Chapter 14 : Maturity
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“Yeah, I’m coming down now!” I shouted to Scorpius. I didn’t particularly feel like going out tonight, especially to James’s house, but I felt obliged seeing as I had been personally invited. Mum and Dad weren’t overly pleased with the arrangement either, but seeing as I was seventeen and it was almost Scorpius’ birthday, they couldn’t do anything to prevent us from going.
It was 8 O’clock by the time Scorpius and I arrived at the Potter’s house. I was wearing a simple blue maternity dress whilst my brother was sporting a semi-casual grey suit to match his eyes. The front door was already open and music, undoubtedly chosen by James’s party-loving cousin Dominique, was already blaring. The whole bottom floor of the house was already filled with people, old and young, all either deep in discussion or dancing slightly awkwardly in the living room. It didn’t take long to find Al, who was reading in his room; he wasn’t so fond of the whole ‘party’ thing. I was alone as I walked into his room as Scorp had gone to find Rose.
“Hey Al!” I said happily.
“Hey Vi,” he said, looking up from his book and smiling, “how are you?”
“Y’know, same as usual. It’s never much fun being at home; I feel like I’m under a corrupt dictatorship sometimes.”
“Yeah, it’s not been much fun here either.”
“Really? How come? Is it because of James?”
“Pretty much. He’s not stopped arguing with everyone since we got back from Hogwarts.”
“Oh, so he still hasn’t managed to convince your parents that he should become a Professional Quidditch Player, then?”
“No way, they’re not having any of it, although, that being said, Dad seems a little less strict than Mum on the matter.”
“Your Dad just doesn’t know what to do I guess. He’s conflicted, just as James is; like father like son, eh?” I said sadly. Suddenly, Al stood up and peered out of his bedroom window.
“It’s Teddy! Do you want to come and meet him, Vi?”
“Is he your God-brother?” I asked, slightly confused.
“Yep!” he said excitedly, “I haven’t seen him since September; he’s been working abroad for the last couple of months!” Albus left the room, motioning for me to follow suit. We walked quickly downstairs before meeting Teddy in the bustling kitchen. He was already surrounded by Harry and Ginny who were hugging him and passing him a glass of wine. Teddy’s attention then turned to Al and I. His face lit up as he hugged Albus.
“Al! How’s it going? I’ve missed you!”
“Everything’s fine, I’ve missed you too! Oh, this is Viola, by the way,” he said excitedly, gesturing for me to step forwards.
“Viola! Nice to meet you at last! I’ve heard all about you from Al’s letters, of course,” He said, smiling awkwardly whilst stealing a glance at my stomach with slightly wide eyes, “Where’re James and Lils then?” he said, looking around, causing Al’s face to drop slightly.
“Oh, right yeah, they’re around here somewhere,” he said before Teddy went off to find James and Lily. Al then turned to me and said, “I’m just going to go to the loo, I’ll meet you back in my room, yeah?” he said before kissing me and then leaving to join the rather large queue for the toilet. I then made my way upstairs, however, just before I reached Al’s bedroom door, I felt an oddly painful sensation in my stomach; the baby must have been kicking! It was a wonderful feeling but also a rather odd one too. Nonetheless, it was one which I wanted to share with someone.
I hurried back downstairs to try and find James; I felt that he should be the first one to know about the baby kicking, seeing as it was his. However, I couldn’t see James amongst the crowds of people to I went back upstairs in the hope that I would find him in his bedroom. I knocked on the door several times without receiving any response. There was nothing for it; I would just have to walk in there.
It was like going into a pensieve; all the blurred memories from that night six months before came flooding back to me; the firewhisky, the burn marks on James’s desk, his cheeky smile as he leant in to kiss me… However, it felt different; I was drunk the last time I was in this room but now I was sober so I could fully appreciate the space. The walls were a plain white colour, but his duvet cover and pillowcase were red and gold to match the Gryffindor colours and there were numerous pictures and photographs plastering the walls. I looked at them closely and noticed many family pictures, especially ones of when James and his siblings were younger; I couldn’t help but admire how cute all three children were when they were toddlers. My attention then turned to several scruffy pieces of used parchment lying on top of each other in a precarious pile on James’s desk. There were only a few, but they still captured my attention for long enough for me to realise that they were letters. I read the last one in the pile:
I urge you to think of your child in this whole thing. You may have wanted to become a Professional Quidditch Player for your whole life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose other career options, especially options which would allow you flexibility to be able to spend time with your son, which I am sure you will crave, no matter how much you don’t think you will. Also, I know you are having many disagreements with Al, but please try to think from his perspective; he loves Viola and he wants to help her, however, this doesn’t mean that you should take this as an excuse to dump a child who isn’t his on him just so you can do what you want to do. Anyway, I hope you had a nice Christmas and I’ll see you on the 31st,
I hadn’t realised that James had been talking to anyone about his problems, but I guess it made sense; he had to let out his feelings somehow. Next to the piece of parchment which I had just replaced into its original spot was another piece, but with a quill on top of it:
I’m not stupid, I know what having a full-time career will imply; the whole dilemma is the reason I contacted you in the first place, to get your advice on things. The thing is, if I chose not to go for the Quidditch and to spend more time with the kid then I won’t exactly be setting a good example for it. I mean, it would mean giving up everything I’ve been looking forward to for my whole life for something which I never meant to happen in the first place. Also, I’m not taking advantage of Al, he’s entirely independent with his decisions, so can you please stop being so harsh? I already get enough of that off Mum and Dad; they want me to make the right decision and yet how can I when they never leave me alone to think? It’s just frustrating how everyone is treating me like a naughty child.
I was in shock. I had no idea that James was so bitter about the situation he was in. I thought that he’d at least be somewhat interested in bringing up his son, but apparently not. Tears were forming in my eyes as I suddenly felt overwhelmingly burden-like. I hated James so much, I knew he had only had a month so far to think over things, I but I had expected him to at least be more concerned about his child’s future than his own. He was being selfish and self-centred as always; why I had ever liked him I didn’t know.
I could no longer stand to be in his room, let alone his house. I left as subtly as possible, slipping through the entrance hall and out of the front door where I found myself immediately face-to-face with the git himself. He had a bottle of firewhisky in his hand and he was talking animatedly with some other boys his age.
“Ooh, look who it is, it’s lover-girl!” said one of the boys, obviously drunk. I tried to ignore them and walk past, but they kept blocking me.
“Look, can you just pack it in?” I said, annoyed. James, meanwhile, was just standing there, laughing along with the others. Suddenly, I felt my temper boil up and I stormed right up to him, grabbed his bottle and dropped it.
“That is for being such a selfish, immature prick, James Potter! If you’re really so unconcerned by your own son’s future welfare then perhaps I should make the stupid decision for you and raise this kid with Albus as his father!” I shouted angrily. James was staring, open-mouthed at me, clearly wondering what had brought on my sudden spurt of anger. Before waiting for him to answer, I stormed off to the bottom of the lane and hailed for the Knight Bus, still fuming.
As soon as I got home, I penned a quick note for Al to apologise for my early departure, telling him I felt sick and that I couldn’t find him to tell him. It was a pathetic excuse, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the truth. I sent the letter off with my owl and then slumped onto my bed. I was the only person in the house as my parents were out and my brother was still at the party. I felt utterly miserable as I lay on my bed, thinking about what I had read earlier that evening. Maybe I had been too harsh on James by saying that I’d possibly deny his chance to be a father to his son, but it was the wake-up call which I felt he needed, even if it never came to fruition.
I couldn’t quite fathom what had just happened; one minute I had been having a great time with my mates, the next, I was being shouted at by Viola and being told by her that she’d probably bring my child up with my brother as his father - it was confusing to say the least.
After Vi left, my friends quickly excused themselves to go and get more drinks so I took the opportunity to go back inside and warm-up. As I walked into the entrance hall, I noticed some faint footsteps on the staircase. They looked like they belonged to a pair of shoes owned by a female. I followed them upstairs and into my bedroom. But the footsteps leading from my room weren’t the only strange things I noticed; there was a piece of parchment lying on my floor as though it had been dropped. I picked it up and, with a jolt of the heart, realised that it was the letter I had written for Teddy, until I remembered that I would be seeing him tonight anyway.
Shit. Viola must have seen it, hence why she was so angry at me just a few minutes previously. Oh no. But, then again, what was she doing in my room in the first place? Was she deliberately snooping around or was she perhaps trying to find me for some reason? I desperately wanted to know and to resolve things with her, but I couldn’t bear the thought of sending her a letter, so I instead decided that I would speak to her about it at Hogwarts.
Another worrying thing was the fact that I suddenly felt more attached to my baby than ever. I hadn’t really given the poor kid much thought in terms of the future, but for some reason, I now felt some sort of motivation to be a father for him, or, at the very least, make sure he was brought up knowing I was his father instead of Al. Maybe he would look exactly like me? It seemed to almost be inevitable that every son in this family looked like an almost carbon-copy of their father. What name was he going to have, and more importantly, whose surname would he be given? I couldn’t help but dwell on further questions that were now circling my slightly-intoxicated mind as I lay on my bed, neglecting the party that was currently going on downstairs. It was strange because, even though I was under the influence of alcohol, I was thinking more clearly and maturely than I had done in my whole life.
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