Three years later
I glanced in the full length mirror, pausing to reach my hands behind my neck to give my hair a good toss-around to add a little more volume. I turned to the side to get a better view of the new protrusion curving over my belly, and I couldn't help but smile. I looked good pregnant!
My hands immediately came down in front of me, caressing my stomach in that gentle way all mothers-to-be do. I glanced up to the mirror again, holding the pose and smiling. Madeline Johnson might have made the cover of Quidditch Illustrated this month, but could she pull off the maternity look? I. Don't. Think. So.
"What are you doing?"
I whirled around to see that the bedroom door was wide open, with Oliver leaning against the frame of it, arms crossed over his chest. He had his lips pursed together in a tight smile. Oh bugger.
Hastily, I pulled the cushion out from under my shirt and dropped it on our bed. "Nothing." I replied, immediately busying myself with redoing the bow on the gift that rested on our bed.
I glanced sideways at Oliver and saw that he still had that amused look on his face. "Take it easy, Suzie. We're not even married yet."
I did my finishing touches on the bow and turned around, sticking my tongue out at him. "You know, technically you still haven't even proposed to me yet." I said, extending my hand out and glancing down at my engagement ring.
He took my hand and pulled me in towards him. "Well, I was going to, but you had to go and find the ring."
I laughed. "Well, you picked a stupid place to hide it."
"How was I to know you'd think to go through my underwear drawer?"
He cringed a little. "Right. You wouldn't be you if you didn't periodically go through my underwear drawer."
"Right-o! Oh, hey—so did you pick up a card?"
We were going to Denise and Vince's for dinner and wanted to surprise them with a little something for baby Vincent III. (as it turns out, Mr. Macmillan's name is Vince as well. Still. I have a hard time not calling him Mr. Macmillan. It suits him!)
"Check." Oliver replied, reaching into his back pocket with his free hand and pulling out a light blue envelope. "I signed it for the both of us."
"Oh geez. What did you write?"
Letting go of my hand, he glared at me. "Just because you're a professional writer doesn't mean I don't know how to express my congratulations in written word."
I snatched the envelope out of Oliver's hand and pulled it open despite his protests.
"Congratulations on your new baby boy!" I read. I glanced up at him. "Does it ever strike you as weird when people say 'new baby'? I mean…as opposed to what? A used baby?"
He simply stared at me with a blank sort of must-you-vocalize-all-your-thoughts?-type of look, so I continued to read. "Love, Oliver and Suzie." I looked up at him again. "Love, Oliver and Suzie? Congratulations on your new baby boy. Love, Oliver and Suzie? That's it?"
"What? It gets the point across!"
I rolled my eyes at him and marched over to my desk for a quill. I swear…
"Hey, take your time with that." I heard Oliver say behind me. "I need to take a quick shower before getting dressed."
I turned quickly in my seat. "Ollie! We're supposed to be there in ten minutes!"
He narrowed his eyes at me in mock anger. Um. At least I thought it was mock anger. "Keep calling me that and I'll stay behind."
I grinned. "You always say that."
Instead of quipping back, Oliver merely rolled his eyes again and headed to the bathroom. Still smiling I turned back to my desk. Honestly. Threatening to stay back just because I call him a name I know he secretly likes. He needs to take lessons in assault from old Snape back at Hogwarts. Or my old newspaper mentor.
Mmph. In some ways I'm going to miss Rita, despite her being a complete bitch. And being a dictator. And a bigot. And just plain weird. She was always good for a pervy, unprofessional joke. But I suppose that one wonderful trait stands uselessly against all the other things weighing against her. Helping The Daily Prophet to spiral down the gutter to become just another ministry newsletter was certainly one of the heaviest things.
Shortly after being hired, award-winning journalism Rita Skeeter took me under her wing. It was—suffice it to say—weird. And obnoxious. Kind of sickening. I mean, she wore clothes she was really too old to be wearing, but I could tolerate that. I could even stand her flirting with Oliver whenever he popped by to see me at work (I can't help it—I like watching him squirm uncomfortably!). But two years ago when Cedric died while participating in Hogwart's Triwizard Tournament, I was done humoring her. She had written an article about the final task, where he died—murdered by You-Know-Who. Well, that's what Dumbledore and Harry Potter reported. What Cedric's parents believed. So I believed it too. Rita, however, painted a picture of some sort of freak-accident. She didn't take kindly to my attempt to interfere with her article. (Ok, I might have used a few inappropriate words here and there, which might have been a mistake seeing as how she was my superior, now that I look back on it. But who can blame me? She is a dumb cow with frizzy, unnatural-looking bleached hair!)
Unbelievably pissed, I was tempted to quit on them. But then I remembered a certain sexy grey-haired stud of an ex-professor told me once that I would help change the shoddiness that is The Daily Prophet. So I stuck it out, but decided to stick it out on my terms. Do what I wanted. Be annoying. I would be the obnoxious young blossoming reporter, and my coworkers were all my Snapes. It was emotional hell, but kind of fun while it lasted.
Course, they fired me. And I took an unusual pleasure in it. What was the final straw? Not from my article on the injustices occurring behind closed doors at the Ministry of Magic that I snuck through to the press without permission (honestly, if they wanted to keep unauthorized people from putting stuff on the presses, they should have tighter security!). Not even from when I requested to have a letter to the editor published—one that thanked The Daily Prophet for printing a story I had written about anti-werewolf legislation (signed R.J.L. I took the letter home and sighed wistfully over that very familiar handwriting, reading it over and over until Oliver came home from quidditch practice and caught me with it. A very awkward conversation followed. Heh. Long story.)
Nope. The last straw occurred right after Professor Dumbledore's death. I had been given the task of editing the obituary on him written by Elphias Doge. See, I didn't really get along with Elphias Doge—I never did. My parents always had him over at parties and we never really took a liking to each other. So naturally, Rita and friends figured I'd tear apart his beautifully written piece about Dumbledore's life. I didn't. They got mad. My boss, Ted, along with my lovely mentor Rita, came to my cubicle a few weeks ago, standing side by side, to tell me to clear out my desk because I was fired.
I shrugged, opened my lone desk drawer to dump my quills, parchment, and day-old peanut-butter sandwich, and said a few choice things to Rita as a parting gift. ("Yes, that green dress does make you look like an overgrown mermaid, Rita, and no, I don't think Harry Potter is off his rocker. Oh, and I'm actually the one who ate your slice of cherry pie that you made last week, and it was not very good." Ok. I didn't actually say 'overgrown mermaid' even though she did look like one—but the expletives I did choose did a pretty nice job of conveying my thoughts!)
I was now a freelance writer, which was definitely more palatable to me. I do the occasional free article for The Quibbler, a semi-regular column in Teen Witch Magazine where I interview young up-and-coming wizards. It's fun, but not as much of a hormone hurricane as I thought it would be. Mmm…I think having Oliver in my life has something to do with that. My all-time favorite publication to write for though is my monthly column in Sorcerer. It's a men's magazine, and I am proud to say that I am the only female contributor. I get to write about…well, men! From a woman's perspective. My last article was titled "A Homage to Older Men: Ten Reasons Why Grey is Great." I know this will sound kind of haughty, but I have never been so proud of anything I have written.
Well, except my first book. I just finished my final draft this morning, actually. Well, my final draft. I imagine whoever edits it will tear it apart and it'll be several more drafts before it actually gets published.
I finished up the card for baby Vince and replaced it in its envelope. I glanced over my shoulder, listening to the sound of the shower running. We were going to be so late and it'll be all because of Oliver's uncomfortably long showers (I say uncomfortable because he takes the time to put on conditioner—um, not that I'm supposed to know that. I walked in on him once lathering the stuff in his hair. He muttered something about liking the smell of strawberries and then kicked me out.) Well, while I was waiting for him to finish…
I turned back to my desk and reached for my manuscripts that I had left in the top drawer. The book was finished—I was still playing around with titles. Something silly, or something wanton sounding. That was what the book was about anyway. A novel about an angry but bitter young witch who took polyjuice potion to impersonate her ex-boyfriend in order to get a little revenge. It was fun to write. No, seriously. You have no idea. I had a couple of scenes where I had to describe her boyfriend's body in great detail, and in my determination to be as accurate as possible—you know, to really get the lay of the land—I used Oliver as a model! Walking around, circling him, staring at him from every angle for about half an hour, taking notes…it was incredibly awkward for him and therefore very fun for me.
Yeah, I have no idea why Oliver's still with me either…
Glancing back down at the manuscript I had in front of me, I realized I still needed to finish the acknowledgments page, which currently read: I owe a great big thank you to…
I grabbed a quill and began listing all the people that came to mind:
…my parents for their support and constant stream of motivation to complete this book, and Denise for being my deputy-parent and showing that same support and encouragement; Pomona Sprout, for reading and editing my very first draft, and for all those lectures on moral fibre and whatnot; Minerva McGonagall for her editing and reading, and for teaching me the difference between prostitutes and ladies in the manner in which they sat, and other important aspects about social protocol, without which I would never have survived any of my interviews or fancy work-related dinners; Remus Lupin, who has influenced my writing more than he can ever know; Lastly, Oliver, to whom this book is dedicated, for having a wonderful surname so conducive to perverted jokes. Just kidding, Ollie. Oliver. I love your name, but not half as much as I love you. Thank you for being there, for supporting me, and for always being honest when I ask you if certain robes make me look fat.
I heard the bathroom door open just as I lay my quill down.
"All set?" I asked as I stood up and grabbed the card.
Oliver was buttoning up his shirt. "Just about. Did you fix the card?"
I grinned. "Yes. And I wrote a slightly crass couplet for young Vince to enjoy when he gets older. Denise is probably going to stick it in that baby book she got for him."
He rolled his eyes but smiled as he leaned over the bed to grab the present. "Let's get outside so we can disapparate."
I hurried over to Oliver's side to tuck the card in with the present. "Alright. Let's go."
Holding the gift under one arm, Oliver dropped his free hand around my own, allowing our fingers to interlock as we walked out of our flat together.
The Actual End
Wish my own acknowledgements could be something like Suzie's, but alas, I have more people to thank – mainly all you readers out there. I previously haven't been able to find time to reply individually to reviews like I used to (I'm trying to catch up now!), but I read every single one I get, and greatly appreciate all of them. I write for myself, but you all motivate me to write better, so I thank you!! )
Oh- of COURSE….much gratitude to J.K. Rowling for creating this fantastic world in which we can play, and um…my real-life Professor Lupin for being sexy and real, thereby making my job of writing Suzie and Lupin even easier. I only pray that he never comes across this story and connects the dots. :P
For those of you who enjoy the wonder that is Remus Lupin, or just want a little more of Suzie, I want to let you know about two possible projects – 1. I've outlined a Remus story, "Rest, Sad Eyes" which, if all goes well, will be massive and will make War and Peace look like a novella. ) What does Suzie have to do with it? Well, I decided to include her in this story – but just a little, and she comes up waaaaaaaaaay into the story a couple of times, but again, her moments there are brief …so…don't get your hopes up. Or maybe you should? Since the story is cough from Lupin's perspective… I'm evil and selfish and trying to ensure that I'll have at least a few readers for my next story. I suck. / But just know that Suzie will live on in another fic. ;) 2. the other possible fic in which she might live on is a one-shot that takes place during Deathly Hallows time. The only reason I'm hesitant to do it is because I like how Suzie's been portrayed in Wanton Confessions, and if I wrote the one-shot, it would be gloomy, emotional, and…um…well, they're in a war! It has to be sad! So I dunno. I shall think about it. )
Hope you all enjoyed all of Suzie's somewhat random wanton confessions! )