The walk to Emmett's apartment is far from boring - it's loud, it's angry and it's in freaking freezing winter weather. My thick winter coat doesn't seem to help me, but Darcy yelling for the whole world to hear seems to be enough to keep herself warm.
I wish listening to it kept me from freezing.
"I cannot believe she actually said that to you!" she shouts. I rub my ear with my finger, then with my whole hand, but I swear it's still ringing. I never would have guessed she was angry. "And you told Al?"
"As soon as we got home," I assure her. Quietly.
"And how did he take it?"
"Better than you." I roll my eyes when she turns her pissed off look my way. "I mean he got mad and was louder than usual, he even started threatening to do something about it, but he didn't actually threaten to kill her like you did. He also wasn't screaming at me."
"Near you," she corrects with a nod. "I'm screaming near you. That's not the point anyway, she crossed the line."
I stop her, my hands pressed to her shoulders, and make her look at me properly. "I know, Darcy. Believe me, I know. But I can't make it go away. Or her," I add before she can open her mouth. I even narrow my eyes to make sure she gets my 'keep your mouth shut' point. "I hate her for what she said, she laid out one of Al's worst fears for people to see. It took me ages to calm him down. Though, surprisingly, most of it was to keep him from going after her than for what she said. But that's not point; she said something that really hurt him. I'll make her pay for that."
"And what about you?" Darcy asks softly.
Slowly, I let go of her. I have to ask. "Do I leave everyone?"
"You haven't left us yet," she tries to reassure me. But her eyes widen as mine do, because she's heard exactly what she just said. "You don't leave the people you really care about."
Groaning, I continue to walk to Emmett's. This is one of the rare occasions when I will freak out and worry about something more than Al. He's already told me that he doesn't listen to a word Jessica says. He also said that we can't get rid of each other that easily. But hearing that you do leave people is still not something you want to hear.
"Family and friends don't count, I meant relationships," I tell her softly.
"You've never been on the other end of a break up," Darcy answers slowly. "You did the dumping. But you've only had, what, three relationships throughout the whole of Hogwarts. And apart from Robbie in fifth year, when you sat down and talked, the other two were idiots. They deserved it and she is so wrong, because none of them was Albus oh-my-God-how-does-he-manage-to-stay Potter. You're like PB and J, Alexa, which I only use because I know how much you love it; you work. You're stuck together."
"That's what I said," I murmur. Then I shrug. "That's what he said. Although, he didn't use the PB and J analogy."
Darcy shakes her head, smirking. "He's not cool enough to use the PB and J analogy." She takes my arm and we finish our walk to Em's. Now that we're not both focused on our conversation, the cold has come back in full force and we're practically hugging each other the whole way. "You really are going to make her pay, right?" she asks hopefully.
"Oh, Al already has ideas and he's much more focused in training now that he thinks things are finally 'falling into place'," I promise. "His head is clear and ready for revenge. It's like Al is back, now I remember exactly why and when he became my best friend."
"You're remembering the incident in second year, too," Darcy grins, chuckling.
"He was on fire that day," I whisper, still a little awed. "Those Gryffindor cousins of his never saw those spells coming. It was actually fun talking about our homework while they dangled upside down."
"No, my favorite was when Al hid James' broom, the poor kid nearly cried," she says, proud of him. We all were that day.
We stop outside of Emmett's apartment and I press the buzzer repeatedly, only to get no answer. "So, we stop yelling about a bitch, we reminisce over Al's epic revenge schemes because they probably won't be the last, we understand me and Al will be okay and we get to Em's with a newly formed smile, only to be stuck out in the cold because the bastard won't answer his door." I try again for another minute. "He knows we're coming."
Darcy knocks my hand out of the way and has a go, like that will help anything. It doesn't. He still doesn't answer his bloody door. "Maybe he's not in?"
"He should be, he promised."
"If only we had a key," she sighs, turning to leave.
Key? Key! I dig my hands into my pockets. "I have a key to this door and to his apartment. He made a spare set and gave them to me in case of absolute emergencies. I think this can count as an emergency."
"He gave you keys?" Darcy demands, outraged. "Why not me?"
"First come, first serve," I answer. "I was the only one there."
"Where was I?"
"In the living room, we were in the kitchen; it was when we were at my dad's for my birthday." Darcy glares, her hands on her hips. I point at her with the key in my hand. "Don't you look at me like that, you would have done exactly the same."
"Why? What did you do exactly?"
I shrug, putting the key into the door. "I took them out of his hand as soon as he took them out of his pocket. He never had a chance to choose."
She gasps, looking at me as proud as she'd been for Al a few moments ago. "Sneaky."
I grin and push the door open, running in and keeping it open for Darcy to enter the building before I let it swing shut. She follows me to the elevator and presses the button to the top floor - no way am I taking the stairs - while I grab hold of the second key, ready to open his apartment door. When the elevator stops at our desired floor, Darcy steps out first and finds Emmett's apartment. Since they usually come to my house, it's the first time we've ever been to Emmett's and we're only here because I need to pick up the Christmas presents that Em picked up for me. He had to, so Al wouldn't see them - his present is in there as well. Since Al is with his brother and Chris all day, getting them back to the house shouldn't be a problem. And we get to floo back; I'd wanted to floo here, but Em said he'd blocked it.
Why? Because he's a mean, crazy bastard, liking the idea of a pregnant woman walking in the cold because she can't Apparate and the friend she brought with her didn't pass her test.
Darcy finally finds it and steps aside for me to open the door. Thankfully, if Emmmett has any other locks on the door, he hasn't used them because it opens easily enough. When I turn to shut it, I see he only has a chain, which means he must have wards up when he goes out.
Which means he should be in. The git.
"Emmett?" I call. No answer. But he'd never leave the house without putting wards up, he hates being in his house without wards up. He must be in.
I move to look around when I notice that Darcy is stood completely still, shock plain on her face. Her mouth even hangs open a little bit. So, I stop and look around. That's when I see it.
The apartment huge, bigger than Kieron and Nicky's even. The floor is all smooth wood, the furniture is a rich, dark leather. There's shelves of books across one side of the wall and a large screen television and speaker system on the other, with shelves of DVDs and music. Everything looks new and expensive, right down the the cutlery in the kitchen - I peeked.
If Emmett is here, no wonder he couldn't hear us.
I snap my fingers in front of Darcy's face to 'wake' her up and she slowly comes back to the real world.
"He said his parents were old money, I accepted that, but to see what he can get with that money? That is a totally different thing," she croaks. "You old Purebloods really know how to attract money, don't you?"
I shrug, uncomfortable; out of all of us, money hasn't really been an issue for me and Em. But he's the only one who really flaunts it - new clothes, the latest things, stuff like that. While Kieron and I had allowances and got jobs and despite the house and the vault, didn't live like Emmett. The apartment, however, is more his parents' idea.
I pick up the remote to his music system and wave it in front of her. "This is the price the McQueens' pay to keep their disgraced son happy and away from them."
"Right," Darcy nods, changing suddenly from awed to sympathetic. "Assholes who use money to get what they want. It's sad that what they want is to keep Emmett away."
"It's not like Emmett gives a shit, he's worked so hard to get to the point where they'll give him what he wants without question," I remind her, now looking around for the presents. "Okay, I have no idea where to start looking, so I'm going to see if Emmett is here."
"I thought we established that he wasn't," Darcy asks, looking as confused as she sounds.
I turn back to her, seeing that she hasn't moved from her place by the couch. I point behind me, down the bright, white hallway I'm following. "He must be, he'd never leave the house without putting wards up. So, I'm going to find his room and see if he's there. Wanna come?"
I wink and she gets it instantly, her eyes lighting up, and she runs my way. No one ever has a chance to see Emmett's things. There's been so many times when he's gone through our things and yet we could never do the same. Until now anyway.
The first room we find is small and empty, so I guess it's the spare room, and the second is his bathroom. I point to the last one, most obviously Em's room, and we share a nod before I open the door, into his room.
...And our eyes fall on the two bodies in the bed.
I don't know whether to be freaked out or amused, but I'm not altogether surprised. I'm just thankful that they're currently sleeping and with a couple of inches of bedding separating them. I'm also thankful that they're at least covered from the waist down because I'm already traumatized by the fact that I've seen a very naked Emmett before, I'm not ready to see a very naked Hugo Weasley.
Not ready? Scratch that. Make it never going to happen.
Their chests rise and fall slowly, peacefully, almost in sync. They don't make a sound, don't make a single movement that would tell me they've even subconsciously acknowledged the fact that there are two other people in the room. So, I do what any good friend would do in a situation that requires letting a friend know you're in his house...
I pick up the little ball I find on top of one of the cupboards near the door, make sure it's not too hard, take aim and throw it right at Emmett.
It was the obvious choice, choosing Emmett. I know him better, know what's he like and that I'm safe. Hugo absorbs magic and knowledge like a sponge; I'm pretty sure he knows more than me and he'd probably know how to hurt me.
Well, he might wait till the kid is born first, but three months will not prepare me for his revenge.
The ball lands on Emmett's stomach with a thud; he wakes up groaning, his hands automatically finding his stomach, and sits up. "Oh, my -" Then he sees us. "What the hell?"
"Have you started the Christmas celebrations a little early?" Darcy asks with an amused grin.
Emmett mutters something along the lines of 'something like that', but I can't make it out for sure. Not that I want to know. Hugo doesn't move except to flex his arm; he still looks like he's sleeping peacefully.
"Will you two get out?" Em growls, looking around for what I assume is his pants. Which are by my feet. I pick them up and throw them at him. "Thanks. Leave."
"I can't believe you're were sleeping," I shake my head. "It's the afternoon, guys."
"We've had a very long, hard morning," Hugo answers softly, an even softer, just noticeable, but still there, smirk on his face. I cringe.
So, he is awake.
"Get. Out," Emmett says one last time. We pay close attention to his tone of voice and listen, going back to the living room. He follows us out seconds later, fastening the button of his jeans. "What the hell are you doing here? And that key is for emergencies!"
"You knew we were coming," I counter. "And I consider potentially freezing to death outside your building a pretty big emergency."
"You weren't supposed to come for another h -" I thrust his clock into his hands before he can finish that sentence. "You're on time. Oh, shit."
Darcy nods. "You and Hugo are adorable, but next time you should set an alarm. That way we don't have to see what we just did. And you won't have a ball thrown at you."
I wave at hand at her carelessly; she can give Emmett life advice another day. I have things to do. "Yeah, yeah. Where are my presents?"
He pushes past us, into the living room, and we follow. He stops at a small closet by the kitchen and pulls a Christmas themed bag out of it. I know there's an extension charm on it - with everyone I know, I have more presents than should be able to fit in that bag. Em puts it in front of me.
"You can go now," he says simply.
"But I want to talk about you and Hugo," I reply innocently.
Emmett gives me one simple answer. "No."
He doesn't have a choice, though. Hugo walks past him, leaving a quick kiss on his neck, and drops onto the chair across from where me and Darcy are standing. The fact that he still has his pants button undone and his shirt wide open, to reveal his smooth looking, flat chest only makes it harder for me to look the guy in the eye.
Judging from his grin, he notices.
"I'm interested to know what they have to say."
Ha. One of the things I've always loved about Hugo is his little motto: to give people a reaction you have to care what they think in the first place.
I should have known that keeping their relationship a secret was all Emmett's idea. He'd care about Al's reaction more than Hugo and the kid is closest to Albus than anyone else. Well, him and Louis.
I smile at Emmett and hold up a hand, put into a fist, and uncurl a finger. Question one: "Why aren't you home with your family? It's Christmas Eve."
"I promised I'd be home by seven to spend Christmas with them," he shrugs. "Christmas doesn't start till then; Dad is with Harry, Mum is finishing case files and Rose is with Will."
Darcy uncurls another finger and continues. Question two: "Do you love Emmett? Answer wisely because, Weasley or not, we'll hurt you."
Hugo laughs, whether it's because of the random question or the threat Darcy gives him, I don't know, but it really makes him laugh. Emmett goes a little red, which tells me he already knows the answer. Since the youngest member of Al's family is still breathing and in our friend's bed, I can guess what the answer is.
"Yeah, I do," he finally answers, still chuckling. "Anything else?"
In response, Darcy lets me drop my hand and turns to Emmett. "Well done, I approve. Because if he was straight and I was single..."
Darcy doesn't finish that, she doesn't need to even if she is taking Emmett's look, an unvoiced, barely concealed threat, seriously. We all know what she means. You can't deny that Hugo isn't a little bit attractive, in an adorable, I-just-want-to-hug-you-and-never-let-go way (it's what makes his 'dark side' such a surprise). But I will always see him as the little, brown haired, blue eyed boy who's smile scammed people out of their money. In other words, he was usually with his mum, helping with her campaigns when he didn't have a babysitter. When Hugo, society's angel, smiled, society responded by donated money to Hermione Weasley's charities, plus any she was associated with, and signed petitions that allowed changes in laws to be taken seriously, even if they weren't changed in the end.
Darcy turns to me. "Don't you agree, Lexi?"
I pull a face and hope Hugo doesn't take it badly. "No, thank you. I'm happy with Al, if that's alright with you. Speaking of Al, I should go, or he'll get home before me."
I pick up the bag as Emmett opens up the floo network, give a slightly awkward - in my eyes, because he doesn't care - good bye to Hugo and step into the fireplace, making sure to grab a bit of floo powder first. I ignore him when he responds to my comment about preferring Al to him with "It must be love!"
"See you at Christmas dinner, boys. I look forward to seeing how Al will take the news. You did promise to tell him, after all," I remind them.
Hugo goes a little pale. Something I've said has effected him; we both know that Al will not take essentially being lied to very well. Hugo respects Al enough to be wary.
Christmas dinner with the Weasleys is, dare I say it, normal. It's kind of like Christmas with my own family, only louder, given that there is usually only six of us. I can't count the number of family members currently in the Burrow. Mrs. Weasley put tables together in the garden, underneath a sort of gazebo. Warming charms and wards keep the cold out, so we're not uncomfortable, and it extends across the garden, ready for the Christmas party afterwards. They don't usually have a Christmas party, they have a New Years Eve one to celebrate the year because Christmas is usually just for them, whereas friends are invited to the other. But this New Years Eve is a full moon; Al's uncle Bill, Louis and Harry Potter's godson Ted are already agitated enough; a little snappy, riled up, they're not really sleep and they have a slightly dangerous glint in their eyes - they all have traits, Teddy from his father, Bill from an attack. Louis was the only one to inherit them from his father, there was always a chance that his children wouldn't get it, just like Teddy might not have, and it skipped Victoire and Nicky.
That's why I don't completely hate Louis for who he is. Having werewolf traits from his father and Veela traits from his mother, he's never been the best at controlling his urges like the others, even though his aren't as strong as the others. Louis gets angry too quickly, dangerous without warning and his smartass mouth does him no good. As for the company he keeps, that gets worse the closer the full moon comes.
He is, appropriately put, like a dog in heat. He's already a little jumpy.
Who knew two rather small parts of him could make him so bad?
And they're why the party is tonight; you don't want to be near them during a full moon, though, call it morbid curiosity, but I've never actually seen Louis or Ted during a full moon and I'm interested.
Reason number two as to why the party is tonight is because the Burrow is quite close to fields and countryside and while I don't think there has ever been sightings of a werewolf near here, they don't take that chance.
But a Christmas party is just as fun as a New Year party, so I don't think anyone really minds.
Al's family certainly don't. They're sitting around the table, laughing and joking and talking about who's coming and how the party will be. I recognize some names, not others, the only one's I really know are my friends and Tasha. I stay at the end of the table, with Al, Hugo and James, along with my dad and brother. I can still hear others, mostly random snippets and sentences that don't make sense on their own unless I pay attention, but I stick to the people I'm close to. Mostly because I just don't want to yell across the table.
Kieron is asking me how the pregnancy is when I hear James trying to get my attention. I ignore him at first; ever since he found out about my middle name a couple of days ago he's been calling me 'Jaimie' or 'James III' (because he's James II, obviously), but I turn when Al tells me that he just wants the gravy boat that's on my left.
"Can I have it, James?" he asks with a wary looking smirk.
I know why he has that look, he's not the only one who's been name calling. But he takes it like a man and continues his game because he knows he technically could be known as what I call him. Whereas I am not a boy.
I pick up the gravy boat. "You mean this, Junior?"
"Yeah," he replies simply, holding out his hand. Smiling sweetly, I hand it to him. He doesn't look, he just tries to pour. Nothing comes out. "Oi!"
"You never asked if there was anything in it," I say, still smiling.
"She's got you there, bro," Al chuckles.
James glares and finds another gravy boat. "All hell will break lose when the spawn of the evil bitches is born."
"Just wait until he's old enough," I start.
"We'll let him visit you," Al finishes.
"Give him a sugar rush like no other first," Dad adds, grinning almost wickedly. That gets a few nervous laughs from parents within ear reach. If their kids were anything like me and Scor, they all fear the sugar rush.
Dinner ends with stories of their kids and experiences with sugar. The parents, or maybe I should say the older people - no, that still doesn't sound right - help clear the table, while the younger generation move the tables and prepare for the party.
"There is usually dessert afterwards, but that's all saved for the party," Lily says as we watch. I can tell by the look in her eyes that she really wants to run to that table. Her favorite is the sponge cake Louis' friend Frankie Pierce makes, but lots of other people love it, too. She wants it before anyone else can get to it.
"I don't know why you're laughing," she glares. "I'll save you a piece and you'll see what I mean. That man is a god in the kitchen."
"I believe you," I play along. As soon as guests start to come and no one is looking, Lily sneaks off and grabs the cake, and I mean the whole cake, and a knife. She cuts off a piece and hands it to me. It's like heaven in my mouth, sweet but not too sweet. And it's soft, it melts instantly on my tongue. I wish I could survive with just Frankie's cake. "I truly believe you," I promise, reaching out for another piece.
Lily moves back, cake and all, shaking her head and grinning. "I said a piece. That was my Christmas present to the baby."
"Fine, I'll just go and tell your grandmother what you're doing," I shrug. Lily's eyes widen; you fear the wrath of Molly Weasley when you disobey her and Lily's already been told off twice.
"I'll give you a bigger piece if you keep your mouth shut," she whispers immediately, already cutting off said piece and dropping it into my hand.
She runs off the moment my back is turned, but I don't care so much anymore; my friends, Tasha and her family are here now.
They greet me first, as good friends should, but this party is so lively, it just seems to draw you in, and they quickly continue on and mingle. Will finds Rose, Darcy and Ewan go to the drinks table, Megan pulls Chris onto the make-shift dance floor that I like to call grass because that's where Hugo and Molly put their music. Hugo himself is inside, sitting with Emmett and whispering. They turn to me and Al occasionally. I try to be subtle about it, but Al doesn't. I think his suspicions must have started a while ago, since he's not asking me why; he's just shaking his head.
"I did say to wait until Christmas, when they were together, and tell me then," he mutters, confirming my suspicions that he's had suspicions. I nod and agree, though I kind of hope he's not completely calm. Just because it's rare to see him mad. His family think it's weird, obviously since they're his family, but mad Albus is kinda hot. "I'll be back in a minute."
I'll be right here," I say. No way am I moving from the best spot to see what happens. "Come back here, I need to... Tell you something."
Raising an eye-brow, more curious than suspicious, Al nods and walks over to his friend and his cousin. He sits across from them and, taking a deep breath, Emmett moves forward. I can't hear what they're saying, they're not speaking loud enough. Seriously, they're just talking.
Emmett: "Al, I'm dating Hugo."
That's all it looks like.
Talk about disappointing.
Okay, I'm not totally disappointed; arguments might ruin Christmas and I don't want that to happen. But I still hoped for more than just a quick chat, I thought Al would do something. I can't help but pout a little, but Al quickly catches my eye again. I follow his gaze to Ron Weasley... who has never really liked Emmett after a very bad first impression and is way too overprotective of his little boy.
Please be what I think it is...
"Uncle Ron, Hugo and Emmett have something they need to tell you."
Emmett glares at Al, not daring to look at Ron, who's so suspicious right now. Hugo can't decide if he should be pissed off or proud of his cousin. Al just winks and walks back to me. I grab the sides of his shirt and gently pull him forwards.
"Sneaky," I grin.
"I learned from the best," Al replies, copying my smile.
He covers my hands with his own and starts to move mine away; he's still slightly uncomfortable with us officially being together. I don't blame him for how he feels, it's still a little weird knowing our relationship is, er, more now, but how can we go further and be comfortable with each other as a couple if he keeps worrying? So, I'm doing something about it. It's small, practically nothing, but I think it'll be a start.
I continue to pull him with me, until I can't move anymore. Neither of us can. Then I let him remove his hands. Al tries to move, but nothing works. Then he looks up to see one of his Uncle George's Christmas designs; magic mistletoe. You can't move at all until you've kissed the person you're stuck with. It's a very funny prank when you're watching two people who hate each other or even something as simple as not feeling the same way (Emmett and Darcy was funny, Emmett and Ewan was even funnier - Ewan really shouldn't have tried to hurt Emmett while he was still under the mistletoe).
"Did you have anything to do with this?" Al asks with a slight chuckle. Well, at least he's taking it well.
"Maybe..." I say innocently. "I just don't want you to be uncomfortable with everything. We've been on a few dates and it's been fun, but this is still a new thing for us. As a couple anyway."
Al doesn't say anything, which worries me a little, more so because he's still smiling. No worry whatsoever. Calm Al is so unusual, mostly because he's been more calm than worrying recently, even after the Jessica thing; it's like hitting people with magic and being thrown into walls has been good for him.
Or maybe it messed with his head.
Either way I'm kind of liking it.
Don't get me wrong, worried Al is pretty much here to stay, he'll always have something on his mind. Actually, I'm pretty sure he's got things on his mind now. He just doesn't seem to be letting them get to him as much as he used to. It makes me wonder exactly what they are.
When a minute passes and he still says nothing, I start to. Nothing comes out, though. Because that's when Al moves forward and presses his lips to mine. He's gentle and slow, doesn't push for more. I let my hands rest on his arms and his own fall to the sides of my stomach.
This is it. I no longer regret what we did at graduation or a few weeks ago, but if I'd ever thought we'd have a first kiss back then, this would have been what I'd have in mind. Yeah, this is it.
We don't pull away until someone wolf whistles, but we don't seem to care about that. I look up to watch the mistletoe fly off and turn back to Al.
"That was good," I whisper, fumbling over my words a little. This is new for me.
"Good. I was beginning to think I was bad," he laughs. "You didn't have to pull me under the mistletoe. I don't think I've ever kissed someone under mistletoe before," he muses.
I shrug nonchalantly. "It's nothing special. I just wanted to make sure you couldn't move."
He knows I'm more or less making it up about knowing that kissing under mistletoe being nothing special. Truth is, it's never really appealed to me, so I've never done it. I honestly just didn't want him to run away. Now I'm starting to think he wouldn't have anyway.
"Good to know," Al smiles. "Now turn around; you're my human family shield, remember?"
"How could I forget?" I mumble, too excited about the fact that we're moving forward to care that I'm back to hiding him behind me, like I've done since first year.
We don't move far.
"Al, go and help your father and Ron mingle with guests, it might distract your uncle from the whole 'Hugo's dating Emmett' thing he wants to kill the poor boy for," his mum goes on. She has never not liked our friend, she thought Em's first impression was hilarious.
(Ron just won't get over the spider thing; Em didn't know what was in the box.)
"They're big boys, why do they need me?" he complains.
"You will do as you're told, Albus Severus."
Ginny - she won't let me call her Mrs. Potter - gives him a stern look, one that makes you want to do whatever she says because she's not afraid to hex you. I've heard that she was rather good at the bat bogey one.
The look works better than any charm; Al removes his hands from my waist to hold them up in surrender, then walks off, leaving me alone with the soon-to-be-grandmother.
"Jacob Arthur was a nicer choice," she sighs, watching Al walk outside. She turns to me. "How have you been, Alexa?" she asks kindly.
"Good," I nod. I move to sit on the couch now that Hugo and Em are hiding, er, gone. Ginny sits beside me. "If you don't like Albus Severus then why did you pick it?"
"I do like Albus Severus. If I didn't, I wouldn't have picked it at all." It's my turn to give her a look, not that it does anything to change her smile. "Mostly. I never liked the man who shares Al's middle name, not after the things he did, or helped to do. But when Harry told me why, I grew to respect him. It didn't stop me from forgetting what he did, but he did what he did with good intentions. He helped Harry, he promised to look after Harry, and all because of love. He was brave and loyal and did what he had to for the one he loved. Despite the things Snape did, his name was Severus Snape, I respect him for the qualities he had and I want Al to have those same qualities. So I picked the name."
I let Ginny explain her reasons, not interrupting to say that I know who Snape is thanks to Uncle Draco when it was on the tip of my tongue, and I agree that Al does have the qualities, in his own way anyway.
"Harry was actually thinking of those names for James, before he chose James Sirius," she continues. "He said them separately and I think Severus was a joke at first. Or did I hope that? Anyway, I knew he liked them and he had the same reasons as me. I just wish I could have stopped the kids at school. Although, Rose did tell me that the teasing started with the name, but they didn't start picking on him until he caught them stealing from the other kids and he told on them."
"I wish I'd gone to that school, I'd have sorted them out," I promise. "He wouldn't have appreciated a girl fighting his battles, but he'd have gotten over it eventually."
Ginny laughs softly and sighs again when she's called. Telling me she'll talk to me later, Ginny gets up and goes to Bill. From the way they're shouting across the room, having a conversation while she walks, I gather that Louis has disappeared upstairs and Ginny's the only one brave enough to talk to him. Well, brave and willing. My dad could, considering that working with the guy means he knows him well, but he's outside.
I'm only alone for a few minutes; Al manages to sneak away and ends up back by my side.
"Your dad is flirting with our healer," he shudders.
"Is that why Louis is sulking upstairs?" I snicker.
"It's not funny! Aren't you a little freaked that your dad could potentially end up dating Annie?" he asks. "Because she's liking him a lot more than Louis."
"Well, my dad didn't make her medi-witch cry, so he's ahead in potential date points already. Plus they're closer in age." Albus pokes me, which I do not appreciate and show that by poking back. "It might be a little weird, but I could deal with that. I like Annie and Dad needs someone. I don't like that he's lonely. This will be good - what's going on?"
Confused by my sudden change of topic, Al follows my gaze to small crowds and the sound of happy cheers. If I look real hard, I can see Kieron and Nicky in the middle. I don't have a chance to get up and look or myself; Lucy comes running in, very exciting.
"Kieron just proposed," she squeals. "Finally!"
Screw my aching feet and tired body, I run as best as I can to find my brother, not even waiting for him to turn. I wrap my arms around him from behind. The action makes him jump and he spins around to hug me properly.
"This is so exciting. Isn't it so exciting, Dad?"
Everyone seems to turn to Dad, waiting for his answer. He gives one we all should have expected. "This is it, right?" he asks seriously. "I have no more kids for this family to take, so this has to be it."
I shake my head at him, still smiling, and turn to Nicky. "Can I help plan it? Because I've been planning your wedding since you were fourteen and I have some cool ideas."
"We only got together when we were fourteen," Nicky points out slowly.
"Don't go there," Kieron warns him. "I have all but obliviated that conversation from my mind."
I smack him lightly on the arm, which does absolutely nothing to my brother; he rolls his eyes at me and pulls me closer, then let's me go and pulls Nicky to him instead. That's when I have to turn around; no one wants to see their sibling make out with the other half.
"It's adorable, isn't it?" a familiar voice says to me. A voice which makes me freeze. The voice wraps his arm around my shoulders and watches them. "No, I still don't want to do that. I mean, they're twenty-one and despite Kieron's job, he still has studying to do. He's not a proper lawyer yet. Do they have to?"
"They've been together for seven years, Xavier," I protest, nervously looking around, while trying to be discreet. "They want to celebrate that; does how old they are matter?"
He pauses for a minute. "I suppose not."
Finally, I catch Al's eye and he glances at Xavier before disappearing, probably to find Stewart. The plan he came up with is simple in theory; if Xavier and Tasha meet again, she will know that he's stuck with us and will have to decide whether or not to tell him the truth. Stewart, who knows this plan, will keep Ethan away. Everything that happens will be based on Tasha's decision, all Al did was invite a friend to a party.
But like I told Al - when do our plans ever work out?
It runs in his family, you know.
"Hey, Xave," Al says,making his way back. He must have found Stewart. "I didn't think you'd actually come."
"Well, you did invite me, it would have been rude not to," he answers cheerfully.
Xavier shakes his head. "I've had enough and I don't get drunk anymore. Is that -" We turn to where he points and share another nervous look. "Tasha!" he calls.
Tasha turns at the mention of her name, recognizes Xavier and runs off towards the house. He follows her and we follow him, as does Chris - Al must have told him, too. She gets outside of the front door before he catches up to her and we hide behind it; they're close enough for us to hear, enough for them to see us, but they don't seem to care.
"This had better not ruin Christmas," I whisper to him. "If it does, then I don't care if you have your own room, I'll make you sleep on the couch for this."
"We really are a couple, aren't we?" he whispers back.
"What are you doing here?" Tasha cries, bringing us back to their situation.
"Albus invited me, he's my friend," Xavier explains. "And you know I've been friends with Kieron and Nick since school. Why are you here?"
"Al's friend Chris is my cousin, Al invited us," she mutters, looking like he's wishing she'd said no.
"Small world," he tells her with an equally small smile.
"I need to go."
"No, I want to talk to you." Xavier stops her from leaving. "I never got to apologize for how I told you about me. You just took off, then you came back and gave me bad news and took off again. But I am sorry."
"Just forget about, Xavier. It's okay," she rushes out. "I have to go."
"No, please wait," he pleads. "I really am -"
We all freeze when he does and we all know why; considering I am yet to give birth, there is only one person this way who could be called 'Mummy'.
Ethan only stops when Chris grabs him, but it's too late. Xavier has already seen him; his dark blond hair and his blue eyes, the dimple in his smile. Ethan holds out his arms, but Tasha is too stunned to move.
"You're a mother?" I just manage to hear Xavier whisper. Louder, he continues to speak. He sounds like a machine; emotionless and cold. "How old is he? He's got to be two years old, two and a half at most, if I've calculated right and I like to think that I have. No way could you have a kid that age from anyone else."
We all hold our breath, even Ethan is keeping quiet. The poor kid, he's just watching his mother. He must be so confused.
"Mummy's sad," he whispers.
Then Xavier chooses to show some emotion.
"You lied to me!" he screams, causing Ethan to jump in Chris' arms and start to cry, suddenly scared.
"All you wanted was to play Quidditch, I was scared I'd ruin it for you," Tasha tries to defend herself. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry?" he asks incredulously. He scoffs. "You told an already terrified eighteen year old that his baby was gone, but that's okay because you're sorry. Well, you got what you wanted; I dedicated my entire life to Quidditch, just trying to forget. I couldn't bring myself to talk to my family, they still don't know. I kept myself away because I was scared they'd find out and be disappointed in me. Now they've given up on me; my dad doesn't even speak to me unless he has to. I admit that I let things get bad, what's happened with my family is my fault, but you made a decision that wasn't yours to make. You told me my baby was gone. Do you know what that does to a person? You almost destroyed me!"
"I was nineteen. I got scared and I freaked out!"
Ethan continues to cry, only getting louder, and it starts to attract attention. One look from Chris has Emmett and Kieron keeping everyone away, making up excuses for them to go back outside and enjoy the party. When Stewart finally manages to push past, he rushes out, standing in between the two.
"Who the fuck are you?" Xavier demands, tears flowing.
Understanding dawns on Xavier quickly. "You're the one my son calls 'Daddy'," he whispers. "This is between me and Tasha"
"Not anymore," Stewart all but growls. He points to us. "Not when you are scaring Ethan!"
For some reason that stops Xavier completely. "You named him 'Ethan'. Well, it's good to know you were thinking of me," he sneers."I want to see him."
Stewart pulls him back before he an get far. "Get him out of here, Chris." He forces Xavier to look at him and I love that Stewart is here right now, that he knew about Al's plan, because only he could stay somewhat calm in this situation. Only he can help Xavier. "What Tasha did was wrong. She knows that, we know that. She knows how I feel and she knows I can't defend her actions. You being Ethan's dad has never been news to me and I get that you're angry, I get that you're upset and scared and I get that you want to see him. But you are going about it the wrong way. Next time he see you, he's going to remember you as the man who yelled in front of his mummy and scared him."
Slowly, Stewart let's him go. "So, calm the fuck down. Go home, get some sleep and come back when you're sure you won't hurt somebody. Then we'll talk about you seeing Ethan."
Xavier back away slowly, his eyes on Stewart the whole time, then without a word or a glance anyone else's way, he Disapparates.
"You should have told him the truth," Stewart says to Tasha, his voice tired; they've had this conversation before.
He walks off, looking for Chris and Ethan and Tasha, finally seeming to notice that we're here, mutters about getting some air. I turn to look outside the back; apart from some looks, no one else seems to care. They probably didn't hear over the music. Christmas hasn't been ruined for them. But for Xavier? For Tasha and Stewart and little Ethan? I don't think it's one they had planned.
I finally turn to Al, who looks torn; his plan backfired, just like I predicted. But I won't follow through with my threat. It wasn't fair to Xavier that everyone knew about Ethan but him and Al was just trying to help because Chris couldn't bring himelf to.
I pull Al closer, tell him we'll stay for the fireworks, then go home. We'll make hot chocolate and grab some snacks and we'll watch a holiday movie in my room. I promise we'll contact Xavier in the morning, but that we won't push him.
He welcomes the hug, saying nothing.
Despite how the night ended, I wish him a merry Christmas. Silently, I wish we never end up in a situation like this.
I hope we last.
A/N: Wow, a really long chapter. A very packed, drama-filled chapter. I hope you enjoyed it. :)
I borrowed Frankie from my Louis/OC, Seize the Day. The reason Emmett's parents keep him away will come up, if you wondered, but it's not a main part of the plot. You'll also know what Al still thinks about and how Xavier will handle meeting poor, little Ethan. How he found out is sad, but necessary...
Please let me know what you think. :)
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