Chapter 11 : Trouble
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The next weekend was a Hogsmeade weekend and for the first time since my third-year I was actually looking forward to it. Al had asked me whether I wanted to go to the village with him at dinner the previous week after he caught me crying in the corridor. At first I said yes because I felt bad for him and because he’d comforted me but over the past week I’d grown rather fond of him and we were now spending more time together than ever before. However, this did have its down sides; for one, people were now giving me dirty looks not just for being pregnant but also for supposedly ‘excluding’ the baby’s father. It wasn’t my fault that he’d been ignoring me again since the press found out about the pregnancy. If he didn’t want to take responsibility for his actions then so be it; the baby would probably be better off without him at this rate.
Al and I had arranged to meet at the Hogsmeade Post Office at 11 O’clock on Saturday morning so I got up early and began to get ready whilst eating some toast that Joanna had brought me from the Great Hall. It was so depressing to put on my favourite top and realise that it was now far too small. I tried an expansion charm on it only lasted for a few minutes. Finally I decided to pick out something new; a maternity dress which Becca had bought me: it was nice and comfortable but also stylish and thankfully not stereotypically frumpy. I then put on my coat and set off out of the castle. However, as soon as I left the school grounds I was interrupted by a sudden tsunami of flashing lights and clicking noises. It took me a few seconds to process these unexpected sights and sounds before I finally realised that they were cameras. Oh merlin, the press must have been waiting to print pictures of me since the news of the baby was somehow leaked the previous week. Paparazzi were shouting questions at me from all directions but I knew better than to say anything which could have been taken out of context so I just replied with “no comment”. This must have been what it was like for James, Al and Lily all their lives, yet James seemed not to mind the madness of it all and neither did Lily. Al, however, hated it. I’d seen many a picture of him and his siblings in the Daily Prophet and, contrary to the rest of his family (apart from his father in the odd photo), he never seemed to be smiling.
I eventually managed to push past all the cameras and walk brusquely to Hogsmeade. I received a plethora of glares and whispers in my direction from several shoppers and shop-keepers but I’d gotten so used to it that I barely even noticed it. When I reached the post office, I saw Al perched on a small rock stroking a snowy owl whom I assumed to be his own judging by the playful manner in which he was petting it.
“Hey Al, is that owl yours?” I asked interestedly.
"Oh, hey Viola!” he said pleasantly, “And yeah, he’s mine; a present from my Dad when I turned eleven- his name’s Moony.”
"Aw, that’s cute, hey Moony!” I said, stroking Moony’s smooth feathers as I sat down.
"So, Vi, what do you fancy doing?” asked Al.
"Erm… I don’t know really, what about going to Madam Puddifoot’s?” I suggested. For a split second Al’s eyes widened and his eyebrows rose as if he was surprised at my suggestion.
"Yeah, that’d be great!” he said, grinning. I got the feeling that he’d secretly been hoping I’d say that, but I didn’t mind; in fact I thought it was quite cute. I took a moment to appreciate his pretty adorable smile before getting up. His smile reminded me painfully of James and I suddenly felt a pang of guilt; was I really doing the right thing by my child by going out with its uncle and potentially substituting him for the kid’s Dad? I didn’t want to think about it so I decided that if James never had the chance to be this kid’s Dad then it would ultimately be his fault for not yet acknowledging his responsibilities.
We walked to Madam Puddifoot’s through a fresh gale of wind and finally arrived in the warm, cosy tea shop and sat ourselves down on a pair of squashy pink armchairs and ordered a couple of teas as we made ourselves comfortable. “So, Al, are you looking forward to Christmas?”
“Erm, yeah I guess so, I mean I haven’t really thought about it much to be honest with you.”
"Oh right, but have you asked for anything at all from your parents?”
“Yeah, I asked them for a new broomstick as my Orbit 360 is almost at breaking point. What about you?”Al said. Suddenly, his face fell as he realised that he had mentioned my parents. I wasn’t angry at him for doing so but I hated the feeling of being hit in the stomach whenever I thought of my Mum and Dad. “Oh merlin, I’m sorry Vi, I didn’t mean to-“
“-No, Al, it’s fine- just leave it.” There was a long silence after that which was filled by us unintentionally and simultaneously sipping our teas.
"Look Vi, I just want to say that I’m really sorry for what my brother did to you and I’m sorry that he’s not doing anything about it either.” said Al after a while with a meaningful look in his bright green eyes.
"But Al, it’s not your fault, why are you apologising?"
"I don’t know… I guess I just feel protective over you and I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“Aw Al! That’s so sweet!” I exclaimed, genuinely touched, “But honestly, I’ll be alright. Besides, now that it’s all out in the open I’m starting to look forward to having this baby.” I said truthfully.
"Seriously? Well… that’s great!”
"Yeah well it’s just that I don’t really have anything to lose any more so I might as well just look forward to meeting my baby instead of worrying about it when nothing can be done anyway."
"Good point. So, what do you want; a boy or a girl?” he asked.
“Oh I don’t know. I really wouldn’t mind either way.”
"Yeah same, I don’t mind either.”
"Wait, what? But Al, the baby-”
“-Isn’t mine, yeah, yeah, but honestly Vi, I want to help you with this kid-”
"-Yes I know, but I just don’t want you to feel obliged to look after this child just because its real father probably won’t be around.”
"But that’s the thing- for me it’s not an obligation; I want to help you with this baby Viola- I’d do anything for you!”
"But Al, I don’t know if I could ever feel the same way towards you and it makes me feel like I’m trapping you, I mean, you’re only sixteen!”
"So? I don’t care, Vi, I love you and I’ll love this baby if you could just give me a chance!” he whispered frantically so that people at the other table couldn’t hear us. His offer was now extremely tempting and I could tell that Al meant what he was saying so I accepted his offer on the conditions that if James wanted to be involved then he’d let him."Seriously? So I can help you, yeah?” he asked, making sure that his ears hadn’t been deceiving him.
"Yes, but only if you stick to what I said.” Suddenly, I was taken aback as Al leant towards me and kissed me. On the lips; and oh my merlin it felt good! I knew that I liked Al but I never knew that receiving a kiss from him would send such a shockwave of butterflies through my stomach! I could feel myself blushing and I could see Al’s face burning up; I don’t think he’d been planning on kissing me.
"Well, shall we leave then, it’s getting a bit stuffy in here, don’t you think?” said Al nervously."Yeah, sure.” I agreed. We then walked awkwardly out of the shop and into the blisteringly cold lane which ran through the village. “Bloody hell, it’s even more freezing than before, let’s get inside somewhere.” said Al, his jaw already chattering. We clambered into the nearest building which was the thankfully-warm Three Broomsticks pub. “Tell you what Vi,” said Al, who appeared to have forgotten his embarrassment from earlier, “Let’s just stay here for a bit until the wind calms down a bit.”
"Definitely.” I replied, rubbing my hands. I went and found a table whilst Al fetched a couple of very welcoming butterbeers. We talked normally for around fifteen minutes, forgetting our awkward kiss, until I suddenly felt the urge to use the loo. However, as I was walking back from the toilets, I noticed a very familiar-looking figure sitting at a table towards the back-end of the pub. There was no mistaking that untameable black hair; it was James. However, he wasn’t just sitting; he was drinking, but not just your standard butterbeer. He was surrounded by about four empty bottles of firewhisky and was currently consuming his fifth. I had no idea that he’d let his troubles get so out-of-hand.“James?” I said quietly, trying not to alert Al’s attention, “James, it’s me, Viola.”
"Vi? Wharra you doon here?” he said, slurring heavily.“I just went to the loo, that’s all.”
“No you didn’t, you’re with my brurr, Albuuus.” He said, dragging out Al’s name.
"Er, James, I really think you’ve had enough to drink now; why don’t you put that bottle down and just have some water.”
"No! How can you esspect me ter stop when I’ve got so much shhhit in my life goin’ on?” he slurred, “ I mean, I can’t look affer a kid, not when my brurr won’t let me.”
"James, if you want to be part of your child’s life then you’ve got to man-up and do something about it rather than just ignoring the kid as if it doesn’t exist or something.”
"But I was gonna have a career as a famouuus qu-qu-quiddissh player.”
"Yeah well sometimes things don’t work out quite the way you want them to.”
"But I juss wanna be norrrrmal… I’ve never been norrrrmal… I juss wanna be a norrrrmal teeeeenage boy without a kid.”
"James, please don’t say anything you’ll regret- I promise you that when this baby is born, you’re going to love it and your role as a father will come naturally as long as you act sensibly and don’t let your jealousy get the better of you.”
"What jealousy?” he asked, looking like a confused child, his head slumped in his hands.
"Well it’s pretty obvious that you’re jealous of your brother and that you don’t want him to act like this kid’s father instead of you.” Suddenly, there was small noise as James’ head hit the table; he’d passed out.
“Viola? Is that you? Are you okay?” I heard Al call from a slight distance. Suddenly he was by me as he caught sight of James.“What-“
"Firewhisky.” I replied bluntly.
"Oh blimey, get Madam Rosmerta. What was he doing here anyway?”
“Drowning his sorrows, I think.” I replied as I went to get Madam Rosmerta who quickly whipped out a new phial of Pepper-Up potion and shoved the liquid into James’ gaping mouth. Al’s face displayed a mixture of anger and concern as Madam Rosmerta lifted James’ limp body from the table.
"I think you’d better take him up to the Hospital Wing, Mr Potter.” she said to Al.
"Oh great.” Said Al sarcastically, hauling James up from under his armpits.
"Er, Al, don’t you think it’d be easier just to use a levitation charm?” I suggested.
"Oh yeah.” He mumbled as he lifted James up with his wand.
Al was reluctant to stay with James in the Hospital Wing so he sauntered off back to his dormitory after kissing me goodbye (we were both too pre-occupied with James so be embarrassed about kissing anymore). I, however, stayed as I decided I had nothing better to do. James woke up at around 6pm, immediately complaining of a headache. He didn’t appear to remember what had happened as he kept questioning me on what was going on:“Viola? What’re you doing in here?” he asked sleepily.
"Keeping an eye on you.”
"Oh my God, that’s just creepy! I knew you fancied me but… why come all the way up here? How did you get in here anyway?”
"Creepy? How? I was just making sure you were alright, and for the record I don’t fancy you anymore. Also, anyone can come in here.”
"No they can’t!”
"Er, James, we’re in the hospital wing.” I said straightly.
"What?! I thought we were in my dorm!” he said, before fully opening his eyes and taking in his surroundings, “Wait… why am I in here anyway?”
"You don’t remember?” I asked. James nodded so I continued, “You passed out.”
"Firewhisky. You were drinking your fifth bottle when I found you.”
"Oh. Sorry about that.” He said worriedly.
"Hmm. Well anyway, Al and I had to haul you all the way from the Three Broomsticks!”
"Oh merlin, I’m sorry you had to see me like that… wait, what were you and Al doing in there?”
“Er, well… if you must know, we were on a date in Hogsmeade.”
"Oh.” said James, who had a strange look on his face.
"Well, I’d better be off then.” I said, breaking the awkward pause.
"Okay… thanks, y’know, for helping me.”
"It's alright.” I replied before walking to leave. However, just before I could open the doors I turned back around to him, “James, you know that if you need to talk then I’m always here. You don’t have to bottle-up your emotions all the time for the fear that people will think you’re a woos or something and I really don’t want you to let yourself get out of control or anything.”
"Thanks.” Said James before continuing to speak once more, “Vi, please don’t shut me out. I don’t want Al to replace my place in this kid’s life, okay?” I considered his words for a moment; did he really care that much about Al and I?
“I’ll try my best, James, but if you want to act like this child’s father then you can’t just rely on me to make it happen.” I said before turning around once again and leaving.
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