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Chapter 26 : Pyscho
 
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           He stumbled as the words fell from her lips, “Your brother?”

            “I heard you talking. Apparently so did Ginny and she told Draco. They think they know who it is. And so do I, but since we’re in agreement, it’s you who gets to tell us the truth. Either we’re all wrong, or all right.” She seemed to be regaining all her wits her eyes less puffy, her voice clear and strong, her face no longer streaked with tears but tinged red with anger.

            “Hermione,” Josi began.

            “What Mum? You know it; Ginny said you figured out who he is, too, because Brett here wouldn’t tell you.”

            “He was trying to protect him! The same way he was protecting us!”

            “Then why didn’t he just leave Harry with us Mum? Why not? Why send him off on his own?”

            “Because I couldn’t let Lily and James live like that.” The words were quiet, slow, hard, “They tried so hard, Lily had had two miscarriages already. I asked her, I told her what I was doing, I asked her to help me. James, he was off with the Sirius, and I was holding Harry.” They could all see the pain in his eyes, the tears threatening to fall as the words fell nearly silently from his lips, “I was holding my baby, like she knew she never would again. She agreed to help me. She and James would raise him as their own.

            “When James came back in, I was leaving and she was holding him. James was so excited when she told him. She said, ‘He made it, our little guy made it.’ They were going to name their boy Chandler Jonathon but she told him that he looked more like a Harry James.

           “We visited his grave twice after we buried him. I go back twice a year; James and Lily are right next to him. Once on his birthday, once on their deathday.”

            “Isn't his both?”

            “Yes Draco, but I’d rather remember it simply as his birthday.”

            “Why does Harry look like James then?”

            “Simply another spell Hermione.” His eyes were hard, cold as stone. Then he turned and walked away.

            After a moment, Josi said, “You should go back to sleep, it’s your last night here. You have to get up early in the morning.” Her words were aimed toward them, her eyes to the hallway down which Brett had walked.

            “I’m sorry Mum. I had to know.” Josi turned to look at her daughter sadly, “I know dear,” she said, “I did too.”

            “We won't tell him, Mum, not until Brett says it’s ok.”

            “It won't ever be okay honey, it won't. But maybe he’ll come round. Goodnight both of you.” Sighing, she walked down the hall after Brett. They watched her speed up when they heard a few crashes in a row.

            As they walked back into the hall, Draco draped his arm across her shoulders and she leaned on him.

            “I had to know Draco, I had to.”

            “I know, Hermione. I know.”

 
            “Brett, Brett, calm down.”

            He looked at her, tears falling from his face, absolutely shattered. She approached him slowly, only to stop as he backed away from her.

            “Don’t, don’t come any closer to me. I can't, I’ll do something more, find someway to hurt you more. Everything I do seems to work out that way.” She could see the glass that littered the room, all the things he had broken.

            “No Brett, no. You have never hurt me by being around me. You’ve only hurt me when you walk away. When you turn away from me, from what we have. That’s what hurts me.”

            “You hurt when you realized what I’d done; you hurt when I wouldn’t tell you who our son was, when I tried to-”

            “Because I thought we could have handled it together. I thought we were strong enough to survive without all the protection you created. But now I know we wouldn’t have. We couldn’t have. You hurt yourself; you gave us everything, just so we could live.

            “It didn’t matter to you that you were practically killing yourself in the process, that you might have to face these choices later. All that mattered was that you kept us safe. And you have, you kept us safe.

            “Why can't you see that? We’re alive because you made it that way; we’re here because you made it that way.”

            “You're hurt because I made it that way. You don’t know your son because I made it that way. James and Lily are dead because I made it that way.”

            “No, no, no.” She was shaking her head at him, “James and Lily would have died anyway. I'm not hurt because you kept us alive; I'm hurt because the only way to do that was keep us from you, because you had to be hurt.

            “And yes, I don’t know our son, but you don’t know either of them. I still know our daughter, Brett, and now I get the chance to know our son. You get the chance to know them both.”

            “But I-”

            “No buts, Brett. You're not hurting me by being here, you're not hurting anyone one by being here. But if you go, you’ll hurt me, Hermione, and Draco atleast. And do you really want to do that?”

            “No, no I don’t, Josi. I love you all; I love you so much,”

            “Then stay. Stay close, become close, don’t go. Don’t turn us away.”

            “I, Josi I just don’t know. If I go away, if I leave, then-”

            “Then what? Everyone will think that I'm in love with a man who doesn’t love me back? That you're the sort of man who’ll leave a woman with children on the way? That you sent us away because you didn’t want our kids?

            “Then Draco will feel as if he doesn’t deserve a father? Because he was given a shitty one and the first man he felt was his father left him? That maybe he shouldn’t have children simply because he won't know how to be a good father?

            “Then Hermione will wonder if it’s her fault you left? That she’ll always blame herself for the pain you’d cause? Because she asked about her brother, someone she loved as her brother before she knew he was her brother?

            “Is that what you want to happen? Because if you left that is exactly what would happen.” She was standing next to him now, her words softer, and she reached up to touch his face. She didn’t care for a moment about the glass shards that had to be stuck in her bare feet. She was standing in the result of his pain, she couldn’t cause him more.

            “Because if that’s what you want, then go right ahead and leave. Right now.”

            He was silent, his eyes filled, staring right back into hers. When she moved to pull her hand from his cheek he placed his on top of hers and simply held it there.

            “Brett, you're a good man, a wonderful man. Not once have you thought of yourself. It’s always been about our family, about keeping our family protected. We both know that there is nothing you wouldn’t do to keep us safe.

            “But you have to realize that sometimes we have to keep you safe. It’s not all up to you. Sometimes we have to work together to stay safe. And sometimes we need you here, with us, to stay safe. You can't just assume that leaving us, covering us with a hundred different spells will keep us safe.

            “Especially when we’re out fighting, when we’re battling. We choose to fight; we choose to defend this world from all the horrendous things that are out there. And we need you to be here with us, to support us. We all already know that you're doing everything possible to help Harry, to help everyone. Sometimes you just need to take a break and let us handle everything.

            “Brett, please.” He hadn't heard much of her words, especially near the end. He was stuck in the middle. Replaying it over and over again in his head. When he finally pulled himself out, he saw the tears streaming down her face.

            “I don’t think I could go on without you. I don’t think I could survive if you left me again. I don’t think I could.”

            “Josi, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.” She pulled away from him, looking on the verge of collapsing. She didn’t understand.

            “I'm sorry, I'm sorry that I wasn’t thinking. I love you.” He was standing beside her again, hands on her shoulders, tears still burning down each of their faces, “I love you. I couldn’t live without you again. It was so hard, so difficult, the first time. I’d die if I tried it again. I don’t want to, I really don’t.

            “But when I think about everything I’ve done, I just don’t realize that doing it again, now that you know, would hurt you as much as it hurts me. I'm sorry I'm so stupid, I'm sorry that I don’t realize that having you back with me is the best thing in the world, not only for now but for forever.”

            “The rest of forever,” she corrected as she continued to watch his eyes.

            “For the rest of forever. I'm sorry I'm so blind that I couldn’t even see the truth. But there is something I'm not sorry about, something I’ll never be sorry about.”

            “Which is what Brett?” she whispered after a moment of silence.

            “Loving you, loving all of you,” he murmured as he leaned his forehead against hers and placed his hand on her belly. His eyes were shut; she could hear the tears hit the floor. She brought her hands up to cup his face and watched him open his eyes ever so slowly.

            “What do you mean?” Her words were softer than his hand been.

            “You said, ‘a woman with children on the way’ and since you’re the only I could leave, since you're the only woman I’ve ever been with...” He was taking deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself.

            He had been scared before, when he had thought of leaving again, scared out of his mind. He never wanted to leave, never wanted to separate them. She was the woman he had loved for so many years, the only woman he would ever love. But he had been a coward; he was being a coward but minutes ago. When he thought he was hurting her: he left, when he thought he was protecting her: he left, when he thought she would be happier without him: he left.

            He was a coward. A dirty, rotten coward.

            But atleast now he could admit it.

            “Brett, I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know-” He surprised her when he picked her up in his arms and sat her on his bed. He fell to his knees before her, between her legs. Ever so slowly, he moved her shirt upwards and gently placed a kiss on her belly. She gasped at the sudden warmth of his lips.

            He looked back at her and whispered, “Next time I go on a crazy rant, spiel, whatever you want to call it, just whack me upside the head.”

            She smiled lightly at him, “I think I can manage that.”

 
            The next morning, as all the students were leaving to board the train, Josi held a vial in her hands. Smiling, Brett held her around her waist, his head on her shoulder. She was leaning back against him, her open hand lying on his.

            After two minutes, he whispered, “Let’s see.” He was excited, in a better way than he had been the night before. She shook her head.

            “What? Why not?”

            “No, not yet silly. First I want to ask you something,”

            “Go right ahead,” he said as she turned around in his arms.

            “Do you still want the big family, five or six kids running around?”

            Laughing, he nodded, “But I’ll be happy with whatever we get. Why?”

            She held out the vial to him, dark purple, “Because I think I'm coming around to the idea.”

            “Twins?” he was just as happy as he was the first time she had held the little green vial in front of him.

            “Twins,” she confirmed. Laughing joyfully, he picked her up and spun her around,. “Two weeks,” she continued as she laughed in his arms.

            This was the way things were supposed to be, she thought. They would hold each other during the nights, laugh and smile with each other during the day. They would stand together during thick and thin. They would raise their beautiful children together, watch them grow and learn. Help them grow and learn. Watch each one get married and have children of their own.

            They would watch their grandchildren grow and learn. They would watch their great grand children grow and learn. Watch each one marry. They would spend Sundays with Molly and Arthur, gathering the whole family together. Most days would be spent in happiness, in laughter, some in pain and remembrance.

            And they would die, old and wrinkly; completely satisfied with the life they spent together.

         That's how things were supposed to be. 


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