Chapter 16 : Albus: When House Arrest Equal Birthday Parties
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No, it was nothing like that. We spent the night talking about plans for the baby, particularly the nursery, and fell asleep on top of the covers, clothes still on and everything. But it's still weird.
I get up slowly, careful not to wake Lexi, and sneak out to my own room. Or old room, I'm not really sure what the rules are for a situation like this, but I assume I should still say 'own room' since this was the first night we shared a bed. I act quickly, not wanting her to wake up first, and find the presents and card that I hid in my bottom drawer, all wrapped up and ready for her to open. She's still asleep when I go back to her room; I leave them on the bedside table, so that she can see them the moment she wakes up, and sneak out again.
I'm halfway through my first crumpet and stirring the scrambled eggs when I hear her footsteps on the stairs. I check the bacon and serve the eggs when she reaches the kitchen and stands on the other side of the kitchen unit, holding her presents. Lexi opens up the card to put on the side and smiles at me - I went down the jewelry road, because shopping isn't really something she really loves unless it's for jewelry, and I know I made the right choice.
Lexi holds up the silver charm bracelet, the 'A' charm swinging back and forth. "Put it on for me?"
I turn briefly to turn off the bacon and walk over to her, taking the bracelet in my hand so she can hold out her wrist. I fasten it on quickly enough and let go; Lexi holds up her arm. "It's beautiful, thank you. And I really love the necklace, though I'm pretty sure the baby is too young to be picking out presents."
I chuckle while she holds up the thin, matching chain to let me see the 'No. 1 Mummy' charm on the end.
"I couldn't help myself, I had to see your reaction," I laugh. "You don't have to wear it, not until the baby is born anyway."
Lexi replies by holding it out for me to take and turning around. Her hair is already tied up in a messy ponytail, so it's easy for me to fasten it around her neck. "Happy birthday, Lexi," I murmur, letting go.
"Thank you," she answers softly. Then she turns back to face me, all smiles. "So, what's for breakfast?"
I finish serving the breakfast and grab her favorite bagel, leading her to the table. "Enjoy."
"Don't mind if I do," her dad says to me, stealing a bit of scrambled egg from his daughter's plate. He ignores her complaints. "Got any more?"
"What are you doing here and how did you get in?" she demands.
"Do you forget who owns this place and therefore has a key?" he counters smugly. He turns the smug grin on me. "I can't remember the last time breakfast was made for me."
"You're lucky I made extra," I mumble, going back to the food. It was just in case Lexi wanted more, but she'll have to go without as I have Auror training soon and can't make any more. I pick up my own plate on my way back and slide his over to his place at the table. "So, you're here because..." I prompt.
"It's my daughter's birthday," he finishes slowly, like he's waiting for me to understand what he's saying. "Nice necklace, by the way. And the charm on the bracelet; the 'A' stands for 'Alexa', right?"
I start to nod, obviously it's her initial, but Lexi shakes her head and smiles one of those sickeningly sweet smiles that are meant to freak out family members. "It stands for 'Albus', Daddy. I mean, it only seems right for me to have something to symbolize my boyfriend."
Theodore's eyes widen when she stresses that last part and he groans. "Boyfriend? Why do you do this to me? If you plan on torturing me, couldn't you have at least waited until after Christmas?"
"Why?" I ask, covering my mouth with my hand so bits of crumpet isn't spat out.
Theodore points at me. "Seriously? Him?" Lexi nods and tells him to answer my question. "Because Ginny bet you'd give a relationship a try and said it'd be any time up to Christmas, Harry bet Christmas day to New Years and I bet after, hoping for never."
"How much does Mum get?" I say excitedly. "You know she'll spend your money on the baby, or give it to us to spend on the baby, just to hurt you."
The look on his face tells me he already knows that. "Twenty five each. She'll have fifty galleons," he grumbles.
"Oh, cool. And what's wrong with me?" I ask last.
"You? Nothing, I've known you long enough to like you a little. But it's bad enough that I'm sharing a grandkid with Harry, I don't want us to actually be family," he says. I think he's joking... mostly.
Lexi whacks him on the shoulder, which has no effect on him whatsoever, and drops her fork. "One, you sound like he's proposed; we haven't even gone on a date yet. Two, although I assume that, yes, Al got the 'A' to stand for 'Alexa', I will keep it as 'Albus' because he is my best friend, get an 'L' for 'Lexi' and when the baby has a name, I'll get an initial for him or her as well. Because I can. Okay?"
I say good bye and leave them to it, knowing she'll have her dad apologizing soon enough. I just get to the door when I hear, "So, where are my presents?"
It's going to be a long day for Theodore Nott.
Lexi's birthday is only small, she has cake at her dad's house, with me and our friends, Kieron and Dom and, obviously, her dad. Her presents range from clothes (Emmett) to DVDs (Darcy), Chris and Megan give her a scrapbook of our seventh year and Mum had the fifty galleons converted into Muggle money, along with a little extra, and put it in a card for Lexi.
The card says happy birthday, but it also says to spend it wisely, so we both know the money is preferably for the baby. Lexi is okay with that, since she's been looking at things for the nursery now anyway, and she keeps the card separate from the rest of her presents.
We stay for a few hours, talking about how she and Dom spent her birthday in London, looking at baby things and talking about how everyone will know tomorrow - not only has Lexi given Rich the story for the Prophet, but now Dom has it for Witch Weekly. Now absolutely everyone will know about the pregnancy without us ever needing to open our mouths.
I'm not sure if it's a perk or a curse of being part of a well known family.
Sure, we don't have to tell people, but we've still got our life in the public eye. I'd rather it not be there at all. It's not like we're the first teenagers in the world to have a kid.
It's not that late when we leave, about half ten, but after a long day in Auror training, I'm exhausted and looking forward to going back to bed. Lexi clearly sees that, points it out with a chuckle and practically forces me up the stairs.
"Okay, I'm going," I yawn. Then I stop and notice the thin package and card at the bottom of the stairs.
I hope you don't mind me 'breaking in'. Happy birthday, Lexi. Xavier.
"For you," I say, handing it to her.
Lexi opens the card and scans it, stuffing it under her arm to get to the package. She opens it so fast that it rips, but she doesn't care, and pulls out a pair of tickets and badges. I groan; I may hate playing Quidditch, but watching it is admittedly not so bad. Lexi doesn't play it because playing doesn't interest her, she likes to watch it, but it's more for the players than the actual game. Given how her eyes light up, I'm guessing it's for that reason.
"He got us tickets to the Puddlemere vs Montrose game, with passes to be anywhere in the stadium. We can meet the players" she squeals. "Can you imagine having Xavier Sinclair and Cody McIntyre in the same room? Just right there with you?"
"McIntyre? That's the Montrose Chaser, right? The one with the girls name?" I ask.
Lexi glares. "Dakota is a unisex name, I'll have you know. Like Dominique. Besides, everyone calls him Cody."
"I gathered," I try to roll my eyes, but end up squeezing them shut when I yawn again instead. "I'm going to bed."
"It's the Puddlemere home game, in a couple of weeks," Lexi continues, following me. "You're coming with me, right? Or should I ask Emmett?"
"Of course I'm coming," I reply. "It'll be nice to see Xavier play." I turn and face her, pretending to be her. "And oh, my God, I just can't wait to finally meet Cody McIntyre. It'll be a dream come true!"
"Haha," Lexi says dryly. "Just go to bed."
I stop my teasing and kiss her cheek. "Happy birthday."
We share a good night and go to our own rooms. Only when I'm settled in bed do I realize that I preferred waking up in Lexi's room.
I'm almost ready for Auror training when Dad's patronus comes through, interrupting our breakfast to say that I have a day off because there are reporters waiting for me. I'm officially under house arrest, for the weekend at least. I don't think they know where we live, so we should be okay here. I share a look with Lexi just as Dom's owl comes in through the open window with a copy of both the Prophet and Witch Weekly, telling us exactly what we already know...
Youngest Potter son to have baby with secret girlfriend, Alexa Nott.
"Secret?" Lexi scoffs. "Make sense that they'd think we lied about being together last time they asked us."
"That was during Christmas in sixth year," I remember. "Do you really think they'd assume we've been together at least that long? Though, why they want to know anything, I'll always wonder."
"Al, you're the youngest son of a very famous wizard. I'm the youngest daughter of a man from an old, Pureblood family, a man who publicly denied being part of Voldemort's regime before the war and had to hide in the Muggle world because of it, as a lonely, scared seventeen year old kid. Then he came back, went into law enforcement and became friends with said very famous wizard. And I'm related to the Malfoys. I became friends with you, you've been connected to the Minister's daughter, there was the big story about my brother being gay," Lexi says all in one breath, stops and finishes. "Everything we do attracts the attention of the media. You'll have to get used to it. We'll have to get used to it, to prepare our kid. We're interesting news to these people."
I groan and nod, knowing that what she's said is true and I really need to learn to live with that.
"You know this baby is just the icing on the cake to what they already see as a big story." I frown and ask what she means. "I mean that Jessica loves the media's attention; she's always talking to them, telling them about her life and her family and her ambitions. One of those ambitions is you, Al. She's told them quite a few times that you're meant to be."
Lexi lifts up the articles. "I bet she's already seen these and she is furious. They'll want to know exactly what is going to happen now that you're officially taken; they'll go to her, still look for us and we all know that we're a part of the biggest gossip story since Kieron publicly kissed Nicky."
"Why is is always us?" I groan, remembering that story.
"Al, we talked about people for fun in school," Lexi points out. "We're gossip magnets."
"We didn't gossip, we talked about the truth," I remind her quickly.
"Yeah, but we had to hear the gossip to wheedle out the lies from the truth," she replies. "So, just ignore it for today, we knew this would happen. Enjoy your day off."
Lexi continues eating her breakfast as normal. I just don't know how she does it.
Being stuck inside all day during your day off, no matter what the day off is for, is so boring. I feel like I need to move, to do something or go somewhere, but we're not to go out. I've never had to do this, my week is filled with Auror training and we spend the weekends with our friends, but Lexi is perfectly at ease spending the day at home. I have to remind myself that she doesn't know what she want to do yet, so she doesn't have a job; she's been doing this since September and can afford to stay at home. The money my dad's parents and godfather left him, plus the money he got from interviews and stuff straight after the war, means we're comfortable, though Dad used most of the interview money helping Aunt Hermione with her charities and campaigns. Lexi is from an old, Pureblood family, as she said, they have money from generations doing who knows what - some kind of business Theodore only looks into every so often - and they'll have money to last generations to come.
I always forget she's essentially rich because Theodore taught her and Kieron - me, too, since I spent so much time there - to provide for themselves, a value he learnt when away during the war. He gave them an allowance and he encouraged them to get summer jobs. Theodore may have bought this house for the baby and Kieron's fancy apartment for passing his law exams and getting a job, but Kieron and Nicky pay for everything else and once we get jobs, that's it; no more money from Theodore Nott.
We're adults now and we provide for ourselves.
He'll always be there to help, though. He taught us to look after ourselves, he didn't cut us off for good.
...Damn, she's got me calling my cousin 'Nicky'.
Ignoring that, I lean over her shoulder to look at he paper she's scribbling on. It's the baby's room and she's organizing it like a guest list. She's always been good at organizing events - her dad's fortieth was awesome, even though he told everyone he was still in his thirties. Only Dad was brave enough to sing 'Happy Birthday' and add his actual age into the song. Mum and Hermione weren't afraid, just smart enough not to mention it.
"What's that?" I ask.
"Colors," she answers. "Since we don't know the sex of the baby, I'm thinking of going in the traditional neutral colors direction; cream walls and I saw an adorable white and brown border with teddy bears on. Kind of like the one already in the room, only not ripped and they're carrying balls not drums. What do you think?"
"Sounds nice, but I want to see it first."
Lexi nods. "We'll go shopping soon."
I leave her alone then, moving to the door when I hear the letter box clatter. I grab the letters up off the floor, all for Theo since they're about the house and he owns it. I open the door when there's a knock.
"Hey, Albus," the man I remember as our next door neighbor says.
"Hi, Craig," I reply, holding out a hand.
Craig returns it with a smile and points to his house, the one on my left. "So, we're having a party today, it's my birthday, and my wife and I wondered if you and Alexa want to come. We think it's time we made you feel more welcome here."
"Awesome. Happy birthday," I add, turning to glance at Lexi. I know I'm meant to stay at home, but the party is only next door and no one knows where we live and I'm so bored. I'm sure I can get Lexi to agree. "We'd love to go," I tell him.
"Great," Craig grins. "People have just started to come, because some are still in work, so whenever you're ready. See you later."
"Later," I call, shutting the door.
"Who was that?" Lexi asks as I enter the living room.
"Craig. Our neighbor; six one, pretty wife, two kids," I elaborate when she gives me a puzzled look. Her mouth opens and makes an 'oh' sound, then she goes back to her list. "It's his birthday today and we've been invited. So, let's go."
Lexi drops her pen and looks at me, seeming to be conflicted - stay here or go next door? It's not like we're leaving the country.
"Okay, sure," she answers, standing up. "Although, I hope he doesn't mind that we have nothing to give him."
"We still have that crate of alcohol Casey left during our housewarming party. It's not like I can drink it," I say, starting to go get it. But I stop, a sudden thought coming back to me. Oh, crap. "One thing I need to mention, Lexi. Me and Craig have talked a few times, nothing big, just greetings when we pass each other, sometimes a quick chat."
Lexi folds her arms and glares, silently demanded to know what I've done. "A couple of weeks ago, just before things became awkward between us, he and I were talking about kids and us and he might have called you my fiancé."
"I take it you didn't correct him." I shake my head. "So, even though we've gone from sleeping together - twice - and having a baby, to starting a new relationship, you get nervous at thought of anything physical happening between us, including a kiss. But you're okay to suddenly be engaged. Did you look where you were going when you drove straight into crazy town?"
I shrug. "It's not like I could do anything, he walked away as soon as he said it. Besides, I think they think we're old fashioned because of my name or something and I want them to like me."
"Come on, Potter," she whines. "It's the twenty first century, I doubt they're going to care that we're not married! And that's just stupid. Why didn't you tell him the truth? That you were named after an old family friend?"
"What part of 'he walked away' didn't you hear? I wasn't going to yell things in the street."
Lexi scoffs and moves towards the door. "I'll just have to put him straight when we there. Go get the beer."
"It's his birthday, can't we just leave it for a day?" I ask.
"Sure," she says sarcastically. "We'll make it a game; I'll tell them all about our fake wedding, I'll make it elaborate and amazing, then I'm calling it off at the end of the night."
"I'd be worried if you didn't," I tell her honestly.
She smacks my arm. "I'm not doing it! I'm putting him straight and I'll tell him that you tried to explain, but he was already leaving. I'm not going to let you lie if you really want them to like you. Now get the beer."
"You're probably right," I concede, moving towards the kitchen. "I mean, if we become friends, we'd have to invite them."
She calls me names I never want to repeat; so, that's a no to jokes.
I grab the crate from the kitchen and let her lead the way out and next door to the party. Craig answers the door and I introduce them, following him through the house and into their kitchen. It's a similar design to ours, so easy to find our way around, and I put the beers in pretty much the same place as I picked them up next door. Craig takes a few minutes to introduce us to his wife, Maggie, and the couple of friends of theirs who have already come, then excuses himself when we hear the piercing cry that clearly belongs to a child, leaving us with Maggie.
"We're glad you could come," she says with a warm, friendly smile. "It's nice to see more young people in the neighborhood. So, how far along are you, Alexa?"
"Just over five months," she answers politely. "Al says you have to kids, how old are they?"
"Kayleigh is almost five and Bobby, who Craig has gone to get, has just turned two. Do you know what you're having?"
We shake our heads, tell her it's a surprise. "We did that with Kayleigh."
"Not with Bobby?" I ask curiously.
Maggie shakes her head. "Craig really wanted a boy, he just had to know, and I was okay with that. I really didn't mind."
We both seem to pause for a moment, then at the same time agree that we don't mind either. It's an odd moment, which makes us laugh a little.
"Look at you two, so in sync," Maggie gushes. "Sometimes I wish Craig and I were like that; planning our wedding was almost disastrous because he kept changing his mind."
"Well, me and Al have been best friends since we were eleven, practically inseparable, so we just know each other really well," Lexi tells her. "We're together now, but not at the wedding planning stage."
And there it is, she said she'd do it.
"See, I told you," Craig says smugly, walking in with a two year old miniature of himself in his arms. "She wondered if you were, because you looking very 'couple-y', but I said no. I was a little confused after we spoke a while ago, though."
"Yeah, Al said he tried to tell you, but you had to go and he didn't feel comfortable shouting it out in the street," Lexi says sympathetically. "It was completely his fault."
"Thanks," I mutter.
Lexi sticks out her tongue. "So, happy birthday, Craig. Is this Bobby?"
"Yep," Craig smiles, bouncing the kid on his hip. "My little football star. He's a little shy, unlike Kay, but only in front of new people."
Bobby proves that to be true by hiding his face on Craig's shoulder.
"He's adorable," Lexi says with a hint of a high-pitched baby voice, which she notices and gets rid of. "He looks just like you."
"Thank you," Craig replies, with a grin that obviously says he's taking Lexi's words to mean that he too is adorable. His grin is cheeky and playful and so far from serious that I find myself glad it doesn't bother me. I like Craig, I want to have friends in this neighborhood. "So, the food will be ready soon. The party is inside, but we put the gazebo up to use the barbecue; we can cook more food this way and I do love an excuse to use my barbecue. Do you want a drink?"
"We'll have juice," Lexi says before I can.
"I'll get them," Maggie says, kissing Craig lightly on the cheek before moving away to the fridge, Lexi moving with her.
She only comes back to hand me my juice, then she's off again, talking to Maggie and a few other of their female friends. She leaves me with Craig, Bobby and the guy friends, talking about football. It doesn't take them long for them to realise that it's not a sport I watch, but I'm quickly caught up.
"That Kayleigh sure can talk," Lexi laughs, walking into the house. "So, Craig's trying to get you to join his football team, eh?"
"Maybe it'll be a sport I'm actually good at," I shrug. "What?"
Lexi turns to me and I find the reason she's stopped in her hands. I take the note from her, quickly recognizing Rich's handwriting, and read it until I'm pretty sure it's memorized.
Jessica's out for blood.
God, I hope that's metaphorical.
Because she'll definitely come for us.
A/N: New chapter, I hope you enjoy. Please let me know what you think. :)
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