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Lovely chapter image by !daywalker @ TDA

Trying to keep a secret from Lily was always rather easy for me to do. Keeping a secret from Albus on the other hand proved to be quite a difficult task. The boy, all and all, was overly suspicious of no one but his family, as though only we could ever be up to something. “It’s the Weasley blood,” he would say. “It makes us all get into trouble. We can’t help it. It’s just who we are.” It was all a bunch of rubbish, of course, but it made him feel better to think that we were all that predictable. In all honesty I didn’t think any of my family was predictable but maybe that was my disillusion. We all have them.

Like, for example, my thinking that I could find a simple, easy way to break my current predicament to my family. That, I figured out after running several scenarios through my head, wasn’t even a remote possibility. As a matter-of-fact the odds were that no matter how I opted to put it my parents would go full-out mental over this whole situation and probably wouldn’t even care that at least it wasn’t like I was fornicating with a Malfoy. The fact that I was carrying the grandchild of their biggest childhood bully, the bane of their existence from school would be enough to cause irreparable damage to the trusting relationship I had with them.

Lily, of course, had asked me so many questions about what happened to me when I was released from the hospital wing that I was beginning to run out of answers for her. in truth I had been repeating the same basic answer each time, each time adding tiny little details to the whole story to try to satisfy her curiosity and while she seemed to believe that I had just worn myself out she still was asking about it though it seemed to be more out of concern than disbelief. Albus, however, was another story.

Albus firmly believed I was lying through my teeth about the whole incident though he couldn’t really give me any reasoning behind his suspicion other than the whole theory about Weasley blood and the mischief it caused the carriers to get into. And while I was glad that he wasn’t pushing the subject it was getting more and more difficult with each day to hide the fact that I was lying from him because he’d just get this look like he knew I was keeping a secret and was just waiting for me to slip up so he could point at me and exclaim that he knew it and then force me to tell him the truth so around him I was being extra cautious and I was making up whatever excuse I could think of to slip away from them so I could take the potion I needed to take on a daily basis which was becoming increasingly difficult to do as well. So, in a lot of ways I was looking forward to being able to explain this whole comedy of errors to my parents so the secret was out there but at the same time I was dreading it. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt two ways about something before but it can be thoroughly exhausting, I can tell you that much.

And dealing with Malfoy hadn’t gotten any easier since the whole revelation of my carrying his offspring was thrust into his world. As a matter-of-fact, most of the time between the whole mess of my ending up in the hospital wing and everyone going home for Christmas holidays we barely spoke and for the most part he didn’t really acknowledge my existence. It was a bit strange considering he had seemed to want to be updated on things, wanted to know about my plans to talk to my parents about this whole mess. Of course I could have easily misinterpreted his intentions towards that whole thing. He may have just enjoyed the idea of my father’s head exploding, the idea of them becoming rather upset over the whole thing. At the same time it made me wonder if he plans on telling his own parents about this whole mess and if so when. Would he be telling them over the holiday break like I planned to do with my own parents? Or would he wait until after I was as large as a house? Or would he wait until the child was actually practically waving at the world to announce its prescience? Or would he even tell them then? Would he just decide to keep it this big, dark secret and rather pretend it didn’t exist rather than admit to the fact that his child was also mine? There were more questions swirling around in my head than answers and it wasn’t really a comforting situation when I was honest with myself, almost worse than the whole mess to begin with. Almost. I was pretty sure that it couldn’t get much worse than it already was.

So, the entire trip back home was mostly spent- by me at least- trying to avoid Albus’ prying gaze which wasn’t an easy thing to do. It seemed that with every single word that I let out of my mouth he would give me that look to tell me that he knew I had a secret and he had made it his mission to figure out what that secret was. I, of course, tried to pretend that it wasn’t bothering me and would smile each time he looked at me like that as though I were trying to get him to understand that I wasn’t hiding anything but that didn’t really work. He didn’t believe it for one minute which was become more and more frustrating with each try but what was I really going to do? Blurt out to him that I was pregnant and trying to figure out how I was to tell my parents about it? That wouldn’t have gone over too well and furthermore we were in the prescience of our siblings and cousins on the way home. Wouldn’t that have just been bloody brilliant? The last thing I needed was for my little brother to know about this mess before my parents because he would, without a doubt, run up to my parents and tell them the instant that he saw them and, well, he most likely wouldn’t break it to them easily. Not to upset them, of course. No, he’d do it more to get on my nerves than anything else, a pastime which Hugo was very good at. Younger siblings, I knew, could be a pain in the arse when they set their minds to it which is probably why I was seriously considering having this be my one and only child. My mother was an only child and she was perfectly well adjusted. Who says you need siblings to have a full and rich home life? Because whoever said that needs to have their heads examined because they must be completely and totally mental.

My mother was at the train station to pick us up, her curly mass of hair pulled away from her face by a barrette as she stood there huddled up in her coat. She was quite beautiful to me but not in the way that Aunt Fleur was. She had this beautiful simplistic look to her that you had to actually look to see, with clear eyes and a warm smile and she had come to pick up us and since Uncle Henry had to go to Hungary to speak at a conference and Aunt Ginny was with them she was picking up Lily and Al, too. My aunt and uncle would be back tomorrow, before Christmas actually came but for now they weren’t around and that meant that my parents were in charge of taking care of their children which meant a whole day with Lily and Al pestering me. It wasn’t a very appealing idea and though I loved them dearly it made the whole idea of a family vacation to be quite testing.

Mum greeted my brother and I with her arms spread open, enveloping me in a hug that was nearly bone crushing the moment we were close enough for her to do so, her swaying me slightly from side to side like she was rocking a small child to try to get them to go to sleep. It made my stomach churn uncomfortably. It wasn’t really her fault that my stomach was in such a state, it was all my own stupidity and that damn spell’s fault but I couldn’t exactly just blurt out that I had morning sickness and that this was only making things worse so instead of letting it show I swallowed against the wave of nausea coursing through me and returned her embrace.

“Hello, love,” she said, releasing me enough that she could hold me at arms length and look me over and for the hundredth time I was eternally grateful that I wouldn’t start showing for a bit yet because that would be a hard thing to explain to her as well. Gee, sorry Mum. I know I should have told you I was expecting before but it was so difficult to figure out how to I decided to wait until my body rounded out and told you itself. You understand, don’t you? Not bloody likely.

“Hello, Mum.” I had no idea what it was she was hoping to see when she looked at me like that but I was starting to feel uncomfortable under her gaze.

“Oi, don’t I get a hello too, Mum.” And then my little brother was elbowing me to the side so he could get our mother’s attention and for the first time in a long time I was grateful for the bloody prat being in my life. It got me temporarily out of inspection and allowed me to step over to the side while my brother prattled on and on about something or other. I think he mentioned Quidditch in there somewhere which meant Al would most likely join in on the conversation at any moment but I could be positive. I was too focused on going over to retrieve my luggage and running this whole announcement plan through my head again. Nothing seemed to be a very good idea and no outcome my brain would let me concoct was a pleasant one either.

I left my mother to greet my brother and cousins and made my way over to where my luggage was, tightening the sash that held my coat together around me waist. Winter had come with a vengeance and the chill was becoming nearly unbearable. Unfortunately I didn’t have the luck of avoiding my family entirely because there was James, a fresh graduate of only a few months- though he would argue that he was mature beyond his years and as such was more intelligent than the others he graduated with at the end of this past year- lifting up some of our baggage.

He turned to look at me, his face blank for a moment before a slow smile spread across his handsome face- and yes, even though I disliked it when my friends would drool over my bloody cousin I couldn’t even begin to deny that both James and Al were atheistically pleasing to the eye and couldn’t really blame them for their crushes- and he put down his sister’s bag, opening his arms to me and wrapping me up in a tight hug. I was thankful that he, however, opted not to sway me from side to side in the same manner as my mother had.

“Good to see you, Rosie,” he whispers into my hair, bent at the torso to hug me properly. He had shot up to a staggering height when he hit fifteen and sometimes when I was standing with him it made me feel very much like a small child which though not a conscious effort on his part was still the effect. “Been behaving yourself?”

“That’s the question you should be asking Al,” came my automatic response though had I been behaving? My current state would scream ‘no’ although I hadn’t actually done anything horrible to end up in such a state. It had been a comedy of errors of epic proportion.

He released me and straightened himself up, narrowing his eyes at me as he watched me, his eyes so much like Uncle Harry’s nearly piercing in their intensity. “Something’s troubling you,” he says, a definite statement as opposed to a question. If Al was good at reading me than James was damn near bloody psychic because while I could sometimes fool Al I never had any such luck with James. When he looked at me it was as though he could read my very expression- as disconcerting as that was- and I could never hide how I was feeling from him. The detail of it would remain a mystery to him but the basic situation would be obvious. “You going to fill me in, Rosie?”

“I don’t particularly feel like sharing,” I told him, not a single hint of annoyance or malice in my voice, just weariness and exhaustion. This meant a third Potter child to try to convince me to tell them what was going on inside of my head and if this continued much longer I was going to start ripping all of my hair out in bloody clumps. And turning myself bald in such a manner would raise a rather large red flag to my parents.

Bending down I picked up my own bag’s handle and extended it so I could wheel it behind me when we all headed towards the car. Of all of her love for the wizarding world my mother still enjoyed her muggle luxuries and I suspect enjoyed my father’s fumbling nature with most of them. “Just trying to figure out how to handle a rather personal situation, James.”

“Too personal to tell your favorite cousin?” It seemed, I noted, that all of my cousins believed themselves to be my favorite and while I couldn’t actually choose a favorite one I never thought it appropriate to correct any of them. It would seem almost cruel to burst their bubbles in such a way.

“Still trying to figure that out, I’m afraid.” The only thing that would be good about telling James is that while he is known for his big mouth and his horrid jokes at the same time if he knows something is meant to be kept a secret he’ll keep it a secret. I’ve never seen him even slip up and reveal anything someone has told him in confidence which is more than I could say for his siblings.

He pauses in the act of hoisting his sister’s bag over his shoulder, watching me with his calm green eyes like emeralds lit by fire, tilting his head slightly to the side as he surveys me, almost like he can read my thoughts. “Could this be boy trouble?” he asks me softly, an undeniable hint of teasing in his voice.

“If it were only that simple,” I mumble in reply under my breath, my eyes jumping over to where my mother is nodding politely to every single thing that Hugo is saying to her, always the encouraging parent. “Let’s just say I’ve gotten myself into a predicament I’m not quite sure how to explain. And that I do believe that most men are bloody prats. Present company only sometimes being an exception. You have your pratty moments.”

“We all have the ability to be prats, don’t we?” Of course James had a point but there was no need to point that out. If there was one thing no one could deny about James was that the moment you told him he was right or that he had a point he got rather bigheaded about it and would point out for months after that he had been right about that one thing so it was safe to assume he was often right. It got rather annoying rather quickly and I wasn’t about to open that particular can of worms. Better to play it safe.

“I’m aware.” Looking over at James I thought, for a moment, maybe I could tell him, maybe I could trust him. He was family and my friend and he wouldn’t purposely reveal anything to others. He wasn’t cruel or malicious or even rude. If I told him this was a secret then he would keep it for me, I knew he would and the truth was right on the tip of her tongue, the urge to tell someone finally besides the accidental father but, in the end, I chickened out. I couldn’t bring myself to say the words. I wanted to, oh I wanted to so badly but I couldn’t get the words to pass my lips. “I’ll tell you about it later,” I said instead, giving him the best smile I could muster up, telling myself I was an outright coward which was undeniably true right now. “I promise.”

“And I intend to hold you to that problem.”

The problem was I knew he would. Next time there would be no getting out of telling him. Joy of joys.

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