, as I now knew it was- short for Hyperion, the name I had once cruelly inflicted on my child (what was I thinking? Oh, right, I wasn’t thinking at all)- wasn’t old enough to understand that he would never again see the woman he had once called his mother again. I hated to do this to him, bless his little heart (I can’t believe I just said that) but I knew that he needed to be trained, at least. And I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t admit to him that I was his real mother- I had given it all up once, when I was a scared fifteen-year old, still in school, striving to have a normal childhood, to grow up and face the world at my own pace. Not ready to have it thrown in my face like a wet fish.
I was ready now (well, not for the wet fish, but you know what I mean).
The little blond boy crept up the steps into the school. “Miss Granger?” he asked tentatively.
“Yes Ryan?” (I thought it easier just to call him Ryan.)
I couldn’t do it. I was about to turn around a run, tell Agnes that I had made a mistake, when Rion looked up and said, “do I have to go back to her?”
I crouched in front of him. “What do you mean?”
“Mommy. I don’t want to go back to her. She’s mean.”
“Is that right. In what way, Ryan?”
“She hits me. And she says that I have to do what God says, and God says that I have to stop having visions and stop being blas- blas-“
“No, Ryan. You don’t have to go back to her. Not now, not ever.”
His brow furrowed in confusion. “But who will be my mommy, then?”
I’m serious. If I was Lucy, I would be sobbing right now.
But I’m not, so I’m not the biggest sook the world has ever seen.
“Me,” I whispered. “I will be.”
He looked up at me. I knew he would never really understand, not until he was older- but I knew that I could do it. I could be his mother.
I was his mother.
I wasn’t really sure if James really got what was going on.
“So you’re adopting him,” James stated.
“Then why in the name of Merlin is he here?”
“Because he’s my son.”
“Your son. Yeah, uh huh. Right.”
“You know what I don’t understand, James? I don’t understand how you can get and accept that I was pregnant, five whole years ago, but you can’t fit the simple thing of Ryan being my son into your thick skull.”
“Does this mean you shagged Scorpius Malfoy?”
I spat out the chocolate milk that I had been drinking. James and I were alone for once, seeing as I had Ryan sleeping on my bed, and we were leaving first thing in the morning.
“I –where did you- what?” I spluttered.
“Well, he looks like Scorpius. And he’s your son. And Scorpius has some kind of unnatural obsession with you-“
“He does not!”
“Yeah, he does. So, ergo- you’re shagging Scorpius Malfoy.”
“No, I’m not!”
“Anymore-” I agreed, and then realized what I’d said- “Hey!”
“Aha!” he exclaimed triumphantly. “I knew it!”
“Yeah, you did.”
“Tell the truth, or I’ll turn your hair green like Astrid’s.”
“Remember Astrid. And don’t call me Jamie.”
I sighed and gave up. “What do I do about it?”
“What are you asking me for?” he said, disgusted. “Sweet Merlin. I’m not the relationship fairy. Go find someone else!”
“Oh, thanks. Thanks very much. Really. You’ve been such a big help, Jamie.”
“No prob- Hey!”
But I was already too far away for him to hex.
Ryan looked peaceful, lying on the bed. His hair fanned out around his head, a golden halo that seemed to light up his serene face.
I tried to creep soundlessly around, packing our things. The Portkey was leaving in a couple of hours, and I wasn’t nearly ready. Ryan’s things were already packed- in fact, he’d never unpacked- but mine were strewn around the room.
I picked up my pants, and my skirts; then my shirts. I struggled to lift my million books into the small bag I had cast an Undetectable Extension Charm on, and winced as they hit the bottom. There they went. I hoped they hadn’t crushed the dittany that I was sure was rolling around the bottom of the bag.
“Mom?” asked Ryan.
“Shush, Ryan, go back to sleep. It’s just me.”
“Miss Granger? Where’s my mommy?”
It kinda made me sad to hear him say that, until I remembered that he was only five and only an hour ago he’d been told that he would never see the woman he’d called his mother for years ever again.
“Rose, Ryan, call me Rose. And go back to sleep.”
“Can I have a drink of water?”
“Yes, Ryan, you can have a drink of water. Go ask Jamie to help, I’m sure he would be glad to be awoken from his sleep to help you get a drink of water- he’s in the living room, honey.”
Whoops. I may have forgotten that five-year olds don’t understand sarcasm.
“Sorry, James!” I yelled.
“I hate you,” he glared back as he toted Ryan back to my room, the little boy’s face looking suspiciously pleased. “Of all the children you could’ve claimed as your own, why this one?”
“Because this one is genetically my son?”
“That’s not a reason, that’s a copout. Hey! Watch where you’re pointing that thing!”
I was so close to casting the Bat-Bogey hex on him. “Let’s see how many jokes you can crack while being beaten up by cat-sized flying snot, shall we?”
“Bloody hell,” he said, cowering as Ryan laughed (I knew he must have inherited something from my side of the family). “You’re a menace!”
“Me or Ryan?”
“Both,” he hissed. “Definitely both.”
“Aww,” I mocked. “Poor Jamekins. Did someone get beaten up by a pint-sized?”
“No,” he said, his voice straining with the effort not to cuss. “Someone got woken up by a pint-sized, it’s infinitely different- I’m more dangerous now.”
“Rosie said I could,” said Ryan, confused.
“I guessed as much,” James gave me the evils. “She’s in for it.”
“What’re you gonna do,” I said, relishing in the sort of fights we hadn’t had since Al and I used to gang up on him when we were seven and James was eight, “curse me?”
That sort of thing wasn’t a joking matter until it came out of my mouth. Then it was bloody hilarious, for some reason.
“No,” James smiled slowly. “I’ll tell your mother.”
I felt my wand lower involuntarily. “No. You wouldn’t. Jamie- James.”
“I would too. I’m sure she’d love to know about Ryan here.”
“No! She’d blow a gasket. The last thing she needs to know is what I’m doing. I mean, tell my father. Him killing Scorpius would at least get rid of that problem. But my mother? The aftermath of that is a dead and brutally tortured Scorpius and five hundred lines on why I should not be gallivanting around America with my half-wit sidekick.”
“…Merlin will punish you for that attack on my poor sanity.”
“Merlin will live. You on the other hand, I am not so sure about.”
“What did I do?”
“You’re meaner than a drunk Great-Uncle Vernon.”
“I am so lucky I never met your Great-Uncle Vernon.”
“You really are,” he agreed. “He’s only a teensy bit less worse than you.”
“He really is.”
Ryan climbed onto my lap (I had sat down at this point, having given up on the packing the muggle way) and tugged on my hair. “Rosie,” he smiled (when did he get jam around his mouth?), “do I have to go back to sleep?”
I looked at the clock. “I suppose not,” I said, sighing dramatically. “We’re leaving soon, anyway.”
“Where are we going?”
James looked up from where he was lugging his stuff in from the living room. “That’s a good question, Ry. Where are we going?”
“I’ve got no idea,” I said. “Wherever the Ministry sends us, I suppose.”
James picked Ryan up and tickled him. “Get set for Antarctica, little man. The Ministry doesn’t like Rosie all that much…”
I glared at him. “Hey! At least I wasn’t the one who set man-eating anacondas on the Magical Maintenance guys…”
“That was an accident, I swear!” But his grin gave him away.
“You’re incorrigible,” I laughed. He smiled back and I flicked my wand at my pile of clothes, watching them fold and pack themselves away neatly. Ryan’s eyes were as wide as saucers as he followed the movements of the inanimate objects, and I watched him- my son, who in only a few days had captured my heart.
“C’mon, guys,” I smiled, holding back tears. “Let’s go.”