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Rachel was smiling before she opened her eyes, not wanting to incase it had all turned out to be a dream and she was actually at home on her own with nothing more than her imagination to keep her company. Opening her eyes slowly, she realised that she wasn’t in her bedroom, last night had actually happened. The only problem was that she was alone in the bed, Louis was nowhere to be seen.

Sitting up and looking around the room as she attempted to smooth her hair down, to make it look more respectable, but there was no sign of Louis anywhere. She gave a frown as she stood up from the bed and looked down at the large T-shirt that she was wearing, it barely covered her legs and she knew that she couldn’t just walk around the house wearing this, so she began to root for her jeans.

Once she had located them and put them on, she walked out of the room slowly, peering down the corridor for a sign of him. Deciding that she would try the kitchen, she began to make her way down the stairs, her head pounding a little she was thankful that she didn’t drink as much as the others, although they had longer to drink than she did. She wondered how bad Louis’s hangover was going to be.

As Rachel walked down the stairs, she heard Louis’s voice coming from the front room, smiling to herself, she walked into the front room, ready to ask him why he didn’t wake her up, when she realised that he wasn’t in here with Horatio or Molly. He recognised the other occupants of the room as Louis’s sister Dominique and her fiancé Kieron, who had both turned to look at her. Knowing smiles crossed their faces as Dominique turned to look back at Louis, who wasn’t quite meeting their eyes as he smiled at Rachel.

“Sorry,” Rachel said quickly, feeling embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“It’s alright, we won’t be here for long.” Dominique stated, “we were just dropping off Samantha, she won’t stop talking about the Dragon that her daddy is going to be buying her.”

They were interrupted by Horatio, who walked into the room, a dark look on his face as he surveyed them all in the room, before glancing at Louis and walking back out of the room. They could hear him stomping on his way to the kitchen and they each jumped when they heard the sound of something breaking, as though he had thrown a glass onto the floor. Samantha looked around, wondering what the sound was and saying, “uh-oh.”

“What was that all about?” Dominque asked slowly, turning to look at Louis her eyes widening slightly. “Have you two had a fight?”

Louis took a while before looking up at them and gave a small shrug, “No, we haven’t had a fight. Maybe he’s hung over.”

He made the mistake of glancing at Kieron, who knew instantly that something had happened between Louis and Horatio. He gave him a small shake of the head, the disappointment in them hanging heavily on the small movement, and Louis felt guilty. He looked away quickly as he ran a hand over his face, wondering how he was going to fix whatever this was.

Kieron was the only other person, apart from Molly and Nikolos, that knew what had happened between Horatio and Louis. He had actually almost caught them at Louis’s uncle’s birthday, and he had been keeping their secret since, something that Louis would always be thankful for.

“Maybe you can talk to him?” Dominique suggested, nodding her head in the direction of where Horatio had gone, but Louis shook his head, surprising her.

“No, I’m going to get ready and take my daughter out to get her toy Dragon. Horatio will probably still be angry when I come back.” Louis told her.

“He might have had a fight with Molly?” Dominique suggested, looking at Kieron as if he could confirm it, he gave a noncommittal shrug in reply.

“But they were all over each other last night,” Rachel said softly, looking at them all and Louis gave a shrug himself.

“I don’t have the energy to deal with it and I don’t want to get involved.” He told them, even though he had been involved and he was certainly avoiding having a conversation with Horatio alone, he knew with Horatio’s mindset at the moment that they would either argue with each other, which would lead to something more, or just go straight to the something more. He didn’t want to give in to that feeling – again. He turned to look at Rachel, avoiding Kieron’s eyes and hating how much the man knew and could read off of him, like he was an open book. “Did you have any plans this morning? Or did you want to come with me and Samantha? I can treat us to some breakfast.”

Rachel smiled, feeling suddenly shy in front of Dominique and Kieron who were watching her, “I would like that. I’ll just go and get changed.” She told them, before leaving the room.

She glanced to her left as she exited the front room, to see Horatio sitting on the kitchen counter and seeming to stare at nothing, a cup in his hand and a tortured look on his face, as though he was about to make the toughest decision of his life. She walked away quickly, not wanting him to know she had been watching him and made her way back to Louis’s room to get changed. She couldn’t help but worry about what was wrong with Horatio and hoped that whatever it was, it got sorted soon.

~~

Louis let out a groan as he stepped out of the fireplace in The Leaky Cauldron, the jolting was making him feel sick and he was regretting drinking so much the night before, but he refused to wallow in bed. He didn’t want Samantha to miss out on getting the toy that Louis had promised to get her, especially considering that Samantha had been a good girl and had slept all night and, more importantly, in the bed she used at Dom’s house. The other reason why he didn’t want to wallow in self pity in bed was that Samantha would be jumping all over him, and it was something he definitely knew he wouldn’t be able to take in this condition.

After they had put some distance between themselves and the fireplace, Louis put Samantha down onto the floor, he had to grab for her hand to stop her from running off as they waited for Rachel to come through.

“Daddy, let’s go!” Samantha said happily, bouncing up and down on the spot in excitement at what the day was going to bring her.

“In a minute, we’re just waiting for Rachel.”

“Rachel is going to help me pick a Dragon.” Samantha told Louis in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Is she? That’s nice of her.” Louis said, looking back up at the fireplace as they waited. The pub wasn’t that busy today and he only saw the regular punters sitting at their regular tables, the same ones he saw whenever he came here with Samantha, or just used the floo network in general.

“Can we go when Rachel is here?” Samantha asked, tugging on Louis’s hand.

“Yep. Here she is now.” Louis stated, giving a small cheer as Rachel appeared in the fireplace. Samantha followed suit and cheered loudly, jumping up and down on the spot as she threw her free hand up in the air. Louis couldn’t help but chuckle at her reaction as he felt eyes on them from the other people in the pub. Rachel smiled as she walked over to them and Samantha was quick to grab her hand and attempt to pull them both away and in entirely the wrong direction.

“This way, Monster.” Louis told her, pulling her arm to change her direction so that they could head towards Diagon Alley.

It was quite busy as they entered the room, even as early as it was in the morning. It was mostly filled with parents and children, in their rush to do some last minute shopping before the kids went back to, or started, Hogwarts tomorrow.

Louis remembered how it felt to get his school supplies in the run up to going back to school, thinking back to four years ago when he had entered his sixth year and thinking about how different things were, since then and just how much his life had changed in the Christmas of that year. It was when he had found out that he was going to become a father and the year when he decided that he would raise his daughter alone and not go back for his final year at Hogwarts. It was the year that his entire life changed.

“I would ask if we should get food first or the Dragon, but I don’t think Samantha can wait.” Louis told Rachel, who laughed as she tried to not be pulled down the street by Samantha, who was surprisingly strong for a three year old.

Rachel laughed as well, as Samantha continued pulling them, she knew exactly where the toy shop was down here, Louis’s family and Horatio had brought her here more times than they probably should have.

When they made it into the shop, Samantha took her hand out of Louis and Rachels and made a beeline straight for the toy Dragons. Louis couldn’t help but chuckle at the determined look on his daughters face as she ran as fast as she could towards them, he was thankful that the shop was practically empty so that he was able to see her.

Once he had made his way over to her slowly, she approached him with a large grin on her face, and her arms were full of Dragon’s of all different colours. Louis knew that some very tough decisions were about to be made.

“Daddy!” came Samantha’s tiny yell, “Daddy, help, please.”

Louis crouched down in front of Samantha, ignoring the sickness that went through him as he did so. “What is it, Monster?”

“Which one?” Samantha asked him as Louis took all three of the Dragon’s from her an held them out for her.

She stared at each one in turn, her little tongue sticking out as she tried to decide, with her hands on her hips, balancing on one foot as she did so. She jumped up and down as she grabbed for the pink one and hugged it to her.

“I just love them all.” She told him, grabbing for another one.

“You can only have one,” Louis told her, straightening out the cardigan that she was wearing with one hand as he held the last Dragon in the other. He was so glad that he had his mum, Dom and Vic around to help him pick out his daughters clothes, they absolutely loved to buy her dresses and they all had good eyes so he left the decisions almost entirely up to them. Although a few Quidditch outfits made their way in, courtesy of his dad and Vic.

“But I can’t choose.” Samantha told him, pouting her lip and jutting out her chin as she looked up at him through her long eyelashes. Louis felt himself almost giving in, before he remembered that she would pull this face whenever she wanted anything and he would almost always give in. It was the face, she reserved for when Louis had dessert and she had finished with hers.

“Just the one,” Louis told her again.

Samantha looked down at the two in her hands and the one in Louis’. “But Roger needs a friend.”

“But daddy can only afford the one.” Louis told her honestly. “Maybe we can come back another day and get the others?”

“Okay daddy,” Samantha said, passing Louis the Green Dragon and keeping the pink one in her hands.

Rachel took the green one out of Louis’s hands and held it in her own, Louis turned to look at her in question, but she ignored him.

“Do you promise that you’ve been a really good girl?” Rachel asked Samantha as she crouched down beside her. Samantha nodded enthusiastically in response to her question.

“I eated all of my peas for dinner.” Samantha told her and Rachel gave an over exaggerated response of shock. “Uncle Kieron didn’t eated his peas though, he gave them me.”

“Then you’ve been a very good girl, so I’m going to buy you this one.” Rachel stated happily, holding out the Green Dragon to Samantha, who took it with a large grin as she began dancing on the spot.

“You didn’t have to do that.” Louis stated as Rachel stood back up, she gave him a shrug as though it was nothing. “I can’t expect you to buy her things.”

“I wanted to do it.” Rachel told him. “And Roger needed a friend.”

Louis smiled as he watched her walk to the till with Samantha, digging into his pocket to take his money out, but Rachel managed to get there before him. He shot her a disapproving look, but she just shrugged at him and smiled as she took the dragon’s back off of the cashier and handed them back to Samantha.

“You didn’t need to buy both of them.” Louis told her honestly, “At least let me give you money.”

Rachel shook her head and held a hand up for him to stop, “It’s fine. Shall we go and get breakfast?”

They ate breakfast slowly, both of them still nursing a hangover, although Louis’s was worse than Rachels was and listened as Samantha told them all about her two Dragons, when Louis decided to go back and get Samantha the third one that she had her eye on. He knew he shouldn’t, she already had two, but as Rachel paid for them, he had the money to buy her another one, as well as pay for their food. He made sure to pay before Rachel had a chance to, she gave a mock scowl before telling Louis that she was paying for ice cream.

Once they left the shop, Louis told Rachel and Samantha that he would meet them in the ice cream shop, before he walked back to the toy shop. He found the Dragon toy’s quickly, pushing gently passed a few of the customers that were slowly filling up the store and looked around for the third one that he knew Samantha wanted. He had just grabbed for it when someone tapped him on the shoulder.

“Oh, sorry, did you want to get passed.” He began, assuming that someone wanted to get around him, but when he turned the pleasant smile dropped from his face and was replaced with one of shock and horror, and he felt like he had been plunged into an icy lake, as he looked into the eyes of someone very familiar.

Freya.

He couldn’t do anything apart from stare at her and how much she had changed. She had grown her hair out so that it fell down to the middle of her back, although it was now a brown colour. She had lost weight so she looked too skinny and she was wearing smart robes. Louis couldn’t help but let his eyes scan over her, taking everything in about the woman he had loved with everything he had in him three years ago, the same woman that had torn out his heart and succeeded in ruining his life.

“I thought it was you,” Freya said timidly, she seemed nervous. “How are you?”

Louis had so many things that he wanted to say, so many things that he had planned on saying to her if he ever saw her again. He had dreamt of screaming at her, yelling about how much of a terrible person she is, how much he hated her, how terrible a mother she was for abandoning her daughter. But now that she was here in front of him, his mind had gone blank, nothing was coming to mind.

“Fine.” He told her slowly, hand clenching around the toy in his hand angrily. Freya glanced down at it and smiled slowly before looking around the shop. Louis knew that she was looking for Samantha, he could have sworn that he saw a small disappointment flicker through her eyes when she realised that Samantha wasn’t there. He knew that he was imagining it, she didn’t care.

“How’s Samantha?” she asked warily, as though scared to broach the subject. She had risen a hand to play with the ends of her hair nervously awaiting his answer.

‘Why do you care?’ was the first thought that came to mind, but the words that came out weren’t as angry, although he stated them in the same angry tone. “She’s fine.”

She shuffled on the spot as she nodded and Louis was fighting the urge to not back up and run. “I miss you both.”

Louis almost laughed in her face, the shock at seeing her was beginning to wear off and was being replaced with his anger. He needed to leave, he didn’t want Samantha in Diagon Alley if Freya was here, he didn’t want Samantha to have to deal with this.

“You knew where to find me, you knew where to find us.” Louis told her, a scowl filling his face as he placed the dragon back down next to him and began to back away. Freya reached forwards as she followed him, grabbing for his arm and Louis wrenched it from her grasp like she had burnt him. She glanced around them before looking at Louis.

“I want to see her,” Freya told him quietly, her eyes hardening at his reaction. He shook his head as he began backing away again, the instinct to run becoming urgent, he needed to get out of here and now.

Freya followed after him stopping him again by the door. “When can I see my daughter?”

“I’ll have to let you know when I’m free.” He told her, before opening the door and exiting the shop, he ran down the street, turning around to see that she had stopped by the door and was watching him.

He needed to grab Samantha and leave. He just hoped that Freya wasn’t following him. He burst into the ice cream shop, which was thankfully far enough away from the toy shop that Freya wouldn’t know where he had gone and scanned the room until he found Rachel and Samantha.

They both turned to grin at Louis as he rushed over to them, the smile dropped from Rachel’s face as soon as she saw the look on Louis’.

“We need to leave.” Louis stated, grabbing Samantha from her seat and picking her up. She just about managed to keep a tight grip on her toys as he did so, protesting slightly at the fact that she didn’t get any ice cream. Rachel grabbed for the ice cream and put the lid back on the tub as she rushed out of the seat herself, leaving her own ice cream behind and forgotten.

“What happened?” Rachel asked fearfully, she didn’t like the scared look that was on Louis’ face. He just shook his head as he left the shop, Rachel followed after him quickly.

“Louis, what’s wrong?” Rachel asked as they walked in a rush and she followed as closely as she could behind. Louis was looking around him, Samantha clutched in his arms as he did so. She gave another yell of protest, but Louis wasn’t paying attention, he was on the lookout for a sign of Freya, she was here and he didn’t want her to come anywhere near them.

“Louis.” Rachel tried again, having to jog slightly so that she could keep up with him. She still had Samantha’s barely touched tub of ice cream in her hand as she followed.

“We have to go,” Louis told her, thankful when they made it back into the pub. “We have to go now.”

“What happened?” Rachel asked again as she pushed the door open and watched as Louis stopped by the fireplace and turned to look at her again, his eyes darting around the pub occasionally.

“Please Rachel, I’ll tell you when we go. We just have to leave.” He told her, Rachel had never heard him sounding so terrified.

“I can’t, I need to be somewhere.” Rachel told him honestly and reluctantly, handing him the small tub of ice cream, which he took off of her.

“I’m sorry, Rachel. I will explain, I promise I just – “ Louis began, but Rachel held a hand up to stop him.

“It’s fine. I’ll see you at work.” She told him before backing up and beginning to walk away. Louis wanted to go after her, wanted to explain everything, but he didn’t have the time to. He didn’t want Freya to find him and he didn’t want to start freaking out, more than he already was, in the middle of the high street.

“I’m sorry.” He called again, before moving Samantha and grabbing for the Floo powder with his free hand, knowing that it was going to be difficult to do this with his arms so full. He knew that he needed to tell her what was happening and why he was leaving, he just hoped that she didn’t hate him too much to listen when they were both at work tomorrow.

When he finally made it home, he put Samantha down and she walked off with her two toy Dragons, over to her toy chest which was in the corner so that she could start playing with them.

“Samantha, stay here for daddy.” Louis told her, before placing the ice cream on the table and walking out of the room, he knew that Freya wouldn’t have followed him here, she had no idea where he lived, but he wanted to make sure that everywhere was locked, just in case. An insane fear was filling him that she would turn up and take her from him.

He also needed to find Horatio or Molly, he needed to tell someone, but neither of them were in the house. It was just Louis left alone with his thoughts and fears, and a little girl who had no idea how close she had come to seeing the mother who had abandoned her.

“Daddy!”

Louis rushed back into the front room, his heart in his throat as he realised that if Freya were to follow him, she would have used the Floo network and he had stupidly left Samantha in there alone. But when he arrived in the room, Samantha was still alone, one look at her made him realise just why she had called him and he gave a laugh at the mess she had managed to get herself in with the ice cream that he had left on the table.

“How on earth did you manage to cover yourself in it?” Louis asked his daughter, knowing that he was going to have to bath her to get rid of the stickiness of it all.
She had managed to get the ice cream over most of the front of her dress, as well as somehow on her forehead and in her hair.

“Roger was hungry.” Samantha told him, with a grin as she pointed down at the toy dragon, which was covered in as much ice cream as she was. It had only taken his daughter just over an hour to destroy her new toy, Louis was impressed that it lasted that long.

“Let’s go and get you cleaned up,” Louis stated, holding his hand out for her to take, she did and Louis tried not to pull a face at how sticky her tiny grip was.

~~

Molly, Horatio and to Louis’ surprise, Alyss hadn’t turned up until later on that afternoon, and even then Horatio and Molly didn’t stick around long enough for Louis to tell them what had happened. It was a little like they were avoiding him, and Louis wouldn’t blame them if they were. He wasn’t in the best of moods to be around, even Rachel hadn’t responded to the letter he had sent her after he had bathed Samantha, but what was the response to a simple, ‘I’m sorry, I’ll explain soon.’ He knew that he had ruined everything with her and he wouldn’t blame Rachel for running for the hills. Louis never thought this morning that this would have happened, that he would have royally fucked up everything by that night. He never expected to have his world turned upside down, yet again by Freya Jackson.

His mind had been racing with thoughts of Freya since he had seen her, how his feelings for her had hit him hard, an anger unlike any other being at the forefront, but behind all that was the thoughts of how she had changed, she was still beautiful. He hated himself for even thinking that, he wouldn’t allow himself to think that about her anymore, but he couldn’t help it. He wasn’t responsible for his feelings, when in the past twenty four hours alone, they had been jumbled up and twisted and turned so much by three different people now. He didn’t know how to feel, he didn’t know what to think, all he knew was that he was close to just packing a bag, taking Samantha and just disappearing far away.

Louis was thankful that Alyssa had come over, she had been playing with Samantha, who absolutely adored her Aunt Alyssa, and letting Louis dwell on his thoughts. Alyssa was going to be sleeping in Samantha’s room for the night, ready for her first day at Hogwarts tomorrow, and Samantha seemed pretty excited about it. Horatio had to transfigure a bed in Samantha’s room and Louis hoped that Samantha wouldn’t keep Alyssa up all night, or him. He wasn’t in the right mood to be dealing with his daughter screaming all night, he would end up screaming himself.

It was in this state of thinking that Horatio came to find him.

“I thought you were asleep,” Louis stated, not looking up at Horatio, who had joined him on the step just outside the back door. It was nearing two in the morning and Horatio had gone up to bed a few hours ago, but it was obvious that he hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep.

“I couldn’t sleep.” Horatio told him, scratching at his bare chest before leaning back on his elbows and squinting with heavy eyes at Louis. “You’ve been off all day, what’s wrong?”

Louis gave a small sigh, “How long have you got?” he asked, a thumb running across his lip as he stared out into the dark garden, his mind had been all over the place and he really didn’t know how to even begin dealing with everything that had happened to him in the last twenty four hours alone.

“All night. I’m not going to work in the morning, I’ve already messaged them saying that I have an emergency. I’ve got to take Alyssa to the train station tomorrow for her first year at Hogwarts. Nikolos can’t take her, he has a meeting with the Ministry over his curfew and mum and dad have work.” Horatio told him.

Louis turned to look at him, his eyes scanning over Horatio’s body, eyes lingering on the pajama bottoms hung low on his hips before scanning back up his tanned body and to his face again. Horatio seemed oblivious to it all as he rubbed his eyes to get the sleep out of them, stifling a yawn.

“You should go to bed,” Louis told him, turning away and looking back out at the darkness. “You look shattered.”

“I’m fine,” Horatio told him, stretching out more and leaning his head back, rolling it slightly as though loosening the muscles in his neck. “I won’t be able to sleep anyway. Molly’s gone to Lucy’s.”

“Have you sorted out whatever your fight was about?” Louis asked him and he could feel Horatio’s eyes on him.

“Don’t do that Louis.” He told him hotly and he could see Horatio shaking his head out of the corner of his eye. “Don’t act like it didn’t happen.”

“I’m not acting like anything.” Louis replied, still refusing to turn and look at him, he wasn’t in the right kind of mind frame to do so. “You were angry this morning.”

“I was hungover and in a bad mood. Molly and I didn’t have a fight, we’re fine in case you were wondering, we had a great time last night.”

“I take it you haven’t told her then?” Louis asked.

Horatio scoffed, “according to you nothing even happened.”

They sat in silence, the air between them tense, which Louis hated, but didn’t want to break. Louis remembered how easy their friendship had been years ago, how easy it was to be around each other without worrying if their actions would hurt each other or those around him. But he wouldn’t have traded what he had with Horatio, no matter how brief it had been, for anything. He just had to put up with the fact that their friendship had taken a hit, not enough for outsiders to notice, but enough that they noticed.

“Why are you out here?” Horatio asked him, turning to look at Louis and noticing the worry and hardness on his face. He looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders and he was struggling to stay standing.

“I saw Freya.” Louis said simply. Horatio’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open, Louis nodded slowly at his reaction. “Yep, exactly how I felt.”

“Where was she? Where has she been? Did you yell at her about how terrible a person she is?” Horatio demanded, sitting up straight as he turned his body fully to look at Louis.

“She was in the shop when I was buying Samantha, another Dragon teddy, she just came out of nowhere. I wanted to tell her I hated her, wanted to tell her to fuck off and leave me alone, that she wasn’t wanted. But I couldn’t. I just froze up. She told me that she misses us, that she wants to see Samantha. I just freaked out, I had to leave, I had to get to Samantha and bring her home. I don’t want her to see her, I don’t want to put her through that not now she’s old enough to be affected by Freya leaving again.”

“Not to mention you.” Horatio stated, he knew exactly what Louis had gone through, he’ been there firsthand. He’d had to stop Louis from giving up, had to try and make him see that he had the strength to go on. Even when he went to Hogwarts he would send Louis letter after letter to make sure that he was doing alright, even going to Louis’ house via the floo network in the Hogsmeade branch of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. He wanted to show Louis that he was here for him, that Horatio would support him through everything, it was why Horatio had told Louis to move into the house as soon as Horatio began renting it off of his parents.

“These past twenty four hours have been a lot to take in,” Louis admitted and Horatio felt guilty that he had a part in putting Louis through this.

“I’m sorry.” Horatio told him honestly, placing a hand on his arm and squeezing it tenderly. Louis shook his head at him.

“It’s not your fault, it was both of us that make a decision.”

“Still, I shouldn’t have done that.”

They were silent again and Louis could sense Horatio fuming in anger from next to him, at the idea that Freya could potentially be back in their lives.

“What do I do Horatio?” Louis asked, turning to look at Horatio and sounding like he was on the edge of breaking, like all of those years it took to build him back up after Freya had left him, had been destroyed the moment she came back into his life. Horatio hated her.

“We do what’s best for Samantha and you.” Horatio told him, moving to put an arm around Louis’ shoulders, Louis leant into him and gave a sigh.

“I don’t want her hurting us again. I’m not sure I can go through this again.” Louis admitted, sounding like he was close to tears.

“I won’t let that happen to you,” Horatio told him, kissing him on the top of the head tenderly before resting his cheek on it and hugging him. “You’ve got me to help you through it.”





A/N: If anyone wanted to know what Horatio’s full name is, it’s Horatio Jayson Demarcus. :P Nikolos’ is Nikolos Theron Demarcus. Any other ‘fun fact’s’ you want to know about the characters? I’ll try and include them in some author notes.

So, she's back! What did you all think?

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