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Chapter 21 : Preparations
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McMahon of Hufflepuff speeds along after the snitch, but James’s Firebolt seems to be too fast for him. James, showing all of the skill he inherited from his dad and Grandad before him, takes a sharp turn right, veering totally off course from where the snitch is. McMahon looks around, curiosity getting the best of him, to see just what the hell James is doing. It does seem rather ridiculous – even I can see the bloody snitch! As soon as McMahon takes his eye off the snitch, James turns again and speeds off in a completely different direction – the snitch has now changed course and James is heading right for it. McMahon’s broom isn’t able to turn as fast as James’ Firebolt, and by the time he gets back on course again, James has caught the little golden ball. I can hear the Gryffindor screams from all the way over here.
Yes, I’m watching the Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff match with a pair of omnioculars from the hospital wing. Although I was discharged a few days ago, Madam Pomfrey insists that going to see a Quidditch match would excite me too much and wouldn’t be good for the baby. So I’ve decided to come and see the still unconscious Laura instead. Her mother hasn’t, to my knowledge, returned to see her since I lashed out in zed-snapping fashion. Her father stops by every now and again, and he seems decent enough.
Yet there has been no change in her since she was brought back from St Mungo’s. I visit every day, something that really confuses Chas.
“But Laura hates you,” she says bluntly every time she hears of me visiting the hospital.
“And you hate her.”
“I don’t understand her, that’s all.”
And it’s true – I don’t understand her. I used to think she was such a one-sided person, dumb, shallow and vindictive. Now I realise that there is more to her, that it’s not her fault she is the way she is. I’m sure that some of her father’s decency must have been passed on to her somehow. I don’t think she hates me, not really.
Minutes after the Quidditch match has ended, James comes to the hospital wing. He’s come a few times, but he can hardly stand to look at Laura’s lifeless body. James is a joker, and in a situation that lacks even the basic essence of humour, he feels extremely awkward. It’s just how he is. Again, I used to think James was a one-dimensional person, but perhaps he’s deeper than he lets on.
“You should see Garrison,” he says, shaking his sweaty head, sitting down on the chair beside mine, “We wiped him off the pitch. Dom hit a bludger right at him, he won’t be walking straight for weeks!”
“I know, I saw,” I say disapprovingly, “Garrison’s not that bad.”
Lance Garrison is a very haughty seventh year Hufflepuff, and captain and keeper on the Quidditch team. There has always been an ongoing feud between him and James, ever since they both became captains in their fourth years. Although Garrison does appear to be very narcissistic and a bit of an arse, he’s not the worst. Dom hates him because he’s always coming on to her and touching her leg. Something tells me that this isn’t the first hit from a bludger he's gotten from her.
“So…how is she?” James asks uncomfortably, ruffling his black hair.
“No change,” I shrug.
He nods, as if he’d expected me to say that. He’s fiddling with the golden snitch he’s just caught, and looking down at his hands because I know he doesn’t want to look at Laura. She looks so gaunt and thin. She’s frightening.
“Red, do you think this is my fault?”
And just like that he has voiced exactly what I’ve known has been running through his brain. Of course he’s going to be consumed with guilt – the girl he publicly dumped and humiliated has tried to kill herself.
“Honestly, James,” I say carefully, “I don’t think what you did to her exactly helped the situation.” James flinches as I say this. “But I really think this goes deeper than you. Believe it or not, you’re not the centre of the universe.”
And for the first time in his life, James Potter is glad to hear these words. We leave the hospital wing after another half an hour, and walk back to the common room in silence. I know he still feels guilty, but there’s nothing I can say or do to comfort him now. He does snigger, however, when we walk past a group of Hufflepuffs who are helping Lance Garrison upstairs to the hospital wing – walking seems like a fairly difficult task to him right now.
People congratulate James on the fantastic win as soon as he climbs in the portrait hole. I notice Lily sitting on the armchair beside the fire, reading, and not really caring about the Quidditch result, even though she was on the team. I managed to convince her this morning to play in my old position as keeper, and she agreed as long as it was only temporary – temporary meaning one game and one game only. Although she’s a great player, she is forever trying to promote house unity. The girl is a dreamer.
I feel a poke on the back and turn around to see Scorpius grinning at me.
“Why are you grinning?” I frown.
“Can’t a guy grin nowadays?”
“No,” I say, “Not if it’s you. You’ve done something.”
“I haven’t,” he insists, looking offended.
“You’re thinking of doing something.”
“I’m not,” he says, though less honestly.
“Why are you grinning?” I ask again, getting frustrated.
“Guess where I’m going?” he asks.
“Your cousin’s wedding!” he says happily, “Ted just sent me an invitation.”
“So hell in other words,” I mutter darkly.
I didn’t mean to say that. I should be acting happy, shouldn’t I? But it’s hard when the one person you’ve loved and confided in your whole life is marrying your cousin. In fact, it’s so hard, I’m thinking I might just go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes or something so I can get out of it. I’m sure they’ll welcome the pregnant witch with open arms.
I wonder why on earth Teddy sent Scorpius an invite. They hardly even know each other. Yes, technically they are second cousins, but just because their grandmothers are sisters does not mean that Scorpius has to come to his stupid wedding!
“You seem excited,” he says sarcastically, “I thought you’d be –”
“Happy? Yes, I am happy,” I say quickly, “Ecstatic, I can’t think of anything better. I’m going for a lie down now.”
I rush upstairs to my dormitory, but am shocked to realise that Scorpius is somehow able to follow me. How the hell does he do it?
“How the hell do you do it?” I yell.
“Get up here!”
We’ve reached the dormitory now, and the ancient boy-repelling charms haven’t worked at all.
“Well it was pretty easy. See I have these things called legs, they’re kind of handy when you want to get places –”
“Don't get cheeky with me, Scorpius Malfoy!” I cry, sounding so very like Nana Molly. “Boys aren’t supposed to be able to come up here!”
“Well the stairs are hardly going to turn into a slide with a pregnant girl going up them, now are they?” says Scorpius logically. I suppose I never really thought about it like that. Is he really smarter than me?
“Yeah…well…” I struggle, “Well I wasn’t pregnant the last time you were up here!”
“No, but you wanted me to come up here,” he says, “And that breaks the enchantment.”
That’s bullshit! So boys can actually go up to the dorms if the girls want them to? What’s the point of the bloody spell then?
“It’s in case of an emergency,” says Scorpius, reading the look on my face, “Let’s say you were in trouble up in the dorm and screaming for help and you wanted a bloke to come and help you, they’d be able to.”
I suppose it sort of makes sense – but the enchantment should be able to tell whether a girl is actually in trouble or is just about to get into trouble. It would save me a lot of heartburn.
“So are you going to leave now?” I frown.
He frowns back. So I continue frowning. And it’s just one big frown-a-thon.
“Why are you dreading Teddy and Victoire’s wedding so much?” he asks.
“I’m not,” I protest, “I can’t wait. I’m counting down the days, see?” I point to the calendar beside my bed, which has the days marked off until the 19th, which has a huge red circle around it.
“Those are the days ‘til your birthday,” he says, “The wedding is the 20th.” How does he know when my birthday is? I don’t know when his is. Well, I know it’s in November some time…
Then I see I have marked on my calendar ‘My 17th birthday!’ in very large writing. So that’s how he knows.
“Why wouldn’t I be looking forward to the wedding?” I ask angrily, “My drunken grandmother singing ‘A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love’ to my equally drunk grandfather; my mum snogging some randomer so she’ll make my dad – who hasn’t shaved in about six months – jealous; my aunts and uncles dancing like idiots; James getting off with every relation of Aunt Fleur’s he can find; Al brooding over his relationship with Jenny; me, walking up the aisle, on front of a part-Veela and beside a part-Veela wearing a dress that’s going to make me look even more like a blimp than I already do!”
“Not to mention the fact that the dress is going to take me about an hour to get into because it’s so tight, and I’ll have to pee every five minutes, so I’ll just be spending the entire time in the bloody bathroom!”
That’s not even mentioning the fact that I’ve been desperately in love with Teddy Lupin since I could open my eyes.
He’s still frowning suspiciously. “Right.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I snap.
“Nothing,” he sighs, giving me a weird look that makes me feel a bit guilty, “I’m going now.”
He strolls out of the dorm, hands in pockets, and down the stairs, which turn into the slide and make him fall on his arse at the bottom. Although he lets out a loud ‘bollocks!’, I don’t really find the situation that amusing. That look he just gave me is far too strange…
“We’re in trouble,” Dom announces, looking extremely worried as she takes her place at the table for dinner. She turns around and indicates to Al, Louis and Lucy to come over to the Gryffindor table for a family discussion. The fact that she is including even her little brother (who she rarely gets on with) in this makes me realise that this is indeed serious. “This just came in the evening post.”
She puts a letter down on the table, and we all crowd around to read it.
I am writing to let you all know about the arrangements for how we are travelling to France for the Lupin-Weasley wedding next week! I’m sure you’re all very excited about the wedding, but I have organised something that is going to make it even more exciting!
Oh dear. This can't be good.
We are travelling Muggle-style! You’ll all be coming home from Hogwarts for the Easter holidays on Saturday, April 15th (or this Saturday!), so we will be flying to France on Tuesday the 18th. And by flying I mean on an airplane! Yes, a real one! I have the flight booked and everything, so you needn’t worry about a thing.
Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur will be travelling to France by Portkey tomorrow, so Dominique and Louis, you will be staying here at The Burrow until it is time to go. Hermione, Percy, Audrey, George, Angelina, Harry and Ginny will also be travelling by Portkey earlier to help the Delacours prepare for the wedding.
Looking forward to seeing you all!
“We’re screwed,” says Fred.
“An airplane?” says Al excitedly, looking happier than I’ve seen him in days, “Brilliant! Mum never lets us go on airplanes, always says Portkeys are way easier…”
“Portkeys are way easier,” says Dom worriedly, “These bloody Muggle contraptions aren’t safe at all.”
“I always knew that man would be the death of me,” says James, “Playing with his stupid Muggle toys –”
“Oh come on!” says Al, “It’s going to be fun! A real airplane!”
He’s just another Arthur Weasley in the making, that Al Potter.
“As opposed to the fake airplane we thought we’d be going on…” says Molly, rolling her eyes at Al.
“Holy shit, lads,” James gasps, and throws an arm around Molly, “Molzer made a funny!”
Molly doesn’t even scold him for calling her ‘Molzer’, but looks quite proud of herself.
Hugo and I aren’t that apprehensive. Mum’s brought us on an airplane before a few times, though Dad hates Muggle flying. The Potters have never been on a plane before, as Ginny and Harry always insist on using Portkeys instead. Even Harry, who was raised by Muggles, hasn’t been on one.
My cousins continue talking about the Muggle flying issue as if they’ve been asked to make some sort of suicide pact. It really is quite funny.
“Did you ever see that Muggle film Air Force One?” asks James darkly, “You know where the Russian is trying to kill the president on the plane, so they hijack it and it CRASHES into the sea?”
“Firstly,” I sigh, “That was a fictional film. Secondly, I don’t think the President is going to be on the same flight as us.”
“Anything could happen!” James cries, and everyone else seems to look just as worried as him. The boy watches too much TV when he’s at my house.
For the next few days, Scorpius avoids me like the plague and I have no idea why. I didn’t do anything, I don’t think, unless he has somehow found out that I suspect him of being in love with me. Except I don’t suspect that anymore because his dodging seems to spell out otherwise.
I spend quite a bit of time with Jenny, as she’s looking much worse than I’ve ever seen her look in my life. Her curly hair seems limp and lifeless. She’s pale and has dark circles around her eyes. She hasn’t slept in days. Whenever I bring up anything to do with Al, she changes the subject completely. I’ve even tried inviting her to the wedding, but she refuses to come. And I don’t think it’s the whole ‘airplane’ thing putting her off. She’s a Muggleborn after all, and has been on one before.
The Friday before we’re due to go home for the Easter holidays, I decide to go and see Laura in the hospital wing. To my surprise and to my immense relief, I find her sitting up in her bed, still looking deathly pale and skinny, but alive.
“Hi,” I say timidly. She looks at me, nods, but doesn’t say anything. “Um, d’you mind?” I indicate to the seat beside her bed, and she shrugs as if to say she doesn’t care. I sit down on the chair and we both wait in silence. “So…how are you?” I ask after a few awkward moments.
“Alright,” she says. Her voice is very quiet and a bit husky. “They’re making me see a therapist. As if the students of Hogwarts didn’t think I was mental enough already.” She doesn’t say it in a joking way, but in more of an angry way.
“They don’t think you’re mental,” I say, even though that’s not strictly true. I know I definitely heard Peeves and Moaning Myrtle singing a song entitled ‘Loony Laura’. It’s probably best not to mention that to her.
“You were the one who found me,” she says. It’s not a question.
“Thanks I suppose,” she says, though she’s looking out the window as she says it and doesn’t sound like she actually means it.
“J-James helped,” I say carefully. Her eyes narrow but she says nothing. “Listen, Laura, I found that letter from your Mum…”
Her head whips around and she glares at me angrily, and I immediately know I’ve made a huge mistake.
“You went through my things?” she snaps.
“No!” I cry, “No of course not! I found it in the common room!”
“And you read it? Even though it was addressed to me?”
“Well…” I start, a hundred different excuses rushing through my mind, “The – the letter had the initials ‘LP’ on it…s-so I thought it belonged to Lily…as in Lily Potter…so I opened it to make sure it was hers…” It’s a pretty valid excuse, if sort of lame. “I’m sorry.”
“You should be,” she hisses, “That was my letter, you had no right to –”
“No,” I say, “I’m not sorry I read the letter, I’m sorry about your mother. I realise now why you felt that you needed to destroy my reputation so badly.”
“You destroyed your reputation all by yourself by sleeping with that Malfoy!” she snaps.
“Maybe,” I frown, “But it’s not like you’ve never slept with anyone. I made one little mistake, Laura. I know your mum has placed you on some sort of pedestal and you feel like you need to live up to the standards she’s set for you, but you don’t!”
“You don’t know shit, Weasley,” she spits.
“I know that your mother is the reason you tried to top yourself! You shouldn’t listen to her, you’re better than her!”
“Just go away,” says Laura, “And quit pretending like you care. I don’t need your help.”
Deciding that there’s nothing I can do to get through to her, I leave the hospital wing and return to the dormitory. Chas and Dom are up there already, Chas painting her nails and Dom packing her trunk for tomorrow.
“Stupid effing wedding,” Dom mutters to herself, “Pain in my arse…”
“Laura’s awake,” I announce.
Chas stops painting and Dom looks up from her trunk.
“How is she?” Dom asks.
“She’s okay,” I shrug, “Physically. Psychologically, I’m not so sure.”
We sit in silence for a while, contemplating the situation. It’s too grave for us to even be able to relate to. Although we all complain about our lives, they could be so much worse. I know that my family love me, even if they are a bunch of idiots most of the time. I know that although my parents bicker non-stop, they love each other deep down. I know that Mum and Dad will never look at each other the way Mr and Mrs Phelps do. I might be pregnant, but it’s a damn sight better than what Laura is.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come?” I ask Jenny for the thousandth time at breakfast the next day, minutes before we’re due to leave.
“I’m sure,” she says sadly, her eyes wandering over to the Slytherin table. As soon as Al looks up from his cereal, she turns away again.
At half ten, we head out to the carriages that will take us to Hogsmeade station. We take up two whole carriages on the Hogwarts Express - me, Dom, Mark (who Dom is bringing to keep her sane), Louis, Molly, Lucy, Fred, Roxie, Hugo, James, Al, Lily and Scorpius, who is still ignoring me. Well, he’s not so much ignoring me as giving me the cold shoulder. What the hell did I do?? We also take Simon Longbottom, Lorcan and Lysander in to our compartment, who are all coming to the wedding too, though not on the airplane (or 'death trap' as James calls it).
I try to make conversation with Scorpius the whole way home, but my attempts are greeted with nothing but monosyllabic answers as he stares at the ground, biting his nails. I’m relieved when we finally reach King’s Cross. Dad’s there, but Mum isn’t. I’m presuming she’s still in Hogsmeade, or perhaps she’s gone to France already. Nana and Grandad are there to collect Dom, Louis and Mark and bring them back to The Burrow. Uncle George is there and Uncles Percy and Harry too.
Hugo and I follow Dad out to the car, and Hugo races to get the front seat before I can – the git. Dad chats the whole way home, as if we’re a completely normal family and as if Mum is just going to be there when we get home, ready to greet us with a huge hug and kiss. Of course she isn’t, though the house is significantly cleaner than it was the last time I saw it, which was on Dad’s birthday. Hugo races upstairs as soon as we’re in the door, probably to listen to music, but I stay downstairs to talk to Dad.
“So how’ve you been?” I ask as he flicks on the kettle with his wand. I’ve also noticed that he’s trimmed his beard and brushed his red hair. He looks a lot better than the last time I saw him.
“Not bad,” he says, “You know, surviving. I was thinking of getting a dog.”
Is he really going to get a dog to replace Mum? Why doesn’t he just call it Hermione and have us refer to it as ‘mother’?
“Cool,” I nod.
He places a mug of tea down on front of me. “I think the more important issue is how you’ve been, Rosie.”
He’s done it. He’s called me ‘Rosie’. He hasn’t called me that since before he found out about my pregnancy. He’s accepting it, finally. I throw my arms around him and hug him tightly.
“I’m fantastic,” I say honestly.
Firstly a huuuuge THANK YOU for all of your reviews! Over 1800! How cr-azy is that?? Especially because my lil story is only 6 months old…seriously, you make this story what it is. I couldn’t do it without you!
Secondly, apologies for the sometimes longer than usual waits, but I’m also updating Heartbeats, and the length of the validation queue isn’t my responsibility. The validators work their hair off to validate as many stories as possible. So you gotta be patient I’m afraid! (And keep an eye out for all the bald validators – they’re the ones who work the hardest.)
Thirdly, I apologise that this chapter is quite filler-y but I haven’t had a filler chapter in a while and it was sort of needed.
Fourthly, I’ve recently found out that Neville actually married Hannah Abbott after Hogwarts – so my story is becoming less canon-y! But I didn’t know that back when I wrote about Courtney, so no shouting at me, okaysies?
Fifthly (yes, there is a fifthly), I want to thank everyone who nominated me for a Dobby. It was more flattering than being nominated for an Oscar. I mean that. I really can’t thank you enough!
Sixthly (yes, there is also a sixthly…man this is one long author’s note), a lot of people have been asking why their Feeds say I have updated when there clearly isn’t a new chapter – basically when I submit a chapter for validation, it says I added a new chapter, even if it’s not validated yet. It’s basically just your Feeds psyching you out. When this happens, point your finger at the computer screen and say ‘bold Feeds!’…It won’t change anything, but it’ll give the people in the same room as you a good laugh.
Finally, because you’re all such legends, here’s a preview of the next chapter. Peace out! (“,)
While going through security, Grandad is so amazed by all of the electronic Muggle contraptions that he walks through the security system without taking his change out of his pocket. The security guard eyes the sickles and knuts with suspicion and runs them through the machine four times before giving them back.
“They’re probably just checking I don’t have a bomb built in to one of the coins,” says Grandad loudly to Dom and me.
What an idiot.
Now I can see where the rest of us got our stupidity from.
Trust my grandfather to yell the word ‘bomb’ in the security area of Heathrow airport.
“STAY WHERE YOU ARE! PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR, OR WE’LL TAKE IT AS A SIGN OF AGGRESSION!”
P.S – Drop an ol’ review if you’re feeling inclined!
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