Chapter 9 : Tick, Tock, Boom
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Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
It's funny that most of the time when you're waiting for something you want time had a tendency to go slowly. Too slowly. It makes you sit on the edge of your seat, bite your nails anxiously and want to scream at the clock to move faster, faster, faster. But when you're not looking forward to something, when you're quite honestly dreading it the minutes seem like seconds, hours like minutes. Time has a funny way of creeping up on you and biting you on the arse when you know you're going to have to do something you donít want to do in the near future.
I had tried to spend as much time downstairs as I could, eat a little during breakfast and lunch so that I wouldnít make my parents wonder but in the end I had felt so shoddy that I had to go back upstairs to my room. But James and Lily had been taking turns keeping me company, making sure that I wasnít going through the whole sick feeling all by myself.
Lily had mostly been gossiping- and she was good at that. She had come up and was talking to me about her friends at school, about our classmates. She had been talking about James, too. She had talked about him a lot and about the girl he was dating at the time, or that he called his girlfriend. Lily wasnít so sure it was as serious as he made it sound, wasnít sure that he liked her as much as he said he did. And she wasnít sure that he would stay with her much longer.
Lily liked her though. Lily liked her a whole lot though. She thought she was sweet and funny and pretty and that said a lot because Lily had always, always, always been so, so protective of her brothers. It wasnít just James either. And that was always rather funny because she's the youngest of the three of them. But she was still overly protective of her brothers, almost never finding a girl they got involved with or even liked to be good enough for them. So having her actually like this girl was a new development.
James, however, wasnít much interested in gossiping. Instead we played chess- regular instead of wizarding because I wasnít looking forward to seeing the pieces smash into each other. We had sat and played a few games and ended up with an almost even split between who won- he won one game more than I had. But in the end all of that thinking was just giving me a headache and I knew I had to stop playing.
After I had just laid down on my bed and he had sat in the chair by my desk and because I was curious I had asked him about his girlfriend. He was quite tight lipped about it for the most part, barely even acknowledging that he was in fact involved with someone. There were a lot of shrugs, a few nods and grunts. In the end all had had told me was what I already knew- he was dating someone and she was nice but he wasnít making any plans for the future. He was still young, after all. No need to decide your future now. I understood that though. I wished that I had the luxury of taking more time to decide what my future was going to be like.
They had taken turns keeping me company until it was time to get ready for dinner, to clean up and make sure that we were presentable when Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny got there. And by the time everyone was ready and we knew they'd be there soon dread had taken up permanent residency in the pit of my stomach. I was playing over the dozens of ways this evening could go, what could happen when I told the family my big news. And very few of the possibilities were very comforting. Most of them ended badly, with Dad yelling or worse.
I was sitting at my desk thinking about all of the ways this could possibly go bad when James appeared in my doorway. I had this urge to just run, get out of the house and go as far away as I possibly could. Sitting there wasnít helping. But if I left Lily would just blab and my parents would find me anyway. Somehow, someway no matter where I went I knew that they would find me. They'd find me and drag me back home so running wouldnít do any good. Running would just prolong the inevitable.
"You're gonna give yourself wrinkles."
When I turned my seat around James was standing in my doorway, his body pressed against the jamb, his arms folded over his chest as he looked at me. His legs were stretched out in front of him, ankles crossed. "Worrying like that," he clarified. "When you worry too much you can get frown lines. And you're far too young for that."
"You say it like you expect me not to be worried."
"Expect? No. Hope you'd worry a little less? Definitely."
"When you have to tell your parents you're pregnant then you can judge."
"Well, I think that would be a little harder to swallow. It isn't every day a bloke would turn to his parents and announce he's with child, is it?" He smiled, a very slight twitching of the corners of his mouth that was barely noticeable unless you knew him well and pushing himself away from the wall he made his way over to me, bent down and pressed a kiss to the part in my hair.
"Come on, Mum," he said as he straightened back up. "Time to face the music."
"Donít call me that."
"Well, you're going to have to get used to it. You're going to have a little tyke following you around calling you 'mummy' a lot sooner than I bet you thought you would. Face it, Rosie: you're going to get called 'mummy' more than you're going to get called your actual name for a long, long time."
"I hate you." Pouting at him I stood up from the chair, folded my arms under my breasts.
"No you donít," he insisted, slipped his arm around my shoulders. "You just donít like having to face the reality of what's happening to you. You're still hoping this is all a nightmare, I bet. But I'm here to keep you grounded in reality and remind you that its not a dream."
"Not a dream," I corrected. "A nightmare. This is a bloody nightmare."
"Sorry to break it to you, Rosie, but you're wide awake."
I kept on pouting like I was really mad at him the entire way down the stairs but I wasnít mad. He was right. There were a lot of things I wasnít really thinking about yet. I had been too concerned with thinking about how my parents would react to the news to think about the rest of it. I was going to be a mum. I was going to be responsible for an entirely new person. It was a very scary thing to think about.
And then, of course, there was the knowledge that I could end up being all alone in this. Yes, Scorpius had said that he would be there, be in the child's life but fundamentally he's unreliable. He was a selfish git who instead of being sympathetic to my being worried about telling my parents about the situation was laughing about it. He spent more time flirting with Leera Zabini than wondering how me and his unborn child were. I hadnít exactly made a wise choice in accidental fathers when I cast the spell on him.
James was being great though. He was just being a really supportive person right now which I needed more than I cared to admit. And if we hadnít been related I could have definitely ended up having a crush on him. But, well, we were related so there wasnít a chance in hell that I was actually attracted to him. But if I met someone this supportive outside of my family I'd be head over heels, carrying the spawn of Malfoy or not.
The last thing I needed was to have to depend on the prat of the century.
By the time that I got to stop thinking about the fact that Scorpius was a giant prat and that I was having his child which was not an encouraging thought we were already downstairs. We were downstairs with my parents and my brother and Albus and Lily. We were downstairs waiting for my aunt and uncle to show up and James squeezed my shoulder with his arm and gave me this tiny little smile before he moved away from me to go talk to his brother- and mine. And that was probably a good thing because it kept them distracted, kept them from coming over and talking to me. I wasnít ready to talk to them right now.
I made my way over to the couch and sat down next to Lily, curled my legs up underneath my body and looked at my mother moving around, setting the table and trying to get everything ready for dinner. Lily was looking at me the entire time, looking at me with this gaze that was almost burning. It was weird. She already knew what was going on so I didnít understand the probing look. Or I didnít until she leaned closer to me, lowered her voice and whispered, "Are you going to tell them tonight?"
"I donít have much of a choice, do I?" And I didnít. One way or another they'd find out soon. And it would be better coming from me. If Lily told them- or the school had to- they'd probably be even more upset, upset that I hid such big news from them.
Lily glanced over at the boys for a moment, then looked back at me. "Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?"
"I'm hoping my father doesnít have a heart attack and die at the dinner table. I'm hoping Malfoy stops being a prat and tells his parents soon. I'm hoping the baby will be healthy." Looking over at her I met her eyes, held her gaze. "I'm not even thinking about gender yet."
"But you must have a preference."
"Not really." I knew though that even if right now Scorpius said he was going to be there that might not always be the case. And in knowing that I also knew that raising a little girl on my own would be easier. I'm a girl, after all. I would understand how it felt to be a young girl, a teenage girl. I couldnít understand how it is for boys. But I honestly wouldnít have been upset if the baby was a boy. As long as the baby was healthy I was going to be happy.
"I hope itís a girl," Lily told me without so much as a moment's hesitation, without even blinking. She said it in the most serious tone imaginable.
"And why's that?"
"I want to buy it pretty dresses." She looks at me like I was insane for asking that, like it should be obvious. "Come on, Rosie. You and I both know that clothing is much more fun for little girls. Wouldnít it be fun to be able to dress your baby up in little frilly dresses and pretty shoes?"
"I guess." I definitely wasnít at the point where I was thinking about clothing or a crib or anything of the sort. Eventually I was going to have to. I was going to have to think about setting up a nursery, of getting a crib and clothes and all sorts of things. But for now I was too early on in the pregnancy for that to be an issue. I wasnít even at the point where I was showing yet. "You seem a little too excited for my taste."
"I'm not excited," she insisted. "I just figure that since you're going to have a baby anyway I might as well just look forward to the fun parts. Cute clothes and toys and babysitting sometimes. It's either that or be freaked out and would you rather I be freaked out?"
"Not really. The calmer people are the better."
"Exactly." Sometimes I forgot how smart she could be. A brat that wasnít that good at keeping secrets but still quite smart. And even if I wasnít ready to admit it out loud I was glad that she and James had taken this so well. Even if others didnít I knew I had their support at the very least. It wasnít much given that I didnít know how my parents would react but it was something. A little support is better than none.
She glanced over at my parents, looked back at me. "How do you think they're going to react? Your parents I mean."
"I donít know," I admitted. "I think Mum will take the news better than Da. She tends to be the more levelheaded of the two. I donít think she'll be happy but I donít think she'll freak out on me too badly. I think she'll be more disappointed than anything."
"Well, I'm sure it will probably go just fine. Better than it is in your head."
A knock came at the door and Lily's head spun around instantly to look towards the door, her hair flying around her face and the second that Mum opened the door and my aunt and uncle appeared my younger cousin hopped up off of the couch. "Mum!"
Lily dashed across the living room, nudging her way between the boys so that she could get to her parents and wrapped her arms around Aunt Ginny, squeezed tightly. "You made it." She squeezes tighter and then lets go. "Did you have a lovely trip?"
"It was fine," Ginny assured her daughter, smiled at her and ran a hand over her red, red hair, hair so much like Ginny's. And for a second, only a second, I wondered if the baby would look more like me or Scorpius, if it'd be Malfoy blonde or brunette or a redhead. It could be any of the above.
Ginny moved past her daughter and reaches out with her arms and wrapped them around each of her son's shoulders, leans up and presses a kiss to each of their cheeks. I didnít really pay attention to anything that was said after that.
Aunt Ginny kept on talking to her children and Uncle Harry was talking to Hugo and my father while Mum tried to finish setting up everything. And while I was happy to see my aunt and my uncle again I wasnít ready to get up and go to them. It could wait. It could wait until my stomach settled, until my nerves werenít so frazzled.
But my sitting there alone didnít last too long. Aunt Ginny spotted me sitting on the couch, smiled at her sons and separated herself from them to move over to me, held her arms out towards me for a hug and I knew I had to hug her. I wanted to anyway. Ginny was my aunt, after all. One of my favorite aunts, too. But that was probably just because I had spent so much of my life with out families being so, so close.
So I stood up from the couch and let my aunt wrap her arms around me, squeeze tight and sway me slightly from side to side. "Now, why are you sitting all the way over here by yourself tonight, hmm?"
"Just tired, I guess."
"Let me get a look at you." Sliding her arms away from me she put her hands on my shoulders and held me at arm's length. "You get prettier and prettier every time I see you."
I smiled, just a little. She says that to all of us girls. She tells us we keep getting prettier, tells the boys they get more handsome. Its one of the things we all love about Aunt Ginny. She's always trying to make us feel good about ourselves, always complimenting us. And she says it with such conviction we know that she's not just saying it to be nice.
"Dinner's on the table." Mum stood in the doorway looking at us all, reached up to smooth down her curly, curly hair and then motioned for us all to step into the kitchen. It wasnít until Aunt Ginny stepped away from me though that she made her way over to me, wrapped an arm around my shoulder. "Are you feeling alright, Rosie?" she whispered to me. "You seem a bit off lately."
"Tired. Just tired." It felt horrible to lie to her. She was my mother, after all. But I couldnít tell her the truth. Not yet. Not until it felt right. It wouldnít be right though to do that until we were all sitting together and relatively calm. It would be best to tell them all at once.
"Alright." She seemed doubtful but she pressed a kiss to my temple, led me to the table. I took my normal seat near my brother, sitting between him and James. Lily was across from me and she gave me this little smile as we all sat down, James grabbed my hand under the table and squeezed but released it as the dishes started to get passed around.
For the first half of dinner it was relatively quiet. We passed around the dishes, loaded food onto our plates and the only real sounds that could be heard were the sounds of the forks and knives scrapping against the plates, people moving their glasses. I could hear my own chewing in my head as loud as drums banging right next to my ears. I knew it was only because of my nerves though. It had to be my nerves. There was no way I was chewing that loudly.
"So," my aunt finally said, breaking the silence as she put her glass back down on the table. "Everyone fill us in on how you're doing." She glanced at each of us, let her eyes land on her eldest. "James, are you finally going to tell us about your little girlfriend?"
James paused mid chew to look at his mother, waited a moment to finish chewing and then swallowed a bit harshly before he answered her. "Depends on what you want to know."
"A name would be lovely."
"Lana." Ginny nodded just a little bit. "Are you going to tell us anything else about her?"
"She's nice," he replied carefully. "You'd like her." Of course Aunt Ginny likes almost everyone until they give her a reason not to. She's a sweet person in that way.
"Are we going to get to meet her any time soon?"
"Maybe. It depends on her." Which really meant it depended on how serious he ended up being about her. It was debatable. If he liked her enough he'd introduce her to his parents soon enough.
"How was your trip, Mum?" Lily looked at me maybe a little too long and then looked back at her mother. She was trying to buy me a little time, I realized. It was a nice feeling.
"It was lovely, like I said." She arched one of her carrot-colored eyebrows at my cousin almost as if silently questioning why she was asking about it again. "Romania is nice this time of year. A little cold but not too bad."
"I think she wishes she could have cut out of school and come with us." Uncle Harry smiles as he says it, lifts up his glass and takes a sip out of it to hide his smile.
"I like school," Lily defended.
"I know you do. But I still think you wanted to come." Harry put his glass back down, glanced around the table. I pushed my food around on my plate for maybe the hundredth time tonight. His gaze lingered on me, on what I was doing. "You're being very quiet tonight, Rosie," he pointed out unnecessarily. "School going well for you?"
"School's fine." That wasnít a lie at least. School was perfectly fine. My grades were alright, I had friends. School was the least of my worries right now.
"Rose." My father looked at me with this strange expression, put another bite of his food in his mouth, chewed a little and then spoke again with his mouth full. "You've been acting strange since you got home. Is something wrong? Are you sick or something?"
"No, Da. I'm not sick." Or at least not in the way that he meant. I had morning sickness, yes, but I wasnít sick.
"So why are you so quiet?" He put another piece of the cut up boiled potatoes Mum had made into his mouth, chewed, watched me. It made me feel sick. It made me want to shove my plate away entirely because the idea of eating more would have been horrible.
"Ron, donít chew with your mouth full." Mum had said it to him a million and three times before. He never really listens to her when she tells him that though. It's just how he is sometimes.
Da just looked at him as he kept on chewing on his food, put more into his mouth and then looked back at me, arched both of his red eyebrows at me. And if he kept on looking at me then everyone was going to just stare at me until I answered him.
"Just have something on my mind," I admitted finally, gave him a tentative smile.
"Something big?" Mum asked.
"You could say that."
"Rosie." Mum reached across the table and put her hand over mine, squeezed down. "Did something happen? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Mum. My grades are fine. I'm the picture of health." I smiled at her, stabbed at my food again with a little more vigor."
"Then what's wrong?"
For a long time I looked down at my food- or maybe it just seemed like a long time. I looked at my food and cleared my throat, sighed a little. I did this quick little mental rundown of all the ways I could give them the news in my head and figured that just telling them the truth outright was the best move to make. "I'm pregnant. Scorpius Malfoy is the father."
Across the table my father's fork clattered to the plate and he started coughing like his food went down the wrong pipe.
And I just wanted to run before it all sunk in and someone exploded.
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