Chapter 18 : Chapter Eighteen
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I recognized that soft voice immediately. Whipping my head around, I gave Ellie a warm smile.
“Ellie, sit down,” I told her amicably, patting the grass next to me. I was sitting outside just outside Hagrid’s hut, where Care of Magical Creatures class took place. The air was slowly getting warmer, but not quickly enough.
The air still bit my nose with coldness if I stayed outside too long, as it was starting to do.
Ellie smiled, and sat down next to me. I noticed that she was carrying her numerous NEWT textbooks, no doubt already began studying for NEWTs.
“How is NEWTs studying going?” I asked, turning my head to study the girl. Ever since Valentines’ Day, I hadn’t exactly kept too much in contact with Ellie. She seemed to always be gone, though I couldn’t blame her.
Ellie grimaced. “I hate NEWTs. I’m trying to be better with my studying schedule, so I’ve been completely antisocial.”
“I can imagine,” I said sympathetically, not wanting to think about what I was going to do next year. “It must be even worse on top of having to do Head duties.”
“Yeah, it hasn’t been fun. Louis has been a great help though,” Ellie commented, a sparkle flashing in her eyes.
I raised my eyebrows, a smile curving onto my face for the first time in a long time. Despite Louis’s current distance, I still loved the idea of him and Ellie being a couple. It was nice to hear that he was keeping up with the efforts of becoming a better guy.
“Are you having late-night studying sessions with him?” I teased, nudging her lightly with my shoulders.
Ellie blushed an incredible shade of red, but shook her head regardless. “No, we haven’t. He’s a bit preoccupied to think of studying for NEWTs.”
I made no comment. I didn’t doubt that he was preoccupied.
A lull of silence fell between us, as my mind went back to thinking about how both James and Ethan had tried talking to me for the past week.
At the sight of them both, I raced the other way, too scared to talk and too scared to confront either of them.
It hadn’t occurred to me that Ellie was here with a mission until she opened her mouth.
“Bella, I hope I’m not being insensitive here but I really hope that you can talk to your friends about your pregnancy,” Ellie interrupted into my thoughts.
Shocked, I swiveled my head to look at her. Her green eyes were serious and lined with a sort of sorrow that I wished I had noticed before.
“I know how hard it has been for you, and I’m sorry that I haven’t been to see how you were earlier, I really am,” Ellie apologized, taking one of my hands into hers and gripping it tightly.
I wanted to yell, say something about how as sweet as she was, she didn’t understand. I wanted to reassure her that she didn’t need to apologize because there was no point anyways.
But I remained silent and let her continue.
“My mum died when I was very young. Even though my dad was a very good boyfriend, my dad was never a good husband and he isn’t a good father. He hated being tied down to my mother, and the only reason they were married is because my mum was pregnant with me. Though my dad married my mum, he wasn’t content with the arrangement at all. He made that known from the very beginning,” Ellie said, her eyes tearing up at the story of her mum and dad.
Ellie was most likely trying to be helpful, and I appreciated the fact that she let me in on this personal matter, but it didn’t help that I could already see some of her father in James’s behavior.
James wasn’t the devil, but he wasn’t a saint, either. James still held all of my heart, and nothing will change how much I did love James, but it was very clearly evident that James no longer felt the same as I did, and hated this entire situation.
Tears that I didn’t know were leaking fell quickly and swiftly, leaving me unable to say anything.
Ellie quickly continued on, hastily wiping her own tears away.
“I am not going to pretend to know what is going on between you and James because I don’t think I have a right. I’m not telling you this because I want to add fuel to the fire between you and James, but I’m telling you because I’m worried for you. My mum died from a heartbreak because she received no support and help, and I don’t want you to think you are alone in this. I want you to know that all of your friends want to be there for you. I know this because Louis and I are working together to regulate the anonymous owls that you have been getting. He has been telling me how all of them are really worried for you, and really want to talk to you. Even if you can’t let James in to help you, at least let your oldest friends help you. They want to help you. You’re not alone in this. The girls had been out of their minds with worry.”
My heart was torn into so many different pieces after her long speech. I didn’t know what to think and I didn’t know what to do. All I knew was that I wanted to curl up into a ball and start crying again.
Ever since my explosion at the girls I had been abandoning homework and spending all of my days crying to Hagrid, and tending to whatever new creature he had for class.
I loved Hagrid; he was always there and never judging. Hagrid always made me feel better, no matter what. The first time I met him, I had been so incredibly intimidated, yet amazed. This man had lived through everything.
I hated that this happened to me. I hated that it had to be me to go through this ridiculous teen pregnancy.
After all, it would be just my luck to get pregnant the first time I have sex with someone, and it would be just my luck to fall in love with James Sirius Potter.
I didn’t say anything but I just continued crying, leaning my head on Ellie’s shoulders and letting her comfort me.
I found that Ellie’s neutral presence and no nonsense story was remarkably reassuring, and for the first time in weeks, I found that I had no more tears to cry after a while.
After shedding every tear I can for my baby, for my family, for my friends, and for James, I found that I had no more tears to shed.
Classes at Hogwarts were already difficult without a pregnancy and the media to deal with. I wasn’t surprised when I had gotten called into Professor Longbottom’s office.
I had been in Professor Longbottom’s office twice before: once when Albus got into trouble for hexing a boy who asked Lily to Hogsmeade and the second when we were discussing my future career last year.
“Bella, how are you?” Longbottom asked with a smile, the corners of his eyes crinkling. I found it hard to return the smile.
“I could be better,” I answered cautiously. No doubt Longbottom knew everything; I wouldn’t be surprised if Harry and Ginny had asked Longbottom to keep an extra eye out for me.
Longbottom took a deep breath as he consulted a parchment in front of him with a slight frown. He said, “I’m going to get straight to the point. First of all, we need to discuss your classes. Your marks are not at all up to your usual standard, and it isn’t just in Herbology. You are barely scraping by in Transfiguration, Charms is better but not to your usual abilities, Potions is a massive wreck, you will not pass Ancient Runes this year, Defense Against the Dark Arts and Herbology are on the fence, and I know Hagrid is being lenient in Care of Magical Creatures.”
I said nothing. All this I knew, though I didn’t know I wouldn’t have a chance of passing Ancient Runes. I had hoped, though, that all of the work I’ve been doing would have helped.
Longbottom continued, seeing as I stayed quiet. “We don’t make special exceptions at Hogwarts. We can be understanding of difficult times, but we can’t make special exceptions for anyone.”
He let his words linger so that sank into my mind. Quietly, I asked, “Am I getting expelled?”
“Definitely not. You would have been long put in detention by now, but Professor McGonagall isn’t heartless. It would be cruel to put you in detention. Even if you are just writing lines, it saps your energy. You are not getting off scotch free though. Professor McGonagall wants to see that you pass Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, and Transfiguration. She is willing to let you drop Ancient Runes and Potions, though your future employers will be aware you dropped the classes, and if you cannot pass all five classes, then you will have to repeat an extra term in order to complete your education,” Longbottom rattled off, never taking his eyes of me and never flinching as he told me of McGonagall’s kindness and the impossibility in store for me.
I felt tears gathering at my eyes, as they often do these days. Sniffling, I blubbered a barely understandable “thank you” as Longbottom handed me a tissue.
“You are the first case we ever had of a student being pregnant during the school year. We weren’t prepared, and it didn’t help that only I had known but was sworn to absolute secrecy by the Potters. Hogwarts is here for you, Bella. Madam Pomfrey would be more than happy to take you in, and I know that Professor Sinistra has a soft spot for children. More importantly, you have friends here,” Longbottom told me kindly, a smile returning to his face.
I studied him, noticing some tired lines on his face from the War but seeing a man changed for the better because of horrors that I can’t even begin to imagine. For the first time, I truly appreciated Longbottom for the brilliant teacher that he was: stern, but extremely helpful. His kindness shone through.
Because I knew he wouldn’t judge and he would keep my insecurities and my fears in absolute secrecy, I opened up. “Sometimes, I wonder why this had to happen to me. I think about the way that I used to be Daddy’s little girl, and wonder how my father can disown me so easily. Ethan and I always argued, but at the end of the day, we always cared for each other. Now I’m like another stranger to him. I shouldn’t be angry at Rose and Lucy and the other girls, but all of the things I wish that they can work on, like Rose’s lack of tact sometimes or Lucy’s drama queen tendencies, seem to blow up in my face the one time I can’t be nice. Albus had always made me feel better when I was sad or talked reason into me when I was angry, and now he can’t be there for me when I need him the most. Then, there’s James, and maybe we were bound to be doomed in the first place.”
A lull of silence fell as Longbottom processed my thoughts. I stared at the fire cackling in his office, and wished that the fire would never have a weakness like water.
“When I was at Hogwarts, I was always bullied or laughed at by others. My last year at Hogwarts, Death Eaters took over and I learned to stand up for myself. It was a hard awakening that feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to get me through life. My fellow classmates and I were put to the test much sooner than we all hoped, having to choose between doing the right thing and doing the easy thing. It would have been easy to sit back and listen to the Death Eaters say how Muggles were below us, and practice the Cruciatus Curse because we would get detention otherwise. It was the right thing to do when I made it known that I wasn’t okay with either of those practices. It’s the easy thing to do to sit and wallow, but it’s the right thing to do to go and fix it.”
To the end of my life, I wasn’t sure I would ever hear better advice.
I had hit the biggest emotional rollercoaster in trying to get through the end of this school year a few days before we let out for Easter holiday.
Having already arranged to stay with Charlie and Rachel for the week for a much needed breather, I had been quite looking forward to a week-long break.
I should have known better, however, that letting my guard down was never wise, especially when I had kept to myself most of the time.
The girls had been stalking me for the better part of the month, whilst some other familiar Wotter faces passed me by more than usual. Putting two and two together, I had figured Rose had come up with a master-plan of fixing everything after I had talked to Ellie. I didn’t think much about the fact that someone was clearly following me from the Library back to the Gryffindor Tower.
I had given myself plenty of time before curfew, knowing that it took me ages to move through several flights of stairs, and I had much rather be surrounded by people who laughed and sneered at me than walk the halls of Hogwarts alone at night whilst pregnant.
That particular night, however, I was hitting curfew and with two more floors to go before I hit seventh floor, the floor of the Gryffindor Tower.
I was on the fifth floor when I found myself cornered by Megan Stretton, Ruby Smith, and a couple of their other pathetic friends, including one Sapphire Smith.
Though I was still avoiding Lily, I couldn’t help retorting to Sapphire Smith, “Do you feel proud of yourself for betraying Lily’s trust?”
“Why should you care? It’s none of your business,” Sapphire snapped, taken aback with anger that I had addressed her.
“What about you? Do you feel proud of yourself for making it known to the whole world that you’re a slag?” Megan Stretton sneered, folding her arms and walking towards me. I could hear her heels clicking, and I wondered why she even bothered with heels under her robes.
I said nothing. I didn’t want to discuss my baby with these bitches.
“Do you know why we’re here? Do you know what you’ve done?” Stretton began to walk around me in a circle, much like the way a predator would circle his prey.
She took my silence for a no and continued. “Leah asked Benjamin Davis to go with her to Hogsmeade. Did you know?”
“Why would I care?” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Why did it concern me that Leah thought that she was on the same level as Benjamin when he was clearly much better than her?
Stretton growled. “He rejected her. No one rejects Leah.”
“Contrary to Stretton’s belief, Leah, I think plenty of males here at Hogwarts would reject you,” I said to Leah, who was hiding away in the background. A flash of surprise hit her face before morphing into one of hurt.
“God, Bella! I don’t know why I ever felt bad for you in the first place! Why are you such a bitch?” Leah Farley cried, stamping her feet in frustration.
A pang of guilt washed over me, though the tiredness I felt of having to deal with the bitches overwhelmed any guilt I felt.
“Do you girls want to get to your point or do we have to wait for a prefect to give us all detention for staying past curfew?” I snapped, ignoring Leah’s noisy cries.
Stretton gritted her teeth and angrily said, “Benjamin Davis rejected Leah because he thought that no one should be speaking badly about you. I know you snogged him at the back to school party.”
Dropping my book bag on the floor, I folded my arms and replied, “Why does any of my actions concern the lot of you? Benjamin Davis rejected you, Leah, because he is my friend and I am his friend and you have been nothing but a bitch to me and my friends.”
“You are such a slag! Walking around with that expression of yours that makes people want to pity you and avoiding James Potter but not letting anyone else have a chance with him and all the while every single bloody male at this bloody school are still trying to defend you!” Sapphire Smith shouted, pulling her wand out of her robes.
Looking at her wand warily, I couldn’t help but reply to the only part of her accusation that I could reply to, “I’m not a slag. You’re the bitch who betrayed Lily’s trust. And I’m not the one pointing the wand at a pregnant woman. You’re the monster here. What are you going to do? Hex me? McGonagall will give you suspension, if not expulsion for that.”
In all honesty, it probably didn’t help the situation that I pulled McGonagall into the conversation, seeing as apparently having the staff wrapped around my fingers was one of the accusations being thrown against me by other girls at this school.
This did nothing more than to make Sapphire scream louder than ever. I doubted that she cared there would be prefects hurrying over.
Without any warning however, Ruby Smith, who had stayed entirely silent throughout the entire conversation, charged at me and slapped me right across the face.
The blow was hard and I could feel my skin aching. Her eyes looked murderous, and for the first time, I felt scared of Ruby Smith.
I was a strong and independent woman, but not if I was ganged up and my baby’s safety was on the line.
Another blow came to my face, unprepared. When the third blow came, I prepared myself and grabbed Ruby Smith’s wrist in midair before her hand could come into contact with my face for a third time.
“Don’t you dare,” I growled, breathing heavily. I had no idea if my baby would feel the impact of her mother being hit, but I didn’t like taking chances. “Don’t you bloody dare hit me again.”
“Detention for a week and twenty points will be taken away from each you,” a deep voice rumbled from behind me.
The all too familiar voice had me in tears before I could even turn around.
The kind faces of James and Albus greeted me, and I couldn’t help myself but quickly back away from Ruby, as the last of my courage deserted me. Instinctively, I planted myself next to James, wrapping an arm around him before I could even think about what had just happened.
By the time I realized what I had done, James had already wrapped his arm around my shoulders, gripping me tightly.
“I’d take away more points and make you all serve detention till the end of the year but that would require more work on my part, so I would rather not involve Bella and my future niece in the administrative duties of a prefect,” Albus chattered casually, as if it was no big deal that he and James had essentially saved me.
“So you wouldn’t even do just a bit more work for someone you claim to care about? That seems so generous of you, Albus,” Stretton sneered, though she was failing to have the same effect on Albus as she had on me earlier.
Albus was unfazed as he replied, “Would you like me to notify Louis? I’m sure he would be more than happy to take away so many points from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw that your housemates would hate you. Ellie Summers probably wouldn’t have any problem with giving you lot detention every single day until the end of the school year either. Is that what you want?”
“Shut up, Megan. Do you want to clean bedpans in the Hospital Wing?” Sapphire hissed, looking beyond angry as she shot me the daggers with her eyes.
At the sound of Sapphire’s voice, I could feel James’s body become rigid and Albus visibly clenched his fists. No doubt it was costing all of their strength to not hit a female right now.
“Albus, let’s go. We don’t need to bother with these people,” I said, addressing him for the first time in ages. Even Albus’s name felt weird on my tongue after having kept in silence for so long.
Without saying anything, the three of us walked away, Albus carrying my book bag and James half-carrying me up to the Gryffindor Tower.
A/N: I AM SO SORRY THIS TOOK AGES TO UPDATE!
Life has been busy, and I've been working on my other WIPs, and I am SO sorry!
But rest assured, the next chapter is already in the works!
What did you think about Ellie? Her revelations about her mother? Neville's talk with Bella? James and Albus?!
Please leave a review with your thoughts!
Love you all, Claire
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