The occasional glances at Remus’s face were enough to have me laughing nearly the entire drive to the pizzeria. After parking in the garage across the street we all went into the pizza place. We ended up shoving a bunch of tables together commandeering nearly all the tables in the restaurant in the process. “Alright everyone quiet down. What does everyone want on their pizza? Also I need drink orders.” As everyone started to shout out their orders I held up my hands, “One at a time please. I can’t hear you if you all talk at once. Lily you start.”
“Cheese and a diet for me.”
“I’ll take pepperoni and a coke.” James said
“Mushrooms and a sprite for me.” Came Peter’s reply.
“Make mine pepperoni as well. And I guess I’ll take a coke ” Arthur replied with a smile.
“Mushrooms and a diet sound good to me. The kids will have cheese and sprite. No arguments.” Molly called, immediately silencing any objections from the kids.
“I’ll have whatever your having for pizza Isa. I’ll take a root beer please.” Remus replied smiling at me.
“Alright you lot stay here. Jenny and I will order everything. I’m thinking a slice and a half per adult and a slice per kid.” I said to Jenny as we walked up to the counter.
“Sounds good to me. Do you want me to order or do you want to?”
“I’ll do it I think I have all the math figured out. What do you want Jenny?”
“I’ll take cheese and root beer as well.”
“What can I get for you folks?” asked the man behind the counter.
“We’ve got a big order. We’ll take six slices of cheese, six pepperonis, and three mushrooms. We also need two diets, three cokes, four sprites, and two root beers.”
“Sure thing. Anything else I can get for you folks?”
“Just a knife, thanks. How much do we owe you?”
“It’ll be thirty even.”
I noticed Jenny starting to take out her wallet and stopped her, “Put that away I changed over some money before we came.”
“Thanks Bells. I’ll pay for dinner tonight.”
“You’ll do no such thing. James and Remus have already said that they will. I’ll tell you what you can spring for bagels in the morning.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Jenny said as we took the trays filled with drinks over to the table. We had just finished handing out the soft drinks when my name was called out telling us that the pizza was ready. “Remus, James, Peter will you help us get the pizza it looks like a few trays.”
We went up and got the trays and brought them back to the table. While Jenny started handing out slices to everyone I said, “Before everyone starts eating let me show you the proper way to eat a slice of New York Pizza. You pick it up fold it in half and hold it over your plate like this.” I said demonstrating how to let some of the grease slide off the pizza. “No matter how much grease comes off it’s still going to have some don’t worry that’s normal it’s a New York thing. I hope you all enjoy.”
Watching everyone eat their first slice of New York pizza was almost as entertaining as watching Remus in the car. The general opinion was that it was great. Once people started finishing the first slice I cut in half and handed out the remaining pieces. After we finished eating Molly and I took the kids into the restroom and got them all washed up. Then we piled back into the cars and went over to the park where we spent an enjoyable afternoon watching the kids play on the play ground. Luckily Jenny had had enough foresight to bring a few different types of balls and gloves with her so the guys could teach the kids how to play catch.
After several hours of fun in the park we decided it was time to head home so we piled back into the cars. Upon arriving home we all took some time to rest. Some took naps and others helped Molly and Arthur give the kids their baths. While the guys and Molly were upstairs Jenny, Lily, and I found our way to the kitchen. We sat around chatting over cups of tea. Slowly the topic wound its way around to Sirius, this time I was ready for it so at least I didn’t pass out again.
“You know the amazing thing is even after everything that’s happened I still love him. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust him again, but I still love him.”
“Oh Bells.” Jenny said fighting back tears.
“Please don’t Jenny. I’ve loved him for a long time, but we’re just not meant to be together. It’s sad and unfortunate, but he’ll always be my first love. Maybe now that I know that I can finally move on. I can finally fall in love with someone else. Maybe if I’m lucky it’ll be Remus.”
“We can only hope.” Lily said on a sigh, “Speaking of I think their coming down now.”
Once everyone was settled around the big kitchen table we started debating dinner ideas. “Stop, stop.” I called above the noise, “We’ll never get anywhere like this. Jenny you live here what do you think we should do for dinner?”
“Well there’s this great Japanese place not far from here. They have amazing sushi and they do hibachi, which the kids will love.”
“I think I remember it. Oh yeah I always loved that place and the sushi is phenomenal. With the hibachi everyone will be able to find something to eat. Jenny I don’t want to take the babies with us is there someone you can call to baby sit?” I asked not daring to get my hopes up.
“Already taken care of.” Jenny replied smiling, “I figured you wouldn’t want to take them to dinner or into the city tomorrow. A good friend of mine lives just down the road. Her youngest sister baby-sits. She’ll watch the kids tonight and tomorrow my friend said she’d watch the kids as long as I bring her back something from Zanzibar’s. She should actually be here any minute.”
“Sounds like a plan. You guys will love this place. Bill, Charlie, Percy you’re going to love the what the chefs do at the table it’s really cool. We should all be able to fit in two cars. Molly, Jenny, Arthur, and Peter can go in the van with the kids. I’ll take Lily, James, and Remus in the SUV.”
“That’s Michelle now. Hold on I’ll go let her in.”
After giving Michelle instructions we headed out. As it turned out it wasn’t only the kids that loved the chef’s performance. The adults got a real kick out of it too. It turned out to be a great evening. After dinner we loaded the kids back into the car and went for ice cream. After ice cream we headed back home. We arrived home to find the boys sound asleep in the back seat of the van. We carefully unbuckled them and carried them inside. Molly, Arthur, and James took them upstairs to bed while Lily, Jenny, and I talked to Michelle.
After the kids were tucked in the adults found their way to the kitchen. We sat around chatting for about an hour before Molly rested her head on Arthur’s shoulder and said yawning, “I think I’m off to bed. It’s been a very long exciting day. I’ll see you all in the morning.”
“Night.” Came the chorus from around the table.
“You know sleep actually sounds really good to me. Jenny you coming?” I asked.
“Right behind you. It was really nice meeting you all. I’ll see you guys in the morning. I’m going to buy bagels and such for breakfast so don’t worry about it when you wake up. Feel free to stay up as late as you want just please make sure to turn off the lights behind you.”
“Sure thing Jenny. Good night girls.” Lily called, understanding that the two of us needed some time alone. As it turned out Jenny and I didn’t have much energy to talk before we both passed out.
In the morning we all congregated in the kitchen for breakfast. True to her word Jenny went into the village and bought an assortment of bagels, cream cheese, and lox. After everyone was settled in with their bagels I spoke up. “Today we’re going into Manhattan. I know we all grew up going to London for one reason or another, but you’ve never seen a place like this. Take all of London with its sprawling city and cram it onto an island. It’s loud and busy and wonderful. Jenny and I talked a little about it this morning when we were getting ready and we came up with a few ideas as to what we could do. It’ll still be a little chilly earlier in the day so we thought we would start off going to the Natural History Museum. It’s incredibly cool. Then we’d grab lunch from the vendors in the park. Jenny’s got a book that has a list of the statues that can be found in Central Park. We thought we could spend some time finding them. Our parents took us on the same hunt as children and we had a blast. How does that sound to everyone?”
From the blast of noise I got in response I caught bits and pieces that made me believe everyone is in agreement. “After the park we’ll come back here. Wash up and change. Michelle will come back over to help Jenny’s friend…” I trailed off looking to Jenny for the name.
“Carol,” Jenny supplied.
“To help Carol watch the kids. Then the eight of us will go back into the city for a night on the town. We’ll go to a nice restaurant for dinner and then go to a show. Jenny what did you get tickets for?”
“We’re going to see Wicked it’s a great show. I think everyone will enjoy it. I’ve already called the restaurant I want to take you all to and made reservations. I hope Italian is ok with you all.”
“Alright once everyone’s done eating Peter and Remus get kitchen duty. Molly, Arthur, and Lily will you get the kids ready to go. Jenny and I will get the books we’ll need as well as the metro cards.”
“Isa how are we going to get around in the city you didn’t say?” Lily asked sounding a little concerned, “I don’t much fancy the idea of having to drive.”
“Don’t worry we’re not going to. We’ll apparate into city, Jenny already knows where. Then we’ll take the tube to get around. Although here it’s called the subway. Everyone done? Good now off you get. Oh and don’t forget to grab light jackets, we might want them.”
As everyone headed off to their respective areas Jenny and I went up to grab our coats. Just as we were grabbing the last of the things we would need for the day the doorbell rang. “Remus will you get that? That will be Carol. Tell her we’ll be right down.” I called down stairs.
Jenny and I put the last of the books and things we would need in our bags and then headed downstairs to meet Carol. “Carol thank you so much for doing this.” Jenny said hugging her friend.
“It’s no problem Jenny. I’m glad I can help out. I talked to Michelle last night and she said that the babies were incredibly well natured and easy to tend to.”
“That would be my son and two nephews.” I said extending my hand, “My name is Isabella. I’m Jenny’s cousin. It’s nice to meet you.”
“A pleasure to meet you. Now who do we have here?”
“This is Justice, my son. The other two are Fred and George their upstairs with their mother, father, and older brothers. The three of whom you and Michelle will be watching tonight. Their very easy and always eager to help. Give me a minute and I’ll see if I can get them to come downstairs.” I said walking over to the stairs, “Molly, Arthur will you bring the boys downstairs for a minute Carol’s here.”
“We’ll be down in just a second.”
“How old are the children?”
“Well Justice is nearly three months and the twins are just over a month. So they’ll sleep most of the time. And here are the others. This is Bill, he’s eight. He’s got a lot of energy, but is a big help with his younger brothers. This is Charlie, he’s six. He’s probably the most adventurous so you’ll have to keep an eye on him. And this is Percy, he’s two. He’s incredibly smart and has a huge vocabulary for someone his age. He’s also the biggest help in the kitchen. Boys can you say hi to Ms. Carol? She’ll be watching you tonight while the adults go out to dinner.”
“Hi Ms. Carol,” Came the chorus from the boys.
“Well hello there. You boys are just so precious. I’m really looking forward to getting to hang out with you tonight. Are you excited to go into the city today?” Carol asked crouching down to be on eye level with the boys.
“We can’t wait. Aunt Isa said that we were going to see a T-Rex bones and play in a big park.” Charlie said, always the most outgoing.
“Well that sounds like a lot of fun. Hi I’m Carol. You must be the boys’ parents.” Carol said standing up as Molly and Arthur walked in the room.
“Yes we are. I’m Molly and this is Arthur, my husband. And these are our youngest boys Fred and George. Thank you for doing this Carol. We really appreciate it. It’s not often we get a night off from being parents.”
“It’s my pleasure. Jenny is a good friend and I’m always glad to help out. If it would make you feel better about leaving your children with me I can tell you a little bit about my experience with children.”
“I would really appreciate that Carol.” I said with a smile. “I trust Jenny’s judgment, but this is the first time I’m leaving Justice with someone from outside of my circle of friends or my parents.”
“It’s no problem Isabella. I know how nerve wracking it can be to leave your children with a stranger for the first time. Well as you know Jenny and I are about the same age. My father died when I was about six. He died on the way to the hospital when my mother was in labor with Michelle. I already had a younger sister and brother, twins. Suddenly my mother had three fairly young children and a newborn to support. Luckily my aunt and uncle were amazing and offered all of us a place to live. In exchange I helped out around the house. I looked after my siblings and my cousins. Now that Michelle is going off to college in the fall I’m thinking of going back to school myself and getting a degree in either early childhood development or elementary education. I haven’t decided which yet.”
“Well it certainly sounds like you know what you’re doing when it comes to taking care of young children. It definitely makes it easier to leave Justice and my nephews in your care tonight. It’s also nice to know that if Jenny needs any help with Justice that you live close by. It sounds like the rest of the gang is coming downstairs. Would you like to meet everyone before we go?”
“Sounds great. Before I meet everyone, Molly is there anything I should know about the children? Like any allergies or food you prefer they don’t have? I know some parents don’t want their kids having sugar or soda.”
“None of the kids have food allergies and they’re all pretty good at being honest about what they can and can’t have. They will however try and get an extra serving of dessert. Since we’re on vacation I think it would be ok just this once, but only if they eat all of their vegetables.”
“Justice, Fred, and George all drink formula there should be plenty in the cabinets.” I said handing Justice to Jenny. “Here let me introduce you to the rest of our family. This is my best friend Lily and her husband James. You’ve already met the Weasley clan and the two guys standing in the back are Remus and Peter.”
“It’s nice to meet you all. If you’ll just show me where the cribs are I’ll let you all be on your way. I have Jenny’s cell phone number if I need to reach you for any reason.”
“Alright Molly, why don’t you and I show Carol where the boys cribs are.” I suggested.
“Sounds like a plan. We’ll be back in a minute boys. Why don’t you guys go over everything with Jenny and make sure we’re all set for today.”
After getting the babies settled and saying goodbye to Carol we got together in groups of three, one child to every two adults, and apparated into the city. Once we landed we walked the three short blocks to the Natural History Museum. The kids were in awe of everything they saw. From the tall buildings to the street vendors. We spent the rest of the morning in the museum making sure to check out all of the cool exhibits. Around 1:30 we all started to get hungry so we decided to head outside and get hot dogs and drinks from the vendors that park their carts in front of the museum. We ate our lunch on the steps and watched the city go by for a few. “Alright everyone make sure to pick up your trash then we’ll head over to the subway.” I called out.
Jenny and I then gave Lily and Molly subway cards. “We’ll show you how to use them. Since each card can only be used three times in quick succession it’s necessary that we have several of them. Lily; you, James, and Bill will use your card. Molly; you, Arthur and Charlie will use yours. Remus and Percy will come with me. Peter and Jenny will take the last card. Also the subways can be very crowded so kids your each assigned a buddy. No matter what happens you do not under any circumstance let go of your buddy. The only and I mean only time it’s ok is when we’re going through the turn stile. Do you understand boys?”
“Yes Aunt Isa.” They boys responded.
“Ok then. Percy you’re going to stay with me ok. If you have trouble keeping up just let me know and Remus or I will carry you ok?”
“Ok Aunt Isa.” Percy said smiling.
“James you’re in charge of Bill. Just hold his hand make sure we don’t lose him in all the confusion. Charlie you hold your Dad’s hand. Jenny and Peter will lead the group with me, Percy, and Remus brining up the rear. Stay close together cause it can get really crazy down there. Let’s go the park is really fun. You guys are going to have a blast.”
We made our way over to the subway station. As I expected it was packed. “Remus will you carry Percy please? I don’t want him to get lost. Bill, Charlie hold tight to your buddies now ok.” I said as Jenny led the way to the turnstiles. “Ok Jenny you’re group first. Now Lily’s group. Molly you’re turn. Alright Percy hold my hand while Remus goes through. Ok now Percy go straight threw to Remus. Everyone stay close together. It’s a short walk to the platform we need.” I called above the noise and confusion.
We walked quickly with Jenny and I keeping an eye on our surroundings. “Bells three o’clock.”
“I see it. We’re going to walk a little faster now guys keep up with Jenny.” I said wanting to get us away from the guy that I was pretty sure had at least one gun. We walked quickly to the platform with no other troublesome sightings. No sooner then we got there than a train pulled up. “Alright everyone on. Find a place to either sit or hold on. Kids get first seats if there’s any available. Bill take that seat hold Percy in your lap. Charlie stand between your dad and the poll and hold on tight ok. We’re going four stops. When I say so I want everyone to get ready to go.” I said as the train pulled away from the platform. About ten minutes later we were pulling away from the last stop before ours. “Percy come here. Hold on to me and Remus ok. When we stop Remus is going to pick you up so we don’t lose you when we’re getting off. Bill hold on tight to the poll and to James. We’re getting off at the next stop guys. Be prepared to move quickly. Alright everyone move.” I called as the train pulled up to the station.
We got off the train without any problems and made our way to the surface. The stop Jenny and I had picked dropped us off just a block outside the gates to the park. “Are you guys ready to go find some statues?”
“Yeah let’s go!” the kids called out pulling on our hands.
The next few hours were spent hiking all over the park. Jenny and I told stories about different adventures we had had in the park when we were growing up. Not surprisingly Cinderella’s Castle was a big hit with everyone. By four o’clock we had found nearly all the statues. “Alright guys this is the last one then it’s time to head home. We’re not taking the subway again. There’s a heavily wooded area up here that we’re going to apparate from.”
“Aunt Isa can we go climb on the rocks instead? Please,” Charlie begged.
“Why don’t we put it to a vote? All in favor of finding one last statue raise your hands. I count three. All in favor of climbing on the rocks. Sorry girls it looks like you’ve been out voted. I have one condition though boys. If we tell you to come down you come down end of story ok?”
“We promise,” Bill replied.
“Alright then let’s go.” I said. The words were barely out of my mouth before the boys were running towards the rocks with the men right behind them. “Come on girls there’s a bench right over here. We can keep an eye on them from there. They get half an hour to play then it’s time to head home so we can start getting ready. Carol agreed to help keep any eye on the kids so we can focus on getting dressed.”
“Jenny, Isa this has been such an amazing day. The boys have really enjoyed themselves. Thank you both so much.” Molly said leaning over to hug us.
“It was our pleasure.” Jenny said, “Besides I had a blast watching them. It’s been a while since I got to see New York through a child’s eyes. I forgot how refreshing it can be.”
While the boys played the four of us relaxed and chatted. After half an hour it was time to head home. “Come on boys time to leave. Peter, Remus, James, Arthur that includes you.” I called out. True to their word the boys came running over but the adults were a little harder to get to come down. “Guys come on it’s time to go home. You’re setting a bad example for the kids.”
Once we got everyone rounded up, we headed over to the wooded area. We got into our travel groups and went home. We landed in the back yard exactly two minutes apart as planned. “Alright kids bath time. Bill if you want you can go take a shower in mine and Jenny’s bathroom. Charlie you can use the one off Lily and James’s room. Molly you can take Percy to the bathroom in the hall on our floor. Boys shower quickly, but make sure you clean up everywhere. You’re all sweaty and dirty from the park.” I said as the boys marched upstairs.
I've caught up to what I've already written, so It's going to start taking me a little bit longer to update chapters & it's probably going to be single chapters for a while. I hope you all continue to enjoy.