There's something about this place that I'm not sure about. I just don't know what; it's not right. I look up at an angle, my hands at my hips while I twirl slowly in a circle and take in the apartment once more. I stop at the kitchen and see my dad and Harry Potter speaking in hushed tones; they're discussing our future and I've given up trying to ask them if it was actually a conversation Al and I should be having. That's right; I didn't fail in telling them it was something I should talk about, I failed in asking if it was. How pathetic have I gotten? It's the hormones, I swear. Yesterday, just the thought of them saying no to me had me tearing up a little. It was horrible.
I move my gaze to the door, to the estate agent showing the apartments to us today. She's reading through papers in her binder, when she flicks the papers up it looks like more apartments for us to see. She's nice, the estate agent, she's very understanding of our situation and gives some advice on baby safety that she found helpful, which I promised to keep in mind for later. I just want her to stop flirting with my dad; it's kinda scary and really I wish she wouldn't. She's not bad looking or anything, she's actually very beautiful. Her hair is brown, but the graying roots at the top makes me think it's definitely dyed. She still wears a thin layer of make-up which makes her look younger than I'd assume she is, given when she was told I was pregnant told us she had three grown-up children herself. She really takes care of her appearance without going overboard. But I don't want to tell my kid that their step-nana gave me and their daddy our first homes. Freaky, right? Although, I know that will never happen really and it's fun to watch my dad squirm. That's what he gets for letting Kieron leave, which ending with him knocking Albus out. Payback's a hormonal, pregnant bitch and her name is Alexa Jaimie Nott. Bring it.
And if anyone tells James Potter that my middle name is Jaimie, they will die. Not many people know my middle name, especially not James. I don't hate it, I just don't really mention it, but he has a habit of calling me a different name every time he sees me. I hate to think what he'd call me if he found out.
I finally turn to the window, or at Albus who is looking out of the window, and sigh loudly enough for him to look at me instead, my arms now folded over my chest. He acknowledges me, but so do the others; I can tell they've all looked up, I can see their reflections in the window. Once they realize I'm only looking at Al, they all go back to what they're doing and Al makes his way to me. "So, what do you think?" he asks me.
"In a minute. First, why are they here again?" I jerk my head to the lurkers in the kitchen.
"Lex, the money we made from our Summer jobs between school will help pay the rent. The money we make from what jobs we get now will help us continue to pay that rent. Alone, neither of us can afford to buy apartments," Al tells me slowly, like I'm a child. Or he's trying not to set me off again. Again, meaning he's trying, not that my hormones have been going crazy. They haven't, it was just that one time when I thought they'd say no to me. And he may have been there when it happened.
I shake my head quickly, pretending to snap out of a daydream. "Yeah, they're paying. Why are they here now?"
"Because we're paying." I look up to see them stare at us like we're missing the point. Harry continues. "We're entitled to look at the places we're buying."
I point at Harry. "Now you make sense." I point at Albus. "You should have said that." I point at the estate agent. "There's something about this place that I don't like, so we need to keep looking. It's just -" I finally face Al again, considering he's really the one looking at this apartment, so it's him I should ask. "Do you see yourself and the kid in this place?"
"I think you should talk about how you're going to split parenting responsibility to look after the kid before you ask that question."
My dad is just not helpful. Shut up, Dad.
Albus puts an arm around my shoulders and leads me closer to one of the bedrooms. "That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about," he murmurs for only us to hear. I frown; it is? "Remember the other day I said I wanted to ask you something and that I'd ask when we were alone?"
Oh, yeah. I remember. "Yes."
"Well, given the last three days we've been looking at apartments, I think this is about as alone as we're going to get and I need to say it now."
"Okay." Al nods repeatedly at me, but says nothing. "That was your cue to speak."
"Right," he pulls himself from his thoughts. "It's just a little harder than I thought it would be. Okay, so I've been thinking about the whole 'splitting responsibility' thing and I was talking to Teddy while I was thinking and he was telling me about things that are special for first time parents, during the pregnancy and after."
I pull a face; throwing up and getting bigger are special? I don't believe that. And, yes, I may have done a little pregnancy research of my own. "Like what?"
"Like feeling the baby kick for the first time, for example," Al answers and he sounds kind of excited about the thought of touching my stomach. I bet he hasn't fully acknowledged that bit. "He also talked about when the baby crawls for the first time, their first steps and their first word. Anyway, I don't want to miss that. I said I'd be here for the pregnancy all the way and, after talking to Ted, I really want to be there after, too. So, I was thinking we could be... Roommates."
My mouth drops open. Really? Did he basically just ask what I think he just asked? "It can be until the baby is maybe a year old or so, we can talk about what happens next then."
I think he's continuing to explain his idea, but I swear all I hear is him asking me to live with him, to share the responsibility together and not be alone. Oh, right, he is still talking.
"Teddy told me about the responsibility; the getting up late for feeding and changing and all that. We have family, but we can't call them for help all the time and I think it'll be better if we're together for this and not alone. If we're in this together we should be together, literally I mean, living together. Not in the relationship sense, that would be weird."
"Yes." It just slips out before he can say anymore. I don't want him to say any more anyway; my answer would still be the same. Not alone. Imagining it is like heaven. "We can be roommates. We were in the same house at Hogwarts and you practically lived at my house. It'll be like that, only we'll live on take out because neither of us can cook and we don't have anyone to do that for us."
"Exactly." Al grins. He's like a kid at Christmas. Teddy must have really focused on the special moments. I don't care, I love Teddy right now. Not alone.
Although it would have been nice if I'd been there to hear it myself. It was weird and awkward being at the Burrow on Sunday; Louis more or less said exactly what I thought; I expected Lily to be excited; James was just as predictable. And Scorpius spent the day talking to Lily about her excitement. But his other cousins only gave us an extremely awkward congratulations like they really didn't know what else to say to us. His aunts and uncles were just as bad, and I thought they'd have at least said something to us considering they'd had kids, but only his Aunt Hermione talked of 'responsibility' and it wasn't much after our dads had spoken. Nicky spoke about it with us; he asked if we'd thought about the future without asking too much that that became uncomfortable, too. Then he reminded me that I knew his address and number and that all I had to do was call. I do like his mother, Ginny; she shouted at him, then she hugged him. Then she hugged me and told me I was welcome any time, to talk to her if I needed anything and said she'd make an appointment to see a healer for confirmation and all that. That appointment is on Monday.
I can tell I'm gonna get on so well with Albus' family.
Anyway... I agree with Al. "Exactly. We should tell them." I glance at the people still in the kitchen. "Yay, okay."
Oh, no. Did I just say 'yay'? "Why are you two 'yay-ing' and 'okay-ing'?"
Damn, too loud. They heard me. The shame. But I'm just too excited to care. Finally, something good is happening to me. Something is taking the fear away just that little bit more. We walk back to them, the estate agent now giving us her full attention again, and I run my hands through my hair. "Well, we've decided to share the responsibility together and be roommates," I start.
"So, we're gonna need a slightly bigger place," Al finishes.
"Bigger space?" Dad splutters. Wait for it. "More money?" There it is. He goes a fairly dark shade of red, choking out random noises and words I don't understand. If he doesn't calm down in another minute, I'll start fearing for his health. Finally he shouts out, "I'm not getting you a house!"
I laugh, so tempted to see how far I can get with the idea of getting a house. But I decide against it; I love my dad too much to do that to him. "We're not talking about a house. The baby doesn't have to have his own nursery, it can still be two bedrooms and the crib can go in my room. The rooms will just have to be a little bigger, to fit a double bed and a crib and all our things, because you know I'd roll and fall out of a single bed. A lot. And," I stretch out my arms, almost hitting Al in the face, "space to roam. Besides, we've agreed it's officially only for the first year or so. We'll talk about living arrangements again after that. Though I'm actually starting to think we're stuck together."
Dad points an accusing finger at me. "Are you excited by the thought of not being alone or because you'd get to spend more of my money?"
I'm completely honest with my answer. "Both, Dad. Always both."
"Actually," Al butts in, "because you'd be combining the money to buy the same apartment rather than buying us each one separately, you may actually be spending less all around." He turns to me. "With all the money, we might be able to afford a house."
I jump up and down once, clapping my hands. I'm acting like a Bubblehead Clan member, but, again, I really don't care. I knew I made Albus Potter my best friend for a reason, Slytherin that we are.
Dad glares. "No. I prefer the idea of spending less money. Not the same, not more. Less. What do you think about them living together for the baby, Harry?"
"I think they've practically been living together since they were eleven, at school, yes, but also at yours and they know exactly what each other is like. Plus," Harry points at me, "Alexa can't drink and their predicament is about as big as it can get, so they'll be fine."
"Hey," I say, a little insulted. "What about your son?"
"If, heaven forbid, anything happened, you'd be sober to think clearly and stop him. Or slap him." Yeah, I would do that. I nod. "Best friends sharing an apartment? Okay. I'm actually wondering why this didn't come up sooner. Might have saved time."
I face the estate agent for the first time and watch her look really busy with papers and her phone. I'm glad we decided to live in a Muggle area of London. Besides my love of their electronics, communication is so quick. When she notices we're all watching her, she says, "I heard your every word and I'm on it."
It's the second time today I've said 'yay'.
Pregnancy can really mess a girl up.
The estate agent leads us into the new, bare apartment and stands in the middle with a wide smile. She throws the occasional glance at Dad behind us, but mainly keeps her focus on us. They may be paying for it, but we get to pick it. It's like they can look but not touch any of the chocolate in the factory while Al and I get free reign. It's so much fun. "So, this one has a spacious open-plan living and kitchen area, two large bedrooms, a brand new bathroom with an utility closet next door and a balcony with a view of the city."
I swear, the moment she says 'balcony' Albus' head whips to the side faster than lightening and his eye twitches. So, not this one. But when she says to look around, we do anyway. We check each room together, not speaking until we're back in the living room. We decided from the start we would save our opinions for the end. "So?" he asks me first.
Well, we both already know his answer, so I might as well. "I like the space out here, it's good, and the overall size of the bedrooms is great, definitely big enough for a double bed and a crib. But I don't like the wardrobes; I need space for both me and the baby and that looked too small. I thought about putting half of the baby's things in mine and half in yours, but that seems like a hassle we don't need. Al?"
"I'm not comfortable with the idea of a balcony and a baby in the same house. I'm already a paranoid over-thinker, how do you think we knew about this so fast? I don't need more nightmares."
I knew it. And, apparently, so did Dad and Harry. "Next," is all Harry says.
The next apartment is slightly smaller, I can tell. And also very empty. She does the same; brings us in, stands in the middle and gives us a description of the apartment. "It's on a lower floor this time. Here are double doors, but it's just a metal gate, no balcony, and the gaps between the bars are thin; wide enough for an arm to go through, but nothing more." She opens the doors to demonstrate. "The living and kitchen areas are slightly smaller, but still have enough room. The bedrooms themselves are also smaller." I frown. "They're still big enough for a double bed and a crib. And a smaller space makes for a larger wardrobe."
I feel better now. When she finishes the description and says to look around, I go straight to the bedroom. I can easily imagine a nice double bed and a crib by the wall, I just can't imagine it being my double bed and my kid's crib. Something about this place just doesn't feel right to me, either. I don't want to see anymore, I just go back to the living room and find Al already there. "Well?"
"I don't know," he mutters. "I just don't see it."
"Me neither." I'm confused because it's a nice place and less than our combined budget. Then the ceiling starts to shake a little, dust falls, making me cough and sneeze, and people above are yelling. "Thin walls," I wheeze.
"Next," is all Dad says.
The next three places are all busts, too, and I'm so tired, I just want to sleep. By four pm I'm all but ready to give up and try again another day while I wait for Al and Harry to leave the apartment. "We've got one more stop for today, then we'll try again another day."
It's like the estate agent read my mind. Thank you.
"We'll go, then try again?" Al asks curiously. "Do you automatically think we won't like it?"
That is actually a good question.
"Honestly, I think you will like it. I just don't think you'll get it in the end. But I want you to see anyway, just in case."
"Lead the way," I say just before I yawn.
We get into the old Weasley car, which Harry drives while both Al and I slouch to hide from the view of the windows in fear of being seen in it, and follow the estate agent in her's. Seriously, this car should not driven anymore. The drive isn't that far, but it's nothing like what we've been looking at all day. They're estates, as in houses. She stops outside of our apparent destination and I get out as soon as I'm able. "I have a bad feeling about this," Dad mumbles.
"No wonder she doesn't think we'll get it in the end," I tell Al, rolling my eyes. "She did hear the conversation."
"She's effectively ruined getting that date," he laughs quietly.
We continue to laugh behind their backs, practically snickering. This is fun, we haven't been bitchy in a while, not since graduation when we made passing comments about Rich Waterman for thinking he could use me to 'clear the way' for Bubblehead Clan president to get to Al. It was not cool.
I can't help but enjoy this moment. If my smile is anything to go by, I'm really enjoying this moment. It feels normal, we're back to normal. I rub my hand across my stomach as we enter the house. Well, more or less normal. She leads us all into the living room and already the dads are not very happy.
But we are.
"So, this is the living area," Al says, more to me than the woman.
I nod. I walk past Dad and Harry, to the wall by the door. "I see the couch here."
"Yeah, and the television could go in the corner," he points to the space by the window, "or the wall right across from the couch. I like it."
The woman asks if we're ready to see more and leads us out and across the hall. "The dining area, a nice size; big enough for family dinners and parties." I can see us having dinner with family in here; Kieron and Nicky, our parents. She leads us away. "A smaller dining area, for breakfast and lunch maybe, and it's open-plan with the kitchen. The kitchen's been newly refurbished; the door opens to the garden."
She opens the back door and shows us the garden. It's a fairly large garden, nicely kept, the edges filled with flowers with a swing set at the end. "The previous occupants left the swing because their children are a little older. They say if the new owners have children they can keep it or throw it away. Shall we see the upstairs?"
"Please," I reply. "I love this house," I whisper to Albus on our way up the stairs. "I want it, I want it, I want it."
"On the slim chance our parents actually buy it for us, will you make me move out afterwards?"
I link our arms together at the top. "I don't know. I'll probably trade in for a bigger one later."
He only shakes his head and laughs. If we actually do go through with the roommate idea, which seems very likely right now, I have no idea what will happen by the end of it. Personally, I think that, unless we meet someone else, we really could stay roommates for longer than the year, even if we weren't havng a baby. And since I don't think any guy my age will want to date a single mum, I think I'll stick with the idea of staying roommates for a while, despite what we said. Albus may still meet someone, being who he is and all, and if that happens don't you think I deserve to have wherever we stay, even if it isn't the house? I hate the esate agent now, by the way, because I love this house.
"So this is the master bedroom," she says, "complete with en-suite." She points to the small door, by the door we came in, the closet next to it. I walk around the bare room, imaging sleeping in here. And I can, it reminds me of my room at home with the white walls and the bathroom by the door.
"This would definitely be my room," I announce, nodding. "Definitely."
"Since we're speaking hypothetically," Al says. So he saw the look and my dad's face, too. "Why would this be your room?" I give him a look, just one, reminding him of how this all started. I made him take sixty percent of the blame (I was being nice), so I overrule him. "Fine."
I smirk as we walk out and she shows us the next biggest room, what could be Al's room. It's on the left of what could be my room, the bathroom in-between. I see it was a boy's room already, the paint is a deep blue. Which, coincidently, is Al's favorite color. It's only a little smaller than mine, which I know he likes, and doesn't have a bathroom, which he doesn't mind. Why does this house have to keep getting better?
Finally, she leads us to the room that was on the right of my bedroom. I think I feel a few tears when I walk in. Stupid hormones. The walls are a faded white color, which can be painted over, and the borders are of teddy bears playing drums. I don't normally do cute, it's not me. But this wouldn't be for me, it'd be for the kid, so as its mum I'm allowed to think it's cute, right? "This could be the baby's room."
I think what scares me the most isn't that I can see this room as the baby's room, but I see it as my baby's room. There's no more 'the', it's all 'my'. I see me in the room with my baby. I thought the knowledge of being pregnant had finally sunk in, but no. Not until now. Breathe, Alexa. Just breathe.
"Hey, are you okay?" Al is in front of me, his hands on my shoulders. I nod, shaky. Why am I shaky? "It's good to breathe, Lex."
"This is really real," I whisper, not in shock like I felt before when he asked me how I was. I sound empty, like I'm stating a fact. I'm back in Hogwarts, giving an answer a teacher has picked me out to give. I give the answer willingly, but it doesn't mean anything to me. This doesn't mean anything because I already knew it, it just didn't seem to completely sink in until now. Until this room.
"Yeah, it is, but remember what we said on Sunday," he says.
"We're okay," I recite. I change the subject. "I really like this room."
"You saw it, too," Albus replies, nodding. I'd say I gave something away, but he just knows me that well. Sometimes, we're great minds; we think alike. And we both think that this room is our kid's. Which means...
"Dad," I drawl, turning around. I've got my head cocked to the right and my winning smile clear for them both to see.
"No. I'm not buying you a house," he exclaims. "No way. An apartment, maybe. But you're not ready for your own house." Phase two: I stick out my lower lip, my hands joined together and tucked under my chin. I want to say it's like when I was a kid, but, just like now, I still use it. It's a rule you follow when you want something and I really want this house. "Not the look."
He starts to crack. I sense defeat. Ha, I'm winning. My dad can go after every criminal Harry gives him with no problem. But he can't get past me. I'm his daughter; I learnt from the best. "We've got the combined budget of what was going to be two apartments, we've got our Summer job salaries sitting in our accounts, as well as all the money we've ever chosen to save growing up, and we're not exactly short of money. We can afford this house, in this nice little neiborhood where I can see kids riding bikes in the street from out the window and people waving to eachother as they walk past. Dad, it's so nice part of me is wondering why I'm saying this and wanting to leave. So why aren't I?"
"Because you're a parent," Harry speaks almost as a whisper. "You're not thinking about yourself. It took you seeing this room to realise it, but the thoughts were always there."
I agree with him completely. I knew he'd see that, they both would. They're parents. "It's not about the money," Dad admits. "You're eighteen years old; I don't think you're ready for a house."
"It's an apartment with stairs," Al shrugs. I elbow him. "What? I'm just trying to see the difference between sharing a flat and sharing a house."
"Adults have houses, families."
Albus' eyes narrow. I can't remember the last time he looked ready to hurt someone and it's never been directed at my father before. "Families can live in an apartment, too. And we are adults, especially in the eyes of the law. Just because we're not together, doesn't mean this kid won't be part of a family." He turns to the estate agent. "We love the house."
She waits for conformation from both our dads before she does anything. Dad could easily say no and walk away; he is the one with the money after all. But he doesn't. When Harry eventually nods, he looks back at us. "Call yourself an adult all you want, but until you're actually working and have a steady income this house is mine. Since I assume it'll be Lexi who keeps it." He glance around the room and I know why he thinks that. "Everything about this house comes through me. You need anything, you come to me. That is the deal, the only one I'm prepared to give."
I grin, agreeing with Al, and walk to my dad, practically squeezing him. He kisses the top of my head and hugs back. "Deal."
We let each other go and he walks over to the door. "Now it seems I have papers to sign. After you, Jenna."
Oh, so that's her name. I really should have payed more attention. Harry laughs at us before shaking his head and leaving the room to follow my dad. Which leaves just me and Albus in the baby's nursery. One shared grin and we slap our hands together.
We have a house.
A/N: Wow. My longest chapter ever. Not just for this story, but ever. It just didn't want to end. :P I thought about splitting it, but I couldn't find a decent place and I like it as it is and I didn't want you to have to wait, so it's all here. :)
Hope you enjoy.
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