After a few days of anxiety over the matter, I decide that I need to know, once and for all, if James is going to be a father or not. I make an excuse about going for a walk around the park, refusing the company of anyone else, and head down to the local pharmacy instead. I feel even more sick than usual; sweaty, pale, my heart pounding away as if it's in a race with itself.
“Is there anything I can help you with?” A young girl, only a few years older than me by the looks of it, asks as I enter the store. “You don't look so good!” Her chipper mood annoys me. I take a deep, nervous breath and go as close to her as I can before whispering,
“I need a pregnancy test potion.”
“Ah.” She smile conspiratorially. “Got a bun in the oven, do ya? How exciting!”
“Just. Give. Me. The potion,” I grind out, not able to take a minute more of her good mood and lightheartedness.
If I am pregnant, everything is going to hell in a handbag.
“That'll be five galleons,” She says, handing my a clear bottle of liquid. “Just put a drop of your blood in it, and it'll turn either blue or pink. If it's blue, you're going to be a mommy!” She claps her hands excitedly. I choose to ignore this, and hand her the money, feeling absolutely like throwing up now.
“Can I do it here?” I ask, not wanting to take the evidence back to the Potters' house. “How long does it take?”
“The loo is right back there. It only takes a minute.”
I head back to the bathroom. It's pretty tidy, thankfully.
With a wave of my wand, I draw a small bead of blood from my finger, and hold it over the bottle. The blood drops into the liquid, spreading and swirling within it immediately. I hold my breath and close my eyes.
This is it. The truth. Pleasepleaseplease help me not be pregnant!
When I open my eyes, the liquid is a bright, deep blue.
I drop the potion. The glass shatters on the hard tile floor; my whole body is shaking. I lean over the toilet, willing myself not to vomit. This can't be happening.
“Is everything okay in there?” The girl calls, knocking on the door.
“F-fine,” I gasp. I stand, a feeling of shock filling me. I clear away the mess on the floor and open the door.
“Did you get the answer you were looking for?” The clerk asks as I head towards the store door. I stop and look at her.
“Nope,” I say. “Not at all. But... thanksfor your help.” She must see the intense panic in my eyes, because she smiles apologetically at me.
“Well, good luck, then.” And, without another word, I leave.
After that, I walk for what feels like ages. Around the park five times. Up and down the street until my feet ache and I know I should head back to the Potters'. But what will I tell them? Should I tell them?
No. No, I can't. No one can know, yet. There are too many variables, too many different outcomes to consider.
This baby could be infected by the dark magic. It's a definite possibility, and the doctors will know it. What if they take it away from me? Words like experimentation run through my head. Mrs. Potter wouldn't let that happen though, would she?
But...what if she didn't have a choice? She wasn't in charge of everything at the hospital, after all. Better not to risk it at all.
And who will look after the baby when I'm gone? James? Could I really force such a huge responsibility on him?
Ben would do it, of course he would. He would give up everything for the baby. I think of forcing him to relieve the memory of my death, of our parents' deaths, and groan, because I can't be the one to do that to him.
And Jackson. Jackson has a new life, without me.
I sigh. For now, it must be kept a secret. Which means no more tests done by St. Mungo's, lest they inadvertently discover the baby.
“Max?” I'm startled out of my thoughts by an all-too familiar voice. I close my eyes, willing them not to tear up. Why did he have to find me like this now?
“Now's not a good time, Jimmy. What are you doing here, anyway?” I refuse to make eye contact with him, because I'm sure that if he looks at me, he'll know.
“Had to do a bit of shopping, actually. I was hoping I'd see you.”
“Where's Eira?” I ask, my voice shaking slightly.
“I dunno,” He shrugs. “What's wrong, Max? H-have you been crying?” He tilts my chin up so that our eyes meet, mine definitely more watery than usual.
“It's nothing. Just thinking about stuff,” I sigh.
“Right,” he snorts. “Now here's what's going to happen, Max. We're going to sit down on the bench there, and you're going to tell me exactly what's been bothering you.” He points to a secluded area with a wooden bench practically hidden under a large, bushy tree.
“Max...” he says, eyeing me shrewdly. “You're not...you're not pregnant, are you?” He takes my hand and squeezes when I don't immediately answer.
“How did you know?” I ask, my voice weak.
“I was hoping I was wrong,” he groaned. “Oh, Max. What are you going to do? Does James know?”
“Not yet,” I say quickly. “I'm not sure who to tell. I don't want to...I don't want to force anyone into anything. And the baby. Oh, God, this baby's going to by evil, isn't it? Because of my dark magic? What if the dark magic infects it?”
“Shh, shhh, it's okay. We'll figure this out.” His face is tense, thoughtful. “Just...yeah. Don't tell anyone about it yet. Let me think. Do you want to stay at my place?”
“I c-can't,” I whimper, rubbing at my eyes. “I love James, I can't abandon him!”
Jimmy sighs, frustrated. “I'll ask if I can stay there too, then. You shouldn't be alone!”
“I will,” he assures me. “Do you want me to walk you back?”
I pause, and then nod. “Yes. Yeah, please.”
We walk back in silence, Jimmy taking my hand in his every so often and squeezing it. When we are outside the Potters' house once more, he puts both hands on my shoulders and looks me in the face.
“I know it's scary, but I won't let you go through this alone. I'll support whatever you decide to do, Max, okay? I'll be there for you, and...and, I'll be there for the baby.” And he hugs me to him. And then, from the doorway...