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Chapter 18 : Past, Present and Future
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I was still trying to figure out just what the adoption leaflet was doing in James’s car. Did he mean it so that he could find out how to get our child adopted or so that he could adopt him back in case I ever put Al’s name down as the father on the birth certificate. The first suggestion seemed more likely; primarily because I had no intention of naming Al as the father, especially as the whole wizarding media knew the truth. Also, his reluctance to accept his responsibilities provided more scope for the first suggestion to be true.
I didn’t tell my parents about the car crash. In fact, I’d not really had the opportunity to anyway; Dad was constantly working overtime in a blatant attempt to ignore me, and Mum wouldn’t stop talking about ‘the future’, leaving me with no chances to tell her. Not that I would have told her anyway as it would just have made the relationship between our family and James’s much more awkward and strained.
Instead then of worrying about family and other things, I decided to focus on more light-hearted things, such as what my son was going to look like. When I first heard he was a boy, I immediately thought of a boy with blond hair and blue eyes- like me. But the more I thought about it, the more likely it seemed that he would probably have dark hair (as it’s the prominent gene), but he could still have my eyes. Of course, I wouldn’t mind him whatever his looks, but if he turned out looking like James I imagine he’d have girls flocking to him- there’s no denying that James is a good-looking boy.
But the more I thought about James, the more I started to appreciate him as an actual person, rather than just a figure in my life. I began to remember certain things about him, for example, I have a collection of memories from our first three years of Hogwarts where I caught him looking at me or of him annoying me deliberately. Looking back, I guess he had fancied me at the time, but from fourth-year onwards, he seemed to have matured and moved on to other girls. However, one conversation did crop up in my head.
“So Vi, how’s your brother?” asked James, who was paired with me for our first Transfiguration lesson of our fourth-year. James knew Scorpius through his younger brother, Albus- Scorpius’s best friend.
“Erm, fine. Yours?” I asked, making conversation awkwardly. I desperately wanted to say something interesting, but I had nothing.
“Yeah, good. But my baby sister’s just started first-year so he’s been spending a lot of time making sure she’s adapting all right.”
“Baby? She’s hardly a baby considering she’s eleven,” I said, immediately regretting my snarky tone. I couldn’t impress him like this!
“Yeah, well, it still seems like yesterday that she was a baby,” he shrugged, “In fact, I kind of miss it. You know, the whole cuteness and naivety stuff.”
“Yeah, but babies can be annoying too,” I added, my heart melting at what James was saying, yet still not believing it.
“Yeah I know, but I kind of wish my parents would have another kid- it’d be cool to have a baby in the house again,” he said, biting his lip in a way which made my stomach flip.
Thinking back to that conversation made me feel sick. Not only because I suddenly remembered that I used to fancy James when I was fourteen, but also because he was lying. It seemed so bizarre that that fourteen-year-old boy who talked about his love for babies was the same boy who was now seriously contemplating leaving his first, own child for the sake of his career. The shock from the sudden reappearance of the memory in my head pained me. But this was pain I had not experienced before- a sudden jerk of pain which lasted for about thirty seconds. I decided to ignore it; it was probably a side effect of the illness I felt at the thought of a young James. The memory also freaked me out slightly- it was not so long ago that we were children- we were eleven only six years ago- and now we were about to have a child of our own. Merlin, life can be scary when put into perspective.
I concluded that some fresh air would probably make me feel better, so I left the empty house and set off for the park down the road which was deserted. I was relieved really, as in a posh area like mine, seeing people meant having to endure tuts and stares from all the local mothers as they saw my large bump. As I sat down on a swing, I thought about my bump. It was weird to think that there was a child in there who would impact my life forever- and all because I’d had sex with James. Now every time I looked at my bump I thought of James’s smile, his deep brown eyes and mop of messy black hair. I sighed. Even though I was happy with Al, my hormones were yearning for the father of my baby. I guess it was natural, seeing as we now had a biological connection, but it still felt weird.
I just couldn’t believe how selfish James was being. I’d had a lot of time to think since my maternity leave started, and the more I thought about all the things James had said to me in the past few months, the more I had the sudden urge it kick him. And yet my brain wanted to passionately kiss him. But I couldn’t think like that, it was unfair on Al. I liked Al too, but my maternal hormones seemed not to.
Suddenly, another stroke of pain hit me, almost making me fall off the swing. It was the same as what I’d experienced half an hour before. I clung onto the chains of the swing, but found myself slipping downwards onto the ground in sheer pain. After about a minute, I came to my senses and realised that I was alone in a park and having contractions- two weeks early. There was also a puddle of liquid underneath me. My waters must have broken. I groaned. Why did this have to happen now? Then I realised just how scared I was. I wasn’t ready to give birth, let alone look after a real human being for the next eighteen years; I wasn’t even eighteen myself yet! I shouted “help” in a feeble attempt to get attention from any potential passers-by, but there was no-one around.
‘Shit’ I thought, as I panted, too weak from the pain to stand up. Thirty minutes later, another contraction occurred. The pain was unbelievable, but I knew I couldn’t just sit around on the grass idly- I had to get someone’s attention. A little while later, a woman walked past the entrance to the park, so I shouted at her, and to my relief, she approached me.
“Are you alright? Did you fall off?” she asked concernedly. I was just glad she didn’t seem to be the prejudiced, stuck-up type which you usually get near my house.
“Not exactly- I kind of slid, but that’s not important. I think I’m having contractions,” I panted feverishly.
“Oh my, okay, well I’ll call you an ambulance er-?”
“Viola,” I replied. The woman then got out a muggle mobile phone, dialled a number and spoke to a paramedic, explaining the situation. After she finished the call, she offered to help me up, but I refused.
“Well, the ambulance is on its way. I’m Pippa by the way. So do you want me to call anyone for you?”
“Erm, I don’t know anyone’s numbers,” I replied. No-one I knew had a mobile. Well, except James, but I didn’t know his number, and besides, I hadn’t decided whether I even wanted him at the birth anyway.
“Oh, okay, well I’m sure that the hospital can contact your family once you get there,” she said, smiling, then frowning slightly, “so how old are you then, Viola?”
“Seventeen,” I replied, scanning her face for any signs of disapproval, but her expression was neutral.
“Wow, um, that’s pretty young!” she said, smiling warmly again, “and the father? Sorry I don’t mean to pry, I just-“
“Oh no, it’s fine. And he’s seventeen too,” I replied.
“Oh right, and does he live near here, I can always go and fetch him for you if you want?” she asked nicely.
“No, but not that it would make much difference anyway,” I replied gloomily.
“How come,” asked Pippa, looking a little concerned.
“Well… let’s just say he’s not overly-enthusiastic about his impending fatherhood,” I said, finding my eyes pricking with vulnerable tears which I had never showed in front of anyone. I guess I hadn’t realised just how much James’s heartlessness had affected me. Just thinking about it now broke my heart as I thought of my son growing up without a father.
“Oh, oh I am sorry, Viola. I’m sure he’ll come to his senses. And if anything, having a child is the most exciting part of life for some people, and if he chooses to ignore it, then he’ll be the one suffering when he sees you raising his kid without him and possibly with someone else all because of his poor choices,” she said. Wow. For a stranger, she had the most supportive words I’d heard ever since I got pregnant.
“Thanks,” I said, shocked. Suddenly I heard a loud siren increasing in volume until an ambulance stopped outside the park gate. I asked Pippa if she could come with me, at least for the journey, a proposal to which she agreed. The paramedics lifted me onto a stretcher and into the ambulance, where a plastic mask was put over my nose and mouth, providing instant pain relief. I stayed conscious the whole way to the hospital, telling a paramedic my age (to which his eyebrows raised slightly), my address, my parents’ names and details of my pregnancy. I knew the Ministry of Magic had a phone line through which muggles could call in and talk to a Ministry member posing as a muggle, so I gave the paramedic the number and asked him to enquire for Draco Malfoy (he was at work) and to tell him that his daughter was in labour at St. David’s Hospital. I knew Dad could take it on from there and tell Mum and Scorpius. Whether he’d tell James’s family was up to him. But considering the amount of pain I was in, I really couldn’t care less who was going to be there, as long as the pain would be over.
Work had been a nightmare that morning, what with the toilets on the third floor being broken beyond spell repair, meaning that we kept being interrupted by other workers queuing up to use our toilets. By twelve o’clock, I was already anticipating the end of my shift in five hours. I’d already had enough on my mind without having to worry about constipated men next to my office, what with James and all his matters. I loved him, I really did, but he was being very difficult. I just felt sorry for Viola, really, and I also felt guilty for letting James get this bad. He was now not only drinking but also smoking- something I really hated. Once Ginny and I had convinced him to return to Hogwarts after an event with Viola which he won’t elaborate on, he was almost kicked out again for his cigarette habit. I still wondered what it was that really happened during that shopping trip to finally push him over the edge. But I didn’t dare ask Viola, as I had now fully realised just how blissful ignorance could be.
I pushed all this out of my mind and decided to grab a spot of lunch from the local muggle deli around the corner during my lunch hour, so I put down my quill and made my way to the lifts.
“Excuse me, sorry, yes, it’s an emergency,” said an alarmed voice from behind me. I turned around to see none other than Draco Malfoy making his way through a small crowd of people to the lift I was queuing for. He looks stressed, as I had noticed the last few weeks, and his was slightly sweaty too. I looked at him, bewildered. Some people, however, stopped him in his tracks:
“Oi, we were here first!”
“Yeah, you can’t just come barging in here claiming an ‘emergency’!”
“Just let me through!” Draco shouted frustratedly.
“Why? Our lunch break started twenty minutes ago, we’ve been queuing for ages!”
“Please! Just- MY DAUGHTER’S IN LABOUR, ALRIGHT?!” he shouted angrily. Oh shit. But why hadn’t I been informed that my first grandchild was about to be born, too? I suddenly jumped in the lift with Draco just as the grates closed. At first he was too frazzled to notice me, until he suddenly jumped.
“Potter! What’re you…?”
“Coming with you. I have as much right to be at the birth as you do.”
“Hmph! Hardly! Your son ruined my daughter’s life and now he won’t even do anything about it!” he relied angrily.
“Yeah, well, from what Al’s told me, you haven’t exactly been there for Viola either,” I replied, smirking.
“Fine. But don’t talk to me.”
“You could at least tell me where she is,” I said.
“St. David’s Hospital, Wiltshire.”
“Good,” I replied, relieved that she was in good hands, despite the fact she wasn’t even my daughter. The lift then arrived on the ground floor and we both stepped out and disapparated onto the street above the Ministry where we then grudgingly side-along apparated to the entrance of the hospital. Draco immediately walked in and asked the receptionist where his daughter was and we silently made our way up to the room. Finally, it was sinking in for me. My son, my first-born son who was not even an adult yet, was soon going to be a father and have a son of his own. It scared me but I tried not to dwell on it too much. Although, I felt a tear in my eye as I thought about my son. He was no longer my little boy, and I had to accept that. Besides, he was born when I was only 24, hardly an old age.
Once we reached the room, Draco was let in, but I was told to wait outside. It was frustrating, but then again, it would have been awkward to be in there with the two Malfoys. If my eleven-year-old self could see myself now, preparing for the birth of my son’s baby with a Malfoy, he would have been sickened at the thought. But ever since I saved Draco’s life, we’d reached a silent understanding that there was no point in being ‘enemies’ anymore, so I didn’t care.
In the next hour, Viola’s mother and brother arrived, looking flustered. Scorpius had obviously had a quick change from his Hogwarts robes into muggle clothing in order to come to the hospital and looked worn-out, but excited. I wondered if anyone had gotten in touch with my family, most namely James.
When I arrived at the hospital, I said goodbye to and thanked Pippa and promised to stay in touch after she gave me her number and told me to call her after the birth and tell her how it went. My Dad soon arrived, looking more human and caring than I had ever seen him in my life.
“It’s gonna be alright Vi, okay?” he said during a particularly painful contraction. Mum and Scorpius came soon after with equally supportive words. Mum held my hand while Scorpius conducted me on how to breathe, like he was leading an orchestra. It was actually hilarious, and what with the misery of the last few months, this comic relief was certainly helpful. He also told me that Harry was outside, but in the midst of all the pain, I wasn’t really listening. Suddenly, I experienced the most horrifying pain yet and involuntarily cried out “JAMES!”. I hated him so much for getting me into this state, but at the same time, and for some unexplainable reason, wanted him by my side for this.
“W-what?” said Dad, looking taken aback.
“GET JAMES!” I shouted. Dad then left the room, presumably to talk to Harry about getting his son. I suppose Harry must having been waiting for my blessing before inviting any of his family to the hospital. Dad then came back in shortly after and told me that Harry was going to owl both James and Professor McGonagall that he needed to be here. But time was ticking on and my contractions were becoming closer and closer. Soon, Ginny, Albus and Lily arrived, but only Al came into the room, smiling nervously at Scorpius and then coming up to me and kissing me, despite the disgusting sweat on my face. But, even though I enjoyed and savoured his kiss, it didn’t feel right at a time like this. I asked Al where James was but he said he didn’t know- apparently he’d skived off lessons that day and hadn’t been seen since the morning. My heart sank. Where was he? Everyone was here and yet the most important person wasn’t. What was he doing?
Ten minutes later, another contraction occurred and I found myself screaming for James again, leaving Al looking both confused and sad. The pain then became so awful and the possibility of James’s absence further increased so much that I started crying uncontrollably. I didn’t know why I wanted James; I just did.
‘What a shit day’, I thought to myself as I sat in the Hog’s Head, downing my second firewhisky. I knew that the bartender wouldn’t have a go at me for skiving here, so I chose it over the Three Broomsticks. It’s not that anything particularly bad had happened that day, it was just the culmination of school work, Viola and the baby which made me flip out in Potions that morning. I was sitting alone at the back, next the Vi’s now unoccupied seat when I heard voices talking about me. They belonged to some girls in my set , but, even though they were petty whispers, I had to get out of there, so I did. I walked out, and no-one stopped me. Just being in the presence of girls since the incident with Vi annoyed me- it just kept sending reminders of what Vi had shouted at me that day.
“You’re going to be lucky if this boy ever even calls you ‘daddy’!”
Those words had replayed themselves so frequently during the last couple of weeks that I wanted to explode from anger. Why didn’t she just understand? Not everything was about her, for Merlin’s sake!
Owls kept swooping into the pub, pecking at me, but I just kept batting them away until they left, appalled by my disrespect. I didn’t care though; they were probably just carrying letters from McGonagall threatening my expulsion or something. Then, the bartender came up to me and asked in a gruff voice, “Are you Mr. James Potter?”.
“Yeah, why?” I asked, a little taken aback.
“Well, there’s about ten owls in the back all carrying letters for you, and if you don’t open one up then I’m going to have to throw you out.”
“Ugh, fine,” I said, taking a letter from his hand before he then walked away to the bar again. I opened it up and read:
Get to St, David’s Hospital, Wiltshire, Room 231 NOW. Viola’s in labour and is near to giving birth. I’ve been trying to contact you all afternoon!
Oh shit. This couldn’t be happening. Vi wasn’t even due for another two weeks or something. And I was going to be a father in a few hours, a thought which scared me endlessly. But, seeing as I didn’t really have much choice, I left the pub and disapparated to the hospital. If I wasn’t going to be there for my son in the future, I was at least going to be there for his birth.
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