Chapter 16 : Chapter 15: Part Two
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As James finally returns to the table with his parents in tow the majority of the Weasleys and Potters were already tucking into their second helpings and in Hugo’s case his third.
James takes the empty seat next to Rose so he is sitting directly opposite Alyssa.
As he settles himself and begins to pile his plate high with roast potatoes and turkey I break off my conversation with Rose and raise my eyebrows at him questioningly, “Are they okay?” I ask with little hope of a positive answer, although the fact that he has even returned from the room still breathing does make me think it may not be too bad, maybe.
He nods in response, “Everything’s okay. Don’t be surprised if mum interrogates you later though.”
“Great, can’t wait.” I say sarcastically.
He merely grins in response and raises a potato to his lips and takes a chunk out of it.
“I still can’t get over it, you had a baby! How did that even happen?” Rose interjects turning to James, shaking her head perplexed.
James rolls his eyes, “Merlin, Rosie I know Uncle Ron is crap at these things but I thought even he would have explained that when a man and a woman love each they have... special cuddles which can-“
Rose punches him on the arm, “Haha, you’re so funny, no I mean you, “She looks towards me, “told me you weren’t having s-“
“Woah, woah, “I say interrupting her and indicate Alyssa sitting to my right, “let’s not use the s-bomb, little ears and all that.”
“Right, sorry, “ Rose apologizes but continues nonplussed, “You said you weren’t you know.. at IT.”
“We were. Like rabbits.” James corrects her through a mouthful of carrots.
I stare at him scandalized, my cheeks flushing, “We were not.” I correct him desperately desiring to wipe the smirk from his face, “Hit him for me would you.” I command Rose.
She gleefully accepts and gets him in the bicep again.
“Owww.” He whined feebly rubbing the spot but no one paid any attention.
“I’ve really missed you, y’know.” I say to her, the realisation of that fact suddenly hitting me hard.
She smiles wistfully, “Me too...You silly mare why didn’t you write back to me? I wouldn’t have told him about the sprog.”
I sigh, “I know, I started so many letters, but... but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, it wouldn’t have been fair to make you choose.”
“Oh please,” says Rose, “there’d have been no choice, him over you, no chance.”
“Oi you, I heard that, I’m blood you know.” James pipes up.
“Well that’s never been formally proven,” Rose teases, “I still have my doubts, anyway look at you talking about blood, where were you when I needed back up over Malfoy.” She mutters the last word under her breath so as not to be overheard further down the table.
“Oh what happened with that?” I’d forgotten how much I had missed out on.
“Oh you know, it didn’t work out.” Rose says a little forlornly.
“Why not? You really liked him.” I probe, spearing a profiterole that had just appeared in lieu of the roast parsnips.
I turn quickly to Alyssa, “What would you like for pudding, sweetie?”
The mention of pudding captures her attention and she drags her gaze away from Teddy sitting on her other side who had been entertaining her and his own children by changing his appearance.
She surveys the spread for a moment before pointing to a big chocolate pudding, I should have known. After dishing her up a portion into the bowl that had conveniently appeared, turn back to Rose, who is smiling broadly, “She really is so cute, like a mini you.”
I laugh, “I know, but don’t try and change the subject, what happened?”
Rose shrugs, “Oh you know, family feuds aren’t so easily buried, a few hexes flew and it just fell apart, I guess. I still see him at work it’s a bit awkward though, especially since I’ve just started seeing Gordon Broderick from the Department of International Co-operation.”
“Oh, and what’s he like?”
“A right pillock.” James interjects.
“Oh shut up you, you don’t know anything.” Rose berates him.
“I know Malfoy was ten times better that him, that’s for sure.” James retorts.
Rose sighs wearily, “Funny how that’s the case seeing as how I’m not seeing him anymore. Anyway, how about you, any luck in love?”
I laugh, “Ha, I wish. No I’m newly single. Not many men really want to date a mummy.”
“Not even a yummy mummy like you?”
I laugh again, “No not even a yummy mummy like me.” As I say this, I catch James’ eye. I feel a slight blush creep across my cheeks, but quickly turn back to Rose trying to ignore the thought that maybe there was one man who would be very happy to take on this yummy mummy.
As soon as pudding is finished there is a cry of, “Presents” from the far end of the table where a few of the younger children are sitting.
I offer to stay behind and help clear up but Nana Weasley’s having none of it, she sends the cutlery and assorted china through to the kitchen with a deft flick of her wand, and with another swish the plates and bowls begin washing themselves in a bowl of sudsy water.
Soon we are all settled in the sitting room which somehow manages to accommodate us all, I settle myself in a very comfortable and well worn armchair, Alyssa leaves the other kids, who are excitedly handing out presents to the adults and tearing into their own own, to come and sit on my lap. Amid the whoops of joy and many cries of thanks I wrap my arms around her and whisper in her ear, “Are you having a nice time?”
She nods,”That man made his hair go pink, can I have pink hair?”
I smile, “Why don’t you close your eyes very tightly and see if you can change it?”
She does as I say scrunching up her nose and holding her breath.
“What’s going on here then?” asks James coming over and sitting cross-legged next to us on a spare bit of carpet.
Alyssa opens her eyes and takes a gulp of air, “Did I do it?”
I try to look surprised, “Huh it’s all pink!” I say.
“Really?” Alyssa asks excitedly.
“Oh, no!” I exlaim suddenly as she reaches to pull a strand of brilliantly blonde hair into view, “you’ve stopped thinking about it and it’s gone all blonde again.”
“Ohhh.” Alyssa pouts.
I squeeze her tight and give her a big kiss.
“I think blonde is definitely your colour babes. “James says smiling, “You look just like Wanda, you know.” He whispers into her ear.
I think she likes this, as she giggles, “Really?”
“Oh yes.” James confirms.
The mention of Wanda reminds me of something, “Hey, why don’t you go and get James’ presents from my bag?” I suggest.
She nods and slips of my lap trotting out of the room.
“How was she this morning? Up early?” James asks after a moment.
“Not too bad really, 6:30 presents opened by about 6:33,” I respond,”We went back to sleep for an hour afterwards though, she was up late last night, too excited to sleep.” I pause for a second, should I tell him about the rather significant ‘chat’ my daughter and I had had last night. Probably I decide, I open my mouth to disclose the events and even squeeze a few words out, “Um, Alyssa asked me abo-“
But I get no further, “Here you are daddy.” Alyssa announces handing him two presents, one a rectangular tube and the other a heavy flat squarish shape. But I don’t think it’s the presents that have James gazing open mouthed at his daughter.
Once he finally manages to let out a few words it sounds as if he has a frog in his throat, “Um, wow, thank you.”
“Open them, “Alyssa encourages him, then plops herself down in his lap, “This one first,” she insists picking up the tube, “it’s from me.”
James grins as he opens it and then chuckles, “Oh..wow I’m so.. so...” he searches for the right word, “touched?” He decides on as he looks down at the Wanda doll dressed in a very sparkly disco outfit.
“What‘s that Jay?” Al asks peering at the box.
James flushes a little bit pink as just at that moment the room falls silent, “It’s a Disco Wanda.” James mutters.
“DiscoWhatie?” Al asks again pretending he didn’t hear the first time,
“A Disco Wanda.” James says again this time a little louder, as a round of laughter breaks out.
“It’s so we can play together.” Alyssa pipes up, eliciting a round of “Awww’s.” From the females in the room.
James turns to me, “And she picked this all by herself?” He asks suspiciously.
“I swear I had nothing to do with it, it was all ‘Lyssa.” I say grinning.
James is still uncertain but Alyssa is now thrusting the other present into his hands, “Now this one, it’s from mummy.”
“Well it doesn’t feel like another Wanda so that’s a start.” James mutters, then tears into the paper, pulling out a delicate square silver photo frame, that had come from a charity shop but he didn’t need to know that.
James stares at watching the pictures changing. I’d had a crafty little bit of charmwork done on it so that it flicked through a set of photos showing Alyssa as a baby wriggling on the floor, then as a toddler taking her first steps, followed by her blowing out the candles on her cake on her third birthday with a princess tiara in her hair, after that a shot of her grinning with birthday cake all round her chops, next came one of her standing proudly in her school uniform chest puffed out and school bag at her feet and finally one I had taken specially of her with her eyes closed blowing a kiss to the camera.
James just sits there stunned watching it run through them again and again.
“I didn’t think you had any pictures of her, I thought you could put it on your desk or something.” I say.
He looks up at me and if I’m not mistaken there’s a tear in his eye, “Thank you, it’s... it’s perfect.” He clears his throat, “Um I have something for you too.” He mutters a quick “Accio” and two presents fly out from their hiding place behind the tree, “This one is for you,” he says smiling at Alyssa and handing her a large lumpy parcel, “And this is yours.” He hands me a small box tied with ribbon with a card attached to. We both watch as Alyssa dives into hers, pulling out a baby pink leotard, matching tights, ballet slippers and a tutu.
Alyssa gasps excitedly, “Look mummy.”
“Wow, isn’t that great. You can be a proper ballerina now.” I smile at her.
“Now you mummy,” Alyssa instructs.
I open the card first and out slips a voucher, “What’s thi- you didn’t?” I say, looking down at the voucher for a terms worth of ballet classes.
“What is it mummy?”
“It’s ballet classes for you, sweetie, but...James I can’t ta-“
“Just say thank you.” James interrupts, and then continues when he sees that I am about to object, “Think of it as five years worth of missed birthdays and Christmases and then say thank you.”
I look down at the voucher again, did I really want to be the one to Alyssa that she couldn’t go to dance class?
I inhale deeply, and look him straight in the eyes, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He responds grinning, obviously pleased at getting his own way.
“C’mon mummy open the other one.” Alyssa prompts.
I pull the ribbon, tear at the paper and finally open the box, inside is an ovular bottle capped with a gold top and filled with a peachy coloured liquid, I recognised it immediately it was the perfume I had worn when we were at Hogwarts.
“How-“ I begin, shaking my head, “You remembered?”
Eagerly I spray a little of the scent onto the inside of my wrist and rub them together before raising them to my nose and inhaling the delicate scent.
James reaches out taking my wrist, breathing in the scent too.
“I never forgot anything about you.” He murmurs.
I refuse to meet his gaze, but I can’t stop my heart from pounding hard in my chest as both of us are transported back to heady days and nights lost in one another.
I berate myself for letting him make me feel like this, I was meant to be over him, but I still can’t bring myself to pull away from his touch.
Thankfully that’s what daughters are for, “Mummy can I smell?”
James relinquishes his hold on my wrist as Alyssa buries her head in my hand, breathing deeply, “Mmmmm,” she says dreamily, and then more brightly, “Can I have some?”
I smile at her, before spraying a little on her wrist.
Silence ensues as neither I nor James quite know how to proceed and Alyssa is contentedly sniffing at her wrist.
Eventually James clears his throat, perhaps in an attempt to clear his head as well, then glances down at the photos again, “Hey I’m just going to-“ He indicates his parents with a nod of his head.
“Sure.” I encourage him, anything to get in their good books.
I watch him cross the room carefully stepping over piles of opened gifts and nimbly avoiding fingers and toes until he reaches his parents. He perches on the arm of the sofa and hands the frame to his mum, who attracts Harry’s attention with a tap on his arm and all three of them avidly watch the slideshow.
After a few more minutes I see Ginny turn to James and say something to him which I can’t hear over the hubbub but which I hope is along the lines of all is forgiven.
A/N So the queue was so short I just couldn't resist, looks like there'll have to be a part 3 to this one! Let me know what you think.