For "A Peck of Owls." Keep writing. No matter what.
“How do you think you did on the Charms test?” China twirled her curly hair around her index finger repeatedly. Over and over and over again. We were on Prefect walks and hadn’t found anything of interest, so the conversation had strayed to classes.
Yet another painfully boring subject.
“Fine, I guess,” I replied, shrugging. I checked a couple empty classrooms, careful to close the doors tight. “You?”
“I really think I did well,” China said. Her voice was entirely too animated to be discussing a Charms test. “I’m not sure about a couple of them. I mean, charming inanimate objects is one thing, but when you get into charming actual people … that’s dangerous, you know?”
“Mhmm.” Right. Yeah.
We moved down the staircase and headed a familiar direction – toward Ravenclaw Tower. I’d taken this route when I met Gemma late at night. I hoped I wouldn’t see her tonight. The last thing I needed was snarky French poking fun at me for being a Prefect. You’d think since her best friend was one she’d lay off, but nope.
“How are you doing in Herbology?” China offered.
Ugh. Just stop.
“Fine,” I replied. “My marks are average.”
“I bet you can do even better,” China said. “Really. With a bit more studying you’ll be great!”
“Thanks,” I said. I had my own personal cheerleader.
China stopped, her gaze on the darkened hall before us. I noticed someone was down there. There was a shadow of a person against the wall. My wand was out quickly.
“It’s after hours,” I announced loudly in my Prefect voice.
“Sod off, Freddie.”
Roxanne moved into the torch light. Her black hair was over part of her face in a sheet and she wasn’t wearing her uniform. Instead, she sported denim and a navy blue t-shirt.
“Excuse me, Roxanne, but you’re going to have to head into Ravenclaw Tower,” China said. “Or else we’ll be forced to give you a detention.”
I lifted my hand. “Hold it, China.” I shook my head and shuffled toward my sister. She looked bored. Annoyed that I was interrupting whatever it was she was doing. “What’re you doing out late?”
“What’s it to you?” Rox asked.
I pointed to the Prefect badge and she rolled her eyes. “Look, are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” Rox folded her arms and leaned against the wall, wearing that cooler-than-thou expression quite well.
As a Prefect, I should have gotten out my quill and written her a detention. I should have docked points from Ravenclaw. Should have probably slapped her around a bit. Just to abuse my power.
I took a step back. “Just don’t be out too late, okay?” I said, caving yet again. I sighed.
“Whatever.” Rox shrugged and moved back toward where the common room entrance was, though she didn’t enter.
I hated this. Godric, I hated everything about it.
I hated running into her. She was my sister and it gave me anxious panic attacks every time I talked to her. Maybe I thought one day she was just going to snap and go off on me. Or that one day she was going to tell me she didn’t want me in her life anymore. I didn’t know what it was that I feared, but it was there.
Scared of my little sister.
Threatened by Scorpius bleeding Malfoy being her new brother.
Not that I’d been a brother for years now. She had him for that. To tell her secrets to. To bicker about laundry with. She wrote him more letters over the summer than conversations she had with me.
James used to tell me she’d come around. That ended two years ago.
“Everything okay?” China asked when I returned.
“It’s fine.” I placed a hand on her shoulder and steered her down another staircase. I didn’t much feel like checking the rest of the hall.
“So where are we going?” Annie was walking backward, grinning at me as we made our way from the castle.
Do I need to start saying the word surprise in different languages?” I asked.
Now that we were getting further into October it was beginning to cool down. Perfect chance to sport my new dark purple WWW cloak. It was simple, masculine, and really effing soft. Annie had on a beige jacket that skimmed her knees with a belt around the waist. It reminded me of some fashion magazine.
“Is it milkshakes again?” she asked.
“I am not going to tell you.” I laughed.
Annie and I hadn’t spent much time together recently. Not for lack of want, of course. She had to have her friend time with Ollie, we had classes, I had Quidditch. And Ryan. And that drunk day with James. I still can’t remember most of that.
The worst part, though, was that Annie had agreed to go to the library with Andrew once a week to study.
What a great fucking sweet-talker, that Andrew Parise. He just smiled pretty and got all the ladies of Gryffindor Tower to agree to help him with Herbology. Honestly? What rubbish. First of all, he didn’t need help in his classes. Second of all, he only seemed to want to study with the ones who either had boyfriends or were currently going on surprise dates.
But Annie agreed and they had their first study session the day before our date. It lasted way longer than I anticipated, but luckily James and I sought comfort in wrinkling all Andrew’s clothes by laying them on his bed and jumping on them.
So when she came back, laden with books, I asked her on a date. I liked when her eyes lit up like that.
“Can I have a hint?” Annie asked, laughing now.
“Of course.” I could give her that much. Definitely. “Where we’re going, we’re both going to be breathing.”
“Oh, and we’ll be keeping our eyes. And noses.”
“We’re also going to have a sense of direction.”
“I can’t stand you.”
“We’ll both physically be there too!”
Annie hit me gently on the arm. “You’re no fun.”
“On the contrary, love, I believe it’s quite the opposite.” I shot her a wink as we made our way into the village. It was empty for the most part, save a local or two bickering over a newspaper or the price of a bag of what looked to be grain or really big sand. I wasn’t sure why anyone would pay for a bag of sand.
Mental Note: WWW bags of sand
Mental Note: WWW sand
Annie grabbed my hand and swung it between us as I led her past Zonkos (worthless piece of dragon dung) and toward Honeydukes. She gave me a quizzical look when I opened the door.
The place was empty. There was one clerk behind the register; the same old man that’d run the shop for years. James and I were fond of him considering our addiction to candy and Dad’s reluctance to allow real non-trick sweets into the shop. I waved and he nodded.
“Romantic,” Annie said with a snicker, looking around. “Surprising no one wants chocolate today.”
“They can’t get it anyway,” I said with a shrug.
“There’s plenty.” She motioned to the rows of chocolate and flavored quills and everything I had dreams about as a kid when Mum wouldn’t let me have dessert. It had nothing to do with throwing spinach at Rox’s head at dinner.
I flipped the lock on the front door and switched the sign to closed.
Annie stared. She looked nervous.
No, Annie, I’m not going to off you in a sweets shop.
“It’s ours for an hour,” I explained with a small grin. “I hope you’re hungry.” I paused. “And brought a toothbrush.”
“You’re not serious.” The size of her eyes reminded me of the chocolate galleons in the corner.
“As a sleeping draught,” I said and began moving down the aisles. Chocolate everywhere. Sugar quills. Candy wands. Sweets everywhere.
Commence sugar coma!
“Where am I supposed to start?” Annie trailed my path, fingers skimming the colorful boxes and patterns donning each shelf. “No one has ever given me a chocolate store before.”
“Well, you haven’t met Charlie,” I murmured, picking out some chocolate frog packages.
“This is really great, Freddie.” She looked up, grinning. She was always smiling about something. Well, except when I was mad at her. Or she was mad at me. Or something. Who cares?
“I’m glad you like it.” I leaned down, kissing her for a moment before continuing on and picking out more candy. It was a long shot, considering I couldn’t remember if Annie enjoyed sweets or not, but James insisted all girls liked chocolate so it was safe.
Much better than that twat Parise’s date. Or drinks. Whatever it was. And his library studying. Pfft. He probably played dumb just to feed her compliments about her pretty eyes.
After I had paid for our first armful, we sat in the small loft overlooking the shop. Our legs dangled over the sides as we stuffed coin after chocolate coin into our faces.
Annie placed her hand on my thigh. My face erupted in a color I wasn’t entirely comfortable with.
“This was sweet of you to do,” she said.
“Sweet,” I replied nervously. “I see what you did there.”
She asked what I knew about candy and that got me going for another half hour, telling her all about the trick sweets production at WWW and how it had grown even recently. Annie kept nibbling on her treats, nodding every so often and asking more questions about the shop.
When we were leaving she moved her arm through mine. “I can tell you really love it,” she said. “The shop, I mean. You’re so passionate about it.”
“I grew up there,” I said. It was sprinkling outside, creating a foggy mist on the street. “It’s my whole life.”
“That’s adorable.” She smiled.
I thought about the word adorable. Made me sound like a hugging Hufflepuff.
Though I had to admit, I was fond of hugs.
We kissed for a while outside the portrait hole, her back pressed against the stone wall. Annie’s fingers moved through my hair. Mine rested on her hip, the other on her cheek. It was nice, relaxing, and helped me stop thinking.
But once our lips parted and she said goodnight, I was thinking all over again.
“Annie!” I moved toward her, shoving the portrait shut so she couldn’t walk inside. The Fat Lady gave me a look that suggested a scandal.
Annie was startled. Her lips were still shiny from kissing me. “Hmm?”
“Do you fancy Andrew?”
Foot? Meet mouth.
“Of course not.” Annie took my hand, lacing her fingers together with mine. “I thought it was pretty obvious I fancy you.”
“Yeah?” No, my voice definitely did not crack there. Not at all. James was to never know about that.
“Yeah.” She moved to her toes, pressing her lips to mine again. I was glad the hall was empty.
Silence. Silence. Silence.
“So are you my girlfriend now?” I blurted.
Dad wasn’t going to know about this either. Mental note to write him back.
She snickered, her cheeks now a light pink. “Sure,” she said. “I’m your girlfriend now.”
Was that how it usually worked? I thought back to my previous three heartbreaks. Alessandra made me ask again because I didn’t ask in a public place and she thought those things needed to be asked in front of an audience.
I blinked. “Oh,” I said. “Right. Yeah. Okay.”
She laughed. “Good night, Freddie.” Annie kissed me one last time and disappeared into the Tower.
James opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate.
I tried not to wonder where he got said bottle.
Saturday morning I took Dad’s advice.
The shop was bustling with business, as it always was on the weekends. The weekdays hadn’t been as good lately, but it was probably just because the kids went back to Hogwarts and parents didn’t favor as many trick sweets as their children.
I tossed my jacket on the broom-shaped coat rack when I entered and kicked my umbrella to the side. Damn London rain. Walking from the pub wasn’t my idea of fun.
The building was everything I remembered from my childhood. Bright shelves, crazy boxes, and seventeen different paint colors slapped on the walls. Things were making noise everywhere.
“My dad here?” I asked the cashier. She was a tall leggy girl that had worked in the shop the last two years since she moved to England from the States. I kept forgetting her name but it definitely started with a P. She nodded to the office.
I dodged a kid that couldn’t have been older than seven and keyed into the office. It was littered with papers and receipts and other dreadfully boring things that reminded me of the Prefect office. But there sitting in a spinny chair was my dad. He had his feet kicked up onto the desk and was leafing through wrinkled papers.
“No, you cannot conveniently take your lunch when there are a bunch of toddlers in the store,” he said in a bored voice.
I grinned. “Damn. I’ll go finish my shift then.”
Dad spun the chair around so fast it nearly toppled over. He hadn’t changed much since I was a kid. Same tuft of thick, ginger hair. The only one in the family to have pale skin and a peppering of freckles all over his face, neck, and the rest of his body. Even his earlobes had freckles. He wore a WWW polo, though it was a little wrinkled.
“Freddo!” he cried, leaping up from the chair (it did fall over then) and throwing his arms around me. “What in my mother’s name are you doing here?”
“You told me you needed help with the puffs,” I said, hugging him back.
“Not Hufflepuffs,” he said.
“Of course not.” I grinned, pulling away. The truth was, it was great to see my dad again. We had our differences, but we were closer than anyone father/son combo I knew. I told him everything. He put things into perspective. Other than James, he was my best friend.
“How’s your sister?” Dad asked, shuffling the papers back into a pile and then tossing them onto the desk.
“She’s breathing,” I noted.
“A positive.” Dad wrapped an arm around my shoulders and steered me out of the office and down one of the colorful aisles toward the back room. “So I take it you haven’t opened up that line of communication.”
“Good guess.” I grabbed a snackbox off the shelf as we walked. “How’s Mum?”
“Also breathing,” he noted. “But lucky for me, she talks too.” He paused. “Or unlucky? I can’t decide. When we’re grocery shopping and paying bills it’s definitely unlucky.”
“Pretty sure she wouldn’t be happy with you saying that,” I said, elbowing him.
“She loves me too much to be sore with me.” He grinned gleefully and pushed open the door with a giant DO NOT ENTER sign on it.
Nothing had changed. Not that I expected it to, but I was pretty sure every table was in the same place it had been in my earliest memories of the shop. Shelves for inventory. Tables for oddities. Then an entire area for inventing, a closed-off area for testing, and a large cage of pygmy puffs. Dad led the way over to the cage and bent down, scooping one into his arms.
“Thought about getting Annie one?” he asked, pressing it against his face, perhaps to mirror what Mum did before.
“I only just asked her to be my girlfriend.”
“You did it?” Dad asked, patting my face with the puff. “Well done, mate.”
“I sort of yelled it at her.” I grimaced.
He paused. “Did you?”
“Not sure I taught you that.”
“I would have remembered that lesson.”
He paused again. “We’ll blame James.”
My eyes moved around the back room. I missed the days we used to hang out here and talk about nothing at all. Quidditch teams, inventory ideas, product placement, and why Dad kept the cute cashier on longer than he should have seeing as her till was short on more than one occasion. I used to sit on the tables and swing my legs back and forth and spout out crazy ideas for products. Most of them were pure rubbish – and Dad let me know – but every so often I’d get a good one. Something that ended up selling so well we had to keep restocking.
“I’m glad you stopped by,” Dad said, placing the pygmy puff back into the cage. “Your mum has been on me about why you haven’t been writing as much. Your letters look like a first year who failed all his classes and figured out he wants to be a herbologist.”
I grimaced. “Not quite.”
“Just forget the alphabet?” Dad guessed. “Run out of ink? Is Annie distracting you that much? Rose overworking you? In all your years at Hogwarts I’ve never seen a three-sentence letter.” He folded his arms and leaned against a table.
Well, in seven years I hadn’t exactly had a viable reason not to write a well-constructed letter, did I?
“I just didn’t have much to say,” I replied with a shrug. “Anyway, what can I help with?”
Dad clearly didn’t believe me, as he shot me one of those skeptical looks he was so good at, but shook his head and tossed a few vials at me. They were full of clear liquid. “No one’s going to buy shit unless it’s colorful.”
“Marketing fact?” I asked with a smirk.
“George Weasley fact,” he said and tossed another bottle into my hands. “Make those purple. I’ve got the pink.”
“What are they?” I turned one of the vials over between my fingers, examining the cork stopper. It reminded me of when Dad used to keep ships in bottles. It wasn’t like the Muggle ships – no, he stored actual ships for some of his mates in the shop so their significant others didn’t know they had them.
I wondered what Annie would say if she found out I had a ship.
Probably ask to go for a ride on it. I’d welcome it if she offered to sunbathe during. But then James would want to be invited. Then Ollie would give me a look because I was staring at Annie. But why was it my fault? She was my girlfriend.
Wow. She really was my girlfriend.
“Have you ever heard of a pregnancy glow?” Dad asked, uncorking a vial and placing three drops of a pink liquid inside. Then he replaced the stopper, shook it, and smiled at the new tint. “We’re recreating that for people who aren’t pregnant. It makes your skin glow a little. Makes you look more awake if you’re sleepy, more confident if you’re lacking it.”
I stared. “Where did you come up with that?”
Pregnancy glow. How peculiar.
“No idea,” Dad said, shrugging. “Just came to me one day.”
“Ah.” I swallowed hard. “Pregnancy glow. That’s great. You think it’ll do well?”
“Your mum has already told me to bring some home.” Dad winked slyly and handed me a few more vials to turn purple. “She said you kids gave her bags under her eyes.”
“It was Roxy.” I placed each finished vial back into the box carefully. “What do you think was the worst thing I ever did?”
“That we punished you for?” Dad asked. “I’m sure there’s a lot you’ve done that I don’t know about.”
“True.” I smirked. Spiking the punch at Christmas. De-pantsing the gnomes at the Burrow. Sweet-talking the local bartender into serving me when I was twelve and stumbling home drunk before getting a lift from some guy in a pickup truck. Not exactly shining moments.
“How about the summer of Alessandra?” Dad mentioned, his gaze focused on the pink droplets. He held his tongue between his teeth, concentrating.
My mouth went dry. Ah, the summer of Alessandra.
Bad enough to have its own title.
James hated that summer. James hated Alessandra. Most people did, really. Looking back, I had no idea why she had me twisted around her fingers. She was beautiful, talented, and smart. That probably did it. Maybe I didn’t think I was good enough for her so when I had her no matter what she did I didn’t want to lose her. I just did what she wanted in order to carry her books to class and kiss her before bed.
First it was sneaking into the kitchens to get her food and sweets. Since James and I did it on a regular basis (thanks to his Marauder’s Map) it wasn’t a big deal. Then it was faking an injury in Quidditch to leave practice early and spend time with her. Write the conclusion paragraph on her Transfiguration essay. Take her to dinner at a fancy restaurant. Nab her WWW merchandise.
Once the summer came, things got worse. Whenever I tried to confront her about it, she’d cry and apologize and somehow we’d end up having sex. Looking back, I have no idea how that happened.
Alessandra loved the shop. She wanted me to take her there all the time, but her nose wrinkled at the idea of crowds. Instead, she wanted to go after hours. I keyed in and gave her a private tour. Her eyes lit up and she did an innocent spin around the floor, dress flying up around her. I took her upstairs and showed her where my dad used to live before he married Mum in a small two-bedroom flat. The second bedroom still had the tiny broomsticks on the walls from when they made it my nursery. Alessandra was much more interested in the granite fireplace and the view of the cobbled street below.
She always wanted to go to the shop at night. First it was once a week. Then it was every night we sat on a blanket in the center of the floor and talked and kissed. I let her pick out a few products she couldn’t live without. We danced to music I put over the speakers.
It was August before Dad caught us. We’d fallen asleep in front of the cash register, wrapped in blankets, with a bottle of wine beside us.
I had to work extra shifts all summer to make up for all the products I’d given Alessandra over the weeks.
Sometimes it takes years of distance to realize how fucking naïve you’ve been.
Alessandra wanted the famous kid of a joke shop owner. She wanted to have side-fun with other boys who were taller, more muscular, and funnier than me. She wanted everything her way. I blushed, remembering how long I’d put up with it even after Dad suggested I break it off with her and find someone who didn’t walk like they had a corncob stuffed up their bum.
“Someone who doesn’t use you,” he had said. “Maybe likes you for you instead of your last name, as dashing as it is.”
At the time, I told him to sod off and it was real love or some shit like that.
It was real rubbish; that’s what it was.
I ended up calling it quits when I came home after a double shift at the shop and threw my polo onto the couch. Mum was flipping stations on the television, bored.
“Alessandra’s upstairs, Freddie,” she said. “She’s been waiting for a while. I would have told her to go, but she said she’d just relax and wait.”
I remember being excited to see her after being called a few colorful names by a customer who thought he was buying a discount off-brand wand instead of a trick wand. I had to explain, calmly, that the only place in Diagon Alley that sold legitimate wands was Ollivanders. I moved up the steps swiftly, ignoring Roxy’s blaring music, and into the room.
Normally, my room was a welcoming place with WWW posters and bright colors and stuff James and I were into. I even had a cot in the corner because we spent the night in each other’s rooms so often.
My own bed was my favorite part. A huge purple comforter and silver sheets. Anyone who entered would know my heart was into the shop and nothing else. No Quidditch posters or swimsuit models on the walls. Everything pertained to the joke shop. It was my life and I spent most of my thinking time in bed staring at the ceiling.
After seeing Alessandra topless on the sheets – along with another bloke – I decided it was time for a change. I burned the bedding, broke up with her, and threatened the guy with a Muggle shotgun. James took me to his parents’ wine cellar and let me vent about Alessandra for hours before Uncle Harry cut off the merlot and sent us to bed.
Dad was stacking the vial boxes, looking content. He whistled a little, something I was used to. He whistled to stop himself from stressing out. I was always certain it was to stop himself from remembering, but I never asked. He dealt with enough as is.
“Dad,” I began, finishing off the purple and placing it on the table.
“Hmm?” He looked up. I wished he wouldn’t.
“I’m in trouble.” I met his eyes and for the first time in a long time I wanted to cry. Not like James with the vodka-sprinkles. Like actually cry. I hadn’t done cried since I was in James’ wine cellar, drunk off heartbreak, but I could feel the sting in my eyes from holding it in so long. Keeping it from James. Having repeated dreams about my kid having my hair and Ryan’s eyes and me not knowing what the hell to even do with it. The kid.
“What kind of trouble?” Dad put down the box.
“The kind that’s big.”
He pulled out his wand and I heard the door to the back room bolt-lock. He pulled the blinds to the customer-interaction window where they could watch us make and wrap the taffies.
“With the Ministry?” Dad asked. I could tell he was trying hard to remain calm. Good for him because I was shaking, holding my fingers to the edge of the table to stop my entire body from becoming a trembling mess.
I shook my head. “No,” I said. “Not the Ministry. A different kind of trouble.”
“Did you kill someone?” he asked. “Was it that Andrew Parise kid because Freddo I have to say I’m not sure he was worth it …”
“I didn’t kill anyone, Dad,” I said darkly.
My entire life I’d been able to tell my father anything. Everything. We were best friends. We shared ideas without so much as an extra thought. We even liked our eggs the same way: over-easy with a dab of ketchup on the side. Yet now I faltered, trying to find the words. My eyes stung. I just wanted to leave. Leave England. Leave Europe. I’d heard good things about Mexico (other than the water).
“Fred,” Dad said seriously, putting a hand on my leg. “Tell me what happened.”
I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. Instead, I felt the pressure in my head intensify and I was horrified to release a choked sob. My cheeks were flushed, grip tightening on the table, and I just fucking let out a sob.
Dad was quick to move his arms around me, hugging me tight. “Hey,” he said as I unceremoniously wept into his shirt. “Freddo, what’s wrong? What’s going on, mate?” He smoothed out my hair, pressing me into his chest as my entire body shook.
I wanted everything to disappear.
I wanted to disappear.
I was irresponsible, a fuckup, and I wanted to disappear. Rox didn’t go around knocking people up.
He held me there for a while, waiting for me to release the buildup of emotion I had no idea I’d bottled. I grabbed the material of his shirt and felt like I had when I was younger and Teddy picked on me for something stupid. Nothing in the world mattered. I was safe. It was strange to have that identical feeling when I was seventeen.
I was glad the door was locked.
“Whatever it is, it’s going to be fine,” Dad whispered in a true fatherly way. He was a genius at it – like he was born to be a dad. I listened to stories of him at Hogwarts and it was so weird to imagine him before us. Before he had the paternal instinct to make sure we were safe before he was. How he used to fight, play Quidditch, and how he risked his life for everyone in the wizarding war.
Now here he was in the back room of a shop in Diagon Alley comforting his teenage son who got a girl pregnant. He wasn’t armed for war or helping form secret societies. He wasn’t hiding a stash of WWW products with his twin, biding his time for the opening of their own store. He achieved that dream, but continued it alone.
Now he was a father. How could I possibly live up to him? His instincts? The way he was able to find the humor in every situation? He even told us jokes through brushing our teeth as children. He used to let Rox dance on his feet at functions. He let me wear a superhero cape to bed for a month. He was the ultimate father, but for all I knew he was prepared when Mum got pregnant with me. He wanted it. They were married. In love. They were going into it together.
I was going into it blind, dumb, with a girl who could knock me out, and with another girl who fancied me and knew absolutely nothing.
This didn’t bode well for me.
I pushed away from him, wiping my eyes on the back of my sleeve. That was not my strongest moment as a Weasley. I cleared my throat, humiliated.
To my surprise, Dad chuckled. He used his thumbs to wipe the trailing tears and ruffed my hair. “Hey,” he said. “Talk to me before I start guessing.”
“They will all be inappropriate and may relate to that sex talk I gave you with Rox’s dolls,” he noted.
Ew. No. Godric, no.
I could do this. I could. I could tell him.
I opened and closed my mouth.
“You accidentally hooked up with Scorpius Malfoy,” Dad guessed.
“NO!” I shoved him away, gagging. “I don’t want that image, thank you!”
“I’ll keep guessing.”
“I slept with Ryan Davies!”
Pause. “While you were with Annie?”
“No!” I said, shaking my head. “But I got her pregnant.”
“NO!” I cried. “Ryan is.”
I hadn’t seen Dad that shocked in a long time. Not even Rox’s rendition of fish fillet made entirely out of dog food had not rendered him that speechless.
“Wait,” he said, blinking a few times. “You slept with Ryan Davies. Remind me, she’s a Ravenclaw? She’s the one Al is always having fanboy attacks about on his team, right?”
“Star Chaser,” I said, face scarlet. My ears were burning. “That’s her.”
I could tell he was fighting the urge to say ‘nice,’ but this wasn’t exactly the scenario given the second half of the provided information.
“Forgive me, but—”
“Yes,” I interrupted, holding up my hand. “It’s mine.”
“Ah.” Dad cleared his throat. “Um. And she’s…”
“Yes, she’s keeping it.” My gaze fell.
“With Annie, who knows nothing.”
“Mmhm.” Dad pressed his lips together and took a few steps back before hopping onto the table opposite me. “And I’m the only one who knows?” I nodded. “Well. Wow. Okay. Wow.”
He looked like he was trying to comprehend what I’d just told him. Granted, it took me a while to comprehend it.
“Dad?” I said. I faltered for a moment, feeling the prickling coming back. I couldn’t handle him being disappointed in me. I was seventeen for Godric’s sake. Seventeen. I still tried to spell things in my alphabet cereal.
“Tell me it’s going to be okay.”
He raised a brow, watching me for a moment. “Freddo,” he began. “I can honestly tell you that whatever happens, it’s going to be okay.”
I spent the entire afternoon at the shop helping Dad with inventory and changing the litter in the puff cage. We stuck to the back room and I explained what happened with Ryan and how she told me. I also told him our plan to keep it a secret until it got too obvious and my offer to be there and help and her resistance. He suggested she was just used to operating alone and I agreed. He also said he wouldn’t tell Mum.
After a while he took me up the back staircase into the flat and dusted off a book from one of the shelves. It was all about pregnancy. He told me to study it and then promptly replaced the cover with some boring Charms shit so James didn’t get curious.
I placed it in the top drawer of my bedside stand, ignored Ollie and James snogging on his bed, and closed my hangings.
I had to admit, for the first time in a couple weeks I felt better.
A/N: Thank you to everyone for all of your patience while I got back into updating! This was a fun chapter to write. Well, obviously. It has GEORGE. I hope you enjoyed it.
UP NEXT: Prefect duties and Frames.