Chapter 24 : Fairy Tales
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Quick thanks to everyone's kind words about not only this story, but on 30 Days since I recently posted the final chapter. Pretty surreal for me. THANK YOU.
“What are we even doing here?” I groaned.
“Your mum told me to take you out and I’m doing it.”
James grinned and spun with his arms out around him. He whacked a mannequin. “Come on. You’re going to need supplies, right?”
“I don’t know that Ryan will let me get supplies,” I said honestly.
We were in a baby supply store. It was a big box store with tall aisles and colorful clothes and plush bears and way too many stroller options. It was in a burb just outside of Edinburgh where we hoped no one would recognize us. Hoped.
“So let’s pick out some girl shit,” James said, tugging me toward the first aisle. Lots and lots and lots of play pens.
“Are there differences?” I looked from one price tag to the next. “Clearly. Holy Merlin, why are these things so expensive?”
“That one has giraffes, that’s why.” James was squeezing the plush material. “You think these are comfy?”
“Why, want one?” We continued toward the car seats and strollers and I scolded James for trying to fit in them. All of them.
This was a foreign world to me. I could tell what most of the merchandise was, but then in the bottle section there were one too many contraptions that looked painful. Torture devices, more than likely.
“What’s this?” I whispered, holding up a package of bright bags.
James tilted his head and squinted. “Label says barf bags.”
“Designer barf bags?” I wrinkled my nose.
A tall, leggy attendant appeared at the end of the aisle. “Is there something I can help you boys with?” she asked. Her hair was long and blond and very straight.
“We need baby shit,” James said impatiently because he had his fingers stuck in a bottle.
“Anything in particular?” she said. “Is this for a gift?”
“For his unborn kid,” James said, still tugging at the bottle. He was getting red in the face.
“Ah.” The woman smiled kindly. It was clear she’d been trained not to judge people. Especially seventeen-year-old people having a kid. “Do you know the sex yet?”
“They did it in a bathroom stall,” James said.
“Of the baby,” I snapped and then looked back at the woman. “We’re having a girl.”
“Brilliant!” She clasped her hands together. “Let’s start you off small. I’m pretty sure Mum is going to want to have pick of the big things, unless she’s told you what she’s looking for.”
I snorted. That was the best answer I had. Like Ryan told me anything other than what a Gryffindor I was. Colorful phrase, that was.
“No worries. Let’s get you some lovely girlie things to take back and show Mum.” The woman led us down another aisle to the displays of colorful clothes in pinks and greens and yellows and a onesie that had a picture of baby droppings on it. Parents had weird humor.
“Look at this!” James was snickering at the ‘I’m a star!’ on a onesie with a football on it.
I was getting a little overwhelmed. Tiny dresses were dangling off tiny hangers and I couldn’t imagine anyone being small enough to fit in that. Holiday dresses and little leggings and onesies with snarky sayings. They had everything.
I was still adjusting to Ryan being called ‘Mum.’
“Does anything catch your eye?” the clerk asked, holding up a pink shirt with a cat face scribbled on it.
I opened my mouth and closed it quickly. Maybe this wasn’t the greatest idea for an outing the week after I’d found out we were having a girl.
“I like this one,” James said. It read: My Uncle Rocks.
“The dresses are nice,” I sputtered. I was starting to sweat, which was awkward.
“We can get her a few matching bibs as well.”
“Bibs?” I said.
“For when she pukes all over you when you feed her carrots instead of cake,” James explained.
“Brilliant.” I took a breath and nodded as the clerk left and returned with several pink and purple bibs that matched the dresses. Tiny cotton dresses with ribbon. It was almost hard for me to look at knowing in a few more months something was going to fit in there. A little girl.
Talk about overwhelming.
“Yeah, good.” I nodded. “Bag them all up.” I’d ship them to Mum so she could store them. It would be a bad idea to let Ryan know I’d been baby shopping. Then again, we weren’t living in the fantasy world anymore. This was as real as it got before she was in our arms.
I wondered if Ryan would let me in the hospital room to hold her hand. Or if she’d even let me be at the hospital.
James handed the clerk the Uncle shirt. “Look at these little shoes!” He held up some tiny red sneakers. “Get these too. Oh! And these! Look at this… how hilarious is this?”
I wasn’t paying attention, just nodding at his suggestions. He had good taste anyway.
I started to look around the place again – all of the bedspreads and stuffed animals and teething toys. It was all so much for a tiny little person. How on earth was Ryan going to afford all of it? She couldn’t even pay rent, let alone all the rubbish associated with a kid.
And now her Quidditch career was down the toilet. She’d never get signed if she didn’t play her seventh year. She’d have to join a rec league and try to work her way back up to the top, which could take years and pay worse than the pub.
It was my fault, I knew that. Not all my fault, but still some.
I wished she would let me help. Even more than I was.
“You going to throw a party?” James asked. He took some gum out of his pocket and popped a piece in his mouth. He offered some to the clerk, but she declined.
“Yeah, like a shower. You know, with the pink balloons and lame games and presents.”
“Presents?” I said, eyebrows raising. I’d forgotten about baby showers.
“You know Grandmum would knit a whole blanket,” James said. “She keeps trying to pressure Victoire to get knocked up. Yours will be her first great-grandkid.” He shrugged.
I hadn’t considered that. Having a baby shower with all of the Weasley family. Ryan would get everything on her registry, plus some. She could have everything she wanted, just from one party.
My relatives couldn’t save money if they tried. If there was something to celebrate, they did it properly. And a baby required extra proper.
“Can’t exactly tell them, can I?” I said, frowning.
“Come on. Like it’s not going to come out eventually.”
“Like you working at the shop?” I countered.
“You don’t know my life,” James muttered. “Listen, it’s going to come out eventually when you’re helping her deliver a baby. Just convince her closer to the date – if Zonko hasn’t outed you yet – to have a party at the Weasley Estate.”
“I’d hardly call it an estate,” I said.
“If I put a sign out front saying Weasley Estate, it’s an estate.”
“Deal.” I shrugged. “I’ll talk to Ryan about it. She won’t be too keen, I’m sure, since she’ll see what I’m trying to do.”
“What’re you trying to do?” James asked as he handed more rubbish to the clerk for me to buy. “Throw her a party for putting up with your shit? She deserves the whole damn town to come.”
“I don’t appreciate your tone.” I shoved him into a display. He surfaced with a stuffed bear in his mouth.
Thanks for sending your mum all this rubbish and letting her know it’s a girl. She is now back into knitting and stabbing me with the needles. Do not appreciate it.
She’s also contemplating using the spare bedroom as a nursery for when the baby is here and putting an extra bed in there for Ryan. She’s painting it pink. It’s getting really hard for her not to tell anyone, by the way. She can’t even properly brag.
Be safe at school. No fighting.
Ryan told me a week later the Heads tried to give her different accommodations even though she was still a few months out. She refused, citing that she wanted to stay with Gemma and also loved pissing off the rest of her house by doing pregnant things.
She had even started making up things that weren’t side effects to get people to do what she wanted. Blokes gave her their Quidditch magazines so she could practice reading so her eyes didn’t go bad. China gave her a back rub in the Prefect office because her spine was too stiff to do walks properly. Rune gave her a galleon for ice cream because her blood sugar was low.
Though it had its perks, these extra bits of information also provided plenty of rumors to stalk Ryan around the castle. I tried to ignore them, but they got under my skin and into my blood and sent me into the bathroom more than once to splash cool water on my face.
It was even ruthless in class when people I’d considered good people made underhanded comments about her being pregnant.
“Can you even touch your toes, Davies?” sniggered Finley, a Hufflepuff. Seriously. A Hufflepuff said that. I had no idea they were capable.
“Want to find out?” Ryan shot back and got in trouble for talking out of turn.
James tried to continue being his jackass self while Gemma and Ryan sat behind us in class, but even he was having a hard time. He had grown fond of how much shit Ryan was giving me because it meant he didn’t have to do it so often. And it gave him more time to snog Ollie, which he was obviously happy about.
“What’re you looking at?” Gemma snapped when I turned around in class. I knew I shouldn’t have or I should have thought up a remark, but I didn’t.
“Nothing,” I said and turned back to the board. I copied some notes.
A paper ball hit me hard on the back of the head.
I turned. “What?”
“What’re you up to, Weasley?” Gemma hissed. Ryan elbowed her.
“Taking notes, French. Why, fancy a snog?”
I got hit with another ball to the face.
“Pay attention,” James snapped and I went back to my notes.
I was distracted. Why was I always distracted nowadays?
China and I finished up walks early on a Tuesday in late January, thankful no one was caught swinging beers in the halls or dueling in the Charms corridor. That really cut into my study time. I waved to her and felt bad. She’d been sort of mopey since Scorpius Dunderhead Malfoy had turned her down. Apparently he was “super sweet” about it, but I wasn’t buying it.
I turned up a few more staircases, hellbent on cracking open that pregnancy book again if Parise wasn’t sulking around the dormitory. As far as I knew, he hadn’t made a move on Ollie. I knew because he wasn’t dead.
If he was there, at least I had a Potions essay to pretend to work on.
I rounded the staircase and hopped onto the seventh floor landing when my shoulders were thrown square into the stone wall, damn near knocking the wind out of me. My head slammed against it and I blinked away blurry tears. What the hell?
I had expected Parise. Scorpius Malfoy. Hell, maybe Zonko on stilts.
I hadn’t expected Gemma.
“French?” I said, gasping for breath since my lungs felt punctured.
“Ryan’s finishing up a shift in the library.”
“Okay?” I said. Her palms were pinning me to the wall. Girl was strong.
“I asked her a casual question about you,” Gemma said. As she came into focus, I noticed she was positively fuming. Her face was blotchy and red. She looked almost like she had her teeth barred. “She couldn’t even look at me. Not even to make up some lie about Prefect bullshit. Don’t treat me like I’m stupid, Weasley.”
“I really have no idea what’s happening,” I said. “I did Prefect walks tonight, though.”
“It’s you,” Gemma hissed. “It’s you, Weasley, and don’t you fucking dare lie to me.”
Suddenly her wand was out and at my throat and I had never imagined this as a way I would die. Flood, yes. Gemma, no.
“What do you want me to say?” I said, trying to stall. Hoping Ryan would walk down the stairs when I knew very well she’d take a different route to Ravenclaw Tower from the library.
“Tell me the truth,” she whispered, face inching closer to mine. Her wand was prodding into my neck.
“Why does it matter so much to you?”
“She’s my best friend and you are a coward and a sorry excuse for a man.”
“You’re charming, you know that?” I said.
The wand went further into my neck and I choked a little.
“French, let up, okay? What’s Davies told you?” I thought it was safer to pretend I didn’t use her first name. I didn’t used to.
“She’s told me it’s no one I know and she’s a lying shit,” Gemma said. She drew her wand a little further away, but was now digging her elbow into my ribcage. “Admit it, Weasley. Admit it or I’ll out you.”
“How does that work, exactly?” I asked, wiggling a little to try and escape. It didn’t work because Gemma was a ninja. I didn’t know Ravenclaws were allowed to be ninjas, but it appeared I was mistaken.
“You’re testing my patience.”
OH THANK EVERYTHING.
Gemma leapt back and pocketed her wand. I unceremoniously let my knees buckle and flopped to the floor. Mildly unattractive. I choked a bit and caught my breath, rubbing at my ribs because that woman had one hell of a bony elbow.
“What’re you doing?” Ryan asked, casually strolling down the hall with a messenger bag draped across her chest and bouncing off her hip.
“Just hanging out with Weasley. Having a chat.”
“About?” Ryan asked. She kept her tone steady.
“The weather,” Gemma said.
“And how is… the weather?”
“He won’t admit that it’s raining,” she said bitterly.
“You could have talked to me about this, you know,” Ryan said, lowering her voice. “And seriously? In the middle of the corridor? Are you fucking mad?”
“Yes,” I inserted. Gemma kicked me in the shin.
Ryan grabbed Gemma and me by the collars of our shirts and practically threw us into the nearest classroom. She bolted the door shut. “Both of you realize Zonko could have been out there ready to give the world more information he didn’t need, right?”
“Yeah,” I said, shooting a look at the blond. “I REALIZE THAT.”
“Shut up, Weasel.”
“That’s original,” I muttered.
“Gemma.” Ryan shoved the pair of us apart and looked at her friend. “Listen.”
“Are you two going to be together because I will throw up if you snog.”
Good thing she wasn’t there at New Years. Or after the pub.
Ryan groaned. “If you would shut your mouth for a moment,” she said, raising a finger. Gemma didn’t reply. “Thank you. Yes, it’s Weasley. And before you make a remark, know that I’ve already made all of them so save your breath because you know how I hate repetitive things.” She narrowed her eyes.
“How?” Gemma said, trying to turn her expression of horror into interest. It didn’t work.
“Tequila,” said Ryan. Gemma nodded.
“Pretty sure the Giant Squid would get a better reaction from you,” I said.
Gemma shrugged. “Probably.” She turned back to Ryan, frowning. “I almost didn’t want to believe it.”
“I’m really not THAT bad!” I shouted, annoyed.
“That’s why Potter wanted her address!” Gemma cried, throwing a hand over her mouth. “You sneaky thing!”
I actually did smirk there. “Found her, didn’t I?”
“You did?” Gemma turned and looked at Ryan. “Don’t tell me.”
“I won’t.” Ryan shrugged.
“DO tell me, you shit!” Gemma punched Ryan in the shoulder and I wondered how these girls were this violent. “Did you see him over the holiday?”
“He wasn’t easy to avoid,” she replied tartly.
“And I stayed at his place.”
“He’s a GRYFFINDOR.”
“Again, not that bad.” I made a face.
“Drop it, Gem. It happened and I’m dealing with it and no one is ever going to know it’s Weasley.” Ryan raised her finger again when Gemma tried to respond. “So yes, it’s him. Yes, it was tequila. Yes, I stayed with him over break.”
“You told me someone was there with you when the baby kicked,” Gemma said.
“It was him.” I was pleased to see Ryan’s cheeks pinker than before.
“And your appointments? Don’t you dare.”
“He went,” Ryan said, sighing.
“YOU TOLD ME YOU WANTED TO GO ALONE. ALONE TO HAVE A SNOG.”
“With Peter,” I muttered halfheartedly.
“Listen,” Ryan said, slapping Gemma hard on the arm to get her to shut up. “You either deal with this or you out us. If you deal with this, you’ll just have to deal with seeing Weasley a little more often. If you out us, I will properly kick your ass, pregnant or not.”
I didn’t doubt that. I wanted to watch.
Gemma looked between the two of us, her breathing slowing. “Fine,” she spat. “But I do not approve.”
“Fuck, neither do I,” Ryan said.
“This really has been a pleasure,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Can I leave now and let you two ravage my reputation in peace? Or do you want me to contribute?”
“Does Potter know?” Gemma asked.
“Great. Something else for him to hold over my head.” Gemma leaned against a desk and shook some hair from her face. “Rowena, Ry. If you were going to shag a Gryffindor at least it could have been Andrew Parise. He has good bone structure.”
It was like being backhanded with a purse. A purse filled with bricks. Giant, concrete blocks.
“He can’t even make it onto a Quidditch team,” Ryan said.
“Still. Cute kids is all I’m saying.”
I met Ryan’s eyes for a moment and tried to read what she was thinking. Ryan Davies was a mystery I wasn’t any closer to figuring out than the day she cornered me in the Prefect’s Bathroom. She held my stare until long after I’d broken it to escape back to my common room and tell James French knew and to prepare himself for long-range paper ball throwing.
I didn’t see Ryan too much over the next two weeks. I was playing a lot of Quidditch and she was working in the library. I asked if she was working in the pub and she told me to mind my own damn business, but I hoped she wasn’t. I knew Mum was writing her, so maybe she was talking some sense into her.
Gemma knowing didn’t make matters any better. She threw sharper objects.
I started hanging out with Annie again after Quidditch since James and Ollie were already on the pitch. Ollie didn’t mention Parise and the rest of us didn’t bring him up.
They brought up Ryan more times than I wanted them to, but the school was small and there were only so many times I could comment on Rox’s sideways glance when I passed in the hall.
The truth was, I wasn’t any closer to being Roxanne’s brother as I had been before break. The only difference was that she wasn’t throwing out insults. Now she was flat-out ignoring me. Some good that talk did.
I tried not to worry about it and focused on my studies(ish) and Quidditch. Rose’s practices were now messing with Prefect duties and Molly was threatening to give me extra walks if I wasn’t on time. At one point I was ten minutes late since I ran from the shower with a towel still on my hair to a meeting. Ryan masked her laugh as a hacking rough and Rune gave her a lemon drop.
A day later in the library I played the pity card and she let me feel the baby kick. Her stomach was getting rounder and Mum sent her some maternity clothes. It was still hard for me to keep my eyes off her.
The start of February was cold and snowy, so we took the first Saturday and instead of venturing into town for a pint, we huddled under a heated dome outside. James made a half-assed fire and then Ollie made it better. We made s’mores as the afternoon light died. Annie uncorked a bottle of wine she’d stolen from the kitchens.
“Truth or dare?” Ollie said, laughing.
“I would actually rather cut off both hands than play that,” I said. Quickly. “Both of them.”
“I dare you to kiss Annie,” she said.
“I wish you wouldn’t,” I replied. “I dare you to snog Annie. I’ll watch. With a camera.”
Annie was laughing, but her face was red.
Ollie had that habit lately. Trying to push Annie and me back together. It was getting annoying, but I tried not to let it bother me. I just hoped it wasn’t bothering Annie.
They left after a while since James burned his thumb in the fire and Annie cleaned up the wrappers from where they’d been sitting. “Sorry about her,” she said.
“Ollie? It’s not her fault. She thinks everyone should get the fairy tale she has.”
“Why shouldn’t they?” Annie said, stuffing the extra chocolate squares into the graham cracker box.
“That’s just not the way things work.”
“I don’t think life says anything,” Annie argued. “You can have whatever ending you want. You just have to have the courage to go after it.”
“Is that right?” I leaned back on my elbows and stared into the fire. What kind of ending did I want? A safe, easy ending where I could focus on my career?
Or that hard path I’d been climbing?
“What do you want?” I asked her.
Annie looked over, frowning. “A fairy tale,” she said.
“Knight and all? I heard that armor isn’t doing them any favors.”
Annie leaned down and pressed her lips against mine. She didn’t say anything, just kissed me. She was soft and fragile and I had no idea why she was kissing me.
I drew away, staring up at her. “Annie…”
“I’m sorry,” she said, her cheeks reddening again. “I had to do that. Just once.”
I sat up and fiddled with the marshmallow bag, unsure of what to say. I hadn’t expected that.
The fire’s reflection was bouncing off her skin.
“Annie, we weren’t right together,” I said slowly, hoping the words would find me. “You knew that before I did.”
“I know,” she admitted. “I just miss kissing you.”
“Made things easier, didn’t it?”
“Made things familiar,” Annie corrected. She was right about that.
We sat in the grass for a while, eventually tidying up and putting out the fire. Annie undid the heating charm around us and we tracked through the snow back to the castle. It was starting to come down harder now, covering the branches of the forest.
“Sorry it didn’t work out,” I said when we made it to the door.
“Don’t be.” Annie shrugged. “We’ll find our fairy tales, right?”
“Or something else,” I said with a brief smile. She retreated to the hospital to find Ollie and James and I made up something about needing to finish the Prefect paperwork to go upstairs.
I didn’t go to the Prefect office, though. Instead, I went to the library. Ryan was behind the desk looking just as bored as usual. She ignored me when I pulled up a stool.
“Do you believe in fairy tales?” I asked.
“You’ve reached your quota of dumb questions for the month. Come back in March.”
I nudged her book and then turned it to a different page. Ryan swatted my hand away. “I’m serious. Do you?”
“Can you give me some context behind this stupid sugar-coated question?” She sighed and closed the book entirely. “Why are you asking me about this?”
“James and Ollie get their fairy tale,” I said, shrugging. “Do you think everyone does?”
“I doubt my parents are living in a fairy tale,” she muttered.
“Do you think everyone is capable, though? If they go after it?”
“Why, are you secretly a prince? If so, I may have misjudged you. I’d like to request a necklace made entirely from sapphires.” She paused. “To make myself clear, that was sarcasm and I will physically harm you if you do that.”
I smiled. “Just something Annie said to me.”
“Ah… Annie. The Gryffindor. The Gryffindor ex-girlfriend.”
“Yes. That Annie.” I narrowed my eyes.
“The one who dumped you,” Ryan added.
“You really know how to talk to a guy,” I muttered. “We’re just mates.”
She stared for a moment. “Is that right?”
“Yes. Of course.”
“Is that why you have lipstick on the corner of your lips? Or were you snogging Potter?”
I quickly wiped at my lips – more than I probably should have. The red came off on my shirt sleeve. “She kissed me for a minute. We were talking about fairy tales and she kissed me.”
“You don’t owe me an explanation, Weasley,” Ryan said. She opened her book.
“I don’t care. I want to tell you.”
“Here’s the thing.” Ryan inserted a finger into the air again. “I don’t want to hear it.”
“I don’t give a damn,” I said, grabbing her book and tossing it onto the floor behind me. Her eyes flashed and I was made very aware I had triggered a mood swing I didn’t want to mess with. “I don’t fancy her. I thought I did, but I don’t.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Ryan snapped, trying to keep her voice down by speaking through her teeth but failing. “I don’t give a damn.”
“Because I have to,” I blurted. “Because I fucking have to.”
“Weasley, go shag Annie for all I –” Ryan stopped and grabbed for the counter. Her eyes were wide, lips still forming a word.
“What?” I fell into the counter before her. “What’s wrong?”
“She kicked,” Ryan said, smiling a little. “She kicked. She wants you to shut the fuck up.”
I grinned too. “She’s probably on my side.”
“Doubtful.” Ryan pressed her lips together. She sniffed a little.
Then, just as easily as she’d flown into a rage, she was crying. She leaned down onto her stool and put her face in her hands and cried.
I glanced over my shoulders and when I saw no one jumping to check out books that late, I moved around the checkout counter and pulled Ryan into my arms. We sank onto the floor behind the desk and she wept into my shirt creating great long mascara marks like scribbles and drawings. I rocked back and forth with her and she jumped when the baby kicked again.
I rested my cheek against her hair and let her cry. She looked like she’d been bottling up a lot and needed to get it out. Tomorrow it would go back to the seething Gryffindor remarks and pretending I didn’t exist, but for now I could hold her and consider what it would be like to be in that delivery room when she needed a hand to squeeze.
A/N: I'm guilty. I can't get enough Frames. All the time.
I hope everyone is doing well and welcoming the warmer (or colder) weather wherever you might be! My life has been crazy as I am taking on 3 jobs, starting a business, and writing a novel. It's crazy, but I love every moment.
I really hope you enjoyed this chapter! And, in a total jerk move, I'm going to tell you that the next chapter was actually one of my favorites to write.
UP NEXT: Valentine's Day is approaching. Fast. Not everyone is feeling the romance. Parise has something to brag about. James does not. Fred gets stuck on Prefect duty.
Then he gets an owl in the middle of the night.
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