And Please read and review the Hugo/Mattie outtake to this chapter, “All I Want for Christmas is You” on my author’s page.
Chapter 11: Twelve Questions…Part One
Rose applied another thick layer of mascara as she looked into the mirror on her vanity. Her eye was wide open, her fingers spreading the lid strategically so that makeup that had already been applied wouldn’t rub off too much. She sat back on her little stool, screwing the cap on the mascara. She tossed the tube onto the pile of makeup and fluffed her hair with her fingers.
She squeezed a bit of her favourite perfume on to her wrists and rubbed them together while looking at herself in the mirror. Her gaze slid from the side-part in her hair, to her wide, brown eyes that were accentuated by brown liner above and below the lid, her button nose she’d inherited from the Granger side of the family, her painted lips, to her neck. She grinned remembering the markings, the angry red love bites that Scorpius had left there, she’d covered up.
She caught a glimpse of her bed in the mirror and her smile widened. They’d had so much fun this holiday, it was a shame Scorpius was leaving to spend the rest of break with his family after the new year.
There was a brisk knock on her door and then it opened. Scorpius peeked his head around the door and, when he saw she was alone he opened the door the rest of the way, pointedly making sure the knob was touching the wall, before stepping in. He looked masculine in his tan trousers and black shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He had nice forearms. Very nice. With a tad bit of a tan still from a summer of Quidditch and outside work, nicely muscled. Rose licked her lips, tasting the tart taste of lipstick.
“Your mum wants to know if you’re ready,” Scorpius said, his voice husky as his grey eyes roamed over her body. She blushed, but straightened an allowed him to take in her skirt, stockings, and ankle boots. “Nice top,” he grinned devilishly. Her eyes cast downwards and she rolled her eyes.
So the shirt probably showed more cleavage than her mother would allow her to wear, and it didn’t quite go to the waistband of her skirt, but she had a plan. She picked up the Christmas jumper off the bed and tugged it over her head, straightening her hair in the mirror while Scorpius waited.
She sauntered over to him then, hips swaying with more swagger than should’ve been allowed at her age, and she looped her arms around his neck. With the heels on her boots, her gaze was level with his mouth. Right where she wanted. She raised up on her toes and pressed a kiss to his mouth.
“Thank you,” she whispered, kissing him again.
“Not that I’m complaining,” he captured her lips briefly as she tried to pull away, “but for what?”
Rose went back flat on her heels, her fingers teased the hairs at the nape of his neck. “For loving me enough to put up with my dad all this time.”
Scorpius smiled and bent his head, pressing a gentle kiss beneath her ear before whispering, “Thank you.”
Rose pulled back, wearing a confused expression, and he took both of her hands in his. “For loving me in spite of my father.” Her eyes cast downward; it was still a touchy subject with her.
“Mum says to get your asses downstairs before you’re grounded from New Years,” Hugo said from the doorway and Scorpius turned slowly.
“Does she really have the power to make us repeat a whole year?” Rose giggled and Scorpius slipped his arm around her waist.
“Of course,” said Hugo, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “she’s Mum!”
Nat tugged at the hem of her dress and bit the side of her lip while she sat in the sitting room of the Potter’s house. She’d been there enough the past summer that it should’ve felt like a second home to her, but after the events over the last week and a half, she felt as out of place as a muggle at a Quidditch match.
Albus sat along side her, holding her other hand and staring off to the left. There was nothing particularly interesting there, just a plain beige wall and Nat sighed. Albus was avoiding her gaze again. He didn’t speak much anymore, not since the twins, and it was a tad unnerving to her.
“It’s going to be okay, right?” Nat whispered out of the corner of her mouth. The faucet in the kitchen turned off so that the noise of the water stopped, and the ‘click, click’ of Ginny’s shoes was heard getting closer and closer.
Albus didn’t answer her.
Ginny moved into the room, carrying a tray including a tea kettle—presumably with tea, along with cream and sugar canisters—cups, and a plate of biscuits. She set the tray on the small table separating two sofas and went about pouring cups. She added a dollop of cream and a cube of sugar to one and handed the cup to Albus.
“How do you take your tea, Nat?” Ginny spoke in a soft voice, with a waver at the end as she spoke the name of her future grandchildren’s mother.
“Two sugars, please,” Nat whispered.
Ginny fixed Nat’s tea, and then her own, before sitting back on the sofa, crossing her legs, her tea left untouched on the table. Then they sat, looking at one another. Back and forth. For a long time. Nat sipped her tea, having let go of Albus’s hand when Ginny had begun serving it, her eyes cast downward at her cup.
The china was pretty, white with blue swirls painted around the rim. Her mother never had nice things like this. They mostly used paper plates and plastic cups her mum bought at the muggle grocery, and they usually ate take away. Her mother couldn’t cook, and Nat’d apparently inherited that skill from her, though Victoire says her cooking has improved tremendously in the week or so Nat and Albus had been staying with her.
Nat looked up as Harry entered the room, and she noticed that there was a fourth cup. He sat beside his wife while she made him a cup of tea. She handed it to him—Nat noted a slight shake in her hands—and Harry took a long drink.
“Blah,” he stuck out his tongue and made a face. Nat giggled and Albus smirked, the first hint of emotion Nat had seen that day. Ginny looked guiltily at her husband.
“Sorry, love. Decaf. For Nat. Caffeine’s bad for the…b-baby…s.”
Harry smiled at Albus’s girlfriend, a warm, welcoming smile. Nat saw the same eyes she loved smiling back at her from a different man and her own eyes stung with tears.
“Speaking of,” Harry started, noting a change in Nat’s behaviour as she picked up a napkin off the tray and dabbed at her eyes. “Ginny, wasn’t there something you wanted to say, love?”
Ginny took a deep breath and nodded at her husband. Her eyes locked on Nat’s across the small table and she sighed. “I just…well, I just w-wanted to apologize to you, Nat, for…everything I said that night,” Harry reached down and took her hand and Nat noticed the unshed tears glistening in Ginny’s eyes. She looked sideways to Albus, but he was looking straight ahead at his parents.
“Ginny’s…well,” Harry looked at his son and gave him a half smile. “Ginny hasn’t been having the best time as of late…health wise, that is.”
“What?” Albus said suddenly, sitting up a tad straighter and leaning forward a bit, resting his elbows on his knees. “What do you mean?”
“My r-reaction towards you, Nat,” she started, a tear sliding down her cheek and dripping off of her chin, “was completely unc-called for.”
“Ginny, love. Call me Ginny, p-please.”
“What’s wrong, mum?” Albus tried to get them back on track.
“A-about a m-month a-ago,” hiccupped Ginny. Her tears started falling faster, and she wiped her eyes, but it wasn’t doing much good so Harry took over.
“About a month ago, we found out that Ginny was pregnant,” Harry said, his eyes going from his hand clasped with his wife’s to Albus and Nat. Nat’s mouth fell open into an ‘o’ and Albus wore a look of confusion.
“But, I thought—”
“We thought so, too, son,” Harry interrupted him, then turned his gaze to Nat. “When Ginny was pregnant with Lily, she had a really rough time with it. She was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and Preeclampsia—it’s very rare to have both—and ended up having to go on bed rest. She almost died during the delivery and we were told that we couldn’t have any more children.”
“And then I got pregnant. It was a miracle.” Ginny’s tears had slowed and she gazed, red puffy-eyed, at Nat. She smiled a sad, watery smile. “We were going to tell everyone on Christmas Eve, our miracle baby.”
“What happened?” Nat asked softly, reaching across the table for Ginny’s hand.
“A week after I found out I started having really bad cramps, then there was blood, a lot of blood, and then I passed out.” Ginny choked back a sob, and Harry took over the story.
“We were in London at the time, surrounded by muggles, and someone called an ambulance. She was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late.” Harry explained, rubbing Ginny’s back consolingly as she hunched over with the force of her sobs. Nat moved to the couch and wrapped her arms around the older woman’s shoulders.
“I am so sorry I called you all of those horrible names,” said Ginny as she wiped tears off of her face a few moments later. “I was just so angry. Not at you,” she rushed to assure Nat. “I was angry with myself. I had gotten the chance to have the big family I’d always wanted—not that I’m not happy with what I’ve got, love—and then I go and have a miscarriage.” Ginny held her hand up to stop Harry’s protest. “I know, I know it wasn’t my fault, there was nothing I could do, but it still happened. To my body. So I felt at fault. Even now, I still think about it.”
“I am so sorry all of this happened to you, Mrs.—Ginny,” said Nat, hugging Ginny around the shoulders.
“I’m still—I can’t believe the horrible way I’ve treated you!”
“I forgive you,” Nat whispered.
“You’re not angry with us?” Albus wondered aloud.
“Of course not!” Ginny sent him a watery smile. “I mean, I am a bit disappointed in you both for the situation you’ve gotten yourself in, but, Dad and I, we want to help. We’d really like it if you would consider staying with us the rest of break.”
“You said it yourself, Vic and Teddy are going to be out of town for the next week,” Harry inserted, threading his fingers with his wife’s.
“What do you think, Nel?”
At the use of the nickname Nat glanced up. Albus was looking at her, for the first time that day it seemed, and she felt her heart flutter the same as the first time they’d kissed.
“I think,” she chewed her lip for a second, “I think that’s probably for the best, don’t you?”
Christmas Eve dinner was to be celebrated with the entire family. All Weasleys, Potters, friends and their families…everyone was invited. Christmas Day was a day to spend with the individual family. New Years, however, was designated for the Harry Potter and Ron Weasley families.
Each year the houses were alternated. The previous year was held at the Weasley household, so logically this year would take place at the Potters. It had been that way since the two couples had begun dating. What started out as a night to get schnockered with friends, ringing in the New Year together, became a night the two families were all together, aunts, uncles, and cousins, to catch up and chit chat.
It was there that Jennifer felt most out of place.
She technically was a Potter, which was more than she could say for that Nat girl who, by the way, was looking sort of fat in her ugly black dress, and was a little green around the edges.
But it was still uncomfortable, being there. She didn’t know anyone, not really. She hardly knew James, besides the physical aspect of the man. So she sat back while the relatives greeted each other and spoke to each other and laughed, joked, and carried on. She sat back and at the same time stuck out like a sore thumb. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, besides wanting to be the centre of their attention.
Dinner was served promptly at seven and she sat back then, too, while everyone piled their plates high with food. Even the two redheaded girls and the fat blonde. What was it with English girls and eating? And how did they stay so trim? Well, besides the fat one. But she was pregnant.
Well, so was Jennifer.
James sat beside her casting her sideways glances and then looking pointedly down at her empty plate. Jennifer turned away from his gaze and, for once, listened to what was going on around her. The clink of dishes, scrape of cutlery on plates. Not much actual conversation going on. These people take their food seriously!
The youngest ones, the boy and the girl, whatever their names were, were instructed to clear the dishes while James’s mother prepared dessert. Jennifer pouted, wondering why no one besides her husband thought it was odd that she wasn’t eating. Well, if anyone bothered to ask they’d find out that just smelling the stuff was making her want to puke her guts out, never mind actually ingesting the slop. She stuck up her nose in a way that was so like her own mother she actually caught herself and lowered her chin.
“Hugo,” there was a shout from a little way down the table, which caught Jennifer off guard and she turned her head. Her hair flying around her head was probably less than graceful, but the tone in the voice scared her a bit. It was the angry red head. Okay, in a family of red heads that probably wasn’t specific enough.
It was the tall angry redheaded bloke. The really tall one. James’s uncle. What’s-his-face. Merlin, she should really try harder to remember names. Anyway, Tall-Angry-Redhead’s face was turning bright red as he stared at Boy-Called-Hugo.
Boy-Called-Hugo was standing stalk still, wide-eyed, and he looked a tad bit scared. He held a stack of two plates in his left hand and two glasses pinched together between the fingers of his right. The table had fallen silent, anticipating what Tall-Angry-Redhead was going to say.
“What in the hell,” Tall-Angry-Redhead slowly spoke, “is on your finger?”
As if controlled by magic, the room’s occupant’s heads dipped slowly, resting on a silver band surrounding Boy-Called-Hugo’s finger. His left ring finger. The finger of doom, her mother always called it. The finger that signified an institution she’d just entered into a couple of weeks ago in a dingy chapel in Las Vegas.
“No,” Tall-Angry-Redhead said when Boy-Called-Hugo didn’t say anything. “Please tell me you didn’t run off and get married.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Bushy-Haired-Lady said, smacking Tall-Angry-Redhead’s arm. “He’s only fifteen! It’s not legal to get married at his age!”
“Papers can be forged,” James’s dad leaned forward, trying to get a glimpse of the ring. Boy-Called-Hugo set the plates and cups down and lifted the circle of white-gold off of his finger. He had a pretty pink blush across his freckled nose, and he looked decidedly embarrassed.
“It’s a…erm…purity ring,” he muttered, his eyes casting downward. James coughed from beside her, covering up a laugh. Tall-Angry-Redhead looked confused. Bushy-Haired-Lady smiled.
“A what?” said Tall-Angry-Redhead.
“A purity ring, Ronald,” Bushy-Haired-Lady said, rolling her eyes. She took the ring out of Boy-Called-Hugo’s hand and brought it close to her face. Ronald leaned close to her to look at it. James was snickering into his napkin, and the girls who eat a lot had expressions of delight. The fat one might’ve even been crying. There were two boys at the end of the table, a blonde that was quite attractive, and the boy with black hair that looked like James that Jennifer remembered was the father of the fat one’s babies.
“It’s a promise ring,” said Boy-Called-Hugo, sounding a tad exasperated.
“A promise for what?” James’s dad pondered. Boy-Called-Hugo’s face turned even more red, if that was possible, the tips of his ears going nearly purple.
“Oh look!” Bushy-Haired-Lady shouted before Boy-Called-Hugo could respond. “There’s an inscription!” She tugged a pair of thick framed glasses from the ‘v’ her blouse made and then held the ring close to her face for inspection. “True Love Waits,” her gaze turned to Boy-Called-Hugo, all soft and mushy all of a sudden.
“Is this…does this mean…?”
“What?” Tall-Angry-Redhead all but yelled.
Boy-Called-Hugo leaned forward and snatched the ring from Bushy-Haired-Lady’s hand. “It means that I’m going to wait until I get married to have sex. Mattie and I are going to wait until we get married to have sex. The ring was a Christmas present from her. Are you happy now?” He turned and marched into the kitchen through the swinging door, leaving the dishes behind.
Conversation buzzed around Jennifer about Boy-Called-Hugo’s ring and his promise. She didn’t care much, and she started picking at the bright red nail polish on her fingernails.
The group of four stepped into the dimly lit Leaky Cauldron in pairs. Rose and Scorpius entered first, receiving a rousing, boisterous greeting from their friends already inside. Nat and Albus stepped in behind them. Nat felt a bit self conscious about how her stretchy dress hugged her changing body, even after her three companions all informed her of how marvellous she looked.
She allowed Albus to hang up her cloak, shrugging out of the warm wool material leaving her three-quarter sleeved dress that hugged her forearms and stretched across her chest. A thin gold chain, a Christmas present from the Potters that she had received just after New Years supper ended, was delicately looped around her neck.
Albus hung their cloaks and, gently pressing his hand at the small of Nat’s back to urge her forward while shaking his head at her sudden shyness, led them to the table their friends were already situated at.
“And here comes the expectant couple,” Emileigh smirked, snuggling closer to Bryce. His arm was snug around her shoulder, and, as he smiled at her remark, he tightened his grip on her.
“Shh,” Albus muttered, glancing around the pub. “Not so loud, would you?”
“Ashamed?” Nat’s gaze lifted to his and she worried her lip.
“Of course not, love,” he said, smiling down at her. “I just don’t want to be the centre of the Hogwarts Rumour Mill until absolutely necessary.”
“It’s okay, mate,” Scorpius said as Nat and Albus slid into the circular booth beside him. “We’ve got a lot of muscle in the group, no one would dare mess with us.”
“Explain to me again how you, a Slytherin, became such good friends with us Gryffindors, and practically shunned from your own house,” Kate brushed her frizzy brown hair out of her face and took a drink from her Butterbeer mug.
“I haven’t been shunned,” Scorpius retorted. “I am Quidditch Captain, after all. I just don’t have much in common with that lot. They’re all hung up on blood lines and the like, while I have taken the much more liberal approach and decided not to concentrate on how much better than you I am.” He grinned cheekily.
“Yeah, haven’t you heard?” Albus grinned widely at Scorpius as a waitress approached for their drink orders but was stopped by another patron. “The Malfoy line is tainted.”
“Not yet,” Scorpius said, throwing his arm around Rose’s shoulder, “but it will be.” He looked at her and winked, and if you listened closely enough, an audible swoon could be heard from all the girls as Scorpius and Rose looked into each others’ eyes, dreamily.
Nat watched the laughter as it crossed Albus’s face. He was happy. Pure joy played upon his features. She frowned a bit, casting her eyes downward at the scrubbed wooden table, and sighed. It was the first time in a week that Albus had looked that happy. She bit her lip, tears filling her eyes, and silently cursed her stupid hormones for making her irrational.
He’s dealing. In his own way; in his own time. End of story.
“You seem a bit happier,” she turned to Albus and commented. His smiling face turned to her. His smile faltered a bit at the glossy sheen of her eyes from unshed tears, but he corrected it before it was noticeable.
“Of course, love. We’re with friends, it’s the New Year, and I’m spending it with my favourite girl.” He leaned in and kissed the tip of her nose. “I love you.”
She was about to respond when the waitress, after having been diverted, finally showed up for their drink order. Nat’s face lifted from Albus and she gasped, though in the noisy pub it was lost.
There, standing before her, was Nat’s worst nightmare. Dressed in an impossibly short skirt—especially for the fact that it was winter outside, and cold—a top that was snug on her buxom body, and heels to make her impossibly long legs longer, was Meghan Longbottom.
And her toffee-coloured eyes were staring hungrily at Albus.
A/N: the outtake to this chapter, "All I Want for Christmas is You" is up on my author page! Please read/review!
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