Chapter 13: Because I Care
Nat finished securing the scarlet and gold tie around her neck before folding down the collar of her shirt just as she collapsed on the bench seat behind her. She looked to the left and saw the country side flying past as the Hogwarts Express sped towards Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When that image began making her dizzy, she pulled the shade and then lay back across the seat, propping her feet up in Rose’s lap.
Her friend was sound asleep, having already been in her uniform when she arrived at the station in preparation for the Prefect’s meeting, of which she was in charge of, and rounds. Now Rose sat, propped against the outer wall which led into the corridor, snoring softly.
To say it had been a crazy start of the year would be an understatement. It all began New Years Day, when Scorpius left the Weasley’s for his own home and Albus and Nat moved into the Potter home. It had started out peachy keen. Ginny even allowed Albus and Nat to share a room – after some prodding from Harry, mind, and James, who pointed out that she was already pregnant and there wasn’t much else to get up to.
And, by some miracle, Ginny had convinced James to get away from the Leaky Cauldron as well and move back home. She had her whole family back together, plus some. Jennifer mostly stayed in her room, her excuse that she was ill and the baby could not stand the smell of the cleaner Ginny used around the house.
It was a happy day in the Potter house that day, including for James who was glad to have her out of his hair. Ginny thought that odd, she told Nat, because what husband – newlywed at that – wouldn’t want to spend time with his wife? No one mentioned the baby to her, just that Jennifer was a very private person. Weak excuse, they knew, and it was a miracle that a clever witch like Ginny bought it. She had a lot on her mind that was for sure.
Jennifer still refused to take a home kit. In an effort to keep a low profile (because not only would being a Potter stir up hordes of attention, but the male star Chaser of the Montrose Magpies making an appointment with a Gynaecological Healer would make front page headlines), James convinced Nat to floo St. Mungos and make an appointment under the name ‘Jennifer Smith’ for the second week in January. There she could confirm the pregnancy and be referred to an Obstetricianal Healer like Nat’s, Healer Christensen.
Nat sighed, running a hand through her messy blonde hair and looking across the small foot space to her friends. Emileigh was flipping through the latest ‘Witch Weekly,’ undoubtedly trying to figure out whether or not the shade of nail lacquer she’d just had her manicurist apply, ‘Priceless Princess Pink,’ was in fashion this month. It was; it always was.
Kate sat next to the door, her feet tucked under her, her frizzy brown hair in a cloud around her face, staring at the page of a thick tome. She was the resident nerd of Gryffindor and more often than not would be caught reading a book. Some people questioned why, though Rose Weasley was smart no doubt, and one of the best students at Hogwarts with the highest marks, why Kate wasn’t made Head Girl. Kate was the Gryffindor prefect now that Rose became Head Girl, but many a person argued that Kate should’ve been the prefect from their year to begin with.
And Lucy was nowhere to be found.
Not wanting to disturb her friends’ reading, she thought back to her holiday.
Ever since New Years, Rose had acted weird. She frequented the Potters when her parents were at work and Hugo at his girlfriend’s – they spent a lot of time together over the holidays because he was gone for nine months out of the year at “boarding school.” They would sit and watch movies or play a rousing game of exploding snap. Nat would make lunch (she was learning!). And often, during long stretches of silence when she thought everyone was caught up in whatever was on the telly, or while Albus was contemplating his next move during a Chess match, Nat would catch Rose staring at him. Just staring, sometimes a look of wonder on her face, others just a stare. As if she was reading his thoughts.
Nat jokingly wondered if Rose had found anything. Had she become a master at Legilimency and able to cast a nonverbal ‘Legilimens’?
She figured that once Rose was back around Scorpius she’d forget about it and it wouldn’t be a problem.
Nat did confront Rose on one occasion when Albus had fallen asleep watching a documentary and Rose was boring holes into his sleeping form from across the room.
“Just miss Scorpius, is all,” Rose muttered breezily and Nat let the subject drop. It was odd for her, but Nat had bigger things to worry about.
The Monday after New Year’s Albus started acting weird. He was fine after New Years, better than he’d been since finding out Nat was pregnant. He was more attentive, loving, adoring…just more. He seemed happier, more relaxed.
Nat had started becoming tired more easily. She could barely walk up and down the stairs at the Potter’s without becoming winded. She slept in until late, usually ten or so in the morning, and went to bed right after dinner. She’d feel Albus slide into bed sometime around midnight or after one, hair wet from a shower, and he’d snuggle up next to her.
A disconcerting time was the previous night in fact, the Saturday before going back to Hogwarts. That day had been busy; full of celebration. The entire Weasley family went over to the Potter’s for the annual “Weasley Family Snow Ball Fight Tournament.” Thus named because, in teams of two, a single elimination Snow Ball Fight commenced.
Rose forced Hugo to play on her team and, though she fought tooth and nail, Nat teamed up with Albus. She didn’t really want to play; she didn’t want to over-exert herself. But she played for him. They lost against Lily and James – Jennifer didn’t want to play and no one seemed to protest much – and were the first eliminated. Albus didn’t appear to mind, more content to watch his family, and Nat curled up on the sofa for a long nap.
She was awoken for dinner, a huge feast in commemoration of a grand holiday season and ‘well wishes’ on the next Hogwarts term. Shortly after dinner she fell back asleep, as it was her usual bedtime. She awoke around ten o’clock and went down the stairs for a glass of water and to find Albus. She searched for ten minutes, even going as far as to wake up Lily and ask her. No one had seen him, but Ginny assured Nat that he was fine, that he probably went to the pub for one last drink with his mates before term.
She reluctantly went back to bed.
Albus slipped beneath the sheets at one-thirty that morning to find Nat wide awake, curled up on her side because she could no longer sleep on her stomach – the twins were growing so fast. She had been facing away from him when he walked in from his shower in only a pair of boxers. She rolled over as he threw an arm over her waist and snuggled against her.
“Hey,” he smiled and kissed her lips.
“Where’ve you been?” She grimaced. She’d wanted to be a bit more eloquent than that, and she didn’t like the accusatory tone in her voice. Albus, bless him, didn’t seem to mind, and kissed her forehead.
“Went to the pub with Arnold – it was his day off – and Bryce. One last drink before term starts.”
Nat didn’t want to be one of those irrational girlfriends who got all pissy when he went off with the blokes, so she nodded against his chest and stifled a yawn.
Thinking back on it then, Nat didn’t have anything to worry about. He hadn’t told her because he hadn’t wanted to wake her up just to let her know he was leaving. Understandable. She decided to let it go.
Nat must’ve fallen asleep on the train because the next thing she knew, she was being shaken awake. She looked up into the bright green eyes of her boyfriend and smiled, sitting up sleepily.
“Good evening, Sleeping Beauty,” Albus smiled down at her and took her hand to help her stand.
Nat chose to ignore what must’ve been a muggle thing and stood, leaning back into an arch to stretch her aching muscles from sitting on a hard bench all day. They were alone in the compartment, the setting sun casting an eerie orange glow over the small space. Nat place a kiss upon Albus’s lips and then they left the train. They climbed into a carriage led by the Thestrals that neither of them could see but that they knew were there.
Albus had told her about them after his father told him about them, and then Kate gave her a full report on research she’d done on them. Even though she couldn’t see them, she had a good image of what they looked like and was glad she couldn’t see them. Not only because that would mean that she had seen someone she loves die, but because they seemed ghastly.
The compartment was partially occupied, Hugo and another boy who looked to be Hugo and Lily’s age, sat on one side and Albus and Nat clambered onto the other side. The ride would take a while, and Nat studied Hugo for a moment.
Before the Snow Ball Fight Tournament, she hadn’t seen him since New Years. At dinner the previous night he seemed sullen and withdrawn. He was snappy, especially towards his mum, and moody. Now that she thought on it, he spent most of the night huddled in a corner of the sitting room, knees to his chest, glaring at the wall in front of him.
He seemed fidgety then, and she looked down at his hands. They rest on his lap and his right thumb and forefinger circled his left ring finger absentmindedly. Nat narrowed her eyes at that particular finger before looking up at Hugo. He caught her eyes, crystal blue peering into entrancing ocean blue. He’d seen her looking and shook his head slightly, as if he didn’t want to talk about it. She nodded, as if she understood, and decided not to bring up the fact that he was no longer wearing his purity ring in front of his cousin. But later, definitely later, she’d corner him.
They arrived at the castle a moment later and the two fifth years hustled out of the carriage. Albus helped Nat down the steps and they walked up to the castle together. They were just about to enter the Great Hall when Professor Longbottom stepped up to them and asked them aside.
“I hope you don’t mind,” his face was scarlet and he refused to meet either of their eyes, “but your mum told me about your…situation…and, like I said, I hope you don’t mind but, I knew it was going to be hard for the two of you to, err, ask for help,” he added, “stubborn lot,” to himself before finally meeting their eyes. “I informed the Headmistress about your predicament, and she would like to see you both after dinner.”
A horrified look crossed Nat’s face, but Albus seemed grateful. Nat couldn’t be sure, though, until he said, “Thank you, Professor. I’m so grateful.”
Nat barely ate anything during supper. The Sheppard’s Pie they were serving looked a bit burnt around the edges, but her inability to eat probably had more to do with anticipation of the meeting with the Headmistress.
Rose and Scorpius sat across from Nat and Albus looking sickeningly cute as they stole kisses between bites of food. It was as if they hadn’t seen each other in months as opposed to a bit more than a week.
As dessert was served – apple pie with ice cream – and Albus helped himself to two slices, Nat looked to the Head table. Headmistress McGonagall was looking at her and she blushed and bit her lip, having been caught. The Headmistress nodded her head in their direction and then stood to take her leave. No big speech, no well wishes for a good term, just eat and run. Sort of.
Nat elbowed Albus just as he was stuffing the crust of his last piece of pie into his mouth and they bid their friends ado, before hurrying up to the seventh floor. Nat had to stop a couple of times to catch her breath, and, for the first time in her Hogwarts career, cursed the fact that she wasn’t in Hufflepuff where the common room was in the dungeons.
Albus gave the password – mandrake – to the gargoyle, which then leapt aside and the duo ascended the stairs. At the top they found a highly polished oak door with a huge brass knocker in the shape of a Griffin. Albus raised the knocker and lowered it against its matching brass plate on the door a couple of times and pushed the heavy door open upon hearing a quiet, “Enter.”
Nat had never been in the Headmistress’s office before. The oak door opened into a huge, circular room. There were three windows – one showed a view of the Quidditch Pitch, and another, a picturesque view of the mountains surrounding the castle – and the rest of the walls were covered in paintings of previous headmasters of Hogwarts.
Headmistress McGonagall was sitting behind a huge, claw foot desk that was littered with papers. The desk was sitting on a dais, which made it look as if the Headmistress was looking down on the entire room. A ways to her left was an enormous fireplace Nat assumed she used to floo the parents of naughty children. On the other side of the huge desk was a shelf that held the Sorting Hat.
Behind the desk was an enormous portrait of Albus Dumbledore. Nat had heard many stories about him, including one from Harry Potter about the day the man died. Of course, Albus – her boyfriend – was named after the man. The grey haired man in the painting winked at the couple.
“Mr. Potter, Miss Long, please sit,” McGonagall motioned to two chairs that she’d just conjured. “I’ll be just a moment.” There were three quills in motion on the desk, one by her hand and two by magic, resulting in a constant scratching sound.
The teenagers sat opposite the desk, Nat crossed her legs and pressed her hands together in her lap. Albus slumped over and looked as if he were about to fall asleep.
There was another knock at the door and Albus sat upright. McGonagall commanded the knocker to enter and in walked Madam Grady, the Healer on staff. McGonagall quickly conjured another chair in which Grady quickly sat. Madam Grady was an older witch with pretty, brown hair – that had to be colour-potion-treated – done in tight curls, worn off her face. She was short and stout, with tan, leathery skin. Her bright red robes were quite frayed around the sleeves and hem, and her almond shaped brown eyes looked, complete with crow’s feet at the corners, held an air of knowledge and impatience.
“You seem to be in a spot of trouble, Mr. Potter, Miss Long,” McGonagall placed her quill down and gazed at the couple over the top of her slim, oval spectacles.
“Yes, ma’am,” Nat nodded. No use in denying it; she already knew.
“How are you feeling, Miss Long? What are your symptoms at this very moment?” Grady, whose chair had been placed next to Nat’s, grabbed her hand consolingly. Nat saw the sympathetic look in her eye and sighed.
“Well,” she bit her lip and looked up at McGonagall who, through her disapproving stare, smiled a tad and nodded encouragingly. “The morning sickness has been quite bad, and I’ve been so tired lately.”
“Any breast tenderness?” Nat nodded her head and glanced at Albus. He was sitting flush against the back of his chair looking decidedly uncomfortable. “What about spotting? Breathlessness?”
“No to the first; yes to the breathlessness. But only when I climb stairs.”
“I’m afraid that can’t be avoided, Petra,” McGonagall said to Grady, leaning forward onto her elbows on the desk.
“Your healer, Healer Christensen, has sent me your chart so if you have any complications I will be able to help, but I must tell you, Miss Long, my specialty is not Pre-Natal care. Most young ladies who come into this situation leave school.”
“Don’t tell her that!” Albus suddenly spoke, shooting up from his chair. “Don’t put those ideas into her head, Grady. She doesn’t have to go anywhere!”
“I quite agree, Mr. Potter,” Grady looked quite taken aback, and pressed her hand to her chest.
“That’s Madam Grady, to you, Mr. Potter. I know your parents taught you better than that!” McGonagall had stood then, towering over Albus, and he shrunk back into his seat, but not before shooting a glare at Grady. “Miss Long, we aren’t indicating that you should leave Hogwarts by any means. Madam Grady was just pointing out the fact that many of the students in your situation choose not to continue their education. Before we go any further, I would personally like to commend you for making the correct choice. It’s going to be tough.”
Nat nodded, and felt silly for the unshed tears in her eyes. She cried all the time nowadays and was sick of it. She was out of tears and she didn’t want to be so hormonal anymore. Before the end of the meeting, Grady had given her a schedule of checkups for the next three months, including when Healer Christensen would be at the school. McGonagall gave her permission to be in the seventh year boys’ dorm after curfew. She, however, made it a point to reiterate the fact that she was not allowed to spend the night in the dorm, only to visit, and being caught up there would result in detention – no she was not afraid to give a pregnant girl detention – and the loss of house points.
Nat and Albus practically ran out of the room and down the stairs, only stopping when they reached the portrait hole and realised they hadn’t been told the new password. Albus was a prefect and should’ve known.
It was just their luck that Hugo was walking towards them at that very minute, coming from the secret passageway that was the easiest way to Ravenclaw tower. He told the Fat Lady in the pink silk dress the password – Quaffel, if you can believe it – and the three entered the busy common room.
They located their group of friends, who were the only people who knew about the pregnancy, and chatted with them for an hour before Nat decided it was her bedtime. She stood and stretched and caught Hugo’s eye from across the room. He was surrounded by friends who were laughing and talking, but he still had the strange, sullen look on his face.
She resolved to talk to him the next day. She was beat and needed rest. Nat waved at him and kissed Albus’s cheek before heading upstairs to the girls’ dormitory. Rose, who’d been suspiciously missing from the group in the common room – but they’d assumed she was with Scorpius somewhere in the castle – was sitting at her desk alone in the dorm.
“Nat!” Rose yelled when she saw Nat standing in the doorway. She shuffled parchment around on her desk, effectively hiding whatever she’d been doing.
“Hey, Rosie,” Nat shot her a confused look as she walked over to her trunk and pulled out her pyjamas. They’d seen each other in their knickers numerous times, and she unabashedly changed. Rose’s eyes locked on her slightly distended abdomen before turning her gaze away. “Are you okay?”
“What would you do if I told you I thought Scorpius was cheating on me?” Rose worried her lip as Nat moved to sit on Rose’s bed near her. She tucked her feet under her bottom and ran a hand through her hair.
“I’d say you were bloody off your rocker and we need to take you to Grady to get your head checked! That boy loves you!”
Rose nodded, looked back at the desk, and then back at Nat. “Okay, what would you say if I said I thought…Hugo was cheating on Mattie?”
“Hmm,” Nat contemplated for a moment. “Well, Hugo did seem sort of out of it…it could be possible. But Hugo’s one of the sweetest boys I know! I don’t think he’d do that to Mattie, even though he only sees her during a small portion of the year. Come to think of it, I’ve never really seen him with anyone other than his mates. I didn’t even know he had a girlfriend!”
“Nat!” Rose cried, exasperated. “Okay, let me rephrase the question. What would you do about it? Would you want to catch him in the act? I mean, you’d want to have solid proof before you go ruining a perfectly good relationship. There’s always the possibility that he’s not cheating and – ”
“But what if she’s cheating? I mean, Mattie is awfully pretty and she only sees Hugo a few months out of the year. She could have another boy on the side and the purity ring was just a way to control Hugo which is why – ”
“Nat!” Nat’s head snapped sideways to Rose. “I didn’t realise being pregnant transforms you into a space cadet.”
“I resent that,” Nat folded her arms over her chest. Rose laughed at her indignant expression.
“Now, back to my question, you’d find me solid proof, right? Some way, if Scorpius was cheating, you’d find out for me, right?”
“Rosie, Scorpius is not cheating on you! He adores you! And for that matter, Hugo isn’t cheating on Mattie. You’re not cheating on Scor, and Mattie is probably not cheating on Hugo. There, problem solved.” Nat smiled, but Rose didn’t seem satisfied. Therefore, Nat reluctantly added, “Of course, I’d find you solid proof. I’d follow him around just to catch him in the act.”
“Thank you!” Rose cried, throwing her hands up in the air after finally getting the answer she’d been waiting for.
“Now, I have to get some sleep. I’m exhausted! ‘Night, Rosie.”
Nat crossed the dormitory to her own bed and crawled in. Rose called a hurried, “’Night,” and then there was a rustling of parchment and Rose resumed her letter.
She added the finishing touches and then glanced down at the parchment, proofreading her work.
You know I wouldn’t ask you – nee, beg you – if it weren’t important, so here it goes.
Though I’m still unclear of the reason that you took it instead of passing it along to the next Potter in line as Teddy did, can you please send me the Marauder’s map you stole from your father and then proceeded to give to Teddy who, in turn, gave to you, and you so selfishly kept for yourself to keep your siblings from getting up to mischief. Again, you know I wouldn’t ask you if it weren’t incredibly important. I’m in need of it ASAP.
Did I mention you’ve always been my favourite cousin? Because it’s always been you!
Rose glanced over to her friend, who, in the short minutes it had taken Rose to read over the note, had fallen asleep and was snoring soundly. Her left and was thrown above her head, her right rested on her lower abdomen in a protective gesture. Rose bit her lip as she folded the note. She stood and hastily slid out of her house shoes and into her trainers.
She had to get up to the owlery before curfew.
A/N: Chapter Title by Ivoryrose x on the ‘Titled Inspiration’ thread on the forums. Thanks, hun!
Description of the Headmistress’s office summarized from ‘The Leaky Cauldron.’
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