Chapter 8 : Choices to Make
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“What?! Al, I have no idea what you’re on about right now!” I said, exasperated from the long argument I had been having with my younger brother.
“You knew I loved her and yet you went and slept with her like she was some sort of toy to be used and then thrown away!” Oh shit. How did he know about that? He must have been talking about Viola. Maybe I told him whilst I was still drunk? My thoughts drifted to that night – Lily’s birthday; the dancing, bad karaoke, alcohol and Viola. There she was, looking amazing in her striking blue dress. I’d never really given her much notice before, but that night she looked beautiful. I also remember being incredibly drunk and subsequently swaying over to her to flirt after Lily had gone. Many people see me as a womaniser, but the truth is that Lily’s birthday was the night I lost my virginity. I’d never planned to even talk to Viola Malfoy, let alone sleep with her! But then she left before I could say goodbye and I never saw her until that September. She looked a little tired when I next saw her; she had slight bags under her eyes and her uniform was a little bedraggled, however her skin was glowing and her hair looked shinier than usual.
“Loved who?!” I asked, pretending to be confused after I dragged myself away from my thoughts whilst ruffling up my hair in anxiety. Then, at that moment, I suddenly registered what he had said. Al loved Viola? I knew he liked her but I had absolutely no idea that he loved her!
“Viola!” he shouted. Of course, I suspected that response, but I still had to act surprised. The crowd around us all made stupid gasping noise. Sometimes the younger students could be so immature.
“How did you…?” I asked, looking ‘shocked’.
“She told me.” Okay, now I really was shocked. Why the hell would Viola tell Al? By the look on her face recently she still seemed traumatised about the whole thing, so why would she tell Al? It seemed a little too out-of-character of her.
“What?! Why?” I replied, now genuinely confused.
“Oh believe me, it wasn’t out of choice!”
“Well then why did she tell you?!” I exclaimed.
“Oh I don’t know, maybe it’s because she’s PREGNANT!” shouted Albus, glaring at me. For a split-second I didn’t understand what he had said, then BANG. I suddenly felt an unpleasant falling sensation in my stomach. Viola couldn’t be… no. Or at least if she was… y’know, then there was a high chance it wasn’t mine, surely? However, these thoughts were soon clouded by immediate worries. What if she really was having a baby, and the baby was mine?! Oh shit, fucking shit, MERLIN! I don’t want a kid! I’m only seventeen, for goodness’ sake! I can barely look after my owl, let alone a child.
“She’s… what?!” I said, wanting some sort of clarification to check that I wasn’t dreaming or drunk for some reason.
“Pregnant! Happy now that you' know what your little problem is?” Oh shite. I’m not dreaming, or drunk… or high (not that I would be as, contrary to popular belief, I’m not into that stuff). Suddenly, I saw a figure slightly disjointed from the rest of the now frantically-whispering crowd. It was her, Viola, and for some reason I couldn’t help but look at her concealed stomach. She’d certainly done a good job hiding any sort of bump. Then again, with the little I know about pregnancy, she might not even have a bump yet. But, as I say, what do I know?
“You’re lying.” I said, trying to make it into a proper statement.
“What, you think I’m making this up? Do you have any idea of the mess you’ve made?!” asked Al, with angry tears in his eyes. I didn’t know what to say, his crying had caught me by surprise so I just shrugged, clueless of what else I could possibly do. However, Al seemed to think that I meant it arrogantly, and launched on me.
“You PRAT! You absolute GIT, JAMES!” shouted Al, before punching me square in the face unexpectedly. Suddenly pain projected through my face and the rest of my body. I knew I deserved what I was getting, but Al wasn’t getting off of me, so I had to retaliate.
“Argh, fuck off Al!” I exclaimed, before punching Al back. I could not only feel blood running from my nose, but also the eyes of the many crowd of students glaring at me as if I was Lord Voldemort reincarnated. I’d had enough, my head was bursting with anger and worries so I stormed back into the castle and ran to my left, reaching the foot of a staircase, wiping my forehead of sweat. Suddenly, I heard running footsteps behind me and before I knew it, Al was right behind me.
“Al!” I said, surprised, “Look, please don’t punch me again, I’m-“ however I was cut off by another punch, this time on my arm.
“Oi! Al, geroff!” I struggled. Then, I heard more footsteps, this time slightly lighter than Al’s, but quick nevertheless.
“BOYS! WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!” shouted Professor McGonagall, hurrying as fast as she could down the corridor, subsequently breaking us up.
“Sorry – Professor –“ I gasped, before yet again being interrupted (I’m starting to think that people don’t like to hear me end a sentence).
“What are you two fighting about?!” she demanded angrily, her lips visibly thinning.
“It’s – about… Viola - Malfoy.” I said, inbetween breaths. Al was now completely avoiding Professor McGonagall’s glare. Then she sighed and muttered something about ‘brothers’ before leading us up to her office and sitting us on opposite sides of the room. Oh merlin, I really didn’t want to be here. McGonagall soon left to get Viola. How was I supposed to react when she would walk in? Was I supposed to hug her, congratulate her? No, that would be completely inappropriate and insensitive. Whilst Al and I continued to ignore each other and I was engrossed in my thoughts, I looked up and saw a portrait. Professor Dumbledore’s portrait. As I looked at him he appeared to slightly smile at me, a spark igniting in his eye as if to reassure me that it wasn’t all bad. I guess he was right, it could be worse; I could have killed someone or been expelled. In fact, getting the teenage girl your brother loves, who is also the daughter and granddaughter of Death Eaters pregnant whilst still being the teenage son of ‘The Boy Who Lived’ who is famous for killing the most evil dark wizard of all time and fighting Death Eaters, one of whom is your dad’s greatest school enemy didn’t seem all that bad in comparison. Oh shit, I was doomed.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by Professor McGonagall returning with not only Viola, but her brother Scorpius (who is also Al’s best friend). As Viola walked in, I noticed something I had not noticed before, due to heavy concealment; a baby bump. And a rather large one at that. You probably wouldn't have noticed it if you hadn't have known it was there It was that moment that I finally began to appreciate the horrible mess I’d gotten myself into. That wasn’t just any old bump, it was my baby. My child. Someone who I’d biologically have responsibility over for the next eighteen years. Bloody hell, I was going to be a kid's Dad! I was going to have to change nappies, feed, clothe and look after a kid! Yet I didn’t feel ready. Not at all. In fact, I felt like I had been returned to my childhood as I dreaded what my parents were going to say when they found out.
“Now. Would anyone like to tell me what this is all about because I’m afraid that otherwise I will have to call in your parents.” Said Professor McGonagall, directing the last part of her sentence at Al and I. Neither of us knew what to say so we remained silent.
“This is just ridiculous. You can’t remain quiet forever! You said it had something to do with Miss Malfoy, so now that I’ve brought her and even her brother here I think it’s time someone finally told me what is going on!” she demanded, her lips thinning. McGonagall had a point, what was Scorpius even doing here? I guessed that he must have already known. Suddenly, I felt a surge of anger towards Viola; why is it that everyone seemed to know before me? Just how long had she been planning to hide my own baby from me? Maybe she wanted to bring the kid up on her own without telling me, but nevertheless I had a right to know earlier than today. Then again, I didn’t even know if I wanted to keep this baby. I was only seventeen! I wanted to train to leave school, train to be an auror and live a fulfilled life before ever settling down and having kids! That being said, I guessed I didn’t really have a choice in the matter; Viola was the one having the baby, I didn’t even have to look after it if I really didn’t want to.
Suddenly, Al spoke, directing his speech at his feet as he refused to look at anyone, “We got into a fight over something between him and Viola.” He spat, refusing to say my name. It hurt that he was so angry towards me. We’d neverhad a great relationship ever since he’d been sorted into Slytherin. I don’t know why, but he never seemed quite the same after that. And now, here he was, refusing to even say my name.
“And what exactly was this ‘something’?” asked McGonagall sternly. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, aware that I was probably going to pay for my silence. “Well? Anyone?! Fine, seeing as you refuse to speak up you have left me with no choice but to call your parents, maybe they’ll be able to knock some words into you two.” Oh shit. Mighty shitey. Now things really were going to become uncomfortable, and that’s an understatement.
Professor McGonagall sent a patronus to my Dad and an awkward ten minutes ensued. However, I wished more than anything that those ten minutes could have lasted a little longer as I anticipated my parents’ anger. Finally my parents arrived, looking flustered and confused. Dad was fiddling with his tie; he’d obviously been called straight from work.
“Well, yes. Why exactly have you called us here Minerva?” asked Ginny, staring at me. I hated when she did that. She always presumed that I was the cause of everything. Then again, this time I was. Dad, however, was looking at Al, obviously appreciating that there must have been a reason for his presence too.
“Well I’m afraid that earlier your sons got themselves into a fist-fight in front a crowd of students and they ended up punching each other in the face and apparently swearing and shouting. I have tried to understand the reason behind their barbaric actions, but I’m afraid that all they’ll tell me is that they were fighting over something to do with Miss Malfoy, hence her attendance here today.” I could feel the fury radiating from my mother’s stare. She could be incredibly scary sometimes.
“For goodness' sakes, you BOYS!” exclaimed Mum, her face reddening, “Do you not care about dignity? You don’t just go punching your own brother because you’re annoyed! What the hell is wrong with you two?! Honestly James, you should have stopped your argument from ever getting that bad, you’re eldest after all! I’m so disappointed in you two, brawling in public?! You’d better explain yourselves as you’re not only wasting our’s and Professor McGonagall’s time but also your own!”
Then, to my surprise, Al looked up at Viola for the first time in that office and proceeded to speak to his parents, “Viola’s pregnant.” Oh fuck. Why did he have to just blurt it out like that?
“She’s… wait, what has this got to do with anything?!” inquired Mum, however Dad and McGonagall seemed to have cottoned on to what Al was really trying to say. Mum looked at Dad and then suddenly widened her eyes, “ALBUS SEVERUS POTTER! ARE YOU SAYING WHAT I THINK YOU’RE SAYING?! DID YOU SLEEP WITH VIOLA?!” she asked furiously. Oh dear, now Al had the chance to know what it was like to be properly told off by Mum. He’d always received a tamer telling-off than me whenever he was in trouble, mostly because I was always the one who got him into trouble in the first place.
“What?! No, Mum! It’s not mine, it’s his.” He said spitefully, glaring at me. I could feel the colour leaving me face. My mother’s glare said it all; I was dead. Dad had also gone very pale, and for some reason I got the feeling that he would have preferred the baby to be Al’s anyway. Maybe he thought I couldn’t be trusted with a baby? Or maybe he wanted the one who knocked Vi up to be the one who truly loved her? It was hard to tell but either way I felt pretty hurt; my Dad always seemed to be rather disappointed with me in comparison to Al, but perhaps I was just imagining things.
“James? Please tell me it’s not true.” He said quietly, but with a definite tone of anger present in his voice. I remained silent until I saw no other way out of it and nodded subtly. I could feel the eyes of the whole room gazing down on me. “James, what the hell were you thinking?! You knew Al liked Viola, and yet you went and slept with her? What sort of brother are you?” he continued. I felt like crying as if I was a little kid once again; I hated disappointing my Dad, especially as he had already done so much at my age, whereas all I had done now was father a baby.
“Dad, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise Al loved her, I just thought it was a stupid crush or something! We were drunk!” I said truthfully, my voice hoarse from not having spoken for a while.
“That’s still no excuse for what you did, James! I hate to say it but you really disappoint me sometimes.” He replied, looking me straight in the eye. I could feel tears forming in my eyes but I blinked them away, not wanting to look weak in front of everyone. Mum and Professor McGonagall were now staring at me in shock, I supposed that McGonagall had never expected this from the first-born child of Harry Potter. It was a reflection of the pressure I’d been feeling all my life. Every time I went outside the press would almost hound me and ask me what I wanted to be when I was older. I always told them I wanted to be an auror as it seemed the easiest thing to say, leaving them very impressed that I was following in the footsteps of my father. However, after time, that truly became my aspiration, causing pressure to be mounted onto me from all angles., which was hard to say the least.
“But of course I have to say that I’m also disappointed in you Viola. I may not know you personally but I’ve heard good things about you and while I am disappointed in you both, I appreciate that this matter will obviously be harder for you, Viola, what with your family and your father especially. Therefore, whatever your father makes of this, I would like you to know that we will willingly support you; family is incredibly important to us.” continued Dad. For a moment I felt relieved, my Dad would support me, thank goodness. But then I thought Of Viola’s dad. Of course, Draco effing Malfoy. I really should have chosen a less-complicated girl to get pregnant.
“Speaking of family, I’m afraid that the circumstances call for the need to bring in your parents too, Miss Malfoy.” Said Professor McGonagall sternly. Oh shit, no! Not here! Why the hell hadn’t Viola told her parents yet?! I didn’t want to be there for when she did! What was I supposed to say? ‘Oh sorry Mr Malfoy for sleeping with your daughter, getting her pregnant and ruining her life!’ I’d heard many things from my Uncle Ron about Draco Malfoy; apparently he was a stuck-up bully who only cared about blood-purity and became a Death Eater like his father. It’s safe to say that I didn’t exactly feel reassured.
Then, to top it all off, Mum decided to shout maniacally at me whilst we waited for Viola’s parents to arrive. I tried not to listen to her as she lectured me with the typical “you’re only a teenager!”, “did you even use contraception?” and the clichéd “there’s no rule-book on how to look after a kid!” It was torture. I sank in my seat as I looked wistfully at Al who was talking quietly to Dad. I was going to have to get a muggle hearing-aid at the rate Mum was going. Suddenly, the door of the office swung open to reveal Draco Malfoy and his wife Astoria. It was evident that Draco, like my Dad, had been called from work as he was wearing a posh suit and he appeared very annoyed.
“Potter? What are you and your offspring doing here?” said Draco snarling. My Dad ignored him before Malfoy turned on his daughter, “Viola, can you please explain to me why I’ve had to be dragged out of work to come here?” he asked. Meanwhile, his wife was stood behind him, next to Scorpius, who was looking disappointedly at Viola.
Suddenly Professor McGonagall spoke, “ I’m afraid to have to tell you Draco that I had to call yourself and your wife because your daughter here is pregnant.” Shit. What do I do now?
“What?!” Draco snapped, looking as if he hadn’t heard McGonagall correctly. Astoria looked gobsmacked and Viola just continued to sit there, looking completely terrified of her father. “When did this happen?” he inquired further.
“End of June.” she murmured. Suddenly it hit meas I opened my mouth stupidly: the baby was due in FOUR MONTHS! I was going to be a dad in sixteen weeks! Fear swept over me as I started to feel panicky. I couldn’t look after a kid, not in four months!
“YOU’RE FIVE MONTHS PREGNANT?!” shouted Malfoy. “BUT YOU’RE A TEENAGER!”
“Draco, calm down, please.” Pleaded Astoria, but there was no stopping Malfoy.
“So who’s the father then?” he finally spat out after a minute of heavy breathing. I was distracted from my thoughts once more as I knew that I was soon going to have to make myself known.
“Er, James.” Said Viola, almost whispering now. I looked uncomfortably at my feet, preparing to be told off by Malfoy. But it didn’t happen.
“James who?” he asked, obviously unaware it was me. However, I knew that I couldn’t just let Viola receive all her father’s wrath, so I stood up, unable to take the tension anymore.
“Me.” I said as I watched Viola spin in her chair to look at me.
“YOU?! VIOLA! HOW COULD YOU…? A POTTER? A FILTHY HALF-BLOOD?!” he shouted, glaring incredulously at me whilst a vein was twitching in his temple, “YOU HAVE BROUGHT SHAME TO THE MALFOY FAMILY!” he continued, directing his speech at Viola. Once again, I felt anger bubble up inside me. How could be been so ignorant? What did it matter that I was a half-blood? What did it matter that I was a Potter? I felt like punching him and, by the look on his face, it seemed that he would have happily punched me back.
“Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you Dad, but you and your father did that a long time ago!” replied Viola. It seemed that she had a lot of frustration about her family and, to be honest, I couldn’t blame her.
“That’s all in the past now, Viola!” said Malfoy, slightly more quietly than before. He was obviously ashamed of his Death Eater past. Uncle Ron had told me about how he was the one who was supposed to kill Dumbledore and how he had tried to poison him. It further consolidated my belief that Draco Malfoy really was a true coward.
“Well then if you can put your Death Eater days in the past, then why can’t you also put your rivalry with James’ dad and your hatred for half-bloods and muggle-borns in the past too?!”
He looked at Viola before exclaiming “I’ve had enough from you! This is ridiculous! How dare you disrespect your own father like that!” Astoria trailed behind him as he left, mouthing something to her daughter which I didn’t quite catch.
Then, my mother spoke again, “Well, James, I think you have some apologies to make here.” Oh merlin. I really didn’t know how to do this. It was only when I properly approached Viola when I noticed her face. She looked so tired with bags under her eyes and a sad expression. Why hadn’t I noticed this in our many Potions lessons together? I suddenly felt a stream of guilt enter my body. It was all my fault. I had ruined her life, ruined her relationship with her father and now he had appeared to disown her all because of me. I felt like hugging her, just to do something to cheer her up and erase my guilt. And yet, even through my guilt, I thought nothing about my girlfriend Claire, I’d never really liked her after I saw how bitchy she was being towards Viola. I looked at her bump once again before looking up and saying “I’m sorry Vi, I really really don’t know what to say right now, I’m just completely overwhelmed, it’s all a bit too much right now.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I didn’t want to promise her support like my Dad had as I didn’t know if I could give it to her, however, I didn’t want to tell her I wanted nothing to do with the baby either as I really had no idea quite how I felt about the whole thing.
I then noticed Al. He too had bags under his eyes, causing a fresh wave of guilt to pass through me. Dad was right, I was a horrible brother for doing this to Al and then not even noticing how upset he must have been since he somehow found out about Viola’s pregnancy. “I’m sorry for punching you,” I said, “and I’m sorry for sleeping with Vi when I knew that you fancied her, but I just want you to know that I didn’t do it intentionally just to hurt you.” I tried my best but I knew it hadn’t worked as Al continued to ignore me.
I’d had enough. I couldn’t stand the whole thing any longer so I stormed out of the room, ignoring my parents’ calls. I ran to the common room and burst into my empty dormitory, closing the door on the stares and the whispers of the crowds of students who had been in the common room. However, I still heard people calling things out to me such as “prat”, “what an arsehole”, “I bet he didn’t even use a condom” and “what’s your Dad going to say, eh?”. I couldn’t hold my emotions in anymore as I flunked onto my bed and began to sob like I’d never sobbed before. I couldn’t have a kid of me own, not now! How was I supposed to support Viola? What would the press say? How would I ever win back Al’s trust? When would everyone stop hating me for what I had done? Would my parents and Lily forgive me for being such an idiot? How could I explain it to Claire without being killed? And how on earth could I bring up a child to be happy when I was in such circumstances as this. I wanted to be a good father but I also didn’t know if I wanted to even be a father at all. 'Why was it always me who had to ruin everybody’s lives?'
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