Chapter 15 : Tensions
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“Yes, Mum, I’m coming downstairs now,” I replied, levitating my trunk down the staircase and into the hallway to join Scorpius’s equally full trunk.
“Right, well, I’ll see you two soon,” said Mum, kissing and hugging us both, “Make sure you write home often, especially you, Viola, and if you have any concerns, I can help.”
After kissing us both once more, she gave us some floo powder and we returned to Hogwarts via Professor Slughorn’s fireplace. “Ah Viola, Scorpius, good Christmases, I trust?” he said jovially.
“Yes sir, and you?” replied Scorpius.
“Yes, yes, all good. Off you trot now, they are plenty more students to arrive!” he exclaimed, ushering us out of his office. Scorpius and I split up as we reached our separate dormitories to unpack before the start-of-term feast. After I dumped all my belongings in the dorm, I went to find Al, but it appeared that he had not yet arrived, nor had many others judging by the silent common room.
“Goodness me, have you kids never heard of packing the night before? Blimey, you’re just like your uncles…” rambled Mum, who was clearly stressed.
“Your Mum’s right, kids, you really are cutting it fine,” said Dad, trying to sound supportive for Mum. They’d had a pretty big argument after Viola came over on Boxing Day. Mum told Dad that he was being unsupportive over her trying to “sort me out”, leading Dad to tell Mum that she was being too hard on me and that I needed time to think things through as teenage boys aren’t readily mature. Needless to say, they’ve been arguing ever since, but I’m sure they’ll make it up; they always do.
“It’s fine, Mum, the feast doesn’t start for another hour!” said Lily agitatedly.
“Yes, but you’ve still got to unpack beforehand!”
“It’s alright, don’t worry about us,” added Al. Dad then ushered Lily and Al away, explaining that he and Mum wanted to speak to me before I left. Once Al and Lily had said goodbye and flooed back to Hogwarts, my parents took their chance:
“Now James, before you leave, we’d just like to have a word,” said Dad, looking at me seriously.
“Right, well, it’s very likely that you will be a-a,” stuttered Dad, “be a father when we next see you. Needless to say, it’s going to be difficult on everyone, especially you and Viola. But, it is imperative that you allow Viola the time she needs with the baby as children generally need more bonding time with their mothers rather than fathers, especially when they’re babies,” he continued, looking at Mum, who seemed to be softening up slightly.
“But we are here to help and support you, so as long as you’re there for your son then we’ll be here for ours,” finished Dad, looking melancholy.
“Indeed. We already have the things you’ll need for him as we realised that you probably wouldn’t get it all yourself, but you have to try harder to see things from Viola’s perspective and be open to her needs. We are aware that you’re not sure what you’re going to be doing after the baby is born, but as long as you’re aware of what the consequences of any of your actions will be, then we’re fine. We just don’t want you to make any rash decisions which you could end up regretting,” said Mum, ruffling my hair, something she hadn’t done since I was a child. Everything seemed so surreal now, and it appeared that Mum and Dad were thinking the same thing; Mum had tears in her eyes and Dad was looking sadly at me.
“My little boy’s growing up!” Mum exclaimed, framing my face with her hands before hugging me and saying goodbye.
“See you, James, have a good term and keep in touch,” said Dad, who hugged me after Mum had stepped away.
“Don’t’ worry, I will. And thanks for everything, I love you,” I said, genuinely meaning it.
“Love you too, Jamesy-boy,” said Dad, who smiled slightly at the name he used to call me when I was little.
I didn’t see Al in the common room for another ten minutes so I decided to leave for the Great Hall where I knew I’d find Jo and Becca, and, sure enough, they were already seated on the Slytherin table, waiting for the room to fill for the feast. Jo saw me coming in and waved:
“Hey guys,” I replied happily.
“Blimey, you’ve gotten bigger!” exclaimed Becca.
“Wow, thanks,” I said sarcastically. It was good to be back with my friends, even though I’d only seen them two weeks previously.
“Seriously though, how far along are you now?” asked Becca.
“Er, nearly seven months; I’m due at the end of March.”
“Not long, then!” said Jo happily.
“Not really, no,” I said whilst my stomach squirmed in anxiety.
“How was Christmas, then? Did the whole ‘meeting families’ thing work out alright?” asked Becca.
“Well, you know, there were some ups and downs. Mum and Dad tolerated James, but unfortunately he let slip about the fact that Al and Scorp are mates, which didn’t go down well.”
“Ooh, that must have been awkward.”
“Yep. James’s family are really nice though, but there’s a lot of them. Anyway, it was going fine until James announced that he wants to pursue a professional Quidditch career,” I sighed miserably.
“Oh no, he didn’t did he?” said Jo, looking annoyed.
“Merlin, what a prat!” added Becca.
“Tell me about it. Well anyway, then comes New Year’s Eve… the baby kicked for the first time, so-”
“The baby kicked?” interjected Al, who had just arrived at the table.
“Oh, hey Al! Yeah, I was just explaining about the real reason I left the party,” I said, kissing his cheek as he sat down.
“But I thought you said you were sick? Ah well, it doesn’t matter now… go on then,” muttered Al, looking interested in what I had to say.
“Yeah, so anyway, I went to find James (sorry Al, but you were on the loo, if you don’t remember), but I couldn’t find him so I went to his bedroom to see if he was there, he wasn’t. But I noticed some paper on his desk and read a letter from his God brother, Teddy, and then James’s reply. Anyway, I can’t remember exactly what it said, but he was very arrogantly trying to justify why he wouldn’t have to be there for his son and that Al was here and not pursuing his dream career would set a bad example.”
“Gah, what a load of bollocks!” exclaimed Al angrily, “Typical James, though; he’s not even had the courage to say anything to me since November!” Becca and Joanna looked scandalised, but I expected it.
“Anyway, you can imagine how reading that made me feel, so I stormed downstairs and outside the front door, intending to go straight home, when I bumped into You-Know-Who-”
“What, Voldemort?” asked Becca, puzzled, causing everyone to burst out laughing.
“Not quite, Becca, but close. Moving on, his ‘mates’ were making fun of me and James decided to laugh along, so I gave him a piece of my mind and left him looking like a gob-smacked sloth,” I finished triumphantly.
“Wow, good one, sis!” said Scorpius, who had suddenly appeared without me noticing.
“Hey Scorpy! Where’ve you been?” asked Al.
“With Rose,” he replied, grinning. I shot him an ‘I-hope-you’re-being-sensible’ look and he just smirked.
“Don’t worry Vi, we’re sensible… unlike somebody.”
“Oi, enough with the cheek!” I chuckled.
The feast was delicious; mountains of chicken legs, stacks of ice cream and piles of lasagne donned the table and it couldn’t be more appreciated, especially as the baby seemed to love the food as much as me, which is saying something. After the feast and start-of-term notices ended, we were all about to leave the Great Hall when Professor McGonagall approached me.
“That’s it, scurry along now, Potter, Malfoy, Cooper, Saunders…” she said to the rest of the group whilst signalling for me to stay behind. “Now, Miss Malfoy, will you follow me to my office, please?”
Oh merlin. What did she want me for? What did I do? I racked my brains to try and pick up on any memories of recent wrongdoings but I couldn’t think of anything incriminating. When we reached her office, she gestured for me to sit down as whilst she did so on the opposite side of the desk.
“Now, I suppose you’re wondering why you’re here, Miss Malfoy?” she said wearily.
“Err… yes, Professor.”
“Well, I thought it was opportune to discuss your future here at Hogwarts now that you are in the later stages of pregnancy,” she said. Well, at least I knew I was no longer in trouble for a non-existent crime.
“You see, Viola, you are going to have to leave the school next month as part of your granted maternity leave, meaning you won’t be able to sit your N.E.W.T. examinations at the same time as your classmates, that is if you want to sit them at all.”
“Oh, right, well I guess that makes sense, but I do want to do my N.E.W.T.S., is there any way of postponing sitting them until next year?”
“That can be arranged, yes, but you’d have to make sure you won’t forget everything you’ve learnt this year.”
“Yes, that’s fine, it doesn’t bother me, as long as I can do them in the end,” I replied.
“Good, good, well before you go, how was Christmas? I gather that you spent some time meeting James’s family and vice versa.”
“Well, it was okay, Professor, but I think James and I have fallen out rather badly.”
“Oh,” said Professor McGonagall, looking serious.
“Mmm,” I mumbled.
“And have you thought of a name yet?” she asked, looking interested.
“Err, well, to be honest, Professor, it’s not really been my top priority over Christmas but I’ve thought about it a little bit. But I know it’s a boy, so I guess that helps.”
“A boy! How sweet; boys always seem to be the first children born in the Potter line. And what about the baby’s surname? Seeing as the decision really is yours.”
“Erm, well I’ve always just assumed it will have Malfoy, seeing as I’m not married.”
“A wise decision, Miss Malfoy. Well, that should be all, but if you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to come to me.”
“Thanks, Professor,” I said before leaving her office. It was nice to know that she was interested in making sure I was making the right decisions, but then I guess that was her job, being both Headmistress and Head of James’s house. In fact, that very conversation got me thinking about the baby’s name. I had always liked certain boys’ names but I would have to get some advice from my friends and Al before making a definite decision. Maybe, if I was feeling kind enough (i.e. I decided to ignore my Malfoy streak) then I’d include him in the decision, but right now I didn’t feel like including him in anything. I still couldn’t fathom how he and Al could be brothers; they were just so different from one another, yet they looked so similar. It was weird.
“Hey Vi, what did McGonagall want?” asked Al as I walked into the Common Room.
“Just to talk about N.E.W.T.S. and stuff.”
“Oh right, so are you going to do them?”
“Yeah, but I’m postponing them until next year.”
“Brilliant! Then we’ll be doing them at the same time!” he exclaimed cheerfully.
“Oh yeah!” I said, having only just realised this.
“So is that all she wanted then?”
“No, she also asked me how Christmas went. I told her that James and I have ‘fallen out’, for want of a better word. Anyway, then she asked me if I’ve thought of any names-”
“-And have you?” asked Al interestedly.
“Not particularly, to be honest… She also asked me about the baby’s surname; I said I thought Malfoy would be most appropriate seeing as I’m not married.”
“Oh, well yeah I guess so,” said Al, looking slightly crestfallen.
“Why? Do you want Potter? I just thought that if James strays then the poor child will be left with a constant reminder of just that.”
“Yeah I know, it’s just that I’m Potter too.”
“And I realise that, Al, but you’re not this baby’s biological father and therefore it doesn’t make a difference. Maybe if we do get married in the future then we’ll change his surname to Potter.”
“Well I guess it’s your decision, but I just don’t think it’s fair to bring this child up with a surname which will make people automatically think ‘descendant of Death Eaters’.”
“Yeah, yeah, but I survived, didn’t I? Besides, by the time he’s a teenager then people will hopefully have moved on from believing previous prejudices, I mean, I’m hardly a Death Eater, am I?”
“Okay, okay, I get it. I’m going to bed,” Al replied, frustrated. Merlin, why are the Potter boys so hard to reason with?
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