Chapter 17 : Forwards and Backwards
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The next day, I was abruptly awoken by a voice calling my name from downstairs.
“Viola! Viola, are you up?” shouted Mum.
“No, why?” I shouted back feebly.
“Because James is here!”
“WHAT?!” I shrieked. Since when was James coming over? And why? I checked my clock and was surprised to notice that it was already ten o’clock. I must have slept for about fourteen hours. I quickly shoved some clothes on, refreshed my hair with a replenishing charm and went downstairs, still confused by what was going on.
“Hi-James-sorry-I-er-confused,” I muttered, out of breath, leaning on the doorframe.
“Hey Vi,” he said, chuckling slightly, “shall we be going then?”
“What? Going where? I haven’t even had breakfast yet!”
“Oh, didn’t Professor McGonagall tell you?”
“Tell me what?” I snapped, still angry about our argument a few weeks ago.
“I’m taking you shopping, she arranged it with your Mum, did you honestly not know?”
“Well, never mind then, but I really think we should get going before the lunchtime traffic starts to build up.”
“Oh, are we driving?” I asked, half-excited, half-apprehensive; I’d never been in a car before, let alone a moving one, so this was going to be interesting.
“Yeah, you know, as you can’t apparate and also because I expect we’ll need the boot to put all the shopping in.”
“Fine, let’s go then,” I said, pulling my shoes on and walking out of the front door whilst shouting a farewell to my mother.
James opened his car and told me to get in the ‘passenger seat’. From where his finger was pointing, I guessed he meant the seat next to his. Being in a car was an odd experience, I’d never come across ‘seat-belts’ or ‘windscreen-wipers’, but I had to contain my curiosity so as to reassert my anger towards James. I couldn’t let him think that I was okay with him going out with Claire or choosing Quidditch over his son; it would never be okay.
“So what are we shopping for, then?” I asked.
“Oh, y’know, just baby stuff.”
“But I’ve already bought ‘baby stuff’?”
“Yeah, I know, but I need some too.”
“What? Why?” I asked, confused.
“For my pet sheep!? Honestly Vi, why do you think?”
“But you said you didn’t want to be involved!”
“I know, but my Mum wants me to get stuff and do-up the spare room next to mine. Besides, even if I don’t use it, Al can.”
“Oh, so you and your Mum have it in your heads that I’m going to let the baby stay at yours sometimes?”
“Well, yeah… isn’t that sort of what happens when the parents of a kid aren’t together?”
“But this is different, James! Do you really think I’m going to let you take care of the baby when you can’t even take care of yourself?”
“What do you mean? I can take care of myself! I’m almost eighteen, for Merlin’s sake!”
“Well evidently not very well then,” I said, gesturing at a pile of empty beer bottles and cans of lager splayed across the back-seat of the car.
“Don’t bring that into this, Vi,” he said bitterly, his grasp on the steering-wheel tightening.
“Why not, James, you have to admit that your drinking’s getting a little out-of-control!”
“Shut up, Vi, can’t you just appreciate the fact that I’ve driven an hour to get to your house and now I’m driving another hour to get to the nearest shopping centre!?”
“Fine James, but this problem isn’t going to sort itself out,” I said, before staring determinedly out of the window whilst James sulked and focused on the front window.
We arrived at the shopping centre 45 minutes later and headed straight for the department store on the end of it and embraced the warmth gladly.
“So, where do you want to start?” I asked James.
“Er, I dunno, where’s all the baby stuff anyway?” he said cluelessly.
“Says here it’s all on the ground floor,” I replied, pointing at a floor guide.
“Oh right, yeah. Okay, well then it’s probably all just around the corner.” As we walked to the other side of the floor, we were confronted by an array of prams, buggies, tiny onesies, shoes, dresses, shirts, toys, nappies, cots and bedding. I was already quite used to the sight of these sorts of areas of shops, but James evidently wasn’t; his eyebrows were raised significantly and his mouth was slightly open as he took it all in.
“Blimey, do babies really need this much crap?” he said snarkily.
“The only ‘crap’ here is the toys, and yes they do need a lot of stuff, bearing in mind they grow really quickly so we’ll have to get various sizes of stuff.”
“Bloody hell, this is going to cost a fortune!”
“Well maybe you should have thought about that before you decided to sleep with me, eh?” I replied, staring straight ahead.
“Oh, so you’ve decided to go down that route, have you? Blame the man on everything? Might I remind you that you were as up for it as I was!”
“Yeah, but at least I’m willing to face the consequences.”
“Whatever. So we need a cot, right?”
“Well, yeah, where else is he going to sleep?”
“Fine, what about that white one over there?”
“Sure, I mean it’ll fit any colour scheme,” I replied.
“Er, colour scheme?”
“Yes James, colour scheme,” I said patronisingly.
“Oh, alright, but I’m not repainting the room some stupid colour, it’s fine as white. We can just add blue toys and stuff to it, right?”
“Don’t ask me, it’s up to you!” I replied, slightly pissed off by his passive manner.
“Okay, fine, I’ll go pick up a box for it,” he said, before returning a minute later with a trolley containing the box for the cot. In addition to the cot, we picked out a mobile, bedding, several cute teddy bears, a pram, multiple packets of nappies and some baby food. All we had left were the clothes. I deliberately left them until last as I knew they would be the hardest part of the shopping trip.
“Okay, so we’ll need lots of onesies, t-shirts, trousers, socks, shoes, a hat and a coat,” I said assertively as we arrived in the clothing section.
“You want to buy a coat for a newborn?” asked James condescendingly.
“He isn’t going to be a newborn forever, James! Once he arrives, there’s going to be no more free time to buy things!”
“Please stop saying that,” said James quietly, eyeing a woman who was staring at us disapprovingly before muttering to her husband “Honestly, these young’uns; far too young for parenthood, silly mares.”
“Stop saying what?” I asked, confused.
“Stop… stop saying ‘he’,” he replied, now looking at his feet.
“But the baby’s a boy so why not?”
“I don’t know; it just makes me… uncomfortable. It just makes everything seem a little too real for my liking.” I didn’t know what to say; I knew that James was scared of parenthood (as was I), but I never realised just how much he wanted to avoid the topic so much as to objectify his own baby. I hated to admit it, but for the first time since I’d found out I was pregnant, I began to feel a little empathy and guilt towards my baby’s father. He was right about what he’d said earlier; this pregnancy was my fault too and now it was partly down to me that the future he’d dreamt of for himself since he was child was potentially ruined.
“I’ll tell you what, let’s just get these,” I said, picking up some clothes, shoes, socks, a hat and a coat at random, “pay for them, and then go and have something to eat at the café, yeah?”
“Er, alright then,” he said, obviously confused by my change in attitude.
We sat down at a table in the corner of the café, away from prying eyes and ears, along with a couple of teas and sandwiches. James took a bite of his sandwich before looking at me and asking, “So what do you want to talk about then?”
“I… I just wanted to say that, well, I’m sorry about this; I’m sorry about everything.
"You’re right; it isn’t only your fault that I’m pregnant, and I’m sorry for being so hard on you and for messing up your future,” I blurted out, feeling a weight lift from my chest.
“Blimey!? Did I really just hear Viola Malfoy apologise for something?” he chuckled lightly, “but in all seriousness, thanks, it’s nice to hear that. Maybe we should communicate like this more often.”
“Yes, especially with the baby coming; spending more time together would probably be more beneficial for him. I can’t image what it would have been like to grow up with my parents not together. We should at least try to be friends.”
“Mmm, I agree. And whilst we’re on the topic, would you mind not telling Al about today?”
“Why, didn’t you tell him?”
“Well, to be honest with you, we don’t really tell eachother anything anymore, but no, he doesn’t know. And I’d prefer it to stay that way. All he knows is that I’ve gone out shopping for baby stuff, but he doesn’t know I’m out with you; I think it’d get him all paranoid.”
“Fine, but I don’t want to keep anymore secrets from him, okay?”
There was a pause for a moment whilst James stared at the table before looking at me and asking, “Do you love him? My brother?”
The question caught me by surprise, and to be honest, I didn’t quite know the answer, but I still said “Yes.”
There was an awkward silence for a moment until James said, “I suppose you’re going to continue your relationship even once Al’s gone back to Hogwarts?”
“I can’t see why not,” I replied coldly.
“Okay, no need to bite,” he said, looking out his drink rather glumly.
“I’m sorry, it’s just… are we just going to continue to pretend that the fight we had didn’t happen?”
“What? Oh right, that. Erm, well no, but I was hoping you’d perhaps have had some time to think about things from my point of view.”
“What?! Do you honestly expect me to be okay with you going off and playing Quidditch instead of looking after your baby? Because if you do, then that’s just selfish, seeing as it’s blatantly obvious that you aren’t even okay with it yourself!” I said in a spiteful whisper, not realising quite what I had said.
“What do you mean? The whole reason I have this dilemma is because I’m caught up between what I want to do, Quidditch, and what everyone else wants me to do; look after the baby!”
“No James, what you’re really caught up in is the choice to either do what you want to do, look after the baby, and what you feel you should do; get a career.”
My statement seemed to have left James stunned for a while. His mouth gaped for a few seconds until he closed it and stared at his tea. He then pulled out small hip-flask from his trouser pocket and swigged it, breathing deeply.
“James, what do you think you’re doing?” I asked in reference to the hip-flask.
“Let’s go,” he said suddenly, jumping to his feet and staring straight at the café’s exit.
“But, we only just got here!” I exclaimed, drawing the attention from several people all looking disapprovingly at my stomach. James had already started walking, however, so I had no option but to abandon my food, pick up the copious amounts of shopping and waddle after him.
“JAMES! I CAN’T CARRY THIS ALL BY MYSELF!” I shouted at him down a shop aisle. He stopped, walked back to me, picked up half of the bags and then set off again, without saying a word. We soon reached the car and he loaded the shopping in the boot and we got in.
“What’s up with you, James?” I asked, putting on my seat-belt.
“Let’s just get you home, yeah?” he said patronisingly.
Half an hour had passed before either of us said anything more.
“So what surname is the baby having then?” asked James as he stared out of the front window.
“Malfoy,” I said nonchalantly.
“What? Why?” he asked, sounding half-surprised, half-annoyed.
“Well, firstly, you’ve made it clear that you can’t be arsed with the child, so I don’t want him to be burdened with your surname as a constant reminder of you every time his name is read out on a register, and secondly because we’re not married and therefore it’s more appropriate if he has my surname.”
“But your family’s name isn’t exactly a great name to be read out on a register either!”
“James, you know fully well that I’m not a Death-Eater or anything of the sort, so quite frankly, I don’t care,” I replied irritably.
“Whatever,” he said moodily, shifting his focus back to driving, when suddenly the car swerved slightly.
“Er, James, are you alright?” I asked, concerned.
“I’m fine!” he said loudly. His eyes looked glazed and slightly unfocused.
“Are you sure, because we could stop for a couple of minutes if you need to calm down.”
“I said, I’M FINE!” he shouted back , making the car swerve even more until, before I knew it, he were heading straight for the hard shoulder. There was a horrible crunching noise as the front of the car hit the metal railing on the side of the road, causing bag-like objects to pop out into our faces.
“Bloody hell!” I exclaimed.
“Fuck,” swore James loudly, “Are you alright, Vi?” he asked, turning to look at me.
“Yeah, I’m fine, this airbag thing protected me, are you?”
“Yeah, I’m alright, but the car probably isn’t though. I’m going to de-activate the airbags then go observe then front, ok?” he said, before pressing a button to make the bags deflate and getting clumsily out of the car. He stood looking at it for a couple of minutes with his head in his hands before seeing logic and using ‘reparo’ on it. I don’t think it quite repaired the appearance of the mangled bonnet, but none of the inner-workings seemed to be broken. James got back in the car, started up the engine and began driving again.
“Sorry about that, Vi, I should have been more careful.”
“Look, do you really think it’s okay to drive again, considering you’re still a little, well… drunk?” I asked cautiously.
“Yeah, it’s fine, I think I’ve been shaken into soberness a little now anyway.”
When we got back to my house an hour later, James thanked me for helping him and asked, “Before you go, could you just see if there’s a leaflet for some car repair company in the glove pocket for me?” whilst pointing at a small compartment in front of me. I pulled the handle and opened it. It was rather full, but I soon found the car repairs leaflet he wanted. I took it out and just as I was about to close the glove pocket, another leaflet fell into my lap.
‘Fathers’ Rights with Adoption- All Your Questions Answered’.
I stared at it, taking in what it said.
“What the fuck is this?” I said angrily, looking at James and holding up the leaflet for him to see. His eyes bulged slightly and his face immediately paled.
“Oh, that? That’s from ages ago, y’know, before I knew what you were going to do.”
“Oh really, is that why it’s this year’s edition then?” I asked cynically, pointing at it.
“Honestly, Vi, I’m fine with your decision, I just wanted to know my rights in case anything happened, you know?” he said shakily.
“No, James, I don’t know! Are you seriously suggesting that you thought I wouldn’t be able to look after my own baby, so much so that I’d have to give it up for adoption?! Honestly James, you’re the one who’s going to become the unfit parent here! I can’t believe this! And to think, I was actually starting to feel sorry for you?! Merlin, you’re going to be lucky if this boy ever even calls you ‘daddy’!” I shouted, storming out of the car, into the house and straight upstairs into my bedroom, kicking the wall in frustration. What a mess-up.
A/N: I'm so sorry for the dealyed update on this chapter, but I kept having writet's block and I've been ridiculously busy with school, so I'm quite proud I managed to get his chapter done at all! :)
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