyes. “Dad?”
“I’m so sorry,” he suddenly said, shaking his head. “I’m sorry I kept this from you for so long… you had the right to know, but I… I… everyday, everyday I wished… that you would be my daughter, my real daughter… everyday, I found similarities with us two… but everytime I found them, I found three more that were… were similar to your real father… or still are…”
“Dad,” I pleaded, squeezing his hand. “I don’t understand! You’re my dad! I don’t understand how some random bloke could possibly be—“
“He’s still alive,” dad cut me off, peering at me seriously. “But Susie,” dad said, sighing. “He’s not a good man. He used to be, but from what I’ve heard, he’s turned into… into a greedy, selfish and arrogant man. Don’t look for him, Susie… if you do… if you do, you’ll only get hurt… and I don’t wish that kind of pain for you…”
“Dad…” I whispered, as he closed his eyes. “You can’t be serious…”
“Promise me…” dad said, and I had to lean closer to hear him. “Promise me you won’t… won’t…”
“I promise!” I said, nodding. “I promise I won’t look for him!”
“Don’t be angry,” he said, trying to give me a small smile. “Don’t be angry with your mama… she loves you… very…very, very much… promise me…”
I knew both my promises would be empty promises, but what was I supposed to do?
“I promise,” I heard myself say, before dad took his last breath. “I love you, dad…” I whispered, giving his hand a kiss. “Bye-bye, daddy…”
And with that, dad was gone.
A/N: Nyah! I decided to post the sequel already, because A CERTAIN SOMEONE kept giving me hell on MSN... -.- Kidding :D
- Lily xxx
Chapter 2: Escapism
“She’s been like this since we left the hospital,” I heard Sienna murmur from inside.
“Can you blame her?” Sirius’ familiar voice said, and I heard him make his way towards me. He sat down next to me on the stairs, and carefully wrapped his arm around my shoulders. “Hey, there…”
“Hello,” I whispered, clearing my throat and smiled forcefully.
“You don’t have to smile if you don’t want to,” Sirius sighed, kissing my shoulder. “Won’t you come inside? It’s getting chilly out here.”
“No, it’s not,” I said, lifting up my bottle of Firewhiskey meaningfully.
“Well, for my sake, then?” he tried. “I mean, let’s be honest – I have to carry you home once you’re done, you know.”
“You don’t have much faith in me, do you?” I muttered, taking another sip.
“No, not as a heavy drinker,” Sirius commented. “Your mother—“
“Don’t mention my mother,” I said shortly, glaring at the dark sky.
“Sirius, just… go away, leave me alone… I’ll be right inside…” I said, shrugging his arm off. “Please?” I added, more warmly, as I turned my head to look at him.
“Fine,” Sirius said after a short moment of hesitation. “Kiss?” he said, tilting his head to the side.
“Sure,” I said, leaning in to kiss him. Just as I was about to pull away, he grabbed my face in his warm hands, and kept me there, making the kiss last longer. When we finally parted, I raised my eyebrows at him. “What was that about?” I said, as he still cradled my face.
He shrugged, as his soft thumb brushed against my cheek. “Just felt like it,” he said easily, and kissed my nose quickly. “I love you.”
“Mm-hmm,” I said with a small smile, as he stood up and left.
I sat still for what seemed like an hour. Then, finally, I stood up, fully aware of what I had to do. I walked stiffly back inside, and made my way towards dad’s study. I didn’t even bother to knock, and just entered.
“Hello, mama,” I said, as I closed the door behind me. “We need to talk.”
Mama turned from the window, her face blank. I watched her for a few seconds, until I narrowed my eyes, and shook my head slowly. “All this time… you knew.”
“Yes,” she said shortly, as if we were talking about the weather. “Of course I knew.”
“And… you didn’t tell me?” I said quietly. “Why?”
“Unnecessary details,” mama said, and I felt my nostrils flare as the words sunk in.
“But you saw it necessary to tell me about dad’s affair with some woman, though!? What’s wrong with you!?”
“The affair was never real!” mama hissed, looking at me in pity. “Susan, you’re so naïve – just like Richard… the whole thing was a lie.”
I staggered a little, but quickly took support of the wall. I shook my head, trying to clear things up.
“W-what?” I stammered, blinking rapidly. “But you… you told me—“
“Oh please,” mama said, her eyes wide. “Richard never even glanced another woman – it was all a lie, a lie both of us agreed to tell you once your suspicions started to grow…”
“But…but I never suspected— mama! What are you blabbering about!?”
“I needed you,” mama said calmly, her eyes moving swiftly to the bottle in my hand. “I needed you to trust me, to be on my side… and you would only be on my side if you had a reason to hate your father,” she said, infuriating me with her casual tone. “Well, the man you thought was your father, anyway…”
“How could you?” I demanded, staring at her. “How could you do that to your own daughter!?”
“Because I couldn’t watch you ruin your life anymore because of that good for nothing Sirius Black!” she snapped, her eyes suddenly blazing.
“He is a good guy, and you know it!” I shot back, my cheeks suddenly hot. “I… I don’t… I can’t understand what kind of person would—“
“Because you’re my daughter, Susan, whether you liked it or not!” mama interrupted loudly, taking a step towards me.
“No,” I said, shaking my head at her. “I am no longer your daughter, you don’t get to twist with my mind anymore,” I told her, putting down my bottle on the table. “This is the last time we’ll talk… Morticia.”
“Don’t be silly, Susan,” mama said, giving a small smile. “I’m your mother.”
“Goodbye,” I said, turning my back to her.
“SUSAN!” I heard her call after me, as I hurried out of the room. “SUSAN, COME BACK HERE!”
I hurried down the stairs, and ran right into Sirius who gave me a startled look. “Susie!” he called, as he stopped me. “What—“
“Let’s just go,” I said hastily, and took his hand. “I want to go home.”
And for once, Sirius didn’t ask any questions.
“Are you asleep?” Sirius whispered.
I stared up at the ceiling, and sighed. “Yes,” I said.
“Susie,” he sighed, and rolled on his side to get a better look at me. “Come on… talk.”
I glared at him in the dark, and narrowed my eyes. “Sirius, I don’t want to talk.”
“But you have to talk, or you know what will happen!” Sirius said loudly, making me cringe at his tone. “You’ll only end up bottling it all inside, and then you’ll do something incredibly stupid, and get hurt, Susie!”
“Did you just have a tone with me?” I asked dumbfounded.
“Yes,” Sirius said with a completely blank face. “And you totally deserved a tone, woman.”
“You’re one annoying bastard, Sirius Black,” I said, and narrowed my eyes at him. “And I hate you.”
“Aww, you know you love me!” Sirius said, and kissed my forehead. “We’ll talk in the morning – that’s how much I can give in.”
I huffed, and turned my back to him. “Fine, we’ll talk.”
“Lily Evans is pregnant!?”
I watched Sirius’ face of utter disbelief over the breakfast table, slowly sipping on my coffee.
“It’s Potter now, actually,” I said with a shrug. “But yeah, she’s pregnant.”
“And this is what made you all… all…” Sirius stammered, gaping at me.
I watched the crumbs of crackers decorate the corner of his mouth, and I felt a small thud of affection towards this ridiculously adorable man. Okay, so I didn’t tell him the real reason, but he didn’t know that! And anyway, it was always better the less Sirius knew.
“Yeah,” I said, shrugging again. “Touchy subject.”
What a lie.
“Susie,” Sirius said, walking around the table. “I’m… I’m…”
“Yeah,” I said, shrugging again. Sirius wrapped his arms around me from behind, and kissed my shoulder. “Are you done with those?” I asked, cutting off the silence, as I nodded towards the crackers I had used to distract Sirius with, all sprawled across the table.
“Yeah, I—“ Sirius began, but fell silent as he watched me pounce for them over the table, happily chewing them. “You little monster…” Sirius muttered, massaging my stiff shoulders. “So, what’s your schedule today?”
I shoved another cracker in my mouth, playing for time. I shrugged, slowly brushing off invisible crumbs from my lap. “I… don’t know,” I finally said, shaking my head. “I might go meet with Rita Skeeter again, and convince her I’m a great writer, a—“
“Real ray of sunshine, with great work morale and warm heart?” Sirius finished, as he took our empty cups and walked over to the sink. “You totally demolished the place, what makes you think she’ll hire you again?”
I glared at him, pursing my lips tightly. “Well, I’m sorry I haven’t dazzled you with my divine grace, Mr Black,” I said stiffly, watching an amused grin cross Sirius’ face.
“Oh, make no mistake, Susie Q,” Sirius said, leaning down so that he was on my level. “You dazzled me from the very beginning – other people are just totally blinded by it.”
I rolled my eyes, and pushed him gently away as I stood up. “You’re so full of crap,” I snorted, grabbing my coat as I walked towards the door.
“But it’s the best crap in the world, and you love it, admit it!” Sirius called after me.
“See you later!” I called over my shoulder, rolling my eyes again as I heard him chuckle.
I cringed, as I felt the cold September air greet me on the busy street of London. The dingy flat we lived in was located in the very centre of London, down an alley, barely noticeable by people. The building was old and abandoned, but with some magic, we had managed to fix it up – and now it was our home, and had been for the last three years.
As I walked down the alley, I couldn’t help but reminisce. It was September, after all. There were students at Hogwarts who were living their lives to the fullest, totally unaware of the world outside, and just enjoying life. I myself had been very much against the mere idea of adjusting to Hogwarts, and I hated to admit the fact that the bloody place had started to grow on me, and before I knew it, I had to say goodbye to it – did that even make any sense?
My thoughts were quickly scattered all around the place, as I saw the blonde woman sit behind a desk through a dirty shop window. I glanced swiftly at the shop’s name - Wedding & Funeral - before entering.
“Welcome, how can I—“ the woman began, but as she looked up, she fell silent, and a smirk crossed her pointy face. “Ah, Susan Quency!”
“Rita Skeeter,” I said pleasantly, and nodded. “Hullo.”
Rita Skeeter was a few years older than me, so that apparently gave her the right to be patronizing. Apparently, she had been the main – and only! – publisher of Hogwarts Gossip during her time at Hogwarts. It hadn’t been a successful paper due to its inability to get the facts straight. However, she had somehow managed to become a part of a larger paper after Hogwarts, The Daily Prophet, and it was through her that I had got my first ever job in journalism. I wrote the crime section reporting on the more or less mysterious disappearances that had occurred recently.
That is, of course, until I demolished the entire place due to a simple misunderstanding, including a few beauty potions gone wrong.
“Are you here for a wedding or funeral?” she asked in a sweet tone, making me grimace. “Oh, sorry the pun!” she said, smiling brightly.
She wasn’t sorry at all – we both knew it.
“You know why I’m here,” I said, sitting down. “I need a job. You need someone to write those articles for you. You need me. Why don’t we help each other out, eh?”
Rita stared at me, narrowing her eyes. “I don’t need you, Quency,” she snarled, and leaned back in her chair. “What makes you think—“
“The number of readers has dropped again, right?” I cut off, smiling. “You’re getting letters from readers, demanding you to let me write the section, right?”
Rita continued to give me a sour look, clearly not willing to admit the cold facts.
“Admit it, Skeet,” I said, tilting my head to the side. “The tiny fire incident aside, I was a great—“
“How can I put the fire incident aside!?” Rita shot vehemently. “YOU CAUSED THE ENTIRE OFFICE TO EXPLODE!”
“We had to relocate, since the building was totally and utterly beyond repair, Susan,” she went on, hyperventilating, as I looked around at the shop – it clearly the front cover of the office, that was probably in the backroom.
The old office had been pretty cool; it had been a old basement flat located on a side alley.
“I love what you’ve done with the place, though,” I cut in, smiling. “Really.”
“This is not a joke!” she screeched. “Do you think I enjoy dealing with Muggles who actually think we do flowers for weddings and funerals!?”
“That actually happens?” I marvelled, and blinked. “Wow, Skeet.”
“Just get out of my sight,” Rita sighed. “I need another month before I can face you again.
I stood up and watched her rub her wrinkled forehead. “I’ll come back tomorrow with new ways to annoy you to take me back, Skeet!”
“STOP CALLING ME SKEET!”
“Buh-bye!” I said, and waved before I left. As I closed the door, I could’ve sworn I heard her use some very bad words, as she crashed something.
Oh, the blissful sound of people going bonkers because of me!
I grinned to myself, as I slowly walked down the street, deep in thought. When I finally looked up, I felt myself come to a halt, as I met a pair of ice cold eyes in the crowd, staring at me.
I felt time stop, as I swallowed slowly.
A/N: I swear I had a small heart attack when hpff was down xD Then I got all "THIS IS A SIGN THAT I SHOULDNT CONTINUE!" and I swore I would post the next chapter ASAP - and then hpff was up again, and I was all "...well, damn it!", but THEN, it went down again. But now it's up, and thanks to me being a good TA, I get to post WHATEVER xD ...well, within the limits of the rules and terms of hpff, of course ^_^ ENJOY!
- Lily xxx
Chapter 3: Deal with the Devil
I took a sip of my take-away coffee, awkwardly glancing at Regulus who sat next to me on the stairs. Neither of us said a word, we just silently stared at each other, before ducking into a coffee shop, bought coffee, and found a quiet place to sit down. It was just beyond awkward for so many reasons; first of all, he was the younger brother of my boyfriend. Second of all, he was the one who made me see a whole new side of Sirius, and made me surprisingly enough confess my undying love for him – or whatever. And third of all, it was my duty to hate him. Kind of.
The law of nature, you know.
“So,” I said finally, clearing my throat. “Why—“
“I’m sorry about your dad,” he said quickly, avoiding any eye contact.
“Thanks,” I said, glancing at him. “So… Reggie,” I said, trying to smile. “Regulus,” I amended, as he gave me a startled look. “Surely you’re not here merely for a courtesy call, right? What’s up?”
“You need to leave,” Regulus said, shifting nervously. “You can’t stay, not here, not with him… not with Sirius.”
I watched him fidget with his hands, nervously biting down on his lip. I had always hated that about Sirius’ younger wuss-of-a-brother; always nervous, and shifting around like a weasel. To be honest, I always got the urge to pee whenever he was near – yes, he made me that nervous.
My bladder was having an anxiety attack because of Regulus Black – okay, what was it with these Black brothers, giving my body weird syndromes, and whatnot?
“What are you talking about?” I said, frowning. “Is something wrong?”
“Mother doesn’t like it,” Regulus said, shaking his head. “No, no, no – she hates it. She says you’re no good, she thinks you’re the reason why Sirius rebelled at Hogwarts… and still rebels, even if he’s not at Hogwarts anymore.”
I snorted loudly, shaking my head slowly. “Merlin’s beard, are you serious!?” I said. “He was a lot worse before I came along, and if anything, I think I’ve taken down a notch or two of his insanity, thank you very much!”
“I agree,” Regulus agreed quietly, still shaking his head. “But I overheard… overheard… mother say… t-terrible things, terrible, terrible… things. She has terrible p-plans, if you don’t disappear.”
I stared at him in confusion. “Why does she even care?” I asked. “I mean, I’ve never met the woman, and from what I’ve heard, she’s not exactly the kind of person I’d like to waste my time on! Sirius is a twenty-year-old man, he’s not a little kid anymore, so Mrs Black can sod off, and—”
“You don’t understand,” Regulus cut in, finally looking at me. “My mother is a scary person, Susan.”
“Did you just—“
“Yes,” Regulus sighed, shaking his head at my distraction. “Just… be careful, okay? And… would you mind… not telling—“
“Do I look like a complete idiot?” I demanded, slightly offended. “I know better than to bother Sirius with some stupid little thing like this…”
“Whatever,” I said, putting down my coffee, as I stood up. “Bye, Regulus.”
One week later…
“Richard Quency was a fine man,” the man began, as he stood in front of the guests. “He was a family man, a man with his priorities in order. He always took work seriously, but never did he neglect his family because of work. He was a great man.”
I glanced around, and felt a tug of annoyance; the room was filled with people I weren’t familiar with, most of them had known dad from work, or so. They were probably attending the funeral because they had to, not because they wanted to.
My eyes wandered to the last row, where my friends were seated – everyone except James and Lily, of course. They were on their honeymoon, much to Lily’s objections, which I had easily overruled.
She owed me one, that’s why she let it go.
I met Chuck’s gaze, and he waved faintly. Mama had asked him to join the family at front, but he had politely refused, since he wanted to be ‘emotionally supportive’ to his pregnant wife.
Speaking of which…
Vicky, the pregnant wife – also known as Mrs Perry – was seated next to Chuck, her hands fondly folded over her huge stomach. I had already gotten used to everyone around me getting pregnant, so Vicky’s pregnancy hadn’t been such a shocker… considering how they went at it every hour of the day – basically. She hadn’t really changed at all, the only thing that had changed was… well, she wasn’t slender anymore, but I could hardly hold that against her.
Last time I pointed it out, she burst out crying, and refused to talk to me for a week.
Next to Vicky, I found Remus and Val, both of them giving me a sad smile. I felt like rolling my eyes; they were annoyingly perfect for each other, both as friendly as ever, it borderlined annoying, really.
Then I finally saw the person I had searched for; Sirius. He saw seated closest to the aisle, mainly because he almost missed the whole thing. He had practically barrelled in during the Minister of Magic’s speech, getting everyone’s attention.
But that was Sirius; he was like a magnificent star that caught everyone’s attention. Everyone adored him, for a reason or another, whether they wanted or not.
“And now I’d like to call up Susan Quency to say a few words,” the man finished, and Sienna elbowed me in the ribs.
I walked stiffly up, clutching the piece of paper with my notes on. Mama had prepared a poem for me to read – of course, it had been Sienna who had given it to me.
I cleared my throat, and stared down at the ridiculous poem.
“YOU ROCK, SUSIE Q!” Sirius boomed from the back, and made me look up.
“Stupid moron…” I mumbled under my breath, as everyone gave Sirius a look of annoyance. “Hello,” I said more loudly, greeting the guests. “I’m… Susan Quency, daughter of Richard Quency.”
I almost expected them to greet me back, ‘Hi, Susan!’, like at those AA-meetings or something.
“In my father’s memory, I’d like to read a poem, as a little something from us all,” I said, glancing down at the paper.
A long silence followed, as I stared at the poem. What the fuck was I doing? This wasn’t it. Dad wouldn’t have wanted this. His last words had been that mom was a slut, who had had an affair with some other bloke, and I was the result of that affair – and now I was supposed to read a poem about loyalty and love?
Well, fine, he didn’t exactly call her slut and all that – but whatever.
“I… can’t do this,” I breathed, looking directly at mama. “I’m sorry, I can’t… I can’t read this fucking poem!”
Everyone gasped, as the words left my mouth. I saw Sienna’s eyes widen, as she stared at me, and Ali next to her tried his best to cover their children’s ears – unsuccessfully. Mama, on the other hand, sat calmly in her seat, staring blankly ahead.
“Dad hated poems,” I said, searching the crowd again. “At the family reunions, whenever someone read a poem, he would tell jokes instead. He also knew lots of Muggle tricks – like, you know, how to get a spoon to dangle from your nose without magic? Yeah, that kind of stuff. He did that. He was never the strict and punctual man everyone thought he was – he was just my dad. He probably gave me more freedom than to my sister – who we all know as the ‘runaway bride’ – but that’s just because he never expected me to marry. In fact, he never expected me to be interested of boys at all. Or girls, whatever. So I think it was a real shocker when I brought home this… this… scruffy-looking, arrogant, bad-boy by the name of Sirius Black. Yeah, it was… eventful. But even then, he wasn’t strict. My dad… my dad trusted people. He trusted many; people at work, the milkman, a Muggle passing him on the street… and his family,” I said, meeting mama’s eyes. “Above anything, he trusted his family, the ones he loved the most. And his… his wife, my mother,” I finished, pursing my lips tightly. “My dad is a man I’m proud to be daughter to. Thank you.”
I stepped down from the podium, and walked down the aisle. Sienna reached to grab my hand and pull me down to sit, but I continued to walk on. Everyone looked after me, as I walked on, and I knew it.
As I passed Sirius, I didn’t even need to look at him to know that he was already on his feet, waiting for me to reach him. And as I did, he silently grabbed my hand, and left the room with me.
I had made a decision – and Sirius would follow me, no matter what.
“That was a brilliant speech, Susan!” a man said, smiling brightly.
I realized it was the man who had given a speech before me. I smiled, and raised my glass to clink it against his. “Thank you!”
“Normally, one would just read a poem…” he said awkwardly, and I continued to smile. “Are you really dating Sirius Black?”
I nodded, sipping my drink. “Yeah, why?”
“The Black family is an old, Pureblood family, great history… dark history, too,” he said, shaking his head. “You’re in over your head, girlie, you know that, right?”
“I don’t really care about his family, to be honest,” I blurted, still smiling politely. “It’s Sirius I’m shagging, right? Not his family,” I said, putting my glass down on a tray. “And don’t call me girlie.”
I elbowed my way through the crowd, until I reached the backdoor. I waited until the door had closed behind me, before letting out a sigh of relief, my eyes closed.
“Susan Quency,” a voice said, making me snap my eyes open. I looked wildly around, squinting in the dark. “Oh, did I startle you?” a woman said.
I watched in silence, as an elderly woman stepped out from the shadows. Her dark, thick hair was in curls, with a few grey strands, and she peered at me with her bright eyes.
Awfully, familiar, bright eyes.
“Good evening,” she said calmly, but I could hear the disdain and hatred drip from her voice. I felt her eyes take in my appearance as I stood in front of her.
“Evening,” I said shortly, narrowing my eyes. “You must be—“
“Walburga Black,” she said, her thin lips pursed. “So you’re the hussy who has bewitched my son.”
“And you’re the old hag who can’t face the fact that your Sirius is a grown man, and doesn’t give a damn about your values… ma’am.”
She smiled a small, humourless smile, as she glanced inside through the window, where all the guests were socializing. “Am I interrupting a family gathering?”
“A funeral, actually,” I said. “I know you know about my father.”
“Which one?” she asked, her eyes piercing through me.
I felt my heart grow cold. “W-what?”
“I asked,” she said, smiling again, and showing her yellow-ish teeth. “Which one – the one who raised you as his own daughter, or the one who got your poor mother pregnant, and didn’t give a damn?”
I stared at her, not sure if she was bluffing or not. A dreadful thought crossed my mind – she couldn’t possibly be bluffing, it was just impossible to guess something like that.
“How do you know about that?” I demanded, pulling out my wand.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Mrs Black said, eyeing my wand. “You kill the queen bee, and a flock of bees will follow – you don’t seriously expect to get away with this the easy way, do you? Do you have any idea who I am, girl!?”
“I don’t want to kill you,” I snapped, glaring at her. “Only seriously injure.”
“You’re more stupid than Lucius let on,” she said, clicking her tongue in mock disbelief. “And to think that he almost married you – it’s a good thing another marriage was arranged for him, considering… your family background.”
Even with everything going on, when someone offended my family’s pride like that, it still hit a special place, and all anger management went out the window.
“Don’t make me hurt a senior citizen!” I shot, grabbing my wand tightly. “If you’ve been correctly informed, it wouldn’t be the first time I hex someone to St Mungo’s!”
“I will make a deal with you,” she said, lifting her pointy chin.
“I’m not going to make any deals with the devil, but for the sake of good manners, let’s hear it,” I said, tilting my head to the side.
“I’ll give you this,” she said, holding a piece of paper between her fingers. “If you leave my son alone, give him his freedom.”
I snorted, and shook my head. “Sirius’ freedom? Lady, are you stupid, or what? Sirius is free! What makes you think—“
“Dump him, break his heart, leave him be,” Mrs Back went on, her face darkening. “And I’ll give you all the information you need to know about your real father.”
My eyes drifted to the piece of paper she was clutching, and I felt my willpower waver slightly.
“I… can’t,” I finally breathed, lowering my wand, as I continued to stare at the paper.
“Sure you can,” Mrs Black said, her voice disgustingly sweet and polite.
“You don’t understand,” I snarled, narrowing my eyes at her. “Sirius loves me – he’ll never believe it, if I suddenly decided to break-up with him!”
“It’s not love you two have, it’s lust, m’dear,” Mrs Black said, her eyes dark. “If you refuse to leave my son alone, you’ll regret it. You’ll regret it your whole life.”
“What are you going to do?” I demanded. “Kill me?”
“That would be the easiest way out, wouldn’t it?” she purred, nodding. “Although, in order to get my son back, I couldn’t possibly kill you – he would only end up hating me, wouldn’t he? You would win. No – if I can’t have my son, then no one can.”
It took a moment before her words sunk in. I inhaled sharply, my eyes widening, as Mrs Black’s master plan played out in my head.
“You… you would actually kill your own son?” I whispered.
“Do we have a deal?” she said, ignoring my accusation. “Let’s be honest here, girl; clearly you care about my son, and want the best for him – but what do you have to offer him, hmm? Happiness? That’s doubtful. Isn’t a person the happiest when surrounded by family? Or… can you really disagree, and say that Sirius is happy with you, like this?”
I was speechless. Stunned.
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “I can’t… I mean, I don’t know…” I said, and found myself close to tears. “W-what should I tell him? He’s never going to—“
“Hurt him,” Mrs Black said, folding the paper neatly, not even looking at me. “Hurt him to save him, Susan.”
“N-no…” I gasped, falling down on my knees. “I c-can’t…”
“I take it we have a deal, then,” she said, kneeling in front of me. “Good girl – you’ll make any father proud!” she said, patting my head carefully.
She dropped the paper in front of me, and with that, she was gone.
A/N: Since I'm TA, I can post as many chapters as I want :D I think it's rather unbelievable xD Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the chapter... not that it was a good one, or a happy one, but still... IT HAD TO BE DONE.
- Lily xxx
Chapter 4: I’ll Be Right Back
“It was a lovely speech, Susie,” Sirius said, as he untied his tie. “I’m sorry I missed the beginning, though.”
I glanced at him from the bed, watching him undress. “Why were you late, anyway?”
“The Auror training went on longer than expected,” he sighed, shaking his head. “I’m just going to be glad when it’s all over, you know… James is one lucky S.O.B, you know – I wouldn’t mind lazing around on a beach somewhere with the person I love the most…”
I tried to smile, as he crawled into the bed next to me, kissing my shoulder. “Yeah…” I said quietly, staring at the wall. “I’ve been thinking…”
“Uh-oh,” Sirius said with a grin, resting his jaw on my shoulder as he peered at me. “That’s not good.”
“We should go on a vacation, you know,” I said, shrugging his off, as I turned my back to him. I couldn’t have him look at me as I lied to him, coloured up some fantasy that would never come true.
“A vacation?” Sirius said, and I could hear the frown in his voice. “But… the timing—“
“I know, I know,” I cut off, as he wrapped his arm around me. “I realize the timing is sucky, and all, what with your Auror training and my little project—“
“You call convincing Rita Skeeter to take you back a ‘little project’? Seriously?” Sirius chuckled.
“We’ve never been on a vacation, though,” I murmured quietly, as Sirius waved his wand, making the lights go out. “Just saying.”
Sirius sighed in the dark, pulling me closer against his chest. “You know I would never deny anything from you… and when you pull that tone with me…”
“Just imagine,” I started, closing my eyes. “You, me, and a warm, sunny beach… somewhere on a nameless island…”
“You naked,” Sirius said, grinning. “I wouldn’t mind that, you know.”
“So? What do you say?”
“When do we leave?” Sirius whispered in my ear.
“Tomorrow, if you want to,” I whispered back, blinking away the tears.
“Fine by me,” Sirius laughed, kissing my neck. “G’night, Susie Q.”
“You know what?” Sirius whispered after a moment.
“I love you,” he said, and I felt his smile against my neck. “Very much.”
“I…” I began, and turned around to face him for the first time. “I love you too.”
“And to think how long it took for me to hear those words for the first time,” Sirius teased, bumping his nose against mine. “You stubborn girl…”
“Well, you were a real charm-troll back then,” I huffed, resting my cheek against his chest.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s just sleep before you regret this!” he muttered, holding me in his arms. “And tomorrow, we’ll go on our little vacation – just you and me!”
I remained silent for a moment, before I pulled slightly away from his embrace, and gazed up at him. His eyes were closed, and his lips slightly parted, and he looked so peaceful, so… innocent. I carefully touched his cheek, and watched him frown slightly. He slowly opened his eyes, and blinked a few times in the dark, before his eyes found me.
“Susie?” he mumbled sleepily, and I smiled at the confused look on his face.
“Don’t tell me you were already asleep,” I said, my fingers tracing his handsome face.
He looked at me in silence, before clearing his throat. “Well, not anymore, that’s for sure,” he said with a grin.
“How flattering, Mr Black,” I said, kissing him slowly.
Sirius pulled away, and smirked. “I can’t help it that my body reacts at your touch!”
“Oh, I’m not complaining,” I whispered, kissing him again.
Sirius growled against my lips, easily rolling on top of me. I helped him pull off his shirt, as his hand already explored under my shirt. With another easy move, it joined his shirt on the floor. Sirius’ lips trailed down my neck, as I gazed up at the ceiling in wonder.
Would this really be the last time I would feel Sirius like this?
As the insane thought crossed my mind, I squirmed under Sirius, and after much struggling, straddled him instead. He gave me a surprised look, as I breathed heavily over him.
“Shut up, Sirius,” I said, and grabbed his face as I kissed him hard.
His hands pulled me closer to him, as he suddenly sat up. Neither of us seemed tired anymore, even if the day had been exhausting in so many ways. My hands went through his hair, trying to get his lips closer to mine.
“Susie…” he gasped, his arms tighter around me.
I would miss this too – I won’t deny it.
It felt like my limbs had been pulled out, as I lay there, clamp with sweat. It took me a moment until I realized that Sirius was holding my hand. He gave it a gentle squeeze, before kissing it, and pulling me to him. We were still gasping for breath, and his breathing was like a cool summer breeze in my hair.
I closed my eyes, enjoying these last moments of utter bliss. I knew that if I didn’t do it tonight, I would never be able to let go.
I was such an addict.
I remained awake, as I listened to Sirius’ racing heart slowly calm down. His breathing steadied, and soon enough, the silent room was filled with his quiet and peaceful snoring. I stared at our hands, still entwined, as I slowly squirmed away from his embrace. I had only managed to sit up in the bed, when suddenly, he pulled me back again, his face only inches form mine.
“Where are you goin’?” he mumbled sleepily, his eyes closed.
I watched the small frown between his brows, and bit my lip. “I’ll be right back,” I whispered, kissing him carefully.
“Mmm’kay,” he said, smiling against my lip.
I watched him for another minute, waiting until he had fallen back asleep again. I carefully let go of his hand, letting out a quiet sniff.
“Goodbye,” I whispered, as I hurried to dress.
I grabbed a small bag, throwing in only a few things, as I silently left the bedroom. As I reached the kitchen, I saw Felix sitting on he table, giving me an accusing look.
“Felix,” I said, as I grabbed a piece of parchment, and started writing. “You take care of Sirius, okay? Got it? And don’t let him give you away to anyway, okay? You just stay put, and… and…”
“Meow!” Felix meowed, and I looked up to see Felix look at me with big, round eyes.
“I take that as a yes, then,” I said, giving a small peck on Felix’s head. “You’ve been a great friend, Felix…”
I had it all planned out. I would leave Sirius, just disappear, and never look back again. He would try to find me – which I hoped would pass soon – and then hate me for the rest of his life. He would probably think that I was just dragging him along for fun, until I got bored of him, and moved on. Eventually, he would be happy again.
Just as his mother had promised.
And what about me? Well, I would find my own happiness, too… eventually.
Atleast I had a ‘project’ that would keep me occupied for some time.
I rolled the parchment into a scroll and handed it to the owl sitting in the corner. “There’s no address on it,” I apologized to the owl, as I tied the letter around its leg. “But… I’m sure you’ll be able to find Emelie Jolie, right?”
The owl flew out through the open window, as I gave the apartment one last look.
This was it; my last goodbye.
And with that, I walked out through the door, not looking back.
A/N: The only reason I'm updating with TWO chapters is simply because THIS ONE was so damn short xD Kidding! I jsut wanted to treat you awesome readers for something nice :) Even if the chapters weren't so nice :( Kind abroke my herat to write them, to be honest - good thing there's KitKats, right? xD Oh, and for those who wonder where I come up with these plots and dramalines... well, I watch too much tv, "Days of Our Lives" and such xD They're hilarious, serious!
- Lily xxx
Chapter 5: Run
I woke up in the most horrible way; someone poking me in the ribs and face – repeatedly.
I slowly opened my eyes, and saw four pairs of dark brown – almost black – eyes stare at me.
“She’s alive, mom!” one of the girls screamed, as the three others peered closer at me.
“MOM!” they all roared, when nothing happened.
“Shh!” I hissed, sitting up. “Girls, shut up…!”
Sienna barrelled into the room, carrying a tray with a cup of tea. She plonked the tray down in front of me, before turning to glare at me. “Well, hello!” she huffed.
“Sienna, I can totally—“ I began.
“Kellie, Mellie, Nellie, Shellie,” Sienna said, her hands resting on her hips. “Go – play.”
Her voice was calm and deep – it was almost worse than yelling.
“But mom--“ one of the girls started, but fell silent as Sienna shot a glare at them. “Outside, girls!” she amended, and I watched as they all marched out.
I stared back at Sienna, as she slowly sat down across from me. “Talk – now,” she demanded, folding her hands.
“About the reason why you appear behind my door, in the middle of the night, carrying one big luggage, and completely drunk of your arse, Susie!”
“Oh, that,” I said, clearing my throat. “You see—“
“Did you have a fight with Sirius? Is he beating you? I knew it!” she whispered, leaning forward.
“No!” I said, mortified. “He would never—I would never—SIENNA, NO!” I said, my eyes wide. “I just… I’m leaving.”
Sienna’s eyes glanced at my luggage, and her eyes narrowed. “Where? Why?”
“I owled Em,” I said, and bit my lip. “I… I might stay with her, wherever she is. I just need… to get away. I can’t tell you anything else, and I… I’m sorry about last night, I just needed a place to stay at for one night.”
“Is… everything okay?” Sienna asked after a moment. “Does Sirius know? Is—“
“He doesn’t know, and you can never tell him, okay?” I cut off, suddenly grabbing Sienna’s hand. “Please, Sienna? Can you do this small favour for me?”
She gazed at me with her piercing blue eyes, before giving one small nod. “I guess I owe you,” she said slowly, and smiled sadly. I raised my brows at her, and she sighed. “You helped me escape from those weddings, afterall…”
“Right,” I said, smiling at the memories. “Thank you, Sienna.”
“So you’re not going to tell me where you’re going, exactly?” Sienna shot suddenly.
“No, you would spill the beans sooner or later,” I said, standing up. “It’s better if you don’t know. I wouldn’t want you to lie, put you in a difficult position, and all…”
“Right,” she said, also standing up. “Well, when… when are you leaving?”
“As soon as—“ I started, as I saw an owl behind the window. “Speak of the devil,” I muttered, hurrying to let the owl inside. I grabbed the letter, and quickly eyed through it, before shoving it in my pocket. “Well, I suppose this is it.”
“What?” Sienna said, looking worried.
“Goodbye, I suppose.”
“Goodbye? Now!?” Sienna said, her eyes widening. “Are you… like, right now?”
“Don’t worry,” I said, as I hugged her quickly. “I’ll be fine.”
“Bye, Susie,” she whispered, holding me tightly as I tried to pull away. “Be careful, yeah?”
“Yeah,” I said, finally escaping her tight hug. “You never saw me here, okay?” I said, giving her a meaningful look.
“Right,” she said with a nod. “I’ll make sure the girls and Ali didn’t see you, either.”
“Thanks,” I said, grabbing my luggage.
I gave Sienna one last smile, before Disapparating.
I had never liked Apparating. It kind of made me regret eating breakfast, lunch or dinner before. This time, though, it made me regret drinking the night before.
I stumbled for a moment, holding my head as I looked around. It was the right alley, I knew it was… mainly because I saw Em stand a few feet from me, surrounded my a group of suspicious looking men.
“E-Em?” I breathed, blinking.
The dark-haired girl looked straight at me, and a grin stretched on her pointy face. Yeah, it was the same Em I had known at Beauxbatons, even if a few years had passed; the same hazel eyes, dimples and thick eyebrows.
The dragon tattoo on her arm was new, though.
“DIVA!” she shrieked, pushing through the men to hug me. I staggered a bit, as I tried to stay on my feet. “You caaaaaame!”
“Well, yeah,” I gasped, as she tried to suffocate me. “I did owl you in distress, didn’t I?”
Em pulled me at arms length, her eyes narrowed. “Remember when you harassed that flock of unicorns at school, and the entire class – including the professor – had to run like hell to escape them?”
“Um, yes?” I said, eyeing her suspiciously.
“Well, let’s do that now,” Em said, grinning a child-like grin.
“Do what, exactly?”
“RUN, GIRL!” she screamed, grabbing my hand and pulled me along.
I looked over my shoulder, and saw the five men running after us. I blindly let Em pull me with her to the crowded street, running as fast as I could.
“WHY ARE WE RUNNING, EM!?” I roared, trying to keep up.
“IT’S FUN!” she called over her shoulder.
Em suddenly barged through one of the doors leading to a shop, and a small bell above the door rang. We were both out of breath, as we watched the men run past the shop.
It wasn’t until a second later I realized it wasn’t a shop, but a pub.
“Welcome, ladies,” a man said, and I looked around. “Em, darling, are you escaping from your bodyguards again?”
The man speaking stood behind the bar. He was polishing glasses, and I couldn’t help but notice how handsome he was. He was more beautiful, actually, than handsome. His eyebrows were as dark as his hair and eyes – pitch black! – and when he smiled, he almost looked mischievous. He was seriously a man Sienna would describe as a ‘dark angel’.
“Theo, shut up!” Em growled, jumping up on one of the bar stools. “You know I hate them!”
“Still—“ he said, as he finally noticed I existed too. “Well, well, well!” he said, and put the glass down. “Who is this fine creature?”
I glanced at Em, then back at Theo. “Susie,” I said, nodding to him. “I’m Em’s—“
Theo gasped, and covered his mouth. “You’re the Susie!? Susie Q!?”
I stared at him for a moment, before giving Em a stern look. “Okay, what have you told him about me?” I demanded, narrowing my eyes.
“Just…” Em said, shrugging as she avoided my eyes. “A few things, you know…” she said vaguely, sipping on the milkshake Theo had prepared in front of her.
“It is such an honour to finally meet you, Susie Q!” Theo said, and grabbed my hand to shake it. “Truly! I’m Theodor, Theodor Blake – but you can call me Theo!”
I pulled my hand away from his, smiling unsurely. “Yes, sure, whatever,” I said, sitting down next to Em. “Bodyguards, Em?” I hissed, shaking my head.
“Dad’s delusional!” Em exploded, suddenly looking furious. “Just because of one attack—“
“It wasn’t an attack,” Theo explained, looking amused. “Em just didn’t want the truth to be told, which is… well… Em got into a fight with three leprechauns, and she told everyone how she duelled with Death Eaters, because losing to leprechauns was so embarrassing, so now she can only blame herself for—“
“Theo, shut up,” Em shot, pouting.
“You haven’t changed one bit,” I said, shaking my head.
“Well, you have,” Em said defensively. “You used to cheer me on, take on bets, be the understanding one!”
“Because you were stupid enough to fulfil my wicked ideas, Em,” I said stiffly. “Times change, though.”
“Apparently,” Em said, shrugging again. “So tell me,” she said, putting down her milkshake. “What made you owl me all of the sudden?”
“I…” I began, frowning. “I’m here for work.”
“Work?” both Theo and Em repeated, both of them looking surprised. “Why?” Em whispered with her eyes wide. “Are you escaping some dramatic love triangle, huh!?”
“Don’t get any ideas, Em,” Theo warned. “Last time you made your own assumptions, Melissa McRoy hexed her fiancé’s second cousin when you thought they were having an affair!”
“I didn’t know they were related!” Em huffed, looking insulted. “So… is it a love triangle?”
“No!” I said, shaking my head. “I’m not escaping anything, I just thought it would be fun to see the world a bit, travel around, meet old friends…”
“Wonderful!” Em said, spinning around with her chair. “Wanna go on a road trip across America, then?”
I stared at her. “What?”
“It’s what Muggles do,” Theo explained, as I continued to give a blank look. “You know, they drive aimlessly around with a car, enjoy life… I hear it’s a blast!”
“Are you a Muggle?” I said.
“No, but my mom is,” he said with a shrug.
“Let’s leave Salem!” Em said, ignoring Theo. “Good, huh?”
I turned to stare at Em instead. “What?”
“These impulsive ideas of hers are normal,” Theo said apologetically. “It’s her way to cope with the fact that she will never be more than an assistant to the Head of the Auror Office who just happens to kiss up to the great American Minister of Magic; Nicholas Rousseau.”
I looked away, deep in thought. My mind was full with so many thoughts, and it was almost impossible to get them in order, while trying to pay attention to the conversation. Fortunately, Em and Theo were bickering with each other, so they barely noticed when I spaced out.
“I’ll be right back,” I said, and stood up.
“Where are you going?” Em wondered.
“Bathroom,” I said, rubbing my stomach. “My stomach never liked Apparating, anyway…”
I hurried away, already hyperventilating. As soon as I had closed the door behind me, I searched my pocket for the note. I unfolded the small piece of paper with shaking hands, and scanned through it.
Nicholas Rousseau, American Minister of Magic
3rd Main Street
It was no coincidence that I had owled Em. A few months ago, I had accidentally read an article where her name was mentioned. Well, it had actually been an article about her dad, and how he had won a million galleons on a bet he’d made in a Quidditch game, and that had spiralled a whole new article, ‘The Man Behind the Name’, which had introduced his family, including Em. That’s how I knew she was currently living in Salem. That’s how I knew she would be my ticket to find my real dad.
But it was pure coincidence that she was actually working for him – kind of – as an assistant to the Head of the Auror Office… whatever that meant.
But I couldn’t tell Em that, she wouldn’t understand. And more importantly, she would think that was the only reason why I contacted her… and sure, it was, but it sure as hell was nice to see her. And anyway, Salem was in America, America was far away from Sirius, and that was fine by me.
Everything would be okay.
I shoved the note back in my pocket, and took a quick look in the mirror. I looked like hell, and I wondered if Em had noticed the dark circles around my eyes, or the permanent frown between my brows.
If she was still the same Em I had known years ago, she would’ve noticed, and suggested some silly spells or creams to fix the problem.
Maybe she had changed, too.
When I joined Em and Theo again, they were both quiet, looking in different directions. It didn’t take a relationship guru to figure out that they had just argued about something stupid, disagreed, but agreed to disagree – much to their disagreement.
“Hi,” I said, as I sat back down. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Theo hurried to say, as Em held up her hand to silence him.
“Theo doesn’t want me to tell you that you look like shit,” she said, as Theo buried his face in his hands. “What facial cream do you use? Do you maintain your skin at all, hun?”
Nope, she hadn’t changed at all, that Em.
A/N: AHH!!!! Lemme just say OOH and AHH :D I feel complete now, like my life has yet again found meaning; I HAZ A BANNER NOW!!! Thanks Jannu and Vicky, my wonderful Powerpuff Girls for their amazing artwork ^_^ NOTHING CAN BRING ME DOWN NOW, NOT EVEN SOME ANNOYING OL' LADIES >:]
- Lily xxx
Chapter 6: Upchuck Reflex
I should’ve known it wasn’t going to be easy to fool Em.
As she made a bed for me on the sofa later that day, she kept giving me a suspicious look the whole time. It wasn’t until Theo had left the apartment to go back to the pub, when she decided to attack me with questions.
“Okay, spill!” she demanded, as soon as the door had closed behind Theo. “What’s going on?” I gave her an innocent look, and she clicked her tongue. “Oh, don’t give me that look, Susie – I invented that look!”
“What?” I said innocently, concentrating on my necklace instead.
“You’re not really here on a vacation, are you?” she said, not even waiting for an answer as she went on. “You’re not here for work either, are you?”
“Not exactly,” I sighed. “But I do need a work, you know… and as it happens, you can help me.”
She continued to stare at me. “It just doesn’t make any sense,” she finally said. “I haven’t heard from you in ages, and then all of the sudden, you owl me, asking if I’m still in Salem, and if you could come visit – what’s going on?”
“My dad died, Em,” I blurted out. “The funeral was yesterday.”
“Susie,” Em said, sitting down next to me on the old sofa. “I’m sorry, I didn’t… I know how close you two were…”
“Yeah,” I said, smiling bitterly. “So who is this Theo bloke?”
Em snorted, as she dropped the pillow next to me. “He’s my boyfriend… obviously.”
“Obviously,” I agreed, raising my eyebrows. “Wow, you’ve changed.”
“A moment ago you said I hadn’t changed a bit!” Em complained.
“Well, you’re still just as positive and annoying with a short attention span as ever,” I said, shaking my head. “But I never thought you’d actually waste time on a bloke!”
“And Hogwarts obviously didn’t pick out that negativity and hostility out of you!” Em huffed.
“Whatever,” I said, sighing. “So, what’s up for tomorrow?”
This seemed to distract Em enough to drop the issue. “Ooh! We’re going to have lots and lot of fun, Susie! I’m telling you, I have this list with bunch of things for us to do, and tomorrow, I shall devote my full attention on you, girl!”
I gave her a blank stare, and Em rolled her eyes. “Work with me, Susie, please?”
“What?” I demanded defensively.
“Atleast try to look excited, yeah?”
I blinked, and looked away. “Oh. Right, well… yay?”
“Well, forget about the acting, then,” Em said after a moment. “We’ll just go with my list tomorrow! Prepare yourself for battle, Susie Q!”
I watched in astonishment, as Em marched to her own room, leaving me on the sofa. I felt a horrible feeling in my stomach, as my brain worked through her words.
“Battle?” I called out, swallowing. “WHAT BATTLE, EM!?”
After some persuading and bribing, I had managed to convince Theo to steal the list from Em without getting caught.
I now found myself leaning over the long, long, long list with Em’s neat handwriting of things we had to do. I didn’t dare to put on the lights in the tiny kitchen, so I had forced Theo to guard the door while I read through the list with the help of my wand.
“I am going to kill Em,” I said, my eyes widening at each part.
“If she doesn’t get to you first,” Theo muttered form the door, wearing a ridiculous looking purple pyjamas and a matching robe, his hair tousled. Apparently, he wasn’t a fan of being woken up in the middle of the night.
“Are you afraid of your own girlfriend?” I demanded, glaring at him.
“Wouldn’t you be, if she was a human Dementor?” Theo shot back.
“Look here, pal,” I said, jabbing my wand dangerously at him. “Em is as sweet as a cupcake, this list is a proof of it, and if there’s anyone you should be scared, it’s me – if Em follows this bloody list!”
For a moment, Theo just stared at me. “Are you lesbian?” he asked finally.
Huh. I had never thought people actually asked that.
“No,” I said, glaring at him. “I’m not a lesbian,” I said and sniffed. “Not that there’s anything wrong with—“
“Fine, fine, fine,” Theo said, holding his hands up with raised brows. “Just… just don’t get caught.”
I nodded, and shoved the note back in my pocket. Surely Em wouldn’t notice if her precious little list was to disappear?
“MY LIST IS GONE!”
I watched in shock as Em fell down on her knees on the floor, wailing like there was no tomorrow.
“List?” I asked innocently, not even daring to glance in Theo’s direction.
“I m-made this list,” Em said, sobbing loudly. “A-about things t-to do…” she sniffed, and looked up at me with her bright eyes. “AND NOW IT’S GONE!”
“Oh damn,” I said blankly, doing a little jig inside. “That’s a real pity.”
“Not to w-worry,” Em finally said, getting a hold of herself. “You c-can just come along to work with me, then!”
I watched her in alarm, my heart pounding. “Excuse me?”
“You know,” Em said with a shrug. “If we won’t be able to do anything on the list, I might as well go to work and get some work done – you can totally tag along!”
Tag along to Em’s work and possibly run into my dad I had never even met in my entire life?
“Brilliant,” I said, and tried to put on a smile.
“Come on, then!” she said, already on her way towards the door.
I stared at her blankly. “Where? Aren’t we using a Portkey... or… or Floopowder?”
Em let out a snort, just as Theo appeared from the bedroom. “No,” she said, glancing at Theo. “Theo, we’re taking the car, okay?”
All colour seemed to vanish from his face, as he watched Em closely. “I really liked that car,” he said wistfully, and a sudden feeling of dread took over me.
“What do you mean?” I demanded, hurrying after Em. “Theo, what’s happening?”
“Em… let’s just say that Em got a little excited over the whole driving thing, and when she didn’t pass the test on the fourth time – well, it looked really bad! – she used magic on the instructor, and—“
“WHAT!?” I boomed, my eyes wide. “Em, you come back RIGHT NOW!”
I jogged after her, and found her admiring a small, red car parked on the curb. For a moment, I was breathless; the car looked nice, I had to admit that.
I personally had pleasant memories including cars.
This was kind of exciting.
“Em,” I said as calmly as I could, as I carefully ran my fingers across the red paint. “D’you know how to drive… at all?”
I looked up when she didn’t answer, and met Em’s affronted glare. “Of course I know how to drive!” she spluttered. “A little, anyway. I mean, it can’t be that difficult, can it?” she said, meeting my eyes. “I mean, Muggles do it all the time, right?”
I stared at her in silence, before climbing into the car. “Right,” I said after a moment, clutching the seat with my hands just as Em slid into the driver’s seat. “So… what now?”
We both stared at the car expectantly, Em’s eyes darting from the keys to the car engine. She carefully shoved them in, and turned. The small car let out a loud roar, and I closed my eyes tightly.
“Oh God,” I whispered, leaning back. “I’m going to die!”
“Shut up,” Em grumbled, fiddling around with the odd stick in the middle up and down, left and right.
Both of us tensed up, as the car suddenly started to roll back. Em grabbed the steering wheel with dear life, as the car sped up.
“Em,” I said through gritted teeth. “Do – something!”
“R-right!” Em piped, and started quickly to twist and pull different parts.
We both let out a small shriek, as the car vroomed loudly, and jumped forward. We continued to scream, as the car bolted ahead, the meters spinning wildly around the place.
“EM!” I called, pressing myself against the window to not get carsick. “DO SOMETHING!”
“I AM, I AM!” Em screamed back, as three cars honked at her, when she made a sudden left.
I watched the traffic lights turn red, but Em made no sign of slowing down. She spun the steering wheel wildly from side to side, her face animated with panic.
Suddenly, I noticed another stick, very close to the one Em had played around with before the car had started to roll backwards. In the spur of the moment, I grabbed the stiff stick, and pulled it up.
The car let out a loud sound of protest, spun around and around, before smoothly sliding into an empty parking space between two cars.
And then it came to a sudden stop.
Em and I panted loudly, Em still grabbing the wheel, and my hands still around the stick. Both of us – very carefully! – let go, and sighed in relief.
“Em,” I whispered, and Em turned to look at me. “Let’s not do that again, okay?”
“Okay,” she said quietly, and swallowed. “But you have to admit it was fun, right?” she tried, and grinned unsurely.
I glared at her, and climbed out of the car with shaky legs.
A handsome man in an expensive suit and with dark hair studied us with a curious look on his face, before disappearing through a door that said ‘AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY!’
Soon enough, Em appeared in front of me, and pulled me along. To my surprise, we went through the same door.
We arrived to a small corridor, where a man sat behind an old, dark desk, reading The Daily Prophet. He wore a uniform, and a pair of the most ridiculous specs I had ever seen in my life, and a toothless grin lit on his face as he saw us.
“Miss Jolie!” he greeted cheerfully, his voice deep and raspy. “Not a minute too soon!”
“As always, Ernie,” she said, and gave him a card. Ernie, as she had called him, stamped the card swiftly, and gave it back. His eyes moved to me, his hand outstretched. “Oh, sorry!” Em said, smiling. “This is my friend from my Beauxbaton days. Ernie, meet Susan Quency – Susie, this is Ernie, the doorman!”
Ernie shook my hand firmly, shaking his head. “Now, now, Miss Jolie – you know I’m more than a doorman…”
“Right,” Em snorted, and handed me the card Ernie had dug out of his drawer. “Here, wear this!”
I looked at the card. ‘VISITOR’.
“Have a nice day, girls!” Ernie called after us, as we hurried to the lift at the other end of the corridor.
The lift doors opened, and we entered. To my surprise, the same handsome man from the street was in the lift, too. He flashed a small smile, as he made room for us.
“Sir,” Em said, bowing her head a little.
I watched in interest as Em openly stared at the man, her mouth slightly open. Behind the man was a tall, slim woman with platinum blonde hair, and she was murmuring something to the man who listened with a frown. I watched as the woman tried to balance the pile of folders in her arms, as she searched for something specific.
“Miss Andrews,” the man said, slightly annoyed as he watched her struggle. “When I ask for something, I expect to get it at once – is that too much to ask?”
“Yes, sir,” she said nervously, her eyes widening as we all stared at her. “I mean, no, sir! I’ll just…just… need to find it… I know I had it a moment—“
“It would probably be more practical to arrange the folders in alphabetical order,” I said helpfully to the woman, who shot me a sharp look. “Then, when he asks for a certain folder, you can hand it to him at once.”
“My folders are arranged according to the schedule of—“ she began stiffly, but was shushed down by the man who peered at me curiously.
“Excuse me,” he said, frowning down at me. “You look familiar – have we met?”
I blinked, glancing at Em, who looked shell-shocked. “Um…no. I mean, I saw you outside earlier, but—“
“I’m sure I would remember those eyes, though,” he chuckled, and flashed a charming smile.
His eyes shot to the ‘VISITOR’ badge, and he tilted his head to the side. “You don’t work here?”
“No,” I said, shrugging. “Just… visiting.”
“And your name is…?”
“Susan,” I said, glancing at the man’s outstretched hand, before shaking it. “Susan Quency.”
The man frowned, as I shook his hand. He seemed to be deep in thought, but shook his head slightly, and smiled again. “Pleasure to meet you, Miss Quency. I’m sure I’ve heard your name somewhere, it sure does ring a bell…” he said, but shrugged after another moment of thought. “Minister of Magic, Nicholas Rousseau.”
The elevator made a soft pling-sound, and the doors slid open. I didn’t even hear what the woman on the speaker said the floor was called, as the two of them walked out. I stared after them in shock, meeting Nicholas Rousseau’s eyes briefly before the doors slid shut again.
Oh. My. God.
That was my dad.
I’m going to vomit.
A/N: DUN DUN DUUUUUN :) I love these moments I create xD Also, I hope you all will enjoy the last movie; I'm gonna see it on Friday, so NO ONE RUIN IT FOR ME :D
- Lily xxx
Chapter 7: The Job
In my opinion, Em’s workplace was just not fit for a human being to work in.
But then again, who am I to complain? I mean, I’m the one breathing into a paper bag, afterall.
“Wow,” Em scoffed, as she wheeled into the small cubicle. “I never thought of you as a person who would get all light-headed over some Minister!”
I glared at her, before ducking my head back down between my knees. I was currently sitting in her slightly uncomfortable chair, partly hidden behind a tower of files and papers sprawled on her messy desk. As soon as we had arrived to her cubicle, Em had turned into a completely different person; she shoved the paper bag to me, and then she ran around like a maniac, all professional and organized – it was so odd!
“Want me to owl Theo to come and get you, hun?” Em asked, her wand pointed at a pile of papers, copying them briskly.
“Okay, see you tonight!” she said, rushing out of the cubicle as the papers floated after her.
I was left alone.
So what did I decide to do? Well, something anyone as curious as me would do; I decided to take a look around.
Never letting go of the paper bag, I carefully stood up, and left the cubicle. Being slightly paranoid about the surroundings I found myself in, I peeked out to check that no one was watching me.
Quite the opposite, actually; everyone seemed too busy or important to even notice me! It was amazing; I could quite freely look around, as I walked down the long corridor of doors. Every now and then I ducked when the flying notes came at me, as if I was thin air.
I made a turn at the end of the corridor, where the snotty-looking receptionist shot me a quick glare, before returning to the long-bearded wizard in front of her. I pushed open the door, and arrived to a large hall – the very same Em and I had crossed earlier, after we stepped out of the elevator.
A wizard bumped into me, and muttered an apologize, before rushing through the door behind me. I looked after him with raised eyebrows, not even bothering to curse at him.
Afterall, I was a visitor here – I ought to show some manners… maybe.
I entered the elevator, slightly uncomfortable when I met the gazes of three elderly witches, all of them looking like someone mama would associate with.
The mere thought gave me creeps.
Two of them had blonde hair, and the third one had red hair. It wasn’t like Lily’s red hair, it looked more… evil. Not that Lily’s hair looks evil, it’s just that Lily’s hair looks natural, in a natural way natural, whereas this woman’s hair was just… ugh.
“It’s horrid, Meredith!” the woman with red hair said, shaking her head as she looked at the blonde woman next to her – obviously being Meredith. “Nick isn’t being considerate about this!”
“I understand you completely, Felicia!” the blonde woman – Meredith – said, giving her friend a small nod. “Jack was just the same at that age.”
I slowly began to find the conversation too boring to even eavesdrop on, so I decided to listen to the silent hum of the elevator instead, until…
“Ah, but Nicholas Rousseau is different than other men, right?” the third woman said, wiggling her eyebrows meaningfully.
Oh. My. God.
“Whatever,” the woman scoffed, and folded her arms. “I am going to give him a peace of my mind, I will not tolerate this.”
“I heard he fired his secretary,” the blonde woman went on.
“Assistant,” Meredith corrected.
“Whatever,” both Felicia and the third witch said at once. “What’s your point, Ruby?” Felicia sighed, looking annoyed.
“He probably fired her because he was scared the affair would be revealed!” Ruby whispered, and I leaned closer to hear them better.
“Nonsense!” Meredith laughed, waving her head. “Nicholas would never cheat on Felicia! I mean, she has the right name, fame and fortune, right?”
“Don’t forget the looks,” Felicia said smugly, and I saw her reflection in the golden elevator door, watching her make a ridiculous glam-pose, while her friends giggled insanely.
“So,” Meredith said, looking curious. “You never told us… what he’s like, you know…”
Something in her tone made me feel even more uncomfortable, and made me clutch my paper bag even more tightly.
“In bed?” Felicia asked innocently, making me grimace. “Oh, he’s—“
Just as Felicia was about to reveal how my biological father was like in bed, the elevator made a horrid sound, and came to a sudden stop. The three witches all fell silent, and gazed blankly up.
“Oh great,” Ruby muttered, leaning casually against ne of the walls. “Of course the weather department has to do their experiments now…”
“Ever since they got the idea that the weather actually affects the electric system, they’ve been going crazy with it!” Meredith said, rolling her eyes. “Just imagine what my husband’s like at home…!”
“Nevermind,” Ruby suddenly said cheerfully. “Now’s the perfect time to go down to the tiniest detail about Nicholas Rousseau’s sex-secrets!”
This. Cannot. Be. Happening.
Twenty minutes later, I stumbled out from the elevator – traumatized. It had been twenty minutes too long with those women, that’s for sure! Not only had I heard everything about my biological father’s sex-life, but also that he was having some kind of mid-life crisis.
To my horror, Felicia stepped out at the same floor as I did, waving goodbye to her annoying friends.
She shot me a polite smile, before strutting towards the desk at the other end of the room. I followed silently after her, watching her tall figure closely.
“Ah, Janine!” Felicia said, and I recognized the woman behind the desk to be the same one I had seen earlier in the elevator – Miss Andrews, Mr Rousseau’s assistant. “I heard you got fired – that’s such a pity, darling!”
Miss Andrews looked up, and smiled stiffly. “Miss Felicia,” she said with a nod, her eys red. “Thank you for everything, really…”
I watched in astonishment, as Felicia shook hands with Miss Andrews, before she turned and disappeared through the double-doors.
Which left me alone with Miss Andrews.
“Um, excuse me?” Miss Andrews said, as I slowly turned my gaze to her. “Can I—“ she began, before she inhaled sharply – she clearly recognized me, too.
“Hi,” I said, and tried to grin. “Sorry about earlier. I should’ve known better than to point out flaws in front of your boss—“ I rambled, but quickly backtracked when I saw the red spots appear on her cheeks. “I mean, not that there was anything hugely wrong with your system, I mean it was—“
“Can I help you?” Miss Andrews cut off, as she plonked the box she had been filling with stuff on her desk with a heavy thud.
“Um, yes, actually, you can!” I said, and nodded. “You see, I need to meet him,” I said, jabbing my thumb at the plate on the wall; MINISTER OF MAGIC – NICHOLAS ROUSSEAU.
Miss Andrews shot me a pitying look, as she tapped her long nails against the box, her other hand on her tiny waist. “And what might the meeting be about, if I may ask?”
“You may ask,” I said through gritted teeth, slightly annoyed by her patronizing tone. “But I choose not to answer you, okay?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t allow that,” she said with a nonchalant shrug, continuing to empty her desk. “The Minister has no interest or time to meet a silly girl like—“
“Ah, but you’re wrong about that, Miss Andrews,” came a gruff voice, and we both looked around.
There he was – Nicholas Rousseau. Behind him stood Felicia, who looked as if someone had thrown cold water at her. She quietly passed him, her head bowed as she hurried towards the elevator.
“Minister,” Miss Andrews gasped, bowing her head slightly. “Sir, I—“
“Just get your stuff and leave,” he said, holding the door open. “Miss Quency, was it?” he went on, and gazed at me. “Come in, come in!”
I walked stiffly into the room, my eyes wide with shock. I watched as he walked around the room, before he sat down at the table in a massive chair – it reminded me of Dumbledore’s chair at Hogwarts, actually.
“Sir,” I said, my throat dry. “I—“
“I have a proposal for you,” he said suddenly. “I happen to be in need for a new assistant.”
“Because you fired a completely fine one,” I muttered, and grimaced as I saw a small grin flash on his face. “Did I say that aloud?”
“Yes, you did,” he sighed, shaking his head. “But you’re wrong – Miss Andrews had it coming, it was just a matter of time, actually… she’s been messing around with simple tasks for months now – I just didn’t have the heart to fire her earlier.”
“Right,” I snorted, hoisting my bag on my shoulder.
“You don’t believe me?” he said, his eyebrows raised. “Or are you cynical by nature?”
Something about his tone and gaze made me feel like a kid who had been caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar.
“No,” I said shortly, not in the mood for small-talk. “I don’t need a job, that’s all.”
“Everyone needs a job,” he laughed easily. “Please, sit down!”
I stared at him for a moment, before taking a deep breath. “I’m fine,” I said.
“Okay,” he said, frowning. “So, you say you don’t need a job? Well, how about you try it out for a short time, and then give me the final answer? You’ll get the usual pay, of course, and you can leave at any point you like – you’ve got to admit that an offer can’t get any better, right?”
I thought about it for a moment, before an evil plan suddenly came to my mind. How about I would take the job, act all loyal and trustworthy, and at the least expected time… I would jump at him with the truth – reveal my true identity, that he was my father?
That would knock him dead – and if the papers would get a hold of it, his amazing career would explode in his face.
“Fine,” I said, smiling the tiniest smile. “I take the job.”
I sat by the fountain at the entrance hall. I wasn’t even sure if it was the entrance hall, but it looked like it; witches and wizards were stepping into fireplaces, while others stepped out from them. A group of witches grabbed a hold of a rusty teapot, and disappeared out of sight at the corner, while another bunch appeared in the spot next to them – holding a dirty sock.
I was about to dwell some more in self-loathing, when a shadow towered over me. I looked slowly up, almost expecting Satan to stand there, ready to give me a promotion.
Instead, I found myself looking up at Theo’s frowning face.
“Hi there,” he said, his arms folded, as he gazed down at me. “I’ve been running around the place like a lunatic, trying to get a hold of you! Em—“
“Is Em here?” I asked, looking around the crowd of witches and wizards buzzing around.
“No, she’s at a meeting,” Theo said, sitting down next to me. “I heard the silliest rumour, though…” he said, elbowing me in the ribs.
“What?” I muttered, burying my face back in my hands, feeling dizzy – like I had been feeling since I had left Nicholas Rousseau’s office.
“The rumour has it,” he began mysteriously. “That some foreigner was made the assistant to the Minister himself – and the interview only took five minutes!”
I stared at him for a minute, before finding the ability to speak again. “Please tell me you’re joking, Theo.”
“Far from it,” he said, shrugging. “I’d like to know who the—“ he began cheerfully, but fell silent as he caught the look of my face. “Hoooooold on,” he said, when it all dawned on him. He gasped, and pointed a shaking finger at me. “You’re the—“
“—foreigner? Yes,” I said dryly, and stood up. “Can we go home now?”
“Oh, Em’s gonna kill you!” he laughed, following me to the elevator.
“Why? She’s also an assistant!” I mumbled, as Theo pushed the button.
“Yeah, but you got the job every witch would dream to have! You have, like, the top assistant job, for real!”
I gave him a blank stare, and Theo rolled his eyes. “What are you talking about?” I demanded.
“Every witch wants to get down with the Minister!” he whispered, the excitement clear on his face. “I hear he’s areal player.”
I continued to stare at him, slightly disgusted. “Eww, Theo!” I said, shoving him. “Em’s your girlfriend! How can you say stuff like that!?”
“Oh. Right,” Theo said, suddenly looking thoughtful. “Well, lucky you, then!” he said after a moment.
I made a gagging sound, just as the doors slid open, and we passed Ernie’s desk. Both of us handed back the badge to him, and I rolled my eyes as I saw Theo’s badge; RESCUE MISSION.
“What? They don’t have anything more specific, like ‘Collecting Your Girlfriend’s Best Friend From the Largest Building in the History of Mankind’, you know!”
I laughed, as we walked down the street. I cringed, as we passed Em’s car, my stomach flipping at the mere memory of this morning.
“Theo,” I said, looking around at him. “Don’t ever let me ride a car with Em, okay?”
Theo guffawed, before giving a nod. He put his hand over his chest, and gave me a grave look. “I promise to try.”
“Fair enough,” I said with a shrug.
“You’ve had a rough day,” Theo stated, and I nodded in agreement, not finding the right words to describe my day. “How about a beer?”
Beer had never sounded better.
A/N: I'm on a spree; updating spree!! I'm trying to update as many stories as possible - but if anyone even so much as MENTIONS updating the UN-story, I shall have Anna killed xD
- Lily xxx
Chapter 8: Fake It
I didn’t plan to get completely drunk – but I did.
It felt nice; sitting at the bar, laugh hysterically at something that I would never find funny sober. Theo – who was just as drunk, if not more, as I was – was the funniest person I had met in a long, long time. He kind of reminded me of Chuck with his boy-ish grin, and his brotherly affection. For a moment, I felt completely at home. For a moment, I let my mind slip to another happy place; to Sirius.
Suddenly, I had difficulties to breathe.
“Susie? Susie, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” Theo asked, his voice panicky.
“D-do I look okay?” I stammered, taking another sip of my beer. I felt Theo’s eyes watch me closely, my trembling hand and my unsteady breathing.
“No,” he said after a moment, shaking his head. “And you certainly didn’t look okay when you arrived, either.”
I glanced at him, and tried to give him an I’m-Okay-Trust-Me-smile.
“Wanna tell me what happened in London?” he asked quietly, his voice no longer slurry.
“No,” I said at once, emptying my glass. “Another beer, please!”
The bartender put another beer in front of me, took in my appearance and current state, before turning his weary eyes to Theo. “You’re carrying her out, man,” he informed Theo, who just waved the man off.
“Let’s play a game,” Theo suggested, turning on his chair to face me.
“Fine,” I said – anything to change the subject.
“We ask each other questions – yes-no questions – and if you’re caught in a lie, the liar must drink,” he told me, and I narrowed my eyes at him.
“How will we know when someone is lying?”
“Trust me,” Theo guffawed, shaking his head. “You’ll know.”
“Okay,” I said, and took a sip. “I’ll start.”
“Okay,” Theo said, looking oddly calm.
“Do you love Em?” I asked, getting the big question out at once.
“Yes,” Theo said, looking straight at me. “Are you running away from something?”
I knew this game was a bad idea.
“No,” I said at once.
Just as I had said the word, my glass rapidly filled with beer, until it came over and dripped on the counter. I tried to reach for a paper, but it was useless; the beer just kept filling the glass.
“Drink, liar,” Theo guffawed, and I started chugging down the beer.
To my shock, the endless filling stopped just as soon as my lips touched the glass. As soon as the glass was empty, I slammed it back on the counter, taking deep breaths.
“Ugh,” I shuddered, shaking my head. “What was—“
“It’s a common prank glass around here,” Theo said, eyeing me closely. “It can tell when the drinker is lying. You lied,” he said with a small shrug. “But I already knew that.”
I glared at him. “Knew what?”
“That you were running away from something,” he finished, and took a small sip from his glass. “A guy?”
“N—“ I began, but fell silent as I threw a fearful look at the glass I gripped with both hands. Should I risk it, or tell the truth for once?
Could I trust Theo?
“Yes,” I muttered, avoiding his eyes. “But it’s not what you think – it’s a lot more complicated than that.”
“It always is,” he sighed, shaking his head. “Just… just don’t do anything that would hurt Em, okay?”
“Like snatch her dream job right in front of her, you mean?”
Theo laughed once, before his face turned grave. “Yeah, let’s not tell her for the time being…”
“Yeah,” I agreed after a moment.
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God!
Em would totally murder me if she found out.
“You look lovely,” Theo snorted sarcastically, as I fixed my fake wig and moustache, along with my ridiculous looking robe that hid the imaginary hump on my back.
“Piss right off,” I hissed, glaring at him from under my hat.
Theo gazed down at me, before grinning widely. “You know, I just realized who you remind me of!”
“Don’t—“ I warned.
“Gandalf!” he said cheerfully, obviously proud of his realization.
“Do you wish to live and see tomorrow, Mr Blake?” I muttered darkly.
That shut him up.
Okay, sure, so my cover wasn’t exactly from the smoothest end, but I had become paranoid when it came to the point of keeping my job a secret from Em. Everytime she asked what I had been up to, I acted like a crazed dog about to have another rage attack. It had only been a week since I had taken the job, and I already considered quitting – for the sake of my sanity!
Lucky for me, Theo was pretty much the master of disguise. Of course, it made me wonder why he got such a kick of playing dress-up with me – so eventually, I decided not to take his advice.
Which explains my current outfit; an old man with a hump.
“You know,” I said, as we crossed the large hall. “I don’t need you to escort me everyday!”
“I know,” he said with a sigh. “I just like to watch people react to your outfits…”
“Psycho,” I snapped at him as we reached the elevators.
“Have you seen yourself?” Theo shot back, just as the elevator doors opened in front of us. “Have a nice day, sir!” he said with a chuckle, as I stomped into the elevator.
“Fuck off,” I said, loud enough to make an older witch gasp in shock.
When the elevator reached my floor, I slowly trudged out, pulling my pointy hat lower over my eyes. I was determined to not be recognized by Em – my first day had been filled with close-encounters, which included me doing insane dives and ninja-like moves to dodge her.
I threw my bag under my desk, and slumped into the chair, closing my eyes with a sigh. When I opened them again, Rousseau stood in front of me, looking down at me with raised eyebrows.
“Sir!” I said, quickly standing up.
“Erm,” he said, looking at me intently. “Can I help you, sir…?”
I stared at him blankly, before slightly raising the hat, peering back at him with wide eyes. “It’s me, sir – Susie!”
He frowned, and looked me up and down quickly. “What’s going on?” he eventually demanded. “Yesterday you came in wearing a pink wig, and a fake mole that kept falling off. The day before that, you wore fake eyebrows that covered half of your own face.”
“It’s an illness, sir,” I said after a moment of silence. “I keep changing my appearance. Its dreadful.”
“Oh,” he said, his frown deepening. “And here I thought you were trying to find your true persona…”
Fuck, that did make more sense, actually…
“Well, ehh, no, I actually—“
I fell silent, as he slowly reached towards me, removing the hat, wig and moustache. He shook his head slowly, as he signalled me to removed the ridiculous looking robe avec hump. I pouted, as I took it off, handing it to him.
“Nice try,” he said, walking to his office with my outfit. “Bring me a coffee and the owls that came today, thanks!”
I’m so fucked, I thought to myself.
Sometimes I think the Ministry is way behind the evolution. Why in the name of fuck would they make actual human beings get coffee to the higher bosses, when there’s magic!? It just didn’t make any sense to me. Fuck the shit about ‘in order to create a stable social network between the Ministry workers’ – it totally sucked!
The coffee room was like the common meeting ground of lower workers; assistants, secretaries and the likes. I had seen Em in there lots of times; each time she had been doing something that looked important, but when you looked closer, she was reading comic books while she pretended to copy important looking parchments.
This time was different – this time had nothing to hide behind.
I carefully peered into the room, narrowing my eyes at the slightly smoky air that obviously came from the corner, where three wizards stood and smoked something that looked nothing like normal cigarettes.
I suspected Floo Powder.
When I saw no Em in the room, I slowly crept in, hurrying towards the coffee station. I knew it was my time to show my swiftness; get the coffee and bail the fuck out.
As soon as I was done, I swivelled around with the coffee, ready to bolt – but bolted right into Em, who stood right behind me.
“What the f—“ she began, as the coffee spilled right over her shirt. When she took a closer look at me, her eyes widened in surprise, and her mouth fell open. “Susie!?
I stared at her with the same shocked expression she had, feeling the fear and panic flutter somewhere in the pit of my stomach. “Oh, hello,” I said.
“What are you doing here?” she said, staring at me.
Her eyes slowly fell to the badge I was wearing, her eyes scanning the title.
“You… you work here?” she said slowly. “As—“
“It’s not what you think!” I said at once.
She just continued to stare at me, and I felt frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t read her face to know what kind of reaction to expect.
“Right,” she said, turning on her heel and marching away, her brown curls bouncing.
“Shit,” I cursed, biting my lip. “EM, WAIT!”
But she was already gone.
For the first time in a very long time, I feared to open a stupid door.
I spent a good fifteen minutes just glaring at it, quickly going through the worst case scenario in my head.
One; Em would throw something at me.
Two; Em would then put my things on fire.
Three; Em would throw my things through the window – while they were on fire, of course.
Four; Em would put me on fire.
And five; Em would then throw me out through the window – while still being on fire, naturally.
I gulped, and opened the door. The silence that welcomed me made me even more worried. I quickly scanned the dark room, expecting her to attack me from behind the sofa or something.
I blinked, as the lights went on. More and more people popped out from everywhere, faces I didn’t recognize, smiling faces, all of the applauding and cheering… among the crowd, I could only recognize Em and Theo, both of them grinning widely.
Next thing I knew, Em had thrown her arms around my neck, suffocating me in one of her famous hugs.
“I’m so happy for you, Susie!” she called over the cheers, which soon were drowned by some loud music.
“H-happy?” I choked out, as she finally let me breathe again. “You’re not mad?”
Em frowned. “Mad? Why would I be mad? Why would I be mad that my best friend got the best job on earth?”
I stared at her meaningfully, and she shook her head with a giggle. “Yes, yes, yes – of course I’m jealous, and of course I wanted that job… but that doesn’t make me hate you. You’re a difficult people to hate, Soozer,” she said, leading me around the room with one arm around my shoulders. “Besides, it takes more than that for me to hate you.”
Okay, so Em was genuinely a madwoman. It is now official.
“Okay!” Em called out, handing me a drink. “Let us drink for your success!”
She clinked her glass with mine, and whooped loudly. Her genuine excitement and happiness only made it all much worse – if she only knew…
A/N: I do not own Gandalf - J.R.R. Tolkien does... obviously.
- Lily xxx
Chapter 9: Smooth Criminal
I felt someone poke me painfully in the ribs, bringing me back to reality.
“Huh?” I said, blinking.
“You fell asleep,” Em said with a grin. “Against the wall. In the middle of a conversation.”
“Oh, sorry,” I grunted, rubbing my forehead.
“It’s only been a month now,” Em began, and I sighed. “What kind of inhuman force of nature is he? Does he make you do some freaky shit? Oh, wait! Does he force you to do something kinky, like, bend over in a tight skirt, or… or…!”
“Oh, eww, Em!” I groaned, cringing at the thought. “He’s not—“
“This would be the biggest scandal ever!” Em went on, unaware of my horrified look. “Imagine the biggest political persona out there having an affair with a commoner – his assistant, even!”
“Stuff like that never happen in real life, only in your dirty mind, Em,” I said gravely. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to take this blasted coffee to Mr I-Like-It-Hot-But-Without-Steam upstairs!”
“That’s kinda sexy!” Em called after me.
Rousseau’s – or Mr R, as I called him - demands had slowly crept towards the invisible line between ‘highly demanding’ and just ‘borderline OCD’. At first, it had been nothing much. Soon, it had become annoying, even so much that I from time to time found myself plotting his murder. He wanted his coffee to be hot – but with no steam. He liked his lunch to be prepared on his desk a minute before he arrived. His water had to be ice cold – first cooled down with ice, but with no ice in it when he drank it.
This one time, he even owled me in the middle of the night, asking if I had remembered to send all the owls he had asked me to send. Twice.
Of course I had done just that – but even so, he had me go all the way to the Ministry of Magic, check and double-check, and then get back to him after all the checking.
By the time I got back to Em’s place, and crawled under the covers on the sofa, I only got an hour of sleep before I was woken up by a loud Theo who stumbled in from work.
So my sleep deprivation was slowly killing me. Normally, I would quit at once, and exit in a dramatic way, but whenever I thought about the reason I had agreed to take the job in the first place, I knew I couldn’t do that; I simply had to power through.
I also was very much aware of the fact that my try-out period was creeping closer.
“You should totally spit in his coffee,” Em said helpfully.
“Eww, that’s so gross!” I snorted.
“True,” she agreed with a shrug. “But it sure as hell make me feel smug for an entire day, and all the shit my boss gives me suddenly feels all bearable, and shit…”
I shook my head at her, waving lamely, as I walked out. I hurried upstairs, almost practicing to react coolly if Mr R would give me any shit about something.
To my shock, a red-haired woman waited by my desk, looking very annoyed.
“Miss Felicia,” I greeted charmingly, as I struggled to balance all my stuff – and Mr R’s coffee without spilling it – and shook her hand. “So—“
“You’re late,” she said coolly, and narrowed her eyes at me, and my extended hand. “You should be by the desk at all times.”
“I will not tolerate this kind of behaviour,” she cut off, silencing me with one simple hand gesture. She grabbed her tiny purse from my desk, and marched towards Mr R’s office. Without even bothering to knock, she entered the room, and slammed the door shut behind her.
I stood very still, staring after her.
“Bitch,” I muttered, dropping my stuff on the desk.
I hadn’t made it even to the chair, when the double-doors slammed open, and Mr R stormed out, a shocked Felicia right on his heels.
“Quency,” he boomed, walking right up to me. “Where the hell is that coffee!?”
I silently held up the cup to him, and waited for him to grab it – but he didn’t. Instead, he turned slowly to face Felicia, who looked like someone had slapped him.
“See?” he said calmly, gesturing at me. “She has the damn coffee, okay? Now, could you just leave my staff alone, and sod it, woman?”
I didn’t know who was more shocked – me or Felicia.
“I… I… I…” she stammered, gaping like a goldfish.
“I’ll show you out, Miss Felicia,” I said smoothly, feeling so smug that I couldn’t even hide a small victorious grin.
“Don’t bother!” she snapped, and trotted towards the elevator, her high-heels making a sickening sound with each step she took.
“That is one wretched woman, sir,” I said politely, staring after the scornful red-head.
“Yes,” he agreed with a shrug. “You’re right, Quency.”
He glanced at the coffee without saying a word, and sniffed. “Throw it away – I’ll have a nice glass of water, instead.”
I stared after him, my pleasant smile frozen on my face.
“Pronto, Quency!” he called over his shoulder, before the double-doors closed behind him.
Next time he wanted a nice cup of coffee, I would totally spit in it.
Em barged into the living room with her wand drawn. To my surprise, Theo appeared from the bathroom, looking like someone had just woke him up.
I would have to look into that later.
Em and Theo both watched in horror, as I tried to swat off a crazed owl, which was currently chasing me around the living room like a manic monster.
Hence the ‘bloody hell’ line.
“WHAT’S GOING ON!?” Em called.
“MR R’S – OWL – IS – VERY – VERY - VERY - PERSISTENT!” I called back, dodging another attack from the owl.
Theo stepped forward, waved his wand once, and the owl suddenly froze in mid-air, just hovering there.
He carefully leaned closer to me, and plucked a feather from my hair. I glared at his face, which began to spread into a grin.
“Don’t – start,” I warned through gritted teeth.
“Mr R sent you a crazy owl, because…?” Em said, frowning.
“BECAUSE HE WANTS TO MAKE MY LIFE A LIVING HELL!” I roared, frustrated. “He wants me to check that the proposal of banning flying carpet races was sent…”
“I don’t get it,” Em said, leaning against the sofa with a tired look on her face. “He’s such a charming guy…”
“Charm has nothing to do with the fact that he’s an asshole who abuses his power,” Theo pointed out.
“Yes, well apparently charm is just another sign of jackassery,” Em shot back, and for a moment, the two of them just glared at each other.
“Why did you come from the bathroom?” I suddenly asked Theo.
“I was taking a dump,” he said bluntly.
“For two hours?”
“A really big dump,” Theo said.
I looked from Theo to Em, and back at Theo. I narrowed my eyes, as I silently reached for my coat. I then looked at Em, who was avoiding my eyes. “Em, we will talk about this when I get back,” I warned her, jabbing my finger at her.
“Fine, whatever,” she muttered, crossing her arms.
“Now play nicely, kids,” I said with a mock sweet voice, before leaving.
I knew they would probably kill each other, if they were having an argument.
I arrived at the Ministry of Magic grumpy, tired, and wet – of course it had to piss down rain like fuck. I once again reminded myself to threaten Em about that Floo Network package-deal I had heard about. Apparently, Ministry workers got a free-month-trial-period and—
I stopped abruptly, as I saw someone sit in my chair. Was this some sick joke Mr R was playing on me? Owling me to check up on some absurd file, and then check that I would actually do it, and not just say I did, and—
Oh. Holy. Fuck.
It’s Satan, it’s—
Oh, wait. It’s just Felicia.
Well, close enough, right?
Felicia stood up slowly, and crossed her arms. She stared at me across the room, the space between us suddenly feeling like nothing at all.
“I know you’re having an affair with my fiancé,” she said sharply.
I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.
“What?” I said instead, totally shocked by her comment.
“No, I heard what you said,” I cut her off, cringing at the thought of it. “I just meant that ‘what’ in a ‘what the fuck is going on in your head to say something like that’ kind of way…”
Felicia seemed startled by this. For a moment, she didn’t know what to say, and it was quite hilarious.
“Well, if that was all you had to say,” I said after a moment of silence, and turned quickly around to leave.
I had planned to make my exit gracefully, and with some dignity left. Of course, that never happened with me.
So instead, I walked face first against the enormous double-doors. For a moment, I just saw blurry shapes around me, before I hit the floor with a bang.
I frowned, mumbling darkly under my breath.
“Miss Quency, are you awake? Can you hear me?”
I wanted to answer ‘no’, but I knew this was another fight I would lose. Instead, I slowly opened my hands, my hands immediately flying to my forehead.
I could feel the bandage wrapped safely around my head, and I groaned; I would be the Ministry’s laughing stock!
I peered carefully at the elderly man hovering above me, and then my eyes flew to the younger woman behind him.
“And who the hell are you?” I demanded, my eyes wide.
“I’m Healer McGrim, and this is Mediwizard Rowl, who took care of you on your way here,” the man said, standing straight so that I could slowly sit up.
“Where am I?” I asked, looking around.
“The Ministry’s Hospital Wing,” Mediwizard Rowl answered with a bored, nasal voice, suddenly shoving a paper to Healer McGrim. “Sign, please.”
I watched him scribble something hastily, before Mediwizard Rowl flitted away quickly.
“Mediwizards,” Healer McGrim said with a shrug, as I stared after her. “You’ve been unconscious for a day now – it’s nice to see a sign of life in you, although that snore of yours was a sign, too… a very elaborated one, at that…”
“I don’t snore,” I said at once, feeling slightly hurt.
He totally ignored me.
“So, how are you feeling? Any nausea? Dizzyness? Weariness?”
“Yes,” I said, and he peered at me over his glasses – it reminded me of Dumbledore’s piercing gaze, and I felt myself shrink under his stare. “Yes to all of them, actually.”
“Good,” he said cheerfully, scribbling something on a paper. “Good, good, good.”
“Excuse me,” I said after a moment, while he continued to scribble, deep in thought. “But how is that good?”
Healer McGrim seemed almost surprised that I was there – maybe he had forgotten me already.
“M’dear girl,” he said, giving me a wide smile. “Congratulations – you’re about four weeks pregnant”
“Just because I feel like throwing up, the room is practically spinning and I’m tired as hell!?”
“No, we took some blood tests – normal check-up routine – and they gave us the results.”
“I can’t be pregnant,” I assured him, shaking my head. “I mean, surely you’ve—“
“Yes, I’ve seen your medical record from Hogwarts made by Madam Pomfrey,” he cut off, nodding. “This is just one of those wonderful miracles!”
I stared at him, not sure if I should slap him, or just hit him with a Beater’s bat.
“I’m pregnant,” I said slowly, trying to find some trace of humour in his green eyes.
I found none.
“I’m pregnant,” I repeated more weakly, slumping against the pillows.
Both Healer McGrim and I looked towards the sound coming from the door; there he stood, Theo Blake, with a box of chocolates.
A/N: Lily - making miracles since Susie Q was created!!! xD Also; do not hate me for one pathetic update - think about the DRAMA I put in this one!
- Lily xxx
Chapter 10: Precious
Awkward has never been my thing, really.
Well, unless it's enjoying awkward moments between other people - but not when I'm involved.
This was most certainly awkward, and I was most certainly involved.
'This' being the whole "You're preggers!" (worded better, of course!) thing, and Theo overhearing it by accident.
If this is the result you get from walking face first into a door, then I will never again do that.
Atleast, I will try to avoid it in the future.
"Please say something," I blurted out after a long silence. "You're making me uncomfortable!"
"I'm making you uncomfortable!?" Theo hissed, glancing at me, and giving a shudder. "Yeah, right."
I continued to watch him; ever since Healer McGrim had left the room - after many, many, many congratulations! - Theo had very quietly entered the room, and sat down in the chair next to my bed. Neither of us had said a word - probably too mortified with the entire situation.
I had tried, of course. But each time the words had never left my mouth - but I had thought them!
Well, kind of.
"It's not a big deal," I tried to say conversationally.
"NOT A BIG--" Theo exploded, looking outraged. "You're with child, and you're not even supposed to be involved with anyone!"
"I'm not!" I cried back at him, narrowing my eyes. "Stop being so dramatic!"
"But to become pregnant," Theo explained, as if it would be easier to deal with if he talked slowly. "You have to have sex with someone, and you--"
He fell silence, as I looked away.
"You haven't, right? Had sex, I mean."
"Apparently, I have," I said, shrugging.
"Oh my Lord," Theo gasped, covering his mouth with his hands.
"What?" I snapped, looking at him, as a blush started to form on my cheeks.
"It's Nicholas Rousseau, right? The father of the child, right?"
I think I vomited a bit in my mouth.
"OH EWW!" I screamed, slumping back against my pillows. "That's just... just... revolting."
"Why is it revolting? Workplace romances are very common among office workers, and the Ministry of Magic is sort of an office, right?"
I stared at the confused look on Theo's face, and I felt a bit sorry for him; he had no idea how far off he was.
"Theo," I sighed, folding my hands neatly in my lap. I looked down, and took a deep breath, before I could look up at him again. "There's something you need to know..."
I had no idea I led such a boring life, that it only took me fifteen minutes to tell it.
Well, I skipped the details, and just told the big picture. Mainly; Sirius, pregnancy, miscarriage, and my runaway-stunt (I didn't mention Sirius' mum, or the deal I had done with her, I just said 'I wanted to know my real father').
"You really are one of a kind, Susie Q," Theo said when I had finished. "You know that, right?"
"Sadly, yes," I said and tried to smile.
"So..." he said, leaning forward. "What are you going to do? Does Em know? What will you do, Susie?"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" I said, lifitng my hand to silence Theo and his questions, that never seemed to stop. "One question at the time, okay?"
"What will you do?" he asked at once.
"I don't know," I said, and shrugged. But when I looked at him, my answer was pretty clear.
"You're going to keep it," Theo said.
It wasn't a question, it was more of a statement. I bit my lip, as Theo took my hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. I avoided his eyes, and concentrated on staring at the fake plastic skeleton hovering in the corner.
I never got to finish my sentence, because the door suddenly opened, and in waltzed a plump woman with dark ringlets, and the warmest deep brown eyes I had ever seen.
"Hello, Susan," she said sweetly, and I cringed at the fact that it wasn't annoying me to bits. "I'm Midwife Flow, Fiona Flow, and I'm here to answer your every question, support you with whatever choice you're going to make, and--" she blabbered on, but fell silent as she saw Theo, and our hands. "Oh. Well, hello, sir!" she said, nodding to him. "You must be super-super happy, huh?"
"Ecstatic," Theo said blankly, his thick brows pulling together. "Who the hell are you?"
"Midwife Flow, but just call me Flow," she said, scribbling something in her notebook. "How are we feeling, Susan?"
"What he said," I said, pulling away from Flow's reaching hand. "Ecstatic."
She wouldn't have any of that, of course. She firmly placed a warm hand on my shoulder, and gave it a gentle squeeze. I suddenly relaxed under her touch, and stared up at her heart-shaped face. "Don't worry, dear," she said softly, smiling at me. "Everything will be okay."
I gave a small nod, still confused.
Just who the fuck was this woman!?
"And the dad must be excited as well, I assume," she went on, smiling to Theo.
Theo almost had a heart attack, and he shoved my hand away so roughly that it let out a painful crack. I growled at him, as I massaged my wrist, Flow looking more confused than ever.
"I'm not... not... I'm not t-t-the... you know," Theo stammered, running a shaking hand through his hair. I looked at him with a hint of amusement, as he stumbled on his own words to explain himself. "I'm innocent!"
"He's not exactly the dad," I explained more smoothly, shrugging. "Well, he's not 'kind of' the dad, either... you know."
Flow blinked, and bit her lip. "Come again?"
"I'm alone," I said slowly, and stared back at Flow. "There is no dad. None. Nada."
"Oh," Flow said, and looked down at her notes. "Yes, yes, yes..."
I kind of felt sorry for the poor woman.
"Except that she's not alone," Theo put in, grabbing my hand again. "She has me."
There really was no limit with the confusion we caused, was there?
"She's confused, Theo," I said through gritted teeth.
"Well, you see," Theo began, trying to coem up with something intelligent to say. "She's a friend-- well, actually, she's my girlfriend's friend, no, wait, she's my ex-girlfriend's friend... old classmate, actually, too... and she--"
"ANYWAY!" I cut off, dreading the outcome of Theo's pointless babble. "The main point is, that he's my friend, nothing else."
"Nothing else," Flow repeated, her eyebrows raised. "That's something, though. Sometimes, that's just what you might need," she said with a tiny smile.
"What she said!" Theo said, giving me a proud grin.
"Why are you still talking?" I snapped at him. "So," I said, looking at Flow. "How do we go on from here? I mean... can I just go, and come back in nine months?"
I never thought I'd be one of those pathetic homo sapiens to actually get emotional by seeing my baby's heartbeat. Okay, so I didn't exactly start crying, but I did start hyperventilating so much that I got a hiccup. After drinking some kind of hiccup potion, though, it all went away, and I was left with my hyperventilation.
"This is it," I said, staring at the sonogram. I peered down at it, almost feeling sick again. I was aware of how Muggle sonograms looked like, but this... this was different. Apparently, magical sonograms actually moved - just like all of our pictures, too!
That was just creepy.
"That's it, then," Theo said, also looking at the picture. "Imagine - you're going to be a mom!"
I gave him a queasy look, grabbing my brown paperbag again.
"D'you think it's a boy or girl?" Theo asked, taking the picture from me, twisting it in his hands, trying to see it from different angles.
"A... a... girl," I gasped in between my calming breaths. "This w-world... doesn't need... another asshole..."
"That's real charming--" Theo began.
Both of us looked up, and saw my boss - my dad, my biological dad; Nicholas Rousseau - walk briskly down the corridor, followed by a few robed men, all of them looking grim.
"Shit," I said, the paperbag crumpling in my hands. "What is he doing here!?" I hissed to Theo, who gaped in astonishment.
"Quency," Mr R said, as he reached us. "What on earth are you doing--"
"Miss Quency," a Healer said, popping her head out from the examination room. "Midwife Flow is ready to set up a new appointment for your monthly check-up, so that you can discuss your birthplan."
All of us watched as the Healer disappeared again, none of us saying a word.
"I, um..." I began, standing up. "I need to have a birthplan... bye!" I said, quickly sneaking into the room, followed by a shocked looking Theo.
We both stared at each other, as the door closed behind us, my mind filled with all kinds of questions.
"Well," Theo said, swallowing. "That was real smooth."
I instinctly put a hand on my stomach, biting my lip. "I'm really fucked now, right?"
A/N: You should all have patience with me, I have not given up yet :)
- Lily xxx
Chapter 11: Remember, Remember
"Something's going on."
I almost choked on my coffee at Em's words, coughing loudly. "What!?"
Em's eyes were narrowed, as she glared at me across the table. "What's with the sudden love for pickles?"
Guiltily, I glanced down at the plate filled with pickles. I swallowed, my eyes shifting from side ot side. I felt like a high-stat criminal, trying to hide from the government, with only my own courage as--
"Are you having an affair with someone?"
For a second, I was speechless. I blinked, then swallowed again, and nodded. "Yeah?"
"REALLY!?" Em cried out, her face suddenly twisting into one of utter excitement. "This - is - wonderful!"
I blinked again, taking a sip of my coffee. "Why?"
"I thought you were one of those immensly depressing people, who never get over themselves, and live forever alone with twelve cats," she went on.
"A spinster?" I said helpfully.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," she said, nodding. "So, who is it?"
Both of us swivelled around, and watched Theo walk in. Em was still grinning excitedly, and I threw a panicky smile in his direction, trying to warn him that Em was in on a roll.
"What's up with my girls?" he said cheerfully, not noticing the look I gave him. Theo's eyes zoomed on the coffee I was drinking, and he suddenly looked utterly mortified. "COFFEE!? YOU'RE DRINKING THAT POISON!?"
Befor ei could even react, he had snatched away my cup, and threw it in the sink. I listened in horror, as the sink swallowed my delicious coffee with a dreadful slurp.
"What the fu--" I began, but I never got to finish my sentence.
"Do you know how unhealthy and dangerous that stuff is!? Do you know what it does to you!?"
Both Em and I stared at him blankly.
"YOU GIRLS SHOULD KNOW BETTER!" Theo boomed.
"God, man, chill--" Em began, but fell silent. "Wait a minute, why--"
She let out a gasp, making me jump. "What, what, what!?" I said, staring at her.
Em pointed at me and Theo, her eyes wider than ever. She covered her mouth with her hand, and gasped again.
"Breathe, woman!" Theo commanded, and Em le tout a shaky breath.
"You two... you two... you two are... are..."
"EM!" Theo and I called out.
Em flinched, and leaned closer to whisper. "Are you two sleeping together?"
"No," I snorted.
"Yes," Theo said at the same time.
We turned to stare at each other, my brows raised. "What?" Em said, voicing our thoughts. "What's... going on?"
"Couple counselling!" Theo announced, grabbing my hand and dragging me out.
"MY PICKLES!" I screamed, as he pulled me with him, leading me directly to the bathroom. He locked the door, and turned to face me with a manic look on his face. "What?" I said, my eyes wide.
"D'you think Em's stupid?" he asked bluntly.
"She has her moments, yes," I said after a moment.
"D'you seriously think she won't notice any change in you - not even after nine months, huh?"
I thought about it. Well, I had kind of considered to just, you know, skip the whole part where I would get enormous, sweaty, unbalanced, hormonal lump of a woman - actually, I had planned to skip the whole 'I am preggers!' part, and just, you know, get it over with?
"Well..." I began, avoiding eye contact.
"It's not going to stay unnoticed, if that's what you're thinking," Theo cut off. "She will notice, Susie. Let me help you!"
I looked up at him, automatically cradling my stomach - which wasn't much to cradle at this point. "Really? She'll notice?"
Theo looked like he wanted to slap me - hard. "Oh Susie..." he groaned instead, falling against the wall, and slowly lowering himself on the bathroom floor.
I watched him for a moment, biting my lip. Slowly, I kneeled in front of him, poking him carefully. "Theo?" I whispered, and waited, until he looked at me. "What should I do?"
Theo seemed just as surprised as I felt. I was never one to ask advice, let alone follow anyone else's advice. The sad part was that I was too aware of my own stubborness.
"What should you do?" Theo repeated, blinking. "Well, you could tell her the truth," he said.
I frowned, shaking my head. "Why bring up the past again?"
"It might help?" he suggested.
"No," I said firmly. "Anything else?"
Theo thought about it for a moment, then shrugged. "Can't come up with anything helpful right now, sorry."
I grimaced, and stood up. "I might as well get to work, then," I muttered.
"Mr R hasn't said anything yet?" Theo asked, as I helped him back on his feet again.
"Nope," I sighed. "It's a very awkward silence, you know..."
"I would assume so!" he snorted, as we walked out.
Only to find Em waiting for us outside the door.
"I never would have thought," was all she said, before she stormed out.
Both of us watched as she left the apartment, short of words. "I thought she was all happy about it!" Theo muttered.
"It's a girl thing," I said shortly.
I stared at the clock, my entire body tense.
"Five more minutes," I muttered to myself, leaning forward in my seat, as I watched the clock tick forward at a snail-pace. "Daaaaaaaaaamn..."
I looked up, my eyes wide, as Mr R popped his head out from his office. "Yes, sir?" I said, my voice high-pitched.
"A word," he said, disappearing again.
I groaned, before standing up. I walked - well, dragged my feet - over to the door, and had a short mental battle with myself, before I entered. I made my way to his desk, and waited until he turned aorund in his chair. I almost felt amused, when he looked surprised to see me there - even if he was the one who had asked me to come in.
"Yes, sir?" I said, pursing my lips tightly together.
"Is there anything you need to tell me?" he asked, his deep voice making shivers run down my spine, as he peered at me.
Nothing, except that you're my dad, I thought bitterly, feeling a curt smile appear on my face.
"Nope," I said, popping the 'p'. "Nada."
"Very well," he said, sighing. I almost expected him to ask me leave, but instead, he pushed forward a file across the desk. I looked down at it, feeling almost angry. Did he seriously plan to give me more work, since I refused to tell him the goriest detail of what was going on in my uterus - which was quite a lot, to be honest. "I want you to have a look at this."
I looked down at the file with raised brows without making a gesture to even opening it. Slowly, I reached for it, and continued to stare at it. It looked old and smudged, almost as if it had been through hell and back - twice. It felt fragile, as if it would fall apart any second. I stole a glance at Mr R, who looked at me without blinking. Awkwardly, I opened the file, expecting some boring document to read and correct.
Instead, I found a picture of mama and dad... with a baby.
Silently, I turned to the next page, and found more baby pictures - all of me. I flipped another page, more violently this time. Me, me, me, me, me - at every page, I saw pictures of me at different ages popping out like ghosts. I felt tears burn my eyes, as I reached the last picture; it was taken on the day when all of us - the Marauders, Lily, Chuck, Vick, Val and I - had returned from Hogwarts, newly graduated, and full of hopes for the future. It had been taken at King's Cross by Mrs P - she had found a passion for photography, and insisted on taking one of us. In the picture, we all looked happy. James and Lily, Remus and Val, Chuck and Vicky - and last but not least - Sirius and I. It felt like looking at a stranger, someone else than me. I hadn't seen that stupid grin on my face in ages. In fact, I wasn't sure how to smile like that anymore. It was one of those grins I had seen in ads for insurance companies, who acclaimed to create a safe life for you. I watched all of us laugh in the picture, with Sirius' arms around me. He was hugging me from behind, swaying slightly from side ot side. I watched him whisper something in my ear, and I felt a small smile on my face.
His words still echoed in my ear; Remember this moment, Susie Q.... I love you.
I had rolled my eyes at his cheesy line, but he had just laughed it off.
Slowly, I closed the file, and looked up at Mr R - my dad. "Why... how... do you have... this?"
"Susan," he sighed, rubbing his forehead. "I don't know how... how to say this. When to say this. But... I... I'm your father."
A/N: Short but sweet - NOT! Well, it is short, of which I am TRULY VERY sorry - will update soon with better stuff xD
- Lily xxx
Chapter 12: Unexpectedly Perfect
They say life is full of surprises - unexpected events that just fuck us big time. Like when unexpected relatives come for a surprise visit during a very, very bad time (like when you're in the middle of trying to catch the illegal baby dragon your dad wanted to "show you", and you accidentally let it loose), or when the annoying professor decides to give out a "surprise essay" to write about something that happened gazillion years ago - on a subject that could not be less interesting.
Of course, when your biological father - who you didn't know about until recently - turns out to be in the know, that's just a whole new level of 'surprise'.
I stared at him, feeling dizzy. I slowly glanced down at the desk, where the file was neatly placed. Then, just as slowly, I looked back at him, and swallowed.
"You know," I said quietly.
It wasn't a question, nor an accusation - just a statement. I let out a breath - which I hadn't even realized I had held in - and felt my knees go weak. In the same instance, as my eyes dirfted around the room, I swiftly met his eyes, and saw him stand up form his seat. I tried to take a step back, but instead I felt my entire fall - until I was sprawled on the floor, gazing up at the ceiling.
I blinked slowly, and my ears were filled with the beating of my own heart, the blood pulsing through my veins like a very loud river - and someone's voice, very slurry in the background, calling my name. I closed my eyes, breathing heavily.
When I opened my eyes, I felt something itchy on my arm. Drozily, I tried to scratch my arm, but someone grabbed my hand, restraining me. I froze for a moment, as I stared at the slim fingers wrapped around my wrist. Slowly, I moved my eyes up along the arm, seeing dark curls, and soon enough, a familiar face - twisted with worry.
"Em," I mouthed, my mouth too dry to make a sound.
"Have some water," she said quietly, helping me to some water.
I sipped the water obediently, my eyes never leaving her's. She put the cup back on the table next to my bed, and turned back to me. Neither one of us said anything for awhile. Em tilted her head to the side, biting her lip, as her eyes filled with unexpected tears.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she sniffed, as I watched in horror as the big, fat tears fell down her cheeks. "Friends... friends don't keep this shit from each other."
I watched her in silence, slowly sitting up. My eyes caught the IV shoved in my arm - the itchy thing I had tried to scratch earlier - and I frowned. What had happened, exactly?
"Em..." I said, waiting for her to calm down. "I wanted to tell... I just... didn't."
"You told Theo," Em said slowly, wiping her tears quickly. "Because he's the father, right? Right?"
I stared at her for the longest time, before feeling an unexpected urge to laugh out loud - but I decided against it. Instead, I frowned, and felt my mouth fall open. "What? No! I could never do that to you, Em!"
"But--" Em began, and I watched her face react to my words. "Wait, what? Do what to me? What?"
I stared back at her, feeling the same confusion wash over me that clearly held Em in a strong grip now. "You... Theo... you two are... dating, right?"
It felt surreal to even think any other way.
"Susie," Em said, her eyes wide. "We broke up weeks ago. Like, just before you got here."
"We... we were not good together. It had been going on for ages, and we came to the same solution - then you came along! Your life just seemed to be in pieces, so to speak, so I thought it would be best if you wouldn't burden yourself with such nonsense... I didn't expect you to stay for such a long time, I thought you were just visiting, so when a few days turned into a week or two, the entire act was just falling apart, and--"
I wasn't listening anymore, Suddenly, I felt so stupid. I had seen all the signs; the glances between them, the tension, Theo sleeping in the bathroom, and...
"She's a friend-- well, actually, she's my girlfriend's friend, no, wait, she's my ex-girlfriend's friend... old classmate, actually, too... and she--"
I grabbed my head, feeling a headache roll in, as I realized the situation. "Oh!" I moaned, slumping against the pillows. "I'm so stupid... how didn't I--"
"Shh, shh, shh!" Em cooed, patting my shoulder. "Don't worry over that shit, Susie - just stay calm, it's very important for you to stay calm in your condition."
I peered up at her, feeling lost. "What happened?"
"Well, you see, we stopped having sex, and when we did, it was just so--"
"NOT THAT!" I shrieked, making Em jump in her seat. "I meant how the FUCK did I get here!?"
Em stared at me with wide eyes, her eyes suddenly jumping to the machine that was now rapidly beeping. I followed her stare, and took calming breaths, until the machine had calmed down - along with my heart.
"Well," Em said, pursing her lips together. "Apparently, you got a bit dehydrated, and the stress took the best of you. But you're fine now!" she hurried to add, as I opened my mouth to speak. "If you stay calm, rest a lot, drink a lot, and let that bloody IV stay in your arm - which you've been trying to scratch off for hours now, mind you!"
"How did I--"
"Nicholas brought you here," Em cut off, suddenly smiling with a blush. "He's a real charmer, you know! You really pick your men wisely..." she mused. I watched her own words sink in her brain, and as expected, she soon let out a loud gasp, giving me a look of shock. "HE'S THE FATHER!?"
"What?" I sighed, rubbing my head with an exhausted frown. "Em...!"
"If Theo's not the father, then Nicholas is, right!?"
"Since when has he been 'Nicholas' to you?" I demanded.
"Since he owled me, and adressed me 'Dear Emilie'," Em blurted out, as a new blush rose on her cheeks. "But that's not the point--"
"He's not," I said quietly. "He's not... the father."
I waited Em to ask more questions, but she said nothing. Instead, she just stared at me, almost sadly. She reminded me of a little girl, who had just witnessed the death of a puppy - it made me feel worse, to be honest.
"I see," she said finally, as I avoided her gaze. "How are you feeling?"
I waited. I tried to find a proper term or word to desrcibe my feeling. I tried to feel if there was any pain anywhere - but I couldn't feel anything unusual. Other than hunger, as my stomach let out a pathetic growl, which--
My eyes widened, as I bolted upright in my bed. "HOLY SHIT!"
Em jumped in her seat, suddenly alarmed. "Susie, what's wrong? Are you in pain? What--"
"THE BABY!" I shrieked, my hands cradling my stomach. "MY BABY! IS IT--"
"Susie!" Em called out, forcing me to lay back down. "It's fine. The baby is fine... he is fine, Susie."
I was hyperventilating, as I stared up at her, her words slowly sinking into my brain. I swallowed, feeling tears burn in my eyes. My lips were trembling, as I slowly reached to clutch her hand, squeezing it. "It's... it's a... it's a boy?"
Em smiled gently, as she squeezed my hand back, her eyes also filled with tears. "Yeah," she whispered, nodding once. "We're going to have a baby boy, Susie."
Without another warning, I started to cry - this time, out of happiness.
It only took Theo thirty minutes to get there. By then, the nurse had removed the IV, lectured me about the importance of vitamins, and to get enough rest. Through the entire time, I just glared at Em, who stood half-hidden behind the nurse, with a self-important look on her face - she had betrayed me the very moment she asked the nurse to give her a list of different meals that would be extra healthy.
"Muggles," she mumbled, holding the list as if it was pure gold. "Genius creatures, aren't they?"
Theo, who was still hyperventilating by the door, took a step closer. I grimaced, as I watched him struggle with the balloons he dragged along with him.
"What - are - those?" I said through gritted teeth, eyeing them suspiciously.
"Balloons, of course!" he said, shrugging.
Em gave Theo a glance - the same kind she had given him when he had gracefully stormed in with a bang! - and snorted. "Did you even look at the balloons?" she asked. "They say 'SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS!' and 'HAPPY RETIREMENT!', Theo."
Theo glared at her, before pursing his lips. "The 'GET WELL SOON!' ones were all sold out," he said calmly. "Besides, these ones were nice colour."
"They're brilliant," I said before Em could comment. "Thanks."
I grabbed the 'SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS!' balloon, and grinned at him. "Well? You look fine! Geez, imagine the heart attack I got when the owl reached me!"
"Who owled you?" I asked with a frown.
"I did," Em said, avoiding eye contact. "I thought you... he... yeah..."
"Thanks, Em," I said.
"I didn't do it to make you feel better," she said quickly. "Or because I like you," she shot at Theo. "I'm just curious as to why you would pretend to be pregnant with his child - if you're not even involved with each other!?"
"God, you sound so medieval," Theo muttered. "First of all, it was the decent thing to do as a man. I mean, she's my friend, and she was in a bad spot, and let's face it; even if she's stronger than most girls - or guys! - there is no way this would be easy on her. She'd still be judged by the society, and things wouldn't get easy on her, if you just consider who her father is."
A startled silence filled the room, as I glared at Theo, while Em slowly turned to me. "What does he mean by that, 'if you consider who her father is', Susie?"
Theo realized his mistake, and a look of horror crossed his face. "Oh - I - did - not!"
"You did," I muttered, rubbing my forehead.
"Did what? What's going on!?" Em wanted to know, a look of annoyance crossing her face.
"Em, there's something I need to tell you..."
"What part of this is perfect, Emilie?" Theo asked crossly.
"It's the only decent thing to do, Theodor," Em snarled over her shoulder in the general direction of where Theo stood - which was basically hovering by the door.
"This is really too much," I mumbled, looking around the once normal room. It had once functioned as a study-slash-bandroom-slash-guest room-slash-storage room. Now, it was perfectly cleaned, pink and filled with baby- and maternity stuff.
I was in hell.
"Seriously," I said, gripping Em's arm. "It makes me nauseous."
Em took in the panicky look on my face, momentarily alarmed. "Don't worry, your hormones will catch up with it!" she said easily, shrugging me off. She skipped out from the room, and settled to leaning against the doorframe, blocking Theo's view. "You hungry?"
I grimaced, shaking my head. "No, I just feel... like throwing up."
Em grimaced, before grinning. "All part of the process. You're handling it very well - are your breasts tender yet? They ought to be. It's very common, too!"
I blinked, as I caught the horrorstruck look on Theo's face. "Can we not talk about her boobs like that?" he begged.
"Shut up, Theo," Em shot.
"I agree with him, actually," I said, feeling abused.
Well, my breasts did.
"You don't need to worry about a thing!" Em said, waving my comment away with her hand. "I'll take care of everything. Now, I need to prepare the asparagus soup - apparently, it's very healthy for an expecting mother to eat. It consists of things that will make your stomach get rid of all that gas that makes you feel bloated."
I gaped, as she sailed in the general direction of the kitchen. During the two days I had stayed at the hospital, she had become the know-it-all about pregnancy, childbirth, and being a parent. She had also managed to get a special CPR license, and was taking birthing partner classes. I always thought you were meant to go to those classes with the excpecting mother, and practise to be her birthing partner - apparently, Em had just shoved her charming self with some innocent, happy couple, annoying them to the verge of divorce and murder.
Luckily, the instructor had been kind and given her the 'diploma' - they didn't give those, actually, until Em had demanded for one.
"How are you dealing with all this?" Theo asked, eyeing me carefully - he was sure thta I would explode any minute.
"Just... fine," I said weakly, sitting down on the bed.
Which was a mistake; the moment I sat down, I pretty much bounced right back up, losing my balance, and falling back on it. I kept bouncing on the bed, helplessly flailing about, until Theo hurried forward, helping me up on my feet.
"What - the hell - is - that!?" I gasped, staring at the slippery-slope-bounce bed in shock.
"It's-- I don't know, actually," Theo admitted with a frown.
"I suppose it's some ergonomic bed for my people," I muttered darkly, poking ther bed with my toe. I cringed, as it made a disgusting jell-o-like move.
"Stop referring to pregnant people as 'your people' - you're not an alien!"
"I bloody well feel like one," I pointed out. "Look at this crap! It's not normal! I mean, look!" I said, grabbing the first object within my reach - and something I had always wondered about what the hell it was. "What the fuck is this supposed to be? A cocktail mixer!?"
Theo pursed his lips, holding back a laugh. "Actually, I'm pretty sure that's a handheld breast pump."
"Why would I want to--"
A silence stretched between us, as I stared at the object. Silently, I put it back down, blushing furiously. I took a step back, hugging myself. "I'm scared," I whispered.
Awkwardly, Theo put an arm around my shoulders, giving me a squeeze. "You'll do fine. No, you'll be brilliant."
"What kind of mother will I be if I'm scared shitless by a breast hump!?"
"Pump, Susie, breast pump," Theo corrected. "And that fact is exactly why you'll be brilliant, trust me. Besides, if you mess up, you'll always have Miss Preggers Expert there to save the day, right?"
I smiled, nodding. "Yeah... you're right."
"You should get some rest," Theo said, letting go of me. "I need to get to the bar. See you later?"
"Sure, sure," I said, as Theo left the room, closing the door after him.
I was left alone in the silence, with only the soft and soothing whirr coming from an air freshner in the corner. I carefully sat down on the bed, and didn't bounce back again. I sighed with relief, as I slowly settled myself on the bed. I stared at the ceiling, thinking. After a moment, I grabbed a pillow, and shoved it under my t-shirt. I formed it into a round bump, until it looked normal. I looked down at it, my hands rubbing it gently.
"So," I told the pillow-bump. "It's just us two, huh?"
I was pretty sure it was just in my head, but it almost felt like the baby could hear me, and give me a small kick. I knew for sure it wasn't possible at this point - it was way too early, as Em had told me so many times - but it still felt soothing to know that I would never be alone again.
There would always be a part of him with me, now.
A/N: I'm very satisfied with how this one turned out. Also, I really wish merry Christmas to everyone, and a happy new year! Hope you have a great time, and continue supporting this story! Thanks for a lovely year :)
- Lily xxx
Chapter 13: Crazy
I went back to work as usual. I got lost on my way to the mailroom - as usual. I was one minute early - as usual. I even brought coffee for the boss - as usual.
Everything was as usual.
Until the boss himself walked in - followed by Felicia.
That was not usual. I mean, Felicia didn't come around that often, and they rarely came in together. But now, she was following him like a shark, her red hair like a lion's mane. I cringed, but kept my face neutral as they came closer.
"Good morning, Mr--"
"How are you feeling, Susan?"
There was a long silence, during which we just stared at each other. Felicia, on the other hand, took a menacing step even closer, now literally hovering right behind Mr R.
My dad, in case you forgot.
"What's going on?" she demanded, her eyes flicking back and through between us. "Why--"
"I have set an appointment for you," he said, cutting her off. For a moment, I thought he was talking to her, but when he was still looking at me, I knew he wasn't. "With Dr Shephiro."
I blinked. "Dr who?"
"Dr Shephiro?" Felicia repeated, as if this was some kind of juicy news. "Dr Shephiro... I see."
The way she said that sounded almost smug, as if she was... was... happy. Not in a happy-go-lucky way, but a sick and psychotic way.
"I have an important meeting with the Prime Minister later - I'm not to be disturbed."
I watched him walk to his office, leaving me in silence with Felicia. I instantly jumped closer, meeting her wicked eyes. "Oi," I whispered, narrowing my eyes. "Who's Dr Shaphiro?"
Felicia crossed her arms, smiling sweetly at me. "Dr Shaphiro," she said slowly. "Is the Ministry's own shrink."
"Deep breaths, calm down, deep--"
"SHUT UP, EM!" I cried out, hitting her with a pillow.
"Calm down, deep--"
"I think she wants you stop telling her to breathe and calm down," Theo said helpfully. "Although I agree - you need to calm down, I'm starting to get worried about your sanity for real."
I glared at him. "What right does he have to arrange an appointment to some psycho!?"
"She's a shrink, not a psycho," Em pointed out.
"SHUT UP, EM!"
"Susie, she's actually quite nice," Theo said.
"How do you know that?" I asked sharply.
"Because she's my godmother," Theo said with a shrug.
"She's your WHAT!?" Em called out. "Why didn't I know this? Why didn't you tell me!? Weren't we dating, like, forever!?"
Theo shrugged again. "You never asked, sorry!"
Both of us glared at him. "Well," I sniffed, crossing my arms with a pout. "You can tell her I'm not going. She can just grab some pizza."
"You're so going," Em said firmly. "Just... one time. Talk. Talk about... you know..."
Oh, I knew what she meant.
But I wouldn't change my mind of this Dr Shaphiro being a psycho.
And I was right.
She was a complete nutcase! I knew it the very moment I walked into her white, clean, and organized room. My eyes first locked on the plant in the corner - obviously a fake one, surely. Then, I zoomed in on the woman sitting in one of the chairs; Dr Shaphiro, obviously. Her hair was platinum blonde - reminded me of the Malfoys, really - and her eyes black. It was a weird and unsettling combination, to be honest. Her face was very pointy - again, the Malfoys popped in my mind - and her lips were painted in the gentlest colour of pink.
I cringed, as she smiled at me, showing off a set of perfectly white teeth.
"Please take a seat, Susan," she said, her voice clear and breezy.
Another cringe - she said Soo-zan just like mama did.
I sat down, clutching my bag as if my life depended on it.
"I'm not crazy," I blurted out.
Dr Shaphiro blinked once, a frozen smile plastered on her face. "Oh yes?"
"Yes," I said, frowning. "I know I have issues, which I am competent of solving myself, but I'm not crazy. I don't think I need your professional help and/or opinions to deal with them."
I stood up abruptly, stiffly making my way towards the door.
"The fact that you need to tell me that you're not crazy is a fascinating sign," she said, as I was at the door. "I'll see you soon."
Like hell she would.
Hours later, back at the apartment, I huffed and puffed, while Em and Theo watched me carefully.
"I still think you should--"
"If you tell me to calm down, Theo," I boomed, glaring at him. "If you tell me to calm down... ONE - MORE - TIME," I growled, my voice shaking with anger. "I swear to Merlin's beard that I will MURDER you, Theo, seriously - I WILL."
From the corner of my eye, I noticed Em shake her head meaningfully at Theo - she was probably advising him to re-think his actions, which worked, because Theo pressed his lips together, staying quiet instead.
"I know what you need," Em suddenly said, her pretty face suddenly brightening.
"What?" I muttered, raising my brows as she hurried towards the closet across the room, and soon returning with three Beaters' bats - except that they were longer, and thinner. "Are we going to kill someone?" I asked hopefully, as I eyed the bats.
"Nope," Em said, grinning. "We're going to play Mailbox Baseball!"
I exchanged confused glances with Theo, before swallowing, my eyes wide. "Mailbox Baseball? What on earth is Mailbox Baseball!?"
A/N: HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! ^_^ I hope this year will bring you all good luck! *bows*
- Lily xxx
Chapter 14: Right Kind of Wrong
"Mailbox Baseball," Em announced proudly, as she leaned casually against the red, devilishly dangerous car I had sworn to avoid at all cost. "A traditional American sport! Popular among the Muggle children, so it must be fun, right?"
Theo and I stared at her in silence. "I'm confused," I said weakly, feeling the motion sickness creep over me by the mere sight of the car. "What--"
"Get in the car," Em said, already hurrying around to the driver's side.
"I should drive, if you're going to take part, Em," Theo suggested, hastily elbowing Em out of his way.
"Good call!" Em said, giving me a glance. "Are you coming, or not?"
I bit my lip. I had promised - mostly to myself - that I wouldn't change as a person. Just because I was pregnant, I would not change as a person. I would still be me, the fearsome Susie Q, as I had always been. Why would some silly unbalance in my hormones change me?
So, as I pondered my options, I stole a quick glance at Theo, who met my gaze. "You don't have to, Susie," he said, frowning with worry.
"I would never hear the end of it," I growled, stomping over to the car. "But I won't enjoy this!" I called to Em, who danced her way around the car, and in the backseat, a triumphant smile on her face.
"Susie Q, I know you'll enjoy it!" she assured, as Theo started the engine.
"Shut up and drive," I muttered, as he slowly took off.
For once, I wished something heavy would fall on me and crush me to death.
We headed towards the suburbs. I watched the tidy front lawns, the happy-go-lucky families spending a normal afternoon on the streets, happily chatting away, as we drove past them. Em seemed to be very picky with the location, and kept instructing Theo to continue driving. After another fifteen minutes, she told him to slow down a little. I watched with curiousity as she rolled down the window, and leaned out. I could already see the risk in it; falling out through the window from a moving car - how fascinating.
Before I knew it, she was already waving her bat frantically, sending white boxes flying around in scattered pieces. I watched her beat the boxes for another minute, before she returned inside the car, a grin on her face.
I had to agree that it looked fun. I grabbed a bat, and rolled down my window. I mimicked Em, and started beating the boxes.
"THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!" I screamed after ten minutes. It was like the best stress relief I had ever experienced. I had no idea what the boxes were supposed to be there for - but if Muggles did this, it had to be for this sole purpose, right?
But why were people screaming angrily after us?
I asked this out loud, and Em shrugged. "Don't know, don't care," she said, avoiding my eyes. "But I suppose you wouldn't be too thrilled if someone started randomly beating your owl for the fun of it, would you?"
It only took me a minute to grasp the cold facts. "WHAT!?" I boomed, throwing myself back into the car. At the sound of my voice, Theo stopped the car with a schreech, also looking startled.
"Well, don't just stop the car, Theo!" Em growled, looking out from the window. "The Muggles will be here soon..."
"Are you telling me," I began, my voice shaking. "That these boxes are... are... ARE FOR MUGGLE MAIL!?"
"Yes," Em said reluctantly. "But in my defense--"
"DRIVE, THEO!" I demanded, as I saw an angry crowd hurrying towards the car.
The engine let out a loud roar, tyres screeching, as he put the pedal to metal. We zoomed through the suburbs, the clean, white houses passing us in a blur.
"Well done, Susie Q!" Em called over the noise. "You have just participated in your first stress relief class!"
"FUCK YOU, EM!" I shot at her, feeling the familiar thrill rush through my veins.
I had to admit, that even if what we had just done was rude and stupid, it had made me feel slightly better. It also reminded me of the excitement that I had often got with Sirius. I hadn't realized it earlier, not until we were safely back in the city. Theo parked the car at the side of the road, and silence filled the car. A minute passed, as we all stared seriously forward, as people bustled around on the street around us. I met Theo's eyes suddenly in the mirror, and noticed how he had his lips pursed, trying to hold back a laugh. Em, on the other hand, was suddenly shaking, covering her mouth with her hands. All three of us burst out laughing at the exact same time, trying to pull ourself together.
"C-can you imagine," Em cried out, tears running down her cheeks as she tried to catch her breathe through the laughter. "Muggles... M-Muggles using silly boxes at the end of their road to r-recieve mail!?"
"Blasphemy!" Theo guffawed, as he was hunched over the steering wheel. "Imagine them taking revenge by starting to hit our owls, though!"
We fell sielnt abruptly, as the horrible image popped in our heads. Then, as if on cue, the three of us burst into new fits of laughter by the mere thought of feathers flying around as the owls were being chased by the Muggles.
"T-this can't happen again, though," I told Em, meeting her gaze in the mirror.
She grinned, shaking her head. "But it was great fun, right?"
We continued to giggle for another moment, before a sudden sound interrupted us. A man was knocking on the window, looking grim. Em rolled the window down, blinking at the man.
"Excuse me," the man said, looking awkward. "But could you move the car? You're parked in a handicapped space."
For no apparent reason, we started laughing again.
"This is unacceptable!"
I watched Mr R walk back and forth in front of me, running his hands through his thick hair in frustration. He threw a glance at me, and let out a sigh, as I met his eyes with a stubborn glare.
"Sir?" I said calmly, finding great pleasure in his distress.
"As a Ministry worker," he began, trying to regain the same calmness. "It is unacceptable for you to commit such a crime!"
He slammed the Daily Prophet on the desk, and I gazed at it quickly. I had read the paper earlier this morning; there was a picture of us, driving in a car, and ruining Muggle mailboxes. I had no idea who had got our picture, but there it was - clear as the sky.
In response to his comment, I snorted in disbelief.
"You think this is funny, do you!?" he demanded, slamming his hands on the table, as he stared at me.
"Actually," I said, folding my arms. "I find it slightly ironic."
"What?" he hissed, looking as if I had just slapped him.
"You betrayed your own friend," I whispered, narrowing my eyes. "You abandoned your own daughter. You then send your own daughter - who you never showed any interest in knowing! - to the Ministry's own shrink! You think you have the right to give any kind of advice or lecture about what is... what did you call it? 'Unacceptable?', right?" I murmured, slowly standing up. "I think you're the last person on earth who has the right to tell anyone what is unacceptable... sir."
I didn't wait for his respons. I walked briskly to the door, my hand on the doorknob, when I turned to face him. "I will ruin you," I whispered loudly, meeting his eyes. "I will ruin your career as the Minister of Magic, sir, and make you regret your own existence... you can count on that."
I silence him with one last glare, as I left the room, slamming the door behind me. As I walked towards the elevator, Felicia stepped out. Both of us froze for a second, before continuing. As I passed her, I pulled out a letter, holding it out for her. She took it, and frowned at me, her eyes filled with silent curiousity.
"What's this?" she demanded, apparently having an inner battle between opening the letter or not.
"My letter of resignation, ma'am," I said simply, stepping into the elevator. "Could you please give it to the Minister? I have no desire of seeing his face any longer," I muttered. "Have a good day," I said, as the doors closed.
This was only the beginning...
A/N: I am SO sorry for the shortness of my chapters - TRULY :( I have no excuse for it xD
- Lily xxx
Chapter 15: Ray of Sunlight
"Breathe in through your nose, ladies, and out through the mouth! Fee-eel the positive energy fill your lungs as
you inhale, MMmmmMMMMMmmm, and fee-eel the bad go out!"
"I'll tell her where she can fee-eel what kind of power," I muttered, as I sweated like a pig, while huffing and
puffing on my all fours.
Em, on the other hand, looked as gracious as always. It was our first time at the Perfect Birth class - which I actually
agreed to go to, since I was bored out of my wits, and Em got on my nerves - and we were by far the least psycho
If you don't count the fact that the rest of them thought we were lesbian lovers, and were scared we would 'infect'
them, I mean. I have never been left so speechless, when thye wnated to know our relationship. Luckily, Em saved the
situation by saying my 'husband' was a very busy man.
"Fee-eel the marbles under your palms, ladies!"
"I'll tell her where she can shove her marbles," I huffed, as I clutched the marbles.
Apparently, they were supposed to relieve the pain and make you calm - so far, it had no effect.
"Kadhiroli is a well-respected and wise birth instructor!" Em hissed, as she flung her hair away from her face. "She has
been mentioned in several articles - I researched!"
If physically possible, I would roll my eyes.
"I'm in so much pain right now," I said through gritted teeth, just as a pair of flip-flops appeared next to me. "That I
cannot even think of a comeback!"
"Pain, young one?" Kadhiroli - which she said meant 'brilliant like a ray of sunlight', but we could just call her Kadhi -
said, suddenly kneeling right in front of me.
"Well, no, I--"
Before I knew it, she had pressed her palms on my shoulders, and squeezed so hard that I let out a small cry of pain.
Before I could smack her, she had already let go, and was back on her feet. I sat up, rubbing my shoulders, as I glared
at her angrily. "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR!?"
"You're no longer in pain, are you?" she said calmly, her grey eyes sparkling.
"What, by creating more pain!?" I hissed, while Em slowly rubbed my shoulders.
"Shush!" she said, staring admiringly at Kadhi, who circled the small group of equally exhausted and messy looking fat,
sweaty pregnant ladies.
"It is an ancient method to remove pain. Monks used it when they were being tortured in the old days. This is another
option for a natural birth without having to reach out for those dreadful spells and potions the Healers will offer you."
Kadhi was a tiny thing. She wasn't much taller than me, and even skinnier - had I not been pregnant, I mean. Her raven
black hair was tied in a loose plaid down her back. At first, I thought her colourful clothes would give me some kind of
seizure, but it was her annoyingly slow and gentle voice that drove me crazy. I kept leaning forward, almost waiting for
the next words to come out - the introduction alone was very painful.
Kadhi looked around the group of suddenly frightful women, all of them eyeing their husbands in alarm. "Is there
anyone else in pain?"
I felt betrayed. hadn't we all taken an oath at the beginning of the class to 'share the experience' and 'the feelings'?
Didn't that include sharing the pain, too?
So much for chivalry.
"So," Em said, as we mimicked the next position; Em leaning against my back, and stretching my arms back. "Have
you talked to your dad lately?"
I grimaced. "He's not my dad," I said. "Biologically, yes, but he didn't raise me. My real dad is dead."
"I know, I know, I know," Em sighed. She pulled my arms harder, and I grimaced again. "But it's been what? Two
"Three," I said, trying to match Em's strength.
"What are you planning to do?"
"Destroy him," I said, trying to shrug. "I just don't know how."
"I cannot believe you resigned," she muttered. "It was such a nice job you had!"
"Really?" I said, rolling my eyes. "Because I found it really bothersome."
"You could've handed it to me!" Em pointed out.
"Less talking, more zen, girls!" Kadhi's surprisingly stern voice chirped.
I glared in her general direction, before looking away. "She has zen in her arse..."
"Susie!" Em giggled, but her giggling was cut short. "Um, Susie?"
"What?" I said, pulling away. I followed her frozen stare, and saw a familiar person stand in the doorway to the giant
gym. I gaped, just as Em squinted to see better. "Is that--" I began, just as Em gasped.
"Is that your sister!?"
And it bloody well was; Sienna was here.
Em never really liked my sister - probably because their personalities collide too much, and partly because Em has
always been terrifies of Sienna.
And to be honest, now I can see why. The look on Sienna's face, when I got up - with great difficulties and much help
from Em - her eyes zoomed in on my bump, and stayed glued there until I reached her. Her perfectly manicured fingers
clutched a giftbag, while her designer bag was flung over her shoulder. I noticed how tan she was - had she gone on a
vacation with Ali and the girls? - and how weird her blue eyes looked compared to the tan. Her dark hair - as long as
elegant as ever - was pulled in a tight bun. Neither of had said a word since we had sat down at one of the tables in the
cafeteria. If I had known she would come to visit, I would've tried to look more graceful, and probably not arrange our
meeting in a hospital.
"How are the girls and Ali?" I asked suddenly, sipping my water.
"They're fine," Sienna said stiffly, her eyes darting once more to my bump. "Missing their favourite aunt."
"I'm their only aunt," I pointed out.
Sienna smiled. "I've missed you, Susie," she said, her lips suddenly trembling. Awkwardly, I gave her hand a pat over
the table, before pulling away. "What's going on?"
I knew at once what she meant. I gave the bump a gentle pat, before meeting Sienna's eyes. "I'm pregnant!" I said,
trying to sound cheerful. "S-surprise...?" I tried, before Sienna burst into tears.
I looked around in panic, as my own sister sobbed hysterically. People turned around in their seats to stare at us -
some Healers even stopped to give us looks of utter concern. I grabbed Sienna's hand, and dragged her away form the
table, scanning my surroundings for a more private spot.
I decided to take over the storage room.
After shoving Sienna in it, I followed right behind, and closed the door. With a single gesture, I had pulled out my
wand, and muttered 'Lumos', and glared at Sienna. "What's wrong with you!? It's not like I'm going to die!"
But nothing could possibly calm her down; there she stood, wailing like a little kid.'
"Sienna," I pleaded, grabbing her shoulders and giving her a small shake. "Why are you here?"
That made her stop crying. Instead, she peered at me in the little light we had, and gulped. "I was worried... mama...
m-mama has been acting weird ever since you left, things are really different, and Sirius--"
I blinked, and watched Sienna suddenly fall silent. "What about Sirius?" I said slowly, feeling the familiar pang of pain
hit me like a bullet.
"He's..." Sienna said, shaking her head. "I don't know."
"You don't know," I began, letting go of her shoulders. "Or you don't want to tell me?"
Sienna glanced at my bump again, before pursing her lips. "I don't know."
I stared at her for a moment, before bolting through the door. Sienna followed right behind me, as I stormed down the
"Susie, where are you going?" she called, trying to keep up with me.
"I'm going to see Sirius," I announced, as I reached the doors out of St. Mungo's.
"NO! WAIT!" Sienna said, and reached out to grab my hand.
I shoved her hand away, just as Em wheeled out, holding a giant teddybear. I glanced at the bear over Sienna's
shoulder, and noticed the word 'MOM' printed on the bear's belly. I turned my gaze back to Sienna, and stared her
"Give me one reason not to," I said through gritted teeth.
When she gave none, I turned around, ready to Disapparate.
"NO! DON'T!" Sienna shrieked, and grabbed me at the last minute.
I looked over my shoulder just in time to see Em throw aside the teddybear, and grab a hold of Sienna's bag.
And then the three of us Apparated to London...
"YOU FOOLISH GIRL!"
I looked up from the ground, as I slowly got up. Em was quickly beside me, checking if I was hurt. She helped me up
on my feet, never letting go of me.
"Are you hurt?" she asked, trying to get my attention.
"What did you expect me to do, huh!?" I shot at Sienna, as she brushed herself off. "Just go on with my perfectly fine
life as before? What's - wrong - with - Sirius!?"
I felt Em's grip loosen, as she stared at me in shock. "That's why you did that?" she whispered.
"Do you understand how reckless that was!?" Sienna boomed, suddenly right in my face. "Apparating such a long
distance in your current state is not only dangerous for you, but for your unborn child as well! Ask any Healer - you
know it's true, Susie! I know you take risks, but I never thought you'd go this far!"
"DO NOT TELL ME WHAT I'M LIKE, SIENNA!" I roared back at her, until she backed out of my face. I started
walking down the familiar alley, looking curiously around. It hadn't changed at all, I noticed. As I reached the main
street, I was aware of the pair following me quietly. I looked around, feeling a smile tug at the corners of my lips.
I was home.
I took a step in the sunlight that peeked through the clouds, and to my great surprise, saw another familiar person just
leave a shop across the street.
It was him, right there, across the street; Sirius Black.
No doubt about it - it really was Sirius Black. His hair was a little longer than I remembered. He had the same scarf I
had seen him wear that one winter - I hadn't seen that scarf since then. He hadn't shaved - I could tell, even if I stood
across the street. I took an eager step forward, but stopped dead in my tracks, as a beautiful woman followed after
him from the shop, and threw her arm casually around his shoulders. I watched them in silence, as they walked down
the street, together.
"He's..." I whispered, feeling tears sting my eyes. A car honked loudly, and I took a step back. Sirius automatically
turned around to look towards the sound, and for a short second, our eyes met. I blinked, and when I looked towards
him again, he had already looked elsewhere. "He's... happy..."
I knew how childish and unfair my comment was - of course I had wished him to be happy, but I hadn't expected him
to get over me so fast. The way I had left him had been wrong and unfair - but if he had really loved me, would he have
been able to get over me so fast?
And if I really wished for his happiness, why did it still hurt me so fucking much to see him with another woman?
"Come on, hun," Em whispered, leading me away from the street. "Let's... let's go home."
I nodded once, letting her lead me away.
He was over me.
A/N: I wish I could update mnore often, I really do :( Anyway, I hope the small guest-appearance of Sirius made someone happy, even if it was ridiculously minor! :P
- Lily xxx
Chapter 16: Puppy Love
I have never felt this humiliated. Well, I probably have, but this is a new personal low for me.
I should just hide under a rock and die.
These were the thoughts that ran through my mind, as I walked down the familiar corridor. Familiar faces greeted me, familiar, friendly smiles - until they saw the bump, and new questions obviously popped up. I knew they were too polite to ask directly, but still - their questions were visible on their faces. I was too nervous to meet their curious gazes - or too scared to. Too scared to do so, or I would lose my focus, which was on the door ahead of me.
And too soon did I reach that door.
Somehow, I managed to knock on the door, though. I waited for a moment, before a voice from inside told me to enter. With another deep breath, I entered, unwilliung to look back anymore.
What good would it do, anyway?
The room was just like it was before. Clean and freaky. I took a step closer, until I stood in the middle of the room, facing the last person I thought I would ever feel the need to see.
"Susan," Dr Shaphiro said, getting up from her chair. She looked more surprised than shocked to see me in her office. "What's--"
"Dr Shaphiro," I said slowly, closing the door behind me. "I think... I think I am crazy," I muttered, shaking my head. "Or going crazy. And I don't want to..."
"Dear girl," she said, unfolding her arms. "Please, take a seat, I'll just..." she said, her voice fading away, as she got a better look at my face - and the bump, mind you. "Are you alright, dear?"
The word 'yes' was already ready to be said. For a moment, I just stared at her for the longest time. Then, very slowly, I sat down in the vacant chair, my shoulders slumped. I slowly looked up at her surprisingly worried face, and shook my head.
"No, I don't think I am..."
"This is not normal."
"When has she ever reacted like a normal person?" Em whispered, as she eyed me carefully with Theo - keeping a safe distance, of course.
"That was a rhetorical question, twat!" she snapped, rolling her eyes, just as I reached for another tissue. "What was it this time?"
I let out another sob, hugging the pillow closer. "T-the dog looked so happee-eee!" I wailed, pointing at the telly.
"You bawled your eyes out because of a dog food commercial!?" Theo boomed.
"THE DOG HAD BAD TEETH BUT GOT ALL BETTER BECAUSE OF A MUGGLE INVENTION!"
"I think we should contact Dr Shaphiro," Theo muttered.
"Last time we did that," Em pointed out, shaking her head. "She said it's completely normal at this stage of the pregnancy."
"So you're saying we should just let this go on for another month!?"
"Two," Em corrected. "Two more months, Theo."
As I began to calm down a bit, slowly getting over my sudden mood swing, I started to feel embarrassed. "I don't know what's wrong with me," I said helplessly.
"It's normal," Em said, before Theo could cut in. "Mood swings are normal at this point."
"Like a person who is bipolar," Theo added. "That's normal, too."
Theo was right, though. My mood swings only got more dramatic and extreme by each week. Last week, I had started crying at the park when I saw happy families spend time together. Earlier this week, I started crying at the diaper section, because the babies looked so adorable there.
And now puppies made me have an emotional meltdown.
I still hadn't confronted Mr R, or even planned a revenge. Yes, I hated him. Yes, I found the mere sight of him repulsive. But he had also kind of saved my life - kind of! - and even I had a problem with my conscience. Dr Shaphiro - who I referred to as Dr S - assured me this was normal. She didn't say much, actually. Mostly, she just listened. The few things she did say were stuff like 'Hello, sit down' and 'See you next week'.
And the usual, 'How do you feel about that?' which often had me wailing like a pathetic little kid.
I, on the other hand, had never thought I would talk so much. Mostly, it was just pointless rambling. I blamed the pregnancy, of course. I would never ever in my right mind blurt out stuff to a complete stranger.
But then again, had I not had sex with a complete stranger on a kitchen counter, too?
The due date was set in stone; at the end of August. Theo had me go see Midwife Flow for the smallest thing. I stayed up an entire night because I felt so bloated - yes, I actually shared this piece of information with him - and he had me go see Flow at once. The second time was when I felt a sudden jolt somewhere near my bladder - and I seriously thought I peed a little - and that freaked even me out. Being in my seventh month of pregnancy made me one hell of a time bomb to deal with; not only did I waddle - much to my displeasure! - I also had to deal with lots of strange emotions I had never even known existed in my body or mind.
But I couldn't avoid facts forever. As much as I wanted to, though. Mr R seemed to be in the papers all the time. Apparently, he was splitting up with that Felicia-woman, and for some odd reason she demanded half of his fortune - even if they weren't married. Everyday I opened the Daily Prophet, there was a new picture of them both, and big, screaming headlines like 'MINISTER OF MAGIC SAYS "NO COMMENTS" TO THE SECRET AFFAIR-ACCUSATION' or 'MINISTER OF MAGIC'S SECRET LOVE LIFE EXPOSED!'.
I didn't feel sorry for him.
I hadn't seen Sienna since her last visit. She had promised not to mention a word about my current state - I simply said I didn't want to be a part of the family anymore, that I was starting a new life on my own. She, of course, met Em and Theo, and the Sirius-incident didn't come up anymore after that.
I wonder why...
"I made you some tea," Em murmured, as she placed the cup in front of me.
I stared at it blankly, not hearing a word she said.
"He's the father, isn't he?" Sienna shot, staring at me with her piercing blue eyes. "Isn't he, Suze?"
I stared back at her across the table, unable to speak a word.
"I--" Em began, but was interrupted, as Theo stormed in through the door.
"BIG NEWS!" he announced, slamming the Daily Prophet on the table.
"We have got to start locking that door!" Em growled, trying to shove Theo aside.
"The min--" Theo began, until he noticed Sienna, who stared him as if he was an insect that should be squashed. "Who are you?" he demanded.
"I'm Sienna," she said stiffly, raising her brows. "Susie's sister. And you are...?"
"Theo," he said, shaking her hand cheerfully. "I haven't heard Susie mention you."
"I'm not surprised," Sienna admitted, as I blinked out of my daze. "Who exactly are you?"
A short silence stretched between us, as Sienna eyed me and then Theo again. "I'm--" Theo began, before I jumped in to save the situation.
Or to save myself, actually.
"He's the father," I blurted out, grabbing Theo's hand. "He is."
Another silence followed, as Sienna simply stared at me. Her eyes slowly lowered to my bump, and I saw her make a quick count in her head.
"I'm four months along," I said helpfully.
Another look of confusion appeared on her delicate face, as she put the pieces together. "But... you..."
"We hooked up on my first night here," I said, as Theo simply gaped at me.
Em, on the other hand, looked mortified - she looked like a person who just witnessed a train crash happen, unable to stop it.
"You... you..." Sienna stammered.
"It was..." Theo stammered, swallowing. "Love at first sight. Really. It was."
I closed my eyes, silently praying that Theo would be a better actor.
Fortunately, Sienna was too busy looking at Em, as if it was all her fault. "Is this true?" she demanded.
Em stared at her, horrified by the pressure put on her. "Y-yes," she whispered, nodding. "It was... puppy love."
I glared at her, and she shrugged helplessly. "Yes," Theo said, suddenly pulling me on my feet. I held my breath, as he threw his arm around my shoulders, giving me a squeeze. "It really was... puppy love."
I felt myself vomit a little in my mouth.
Sienna stared at us, before she, too, stood up. She reached for her bag, and bit her lip. "I... I..."
"I really wish you wouldn't mention this... this..." I said, glancing at Theo, who looked oblivious. "Any of this at home," I finally said.
Sienna's eyes moved from me to Theo, and then back to me again. "Of course," she said shortly, nodding. "I understand."
But I knew she didn't understand - she was, afterall, Sienna...
End of Flashback
Of course, we had to explain it all to Theo later - as soon as Sienna had left, which was pretty much immediatly after the awkward incident. I don't even know if she was more upset that I had got myself knocked up by someone I had known for a second, or the fact that it was someone else than Sirius.
Either way, she didn't exactly feel obliged to hang around. But she didn promise to keep it a secret - and for that, I was thankful to her.
They've told me pregnancy can make you do silly things - impulsive things.
No one said that would include impulsive shopping, though.
"Come on," Theo pleaded, as he hurried after me with all the bags. "You cannot be serious!"
"I am," I said, and eyed the precious little thing. "Isn't he cute!?"
Theo followed my gaze, and shook his head. "No."
"Theo, please!" I pleaded, tugging his arm like a little kid. "Please?"
He looked at me once, before groaning. "No," he said more faintly, and I knew I had already won.
Who was he to deny me anything that would make me happy?
"We could name him Goose!" I said excitedly, reaching for the fluffy little creature.
"Or we could leave him unnamed, and return him once you've come to your senses," Theo suggested, as we made our way to the front of the shop.
"The baby would have someone to play with," I fantasized.
"Or the baby would be eaten by the thing," Theo put in. "Just... no."
"Goose won't eat the baby," I said putting the dog on the counter. "Will you, Goose, huh?"
The puppy looked at me with his big, hazel eyes, and whimpered. Theo leaned closer, and stared the dog in the eyes. Soon enough, he let out a sigh, and shook his head. "Susie Q," he said slowly, reaching for his wallet. "I don't know how you do it, but you're going to be the end of me."
"I know!" I said cheerfully, scratching the dog behind his ear.
A dog was exactly what I needed.
A/N: HA! I'm on a roll, baby! >:]
- Lily xxx
Chapter 17: What Just Happened?
Okay, so I might've been wrong about the dog.
First of all, he practically chewed the entire apartment into pieces. The few items he couldn't chew, he peed on, or gnawed on, or just tore apart.
I had realized this after one month of having him around.
Second of all, he was such a ball of energy, that even if we were three persons to take care of him, it still wasn't enough. He wanted to play around - constantly - and at the most inconvenient times, like when I was with my head deep down in the toilet, throwing up my insides.
Whoever said morning sickness was just happening in the morning clearly was a liar. My 'morning' sickness was around the clock, all the time, through the entire pregnancy.
And so far, it made no signs of ever stopping.
So one specific evening, I found myself sprawled on the floor, together with the golden retriever Goose, and enjoying myself yet another evening in the bathroom. Both Em and Theo were tied at work - how unfortunate! - but had made me promise to owl them the very moment I needed something. I, of course, didn't think I would ever be so weak to do so, anyway.
The great thing about dogs was the fact that they seemed to know exactly where you hurt - like on call, Goose pressed his warm body against my bump, and stayed very still, his breathing soothing me. I stared at the bathroom wall, feeling the baby slowly calm down with the kicking, and the nauseous feeling disappear. Instead, I concentrated on scratching Goose's ear - he liked that.
"You know what, Goose?" I murmured, and Goose lift his head slightly. "I think we could need a walk, huh?"
And with that, I carefully stood up, and headed out in the warm July weather.
I didn't get back to the apartment until it was almost dark outside. I let Goose free at the door, and he immediatly ran to my bedroom, probably attacking one of the toys Em had bought for the baby. With great effort, I rmeoved my shoes, and padded on towards the living room. I knew no one was home, since usually, Em and/or Theo would attack me the moment I arrived.
Instead, the apartment was very quiet.
I had almost lowered myself on the sofa, when a sudden thud from the bathroom startled me. Along with pregnancy, I'd come to notice, came also the paranoia. So me being pregnant and paranoid, I grabbed my wand and slowly made ym way towards the bathroom.
What should I do if I was met eye to eye with a killer?
What if they would throw a spell at me, and the baby would get hurt?
Would the Cruciatus Curse hurt the baby badly?
"Get a grip, Susie," I told myself, as I pushed the door open.
But it's wasn't a killer I saw. Instead, it was something far more shocking; Theo had another guy nailed against the wall, and for a second, I thought they were fighting. Instead, they were kissing.
I was speechless.
Both of them jumped ten feet in the air - atleast - as they turned to stare at me in shock. My eyes were probably as wide as saucers, as I stared at them. Slowly, the other guy - a blond, dark-eyed guy - walked out, giving me a shameful look as he passed me. I stared after him for a long moment, before turning back to Theo. Theo was slumped against the wall, looking miserable. I watched him slowly slide down against the wall, until his tall being was slumped on the floor.
I bit my lip, taking a careful step closer. I had lost all feeling in my right hand - I had clutched the wand so hard that my hand had gone numb - and I dropped my wand on the floor. The sound of the wand hitting the floor echoed in the quiet apartment, as I slowly went closer. With great effort - which included some huffing, puffing and random cursing - I finally made it on the floor next to Theo.
"Theo," I said gently, touching his shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Theo looked up from the floor, and met my eyes. "Aren't you disgusted? Don't you think I'm a hideous thing to be alive? To be like this?"
I stared at him, blinking. "Why would I think like that?"
Theo sneered, before looking away. "Everyone thinks people like me shouldn't exist."
"People... like you?" I repeated, frowning. "I'm sorry, Theo, but you're not that special."
Theo glanced at me, before a small smile appeared on his lips. "You're really one of a kind, Susie Q..."
"So you like other guys!" I exclaimed, shaking my head. "Big deal! It's not a bad thing, you know. Maybe people will judge you, avoid you - but atleast you're true to yourself, and your feelings. That alone is pretty brave, Theo."
Theo eyed me, before smiling. "You're going to be a great mom, you know."
I wrinkled my nose, and shrugged. "You think?"
"Yeah," he said. "We're really society's weak ones, huh? A gay and a single-mother?"
"We're just ourselves, because everyone else is taken, you know," I muttered. "Is this why you broke up with Em?"
Theo stayed quiet, as I watched his face closely. "No," he finally said. "I mean... for a long time, I've been so... so lost. I don't know anymore. I mean, I love Em, I've always loved her, and always will - she's an amazing girl. I'm jsut so confused, and I don't know my own feelings anymore," he whispered, burying his face in his hands.
"So..." I began, slowly looking towards the door through which the other guy had gone only moments ago. "Who was he?"
"Max," Theo muttered, shaking his head. "He works at the bar, and..."
"Fooling around with your staff, that's very unique of you!" I teased.
"It's not funny, Susie!"
"It's a little funny," I sighed. "We're a real sight, aren't we?"
"The freaks," Theo agreed. "Maybe we should just get married, huh?"
"Aren't we, then?" I asked, raising my eyebrows. "Didn't you promise to take care of me, huh?"
"Who do you think pays for your extravagant needs?" Theo shot back, rolling his eyes. "Susie, thank you," he sighed, patting my knee. "For listening," he said, as I gave him a quizzical look.
"Anytime," I said, watching him go. "Can I ask you one thing, though?" Theo looked back in, his face worried. I bit my lip, holding back a grin. "Could you help me up?"
He laughed, and helped me up. Before he could walk away, though, I stood up on my toes, and kissed him. I knew he was shocked, as his entire body froze. I pulled away, and searched his face closely. He just gaped at me, trying to find the words. I grinned, and shook my head.
"Nope, no fireworks!" I announced, walking to my room.
"I FEEL SO USED, YOU KNOW!" he called after me.
"My pleasure, hubby," I laughed.
That night, I woke up with a jolt. I sat up, and rubbed my bump. Quietly, I made my way to the kitchen to get a glass of water. It wasn't the first time the baby had me up in the middle of the night. Usually, it went over after a glass of water - or some chicken wings.
So after I had gone through half of the fridge, I padded back towards my room. I hadn't even reached my bed, before I already felt my stomach growl. Sighing, I went to the bathroom, preparing myself,
But nothing could've prepared me for what I found in the bathroom; the bathtub with blood.
And in the bathtub was a lifeless form of Theo.
A/N: Sorry for this one being a short one again... :(
- Lily xxx
Chapter 18: The Good, The Bad & Susie Q
He looked so peaceful. It was kind of odd - and creepy! - to stare at someone sleeping, especially if that someone had only hours ago tried to off himself. I leaned closer, and found myself awed and jealous; Theo's eyelashes were gorgeous.
As soon as I realized my own thoughts, I leaned away, grimacing; this baby was making my thoughts awfully yuckie!
They said Theo hadn't lost much blood. I had found him right on time, they said. The memory of Theo in the bathtub filled with blood filled my mind, anyway.
I blinked, as I watched Theo slowly stir, before finally opening his dark eyes fully.
"Hi there," I said, crossing my arms. "You look like shit."
Theo stared at me, a wry smile slowly growing on his face. "That's not exactly the first thing a guy who tried to off himself wants to hear, you know..."
I silently handed him the cup of water, waiting until he had emptied the cup entirely. "Oh really?" I said, putting the cup away. "Well, then the next thing I'm about to say will probably be right up there, too... Theo - I want a divorce."
A tired smile appeared on his face, as he turned to stare at the ceiling. "Can't really imagine why."
"Why did you do that?" I asked him quietly.
"I don't know," he said, shrugging.
"You just thought it seemed like a good idea at the time, huh?" I demanded, feeling tears sting my eyes. "Do you have any idea what you've done!?"
Theo watched me with his eyes wide, and reached for my hand. I pulled away, shaking my head. "You don't get my pity, Theo," I said, sniffling. "Just because you think your life sucks, or that you'll never be happy, or that wou're afraid of people judging you - any of those excuses won't be good enough to do what you did, okay? What about us? What about Em? Huh!? Do you think we would just go on with our lives as before?"
"You're an idiot," I whispered, getting up. "I need to pee," I muttered, stomping out. I met Em as I left the room; she stood frozen, holding a cup of steaming coffee, fresh tears streaming down her face. I embraced her briefly, letting her cry against my shoulder for a moment. When she had pulled herself together, I gestured for her to go in. I waited until the door had closed behind her, before bursting into tears.
As much as I tried to brush them away, they wouldn't stop. I was aware of people giving me worried looks as they walked by me; a pregnant woman crying on the floor was probably not the most comforting sight.
The fact that I let out a ridiculous wail everytime someone tried to talk to me, ask me what was wrong, just scared everyone even more.
At last, when I had no more tears left, I pulled myself up from the floor, and slowly walked down the corridor. It wasn't until I passed a familiar person, that made me freeze.
I swivelled around, and found myself face to face with Felicia.
"Miss Quency!" she said, quickly glancing at my bump. A small grin appeared on her face, and I felt suddenly the need to run away and hide from her. "You look positively bloated!"
'Positively bloated'? Who the fuck did she think she was, Pregnancy Police - ready to insult you 24/7!?
"Thanks," I said shortly, giving her the same look. "You look positively dumped."
That made her lose all colour from her face.
"I heard it was a nasty break-up," I went on, ruthless as ever. "Did he find out what a complete cow you are?"
"How dare you--"
"Because I no longer work here, that's how I dare," I cut her off, narrowing my eyes. "And I have something you'll never get; my youth."
One thing I had learned from those blasted Perfect Birth classes; every woman wanted children at some point. One of the other women there, Theresa Martinez, was in her later days and pregnant. She said that getting pregnant after 35 was next to impossible. Possible, but difficult - and she was already closing on 38! By some miracle, she had got pregnant, and said it was her one and only chance.
So I knew Felicia would forever be an old hag with no children - and I quite liked the idea of getting ahead of her in so many things.
"I hope you live a long, lonely life," I siad with a smile. "Because you sure as hell will spend it like that for a long, long time."
With that, I wlaked away.
Burn in hell, bitch.
Theo, fortunately, got out of the hospital quickly - they only kept him there for a few days. Our relationship, however, was tense. I didn't greet him, and he seemed to be ashamed around me. Instead, Em seeemed to work as the communicater between us.
"Em," I said, as I flipped to another page in my magazine. "Could you pass the milk?"
Em looked up form her work, and frowned. "Theo is closer," she muttered.
"But I'm asking you," I said, staring her down.
"Childish," Theo grunted, handing me the milk.
"I asked Em," I replied shortly, ignoring him.
"You don't get to be mad at me, Susie!" Theo called out, shakinmg his head. "You're supposed to be supportive, and--"
"I'm sorry, what?" I said, looking up. "You want me to coddle you, is that it? You want me to pity you, to feel sorry for you? Is that it? I'm sorry, but I can't do that. I can't feel sorry for someone who wants to give up, I can't support that kind of thinking. I just can't."
"Susie!" Em scolded, looking mortified.
"And you should stop walking on eggshells, Em," I said, standing up. "Ever since he tried to kill himself, and you found out that he's gay," I started, as Em winced. "You've been watching your every word, your every move - everything! Do you want to tip-toe around for the rest of your life in fear of him doing it again once things get rough, huh? If yes, then go right the fuck ahead!"
I stomped out, grabbing my coat and Goose on my way out.
"Where are you going, Susie!?" Em called.
"TO OFF MYSELF!" I screamed, slamming the door after me.
Except that I had nowhere to go. I knew my behaviour was childish, I kind of saw Theo's point - but I thought he was being a pompous idiot.
Aimlessly, I found myself going up to the roof. The air there was chilly, even if it was July. I sat down on the cool roof, and Goose pressed himself next to me, the warmth of his body warming me up. Ten minutes has passed, when I suddenly heard footsteps behind me.
"You're right," I heard Theo say, as he sat down next to me. He scratched Goose's head, and Goose moved next to him instead. "I'm a coward."
"I didn't say that!" I said, crossing my arms - which turned out to be surprisingly difficult.
"I know," he sighed. "But I'm still a coward."
"Well, yes," I admitted after a moment.
"I don't know how you're so strong," he said quietly, as we watched the city before us. "I don't... you're so fragile, really, but you still manage to stay strong, no matter what bullshit life throws at you. You battle every obstacle so easily..."
"It's not... easy," I said with a shrug. "I... manage."
"Yet, you don't even think about jumping off the roof," Theo said.
"Or slicing my wrists in a bathtub," I couldn't help but say. "Sorry," I muttered, glancing at him - but Theo was smiling.
"Touché," he said. "How do you do it?"
"I've thought about it, actually," I said, unfolding my arms slowly. "Not a lot, of course, but from time to time... I've thought about it," I said meeting his eyes. "Sometimes, it felt like the easiest way out. Lots of people would have it easier that way, you know... but then... then I realized something."
"What? What did you realize?" Theo wanted to know.
I turned to look at the city again, and I smiled. "I realized," I said slowly, nodding. "That living is so much cooler. You get hurt, you get bruised - you want to give up. But when you think about that," I said, shrugging. "You just kind of realize that if you give up - and leave this world behind - you might never get to see the ones you really love."
A comfortable silence stretched between us, as we just sat there, enjoying the evening.
"You just need to find someone to live for," I whispered.
"And you've found someone," Theo finished.
I smiled at him. "Yeah," I said, patting my bump. "This right here."
"And Sirius," he said, looking right into my eyes. "Right?"
"Right," I said after a moment.
"Do you think you'll meet him again?"
"Maybe," I said, shrugging again. "I mean, I wish I could meet him again... someday. If I were to meet him a few years from now, I wish we could btoh be happy - I really wish that..."
"Even if that person found happiness with someone else?" Theo murmured, as he looked away.
"Theo," I sighed deeply. "I think that's what they call 'love', my friend."
And I must say that it was one of my best lines, ladies and gentlemen.
A/N: I'm quite happy with this one. I've decided to post up to 20 chapters before I take a small break - which includes going to a "rock concert" in another country xD - so I really hope these chapters will satisfy you all :)
- Lily xxx
Chapter 19: Time
A week later, and things were already back to what they were like before everything. Em and Theo bickered about everything, as always, usually about my dinner, which I found slightly offensive.
As if my meals were somewhat big issues in this household.
I only got a few hours to myself. Most of the time, one of them followed me like a shark follows blood. I don't know how they did it, but somehow, they got their work schedules figured out so that I was never home alone. And I knew why; they were both worried that I would one day - any day at all! - just explode, and do something stupid I would later on regret.
Something that involved my biological dad, and ruining his life.
Some of their suspicions had rosen when I had suddenly decided to stop seeing Dr Shaphiro. They thought it was some kind of preparation for something bigger.
I felt like a criminal, always being watched and followed.
I knew all this because I had overheard them talking about it one night in the kitchen.
Not that I was on a completely innocent mission, either; I was on a search for spicy chicken wings.
So it was really odd when one day, both of them were at work at the same time. I knew this was my only chance to do something. Wihtout giving it a second thought, I was already on my way.
Nicholas Rousseau would be destroyed for good.
I sat face to face with Mr R, a smirk on my face. Even if I had seen his face in the papers many times during the past months, it still shocked me to see him for real; he looked so tired, so stressed - so old. His eyes, I noticed, flickered from my face to my bump, and back to my face. I tilted my head to the side, when he opened his mouth, but was unable to get out a sound.
"A-are you... are you w-well?" he finally managed to get out, leaning forward in his seat.
"I'm fine," I said simply, patting my bump. "Your grandchild is fine, too."
He seemed startled at my words, a frown on his face. "Susan, whatever you plan to--"
"Oh, I have such great plans, too!" I announced, folding my arms. "I plan to go public with this, you know. I'm going to tell everyone; the Daily Prophet, the wizarding community - everyone will know. That you fathered an illegitimate child with your best friend's wife - and what else? Oh riiiiiiight - that same bastard child managed to get knocked-up, too!"
"Susan, you will only harm yourself," he said calmly, staring at me. "Yes, it will probably ruin my entire career, but that's nothing compared to how you will be treated."
"I've heard that before," I said with a bored voice. "But I made a promise to myself - that I would ruin you... dad."
He jumped at the last word, blinking rapidly. He looked strangely touched, which disgusted me. "When are you due?" he simply asked.
"One more month to go," I said, getting up. "Don't get me wrong - I'm not here to give you an update on my pregnancy. I'm just here to let you know that you will be destroyed... soon."
As soon as I had 'waddled' my way out, Mr R had already followed me. He grabbed me by my elbow, trying to turn me around to face him. I pulled myself free, and glared at him.
"Are you really willing to create a scene?" I hissed, aware of the curious looks we got.
"I don't care anymore," he told me, shaking his head. "Since you're going to ruin my career, anyway, right?"
I narrowed my eyes, as I continued towards the elevator. Goose, who I had left there, wagged his tail at the sight of me. I quickly untied him from the pole, and patted his head.
"Susan, we need to talk!" Mr R said, as Goose turned to growl at him.
"I've already said everything I could possibly want to say to you, sir," I said politely, as I entered the elevator. He stepped inside with me and Goose, and I watched as the elevator doors closed in front of our eyes.
I hadn't exactly thought he would follow me - I hadn't thought of being alone with him in the elevator, where he could possibly kill me, or whatever. I was suddenly nervous, as I moved to the other side to stand.
Well, atleast I had Goose to protect me, I found myself thinking.
"Theo knows where I went," I warned him, as his hand went to his pocket. "He will come after me if I disappear!"
Mr R gave me a confused look, as he pulled out a letter instead of a wand. He handed the crumpled letter to me, and I took it reluctantly. I opened it, and immediatly recognized the handwriting - mama's handwriting.
you cannot show up like that anymore. Do you even know what kind of situation you could've caused? Susan has a loving family, a father who is perfect for her, and loves her like his own. What happened between us was a mistake - a mistake that I will regret my entire life, and will have a reminder of for eternity. I love my daughter, I do, but she will always remind me of the mistake I made six years ago. I understand my husband has kept you posted all these years of Susan's well-being. I want you to stop replying, asking how Susan is, and requesting for more pictures. So far, I have been able to interrupt the owls coming from you - but you must stop. I do not want Susan's chances of leading a perfectly normal life because of your selfish desires. What do you think people would think if they found out? If this gets out, not only is your career doomed, but also Susan's chances of a great life.
I ask you to ask yourself, Nicholas - do you want to ruin your daughter's life?
Please, leave her alone.
I stared at the letter, as a surprising sniffle escaped from me. I automatically raised my hand to my eye, and was shocked to feel the hot tears streaming down. Why was I crying? Because I had found out what a monster my own mother was? Or that my real father had actually tried to keep in touch with me?
"Susan..." Mr R's distressed voice suddenly cut through my thoughts, and I tried to see clearly through the tears.
"I... I..." I sobbed, shaking my head. "I can't do t-this..."
"No, Susan, look!" he said, grabbing my arm, and staring in shock at the floor.
I slowly looked down, and blinked. A pool of water was formed at my feet, and I stared at it, totally mesmerized.
"I think..." I began, surprisingly calmly. "I think my... my... water just broke."
As soon as I had got the words out of my mouth, the excruciating pain hit me, almsot knocking me off ym feet. I let out a scream of pain, as I grabbed my stomach. It was like someone inside me had just shoved against my stomach, and giving me the pain of all my life's period cramps at once. The pain alone made my knees weak, as I reached out for support. Mr R, to my great displeasure, was by my side at once. My vision of sight was suddenly blurred by the pain, and all I could hear was Goose barking, and someone screaming.
It took a moment to realize I was the one screaming.
"GET AWAY FROM ME!" I screeched through clenched teeth, as I tried to pull myself away from him.
"We need to get you to the hospital!" he yelled back, and I noticed fear in his eyes. "Five more floors to go, then we'll Apparate..."
I grabbed his hand in agony, and let out another loud scream. "NO - APPARATING!" I roared, slumping against the wall as I tried to take 'calming breaths'. "It will... will... h-hurt the... b-baby...!" I gasped, my eyes closed.
"Okay, okay, okay," he said, joining me with the whole 'calming breaths' part. "We'll just need to make it a few more minutes, and we'll find someone who can help you, and--"
"Breathe, dad, breathe..." I groaned through my own breaths. "OWWWWW, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, OWWWWW!!!!!" I wailed, squeezing his hand with all my might as the pains returned, more intense.
"It can't get worse than this," he told me calmly, and I glared at him through my pain. "I'm trying to make you see the brighter side of this hell of a situation!" he said defensively, as he noticed my raged expression. "It seriously can't get any worse, can it?"
Just then, the elevator let out a groan in protest, before the whirring of machines slowed down, and finally stopped.
Everything went quiet - apart from Goose's barking - as the two of us stared in horror at floors left to go; the elevator had officially stopped.
"I think it just got a little bit worse," I whispered, before screaming in pain again.
A/N: I feel a bit bad for making Susie go through all this... I really do. I hope she'll have a happy ending, though - wait a minute, I'm the author!! xD
- Lily xxx
Chapter 20: Imagine
It was all so odd. I was so cold - freezing - but at the same time sweating. I tried to get a grip of myself, but my hands were trembling so much that it made it difficult to even concentrate on anything longer than for one second. The pains came and went, slowly becoming more and more unbearable to deal with. You'd think that'd be impossible, but I had grown used to it by now. And everytime another contraction hit me, I automatically clenched my teeth, huffing and puffing, as I squeezed Mr R's hand numb.
But he never said a word of it.
Goose, on the other hand, was pacing restlessly beside me, whimpering like a hurt animal. Apparently, all my screaming, huffing and puffing made him even more restless.
"I-is it getting painful?"
I glared at him from under my dark hair, panting. "No, this is a real walk in the bloody park," I growled, slumping against the elevator wall.
He slowly freed himself from my grip, rubbing his hand carefully. His eyes were locked on me, as I sat on the floor, trembling. "I'm so sorry you're in this situation - I never wanted any of this to happen to you..."
I stared at him, slightly offended. "I have no regrets," I grunted, trying to sit up straight. "I don't regret having this baby, I don't--"
"I didn't mean that," he cut off sharply. "I meant... I never wanted you to experience such pain."
I continued to stare at him, alreayd ready with a witty comeback. I never got to say it though, as a new kind of pain fille dmy entire body. It was like a cramp, a reflex, and I felt my entire body grow rigid of pain. I grabbed Mr R's hand - even if I hated myself for doing so - and whimpered through gritted teeth.
"Don't think about this situation," he said helpfully, his voice oddly calm. "Think about... I don't know, think about... Susan, where do you want to be?"
"I can't do this, I can't do this," I cried, tears of pain running down my face. "I'm s-so scared...!"
"Your mind can take you anywhere, anywhere you wish to be," Mr R told me, trying to catch my gaze. "Now, where do you want to be?"
I met his piercing gaze, slowly calming down, as I gasped for air. "On t-the beach," I breathed, blinking. "On the beach with Sirius."
"Good, good," he said, giving my hand a gentle squeeze. "You're doing excellent, sweetheart..." he told me, nodding. "You're on the beach with Sirius, and...? And what else, Susan?"
I swallowed, smiling faintly, as I took another deep breath. "We're walking, just the t-two of us... a-and... and we're h-happy. So very happy... we're together, just w-walking..."
Before I knew it, I was crying my heart out on the floor.
"There, there," Mr R murmured, patting my shoulder. "You're doing so well, sweetheart..."
"I miss him so much," I sobbed, trying to brush my tears away. "I don't want to do this alone! HE SHOULD BE HERE WITH ME!"
"You can tell him that later," he said.
"N-no... no, I can't..." I said, feeling dizzy. "I... I don't f-feel too... good..."
My eyes felt extremely heavy, and suddenly, Mr R's voice was very far away, so deep and soothing.
"SUSAN!" I heard him call, his voice slowly disappearing. "DON'T DO THIS! YOU HAVE TO STAY WITH ME!"
Next time I opened my eyes, it felt like someone had given me an electric shock. This time, I was eye to eye with Em, who jogged beside me.
"Em?" I gasped, trying to get up.
"STAY STILL, WE ARE SOON THERE!" someone called, and I looked around to see two Healers wheel me down a corridor.
"W-where am I?"
"St. Mungo's," Em said, her face twisted with worry. "You're going to give birth now, Suze!"
I stared at her, as if she was a complete idiot. Asd if I didn't know that already?
"Where is h-he?" I looked around in panic. "Where is he!?"
"Who, Theo?" Em said, as we dashed into a delivery room.
"DAD! WHERE IS MY DAD!? I WANT MY DAD, EM!" I roared, as the Healers wrestled me back down.
"I'll get him at once!" Em said, hurrying out.
Sweeping in at the same time as Em ran out came Flow. Right behind her, I noticed, came Kadhi, who looked delighted.
I thought she'd got the hint when I didn't show up for her Perfect Birth class anymore. What the heck was that blasted cow doing here!?
"Fill me in," Flow said calmly, as she reached my side. "Hi, sweetie," she said, giving my hand a squeeze.
I never got to greet her back, before I already wailed in pain.
"Water broke an hour and a half ago, she's dialated 10cm, she passed out of the pain in the elevator earlier, but we got her stabilized now," one of the Healers said. "She's not due yet, though, what should we do?"
"This baby is coming out, ready or not," Flow said firmly. "We just have to to be ready."
"Fee-eel the positive energy enter, fee-eel the negative energy leave, fee-eel the--"
I glared at her, deeply enraged, just as Mr R stormed in, followed by Theo and Em. "Get - the - fuck - out - or - I - will - stuff - you - with - negative - energy!" I growled through my teeth.
"I think you should leave," Flow simply said, and Kadhi escaped the room as fast as humanly possible.
"Okay, who are all these people?" Flow demanded, eyeing the full room. "I have to ask anyone who doesn't need to be here to leave - NOW!"
Wow, she looks pretty cross.
An uproar fills the room, all three of my supporters - more or less - start arguing who has the biggest right to be there.
"I'M THE FATHER!" Theo and Mr R call out, and everyone looks at them. Flow raises her brows, as she realizes who Mr R is. "Well, not that child, obviously," he quickly corrects, vaguely gesturing in the direction where Flow is sitting. "But--"
"ENOUGH!" I roar, my face probably as red as Flow's nails. "YOU!" I say, pointing at Mr R. "STAND THERE AND SHUT UP - DO NOT TALK, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT TALKING UNLESS I SAY OTHERWISE!" I scream at him, gesturing him to stand against the wall. "AND YOU TWO!" I go on, turning my furious glare at Theo and Em.
"Y-yes?" Em said, her voice breaking.
Before I could even utter another word, a new kind of pain hits me, and Flow spreads my legs. Both Em and Theo grab my hands, breathing with me.
"I can see the head!" Flow calls over the screaming. Theo, being the idiot he is, made the mistake to take a peek, and quickly returns to my side, looking close to throwing up.
"What has been seen cannot be unseen..." he managed to get out, before fainting.
"Wussy," Em sneered, turning her attention back to me. "One more push, Susie!"
"I CAN'T!" I wailed, slumping against the pillows.
"Come on, Susan," Flow urged. "The boy needs air, you have to push one - more - time!"
"Come on, push!" Em pleaded, close to tears.
"I... I c-can't..." I siad faintly, blinking.
"You have to," I hear Mr R murmur, as he moved closer. "For Sirius, yeah?"
I stared at him for a short moment, before letting Em help me up again. "Just one more push?" I gasped, looking directly at Flow.
"One more," Flow assured me.
And with that, I pushed. I pushed with all my strength, all my might. My throat was already hurting and aching so badly from all the screaming, but I didn't care anymore.
I had to be strong, I had to be strong for this precious baby I loved dearly.
And then, all of the sudden, the room was filled with a baby's cry. I gasped, and fell against the pillows again. I had doen it, I had done it - it was over now.
And then I saw him; the most precious little baby I had ever seen. I reached out for him, as Flow gently tucked him in a blanket. She put him in my arms, and he fit my arms so perfectly. I was speechless; he was so tiny, so perfect, so... precious. His dark hair was messy and thick, and I felt a tired smile tug at the corners of my lips, as the screaming baby slowly calmed down, and opened his brilliant eyes to gaze at me.
"Hi, you," I said, touching his nose with my finger.
"He has your eyes," I heard Mr R murmur next to me, and I looked reluctantly away from my baby. "He's so beautiful."
"Thank you," I whispered, smiling. The smile wasn't there for long; before I knew it, my eyes rolled to the back of my head, and I fell into darkness.
It was over now.
A/N: So, Sweden is calling me tomorrow! I hope you all have a wonderful week, and enjoy the story :)
- Lily xxx
Chapter 21: Family
Except that it wasn't.
It was only the beginning, I came to notice. A very, very, very good beginning, too. Everyone kept saying how beautiful and perfect the baby was. Anyone who saw him couldn't hold back a disgusting 'aww'.
Fortunately, I kind of saw their point - otherwise I would've hauled their asses out of the room at once.
So it was no exception when Em stopped by with more flowers, and even more chocolate, her entire face one big smile. The kid - that's what I called him - was sleeping in the tiny, tiny crib next to my bed, as I dangled my bed over the bed, just watching him. Em shoved the gifts in my arms, and I felt the familiar feeling of pride take over, as I watched Em lean over the crib, her mouth already ready to say the usual 'aww!'.
"He's so cute!" she whispered, gently touching his nose. "He has your nose, though."
I glared. "Oi!"
"Just saying," she sighed, sitting down next to me on the bed. "I never thought I'd live to see the day Susie Q becomes a momma!" she said, shaking her head.
I rolled my eyes. "Say that one more time and die."
"So," Em said, as the kid moved in his sleep. "Can you pick him up? Can you, can you, can you?"
I avoided Em's eager look, as I concentrated on the tiny freckles on the kid's nose - where he had got the freckles from was beyond me. The truth was that I hadn't exactly held the kid yet. It had already been a week, and I hadn't held him. I wanted to - but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I dreaded the fact of holding the tiny creature in my arms, the tiny, delicate and fragile little thing. What if I dropped him? What if he sensed I would be a horrible mother? What if he got hurt by something I couldn't protect him from?
So it was a real miracle I had avoided the confrontation for this long.
"Erm," I said, feeling my face grow hot. "He's sleeping."
Em stared at me. "He's a heavy sleeper," she said firmly, blinking. "I know this, because last time I came by, Midwife Flow did some tests on him, and he slept right through it! Why can't you pick him up now?"
I couldn't avoid her eyes anymore. "I'm scared to," I whispered, feeling ashamed.
"You're af--" Em began, before she sighed. "What are you talking about? Why on earth--"
"You don't know what it feels like," I cut off, glancing at her. "You don't know what it feels like to suddenly be responsible for another human being, someone who is more precious to you than anything else - the feeling is overwhelming, the feeling of knowing that there are things you can't protect him from, things that could hurt him, things that... that..." I stammered, swallowing with great difficulties.
"He's not going to die if you hold him!" Em said. "Don't be silly."
"How do you know that?" I demanded, shaking my head. "You can't know for sure, Em..."
Em watched me closely, as I hovered over the baby, my hands reaching carefully towards me - before I pulled myself back again. This went on and on, until Em sighed. "You're suffering of a postpartum depression," she stated. "Better known as 'baby blues', Susie," she added, as I stared at her blankly.
That was a familiar word - according to Kadhi, I had a 'negative vibe' that would easily be the 'passage to baby blues'.
"I'm not depressed," I said slowly, as if Em had difficulties to understand me otherwise. "I'm trying to protect my son," I told her.
"You're going through a tough stage in life, when--"
"I AM NOT DEPRESSED, DAMN IT!" I yelled at her, and to my horror, the baby moved in his sleep - but didn't wake up.
"Okay, that kid is not normal," Em whispered - as if she needed to do that after my small outburst. "Okay, here!" she suddenly said, picking the small baby from his crib. Before I knew it, she had shoved him in my arms, and I held him helplessly.
"O-okay," I stammered, already feeling my palms sweat. "What do I do now?" I said, looking at Em in panic.
"Hold your kid," she adviced, sitting down next to me. "Just look at him, Susie... he's precious."
I looked down, observing every delicate feature on his tiny face. I knew them like the back of my own hand, of course. All this time, all I had done was watching him; every move and sound was like oxygen to me. And now, I could see them upclose, feel him move slightly in my arms.
And then he opened his eyes, and looked directly at me.
"Hi," I whispered, automatically smiling at him. "What's up, kid?"
Em smiled, as she stood up. "I'll leave you two alone..."
I didn't even notice her leaving, as I held the baby's gaze firmly. "Looks like it's just the two of us now, huh?"
The baby didn't answer - obviously. But in his own special way, he signalled to me that it would all be okay. I extended my index finger to him, and he grabbed it, giving it a slight squeeze. I smiled, and he smiled back brilliantly.
"I have a perfect name for you, you know," I cooed, touching his cheek. "You're going to hate me for it when you get older... but I like the name," I said, shrugging carefully. "It's a family name."
I watched him in silence, as he suddenly yawned. I smiled, watching his brown eyes slowly close, and his small mouth letting out the strangest sound I had ever heard; snoring.
"You sure snore like your daddy," I said, feeling a weird sadness in my entire body. A gentle knock on the door startled me, and I looked up. "Come in," I said, expecting Em to burst back into the room.
Instead I saw Mr R - my dad - come into the room with a massive set of flowers and the Daily Prophet tucked under his arm. For a moment, we just stared at each other - until his gaze landed on the baby in my arms, and his entire being seemed to melt. No one could resist the kid, that's for sure.
"That's him, then," he said quietly, taking a step closer. He froze, and eyed me carefully. "C-can I...?"
I nodded slowly. "Of course," I said, trying to shift the baby expertly in my arms so that he could see him better.
"Let me," he said quietly, carefully picking up the baby. I watched in awe, as he easily held the baby, as if he did it everyday. I watched in silence, as Mr R stared at the sleeping boy, his eyes wide as plates. His eyes were filled with such devotion that even a blind man could see it; he was totally and utterly taken by him. "He's perfect."
I smiled. "Yeah," I said proudly. "It's your first grandchild, Mr R."
He looked up at me with a frown. "I'd prefer if you didn't call me Mr R... I mean, if you don't mind--"
I shook my head, silencing him. "I'm not sure I'm there yet to call you... dad," I said, wrinkling my nose at the word. "I'm eternally thankful for being there at my time of... need, I suppose," I said with a small shrug. "I don't... expect anything from you. In fact, because you were there, I've decided to... to... abandon my plans of... ruining you and your career. I realize now that it wasn't your choice to... to abandon me. The letter... I... I see the bigger picture. But I don't expect anything from you," I hurried to add, as he opened his mouth. "Nick," I finished lamely.
He smiled a small smile. "You're nothing like your mother, Susie," he whispered, quickly looking down at the baby again. "Thank you," he said.
I wasn't sure if he thanked me for not ruining him, or for giving him a grandchild - either way, it didn't really matter. My eyes zoomed in on the abandoned newspaper on the bed - a certain article, actually.
I slowly unfold the Daily Prophet and stare at the picture in front of me. There they are; Lily and James Potter, with a small baby in their arms, smiling right up at me. So they had their baby already? As soon as the thought went through my mind, I felt a snort escape my mouth. Of course they would've had their child! What did I expect - that the rest of the world would stop to exist just because I left an entire lifetime behind me?
I couldn't stop the smile from appearing on my face, as I scanned the article. I wasn't sure what I was looking for - but whatever it was, I couldn't find it, because there was nothing much more to it. Just some trivial facts about the Potters, where they lived these days and so on.
"Friends of yours?" Nick's voice surprised me.
"No," I said at once, shrugging, as I dropped the newspaper. "Just... someone I used to know," I muttered. "They also had a baby."
"Having a baby is a true blessing," Nick mused, gazing back at his grandson.
"Which reminds me," I said. "There's someone I'd like you to meet."
"Yes," I said, nodding. "Someone... close to me."
I pushed the pram slowly forward, Nick matching his steps with mine. We walked in silence, with only to gravel under our shoes echoing on the graveyard. Both of us stopped at the right grave, and stared down at it in silence.
A beloved husband, father & grandfather
"Dad," I said, my voice thick. "I found him, dad. I found my real dad..."
Nick remained silent next to me, as I put down the flowers on the grave. "Thank you, Richie," Nick said, his voice serious. "Thank you for looking after our Susie. For raising her, for loving her as your own daughter... in a way, she really was your daughter, and always will be - there's nothing that can change that fact," he said, and to my horror I felt my eyes fill with tears. "Thank you."
We stared at the tombstone for a few more minutes, until the baby made a gurgling sound, making us both clear our throats awkwardly.
"Shall we...?" Nick asked quietly, and I nodded stiffly. We walked down the same path in silence, and I became suddenly aware of Nick taking in his surroundings. "So this is England."
I chuckled darkly under my breath, clutching the pram tighter. "Disappointed?"
"It's lovelier than I expected, to be honest," he admitted. "So, have you decided on a name yet?"
I grimaced. "Yes," I said with a sigh. "And no, I won't tell you. Even the godparents don't know - it's a secret."
"Nothing stupid, I hope," he said.
I glared at him. "No," I said defensively. "I don't even want to think about the christening - it's so far away!"
"It's not that far away," Nick reminded me. "But you're right," he hurried to add, as I gave him a look. "You should just enjoy this time - enjoy motherhood!"
How was I supposed to know that 'motherhood' would involve several sleepless nights and many, many mental breakdowns?
A/N: Once again, I apologize for the long wait. I hope there still are eager readers out there - and I thank you all for sticking with this story for so long :) Someday, it WILL be finished, I promise ^_^
- Lily xxx
Chapter 22: All Fall Down
It was a typical Sunday, exactly one week before the Big Day (codename for the christening), when everything seemed to come crashing down.
It all began the moment I opened the Daily Prophet, with a slap-happy Goose slobbering on my knee, I choked on my coffee.
Our eager and talented reporter, Rita Skeeter, has once again revealed yet another shocking truth; the truth about an illegitimate daughter he abandoned as he succeeded with his own career. 'No comments' and 'I will not discuss this matter with the press!' are the two sentences the Minister himself has said, leaving the people to doubt his way of dealing with things. With the election coming up, is this the way the Minister wants to campaign? The true identity of the illegitimate daughter is yet unsolved, but speculations are flying wildly around - is this the reason the Minister (voted as the 'Magical Bachelor' three years in a row) and Miss Felicia Hunt recently broke up?
Is his political career ruined forever along with his blossoming love life?
I stared at the article in shock. I knew most of the things Rita Skeeter wrote were absolute rubbish - but this was too close to the truth.
In fact, it was quite head-on.
But surely it wasn't the reason he broke up with Felicia, right? Surely she didn't know about me, surely she--
Nick wouldn't have--
He couldn't have--
No, don't be ridiculous, Susie.
I dropped my cup of coffee, making Goose run out form the kitchen in fright. Theo blinked a few times, as he quickly scanned the article in front of me. He sighed heavily, shaking his head. "Vultures," he growled.
Suddenly, the doorbell rang, and both of us glanced at each other. "I'll get it," Theo finally said, as I remained frozen in my seat. After a moment, Theo re-appeared in the kitchen, looking harrassed, and followed by a sturdy man. His hair was dark and long, his eyes even darker. The moment he saw me, he smiled a polite smile, making chills run down my spine.
Who was this man?
"What's going on?" I demanded, my eyes flying from Theo to the man, and back to Theo.
"Marcus Valois," he introduced himself before Theo could utter a word. "The Minister of Magic has provided me for your protection."
"What, like a human shield?" I snorted, shaking my head. "Thanks, but no thanks - I don't need protection, I'm quite capable of--"
"Yes, yes, yes," he said, waving my comment off with his hand. "I'm sure you are capable - the question is; is your son capable of protecting himself?" I stared at him in shock for a moment, as a smug smirk appeared on his handsome face. "Don't forget that you're protecting two rather valuable individuals."
And just then, a baby's cry cut the tense silence, making all of us jump in fright.
"Ah, that must be the little devil himself," Marcus said, already moving towards the crying baby in the bedroom.
I didn't even realize how quickly I had moved, but before I knew it, I had the baby in my arms, and glared daggers at Marcus.
"Take one more step closer," I warned him, narrowing my eyes. "And I will put the dog on you!"
Marcus glanced at Goose, who sat obediently next to me, drool dripping on the floor. He looked back up at me, as Theo ever so smoothly shoved himself past him - accidentally.on-purpose giving Marcus a hard shove - and placed himself in front of me, his wand already pulled out.
"I think you should leave," he said shortly.
I peered from behind Theo to look at Marcus. "Tell my dad that he can shove the whole protection thing up his arse."
Something flickered on Marcus' face - maybe amusement? - before he nodded, and took a step back. "Consider it done, miss," he murmured, giving a short nod. "We'll meet again."
Theo and I both watched in silence, as Marcus left the apartment. We didn't dare to move, not until we heard the door close behind him. I rested my head against Theo's tense back, letting out a sigh of relief. "Merlin's beard..." I sighed, shaking my head.
"My thoughts exactly," Theo agreed, slowly putting an arms around me. "It's fine now, though..."
I glanced up at him. "Were you really going to hurt him?"
Theo looked down at me, before a huge grin appeared on his face. "To be honest, I couldn't think of a single hex!"
I grinned back, and the baby let out a small giggle. We both looked down at the baby, completely astonished. "Did he just--" I stammered.
"I think he did," Theo whispered, as the baby grabbed my index finger, giving it a squeeze.
"He's a smart one," I cooed, smiling at the baby. "Oh yes, you are, yes, you are...!"
"Remember the other day when you told me to let you know when you're starting to become one of those people who talk to a baby like it's stupid?" Theo said calmly.
"Yeah?" I said, unable to look away from the baby.
"Well, it's happening right now."
"Oh, bugger off, Theo!"
"She's not going to do it."
"Sure she is - did you see the amount of coffee she drank this morning?"
"Five galleons that she'll bail at last minute."
"Ten galleons she won't!"
I was painfully aware of my friends actually betting over my courage right behind me. Em was dead sure that I wouldn't actually burst into the Minister of Magic's office, yell at him like a crazy person, and then finally hex him to oblivion. Theo, naturally, believed I would go through with my threat.
To be honest, I didn't look forward to all those years I would sit in Azkaban for killing the Minister of Magic. But it probably would be totally worth it, all considered. I mean, yes, I would probably make a bad example of how a parent should behave, yes, but I'm sure I would be understood if I could make my point clear. Theo and Em would take care of the baby, I--
I stopped so suddenly that Theo and Em both bumped into me, giving me a startled look.
"What's--" Theo began, following my stare. "Oh," he merely said, as he saw what I had seen.
There he stood, all dashing and charming, leaning casually against the wall next to the elevator. Ernie sat behind his desk, as always, looking grim. He eyed Marcus with a look of distaste, before greeting us with a small nod. He then turned back to his paper, which had the latest news and gossips of Nick and his 'abandoned child'.
"What are you doing here?" I demanded, as I walked briskly towards Marcus, not even glancing at him, as I punched the elevator button angrily.
"Is this him?" Em said, following me with Theo hot on her heels.
"Yes," Theo and I chorused, exchanging a quick glance.
"Wow, he's hot!" Em hissed to me, her eyes wide.
Leave it to Em to ignore the obvious problem and only concentrate on superficial things such as--
"I'm here to witness a grand mistake," Marcus interrupted my thoughts, shrugging.
"Oh?" I said, as the four of us entered the elevator. "I can't wait to hear this!"
"You're planning on parading into your father's office, go all nuclear on him for hiring me for your own protection, and then leave the scene without a scar, correct?"
I stared at him, my mouth open. "How--"
"You forget that I know everything," he said smugly, shrugging again.
I wanted to rip off his shoulders, and--
"Also, you're very predictable."
"What do you expect me to do? Just sit calmly in a corner and smile?"
"What exactly do you expect to get out of all this, then?" he shot back, looking down at me. "I'm sorry, Miss Susan, but you're a very dense girl."
"OI!" Theo called out, as Em gasped.
"Oh no you didn't!" she said.
"People are more than curious about the Minister of Magic right now," he said calmly, looking right into my eyes. "What conclusion do you think they will make when you waltz into his office, make a huge scene, and leave like the diva you think you are? Life is not as simple as you think, Susan!"
I know he's right. I know people would make their own conclusions - and probably hit the right one, too! As much as I hated Nick's decision to order a bodyguard to stalk me, I hated the fact to bring more trouble on him even more.
"Fine," I finally said, narrowing my eyes. "What do you suggest I do instead, then?"
The elevator reached the right floor, but none of us dare to move.
"Go home, Susan," Marcus said quietly, and I felt Theo putting a hand on my shoulder.
"Maybe you should listen to him," he said. I sighed, knowing he was right - what good would it do anyone if I went through with my plan? I would be the only happy one, that's for sure.
With a shock, I realized the true reason; I was a mother now, I shouldn't be doing stupid things like this.
"Fine," I eventually said, as the elevator doors closed again. "What's your plan, then?"
A/N: I send all of you loyal readers lots of strawberries and sunshine! ^_^
- Lily xxx
Chapter 23: Under Pressure
It was one hell of a week.
Everywhere I went, he was there. Everywhere I turned, he was there. Everywhere I looked, he was there. He was everywhere!
"I cannot stand it!" I cried out, resting my head against the cool surface of the kitchen table. "I really, really can't, Theo!"
Theo watched me closely, his lips pursed. "You're starting to crack," he stated easily.
I glared up at him, the faint sound of Em playing with the baby in the other room. Another sound - probably a vase breaking - didn't even scare me anymore. I had realized that the baby had quite a habit for breaking anything he got his tiny hands on - and he was good at it, even as an infant.
"What?" I demanded, narrowing my eyes. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Never thought you'd crack under pressure..." Theo said with a shrug.
"Excuse me," I snapped, standing up. "But who wouldn't crack under the pressure of being watched 24/7 by some creep like him!?" I said, pointing in the general direction of the front door - where Marcus most likely was lurking. "Everytime I go through that door - he is there! God, I can't even sleep at night without wondering where the bloody hell he is lurking!"
"Touchy," Theo teased, but an anxious look crossed his face. "Does it really bother you that much? Then ask him to cool it for a while..."
"I ALREADY DID, YOU MORON!" I roared, and the playful voices in the other room stopped abruptly. "And you know what he said? 'No way in hell, Miss!' Can you believe the nerve!?"
"Actually, I can," Theo said.
I glared some more. Ever since Marcus had begun his constant watch on me, Theo had slowly grown used to him - even slightly attached. It was like some kind of insurance to keep me safe.
From what, was beyond me.
"Oh, shut up," I muttered, stomping away. I entered the living room, and confronted a sight that was almost too hilarious; a startled Em with am equally startled baby on the floor on the playmat. "What's wrong?" I automatically said, as I approached them.
"Nothing," Em said, sounding a bit offended. "We were doing just fine until you started--"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," I said, joining Em on the floor next to my son. I met his dark eyes, and felt a smile tug at the corners of my mouth as I recognized the all-too-familiar smile he had. "Did I scare you, boo?"
"Oh, please!" Em sighed, leaning back on her hands. "You're calling him 'boo' now?"
I stopped whatever I was doing, and looked up at her. "Any suggestions, then?"
Em looked down at the baby, and grinned. "How about Cosmo?"
I stared at her, appalled. "I am not naming my son Cosmo!"
"I hate to interrupt the happy moment," Marcus' voice startled us, as he stood leaning against the door. "But there's nothing to eat."
I turned my glare at him, feeling the sudden urge to punch him. I had never been a person with much self-control, but something held me back this time, and it wasn't the fact that I was holding a baby in my arms.
"Then go buy your own food, you parasite," I growled, turning my back to him. "Care for a walk, Em?"
Em gave me a radiant smile, already thundering past Marcus into the hall, and I heard a great ruckus as she struggled to get the pram out.
"I suggest that you--"
"Do you ever just..." I snapped, giving him a long look. "...shut the fuck up?"
He didn't answer, so I gave him a wide smile. "Ready when you are!" Em announced, appearing in the room again.
"We are going to take a walk," I told the scowling Marcus. "Whether you like it or not. Goodbye!"
"Okay," Em said, steering the pram away from me. "You've got to stop shouting that! It's freaking me and everyone else out!"
"PEOPLE THINK YOU'VE ESCAPED FROM A PRISON!" Em exploded.
Oh, well, that makes sense.
"Let me just enjoy this rare time of not being watched by that freak, okay?" I pleaded, glancing at Em. "We're enjoying our time, aren't we, kid?" I cooed, as I looked down at the baby.
"You're not seriously going to name him 'kid', right?"
Em looked seriously concerned, so I couldn't help but laugh at her. "Of course not, stupid," I said. "I'm going to name him Franklin."
"Seriously?" Em said, slowing down her steps, until she came to a full stop.
"Of course not!" I cried out, grabbing her arm and pulling her along. "Come on..."
We walked around the park in silence, laughing at the small noises of joy the baby made everytime something rmeotely exciting happened - which wasn't much; anyone who smiled down at him seeemed to throw him into gurgles of happiness!
It was a normal day in the city of Salem. The sun was partly hidden behind the clouds, and it was cooler than normally, making it a perfect day to be outside. I personally didn't like the sweltering heat, having endured a few hot days while being pregnant had promptly put me off. But even if it was slightly cooler that day, I still coudln't help noticing the two men sitting on a bench, wearing heavy, dark robes.
It wasn't that chilly outside.
And it looked suspicious - too suspicious.
We passed the two men in silence, my hand automatically grabbing a tight hold of the pram Em was in control over. She edged closer, her eyebrows knitted together. "What's wrong?" she asked quietly.
"Those two men," I whispered, glancing at them over my shoulder. "They... seem odd."
Em followed my gaze, and she bit her lip. "They're getting up now..." she told me, as she started to walk more briskly.
"Easy, now," I told her, looking staright ahead. "Okay, if they're still following us when we take a second lap around the park--"
"What, we'll run like hell?" Em suggested, panicked.
I glanced at her, frowning. "You're in no place to panic on me now, Em!" I scolded her, keeping my eyes on her until she sighed. "Okay, let's go."
We didn't talk, as we marched around the park again, passing all the same trees and benches as we had done earlier. I pretended to scratch my neck to steal a glance over my shoulder - and locked eyes with one of the two men.
"Fuck," I hissed, my hold of the pram tightening. I suddenly felt like a small child, as I looked around the park. There was no place for us to hide, and they would catch on us in a few seconds, and--
No. That kind of thinking was forbidden.
"Here's what we're going to do," I murmured, subtly steering the pram out from the park. "There's a bookstore a few blocks away. Enter that store, and tell the owner you have an order - he will take you to the back room, and show you into a room, that has a floordoor. If you go down there, you will eventually arrive to Theo's pub - stay there, until I contact you."
Em came to a sudden stop, and so did the two men, who were now a few feet away from us - they didn't even try to hide the fact that they were following us.
"And what about you?" she demanded.
"I'll lead them away," I said simply. "If they're after me, they'll follow me, not you. If they're after the baby..." I said, my voice breaking slightly. "Can't imagine why, though," I whispered, eyeing my son, who looked wide awake now. "If you don't hear from me--"
"Then I'll kill you myself," Em said hotly, her face darkening. "For leaving me with your kid. So don't get yourself killed, okay?"
I smiled swiftly, as we continued our way down the street. I gave Em's arm a squeeze, as we neared the bookstore. She made a sudden turn, and entered the little store, as I continued ahead. I disappeared around the corner, and looked behind me - only to see the two men following me.
I started jogging, and as I heard their steps close in on me, I decided it was enough with all this playing around, and sprinted off in full speed. I ignored the other people on the street, pushing and shoving them out of my way, as I took another turn, and yet another.
And suddenly, I was faced with a dead-end.
I swallowed, my heart thumping hard in my chest, as I swivelled around with my wand ready. The two men stood at the other end, blocking my only way out and pointing their wands at me.
"Hello, Miss Quency," said one of them, smiling wryly.
A/N: DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN! Sorry I didn't come up with anything better xD And no, I will not tell what the kid will be named - probably not Cosmo or Fiasco, though!
- Lily xxx
Chapter 24: Trust
I didn't even bother to ask how he knew my name - in fact, I didn't even have the time to ask, because someone appeared in front of me out of nowhere. All I saw was a broad back, and dark hair.
"If I were you," Marcus said, his voice deep and scary. "I would lower my wand, and leave, while you still can."
The two men stared at the pair of us for a moment, before laughing. Their laughter echoed down the alley, and I felt even more annoyed.
"What are you doing here?" I hissed at Marcus.
"A simple 'thank you' would suffice," Marcus murmured, before clearing his throat. "So, gentlemen," he said, nodding at the men. "We'll just go, then."
"Go?" one of them grunted, looking amused.
"You have no idea who you're dealing with," the other one continued.
"Neither do you," Marcus whispered, before grabbing my hand, and with a loud pop, we were already Disapparating away.
I slammed, rather painfully, on the floor. It took me a moment to get up, and straighten myself. Marcus was already moving swiftly around the empty room, pulling curtains in front of windows, and muttering spells.
"That was so lame!" I barked at him, watching him grumpily. "You should've atleast fought them, thrown a hex or two - that's what--"
"--He would've done, right?" Marcus shot, suddenly glaring at me. I gaped at him, unable to find my tongue. I hadn't even meant to think or say that, but yet, he knew exactly what I meant. The thought of Sirius made my heart ache more than ever, so I just bit down on my lip.
We stared at each other for a long time, before Marcus strode towards me. Suddenly frightened by his intense glare, I backed away from him, until my back was up against the wall. Marcus leaned closer, his face inches away - I could smell cigarettes and coffee from his breath, as I stared into his dark eyes.
"Don't ever do that again," he murmured, each word like a threat.
"What?" I snapped, narrowing my eyes at him. No one had ever scared me before, and Marcus Valois would not start the trend. "Do what, exactly?"
"Put your life in danger," he boomed, making me cringe back. "Stupidly throw your life away like that!"
"I was just--"
"If something happened to you, what would happen to your son, huh?" Marcus asked, narrowing his eyes right back at me. "You think you're playing it smart by putting yourself in danger - but here's a newsflash; YOU'RE NOT!"
I blinked at him, utterly shocked. I pursed my lips, and as if a totally strange force was taking over my body, I raised my fist and punched him in the face.
"...you are not supposed to hit your bodyguard!" Em complained, rubbing her forehead. "Look, he was just--"
"Being an idiot? Pissing me off? Yeah, he was," I said with a shrug.
Em glanced in the general direction of the door, which both of us knew Marcus Valois was guarding, sporting a handsome bruise on his face.
"What am I going to do with you, Susie Q?" Em muttered with a deep sigh. "It should be illegal to ruin such a handsome face..."
"What?" I snapped, giving her a hard glare.
"Let me check on the baby," Em said quickly, and I watched as she 'sneakily' grabbed the cookie jar, and made her way towards the door - to Marcus.
I stared blankly ahead for a moment, trying to process everything. According to one of those big guys with Marcus, Nick had found out about it all - he was 'very upset', they said. They never found out who the two men in the alley were, either. Em and the baby were safe, and Theo was currently trying to put him to sleep by singing some weird lullaby I had never heard of. I stood up, grabbing the bottle of milk from the counter, and shuffled towards the bedroom. Very carefully, I pushed the door open. There they were; currently the two most important men in my life; my son and Theo. I watched them for a long time, not wanting or daring to disturb them. Theo was holding the baby expertly in his arms, whispering the lullaby softly. I closed the door behind me, and Theo looked up with a victorious grin, waving me in.
"Is he asleep?" I asked quietly, even if the silent snores already gave me the answer.
"Pretty exciting day," Theo said mildly, as I slumped down on the bed with a defeated sigh. After putting the baby in the crib, he sat down beside me, glancing at me suspiciously. "So..."
"So what?" I muttered.
"Any sexual tension yet?" he blurted out, making me drop the bottle of milk.
"WHAT!?" I hissed as loudly as I dared.
"Between you and Mr Bodyguard, I mean," Theo said, wiggling his eyebrows. "Oh come on, don't tell me you haven't thought about it!"
"No, I haven't!" I said, totally mortified by the thought. "Theo, I-- I can barely stand that person, why on earth would I even think about him like that!? Are you insane!?"
"I'm just as sane as you are," he said with a shrug. "I'm just telling you what I know."
"And what you know is that Marcus and me should hook up?" I said slowly, raising my brows. "Have you entirely lost it, Theo!?"
"Just..." Theo said, grabbing the milk bottle from the floor. "You know, just think about it, yeah?"
I watched him leave, gaping. A few minutes passed, until I found the ability to move again. I walked quietly to the crib, and looked down at the baby. I carefully touched his dark hair, and automatically smiled.
He looked so much like his daddy...
I woke up abruptly, blinking my eyes, as my heart slowly calmed down. I still felt the urge to scream, but no sound came out, as I looked wildly around. My eyes searched for him, wanting to find him as soon as possible - and then I saw him, sleeping peacefully in his crib... just as I had left him.
I rubbed my forehead, grimacing. Why did I keep having nightmares of him being in danger? What kind of sick joke was that? What could possibly happen to him?
The door opened, and in stormed Marcus, Theo and Em, all of them looking wildly around with their wands out.
"What's wrong?" Marcus demanded, his eyes on me.
I blinked. "Nothing," I said stupidly, as Em elbowed her way past him, sitting down next to me on the bed. "Why?"
"I heard--" he began, but pursed his lips together, not saying anything. "Nothing, eh?"
"Overreacting much?" Em muttered darkly, rubbing my back calmly. "You know, he woke us both with his bodyguard crap..."
I grimaced again, arching a brow at Marcus. "I think you should take this bodyguard thing down a notch, okay?"
Marcus glared icily at me, slowly lowering his wand. "This is not the first time you're having these nightmares, and waking up in the middle of the night, is it?"
Theo gazed at me, half-hidden behind Marcus. "You're having nightmares?" he said, looking hurt. "Why didn't you tell us!?"
I shushed him with a glare, nodding towards the crib. "If you wake him up, I will kill you, Theodor Blake."
Em sighed. "Being a bit familiar with having bodyguards," Em began, ignoring the snort from Marcus. "I think the best way to get rid of them is to ignore them."
"This coming from the person who runs away from her bodyguards for fun, huh?" Marcus muttered.
"HOW DOES HE--" Em began loudly, successfully waking up the baby. "Oh, shit, sorry!" she hurried to say int he general direction of the crib.
Theo entered the scene like the baby guru he was, and waving her off. He picked up the screaming baby, and expertly holding him. "It's a baby, not someone you bumped into on the street, Em!" he snapped.
"Someone has his knickers in a knot," Em grumbled, as the two of them left the bedroom to hunt down a bottle of milk.
I stared at Marcus in silence, my eyes narrowed. "I never told you that about Em and her bodyguards," I said slowly, my hand slowly sneaking under my pillow for my wand.
Marcus noticed this, and immediatly held the hand his wand was in up, as a sign of surrender. "Susie, I'm not your enemy," he whispered, his eyes locked with mine.
"How did you know, then?" I asked, frowning.
"It's my job to know," he said simply.
For some reason, I believed him. The part about him not being my enemy, I mean... and the other part, too. With a heavy sigh, I buried my face in my hands, shaking my head. "What's wrong with me?" I whispered, feeling a storm of emotions wash over me.
Marcus sat down next to me, and I could tell he was trying to decide if he should rub my back like Em had, or not. He settled with not, so instead he just hovered next to me, while I was having a mental battle. "It's called motherhood," he said quietly.
"Having nightmares, and suspecting everyone around me?" I demanded, staring at him. "You've got to be kidding me!"
"Well, yes," Marcus said with a shrug. "The nightmares varies from person to person - but the concept is the same; you're becoming aware of how fragile your son is, and how easily he could be harmed... how easily you could be harmed, if something were to happen to him."
"What should I do, then?"
"All you can do is trust," Marcus said, shrugging again. "Trust the people around you - trust your friends, Susie."
For a moment, I let myself forget this was the same jackass sitting next to me who kept making my life a living hell, and saw him as my ally.
But only for a moment.
A/N: It's so quiet I can hear my own thoughts in my head... echoing, and disappearing like a fart in Sahara. Loving that mental picture of a fart disappearing in-- ANYWAY! Hope you like the new chapter, I'll try to do better in the future! THANK YOOOOU, EVERYONE :)
- Lily xxx
Chapter 25: Going, Going, Gone
But in truth, Marcus Valois was my worst enemy.
”GO TO HELL!” I cried out, throwing a vase in the general direction of Marcus' head. Marcus dodged it easily, as if he did this on daily basis – which he might as well have done, if you asked me! I grabbed Em's teacup, ignoring her protests, and hurled it towards him as well. This time, it was all my fault for missing his head by a few inches. ”YOU CANNOT TELL ME WHAT I CAN OR CANNOT DO!”
”I AM IN CHARGE OF YOUR SAFETY!” he roared back at me. ”IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO YOU, IT'S MY HEAD!”
I glared at him, unable to scream back at him when Theo appeared with the baby. ”What's going on?” he asked, confused by the scene in front of him. I was suddenly aware of Em's arms clutched around my waist, restraining me, and Marcus' defensive stance, ready to run. My eyes flew between them all, as I shoved Em's hands away. I reached already out for my son, and Theo automatically handed him over to me. I held him close to my chest, as if he was my lucky charm, my last bits of sanity – and also to control myself. ”You okay?” Theo murmured, taking his natural place beside me.
”Throw that spineless git out of here,” I snarled, stalking off to my room. Not a minute passed, until Theo showed up, closing the door behind him. ”Don't ask,” I sighed, as I slowly kneeled on the floor, placing the baby on his Quidditch playmat. We watched in silence as he gurgled and laughed at the tiny Bludgers, Quaffles and Snitches that floated above him. I sighed again, shaking my head. ”Marcus doesn't think it's a good idea for me to meet... you know... my...”
Theo nodded knowingly. ”Your dad?”
”It's weird to call him that, don't you think?” I said, wrinkling my nose in distaste. ”I have a dad – had a dad! - and he was perfect... now I have another one, and it's... different. I don't know him, he doesn't know me – and yet, he's the one who has witnessed one of my most important moments that I will ever have in my life – the birth of my son... - so... it's... you know.”
I shrugged lamely, staring at the baby blankly. Theo sighed, and I could tell he was nodding. ”I know what you mean,” he simply said.
”Talk about important moments,” I said, distracting myself from my own problems. ”How are things with your... you know... your affairs?”
I sounded medieval, ancient, and dirty, for some reason. Theo had suddenly become one of dearest friends, even if I hadn't known him for long. I could talk to him, he was like silent wall, who just took all my ranting and venting, and said intelligent stuff.
He reminded me a bit of Lily.
”You mean Max?” Theo said quietly. I nodded, and glanced at him, when he didn't respond. ”We broke up... well, we were never really officially together, if you know what I mean...”
”What?” I whispered, surprised. ”But you two seemed so... so...”
”Happy?” Theo snorted. ”Yeah, no, not really. He totally freaked after that one time... when you walked in on us. Yeah, I was more like a science project to him than the real thing, you know...”
”And you're the real thing, then?” I said in awe.
Theo narrowed his eyes at me, shaking his head. ”Don't you dare kiss me again, or I will hurt you, and I don't care that you have a baby!”
”You're not that special,” I huffed, pretending to be hurt. ”Oh well, can't win 'em all, can you?” I said, getting up. ”Watch him while I go pee, okay?”
Theo cringed visibly. ”No need to explain to so much detail, okay?”
I ignored him, and made my way towards the bathroom. The bathroom door was open, the light on. I approached it slowly, stretching my arms over my head. I stopped abruptly, as I heard voices from the bathroom – familiar voices. I took a quick step to the side, and saw Em's face, and the back of Marcus' head. Em and Marcus were talking in hushed tones, so I had to strain my ears to hear them.
”It's a pretty deep cut,” she murmured, her wand pointed at Marcus' face.
”Leave it,” Marcus' gruff voice said.
”You shouldn't hate her for her temper and stubborness, you know,” Em said, purisng her lips.
”I don't hate her,” Marcus said at once. ”I can't... she's my responsibility.”
Em froze, her wand still raised. ”Oh really?”
Their eyes met, and the silence stretched between them. ”Don't get any ideas, Jolie.”
For a split second, Em's eyes darted over Marcus' shoulder, and her eyes locked with mine. She quickly looked back at Marcus', and that's when it happened.
I covered my mouth with both of my hands, as I watched Em lean in, as in slow-motion, and kiss Marcus. I couldn't tell what Marcus' reaction was, and I didn't want to. I stared at them in shock, backing away. I had always thought that Em had a small crush on Marcus, but Em had a crush on everyone, maybe...
This was just so weird.
I returned to my room, my own personal needs all forgotten. I must've looked like a ghost, because it sure as hell made Theo worried enough to stand up.
”What's wrong?” he asked at once.
I swallowed, shaking my head. ”I just... feel so relieved,” I stammered, not feeling like repeating what I had just witnessed. ”After peeing.”
Theo cringed. ”I told you not to--”
”Yeah, yeah, yeah...” I said, grinning.
I watched the baby for a moment, before sighing deeply. After everything I had seen and heard, and lived through, he truly was one of the rare things that were pure, perfect and innocent in my life. And it gave me great joy to realize I had created him.
It was one of those nights I didn't look forward to. Theo was at work, Em was out, and I was all alone with my baby. I didn't like to be alone, I noticed, since I had too much time for my own thoguhts and feelings. It all would've been nice, though, if the baby hadn't decided to start screaming for a good two hours – nonstop. He wasn't hungry, he wasn't wet, he didn't want to fall asleep, either – I was totally and utterly lost with him.
”Shh, sweetie, shhh...” I hushed, holding him close to my chest. ”Mommy needs to think, mommy... mommy cannot think if you keep screaming, sweetie...”
But he would have none of it. Like his father, he rarely followed my advice. I held him tighter, looking around helplessly. The crying and screaming slowly began to be too much for me, and soon enough, I couldn't hear it anymore. I knew the baby was still crying, but it was like I was floating in some sort of daze. I froze, and stared down at the screaming baby in my arms. Without blinking, I slowly lowered him in the crib, and quickly took a few steps back. And then a few more... and another three steps, until I was in my closet. I closed the door, and felt my knees give in under me, as I buried my face into my hands.
And I cried.
I was vaguely aware of someone coming into the room, as the baby slowly calmed down. A low murmur was all I could hear, and soon enough, the door to the closet opened.
Marcus Valois stared down at me, holding a calm baby in his arms.
”Shit,” he simply said, quickly closing the door again. I sniffled loudly, trying to keep the tears back. Before I could pull myself together, Marcus was back, this time without the baby. He joined me in the closet, sitting down next to me. As if he did this all the time, he pulled me against his chest, and held me close.
So I cried some more. Not only because it felt good – in a strange way – but I had also missed the basic human touch of a man, which made it all even weirder than it already was. I cried for a few minutes, just letting him comfort me. I knew I would have to face him sooner or later, but I couldn't think of that at the moment.
”Are you hurt?” Marcus asked, his breath close to my ear. I shook my head, sniffling. ”Is the baby hurt?” he asked then.
I shook my head again, pulling away. ”I... I... I can't take t-this anymore...” I whispered.
Marcus cupped my face, and even in the dark, I could tell he was only inches away from me. ”What's wrong?” he asked calmly.
”He wouldn't stop screaming,” I said quickly, feeling the familiar feeling of hysteria take over me again. ”He just... just... just kept screaming and screaming, and he wouldn't eat, or sleep, or just stop screaming!” I said, shaking my head wildly.
”Shh, clam down...” he said, rubbing my cheeks. ”Take a deep breath, Susie...”
I took a deep breath, closing my eyes, and concentrating on the breathing. ”I'm fine,” I murmured, pulling my face away from his touch. ”Sorry.”
”You have nothing to be sorry about,” he said quietly. ”What you're feeling is... is completely normal. You've had a rough time, Susie.”
”I didn't actually plan to hurt him,” I whispered after a moment. ”The baby,” I clarified. ”I... I just felt scared. Scared of what might happen to him... what will happen to us. I feel so... so alone, so... vulnerable. If something happened to me, he'd be all alone, you know? He's so... so small, so pure... he's the only thing I've done right, you know?”
”You don't need to worry about that,” Marcus said gently. ”About what will happen to him, I mean. You've got loads of people who care about you two, you know,” he said, and sighed. ”And as far as I'm concerned, I'll be damned if something ever happened to you in the first place!”
I snorted, brushing away my tears. ”You're going to kick some ass, huh?” I joked.
There was a short silence, and I felt his hand find its way to my cheek again. His hand was hot against my tear stained cheek, but somehow soothing and nice. I was about to say something incredibly intelligent, when Marcus' lips found mine.
And I didn't resist much, either.
A/N: Ahhh~ I've been WAITING to get this out there! Like, for real... real action is going to happen from now on, I promise :D On a more serious note; I'm sorry for not bringing Sirius back xD
Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! ^_^
- Lily xxx
Chapter 26: Tell Me Sweet Little Lies
His lips were warm, almost burning hot, moving against my lips. I blinked rapidly, trying to wrap my head around what was going on. I couldn't even remember when I had last felt something like this. To be honest, the last person I had kissed was Theo, and that wasn't even remotely the same like this was. My thoughts flickered to Him, and I heard myself gasp against Marcus' lips.
Marcus stopped, as he tried to catch his breath. "Are you okay?" he asked.
"I..." I stammered, gaping. I needed to get Him out of my mind, remove all memories as fast as I could, and not even give Him a thought; not His eyes, His lips against my lips... "Kiss me, Marcus," I whispered, my fingers clutching his collar.
Without any hesitation, Marcus pressed his lips against mine again, and I felt him pull me closer to him. It was hard to breathe, as I tried to keep myself steady in his strong arms.
Suddenly, someone opened the door, and I automatically shoved Marcus away from me. I was mortified, as I blinked in the bright light filling the closet, staring first at Marcus and then at the person who had interrupted us; Em.
"What the hell?" she said quietly, staring at us in fuming silence. Behind her, I could see Theo with the baby, just as shocked as we all were.
"This is not--" I began lamely.
"—what it looks like?" Em said coolly, narrowing her eyes. "You're unbelieveable, Susie... really."
We stared at each other for a short moment, before she moved her cold glare to Marcus, who kept gazing at me. I felt the humiliation wash over me, as I stumbled up on my feet. Before I could say or do anything, Em slammed the door in my face. I cursed under my breath, and hurried after her.
"EM!" I called, as Theo silently moved aside with the baby. "EM, WAIT!"
"For WHAT!?" Em roared, pulling on her coat as she grabbed her things. She turned to face me so quickly that I almost ran into her. "Wait for the two of you to get rid of your clothes, huh!? You are disgusting, Susie!"
I froze, searching her furious face with my eyes. "Em, it wasn't like that... I... we..."
"You bitch," she snarled, giving me a simple look that was filled with so much hatred. "Out of all the people I know, I didn't expect this from you..."
I watched in silence, as Em stormed out, leaving us all in awkward silence. I heard Marcus and Theo discuss something behind me, but I couldn't care less at the moment. I turned slowly around, my arms already outstretched towards the baby. As on cue, Theo quickly handed the sleeping baby to me, and I once again held him as if he was my safety blanket, or something.
"I go to work for a few hours, and this is what I come back to?" Theo asked, crossing his arms as he glared at Marcus. "Job well done, agent-boy!"
"She's being irrational," Marcus said easily, glaring back at Theo. "She--"
"She's not being irrational!" I said at once, blinking out of my daze. "I saw the two of you last night," I said, looking away as Marcus glanced at me. I heard him take a deep breath, and muttering something under his breath. "You shouldn't have done that..." I said quietly.
"Kissed you? I shouldn't have kissed you?" he snapped, making me look at him in surprise. "What happened between Em and me last night meant nothing, I--"
"That is my friend you're talking about!" I cut him off, quickly giving the baby to Theo, who disappeared to the bedroom – just in case.
"It's not like you put up a fight," Marcus said, raising his brows at me.
I stared at him in silence, trying to calm down. I felt the humiliation, and the white, burning fury boil inside me, just waiting to get out. "I admit I'm not in the most balanced state of mind right now," I growled. "But you shouldn't have kissed me, even if I had begged you to!"
For a moment, we just glared at each other. "It's about Him, isn't it?" he suddenly demanded. I ket out a small gasp, unable to wrap my head around his comment – how could he know? "It's about Sirius Black, isn't it?"
I slapped him. My hand was aching from the sudden impact with his cheek, and I cradled it against my chest, whimpering silently. Marcus, on the other, seemed unmoved, as he turned to face me again. His left cheek was flaming red, as he stared at me silently. I was so shocked by my own actions, that I didn't even realize that Marcus had taken a step forward, and pulled me in a tight embrace.
And then I cried again, letting him comfort me. "I don't k-know anymore..." I sniffed against his chest. "T-this isn't who I a-am..."
"I know," he murmured into my hair. "It's okay."
"I m-miss him," I suddenly whispered, pulling away from his embrace. "I love h-him, Marcus," I said, more to remind myself than Marcus.
"I know," he said quietly, as he leaned down toward my face – and my lips.
I closed my eyes, biting my lip, as I prepared myself to give in to him again. But as I closed my eyes, all I could think of was Him, and His lips – all over again. I opened my eyes wide, and pushed Marcus away from me, feeling disgusted. "No," I said firmly, shaking my head. "You better leave."
"She told you to leave," came Theo's voice from the bedroom door, and I felt thankful to his presence. "Now."
Marcus glared at Theo for a short moment, before taking a step back, his hands up. "I'm leaving," he said, staring at me blankly.
I watched him leave, my hand still aching. Theo walked up to me, and I let him check my hand for any injuries. He shook his head, and murmured something under his breath, as he pointed his wand at my hand. A soothing, cool sensation covered the aching pain, and I sighed. "Thank you," I said, glancing at him.
"Anything for my wifey, eh?" he joked, shaking his head. "You do know that even if this is a fake marriage, that still counts as cheating?"
"We're not married, Theo," I reminded him.
"We could be, if you listened to my idea first!"
"What good would it do to anyone?" I said, pulling my hand back. "Just because I'm a single mother, and you're gay, doesn't mean we should get married just because of what the society thinks!"
"And why not? I quite like the idea of you being my wife, you know," he said with a shrug. "It'd be interesting!"
I grimaced, and walked to the bedroom, carefully peering at the sleeping baby. "I'll think about it," I murmured, folding my arms. "He'll need a father-figure when he grows up, anyway..."
"Someone who will show him how to throw punches?" Theo suggested.
I threw him a worried look. "Let's not worry about that now," I said. "Let's wait a few years..."
A comfortable silence fell between us, as we stared blankly at the wall.
"I really messed up this time, huh?" I muttered after a moment.
Theo was quiet, as he moved his eyes down to my son instead. "Yeah," he said eventually. "I'm not going to lie to you," he went on. "But you really did, Susie..."
"I know," I sighed. "You know, I wanted Em to be Sid's godmother."
"Sid?" Theo said with raised eyebrows. "That's the name you'll give him?"
I nodded slowly. "I've done some... research."
"I want him to have a family name," I said with a sigh. "Not from my side, obviously."
"Obviously," Theo agreed quietly, as he frowned at me. "So... where exactly does 'Sid' come from, then?"
"His family," I whispered. "I... want to remember him in some way... and like this, it won't be too painful."
"I don't get it," Theo admitted.
"He had an Uncle Sidious," I explained. "He was apparently a bit weird... bonkers, to be honest. But from what I found out, he was a good man. Probably got thrown out of the family tree because of his attitude towards Muggles."
"Apparently, Uncle Sidious had a massive collection of Muggle stuff," I said with a grin. "Rubber ducks, I think, was his pride and joy."
"And you know all this... how?" Theo wanted to know.
"When your dad is the Minister of Magic, you have... resources," I said awkwardly.
"I thought you two weren't talking," Theo said. "Well, not not talking, more like... you two were avoiding each other, being awkward, and so on..."
"Doesn't mean I won't use him and his position shamelessly for my own benefits," I said, grimacing at my own comment.
"This is so not the Susie Q I thought I knew..."
"You don't know me that well, then," I said. "Anything that concerns my son, I'm going to be rude, shameless and selfish."
"That," Theo said, "I knew. I just didn't think you'd be that shameless. It's just a name, Susie..."
I threw him a glare. "It's important to me," I snapped at him, already turning my back to him.
The conversation was officially over, if you asked me.
"Whatever you say, Suze..." Theo murmured, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
A/N: I can proudly say that I'm officially baaaack :D ...well, as back as I can be. I hope there are still people out there reading these stories - and still liking them? :)
- Lily xxx
Chapter 27: I'm Sorry
It was very awkward to be home, to be honest.
If I wasn't avoiding the intense stares coming from Marcus, then I was trying to get Em's attention – but always failed at that, since she was more for the whole slamming-doors-and-silent-treatment shabang.
And it wasn't fun when the three of us happened to be in the same room – it was like a hell on earth.
”This has got to stop, girls!” Theo moaned, as Em dramatically slammed the door after herself, and barricaded in her own room with a bowl of cereal. Theo slammed his glass of water down. ”Em's only eating cereal these days, you're rolling in self-pity like a kicked puppy, and you,” Theo fumed on, turning to glare across the room at Marcus, who merely raised a brow. ”you've got to stop pining, man!”
”Theo,” I snapped, glaring at Theo. ”Shut up.”
”I LIVE HERE!” Theo boomed, making Sid kick in his sleep, slur a little, and then settle down again peacefully.
”You'll wake the monster,” Marcus commented quietly.
”Stop--” I began, meeting Marcus' stare for a second, before blushing crimson and looking away again. ”Don't call him monster,” I muttered lamely.
”When will you just get over yourself and look at me properly, Quency?” Marcus demanded.
”When you agree to quit and get the hell out of here,” I answered.
”Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I cut him off, still not looking at him. ”You got an order, you can't turn it down, and you're tied to this task until the Minister tells you otherwise,” I muttered. ”Whatever.”
Just then, Em decided to appear from her room with her bowl of cereal. She marched quietly to the kitchen, slammed the bowl on the counter, and re-appeared with her coat.
”We're out of milk,” she said to no one in particular, already out through the door when the last words were uttered.
I stared after her for a moment, before jumping up. ”Watch the kid!” I said to Theo, and ran after Em.
I didn't even bother to grab a coat, and immediatly regretting the decision as I came outside – it was raining.
”EM!” I called down the street, and wasn't surprised to see Em ignore me, as she walked on through the rain.
She was a woman with a mission, but so were I – so I ran after her.
”GOD DAMN IT, EM!” I roared, grabbing her by the elbow and spinning her around. ”Is this how it's going to be? Really? You not talking to me ever again? And all because of some guy!?”
”WHY DID YOU HAVE TO KISS HIM!?” Em screamed at me, making me flinch. ”Why him?” she said more quietly, and I blinked rapidly as the rain drops hit my face like ice. I wasn't sure if Em was crying or not, but the pain etched on her face was more than enough to give me a clue.
”I'm sorry,” I blurted out, letting my shoulders sag. ”I know that's not enough, but--”
”I just...” Em cut me off, looking down at her shoes. ”I don't want to be around you. I can't stand the sight of you right now.”
”Okay, I'll just go, and--”
”No, Susie,” Em said, shaking her head slowly. ”I'm moving out. Tomorrow.”
As on cue, the thunder rumbled somewhere above us. I stared at Em, stunned, as I tried to wrap my head around her words.
”M-moving out?” I whispered. ”But--”
”Maybe someday,” Em went on. ”I'll be able to talk to you again.”
As she turned her back on me, I realized what I had to do. I would make it all better again, I would make it better for sure.
”No,” I said loudly, as the thunder rumbled again above us. ”No, I'll move out.”
Em stared at me blankly. ”What?”
”I'm the one who should move out, I'm the one who doesn't belong there,” I said firmly. ”Besides, Sid will only get bigger and bigger from now on, it'll become more difficult to--”
”Sid?” Em breathed, her eyes wide. ”You'll name him Sid?”
I blinked at her, nodding stiffly. ”I suppose it's no use to keep it a secret now...” I muttered. ”I was going to ask you to be the godmother.”
We stared at each other, the rain hitting us harder and harder.
”I'm sorry,” I said again, taking a step back. ”I'll... leave now.”
I turned stiffly around, and walked slowly back to the apartment, where a expectant looking Theo and Marcus waited for me. As I shut the door behind me, I fell against it with a loud thud, closing my eyes for a minute. I knew the two guys were holding their breath, expecting an answer or explanation soon.
”Well?” Theo finally demanded.
I opened my eyes, suddenly aware of the hot tears running down my already wet cheeks. ”We're moving out,” I whispered, my words like a loud scream in the silent room. ”Sid and me.”
There was a sound of glass breaking – someone dropped a glass, and I didn't even need to look to know who it was.
I would make it all better again.
”This'll be the last of it!” I said cheerfully, forcing out another grin. I watched as Theo sulkily carried the box out from the room, not even bothering to be careful with it. He had been like this for the entire day – which wasn't a long time, but since I had decided to be out of the apartment within a day, that's all the time to sulk he got.
”What about this one?” Marcus asked, nodding towards a box in the corner.
”I'll leave it,” I said. ”It's... not my stuff.”
”Oh,” Marcus said, shoving his hands in his pockets.
”It's just bedsheets and stuff,” I said, fully aware of the curiousity bubbling inside of him.
”Oh,” he said again. ”So where exactly are you moving? You know I'll find out, anyway, so you might as well tell me now.”
”Can't you just give me one day?” I snapped. ”One day without your supervision, huh?”
Marcus stared at me blankly for a second, before narrowing his eyes, and walking up to me. Startled by his advancement, I backed hastily, until my back hit the wall. I gasped, as he slammed his hand against the wall, right beside my face. ”Last time,” he growled. ”I let you out of my sight, you got into some serious trouble, and as if that wasn't enough, you also put Sid and Em in danger – you want to repeat that again?”
I gulped, trying to collect my chaotic thoughts. ”You don't seriously expect me to get into trouble again?”
”I can never be too sure when it comes to you,” he murmured, his mouth twitching.
I pushed him away from me, glaring at him. ”Don't,” I warned him.
”What?” he said innocently.
”I'm not comfortable with this... this...” I stammered, looking around. ”This situation!”
”There's no situation,” Marcus said with a shrug. ”Just your wild imagination, Quency.”
I watched him go, leaving me fuming, huffing and puffing. My boiling anger was cut short by Theo's grumpy voice. ”Ready to leave?”
”Coming!” I called back, hurrying downstairs. I noticed Marcus holding Sid, patting his back gently and humming something, while Em stood awkwardly next to Theo on the sidewalk. She had excused herself from the whole packing and moving, and only shown up now. In a way, I totally understood her. I gave the building one last glance over my shoulder, before reaching out for the baby.
”Let him burp first,” Marcus said, moving out of my reach.
”GIVE HIM TO ME!” I demanded, making Marcus raise his brows at me. ”Please?” I added, blushing at my childish ways, as Marcus slowly gave the baby to me, watching me strap the baby into the carrier.
”D'aww, like a real family!” Theo said sarcastically, and rolled his eyes. All of us grew stiff at his comment, and it didn't take long until Theo caught on, too. ”Oh, shit...!” he said, burying his face in his hands. ”Just go, you wench...” he moaned.
”I'll come visit,” I said, giving Theo a hug, while trying not to squish Sid at the same time. I glanced at Em, who was staring at her shoes again. ”You'll come visit, right?” I said, trying to catch her eye.
”Sure,” Em muttered, after getting a nudge from Theo.
”Are you sure you don't want us to come along and--” Theo tried again.
”I'll be fine!” I told him, climbing into the truck. Marcus squeezed in the driver's seat, whether I liked it or not. ”I'll see you soon!” I called through the window, as Marcus started the engine.
Theo waved at us, as we drove away. I sighed heavily, leaning back in my seat. I wish you could just Apparate with all your things – moving was such a bore! But since Sid was still so small, I couldn't take any risks of hurting him in the process.
I stared out through the window, watching the familiar streets and shops flash by quickly. I was sure of my plan, even if the success rate was pretty low, considering I had a professional stalker with me.
Nothing could go wrong – I wouldn't allow it.
”Marcus,” I said suddenly, trying to keep my voice calm. ”Can we make a short stop?”
Marcus glanced at me, clearly surprised by my tone. ”Sure, what's wrong?”
”I think I'm already getting car sick,” I said apologetically. ”Bad experiences with cars,” I explained. ”There's a coffee shop around the corner, right? Can we make a short stop there?”
”Sure, sure,” Marcus said, steering the truck awkwardly towards the coffee shop. As Marcus hopped out of the truck, I knew I had to be fast. I grabbed the small backpack from under the bench, and did a double-check that Sid was safely in his carrier. Sid seemed to sense something was about to happen, as his hazel-eyes were wide and alert, but he knew better than to start crying – it never got him anywhere, anyway.
I flung myself out of the truck, backpack and baby with me, and hurried down the street.
”Susie?” came Marcus' startled voice. ”SUSIE!”
I knew then that I was followed by him. I ran faster, rounding a corner after a corner. The same fear and adrenaline pumped through my veins as it had done when I had been chased by those bad guys – only this time, I was scared of the consequences I would have to face if Marcus was to catch me. Sure, he probably wouldn't kill me – no, actually, I knew he wouldn't do that. But he would probably go to Nick, and have me thrown into Azkaban 'for my own safety'.
Or something similar.
To my shock, I ran into a dead-end – again. I cursed silently under my breath, just as Marcus joined me in the alley. I spun around, counting about twenty feet between the two of us. I was breathing heavily, just like Marcus, and the look on his face was enough to make me feel victorious; he coudln't stop me, there were too many people out on the street behind him, I was safe.
”I asked nicely,” I told him, panting. ”I asked for one day, Marcus, didn't I?”
”Don't do this, Susie,” he pleaded quietly, taking a few steps forward. He eyed my backpack, his eyes widening. ”You're not seriously planning to leave with just that? Huh? Was this all just a cover-up? You're running away – again? Where will you go now, huh? You've got nowhere to run to, Susie!”
I glared at him. ”I have lots of places to run to,” I told him. ”Just let me go.”
Marcus took another step forward, as I grabed my wand tightly. ”Don't!” he called out, as I took a step back.
”I'm sorry,” I whispered, before closing my eyes tightly, and suddenly remembering the three D's; Destination, Determination and Deliberation.
And then we were spinning.
A/N: Not the best chapter out there, I know, but I had to get things moving in order to get forward with the story, and-- you know what? Nevermind :D
- Lily xxx
Chapter 28: Why Did You Come?
We landed quite precisely in front of the 'AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY!' sign. There was a split second of utter silence, before Sid went off with an ear shattering scream. I quickly hoisted the backpack over my shoulder, and pushed through the door. It wasn't a shocker to see Ernie at his usual place, looking as friendly as ever.
”Miss Quency!” he greeted cheerfully. His eyes zeroed on the screaming baby, and his eyes filled with astonishment. ”My, oh, my... who is this fine gentleman, huh?”
I realized I hadn't been at the Ministry with Sid before, and he wasn't exactly at his best beaviour now.
”Oh, hi, Ernie!” I said over the screaming. ”This is my son!”
Ernie watched me thoguhtfully, as I tried to deal with it all; the sliding backpack, the screaming baby, and talking – all at the same time.
”Need some help?” Ernie offered, and before I could protest, he was already reaching out to pick up Sid from his carrier. The minute Ernie had him, Sid stopped screaming, and gazed up at the man with his huge eyes.
”Oh...” I said, staring in astonishment at the quiet boy. ”He likes to be held by guys, I suppose,” I said, trying not to be jealous.
But I was... a little, anyway.
”It's natural for boys to connect their own kind!” Ernie guffawed, and I wondered if Sid had already won Ernie's heart. Watching Ernie gaze down at Sid once again, I knew he totally had.
”I'm actually here to see the Minister,” I said, trying to get Ernie's attention again. ”I'm actually in a terrible hurry, I left my Ministry ID card, I--”
”You don't need a card, Miss Susan,” Ernie said, cooing down at the baby. ”You're not an outsider – you're one of us!”
I smiled at Ernie, letting him have another minute with Sid, before clearing my throat. ”Ernie, I'm really sorry, but could I... maybe...?”
Ernie seemed to get my hint, and quickly handed Sid back to me. ”Beautiful baby, Miss,” he said and coughed twice. ”Congratulations are in order!”
”See you, Ernie!” I said, dashing away.
Even after all this time, it only took me a few minutes to locate my way back to my old workplace, the desk I had worked at for a short period of time. To ym surprise, it was empty – surely Mr R had hired a new assistant?
”Hello...?” I said slowly, and looked around. I was about to take a peek at the desk, when someone appeared from Nick's office – someone vaguely familiar.
”Excuse me!” the woman said, as she hurried back to the desk, her platinum blonde hair in a tight bun. ”How can I help you?”
I frowned down at her, mortified by the fact that I couldn't remember her name. Miss Andrews, was it? Jan... Janice... Jaqueline?
”I can't remember your name!” I blurted out, trying to look apologetic. ”Miss Andrews, right? I worked here before you!” I said, suddenly realizing how wrong that sounded. ”I mean, you obviously worked here before me, then I worked after you, and now you work here... again! So you got your old job back? That's great!”
The woman stared at me blankly, her face tensed. She smiled a slow smile – out of politeness – as she continued to stare up at me. ”Miss Quency,” she said stiffly.
”Yes!” I said, sighing with relief. ”Hello!”
Her eyes moved to the baby, and a small smile appeared on her face. ”Yours?”
”Yes!” I said, nodding. ”Look, is the boss in?” I said, already moving towards Nick's office.
This made Miss Andrews jump up and hurry to stop me, placing herself in front of me. ”I'm sorry, Miss Quency, but the Minister is not taking any visitors right now.”
I stared at her. I couldn't exactly blurt out I was his daughter, and this was vitally important, could I?
Or could I?
I mean, being his assistant and all, she had to sign one of those confidentiality papers, right? And if I told her who I was, it'd be more or less directly linked to Nick, and so she wouldn't be able to blab even if she wanted to, right?
But you don't just go around blurting out stuff like that, do you?
”This is important,” I tried lamely.
”Maybe I can help?” she said in a friendly tone, gesturing me to take a seat. I slowly sat down, thinking hard. ”You signed one of those confidentiality papers, right?”
Miss Andrews blinked at me. ”Of course,” she said. ”Why?”
I bit my lip. ”I'm in trouble, I think,” I began. ”You see, the thing is...”
And so, there I sat, for about fifteen minutes, and told the short version of how I was the Minister's illegitimate child, and I was running away from my own bodyguard, and I didn't have much time.
”I see,” she merely said at the end of my little story. ”I knew there was something odd about you...”
I raised my brows at her comment, not bothering to ask what she meant by that. ”So you see why I have to see him, right?” I said, getting up again.
”Wait, hold on!” Miss Andrews said, stopping me again. Sid was starting to get imaptient, and he let out a small gurgle of dissatisfaction. ”I can help you – let's not bother the Minister with such trivial matter!”
”How is his own daughter's well-being a 'trivial matter'?” I demanded, knowing for a fact that he would want to help me if I had any kind of trouble.
Even if it was caused by myself.
”You don't seem to understand,” Miss Andrews said and shook her head. ”Why do you think the Minister is being so busy these days? Why his private matters are the front page news? Why his private life is being investigated by the most brutal and immoral people of all – by reporters?”
I stared at her. ”How is that my fault?”
”You don't think it's suspicious at all that one of his assistants got pregnant all of the sudden, with no history of a steady relationship whatsoever, and then disappearing out of the picture just as fast as she appeared? How that same assistant is getting her own bodyguard – apparently one of the best ones in that business, too! - you don't think that's suspicious at all?
I felt my blood run cold. ”What are you talking about? That was never in the papers!”
”And why do you think it wasn't?” she said, letting out a huff. ”I'm sorry to tell you this, Miss Quency, but while you were prancing around like the foolish girl you are, the Minister did heaven knows what to protect you from those kinds of headlines! He attended different functions and charity balls to cover up for you, he even went as far as discreetly handing out money to cover up for you!”
I felt my knees give in, as I lowered myself in the chair again. ”No... that can't be true... he wouldn't--”
”Wouldn't protect his own child before his own reputation?” Miss Andrews said sweetly, looking down at me as if I was a bug that should be squashed. ”You silly, silly girl...”
”I should... go,” I said stiffly.
”Yes, you should,” she agreed, as I stood up. ”Let me help you, though.”
I turned to look at her. After what she had just thrown at me, I would've believe this woman hated me – why was she offering to help me now?
”Why?” I asked, my eyes wide.
”For the Minister,” she explained, scribbling something on a paper. ”I'd do anything.”
I took the piece of paper she handed to me, and walked towards the elevators.
”I'll let the Minister know you dropped by,” Miss Andrews called after me.
I spun around, as the elevator doors opened. ”Please don't!” I said, suddenly frightened. ”Don't... mention I came by, okay?”
”Very well, Miss Quency,” Miss Andrews said, smiling curtly.
As the elevator doors slowly closed in front of my eyes, I felt more vulnerable than ever.
Not to mention guilty – what had I done?
”Looks like it's just us two now, kid,” I whispered, letting my tears flow down.
A/N: I feel sorry for Susie... :(
- Lily xxx
Chapter 29: The Coalition
I sat on the park bench, watching other people. Sid had finally fallen asleep in his carrier, his steady snoring soothing me. I felt like a homeless person, as I watched the happy families playing in the park. All the children had a mom and a dad – they were a wholesome family.
What could I possibly give my own son?
”I'm a bad mother,” I whispered to Sid. ”Mommy's sorry...” I said, kissing his soft hair gently. ”So very sorry...!”
With one last sigh, I took another look at the piece of paper Miss Andrews had given me.
32nd Lincoln drive
The Rose Garden Park
I looked around once more. This was the right park. What was I supposed to do here? Jsut sit and wait? How would this help me? I couldn't just stay there and wait, could I? I mean, Marcus would find me soon enough, and if not, he'd be able to track me down eventually, anyway.
Another hour went by, and the laughing families started to leave the park. It started to get chilly, and I shivered involuntarily, when I wondered if I had to spend the entire night on the park bench.
Like a real homeless person.
Through some kind of miracle, Sid was still sleeping peacefully. I had to check he was still breathing – this kind of silence creeped me out when sitting alone in the dark on a park bench.
The voice startled me so much I let out a small squeak. A hooded figure stood by the bench, gazing down at me. I peered up at the figure, trying to get a glimpse of their face.
”The person you're waiting for,” the woman said. ”Is me.”
I let out a sigh of relief. ”Really? Miss Andrews contacted you?”
The woman slowly lowered her hood, and revealed an older woman's face; she looked like your typical granny, only somewhat more somber. She peered at me with her bright eyes, and gestured for me to follow.
”Please, come along,” she said, smiling. ”It's getting cold out here – the baby must be tired, too! Poor baby...” she said, gently patting Sid on the head.
”Thank you,” I said, following her from the park. I wasn't sure what I was thanking for yet, but just her presence made me feel at ease. ”Thank you so much for doing this...”
”I understand you're in some kind of trouble,” she ventured carefully. ”Don't worry, you won't have to tell me – I've seen many women like you, young mothers, wives...” she murmured. ”My name is Adele, I've helped your kind for many, many years.”
It slowly dawned on me; she was from a shelter, or something similar. I felt bad; I wasn't a victim here. Things were, all considered, pretty good for me. I wasn't some abused housewife with a baby – I was a stubborn loghead with a baby!
I felt even more pitiful and awkward, as I followed Adele down the darker roads, an alley after an alley, deeper and deeper into the city. Suddenly, she made a sudden turn to the right, and walked down some stone stairs. I followed her, clutching my backpack tightly. At the end of the stairs we were met by a wooden door. She pushed it open, and let me enter first. The room was very poorly lit, and almost reminded me of the dungeons at Hogwarts – that alone made me cringe.
”Go on,” Adele said promptly, and I followed her nod through another door. I was immediatly put at ease, as we entered some kind of lobby, very similar that of an inn. ”You can go ahead upstairs,” she told me, giving me a gentle push towards the spiral stairs. ”Someone will be right with you.”
”Thank you,” I said again, slowly making my way up the stairs. I took one last glance over my shoulder down at Adele, only to see her talking with another hooded figure. This person was much larger than Adele; he had broad shoulders, he had his head bent, as he handed something to Adele – I didn't see it properly, but it seemed like a small bag, maybe money...?
I shook my head. No, I was just imagining things. Why would someone like Adele – a woman who helped victimized women! - take any kind of payment for her job? Wasn't she some kind of volunteer worker?
To my surprise, there was only one bedroom at the end of the stairs. I wondered if there were other places like this somewhere else, as I threw my backpack down on the floor. With a pained hiss, I hoisted the carrier off, gently making sure I didn't wake the baby. Unstrapping him went just as easily as anything else – he was such an easy kid, if you thought about it.
”You don't just like Apparition, do you?” I mused, tucking him in. I touched his chubby cheek, smiling gently as he responded to my touch with a low gurgle, and a content sigh.
I was about to get some sleep myself, when there was a soft knock at the door. I froze for a short second, before walking over and opening the door.
”Hello?” I said, when I saw no one there. I peeked outside, frowning. ”He--”
And then, someone said something – a hex, a spell, a curse? - from somewhere nearby, and I was thrown right into the wall with a bang, making a ruckus loud enough to wake up an entire country – as it woke up Sid! - and the room was filled with the familiar sound of Sid's crying, and someone leaned down towards my face, my eyes locking with a pair of familiar, dark eyes...
I was hit by ice cold water straight in the face. This woke me up from my unconsciousness, making me splutter loudly, as I tried to gasp for air. Someone held my head up by holding a fistful of hair, making it even more painful and cruel. When the water stopped, the person holding my head up also let go. Without any strength left, my head bobbed down, as I coughed loudly.
I felt like I was drowning.
I shook my head wildly, not entirely sure where I was. The room was dark, except for the tiny light coming through the bars above me. It smelled like mold, and every part of my body was aching in pain. I was suddenly aware that I was tied up; my arms were tied behind my back, my legs pulled together back in a painful position.
I raised my head slowly, squinting in the dark.
The voice was cold, and echoed from the walls in a way I thought was rather dramatic. It was hard to tell where it was coming from, but quite frankly, I didn't give a damn.
There was only one thought flickering through my mind.
”Where's my son?” I demanded, my voice hoarse, as if I had been screaming for hours. ”WHERE IS HE!?”
”He's... safe, I wouls hope,” the same voice replied.
Tears filled my eyes, as I felt frustration fill my entire being. ”GIVE ME MY SON!”
”Tsk, tsk, tsk!” someone said. ”Manners, manners, manners, Susie Q...”
I froze again. ”Who are you? Why are you doing this?”
”I have my reasons,” she said, and I heard someone walk in high-heels around me. The sound of the heels meeting the stone floor made a sound of click-clack, click-clack with each step. ”You took something from me.”
”I don't know what you're talking about,” I coughed, trying to get my voice back. ”But when I get my hands on you, I swear I will kill you!”
”Are you in a position to make threats like that, young lady?”
”Just wait until they find me,” I heard myself say. ”Someone will find me, if not my friends, then surely my bodyguard.”
There was a beat of silence, then an explosion of cackles. She was laughing at me, as if something I had said was incredibly funny.
I didn't know what was so funny about it; Marcus would find me, even if I were to be dumped in the middle of Atlantic in a casket.
Suddenly, a door opened, letting in more light. There was a large frame standing by the door, I couldn't get a proper look, before the door slammed shut again. Someone hissed in a disapproval, and I tried once again peer into the dark.
”Why are you still here?” the woman snapped to someone nearby. ”I already gave you what you're worth, you mongrel – stop butting in my business and leave!”
”This is not what I agreed to,” a deep voice growled. ”If I had known you'd do this to her, I--”
”What you do is far worse than what I do,” the woman said calmly. ”You hunt people down for a 'few' galleons – is that something to be proud of, huh?”
Hunt people? For money? A... bountyhunter?
”I did not bring her to you to watch you torture her!” the second voice said loudly, and my ears perked at the familiar voice.
”Ah, she seems to recognize your voice, m'dear boy...” the woman sighed. ”Why don't you re-introduce yourself?”
I stared ahead, biting my lip, as I hoped for my guess to be wrong. It usually was, but occassionally, it was spot on.
This was one of those times.
A man stepped out from the shadows, revealing himself in the little light there was. I stared directly into the dark eyes, feeling the last drops of hope vanish from my body.
To my shock, a quiet sob escaped my lips, as my lower lip started to tremble. ”M-Marcus?”
A/N: Happy? HAPPY!? I'm happy :D
- Lily xxx
Chapter 30: Echo
”M-Marcus?” I said again, trying to keep my voice calm and steady.
It all seemed so bizarre and wrong; Marcus Valois wouldn't betray me, he wasn't like that. He worked for the Ministry, for Merlin's sake! The Minister himself – my dad! - had ordered him to look after me, to protect me, I knew this!
Another shocking, horrifying, thought hit me; I had never really discussed this with Nick, had I? The one time I had planned to storm in and confront him about it, I had been stopped.
By who? By Marcus.
Something was still wrong with the big picture, something was missing...
”Susan,” he said quietly, as he stared at me. I snapped back to reality, blinking up at the man. ”I'm so sorry...”
His words felt like a slap in the face. ”You're sorry?” I repeated, deep disbelief clear on my face. ”Seriously? That's all you have to say for yourself?”
”If I had known--”
”Shouldn't you be somewhere, Valois?” the woman cut off, clearly annoyed by now. ”You got your money, now move along.”
Marcus glared somewhere behind himself, before sighing deeply. Without saying a word, he quickly kneeled in front of me, cuppin g ym face with his large, warm hands. ”I will come back for you,” he whispered quickly, as the two men reached his side. His thumb brushed my lips, as the men grabbed him under his arms, and dragged him away, leaving me there with mixed feelings.
I'd rather die than to wait for him to come back, I found myself thinking darkly. Another thought – a much brighter, more desperate thought – filled my head with a more convincing tone; I would do anything to be able to save my son.
”Alone at last,” the woman purred, as the door slammed shut and I blinked in the darkness.
”Who are you, and what do you want from me?” I demanded, trying to stay calm. ”I'm not anyone special – I have nothing to offer to you, but if it's money you want, I can get--”
”You stupid girl,” the woman cut me off, her voice ice cold. ”You just don't get it, do you?”
”Enlighten me, then!” I snapped at her, starting to get pissed off at her attitude.
”You ruined my life!” she cried out, now clearly hysterical.
I stared in the general direction of her voice, clueless. Then, probably due to fear and adrenaline, I started laughing. The laughter started as hysterical, bubbling giggles in my chest, and soon poured out loudly as a mocking guffaw, until I was in tears. The ropes restraining me cut into my wrists as I doubled over as far as I could, laughing.
”Me!?” I howled, shaking my head. ”I ruined your life!? I'm sorry, woman, but how could I have possibly ruined your life, huh?”
She waited until I had somewhat calmed down, before stepping from the shadows. I expected to see some random woman, probably some crazy lunatic, who wanted money. Why, I had no idea. Money made people do crazy things, I figured. What I didn't expect to see was Felicia Hunt, my dad's girlfriend.
Or ex-girlfriend, I suppose.
”Y-you?” I gasped, staring at her. ”W-why are you...?”
”Everything was just fine... until you came along,” she sneered at me, her beautiful, sharp features twisted with disgust and anger. ”I was as good as a married woman, soon-to-be the wife of the Minister of Magic – until you came along, and ruined EVERYTHING!”
She screeched the last word so loudly that it bounced off the walls, making my ears ache in pain. ”I-I didn't--”
”Oh please!” she cut me off. ”I know exactly why you're here. You knew exactly who your father was, and he knew who you were the moment he saw you – only a complete idiot would miss the resemblance between you two!”
I mulled ove rher words with a small frown. We didn't really have much in common when it came to looks, mayeb the eyes but... that could've been a 'trait' from Mama, too.
”You're a stupid little girl,” she went on, circling me slowly, her heels making that same, click-clack sound again agaisnt the stone floor. ”Thinking the world revolves around you and nobody else – strutting around like some important little thing... not caring how many lives you're ruining with your existence,” she murmured, almost as if she was talking to herself.
”I don't really understand how my connection to the Minister is 'ruining your life', ma'am,” I said suddenly. ”He might be my biological father, yes, but I... I don't want anything from him. He's doen so much for me already! Yes, I intended to ruin him... at the beginning. But now – not so much. I'm sorry if your plans got a bit... changed, I suppose, but now it's okay, now you--”
Felicia slapped me, silencing me. I didn't even see it coming, it happened so fast. She had walked up to me with two steps, and raised her hand, and slapped me hard. My cheek was burning hot, and I felt tears sting my eyes – I gaped in astonishment up at her, trying to recover from the shock. A part of me felt disappointed with my own childish, naive way of thinking I could talk myself out of this. I hadn't been like this before – I had been a person who lacked faith and trust in everyone, a person who suspected everyone.
But I had changed, to say the least.
And I realized there was no way for me to talk myself out of this.
”Where's... my...” I gasped, the throbbing pain getting worse and worse. ”...son?”
”He'll join you... soon,” the man laughed, joined by the other man behind him. ”Let's go!”
I watched them leave me alone in the dungeon cell. I closed my eyes tightly, struggling against the tears that were already streaming down my cheeks. I was fine with the torture and pain – but not my son, not Sid...
Please not Sid...
I let my head fall down again, the pain slowly lulling me into a disturbing kind of sleep.
It felt like only a few seconds later, when someone was shaking me gently awake.
”Susie!” a voice said, rattling me in a way I assumed was meant to be gentle, but felt like a small earthquake going through my body. I hissed in pain, trying to open my eyes. ”Susie... what have they... what have they doen to you!?”
It was more of a statement than a question, as I finally managed to open my eyes. I stared down at Marcus Valois, who was trying to release me from the ropes. He was shaking, as he easily opened the ties with his wand, letting me slump right into his arms. I soon realized why he was shaking – he was crying.
”Susie!” he gasped into my hair, holding me up. ”Are you okay? Are you hurt?”
I merely shook my head. I wasn't sure to which question I had answered. He pulled away a little, now holding my face in his large hands, and examining my expression. ”Marcus...” I mouthed, blinking my heavy eyelid. ”Y-you came... back...”
”I came back for you,” he said with a small nod, his eyes wide. ”I told you I would, didn't I!?”
”For me...” I said weakly, slumping back in his arms as the last bits of strength left my body. Marcus picked me up, carrying me quickly out of the room.
”We don't have much time,” I heard him say quietly, as he ran down the dark corridors.
”We'll find him,” he assured me. Suddenly, he came to a stop. Both of us listened closely to the silence surrounding us, holding our breath. ”We're not alone,” he said darkly, and I felt his arms tighten around my weak body.
”Put me down,” I said quietly, looking wildly around. He hesitated, and I glared at him in the darkness. ”Put me down – you need my help to fight them off.”
He let out a dark chuckle. ”Fight them off?” he said, as my feet touched the ground. ”With what, exactly?”
I automatically searched my pockets for my wand, finding nothing. ”With my fists, if I must!”
”--would be a terribly bad idea, girl,” came a cool voice from the end of the endless tunnel. ”Get them,” the familiar female voice commanded, and I heard someone hurry towards us.
”When I say run, you run,” Marcus whispered in my ear, his arm still around my waist, holding me up. I stared at him blankly, trying to read his face. ”If you want to see your son again, you do as I say!”
I nodded at once, pursing my lips.
”This is not what we agreed, Felicia,” he called to the woman who was watching us closely from afar. ”You promised not to hurt them!”
She laughed coldly, as her guards came closer, watching Marcus and me with wary eyes – that's when I realized that even if I had lost my wand, Marcus still had his, and knowing him, he surely knew how to use it to do some harm.
”A woman can change her mind,” she said slowly, then let out a loud snort. ”Oops?”
”WHERE'S MY SON!?” I shrieked, pushing myself free from Marcus' hold.
before I could finish my sentence, the two guards had raised and aimed their wand at me, and called out, 'CRUCIO!', hitting me with a jet of green light right in the chest. The pain was excruciating, easily knocking me off my feet. I lost all sense of control from my body, just writhing in pain on the hard, cold floor. I didn't know if I was screaming – I probably was – but every inch of my body was burning, burning with pain. It was like I was on fire – first on the outside, and slowly, painfully, cutting through my skin on the inside, my inner organs catching on the fire.
But I knew I wasn't on fire, but it didn't stop me from trying to put the fire out.
I was still shaking on the floor, my eyes rolling tot he back of my head, as the voices and sounds around me came more and more clearer to me.
”...I'LL KILL YOU, YOU–”
”Please, please d-don't!”
”I HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE, YOU BITCH!” Marcus' hiss cut the air like a knife, as I blinked my tears away – instead they rolled down my cheek.
Nearby, I could see both of the guards unconscious – atleast I thought they were – one of them had his eyes wide open, his face pulled in a look of utter shock, as he stared unseeingly at me on the ground. The other one was slumped against the wall, a faint trail of blood running from the corner of his mouth.
I realized ther first guard – the one with his eyes open – was dead.
”Give me one reason,” Marcus murmured, as my attention was drawn back to him. He held Felicia pushed against the wall, choking her with his hand and his wand pressed against her temple. Her long legs were kicking air, as Marcus kept himself in a safe distance – he easily held her with one hand. ”Give me one reason why I shouldn't just curse you to death...”
”I... I... I...” she choked, clawing his hand with her nails.
”S-stop...” I whispered, dragging myself towards them. ”P-please... stop...”
Marcus eyes turned towards me, and for a short second, I got a look at those eyes – his eyes filled with such ahtred that it even shocked me. He quickly looked away, swearing at Felicia, before slamming her head against the wall. I winced, as she fell unconsciously on the floor. Marcus hurried over to me, cradling me in his arms.
”Oh, no, no, no, no...” he murmured, burshing my tears as I gazed up at him. ”Susie? Are you okay? Huh?”
”Find... him...” I choked out, grabbing his collar. ”Please... find h-him.”
My fingers loosened from his collar, and my hand fell on the floor heavily. The last thing I heard was a scream of pain, as if an animal was being tortured.
I realized it was just Marcus.
A/N: ATLAAAAAST!!!!! Although I wish I could make the chapters longer so that it would somehow balance out the long wait :(
- Lily xxx
Chapter 31: It's Okay
It felt like I had been asleep for a century. Every inch of my body felt stiff and weird, as if my arms and legs had all been removed and put together wrong. Nevertheless, I reluctantly opened my eyes, blinking against the bright lights that hit me straight in the face. They were momentarily blocked out when someone leaned over me, looking at me closely.
”Is she awake?” a voice said from far, far away. ”Susie, are you okay? Can you hear me?” the voice said, not sounding so far away anymore.
It was Em.
”Em?” I whispered.
”Thank Merlin,” she breathed, straightening up, and called over her shoulder to someone. ”Theo, she's awake!”
I watched in a daze as Theo joined her, and soon enough, a third person; Midwife Flow.
”We've been going insane here!” Theo fumed, holding my hand carefully, as he peered at me. ”You've been out for three days! We only now got to see you, they--” he said, eyeing Flow with a faint distaste. ”They didn't let us see you!”
”Where is he?” I demanded at once, looking wildly around.
”Who?” Theo said, at the same time as Flow disappeared with Em. I watched them come back, as Flow handed a bundle of blankets wrapped around something tiny to Em, who then eyed me carefully.
”He's fine,” Em told me at once, and I let out a sigh of relief. ”You want to--”
Automatically, I held out my arms, and Em gently put Sid there. He fit so perfectly, it always shocked me. I watched that beautiful face of his, touched his dark curls, and felt my heart swell with relief and love, as I realized he was safe – safe in my arms.
”Not a scar on the kid,” Theo mused, watching us. ”Not even a single hair out of place.”
”He's perfect,” Em agreed, pulling me from my thoughts. ”As he always was.”
I looked up at her, feeling at loss. ”Em...”
”No, don't,” she said, smiling. ”I'm the one who should be apologizing. I let a guy... a guy like him, at that... come between us. If I hadn't thrown such a hissy fit, you wouldn't have moved out, then you wouldn't have been through all that, and--”
”Em, I'm sorry, too,” I whispered, shaking my head. ”And... no one suspected him.”
There was a tense silence, and I watched something pass between Theo and Em.
”What?” I demanded. ”Is there something I don't know?”
”Actually,” Theo said, ignoring Em's glare. ”If it hadn't been for Marcus, you would still be knocked out cold on a floor, and Sid would be--”
”Shut up, Theo, for crying out loud!” Em snapped. ”If it wasn't for Marcus, none of that would've happened in the first place!”
”What happened to him, anyway?” I asked, looking down at Sid to avoid their eyes.
”They're actually handling his case right now,” Theo said, shaking his head. ”I'm the one who never liked the man, you know that, Susie! But, you know... I just feel sorry for the guy! The way it was handled! I mean, he shows up at the Ministry with you and Sid – who was sleeping in an abandoned room, bless him! - and comes with all this 'intel' about Felicia and her goons, and what do they do? Throw him in Azkaban to wait!”
”He confessed?” I said, surprised.
”Everything,” Em said, nodding. ”Your dad right about lost it, you know...”
”He's the Minister of Magic!” Theo huffed. ”It's not a fair trial, if you ask me!”
”What's not fair is your total ignorance of the facts!” Em snapped.
”Please take this outside, people!” Healer Flow cut in, as Theo was about to say something. ”Both of my patients need rest.”
Theo and Em were still bickering under their breath, but my thoughts were somewhere else; somewhere out there, a man was about to get an unfair trial – and even if he was partially guilty, everyone deserved a fair trial.
And on top of that, I would be in the front lines to watch my dad ruin his political career – and all because of me.
I had to do something.
The hearing of Marcus Valois was pushed forward by a week. Apparently, his case and his involvement seemed unclear to some, and more investigations had to be done. And during that week, I did my best to get discharged from the ward.
And the moment I walked out with Theo and Em – Sid strapped safely in a stroller – I turned to them, my eyes wild. ”I need you two to look after Sid for a few hours, okay?”
Theo raised his eyebrows, as Em narrowed her eyes. ”You're not going to do something stupid, are you?”
”No,” I said shortly, as Theo took charge of the stroller.
”Just an odd coincidence that Marcus' hearing is in a few days, right?”
”The oddest ever,” I agreed with a shrug. ”Thanks!” I said, hurrying away.
A few seconds later, I was marching down the familiar path to the Minister of Magic's office. Behind the desk – the desk Miss Andrews had vacated – was now empty. I was about to burst into Nick's office, when the door was opened from the inside, and I almost ran into a man with the largest muscles I had ever seen. He was almost three times as big as I was, and he could best be described as a wall. He had a blank look on his hard face, as he stepped aside, letting me enter. I squeezed awkwardly in through the tiny space between us, stumbling inside. He closed the door behind me, and I quickly tried to gather my dignity and pride, as I looked at the nonplussed look on Nick's face.
He looked as if he had aged a lot. He rested his jaw against his palm, and he was half-slumped over his desk. His normally immaculate robes were crumpled and looked almost too big for him. The dark circles on his eyes made him look even paler.
Who was this man?
”Hi,” I said, sitting down in the chair. ”You look awful.”
”You're one to speak,” he said darkly. He sighed, shrugging. ”Just had a very intense fifteen minutes about some strict rules you need to follow,” he explained, nodding towards the door. ”That was Declan. Declan McGee, your new bodyguard.”
I stared at him in disbelief. ”I thought we'd established that I don't need a bodyguard.”
”McGee is the real thing – no nonsense, you'll like him,” Nick said, leaning back in his chair. ”I'm having you re-located to Argentina. You'll be safe there.”
I continued to stare at him. ”What? Re-locating me? Are you--” I spluttered, when the sudden urge of laughter washed through me. ”I'm not someoen you can just 're-locate' whenever things get tough! I'm not your employee, I'm your daughter, I--”
”YOU ARE MY DAUGHTER, GOD DAMN RIGHT YOU ARE!” he roared, making me jump. ”AND I WILL DAMN WELL HAVE YOU SAFE AND PROTECTED EVEN IF THAT'S THE LAST THING I'LL DO!”
”By using your rank wrongly, giving a man – however guilty and bad he is! - an unfair trial, is that it?” I said coolly, swallowing. ”You really want to become that kind of man? Abusing your power wrongly for personal reasons? You think that's the kind of father anyone would want to have? Or a grandfather?”
Nick watched me silently, before he swivelled around in his chair, turning his back to me. ”This discussion is over,” he said shortly.
”If you give him an unfair trial,” I threatened hotly. ”I will never see you again. I will cut all ties to you, you'll never see Sid or me ever again – and that bodyguard boy out there has nothing on me! Trust me, I know how to disappear without a trace!”
He turned slowly back aorund, his eyes wide with shock. ”What?”
”You heard me,” I said, folding my arms. ”Don't do it. Just let him... let him disappear – you know how to do that, don't you?”
We stared at each other for a moment, before something crossed Nick's face, and his mouth fell open. ”You like him, don't you?”
I blinked at him. ”What?”
”You're in love with that Valois-guy, aren't you?”
”Love has nothing to do with it,” I warned him. ”I dislike him as much as the next person, I just don't think he deserves an unfair trial because of something that wasn't entirely his fault!”
”HE CAME BACK FOR ME!” I cut him off loudly, slamming my fist against his desk. ”OKAY!? He – came – back!”
”Felicia Hunt had him--”
”Punish Felicia, then, if you must!” I told him. ”You know she was the mastermind behind it all. I've heard the true story; Marcus Valois had no part in the original plan, he didn't know what Felicia had in mind!”
”He... he...” he stammered, trying to find something to hold against Marcus. ”He likes you,” he announced suddenly.
”Is that a crime, sir?” I whispered, staring at him. ”Liking someone? Is that what he's being accused of? I doubt he would deny it, even if I say so myself...”
”This is not a joke, Susan,” he scolded.
”Then stop acting in a way that will make you a joke,” I murmured. ”Please – I beg you... dad.”
He seemed surprised by my last word, and so did I. ”Sir,” I corrected after a moment.
He flashed me the tiniest smile, before sighing. ”When did you become so righteous?”
”Being righteous and being right are two totally different things,” I told him quietly. ”Thank you, sir.”
”You make me a better man,” he sighed, turning around in his chair as he cleared his throat, clearly emotional. ”I'll probably regret this later, I just know it...!”
”I did have another thing to say, though...” I began carefully.
He was facing me again, his eyes narrowed with suspicion. ”Are you making fun of me?”
”Not at all, sir,” I said innocently. ”I just wanted to personally invite you to your only grandchild's christening.”
Nick blinked at me, before smiling. ”Oh. I'd... I'd love to come.”
”Good,” I said with a tiny smile. ”It's in three weeks. Be there, or... just be there, okay?”
I didn't wait for his answer – I didn't need one. I knew he would be there.
A/N: How many of you have had a busy week? I sure have! Phew - atleast i came out with a new chapter :)
- Lily xxx
Chapter 32: Tears & Rain
by Susan Quency.
Salem, Massachusetts. The hearing of Miss Felicia Hunt and Mr Marcus Valois took place yesterday at three o'clock. Miss Hunt got herself a sentence of five years in Azkaban for treason against the Ministry and Minister himself. When it was time for the main villain, however, things got out of hand. The sentence was about to be announced, when smoke, explosions and fire broke out. How this all got past the tight security on that day is beyond the author herself! When it was all under control, Valois was nowhere in sight, even though he'd been locked – hands and feet – to the hearing chair in the middle of the room. The author of this piece got a short interview with one of the Ministry workers who was there on that day; 'This is unheard of!', the Ministry worker stated. 'Never in my life have I witnessed anything like it... how can a person just vanish under those circumstances!?'
The author is now obliged to reach out for the people, and ask them to keep their eyes open for any leads. Marcus Valois, 36, has dark hair, dark eyes, and warts. He resembles a troll – this is all according to the Ministry's very reliable sources.
”My masterpiece!” I announced proudly, waving the article in front of Declan McGee.
”Miss, you're doing it again,” he retorted blankly.
”Overreacting,” he said calmly.
”You're no fun, Declan,” I complained. ”Atleast Marcus--”
There was an awkward silence, as Declan pointedly stared out at the rain, not reacting to my slip-up. I bit my lip, cursing myself silently. During the last few days, I had grown fond of Declan. He was like a big teddy bear; he looked gruff and dagerously – which was part of the job! - but he was a really sweet guy. He was married to a Muggle, and they had three boys – he hardly ever saw his family, which kind of made me sad. He was also very different from Marcus, which was... good and bad. He was very strict about the rules, and he didn't bend them – at all. He didn't change diapers. He didn't yell or argue with me – he called me 'miss' or 'Miss Susan'.
Then again, Marcus hadn't been a real bodyguard, anyway.
So there was no chance of me snogging Declan, that was for sure. Sometimes I wondered if Nick had picked a married bodyguard on purpose. I later found out Declan really was one of the best in the bodyguard-business.
Oh, and he didn't like to joke, although I think he was starting to warm to my stunts these days. He had cracked a small smile when my horribly written article had been published – it was amazing what everyone believed it when the Daily Prophet published it.
”Is this it?” I asked again, folding the paper and shoving it in my bag. We peered at a red cottage hidden behind the trees, and a white fence surrounding it.
”Yes, miss,” Declan said with a nod. ”Fifteen minutes, no more, and then I'll kick the door down and drag you out, miss.”
That wasn't a joke, and I knew it all too well.
”That's sweet of you, Dec,” I said, opening the car door. I ran through the rain, and hurried up the few steps to the door. There was no doorbell, but before I could knock, the door was flung open.
There he stood; his hair was pointing in odd directions, his clothes looked dirty, and he clearly hadn't shaved in days.
Marcus Valois – and he was pointing his wand at me.
”Susie?” he said in disbelief, quickly lowering his wand. ”Is it--”
”Marcus,” I said, my eyes wide. ”You're... alive?”
”Wasn't I supposed to be?” he asked, looking confused. He looked over my shoulder, and spotted Declan, who watched us closely from the car. ”Are you allowed to come in?”
I entered without a word, shrugging off my wet coat. The cottage looked even more miserable from the inside; there was a single matress on the floor, placed right in front of the fireplace, and several empty bottles of Firewhiskey. I glanced at the bottles, and then at Marcus, who shrugged once. I walked around the big room, rubbing my arms to stay warm.
”Incendio!” Marcus murmured, and soon enough, a fire crackled in the fireplace. ”Firewhiskey?” he offered, picking up one of the bottles.
”No, thank you,” I said politely, watching him move easily around the room.
”I'm sorry, there are no chairs, just...” he said, nodding at the pathetic excuse of a matress.
”It's fine,” I said, slowly sitting down on the matress – it was almost the same as sitting on the floor, I thought. He sat down next to me, taking a sip from the bottle. ”Are you okay?”
He snorted. ”Am I fine?” he echoed my words before shrugging. ”You saved me from a sure death, Susie... I can't complain, can I?”
”I know what kind of man you are, though,” I murmured, fiddling with my hands. ”You... in spite of everything, you're a man of freedom. You'd rather die than to be... locked down. This,” I said, gesturing around the room. ”Is worse than that. Because of me and my stupid request, you're a prisoner--”
”Don't,” he pleaded, suddenly taking my hand in his. In spite of the cold, his hands were incredibly warm against my skin. ”I can't live if I know you're feeling guilty.”
”One more word and I will kiss you, Quency,” he cut me off, and I pursed my lips together. He smiled wryly, almost as if my reaction amused him in a sad way. ”Kind of wished you hadn't obeyed me...”
”I know,” I whispered, biting my lip. I gave his hand a squeeze. ”I'm so sorry... that I can't... make room for you in my heart, Marcus...”
”I know,” he sighed. ”I didn't expect you to even be able to talk to me, to be quite honest...”
I smiled sadly. ”Despite everything,” I began, my voice breaking. ”You cared about us, at one point... that's what I believe.”
”I always did,” he murmured, looking away.
”I know,” I whispered, blinking my tears back. ”Anyway, I've got something for you!”
He turned towards me again, and watched me curiously, as I rummaged my bag. I handed him the Daily Prophet. ”Here!”
”Actually,” he said, and reached for the Daily Prophet nearby. ”I already read it,” he said with a wry smile. ”You added ten more years, warts and the resemblance of a troll? That's the award winning piece from Susan Quency?”
”Who said anything about award winning?” I sniffed, putting the article back in my bag. ”You know, I used to be a journalist back in London...”
”I know,” he chuckled. ”And even then it was awful. Crime section? Really? It's like you're drawn to misfortunes and accidents!”
”It was some interesting stuff!” I said in my defense. ”You know, that one case could've been something! The one about that old man who got lost, and his grandchildren searched for him?”
”The one who was found in the house across the street, with some equally dementic old woman, having the time of his life? Yes, that does sound interesting!”
I glared. ”Okay, so I'm not cut for it,” I muttered.
”What are you cut for, then?” he said, resting his chin against his hand, as he gazed at me.
I bit my lip. He wouldn't like my answer, I just knew it. ”You can't get mad, okay?” I warned him, as he slowly narrowed his eyes at me. ”You got me thinking... when I found out what you did for a living... hunting people for money, and so on.”
”I just find them, and deliver them,” he corrected silently. ”Go on,” he sighed, when I glared at him.
”I've been thinking,” I said, taking a deep breath. ”I'm going to be a personal investigator.”
I couldn't meet his eyes. Eventually, I had to, since he wasn't responding. I grabbed his hand with both of my hands, squeezing it gently. ”Please say something!”
He sighed. ”I can't make you change your mind, can I?”
I grinned. ”So you approve?”
”Who am I to deny you anything?” he said in defeat, making me squeal. Before I could control myself, I had flung my arms around his neck. It took me a moment to realize what I was doing – and Marcus' warm arms wrapped around me – to make me pull away quickly.
”Sorry,” I said, blushing.
”So do you need my help with anything?”
”Just the basic know-how,” I said with a shrug. ”I think I'm going to be good at it.”
”That's what I'm worried about,” he laughed. ”Well, there's a big chance you're going to get bored to death, if anything... mostly, it's just following people around, blending in, spying on people, gather evidence, and hand them to your client. Mostly, I'm afraid, it's about getting evidence if some rich man's young wife is having an affair with her husband's best friend, really.”
I wrinkled my nose. ”Really?”
”Told you it's boring,” Marcus laughed.
I watched his laughing face for a second, before I had to look away. There was something incredibly painful in that laughing face. It didn't reach his eyes, it was like he was laughing, but not really laughing at all. Had those weeks in Azkaban ruined him already? I shivered, thinking about what some years would do to a human being.
”What about your dad?”
I looked up at him, and sighed. ”He just has to accept it,” I decided. ”I've decided to... to not come clean about our relationship. Nothing good would ever come of that. If people find out I'm the Minister's daughter, Sid and I will constantly be in danger. I don't want to live in fear anymore. And as much as I've grown attached to Declan, I don't want to live my life shadowed by a bodyguard next to me. That's not a way to live,” I explained.
”Good point,” he agreed. ”I hope you're happy,” he went on, his voice different.
”I will be,” I assured him, looking into his eyes.
”But why does this feel like a goodbye?” he whispered.
I bit my lip, looking down at our hands again. ”Because... I think it is.”
A silence stretched between us, and I suddenly became aware of the fact that fifteen minutes had passed a long time ago, and Declan hadn't kicked down the door and dragged me out.
”Right,” was all Marcus said after a moment.
”I think I have to go now,” I said quietly, already getting up.
”Wait,” he said, and pulled me back down.
I kind of knew what he would do – and I didn't fight it. I fell back down, my eyes wide. Marcus pulled me closer, his other hand tilting my face towards his. He leaned down, and pressed his lips against mine, firmly. I blinked my eyes shut, and kissed him back. His hand traveled to my hair, and held me there, as we kissed. It was a very sweet, honest kiss. Nothing compared to His kisses, of course, but it still made my heart beat like a jungle drum. I gasped for air, as Marcus urged me on. Before I knew it, he had me pressed against the matress, still kissing me. Something in my head started to ring, much like a warning bell, and I opened my eyes, only to see Marcus stare down at me, his forehead resting against mine. Our breathing was heavy, as he slowly closed his eyes, and kissed me swiftly once more.
”I love you, Susie Q,” he whispered against my lips. ”Always.”
”I know,” I said, unable to think of anything else. ”Thank you.”
He smiled faintly, pulling away. I sat up, mortified to feel a tear run down my cheek. I brushed it away, angry with myself, as I finally stood up. All the things I had wanted to say had been said – now I just had to remove myself from the premises.
So without looking back, I walked out in the rain again, hurrying back to the car where Declan sat waiting.
He eyed me with an odd expression, as I stared blankly at the rain hitting the window. ”Are you okay, Miss Susan?”
”I'm fine,” I sniffed, shaking my head. ”Let's go.”
A/N: ATLAAAAAST!!!!! I really enjoyed writing this one, for some reason, and eventhough I adore my OC Marcus, I'm a hardcore Susie/Sirius shipper. The ship will forever sail for those two, he's always there :D
- Lily xxx
Chapter 33: Note Spelling
”Are you sure about this place?”
I glared at Em for her lack of trust in me. But I kind of saw her point; I mean, the store looked suspicious. It was covered with black sheets and spiderwebb, and signs like 'UNDER CONSTRUCTION!' and 'DO NOT ENTER!' were hung at the door – a normal person would've turned away.
But there we were, the three of us – and Sid in his stroller – trying not to break anything while Declan stood by the door, waiting. Although, how can you possibly break books? The store was filled with books - from floor to ceiling, wall to wall – with books. Old books, at that. Ancient, even, I assumed.
Theo picked up a book, brushed off a thick layer of dust, and was about to open it, when a sharp voice coughed. ”DON'T TOUCH THAT, BOY!”
”Merlin's beard!” Theo said in surprise, dropping the book.
”Look what you did, huh?” the voice said, almost taunting.
”Yeah, look what you did, Theo,” Em sneered, rolling her eyes.
”Children, please,” I said through gritted teeth, as I navigated through the narrow aisle with the stroller. ”Sir? Sir Murray Daloway?”
Sir Murray Daloway was someone Nick had suggested. Most wizard families had their children's name checked by some kind of seer in order to see if the name would bring good fortune to the child – a load of bullshit, if you asked me, but all luck was very much welcomed in my case.
Gosh, I even had a real Reverend christen Sid to be on the safe side!
I came to a stop, my heart missing a beat. ”What?”
”Susan Black, was it?”
”No,” I said weakly. ”N-no, it's not... Black... it's--”
A short, plump man staggered towards me. He had white beard, round glasses, and a pointy turquoise hat on his balding head. He looked like any kind of grumpy old man, if you asked me.
”Not Black, eh?” he grunted, waving me forward after he had taken me in with his large eyes. ”Not Black, eh...” he muttered, swaying back to where he had come from.
”I'm sorry, sir, but--”
”Come, come, come!” he barked, and I hurried after him. ”And watch out for that book there.”
”What book?” I said, just as the side of the stroller nudged the corner of a book, making an entire pilar of books rumble down in a deafening wave of... well, books. I coughed, waving my hand to see through the thick cloud of dust.
”That one,” he said with a smug look on his face.
”What kind of crook is this?” Theo huffed.
”Are you really Murray Daloway, the famous seer?” I demanded, as I watched the little man climb up on a high chair.
”That's what I've been called for the last century, or so,” he nodded. ”Give or take a decade...”
”Let's just go,” Em whispered, tugging at my arm.
”Why did you call me 'Black'?” I asked curiously. ”Where did you get that from?”
”From the same place I got the other information from,” he said easily. ”What, you think I just make things up as I go? That I make wild guesses and hope for the best? I'm not some fortune teller!”
”But that's why we're here!” Theo said. ”To find out if the kid has a good fortune!”
”Then go get a fortune cookie, boy!”
”Theo, shush!” I demanded. ”We're here about the name.”
He peered at me with a knowing smile, before waving me forward. ”Bring the mutt,” I said gruffly.
”Did he just call--” Em began, looking mortifed.
I picked Sid from his stroller, and carefully made my way toward Murray Daloway. He looked down at Sid's face for the shortest moment, before waving me away. ”The name?”
I rummaged my bag, and handed a parchment to him. He unscrolled it, and eyed it for a short moment. ”Si-di-ous Quency?”
”Sidious – note spelling! - Quency, yes,” I repeated slowly.
”Note spelling, yes,” he said, a twinkle in his old eyes. ”Strong name – strong like his father's name, eh?”
”How do you--”
”Named after the stars,” Morgan Daloway mused. ”The most powerful of names, eh...”
”It's a family name,” I said through gritted teeth.
”No need to get touchy!” he chuckled, drumming his fingers rhytmically against the desk. ”His side, I assume? That will give this child some good fortune...”
”How so?” Em asked, leaning forward. ”Will he become incredibly handsome and filthy rich?”
Murray Daloway looked disgusted by her words. ”Earthly goods are of no importance!” he huffed, waving her comment off with his hand. ”Noooo... this child will be special!”
”Of course he will!” Theo exploded. ”What kind of nonsense--”
”Theo, shut up!” I snapped. ”Why is he special?”
As a mother, of course I think my child is special. But somehow, Murray Daloway didn't come off as a man who would spend much time and energy on motherly chit-chat.
”You'll know,” he mused, smiling. ”When it's time...”
”Time for what?” I wanted to know.
”Can't tell, I'm afraid!” he said, shrugging. ”I'm sorry, ma'am.”
I stared at him. What kind of wizard was he? Some rubbish fortune teller with no intregity! I turned on my heel, and stormed out from the dusty store, Theo, Em and Declan following right on my heels.
”Nice chatting with you, Quency!” Murray Daloway called after me.
I muttered some rather harsh and well-selected curses directed for Murray Daloway, as Theo and Em followed after me. Declan dutifully followed, matching his steps with us.
”Don't take that ol' crook seriously, Susie,” Theo assured me.
”I'm not!” I huffed. ”I can't believe Nick--”
”How about calling him 'Dad' for a change?” Em suggested.
I turned to look at her. ”Em,” I said calmly. ”I have a dad – and he's dead,” I explained slowly. ”Nick may be biologically my dad, but that will never change the fact that Richard Quency raised me as his daughter. That's quite enough for me, to be honest.”
”Fine,” Em said quietly, looking slightly freaked out by my tiny explosion. ”Can we go now? I'm hungry!”
Theo sighed. ”I told you to eat a sandwich before we left the apartment...”
I half-listened to them bicker, as we walked down the street. My thoughts wandered off to Marcus. He was probably already on the other side of the globe, somewhere nice and warm sipping cocktails on a beach. I smiled at the thought; I knew I would never know where he was, and that was for the better. A part of me wished otherwise, of course, but you can't always get what you want, can you?
That was something I had learned the hard way.
”Come on,” I sighed, trying to cut their bickering short. ”We need to owl the rest of the invitations.”
”Have you given my suggestion a thought?” Em asked.
I grimaced. ”Yes, and the answer is still no.”
”That's harsh, you know,” Theo mused. ”Not even considering to invite the father of the child, or any of his family, to the christening.”
I threw him a sharp look. ”Look, they don't even know Sid exists, okay? How would you react if you suddenly got an invitation for his bloody christening!?”
”Fine, fine, fine,” Theo said, throwing his hands up in surrender. ”You win, as always!”
I knew, of course, that He would be present, even if just in my thoughts...
Travis Tumley was a rather eccentric Reverend, if you ask me.
I wasn't that familiar with this sort of Muggle profession, so I had no expectations. But I didn't expect Reverend Tumley to be such a... character. A few days before the actual day, he arrived at the house, completely frazzled and jumpy. He apologized for being late – even if he was a day early. He kept chattering on about all kinds of nonsense, giving Em a headache, so she had to leave the room. Theo seemed thrilled by this kind of character, and found it amusing to push Reverend Tumley to his limits – which, we later realized, he didn't even have.
So, in the end, he spent five hours with us, draining every last bit of energy form our bodies with his endless chattering.
”Truly an honour, everyone!” he kept saying, as he was pulling on his coat. ”Truly, truly marvellous!”
”Very,” I said, rubbing my aching head. I tried to avoid Theo's eyes, as his shoulders were shaking with laughter he tried to hold back. ”I'll see you on Sunday, then?”
”At one o'clock!” he said, his round face shining with excitement. ”Marvellous!”
”Very,” Theo echoed, a snort escaping from his mouth. ”Anything else we can, err, do for you, sir?”
”Oh, one more thing,” he said, as I held the door open for him. ”Shall I bless your marriage as well?”
There was an awkward silence, and even Em joined us, her face twisted in a mixture of shock and panic. Thsi was one of those questions we hadn't dealt with yet, and I knew I had to.
”Err,” I said, biting my lip. ”We're not... we...” I stammered, my hands gesturing at me and Theo, who looked mortified as well.
”We're not married,” Theo blurted out. ”Or even in a relationship that needs a... blessing.”
Reverend Tumley gazed at us, his smile frozen. I could see how the tiny wheels in his head were spinning wildly around, trying to figure out what was going on.
I heaved a sigh, trying to pull an agonized look. ”Sid's father... he... he's no longer with us.”
”Exactly,” Em threw in, nodding. ”He... erm... he's dead.”
”Gone,” Theo agreed.
”So gone,” I added for good measure. ”Died before he got to see his son.”
”How terrible!” Reverend Tumley said, looking stunned. ”What a tragic!”
”Indeed,” I said slowly, slightly miffed at the look of relief on his face. People were so superficial about these things.
”I should mention this tragedy!” Reverend Tumley rambled on, not aware of Em and Theo exchanging mortified glances behind his back.
”It's really not necessary!” I called out. ”I mean,” I began, when he turned to stare at me with raised eyebrows. ”I've moved on, just recently, and I don't want to dwell on the difficult times, and this day is really Sid's big day, right?”
”Marvellous!” Reverend Tumley whispered, grasping my hands, as he gazed up at me with watery eyes. ”Just... marvellous bravery on your part, my child!”
I stared down at him blankly. Even if I was considered short, Reverend Tumley was even shorter than I was, and about twice my size, and he had a peculiar resemblance to a chipmunk, now that I looked at him upclose.
”Thank you, Reverend Tumley,” I muttered, embarrassed.
”I will see you all on Sunday,” he said, givign my hands a gentle squeeze. ”Toodles!”
We watched him totter away, until he disappeared in the shadows. I slowly closed the door, and looked at Theo and Em. It took a total five seconds, until they both burst out laughing, and I soon joined them. We laughed until our sides ached, and cheeks hurt. I leaned back against the door, trying to collect myself, as Theo shook his head at the scene we had just pulled.
”Marvellous,” he whispered, making Em snort.
”Shut up,” I chuckled, returning to the living room where we had left Sid. He was still on the floor on his playmat, where he had now decided to fall asleep on, unaware of what was happening around him.
”What an exhausting man!” Em muttered, throwing herself down on the sofa. ”Where did you find this guy?”
I shrugged, picking up Sid, before joining Em on the sofa. He let out a small squeak, and continued to sleep peacefully, his chubby cheek pressed against my shoulder. His tiny fist automatically found its way to my hair, and his fingers wrapped around a curl, holding onto it tightly. This was a new thing for him, which he had discovered a few days ago, and it was of great amusement to us all, when Sid decided to hold on so tightly it almost hurt.
”I heard he was the best of them,” I said.
”The best of all the freaks out there?” Theo asked.
”I don't think we're in any position of calling other people freaks, really!” I pointed out.
”Good point,” Em sighed. ”We're a bunch of freaks, aren't we?”
We remained quiet, our eyes resting on the baby. The freaks of the wizarding world – that was pretty close to the truth, I thought to myself.
”Could the godmother take Sid to his crib?” I said, looking at Em. Em snapped out of her trance, and blinked at me. ”Could you?”
”Of course!” Em said, stumbling up on her feet. Even if she had taken care of Sid a lot of times, ever since she'd been appointed godmother, she had taken her new duty very seriously. I watched, amused, as she carefully picked him up. She froze for the tiniest second, when Sid let out a sleepy gurgle, before nestling in her arms. With a smile, Em walked towards the small staircase, and disappeared from sight.
I let out another sigh, closing my eyes. The silence was almost heavenly after all the noise and chatter I had dealt with for the past five hours.
”Are you okay?” Theo asked quietly. I opened my eyes, and met his gaze. ”About all this?”
I knew exactly what he meant. ”It'll get better,” I assured him. ”With time, it will get better, trust me.”
”You know,” he said, moving to sit next to me. ”I would've married you if you had asked,” he said, putting an arm around my shoulders.
I snuggled closer to him, feeling slightly calmer with the familiar feeling of being held by someone, even if it was just Theo. I rested my head against his chest, and listened to his even heartbeat, before smiling a small smile. ”I know you would've,” I said quietly. I looked up at him, grinning. ”Thank you, Theo.”
”No problem, Mommy,” he chuckled, giving a quick peck on the top of my head.
For a sweet moment, everything seemed normal. My life - as weird as it actually was – seemed absolutely, utterly, boring and normal.
And I liked it.
”Who presents this child to receive the sacrament of Baptism?”
”We do,” the three of us – Theo, Em and myself – chorused.
I scanned the small, but impressive, room. I could spot some familiar faces; couples from that stupid breathing class, even that blasted Kadhi-person was there, smiling radiantly. I also spot Declan, who smiled widely. He's quite emotional when it comes to these things, I've noticed, and although he refuses to change diapers, he's amazing with Sid. He keeps telling him about all sorts of secret curses he's come up with all by himself – and this is his idea of a proper bedtime story for a baby. In the back, I spotted a big surprise; Healer Flow, and next to her, Nick. Seeing the two of them wasn't an oddity, really, but the fact that they were holding hands surely was.
Huh. Fancy that.
”...in Lord's name, we pray,” Reverend Tumley says.
”Lord hear our prayer!” everyone murmurs, making me snap back to reality, which was my son being baptised.
I watched Em glance at me, before looking back down at Sid in her arms. Theo hovered next to them, almost as if he was ready to snatch Sid if Em were to drop him. She wouldn't, though, and I knew that. I smiled at the sight of them, folding my hands neatly in front of me. It felt so weird not having anything in my hands, not holding Sid. I suddenly found myself thinking about Lily and James – the Potters. How were they? Had little Harry James already had his christening? Was it as lovely as Sid's?
Before I realized it, I imagined Him in my mind. I had a feeling he would be Harry's godfather – it seemed only natural. Are you happy? I found myself thinking, as I gazed at Sid.
He really looked a lot like his father.
”Sidious Note Spelling, I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
I stare at him in disbelief, half in a daze, half mortified. There's also the tiniest hint of hysteria rising inside of me, as a wave of murmurs washes through the guests. Em and Theo throw me a look of panic, and I gape at Reverend Tumley, who is frowning slightly.
”Erm,” I manage to get out. ”Reverend Tumley?”
”Yes, child?” he says brightly, but the guests are already getting up, making their way towards us.
”The name!” I hiss, but the first guest has already reached us, and is blabbering on about what a lovely ceremony it is, and how beautiful Sid is.
”The name is... is...” the lady stammers, and it takes me a moment until I recognize her as Ernie's wife. This is partly because Ernie soon follows after her, holding her red purse. ”The name is rather unique,” his wife settles to say.
”Thanks,” I said through gritted teeth. Em and Theo were murmuring to each other, giving me confused look, as I began to elbow my way towards Reverend Tumley.
”Wonderful,” I heard him say. ”Sir, this is truly an honour, sir, really not any convenience of any sort... sir,” he added, just for good meassure.
I realized immediatly who he was talking to; Nick, no doubt about it. It was quite natural that the Minister of Magic would gather so much attention. I was a bit amazed there hadn't been some kind of article about the whole thing!
”The name is rather unique, don't you agree?” I heard Nick say, a frown forming on his face.
”Sir Daloway Tumley delivered it himself, in fact,” Reverend Tumley said, looking touched.
”Reverend Tumley!” I called out, finally reaching them. ”About the name--”
”I thought you decided not to have a middle name,” Nick said easily, but I could tell it bothered him. To be honest, it bothered me as well.
”That's right,” I said sharply. ”And if I had wanted a middle name for my son, it wouldn't have been Note Spelling, believe you me...”
There was a tense silence between us. ”Ah!” Reverend Tumley said, nervously wiping the sweat from his forehead with a blue handkerchief. ”Surely it isn't such a big deal--”
”My son has a stupid name, for Merlin's sake!” I exploded, as the entire room fell silent.
”Who wants to hold the baby?” Em called out loudly, which immediatly got their attention. I watched in awe as everyone hurried towards Theo and Em – and Sid – to get in line.
Truly amazing how much attention a tiny baby got.
”And you!” I hissed, pointing an accusing finger at Nick. ”I told you to disguise yourself! What the hell do you think you're doing!?”
Nick blinked at me. ”Why should I have to hide myself on such a happy day? I'm here as a Grandfather, Father and guest – not as the Minister!”
”Well said, sir!” Reverend Tumley said, gazing at Nick with adoring eyes. He was beginning to get on my last nerves, as I shot him a murderous look.
”What if someone--”
”Susan,” he cut me off gently. ”These people... these guests... they're not just anyone. They're your friends, they care about you – they would never hurt you, trust me.”
I stared a thim for a moment. A part of me, wanted to argue with him. All humans were selfish beings, they would eventually betray me. I slowly glanced at Sid, who was now being cooed at by Kadhi – I tried to hold back a smile, but couldn't. How could I hate all and everyone, when there was something as good as Sid in my life?
So the bigger part – the part that believed Nick's words – won.
”The name,” I sighed, rubbing my forehead. ”It's... it's fine.”
Reverend Tumley let out a sigh of relief. ”Wonderful!” he said, clapping his hands. ”Now, why don't we have a cup of tea?”
I grimaced. ”Just give me a really strong drink,” I muttered.
A/N: I had so many ideas about the name... Sid's name, I mean. But let's face it – is there another name more evil than Sidious!? :D ...okay, yes, Voldemort, but you know... let's just say that this is my contribution as a hardcore Star Wars-fan :D
P.S. - Sir Terry Pratchett rocks my socks.
- Lily xxx
Chapter 34: The World's End
And before I knew it, days became weeks, weeks became months, and even Sid's first birthday passed by before I could even register it. My baby boy was growing right in front of my eyes, and I could hardly keep up! By the time he was one, he could walk! It felt like just yesterday when he was a tiny baby, and--
Okay, so I got a bit emotional there.
More importantly, I was getting sick and tired of the mountain of diapers he consumed in a day. I couldn't stand the fact that there were days when I just stayed at home, not considering myself fit to join the rest of the world – so I just hang around with Sid in my pyjamas. Nothing wrong with that – except that I quite longed to be useful in some way. When was the last time I had done something meaningful – and I'm not talking about changing a diaper or feeding a baby!
So when Sid's second birthday passed, I found myself unable to believe my luck; a spot had opened up at a local daycare centre – and they took in younglings like Sid!
Okay, so I like to believe that Nick had nothing to do with it – which, let's face it; he did.
And before I realized it, there I stood with Sid safely tucked in his stroller – although he tried to struggle free from it – and gazed up at the gigantic, bright pink sign above us; House of Happiness.
Somehow, I had convinced Nick about leaving Declan out of this meeting – it was weird enough to have Theo and Em with me, I didn't need to deal with a bodyguard on top of it!
"This seems like one of those places where you just ditch your kid and live a miserable life in utter guilt," Em muttered.
"I heard that," I said, glaring at her. "Look, I don't need your judgemental crap--"
"She's not being judgemental," Theo said soothingly, patting my shoulder. "She's just stating the obvious – this place is creepy."
"Creepingly cheery," Em corrected. "You want your kid to be terribly cheery? You want your kid to shoot rainbows from his arse, huh?"
I grimaced at her. "It's the best place out there for kids his age, okay?" I said through gritted teeth.
"Sir Murray Daloway and Reverend Tumley were the best, too," Theo pointed out, much to my distate. "And look how they turned out!"
He had a point there, though.
"Whatever," I said, shrugging. "Let's atleast check it out, okay?"
We walked in through the gates, taking in the huge playground. Everything seemed much smaller than at a normal playground, I noticed, and I couldn't help but feel like a giant.
"Look!" Em said, pointing at a small group of trees in the corner of the playground. "Even the trees have names!"
Okay, that was creepy.
We entered the building, and instantly felt a huge wave of colours washing over us – literally. The hall had yellow walls, and green carpets, and the small windows were covered with lacy curtains – with frills.
I cringed inwardly, whereas Sid cooed happily, making his signature 'ooh' and 'aah'.
"Momma, look!" he gurgled, bouncing imapatiently in his stroller. "Out! Out! 'id out!"
I stared down at his stubborn frown, watching his dark eyes stare up at me with some kind of commanding power. Even at such a young age, he managed to remind me of someone equally bossy and pushy – I wasn't quite sure who, though.
"I think we should take a look around fi--" I began lamely.
"MOMMA LEMME OUT!" he roared shrilly, making Em throw herself against the wall, and Theo back away in alarm. These outburst were just normal to me, the one who was stuck with Sid 24/7 – everyday, all day.
"Nicely, Sid," I said calmly, aware of the flock of toddlers eyeing us curiously from the doorway. I felt a swoosh of fresh air fill the snug hall, and stepped automatically aside, as a posh looking lady walked in, with her daughter equally well-behaved following behind. I watched them in stunned silence as the little girl untied her red shoes patiently, as he mother waited. After a moment, they moved on – but not before organizing their shoes in a neat row along with the other shoes.
"Welcome to hell," Em hissed under her breath.
"Oh, shut up," I muttered, eventually snapping the belts loose in Sid's stroller. I watched in different shades of horror, worry and embarrasment, as Sid easily leapt out, and galloped like a wild animal forward.
My two-year-old son, ladies and gentlemen.
I kicked my boots off, and quickly followed after, as Em and Theo both jumped after. To my horror, I saw Sid already climbing on one of the tables, and reaching towards the bookshelves.
"SID, NO!" I yelled, making everyone look around at me. "DOWN, BOY!" I said, pointing an angry finger at him, and then down at the floor.
There was a stunned silence, and even the smallest children stopped whatever they were doing. I ignored them, as I locked eyes with Sid, who was staring at me with his lips pursed. A minute passed, as we just stared at each other, meassuring who was more stubborn. Eventually, Sid gave in, and I watched in relief as he slowly climbed down, and stomped rather dramatically towards our little group.
"Good boy," I said, quickly giving him a peck on the cheek. I watched him beam proudly up at me, and I once again wondered if my son was bipolar.
"Hello!" came a cheery tone, and I looked around at a woman with blonde curly hair.
"Hi," I said, shaking her outstretched hand.
"We're with the kid," Theo joked, laughing, but fell silent when no one joined him. "Sorry, I joke at tense situations like this," he explained, meeting my murderous glare.
I knew it was a mistake to take these two along.
"I'm Mildred Moon," she said, her smile never fading. "Everyone calls me Millie – it's such a pleasure to have you here!"
I stared at her, stunned. "It is?" I managed to get out.
"Oh, yes!" Everyone Calls Me Millie said. "You're Susan, right? And this is precious little Sid?" she said, kneeling down in front of Sid.
I half-expected Sid had grown these excellent manners, and kissed her hand charmingly, but instead, he had his index finger shoved up his own nose.
Well, atleast this time it was his own nose, and not someone else's, I reassured myself.
"Sid, stop that!" I hissed, wrenching his hand down. "Yes, I'm Susan – everyone calls me Susie!"
I wanted to kick myself for that one, but Everyone Calls Me Millie didn't seem to notice it. "Oh! How lovely!" she said, clapping her hands as she stood up again. "You are most welcome here - most welcome!" she gushed.
I eyed her suspiciously, leaning in closer. "Erm, did... did you talk with Mr Rousseau, by any chance?"
Everyone Calls Me Millie blushed a deep shade of crimson, and giggled like a school girl. While she did this, I quickly analyzed her; she dressed like a housewife from the 50's, she was on the curvy side, her blonde hair was probably bleached, because her eyebrows were a weird shade of sandy brown. She was like one of those annoyingly prim women you just hated without a reason, because it was everything you weren't – and never wanted to be.
"I did!" she giggled. "You lucky girl, you!"
I blinked at her. "Oh, really?"
"Oh, yes!" she said. "To have the Minister himself call in to make sure there's a spot for a former employee's child – that is such a sweet thing for him to do!"
I felt a ton of stress lift from my chest, and I knew Theo and Em felt the same by the way they both let out a deep sigh of relief.
"The Minister?" Theo said innocently.
It was at that moment when I caught on – I thought this place was a place for Muggle children, filled with Muggle children, of course!
Was this a trap?
Instinctly, I reached towards my bag, already preparing myself to fling Sid to Em, and battle this woman to the pits of hell – if I had to.
"Ooh, no need for that," Everyone Calls Me Millie said, already reading my mind – or maybe she could tell by just looking at my hostile expression. "I'm a Squib," she whispered, leaning closer. "There are a few of your kind here, as well. A few of us work with children like Sid, in case there are some 'incidents' – then we'll jump in, fix the situation, inform the parents, and guide the little ones to control their powers until they're old enough."
"So... you mean..." I spluttered, relaxing. "This is a daycare centre for magical children!?"
I kind of yelled out the last part, getting lots of attention, mind you.
"All children are magical beings, yes!" Everyone Calls Me Millie called out, an overly cheerful smile stretched on her face – but I knew she was kind of stressed with me and my sudden outburst. "But let's keep this a secret, okay?" she told me quietly, giving me a meaningful look. "Muggles are so touchy with these things...!"
"What, to have wizards near their little ones?" Em said, her voice filled with amusement.
I glared at her over my shoulder, and she lowered her head with a grin, while trying to hold back a snorts.
"Here at House of Happiness, we want the children to experience their limits, and grow as individuals. They will learnt o be respectful towards others, and have good manners. All of these things are fairly basic things, I know, and most children already master them--"
"Momma!" Sid cut in, pulling my hand violently.
"You're hurting momma, Sid," I said as nicely as I could, totally aware of the scrutinizing eyes of Everyone Calls Me Millie watching me. "Ask nicely, yeah?"
"Butt-face," he said in an imperious voice that just bounced off the walls for everyone to hear.
Great. Just great – my son just called me a 'butt-face' in front of a professional in childcare. This is so my luck.
"Naughty word, Sid," I said, trying to sound strict. "No naughty words."
"Momma is poo-poo."
"He's a spirited one," Everyone Calls Me Millie said, looking at us closely. "Have you thought about having a Naughty Jar at home? Put a penny – or sickle! - in it everytime he misbehaves, or uses a naughty word."
Ooh, what are you – some kind of Sprinkle Sparkle Elf!?
"That jar would be filled with sickles from Susie's pocket, though," Theo said bluntly.
"Yeah, she swears a lot," Em agreed faintly.
"SHUT UP!" I boomed, glaring at them. "Go play with the play-doh in the corner!"
"Yes, ma'am," they echoed, walking toward the tables in the corner – Sid freeing himself from my grip and bolting after them, all the while screaming, "ATTAAAAAAAACK!!!!!!"
I sighed, avoiding Everyone Calls Me Millie's eyes. Eventually, I had to look up, and met her sympathetic look – damn her.
"Look, lady," I said, already putting up my walls. "He's not always like--"
"There's nothing wrong with Sid," she cut me off gently.
I felt a pang of hurt hit my chest. "I know that," I said shortly. "I just meant to say that new situations make him hyper, and--"
"He lacks routines," she said. "A child his age needs strict routines, a schedule to follow. He needs to know what will happen next, why he has to behave a certain way, and what will happen he does or doesn't behave like that."
I stared at her. "What, I need to tell him he can't act like a total arse because I will personally disown him if he does?"
For a moment, Everyone Calls Me Millie looked like I had just told her Santa doesn't exist.
Okay, wrong audience – I have to fix this.
"I'm so tireeeeed," I suddenly wailed, covering my face with my hands, and sobbed violently. "I'm all aloneeeeee..."
I peeked at her through my fingers, and fought the urge to punch the air in triumph, as I clocked the look of guilt and sympathy wash over her face.
"Oh, dear," she said, patting my shoulder. "Oh, dear..."
I let her console me for a minute, until I decided to 'pull it together', and slowly calmed down. I gave her a teary smile, still trying to fight the urge to punch the air. "T-thank you," I sniffled.
"I understand completely," she said warmly. "Come now – we need to fill some papers, and then Sid is officially a little one in the House of Happiness."
I followed Everyone Calls Me Millie down the corridor, and met Theo and Em's awed expressions. I gave them a thumbs up, and they did what I felt like doing; they punch the air, and high-fived each other.
Even Sid showed his triumph by pulling down his pants, and showing his diapered butt to a little girl nearby.
Yes, I'm proud of my son. So proud.
An hour and a half later, I sat slumped and exhausted at Theo's new pub The World's End – which he had started together with his 'current' flame of one year, Tony – and rested my forehead against the cool surface of the table. Sid was snoring peacefully in his stroller with his thumb in his mouth, while Em eyed me closely.
"Tough, isn't it?" she finally said.
I rubbed my eyes, glancing at her through my fingers. "You think?"
"But you're doing a fantastic job," she hurried to say, catching my frown. "You got him in, didn't you?"
I nodded slowly. "I did," I sighed, as Theo and Tony joined us, carrying a tray with pints.
"Drink, drink, drink!" Tony said cheerfully, handing me a pint. I smiled gratefully at him, as he grinned back, before sitting down. Tony was one of those energetic people, who always ran around organizing and fixing things. He was the complete opposite of the moody and cynical Theo, but somehow, they totally worked well together.
"Thanks," I said, taking a sip. I automatically grimaced – I had zero tolerance for alcohol these days, pregnancy had messed up my system. In a way, I found that sad; I had never been a drinker, really, but it was still a small part of be gone, changed forever.
"So," Theo said, holding his own pint. "When is Em meeting her next victim?"
Em glared over the table. "Victim? How original of you!"
"Do these young men even know what they're getting into?" Theo teased, making me grin.
"Oh, shut up," Em growled, glancing at her watch. "Now that you mention it, I need to get going... it takes time to look gorgeous, you know!"
"I wouldn't know," Theo said with a shrug. "I wake up gorgeous every morning!"
"Bullshit," Em called out, grabbing her things. "I'll be back soon!" she called over her shoulder, as she jogged out.
"It's nice to see Em dating again," I sighed.
"Yeah," Theo agreed. "She was a bit bummed after the whole Marcus-drama."
I stared down at my pint in silence, and even Tony caught up on the awkward atmosphere. None of us had actually mentioned his name in a long, long time, so it really felt weird that it was mentioned now. I still found myself thinking about him, more like wondering what he was up to and where he was. That would probably never change, I realized.
"She'll survive," I said finally. "She has to – she's Em!"
"Yep," Theo agreed with a grin. "So we'll come to you're place at six o'clock?"
I nodded. "That would be great," I said. "I need to meet Nick around six, so..."
"You're going to bring up the plan to him?" Tony asked, his voice filled with excitement.
"That's the idea," I said. "I mean, along with the whole ditching my awesome bodyguard, of course! I mean, I can't actually be a professional PI if I have a gigantic bodyguard shadowing me, right?"
"Could be an awesome cover, though," Tony said, shrugging. "You could pretend to be some kind of celebrity, and--"
"Don't get carried away, darling," Theo cut off, smiling widely.
"Oh, sorry, hun," Tony said, blushing.
"You two," I said slowly, shaking my head at them. "Make me nauseous with all the sweetness."
"You say that like it's a bad thing!" Tony laughed. "So when is he starting?" Tony asked, eyeing Sid.
"Next week, I suppose," I said, frowning. "Although I think I need to thank Nick for the arrangements, as well..."
"Must be great being the M.O.M's daughter," Tony sighed, shaking his head.
"It's not," both Theo and I chorused. I exchanged a quick glance with him, before shaking my head. "Trust me – it's not, Tony..."
"What?" Tony whispered to Theo, who waved him off. "What did I say?"
"Forget it, To-To," he muttered, looking at him sweetly. "Forget it."
A/N: Hope y'all liked it! :) I can with confidence say that SOME parts of this chapter are taken from my own life... not saying which parts, but let's just say that the "MOMMA LEMME OUT!" was very popular at one point.
- Lily xxx
Chapter 35: Wind of Change
Miss Veronica Hobson – aka just Hobson – was a lovely, elderly woman with pale grey eyes, and her face prettily wrinkled. I always found myself studying her features whenever I went to see Nick, trying to figure out what her secret was. Her face was wrinkled, yes, but she still seemed so young, so timeless. She was the kind of person everyone pictured a loving mother and grandmother to be. That picture had been blurred for me – until I had met Hobson.
"You know you could just walk in, Susan," Hobson said, peering at me from behind her desk.
I blinked. "I'm not done yet," I said in a small voice, clutching my bag.
"Done with what?" she questioned, folding her hands on the desk.
"Thinking," I muttered.
"I see," she said politely, giving me an encouraging smile. Being Nick's secretary and all, she was fully aware of who I was, and how crucial it was to keep that information secret. She also didn't treat me any different – calling me 'dear' wasn't an oddity for Hobson; she did it to everyone, although she tried to remain professional. "Would you like another cup of tea, dear?" she asked kindly, pulling me once again from my thoughts.
"Yes, please," I said, letting out a sigh of relief. Hobson produced a cup of tea with great efficiency, and walked over to hand it to me. I clutched onto it for dear life, meeting Hobson's eyes. "Thank you."
"Whatever it is," she told me, her face warm. "It'll go well, Susan. Your father--"
"Hobson, is--" Nick's voice boomed, as he appeared from his study. He glanced absent-mindedly at Hobson's now vacant desk while clutching a thick folder. He then automatically scanned the lobby, until his eyes fell on the pair of us; me clutching the tea cup – probably pale as a ghost! - and Hobson half-kneeled in front of me. "Susan?" Nick said, frowning. "What are-- is Sid okay? Are you hurt?"
I sighed, taking a sip from my cup, imagining it to be gin instead of tea to give me some courage. I handed it back to Hobson, who took a few steps back so that I could stand up. "We're fine," I assured him. "Everything's fine," I said more loudly. "I just... need to talk to you about something."
A dark shadow crossed his face, as he eyed me suspiciously. "About what?"
"I'll tell you soon enough," I said, walking towards him. "Thanks for the tea, Hobson!" I called over my shoulder.
We entered his office, and Nick closed the door behind us. I quickly looked around, taking in the messy room. It had once been limited to his desk, but these days it probably always looked like this. I made a mental note to read the newspapers more often; maybe there was some Muggle-related issue that made Nick's life so hectic these days.
"Take a seat," Nick said, already sitting down in his usual chair behind the desk. I slowly sat down, avoiding eye contact. "Tea?"
I shook my head. "No, thanks, I'm fine."
"So..." he said slowly, staring at me, as he crossed his arms. He looked more defensive like that, I noticed, and knew this wouldn't be easy. "Talk."
I took a deep breath. "For a while now, I've had a dream," I began, already noticing how Nick tensed at my words. "Before that, I didn't know what to do with my life, or if I could even do anything! I... I know what I want to do with my life," I announced.
"I hope the next words are 'accounting'," he said said, totally deadpan.
"I want to be a private investigator, and you're going to help me become one," I blurted out, thinking I should just get it out there fast. "Sir," I added for good measure.
"A private--" he began slowly, pursing his lips together. "Did that Valois prat talk you into this?"
"NO!" I said loudly, mortified that he would even dare to think anything like that. "No," I repeated more calmly. "He just gave me a nudge in the right direction... but that's not the point! Just hear me out... please?"
"Talk," he said again, starting to swivel slightly with his chair. I knew this was one of his many ways to handle nervousness.
"Well, I can't exactly spy on other people if... if I have a boydguard shadowing me, can I? It's not very private, and it's not very subtle, Nick! As much as I like and respect Declan, he can't guard me forever, can he?"
"It's his job," Nick said simply, staring at me as if I was an idiot.
"I realize that," I said through gritted teeth. "But this is my life!"
"You have to think of your son!" he shot back.
I narrowed my eyes, knowing that I would have to use the big guns now. "I know," I said calmly. "And I also know that the best person to protect him is none other than me."
"Someone has to protect you," Nick said quietly, blinking once. "You're my daughter, no matter what you do."
"And you keep putting me in danger everday by having Declan by my side!" I called out. "No one even knows about me, but you're having a highly ranked Ministry worker shadowing me – and for what reason? Because I'm a former employee? Because I got attacked by your crazy girlfriend and secretary? Everyone will figure out there's something going on, and people will start asking questions. What will you do when that happens, huh?"'
"Then I'll just tell the truth," he said, as if that was the most obvious answer.
"You know that would ruin everything – Sid wouldn't have a normal childhood, we would never be safe... and He--" I began, my voice breaking. "You can't do that. You can't put us in the spotlight."
Nick stared at me, his eyes sad. "You're still affected by Sirius Black."
I blanched visibly. It wasn't a question, it was a statement. And he was right – I was, and I would always be. He was the father of my son, he would always be the one for me – no matter what. But I had promised – I had made a promise to his mother, I had promised to leave him alone, give him the family he needed, wanted and deserved.
And now – ironically – as a mother myself, I had a whole new understanding and respect towards that request.
Never had I thought I would live to see the day when I would respect someone like Walburga Black – fancy that.
"He can never find out about us," I whispered, fighting against the tears. I let out a dry sob, quickly lowering my gaze. "Please..."
I heard him let out a deep sigh, and I knew I was halfway there. "I'll think about it," he finally agreed. "I'll think about pulling Declan back – not entirely!" he added, when I looked up with a wide grin. "Only for a short period of time, as a try-out!"
"Of course," I agreed with a nod. "I understand."
"Now, as for the practical arrangements," Nick went on, searching his desk. "The money is an issue... where to put your little office at... has to be a good neighbourhood..."
"Nick," I cut in, as he muttered away. "I've got it covered," I assured him.
He stared at me, completely stunned. "What?" he said, gaping at me.
"Don't worry," I said, still grinning as I got up. "I've got it covered!"
"W-what? How!?" he called after me, as I walked towards the door.
"You don't need to know the details," I laughed, taking in his suspicious expression. "I didn't rob a bank, though!"
He sighed again, rubbing his forehead. "You're going to give me more grey hairs..."
"One more thing," I said, opening the door. I grinned, as Nick raised his head, eyeing me with wide eyes.
"There's more?" he groaned.
"Sid loves his new daycare place," I said fondly, watching a wave of pride and relief wash over his strained face. "It's lovely!"
"I didn't--" he began lamely.
"Thank you," I whispered, meeting his eyes. "Dad," I added, feeling slightly weird when I said the word.
Nick seemed a bit taken aback, as he stared at me, his cheeks slightly red. "You're welcome, Susie..."
"Are you serious?"
I grinned up at the building, unable to stop the feeling of pride take over my body. It filled every cell, every inch of me – even my thoughts were entirely gone, just filled by the fact that I had done it, I had really done it!
"This is..." Em began, clearing her throat. "Um, it's... erm..."
"Are you serious?" Theo repeated again, this time a little louder.
"What?" I said, grinning goofily, as I finally heard him properly.
"It's a piece of shit," Em clarified. "That's what we're tyring to say."
"To say the least," Theo agreed.
"The very least," Em mused.
I looked up at the building again, frowning. The stairs went directly from the street, and up to a blure door. The door was sprayed with some odd colours, but it was mainly blue. Otherwise, the building was pretty dirty, and seemed like no one had used it in years.
Which, to be honest, was exactly right.
Behind the door, the part Theo and Em hadn't seen yet, looked a lot worse than the outer appearance. But I was optimistic; the mold, rats, dirt and dust would all be easily solved with a few flicks of your wand! The place was an excellent space for a new PI office.
"It's a piece of shit," Em repeated, as I turned to face them.
"Okay, look," I began, trying to calm them down. "It may not look like a fancy office place, okay? But we'll fix it! We have wands, don't we?"
"Even magic has limits," Theo snorted.
"No it doesn't," I snapped.
"She's a wee bit emotional today..." Em whispered to Theo, who nodded knowingly.
"No, I'm not!" I roared, making people on the street turn and look at me oddly. "I'm—"
"You cried behind one of those creepy trees after ditching Sid at the daycare place, didn't you?" Em mused.
"No," I said hesitantly. "I got around the corner - then I cried."
"Ah, the lovely motherhood! Waterworks everywhere!" Theo said dramatically, as we marched up the dirty stairs.
"Shut up, Theo," I hissed.
It was true, though. Motherhood sure made me a lump of emotions. Even if kittens and cute commercials didn't make me cry anymore, separating from Sid after all this time was a real struggle.
Earlier that morning...
"Okay, Sid, listen to momma," I said, trying to tame his thick curls that pointed in odd directions. I gave up after a moment, putting my restless hands on his small shoulders. "Pay attention now!" I said, trying to get his attention.
"Momma?" Sid questioned, as he eyed the colourful hallway at House of Happiness. "We movin' here?"
I blinked. "No, Sid, we are not," I said stiffly. "Don't you like our home?" I said, feeling slightly offended by his statement.
"Look, momma!" he breathed, pointing a chubby finger at a girl entering behind u. I quickly shuffled aside, pulling Sid with me. It was the same woman with her daughter that we had seen before. Again, I watched in awe as the little girl neatly untied her shoes, and put aside in an orderly fashion. "I want 'ress!" Sid said firmly.
"You want a dress?" I repeated, watching after the mother and daughter. "Sid, you--"
"'Ress!" he said again, more loudly this time. "'RESS, MOMMA!"
"Sid, shut up," I cut him off, watching his pouting mouth for a moment.
I felt a cold shiver creep up my back, suddenly feeling as if I was being watched. I slowly looked over my shoulder, and met the sharp eyes of none other than--
"Millie!" I greeted, trying to turn my grimace into a cheerful grin. "Good morning!"
"Good morning!" she greeted, eyeing us. "Problems...?"
"Oh, no!" I gushed, standing up. I grabbed Sid – not to give the picture of a loving and supporting mother to a son, but to simply keep him from running after the girl and most likely wrenching the dress off of her. "We're just... um... waiting."
"Well, we're not sure of what to do, to be honest," I admitted after a moment.
"Why don't I take Sid, and show him the activity room," Everyone Calls Me Millie said, kneeling in front of Sid, who beamed happily.
Thank Merlin for that.
"'Ress," he pressed on, smiling an almost devious smile at Everyone Calls Me Millie.
She looked up at me, her eyebrows raised. "Does he mean--"
"He saw a girl with a pretty dress, and now he wants one, too!" I babbled, unable to control my words. "He likes pretty things, sweet thing!" I cooed, pinching Sid's cheeks, making him wriggle out of my reach. "So do I just... go?"
Everyone Calls Me Millie laughed, as she took Sid's hand. "You can say your love-byes now, yes!"
"Love-byes?" I repeated, trying to keep a straight face.
"We don't like the word 'goodbye', it gives such a negative vibe, and it's almost as if to say you won't be seeing each other in a long, long time," she explained, making me feel like one of those brats she took care of all day.
"But it has the word 'good' in it, doesn't it?" I challenged her, frowning. "How can it give--"
"It just does," Everyone Calls Me Millie cut me off, her voice oddly high-pitched. She flashed another bright smile at me, as she pulled Sid forward. "Say your love-byes now, sweetie."
Sid looked back at me, mirroring my frown, as I stared at him. "Um..." I said, suddenly awkward and totally aware of Everyone Calls Me Millie watching us like a hawk. I decided to ignore her the best I could, as I kneeled down in front of Sid. I kissed him on the cheek, enveloping him in a bear hug, and took one last sniff of his hair. "Love you, kid," I whispered, feeling him nod against my shoulder. "Momma's going to pick you up soon, yeah? Be good, yeah?"
"Momma too," Sid said, as he pulled away, giving me a look. I grinned, rubbing my nose against his, awed by his charm.
In that moment, I felt like I had the world's most perfect kid ever.
I should've known that a moment so perfect would never last – and I was proven right three seconds later, when Sid wrenched himself free from Everyone Calls Me Millie's hold, and wheeled towards the general direction of the playroom, screaming like a monkey.
That's when I decided I should bolt as well, not taking any responsibility of the casualties my son would most likely cause.
I walked through the archway with the pink sign, leaving the creepy trees behind, along with the frills and colours, and the very distinct screaming that I recognized to be Sid's. It wasn't a scream that made my heart miss a beat, or make my blood turn cold, or make me turn back and run towards my son – no, it was a scream filled with joy, probably the result of another mischievous prank succeeded.
Before I even realized it, tears were forming in my eyes, and soon enough, spilled down to my cheeks. I sniffed one, and then again – before eventually wiping the tears away. I stopped, and leaned against the wall, watching people hurry past me as if I wasn't even there. Hesitantly, I glanced around the corner towards the House of Happiness, and felt a smile tug at my lips.
My son was a big boy now – and he would continue to grow, and that was a fact.
It was also one of those things I had no control of – and that scared me shitless.
The same afternoon, as I was on my way to pick Sid up, I was exhausted. The whole day had gone by so quickly, it almost made me want to cry. I had barely even started to fix the office place up, and sometime along the process, I had lost both Theo and Em. Theo had to get back to his 'real job', whereas Em prattled some lame excuse of some kind of job interview.
The girl didn't even need a job, anyway...
If she had just bothered to make an effort at the Ministry, she wouldn't have been fired and be jobless in the first place, anyway!
But hey, that's just my opinion.
I stopped at the same corner I had cried at only hours earlier, and watched the playground ahead of me. I peered towards it, trying to find Sid. It would've been almost impossible, if he hadn't had such a distinguished laugh. I spotted him – no big surprise! - in one of the trees. A smile crept on ym lips, as I shoved my hands deep in my pockets, making my way towards the House of Happiness.
The tree Sid had climbed in was surrounded by curious and awed children, and some worried adults, as well. I joined them, sneakily wading my way through the ground towards the middle of the circle.
"MOMMA, LOOK!" Sid screamed, dangling upside down from a branch.
The familiar pang of worry and fear pierced my heart, but disappeared just as quickly. Sid had climbed trees before – he was a monkey! Even if he was young at age, he still managed to climb them trees. I wasn't that worried, to be honest...
"Sid?" I called, frowning up at him. "Why are you—"
"Susan!" Everyone Calls Me Millie called out, hurrying towards him. "We were just about to call the fire department--"
"Why?" I demanded, looking at her as if she had lost her mind.
"But... but... he..." she stammered, gaping at me.
I sighed. "Are you a witch, or not?" I asked, regretting my words the moment I had said them. "Okay, sorry, my mistake..." I said, waving my comment away with my hand. "He's a little child, Millie. D'you really want to bother the already busy fire department with something so trivial? I don't think so," I said, sighing. "Sid, get down here!" I called at the grinning kid.
"GET ME!" he squealed.
I closed my eyes for a second, before opening them again. "Sid, I'm serious," I warned him.
He just giggled.
"What should we do?" Everyone Calls Me Millie said with a shaky voice, and I was surprised to see her close to tears.
"Get a grip, woman!" I told her, approaching the tree. "It's just a damn tree!"
I heard an audible gasp go through the circle, as I easily climbed the tree, swinging myself from branch to branch, until I reached Sid's branch. He swiftly climbed up in a sitting position, and eyed me with his brown eyes.
"Sid," I said, staring at him from the other side. "You done now?"
Sid nodded solemnly, as he crawled towards me. I wrapped one arm around him easily, holding myself steady with the other by clutching tightly to a branch.
"Momma..." he mused against my neck, and I felt him smile.
"Up you go," I told him, waiting for him to take his usual position in these situations. He moved over my shoulder, and climbed onto my back, wrapping his small arms around my neck. I climbed back down, and as my feet touched the ground, Sid swung himself to my front, still clinging tightly to my neck.
"MOMMA!" he squealed, delighted.
"Hey, kid!" I said, laughing at his enthusiasm. "Did you behave most of the day, huh?"
He pulled away, frowning. "No," he said darkly.
"No?" I repeated, not that surprised. I raised my eyes to meet Everyone Calls Me Millie's, who was approaching us. "What did he do?"
Before she could tell me, I had already mentally prepared myself. There were several things he could've done; bit another kid, hit someone, kicked someone, broken their toys, given a heart attack or just a mental breakdown to the staf...
Nothing was impossible when it came to Sid.
"He's a very..." she began, biting her lip. "Lively child."
"Is that a bad thing?" I wondered, feeling Sid's eyes on me.
"No, it's just..." she went on, eyeing him. "It takes time for the group to get used to it, the group dynamics are still a bit... all over the place."
"Group—" I began, astonished. I fell silent, as a broad-shouldered man walked towards us. I automatically took a step back at the sight of his built, but rooted myself to the spot after seeing his face. His light brown hair was neatly cut, and framed his sharp face nicely. I zoomed in on his eyes, and recognized the spectacular and rare shade of blue.
Where had I seen those eyes before?
"Susie?" the man said, coming to a stop beside Everyone Calls Me Millie.
"Um, yes?" I said, frowning.
"It's..." he began, rubbing his neck, his wide eyes. "Susie, it's me – Finn!"
I blinked. "Finn?" I repeated, gaping. "As in... Finn Dunley!?"
I felt sick to my stomach. A part of me was glad to see a familiar face from the past, even if it was Finn Dunley, but another part was totally panicking, freaking out, and already glancing for the closest exit.
Before I could do so, however, Finn and snatched me in a bear hug, careful not to crush Sid, who was more than delighted by such a greeted.
"Susie!" he breathed, holding me at an arms length. "We all thought you were dead!"
"We?" I repeated.
"Everyone back home!"
Home. I felt the corners of ym mouth pull down just a little, as memories – good and bad – flashed through my mind. I hadn't thought of that place as my home in a long time – I was good at adapting to new situations, and this place had become my home.
As a reminder of this fact, Sid touched my cheek. "Momma?" he said, demanding my attention.
"Food," he simply stated, looking at me sternly.
"Momma?" Finn repeated, stunned.
I watched his face, knowing that I wouldn't need to explain anything to him. I watched Finn flance at Sid, and then at me, before resting his eyes on Sid again. "Oh... my..."
"I know," I said, before he could finish. "It's an uncanny similarity, huh?"
"He has your eyes, though," Finn pointed out, as Sid stared back at Finn. "The hair, though... not sure if it's your's or Sir--"
"It's a bit of both, I'm afraid," I cut him off, feeling my heartstrings tug at the thought of someone mentioning His name. "The fact that he manages to still look charming with messy hair is not from me, that's all I'll say."
Finn smiled. "Maybe," he said. "So... are you planning to move back, or...?"
I flinched. "No, why would I do that?"
Finn seemed surprised by this, but said nothing. "Right," he just said, looking over his shoulder. "I have a daughter as well – Priscilla, over there," he said, pointing at a girl by the swings.
I recognized her as the little girl from this morning, the one with the shoes, the one I had secretly named The Freaky Shoe Girl in my head.
"So you married a bloody housewife, huh?" I said, smirking.
"Valentina is not--" Finn began, but fell silent under my stare. "Shut up, Quency," he finally said.
I chuckled, hoisting Sid up in my arms. "We better go now," I said, glancing around. "It was good seeing you, Finn."
"Would you like to come over for dinner?" Finn suddenly asked.
"Huh?" I said, grimacing. "You want me to come and see what I'm missing out on, right? The wonderful and idyllic life in the suburbs?"
"You can take your son with you," he added, grinning.
"And have him wreck your house? I don't think so."
"Priscilla already informed me that she'll marry him someday," Finn laughed.
"Poor girl, she doesn't know what she's getting into," I sighed.
"Tomorrow night?" Finn called after me. "Please?"
"I'll think about it," I called back, waving awkwardly to him.
"Cilla 'ress?" Sid wondered, as we walked on.
"No, you can't have her dress," I told Sid, who pouted all the way home.
And at home, he decided that he wanted to use the teapot as a handbag.
I could agree to that one.
A/N: Ooh, a familiar face! Sorry to disappoint you all with someone as trivial as Finn Dunley, but I always kinda liked him... well, his name, anyway! :D
- Lily xxx