I've freaked out a lot recently. So much so that I'm pretty much all out, at least right at this minute. Some part of me wishes I was still freaking out, telling me that my body should not be unnaturally calm while I lean against the kitchen table in my grandparents house, watching my family, bar Louis, talk amongst each other around the house. I should still be freaking out, shouldn't I?
But the rest of me is very glad that I look calm; no one has noticed anything different, no one has any idea what I'm going to say once Louis gets here. They all think I'm just being my typical self; wishing I were somewhere else. Which, as insulting as it is, is also kinda true.
Yeah, so I can only take my family together in small doses. You would too if you were related to them.
...Not the point.
They have no idea just how much everything is going to change. In eight months there's going to be a baby at the table; my baby. And maybe Lexi, finally.
I haven't looked either of my parents in the eye since I came home yesterday. I just keep thinking if I do, they'll know. They can do that, just know things, or at least suspect things, after a look; they're scary like that. Shopping with my mother had been so awkward, I think back and cringe. Man, it took me ages to look at them properly after I lost my virginity just because my mum still considers me her baby. Not Lily, me. This is so much worse than that. Or bigger. I'm kind of undecided on it being the 'worst' thing to happen. It's definitely not a good thing, but for it to be the worst it would have to have been a mistake and I consider it more of an accident.
Why? Because I can't seem to stop thinking about that night and both my body and my mind refuse to acknowledge the mistake of sleeping with my best friend and the pregnancy happened because of that. We don't even like each other as more than friends... Do we?
No, we don't. We really don't. Neither one of us are particularly subtle with our words; if one of us liked the other we'd know by now.
I just wish I could stop thinking about it. Fuck, why couldn't Lexi have been lying when she said she was great in bed?
An odd thought enters my head: did she think the exact same thing about me?
I shake my head, I don't want to know that, run my hands down my face and check my watch. Where is Louis? I really want to get this over and done with. I wonder what Lexi's doing right now? Is she waiting? Has she told already? How did they take the news? Is her dad going to kill me? God, what's her brother going to do to me?
I force down whatever threatens to come back up. Kieron's temper is a force to be reckoned with. Add that to his fiercely protective nature for his sister and I am a dead man. James was right; they're going to put 'Albus Severus Potter - Idiot' on my tombstone. Simple, to the point and very, very true.
I should not have kissed her.
I don't regret kissing her.
I groan. It will say 'crazy idiot' on my stone because I am clearly quite mad, going on completely insane. Why does crazy me have to be so honest?
Where the fuck is Louis?
"Are you okay, son?"
I blink, unaware anyone had come over to me, and finally recognize that it's my dad standing next to me. "Yes," I say, but even I hear my voice waver ever so slightly. Just because I'm no longer freaking out, it doesn't make me okay. I am going to be a father after all. He frowns at me, gives me that look. You know the 'I'm a parent, I know when you're lying' look. So I just shake my head. "I need Louis to hurry up so I can talk to you all about something very important."
"And what it is is not okay?" he asks cautiously. He goes into 'protective father mode', not that he'll need it once he knows. It's Dad's reaction I want to know the most, so much so that waiting for it is partly what's scaring me. I can pretty much guess the reactions of others; Mum will scold me, remind me of my responsibility, then hug me and tell me we'll be fine; James will laugh, boast about how they were all watching the wrong son; Lily will be so excited about being an aunt that she won't care how it happened and start asking questions. I bet she'll ask us to name the baby Lily if it's a girl.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Way too much. "I don't know what it's going to be," I answer him as honestly as I can. "I hope it'll be okay."
Dad rubs my back, just below my neck. "Louis will be here soon, then you can get whatever it is off your chest. And I promise you now, whatever it is, it will be okay and we'll deal. Alright?"
I almost scoff. Sure, you say that now, I think. But I just nod to him. I hope what he says will actually be true once everyone knows. When the Floo connection opens up I don't look up, thinking it's just Louis. But then I remember that Louis never uses to Floo, he hates getting dirty and will always apparate into the garden. Always.
So when I do look up I want to be sick all over again and then run away because Kieron looks murderous. They know. "You," he points at me, practically growling. "Come here."
I laugh out of fear. "No, thank you."
He charges for me and I run around to stand behind my dad. Yes, I, Albus Potter, am hiding behind my father. He did practically save the world, after all. And I definitely don't regret that. I glance around Dad to see Dom holding Kieron back, trying to get him to look at my cousin.
"Kieron, what is it? What's wrong?"
That's when he realizes they don't know yet, that I haven't told them; the look in his eye says it all and he gives me a look that's half sinister and half smug before pointing at me again. "He knocked up my sister."
Everyone in my family share a look, and then, almost simultaneously, they turn to me.
I run like hell when Dom let's Kieron go.
My nose is painful and bleeding, the left side of my face feels swollen and I feel eyes on me, but not even they can force me to open my eyes or move in general.
"Open your eyes, Albus." Oh, no. Not him. He can get me to open my eyes. He nudges my leg. "Look at me, Albus."
"I'd rather not, honestly, I'm safe here," I whisper.
"Not when I'm skilled in Occlumemcy."
My eyes snap open, for me to see Theodore Nott's cool and collected features stare back at me. He keeps eye contact with me and it takes everything I've got to not look away. You wouldn't think there'd be anything to be afraid of when you first look at the man; he's well built but not overly so that it's scary, he's always smiling unless you bring her up and when he laughs it's infectious. But when you do something that gets to him, like piss him off, insult his family or, God forbid, say or do something that effects his kids, and it's like his eyes go cold and dark; it's intimidating, it's terrifying, and I refuse to look away from it to show it's the first time I'm afraid of him. Just a little.
But I still wish he was nice Theo with the infectious laugh. Lexi inherited his laugh. Actually I see a lot of Lexi in her dad. Lexi. She's the only reason I look away; I want to find her, want to know if she's here. She is, standing by the fireplace between Kieron and her cousin, Scorpius Malfoy. When my eyes connect with her's Lexi gives me a small smile, reassuring me. Despite what she thinks, she's always reassuring me, been there for me. Maybe, despite enjoying that night a lot, I don't feel anything other than friendship for her, but our relationship is strong and genuine and, after all this, unbreakable; she's my best friend and I love her. I won't tell her, but I do. I smile back and I think that is how we tell each other.
I turn back to her dad to see he's also turned to Lexi then back to me, and he no longer looks cold, just weary. I can understand weary. I understand all of it; he's scared of how we'll handle it, he's scared I'll walk away. I know he is because I had those fears in the beginning. But I got rid of those thoughts straight away and it seems he has now, too.
"You've got yourself into a right mess, Al," he says softly. "Because of Catrine Zabini. That girl is scarier than her mother and just as devious as her brother. You're better than her, to get drunk because of her was completely stupid."
"I know." Of course he knew why, Lexi woud have told him at some point and I spend more time at their house than I do at my own; he knows more about Catrine than Mum does. And I knew all about the Zabini family; her brother Blaise was always talked about as the only 'lovable' playboy, when he was a playboy; apparently when he left them, they felt like they were telling a friend 'I'll see you later.' Her mother and her many husbands never left the society pages. But Blaise had mellowed over the years; he's finally asked his girlfriend to marry him and their son started first year when we started seventh; he's a good kid. She was trouble. I always knew, but it wasn't until after that night that I finally began to see it. Perhaps that's another reason I don't regret us sleeping together. "She's so far from my mind now that it's like I never thought about her to begin with. I only wish it had never started in the first place, but she was different, she didn't care who I was. I think I just held on to that. Look where that got me."
"Now you have a responsibility."
I look up to see my dad's stern, but not angry, face and nod. "You're not mad."
"I'm a little disappointed," he admits and now I wish he was mad. "I always thought it would be James coming to us for something like this. Or Louis. And I'm terrified just imagining myself as a grandparent." He frowns then, only for a second, but it put that thought in Theodore's head; he obviously didn't think about being a grandparent before. He kneels down to rest on the arm of the chair someone must have sat me on after what I assume was Kieron knocking me out. "But, among other things, Alexa told us that you found out on Friday and that your first thoughts were of telling us. You weren't planning on keeping this a secret, so no, I'm not mad."
"Quiet, Kieron," Theodore and Alexa say together.
That reminds me of Theodore's feelings. "I thought you'd be mad," I tell him.
"I was." Well, at least he's being honest. "But I've learnt to ask before I attack, which was why I stayed sat down when Kieron came to hurt you. What I wanted to say was kind of answered for me when you shared your look with Lexi; I know you'll be there. I can't ask for much more than that really. You're lucky I like and trust you." He pauses. "You're actually the only guy she's ever been with who I've ever liked."
He turns to her. "Oh, like I didn't know!" I make sure my grin is gone by the time he turns back to me. "Don't think your off my hitlist, my daughter comes first. The only reason you're still breathing is because I like you and Lexi would secretly be sad if you ended up dead and because that baby will need its dad. But if you decide you can't handle it, if you leave, if you hurt her, I'll come for you."
I gulp and nod. "That will never happen."
"You never know that until it's happening," he states, like he knows from experience and maybe he does. "But right now I believe you."
"Don't thank me yet; the reality of the situation, of me being a granddad, is finally hitting me and I'm not actually taking it very well." I feel pity for his pained, freaked out expression and I wonder if that's what I looked like yesterday. "Okay, Lexi's allowed to talk now."
Ah, so that's why she was so quiet. They have this thing were only one person is allowed to speak at a time in situations such as this; this was Theodore's turn, so obviously his kids remained quiet. My family really needs to learn that. Though I'm surprised they managed to keep quiet for this long. It's a family record.
"I don't really feel like talking, I need some air." I follow Alexa out into the gardens with my gaze, waiting until she's outside before I stand up. She said she needs some air, I want her to get some before I intrude.
"Can I talk?" James asks, looking smug.
"No," I call out, along with a few other people actually.
I find Alexa across the field were we play Quidditch, by the small pond. She's standing against a tree, just staring into space. "Are you okay, Lexi?"
She turns slowly to face me. Her eyes are red but I don't see any tears fall; she won't let them. "No." Her voice cracks. "We've told them, so what? I still have absolutely no idea what to do now."
I pull her to me, this time the thought of touching her doesn't bring back memories of graduation, but memories of other times we've come across a situation that required consoling. She feels better when you rub her back in slow, soothing circles, says it's relaxing. So I do and she calms down. "It'll be fine. We'll get through this and we'll make it work, you, me and the baby. We can do this." I stop, a thought suddenly coming to me. I have to ask. "I mean, you want the baby, right?"
This is what I mean by not being subtle; we just say what we think.
"The thought of adoption or anything else never crossed my mind," Alexa tells me sincerely. "Admittedly, I haven't thought of much, but even now I don't think I could do that. I only think about being a mother and that's what scares me; what if I'm terrible? I can't even look after my owl, you do."
"It'll take practice, but we have family and friends; we'll be great parents in our own little way," I assure her, but also myself. "You're my best friend; I'll be there all the way."
"You consider me your best friend?" she asks in genuine surprise.
"Yeah, am I not yours?"
I really hope I don't look or sound as disappointed as I feel. Alexa is quiet for a long time, or it seems like a long time, before she finally smiles and grips my shoulders. "Yeah, you are. We're best friends who are having a baby."
I nod and I hesitantly place my hand on her flat stomach - for now. Alexa stiffens, breaths and relaxes under my hand. The freaking out has stopped, the fear has started to wear off a little and I swear the quickening of my heartbeat and the smile on my face is something close to being happy. Should that even be allowed? I move closer. "We're having a baby. It's real and it's happening."
"I know. I'll need your protection from your fans," she jokes. Of course she's joking; I need her to protect me. I tell her so and she laughs that bloody infectious laugh. "Probably true."
I hug her again, this time for me, and she knows this because she let's me. "We're gonna be okay."
I look up and from the corner of my eye see our dads' watching us, probably making sure we are okay. "I know."
We spend quite some time outside, not really saying anything, until she gets bored and demands we go back in. The moment we enter through the back, Louis enters through the front, causing everyone to fall into silence.
"Sorry I'm late, I was... Held... Up." He notices everyone's quiet. "What did I miss?" he asks slowly. Louis scans the room, I watch him meet the eyes of every person until he lands on Alexa and I. Something must have given us away because he smirks. I look down; my arm is wrapped around Lexi's waist with my hand on her stomach. "Well, at least I know to remember protection. So when's the kid due?"
I want to kill him.
A/N: It's too bad this was Al's POV and he was knocked out, so we don't get to see Theo when he was mad. I might have to do something about that... ;)
Thank Ramita/deceptive_serenade for not wanting me to forget to post this today. Reviews are much appreciated. :)
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