Chapter 14 : Responsibility
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“Are you studying?” Mum asks me with some wonder, seeing me surrounded by books and parchment.
“What do you think of Ayaka?” I ask in response. “It’s Japanese. Means colourful flower or something like that…you know what, that’s a stupid meaning.”
“Baby names?” Mum asks.
“Yeah. How on earth did you pick mine – oh wait, no. Nevermind. Ooh. Clara. Clara’s pretty, don’t you think?”
“What does it mean?”
“Clear and bright…Meh, there are worse meanings out there.” I note it down.
“Shouldn’t you be consulting James?”
“He’s doing the exact same thing as I am, at his house,” I reply. “We’ll compare lists tomorrow.”
“You know, there’s no hurry,” Mum points out.
“I want to name her. I was so excited a couple of days ago to actually have the pronoun she, but now she needs a name. Hmm…Jessica?”
“She’s your child,” Mum replies in response, getting up and heading for the door.
There’s something about that sentence that stops me. Even in the offhand, it’s-up-to-you-what-you-name-her way Mum said it, I don’t think anybody else has ever said anything that drives it home so much to me. I’m not just pregnant. I’m going to be a mother. A mother to this little baby girl that I won’t even see until October and who has already – I don’t even know how to describe what she’s done to my life. And she’s just a foetus.
What’s she going to do to me once she’s born?
“I need to talk to you,” James informs me quietly, cutting me off in the middle of a spiel about the comparative merits of Annabel and Melody.
“Now is not a good time to break up with me, James Potter,” I say, responding instinctively to that all-too ominous phrase.
“I wasn’t – why would you even think that?”
“Because you said, and I quote, ‘I need to talk to you.’ Which is, in my experience, an indication of something really, really bad that nobody wants to hear. And that’s the second worst thing my brain can think of right now.”
“What’s the first?” James asks, seemingly a little hurt that him dumping me isn’t the worst thing I can think of.
I stare at him. “Oh, you know, something like, ‘Cassia, I’m sorry, but there’s something wrong with the baby.’”
James looks horrified. “There isn’t anything wrong, is there?”
“No. But at least the look on your face at the suggestion of that tells me your priorities are in the right place. What did you want to talk to me about?”
“I’m not going back to Hogwarts.”
“Yes you bloody are. What do you think of Adelita? It’s Spanish, and I know we said nothing too pretentious or unusual, but it’s pretty, don’t you think?”
“You’re not listening to me.”
“I am listening to you. I just reject what you’re trying to tell me.”
“Just hear me out, will you?”
“Fine. But don’t expect me to change my mind.”
“You’re not my mother,” James responds, annoyed.
“No, I’m just the mother of your unborn daughter, that’s all. And it would be really great if one of her parents actually finished school!”
“I am thinking of her, you know. If I wasn’t, I would go back to Hogwarts. Finish seventh year without a care in the world. And probably without any purpose, either.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “You were never planning to go to seventh year anyway.”
“Yes, I was. Cassia, stop acting like it’s only your life that’s been turned upside down and you’re the only one making sacrifices. You act like I’m just doing the bare minimum here and you know what? Most blokes in my situation would have run a mile. And I’m working eight hour days and saving every Sickle I make to go to you and the baby. A little bit of appreciation once in a while would be really fucking great.”
He stands abruptly to his feet and walks out the door. In the silence that follows, all I can hear is the crack of his Apparition.
Fantastic. That’s really fucking fantastic.
It’s three days before I see James again. In that time I’ve gone back and forth, back and forth in my mind, swinging from oh-God-I-can’t-live-without-him to you-know-what-I-am-a-strong-independent-woman-and-I-can-raise-this-baby-on-my-own-if-I-have-to, and then I sit down and actually think about it – I know, right, Cassia Rutherford thinking – and realise that James actually had a point and he has been really, really good about the whole thing and I should grow up and talk to him about it, and if I’m really thinking about the baby like I claim to be, I need to actually have her father alongside me. That and I’m, you know, in love with the guy and all, and three days with him angry at me is three days too long in my book.
He’ll be at work at the moment. But I’m sure he won’t mind if his pregnant girlfriend who he’s currently fighting with comes waddling in during peak hours.
I vaguely recall listing off reasons why I wasn’t sorted into Ravenclaw earlier in the year, and can safely add another to the list as I go waddling into Quality Quidditch Supplies at one in the afternoon.
Ever since he found out I was pregnant, though, James has lost his ability to hold a real grudge against me for any length of time. He’s high on a shelf mounting a broom to the wall, and the moment he sees me he jumps to the ground at such a speed I’m wondering how he survived without breaking any limbs.
“Are you okay?” he asks breathlessly.
“I’m fine,” I say quickly. “The baby’s fine. But I need to talk to you.”
He throws a glance over his shoulder at his boss, who merely jerks his head in the direction of the door. Looking grateful, and slightly annoyed at me for scaring him, he leads me outside. “Okay, what’s this about?”
“Erm.” I’m not good at this kind of thing. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever done it before. But there’s a first time for everything and if we’re going to be raising a child together this probably won’t be the first time I’ll have to apologise to James. “Um, I just wanted to say…you were right. You know. About you and stuff. Um, you’re doing a really awesome job with this baby thing and I don’t actually know what I’d do without you and I know you’re more responsible than I give you credit for and I’m sorry and I’m ready to hear you out. You know, about leaving Hogwarts.”
James runs a hand through his hair. “I’ve known you six years and you’ve never done this before.”
“I know. It’s…weird.”
“God help us, I think we might be growing up.”
“Well, I knew you were anyway.”
James holds up his hands in surrender. “Whoa, slow down with the compliments, I can only take so many. You know Hogwarts offers correspondence courses by the Ministry, right? That’s what you were planning to do.”
“Yeah, only in a few subjects though.”
“Yeah. I’m going to do all my seventh year course by correspondence, in the same time as everyone else. Well. Almost. I’ll probably sit my NEWTs a couple of months later, and I’ll drop a couple of the horrible useless subjects. And Mr Guyand has promised me near-full time hours during the year.”
“You’ve really thought about this.”
“I can do that sometimes. There’s more, if you wanted to hear it.”
“I’ve been talking to your brother,” he begins. “Did you know he’s planning to propose to Lillian?”
“I’d gathered that much, yeah.”
“Well, I know you probably wouldn’t want to be hanging around them once they’re all married and stuff, so I was thinking…you know, by then, depending on when it is…I’d have a bit of money saved up and maybe we could rent a flat together?”
“Yes,” I say immediately. “Yes. Definitely. Yes.”
“We could do it sooner,” he continues, “But it’d be best, I think, at least in the early stages, if you have Rory on hand to help out if something goes wrong. You know, he’d be much more useful than me. I’ll still be around, though,” he adds quickly. “There’s usually a drop off at work between the Hogwarts term starting and Christmas anyway, so I’ll take some time off and be round at yours heaps.”
I nod firmly, swallowing the words of gross lovey-dovey sentiment that threaten to come out of my mouth. “Glad we’ve got that sorted.”
“Yeah, me too,” he agrees, and leans in for a kiss.
A/N: Good news, my dear readers! The muse has been working overtime on this particular story, which has resulted in the rather fast updates you've been enjoying. I have a nice clear outline of what's happening next (believe me, that's not my usual style) so, barring any unforeseen events, this trend should continue for a wee while yet :) As always, please let me know what you think in a review!
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