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Chapter 21 : Chapter Twenty-One
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Groggily, I rubbed my eyes and blinked. I hadn’t realized that I had fallen asleep. “What time is it?”
“It’s night time. I let our family see the baby while you were asleep,” James explained as I sat up. I noticed Harry and Ginny, in the side of the room, playing with Aurora.
Momentarily, the thought crossed into my mind that Harry and Ginny were far too young to be grandparents. Their hair hadn’t even started to gray.
“I haven’t told Mum yet,” James whispered, telling exactly what I was about to ask him.
Smiling, I raised my voice and said, “Her name is Aurora Ginevra Potter.”
Startled, Ginny turned around to face me, and a few tears started welling in her eyes before she blinked them away. “Thank you, Bella,” she said as she carefully handed Aurora to Harry.
She walked over to my bedside and gave me a light hug. With a smile, she said, “I’m not sure I’m deserving of the honor that you’ve given me. It really does mean a lot to me.”
“No, thank you, Mrs. Potter,” I smiled, grasping her hand. “You’ve done so much for me that I couldn’t possibly think of other person that deserves the honor.”
“She’s a very sturdy baby, ” Harry said, coming over, a smile at his face. “I’m quite surprised that she got the Potter hair.”
“Let’s hope that her hair won’t get messily out of control,” I laughed as Harry handed me Aurora.
Ginny sighed as a content expression crossed her features. “We really should go, but we’ll be back to visit.”
As I waved James’s parents goodbye, the thought suddenly occurred to me.
“Did you tell Rose? And Lucy?”
James winced. “To say angry is an understatement of Lucy’s fury. I think she’ll be back tomorrow to yell some more.”
“Ah. The dulcet tones of Lucy Weasley always brightens up a person’s day,” I sighed, gripping Aurora tighter as I collapsed back onto the bed. “Maybe I shouldn’t have picked a godmother at all.”
“Rose is responsible. With a family like this, Rory will need ‘responsible’. And I didn’t tell Albus yet. I figured you wanted to tell him yourself.” James assured me as he stroked my hair gently.
I nodded, smiling thankfully at James as he gave me a kiss on the top of my head. Suddenly as if he had just remembered, James said, “Bella, I should tell you. Your father is here.”
Immediately, I sat back up. “What? I thought everyone left!”
“He came by earlier while you were asleep and wanted to talk. He insisted on staying until you woke up again,” James said quietly, his eyes watching me very carefully. “He’s nodding off outside in the chairs with your mother.”
It took a moment for me to process this fact as an odd feeling surfaced in my stomach. A mixture of anxiety, hope, and fear.
“Could you please wake him up?” I asked James quietly. “I think it’s time I talked to him.”
Without a word, James nodded and headed for the door. “I’ll wait for you outside until you’re done, Bella.”
“Thank you,” I told James quietly, peering down at Aurora. She has been remarkably quiet so far, though I was sure her quietness was going to end as soon as she was hungry again. I felt so horrible about sleeping away whilst James had to take care of Aurora as everyone visited.
Before I could dwell on the thought, however, the door opened quietly and I was face to face with my father for the first time in months.
His face looked worn out, and though there were so many things that I wanted to shout about, I couldn’t help but want to embrace my father as he quietly walked towards the bed.
I caught my mother’s eye in the background as she gave me an encouraging nod.
“Hi Daddy,” I whispered, my face melting into a weak smile.
“Hello, sweetheart,” he replied as he bent down to take a closer look at Aurora. A smile spread across his face, and I couldn’t help but sigh contently inwardly.
I said to my father, “She’s been rather quiet. I thought babies liked to make a lot of fuss.”
“They know make a fuss when they need something. I think she has been very well taken care,” my father reassured me.
A silent lull in the conversation fell between us. There were many things I wanted to say, and so many things I didn’t know how to say. Despite it all, however, I wasn’t sure that I had ever felt quite so happy before.
“Bella, I still stand by my belief that getting pregnant before you finished school is a mistake,” my father started. My face fell at his words, but he went on. “I do not believe I handled it the best way possible. You needed support, and you didn’t receive any from me.”
I didn’t say anything. This was as close as I ever got to an apology from my father. My own apology was hanging at the tip of my tongues, but the stubborn side of me didn’t relent.
Seeing as I wasn’t going to reply, my father said, “Bella, you can have whatever help you need with the baby. I wasn’t right to kick you out of the house either. Your mother, Mrs. Potter, and James have already told me that the two of you will be living together, and you will not return to Hogwarts, is this correct?”
Mutely, I nodded. I couldn’t see where he was going at with this. There were many things we hadn’t planned yet, but until James and I had a flat, we had planned to stay at the Potters’.
“I want you to know that you always have a home with me and your mother. Charlie is thinking of moving out soon as well, but no matter what, your mother and I will always be here to help,” my father said in one of the most sincerest tones I had ever heard.
Tears started welling in my eyes as I turned to face my father. “Thank you,” I blubbered to him as he leaned down and kissed me on the top of my head.
“I love you, Bella,” my father said. “No matter what mistakes you make, no matter what you do, even if I disapprove, I will always love you.”
“That is all I ask for,” I smiled at my father. “I love you too, Daddy.”
My mother smiled at me as she opened the door and quietly led my father out.
“Mum?” I called out, before she could leave.
My mother walked back towards me, asking, “Yes, honey?”
“Thank you for persuading him,” I said quietly. “It means a lot to me.”
My mother smiled but shook her head. “Oh, honey. Of course I tried to talk sense into him, but you’ll have to thank your friend for making him come around.”
I cocked my head in confusion. “What are you talking about?”
“Draco Malfoy!” My mother said in a very matter-of-fact way. “He’s a very important business partner to your father, and Mr. Malfoy is also Scorpius’s father.”
“I know that. So?” I blinked confusedly. I wasn’t sure why the Malfoys’ name had popped up all of a sudden.
My mother rolled her eyes at me and said, “You know how your father very rarely interacts socially with people outside of our family. Mr. Malfoy had come up to him a while back, and let him know he knew the entire situation. Obviously, it didn’t please your father one bit when Mr. Malfoy tried to give him advice, but I think an outsider’s point of view was what your father needed. You should thank Scorpius for persuading his father to talk to your father. If it wasn’t for Mr. Malfoy, I’m afraid that your dad might have taken far longer to realize the truth.”
The shock that Mr. Malfoy, of all people, had a say in persuading my father to come around was like a huge bomb being dropped. The fact that Scorpius had gone into such trouble to get Mr. Malfoy to talk to my father as a friend made me wonder just how many people I owed while I attempted to get through this crazy pregnancy.
“I shall remember to thank him properly,” I murmured as my mother kissed both me and Aurora lightly before exiting.
“I don’t know why you’re worrying. I’ll do absolutely fine,” James reassured me as we sat together in his bedroom. “I’ve been studying loads.”
I looked at him skeptically. I was in the middle of breastfeeding Aurora who indeed had started to become far more fussy as I left St. Mungo’s. Without the care of professionals, I realized that St. Mungo’s really hadn’t helped me prepare for the fact that I would have to be taking care of Aurora twenty-four hours a day.
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘loads’, but do I need to remind you that this is the NEWTs that we’re talking about? Harder than O.W.L.s? If you fail every single one, I don’t care that you’ll become a professional Quidditch player. I’ll still smack you over the head,” I told him.
James rolled his eyes at me. He laid down on his bed, peering at me and said, “Who will take care of you if I’m at Hogwarts?”
“Uhm, how about your entire family and my entire family?” I rolled my eyes before I peered down at Aurora who was looking far more happy now that she was being fed. “And I’ve been meaning to say. McGonagall has said that even though I told her I wouldn’t be returning next year, I still have to finish the end of the year exams.”
“Old McGonagall,” James sighed. “I don’t suppose that telling you not to bother with the exams is worth it.”
“Absolutely not. I didn’t waste all of that time studying for no reason,” I exclaimed. “Care of Magical Creatures will be simple enough, I hope. Charms shouldn’t be too hard. Herbology… well, Herbology’s always a wild card. Defense should be okay seeing as your dad has been helping me out. The only really difficult one I might not pass is Transfiguration, which is a bother because I need to pass Transfiguration.”
“I don’t suppose Sinclair will go any easier on you,” James said hopefully.
I shook my head. “Being pregnant meant nothing to him in terms of school work. He hasn’t treated me any differently.”
“Well, if it makes you feel better, I think Longbottom and Hagrid will go easy on you. You’re not even returning next year anyways. If my dad’s helping you with Defense, you’ll be just fine. Just focus on Transfiguration and revising a bit for Charms, and you’ll be set for next week!” James said in a remarkably bright voice. Noting that Aurora full, he said, “If you’re done, my mum has promised to watch Aurora for a bit. I have something to show you.”
Frowning as James took Aurora from me, I began to tidy myself up and said, “Where are we going? You have revision to do.”
“Revision can wait. Our future can’t,” James said dismissively as he started patting Aurora on the back in an attempt to make her burp. “Blimey, this is harder than it looks.”
I snorted, a smile playing at my lips as I said, “Parenthood is always harder than it seems.”
As we made our way downstairs and Ginny reassured me to not worry one bit about Aurora, James and I headed towards the Apparition point in the living room.
He had nearly forgotten I didn’t even know how to Apparate until I gripped his hand so tightly that I was sure his blood flow was nearly cut off.
The feeling of Apparition wasn’t pleasant, and I was far happier to Floo, even if it meant soot everywhere if the fireplace wasn’t positively spotless, which it never is.
“Where are we?” I blinked, looking around and noting that we had Apparated into a place that oddly reminded me of The Burrow.
“We’re in Dorset,” James explained as we started climbing up a hill. I realized that being pregnant meant I also had a lot of exercising ahead of me.
When I had finally tackled the horrible hill, I realized there was a house sitting there surrounded by meadows of grass and looking positively delightful.
“Who lives there?” I asked, confused why we’re here. To the best that I could deduce, no one we knew lived here.
James started explaining as the two of us started walking closer towards the house. “My grandfather had a huge inheritance, most of which my father discovered after he came of age and the War had ended. Potter Manor is where my grandfather had grown up, and the house in Godric’s Hollow was one of the two houses that were left in his name.”
“Two?” I asked, though the answer seemed clearer and clearer.
James nodded and continued explaining, “Two. This house was used by my great-grandfather’s brother, Charlus Potter. They died childless, so it automatically passed onto my great-grandfather, which became my grandfather’s when they passed away. Even though Dad decided to live in Potter Manor instead and obviously Godric’s Hollow is left in its ruined state, he couldn’t part with this house and he gave me the deed of the house during Spring Break.”
I didn’t say anything, but I had an idea where this entire thing was going. The thought that I could be right made my heart leap like never before.
“I’d been planning on getting us a flat in London, but my father insisted on this house instead, since it was ours anyways,” James explained, looking at me rather worriedly. “I’d been getting in contact with people during Spring term to get the house fixed up again. It doesn’t have any furniture because Mum thought that you’d like to pick it out.”
I really wasn’t sure what to say. At the moment, I couldn’t believe that James had thought so far into the future that he’d gotten a house, even if the deed already belonged to the Potters.
We were now a few yards away from the entrance of the house when the happy tears that were welling up started to fall.
“Oh James, I can’t believe you did this,” I sighed contently as I jumped into his arms, hugging him tightly.
There were so many things I didn’t know about the future. The two of us could break up, James could be forced to switch careers, my not finishing Hogwarts could come back to haunt me, but in this moment, I didn’t care that I was looking at life so optimistically.
Ever since the misunderstanding between James and I had been cleared away, I had felt that anything was possible as long as I had him and my friends by my side.
Perhaps people would look at us and think that only two kids with well-off parents could possibly get such a happy ending out of this teenage pregnancy, and they wouldn’t be wrong.
James and I were remarkably lucky to have the family we have and to receive the kind of support that we had received.
To me, it didn’t matter that some people might look at us scornfully because what mattered to me was that I had my family by my side. I had my old family, my friends as my family, and now James and I had started our own family.
Nothing in the future can ever be guaranteed, but I knew none of that mattered because I was certain that all I needed was faith in the people I loved and trusted.
There was nothing I wanted more to do than be finished with my exams today and return back to the Potters where I could finally see my friends after two weeks.
Not only did James, Ethan, Louis, and Sam have to take their NEWTs, my friends had to complete their end of the year exams the same time as every other student.
Now that Aurora had been born and my friends had been to see her at St. Mungo’s, McGonagall saw no more reason why they should be allowed to leave Hogwarts until their exams were over.
She had already been huffy enough that I would be leaving three weeks early, but granted not only permission for me to take my exams at a later date, but also for my friends to take a day off from Hogwarts during the weekend to visit home.
I supposed that under Professor McGonagall’s steely exterior there was a kind-hearted woman who had seen far too much for her to separate a mother from her newly-born daughter.
It had been positively horrible to be away from my friends for a prolonged period of time but also extremely exciting when I remembered all of the things I had to update my friends about.
Albus still didn’t know he was godfather, and Lucy still needed her chance to yell at me.
I felt extremely nervous; I rhythmically tapped my wand against my thighs as I waited for each exam to begin. The expressionless faces of my professors did nothing to encourage me as I walked out of each exam and headed to take the next one.
I was reminded of taking my O.W.L.s again, and never thought that I would ever experience feeling so utterly unprepared as I did when I went in for my Transfiguration exam, the final exam before I was free to go home.
Seeing as I was no longer pregnant, Sinclair expected me to perform Human Transfiguration on myself, something that I had very little practice with.
Sinclair had barked the instructions at me, more intimidating than usual. According to Sinclair, I was not only expected to change the color of my entire wardrobe, but also to essentially transfigure my face to look entirely different.
Quite frankly, I never quite understood the difference between Multicorfors and the Color-Changing Charm. I panicked, however, when my cloak didn’t reach the scarlet red it was supposed to. Sinclair glared at me when I mumbled the Color-Changing Charm instead of the Transfiguration spell in order to reach the scarlet red that it was supposed to be.
“Need I remind you that we are doing Transfiguration¸ Ms. Hart, not Charms,” Sinclair said rather snappishly.
Hanging my head rather sheepishly, I nodded. I had to resist the urge to yell at him, reminding myself that he was not only my professor, but he had been the one who had been logical enough to tell my crazy friends what to do when I was going into labor. However, I did suppose that his impatience came from the fact that my exams were entirely different from everyone else, and he had to be “working” on a weekend.
I did suppose that being pregnant and not being pregnant had a huge impact in Sinclair’s attitude towards me as he quickly ushered me out of his classroom not more than a minute later.
It was then and there that I decided to myself that Sinclair and I would never see eye to eye, and neither will Transfiguration ever be my area of expertise when it came to magic.
It was an extremely long walk to Hogsmeade, where Albus was waiting for me in the Three Broomsticks. The exercise was much needed, but the feeling of not being pregnant after feeling like a blown up whale for nine months was almost odd.
“Albus,” I called out as I entered the Three Broomsticks.
Albus, who had been sitting on the counter drinking his butterbeer, turned around and grinned as he spotted me. Leaving some gold on the counter to pay for his drink, he hurried over.
“How was it?” he asked.
I groaned. “Oh my gosh, let’s not talk about it. My Multicorfors spell didn’t make my cloak turn scarlet red as it was supposed to, so I panicked and did a Color-Changing Charm. Sinclair was all sniffy the entire time and it only made him more pissed off that I tried to use Charms.”
Albus laughed loudly. “Merlin’s beard, Sinclair really doesn’t like you too much.”
“I swear, he hates me. The only reason he had been decent to me was because I was pregnant, and most men are so scared of a pregnant female,” I said, shaking my head as I gripped Albus’s arm tightly. “Please don’t splinch me, Al.”
I was far more distrustful of Albus’s Apparating skills than I was of James’s , but Albus merely snorted as he Apparated the both of us back to his house where the rest of our friends were waiting.
The first thing that I noticed when I stepped foot in the Potters’ living room was that the living room looked like it suddenly was Santa’s workshop a week before Christmas. Presents were everywhere, and I was sure that it couldn’t all be from my friends alone.
James was entertaining Aurora by shooting small sparks out of his wand as Lucy cuddled with Aurora on the sofa.
I wasn’t sure Aurora was old enough to even be entertained by sparks of red, but it seemed as though my friends and James knew could get along just fine without me for a day.
“Mummy’s back!” James cried to Aurora with delight, stowing his wand away. I smiled as I stepped away from Albus, and took Aurora from Lucy, feeling far more complete with her at my side.
“Hello baby, how was your day?” I asked Aurora.
“Oh it was good!” James started to say before I fixed him with a look that told him I hadn’t been talking to him.
Louis sniggered loudly. “Nice one, mate.”
James huffed, rather put out by my lack of enthusiasm to see him as compared to Aurora. “It’s nice to see you too, honey. I’ve missed you too.”
I gave James a kiss on the cheek and turned to Lucy with a huge grin, noticing that she was looking at me all this time with a fixed, fake-hurt, glare.
“Bella Arianna Hart. I demand to know why Rose was chosen as godmother over me,” Lucy said, putting her hands on her hips.
“I still love you lots, Lucy,” I smiled at her, though Lucy remained pouting and looking put out.
Grace rolled her eyes with a smile and said, “Don’t be dramatic, Lucy. You’ll get the next baby. Rose just got this one because…. Well….”
“Because I’m more responsible,” Rose teased as she threw her arms around me as best as she could with Aurora in my arms. “Thank you so much, Bells. It’s such an honor.”
“I’m glad that you think so,” I grinned at her, choosing to never tell her that she was picked quite by random. “And speaking of which, James and I have another announcement to make.”
“Oh Merlin, please tell me you’re not pregnant again,” Ethan paled significantly.
Sam snorted. “Mate, I don’t think that’s possible.”
“No, I’m not pregnant again, Ethan,” I rolled my eyes at him. “James, would you care to do the honors?”
James grinned widely and nodded. Turning to our friends, he said, “Aurora actually does have a godfather.”
“I knew it! It’s me, isn’t it?” Louis said boastfully. “I know, I accept. Thank you so much.”
“Louis, mate, if they chose Rose because she’s responsible, I think you’re the last person that they’d possibly choose for a godfather,” Scorpius snorted as he wrapped his arms around Rose. I shot him a big smile, remembering that I still had to thank him.
“Bella and I both agreed on this person. He has not only been there, helping the both of us out, but he has also done so without any acknowledgement. He has proved to be one of the most, if not the most, selfless person that the both of us have ever known. We’re happy to say that Aurora’s godfather is Albus,” James declared proudly with a sparkling glint in his eyes.
Albus’s mouth dropped wide open as everyone whooped and shouted congratulations. I noticed Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione, who were standing at the edge of the living room, all smiling brightly and applauding.
Albus received multiple claps on the back, hugs, and happy wishes. As he finally made his way over, however, I passed Aurora to James and gave my best friend the biggest hug that I had ever given him, one that I sorely owed to him as well.
“Thank you so much, Bella,” Al whispered in my ear. His voice quivered slightly from emotion.
I pulled back and shook my head. “No, thank you Al. You’ve always been there for me, and you’ve always been so understanding when every single male seemed to be utterly clueless. I owed you and Scorpius, especially you, the truth about me being pregnant when I first discovered, but I didn’t tell you until you found out the public way. You saved me from Stretton, Smith, Woodley, and the others, and you’ve done so much for me that I don’t think I can ever possibly thank you enough for. I don’t know another person who could be as loyal and as good of a friend and as wonderful of a person as you are. Thank you, Al, for being there for me.”
As words after words flowed out of my mouth in all of the unsaid thanks that I never quite managed to convey to Albus over the years, it was almost as if I could see some of the uncertainties and insecurities in his eyes slowly dissipate away. Though I wondered whether I had been a large source of those insecurities, I gave Albus another hug.
Albus Potter was a gem, and even though my heart will only be taken by James, it seemed to me as though I had dropped one Potter for another without realizing everything that Albus had done for me.
I let Albus get along to have whatever sort of warm and fuzzy talk he and James wanted to have, as I hurried over to another male that I sorely needed to thank.
“Scorpius,” I called, giving Rose a significant look before I disentangled him from Rose. “I want to thank you.”
“For what?” Scorpius said, trying to give me his best-innocent expression, though it wasn’t working.
“Thank you for getting your father to talked to my dad. My mum told me that it was only because of your father that my dad finally was able to see sense,” I told him, smiling.
Scorpius shook his head. “Then you should be thanking my father instead of me.”
“Oh, Scorpius,” I sighed. “You need to take more credit for yourself. As charming of a man as I’m sure your father is, I don’t think it’s me that had him giving family advice to his business partner. He did it because of you.”
“Rose told me to,” Scorpius mumbled, looking down at his feet.
I wanted to smack him over the head. “You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink it. Stop trying to give the credit to other people. It’s really not like you to do that. It’s really because of you that my father and I are talking again. If you never convinced your father to talk to my dad, he might never have seen sense. He and I will always disagree on many issues, but I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to not be disowned, even if I never officially was. It’s odd, to say that you had a part in my family’s relationship, but it’s true. My father needed an outside advice, someone to talk to him like a friend to make him realize the truth. So I want to thank you for everything that you did. I’m still a Muggleborn. As changed of a man as I’m sure your father is, I don’t think it’s easy for him to accept that I have magic but my family is all Muggles. Old habits die hard, and you’re the who persuaded him. You’re my friend, and you’re the one that’s been there as well. I don’t think I ever managed to fully appreciate you and Albus, so I want to thank you for being my friend, and for being there.”
Scorpius smiled as he gave me a hug. “Don’t worry about it, Bella. I may be Rose’s boyfriend, but we’ll always be friends. I’d do this, and more, for you at any time before you, Rose, Lucy, and Albus have been some of the best friends that I could ever dream of having.”
I pulled away Scorpius with a smile. “You’re my best friend too, Scorp. Now go on, back to Rose. I hope you know Mr. Weasley was staring at you two earlier.”
“What?” Scorpius went a little green. As hard as it had been for Rose’s family to initially accept her relationship with Scorpius, the two of them tried to make as little PDA as possible.
I laughed at his expression, and shooed him off, though I realized that he went and joined Albus instead of snaking his way back to Rose.
I threw my arms around Grace and Lucy as I said, “I love you girls.”
“I love you too,” Lucy replied. “What’s with the sudden display of affection?”
“I’m probably going to make rounds today to thank people, so I might as well put that out there,” I grinned. “I love you all, and thank you for what you’ve done. I don’t think you need reassurances of my affection as Albus and Scorpius do.”
Rose snorted. “Those two needed reassurances?”
“Well, they are boys,” Grace pointed out. “Albus had been grumbling the other day about not being ‘appreciated’. I didn’t know if I should have taken him seriously or not.”
“Ah. Albus. Our little secret drama queen,” Lucy sighed dramatically with a hand over her heart.
I laughed at her theatrics as I felt someone nuzzling my hair.
Turning around, I noticed James and Aurora standing behind me, Aurora holding her arms out rather cutely.
“Aw, someone misses their mummy,” James cooed, handing our daughter over to me.
“Aw, I miss you too,” I nearly squealed as I hugged Aurora tightly. She was the source of every single happiness that I felt today. Not my unpleasant day could ruin the utter joy that I was experiencing at the moment.
I looked up at James and grinned as he wrapped his arm around my waist. He gave me a kiss on the top of my head and murmured, “I love you, Bella.”
“I love you too, James,” I smiled as he returned my smile.
There were many things that still were quite uncertain. James and I could very well have done absolutely horribly on our exams, James still had to graduate, I still had to learn how to properly be a mother, the both of us had many obstacles in the future.
But for getting through this year with newly forged bonds, older bonds made stronger, and many wonderful things to happen in the future, I rated my life as ‘Outstanding’.
A/N: OH MY GOSH! LAST CHAPTER (excluding Epilogue)!!! I really can't believe that I made it this far. I had feared that this ending might be a little rushed, but I really didn't see the point of dragging things on and on. After all, we all know that life is unexpected with many twists, but a happy ending has to happen somewhere.
This is one form of many happy endings.
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing and sticking with me!
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