A/N: Written for Paula (Exceeds Expectations) for the GGE. Hope you like it!
The cramps pulling at my stomach are different than they should be. It's hard to explain how, exactly, but it's different. And late, I think. What day is it today? 1 December. Which means I should be… I mean, last time was definitely at least… No. It was the day we had the quiz in Criminology.
I tear the calendar off the wall and go backwards one month. There it is. Circled in red. Criminology exam, 25 October.
But James and I are one hundred percent, for-sure, off-again right now.
… but we weren't three weeks ago.
"Marlene! Can you come here for a minute?"
She comes rushing in, hair half-up, a curler hanging from one hand, the cord trailing behind her. "What is it, Lils?"
"I'm not gonna make it to class this morning. Not feeling well. I think I'll walk over to Boots to get something for it."
"If you're not feeling well, let me go for you. I've got the time."
I can't help but laugh. "Finish your hair, Mar. I think the walk will do me good."
"It's like 5 degrees out there. At least go to Tescos."
"I'll wear a coat," I say, and grab one from the door of our flat. "See you after class?"
"Yeah, okay," she says, trudging back to finish her hair.
I don't mean to worry her. Having my best friend think I have some strange illness is probably better than telling her the truth, at any rate. How in the world will I have that conversation? Here's to hoping I don't have to.
Inside Boots, I keep my head down. It's not like it's the Uni hangout that Tescos is, which is why I chose to go here, even though it's farther, but there's no forgetting watching your 60-year-old professor purchase a package of condoms and two bottles of lube. Even if it was nearly two years ago. There are just some things you can't un-see.
The cold must be keeping everyone away, because there are only three customers. Thank God. I needed something to go right this morning. A young mother herds two drool-covered toddlers toward the cough syrups. An old man hovers by creams he'd probably never admit to using. And there, in the back - no.
A sallow-faced man with hair that looks like it probably hasn't been washed in a month. What the hell is he doing here? I peer over the aisles between us. Shampoo. Severus Snape chose today to buy himself some shampoo.
At least I'm short. If I can just keep quiet, hang about until he leaves, maybe he won't notice me. But the aisle I need is near the front door, and moving away from there means moving closer to him now. Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.
We haven't spoken since A-levels, when he called me a- a- I can't even say what he called me.
He came to Manchester University, too, but he went his way and I went mine. It was easier with a much bigger campus and different interests. But here he is again, probably about to talk to me for the first time in years, while I hold a freaking pregnancy test at freaking twenty years old.
There's nothing to do but look up into his beady black eyes. It's even too late to hide what I'm holding. "Severus," I say, keeping eye contact for just a little less than is polite. "Excuse me. I have to go."
"We should talk," he insists, gently grabbing my arm as I try to shove past. "It's been too long."
"I'm busy today." I try to hide the test behind me, but the movement is a mistake. He looks at my hand.
Before I have time to explain, he rips the box away and waves it in my face. "Who did this to you?"
"You don't know him," I say. It isn't completely a lie. James Potter has changed in the past two years. He lost both his parents in a car accident last year and he matured. Maybe not enough to keep me from calling it off every few weeks, but still. He isn't the same snotty teenager who bullied Sev all throughout school. He's not.
"Maybe not yet. Tell me his name. I will make him wish he was never born, I swear to you, Lily. You don't deserve this."
As his eyes narrow and I can all but see his thoughts of revenge pouring out of his mind, I realize what he thinks. And he thinks wrong. "Let me just buy this and we can talk about it somewhere else."
I grab it back and pay without answering the cashier's questions about how my day is going.
"I know a cafe," Severus says when I reach him again. "Secluded. Close by."
I nod and he wraps an arm protectively around me. I nearly shrug it away, but it reminds me of childhood playgrounds and the best friend he used to be to me. I let it stay.
Severus settles me into a booth in the far corner and comes back a few minutes later with two cups of tea. "Tell me who did this," he repeats. "Were you drunk? Did he take advantage? I will make sure you get revenge."
"It wasn't like you think," I whisper. "I wasn't drunk. We were just, um, out of condoms."
"Who-" he starts to ask, but there must be some sign in my eye because he stops and just stares absently into his tea. "It was James. You are dating that prattish, no-good, spoiled rotten Potter boy."
"You just slept with him. Willingly."
I sigh. "Yes, I did."
His tea is half gone before either of us speaks again. I'm still barely sipping at mine, still thinking over the bag from Boots in my handbag, trying to picture what it would mean to carry James Potter's child when I'm still barely grown up myself. "I still care about you," he says. "I care about you so much deeper than Potter did, with those strange cries for attention he called love declarations. If you are- if the test is- stay with me. I will help you raise it."
I set my tea down so forcefully some of it slops over the edge. "You don't speak to me in two years, and you happen to run into me inside a Boots. Less than an hour later you propose raising your least favorite person's child?"
"For you, Lily! Don't you get it? I would give up everything for you!"
"You proved that a lie two years ago."
"The words of a moment! I didn't mean-"
"The hell with what you meant, Severus. You said them. It tore me up. I've moved on. I need to move on now." I grab my handbag and march toward the door. Halfway there, I turn back. "Thanks for the tea."
The chimes sound as the door opens and a lanky kid comes rushing in, his breath still visible from the cold. "Lils! Mar told me you weren't feeling well and I just wanted to see-"
"Shut up and come with me," I say, grabbing his collar and hoping to get outside before Sev can follow us.
He raises his eyebrows. "You know, you shouldn't skive class just for a quick shag."
"The last thing I need right now is to shag."
James lets go of my hand. "Then you've got the wrong guy."
I stop mid-step and cut him off. "Oh no, James Potter. This is absolutely about shagging. And you're coming with me."
"What did I do?"
"Wait til we get inside the flat. It's freezing out here."
We nearly run the last few streets. The moment the door is closed, he takes me by the shoulder. "What's this about, Lily? Are you sure you're all right?"
"Not really." I pull the Boots bag out and hand it to him.
"Oh, my God. Are you sure?"
"Not yet. That's why I have the test, you idiot."
"I'll wait for you. I'll be just outside the door."
He says it in such a genuinely worried voice - a caring voice - that I don't know how to respond. The usual sarcasm underlying our conversations is lost on me. "Thanks, James."
The directions are easy to follow, if kind of disgusting. I'm supposed to wait three minutes for results, while the chemicals make their way toward the lines. One line to verify the test is working right. One to see how I'm feeling. I wash my hands and open the door.
I hold up the stick. "Gotta wait three minutes." He stands behind me and wraps his arms around my shoulder, while I hold it carefully between my hands.
It doesn't take three minutes.
"Lily? Does that mean that we-"
There's no mistaking those two dark pink lines. "We're going to be parents, James. How the hell are we going to make this work?"
"The same way we always do. We'll fight. We'll row. We'll make up for the fighting. And at the end of the day, we'll have a child who will love us both."
He doesn't make it sound so bad. I turn around in his arms and kiss him. "Come with me."
"Now are we going to-"
"No. We're going to find out when our child will be born."
He sits beside me on the sofa and I pull out my laptop, searching for a due date calculator. I type in my last day, and a banner pops up.
Congratulations! Your baby is due on 31 July!
"July's a good time for a little girl named Angela Marlene."
"Or a boy named Harry James."