Chapter 8 : Albus: When Safe Areas are Needed
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I groan loudly and turn onto my side, causing Lily to slide off my stomach and onto the bed, and I bury my head into my mattress. But she doesn't go away, like I ever thought she would. "Get up, Albus." Demand one. "We need to talk about my niece or nephew. If it's a girl, you're calling her Lily."
Demand two. I roll my eyes, even though she can't see it, and turn back onto my back. Sleep is hopeless; I'm awake now, I might as well get this over and done with and start my day. It's not like this is the first time, she's been saying this to me since the day after the scan six weeks ago and she'll continue to say it until I listen to her. Her words, not mine. No way is this kid being named after my bratty sister, I'd rather name her after Rose... No, on second thoughts I'd rather name her Lily. Not that I have anything against Rose, she's great despite us no longer being as close as we used to be, I just don't think Lexi would approve. They have issues with each other. God knows why.
Lily nudges me, looks down with her eager, 'I'm waiting as patiently as I can but don't push me' smile, and sits cross-legged in the space on the bed with her arms folded over her chest. She has to wait patiently, she may be predictable every morning but I give her something new each time. At least I'm not bored in the mornings. I shrug and start slow, with something I've only said once before. The first time. Lily didn't have an answer then. "What if it's a boy?"
Her smile doesn't dim, like the first time, in fact it seems to get wider. Her eyes are bright with excitement. She has her answer. "I still can't think of an alternative of Lily for a boy and if he is a boy I don't want my nephew traumatized with a girls name, even if it is awesome. So, instead, his name should be one that I love."
Practically giddy with excitement, Lily jumps up and down on her knees and moves closer to me. I sit up and lean against the headboard. We're face-to face now. She raises her hands like she's presenting something and acts like she's revealing the most important piece of information in the world. In her mind, maybe she is. On both counts. "If it's a boy, you name him -" Lily slides her hands away from each other... "Elliot."
I cock my head to the right, just a little, and narrow my eyes in thought. The longer the seconds pass, the bigger Lily's grin gets and she drops her hands in her lap with enthusiasm. She's given a few suggestions randomly, for boys and girls names, during the weeks, and I've dismissed each and every one immediately. So she's treating my silence as a good thing, she knows I'm thinking about it. Truth is, I haven't wanted to think about names. But now is different. It's been six weeks since our confirmation appointment, six weeks since Healer Moore gave us our scan of the little speck that is mine and Lexi's baby along with a new appointment card for another scan. A scan that is on Friday, two days away. A scan that means the end of the first trimester, that means everything's okay and as it should be, that means telling our friends and picking names and buying things for the nursery.
It means it's real.
And names seem to be my safe area, I can't go wrong with choosing names. When I have time to think about it. Who knew Auror training would be so exhausting? I'm not even going to stay on as an Auror, but I figured the skills would come in handy. Theodore agreed with me. So, I'm going through four years of exhaustion, so that in the end I'll have a badge that says 'Albus Potter - Bounty Hunter' because you can't just become a bounty hunter, you need training and knowledge of the law. Can't wait. I've even got a perfect imitation of Aunt Hermione's voice in my head, reminding me of those facts. This is the first time I've had any proper time to think about names since I decided last week that it would be my safe area. And Lily has given me a name, apparently her favorite name. Which is like giving me permission. Damn I can't do that. Shame because Elliot is actually a nice name. Elliot Potter... I can't believe I'm actually liking a name my sister suggested and dismissing it.
"I like Elliot," I murmur and her smile is so huge now it's almost infectious. "But it's your favorite. What if, way in the future when you're older, you want to use it? But I have instead?"
Lily's smile seems to dim then, but not as much I expected it to, and she's quiet while she thinks. "You're so right. I'll think of another. I love the name Elliot way too much to just hand it over, no offense."
"None taken," I laugh and push my sheets back. Lily moves back to let me out of bed and to the bathroom. I have enough time to get a shower and have breakfast before I have to leave for Auror training. I wait for the temperatre to cool, so it's just right, before I strip and step in. Last night Dad told me our trainer would let us out a couple of hours early today. Friday is usually a half day, so he'll probably add those couple of hours on then, knowing him, but I'd be okay with that if I was actually going to be there. The only reason Dad's letting us out early is because there'll be a meeting that, as an Auror, our trainer has to attend. It's a big one they have once a month. And I'm going to use the time to help Lexi finish getting the new house sorted for our housewarming party tonight.
No one's seen the house except me, Lexi and our parents. We decided to keep it a surprise for everyone else, have them wait until the party. And it's taken six weeks for us to sort everything. Redecorating didn't take long, there wasn't much we were changing. Just new coats of paint in some rooms, new wallpaper in others. But there were things we had to buy, kitchen supplies and other bits and pieces, and with the parents working, my training and Lexi decorating alone while trying to figure out what to do with her life, it's taken a while to get the house finished. All that's left now for us is the beds; they'll be going in later. We decided to work on the nursery as we go, after we've told our friends.
Don't won't them seeing the baby's room and asking questions at the party.
For now we let them think it was the previous occupants' baby's room. On Friday morning we'll have the scan. On Friday afternoon they'll know. That's the plan.
Someone bangs on the bathroom door and I turn off the shower, getting out quickly. I dry myself and wrap it around my waist as I unlock the door and go back to my room. Lily's gone now and I get dressed in peace. She's not bad the rest of the day, besides the odd request or question, it's just in the mornings when she sits on the bed and knows I can't go anywhere until she moves.
Downstairs, Mum is putting breakfast on a plate, omelette, pushing the plate closer to the edge of the breakfast bar once she sees me. "Morning, Al. Got everything of your party organized?"
I shake my head. "Not yet. I have to go shopping and finish buying food and drink. Lexi is giving me a list."
I take my plate and sit at the dining table, next to Lily, opposite Dad. "Are you sure about having a party?" he asks me, skeptical. "Considering what happened at the last party you went to."
His lips curve upwards until Mum is at his side and he groans, leaning forward slightly. I assume she kicked him under table. Lily's laughing her head off, covering her mouth with her hand because she's still eating. I don't laugh, he's mostly joking but I understand his apprehension. And so do Mum and Lily, hence the reason one kicked him and the other needs to calm down before she chokes. "Lexi can't drink, I won't, but I won't stop everyone else who's of age. Dom and Kieron will be there, probably Casey, too. It'll be fine."
It's not a complete lie, I don't intend on drinking since I'm the host and will be spending the night making sure everyone else has drinks and food. But, knowing my family and friends, I might end up having at least one drink. But they don't need to know that.
"Casey? Chris' brother? He's a year younger than Dom, right?" Mum asks.
I nod. "He's friend's with Lou, surprisingly. You know Casey?"
"I've seen him a few times, mostly at St. Mungo's. I have a friend there, Melinda, who says he rarely seems to leave. She said she remembers being like that during her Healer training as well." Mum laughs softly. "I'll be surprised if he's at the party."
"Yeah, me too." I finish my breakfast quickly and stand up, dropping my plate in the sink, and I wave. "I'll see you later."
I hear Dad follow me, stopping only to say goodbye to Mum and Lily, and I get to the fireplace first. I call out for the atrium at the Minstry and step out slowly. Last time I tripped over my own feet and fell flat on my face, people laughed. Now I know not to laugh if I see it happen to someone else. Unless it's a family member, it's like a universal right to laugh then.
The Ministry is busy already, but not packed yet. It's still early for some. Law Enforcement always seem to be the earliest to arrive, Aurors and trainees, then the lawyers and law students. Sometimes I meet with Kieron before I start training and he does whatever he does (he's no longer a law student, was given a job as soon as he'd graduated in the summer. He doesn't talk about his cases, rightly so I guess). He likes to ask me questions about me and Lexi. Not so much about the baby; we don't want people to hear and spread the word. Rumors travel quickly around this place. Sometimes I'm sure it's worse than when we were at school.
I don't see him yet, he's usually waiting for me by the elevator, so I assume he's already in his department and I release the breath I didn't even know I was holding. Kieron's an intimidating guy. The whole family is. I'm lucky I've known them for so long really or I wouldn't know how to handle it. I get into the elevator and make my way to the training center. It's defensive spells today and I have to kick Chris' ass this time. He kicked mine with blocking spells. He's just that little bit faster than me.
He's a smug bastard.
Sometimes I wonder why the hell I'm friends with him.
"Ready for me to beat you again?"
Speak of the devil. There at my side is Christopher Reed, best friend number two.
"It's my win today." I only glare at him for a few seconds, then Chris winks and grins and I have to copy. He wraps his arm around my shoulders and pulls me closer. "I'm still gonna beat you."
"You don't even want to be an Auror, you deserve to be beaten," he smirks. I shrug. "I can't wait for your party or to see this house. Why a house? I knew you two would end up as roommates, but I thought it would be a flat not a house."
I laugh, hope it doesn't sound awkward or strained, and tell him our little half-lie. It's actually very true, which is why we know it's believable, it's just not what got us a house. "You know Lexi, she loves her space. It's the only thing she'll willingly spend so much money to make sure she has. Seriously, do you really see her in an apartment?"
Chris only has to think about it for a second. "No," he chuckles. "So, a house it is. Maybe I should ask why you chose to live with her instead?"
"I needed a place to live and she has a house," is my quick response. Well, technically her dad has a house, with money from my dad for me. He called it a gift for the baby, Mum's idea. But Chris doesn't need to know that.
Inside the gym-like room we call the training center, which is actually a huge square room with space in the middle for days like to today where we learn to defend ourselves from different spells a suspect may use against us, I make my way to my usual spot across from the door. Along the walls are different pieces of equipment for our training needs; dummies for scenarios, safety mats. We'll use those today, so no one breaks anything when they're thrown to the floor with said defensive spells. And I mean when, not if; people like to throw others to the floor. They think it's funny. We all try first, work hard, so our trainer doesn't really mind when we start to mess around a little by the end of the day.
I look around the room while I stretch my arms, still getting used to my surroundings. On my first day, Dad said that for the first two years of Auror training we're likely to spend most of our time in this room, then you decide whether you want to be an Auror or a Hit Wizard. Third year is real world training; Chris and I will be partnered with two qualified Aurors and work with them, some office stuff and paperwork, but there is field word, more for Hit Wizards because they have different training during the last year. But there's always paperwork. When you qualify, it's back to paperwork until you're handed your first lone assignment, which is always babysitting or something similar. You can be handed that at any time in your first few months. And after that, you're partnered with someone and are given what junior Aurors call 'real cases'. Chris has this to look forward to. He can't wait.
I glance around at the others in the room. I wonder who'll be his partner. Or will an already qualified Auror choose to work with him? It's been known to happen, if they see potential.
Chris stops in front of me, bounces on his toes and shakes his arms a little. He looks like he's getting ready to step into an arena and fight. Maybe he is. I'm going to get hurt, I know it. Finally he stops. "What have you got to do after we finish today?"
"Go shopping for the party."
"Mind if I come with you? I can help."
I smirk. "You just want to see the house before everyone else."
He shrugs, but doesn't hide the fact that I'm right. "Of course I do. And we will, me and the others. You know we'll be there earlier. So can I?"
"Sure," I answer. Then our trainer, Malcolm, comes in and calls for our attention.
Class has begun.
I fall to the floor, exhausted and sore, and try to catch my breath. Chris looms over my head, smirking, then moves to kneel in front of me. "Admit it."
"You kicked my ass," I sigh. We're done for the day and Malcolm has already gone. I wait for the room to empty before I hold out my hand. "Help me up then." He does and nudges me in the direction of the door, handing me everything Kieron had given me during lunch. I make sure the money and the shopping list is safe inside my wallet, then stuff said wallet and my keys in my front pocket, my wand in the inside pocket of my jacket. "We'll get everything we need from the shop, take it to the new house and we can get a shower there," I say as we make our way to the elevator.
Chris pushes back his light brown hair, damp with sweat, and frowns before wiping his hand on his pants. "I'll bring your shopping in with you, but I'll get a shower at home. I'll have to leave to get changed anyway. Will you have clothes there?"
"Yeah, everything should be moved in now." I pull on my t-shirt. "These were the only things I had left at home. I officially won't be living there anymore. I'm sleeping in my new house tonight. In my bed that I took from my bedroom at Theo's house."
Chris pushes me out of the elevator the moment the doors open, shaking his head. "It's not your bedroom, it's a spare bedroom that you sometimes slept in when it was just you staying, since most of the time, whether just you or all six of us, we always camped in the living room."
I groan in fake annoyance. "Oh, you sound just like Theodore. I'm the only one who ever slept in that room, in that bed, so he let me have it. Better?"
Chris raises an eye-brow. Silence for one heartbeat. Then another. Then he shrugs. "Alright." We leave through the visitors entrance and walk through London. The breeze is light and it's not too cold, perfect. Just what I need. "I can't believe he just let you have a bed."
I shrug. "I needed a bed."
"You have a bed at home," he counters.
"I needed a new bed, that was soft and let me have a good nights sleep, not old like the bed at home. I'm gonna need a good nights sleep after -" I stop myself quickly. I was just about to say 'after the baby's born' and Chris can't know that yet. Damn.
"After training, I understand that," Chris says, smiling. It's another reminder that I'm lying to him, one of my best friends. Out of our group of six, if I can't talk to Lexi, I'll go to Chris every time. Before Emmett or Darcy or even Megan. I hate that I have to wait until Friday to tell them I'm going to be a dad, but Lex and I promised and we can wait two more days. Until then I hope I can handle how guilty I feel and not blurt it out when the others ask about the house at the party. I've never lied to my friends before. "I still don't think he would have just given you a bed, though," he continues.
I carry on this conversation, tell him everything that happened that day. It's easier to deal with right now. It's a safe area along with baby names. Although that's only safe when I'm alone or with Lexi. Until Friday anyway. "His ex-wife may have been there to try and talk to Lexi and she may have overheard our conversation about new beds and how much it would cost and she may have said no when Lexi asked if we could take two from Nott Manor, which may have made him very angry at her for thinking she had a right to give her 'opinion' and said yes to us taking a bed each."
"Oh, so Daphne Greengrass is the reason you have that bed. Now it makes sense."
"He didn't take it back and say no when he finally got rid of her, he said it was alright, that it wasn't like they were being used." I stop, remembering the look on his face when Theo had said that, I'd never seen him look so sad. Lexi literally ran around the table to hug him, promising him she'd always visit with me and the baby, so much so that he'd wish we'd stop. He'd laughed at that. A little. "I think it's hit him that he's the only one left in that huge house," I whisper. "After he got divorced, he put his whole life on hold for Kieron and Lexi, then they went to school and he had work and friends, but they still came home during the summer. Bringing us, bringing Dom, with them. Now even that's changed."
"Yeah," Chris winks. "It's his turn to bring home a friend."
I elbow him in the ribs, but I can't help but laugh. "If Lexi ever hears you say that, she'll hurt you."
"So, she'll never hear me say it. Come on, we have shopping to do."
Chris is in awe when we stop outside the front door to the new house, I think it's shock. He turns around, seemingly taking in the neighborhood, before finally looking at me. His mouth his hanging open a fraction, which isn't much all things considered. Part of me can't wait to see his reaction when I tell him Lexi and I are going to be parents. I think jaw-dropping surprise will have a whole new meaning. "I don't think I truly believed it," he mutters. "Not the buying a house bit, the living in a family residence bit. Kids are riding bikes, playing in the streets. The neighbors are talking to each other." He nods to the two women across the road to the left. "You're in suburbia. Can I be a little worried?"
"Be worried all you want, I'm not moving." I grin and enter the house, knowing I won't be leaving this time, and stop. The first thing I notice are the voices, oh-so-familiar voices; Megan's laugh, Darcy yelling at Emmett, Emmett moaning in general. My grin widens. "Looks like the rest of the gang beat you to it."
"Guys, stop. Al will be here soon with the food and drink for the party," Lexi tries to be stern, but it's not hard to tell she's still laughing at whatever happened, too.
"Al's already here and he brought a friend." I nod my head to Chris and place the bags on the counter. "We got everything on the list. There was change, but we bought a drink each, so now there isn't. I'm going to get a shower."
"Yeah, I should go home, shower and change."
Megan throws Chris a bag, which he catches easily, and he frowns. "We stopped by to see if you were home and bring you here, we knew training had finished early, but you weren't in. Now we know why. Your stepmum gave it to us, said you'd laid it out this morning and told her it was what you were wearing tonight. She also put in clean clothes for tomorrow, just in case."
"That woman is a saint." Chris checks the bag, nods and looks satisfied. Everything is there. "Hurry up and shower, will you. I need one. Do you want help setting everything up, Lex?" I hear him ask as I leave.
"No way am I letting you touch the food when you're all sweaty. Find something else to do."
"You can help us figure out why Em's being all secretive until Al gets out the shower, then we're gonna go through all his stuff," Darcy says.
"I heard that!" I yell from the stairs. I jog the rest of the way to the bathroom, grab a towel and jump in. I only take a few minutes, considering I had one this morning, and I'm out quickly. Dried and dressed in record time, I straighten my black shirt with my hands, letting it fall over my new jeans, and tug at the sleeves. I run my hand through my hair, checking in the mirror to see short spikes sticking up. Water droplets fall when I touch the tips, but I don't mind that my hair is still damp. It'll dry.
I'm leaving my room as Chris is entering the bathroom. "I'll be a few minutes and I'll get changed in your room." He turns to look at me, closing the door so it covers the bottom half of his body. "The guys have almost finished getting everything ready, people will start coming at seven.You have less than half an hour."
"Okay." I nod and he shuts the door.
In the living room, Emmett and Darcy are messing with the music and other electronics. "I'm so glad Lexi brought her games system," Emmett says, smirking at me. "I'd pay to listen to you sing, especially when you're drunk."
Ah, so Alexa did bring her karaoke game. I knew she would. I also should have known she'd have it set up for tonight and I remember why I tell her I don't like her fascination with Muggle electronics, especially since she has to make sure they're all turned off so they don't break when she uses magic. I remember the first time I had the courage to play it last Christmas, after a large quantity of alcohol. I sang one song myself, then Lexi and I turned a solo song into a duet, singing a line each. We were awesome, if I do say so myself. But it's not happening tonight. "Sorry, Em, but I only sing when I'm drunk and since I intend on being a good host tonight, I won't be drinking. No drinking means no singing."
Emmmett's face falls. "Oh, don't do that, Albus. Alexa, your evil roommate won't sing tonight!"
"I'm sure you'll find a way, Em," She calls from the kitchen. I shrug, I know he'll try. I leave him with Darcy, her smug grin telling me she knows Em will try, too, and find Lex and Megan in the kitchen.
"Need my help?"
"Not now, everything's sorted," Megan tells me, shaking her head.
"Will you be on kitchen duty? Get people a drink if they ask, sort the food?" Alexa asks me and I know exactly why. Her sense of smell has kicked up a notch, some things make her sick. Alcohol is one of them, certain fish is another. Mum says this is normal, as do the books (see, I still read them).
"Sure, you can be in charge of entertainment and sing for Emmett." I expect her to smile and she does. I open my mouth, about to tell her to go on and leave it to me, when the doorbell rings.
Let the party begin.
A/N: Okay, so I expected to finish this chapter, but it got too long. So, I'm stopping it at over 4k rather than over 8k (I wouldn't be surprised :P). Which means the next chapter will be the third in Albus' POV. But don't worry, more of Alexa's POV after that. :)
I hope you like their friends; Chris, Emmett, Darcy and Megan. They are here to stay.
This chapter seems a bit filler-y now, since I didn't get to the end, but I hope you enjoy anyway. Let me know what you think. :)
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