Chapter 16 : Chapter 16 - Albus
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‘Camping?’ I asked sceptically. ‘The guys are camping... in tents?’
I guess it was not really much of a surprise but really, but after succeeding, for almost nineteen years, to sleep all these relatives, I’d thought somehow we’d cram everyone into the Burrow... though contemplating the matter, house seemed ready to capsize already. I was almost happy C had decided to head home for Christmas eve and day, she would not have been impressed by the idea of sleeping in a tent at Christmas time... or any time of the year really.
‘Yes, Al,’ mum sighed, ‘your father managed it with a year, I’m sure you boys can cope for two or three nights.’ rooting through the over-packed cupboard as her wand was preoccupied by washing dishes. I caught a lone quaffle as it threatened to drop on her head. ‘Why were you not a Chaser?’ She laughed, pulling out a duffle bag that I assumed was stuffed with tents.
‘There could only be two in the family,’ I grunted, reaching to take them from her, ‘what happened to room sharing, I thought that plan was working fine?’ She began pushing me down the narrow hallway towards the stairs as she talked.
‘Nev and Hannah are coming over tonight, they missed you and Alice, and the girls are already in the den, and Audrey’s parents wanted to stay so that means another room is taken up, and with Gabrielle and Stephan here, Hermione and Ron already wondered if they should just go home for tonight and apparated back early in the morning but that just doesn’t seem fair and you boys have no problem with camping do you?’
‘Guess not,’ I replied, my feet thumping on the wooden stairs as we descended. I silently thought about how many pairs of feet must have travelled up and down these (this was not a good thought, It made me silently wonder too, if the stairs might collapse as I was on them). Over the banister I could see Roxanne saying goodbye to her boyfriend Chris who was going home for Christmas. I’d never met Chris before, he was a Hufflepuff and not quite the Quidditch nut that I’d generally associate with, but he was nice enough.
Nana and Grandpa were both in the kitchen, assisted by Fleur. I had a feeling some of the younger children were in the orchard playing Death Eaters and Aurors, much to Percy’s dismay, but at least they were out the way. Mum had informed me that James, Scorpius and a few other male cousins were setting up tents in the driveway, while Rose, Lily and Alice were lounging around in the warmth of the fireplace in the sitting room. I had shamefully been asleep till almost midday, and had really only woken up to say goodbye to C, only to find my mother searching for tents and discovering my bedroom for the next few days was to be moved.
‘Have you talked to your brother yet?’ Mum asked, opening the door in the kitchen for me to where the tents were being pegged in the driveway.
‘Later mum,’ I rolled my eyes, and dumped the stuff on the floor in hopes I wouldn’t be asked any more questions. She tutted but didn’t press the conversation.
The scene was... interesting... Freddie was attempting to put up a Magical tent, the Muggle way, poor sod. James was having more luck, swishing his wand as Char rattled off instructions. Scorpius and Louis were most successful, probably, of the lot, their tent nearly standing. Meanwhile Hugo was on the ground, completely entangled in ropes with a forlorn expression as he tried to reach for his wand to free himself.
‘Please tell me that is not my son, with a mother who spent almost a year in a tent, fighting with the ropes?’ Uncle Ron groaned as he appeared by my side, holding a sniffling baby Remus.
‘’Fraid so,’ I replied with a snigger, it was really an entertaining sight, he’d fallen over now and was scrabbling around in the dirt.
‘Merlin hide my eyes,’ said Ron, ‘Albus do me a favour and take Remmie to his dad, I think he’s by the orchard with Sophia.’
‘No problem,’ I took my godson in my arms, he was screwing up his eyes, no doubt ready to start cry as I held him close to my chest, ‘hey you,’ I whispered into his hair. ‘And if you see Vic tell her that Fleur’s looking for her.’ Ron added. He retreated into the house before he had to witness any more of Hugo’s shameful tent-arranging skills. I began to trudge down the familiar, tree lined path to the orchard.
I’d barely gone five steps before the thudding of running feet caught up behind me.
‘Albus,’ I recognised my brothers voice instantly.
‘James,’ I turned around to see his grinning face bearing down on me. James was a Quidditch players build, perfect for Chaser, as he had been all through Hogwarts and his career with the Tornados. Tall, muscular, the kind of bloke that girls fawned over. Meanwhile I was stuck the a few inches shorter than him, skinnier and ganglier and more the shape of a weedy teenager.
‘I’ve been looking for you,’ he fell into step beside me, slapping my back gently in greeting, a wide smile plastered on his cheeks.
‘I heard,’ I said, ‘I’ve been busy... you know, with C here...’
‘Yeah well too busy to come and see me?’ He stopped and looked down at me, I probably looked a right sight, holding a baby, having only rolled out of bed a short while ago. ‘How have you been Albie?’
‘Fine,’ I said simply, carrying on walking towards the orchard, only a few steps down the path did James catch up, ‘you? How’s Charla? Any wedding plans yet?’ I jibed in a friendly tone, trying to relax the tense atmosphere.
‘Shove off,’ James knocked into my side – careful not to hurt Remus – and grinned silently to himself.
‘Judging by that grin you two have got wedding plans,’ I winked, ‘is that what you’ve been looking for me for?’
‘No Albie, though you getting friendly with C again, don’t tell me she’s going to be part of the family.’
‘You know it’s not like that James,’ I retorted. Something between us was relaxed, further away from the family it was like there was no expectations of how we had to behave. I liked it better like this. ‘So what’s the shit with you and Charlie, you getting married or what?’
‘Not yet Al,-’
‘I don’t get what you two are waiting for.’ I added in an undertone.
‘But I’m actually here to see you about a job offer so you can shut up about my love life, seen as yours in non-existent.’ Once again I stopped in my tracks. Remus wailed loudly by the abrupt movement and a gnome trotting across the park stumble and fell head over heels into the brambles. James gave a kick at him for good measure.
‘Remember Rixande Goldstein? The younger cousin of the bloke that worked for Dad for a while.’ James asked, a curius expression on his face.
‘You mean Rixande... who worked for the prophet? Short, fake red hair, most nosey bitch you’ll meet?’
‘The very same.’
‘She still working at the prophet?’ I inquired. I knew Rixy from the time I’d worked there, she was the typical Skeeter-esque reporter but better known for being slightly kinder to her victims. However just because she was a better person than Skeeter, who I’d only met once in my (somewhat short lived) career, did not mean she was by any means a Saint.
‘Yeah, funny you asked actually because she was at training the other week, she was with the intern in the sports department of the Prophet and with the league coming up they’re doing profiles on all the teams. While the intern was interviewing she approached me and asked about you... wondered if you were up for the column job again.’ There was a slight tone of excitement in James’s voice. And there was a slight tone of excitement within me.
‘You mean...’ I trailed off.
‘At the prophet,’ he finished, clasping his hands together, ‘I know you didn’t like that job so much but there is literally nothing else Al, and you need to get back on your own feet mate.’
‘James,’ my brow furrowed as I thought deeply, ‘Rixy fired me, why does she want me back?’
‘She fired you because you were screwing up your life.’
‘She fired me because I was writing crap pieces.’
‘Don’t question, just accept. Are you going to take the job or what?’ James demanded. Everything from his voice to his to his facial expression read exactly what I was thinking.
‘I don’t have much of a choice now do I?’ I sighed desperately. I should have been thrilled, but that job was part of a life I was desperate to escape.
‘So you’ll take it?’
‘I’ll go see her after Christmas.’ I promised shifting Remus’s weight so he was less uncomfortable to hold and turning the corner straight into the orchard where already the screechy voices for children were overpowering. It wasn’t even Christmas day yet.
‘Sophia,’ James was down on his knee, his arms wrapped around the tiny blonde as she came barrelling towards him.
‘The death eaters are coming?’ she squealed, attempting to burry herself into my brothers shoulder. A group of kids wrapped up in black cloaks were darting between trees, waving sticks in the air and yelling empty words at each other.
‘Ahhh, Uncle James will protect you,’ James declared, lifting Soph onto his shoulders and running in the opposite direction. The other children caught on quickly and chased after him with cries of delight. I recognised only Tante Gabrielle’s son Luca in the mass of youngsters. As the noise of them retreated, I paced calmly through the apple trees looking for Teddy whose voice I could hear chattering a short distance away.
I found him along side Molly and her husband Andre, who were casually watching the children’s game from a distance and laughing as James was attacked my miniature “Death Eaters.”
‘I’m sure that game is outlawed everywhere except this garden,’ I insisted, watching Molly and Andre rush off to rescue their daughter and Luca from a tree, and offloading Remus into his fathers arms.
Today Teddy sported his favourite shade of turquoise hair, instantly matched by his delighted son in his arms. ‘Wish I could do that,’ I said, Teddy rolled his eyes in response, even they weren’t a normal colour, but instead a shade of caramel brown that couldn’t possibly exist in normal people.
‘It wouldn’t be fun in everyone could do it,’ Teddy pointed out as he rocked his son gently to get him to shut up. He was the perfect father in a creepy sort of childlike way. He’d been the perfect older brother too. ‘I saw you with James, how’s he, I haven’t spoken enough to him recently, bloody bastard, always busy playing Quidditch
‘What happened to using good language in front of your children?’ I asked incredulously; Remmie gurgled in delight and reached out his podgy, flailing hands to catch my attention.
‘Ah it’s fine, he doesn’t understand yet, it’s Soph you’ve got to watch out for, I swear it’s those Muggle teachers, I don’t know why Vic insists we send her to preschool, she’s just a baby, but the language my little girl comes home with...’ he shook his head.
‘Maybe it’s James,’ I put in, hearing the words “Shit” and “little Buggers” float over from James’s mouth.
‘It’s more likely to be you than James,’ Teddy pointed out, ‘you spend more time with her anyway.’
I rolled my eyes, knowing that it was probably true. ‘James met someone with a job offer for me.’ I told Teddy spontaneously, he would ask how the work situation was eventually, might as well bring it up now.
‘Oh,’ Teddy could mask his happiness a lot better than James could but it was still evident in his voice.
‘Yeah, at the prophet, with Rixande.’ And then I added, ‘again.’
‘The one with the dyed red hair?’ Teddy asked. His happiness had quickly been converted to anger, this was more obvious in the way he spat out his words.
‘The one that fired me last time.’ I looked at the floor, suddenly finding a very attractive leaf to focus my attention on.
‘You should take the job just to prove you’re better than her Al,’ he laughed bitterly. His dislike for Rixy coming out with every word, he knew a lot more “behind-the-scenes” stories of her; her hurtful comments, snarky advice, I’m-better-than-you-attitude, and her general Bitchiness.
‘Ted, I should take the job because I need fucking work.’ I replied. As much as it pained me to admit it, it was true.
There was a silence between us. We both knew what I had said was right but neither of us wanted it to feel that way. I didn’t want to feel the miserable loser that I was and Teddy didn’t want me to go back to being the poor depressed sod that I was.
‘I really don’t want to go back to working for her Ted... not after...’ I gulped down Jess’s name, painful memories erupting all over again.
‘Albus, I know you think what happened to Jess was your fault, but don’t let Rixande Effing Goldstein screw you over again okay, you really are better than her.’
‘It was my fault Ted, I was a shit boyfriend.’ Somehow the topic of conversation had left my possible future job, and turned to my former girlfriend.
‘You were a shit person, but you were the best thing in her life and she told me that all the time.’
‘Yeah I just wish she was still alive to tell me.’
Well not really much to say at the end of this chapter, I'm trying to move the story on a bit, so I guess I just revealed a little bit about Albus's "history"... this Rixande person was involved... have you guys got any guesses to how?
Well anyway I hope you enjoyed this chapter! PLEASE PLEASE REVIEW! Reviewers mean the world to me and thank you so much to people who have already reviewed, you guys are amazing!
DISCLAIMER: Everything that you recognise does not belong to me, especially the world of Harry Potter which was created by JK Rowling.