Fred’s announcement had ran a shell-shock across the Potter/Weasley clan and James and Hayley were gone within seconds, clearly departing to talk, as they needed to. Josh found himself at the epicentre of the action as the hordes of angry people rushed towards Fred, who dived onto Josh, fists flying as the two tussled. Josh caught him with a decent fist to the face before Nicky pulled Josh away and he nodded his thanks as George and Angelina picked their way to the front of the crowds. Dom had been kicking seven shades of shit out of Fred and Teddy was two steps behind her when George grabbed his son and pulled him away, speaking in undertones, but fury clear in his voice. Dom stumbled back, Lorcan rushing to her side and it seemed for a moment like chaos had descended before Grandma Weasley shouted: “That’s enough. Everyone sit down and let George deal with his son. Obviously we’re all very angry about what happened, but let’s not detract from the main thing, which is that now we all know the truth and Fred will be dealt with. I’ll see to that.”
Nicky dusted down Josh as he turned away from the chaos and she grinned at him, pulling him into a hug that made him smile in a confused manner.
“That was amazing Josh, what you did for James and Hayley.”
“Well I couldn’t stand by and watch their relationship fall apart because of Fred and his selfish, ignorant antics,” Josh replied, turning and finding himself buffeted by a killer hug from little Lily. “Hello again you, see I told you that Veritaserum was important.”
“That was fantastic!” Lily beamed. “You really did brilliantly Josh, you’ve saved their marriage before it’s even begun. I’m just glad I was able to help really.”
“It’s fine Lily,” Josh chuckled. “Now I’d better go and see how they are, I expect they’ll want to thank me themselves.”
“Leave them for a bit,” Nicky suggested. “They’ll want to reconcile.”
Once they had stopped kissing long enough, James and Hayley sat, across from each other in the kitchen, staring at each other with few words needing to be said. Hayley had flung herself on him the moment they had become alone and she hadn’t let go as they embraced, their kiss as passionate as any they had ever had. James held her tight, never wanting to ever let her go again and she clung back to him, the two knowing they would never make the mistake of being apart for as long as they lived. When they had picked themselves apart and sat, the talking had to begin, not that there was much for either of them to say. Indeed, it was clear how they both felt.
“I should never have doubted you.”
“You had every right to,” James replied with a smile. “It’s not your fault, it’s down to Fred. I should never have believed it myself. I should’ve known I would never do such a thing.”
“I just can’t believe that I was willing to throw everything we had away over this,” Hayley despaired, leaning across the table and back into James’ arms. He slid underneath it and sat next to her, allowing her to nestle herself amongst him. “How stupid was I James? I love you more than anything.”
“Oh don’t cry!” James grinned as she let her tears streak down her face. “For the love of Merlin Hayls please don’t cry or you’ll set me off in a minute. I love you too you great big idiot.”
Hayley held him close as she sobbed and James found himself breaking out into tears as well and they looked at each other, grinning like idiots now that they were back together, the way they belonged and nothing was going to break them apart.
The shout was from Josh and they exchanged a look before getting to their feet and heading out to see what had happened. The family was a mess of people apparating, people trying to apparate, some were driving off and in the middle of it all, Josh was gesturing for them.
“Sorry to interrupt but I wanted to catch you before I headed off. I wanted to say sorry for not being able to stop Fred earlier and also for blaming you for what happened James.”
“No Josh, you saved the wedding,” James laughed. “Thanks mate, more than anything. Thanks. I owe you one.”
“So do I!” Hayley rushed forwards to hug him as he grinned at them both. “You’re our hero Josh, we owe you everything. We look forward to seeing you at the wedding. Bring a plus one or a plus two or whatever.”
“Is Ciara invited, I mean after what happened?” Josh asked cautiously and James and Hayley exchanged a look.
“I suppose she didn’t know what she was doing,” James muttered. “And she thought we were broken up. Besides which, she’s been a good friend to both of us this year, despite having a crush on me that I had no idea about. I guess we could let her go. Why Josh, have you two spoken since it happened?”
“But briefly,” Josh replied with a sigh. “I just don’t know what to make of it all between us, after what she did and where this leaves us.”
“You should talk to her,” Hayley urged, moving closer to James if that was even possible. “You never know until you try and you shouldn’t throw something like that away without at least talking.”
Josh pulled a face. “I’m not like you two, I know I like her, but beyond that there’s nothing really to say. Anything, the last time I fell hard for a girl it didn’t exactly work out. That said, I dunno… me and Ciara… me and Nicky… it’s all different.”
“It’s been months since you and Nicky talked properly,” Hayley pointed out. “Maybe you two should talk about all that…”
“No, I don’t mean it like that,” Josh replied. “I just mean that my relationship with her feels so different to the one I had with Nicky. It feels more free, less restricted, less disjointed, but I guess now it also feels as though James is a shadow, looming over us.”
“You don’t need to worry about me mate,” James grinned, kissing Hayley’s forehead as she blushed furiously. “I’ve got my own perfect princess right here.”
“Okay, new rule, you’re never allowed to call me princess!” Hayley said, her eyes narrowing. “What James is trying to say Josh is that he’s not an obstacle to you two’s happiness. If you like each other and can accept the situation…”
“I just don’t know if I can,” Josh admitted. “I just don’t know about her anymore.”
“I know how you feel Josh, obviously I do,” Hayley replied, glancing briefly at James. “But you’ve got to make a choice. See her, talk to her, see how you feel. You might not know now, but you’ll know when the time comes and you see her face to face. Then you’ll know if you can forgive her. Just like we’ll have to face Fred and decide if we can forgive him.”
“He never meant for you two to break apart,” Josh mused, judging their dark looks. “But he’s a selfish, arrogant arsehole who has no regard for anyone but himself and who was willing to let this end. You two decide for yourselves if you can forgive him, but I don’t think I’ll be able to look at him the same way ever again.”
“So to sum up,” Teddy said, drinking a mug of butterbeer and sitting opposite James. “All’s well that ends well. You and Hayley are back together, where you belong and Fred, the absolute arsewipe, will be lucky if his dad ever lets him see the light of day again. I can’t believe that he was willing to let your wedding be cancelled rather than face the music and admit that he’d fucked up. Do you reckon you’ll be able to forgive him?”
James opened his mouth to reply but Teddy swore and looked at his watch, gesturing to James that he was sorry as he rushed for the door. An auror’s job was never done. James turned back to his breakfast, a few rashers of bacon still left to be engulfed on his plate and Victoire walked in the room, her four and a half months of pregnancy starting to show as she lumbered in, wearing sweatpants and a hoody and starting to put on a bit of weight. James smiled wearily at her and jumped to his feet to help her, despite her irritated replies that she could handle herself. Victoire continued to grumble as James cooked her some breakfast and rolled the plate across the table to her, refusing to listen to her angered mutterings.
“I’m pregnant James, I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself without you and Teddy waiting on me hand and foot. I mean it’s stupid that you two think I need looking after every second of the…ow. James…James I feel…”
James’ eyebrows furrowed and he leaned forwards as a pained look appeared on Victoire’s face and she went very pale, clutching her stomach and groaning in pain. James leapt to his feet, by her side in an instant as she grimaced.
“James,” she whispered in a pained voice. “I think I’m bleeding.”
James swore and knelt down and rolled up one of her trouser legs, to be met by a trickle of blood. His swearing got worse as Victoire seemed to pass out and as he stood she collapsed into his arms. James shifted so he was carrying her properly and then he heard her mutter.
“Can’t apparate. Bad for the baby…”
“Sorry Vic, not getting you to a hospital is probably worse for the baby at this point!” James replied, ignoring her protests as he turned on the spot, landing in the St Mungo’s waiting room that, in truth, he felt he’d probably visited too many times to be considered healthy, especially in the last couple of years. With Victoire in his arms, James knew how it must’ve looked, but he didn’t care, not when the life of her and her unborn child were under threat. James pushed to the front and rushed to find the nearest healer he could and within minutes, he was sat on a chair outside a white room where she was being worked on by the healers, having sent a patronus to Teddy and the Delacour/Weasleys.
Dom was the first to arrive with Lorcan in tow, her boyfriend roughly dressed and James knew he’d interrupted a morning in for the two of them. He stood as she ran up and hugged him fiercely, tears sliding down her cheeks.
“Is she going to be okay?” Lorcan asked the question that Dom’s lips were unable to form. James looked at him and then at Dom, who looked almost pleadingly at him. He bit his lip and gave an almost shrugging motion, the only thing he could muster.
“I don’t know,” James said, stunned by how hoarse his own voice sounded. “I mean she was bleeding and she passed out, but I don’t think Vic herself was badly injured but the child…”
“Where’s everyone else?” Lorcan asked, still articulating what Dom couldn’t manage to say.
“You’re the first to arrive,” James replied as Dom finally let go of him and slumped into the chair. “I sent a patronus to your whole family and Teddy. Hopefully they’ll arrive soon.”
Sure enough, when Fleur arrived, she was in a mood to end all moods and absolutely no comfort to Dom or James, who were shaking as it had been almost an hour with no news. She had brought with her Louis and Bill. Louis was surprisingly quiet and sat on James’ other side as Lorcan comforted his girlfriend. Bill was a calming influence, but even he was pale and worried and James could sense a looming dread falling over them. He felt out of place, but Dom gripped his arm like a vice when a healer in emerald robes, stained red with blood came out, looking very sombre.
“Victoire lost a lot of blood but she should be fine, given time to rest and recuperate,” the healer announced, cueing massive sighs of relief and Dom relinquished her grip on James’ arm and buried herself in Lorcan. “However, it appears she has suffered a miscarriage.”
Silence sank onto them. James had known in his heart that her baby hadn’t stood a chance, but he could scarcely believe it to be true. Fleur and Bill exchanged a look and Louis shifted. They were all torn; both happy Vic was alive and saddened by the news of her child.
“Can we see her?”
It was Fleur who had asked and the healer nodded, inviting them in. James and Lorcan outside, giving the family some space to see their daughter/sister and let them talk as a family. Lorcan sighed with relief but James was feeling terrible. He couldn’t believe this was happening and he knew how much it would destroy Victoire. She might be physically fine but she definitely wouldn’t be emotionally okay. She’d be hurt beyond anything. And then there was Teddy…
As if on cue, the thundering of footsteps filled the corridor and James looked up to see Teddy running towards him, horror on his face. James stood and exchanged a look with Lorcan, who was wishing him luck with his eyes. James drew breath and walked towards Teddy, who came to a stop before him. James ushered Teddy to one side and the second his mouth opened, he could feel the older boy’s heart shatter. James couldn’t think of any way to sugar coat it, he couldn’t think of a way to make what he was about to say even remotely okay. So he said it. He knew it was blunt and he knew it would be harsh, but he couldn’t articulate it any other way. Teddy slumped and sobbed.
Everyone else had headed home. Teddy was all but asleep, exhaustion finally becoming to overcome the intense flood of negative emotion that had been groping him since James had first told him. James was now with Hayley, back at the flat, no doubt preparing for their long-awaited wedding under the shadow of Victoire’s miscarriage. Lorcan had gone home and Dom had joined the rest of her family as they returned to Shell Cottage. Victoire had been barely semi-conscious for a long time now, the magic they had used to keep her healthy having a dampening effect on her. But only now did she seem to shake off the stupor that she had been under and she looked at Teddy, who looked back, a smile reaching his lips that had no right to be there. She practically threw herself down the length of the bed, launching herself into Teddy’s arms. He held her close, gripping her tightly as she let out a strangled sob.
“Our baby…” Victoire whispered.
“Hush now,” Teddy soothed. “The most important thing to remember is that you’re alive and you’re okay. I know it seems bad because we wanted this so much but I’ve still got you and you’ve got me.”
“Teddy, our little…our baby. What’re we going to do?”
“We’re going to go home Vic,” Teddy replied, struggling to keep his voice steady. “And you’re going to relax, because you’ve been under a massive strain and neither of us want you to do yourself any more damage by getting stressed out.”
“How can you be so calm?” Vic sobbed. “Our baby is dead.”
“I know Vic,” Teddy could feel his own tears falling. “But if I let myself start crying I know I’ll never stop. I hurt as much as you do Vic, but I have to be strong for the both of us, or neither of us will able to come back from this. I love you and you love me and we need to focus on that, rather than let what’s happened overtake our lives. Don’t get me wrong Vic, I want nothing more than to turn back the clock and make this not happen, but we’ve got no choice. I’m going to take you home and we’re going to get some sleep and then we’ll talk about the future in the morning.”
“No Ted,” Vic slumped back, finally letting herself out of his grasp. “We can’t just talk about it. How can we ever do this to ourselves again? I mean I want a baby more than anything, but this? I can’t let myself go through something this shitty again.”
“We don’t have to rush into any decisions,” Teddy assured her. “We’ll give it time and see how we feel. We have our entire lives to be together and we can structure them however we want. You and me. Teddy and Victoire. The old team. Like salt and vinegar.”
Victoire chuckled at this despite herself and Teddy punched her arm gently. She hugged him again and he rubbed her head affectionately.
“It’ll be alright Vic, I promise,” he whispered.
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