Chapter 21 : Chapter Twenty: Maternal Instincts
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Teddy and Victoire left the party fairly quickly after that, and Hayes and I quickly followed. I suppose it was obvious that we’d had some type of confrontation, but no one in the family said anything – they all just gave knowing, sympathetic looks.
Hayes asked if I wanted him to stay with me that night, but I told him I’d be fine and I just needed to think, so he apparated back to his own flat and I was left alone in mine. I laid in bed that night, and many nights after that, and thought about what Victoire had said.
“You may have felt invisible sometimes, but that’s a hell of a lot better than feeling like an outcast.”
A few days after Christmas, Louis showed up with his trunk to stay at my place until the Christmas hols were over. Hayes was in and out of my flat like always, but since Louis was staying in what was now half-guest bedroom, half-nursery, he didn’t stay over as much as he usually did.
Louis caught me one morning, early (too early if I had any say as to when my daughter liked to wake me up with swift kicks to the bladder), sitting on the floor of the living room looking through all the photo albums I’d asked him to bring to my flat with him from Shell Cottage. Hayes told me that my hormones, the fact that my maternal instincts were beginning to kick in, could be making me more willing to try to make things right with my sister, but I wasn’t sure. I wanted to believe that I would have tried anyway.
“What are you doing?” he asked groggily, still in just his pajama pants with his blonde hair standing up in all different directions.
“Just looking at these old pictures,” I told him. The sun was just beginning to rise and light was streaming in the windows. “Look, here, do you remember this?”
I pointed to a picture as Louis sat down beside me, leaning against the couch. In the picture, the three of us were standing in the backyard of Shell Cottage, fully clothed, with Louis and I dripping wet with mud and water, our arms over each other shoulders; Victoire was standing near us smiling and looking on, not muddy but definitely wet.
“Not really,” he yawned. “How old was I here?”
“About four,” I told him, moving my finger over Victoire’s person, who went from smiling at us to wringing out her hair. Our picture selves didn’t even acknowledge her. “I was six and Victoire was seven and a half. Dad hooked up the hose for us and we sprayed down a little patch of dirt and went sliding up and down it. Victoire came out and we sprayed her with the hose and chased her around the yard with worms.”
Louis laughed, leaning his head back to the seat of the couch and closing his eyes, “Sounds about right.”
“What about this one?” I flipped the page and pointed to another picture. Louis looked over and nodded.
“That one I remember,” he shook his head. It was a candid picture of Teddy, Victoire, me, Louis, and Fred. Fred and I were balancing a huge jellyfish on two sticks while Louis tried to poke it without getting stung. Teddy and Victoire were a little off to the side, watching, but clearly doing their own thing. “Even though I was only seven, getting stung by a jellyfish that large isn’t something I’m likely to forget. Ever.”
Again, I ran my finger over Victoire’s figure. She went from talking to Teddy to sneaking worried glances over at the three of us.
“We really didn’t include her in much, did we?” I asked, flipping the page again and seeing a picture of me, about four, smiling widely and sitting on top of two-year-old Louis’s head while Victoire sat on the couch behind us with Maman, who looked worried.
Louis looked over at the picture again, “I always assumed she didn’t want to hang out with us; that it would mess up her hair or something.”
I flipped the page again and saw one of Victoire and Teddy, squatting next to each other in a sand box, aged about one and two. They were filthy.
“Maybe we assumed wrong,” I told him, staring at the picture.
“‘Nique, don’t beat yourself up about this,” he leaned his head on my shoulder.
“You didn’t hear her, Lou. You didn’t see the way she looked at me that night,” I told him, leaning my head on his and trying not to tear up. “You didn’t want me so I picked Teddy and then you took that from me, too. That’s what she said.”
Louis didn’t say anything to that. I don’t know what I wanted him to say. I don’t know what he could have said that would have made me feel better.
“You didn’t do it on purpose, ‘Nique. You weren’t the only one that isolated her. She never spoke up, never told anyone –”
“She probably told Teddy! And then I went and screwed that up –”
“Now being the innocent, virginal little brother that I am, I may be wrong, but I’ve heard it does take two…”
I rolled my eyes and looked at him to say that that wasn’t the point.
“Yeah, I know. I can barely believe that I’m still a virgin either,” he cut in.
I smiled and smacked him, “You better be. I swear to Merlin if you knock some girl up, I’ll take her side. I don’t care how much I love you, these past six months haven’t been rainbows and unicorns.”
It was Louis’s turn to roll his eyes.
“You swear to me now, Louis or I’m going to go into detail about the horrors of pregnancy.”
He looked at me skeptically.
“Oh, okay,” I said. “My feet are swollen, my boobs hurt, I’m gassy, I have to pee every four minutes, I haven’t pooped regularly in months –”
“OI!” He cried, plugging his ears. “I get it, I won’t have sex! Now shut it!”
I grinned triumphantly. “Good boy.”
“I hate you.”
“When do you go back to school again?” I asked, faux-irritated.
“Not soon enough,” Louis grinned and ruffled my hair, standing up. He was already taller than me at sixteen. “Want breakfast, fattie?”
“Yeah, I’ll have your head on a silver platter, please.”
“You’re just jealous because it doesn’t take me four years to stand up.”
“It’ll take them four years to find your body if you don’t be nice to the hormonal pregnant woman,” I grinned evilly, shutting the picture album. I missed my baby brother when he was away. He always knew how to make me feel better.
“Do you have to work today?”
“Yeah, but not ‘til noon,” I answered as I began the long journey that was standing up from a sitting position.
Ugh, to think that I still had all of January, February, and March left of this. While I thought that I would be due at the beginning of March, I was a bit off – I wasn’t due until the very end of March, the thirtieth to be exact – though I was already large enough to look like I was hiding a quaffle under my shirt. Hayes says it was because I was built so tiny to begin with. Five foot seven isn’t tiny, but I do miss being able to wear my size two jeans.
Conveniently, Louis had recently informed me that he heard from spying on Maman and Dad that Victoire and Teddy had moved their wedding date to only a little more than a week after my due date, April seventh. I was to get an invitation, of course, but only after Dad had had a ‘serious talking to’ to my sister. Though, invitation or not, I didn’t think that I’d be able to attend a wedding a week after my daughter was born. Bringing a week-old baby to an outdoor wedding just isn’t the best idea, even if I did think I’d be well-rested enough to try.
Hearing the date of the wedding was also a bit of a sealing-the-deal between Teddy and I. With a wedding and the subsequent honeymoon a week after I gave birth, I figured he wasn’t planning on being very parental. Not that I wanted him to. I wanted Teddy to be what he was supposed to be – Victoire’s. I didn’t want to interfere with their relationship anymore, especially not after the talk I’d had with my sister recently. Plus, I had Hayes, Maman and Dad, my aunts and uncles, Emmelyn, etc. who had all promised to help.
I made my way over to the table as Louis brought out two bowls, spoons, the milk, and a box of my favorite cereal. “I’ll go in with you. I’m meeting James and a few others in Diagon Alley around then.”
I nod and pour myself a bowl. “Do you have a date for the Potter’s New Years party?”
Louis blushed. Ah, veela skin. It’s lovely except for when you’re blushing. The paleness can’t hide anything. I smirked, “Are you meeting her in Diagon Alley today?” I pressed.
“You just gave me a lecture on not having sex, why would I tell you that?”
“‘Cause if you don’t I’ll stalk you and make a scene and introduce myself and my big pregnant belly to all your friends in a very obnoxious manner.”
He glared up at me, “All of my friends already know you.”
Damn. That’s right. We did all go to Hogwarts together. “Does she? Who’re you dating?”
“We’re not dating.”
I raised my eyebrows, “But you fancy her.”
I put my hand in front of me in an exaggerated writing motion, “Dear Maman and Dad, It’s been so much fun spending time with Louis. I’m learning all sorts of stuff about what he gets up to at Hogwarts, like Dung-bombing Filtch’s cat and setting fireworks off in Hagrid’s house –”
“Oi! Those were things you did with Fred and Em!”
He scowled at me. “Why couldn’t I have a normal family?”
I looked at him expectantly. “You don’t know her,” I raised my eyebrows. “Her name’s Julie Penderton, okay?”
“Louis and Julie? Wow, that’s just nauseating.”
“Fuck off,” he flipped me off over his cereal.
I laughed, “Calm down, I’ll be nice.”
“Who says you’re meeting her?”
“Try as you may, the Potter’s house isn’t quite big enough for you to hide that girl from me,” I told him happily.
He sighed, “At least you’ll like her. She hates Proper for what she wrote about you, ‘cause she knows what really happened and such. She wants to be a journalist that writes unbiased stuff.”
“She’s going to be my new best friend.”
Louis shook his head, “Do you think Teddy and Victoire will be at the party?”
I shrugged, “Probably. I’ll bet Uncle Harry or Aunt Ginny guilt Teddy into it.”
“Are you nervous?”
I look up at him, “Not as much bad as the Christmas dinner. I kind of want to talk to her, if she’ll let me.”
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”
“It’s probably not, but what else can I do?”
“Julie Penderton?” Fred asked as he stocked a shelf in his dad’s shop later that afternoon. He had been helping his dad with the shop when Emmelyn was working at St. Mungo’s.
“You know her?” I cried, looking up from my magazine from behind the cash register.
“Yes, Dominique, I do still go to school with Louis and occasionally I hang out with him due to the fact that my other two best mates graduated.”
“There’s no need to be snappy about it,” I replied as I flipped the page of the parenting magazine I was reading.
My Kid Swallowed Floo-Powder – How To Prevent the Spontaneous Combustion of Your Child
Merlin’s pants, are they trying to scare the shit out of you with these articles? I quickly closed the magazine, but made a mental note to make sure and move the floo powder way out of reach of children when I got home.
I saw that Fred had taken a break from stocking to glare at me. I laughed, “Well, what’s she like?”
“Short black hair, blue eyes, nice tits,” Fred shrugged.
“Nice tits?” I deadpanned.
“What? It’s true.”
“I was talking more about her actual personality.”
“Oh, that.” If Fred weren’t so far away, I would have smacked him. “She’s sweet. Kind of comes off as innocent, bookish – well that’s a given as she’s a Ravenclaw –, she’s honestly not the type that Louis usually goes for.”
“Well that’s nice, maybe he’s finally realizing that slutty blondes aren’t the way to go.”
“He is the slutty blonde.”
“He better not be anymore.”
Fred laughed as he stocked the last finger-biting diary (Bites off the finger of snoopers! (Fingers cleanly bitten off and can be reattached at your local hospital and/or Hospital Wing.)) “He’s definitely changed a bit since you announced you’re up the spout.”
He walked over to me, “You’ll like her. Louis obviously does, you should see the way he stammers around her. Amateur.” He walked back over to the shelves to feed the Pygmy Puffs as the door bells tinkled, signaling someone had entered the shop.
It wasn’t a terribly busy day yet, but there were quite a few people milling around the shop. I looked over and saw Emmelyn enter, still wearing her hospital attire, and wave to me before spotting Fred. She put a finger to her lips and I nodded. She snuck up behind Fred, “So, stockboy, is there a back room we could visit because I have a very important question to ask you,” I heard her say in a seductive voice. She bit her lip and blinked a couple times. I was torn between amusement and nausea.
“I-I-I thought you were working until six today,” Fred stammered. Emmelyn burst out in giggles.
“Amateur!” I called over to him.
He flipped me off and kissed his girlfriend hello. I looked away. There are some things that take a bit of getting used to and one of them is definitely seeing your two best mates snog.
Emmelyn walked over and behind the counter a second later, plopping down in a chair behind me. Technically she wasn’t supposed to be behind the counter, but Uncle George had gotten used to the three of us doing things we weren’t supposed to do. Frankly, I think he endorsed it.
“Hayes says ‘hello’ and that he’ll be at your place with dinner when you get off work,” she told me. “I say that you should give him his balls back.”
I laughed, “Shut up, he’s sweet.”
“Well, I’m a fan. He let me go two hours early today,” she grabbed the magazine I had been reading.
“Don’t look at page sixty-three, there’s a terrifying image of a toddler bursting into green flames after eating floo powder.”
“Freaky,” Emmelyn commented, turning the pages.
I turned back to the register to check out a couple of young teenagers. “Do these really work?” they asked, holding up some of Uncle George’s best fireworks.
“Yeah, just don’t light them near or in a wooden house – trust me on that one,” I smiled politely as I rang them up.
“What would she know, she’s, like, old,” one of them muttered to another and they snickered. I frowned.
Fred walked up and leaned in behind them with a whisper, “She’s not old enough to hex you into next year. I would tell you to ask the last kids that called her old, but they haven’t been found yet.”
“Thanks for shopping,” I gave them an evil grin, widening my eyes as I took their money and handed them their fireworks. “Have a nice day!”
Wide-eyed, they booked it out of the store. “Come again soon!” Emmelyn called behind them.
“Third one today – you’d think these kids would have some manners,” I huffed.
“I think one of them about pissed themselves when you gave them that look,” Fred commented, leaning against the counter.
“Did you just threaten customers?” Uncle George came up behind him.
We all turned to look at him, slightly horrified. He just laughed, “You know you aren’t supposed to do that,” he paused. “Then again, I’m not supposed to give Roxy sweets before dinner, so I guess neither of us is innocent.”
“Lolli!” Roxanne ran up behind Uncle George carrying a large lollipop.
“I won’t tell if you won’t,” he winked, picked up his daughter and walked away.
“I love your family,” Emmelyn smiled, looking back to the magazine. “And this kid is fucked.”
We all went back to my flat for dinner. I owled Hayes and he picked up enough for the five of us from a Greek place down the road.
“Thanks for bringing dinner,” I kissed him as I finished helping him put everything out on the table. Louis, Fred, and Emmelyn were all in the living room talking about something I didn’t care about when Hayes pulled me into his arms, a task that was getting more and more difficult every day with my growing belly.
“No problem,” he smiled, leaning in to kiss me properly. “You know,” he said, pulling away and leaning his forehead on mine, talking in a low voice, “I like your brother and all, but I definitely miss sleeping with you.”
A shiver ran down my spine and it took all I had to remain calm, “Which sleeping with are we talking about here.” I smirked. Good Dominique, remain cool, calm, and collected.
He reached his hands up to cup my face and pulled it towards his. He kissed me so hard and so long that when he finally pulled away I almost fell forwards, “Both of them,” he practically growled and I took a deep breath.
“Is the food almost ready?” Louis had walked over. I jumped back from Hayes and nodded.
“Yeah, it’s all out. H-Help yourself.”
Louis sent a skeptical look at me and Hayes before calling to Fred and Emmelyn and sitting down. I tried to hide my blush as I sat down next to Hayes. Fred slid in beside me, “Looks good.”
“Sure does,” Louis said, digging in.
Hayes put his hand on my leg, and started rubbing up and down. Up and down. I shot him a glare, but he just smiled and started talking to Fred and Louis about the Quidditch team at Hogwarts.
“It’s not as good as last year, when we had ‘Nique and this other keeper called Trey, but we still manage. We’re about to play Ravenclaw and if we win we’ll pretty much secure the Cup –” I stopped listening to Fred when Hayes’ hand slipped a little farther up than it had previously.
Merlin, it was like he was trying to torture me.
Fine. Two could play at this game. Acting like I was putting a napkin in my lap, I slipped my hand under the table and over to Hayes’ lap. His hand disappeared from my lap and appeared on the table when he realized what I was doing. From the corner of my eye, I saw his expression falter a bit. I tried not to smirk.
“- so lucky you don’t have N.E.W.T.’s,” Fred was saying to Louis. “Not that my Dad cares much, but Mum is always on me about how important they are. I just want to work at my dad’s shop anyway. I’ve been helping him design products for years – I don’t need seven N.E.W.T.’s to continue to think up joke shop products.”
I massaged up Hayes’s leg, getting closer and closer, then going back down his leg again. I could feel him responding and it was making me crazy.
“I didn’t think they were that bad,” Emmelyn shrugs.
“Well you’re bloody brilliant, aren’t you?” Fred shook his head.
Emmelyn rolled her eyes.
Why are all of these people in my flat? I don’t want them here. I just want my boyfriend here. Naked. Is that too much to ask?
“-not sure yet what I want to do. I told Longbottom that it was between auror and healer when I had my meeting last year. Do you like being a healer, Emmelyn?”
“I’m not really a healer yet, you should ask Hayes,” she said.
They all looked to Hayes. I ran my hand up his leg discretely and squeezed.
“Ummm,” he half-moaned, “Yeah, I really like it a lot it’s really, er, rewarding and pleasurable to be able to help people and Dominique do you mind if I ask you something in private?” He looked to me and I pulled my hand back, smiling.
“Sure,” everyone was looking at us a bit oddly. “Yeah, come on.”
I took his hand and led him into my room and then into my bathroom, which was probably the farthest thing away from the table we were going to get. As soon as I closed the door behind me, Hayes pinned me to the door and attacked me with his mouth.
I responded vigorously, winding my hands into his thick, soft hair and pulling him closer. I broke away from his lips and trailed kisses along his jawline before sucking on his earlobe.
“Merlin,” he groaned as I grinded my hips into his as best I could with my stomach in the way. I slipped my hands under his t-shirt and ran my hands down his back as he kissed me in a dizzying way.
“They’re going to know,” he whispered as he kissed my neck, “that we’re up to something.”
I moaned and brought his face back to mine to kiss him, “We’d better make this quick then,” I said into his mouth as I went to undo his belt.
He made a sound I couldn’t describe but was very sexy as he unbuttoned my jeans and pulled them down to my ankles. He slowly made his way back up again, pulling my shirt up to kiss my stomach, my chest, and then pulled my shirt over my head and kissed me in a way that made me forget my own name.
I threw my shirt to the side and finished undoing his belt and pants. I continued to kiss him as he spun and sat me on the counter, knocking everything in the way into the sink. I wound my legs around his waist and pulled him closer to me.
Baby hormones or not, my body knew what it wanted and it was sure as hell going to get it.
“Everything okay?” Emmelyn asked, her brows knitting together as Hayes and I joined the table again about ten minutes later. Our hair was slightly messier than before and we probably looked a bit too happy, but I managed to nod.
“I just had to ask her about something I heard in the hospital cafeteria today.”
“That place is gossip central, I swear,” Emmelyn shook her head.
“And you had to ask her in the middle of dinner?” Fred raised his eyebrows at me.
“Talking about healers reminded me of it,” Hayes shrugged.
I gave my cousin a look that clearly said ‘Yeah, Fred, so mind your own fucking business, okay?’ and he just said “oh.”
It’s my flat and I’ll have sex with my boyfriend on my bathroom counter during dinner if I want to.
“I’m hungry,” I smiled, changing the subject and helping myself to a large portion of Greek salad.
“You’re always hungry,” Louis points out.
I flip him off.
As I stood in front of my fireplace, dressed in my best pair of maternity jeans and a nice black sweater (Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny’s party was strictly casual, even though a few high-placed people at the ministry attended. Uncle Harry had been known to deny people entry if they wore something too fancy.), I couldn’t help but think that Uncle Harry, Aunt Hermione, and Uncle Ron had it easy when they were my age.
I mean, sure, they had to find and destroy horcruxes and then ultimately battle for their lives and the lives of the entire Wizarding world at Hogwarts, but facing the prospect of going to this party with the intent of talking to my sister (who also happens to be my baby daddy’s fiancée), I can’t say for certain which scenario I would prefer.
“Do I have to get Lily here?” Hayes asked in an amused voice as I continued to stare at the fire, clutching floo powder tightly in my fist.
“Ha, ha, you’re very funny,” I deadpanned, not moving my glance. Louis had left to pick up his date for the party leaving Hayes and I alone.
Eventually we got dressed.
And now I was trying to get up the courage to actually floo to the Potter house early to help set up. And my boyfriend was threatening me with my thirteen-year-old cousin. Great.
“Dominique,” he chimed.
“Fine, fine,” I said, probably a bit too loudly as I threw in the powder. The roaring fire turned green and I took a deep breath and stepped in, clutching my stomach. Hayes said it was still safe to floo, but I was always scared I was going to fall or bump into something and hurt her. “Potter Residence, Godric Hollow.”
I stepped out of the fireplace at the Potter house and looked around slightly in awe. The way that Aunt Ginny and the rest of the Weasley Women that helped managed to transform the house into a more open party environment for the New Year party every year was something that never ceased to amaze me.
Hayes appeared beside me as Aunt Ginny bustled into the room, “Oh, it’s you.” She grinned before hurrying over to hug us. “We’re trying to get all of the food put out in the dining room while George sets up the firework display outside by The Bubble. He could probably use some help if you’re interested, Hayes. Ron’s not here yet, the useless arse, and Merlin knows I don’t trust any of my children with fireworks this close to the house.”
“No problem, Mrs. Potter,” Hayes said politely before walking away.
“You can help me with the food,” Aunt Ginny grinned at me. “You look troubled,” she remarked as I followed her into the kitchen.
I shrugged, “Are Fred and Emmelyn here yet?” I glanced at the clock, which read seven-thirty. The party started at eight.
“No, Fred left to pick her up a while ago. James and Al flooed to pick up their little dates – hopefully each of the girl’s parents will scare them to death. Merlin knows what I’ll do if I see them getting too close to those poor girls’ promised land.” She shook her head and I stifled a laugh as I imagined what would happen if Aunt Ginny walked in on James or Al in a compromising position. Especially with my protruding belly walking around the party. “Oh, no, I hope Harry’s not –”
We turned the corner into the kitchen and saw Uncle Harry sitting at the table with an intimidated-looking Renton.
“- I’m not even talking snogging, I’m talking one peck on the lips at midnight. Maybe. As long as I’m watching. Anything more than that and I swear to Merlin, boy –”
“Harry James Potter!” Aunt Ginny cried upon seeing her husband torturing her daughter’s boyfriend. Uncle Harry had the tack to look slightly abashed. “You have known this boy his whole life, leave him alone.”
“Why don’t you go help George outside? I’m not sure if he has the heating spell mastered yet,” Aunt Ginny said, a clear dismissal. Uncle Harry stood up, still looking at the fourteen year old.
“I defeated Voldemort,” he said threateningly.
“Yes, and we’re all very grateful,” Aunt Ginny all but pushed Uncle Harry out of the kitchen. I tried my hardest not to laugh. Uncle Harry may have defeated Voldemort, but Aunt Ginny had a certain power over Uncle Harry, which probably made her the most threatening person in the Wizarding world.
Said person then turned to Renton, “Ignore him, dear, he just likes to pad his ego a bit. Lily’s upstairs, feel free to run on up to her room.” Renton smiled gratefully before he all but ran from the kitchen.
“He’s been in Lily’s room a hundred times before, yet…” Aunt Ginny shook her head. “And it’s not like Lily would let him do anything anyway, that girl reminds me of myself at her age. Must be something about older brothers.”
“If that’s what it is, then I wish I’d had a few,” I mumbled under my breath.
Aunt Ginny chuckled as she walked over and opened the oven to check on whatever was baking. The smell of chocolate chip cookies wafted over to me and I’m pretty sure I had an out of body experience.
“I just set up the first batch of sandwiches and brownies,” Aunt Angelina walked into the kitchen with Roxanne on her hip.
“You left Harry in here alone with his daughter’s boyfriend,” Aunt Ginny deadpanned.
Aunt Angelina laughed, “He said he’d behave!”
Aunt Angelina walked over and gave me a one-armed hug, “How are you doing?” she asked.
I shrugged, “Good,” I answered. “Hungry.”
She laughed, “That’s what happens when you’re pregnant.”
I grinned and we all went to work making more sandwiches and cutting them in to four squares each. Roxanne kept trying to grab all of them off the counter, while Aunt Ginny and Aunt Angelina talked about their pregnancies.
“When I was pregnant with Lily, I had the worst heartburn I’ve ever had in my life. None of the potions the healers gave me would take it away completely, it was awful,” Aunt Ginny sighed.
“With this one, my feet grew a whole shoe size, I kid you not,” Aunt Angelina nodded toward the toddler in her arms. I looked down at my own swollen feet that I had shoved into a pair of boots that had once been too big for me.
Just as I was about to say that at least being pregnant made your hair less oily, Hayes, Uncle Harry, and Uncle George walked into the kitchen, each with soot on their face and their hair sticking straight up in the front as if an explosion had gone off right in front of their faces.
The two wives turned and adopted an almost-identical ‘what did you do this time?’ look. I just raised my eyebrows. Something about seeing him all dirty made me what to help him get clean. In the shower. Naked.
I blame the baby hormones.
“It’s all under control, Angelina,” George said innocently.
“Last time you said that, your son almost lost an arm.”
“That was his fault I told him not to touch that flamingo.”
“Oi! Don’t say that word around me!” Fred entered the room with Emmelyn. “You know I don’t like to hear the F-word!” The latter detached herself from her boyfriend and hugged me hello.
“If you hadn’t touched it, then you wouldn’t be scared of flam-”
“I WAS FOUR!” Fred said loudly.
Uncle George shrugged, “About as bright then as you are now.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Fred deadpanned. “Hullo, Dominique.” He hugged me too.
“Not that this little banter isn’t amusing and all, but we do have a party that’s going to start in fifteen minutes that we have to prepare for…” Aunt Ginny said, pulling out attention back to the important things.
“The fireworks are all set, they’re going to go off exactly at midnight,” Uncle George told us as he took his daughter from Aunt Angelina. Roxanne pulled at her father’s soot-ridden hair.
Aunt Ginny nodded, “The guests should be getting here soon –”
“Then I’ll go get Lily,” Uncle Harry said quickly and left the room before anyone could even process what he said.
“Harry, I swear to Merlin I will withhold sex if you torture that boy!” Aunt Ginny was the first to react, chasing after her husband.
“I’ll add that to the long list of things I could have lived without hearing my baby sister say,” Uncle George sighed.
“And my aunt,” Fred added.
The doorbell rang, “That’ll probably be Ron and Hermione,” Uncle George said. “They were supposed to be here half an hour ago.” He handed Roxanne to Fred and went to get the door. Aunt Angelina handed me a large plate of cookies and thrust a plate of sandwiches into Emmelyn’s hand. “Will you take these outside? I think everything else is set.”
We nodded and followed Fred and Roxanne outside. A large portion of the Potter’s backyard was now encompassed in what appeared to be a giant bubble. While the Potter’s house was large, it was always nice to have an option to go outside and the heated bubbled allowed that; it was nice to be able to watch fireworks on New Years without freezing your arse off. In fact, I think The Bubble was my favorite part of the New Years party.
“Stars!” Roxanne pointed up at the sky and yelled excitedly.
“Yeah, stars,” Fred repeated, uninterested. “When you study them for seven years they become a lot less interesting and a lot more of a pain in the ar-”
“Don’t say that in front of her!” I piped up as I set the cookies on the table. “Toddlers are very susceptible to what they hear and will likely repeat it.”
Fred and Emmelyn looked at me, eyebrows raised.
“What?” I asked. “I read it in a parenting magazine, alright? Stop looking at me like that.”
Fred laughed, “It’s just weird hearing you be maternal.”
“Not around the toddler, Dominique!” Fred cried dramatically covering one of Roxanne’s ears with the hand that wasn’t holding her. Roxanne scowled and attempted to pull his hand away. “Stop it!”
“Is Freddie being mean to you?” Emmelyn cooed, lifting the little girl out of her boyfriend’s arms.
“Yes,” Roxanne said, smiling at Emmelyn. “Stuff it!” she yelled at her brother.
Fred looked at me, “Your fault.”
Within an hour, most of the guests had arrived, and nearly everyone that wasn’t in my immediate family had taken turns staring at me and my stomach. I don’t know if you’ve ever had Kingsley Shacklebolt covertly glance in your direction, but the result is quite unsettling.
It wasn’t until nearly nine when I finally spotted my little brother and a pretty girl who must have been Julie over clustered together with James and his date, girl with blonde curls that fell just past her shoulder in tight jeans and an oversized hoodie that may or may not have said ‘Potter’ on the back. Oohh. This was going to be fun.
Hayes had been disappeared to somewhere a while ago, so I made my way over to them alone, pretending I didn’t notice the way that everyone stared at me, the way they whispered after I’d passed.
“Hey, Louis,” I slung my arm around his shoulder. He turned to face me and I saw his cheeks heat up. Aww.
“Dominique,” he said in the voice he used when he was trying to be nice but really cursing in his head. “I’d like you to meet my –” he paused. “This is – She’s my –”
“I’m Julie,” the girl stuck her hand out, smiling a brilliant smile. I retracted my arm from around my brother and shook her hand, looking her up and down. She was very pretty. She was about a head shorter than Louis, had jet black hair that was cropped even with her chin, and had eyes the color of the sky on a cloudless day.
And she had nice tits, I had to grudgingly admit to myself. She was wearing a swoop neck sweater that was modest, but still showed what she had. She seemed alright. So far.
“Dominique,” I grinned, taking her hand. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Have you really?” Julie asked, wit ha glint in her eye and the beginnings of a smirk. She looked at my brother. He blushed even more.
Okay, I liked this girl.
I turned to look at James. His date was slightly turned to the right, leaning her head on his shoulder. He shot me a look that was probably supposed to be significant, but I didn’t catch the meaning before he cleared his throat, “Dominique, this is my girlfriend, Sarah.”
Sarah lifted her head off his shoulder and turned to face me. I tried to control my reaction, but I’m sure the shock showed on my face anyway. I was immediately obvious that, at one time, she was beautiful. The left side of her face was nearly flawless, her eye was a deep green and her lips were full; however, the right side of her face showed four deep scars, one of which ran over her closed eyelid and down to the bottom of her cheek. It appeared that the eye had been sewn permanently shut. The other three scars stretched the same side of her face, long and thick, leaving the skin rough and scrunched, as if the scars had refused to grow with the rest of her face.
She smiled at me, her mouth had been spared from whatever attacked her, and extended her hand, “It’s nice to meet you,” she said in a cheerful and light voice.
“Likewise,” I smiled at her and did my best to calm my features. When she pulled her hand back I glanced at James, who gave me a stern look. In that moment, I gained so much respect for my sixteen-year-old cousin.
“How long have you two been together?” I asked them, only because I hadn’t heard about Sarah before.
“Only about a month,” Sarah said shyly, turning her whole face to look at James, who was standing on her bad side.
“It took me a few months to get the courage to ask her out – she’s too good for me,” James said in a slightly uncharacteristic sappy voice. The way he looked at her, I had to disagree. Sarah was perfect for James, who (along with my brother) had had a previous womanizer reputation. “She’s in Hufflepuff, which is why I only now met her. We have a few N.E.W.T. classes together.”
“I decided he must like me after he endured my parents tonight,” she laughed and he pulled her closer.
Suddenly my heart started beating faster. Parents. This girl, this girl who was so scarred up that she didn’t have an eye, had parents. These parents had to deal with their daughter getting attacked like that. This girl had two parents and something horrific had still happened to her.
My hand went to my stomach. My daughter had one parent. What if something attacked her. What if something like what happened to Sarah happened to my baby. For some reason this was extremely distressing to me, and I was pretty sure it was showing. James and Louis looked concerned and slightly angry.
“Well, I’m glad I got the chance to meet both of you,” I did my best to grin at them, all plans to embarrass my brother and cousin gone. I was too freaked out about my baby and how she could be attacked and...
I watched as James kissed Sarah on her scarred cheek. On top of my internal freak out, seeing the way Louis and James had accepted this girl, whom I can only assume was more than used to ridicule, made me tear up.
I excused myself and turned to walk into the kitchen, where none of the guests were present, but was stopped not far away from the group by a man standing in the middle of the bloody hallway.
“Excuse me,” I said. He moved to the side, but I saw him stare at me as I passed and felt his eyes on me as I walked away. I heard him mutter something about it being a shame that something like this happened to such a nice family. My heart sunk.
I finally reached the kitchen and grabbed a napkin, collapsing into a chair by the table. I wiped at my eyes, trying to get the image of a shadow stalking a little baby with color-changing hair and my eyes out of my head.
I heard the door open a few seconds later, just as I was calming down, and I looked up to see Sarah standing with the door closing behind her. She smiled sadly at me, “Do you mind?”
I tried to look like I hadn’t been crying, though it was probably no use. I shook my head and motioned for her to sit down in the chair next to mine. She took a seat and looked at me with her one good eye – it was such a pretty color. “You’re not used to being stared at like that, are you?” she finally said.
I looked at her, that hadn’t been what I thought she’d say. I thought that she was offended at my reaction, that she thought my mood had to do with her. “No, I guess I’m not,” I admitted. I looked at the napkin in my hands. “I’m used to people staring but…”
“But not like they wonder how something like that could happen to you?” she said softly.
I looked back up at her and saw that she was looking at the wall in front of her, her uninjured side facing me, “Yeah.”
“It gets better,” she told me. “Or, you get used to it, I guess. You just have to decide that you don’t care what everyone else is saying or what they think.”
She was right. Even though she didn’t know the reason I was distraught, she had pinpointed something that had been making me very uncomfortable. “You’re right,” I told her. “It’s just hard to do when you know they’re probably thinking the same thing you are.”
She nodded and paused before, “I was clawed by a dragon when I was nine,” she said, turning to face me. “My dad works with dragons – James says one of your Uncles does, too – and I was with him on a trip. He was called over to the side by a coworker and while they were talking I got too close one of the child dragons and it attacked me. The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital in Egypt with bandages all over my face and not being able to see clearly. It took me so long to get to the point where I could look in the mirror and not start crying.”
“I hope you don’t think that that’s why I was upset,” Dominique told her. “It wasn’t that. It was…” she paused and rubbed her stomach. “I just had a panic attack thinking about that happening to my baby.”
Sarah nodded, “Dad says that it was the worst day of his life.”
We sat in silence for a bit, “I think James really likes you.” I told her.
She smiled widely, “I hope so.”
“Well he didn’t tell me about you before this, which is a good thing because that means he was scared I’d scare you off.”
“Didn’t you and Fred turn one of his ex-girlfriends into a canary in the middle of the Great Hall?” she laughed.
“No one could ever prove that we’re the one the hid that Canary Cream in her Treacle Tart,” I told her. “It’s not my fault she was as dumb as a lemming.”
“Lemming?” she asked.
“There this little animals that follow their leader wherever it goes; if the leader runs off a cliff, all of the others ones do too.”
“Interesting,” she laughed. “Well, hopefully I won’t be turned in to an avian creature.”
“You seem alright,” I smiled at her warmly. “Thanks for coming to talk to me.”
She grinned, “Screw what those other people think, though. Seriously, they’re not worth it.”
“I think you’re too good for James. Are you sure he didn’t trick you into dating him?”
“Most people think that it’s the other way around,” she admitted.
“Those people are idiots.”
She laughed again, “Thanks. I should get back, though.”
“Yeah, you go on. I’ll be out in a second.”
She stood up and with a final smile, left the kitchen, the name ‘Potter’ flashing boldly on the back of her hoodie. I decided that I really liked Sarah and that if James screwed things up I would turn him into a canary next time. And hide the antidote.
Just as I was mentally preparing myself to stand up (a hard enough task these days) and walk out into the party again, the kitchen door opened again and in walked Teddy Lupin.
“What are you doing in here?” he immediately asked.
“Escaping,” I told him dryly, shooting my napkin into the bin from my chair. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”
“You saw me at Christmas,” he pointed out, walking over a bit to lean against the counter on the other side of the room.
“Not what I meant.”
“I know,” he sighed. “Sorry, I’ve been busy.”
“Oh, have you? I’m only growing a baby so nothing really going on here.”
He ran his hand through his hair, “I don’t know what you want me to say.”
I leaned back, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath, remembering the conversation I’d had with my grandmother and the one I’d had with my sister. Remembering the pictures. “Nothing,” I told Teddy. “I don’t want you do say anything. You’re going what’s best, staying with Victoire. She needs you.”
“I feel bad,” he said so quietly that he might not have said it at all.
“For which part?” I asked dryly before I could catch myself. “Sorry,” I opened my eyes and smiled weakly. “Reflex.”
“It’s not funny, Dominique. I feel like I’m abandoning my child or something.”
I really looked at Teddy then and noticed how worn down he looked, even just since the last time we talked in early December. “I don’t want you to feel like that, Teddy,” I sighed. “I’m fine. I have a bunch of people looking after me and making sure that I have what I need – even if I don’t always like taking their handouts.” I stood up and leaned on the island in the middle of the kitchen. “You were Victoire’s best friend growing up. You were the one she could always count on and I feel like I took that from her when we… well, you know. I don’t want to isolate her anymore, but I think it’s too late to fix things between us. But you and her still have that bond, somehow it survived all of this and I don’t want to complicate that any more than I already have which is one hell of a lot.”
He looked at me, “Did you practice that?” he asked, slightly amused even in this serious situation.
I cracked a small smile, “Kind of, it was meant for Victoire, though, so I had to switch it up a bit.”
He laughed, “But Dominique –”
“Be honest, do you feel connected to this baby?” I cut him off.
“What do you mean?”
“You may feel obligated to be here and say these things, but do you really want to be a parent to this baby or do you want to have a family with Victoire?”
He was silent.
“Look,” I said. “I’m not going to hide this baby from you, but I don’t want you to do anything out of obligation. I love this baby already because of this stupid mother-baby bond that I can’t ignore, but I don’t want to stand in the way of you starting a family with my sister. She deserves better than this and if you want that, then you can have it.”
“Just think about it, I don’t need an answer today, okay? Maybe talk about it with Victoire, if she’ll let you,” I told him and with that I turned and left the kitchen. As I pulled open the door, I saw that my sister was standing right next to it having a conversation with Louis.
“Can’t believe all the snow we’ve been getting,” she was saying, her back facing me.
“It’s the end of December, Victoire,” Louis exchanged a look with Julie. “Why are we randomly talking about the –”
“Okay, well I have to go talk to someone else; it was nice to meet you!” Victoire said quickly and then walked away into the next room.
Louis looked at me, eyebrows raised. He shrugged and turned to Julie.
Looks like maybe I won’t have to have an awkward conversation with my sister after all.
A/N: I know I'm a horrible person, I know. I feel awful for how long it's taken me to finish this one, and even worse because I don't like it that much. But at least this chapter is long, eh? A little over 8,000 words! Woo. Hopefully the next one will come out much quicker, and hopefully some of you guys still like it and are still reading even though I've been terrible with the time it took to update. So, so, so sorry.
Anyway, I'd love to hear what you think if any of you are still there. You guys are awesome.
Over and outt.
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