Chapter 22 : Alexa: When Baby Steps Become Huge Leaps Too Soon
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I thought having a baby with a Potter would be hard because of the media. I did not take in his actual family - the grandchild of Harry Potter is sacred everywhere, it seems.
It's good to know that this child will be so well looked after. At least I won't ever have to worry about help... Or babysitters.
I'm going to pretend that I'm pissed at my brother, though. He's more likely to be nice to people today if he thinks it'll make me happy and get him back in my good books. Plus I think I have a valid reason - he didn't come to the hospital like everyone else did. My brother, who has always been there and expects me to do the same, didn't come see to me in what we thought was an emergency. Why? Because he couldn't find his pants.
See, that's what happens when Big Brother and Fiancé have the house to themselves.
I think I'm allowed to glare, even if I'm not actually pissed; it's not like anything was really wrong and, thinking about it, I probably would have whined if he had worried. He's the fearless, badass one, after all. I'm just the bitch who tells it like it is and occasionally hits back.
"Will you please stop looking at me like that?" Kieron pleads, breaking my thoughts and the silence. "Dad said you were probably fine when he called, that it sounded like the Hicks thing, otherwise I'd have run in my underwear if I had to."
Well, there is also that - we both trust Dad's judgements. If Kieron had been in the hospital and Dad had told me that it was minor, I probably wouldn't have gone either. I'd have waited at home or visited the next day like he did. But, as I said, he's more likely to be nice if he thinks that giving me what I want will get him in the good books. And he needs to be good today; it's his engagement party and he invited our mother and I won't let it be ruined for him. Even if it's him I have to stop.
Wait, did he say what I think he said?
My turn turns into a frown and he understands.
"Maybe not my underwear, I would have run home to find pants first and remember to leave clothes here."
"How did you lose them anyway?" I have to ask. I hope I don't regret this.
"I didn't lose them, I spilt my drink all over me, put them in the wash. I couldn't find clean pants because they're all in my apartment," he replies, pulling on his sleeve. He thankfully doesn't talk about the events we know happened after - Dad did, after all, walk in on them. With Annie. She and Kieron hadn't officially met yet. I wish I'd been there to see the introductions. I'm also glad I wasn't.
Oh, that's confusing.
Kieron turns to face me properly and holds out his arms to let me see his whole outfit. "What do you think?"
I lean back into the couch and glance over his new clothes - black pants and a plain white shirt, with new cufflinks with a little snake on one and a bird on the other. For the Slytherin in him and the Ravenclaw in Nicky. An engagement gift from me and Al. The outfit is nice, makes him look good, but it's not completely fancy. I nod approvingly. "I think I have great taste."
"I think you do, too," he smiles. I want to laugh, but just about manage to stick with a smile as well. If he weren't thinking he had to suck up to me, he would have rather said something like, "You're not so bad sometimes."
Being his sister, someone he thinks he needs to protect, does not stop him from being his usual cocky self. Unless he has to.
Then he suddenly looks nervous, wiping down his outfit. "I can't believe I'm more nervous about today than the thought of actually getting married."
"Well, you're the one who invited Mum," I say, sympathetic but blunt. "She tries, actually she's been trying a lot recently now that I think about it, and now so are you. This could be good, Kieron. So, if we can be good and she can, today will go well. I promise."
"I believe you. I'll be good."
I stand up, give him a quick hug so that I don't crease our outfits. He relaxes after a moment, wrapping his arms around my waist and breathing lightly in and out.
"How come when I tell him it'll be okay, he freaks about how it won't be, but when you say it, he calms down?" Nicky demands to know. I let my brother, who just shrugs, go and turn to Nicky, who has his arms folded like he's waiting for an answer. "Seriously. I had to -"
"Let's get this party ready, shall we? We have guests coming soon," Kieron interrupts before Nicky can say anything about their love life. I love my brother. "Albus is with Dad putting up the banners, right?"
"Yeah. Annie, Fleur and Frankie are setting up the food table," I continue. "Fleur and Frankie are arguing, Annie is trying not to laugh last time I checked. They'll all be in the ballroom."
"I forget that this is a manor," Nicky muses, fixing his collar. "There are so many rooms you don't use. I had no idea that the back room was a ballroom."
"We used to have birthday parties in there. Daphne would make them really special and try to give us everything we wanted," Kieron says, reminiscing a little. "We stopped using it when they got divorced. Dad would take us out instead. Anyway, we're not thinking about that, not when we're about to have a house full of annoying little idiots celebrating our happy day."
The abrupt change in conversation, along with Kieron's attitude, helps to ease away the awkward tension that started to build up as he thought about the way things used to be with Mum. I can't help but laugh at the look on his face, the adorable 'save me' look he gets when he's around people he says aren't as smart as him, so can't talk to, or he just doesn't like.
"Kieron, you promised you'd be nice," Annie says, walking into the living room. She fixes her earrings and stares up at him expectantly. There is no fear there, no nervousness - how does she do that?
"Er, one, I am being nice, I could have said a lot worse. And two," he faces me instead, "why is she acting like my mother?"
"Excuse me?" Annie narrows her eyes and waits again. "You promised you'd be nice."
I cannot believe it - Kieron steps back, holding up his hands in surrender. "I am on my best behavior."
"Good," Annie smiles and leads me back to the couch. She looks lovely in her dress and mostly comfortable being around us as 'Dad's girlfriend' instead of 'Healer', but there's a sense of nervousness just concealed. I can see it thanks to the crease in her brow, the waver of her smile, and I know why because I overheard her telling Dad; she has questions that can only be answered by doing - will we like her as Dad's girlfriend? Will she and Kieron get along? Will her kids be okay?
Her kids are coming to this party, their father is dropping them off. She'll have her answers soon. I hope she likes said answers.
"It'll be okay," I whisper for only her to hear. "I promise."
"Thank you." She nods, at least looking a little reassured. Louder, she asks about me. "We're getting close now, are you okay? Do you have a plan?"
"Call you?" I suggest with a weak smile. "I don't know. As long as I can get to the hospital, I'll probably block out the rest. Does it really hurt as much as people say?"
"Labor is different for everybody," she says vaguely, bypassing my question completely. Damn. "Breathe, Lexi, breathe," I hear her say. "You'll be fine, you've got me and Healer Rodriguez."
"I'm okay, it was just a little panic that's all," I say. I glance at Annie, then at Kieron and Nicky, who are now sat to my right on the other couch. "We're not going to tell Al about it."
"Deal. I was talking to Al before, asking about what he'll do when the baby is born."
"Yeah, he was asking about taking some time off to be with the baby," I explain quickly. It's helping. "He's been talking to his dad and his trainer, but it's mostly up to his trainer. It's all about if his trainer believes Al can catch up what he would miss; if he can't, he either doesn't take the time off or he drops out of Auror training and starts again in September. He'll find out soon. Ginny said she's just a call away if I need her and I have my dad, so it'll be okay no matter what happens. I think."
"I'm sure it will," Al says, sitting beside me and taking my hand. "The room is done and your dad has gone to get changed and - that's the doorbell" he adds on, changing what he was about to say.
Annie jumps up, muttering about it being Callum and the kids - so, that's his name?Albus tells me about the room while she's gone, reassuring me that it's set up exactly as I wanted it since I couldn't help. I can hear Annie talking, though, and they talk for a good few minutes before the door shuts and she comes back with her kids. Her daughter keeps sort of close, willing to look around but not letting go of Annie's hand. The little boy, on the other hand, is wriggling in her grip like he's determined to get down and run around. Either their dad gave him sugar or he's not naturally shy.
"Okay, introductions," Annie says, siting them down on the couch with me and Al and pointing. "This is Theo's daughter, Alexa, and her boyfriend, Albus. Al, Lexi, this is Hollie and Samuel."
Hollie just waves, but Samuel says hi back and points at my stomach. "Baba."
"Yeah, Alexa is having a baby." She points to the other couch. "That is Theo's son, Kieron, and his fiancé, Nick. You've come to their party."
This time Kieron just waves while Nicky says hello.
"Where's Theo?" Hollie asks, speaking for the first time.
"Here." Dad stops in front of us and Hollie relaxes; I'm suddenly glad they'd met Dad first, before this party. They won't be completely uncomfortable. Well, Hollie won't. "Do I look alright?"
"No," I gasp. "You're wearing jeans! Where are the trousers I had put on your bed?"
"Still on the bed," he replies. "I still look smart. And they're clean. Win/win, I say."
I gesture to the shirt he's wearing; it's the one I picked out, but he looks a mess with it as it is. "Could you at least tuck the damn shirt in?" He does and I nod reluctantly. "You'll do."
"Good. Now what time is it?"
"Almost one, we've got about an hour before people bar family come. We're good."
"I'm not waiting for them," Dad says mysteriously, going to the door. He opens it just as the door bell rings, which makes me think he planned something. Then I hear my friends and think it was probably them who planned something, he was just told about it. "Living room," is all he says.
"Oh, new people," Ewan says, pointing out the obvious.
"This is Hollie and Samuel, Annie's kids. What's going on? What's with the bags?" Albus asks curiously.
Darcy holds up a familiar bag, the one she came out of the shop with me a couple of weeks ago. "Baby presents!" I let out excitedly. More for the present part than the baby part, I'm sad to say.
"We're having a baby shower," Darcy squeals.
"Why?" Kieron asks slowly. Dad shakes his head; he's asked these questions.
"Because Darce has been watching those TV shows again and thinks it's a good way of giving out baby presents. Apparently, the baby isn't a good enough thing to come out of a pregnancy," Megan says sarcastically.
"I didn't say that. I just said that presents are nice before the painful stuff comes," she defends, her voice getting softer and softer as she talks. Pain...
Will clears his throat and moves to sit on the floor, everyone else following so that present opening can start. I make sure I'm able to sit on cushions and lean on the couch before I join them; I don't want my back hurting any more than it already seems to be. Al and I start with Darcy and Ewan's gifts, since she's the most excited; she bought toys at the shop, cuddly teddies and musical games. We thank them gratefully and pass them to Dad, who moves them into the corner of the living room, at the side of the couch I'm leaning against. Megan and Chris give us more clothes, including an adorable set of pajamas that I think will have to be what the baby will wear first. I can already see it. Will gives me a baby mat that goes on the floor and has a sort of mobile above, to keep the baby entertained. The gift tag says 'Will and Rose', but I'd be surprised if she had actually gone out with them and picked it.
Nicky's family come in groups as we're talking and laughing and opening presents, bringing their own as well, both for my and for the guys, and my corner of the living room become a little cluttered. Kieron doesn't get a cluttered corner; if the Weasleys haven't brought him and Nicky alcohol, which has gone in the ballroom, they brought them money, which has gone straight in their pockets.
The last one to give me something is Kieron himself. He gets Darcy to make space, so he can sit right next to me, and holds up a tablet-like device I saw him with before. It's black, with a medium-sized touchscreen, a couple of buttons on the right and what looks like speakers along the edge. I'd think it was store bought if I didn't know my brother so well; he tinkers, he designs. He made this. If you look closely, you can tell.
I run my finger along the edge, but I don't actually take it. "What is it?"
"Do you remember when we were kids, we'd camp in the garden and Uncle Draco would point out the stars?" he asks. I nod slowly. I do remember that. Dad points his wand at the curtains, closing them, Kieron turns the device on and the room, along with the screen, is surrounded by stars. He uses his fingers to turn the stars on the screen while we watch the exact same thing happen around us, then he talks. "Draco." The stars change, showing what must be the constellation he named. "Sirius." It changes again.
"Wow," Hollie whispers, awed, and I have to agree.
Kieron turns it off and passes it to me, as Dad re-opens the curtains. "It's a mobile for the baby's room. So, don't ever tell your kid that Uncle Kieron doesn't get him anything."
"How did you make that?" Roxanne asks, nodding towards the device in my hands.
"With time, tools, magic and a bit of testing from George. And help," he adds a little reluctantly. "I couldn't get it all done on time on my own because of work and my studies. You like?"
"I love. Thank you. I'm officially no longer mad at you," I promise, paraphrasing because of the children in the room. I'm not even fake pissed.
"Awesome," he grins. "Not that I'm surprised really; it's not easy to stay mad at the best big brother in the world."
"You think too highly of yourself," Dad laughs.
I have to agree with that, too. But in my head; today he can be the best.
We move to the ballroom when the first guest comes, quickly followed by others. Soon everyone who agreed to come is here and I'm so glad that Kieron agreed to using the ballroom rather than the living room; while the living room is a good size, this room is still bigger. Certainly big enough for a party. From my place near the food table, I can see pretty much everyone; Kieron and Nicky nearby with Xavier; Dad dancing with Hollie while Annie talks to Harry and Ginny; Al with his cousins and our friends; Samuel running around with Ethan; My mum looking uncomfortable in the corner with Aunt Astoria; Hugo ignoring Emmett, not that I know why.
I wave Hugo over when Emmett walks away and he sits beside me, sulking. "What's up?"
"I have a right to be mad when you just find out that your boyfriend is writing letters to his ex and has been for a long time."
"He didn't tell you that he was talking to Scott?" Hugo shakes his head sadly. Oh, Emmett. "It doesn't mean anything," I try to reassure. I'm sure it doesn't, if I remember some of the things Emmett told me they talked about. Not that I'm going to tell Hugo that; I fear that him knowing that I knew would push him over whatever edge he's dangerously close to.
"Then he should have told me," he mutters.
"Want some cheering up?" He nods slowly. "You know how you have a thing for accents and languages? Well, my dad knows a guy from Spain, Erik; Dad's pretty much been his babysitter since the guy was ten and they treat Dad like family. Anyway, he's been in England for the Spanish Minister and has been staying here, so he's coming to the party. You can test out your Spanish and listen to his accent when he speaks English. Sound fun?"
"That does sound like fun."
"I'm glad I can help," a familiar voice says from behind me. I don't need to turn around to confirm my suspicions. I knew I knew the damn name. I wish it had registered sooner, but in my head, 'Erik' was the Minister's grandson and 'Rodriguez' was the healer. That they were the same freaking person never crossed my mind, especially since the contact information Annie gave me says 'Enrique'.
"In the hospital, when you mentioned the guy you were staying with and I said if he was anything like my dad he'd kick you out soon, we actually were talking about my dad," I remember. He laughs and sits beside me. "Your information says 'Enrique', Erik."
He shrugs. "Enrique is my real name. Someone got my name mixed up with another when I was a kid and called me 'Erik'. I liked it and it stuck."
"That makes more sense," Hugo joins in the conversation. "'Enrique' is Spanish for 'Henry'."
"It is, don't call it me," Erik warns. "So, why does he need cheering up?"
"Trouble with my boyfriend," Hugo answers instead of me. "I'm trying not to show it; I don't want my dad rejoicing over the thought of a break-up."
"He doesn't approve?"
Hugo shakes his head. "He doesn't like Emmett. And he tries to strike up conversations about girls I know, but that's because he's not comfortable talking about guys. He'd rather talk to me about girls than about nothing at all. So, I sing or play the chorus to It's Raining Men until he walks away."
"I can't decide if that's mean or funny," I tell him, honestly conflicted. I mean, poor Ron, but the mental image I have of him is sort of hilarious.
"It depends on the situation we're in; it's usually funny, though. If I was going to be mean, I'd yell. Dad usually laughs awkwardly, pats me on the shoulder and says he gets it before he walks away."
Ah, that's good. Then I find it funny.
"So, you know now, Lexi," Dad says as he walks past. I know he's referring to my healer being Erik from the look the guy gets. "I told him to tell you."
"And miss her reaction? Hell no," Erik jokes. Then he turns serious. "I'm still your healer, though? Right? I mean it, you don't want Healer Salt."
"You're still my healer," I promise. I'm starting to think I'll be too preoccupied with the actual labor to care about being uncomfortable around any healer anyway. I'm not changing again. I wasn't even planning to swap Annie for Erik, she did so when she heard what I'd said. And I appreciate it as long as I know it wasn't her trying too hard to be excepted into the family.
I open my mouth, ready to ask questions about pain relief, when I see Mum walking over to talk to Kieron. "Excuse me," I mutter, getting up slowly and walking over, too. Dad has the same idea and we both get to Kieron and Nicky as Mum does.
"Congratulations, darling," she says sincerely. "I'm very happy for you. I hope this helps."
Kieron takes the envelope, which I guess has a Gringotts check in it because she doesn't use Muggle money enough to have an account for that. He doesn't open it or say thank you, but he does smile a little before he walks off. Nicky follows, thanking her briefly first.
"Wow, progress," Dad says.
"Agreed," Mum mutters.
"You're trying too hard," I tell her uncomfortably as soon as Dad leaves. "You can't give up because he's a stubborn kid, then suddenly decide it's okay now that he's an adult. He's still stubborn, more so really. You have to take baby steps. Inviting you here was his, you coming at all was yours."
"Telling you this." I glance around the room, then point out of the door. "Come with me."
She follows me into the living room cautiously and I point to a new picture on the display, one that I don't even remember because it's been so long since I saw a picture of her in our house. Mum picks it up, almost afraid she'll drop it, and just stares at the image, shocked and near emotionless apart from a single tear. I happy one, I hope. It's of her and Kieron, she has her arms wrapped around his waist and she's tickling him. He's three years old in this picture; when Dad saw it, he said that Kieron was a complete Mummy's boy then, that he tried to be with her all the time. But the more she was gone, the less upset he got about it. He was just disappointed. I guess that's why I didn't hate her as much as Kieron did for her one brief mistake; I was a Daddy's girl anyway, I know her more now than I did then, so it didn't hurt as much. She was Kieron's world.
"He found it in a draw in his room when he was bringing back spare clothes for when he stays over the other day," I explain quietly. "He brought it down and put it on the side, said he didn't want to take it to his apartment. Dad left it here."
It's the only one of her in the house, and I doubt there'll be many more now that Dad is with Annie (I don't think it'll be very good for a girlfriend to see pictures of an ex-wife), but it was a start for Kieron. Maybe one day he will move it to his apartment. I think Mum has the other pictures of her with us, this was just Kieron's favorite as a kid.
"Baby steps," she murmurs. "Okay. How are you?"
"Tired and hungry and wishing people would stop worrying. I don't like it when people worry. And my back hurts," I say, leading the way back to the party. Mum puts the picture back before following and she squeezes my shoulder, then goes back to Astoria.
"So?" Al prompts.
"Baby steps," is all I say on the matter. "Have you mingled enough? Are you ready to stay by my side?" I ask sarcastically.
"Yes," he answers seriously, with a smile. "You sit; I will get food."
I reluctantly does as he says and go back to my seat, alone now because both Erik and Hugo are gone. Well, not completely; like I said, my seat is by the food table, so Al is still within talking distance. And even that doesn't last; Hugo comes back just as Al does, with food of his own, telling me that he was just waiting for me to come back because I don't ask more questions than I need to. He knows that I can be incredibly nosy, but he also knows that I'm a little apprehensive of his magical ability and don't push. He's smarter than Kieron, which Kieron doesn't like and is terrifying in itself considering what Kieron can do, but my brother focuses more on technology and science whereas Hugo pushes though magical boundaries. What both guys can do, however different, makes me wary.
I don't know why he's sitting with me, whether that's what he says or not; I'm Emmett's friend, being with me will not stop Emmett from coming over. Albus says as much. And Emmett actually walking over speaks volumes. My friend sits on the next chair to Hugo, holding his arm to keep him from moving, which isn't hard to do. Hugo may be taller, but he's kinda lanky; Emmett is built like a tank compared to him.
"I am so sorry I didn't tell you about Scott, but we said that unless it was absolutely important that we didn't have to explain everything we did," he starts, ready to argue.
"I consider you talking to your ex to be absolutely important," Hugo counters angrily. Al whispers that we should go; I shush him. I might need to make him intervene at some point.
"It's not important because it means nothing!" Now I shush Emmett; people are starting to watch us. He takes a deep breath before continuing. "Scott and I were friends long before anything romantic happened between us and we're still friends now, but that is it. I don't love him, he doesn't love me. He knows all about you; you only saw the last letter, the one saying he was coming back, you haven't seen the one's talking about the guy he's with, who's coming to England with him, or that he jokes about stealing you from me because you'll apparently love him more than me.
"I didn't think about telling you I was writing a friend because I'd been writing to him long before we got together, but I was going to tell you that he's coming back and I was going to tell you about him. Because I want you to understand that he's not an issue. I love you, Hugo."
The sincerity in Emmett's voice is almost too much; he's never had such a long conversation about feelings before and I imagine it'll be a long time before we hear another. Hugo would know that better than anyone. He no longer looks angry or upset, but he's not exactly content with the news either.
"It's not Scott," he says. "It's any guy who comes along. Who wants to be with a stupid kid who purposely makes wrong decisions just because he doesn't care? I'm not a good person."
"So you say," Emmett shrugs. "I'll take my chances," he says before kissing him.
"Yeah, now I'm leaving," Al mutters. I hold out my hand for him to help me up and I take him with me to see how Kieron is. He keeps watching Mum because Mum keeps watching him. Despite that, he's been smiling and laughing. Now that Hugo isn't ignoring Emmett, I can put my focus back on my brother. "You look like you're in a good mood, Kieron?"
"Have I punched you in the face today?"
Al frowns at my brother's question. "No."
"Then I'm in a really good mood. Don't ruin it by asking stupid questions."
I snicker, earning a look and a nudge in the arm. "What's Xavier doing?"
Kieron follows my gaze to my newest object of questioning now that I know asking about my brother is a stupid question. "He's talking to his friend Cody. Said friend has apparently been keeping tabs on him since finding out about Ethan; they don't want him running off again."
"Lexi, Cody wants to know if you like the baby stuff he thinks he picked out for me."
Xavier moves closer and holds up the phone he's using. "Yes. Thank you."
"You're welcome," I hear clearly and know he's been put on speakerphone. "I didn't know what to get because I don't know the gender. It makes picking things hard."
"You didn't pick it," Xavier mutters.
"Ignore him, I did," Cody says. "Have you got names yet? Xavier said you were still choosing. You know what I great name is..." he trails off, sounding amused. Xavier rolls his eyes.
"You know, I like the name Dakota," Al muses, playing along. "If it's a girl, we'll definitely name her after you."
There's a moment of silence on the other line, and then an answer, "You can't take that back now."
We laugh while Al mutters about not getting the answer he wanted and goes to get a drink. "If it were to happen, you're so going to call that kid Cody, aren't you?" Xavier asks with a grin.
"Hey, he said he'd name the kid after me. She'd love it." There's another pause and we hear yelling on the other side. "I have to get back to practice. Have a fun party."
"Is practice why he didn't come?" I ask Xavier. "I did put a plus one on your invite."
"No. He didn't come because he doesn't know Kieron and Nicky. He's only met you a number of times. Practice was just a coincidence."
"He can be intro - whoa," I exclaim, my hand on my stomach.
"Lexi, what is it?" Kieron demands, holding my by the shoulders.
"I don't know. I'm fine," I whisper. Kieron leads me away and sits me on the couch in the living room, making sure Dad and Al know. They follow, along with Annie, Erik, Mum and the Potters. "Please stop worrying. I'm fine."
They don't believe me; Erik asks me questions while Dad asks Annie. Erik puts his hands on my stomach every time I feel something. They sit for almost an hour, monitoring me. The pains get stronger and closer together and he doesn't have to tell me what is happening by now.
"Lexi is having contractions," he tells everyone else.
"But the baby shouldn't be born for another month and a half," Al panics.
"Sometimes it happens, it's like a freaking curse in this family," Dad tells him. "But that doesn't mean it's bad. It'll be okay, Lexi. I promise," he whispers, taking my hand.
"Will we be able to delay the birth?" Annie asks Erik.
"I don't know. I need to examine her properly. We're going to take you to St. Mungo's, Lexi."
I nod, willing to do anything to stop the pain, and he and Dad help me up. Then I feel something wet trickling down my leg.
"I think my water just broke."
"We have to go," Erik says quickly.
"I'll tell people what's happening, make sure they're gone, then I'll get to the hospital," Mum tells Dad.
I let them drag me away, barely hearing a thing; I just can't believe this is happening.
I'm having a baby.
A/N: Uh oh... I hope the little warnings and the conversations about the baby, plus the last chapter helped you prepare for this, but if it's still a shock, hugs are available... *hugs*
So, will it be a boy or a girl? Names? What do you think will happen?
It's Raining Men belongs to the Weather Girls.
I hope you liked this chapter. Please let me know what you think. I'll try to post the next chapter as soon as possible. :)
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