Chapter 14 : Pre-Christmas
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It was the Christmas holidays, but most of Hogwarts upper School was staying to attend the Yule Ball on Christmas Day. The atmosphere in the run up to this event was tense and excited. Girls gathered in clusters in corridors, giggling or crying depending on whether the object of their affections had asked them or not. Harry and his friend Ron wandered round in a state of bemusement trying to find themselves dates.
Francesca had been asked by Harry’s friend, Dean Thomas. She was sure he liked Ginny and had only asked her as he was too nervous to ask her best friend. She tried not to mind too much, she did secretly quite like Dean after all. She was also too preoccupied with the thought of her parents being back together. She was trying to take Harry’s words to heart and accept that they were together. But it was really difficult; she didn’t think that it was that much to ask that she have her father to herself when he’d not been around for the first twelve years of her life.
With these thoughts flying through her head she agreed to go home for a couple of days before Christmas to have a day with her parents. She was dreading it a bit. She didn’t know what they were like together, and she didn’t want to be a third wheel. She’d asked Harry if he would go too but he said it might be a good idea to go on her own. And he had a load of homework to do as well as learning to dance.
So Francesca arrived home, having flooed from Professor McGonagall’s office. She looked around the familiar living room for signs of change, as she always did when she got home. Nothing was different, she realised with a sigh of relief.
“Cesca sweetheart!” Terese walked in to the room with her arms outstretched, obviously happy to see her daughter. Francesca let herself be enveloped in her mother’s arms.
“Hi Mum” she smiled, pleased to see her despite her misgivings. “Is… he here yet?”
“He’s having a shower.” Terese said with a smile. “He doesn’t have many opportunities. So how have you been sweetheart?”
“Fine.” Francesca shrugged. “Everyone’s all really excited about the Yule Ball.”
“Who are you going with then?” Terese asked with a raised eyebrow. She knew that 3rd years could only go if they’d been invited by someone in the 4th year or up.
“Dean Thomas, he’s a friend of Harry’s” she answered, hoping she didn’t show quite how pleased she was about this fact.
“Who’s that then?” Sirius asked, walking into the room.
“Just the boy who’s taking her to the ball” Terese said as Francesca walked over to hug her father.
“Hi…” she said, still unsure whether she felt comfortable calling him ‘Dad’. There was an awkward silence for a minute.
“Is Uncle Remus coming for dinner later?” Francesca asked.
“No, sweetheart. He’s going to come and see you tomorrow.”
“Oh, ok. I want to give him his present.”
“Why don’t you go and put your stuff in your room sweetheart and I’ll make you a drink.”
Later on, they were sitting around the kitchen table, eating roast turkey.
“This is lovely, Tess.” Sirius said, grinning.
“No need to sound surprised, Black!” she said jokily.
“What?” Francesca asked, confused.
“Your mum was notorious for burning food and blowing the kitchen up.” Sirius told her with a grin.
“Sirius!” Terese lightly smacked his arm. “I got lessons from Molly Weasley when the girls were little!”
“Mum’s a good cook!” Francesca said loyally.
“See!” Terese exclaimed. “Thank you, sweetheart.”
“What did you used to blow up mum?” Francesca grinned.
“Lasagne was a favourite!” Sirius grinned. “Bacon was another!”
“Lucky for you I’ve got better then isn’t it!” Terese raised an eyebrow at her husband.
“I can’t imagine you doing that mum.”
“Stick with me, kiddo, I could tell you stories about your mother you wouldn’t believe.” Sirius said to his daughter, with a wink.
“Could but better not!” Terese exclaimed. Sirius laughed.
“Like what?” Francesca asked.
“Sirius!” Terese exclaimed
“What?” He said, with false innocence. Francesca watched this exchange with a slight frown. She didn’t recognise her mother in this mode; it was completely unfamiliar to her. And the indication that her father knew another side to her made Francesca feel left out. Terese saw the look on her daughter’s face.
“What’s the matter, sweetheart?”
“Nothing.” Francesca said, staring at her plate.
“Really?” Terese asked.
“It’s just, odd…” she mumbled.
“What is?” Sirius asked.
“I don’t know… you two…” They exchanged glances. Before Terese could try and placate her daughter, Sirius stood up and went and crouched next to her.
“Francesca. We’re not trying to make you feel left out. All me and you mum ever wanted was for us to be a family. From the minute we found out we were having you, that’s all we’ve wanted.”
“Really?” The thought that her father had been around the whole time that her mother had been expecting her had never occurred to her.
“Princess, when your mother told me she was pregnant, it was one of the happiest moments of my life. It’s one of the few happy memories that I could hold on to when the Dementors were close.” He told her softly. “I love your mother, and I love you. I have since the moment you were born, even if I wasn’t around.”
“Really?” Francesca said again, trying not to cry.
“Of course!” He said.
“I suppose I just thought you never wanted me…”
“Cesca, darling. I’m so sorry I let you feel that. But I thought it would be better for you than thinking your Dad was a notorious mass murderer…”
“But it was a lie!” Francesca stated.
“I know, darling. But I promise it’s what I thought was best at the time!” Francesca nodded. “I can tell you I’ve never seen anyone as excited over anything when I told him I was pregnant.” She leant over to grab her handbag and, dragging it over, rummaged around for a minute. Eventually she pulled out a dog-eared photo and put it on the table. Francesca picked it up and stared at it. Her parents were at the front. Her mum was heavily pregnant leaning against her dad; a one year old Harry was staring at Terese’s stomach while a red haired lady and a man with messy black hair and glasses were laughing in the background. Sirius looked at it over her shoulder.
“Where did you get this, Tess?” He asked, incredulous.
“Remus took it and gave it to me because I didn’t have any photos of Harry.”
Francesca said nothing as she continued staring at the photo and leant her head against her dad’s shoulder.
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