‘Good morning sleepy head!’ My eyes fluttered open to reveal that I wasn’t in my own bed. I turned my head to see Al sitting at the edge of the bed – his bed.
‘What happened last night? How did I get here?’
‘Well… you started crying last night, and then you just wouldn’t stop. In the end I picked you up and carried you back to the common room, but you’d worn yourself out so much that by the time we got there you’d fallen asleep. Boys aren’t allowed in the girls’ dormitories, so I brought you here instead. Are you feeling any better?’
‘Shit – I’m sorry. I’m fine. Where did you sleep?’
‘I gate-crashed Don’s bed. He didn’t mind sharing.’ Ha, I bet he didn’t! ‘Are you going to tell me what was troubling you? It must have been something big – I haven’t seen you cry in years.’
I really did not want to talk about that right now. Or ever. I don’t want to change the way he sees me. But it will all come out in the end. ‘Sorry, I don’t want to talk about it. I will though, just not now.’ I’ll have to. Not yet – I’m not ready yet. I’ll tell them all when we go home for Christmas. They’ll all be there so I’ll only have to say it once. And it’s about a month away anyway.
Well, that was a month ago, and here I am sitting on the train home. I’m sharing a compartment with Al, and I’m pretending to be asleep just to be able to think about how I’m going to do this. How I’m going to tell them. Al is pacing up and down the compartment of the train, muttering to himself. He’s worried about how disappointed Mum and Dad are going to be when he tells them his secret. He’s planned to do it tonight; we’re having a giant feast: Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione are bringing round Rose and Hugo. He’s also worried about whether or not they’re going to kick him out. And I’m not sure what they’ll say or how they’ll react. And then I’ll have to tell them I’m pregnant. Neither of these things they are expecting, so boy are they in for a shock! The trains pulling in now and I can feel dread settling in the pit of my stomach. I can’t put it off any longer, I’m three months along now and I’m starting to show. If I don’t tell them, they’ll work it out soon enough.
We’re all sat around the table and Mum’s brought out the food. I can see the worry on Al’s face, and I reach out and take his hand. This gives him the courage that he needs, and he says very quietly ‘There’s something I need to tell everyone.’
Everyone becomes very quiet and they all turn to face him. I squeeze his hand to give him reassurance. He takes a deep breath and bites his lip. ‘Um, there’s … uh… something I’ve been meaning to tell you. I’m not sure how you’re going to react, but here goes. You’ve all been telling me that I should start seeing someone, and I thought you should know that I’ve been in a relationship with someone for the past 3 years.’ There were murmurs amongst the crowd that was our family, and James shouted ‘finally!’
‘Well, go on son. Tell us about this lucky girl,’ Dad said. I saw Al’s face fall, and I smiled at him to let him know it was ok.
‘Well, um, that’s the thing. I’m… uh… kind of dating a guy. I’m gay.’ Silence fell around the table. Everyone was wearing a similar expression of shock. Then everyone started talking at once. Their voices started getting louder and louder, and I noticed they were all starting to shout at Al. It was hard to distinguish what everyone was saying, but I heard Dad say ‘we didn’t raise you like this’ and Uncle Ron was saying ‘…in our own family. I can’t believe it.’ This wasn’t good. They weren’t supposed to react like that. They’re family: they should be supportive.
I could see Al’s face getting redder and redder, and he ducked his head to hide the tears which were streaming down his face. I squeezed his hand one last time before I let go. I can’t bear to see them all annoyed at Al for no good reason. I can’t bear to see him in such pain. ‘Alright everyone, be quiet. Oi! Shut up and listen!’ I said whilst standing up.’ Don’t you dare be upset with Al, he hasn’t done anything wrong.’ But everyone ignored me and turned back to Al.
I’m going to have do it – and it’ll have to be now. It’s the only way that they’ll leave poor Al alone. ‘I’m sorry,’ I whispered to Al before I spoke as loudly as I could, loud enough to be heard over everyone’s yelling. I did it to get everyone off his back. Even though I’m not ready. I had to do it at some point. At least it stopped everyone from talking: it brought silence to the table. Those two harmless words are so big when they are put together. And extremely hard to say.