Chapter 22 : And They Lived …
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I frowned in to a luke-warm cup of tea and put the kettle back on the stove, getting another tea bag from the pot.
Letting my tea cup and spoon clatter against the old kitchen counter top, I parted my hair and looked out of the old panelled window. While the glass was clean, the paint on the wooden frame was chipped, and the window itself rattled whenever the wind picked up.
Pulling the kids away was a nightmare in itself, but more so keeping Harry from tormenting Dominique with the horror stories he told to fit the rattling. The kettle began to cry and the water bubbled over.
As I moved the kettle from the stove to the counter, a pair of sharp nails dug in to my waist.
“Mummy,” Dom whinnied, tugging on my jumper. “Harry won’t share his whizzbees.”
She looked mournfully out of the kitchen window, resting her head on to the counter. Her dark hair swept in to her face as wind flew in when the back door opened.
Harry stomped on to the doormat, dried mud falling off of his wellies. “Uncle Scorpius brought you a tin of sugared butterfly wings; the whizbees are for me.”
His sister looked longingly towards the small sweet that he popped in to his mouth, and her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates as his feet lifted form the ground.
“Woah,” Olivia exclaimed, pushing Harry back down on to the floor as she shut the back door behind her. “Don’t eat too many of them; we’ll never get you off of the ceiling.”
“That won’t happen,” Dominique folded her arms and narrowed her eyes quizzically towards her Auntie.
Olivia copied her nieces pose, one hand still on her nephews shoulder. “Are you sure about that, Dom? My brother ate an entire bag when he was Harry’s age and went splat!”
“Are you sure that’s true, that he hit the ceiling?” Dominique tossed her long hair over her shoulder stroppily. “Because I’ve never met your brother.”
“That’s because he’s still there,” Olivia told her, gratefully accepting the cup of tea and two sugars I offered.
Dominique took a moment to purse her lips together, her eyes looking from her Aunt to her disbelieving brother as he held the sweets in his open palm and expected them with a statement of ‘I don’t want to go splat against the ceiling’.
In a manner that I could only describe as similar to her fathers, Dom snatched the half-full bag from his open hand and darted for the living room.
Laughing, Olivia took a sip from her tea and leant against the kitchen counter. Her gaze drifted to the window. “Their worse than the children sometimes, honestly.”
Albus stood at the bottom of the garden, facing Scorpius as they argued foolishly. A path was trodden in the overgrown grass lead from the backdoor to where they stood, the countless trips from the backdoor of the kitchen to the greenhouse finally taking its toll on the lawn.
Grumpily, Scorpius threw his hands up in defeat and gave a final lame gesture towards the plants in the greenhouse. Eight years ago, he was offered a position in Medicine Research at St Mungo’s, rather than typical healing and much to our shock, he took it. We had always thought he would end up in muggle communications. Yet here he is, using the green house at the bottom of my garden - his London flat doesn’t have one of its own – to grow excess plants that can’t be stored in the lab. He popped round every day to see them, and to have a cup of tea.
He grimaced obviously and again gestured inside after look back at me and his wife through the kitchen window for assistance. We turned away and fell in to enjoyable, meaningless conversation. It was a known fact that Albus didn’t like it when Scorpius left the door open to the greenhouse in case the kids got inside; they’re crafty little children.
Despite having been married for nine years themselves, Oliva and Scorpius had no children; they both agreed that ours were a handful enough for them both and that they’d ‘rather be the cool Aunt and Uncle than the parent’s’ themselves.
Two years after Albus explained to Olivia Peckham that it wasn’t going to work between them, Livvy accidentally tipped her drinks tray over Scorpius while working as a waitress, and trying to escape the wrath of her somewhat parsimonious ex-boyfriend. Scorpius remembered her, and liked her quick witted attitude and annoyed pout. She’s grown up since he’d last seen her, and he fell for her instantly. He asked her to marry him that same day, and then weekly for over a year before she finally gave in.
Most found it difficult to fit in with Scorpius, Al and myself, but even back when Livvy was in her sixth year, she wasn’t intimidated; she plotted with me on how to push a mean girl in to a fountain. Scorpius was always attracted to blunt girls with a hint of vulnerability.
Olivia groaned and drained the last of her tea. “Here they come,” she rolled her eyes and led the two of us through to the sitting room.
The backdoor was pushed open and Scorpius stormed through, helping himself to hot water from the kettle and pouring it in to one of the mugs I’d set out for the two of them. Still, ten years since we left Hogwarts, they’re arguing like they did when they’re eleven.
“Oi, kids,” Livvy snapped, her light hair falling in to her pace. “Pack it in!”
Harry, who was holding the packet of whizzbee’s inches out of his little sisters reach, apologised to his Aunt.
I opened my arms to an irritable Dominique as she pouted and tried to punch her brother in to giving her the sweets. “She doesn’t mean you, Harry darling.”
“She’s right,” Scorpius agreed, taking the whizzbee’s packet for himself. “We’re acting like children.”
Albus sank in to the chair next to Olivia and helped himself to my tea. “Speak for yourself, mate. You have to agree with her; she’ll murder you otherwise. I mean, look at the way she’s glaring at me now, it’s like she want to mount my head on your living room wall.”
“I was leaning more towards gauging your pretty eyes out with a spoon, but your idea will do.” Livvy was always fiery, but uncommonly kind. Scorpius always adored the idea of me being pushed around by someone of my own sex for a change.
Dominique crawled in to my lap and knotted her fingers through the spaces in my knitted jumper. “If Daddy loses his eyes, he won’t be able to see me and JJ at the nativity play next week.”
Laughing, I rested my head back in to the sofa arm chair and pulled my slippered feet up underneath the two of us. “Your Daddy wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“He wouldn’t give up the chance to make fun of Jack,” Scorpius grumbled in to his tea, dribbling down his work tie and swearing under his breath as he reached for a tissue.
Much to our surprise, Jack met the woman of his dreams at Scorpius’ wedding; Olivia’s Sister, Julie. Yet two years after Jack Junior was born Julie suddenly passed away, leaving Jack to raise his chatty son as a single parent. But JJ was a bit of a push over, and Dominique’s takes after her father in almost every mannerism; the pair of them get on like a house on fire, and are both in the same class at the local muggle primary school.
I know for a fact that Jack misses his best friend; Perry was accepted in to the Tornadoes Quidditch Team almost moments after they saw him play. They adore him, but the public love him more. The brooding, quiet demeanour was something the public went mad for. He and Marilyn lasted months, almost a year if I remember correctly, before she ran off with one of his teammates and took off to America. He pops back for Christmas and important dates when he can; but he’s enjoying his youth to the full.
Rose honestly changed a little, as much as I wish I could write she was completely reformed, I can’t. She works for Witch Weekly, and while isn’t the person she was, still spends her time telling gossipy lies about other’s. Albus only sees her at family dinners at the Burrow – a weekly occurrence.
An occurrence of which, made his cousin Freddy forever happy. At one dinner, we had brought Nina with us, a girl who had become a close friend of mine after she published my first children’s story book, a twisted take on the tale of Robin Hood – where Marion never got Robin, but in which he falls for his trusted friend instead. Freddy fell for her instantly; they’re happily married and reside in Norfolk with a baby on the way.
By the end of the year, she had completely separated herself from Rose and Marilyn, siding herself next to Jack. For a while, we wondered what exactly was going on between the two, but nothing came of it.
Dom stirred in my lap, resting her head on my pregnant belly; five months in, my tummy is much larger than it was with either Harrison or Dominique. The latter, named after Albus’ erratic cousin of who insists that she will be my maid of honour when Al and I finally decide to get married.
After Hogwarts, I had pursued photography for a while, taking photos for an art collection in London using models. Dominique Weasley, the erratic, acclaimed work-aholic model was one of the first I shot. She says that she fell for me instantly, and in a manner that I recognise to be very similar to her green eyes cousin, mocks me constantly. We meet for tea and cake on a weekly basis if we can.
Yet, our similar named friend insists that it is he who influenced our daughter’s name.
Harrison, born four years after Albus and I began our relationship, has a tough life ahead of him, having been named ‘Harry Albus Potter’ by his stubborn father.
“Did you hear about Dominic, bless his heart?” Olivia asked, setting her tea back on to the top of a pile of books in the form of a make-shift coaster.
In some fluke which we are still yet to understand, Dominic Brown, the shockingly wise Slytherin acquired himself a restaurant, of which he now runs as a chain along the west coast of Britain. The first one he bought was the restaurant of which Olivia ran as the catering manager. In the small world that we live in, they work together every day.
At the vacant looked upon all of our faces, Harry laughed and scrambled up on to the arm of the sofa by his uncle who looked expectantly at his wife. “Well, obviously not; care to share, love?”
Scorpius loved to pester his wife on her empathetic mannerisms. While he secretly cared about what happened to his friends, Scorpius always acted aloof – even more so with age.
“He’s been spending the weekends in France, staying with Tom and his girlfriend.”
“But Dom’s with Lucy,” I said, untangling Dominique’s fingers from my jumper and holding them between my own.
“I will actually give him money to break up with that winey little girl,” Albus said, pulling a face at his cheeky daughter; she stuck her tongue out towards him.
Scorpius laughed. “If I remember correctly, you offered him a rather substantial amount four months ago when you first met her.”
“Albus,” I scolded. “That’s horrific.”
“I knew that you wouldn’t approve,” he sulked.
Dominique stuck a sweet in to her mouth and sucked, her words slurring together as she said. “I approve Daddy.”
Al leaned forward and pulled her from my lap, pulling her against his grubby jumper, and cooed “that’s because you’re my favourite child.”
Harry huffed, wrist deep in the sugar that had come from the bottom of the wizzbee’s packet. “She’s four; she’s not allowed to approve of anything.”
“It’s alright mate,” Scorpius encouraged with a wink. “You’re my favourite. Besides, your mother felt the same way that you do when your Dad proclaimed that I’m his favourite of us adults many years ago.”
I rolled my eyes and groaned quietly. I’d forgotten that fateful night down at the Leaky Cauldron where Albus drunkenly exclaimed that he’d rather he father Scorpius’ children than mine. At the time, I was a month pregnant with Harrison and was at the pub visiting a friend of his family who owned the place.
Harry looked hopeful and pointed towards my tummy. “When baby Ethel’s is born, who will be the favourite then?”
Still, I felt anger towards Albus who had once –once – joked with the kids that we’re calling this baby ‘Ethal’. It stuck, and they’re not forgetting it.
“You’ll still be my favourite,” Scorpius told him, one hand firmly on his nephew’s foot, keeping him in some form, tied to the couch.
Before I had the chance, Olivia put an end to this conversation and announced bed time for both the kids. With a groan, they listened begrudgingly to their aunt and traipsed towards their bedrooms in the old cottage.
It felt right, living in the cottage I grew up in myself. I returned to my father after leaving Hogwarts, and as usual, he welcomed both Albus and Scorpius in to the house as if they were his own children. He was so proud that we’d finished with descent grades … and in one piece, but more so that we had all grown in to fine, gracious, young people.
Yet, it made his day when he laid eyes on the book. For months he would read it through to me, as if I were a child once again. It was bliss.
But, as we’d suspected, there was a time for everyone to grow up, and we knew when it came. For Scorpius, his father presented him a sum of money and gave him a year to see what he could do with it – an entrepreneur, if you will. Albus was thrown head first in to the Auror training and realised that he was made to work harder because of his name, rather than having it easier.
But my time was more prominent. When I was twenty, my father passed away in his sleep, and left his affairs for me to deal with. I got everything, my mother having died when I was a child. The cottage seemed like a lonely place, the heating packed out and the bricks in the back wall needed replacing.
Without asking first, Albus announced that I wasn’t allowed to be sad. He fixed the heating and fixed up the old cottage himself, leaving me to wallow while he did. It wasn’t until months later that I had noticed he had cheekily, more or less moved himself in.
He said he was doing me a favour, Scorpius said he was taking advantage of me while I was vulnerable. I was simply grateful for the company. We’ve never discussed it since, and we’ve never for a second thought about moving.
When the kids were born, they seemed to adore the things I had from my childhood; the wooden builds in the garden, and the props that my father had bought for me. And even though Dominique isn’t in to fairy tales, she likes the idea of knights. Harry on the other hand, tumbled head first in to wanting to be Peter Pan and dressed up the family cat as a lost boy.
We always seemed to have money; I didn’t grow much, and never needed or wanted new clothes, and Al’s job paid well. I spent years, happily doing odd jobs and wrote children’s stories when I could. We already had a house, and simply found that to us, a holiday was spending time in Neverland – no money needed.
I tucked the children in to bed, and read them a chapter from Cinderella; Dominique had always particularly liked the idea of a pumpkin being turned in to a carriage.
As the clock struck nine, we said goodbye to Olivia and Scorpius, of who promised that he would never buy the children sweets again, and retired to the kitchen.
With a gentle smile, Albus took off his glasses and blue beanie hat. “And then, there were two.”
“Behave,” I said in a rough whisper, the soap suds from washing the dishes sliding off my skin.
“Oh, you’re taking charge now?” he chuckled as his fingers ran over the tattered edges of my denim shorts. “That’s cute.”
I elbowed him in the gut so he stumbled backwards. But it didn’t seem to faze him. “I’m not being cute, I’ve had a busy day, and I’m really tired.”
“And whiney,” I pretended not to hear him as he pushed me aside carefully and finished the washing up quickly and efficiently. He pulled the blind down on the kitchen window and put his hand in to the pocket of my shorts. “If you’re tired, you better get to bed.”
“I better come with you,” he persisted, breathing huskily in to my ear. His body seared next to mine, his fingers brushed over my leg and I felt it burn.
Batting his hand away, I asked “to sleep?”
He dragged his strong hand down his face and closed his eyes. “You’re making flirting pointless, Ran.” He caught my forlorn smile and matched it with a laugh of his own. “Come on, Miss Baker – to bed!”
And while we fought, and bickered like we were seventeen sometimes, he was my perfect Prince Charming; blunt, occasionally insolent and kind, oh so kind. And I adore every inch of him.
We may not yet be married and have lived happily ever after, but we have a pretty damn good life, a life we’re still living. Al gets grumpy when he comes home from work, and I upset at the way he expects me to do all of the cleaning. But when he climbs in next to me in our old bed, I can’t help but feel content.
Aside us upon the bookshelf, there is the book. The book that started everything, the book of tales I wish will last forever. Inside holds what I used to dream was my future.
Yet I realised that what the pages held can’t be my future, but what I have will be better, because what I have is the perfect reality. We argue, and laugh and love. We’re human. And although I know that we still have our entire lives ahead of us, we will live Normally Ever After.
AN; this authors note is always, to me, the most important. This is the note where the author tries to cram in everything that they haven’t managed to get across to the readers so far - in a nutshell, all the weepy thank yous. So, I could sit here and write a ten paged authors note about how grateful I am to everyone who’s ever reviewed, or anyone who’s’ ever given this story a chance – but I think that it’s easy to tell how grateful I am.
I really enjoyed writing this; Ranny is a character that embodies a lot of the childish mannerisms that we as people have, and writing them alongside fairy tales and legends was certainly an experience, but I had a great time doing it. I hope that you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
This epilogue wasn’t how ‘d originally planned it to be, but I think that I like this better! Thank you for reading! Oh, and to those of you who’d guessed that Scorpius was to end up with Olivia – seriously, cudos to you! Until this chapter, I didn’t think about the pair of them, so you knew before I did! ;)
Thank you again!