Chapter 8: Hindsight
"Anyway, you ready for Quidditch?" James asked an hour later over our own broomstick-sprucing-up session as I silently and distractedly cleaned the mud and grass stains from my Firebolt 250.
Sarah was still clipping the birch twig tail on her sleek black Comet 540 in the corner, while Danny was trying to re-enhance the braking charm on his older Cleansweep 17. James was polishing the handle on his own Firebolt 250 (Dad secretly bought James and I one each so we could beat Slytherin. There's nothing wrong with friendly rivalry, even at his age.)
"Yeah, why?" I asked, not aware of the time.
"Oi, Jay! We'd better go and get changed!" Sarah called, tapping Danny's watch to emphasise her point. James looked at me.
"You don't have to come to practice." He said, looking into the fire instead of at me.
"Christ, I'll even take you off the team if you want." He sighed. He didn't want me off the team any more than I wanted to be off it.
"No, please James don't take this from me, it's all I'll have as a distraction!" I begged quietly. James looked at me.
"Okay. But you won't be able to play when you're in your third trimester." He stated. I heard in his voice that no argument would change his mind. I said nothing; the shock that I would even get to my third trimester – the fact that I was having a baby at all, temporarily stopped me in my emotional tracks.
"If I get to my third trimester." I said very quietly. He looked at me in shock and opened his mouth, but then shook his head.
"Let's just think about Quidditch now, shall we?" He said, standing up and helping me to my feet.
That was James' solution to everything: If life gets too hard, think about Quidditch.
I sat down on one of the benches in the changing room and thanked god I was in my Quidditch gear, for what must have been the first time in my life, and even then only because it was so cold. It was a skin-tight red pullover, under a thick brown leather tank-top. The tight trousers were black and the knee, shin and thigh pads were all the same brown leather. I thought I looked like some kind of ancient roman warrior, but somehow Sarah managed to rock the look.
Then again, she could pull off wearing a bin liner and the younger girls in school would follow her trend immediately. And swear it was PradaWitch.
I sighed. I shouldn't be jealous of my best friend this much. But it was hard when she was so utterly perfect-looking that it made girls cry and tear at their hair, and men want to be with her every waking moment.
And most of the sleeping ones, too.
"You ready?" James said to me quietly. I jumped and looked around.
"I thought it was my job to watch Sarah like a hawk." He added almost silently with a dry smile as he sat down next to me.
"I was just thinking and staring. You know what it's like." He nodded
"I wish I could look at her the way you do." He said suddenly.
This really had been quite a day. Now I was learning things about my cousin I didn't know were there. I was learning he had feelings stronger than I ever could have imagined for my best friend. And it killed every part of him inside to find that she no longer nursed the same love for him.
"What'd you mean?" I asked. It was nice to be able to come out of my problem and dive into someone else's.
"I wish I could look at her like she was just a friend, just another girl. But I can't, and I don't think I actually want to." He continued slowly and quietly. Sometimes it's good to just listen instead of talk, and even James needed someone to talk to about feelings once in a blue moon. Of course, since Sarah and he broke up he lost the plot a little bit there was nothing but blue moons for a while.
Lily and Dom gave us a casual wave as they walked onto the pitch to warm up and soon James and I were the only two people left in the changing room at all. The others were doing laps on the pitch; James had trained the team well.
"I don't know what to say James. I wish she loved you back." I said, and I meant it from the heart. James looked across the changing room thoughtfully, staring without really seeing.
"Me too. But I have hope for us; I've never felt this way about anyone before, you know that. Any love that strong has to be worth fighting for, and I won't give up until I know for sure. How can a feeling this mental be completely wrong?" He said and I think it was the wisest thing my cousin, the happy-go-lucky life of the party, had ever said to me.
"I know." I said, not knowing what else I could say.
"Just answer me this one thing, is she sleeping with him?" He asked, eyes full of hurt.
"No, James. She isn't." I said definitely.
"I'll get her back then." He said optimistically, looking happier.
"Give it time though." I said with a small smile, standing up. James nodded seriously.
As I walked out onto the pitch and mounted my broom I wished ardently for more time to get used to the pregnancy idea. Then I reminded myself that I had eight long months of time.
I had nothing but time.
"Well played guys, we're going to thrash Slytherin next weekend!" James said, grinning around the changing room an hour and a half later. I was feeling sick again and was in desperate need of a shower. The team grumbled; James had overworked us this night.
"See you tomorrow for practice again!" He called after us as we traipsed off to the shower stalls at the back. I could hear Danny whispering hormone-fuelled ideas to Sarah about having a joint shower and I quickly distracted James, fearing he had heard.
I knew I couldn't keep the fact that Sarah and Danny's relationship was not going to be celibate for long from James much longer. But I wanted to save my cousin the unbearable pain and humiliation the knowledge would bring him. Plus, I'm overprotective of the people I love on a good day, when I was stressed I became neurotic and almost intolerably defensive over them. James and everyone else I cared about would be in for at least eight months of this.
Everyone on the team came out of their shower cubicles at pretty much the same time. Dom came over to me.
"We need to talk; none of us saw you today apart from Sarah and James and they won't talk about it either. I want to know what's wrong." She said bluntly as we sat down.
"Later, yeah?" I said quietly.
She nodded reluctantly and I got myself comfortable on the benches; James always liked to talk to us after practice. He came out last, when we were all sat on the benches by the hanging posts where we kept our clothes hung up. James came to stand at the front, shirtless and hair wet.
"I'm far too hot." Sarah said, fanning herself with her hand. Danny's best friend Steve, who was sat opposite her on the other benched side, let out a laugh.
"You're telling us." He said, looking her over.
Danny let out a laugh; not a one that said 'by golly, that was amusing!' but one of the ones that lads do which plainly says 'I'll let that one slide because you're my best mate, but if you ever so much as look at my bird in a flirty way again, I'll tear you apart.'
"You know what I meant." Sarah sighed, rolling her eyes. She couldn't say anything without a horny lad making something of it.
"Anyway" James said loudly as Danny snaked his arm around Sarah's waist. "You played really well today. If you come back at the same time every night this week for half an hour then the Slytherin match is in the bag" James continued.
"Right, I'll see you lot later in the common room, but if not meet here at five to five tomorrow. Toodlepip." He concluded.
He truly is very, very mad.
We all filed out and we began walking to the Gryffindor common room. Dom and I (Sarah was last seen slinking into the grounds for a walk with Danny) were in the entrance hall when I suddenly took a right, my feet leading me down to the Slytherin common room, muttering to a disgruntled Dom that I'd be meeting her in the Gryffindor Tower later.
I came to the door of the Slytherin common room soon enough.
"Parselmouth" I said and the stone melted away.
I meandered through the corridor until I came to the Slytherin common room. The first person I saw was Chelsea Oxford sat in the chair, snogging some boy. I couldn't see him properly to tell who it was since she was pretty much sat in his lap, her claw like nails roaming his head.
I glanced around and saw Albus sat in one of the chairs nearest the green fire, looking nauseated. I went over to him. It was most unusual that his nose wasn't stuck in a book as was normal for him but even more unusual that his best friend Scorpius was nowhere to be seen.
"Hey, cuz. Seen Freddie?" I asked. Albus looked up at me anxiously.
"He's over there" He began, looking as if he had something to tell me. "But I think I should talk to you, Ro..." He said nervously.
"Can it wait? I really have to talk to Freddie." I said. Albus looked as if he'd have dearly loved to have said no, but he shut his mouth and gave a jerky nod of his head to signal 'if you must.'
"Great, thanks." I'd said, walking slowly over to where Freddie was sat on his own, up to his eyeballs in Herbology.
I didn't know what I was going to say to Freddie. It's not like I had come any closer to making my decision. All I knew was that I wasn't feeling good and Freddie was the person who cheered me up. Selfish, I know.
"Hello, you." I said, sitting opposite him. From where I sat I could see Chelsea and the mystery boy tangled up in the chair and Albus just to the right of them, looking nervous and nauseated once more. Freddie jumped and looked up.
"It doesn't say much for my reflexes when you can creep up on me like that, babe." He said, leaning over and greeting me with a kiss on the cheek. I laughed distractedly.
"I take it this isn't a social call." He sighed, laying down his quill and looking and taking my hand, which had been lying on the table (not by itself, my arm is attached.)
"No, it's not." I said with a sigh, looking at him apologetically.
"So you've made your decision, then." He said, looking down at the table for a long time before meeting my eyes. I too was avoiding his gaze. The common room was packed on the other side but over here it was fairly quiet and my eyes roamed over the people.
"I've made my decision." I said, my eyes stopping on Chelsea Oxford. I was getting this funny feeling from her and the boy she was with. Did I know him?
"Ah." Freddie said. "Go on then, don't try to break it gently to me." He said with barely concealed unhappiness in his voice. Just then, Chelsea got up from the sofa with a smile on her pink lips and looked right at me with the smuggest look I've ever seen on any one person's face. I looked at her quizzically but then the boy sat up in the chair and looked at me.
And I was met with the cold blue eyes of Scorpius Malfoy. It was like being doused with icy water; I was in utter shock. Chelsea gave me a horribly sweet little wave, and flounced out of the room, leaving Scorpius staring right at me as if to say 'you brought this on yourself'.
"What are you talking about?" I said through numb lips, not taking my eyes off Scorpius.
"I said I'd made my decision, didn't I?" I said looking at him. He looked back at me questioningly.
"I choose you. I want to be your girlfriend again." I said loudly, looking at him now defiantly. Freddie's face split into a grin.
"Seriously?" He asked, dumbfounded.
"Seriously." I repeated, with an indifferent look towards Scorpius, who was looking between me and Freddie with narrowed eyes.
He officially had no business being angry with me now. I hoped him and dog-face would be very happy together. Maybe they could have some albino little puppies together.
"Oh Rosie, you have no idea how happy you've made me." Freddie said, coming around the table and sitting down next to me to give me a long hug. He finished off with a kiss on the lips which deepened until we both came up for air, gasping.
I looked across to see Scorpius full-on scowling at us now.
"The pleasure is all mine." I said with a sweet smile at Scorpius and then at Freddie, who kissed me again, smiling at the same time.
In hindsight, that was one of the most selfish, immature and stupid things I've ever done. Including the time that James, Lily and I ran into Aunt Ginny's living room where all our parents were having an afternoon drink and screamed at them that Voldemort was in the garden.
But then again, hindsight is a wonderful thing.