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I saw him raising his arm and drawing back as if it was in slow motion, but I also almost felt nailed to the floor, like my whole body was made of lead. I instinctively raised my arms to try and act as a shield for my face, and made a girlish squeal that under normal circumstances would have made me cringe with embarrassment. I tried to duck, but his arm beat me to it. I felt the sting of flesh slapping flesh as his large hand connected with my forearm, making me slump to the ground with a gnarled shriek.

Before I could even react, or my father could get another, better directed, swing on me, either my biggest dream or my worst nightmare came true. I heard a door swing open, footsteps rush towards me and seconds later, James was standing in front of me, his face red and looking angrier than he had the other night when he discovered the whole 'your-child-has-put-up-residence-in-my-womb' fiasco.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" He shouted, helping me to my feet as my dad stood there wide-eyed and open mouthed, confused at his sudden presence for he thought we were alone in the house except for Parker who had learned long ago not to intervene.

"Who are you and why are you in my house?" He growled, edging toward James angrily, like a shark circling a seal.

"You think you're a man because you can hit a teenage girl?" James fired back, blatantly ignoring both of my father's questions.

"How I discipline my daughter is none if your business, now get out of my damn house."

"Sorry, sir, but if you want me to leave you're going to have to make me."

"Don't test me, boy. You're in my house."

"James, just go I can handle it," I plead, pushing slightly in front of him, rubbing my arm because it still stung a little bit.

"No, I'm not leaving you here with this man."

"James? You know this boy?" My father growled, looked exasperatedly between myself and James.

"James, just go," I beg, not hardly hearing my father's question.

"Damn it child, you'll answer when I speak to you!" He boomed.

That was when all hell, literally broke loose. Before James or I could even realize what was happening my father lunged for me, James then interceded and somehow I got shoved harder than earlier in to the wall, smacking my head and crumpling to the ground, clutching my stomach instinctively, protectively I guess. As I was crumpled I saw James, in a split second, produce a long, brown stick from his pocket and pinned my father up against the wall, with the stick pressed to his throat.

"What..the.." My dad gasped, his voice strained with the stick pressing further in to him.

This event was proving to provide my brain with a moral dilemma. On the one hand, I was happy because James had my father contained and he wasn't able to hurt me, but there was also the part of me that wanted to run in fear because James was apparently crazy seeing as he was pressing a stick against my father's throat.

"James, what the hell are you doing?" I choke out, trying to ignore the fact that my latest motion left me in some pain.

"You think beating up on teenage girls makes you a man? Huh?," James growled at my father, a vein pulsing in his forehead.

So he ignored my question. Let's all ignore the pregnant teenage crumpled on the ground.

"James," I gasped, trying to ignore the pain in my abdomen, "Stop."

"Taylor, he needs to learn he can't just beat up on girls, I won't have you and my damn child getting attacked like this."

As the word 'child' poured out of James' mouth like water from a faucet, I was unsure as to who's eyes grew wider with shock: my own or my fathers. I guess this means that telling him 'You're almost a grandpappy' in frosting on a cupcake was out.

"James. Let him go." I demanded, surprised at how strong my voice sounded.

Although I figured that this would just go in one ear and out the other - like apparently everything else I said to him, he actually did as I asked and, with a shove, released him although it was obvious he was ready to attack again and was watching him like a hawk in preparation in case he struck again.

"Wha...what child?" My dad gasped as he struggled to regain his balance and concentration, while grasping at his throat which has a red mark from where James has pressed the stick in to his throat. My father was a large man, so this was particularly interesting to watch him fumble and flail about. My father - who treated myself as a punching bag occasionally and who intimidated many a grown man at his couple inches about six feet tall self - was not normally one to be flailing because of a teenage guy. Granted my father was a raging drunk most of the time, but he still managed to take men down even then.

"James..." I half gasped, my heart in my throat and my stomach twisting around in knots.

"Taylor's pregnant." James answered, ignoring my obvious plea for silence.

He told him nonchalantly, totally casually. Like, 'hey, we're out of bread', 'the sky is blue', 'your daughter carrying you illegitimate grandchild - who is of my spawn - in her uterus', 'which is better, cake or pie?'. Yep. Totally casual. My wide eyes and the tone of my voice should have told him not to say it, but he did. James Potter was going to have to learn to read my mind if we would ever be able to make anything work. Afterall, talking obviously does nothing. He understands nothing. Although no one really understands me. I rarely do.

The moral of the story is that James Potter is a big mouthed, pointy stick yielding nincompoop. Yes, nincompoop is the technical term. Look it up in the dictionary and you'll see him grinning back at you.

Now, under normal circumstances, this is an event to be celebrated. However, ideally, this news is being delivered between a married man and wife to a doting family. Perhaps in a park. And there would be cake and flowers and balloons. I think. Or maybe it's ice cream. I don't know, but the point is that one generally announces future possible leaders of the world in a more adorable manner. But when you're sixteen and the child is the result of a one night stand due to not wanting to go home to your abusive drunk of a father (meaning this was really all his fault) it's not that beautiful of a moment. Especially when the guy who donated his chromosomes to this child just basically assaulted his child's grandfather with a stick.

I wonder if there is a card for this kind of situation.

Doubtful.

"You're what?" My dad hissed through gritted teeth, having regained his balance and, for the most part, his composure.

"I'm...pregnant, Dad." I whispered the words, but I knew he heard them loud and clear.

My dad's face was blank, expressionless for a moment, before he seemed to remember the muscles in his face were in fact fully functional. His mouth formed in to a line, his jaw squared. I knew he wanted to punch something, preferably a person, but James' odd stunt was probably convincing him otherwise.

"And he's...he's the father?" My dad growled, jabbing a finger towards James angrily, jaw clenching.

James took a step in front of me, defensively, and answered, "Yes. I am."

"I didn't realize you even had a boyfriend, Taylor."

A surge of embarrassment at the reminder that I was carrying the child of a guy who I had barely known and slept with without even dating, and I felt my cheeks pinken.

"I don't have a boyfriend," I responded quietly, eyes glued to the floor.

He looked between the two of us for a solid minute and then started laughing, "I should have known." He started shaking his head.

"No, I'm normally at work when you're home and awake, you had no way of knowing," I say.

He shook his head, "not that. I should have known you'd go get yourself knocked up."

"Whoa," James said. "This isn't all Taylor's fault, I'm just as much to blame."

"Boy, was I even addressing you? Of course it's not your fault. She's the one who opened her legs, if a girl was willing to do that for me without me even having to lift a finger, I would take the opportunity."

"Dad..."

That hurt. Like really hurt. I didn't expect him to be supportive and I knew he would make hurtful comments at my expense. But to hear those things come out of your father's mouth...that hurts.

"What?" He said with a smug grin. "It's not like I didn't see this coming. Obvious you were a whore and this was the only place you'd go in life. Just don't expect to crawl to me when you've got a kid and no way to care for it because my house is just that, MY house and you aren't welcome anymore."

That was a lot of knives in the heart. I couldn't think of anything to say, not even one of my little comments that tend to slip out came out. I had cotton mouth big time.

"Whoa whoa whoa," James hissed, clearing the space between himself and my dad again. "Taylor is not a whore, let's get that much straight. We may not be together either, but that damn sure doesn't mean I won't be there to take care of my kid and Taylor as the mother of my kid. She doesn't need you, your house, or your money. I'll see to it that they both have a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs, she doesn't need you. The only man she needs is me, and considering you are a lousy excuse for a man, I'm the only one she has. So you can feel free to stop making hurtful comments towards her because I won't have them."

I could tell my dad wasn't sure where he wanted to take his side of the conversation to next. I could tell just how badly he wanted to hurt James, and how angry it made him hearing those words which he surely took offense to even though they were true. But, then there was the possibility of him wielding his stick out again and for whatever reason it gave me and probably my father chills.

Hearing James' speech though, was incredibly heartwarming and, although it could be a lie, a relief. I didn't want charity, but it was good to know he intended on both sticking around for this child and not throwing me out on my own. There was an air of safety about it.

"How dare you," my father growled.

Of all the words he could have chosen from, he HAD to go with those. Because obviously my father is psychotic and refuses to learn from the past experience from a few minutes ago and not make comments like that.

He continued, further proving his utter ignorance, "You think you're a man because you got that garbage pregnant? You aren't a man. You're a child."

James had my dad against the wall in a split second, stick against his throat again, although this time it wasn't against the skin, just a coue inches away, (which gave me a sense of déjà vu a bit), "She is not garbage," he hissed coldly. "You're the grown man who relies on his child to take care of him and who beats up on her? No man lays his hands on a woman, end of story."

My fathers eyes were wide, but still he spoke, "You two aren't even together, what is your damn problem, son?"

"My problem is that I have no respect for any man who hurts a woman, or for a bum that lives off others. Something to know about me is that I take people I care about seriously and Taylor being the mother of my child ensures my protection and care. We may not have it all figured out, but I won't allow anyone to hurt of degrade her like the likes of you."

Honestly, my life is a joke. I keep expecting someone with cameras to say "GOTCHA!" and that this was an elaborate prank. There are daytime television soaps without this much drama.

I wasn't even sure if I was supposed to be flattered or frightened by all this. This was definitely a side of James I never expected and honestly...it was a little scary.

"James," I say, hoping he didn't lash out at me. "Let him go. You've helped enough."

He was unsure but again did as I said.

"Get your stuff...and get out," my dad gasped, massaging his throat.

"My pleasure."

Within ten minutes I had gathered the few clothing and important items I needed into a bag and was ready to leave. James and I didn't speak the entire time, he just threw my stuff into a bag he seemed to have pulled out of thin air, but I didn't even mention it. I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to kiss him or run from him. His declarations were sweet in a scary way and I didn't know which side to go with.

"Taylor, are you okay?"

I spin around and see Parker rubbing his eyes sleepily, in his pajamas.

I let my instincts take over and briskly walked over to him, swooping him into a hug and holding him closely, stroking his soft hair.

"Yes, honey, I'm fine." I say pulling away.

"Why are you packing a bag? Where are you going?"

Why does he have to be so smart? It makes it harder to lie to him.

"I'm going away for a little while, but-"

"You're leaving me?!" He cried, eyes saucers

That's it. My heart was broken.

"No, no,no, not you. You'll still see me all the time I promise."

"But...but...if you're not here, who's going to tuck me in? And make my lunches? And tell me that it'll be okay when I have a bad dream."

I wanted to bawl my eyes out. This child was my life.

"Oh, honey, I'll do that as much as I can, I promise it won't be that much different. It's not forever," I didn't know whether or not it was true, but I had to tell him that for both him and myself.

"Why are you leaving?"

Think think think.

No good idea came to me on what to tell him.

"It's a surprise. But while I'm gone, you're going to have to be brave, okay?"

He smiled, but it didn't quite teach his eyes, "I'm always brave, Taylor."

"Good. Because Uncles have to be brave."

"Uncles?"

"Yeah," I said. Now was as good a time as any to tell him. "You're going to be an uncle."

"An uncle? No WAY!! ...what's an uncle?"

I laughed, "It means, I'm going to have a baby and since you're my brother, you get to be called Cool Uncle Parker."

"YOU'RE HAVING A BABY?!"

His grin could not have been bigger. All I could do was nod.

"That's so cool!!"

"Yes it is," even though not really since I'm sixteen, "so be brave and hold down the fort while I'm gone."

"Aye aye captain!"

"Now, go back to bed and get some sleep. I love you."

"I love you too, Tay."

I hugged and kissed him and he ran back towards his room, taking my heart with him.

Before I had time to wallow in self pity any more, my dad waltzed in, "Time to go."

I went ahead of James and as soon as I got out of James' sight, my dad pulled me close, by my arm, "I never want to see your worthless face again. That clear?"

"Crystal."

Now I would like to say that he released me, James came back and we left and lived happily ever after. But of course that didn't happen.

I didn't even hear James enter but the next thing I knew I heard him tell bizarre words, "PETRIFICUS TOTALUS!" he screamed.

Suddenly my dad froze, eyes glazing over, and fell to the floor with a thud. When I say he froze, I mean it was literally as you can mean that. He literally was like a stone of the ground. As he fell, he bumped in to me and I cracked in to the wall, screaming as I did so.

"What did you do?!" I scream hysterically.

"I wasn't going to let him hurt you, Taylor. I saw-"

"HE WAS NOT - OUCH - HURTING ME, NOW WHAT - OUCH - DID YOU DO?!"

The 'ouches' were because there was a stabbing pain in my stomach. Something was wrong. I knew it. But right now I had to deal with James and his DAMN STICK I now noticed he had apparently used to kill my dad.

"Don't over-react, he'll be fine. I just walked in...and he had you by the arm...I dunno I just lost it, I thought he was hurting you."

"So you killed him?" I gasp.

"Taylor he's not dead, just stunned."

"How did you- OUCH, son of a bitch that hurts!"

"What hurts?" James said, eyes widening.

"My stomach...I think something's wrong."

"C'mon, let's get you to a hospital."

He tried grabbing my hands to pull me up, but I cringed away from him, "No. No no no. I'm not going anywhere with you."

"Taylor-"

"No! You're insane. You're..you're insane."

"Let me help you-"

As I scrambled to my feet I said, "You've helped enough."

"Taylor-"

"Stop!" I looked up at the ceiling, wincing in pain and blinking back tears. "Really life? Really?!"

My life could not get any worse. I was sixteen, homeless, and pregnant by a sociopath who seemed to have killed my father by pointing a stick at him and freezing him.

Perfect.

And then everything went black.

*

"Why isn't she awake yet?" I heard a voice say distantly.

James maybe?

When I could finally open my eyes, I saw James talking to a doctor several feet away from me, looking extremely disheveled. I was apparently in the hospital - IV and all.

When he looked over and saw me with my eyes open, he rushed to my side and started stroking my hair, making me cringe away from him, "I'm so happy to see your eyes."

"What happened? Is the baby okay?"

I didn't pay James any attention, my sole attention was on the doctor who I'd never seen before.

"You passed out. We're still trying to determine why but we think it was due to exhaustion and pain, your body just shut down."

"And the baby?" I push.

He appeared apprehensive, "We are running some tests, so I can't give you any certain answers, but this young man-" he gestured towards James, "got you here quickly and the fetus-"

"Baby." I correct.

"-the baby seems to be stable. Although trauma on a fet-baby, especially so early on, is always a serious concern so until we get the test results back we can't be sure of anything."

Oh my god.

My minds spinned. My heart hurt. I didn't even know how to handle this. My baby was in danger and it was my fault.

"When will you know?" I ask quietly.

"Should be within the next half hour."

"Thank you," I said.

"That's what I'm here for. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll give you two a minute."

He left, leaving James and I.

"It'll be okay, I know it will," James said, but I turned my head away from him.

"Are you mad at me?" He asked, the very idea clearly shocking him.

"Please go sit down."

Surprisingly, he did as I said.

We sat in silence for several minutes. He was the last person I wanted to be around. I was scared and there was no denying the fact that I was in the hospital and may lose my baby was largely because of him.

"Taylor, please say something," James said quietly, his head buried in his hands from his chair that I had specifically ordered to be a good eight feet away as a precautionary measure.

I turned my head away from him, not even knowing if I could speak to him at all and because I was nervous he'd get up, do some kind of rain dance and bugs would fall from the ceiling as he laughed wickedly and made them crawl on me.

"Taylor," he repeated, this time his voice seeming a little more serious, although my response was the same. I watched the IV drip in my arm.

"Dammit, Taylor," he growled quiet, jumping up out of his chair and clearing the space between us in approximately a second and a half.

"I asked you to stay over there."

"No, you told me to sit over there like a damn dog chained to a tree. I'm not going to hurt you."

"And how do I know that? How do know you aren't going to take your little voodoo stick and remove my spleen or something?" I argue belligerently.

I could tell this got him a wee bit off guard but the least he could do at this point was entertain my questions and concerns. Afterall, he's the one with all the explaining he needs to do.

"If you would just let me explain...it's really no where near as bad as you think."

"But it is still bad?"

"That's not what I said."

"Yes it is."

"No it-okay. You know what? Never mind. I'm not going to argue with you. Your mind is made up and I don't want to have an argument."

"Afraid you'll lose, huh?"

So for a teenage girl lying in a hospital bed after the father of her unborn child went off on a rampage with a magic stick, I wasn't in the best position to be snarky. I was pretty vulnerable at the moment. But did that stop me? No. Of course not.

"Taylor. Please. Just give me a chance to explain," he pleaded, desperation glinting in his beautiful brown eyes.

"Why should I? Haven't you done enough?"

"Just let me explain. You owe me that much?"

Oh, now you've done it.

"I owe YOU? Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot that you were the one who's father got attacked by a voodoo stick and was now fighting for the life of your child and is homeless. Wait...wait, that's me."

I was being cold, but honestly, who could blame me?

"I was only trying to protect you."

"What's the stick?"

"What?"

"Your stick. What is it?"

"That isn't a conversation we should have here."

"Here is as good a place as at it seems. This way at least there's doctors. Tell me what the hell you are and it is."

"I will, but not here."

"Why not?"

"It's a secret."

I scoffed, "what are you an assassin or something?"

"No!" He cried belligerently, clearly offended.

"Well then what are you?"

"Not here. I promise I'll explain later, but that time isn't now. I'm sorry."

Before I could argue, the doctor came in and every concern I could muster went to my baby.

"Well," the doctor said as he examined papers in his arms, "Everything appears to be sound. You were lucky to get in here as fast as you did. We can't know if there was any damage done that would be hindering until the child has grown and we can get a solid sonogram, but everything appears to e fine. You're stable."

I cried. I literally cried.

"That's so great," I sniff.

I put my hands on my belly, "I promise, baby, nothing like this will ever happen again."

"Good job getting her in so quickly. You saved that baby's life." The doctor said to James before excusing himself back to work.

I couldn't help but thank James, although it was painful.

My baby was okay.

Soon enough, we were discharged and free to head home. As I entered the waiting room, I was pleasantly shocked and blissfully happy to see Lottie in a chair. She ran up to me and swept me into a hug quickly.

"Oh, Tay, I was so worried!" She sniffed into my hair.

When she pulled away I could see she had been crying. Lottie never cries.

"How did you know I was here?"

"James. Tay, he told me everything..I feel so bad. How can your dad kick you out? That's just crazy. He's just an ass."

I half-smile, "yeah, he's an ass." I agree.

Anything with half a brain cell can agree my father is an ass.

When James reappeared next to me, I felt myself tense up but didn't say anything. He saved my baby and got Lottie here, I had to give him props for those things.

"So," he said awkwardly, "thanks for coming so late, Lottie. I know seeing you makes Taylor happy."

"Of course!" She grinned. "What are best friends for?"

"It's late though," he continued, "so I best be getting her home-"

"In case you've forgotten," I start to say, "I no longer have a home."

"Of course you do!" He said, shocked. "You can come back with me until-"

"No."

"No? Taylor-"

"I...want to stay with Lottie. If she'll have me."

"If?" She laughed. "There's no if! Of course I'll have you, it'll be great. But, don't you want to go with James?..I mean he is afterall the father of your child."

"No. If you don't want me with you, that's fine. But I think we," I gestured between James and myself, "should be apart for a little while while I figure some things out."

"But...Taylor, what I had to tell you-"

"Can wait until I'm ready." I finish for him.

"I don't know..."

"James, I'm not going back with you, end of story."

"I mean it's up to you..."

"Yes, it is. And I think we would be good for some time apart. Lottie, you sure it's okay?"

"Absolutely, Tay."

"Then it's settled."

"But-"

James was interrupted again, but this time it was by Lottie, "James? Something you should know about Taylor is that she's as stubborn as they come. You'll get about as far as arguing with a flamingo."

"I've gathered that," he says, clearly frustrated. "Fine. Well, as you know I'm about to go back to school. But since I don't see you changing your mind soon, that isn't changing. The cottage we...visited...my unbiological brother will be staying in for a while longer. When you're ready to talk to me, go to him. His name is Teddy."

"Teddy?"

"Yes. Teddy Lupin."

Odd name indeed.

"I'll keep that in mind."

He clearly didn't want to leave but obviously knew he had to leave and he eventually left.

"Ready to go home? Get some sleep?"

I nodded, the exhaustion taking over.

"Sleep sounds amazing."

*

We got to Lottie's house earlier than I had anticipated, and I felt like I was going to throw up and not for the typical you-have-a-tiny-person-that's-a-live-in-guest-in-your-uterus-and-hates-just-about-all-foods reason. No, I was sick for an entirely different reason right about now. I was sick because I had lost my house, I was separated from my brother, my child's father was more than likely borderline insane and no I was about to have to ask to stay at Lottie's until I figured out what I should do. I knew that her family wouldn't put me out on the street, but I wasn't one to accept what I considered charity, easily. But this seemed to be the only option I had so I didn't have much of a choice but to stay with her, although I would be making it a point to repay them for the inconvenience when I had money to.

When I walked in to her house, I was suddenly reminded vividly of how much I had missed being there when I smelled the heavenly scent of vanilla radiating throughout the place. Something I had always loved about that place was that it wasn't just a house, it was a home.

"Taylor Bowie, long time no see."

I was broken out of my thoughts when I heard my name and when I spun around I saw the familiar face of Lottie's mom in front of me for a split second before she pulled me into a tight hug.

She pulled away, still holding me by my arms, "I've missed seeing you, sweetheart. So good to see you again!"

I could have cried.

Pregnancy brain, perhaps, but I almost cried.

"It's good to see you too," I say. "I've missed being here."

"Well, as long as you know you're more than welcome, any time you want. Our house is your house."

"Thank you, ma'am." I say, as genuine as can be.

That was what I loved about Lottie's mom, she was so welcoming. Which was good, considering.

"Mom," Lottie said from where I forgot she was beside me, "you don't mind if Taylor stays here a few days, do you?"

"Not at all, you're always welcome, Tay. Everything is alright though, I assume?"

"Oh, yes ma'am," I say, quite convincingly I might add, "my house is just getting fumigated so I need somewhere to go for a bit."

"Well, you're welcome to stay here as long as you need to. Your father and Parker have made other arrangements I'm guessing?"

"Oh," quick, Taylor, think think think. "Yes, my dad took him to visit my aunt Rachel in Manchester, Parker needs to see somewhere other than London."

Okay, I lied and I felt bad, but I couldn't exactly tell her that I got kicked out because I was pregnant by a guy who was off his rocker. She might be a little apprehensive then. And plus, I would also run the risk of her calling social services on my dad.

When I found time to excuse myself to the bathroom, I slunk to the ground and it was all I could do to avoid banging my was against the wall.

For the time being, I had a place to stay, that was reassuring. But I knew it wouldn't last, there was only so long I could avoid telling her about the child growing inside me if I was going to be staying here.

How different life would be if the epitome of karma was not the defining factor of my life.

I put a hand on my stomach and quietly whispered to the life inside me, "I'll make this right somehow, baby."

I didn't know whether it was a truth or a lie, but I was determined to dedicate my every day to trying to give this baby the decent life I never had.

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