I haven’t the slightest inclination as to why I’d convinced myself that it was a smart idea to travel like a Muggle.
Maybe the Panamanian heat had decided to play just one last trick on me (and believe you me, it had played many, entirely unfair tricks on me over the duration of my stay) before I departed the country forever. Or perhaps I was just concerned about the effects Apparation had on infants. There was no way I was going to take a Portkey - I could hardly stand traveling via Portkey and I was bloody experience witch, so I highly doubted that an infant would enjoy it either.
Regardless of why I’d decided to take a plane back to England, I knew now that it was probably the dumbest thing I could’ve ever done, especially since a four month old baby was my one and only carry-on.
In all honesty, it wouldn’t have been as bad if the layout of the airport wasn’t extremely confusing. You’d think that after three years in Latin America I would’ve picked up some Spanish, but aside from asking where I can find a bathroom and being able to count to thirty, I hadn’t. I knew the standard phrases for simple navigation, but I didn’t know as much as I should. It was absolute hell getting the ticket consultant behind the counter to realize that I didn’t want to go to Canada but England.
If it hadn’t been for the kind businessman with his pretty wife behind me in line, I doubted that I would’ve gotten past the ticketing booth.
“Thank you so much,” I said, hefting my bulky, heavy duffel bag onto the conveyor belt and watching it slowly disappear behind the black flaps.
“Don’t mention it,” the man replied, his voice heavily accented. I couldn’t place the accent. He looked Italian, so maybe that was it. “Do you need any help with that?” He nodded toward the large, overstuffed suitcase resting at my feet.
I considered his offer. It would certainly help and eliminate the need to set Jack’s pumpkin seat down on the less-than-clean linoleum floor. I didn’t want him to contract some crazy illness - especially since he was just so darn cute. Not that I would wish illness upon babies that weren’t cute, but he was my child. Which made him more important than others.
Dragging a hand through my hair - sweat had begun to gather at my temples in the non-air conditioned terminal and my tee shirt was clinging to my body unpleasantly - I flashed the might-be-Italian a grateful smile. “That would be wonderful.”
As he unwound his arm from his wife’s skinny waist to heave my suitcase onto the belt, the woman came forward, looking like an exotic Tahitian beauty with her waist length black hair, deeply tanned skin, and full, pouty lips. A surge of jealousy rushed through me: There was not a single drop of sweat on her. Me? I was drenched. She tossed her hair over her shoulder, leaned forward, and peered into my son’s pumpkin seat.
“How old is he?” she asked, cooing at my son. She twittered her fingers at him and made a ridiculous monkey face, pulling on her ears and puffing up her cheeks. I had to swallow the cry of protest; usually, Jack hated it when people made the monkey face at him. I learned that the hard way when he was two days old. I’d pulled the face to make him stop crying, but apparently it’d only upset him more. He’d screamed and screamed and screamed until one of the older women in the Curse Breakers Training Program, Lorraine, came into my room and soothed him.
However, when this gorgeous woman made the monkey face at him, Jack laughed.
He actually laughed.
That never happened with me.
Once again, jealousy surged through my veins, and I was sorely tempted to pout like a child, but somehow I managed to bite my tongue and swallow my pride. Her husband had been kind enough to assist me with my bags and she had made Jack laugh. If those weren’t the marks of good people, I didn’t know what were.
The exotic beauty looked up at my imploringly, a perfectly arched brow raised in polite question.
“Oh!” I exclaimed, having completely forgotten her question. I ran a hand through my quickly-tangling hair out of nervous habit and chewed on my lip, trying to remember precisely when I‘d pushed the little bugger out of my uterus. You‘d thank that would be something I could never forget, but the drugs they‘d given me during labour were really fantastic. “He’s just about four months.”
“He looks big for his age,” she commented, jiggling the finger onto which Jack’s fat fist had latched. A bright smile stretched across her lips, revealing her perfect, straight, white teeth. I placed a hand subconsciously over my mouth, hoping that her husband hadn’t seen the slight gap in my two front teeth that I’d never bothered to have fixed.
“Really?” I said after my moment of self-consciousness passed. “The Healers said that he was perfectly healthy for his age. In the upper 87 percentile of his group.” Whatever that meant - I never really followed what the Healers said, their bright green robes were too distracting and always made my eyes water. Probably not the best thing for a first-time mother to do when taking her son to check-ups, but if there was something dire about his situation, I’m sure I would be able to notice.
Miss Tahiti blinked in confusion. “Healers?”
“Doctors,” I clarified, having momentarily forgotten that not everyone was magical, though it would certainly make the world a lot easier if they were.
“He’s beautiful,” she remarked in a matter-of-fact voice, her eyes shining with honesty.
I felt the heat rise to my cheeks. I knew that my eyes were shining with pride. Or maybe they were just watering again. Either way, I completely agreed with her. “I know,” I hummed in agreement.
“His father must be a real looker.”
Before my mouth could fall open in surprise (or outrage, though with me, the two were usually synonymous), the woman gave Jack a small peck on the cheek, leaving a smudge of red lipstick on his fat cheek, twittered her fingers at me, and said, “Ciao!”, and then, her hips sashaying seductively, left.
How dare she insult me! She didn’t even know me!
I mean, it wasn’t really an insult, seeing as how James was a ‘real looker’ as she’d put it, but did she really have to say that to my face?
Especially when I was already more self-conscious than usual about my appearance?
It wasn’t every day that I popped out a baby. I had never been much of a health fanatic, which was probably why I still had a small paunch around my mid-section and I started sweating so easily. Besides, I’d never been all that self-confident to begin with. And everyone knows that you don’t make comments like that to a woman who’s just had a baby unless her body looks like that of Cho Chang, which, obviously, mine doesn’t.
To further add to my self-pity party, I was going back to England for the first time in three years - not by choice, but because my great-grandmother was on her death bed. So it’s sufficient to say that I was already teeming on the edge of an emotional breakdown before she’d ninja-ed my brain with that comment.
Gah! I knew there was a reason why I always hated the Italian Quidditch teams - it was because they played dirty! (Not that I have anything against Italians in general, but at the moment I feel that I’m justified in my dislike for them, particularly that obnoxiously beautiful wench!)
I could feel the tears swimming in my eyes, threatening to spill down my cheeks, but somehow I managed to keep them at bay. I readjusted my grip on the plastic handle of Jack’s pumpkin seat and with a sniff, I started down the terminal, searching for the correct gate. It wasn’t until I’d found an empty seat near to our gate that Jack started crying.
With a heavy sigh, I pushed the trigger on the side of the pumpkin seat that unlocked the latch on the handlebar. Like always, I pinched my finger, yelped, and once I recovered, pushed the handlebar back. By this point in time, Jack’s cries had reached wailing status, causing several people to look at me as though I was Medusa.
Glaring at each of them in turn, silently daring them to come forward and try their empty hands at parenting, I reached into the pumpkin seat and lifted Jack out. His wails returned to cries at the sight of my face, which was comforting to know that someone appreciated the way I looked. I placed him against my chest so that his chin was resting against my shoulder and immediately began rubbing a circle into his small back with the palm of my hand. Almost instantly, his cries turned to whimpers and for some reason, that was all it took for the emotional dam to break.
And then I, as the old saying goes, began to “cry like a baby.”
I. Hated. Airplanes.
By the time we landed at Heathrow in London, I was ready to rip my hair right out of my skull.
My jaw throbbed from all the subconscious grinding my teeth had done. My brain had apparently gone MIA and an angry rhinoceros had taken its place, repeatedly smashing against the side of my skull in a vain attempt to break free. To top it all off, not only was my tee shirt clinging to my body in the most unattractive way, but the bottom portion of my hair was covered in baby vomit.
It wasn’t my horrific odor or killer migraine that had brought about my conclusion that I hated airplanes. It wasn’t the stupid in-flight movie. It wasn’t my son’s wails of fury at every dip or rise in cabin pressure. It wasn’t Jack’s hourly changing that made sleeping impossible. It wasn’t even the bad food.
Oh no, it wasn’t that at all. Sure, all of the above were incredibly annoying and frustrating and agitating and every other synonym that complied with angering, but I was able to swallow them alongside of the aspirins I took nearly every half hour. No, it was the man that Jack and I had been seated next took my annoyance with airplanes to a level of hatred so burning, even Hades couldn’t bear the heat.
His name was Tayler Wright.
He explained to me at least seven different times why his parents had chosen to spell his name with an ‘e’ instead of an ‘o’, though I hadn’t listened to any of his explanations, which was probably why he’d always said, “You look confused“ with a knowing smirk on his face and then started all over again. But this is about him being an arrogant asshole, not my attention span or apparent lack thereof.
After that, he proceeded to tell me each and every detail of his trip to Panama. It’d only been a three day excursion, but the way he described it, you would’ve thought that he’d lived there his entire life. Unfortunately for me, I asked if this was his first time leaving the country and he decided that in order for me to understand, he had to describe his childhood in full detail. This proceeded for another three or four hours or so.
At first, I thought that he was just extremely talkative and self-centered. Oh no. Those simply weren’t enough bad personality traits for Tayler-with-an-‘E’ Wright. It wasn’t until I rose from my seat, a sleeping Jack cradled in my arms, that I discovered just how much of a fucking pervert this guy was.
This is how the conversation went.
“Going to the bathroom, are you?” Tayler asked.
“Oh, it’s nothing. I was just going to offer my assistance. Your pipes looked a little clogged, and I figured with a little maneuvering, we’d loosen them up in a jiffy.” He winked ostentatiously.
I blinked, taken aback by his crassness.
“So what do you say? D’you want to be inducted into the Mile High Club?”
I blinked again.
“We won’t even have to turn off the lights,” he said as though he was making a generous offer. “Wouldn’t want the jelly to jiggle, would we?”
I blinked once more.
“You sure do like blinking, don’t you? Are you trying to be coy with me? Because if you are, it’s definitely working in your benefit.” He laughed.
I started to walk away.
“Wait for me to come, love! It won’t be nearly as fun unless I do!”
At this point of time, I tracked down one of the stewardesses in a desperate attempt to escape his disgusting presence, but when I asked if there were any open seats, she said that there weren’t and that I needed to return to my seat as we would be landing in London very soon. Disgruntled, I readjusted Jack in my arms and headed back toward my seat where Tayler was waiting for me.
“Ah,” he said, smirking widely. “I knew you’d come back for more - they always do.”
I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but when I reached into Jack’s diaper bag, I pulled out a glass jar of the most foul smelling baby food I could find. With as mile that could rival Mother Teresa’s, I opened the jar and turned it over in his lap. I smeared the pureed food around on his shirt, but left his slacks alone - I could only imagine what he would have said to that.
A look of outrage flashed over his features. “What the hell do -”
“If you say anything to anyone,” I interrupted, dropping my voice to what I thought was a scary, intimidating level. “And I do mean anyone, you sick twist, I’ll - well I’ll cut your body off.”
“You’ll - you’ll cut my body off?” he asked, voice trembling.
Yes, I kid you not! His voice actually trembled in fear - and all because of me! Who knew I could be so terrifying!
“H-how are you going to do that?”
Oh, I hadn’t expected that. Frowning slightly, I drew upon the first answer that came to mind. “Magic,” I responded darkly. Doubt found its way onto his face, but I saw the glimmer of fear in his eyes. He wasn’t completely convinced that I wasn’t capable of magic. “Now, leave me a lone!”
Turning my back on him, I kissed Jack on the forehead then leaned over to open the window so we could observe the scenery that passed by the window quickly. The landing was jerky, but luckily Jack didn’t start crying.
Despite the fact our seats had been located near the back of the aircraft, Tayler with an ‘E’ Wright was the first passenger off the plane. I couldn’t help smirking in triumph.
It took me a few minutes to locate all of Jack’s belongings. Somewhere along the trip, he managed to wiggle his little feet out of both of his booties, dropped his ring of colourful, plastic keys on the ground, and lost my glasses. I had been so thoroughly annoyed during the flight that I scarcely noticed that my vision was blurry around the edges until one of the stewardesses asked me if I needed any assistance. When I couldn’t see her face, I realised that not only was I as blind as that one girl from that one Muggle cartoon, but my glasses had gone missing.
I found them quickly enough: they were nestled underneath Jack’s bum.
Grinning at my baby, I reached forward to tickle his cheek. “Did you help Mummy find her glasses?” I cooed in my baby voice, smoothing the wispy strands of dark brown hair out of his eyes. I dropped another kiss on his forehead. He returned the smile. I gave his small, but fat hand a squeeze, mentally comparing his smile to that of his father’s.
They were exactly the same.
“Are you ready to see Nana and Grandpa, sweetheart?” I took his newly bootied foot and kissed the delicate arch. “Because I know they’re practically bursting at the seams to see you.”
When Jack gurgled in consent, I could feel my lips stretching into a wider grin. “You wanna see Gran and Grandpa, yeah?”
He gurgled again.
“Yeah,” I said, hooking my arm through the handle of his pumpkin seat. I rose to my feet with a little difficulty. “Me too, bumpkin. Me too.”
A/N: Thank you all so much for reviewing! I know that the prologue wasn’t very interesting, and I imagine this chapter wasn’t very exciting either, but I promise - I promise that the excitement will start with the next chapter. I hope you all enjoyed this, and feedback would be amazing! Ciao!
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