I woke up to the shouts of the Chudley Cannons Quidditch team. With bleary eyes I reached across to the alarm clock, which currently had the entire team flying on miniature brooms around the inside of the clock, banging against the clock glass and shouting insults. It was a gift from my mum for my 11th birthday; she had always been extremely skilled with creating magic clocks, I thought as my mind drifted to the family grandfather clock in the kitchen. As soon as I thought about mum, last night’s argument sprang into my head. With a sigh, I rolled out of bed and told the Quidditch clock that I was awake. After the team captain, Plimpson Jackson, tested me on the Chudley Cannons place on the league table at that precise moment (Last, as always) he decided I was actually awake, and shouted to his other team mates ‘GINGER’S UP’ and they all dispersed; many still sending glaring looks over their shoulders.
As quietly as I could, I crept around the attic room, reaching through my laundry on the floor to select some Muggle trousers and a top. From a pile of clothes that I had dumped in the corner from the previous night, I grabbed a wizard robe, my wand and the ‘247 Mart’ uniform and then stuffed them into my backpack. After changing into my muggle clothing, I slowly made my way down the five flights of stairs, wincing slightly as I stood on the creaky step outside Ginny’s room until eventually arriving in the family kitchen. Looking around, there was no food left over from last night so ignoring the groans from my stomach, I picked two apples from the fruit bowl and added them to my backpack; breakfast and lunch. With a start, I looked at the family clock, 4 am, Bugger, I seized the backpack and scrawled ‘Sorry’ on the back of a shopping list which had been left on the table from the night before, then rushed to the back door where all the Weasley shoes were lined up and were currently being polished. I grabbed a pair of my old shoes and after receiving a heavy whack on the head from the polish brush, I accidently stumbled and knocked the savings jar off the bookcase which hit the floor with an alarming crash. I heard a creak upstairs of someone stepping onto the step outside Ginny’s room, just one floor up, and so I turned and fled the house, jumping over the gnome morning meeting in the bushes, side-stepping the snapping plants and cursing at the intruder squeal from the old rubber wellington boots.
Cursing under my breath, I turned to see my mum at Ginny’s window in her morning robes with one hand pushing the window open and the other holding her wand which was sending some worrying orange sparks out the end as she yelled.
‘HOW DARE YOU-‘
I swallowed and didn’t wait to hear the rest of the speech, already turning and running through the orchard garden and without slowing my pace; I reached down and picked up one of the Cleensweep broomsticks which were leaning on the old shed. Barely breathing, I carried on through the Orchard garden, hearing screeching coming from the house which suddenly reminded me of a banshee. Focus Ron, I shook the thought out of my head and carried on running, heading for the trees at the other side of the garden. After one final jump over the biting rose bush, I landed at the edge of the trees on the uneven ground. Without hesitating I swung my leg over the broomstick and pushed off from the ground, the morning air hit me in the face as I flew into the sky; knowing the early-morning light and the surrounding trees would cover my direction from mum’s glare.
After a while, mum’s screeching couldn’t be heard anymore and the silence of the early morning filled my ears. I always flew level with the tree tops in case a Muggle happened to look out of their window at the wrong moment meaning that they wouldn't immediately notice a red-haired boy flying on a brromstick which would cause all sort of problems with the Ministry. After about an hour the sky was starting to lighten and there were more frequent squawks from birds and rustles on the ground from awakening wildlife, I landed at the side of an abandoned road, the surrounding trees giving me the cover I needed once again.
A few metres away was an old bicycle which was tied to a tree. Nobody would have wanted to steal the bicycle anyway as it was covered in rust, had a brake handle missing and a smashed taillight. I had found it just after the summer holidays started in a junk yard on my first day at work, it still worked – as long as if I didn’t go too fast. With a sigh, I hid my broomstick behind a covered nettle patch and against an old, warped-looking tree which made the broomstick blend in. After cutting the piece of rope, grabbing the bike handle and cringing and the bike creaked under my weight, I pushed off from the side and headed down the abandoned road. Eventually I passed a worn-out sign saying ‘Little Benston’, it was one of those towns where you could of seen how grand it was in a previous life but now had boarded up windows in houses, graffiti on the bridge and grime covering the street.
I leaned the bike against the wall of 247 Mart and reached into my bag. After quickly demolishing one of the apples to attempt to satisfy my rumbling stomach, I pulled on the lime green overall on top of my Muggle clothing and walked into the store. Immediately Mr Gregor jumped out between the aisles of bread and tinned vegetables.
‘And what time do you call this Rob?’ he spat
‘uhh’ I said as I quickly glanced round the shop for a clock ‘6am sir?’
‘No you idiot boy, it’s three minutes past six! If I wanted a baboon who couldn’t tell the time and arrived constantly late, then I would of hired one Robert!’
‘It’s Ronald sir’
‘Do you really think I care? You ignorant prat, when I was your age I was already working in the mines! Ah’ he grinned as he looked at the clock ‘it’s now five minutes past six, I hope you don’t expect to be paid for this time you’re wasting?’
I wanted to argue back, but soon realised I’d just be wasting more time and I really needed that money. Taking a deep breath, I stepped around the crazy shop owner, dumped my bag behind the counter and headed to the back of the store. It turned out there was a delivery going on which Tony had volunteered to help on, leaving me with the corpses of three pigs. With another sigh, I pulled out the carving knives and got to work. It was going to be another long day.
Finally the crooked clock on the wall above the meat counter said that it was 5pm. I smiled and pulled off the blood-stained, lime green overall, rolling it up so that I could grip it in one hand, but looking down at my Muggle clothes, I grimaced. Flecks of blood had stained my white shirt. Brilliant. I nodded to Tony as Mr Gregor pushed himself into the meat room.
‘I believe you want today’s payment Robert?’ he said
‘It’s Ronal-’ his small aged eyes narrowed, so I dropped it ‘Yes Sir’
‘Do you think you deserve your wages today Mr Wensley?’
My stomach twisted as he said this and I could hear Tony stop sharpening the knives. ‘Why not Mr Gregor?’
‘Firstly you arrived late – DON’T YOU DARE GLARE AT ME! – then you have had a constant attitude for the entire day and because you don’t seem to be in the slightest bit organised, your rumbling stomach has frightened away all of our customers!’ Mr Gregor spat.
I felt my ears burning as he spoke. It wasn’t my fault he refused to give me a lunch break I muttered to myself, and I was only slightly late anyway. He kept me longer by yelling at me – the miserable git.
‘Give him the damn money Jack’ Tony snarled ‘He’s worked solidly all day, just like me – are you going to not pay me as well then eh?’
Mr Gregor seemed to pause and look at Tony, realising that this well-built, middle aged man who was holding two carving knives was not to be messed with. Gregor’s eyes flashed dangerously as he dug a hand into his pocket and pulled out a wad of Muggle money, separating the top two notes and dropping them into my out-stretched hand.
‘All there Ron?’ Tony asked suspiciously, Mr Gregor’s eyes flashed once more. I needed this job, I needed the cash. I had to go along with it.
‘Yep, all there Tony’ I replied. Mr Gregor smiled nastily then turned and walked out of the room.
After a short silence, whilst I pocketed the money, Tony spoke up with a sigh ‘Don’t mind old Jack, he’s got a heart of gold really’ I snorted ‘nah he does, dotes on his daughter he does, he just likes things in a certain order is all and you-‘ he paused ‘he’ll come around’
I nodded, we both knew he wouldn’t. Tony was the only other person who wasn’t directly involved to understand. He had guessed in the end, it was pretty obvious Mr Gregor’s hatred for me was out of the ordinary. I said bye and trudged out of the store, picking my bag up as I went past and stuffing the money and bloody overalls into the open backpack. I looked at the clock, 5.30pm. Just over four hours to go. I turned at the street corner and slowly walked up the row of houses, noticing that I was suddenly soaked, the rain had started again. So much for roasting summer, I thought to myself before turning into house No. 9. I rang the old-fashioned bell and slowly a small figure came to the door. The lady’s eyes narrowed when she saw me, her dark brown hair was streaked with grey and her lips were pursed.
‘Come in then’ she snarled.
I followed obediently, swiftly kicking off my shoes as I passed her so no mud could get on the cream carpet. Without another word, the lady sniffed and walked into the lounge, I headed upstairs. The fourth door on the second floor was slightly ajar but I knocked anyway.
‘Come in then’ a girl sighed, as if repeating her mother. I pushed open the door and saw a tanned girl of about 17 sat on her bed. Her long brown hair cascaded down her back, her striking blue eyes focussed on a magazine she had balanced on her swelling stomach.
‘Hullo’ I muttered ‘You orite?’
She rolled her eyes, and turned to look at me. ‘Have you got my money Ron?’
I hesitated. She was seven months pregnant, and I knew enough not to agitate her at the moment. I had agreed that I would give her a certain amount of Muggle money every day so she could prepare herself for the baby. It had been an uphill battle with her and her family to keep the baby; Laura was their pride and joy. I was the disgraced git who had got her drunk. And pregnant. Needless to say, they hated me for it, and Laura resented me for being the cause of this unwanted pregnancy. It would have been easier if I had agreed to an abortion, I knew that. I was barely 15 when she first told me and my world is hectic enough, but I just couldn’t agree to it. So I persuaded Laura to keep the baby and I’d pay for everything.
I pulled out the two notes from my backpack ‘Here’ and handed them to her. She reached out and snatched the money from my hand. Before I could say anything I heard a loud slam from downstairs where the front door had been shut with force.
‘BOY! Downstairs now’
Laura pushed herself up so she could stand and walked past me to go downstairs and turned to face me at the door ‘well? Are you coming or not?’ I followed meekly, already guessing what this was about. When we reached the bottom of the stairs Laura skipped towards the man standing in the hallway with narrowed eyes.
‘Hello Daddy’ she welcomed in an innocent voice
‘Laura’ he smiled, his eyes losing their glare for a fraction of a second before his gaze moved to her pregnant bump and then towards me. ‘Get into the lounge Robert, We need to talk’ spat Mr Gregor. Laura Gregor followed us into the lounge and sat on the long settee where Mrs Gregor was already sat. A pot of tea displayed on the table in front of her. 3 cups, I wasn’t welcome to it.
Mr Gregor didn’t wait for me to even take a seat before he jumped into the conversation ‘Since you have seemed to persuade my daughter not to abort this-this’ he gestured to the baby bump and then to me ‘-this thing. I-We have decided that you should take full responsibility. I have given you a job to earn some money to support my daughter through this troubling time and have come to the decision that you shall bear the burden of your decision’
‘Bear the burden?’ I replied confused ‘what burden?’ I looked from Mr Gregor to Laura, who was purposely avoiding my eyes.
‘When IT is born’ Mr Gregor spat, as if explaining something simple to a three-year old ‘we shall be moving away from Little Benston. I have already been offered a job elsewhere and we have found a new house. Laura shall start a new school year where nobody has ever heard of us or her ordeal YOU have put her through. This-this thing shall be a thing of the past that SHALL be forgotten’
I still didn’t understand. What burden? I thought to myself. Sure it will be more difficult to visit, but I’ll still come and see the baby as often as I can, is that a burden? Then a new thought hit me.
‘But surely people will guess that the baby is Laura’s? It will be pretty hard to hide a baby’ I chuckled
Mrs Gregor finally spoke up ‘No. You idiot boy. The infant shall not be coming with us. You begged to keep this child alive, now you shall become its carer. The child is your burden to bear. We shall move away from here, and you WILL NOT know our destination. You won’t follow us and fill our daughter’s ears with more of your poisonous words’ She shrieked at me.
‘What? But-No- I mean- I can’t. I’ve got school, I have to go away. My parents-my family they don’t know, they don’t understand. It’s dangerous. I can’t-‘
‘Dangerous!’ she shrieked again ‘Dangerous from whom? You must of realised this was coming, this child is not wanted by us. So for heaven’s sake grow up, and accept the consequences of your actions!’
I couldn’t answer, describing the dangers of my world would mean I would have to explain about the Wizarding world, how they had a real wizard seated between the tea pot and the biscuits. It would mean breaking the biggest rule of the Wizarding world which could result in a sentence in Azkaban Prison. My mind started to numb as the reality set in. I was going to be a father. I had to care for a child, but how? Hide it under my bed? Hope it doesn’t cry? Hide it from the world? Fight the death eaters with a baby strapped to my hip? The ideas were preposterous as they filed through my head becoming more and more absurd as I panicked beyond reason. Harry. Hermionie. What would they say? Hermionie. My stomach tensed at the thought. What do I do?
I found myself lost withing a world of my own thoughts and barely managed to notice how Mr Gregor was making plans. Mrs Gregor pouring tea. Laura avoiding my eyes and me, sat as still as a stunned Wizard. Before I knew what was happening, I was being ushered into the hallway, noticing the Grandfather clock was already stroking past 10pm. Four hours had gone by since my arrival, it couldn’t of I thought to myself but the sky was dark outside and the rain still pounded against the window. Everyone seemed to be speaking in murmers, nothing was clear and my heart thudded against my ribcage, with a surge of strength I reached out and grabbed Laura’s arm. Forcing her to look at me.
‘Laura, you can’t – you understand- I can’t’ my words were cut short as her eyes narrowed, reminiscent of her father’s glare.
‘I think you should leave now, Ronald’ Laura said slowly. Her father grunted his approval in the background as I turned and walked out the door. The peeling paint crumbled as the front door slammed on my heels. Within seconds I was soaked, but that didn’t matter. As if in a trance, I slowly walked to the shop and collected my bike. Tightened the straps on my backpack and set off in the general direction of the abandoned broomstick. Suddenly I had arrived at the deserted road, as if I had apparated there immediately. But the sky was darker and the moon had moved, I was losing all sense of time. As I re-tied my bike, pulled on my Wizard robes and lifted a leg over the broomstick my mind was racing ahead, Leave Hogwarts? What would I do? I haven’t even got any OWLs yet! What could I do? Maybe I could work as a shop assistant somewhere? Where would I live?
With a jolt I realised I had reached my garden. Two more hours had passed since leaving the Gregor house. Where was the time disappearing to? Somewhere in my mind I acknowledged the house lights were still on, but this thought disappeared as soon as it had come, I had bigger things to think about. Eventually I entered the kitchen with muddy boots splattering the floor, dripping robes leaving puddles and dark brown hair plastered against a red face from the fierce storm outside. Funny, I thought, I hadn’t even noticed. I looked up towards the fruit bowl, hoping to grab another apple to attempt and settle the moaning stomach, which was extremely off-put at being given only two apples throughout the entire day. Again.
Instead my eyes found several other pairs of narrowed eyes, all of which were surrounded by red hair on their pale faces. Percy was still at work, I wasn't so lucky with the rest though. My brothers frowned at my dripping robes, my sister glared at my muddy footprints, my dad’s eyes pierced mine as he looked at my dazed expression and my mother stared at the flecks of blood on my white shirt. In front of them was an open bag of Muggle money. My money, stored in my sock drawer.
‘And where in Merlin’s name have you been?’ my mother snarled.
A/N: Ooohh Cliffhanger :OFirstly, I'm not J.K Rowling and therefore do not own Harry Potter etc etc... Secondly, a big thank you to everyone who is reading this! This was my first ever fanfiction and so it's great fun revisiting it and adding the next chapter - is pretty awesome to see how my writing style is changing, even over just a couple of months :O
So yep thanks for reading this, thanks to my great beta Jai917 :) Finally, it would mean a lot to me if you lovely people would write your thoughts in that little box below? I love hearing your thoughts!