Chapter 13 : Christmas
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The Christmas holidays had finally arrived with a blanket of smooth white snow which had spread all over Hogwarts. Looking at the cosy castle with its glistening lights illuminating the icy grounds almost made me want to stay over the holidays, but still; I was rather looking forward to having a break from the immense amounts of schoolwork which I’d been receiving over the previous term. Mum and Dad were at Platform 9¾ to meet us when we got off the Hogwarts Express so we both walked up to them rather nervously.
“Scorpius! Viola, darling! How good to see you both; I’ve missed you too so much!”
“Missed you too, Mum,” Scorpius and I both mumbled whilst Dad remained slightly behind Mum, trying to avoid any eye contact.
“Goodness, Viola! We only saw you a month ago and yet you’re so much bigger!”
“Hmm, thanks,” I replied sarcastically.
Scorpius and I eventually said “hello” to Dad but only Scorpius received a hug. After that, we were left to platform to go home (I’d already said my goodbyes to Al when I got off the train). Out of the corner of eye I could see Scorpius subtly wink at Rose as a secret farewell; Mum, Dad and Rose’s parents still didn’t know about the couple as it would probably just create even more arguments between our families due to Rose’s Dad’s distaste for my Dad and vice versa.
The first couple of days of the holiday were spent doing frantic shopping and hurriedly preparing decorations and whatnot. I could really have used a house-elf but Dad no longer owned one. I decided that Christmas was the best opportunity to go shopping for the baby as I’d be having it before I would next come home; therefore, Mum and I went out to a muggle shopping centre on the 23rd as we knew the Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly couldn’t follow us there. We ended up buying multiple baby clothes including cute little socks, adorable onesies and tiny hats to keep his head warm. We also purchased a pram, cot, bedding and things for the baby’s bedroom (i.e. curtains, paint, stuffed animals, pictures and some toys) so it was all in all a successful shopping trip.
As soon as we returned home, I got to work on the bedroom, which was currently empty and unused. Although the baby wouldn’t be sleeping in there until it was a few months old, I decided it’d be more practical to do it at that moment rather than when I’d have a baby to deal with as well. With some difficult wand-work, I managed to paint the walls a baby blue colour and hang the curtains (a dark blue with silver stars) and some pictures. It looked immediately better as, before it had been decorated, it had been a dull grey colour to fit in with parts of the rest of the house. Once I’d put in the white cot, white wardrobe (containing the baby clothes) and a light fitting, I happily looked back at my hard work- it was perfect.
On the morning of the 24th, I got up at ten in the morning and got ready for James to come over; he was supposed to be arriving at twelve for lunch. I showered, ate breakfast, got dressed into a red silky blouse and a pair of black leggings- not too formal but not too casual. Mum and Dad, however, were dressed much more seriously than I was; Dad wore a shirt with a tie and some black trousers whilst Mum wore a cold green cocktail dress, making her look even more pale than usual. You can imagine the sort of response that Scorpius got when he traipsed downstairs at eleven thirty wearing a t-shirt and jeans; needless to say, Mum made him get changed into a shirt and trousers and was now combing his hair.
“Mum, this is pointless; James and I have known each other for six years- It’s not like I need to make a good impression!”
“Just be quiet Scorpius. Besides, that so-called ‘fashionable’ hairstyle of yours doesn’t suit you at all,” replied Mum bluntly. I could tell she was getting anxious as she was rather aggressively tugging at Scorp’s hair when she really didn’t need to. However, I could understand how she was feeling as I was also becoming increasingly nervous; it was already 12:20 and James still hadn’t arrived. Therefore, when he finally arrived half-an-hour late, I could tell my Dad was internally judging him.
“Sorry I’m late, my Uncle Ron had to drive me here and there was loads of traffic,” he said, looking quite nervous. I could feel my Dad’s hand (which was on my shoulder) clench as James said this. He was wearing a maroon shirt and dark jeans, and, to my surprise, he was carrying a small bunch of red and green flowers. “Thought they’d match the holiday spirit, y’know, what with red and green being Christmassy colours. I’d just like to say that I’m really sorry about… well, everything and I hope that we can move on and looks towards the future?” said James apprehensively, handing the flowers to my Mum, who smiled.
“Thank you, James, that is very much appreciated,” she said, nudging Dad.
“Oh, er… yeah, thanks,” Dad mumbled reluctantly.
“Well, do come inside! Lunch is ready, I trust you like roasted ham, James?”
“Oh yes, it’s one of my favourites, Mrs Malfoy!” he said rather over-enthusiastically. I knew that James liked eating but I never knew he was that keen about food. We all made our way to the dining room where I was just about to sit down when James pulled a chair out for me. I couldn’t help but feel a flutter in my stomach; he was obviously trying to make a good impression, especially after his late arrival. He sat down next to me and Mum and Dad sat opposite to us, leaving Scorpius sitting at the end of the table awkwardly.
“Draco, darling, would you like to serve the ham?” asked Mum.
“Er, yes dear,” replied my Dad, who had obviously been too focused on watching James like a hawk to notice us waiting for him to start cutting the joint up. He served himself first, then Mum, Scorpius, me and finally James, who seemed to receive the smallest slice. Then came the gravy, then the apple sauce, then the roasted carrots, broccoli and parsnips and finally the drinks. Once we had all piled ou plates up with what we wanted, the time for conversation (i.e. interrogation by my annoying nosy parents) had come.
“So James, I hear you have some siblings?” asked Mum. It was a stupid question, really, ad James’s family usually had at least one column on them every day in the Daily Prophet.
“Yeah, well, there’s Lily who’s three years younger than me and Albus who’s only in the year below,” said James, his face hardening when he said Al’s name. Dad seemed to mutter something under his breath but I couldn’t hear it.
“Oh, how lovely,” said my Mother falsely- she read the Daily Prophet constantly so had obviously read some of the bogus stories written about my relationship with Al. “So, I understand that Viola tends to spend more time with your brother rather than yourself?” she said, making me angry for putting James in an uncomfortable position.
“Er…” he stumbled, glancing at me, “well, they are in the same house and Scorp is best friends with him so I guess it’s kind of inevitable,” he said, trying to sound innocent.
“Is that so?” asked Dad, finally speaking whilst suddenly glaring at Scorpius.
“Er, is what so, Mr Malfoy?”
“About Scorpius and your brother?” he said, trying to hide his evident anger.
Meanwhile, Scorpius was sinking lower and lower in his chair, clutching a honey-roasted parsnip.
“Well, yeah, they’ve been friends since first year, did he not…?” said James, breaking off when he saw Dad looking at Scorpius.
Mum was desperately trying to steer away the conversation, not wanting an argument to break out, “So anyway, what are your plans for the future, James?” she asked.
“Well, I hope one day to become a professional Quidditch player, as a chaser; it’s the only thing I’m really passionate about,” Dad was now looking back at James attentively. I knew Dad had played Quidditch at school but I couldn’t tell whether he really approved of it as a career choice.
“So you’re on the house team then?” he asked.
“Yeah, have been since first year,”
“I was on my house team too- I played seeker,” James, who obviously didn’t know how best to reply to this just said:
“Oh right, yeah I think my Dad might have mentioned a few games he played against you,” Oh dear. As if the mention of Ron Weasley earlier hadn’t been bad enough, but now James was talking about the person Dad hated the most, who had evidently told James about the many times he had defeated my Dad at Quidditch.
“I see he still remembers, then,” said Dad through clenched teeth.
“So James,” interrupted my mother again, “Are you planning to get a job when you leave school?”
“Well, actually, I was thinking about going straight into the whole Quidditch thing, actually,”
“So I’m guessing it will be a part-time job then?” said Mum, frowning disapprovingly.
“Er, no, Quidditch is a full-time job,”
“But then, how are you going to be able to be there for the baby?” said my mother, eyeing James like a cat about to pounce. Scorpius was once again looking uncomfortable but, for the first time that day, Dad seemed to be finding the conversation entertaining.
“Um, well…” James stuttered uncomfortably, looking to me for support.
“He’s going to visit in the holidays, aren’t you James?” I interjected. James nodded frantically, trying to redeem himself.
“James, you do realise that babies are full-time jobs; if you weren’t ready to look after one then maybe you should have thought twice about whether you were ready to sleep with my daughter!” said Mum loudly through clenched teeth. James shuffled very uncomfortably in his chair.
“Mum, please, James having a career will be good in the long-run, and besides, his brother will help me.”
“What?” said Scorpius suddenly. I could tell that he didn’t quite realise how much more involved Al was with the baby than James.
“Well, Al is the baby’s uncle, Scorp.”
“So am I!” he said defensively.
“Yeah, I know and you can help too, even Lily can if she wants to. My point is that I’m not alone; even if James is going to be away for a lot of the time,” James seemed to be thinking hard about everything that had been said whilst Mum and Dad appeared to be both sceptical and accepting.
“And how do you feel about this?” said Dad, looking at James. Dad being the only actual father in the room, was the only one who knew what it felt like to be in the position James would be in after the birth.
“Erm, well… to be honest we haven’t really talked about it,” he replied coldly, not looking at me. I stared at my napkin awkwardly- now I was being the one judged.
“Viola?” said Mum sternly, glaring at me, “I do hope you’re giving James a fair chance in all of this.”
“Yeah, I know, but it’s kind of hard sometimes,” I said quietly.
“Hard?” asked James, looking at me confusedly.
“Well, I have tried speaking to you but you always seem to want to ignore me,” I said, even more quietly than before.
“Or getting drunk,” I heard Mum mutter.
James sighed and rubbed his eyes.
“Sorry,” He mumbled. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I was currently in the presence of the rest of my family, I probably would have shouted at James for being such an idiotic coward over the past few weeks but I knew it would only make things worse.
“Well, is it time for pudding?” asked Scorpius expectantly, causing the whole room to stare at him.
Christmas day went by in a blur of food, presents and random unknown family members. I didn’t receive anything particularly exciting, unless you find self-cleaning nappies especially riveting. However, I couldn’t get the thought of the fast-approaching Boxing Day out of my head where I would be meeting James’s family. Even though James visit to us the previous day hadn’t exactly gone smoothly, he only had to deal with four of us. I, however, would have to be dealing with twenty five. Daunting to say the least. It was a good thing that I knew half of them seeing as some of them were at Hogwarts with me whilst others I remembered from when I was younger, before they left Hogwarts.
I took the Knight Bus to Ottery St. Catchpole and was dropped off just a few metres away from the entrance to the Burrow. At first glance it didn’t look real; rooms had obviously been added higgledy-piggledy to it, but for some strange reason it seemed oddly welcoming. Its asymmetrical appearance and slightly unkempt garden was a nicely different to the cold, dull manor I had been brought up in which was surrounded by ghastly statues of grim reapers.
I made my way to the front door which had a Christmas wreath in it; the home of many tiny fairies fluttering around its intricately twisted vines. I inspected my clothes (a black coat, navy jeans and red jumper with a robin on- Al had warned me to dress pretty casually) before knocking on the door of the house. Suddenly, the voices inside the house seemed to become louder as if people were actually eagerly anticipating my arrival; a stark difference to the reception James had received from my family.
Suddenly, the door opened and I was greeted by Lily, who was beaming at me. “Viola! Long time, no see!” she chuckled.
“Haha, yeah,” I replied nervously, aware that a couple dozen people were now staring at me.
“Come on in, then! You must be freezing!” she said enthusiastically, immediately taking my coat and hooking it onto and already full coat stand. Before I knew it, Al was walking over to me, smiling,
“Hey, Vi! I love your jumper!” he said, making me feel somewhat comforted that I had him here to support me.
“Likewise!” I replied, looking at his knitted dark-green jumper which bore a reindeer with a golden snitch for a nose.
“Thanks, my Grandma made it for me,” He said happily, “And that’s just reminded me; you need introducing to everyone!” Nervously, I gulped as I took in the large amount of people around me.
“Yep.” I mumbled. First he took me to an elderly couple with grey hair that had hints of ginger in it. “This is Grandma and Grandad, but Molly and Arthur to you, Vi.” He said.
“Erm, hello, nice to meet you!” I said apprehensively. Al’s Grandma, Molly, who had previously been looking at me with a stern look on her face (I guess she wasn’t all that pleased with me seeing as it was partly my fault that her teenage grandson was having a baby with the granddaughter of the a death-eater who was coincidentally the man who was often pretty rude to her husband, as Al had told me) was now smiling, which was very reassuring.
“Hello Viola, lovely to meet you too,” she said warmly, obviously surprised that I wasn’t obnoxiously rude like my father.
“Yes, it truly is after all this time of just hearing about you! Merry Christmas!” said Arthur.
“Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you too.” I said politely. Next was the family of Molly and Arthur’s first child, Bill.
“Yeah, so this is my Uncle Bill, he’s my Mum’s oldest brother, then there’s his wife, Auntie Fleur, and their three children: Victoire, whom you probably don’t know, and of course, Louis and Dominique.”
“Al, I told you, it’s Dom!” said Dominique, who I had always gotten on pretty well with. They all greeted me and so then Al pointed to the next person.
“This is my Uncle Charlie, he only really visits at Christmas as he lives in Romania; he works with dragons,” Al continued, causing Charlie to wave in our direction.
“Then here’s my Uncle Percy, his wife Auntie Audrey and Molly and Lucy, who I assume you know,” said Al. I greeted Molly, Lucy and their parents and then we moved on once again.
“This is my Uncle George, who’s actually a twin but unfortunately Fred died in the battle of Hogwarts,” Al whispered, obviously not wanting to talk about this sensitive subject in front of his uncle. “Hey, Uncle George, introduce yourself,” said Al, shouting across the noisy room. George and a woman whom I assumed to be his wife stood up and approached us. “This is Uncle George and his wife Auntie Angelina, who, of course, have Fred and Roxanne,”
“Hi George, Angelina, er… I’m Viola.”
“Hey, nice to meet you! I hear good old Al and yourself have some sort of relationship going on? ” chuckled George, making Al go red.
“George!” said Angelina disapprovingly, “Anyway, hi, it’s lovely to meet you finally,” she finished kindly. We then moved on to Rose and Hugo’s family.
“Yeah, so as you know, this is Rose and Hugo,” said Al whilst Rose smiled at me and Hugo waved, “And these are their parents, Uncle Ron and Auntie Hermione.”
“Er, hi Viola, Merry Christmas,” said Ron awkwardly; he obviously didn't like the fact that he was meeting Draco Malfoy’s daughter and that I was in the house he grew up in. I could see Hermione giving Ron a scalding look before turning to me and giving a reassuring smile.
“Hello Viola, it’s wonderful to meet you at last! How are you finding your studies?”
Taken slightly aback at this immediate question, I stuttered,
“Er, well y’know, I… yeah it’s erm, cool.” Thankfully Hermione didn’t seem to notice my awkwardness and just smiled. Finally, we moved in to Al and James’ family- except James wasn’t there.
“Yeah so, you know who everyone in my family is right?”
“Yeah, but where’s James?” I asked, but my question was soon answered when I heard the sound of footsteps through the ceiling and making their way down the stairs. James swiftly walked over to us, moving bits of hair out of his face.
“Sorry I’m late- I err…” he said, not being able to think of an excuse.
“Overslept?” interjected Ginny, looking at him crossly.
“Well… yeah. Sorry Vi,” He said, avoiding my eye.
“Don’t worry about it,” I replied.
Lunch was soon being served as we all sat around a long table in the already-cramped kitchen. We were having left-overs from the previous day so I helped myself to turkey, brussel sprouts, gravy, roast potatoes, parsnips, bread sauce, mince pies and Christmas pudding. Everyone mostly just talked amongst themselves until the conversation was turned to the baby.
“So Viola, tell us about our first great-grandchild, then!” said Arthur enthusiastically, having already had a couple of glasses of wine.
“Um, well, as you probably know, it’s a boy and it’s due at some point around March,” I said, thinking that would be enough but Arthur kept nodding and the rest of the table were now listening. “And er, a few days ago I decorated a nursery for it, which was good fun,” I continued, making James look up at me from the opposite side of the table; I’d forgotten to show him the nursery, but never mind- I could show him another time.
“Oh,” said Mrs Weasley, frowning slightly, “So the baby is going to live at your parents’ house?” she asked.
“Well, that’s what I was thinking.” I said, slightly nervous.
“I see,” said Mrs Weasley, who had now begun aggressively cutting up her turkey slice. I could see that Harry and Ginny were thinking about what had been said whilst everyone else seemed to be looking between James and I. Al squeezed my arm under the table so as to reassure me, which was comforting of him.
“Well, y’know, what with James wanting to start a Quidditch career when he leaves school it makes sense,” I said, trying to justify my actions. However, I could immediately tell that I had said the wrong thing as Ginny was now glaring at James with her eyebrows raised as if to say ‘why am I not aware of this and no, that’s not happening’.
“But it’s okay because I’ll bring the baby round here and to Al’s often if that’s what you want; it’s absolutely fine with me,” I added apprehensively.
“Viola’s right dear, besides, it would be overwhelming for her not only to have a new-born to look after but also to move into our place,” said Harry, trying to make things seem reasonable to his wife. Ginny just continued to look at James, who was trying almightily hard not to look back at her.
The dinner was soon finished and the dishes quickly cleared before everyone resumed their lazy positions around the living room. I saw Ginny taking James into another room with her; no doubt to tell him off for not telling her about his plans, but, before I knew it, I was also being taken away for a private conversation. Harry came up to me and asked me if he could have a word before leading me to the corner of the room where we couldn’t be heard.
“So, Viola, how’s it all going?” he asked quietly, looking around to see that nobody was watching.
“It’s alright I guess; Al’s been wonderful,” I replied honestly. Harry smiled, but soon returned to his expression of concern.
“Yeah, I’m afraid that he’s been the only one keeping Ginny and I updated; James… well, he just doesn’t seem to be interested,” he sighed, “So, on the topic of James, did he really tell you he wants to go into Quidditch as soon as he leaves school?”
“Yeah, that’s what he told my parents.”
Harry sighed again, “Be honest with me Viola, are you alright with that, because I’m certainly not, even if I did tell Ginny otherwise. Of course I’m fine with you having the baby at yours, but I don’t want James to just get up and go,” he said concernedly. I thought hard about what he had said before realising that maybe I wasn’t alright with it; now I realised that it seemed wrong for James to just leave his baby. I mean, he’d barely see it from when it would be born to when he’d leave school as it’d be at home with me and he’d be at Hogwarts. Then, of course, he’d be straight off to play Quidditch. Whilst I was thinking about all of this, I could suddenly hear faint shouting coming from the room which James and Ginny were in.
“I… I suppose not. I mean, even if Al is there for the baby, he’ll need his proper father around too y’know, to bond and stuff,” I expressed worriedly.
“Exactly my feelings. The dilemma is that I know James has always wanted to go into Quidditch and to be successful then you’ve got to get in there as soon as possible. I’d just feel bad if he didn’t get to pursue the thing he’s been wishing and waiting for his whole life,” he said sadly. Suddenly, and for the first time, I really empathised with James and understood why exactly he had been ignoring me and drinking away his sorrows.
“It’s a tough one,” I agreed, “But honestly, I’ve got Al, Scorpius, Lily, my parents, you guys and my friends to support me and be there for this baby- I’m sure we’ll be fine. James should follow his dream,” I said earnestly. Harry ran his hands through his messy hair, thinking.
“Maybe you’re right. I guess we’ll have to wait and see after the baby is born; maybe James will change his mind and decide to stay, but I don’t know.”
Soon after the very awkward lunch had ended, Mum dragged me into the utility room whilst everyone settled themselves in the living room. I knew she was mad and I knew that I was about to get an earful but at least I was prepared for her wrath.
“James! What on earth do you think you’re doing!” said Mum angrily.
“Doing what I’ve always wanted to do.”
“But James, how do you think this makes Viola feel? Do you know how tough it is to be a parent, let alone a single teenage mum!” she exclaimed. I shook my head.
“What in Merlin’s beard were you thinking when you decided that the best thing for this baby was to go gallivanting off to play Quidditch, therefore leaving it fatherless?!”
“I decided before I even knew that I was going to have a kid! Besides, it has Al!” I replied, becoming more and more angry.
“Al isn’t the baby’s father though, is he? He could leave Viola at any time and might just do so if things prove tougher than he expected; which they will! Besides, that’s completely the wrong attitude! How do you think your brother feels about the fact that the first girl he loved I having his older brother’s baby? You know what? I certainly don’t blame Al for being moody with you recently as I know that, if I were in his position, I would be severely pissed off too! How would you feel if you had been brought up by some other man because your own father was too lazy and selfish to look after you?!” She shouted. I thought about it and shed a tear. I loved my Dad and I couldn’t imagine him leaving me, but then again, I couldn’t imagine leaving my Quidditch dream to look after a baby which already had a steady support network.
“And are you even considering the rest of your family in all of this? If you go off to play Quidditch then that poor child will have to grow up in that horrible manor with Draco Malfoy constantly on his watch! It’s bad enough that, thanks to the bloody Daily Prophet, everyone knows he was a mistake without the fact that he’ll grow up with the prejudice that comes with having a family full of former Death Eaters! Honestly, that poor boy; he may have a good mother, but at this rate he’s going to have a pretty awful father!”
I’d had enough. I stormed out of the room and straight upstairs, grabbed a couple of firewhiskies, went into my temporary bedroom, slammed the door, flopped onto my bed and drank away the tears.
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