Scorpius spent the next day working on his painting, no doubt also secretly congratulating himself on his procreative powers (I was only guessing, but from the smug look on his face, I thought it was probably about right). I spent it sitting on a bench in Diagon Alley, avoiding going into work. I'd never done that before, but I was sort of afraid now.
I'd picked up Pyxis Parmenter not long ago – he was a longtime client of mine, I'd taken him into custody any number of times – and another bloke right afterwards who'd been arrested for magical assault. He'd almost hexed me, but I'd Disapparated before the spell hit its mark. And Parmenter always pulled something ridiculous when I picked him up. Now I was a bundle of nerves over it. I mean, not that I didn't get scared when it happened, because I often spent half the day afraid when picking up skips, at least when I wasn't annoyed, but now I kept wondering what would have happened if I'd actually been hexed. I looked down at my belly.
There was a baby in there. An actual baby. It still didn't seem real. I couldn't feel anything, didn't feel any different – maybe a little queasy again – and it was hard to know what to think. I sort of felt like I was on a merry-go-round that had stopped but left me still feeling like I was spinning. I didn't like it.
The baby might not feel real just yet, but it was real, at least according to Victoire's test. I trusted her, because she'd had loads of babies herself and was far better at charms and spells than I was, really. Since there was a baby, I probably ought to start acting like it.
Oh hell, what if you weren't even supposed to Apparate when you're pregnant? I didn't know any of the rules for this. I had no idea what to do.
So I went to Victoire's. Mrs. Longbottom in the Leaky Cauldron let me use her Floo, since now I was afraid of Apparating, my one actual job skill.
Victoire looked surprised to see me stepping out of her fireplace. “Rose! Is something wrong? Why are you Flooing over?”
“Are you allowed to Apparate when you're pregnant?” I blurted out, and she laughed.
Teddy Lupin stuck his head in from the kitchen. Apparently he wasn't working today either. His eyes were huge. “Rose, you're pregnant?”
“You didn't tell him?” I asked Victoire.
“Of course not. Teddy, go away.” She waved her husband off with a shooing gesture.
Teddy, eyes still wide as saucers, went back into the kitchen.
“You can Apparate when you're pregnant,” Victoire told me with a smile. “It's perfectly safe in the first and second trimesters if you know what you're doing, and you've always been very good at Apparating. Your Healer will tell you to stop toward the end of your pregnancy, but you won't want to by then anyway.”
“Oh. Okay.” I chewed my lip a little, and Victoire gave me a sympathetic look.
“D'you want to talk, Rose?”
I had no idea what I wanted. Probably I should talk to her, though. Victoire was rather an authority on pregnancy at this point, after all. “Um. Yeah, I suppose.”
She looped her arm through mine and led me to the kitchen.
Teddy was still sitting at the table, eating a cinnamon scone, but since he'd already found out, I didn't much care if we talked in front of him. Maybe he'd have something to contribute. Victoire made tea, and we sat around the table. Teddy kept his eyes on the Daily Prophet in front of him and his mouth shut. Smart man.
“I don't know how to do this,” I told Victoire, feeling rather sorry for myself.
“You'll figure it out,” she told me calmly. She didn't look at all concerned. Apparently she had never met me before.
“What exactly are you worried about, Rose?” she asked, sipping her tea. “You can learn about pregnancy and childbirth. There are classes you can take, and loads of books about it. Frankly, if you carry on eating as usual and avoid any dangerous magic, you'll pretty much be perfectly fine. It's not really all that complicated. Witches have been having babies for thousands and thousands of years.”
“I'm not sure I even like children,” I said worriedly.
“Neither am I,” muttered Teddy, who had once declared his intentions of having enough children to field his own Quidditch team.
“Children are beasts,” Victoire said briskly. “They break everything you own, they're always sticky or smelly, often loud as well, and they never leave you alone. That's the truth of it. But you'll love your baby and you won't care about any of that.”
“Other people's children are dreadful,” Teddy agreed. “I only like ours. Most of the time.”
“Shut it, Teddy,” Victoire said, and he went back to his newspaper. She turned back to me and patted my hand. “Rose, you get along just fine with Remus and Johnny. You play Quidditch with them in the backyard almost every time you come over. And you admitted ages ago that you'd thought about having a baby of your own.”
That was true, but mostly what I liked about Remus and Johnny was that I could play with them and then go home and leave them to their parents for all the bits that required being responsible. “But I don't know anything about this. I didn't even know if you're supposed to Apparate or not. I mean, what if I'm a crappy mum? I'm not very maternal, you know,” I admitted, feeling stupid.
Teddy looked up again at that. “Uh, Rose,” he said, giving me a look. “Don't take this the wrong way or anything, but... Scorpius is.”
“What?” I glanced at Victoire, who had that look on her face that said she agreed with her husband but was too nice to say it out loud.
“Rose dear,” she began, and her voice went up a bit in pitch, almost to her mummy-voice, and took on a conciliatory tone. I knew that tone – it was the one she used when someone was being ridiculous and she had to talk them down. “Maybe you aren't the most maternal, but Scorpius is very, er, paternal. He'll be a wonderful father, you know. Any shortcomings you might feel you have, I'm sure he can more than make up for them.”
“I know.” I didn't know, but now she said it, it made sense. Scorpius was bound to be much better at this than I was. It was much more his sort of thing. I cheered up a bit. Scorpius was very responsible. He did the washing-up every day, and kept house plants alive.
“Scorpius will be a great mum,” Teddy said, and his wife kicked him sharply. I probably wasn't supposed to see that, but she hadn't been subtle about it. “Er, I mean dad,” Teddy added.
“Besides,” added Victoire, “it's all different when it's your own baby.”
I'd heard that before, and I still didn't entirely believe it.
She seemed to see the skepticism in my eyes, because she insisted, “It's true. You wait and see. Anyway, everyone has to learn on the job with their firstborn. Do you know, Teddy put Remus's nappies on backward until he was almost two months old?”
I looked at Teddy, who shrugged unabashedly.
“Looked the same to me,” he said.
“It will come to you,” Victoire assured me. “There's nothing to worry about. How's Scorpius doing?”
“Happy as a clam.” I rolled my eyes. “He wants to make an appointment with the Healers, but I told him we have to tell our parents first. You know how gossip gets around. If my mum finds out I'm pregnant from some Healer, she'll murder me in my bed.”
“That's probably true,” Teddy mumbled.
“You can't go trotting off to tell Uncle Harry, either,” I warned him. “You always tell him everything.”
“He won't,” Victoire promised, giving her husband a stern look.
Teddy rolled his eyes and turned the page of his newspaper. “All right, all right, I'll keep my mouth shut. But after you tell them, can I say I knew first?”
“Victoire knew first,” I said. “And then Scorpius. And then you. But not on purpose.”
“Still, I knew before Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione,” he said, and went back to his newspaper.
I wasn't sure how well I could trust Teddy Lupin to keep his mouth shut. He had a long history of telling my uncle Harry everything I was up to, and when Uncle Harry knew something, my dad knew it immediately afterwards. Those two were practically joined at the hip.
It didn't take much convincing for Scorpius to realize this as well.
“Teddy knows?” He groaned loudly. “We'd better go to your parents' house tonight and tell them. He won't be able to hold it in long before he trots off to your uncle's house and tells him everything.”
We didn't bother to Floo first. My parents pretty much have a standing invitation that I can come by any time I like. We turned up just before they normally ate dinner, and announced ourselves at the door.
“Mum? Are you home?” I called.
Dad popped out from the living room and grinned at me. “Rose! Are you all right? Blow up anyone's house today?”
Scorpius chuckled, and I shook my head. “It was a slow day.”
“Hi Rose,” Mum called as we made our way into the dining room. She waved her wand to set two extra places for us. “There's plenty of food. We're doing Indian tonight. Your father ordered enough to feed an army.”
Dad kissed her on the cheek as he passed, heading into the kitchen. My parents ordered take-out rather a lot, since my mother wasn't the world's best cook. She used to at least make an attempt, but recently she'd decided being an empty-nester meant she could give up entirely and survive on take-out and Dad's fry-ups.
Scorpius was already peeking at the food, and it did smell tempting, but now I was faced with my mum bustling around the dining room, setting out cartons of Indian food, I didn't think I could hold in the news any longer. We could always eat afterwards. Food is a good celebration, right?
“Dad, can you come in here a moment?” I called, and Scorpius came to attention. I could practically see his ears perking up.
Dad came back from the kitchen with a couple of bottles of butterbeer, and set them on the table. “What?”
Mum had already realized something was up. She was watching me closely. Dad looked at her and then at me and Scorpius and seemed to cotton on. He raised an eyebrow at me.
“Um.” I had no idea how one was supposed to make announcements of this sort. Dominique had sent out singing letters in iambic pentameter as a birth announcement, but that was Dominique for you. Oh hell, I figured, I might as well just say it. “I'm pregnant.”
Dad's mouth fell open. Mum looked a bit stunned as well. Neither one of them managed to say anything.
“It wasn't my fault,” I told them nervously, filling in the silence. “It wasn't Scorpius's fault either, actually. It just... happened.”
“Oh, Rose,” Mum said then. She'd gone all misty-eyed.
Mum's voice seemed to jar Dad out of his speechlessness.
“We always thought Hugo would be first with the child-out-of-wedlock, all those girlfriends he has,” he said. “I'm glad you beat him to it, Rose.” He held out his arms, and I stepped closer, wrapping my arms around his waist as he pulled me into a tight hug. There's nothing like being hugged by your dad for feeling safe and warm.
I heard Mum say “Congratulations,” and glanced over to see she was smiling at Scorpius. His cheeks were a little flushed, but he was smiling too.
“Thanks, Mrs. Weasley.”
“You're not angry?” I whispered in Dad's ear.
“You've been dating him for over ten years,” Dad mumbled gruffly. “Not exactly a huge surprise after all that time. We reckoned it was bound to happen eventually. You're a Weasley.”
“This means you'll be quitting your job, right?” Mum asked hopefully. She'd been after me to quit my job at Agnelli's for years.
“We haven't really talked about it yet,” I told her, pulling away from Dad. He kept one hand on my shoulder, giving me a little squeeze.
She frowned a bit, but she didn't press me further, thankfully, and gave me a hug instead. “Well, it's wonderful. We need to celebrate.”
Dad turned to Scorpius and pressed his lips together briefly, then held out a hand. Scorpius looked distinctly relieved and shook my dad's hand.
“Congratulations to you both. Told ol' Draco yet?” Dad added in a voice that was almost but not quite a grumble.
Scorpius shook his head. “We only just found out. We haven't told my parents.”
Dad looked quite chuffed that he knew before Scorpius's dad. “Bet he won't like it.”
“Ronald,” Mum said. The warning was clearly audible in her voice. I was sort of glad for it, actually, because I didn't want to think about what Scorpius's parents were going to say. Dad returned to the original subject as if he hadn't said a word about Scorpius's dad.
“You're right, Hermione, we do need to celebrate. Maybe I'll pop over to George's and pick up a box of fireworks. We could set off a huge display and have ice cream in the backyard.”
“That sounds perfect,” Mum agreed. “Pick up ice cream on your way home, because you ate the last of it this morning.”