The kind of man who thinks that helping with the dishes is beneath him will also think that helping with the baby is beneath him, and then he certainly is not going to be a very successful father -Eleanor Roosevelt~
It may have been just me, but over the next few days, the whispers seemed to increase ten-fold as I moved through the corridors. Disdain dripped from every word I heard and an underlying tone of scandal plagued each sentence.
You're being paranoid. A very Alicia-like voice said dryly in my head. Not everything revolves around your drama. I'm sure they've screwed their own lives up enough that most of them aren't even worrying about you.
I wasn't so convinced. The whispers about my reinstatement were darting all around me. They all said the same mundane things that I'd known they would. Like the absurd assumption that I only wanted back on the team to be nearer to Sirius (who I supposedly stalked in fifth year) and the ridiculous accusation that I only MADE it back on the team because my cousin was the captain or that Alice hadn’t tried hard enough to block my goals. Never mind that there were two gaping holes in those theories, they just kept spreading.
The first flaw of which was that I loathed Sirius Black. And the second was that anyone who knew Alice knew she tried her best at everything and anyone who knew James would know he'd never let a silly little thing like nepotism get in the way of his team's chances at winning the Cup. If there was someone better than me he'd have chosen them in a heartbeat and told me to get over it (nicely, but still). I'd had the best tryout, though, so he reinstated me. Simple as that.
Besides, I clearly had no time to obsess over boys, even if I’d wanted to (which I most certainly didn’t), between the daily practices, my schoolwork and trying to reconnect with my old friends, I was lucky to get a moment to think at all. There wasn't much time, I found, to sneak away and go visit my daughter at home either. Even when I did have enough time, I wasn't given a chance. So, I wrote apologies in my letters for my mother to read to Rory-whether she'd understand them or not. To which my mother would reply with three page long lectures, telling me to focus on school and consider telling Sirius. Which I was so not going to do, of course.
Don’t get me wrong, I had thought about it.
As the weeks went on, despite how hectic my life had become, I couldn't help but watch the father of my child. I watched and thought about telling him, and the more I watched, the more my conviction to keep Rory a secret grew. His infatuations were more flimsy than ever and even more public than I remembered. In the first week and a half alone he went through three different girls. THREE!
No way in hell was I telling him a thing. He was too irresponsible, too unsteady to be around my daughter. Just letting him know she existed would put her in jeopardy and that was one thing I was unwilling to do. Let the next girl he knocked up drop that bombshell on him. I wasn't that stupid, lovesick fifteen year old anymore I no longer made an effort to believe in the good of everyone. Instead, I saw people for what they were. Sirius Black was NOT cut out for fatherhood.
He hadn’t matured at all in the last couple of years. If anything, he’d gotten worse. He still played pranks, he still laughed at things that weren’t funny, he still treated girls like toys, his attention span was atrocious and he still had that vexing smirk plastered on his face nearly every time I saw him. He was an arrogant, self-centered chauvinist who deserved no part in my Aurora’s life. But try telling my sister that.
“When are you going to tell him?” Effie hissed at me for what had to be the billionth time since we’d returned to school.
“We’ve already been over this, Effie,” I sighed. The sense of déjà vu was almost nauseating. It felt to me like this conversation had been plucked right out of my fifth year and my sister was following some sort of script. “I’m not.”
“Why? Are you scared?”
“No. I’m intelligent.”
“What’s that got anything to do-“
“Everything. I’m not going to tell that thing that he is technically a father when he can’t even tie his own shoes without magic.”
“C’mon, Airy. Be fair. He never had to! Not everyone grew up with Muggle relati-“
“I don’t care.” I puffed out an irritated sort of sigh, “I will not put my daughter in jeopardy. She’s better off with out him in her life and he is obviously not ready, nor cut out, for the job. He wouldn’t want it either.”
“How do you know?”
“I just do.”
“You just do? Oh, that’s convincing,” she mocked.
“Look,” I rounded on her. “I know Sirius Black far better than you. In fact, excluding James, I probably know him better than anyone else. This is why I will not let him near Rory. Ever.“
“It’s not right though, Airy!”
“That’s not your call, Effie!” I shouted back at her. I could see in my peripheral vision that people were beginning to notice our row so, I lowered my voice and said, “I am the only one who gets to decide what is and is not right for my daughter. It doesn’t matter what you or mum or Auntie Carolyn think. The only person who has a say is me.”
“So you’re going to let your pride get in the way of your little girl’s chances at having both a mother and a father,” her voice broke twice. She was fighting against tears that threatened to spill over her eyelids and sear paths of shameful embarrassment down her cheeks. “The one thing that you and I have wanted most in the world for so long is our father. There isn’t a day that goes by that it doesn’t hurt not to have ours. And you are going to cause you baby the same pain when you’ve got the choice? You are going to deny her the one thing you’ve ached for, when you have another option? How could you?”
A very large knot had appeared in my throat and it felt like my heart was momentarily paralyzed from the pain inside of my chest. Of course, I had already thought of this very thing. It was sickeningly ironic but I could always shove those thoughts away when they were my own.
Effie’s, however, were an entirely different matter. She could not have reached me any other way, it felt like she’d stuck a knife in my side and twisted until she knew I was in the worst possible pain.
“Ef, I-“she let me struggle for a moment.
“I know you’re scared to let him in again, Air, but you’ve got to. He’s the fa-“
“DON’T!” I shouted, panicked. “For the love of Agrippa, do not finish that sentence here.” My eyes shifted to the scene around us. There were too many sets of curious eyes still following us as we walked down to the Lake, too many sets of sharp ears that could be listening now. The last thing I wanted was another rumor being spread about me, especially the worst kind of rumor. The true kind.
“Alright, alright,” Effie hissed back.
There may or may not have been a gleam in her eye as she said it. I chose to believe the latter option, as much as Effie wanted Sirius to know he’d biologically fathered a child, I refused to believe that she’d sunk to the level of wanting it to get to him through the Hogwarts grapevine. I was sure she’d tell him herself before she let it travel through the whole school. She may, however, have found it slightly amusing how jumpy I was about it getting out.
“I will consider telling him.” I said to placate her, despite my personal tragedy, I refused to believe Rory would yearn for Sirius the way I yearned for my own dad. She would want a father, yes, but she already had so many father figures in place. Perhaps she wouldn’t be in such pain on Father’s Day or at her wedding when someone else walked her down the isle and shared that dance. That’s what I’d convinced my mind to think but my heart remained very skeptical.
“Good, that’s a start.” She flashed me a pearly grin and skipped ahead cheerfully.
“Now, we’re going to pat the soil down carefully and make sure that…”
Herbology. The only class I actually needed to learn something in. The only class with material that I actually hadn’t studied already. So, naturally, it was the only class that I couldn’t pay attention in. Not that I’d had any other classes yet today. It was only ten in the morning after all. But, as previously stated, this was the one class I actually needed to pay attention in.
Partially because I hadn’t learned the material yet and partially because some of the plants we were studying were rather advanced and-
“Ms. Evans,” my professor sighed exasperatedly. “Please take Ms. Haze to the hospital wing, as she apparently missed my instructions about keeping your arms out of the vines’ way.”
I flushed with embarrassment. It had been a long time since I’d had to worry about plants biting and stinging, I was out of practice.
Lily moved to help me but before I could be ushered out of Greenhouse Four pathetically I mumbled, “I’m fine. I can take myself, professor.”
She sighed again, “Very well. You can get your assignment from Ms. Evans later then.”
I hurried away without another word and walked back up to the castle, barely noticing the throbbing in my arm. I was too busy mentally kicking myself for letting everything get to me. For letting Sirius, Effie and James stir my thoughts into a swirling pool of confusion.
“Oh my,” Madame Pomfrey exclaimed, it almost sounded like she was amused. “However did you manage that, Arabella?” A little laugh escaped through her lips. Yeah, definitely amused.
“I wasn’t paying attention and the stupid plant got its vine around my arm,” I told her through gritted teeth. Now that I’d been pulled back down to Earth I was beginning to notice the pain more.
“Well, c’mon. Sit down over there.” She pointed to the bed closest to the door and then disappeared into her office, no doubt to get some potion that would cure me.
I sat on the bed, feeling drained already and wondering if it was a side-affect of the sting. There was movement in the bed next to me but the curtains were drawn so I couldn’t see who it was.
“Here we are, dear.” Madame Pomfrey sang as she bustled back into the room. “Now drink this.” She poured a sky blue liquid into a cup and handed it to me.
I drank eagerly, trusting that whatever it was would take the edge off of the burning pain in my arm. It felt hot, almost like sunburn but without the hope that a tan would follow. The minute the potion hit my stomach I felt my arm tingle. A cooling sensation seemed to coat my skin like a soothing lullaby I might sing to get Rory to sleep. I sighed in relief. Despite the fact that I’d already survived the intense pain of squeezing a human being out of my body, I still had an appallingly low tolerance for pain.
“Better?” She smiled knowingly.
“Much.” I moved to get up and return to class but didn’t get very far before she was pushing me back down again.
“Not so fast, Airy,” she laughed. “Some people have been known to have a bad reaction to the potion. Given your medical history, I think its best you stay here under observation for a few hours.”
Translation: “Women who have had a child sometimes get sick from the potion so you are not going to be able to rejoin the normal teenagers until I’m sure you aren’t going to react badly.”
“Fine,” I sighed, knowing there was no use in trying to argue. I kicked my feet up onto the bed and began making myself comfortable. The potion was making my arm feel like it had been plunged into a bucket of ice water now, so perhaps it was a good idea to let I run its course. I was thankful that I’d brought my bag with me; at least I could try to read the book Lily was insisting I read.
She smiled and walked over to the bed with the curtains drawn. Without giving the person occupying it any warning, she ripped them open.
My blood ran cold, as if the potion had spread from my arm to my whole body at lightening speed. I knew that it hadn’t though. It was just that all too familiar dread pumping like poison through my veins as details of my traumatic fifth year came back to me. How could I have forgotten? All of the gossip I’d been subjected to, all the grapevines I’d worried might slither a little too close to the truth, all of the times I’d warned my sister not to tell anyone at school. I’d forgotten about the most deadly vine of all because it had yet to sting. It had gone dormant and I’d foolishly let it drift out of my mind.
Madame Pomfrey didn’t seem to notice my horror but her patient did. His flint colored eyes met mine as the nurse hovered at his bedside. In that instant, I knew that he remembered everything.
“How are you feeling this morning, Mr. Snape?”
*** (Is it short? Yes. Did I get attacked with a massive case of writer's block? Yes. Is this a filler? Yes. Am I sorry it took so long? Yes. But the most important question is, did you like it? Review please... even if it's only to yell at me. I know, I deserve it.
Love always, RED)
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