Chapter 17 : When You Aren't Even Sure Of What You Want
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“You’ve been avoiding me.”
I didn’t have to turn my head to look and see who it was that was talking to me. I knew that voice as well as I knew my own by that point, knew it was Scorpius even while my gaze lingered on the book I had open in front of me. The library was a place where I tended to head when I wanted to have some quite, some time to think or get some schoolwork done- or, at this point, get away from my cousins and how nosy they were being where my pregnancy was involved. I enjoyed that they cared, of course, but there were times when I didn’t want to talk about it.
The last thing I had wanted in that moment was to have Scorpius come up to me in the library. I hadn’t wanted to see him, hadn’t wanted to talk to him. It was just so much less awkward that way, didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or like my stomach was in knots. It didn’t make my stomach churn the way it had the moment I had seen Scorpius and Leera outside together. And avoiding running into him made it a lot easier to avoid seeing Leera as well since she seemed like she wanted to sew herself to his side.
“No, I haven’t.” It was a lie but I wasn’t about to admit to him that I had been avoiding him. It would seem a little bit ridiculous, would be embarrassing to admit outright.
“Bullocks,” Scorpius breathed out with a sort of scoffing laugh, albeit a muffled one while he tried not to draw too much attention to himself. The more noise you made in the library the more likely you were to draw attention to yourself, to have people either glare at you or start to listen in on your conversation.
“Did I do something to upset you? Because last time we spoke? It seemed like everything was alright with between us. Or at least they weren’t as bad as they had been. And now suddenly you’re avoiding me. So, what’s going on, Weasley? What did I do to tick you off so much?”
“I told you- I haven’t been avoiding you.” Closing the book up I turned back to face him, set my mouth in an almost grim line, hugged the book to my chest as I looked at him. Lying to him came a bit too easily for me in that moment for comfort, almost made me feel sick to say it but lying was becoming quite a bit easier as time went on. Especially when I was hiding such a big secret from everyone.
“Cut the crap.” Leaning her face closer to mine he kept his eyes fixed on mine, his jaw ticking slightly in annoyance. I had only ever seen his jaw tick like that one time before, back when we were in our second year and he had nearly gotten into an actual fistfight after a Quidditch game. If I were a boy I might have been intimidated, might have worried he would hit me. But if there was one thing I knew it was that he wouldn’t ever hit a girl. Even the most barbaric students in that school usually refused to cross that line.
“I haven’t been avoiding you,” I repeated, tapped the tips of my fingers on the binding of the book, shrugged my shoulders just a little bit. “I just don’t have anything to say to you right now. Nor do I want to spend time watching you with Leera.”
“Not that I mind if you spend time with her, of course,” I continued as casually as I could, shrugged my shoulders once more. “You’re free to spend time with any person you desire to. But I don’t want to linger around like a rapidly inflating third wheel. Or have to encounter the two of you snogging again. Seeing people snog these days-”
“Hold on.” Sighing heavily Scorpius lifted up one hand to cut me off, furrowed his pale eyebrows rather deeply. “What’s this about me snogging Leera?”
“Hmm? Oh, I saw you two after the Quidditch match Slytherin played against Ravenclaw,” I explained with in a dismissive tone, as though having to explain what I meant felt ludicrous just then. “And as I was saying-”
“That was hardly snogging,” Scorpius argued, cut me off once again. Whether he knew it or not it was rather infuriating to have someone continue to do that. “It’s not as though I shoved her against a bloody tree and practically devoured her tongue. We were celebrating Slytherin’s win. It was really not what I would consider snogging. But even if it was, why would you care if I snogged her?”
“I don’t,” I replied almost too easily for my liking. “Honestly, you’re free to snog whomever you’d like. I just don’t have the stomach to watch anyone snog lately. Probably the hormones. Although given the fact I’m carrying your offspring, I would rather you choose someone who doesn’t hate me to snog but, well, I can’t control how you live your life, of course.”
“Leera’s moody. I don’t know that she actually hates you. And even if she does? What does the baby have to do with my choice of whether or not to snog her?”
“Look.” Sighing wearily I shook some of my hair out of my face, glanced around briefly to make sure no one else was around to hear our conversation. “It’s obvious to everyone and their great-grandparents that she wants to sink her claws into you. And more power to her for being rather blunt about her intentions. But if you two become an item then she’ll more than likely be around when the baby is born. And since you decided to be an actual father that means she’d be around my baby. And the truth is I’d rather not have someone who hates me spending a good deal of time around my child. But, as I said, I can’t control how you live your life. And if it turns out that she’s going to be around the baby then I suppose I’ll just have to learn to live with that.”
“And now she’s talking like I’m getting married,” Scorpius mumbled under his breath, took a step back from me and ran a hand through his pale hair to push it back from his face. Shaking his head he walked in a small circle right there in front of me in the library, let out a frustrated laugh. “Do you realize how insane you sound right now?” he asked as he stopped, turned his gaze to me, arched both of his eyebrows in question. “I hope whatever is wrong with your brain doesn’t get passed down to that child. Because you being absolutely mental is difficult enough to deal with. I don’t know that I can handle two mental people.”
“I’m not mental,” I insisted in an annoyed hiss, had the urge to smack him on the head with the book in my hands. Of all the things I could have dealt with in that moment being called mental for worrying about who might end up spending a great deal of time around my child once it was born shouldn’t have qualified.
“You sure are acting mental.” Crossing his arms over his chest he took a step closer to me, cocked his head very slightly to the side as he gazed down at me. There was something in his gaze I couldn’t put a name to but it was almost like frustration, almost like anger but neither word really seemed to suit it. “And you’re wrong. Leera doesn’t want to, as you put it, get sink her claws into me.”
“Believe what you want to believe,” Scorpius drawled with a very casual shrug of his shoulders. “But I know Leera. We’ve known each other our entire lives. Our fathers were mates back when they were at school. She flirts, that’s all. And she’s clingy. But it’s not as though she’s enamored by me, Weasley. The most she’d want to do is shag. She’s not in love with me or anything. And she doesn’t want to be my girlfriend, let alone end up close enough to play stepmother or something of the like. I mean, do you really think I would ever let anyone around that child who would hurt it?”
“I don’t know what you would do, Malfoy.”
Scorpius had opened his mouth, I assumed to keep talking, and then closed his mouth back up with a snap. His entire posture changed, his shoulders going rigid as though he were ready for a fight though his face went slack like I had just slapped the expression right off of his face. His eyes widened marginally even though there was no emotion inside of them though he didn’t say anything for a few moments.
“Are you serious right now?” he whispered, his expression still empty though his voice was anything but. His voice basically dripped with frustration, with anger, with the same kind of rage that could make a person’s entire body start to shake. And yet somehow he remained still, his face remained empty which was perhaps more intimidating than it would have been if he let his emotions show on his face, with his body.
“Are you seriously going to stand there and accuse me of being willing to knowingly let someone who could do any kind of damage to my child be in said child’s life?” His arms still folded across his chest he leaned closer to me, put his face so near to mine that our noses nearly touched. “And you say that Leera is a bitch. But at least she wouldn’t accuse me of being willing to put my child in danger.”
It was an irrational reaction but something inside of me snapped. It wasn’t a big snap, not the kind that make people do insane things that end up getting them expelled or put into Azkaban but it was a snapping nonetheless. And I thrust the book in my hands against his chest, thrust it hard enough that it knocked the wind out of him. “Don’t ever call me a bitch again.”
“Then don’t act like one,” he countered, lifted up both hands to grab the book as my hands moved away from it so it wouldn’t fall to the floor and make a loud clattering sound. All that would do is serve to draw attention to us and the conversation we were having which, logically, I wouldn’t want any more than he would.
“So, I’m a bitch for being concerned about my unborn child and the people who might be around it?”
“No, you’re not a bitch for being concerned. You’re a bitch for thinking I would put my child in danger, for thinking I would be willing to let anyone who would hurt him or her in their life. What kind of a person do you think I am?”
“I don’t know,” I hissed at him, threw my hands up in frustration. “I don’t know anything about you. Not really. I am dealing with so much right now and perhaps the worst of all is that I have no idea what kind of a person you really are. I don’t know what’s in your head, I don’t know what kind of a person you are. I don’t even really know how you feel about this. It feels like you only even told your parents because I kept bothering you about it. The truth is, I don’t know anything right now except that I’m going to be a mother. I have a child to worry about. And this baby has to be my biggest concern. It has to be my only concern. Especially the welfare of this baby.”
The expression on his face became unreadable again. Not being able to figure out what he was feeling, not being able to understand what was going on in his head. When you could read someone then it made understanding them easier. It made interacting with them easier. It meant I could brace myself for whatever they were about to say, whatever they were about to do. But when they were a blank slate before my eyes, when their expression became unreadable then there was no way for me to brace myself.
“If you don’t think I understand that you need to worry about protecting that baby?” Scorpius asked in a disbelieving voice though there was a bit of annoyance that tinged his voice, that was undeniable. “Then you’re not as smart as you think you are. Because that’s what parents do, Weasley. Even when they don’t know what they’re doing, when they aren’t sure how to go about it? They protect their kids. And do you really think that I wouldn’t do whatever it took to protect my own child? Because if you do? Then you really are mental. This is my child. I might not have been thrilled about the messed up circumstances that the baby was created under by that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do whatever it took to protect that child.”
“I don’t want to talk to you about this anymore. I just-”
“No, of course you don’t.” Shaking his head he let out a scoffing sort of laugh, held the book tightly in one hand as he lifted both hands up in a gesture of futility. “You never want to hear what I have to say, how I feel about things. Because your feelings are all that matter. Your feelings, your thoughts, your needs. It’s all about you. Well, that’s bullshit, Weasley. If you want me to raise this baby alongside you then I have to matter, too.”
“I never said you don’t matter.”
“Didn’t you?” Both of his eyebrows shot up in question. “Because it seems to me that every single conversation we’ve had centers around you and what you think, what you want, what you feel. It’s been all about me pleasing you, me trying to help you feel less stressed over things. But what about me? Do you think this is easy for me? Do you think it’s easy for me to know that in less than a year I’m going to have a child to take care of? That I’m going to be someone’s father? Shit, Weasley, I’m stressed out, too.”
“I know that.”
Reaching out he put the book in his hand on top of the other ones on the shelf and moved towards me, used the movement of his body to back me up against the bookcase, cornered me in there, put one hand on either side of me so he was blocking me from walking away. “What do you want from me, Weasley? Huh?”
“You said you wanted me to step up and accept my part as a father to this kid, and I did. You needed someone to make sure that Leera didn’t spill your secret and I stepped in to make sure that didn’t happen. But if you want me to really be a part of the baby’s life? Then I need to be your equal. Do you want me to be your friend? Then just tell me and I’ll be your friend. You want me to help you get things to prepare for the baby when the time comes? Furniture and clothes and stuff? Then I’ll do that when the time comes. No problem. Just tell me what you want, give me a damn clue here. Because I can’t read your bloody mind. So, what do you want, Weasley?”
“I…I don’t know.” It was extremely odd to admit in that moment. After all, I was normally the type of person who was usually always sure of what I wanted, of where I wanted to be in life. But I couldn’t give him an answer in that moment. And that was, perhaps, worse than the fact that basically everything he seemed to do was upsetting me lately. Everything was so confusing in that moment, most of all my feelings.
Looking at him I could still feel the way that upsetting, churning feeling I had in my stomach when I saw him kissing Leera, the unusually tight feeling in my chest. And yet even with his face pretty close to mine I couldn’t explain exactly why I was feeling the way that I was, why seeing him kissing her had upset me so much. A part of me knew that it wasn’t just because it was Leera but I couldn’t explain why I was feeling the way that I was. I wanted to, wanted to verbalize it, wanted to explain to him what it was that made me feel like that. But I couldn’t, not for the life of me.
All I knew was that when I had seen them it felt like my heart was breaking. I couldn’t understand why, couldn’t explain why I cared that he had been kissing a girl that wasn’t me. It wasn’t even as though I spent my time asking daydreaming about him kissing me, wrote his name on my parchment paper in little hearts. And yet I didn’t want to see him kissing someone else, when I had it felt like something inside of me was breaking apart and there was nothing I could do to stop it. But because I didn’t understand it at all I couldn’t even begin to explain it, to verbalize what it was that I was feeling and what it was that I wanted.
“I don’t know.” I was almost ashamed to admit that, to let him know that I didn’t have any idea what I wanted in that moment. And if I wasn’t sure what I wanted then how was I supposed to let him know what I wanted?
“Well, then you’re going to have to cut me some slack. Because if I don’t know what you want? Then how the hell am I supposed to keep you from going mental on me?” He kept his eyes fixed on me and the gaze was almost enough to make my legs buckle, to make my knees weak. My stomach twisted in an unfamiliar kind of way, my knees started to shake a little bit and I had to reach behind me to grip the bookshelf I was leaning against so I wouldn’t fall to the floor.
“I’m just telling you that I don’t like the idea of Leera possibly being around my future child with how much she hates me.”
“And I already let you know that I wouldn’t do anything to put the baby in danger. Why does this need to be discussed anymore?”
I couldn’t answer him because I wasn’t sure myself. My mouth felt dry and my throat felt tight. My stomach was churning but it wasn’t the same type of churning that came when I felt like I was going to be physically sick. It was an entirely different kind of uncomfortable, an entirely different kind of uneasy feeling. In that moment I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to kiss him or smack him- neither of which were comforting or comfortable options in that moment.
“Can I just go back to my dorm, please?” It was all I wanted to do in that moment, go back to my dorm and lie down or do some work. Maybe spend some time by myself in order to figure out exactly what it was that I was feeling, what it was that I wanted. Because he made me realize in that moment that I had no idea what I wanted, what I was really feeling. And knowing that I was making things difficult for him when they were already difficult for me wasn’t making things any better.
“You need to think really hard about what you want, Weasley,” he declared in an almost infuriatingly rational voice. “Because I’m trying here. I’m trying as hard as I can. But I can’t make things easier for both of us if you don’t help me here. So don’t come at me and give me a hard time if you don’t even know what you really want from me. Because all it does is make things harder between us.”
He stepped back from me then, reached out and grabbed the book I had been reading off of the spot where he put it on the shelf before he handed it to me, practically thrust it against my chest though he had done it a lot more gently than I had thrust the book into his. His pale eyes remained fixed on mine for several seconds, like perhaps he was trying to make sure that I understood what he was saying, that I knew he was being serious before he turned around and walked away from me, moved to leave the library.
A part of me wanted to call out to him, to say something else to him but in that moment I had absolutely no idea what to say to him, what I could do in that moment to make things better between him and I. And if I was being honest I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to fix things between the two of us. Not in that moment. I was too frustrated and too frazzled to even think logically.
I just wanted to be able to ignore the fact that I had to consider him and his feelings, his wants and needs and thoughts. Not because I didn’t care what he thought or anything of the sort. But because then I could focus on other things. I could focus on the idea of preparing myself for my future baby; I could focus on dealing with my cousin’s impending wedding. I could focus on so many other things if I didn’t have to worry about him and his emotions.
But he was right.
If I wanted him to be a part of the baby’s life then I had to consider him, I had to be willing to let him make choices, to give me his opinion on things. I had to think about his feelings and understand that he was just as important as I was in the grand scheme of things- at least where the baby happened to be concerned. He was the baby’s father, after all.
But when everything was making me feel like I was going mad? That was easier said than done.
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