Chapter 3 : 3: What's So Fun About Slides?
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“I’ll never understand what’s so fun about the slide,” someone behind him said. He turned to see the woman from the day before standing behind him. “It’s weird, seeing you here two days in a row. Most dads don’t come here with their sons until their old enough to catch a ball or something. Until then it’s the mother’s job.”
“His mother died giving birth,” Teddy said. The first few times he had said that, it felt as if someone had torn the scab off a gaping wound. Now it was just a fact. One even Christian would tell people when they asked where his mother was.
Her eyes widened. “Oh, I didn’t mean…” she sighed. “It was meant to be a joke. I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright,” he said. Christian and Emmy were investigating the rest of the metal play structure together. “It was an honest mistake.”
“I shouldn’t have been so presumptuous.” She licked her lips. “I tend to not think before I speak. It’s a bad habit.”
“So, you’re babysitting again today, then?” Teddy asked.
Natalie nodded. “Yeah. I love Emmy to death. I’m just not too interested in having kids of my own, so I spoil her.”
“Daddy, look,” Christian called. Teddy, who hadn’t stopped watching the two toddlers, nodded as Christian slid down a blue slide. Teddy clapped as Christian grinned and ran off to catch up with Emily.
“You’re good with kids, though.”
He looked over at her, surprised. “What?”
“You’re good with kids. My sister’s husband loves Emily, don’t get me wrong, but he doesn’t know how to handle a three year old.” She shrugged. “You do good with them.”
Teddy shrugged. “I come from a pretty big family.”
“Oh?” Natalie looked curious. “How so?”
Teddy took a deep breath. “Well. It’s…geez. Okay, so my parents died when I was only a few months old. My Nan and my godfather and his family raised me. And…it’s actually really complicated.”
“You don’t have to tell me.” She smiled as the two toddlers went down the slide again. “It was only ever my sister and me. Both of my parents, and all four of my grandparents, were only children. I don’t know how that happened, but it did. Family reunions are really small. I’m just luck my parents decided they wanted two kids.” Natalie giggled. “Of course, right now that’s balanced out, since Sarah only has Emily and I don’t have any.” She looked over at him. “I have time to hear your story, if you want to share.”
Teddy shook his head. “Okay, but like I said, it’s complicated. So, I was raised by my Nan. My Godfather helped out a lot. His wife was also my Godmother, which turned out great, because they were both still in school when they received those titles. Harry and Ginny are their names.” He licked his lips. “Anyway, Ginny is the youngest daughter of my Grans. She has six older brothers.”
“Six?” Natalie said, her mouth dropping open.
“That isn’t even the half of it. Between my two godparents and Ginny’s brothers and some close friends of the family, there were about sixteen of us throughout the year. And most of us have partners and even kids ourselves. The Potter-Weasley family reunions are crazy.”
“I don’t think I’d be able to remember everyone’s name.”
Teddy smiled. “It’s pretty intense sometimes.”
Christian and Emily had made their way over to the sand box, and were playing what seemed to be archeologist. “How did your sister take the scrape Emily got yesterday?”
Natalie waved her hand in the air, as if brushing the question away. “She didn’t say anything.” She sighed. “So, what kind of work do you do? It must be nice to have time to bring Christian to the park so much.”
Teddy stopped for a moment. “I work for the government,” he said. “Boring stuff.”
“Ah. I’m just a waitress.” She blushed a little. “It’s better than not having a job, I guess.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being a waitress,” he said.
She shrugged. “I know. It’s just not as nice as a government job. What do you do for the government?”
“I…um…” How could he explain that he worked for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures? “I take care of regulating creatures.” He hoped that sounded reasonable.
Natalie didn’t seem to notice if it didn’t. “Oh, sounds interesting.” She looked over as if inspecting him. “You don’t really see the name Christian anymore. Why did you name him that?”
Teddy smiled. “His mother loved the name. Christian Devon Lupin. It has a nice ring to it, you know?” He shrugged. “She was French. We spent ages finding the right name. Everyone in our family seems to be named after another family member, so we decided to do something different.”
“Who are you named after?” she asked.
“My mother’s father and my dad. Theodore John Lupin.” He shrugged again. “I never met either of them. They both died in the war.”
Natalie’s smile slipped from her face. “Oh. Sorry.” She bit her lip, looking around. “Which war was it?”
Good going, dummy, Teddy thought to himself. Which muggle war was close to that? “I-I don’t actually know,” he said. He smiled nervously. “It was back in the nineties, you know.”
She raised her eyebrows. “I like your surname,” she said. “I’ve never heard it before. Lupin. Luuupin.” She giggled. “Is that what they call werewolves?”
Why do you keep asking me these questions. “I-I guess.”
“Yeah?” he said, turning to look at her.
“I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable. My mouth tends to get ahead of my brain so I don’t really watch what I’m saying.” She did look apologetic.
He shook his head. “It’s okay. I just don’t want to talk about any of that.”
“Well, we can talk about other things. Do you wanna do something later?”
As the words left her mouth, Teddy groaned inwardly. Of course, she wanted to do something later. He sighed. “Natalie, you seem like a great person, but I’m not really interested in dating. And—“
“Whoa, who said it was a date? We just met. I was thinking friends.” She looked slightly offended, her arms crossed.
His eyes widened as he scratched the back of his neck. “Oh. Sorry. It’s just that typically that’s what women want when they say that.”
“Have lots of experience with that, do you?” Her eyebrows were raised, her arms crossed over her chest, as she looked at him expectantly.
He furrowed his brow. “Yes. Especially when Christian was younger. Women would come up and act like they just wanted to talk to Christian or just be friends when that wasn’t what they wanted at all.”
“So they all tried to get you in bed? Or make you go on dates?”
Teddy sighed. “No. I just…I don’t want to date, so I normally avoid anything that could resemble that.”
“Well, okay then. Don’t just assume people want things when you don’t know, okay?” She sighed. “If you wanna grab coffee or something, the offer still stands.”
They stood in silence for a few moments, watching Christian and Emily run around the park. “I’m sorry,” he said, breaking the quiet between them. “It would probably do me some good to hang out with someone who I’m not practically related to. How does your Saturday look?”
She smiled, nodding. “Do you know where Fairy God Café is? We can meet there, say, noon?”
“Sounds great,” he said, with a smile of his own. For the first time in a long time, Teddy was actually looking forward to going out.
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