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Chapter 25 : Chapter 24: Tension in the Tents
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Chapter 24: Tension in the Tents
"Right, we've got two two-man tents and one four man tent. If Scorpius and Albus share a tent and James and Lily share a tent then us four older girls can have the four man tent." Becky said slowly, looking confused with herself as she wiped her muddy hands on her trousers after we had clambered up the top of the slippery hill on all fours.
"Not being funny, Becks, but I get a bit touchy-feely in my sleep. I do not want to wake up and find I've molested my sister." James said casually. Lily wrinkled her pretty nose delicately.
"I'm not sharing a tent with my brother. He smells like an old badger in the mornings" She said. Sarah and Dom laughed.
"And I don't want to wake up to find myself spooning Scorpius, either. No offence, mate." Albus added.
"None taken. There has to be another arrangement?" Scorpius said, leaning against a tree, looking cool.
"You'll have to share a tent with one of us girls then..." Sarah said uncertainly. James opened his mouth, looking ecstatic.
"Shotgun the four man tent!" Lily called suddenly.
"Me too!" Dom and Becky squealed in unison.
"Ditto." Albus said suddenly as Sarah and I were busy looking at each other in horror.
"Okay then, Sarah and I will share a tent." I said with a casual shrug. Scorpius and James looked at each other.
"I don't want to wake up with a sore arse, much as I love you James." Scorpius said.
"Agreed." James added.
"Fine then!" I'll sleep in with one of y-" Sarah began crossly.
"Me!" James yelled before she could finish. Scorpius grinned at him as if to say 'smooth, James, really subtle' and my eyes widened in horror as I realized Scorpius and I would be sharing a tent.
"Fine. But if you rape me, I'll castrate you." Sarah said with the ghost of a smile, disappearing into the nearest two-man tent.
"Rape is such a strong word. I prefer to call it 'surprise sex'…" James laughed, ducking out from her punch as he followed her into the tent.
The next day saw us clutching the Portkey, which turned out to be an old tyre. We slammed onto the ground and a tent fell on my head as we struggled to our feet.
"I hate being cold. It's the only condition that literally stops me from functioning." Sarah complained.
I nodded, picking up the offending tent and looking around myself. We were in the middle of a field. It was on a slant, with a churchyard not far behind us. At the bottom of the hill were ditches filled with boggy water and fields stretching as far as the fog allowed us to see. Up ahead, following the slanting hill was a stile and a steep upward field with a few houses dotted up the hill opposite.
"We're going this way." James said, reading the map upside down and pointing aimlessly at a tree. Lily took the map from him and pointed to the stile, blowing her fringe out of her eyes.
"Next camp is over that stile, up the hill and in the valley the other side, under a copse of oak trees." She said, leading the way.
Scorpius helped me up and I avoided his gaze as I thanked him and hitched the tent over my shoulder.
"No heavy lifting for you, preggo." James said, grabbing the tent off me. I rolled my eyes.
"I am with child, I am not an invalid." I said grumpily.
"Chill with the hormones, Ro." Dom snapped, walking up ahead with Lily. Becky raised her eyebrows at me while the rest didn't seem to have heard. I felt like I was going to burst into tears.
Damn this baby, damn these hormones and sod this fucking walking.
"Don't be sad Rosie, Dom hates not being able to have her creature comforts – she needs a warm bed, coffee in the mornings, her makeup and her straighteners to feel half human." Becky said, noticing my face.
I took a deep breath and ploughed on with her while James and Scorpius walked ahead, pointing out random landmarks to each other. Albus was tucking his shrunken backpack (courtesy of mum) into his back pocket and Dom seemed to be propelled by her own anger, taking the lead, flanked by Sarah and Lily, who had linked arms to keep balance from tiredness and the cold.
I clutched my stomach habitually for comfort and felt my little hard bump. My stomach has never been hard; I made sure of that with plenty of Honeydukes visits and nana's cooking.
"You want to drop that habit for when we get home Ro-bo" James commented casually to me, turning around.
"What habit?" Becky asked, helping me over the stile.
"The whole sweating and clutching your stomach thing. Nothing screams 'pregnant' quite like that." Scorpius said helpfully.
How is it he still looked perfect in these conditions, with pink cheeks and nose from the icy breeze and in scruffy clothes and bed head? Not fair.
"As much as I appreciate everyone's support today," I said meaningfully glaring at Dom's retreating back, "I don't think I can deal with you all being quite so helpful" I finished gruffly.
"Come on Rose." Scorpius said, offering me his hand to help me up the deceptively steep hill. Becky and James walked on together leaving us alone.
Why am I so terrified of being with my best mate?
"Thanks." I said.
"Well I don't see the father anywhere to help out." He said with thinly disguised bitterness.
The irony was not lost on me.
"Cut him some slack, Scor. He's a good man." I said.
"A good man would marry you." Scorpius said seriously, looking straight at me.
And that's when I fainted.
James carried me to the top of the hill and held my arm as we walked down. Being able to see the next camp was propelling us all to go a little faster. Scorpius was ahead with Albus and Becky, chatting casually. Dom, who was the other side of James, looked apologetic. I nodded at her jerkily in forgiveness.
"What happened?" Sarah asked quietly from my other side, rubbing my arm to generate some heat.
"He implied that if he knew he were the father, he'd marry me." I said breathily. James let out a nervous laugh and Sarah looked at me with wide eyes.
"Wow. He really is a good guy," she said, looking at his back, "misguided, but decent."
"His intentions are good but you shouldn't marry someone just because they're having your baby. You should marry someone because you want to spend the rest of your life with them, and you love them." James said quietly.
"Exactly." I said, nodding.
"Relax, he didn't get down on one knee or anything. Until he finds out it's his he won't know how he'll react – what you think you're going to do and what you actually do are two different things. He may still bolt" Sarah shrugged.
"Thanks, that fills me with hope," I said sarcastically, but half smiling at her.
"Well you don't want to marry him and you don't want him to run off. There's still everything to play for. But you should tell him before we go back to school... And your parents." Sarah advised.
I nodded, this had gone on for too long now, I would be three months gone in two days and there was only so long I could cover it up.
"I know. I'm going to." I said decisively.
And I meant it.
We ate well that night and sat around a self-made campfire in our pyjamas, me ignoring everyone's yawns. I wasn't keen to get into bed with Scorpius again – last night had been awkward enough and even if he thought my fainting spell earlier was exhaustion-induced he might still try to broach the 'who's the father, make him marry you' subject. Turns out, my best efforts to keep everyone up for as long as possible could only get me so far.
"I'm aching like a centipede," James said, stretching.
"I didn't know centipede's ached," Sarah mused from next to me absentmindedly.
"How dare you! We're people too!" James replied, faux-affronted.
"If you say so," Albus piped up from opposite him. "I'm off to bed" he added, carefully closing his book and disappearing into his tent.
"Me too," Becky yawned and Dom nodded, patting Lily on the shoulder gently to wake her up.
"Night everyone," Sarah said as she followed James into their tent, giving me a meaningful glance over her shoulder that plainly told me to woman-up.
Crap. Just us two.
The fire spat angrily at us and was intensified by the silence between us. I poked it with the stick I had been playing with and it hissed gently.
"So," Scorpius began. He had been looking at me for ages. "Will you ever tell us who the father is?" He asked.
I almost asked him what the hell he was on about – everyone else already knew – but stopped myself, realising.
"Good start. Any clues?" He asked, shuffling closer to me. I stared into the fire, watching the glowing logs intently. Pyromancy – the study of divination using a fire – was a favourite of Sarah's, but I could never see anything but burning wood in it.
"No," I said bluntly.
"How do you feel about him?" This question pulled my eyes from the fire and towards his. The fire flickered beautifully in them.
"He's going to be there for me the whole time. He'll be by my side during all the scans, the birth, and all the years that follow. He'll be with me throughout it all, and I actually hope that he can love more than just the baby one day." I said, staring without seeing back into the fire.
Scorpius said nothing for a long time.
"That may be the most genuine thing you've ever said to me as long as I've known you." He said quietly. "He's a lucky man." He added even more quietly, glaring into the fire.
"I hope the two of you are happy." He didn't look at me while he said it, but I could hear the poison in his voice.
Without a word, he stood up slowly and went into our tent, and I was alone once more.
"James! Wake up!" Sarah hissed into the darkness. I slept soundly, my leg over one of hers and an arm draped over her waist. She prodded me sharply in the ribs irritably with her wand and I jumped, awakening with a start.
"Sarah what the hell? I'm trying to sleep." I complained groggily and nestled my head on her shoulder, closing my eyes. Sarah gave me another stab.
"James so help me Merlin if you don't get off me this instant I'll shove this wand where the sun don't shine!" Sarah muttered hotly. I rolled over and sat up, removing all offending limbs from on top of her.
"What's the problem? It's not like it's hot out here, you should be glad for a personal bed warmer." I said, rubbing my eyes blearily.
"You were moaning my name in your sleep and woke me up. I just returned the favour." Sarah said moodily. She was not a morning person.
I flushed bright red and thanked the gods she couldn't see me. I'd been dreaming about her, like I do most nights, but tonight it was so much more vivid because my unconscious could sense her presence, smell her perfume, feel her next to me… at least she couldn't feel the evidence of my lust and love for her. Self-conscious, I shuffled over a bit.
"Well, sorry, Can I go back to sleep now?" I groaned, mostly to distract myself from thinking about what I'd like to do with her.
"No, I heard a weird noise outside." Sarah said uneasily.
"It was probably Rose and Scorpius…you know what they're like…" I said, waving it away and snuggling close to her. There was an icy breeze drifting into the tent and she was very warm.
"James seriously, it was really loud, come and check it with me?" Sarah said.
I love it when she's the damsel in distress.
"Don't look at me like that…I'm not helpless." She said irritably, reading my mind as she stood up in the stupid muggle tent and pulled me up. I hope she can't usually read my mind or I'm in quite serious trouble…although I know sometimes she can. I unzipped the tent very slowly and quietly and we stepped into the freezing night air. Sarah jumped towards me and clutched my arm. I put it around her and we squinted into the darkness.
"Who's th-" I started but was muffled by Sarah's hand over my mouth.
"Haven't you ever seen a horror film? Idiots who say 'who's there' in the middle of dark woods always get killed first!" She hissed.
I rolled my eyes and we went in search of the strange, strangled noise. We approached Scorpius and Rose's tent and found the flap half unzipped and moving gently in the wind. Sarah bent and looked inside the tent cautiously.
"Where the hell's Ro?" She said, looking at me. I was getting accustomed to the gloom now and could see the worry in her pale face.
"Oh my God, what if the monster's got her! Whoever shall save us now?! MAYDAY, MAYDA- OW, don't hit your knight in shining pyjamas!"
"I'm here." Moaned a very forlorn voice. Rubbing my arm, we made our way over to a laurel bush not far away. A figure was crouched beside it.
"Rosie?" Sarah asked tentatively.
"Hi Sarah." Rose groaned before retching and puking into the bush.
"Nice." I said. "Back to bed for me." Rose nodded and went back into her own tent, Sarah's hand on her lower back gently guiding her. She turned on me then.
"Come on then. And if you wake me up again, I will kill you."
And life reverts to normal.
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