Chapter 19 : Baby Steps
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I can barely remember the first week. It was a blur of exhaustion, confusion and learning and struggling through everything. James spent that week camping on the floor of my room and dragging himself off to work half-dead every morning, insisting that he wanted to be around when baby woke up at all hours of the night, but when Mr Guyand found him fast asleep in the storeroom of Quality Quidditch Supplies one afternoon, he decided to at least sleep at home. He still comes round the moment he finishes work and stays until about midnight. We bathe her together while he’s around, but with the exception of feeding her and when she’s asleep, I let James take care of her so they have a chance to bond. He impressed me enough with his maturity while I was pregnant, but since Sophia’s birth she’s more or less become his whole world, and he beams with pride every time someone refers to him as her dad.
I can’t believe we ever referred to her as ‘shit luck.’ She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us.
That doesn’t mean the last two weeks have been easy, though, even without the sleepless nights. Dom and Freddy managed to get out of Hogwarts for a few hours the other day to come and see us, but it really made me realise how little we have in common now. Our careless days wreaking havoc at Hogwarts seems like a lifetime ago. They’re busy battling seventh year, something we’ll never get to experience, and we’re looking after a newborn baby, something I’ve quickly realised only other parents can actually relate to. Everything revolves around Sophia now, and I find it hard to feign interest in the social dramas and goings-on of our classmates at Hogwarts.
I don’t know if Dom’s noticed that or not, but our friendship is what I miss most about life before Sophia. Six years is a long time to be friends, let alone best friends, but no matter what, Dom and I would always have something to talk about. I wouldn’t trade Sophia for anything, but I never thought she’d come at the expense of my friendship with Dom.
Much as it’s handy having Rory around all the time (I have a tendency to panic about what’s normal and what’s not, and he’s invaluable ) I’m already beginning to feel like I’m encroaching on his and Lillian’s space. They got engaged the other day, but they couldn’t celebrate here because Sophia was sleeping. They were woken up during the night every time she cried, until I had the bright idea to soundproof my room. Though they always assure me that they’re fine having me around and they love Sophia, I’m still really looking forward to getting out of their hair and moving in with James.
Mum had to go back to Hogwarts as soon as I left the hospital, but she tries to come round every couple of days during the lunch hour to see me. Ginny’s also been around a lot, and between them they’ve taught me all the important stuff, like how to change Sophia’s nappy, how to bathe her, burp her, put her to sleep and everything else that seems so simple until you try it.
She’s looking a lot less red and wrinkled these days, which means visitors’ obligatory “Aw, she’s beautiful” comments seem a little more sincere. I still don’t know what her eye colour is, but I’m hoping for my green considering she has James’ hair. She has a little birthmark just above her knee which, after much deliberation, James and I decided is shaped like a poppy.
Though we weren’t planning on it before she was born, James and I decided to announce Sophia’s birth in the Daily Prophet – even if it did open up a can of scandal-related worms, it’s about Sophia, and we want to be able to show her the notice when she’s older. It was in the Prophet last Thursday:
James Potter and Cassia Rutherford are proud to announce the birth of their first child, Sophia Grace Potter, at 1.19am on October 17, weighing 7lb.3oz. Special thanks to midwife Anna Pitchell.
Pretty simple and straightforward, but I think it caused a ripple through the wizarding world that measured on the Richter scale. Apparently everyone was talking about it at the Ministry – Dad says he had countless people coming up to him congratulating him on becoming a grandfather and commenting that they’d always thought I was “only sixteen or seventeen, I wonder where I got that from?”
Dad wisely kept quiet on that.
The Lupins come around later in the afternoon, just before James comes back from work. I know the Lupins pretty well – Victoire is Dom’s sister, and both she and Teddy were best friends with Rory and Lillian. And the best thing – Victoire is nearly three months pregnant with their first baby, so she laps up any information I can give her about babies, and hovers over my shoulder while I’m looking after Sophia – I never met anyone so fascinated with changing nappies before, but it’s kind of cool that she’s around and I can tell her a few things, it means I don’t feel as inexperienced as I am.
“Poor Dom,” Victoire comments now, idly stroking her belly. “First best friend, now sister. She’ll never be able to escape the babies.”
“Maybe it’s a good thing. The more she knows, the more she can relate to us.”
“I’m glad you went before me, Cass,” Victoire informs me bluntly. “I know we’re not really friends as such, but you have no idea how comforting it is to know someone who’s going through the same thing.”
“Yeah, well, I’m glad I’m not the only one.”
Lillian arrives home from work, calling a greeting on the way to the kitchen and emerging approximately thirty seconds later with a pot of tea. I need her to teach me how to make tea in thirty seconds.
I join in the chatter between Lillian and Victoire for a bit, but when Lillian starts talking about how romantic and sweet Rory is, I make my excuses and vamoose. Luckily for me Sophia’s crying, which is the best excuse out there.
I bet she’s a mind reader too. She knew I needed rescuing and summoned me.
The next day, I get a letter from an unfamiliar owl and sealed with the ghastly shade of pink belonging to Witch Weekly.
Oh dear. I should have known this would happen. I’m willing to bet my firstborn son it’s someone asking for an interview on Sophia’s scandalous birth and my scandalous pregnancy as a result of my scandalous liason with one James Potter.
(See what I did there? I don’t have a firstborn son and I never will, because my firstborn is a girl, and even if I do have a son he’s not going to be the firstborn, is he?)
Then I remember that Nana Rutherford was editor of Witch Weekly for about thirty years and even though she’s retired now, she still has enough clout there that they wouldn’t dream of writing anything scandalous about me.
Which begs the question of why on Earth Witch Weekly is writing to me.
Dear Cassia Rutherford,
Congratulations on the recent birth of your daughter. Witch Weekly is currently looking for a new mother to write a weekly column for the magazine on the ups and downs of parenting. We are aware that your age is controversial, which is all the more reason for us to approach you. Your experiences as a teen mother will prove of special interest to our readers and may assist in dispelling some of the stigma attached to teen motherhood. Witch Weekly is prepared to offer you a starting rate of forty Galleons per column, which is likely to increase to fifty in the future. Though we appreciate that this would require publicity that you may not be comfortable with, we believe you would be the ideal candidate to present a column with character and humour, and hope you will give consideration to our offer.
Edith Catcher, Editor.
Well, that was unexpected.
But as far as jobs go, this one wouldn’t be too bad. It won’t take up much time, I won’t have to go anywhere, and they’ll pay me.
But then again, do I really want my business – and my daughter’s business – read by all the bored, gossipy witches in Britain?
Cassia they’re handing you a cushy job on a platter.
I do like writing. This could work.
Maybe I should talk to James first.
That’s a good idea, Cassia.
James comes round at ten past four, and I greet him with the letter and the news that Sophia’s asleep.
“They want you to write a column?”
“Forty Galleons a week, that’s really not bad.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Do you want to?”
“But everyone will know everything.”
“Not everything, only what I tell them. ’Sides, it’ll keep the media off our back.”
“Yeah, I got another owl from Famous Wizard the other day.”
“And it’s not like there’d be any other jobs around that’d let me stay home, look after Sophia and study for my NEWTs at the same time.”
“You are a good writer.”
“You reckon? Thanks.”
“You never know. It could lead into a career.”
“I can’t imagine what kind of career at Witch Weekly I’d actually enjoy. But maybe something else…”
“Daily Prophet, maybe?”
“Now that’s an idea.” Already my mind’s racing ahead of me. I could do the Weekly column for a few years, then once Sophia’s old enough to go to school – we’ll send her to Muggle school, of course – I could maybe look for a job in the Prophet. That’d be fun. That’d be really fun. Yes.
It seems weird to be thinking about my future again, I’ve gotten so used to measuring my life in terms of pregnancy and Sophia’s immediate future. But it’s exciting.
And now that I have an idea where I’m going, I can concentrate entirely on raising Sophia. Nine months ago I thought she meant the end of my life as I knew it. Now I’m realising she’s just the beginning.
A/N: Nearly at the end, folks - just the epilogue to go now. Please let me know what you think in a review, and thanks for reading! :)
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