I took a deep breath as I entered the Quidditch locker room after everyone but James had left. It was the day after Charlie had sent me the tests.
Rose and Lucy were waiting outside, keeping a lookout and with all of the pregnancy tests hidden inside their robes. They had told me that James was always the last one out of the locker rooms so I took this chance.
"James? Are you there?" I asked tentatively as I looked around, never actually having been inside.
Suddenly, the door opened and James walked out, confused and shirtless with only trousers on, his hair still wet from what I assumed were the showers.
Words got caught up in my mouth as I stared at his perfectly sculpted body.
"Uhm… uh… well- I…" I stuttered, unable to talk and unable to think.
It should be illegal for someone to be this fit.
James seemed amused by my reaction. Rather than taking pity on me, however, he sauntered over, his formidable chest approaching me.
"Yes, Bella?" James drawled slowly, smirking at me.
"Uh… well…" I tried again but go on. At this point, I wasn't sure how on Earth the two of us even shagged that night if I can't even stand being around him shirtless.
James looked even more amused as he said, "Is it just my faulty memory or do I remember the both of us being in far less clothing and in a far closer proximity to each other?"
I blushed. This was the first time either of us made a mention of that night, though granted neither of us had been alone except for that day when I got detention from Professor Viridian.
"It's about that actually," I finally blurted out. Closing my eyes seem to do the trick.
There was a pause of silence when James didn't say anything. When I opened my eyes again, James was slipping on his shirt, buttoning it. His entire demeanor had changed.
I sat down on a bench, mentally ordering myself to breath in and breath out.
Hyperventilating seemed like a good idea right now.
"What about that night?" he asked cautiously.
I closed my eyes again, breathing heavily.
When I opened my eyes again, I blurted out, "I might be pregnant."
James immediately froze, his eyes wide with shock.
Quite a different reaction than Lucy and Rose, the both of them having screamed in shock. I still maintain the belief that had I not clapped my hands over their mouths, I'd be deaf.
Vaguely, I wondered what Charlie's reaction had been when he read my letter as I waved my hand in front of James' face.
"James, did you hear me?" I asked quietly.
He didn’t seem to hear me, however, as he just stared at me. Looking but not seeing, as if he were dead.
Bloody hell, I had been expecting this reaction but not this bad.
"JAMES!" I said loudly and forcefully.
James finally snapped out of his stupor and ran his hands through his hair, a tell tale sign that he's nervous, anxious, or frustrated.
"Is it mine?" he finally responded, his face already having predicted my response.
"OF COURSE IT IS!" I shrieked at him. Lucy was rubbing off on me, with her shrieking. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones as well. "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK I AM, MEGAN STRETTON?! YOU THINK I SLAG AROUND LIKE HER?!"
"Okay I'm sorry!" He interrupted me, placing both of his hands on my shoulders. "Please calm down, Bella. It can't be good for you to yell."
Bloody well, it can’t be.
James looked into my eye hesitantly. He hesitated and asked, "What do you mean, you might be?"
"I haven't taken the tests yet but I have them. Lucy and Rose are outside and they have them in their robes," I said quietly, my heart pounding with nervousness.
"If you haven't taken it, then how do you know?" James frowned, his expression calculating and thoughtful.
I surprised myself with the disappointment that James seemed to be hoping that I wasn't pregnant. Of course he would hope so. He wouldn’t want to be tied down with a baby.
I shook my head. "You just know these things if you're a girl, James. Morning sickness, food nausea, mood swings, fatigue, being late."
"What do you mean, 'being late'?"
My eyes flattened as I regarded James. Honestly, this boy… Was he for real?
"As in I haven't had my period," I said bluntly. If he couldn't figure it for himself, then I wasn't going to give him a warning.
Sure enough, James's face scrunched up in disgust. He winced and said, "Alright. Yeah, sorry. Don't ever say that again."
"What, period?" I smirked at him, amusing myself with his great discomfort.
He glared at me and I just grinned back. It amazed me how we can still be somewhat normal around each other when there's a thing like me being pregnant.
"Right, so back on track. Let's go take the test then," James said, jerking his head towards the door.
I blinked in surprise. I hadn't been expecting this reaction either.
James had a sort of set look on his face. It was grim and nervous but determined at the same time.
He nodded at me and I forced myself to stand up, taking in the shock at how James was reacting to this.
I had half expected him to tell me to get rid of it, something that I would not do, or telling me that he didn't want anything to do with it if I were pregnant, but not this.
"Wait here, I'll get Lucy and Rose because we can do it here," I said to him before turning around and walking to the door of the Quidditch locker room.
I had barely opened it when the door was yanked open and Lucy and Rose barged through.
They had a determined look in their face as Rose began casting all sorts of noise charms and locking spells on the room.
"Right, so I have all four boxes here," Lucy said as she began taking them out from her robes. "I opened one of them and you just need to dip them in urine and wait ten minutes."
James looked slightly disgusted but instead said, "So… do I need to do anything?"
"You need to be here for moral support, you twat," Rose snapped as she walked over to us. I snorted but just took the tests from Lucy and walked over to the bathroom.
I walked out five minutes later, the tests on a paper towel because I found the fact that I had to get my urine on them quite disgusting.
"All done?" Rose asked immediately as she spotted me. I nodded and she said, "Right, I'm keeping count of the time now."
I placed the tests on a bench in front of us but where none of us could see the results unless we picked it up.
The four of us sat in silence, me with a pounding sense of nervousness.
Sure, I had predicted all the signs but this here is going to tell me whether I actually am pregnant or not.
My entire bloody future rests on these four bloody plastic tests.
"Bella, you're not going to abort it if you're positive right?" James finally asked, breaking the silence.
I blinked at him in surprise. The way he talked, James sounded like he'd much rather than have a burden of a child rather than let me abort it.
"No of course not," I finally said with a sigh. "I can't go through with an abortion, knowing that my parents had Charlie as an accident."
"Really? Charlie was an accident?" Lucy interrupted, her eyes wide with interest. She was obviously trying to stifle her laughter but failing.
I giggled at the way that sounded but nodded. "Yeah. My parents were already together by then and were getting serious. You know, they already talked about engagement and all that; the only thing they were waiting on is for my dad to actually pop the question. They found out that my mum was pregnant and my dad asked my mum to marry him right afterwards," I explained, having heard this story multiple times already.
Every time I heard it, I couldn't help but remind Charlie that he was an accident.
Repeating this story, though, made my parents’ reaction all the more scary.
I was actually very relieved that Charlie had taken the possibility of the news well. If anything, at least I had one family member on my side, no matter how much of a jerk he may be most of the time.
Already, I could hear my father being beyond angry at me. He was one of those rags to riches types, though not as severe as rags. My dad certainly had to work his way up to what he is now and he was a firm believer of education.
The thought to him that I might not be able to complete my NEWTs would be an apocalypse to him. He had already had a aneurysm when he found out that I wouldn't be going to a university after Hogwarts because wizarding schools didn't have universities, only specialized training.
My mum might be supportive, especially if Charlie has taken my side because it is her wish beyond dreams that one day the two of us might actually get along. If I could convince Charlie to help ease her into it, then she might placate my dad, though this was all theoretical.
"How much longer?" James suddenly asked Rose.
She glanced at her watch and said, "Three minutes left."
I went back to my silent contemplation.
My parents could certainly be able to take care of the baby and with all of James' relatives, I'm sure that if James wanted something to do with the baby, his family could certainly look after the baby too.
That would leave me able to finish my NEWTs and James able to do whatever he wanted, at least until I needed financial support.
Which would prove to be another problem.
I have no idea how far involved James wants to be if I am pregnant, and if he doesn't, then what the hell was I going to do?
I was almost sure at the moment that I was going to be keeping my baby, not putting it up for adoption.
But the thought of having to work full time to earn money while taking care of a baby was overwhelming.
Not to mention I wasn't sure if I could be a good mother. Being around Mia's son, Matt, was one thing but having my own baby was another.
"Hey, Bella, the time's up," Rose said softly, nodding towards the tests.
I closed my eyes. I can't do this.
"Can you check for me? There should be either a positive sign or a negative sign," I asked when my eyes finally flew open.
Surprisingly, James got up before Lucy and Rose and picked up the four tests. A fair amount of emotions flew across his face before disappearing altogether.
"What is it?" I asked quietly.
He glanced up at me with an unreadable expression. "You're pregnant."
Friday afternoon, I was so thankful it was the weekend.
After discovering that I was indeed pregnant, James had abruptly left afterwards, saying he needed time alone to think, Wednesday, Thursday, and today had gone back very stressfully.
I was sitting in my dorm by myself, thankful that I didn't let Rose bully me into taking Arithmancy as she had with Albus, Scorpius, and Lucy (though Lucy is partly taking it because of her father).
NEWT classes weren't to be taken lightly.
Add that together with pregnancy sickness that I got around the clock and the worry of what James is going to say because he has been avoiding me like the plague, you get me, very stressed and very worried.
And I would be sneaking to St. Mungo's tomorrow while everyone would be gone at Hogsmeade.
Quite honestly, if I didn't have Lucy completing my homework and Rose verbally tutoring me whenever she could, I didn't know what I would do.
The two of them have done so much for me so far that I really considered naming my child after them, if my baby turns out to be a girl.
I wandered over to my window mindlessly and watched as the rain poured outside. There was something comforting that I felt from the rain, the sounds of it falling against hard surfaces.
Then, I spotted a lone figure, flying outside in the rain.
My heart suddenly leapt, my intuitions telling me it was who I thought it was.
After all, there was only one person who would be out flying during class while it was raining.
I ran out my dorm, all the way down the stairs, tore across the Common Room while ignoring the weird looks I got from some other sixth and seventh years.
The moment I got outside onto the Quidditch pitch, however, I regretted my recklessness. In my moment of haste, I had completely forgotten to bring a heavier jumper or a coat with me to protect from the rain.
But I couldn't worry about that now because the lone figure flying had landed, most likely already having spotted me.
I hurried over before James could avoid me again and skidded to a stop right as I was in front of him.
"James…" I breathed heavily. Suddenly, I completely forgot about the weather. The rain that was steadily beginning to fall heavier and heavier seemed only like a minor detail now. "Please stop avoiding me."
"I'm sorry…" he murmured, his eyes downcast. James's entire demeanor seemed shattered, confused, and torn. "I didn't mean to avoid you…"
"James, please. Can you look at me?" I asked hesitantly.
My heart pounded but for once, I wasn't sure what for.
It wasn't clear to me whether it pounded because I had just been running or because I was nervous for his answer or because I was standing in James' presence.
Slowly, James lifted his eyes at me. He looked visibly upset and as if he hadn't gotten any sleep at all.
"The boys and I were talking the other day," James said throatily. "We were all saying what we wanted to do for the future because we had been called out of class to talk with our Heads."
I knew that you had career counseling when you were fifth years because I had to go through that but I had no idea that you had to do it again as seventh years.
"Professor Longbottom was telling me Mr. Wood, Sam's father, wanted me to play for Puddlemere United," James went on. "Usually they don't start recruiting until the middle of the year but apparently Mr. Wood said I had a lot of promise and wanted to make the first move."
I also knew that Oliver Wood was not the type of person to just ask a person to play for his Quidditch team unless they were spectacularly talented.
I knew nothing of Quidditch recruitments but taking James's word for it, this was amazing for him.
"Uncle Ron loves the Chudley Cannons and Mum played for the Holyhead Harpies but I had always liked Puddlemere United. Maybe it was because Mr. Wood had long been a family friend and it only became stronger when I became friends with Sam but I always wanted to play for Puddlemere," James confessed, his eyes not leaving mine.
I felt immensely proud of James for having the team of his dreams wanting him to play for them.
Before I could say anything, however, James was talking again. "Sam wants to play Quidditch as well and he's probably going to play for Puddlemere because of his loyalties. Ethan said that he liked Quidditch but wouldn't want to play it for a living. He said he was thinking of getting a job in the Department of Magical Games and Sports. Louis said he wanted to do something like become a Curse-breaker like my uncle Bill or be an Auror like my dad."
I had no idea that Ethan wanted to work for the Ministry of Magic. Though, we hadn't ever really discussed this before.
Hell, I didn't even know what I wanted to do with my life, had I the choice of anything I wanted.
"Professor Longbottom said that Mr. Wood said I can definitely play for Puddlemere's reserve team but he'd have to see if I can play for their main team. Even Sam wasn't confident that he'd be good enough to get past the reserve team his first year on the team," James said heavily, both of us being soaked to the bone.
I was beginning to see where he was going with this story of his.
"I know you want me to be involved with the baby, Bella. I can see it on your face every single time whenever you look at me hopefully but I don't know if I can," James said, his voice cracking.
I felt tears coming down my face, though it became mixed with the rain.
I had been scared of this.
There have been so many stories of a child being raised by a single parent. There have been so many stories of parents fighting over child custody. There have been so many stories of broken families.
I don’t want any of that for my baby.
I want my baby to grow up in a family whose mother and father are civil, if not in a working relationship. I want my baby to know who his family are.
I want my baby to grow up in a complete family with love, and warmth.
So I had to try to change his mind.
"James, please. I can't… I can't do this… I can't abort it and I don't think I can stand our baby going to another family but I can't raise this baby myself," I begged him, grasping his hands.
James looked away from me, though he didn't make a move to move his hands away.
"I can't bloody do this! I can't even take care myself! How can I take care of a baby when you get paid so little as a reserve player? This had been my dream, Bella! Ever since I found out Mum had a great career playing for Holyhead Harpies before she had me," James all but yelled venomously.
Though I knew, in the back of my mind, that he hadn’t meant to lash out on me, I couldn’t deny how it had hurt that he did.
"You think I can do this?! I might not even be able to finish my NEWTs! And in the possibility that I would be able to, how am I supposed to take care of a kid and make money?!" I screamed to him.
James didn't say anything though the venom had dissipated in his eyes, replaced by the same shattered and confused look I had seen earlier.
He seemed to have got my point.
I went on this time.
"My dad will be beyond angry with me because he thinks education is more important than anything. My mum might be able to take care of the baby but I can't ask her to take care of it for more than a year while I'm finishing my NEWTs. Ethan is in no position to take care of anybody, my aunt and uncle travel around like crazy, my cousin Mia already has her own family, and Charlie is finally having his first real relationship. Lucy and Rose might be able to help after I graduate but I can't ask them to sacrifice their own lives for our baby. I don't have anyone but you, James, please…" I sobbed, my hands nearly crushing his.
I looked up at him, my eyes full of tears and noticed that he had the same weird look in his eyes that I noticed he had when we were alone the other times.
James reached up with his hand that I wasn't crushing and gently stroked my wet hair before pulling me close to him and embracing me in a tight hug.
"I won't be a good father, Bella," He muttered quietly, his voice betraying his insecurities. "I'm barely a good brother to Lily. How can I take care of a baby?"
I just hugged James back even more, shots of electricity going through my body wherever I was touching him.
When I finally pulled back, I looked up at him and shook my head. "James, you'll be great. Please don't worry about that," I said quietly.
"You know, before I started actually thinking of the future, I found myself actually sort of happy that you were pregnant. An image of a baby with black hair and blue eyes came into my mind and I actually liked it before I remembered that I wouldn't be able to take care of it," James said softly, his eyes the right shade of chocolate brown staring into my own dark blue eyes.
I just stared back at him, a smile on my face as the same image popped into my mind.
My stomach was in complete chaos, though for the first time not because of sickness or a stomachache.
I never knew what Rose meant by having butterflies when she was around Scorpius but somehow, I felt that I understood what she meant.
It was odd, considering we had quite literally been yelling at each other seconds ago.
But if this was James’s way of telling me that he wanted to be somewhat involved, then I knew there was something that I had to try.
Deciding to take a chance of risk, I tilted my head up, tiptoeing and leaning upwards. Before I knew it, James had easily closed the space between us and pressed his lips gently to mine.
I'm not embarrassed to say that at that moment, I let out a swoon worthy sigh.
When I had kissed Ben the day after that had happened, it had been nothing but lust and physical desire.
This was different. It was as if the both of us were pouring all of our emotions into the kiss, though it most likely wasn’t all emotions for each other.
Either way, I finally understood what people meant about kissing the one you love.
I didn't love James at the moment ,but this kiss would be the closest thing I ever had to that. The great sense of security that I felt and the feeling of a heavy burden being lifted off my chest was something completely unrivaled.
The kiss was gentle and soft but unearthed a rather unfamiliar feeling inside me that had me yearning for more.
After what seemed like ages, James finally pulled away and rested his forehead against mine.
It was such a movie worthy moment that I couldn't help but sigh again.
James smiled gently at me and said, "Come on. The rain is still falling and I really don't want you going to a Healer and having them scold you for being sick and risking the health of our baby."
I grinned back at him and gladly took his hands as he offered them to me. The way James said 'our baby' made me so ridiculously giddy that I couldn't help but inwardly squeal.