Hermione hummed softly to herself as she scraped the cake batter from the large mixing bowl into the rectangular pan. Ever since Colin had been born and she had quit her job at Flourish and Blotts to stay home and take care of him, Hermione had discovered her love of baking, in the Muggle fashion. It was satisfying for her to pull a richly baked chocolate (it was almost always chocolate when she made something) cake from the oven, the smell wafting around the room, teasing her sense of smell. Hermione took her index finger and swabbed a large smear from the side of the bowl, and raised it to her lips, anticipating the taste of the creamy batter.
“Just what I wanted!” Harry exclaimed, grabbing his wife’s hand and licking the chocolate off her finger.
“Hey that was my chocolate!” Hermione said, pulling her hand out of his. She frowned at him and he grinned back.
“Awww…” Harry said. “I can fix that, you know.” He took his own finger and scraped a larger amount of chocolate from the bowl. Hermione assumed he was going to have her lick it off as he had done, but he brought his hand up to his own face and smeared it across his lips and chin. “Oh would you look at that, I made a mess…”
Hermione laughed. “You’re as bad as your son, you know that?” she raised herself up and gently used her tongue to lick off some of the batter. “Only I like cleaning you up this way….” She moved her mouth to cover his, tasting the warm chocolate on his lips, her tongue reaching out to seek his. Harry’s arms came around her, with her large stomach they barely reached around her sides but he crushed her against him anyway, pressing his lips against her own.
“You know, they probably called it Snogwarts when the two of you were students there.” Caitlyn interrupted dryly from the doorframe. Harry and Hermione pulled apart, the chocolate smeared across both their chins now. “I really hope that didn’t come from the pan.”
“Um…no…” Hermione said sheepishly, sticking the pan in the oven. Harry stared at his daughter.
“How long were you standing there?” he asked, grabbing a towel and wiping himself off, then handing it to Hermione.
“Long enough.” Caitlyn replied. “You two should have a kitchen put in your bedroom.”
“Caitlyn!” Harry exclaimed. “Don’t be silly, we couldn’t fit a kitchen in there, we already tried.”
“Dad, that’s gross, I don’t want to hear about what else you two do in here.” Caitlyn dropped into her chair.
“Why not? It’s a natural part of life, it’s how you, your brother and these two were created…” Harry began in his best smartass voice when Hermione elbowed him.
“Harry, go outside and make sure we have enough chairs and tables set up for everyone today.” She ordered. Harry saluted his wife and went out the door, closing it firmly behind him.
“Well it looks like we’ve got everything we need for today, just a little while and your cake will be done.” Hermione said, sitting down heavily on the chair next to Caitlyn’s. “Everyone should be arriving in just a little bit, why don’t you just go out and relax?”
“I guess I will.” Caitlyn said, trying to sound enthused. It had been her second night without much sleep, and she had tried in vain to hide dark circles under her eyes with makeup, finally using a concealing charm to banish them away.
Hermione reached over and brushed a lock of hair away from her daughter’s forehead. “You two will work everything out. Every friendship goes through a rough patch.”
“I know.” Caitlyn mumbled. “I’m going to go outside and walk around the pond.”
“All right.” Hermione said. “And chin up, it’s your party day.” She smiled at her and went to go rouse Colin.
Caitlyn let the door bang shut behind her and ambled off towards the edge of the pond. It had always held a peaceful reassurance for her, the pond, and it didn’t even have any magical qualities to it; it was just a regular body of water. Leaning against a large boulder, she drew her knees up against her chest. The warm sun poured down on her, over her bare shoulders and across her face.
She stayed there for several long minutes, enjoying the solitude; she couldn’t hear anything except the brushing of the wind against the tall grasses, the water softly lapping against the ground, the birds calling overhead. Caitlyn breathed in deeply, feeling better about the forthcoming day with each intake. An image of her now not-so-platonic best friend popped into her mind, and another memory washed into her vision.
“Hey.” Caitlyn said listlessly as she dropped onto Blue’s bed.
“What’s up?” he asked, moving away from his trunk. They were due to head back to Hogwarts the next morning and he was repacking.
She sighed, flopping back so her head was on his pillow. “Ryan… he broke up with me today.”
“What?” Blue asked. “Why?”
She shrugged, looking up at him. “Apparently he’s met someone else while we’ve been gone.” They had just gotten back from the Caribbean a few days before, and had been away the entire holiday.
Blue sat down on the bed and then moved up so he was lying next to her, his head sharing the pillow. “I’m sorry Caty.”
“Ahh, it’s all right.” She tried to act like it wasn’t a big deal. “It was just a shock this morning when it came with the post.”
“Wait.” Blue sat up and looked down at her. “Are you telling me he broke up with you through the owl post?”
Caitlyn nodded, and then her façade slipped away as her face crumpled. Two tears ran down her cheeks and Blue pulled her up and gathered her in his arms.
“I’m not that upset about being dumped… but did he have to do it through owl post?” she asked, laughing through her tears. “I mean, that’s the worst, most cowardly way to end a relationship isn’t it?”
She heard him chuckle as he held her tighter. “You can do better than him. I know I never liked him anyways but it’s true.” He pushed her away and then wiped her tears with his thumbs. “No more of those. I want to see my favourite Caitlyn smile.”
“Honestly.” She tried her hardest not to comply when he threw his silly, lopsided grin her way. “I’m not going to smile!”
“Yes you are.” Blue dug his fingers into her side, beginning what promised to be a merciless tickling session.
“No!” she shrieked, trying to pull away from him. He was relentless in his pursuit, and soon enough they were both doubled over in laughter on his bed.
“Thank you.” She said awhile later when they were both trying to regain their breath. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
A flash of something she didn’t recognize went through his eyes, and then he smiled. “Don’t get all mushy on me now, Caty.” Blue teased. “We’ve gone seven years without it…” they both started laughing again as she wrapped her arms around him and pecked him lightly on the cheek.
“Caty?” she heard her father’s voice call, breaking out of her daydream. “Are you over there?” Caitlyn stood up, brushing herself off.
“Yeah, I’m over here!” she called back.
Harry carefully made his way over some of the thick grass and weeds. “Some of the guests are starting to arrive. Ginny and Seamus just came in, and I believe Grace and Justin are on their way with…the monsters…” Harry’s eyebrows knitted together dramatically.
Caitlyn grinned. “Come on Dad, they aren’t that bad…. there’s just a lot of them!” she was referring to her mother’s friend Grace, her husband Justin, and their six children, who always climbed on the furniture and slobbered on everything. Every time they came over, something was ruined. Lucky for magic. “It’s a good thing we’ll be outside.” She said, taking her father’s hand as he helped her over the small mounds of earth.
“I think Blue’s friend is here too.” Harry replied, gazing back across to their houses.
“Great.” Caitlyn mumbled, her lip lifting up in a slight sneer. They ambled back as Grace and Justin came out the back door, Justin carrying two identical children with Grace holding the third.
“Glad you guys could make it.” Harry smiled, kissing Grace on the cheek and patting Justin’s back.
One of the triplets, (Caitlyn thought it was Elena, it was hard to tell between them most of the time, especially when they were dressed alike) reached immediately for her. “Caty!” the three year old squealed, latching onto her neck.
“Hey kiddo!” Caitlyn said, hugging the child to her. Grace shifted the one in her arms to the other side and patted her arm.
“Congratulations Caty.” She said, leaning over and kissing her cheek. “Justin and I are so happy for you!”
“Thanks.” Caitlyn smiled at her mother’s best friend and her husband. “I was so nervous up there, giving that speech.”
“You did a wonderful job.” Harry said, looking affectionately at his daughter. “I tell you, your mother couldn’t stop sobbing…”
“Harry James Potter, are you telling stories about me again?” Hermione was stepping out the back door, with the now iced cake in her hands.
“Whoops…” Harry grinned. “Nope, wasn’t saying anything…” he looked around innocently as the adults burst into laughter. Grace handed the other baby (Elaine, Caitlyn figured) to Harry and went over to Hermione.
“Let me get that.” Grace said, taking the cake. “How have you been feeling?”
“I’ve been feeling wonderful lately.” Hermione said as Grace set the cake down with the rest of the food. “No problems at all.”
“Hi Grace!” Lavender chirped as she walked up to them, Harry and Justin had obviously handed off the other two kids as she was now carrying them.
“Oh I really don’t believe those two!” Grace said, looking darkly at her husband and Harry, who were already deep in conversation with Ron and ignoring their respective wives. “When Justin gets around other guys he hands those three off to me so fast you could blink and miss it.”
“I don’t mind at all.” Lavender said, nuzzling Elaine and then Elliot, the only boy out of the whole brood of Finch Fletchley children. “It makes me wish I was having another…”
“Ugh, you can take my spot anytime.” Hermione groaned. “I tell you, they keep me up half the night, I’m betting you it’s Carl, it sure doesn’t feel like a dainty foot kicking.”
Caitlyn shifted Elena to her other arm and smiled at her mother. “And whenever one of them wakes you up you wake Dad up.”
“That’s right.” Hermione laughed. “He’s so crabby in the middle of the night too.” They all cracked up.
“Hey what are you guys laughing about?” Harry called over.
“Nothing, wasn’t saying anything!” Hermione mocked, winking at her husband.
A door banged shut across the connecting yards and Caitlyn saw Blue step outside with Kristen on his heels.
“Ugh.” Caitlyn muttered under her breath. She had rather been hoping Kristen would cancel. She looked on in amusement however, at Kristen’s choice of wardrobe. While everyone was in casual jeans, shorts and simple tank tops or t-shirts, Kristen was wearing a skimpy white halter top, and a black skirt so short, it looked like it would ride up as soon as she sat down.
“Oh Blue, what a nice backyard!” Kristen simpered, grabbing onto his arm and causing him to stumble. “It’s so cute!”
“Uh…thanks.” Blue said, his eyes scanning the yard for Caitlyn. He spotted her standing with his mother, Hermione and their friend Grace. She had been looking at them, but snapped her head around the moment their eyes locked.
“Kristen this is my mum….” Blue named everyone off as he made introductions.
“Nice to meet you Kristen.” Lavender said. Hermione nodded and smiled at her as well.
“Nice cake!” Blue’s eyes widened as he took in the chocolate cake, iced with fudge and white letters spelled out ‘Congratulations, Caitlyn and Blue!’ in curvy script that obviously had some sort of shimmer charm on it.
“Thanks Blue.” Hermione looked fondly at the boy.
“I’m willing to bet you and Harry had a fine time making it this morning.” Grace said quietly. Hermione turned a bright red colour.
“I’m taking that as my cue to leave.” Caitlyn announced, bouncing Elena around. “Is it okay if I take her by the pond?”
“Just don’t let her go in.” Grace replied. “She’s had a cold this past week.”
“Pon!” Elena cried as Caitlyn turned her back on Blue and Kristen.
“Yup, we’re going to the pond!” Caitlyn smiled at the little girl. “No getting wet though!”
“Hi Caitlyn.” Blue’s voice cut through her banter with Elena.
Caitlyn turned and looked at him stonily. “Blue.” She said, her voice cool.
“How are you?” he asked awkwardly. He was very happy he had managed to shake off Kristen for a few moments when he introduced her to Harry and his father.
She looked at him a moment, wondering if she should respond when Elena reached out for him.
“Bwoo!” she screamed. Blue smiled at her and took her from Caitlyn.
“You want to fly?” he asked her, and her curls bounced as she nodded. Blue swooped her around in the air, around in circles. Her giggles made Caitlyn smile.
“More Bwoo more!” Elena begged.
“Ahhh all right!” Blue said as he began to swing her around in circles again. He drew her up by Caitlyn who grinned.
“Kiss Caty, go on!” Blue said, bringing Elena up close to her. Caitlyn leaned in and made a kissing noise right by the baby’s face.
“She is so funny.” Caitlyn said, holding her arms out as Blue deposited Elena back in her arms. “I want a kid just like you someday!” she nuzzled her soft face.
“Me too.” Blue replied. He took a deep breath as he watched Caitlyn spin Elena around. “Caty are you still mad at me?” he watched her tentatively as she set the baby on her hip.
“I don’t know what I am anymore Blue. You’ve confused the heck out of me, telling me one thing and then another.” Her gaze was slightly frosty.
“Caty I didn’t mean what I said yesterday…” he was interrupted by the arrival of Kristen, who latched onto his arm immediately.
“Oh Blue, let’s go up and have a drink…” Kristen cooed. “I’m so hot.” She waved her hand in front of her face.
Caitlyn smirked. “You two have a nice time.” She said sarcastically. “Come on, we’ll go to the pond!” Elena squealed again and they set off down the lawn.
She stayed down there until she heard the arrival of more voices, this time it was Blue’s Aunt Ginny and Uncle Seamus with their two children, and not long after that, Fred Weasley with his wife Angelina, George Weasley and his wife Ambir, the matriarchs of the Weasley family, Arthur and Molly, and her father’s godfather Sirius Black, who they rarely saw anymore.
“I suppose we’d better get back up there baby girl!” she smiled at Elena. Picking her up and settling her onto her hip, Caitlyn made her way back up the yard. She saw the men clapping each other on the back, laughing over something that either her father or Uncle Ron had done, no doubt. Looking the other way, she saw her mother standing with Grace and George’s wife Ambir.
“Whose stomach is bigger, I wonder?” Lavender asked, coming up to them with a glass of iced pumpkin juice in her hand.
Hermione and Ambir both glared at her. “Funny Lavender, we can’t help it if we’re big and you’re not.” Hermione snapped, turning back to Ambir. “I cannot believe you guys are having triplets.”
“Me either.” Ambir replied, resting a hand on her stomach. “George is just beside himself. So is Molly, she’s ecstatic about having more grandkids.” She began to laugh. “George is just so funny about all this though, the other day he actually stuck headphones on my stomach, I was almost afraid to ask what it was…. I never knew George was such an Elvis Presley freak….” She rolled her eyes and they all burst out laughing.
“That’s great!” Hermione said, happy for her friend. “How many more months have you got?”
“Four!” Ambir said as Caitlyn joined them. “Hi Caitlyn, congratulations!”
“Thanks.” Caitlyn smiled as Ambir hugged her. She looked over at her mother. “Are you okay Mum you look a little thirsty.”
“I am, a bit.” Hermione replied, holding her empty cup.
“I can go get you some more pumpkin juice if you want.” Caitlyn offered.
“I think we’re out, though.” Hermione frowned.
“We have some.” Lavender said. “It’s right out on the counter Caty.”
“All right.” Caitlyn patted her mother’s arm as she walked by. She swung the back door open to the Weasley home and stopped short.
“What are you doing in here?” she asked.
“I live here.” Blue smirked in her direction. “What’s your excuse?” his tone was considerably lighter than it had been in the past few days.
“Um…pumpkin juice.” Caitlyn held up the cup.
“Oh…. here…” he said, taking the jug and pouring some for her. Caitlyn bit her lip as she took in the fact that Blue had no shirt on.
“Thanks.” She said, trying to avert her eyes away from his lean arms and tight chest. “So where’s the bi—“ she stopped short, not wanting to call Kristen a bitch in front of Blue. Their friendship had already deteriorated enough over the past few days; she didn’t want to push away the guy she loved even more by insulting his friends.
‘Where the hell did that thought come from?’ Caitlyn thought to herself, stunned at what the random statement had revealed to her. She shook her head to clear her mind, and placed a hand on the counter top to steady herself. Loved? She had just finally admitted to herself that she had less than friendly feelings for him; love was something completely different… wasn’t it?
“Are you all right?” Blue asked, concerned, as she looked a little pale. He reached out and put his hand on her arm, moving his fingers down, his touch making her skin tingle.
“I’m uh…fine.” Caitlyn managed to utter as she looked up right into his eyes.
“Caty…” his voice was no more than a whisper as he brought his face close to hers, wanting to feel her lips on his once more. He bent down even more and she tilted her head back, waiting for the pressure of his mouth.
“Blue what are you doing?” she breathed as his lips came even closer. Without another word, his mouth came on top of hers and his kiss made her knees feel weak. Not even realizing her hands were winding around his neck, Caitlyn pressed her body tighter against his and his arms went tightly around her waist. Her mouth opened and she pushed her tongue out hesitantly against his at first, and his response was fiery and immediate.
“I’m not disturbing you am I?” the insincere concern in Kristen’s voice made them jump apart and blush furiously.
“No.” Caitlyn managed to keep her voice from trembling. Blue looked at her a moment then at Kristen.
“Something you wanted?” he asked, trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice.
“Just wanted to see where you were.” Kristen replied, toying with the neckline of her top.
“Ah.” Blue replied. He looked around as a means to escape, as Caitlyn and Kristen had taken to glaring at each other across the room. “I uh, need to take this to my aunt Hermione.” He grabbed the cup of juice from the counter and fled the room.
“Chicken shit.” Caitlyn mumbled as she watched the door slam shut behind him. She looked back over at Kristen.
“So you two looked a little cosy there.” Kristen’s words were pure ice.
“Well that’s really none of your business is it?” Caitlyn replied coolly, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Oh but I think it is.” Kristen said, coming over to Caitlyn. “I don’t appreciate you trying to kiss my boyfriend!”
“He’s not your boyfriend.” Caitlyn said, still using the same cool voice. She refused to let Kristen see the panic that suddenly swelled up in her. Had she really lost him so soon?
“Oh, yes, he is.” Kristen replied smugly. “After we left you down by the lake with that stupid kid, he took me for a long walk, we talked about the rest of the summer, the fall…and then he kissed me….” She took a few steps closer, so that they were almost nose to nose. “It’s no wonder he doesn’t want anything to do with you. You’re so plain, and you obviously don’t know anything about pleasing your guy.”
“You’d better take that back.” Caitlyn’s voice lowered dangerously. “Just because you wear your robes four sizes too small doesn’t mean that the male population thinks you’re gorgeous. More like trampy if you ask me.”
“How dare you!” Kristen cried angrily. “You’re jealous, just like every other girl!”
“And you’re all talk to think that Blue would ever lower himself to date you.” Caitlyn replied, her voice still low and steady. “And he wouldn’t kiss you. That would be like snogging a toad.”
“Oh yes he did, and it’s a shame you’ll only have that once chance to kiss him…” Kristen was clenching her fists.
“Excuse me?” an annoyed male voice broke through their banter, and Caitlyn wasn’t sure whether or not she was pleased to see Blue walk back through the door.
“I uh…hello Blue.” Kristen’s confidence was shattered at the angry look on Blue’s face.
“What’s going on here?” he asked in a tight voice.
Kristen gave him what she thought was her most winning smile. “Nothing, we were just having a chat.”
Caitlyn let a rather unladylike snort and leaned back against the counter. “A chat, right.” She said sarcastically.
“We never kissed.” Blue said to Kristen, ignoring Caitlyn’s comment. “I know I heard you say we did.”
“Well, I didn’t mean to say it like that, I mean, we talked about doing things this summer…” Kristen was clearly losing ground.
“As friends.” Blue replied evenly. “I’m in love with someone else.”
Caitlyn’s head turned so fast she thought she’d get whiplash and her stomach flopped over a few times.
“With her?” Kristen’s voice held a note of contempt and her lip was caught up in a sneer.
Blue hesitated, he no longer knew what was going on between he and Caty, and he didn’t want to lay his heart on the line again only to have her back off once more. But then again, if she did feel differently now as she’d said last night…and if their kiss they just had meant anything…
“Yes.” Blue’s voice came out strong. “She’s my best friend as well as the girl I love, and if you’re my friend you’ll be happy for us.” He crossed his arms and stared at the other girl.
“But Blue, you’ve spent the whole day with me, she’s just playing with you, she can never make you feel as good as I can—“ Kristen reached out at him. “She’s not as good as me; she’s not even as pretty as me!”
Caitlyn was almost at the end of her rope. “You’re so pathetic, do you even listen to yourself?” she sneered, her green eyes narrowed. Kristen glared at her, and then raised her hand up. Blue stared in shock as her fist nearly connected with Caitlyn’s face.
Caitlyn managed to catch Kristen’s wrist the second before it made contact and threw it back. “How dare you!” She was simply amazed that the other girl would go so far as to actually hit her. “You are SO lucky I don’t have my wand right now.”
“Going to curse me?” Kristen sneered. There was no false pretense of likeness between the two girls; all the cards were now laid on the table.
“I don’t need to.” Caitlyn replied coolly. And in one swift motion, she grabbed the jug of pumpkin juice and dumped it over Kristen’s perfect blonde head.
A high pitched scream emerged from her throat as the orange coloured juice dripped off her hair and white shirt. “Blue did you see what she just did?” Kristen was near tears.
“Yeah. I did.” Blue stood at his best friend’s side. “And it was really, really funny.” He began to laugh, his arms crossed over his stomach. Caitlyn’s mouth twitched at the sight, and she began to giggle as well.
Kristen emitted another high pitched sound of frustration and glared at them. When neither one stopped laughing, she turned and fled through the front door of the house, slamming it behind her.
“And good riddance…” Caitlyn muttered a few moments later, finally settling down.
“I can’t believe she acted that way, she was always so nice.” Blue said after another few moments.
Caitlyn rolled her eyes in his direction. “Look who’s been blind to the obvious for so long.” She said dryly.
“Well if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black!” Blue shot back. They both stared at each other a moment, then broke into laughter again.
“Caty…we really need to…”
“Talk, I know.” She finished. “These past couple of days haven’t been easy…” Caitlyn began when the door flew open.
“CAKE!” Colin screamed into the room. “MUM’S CUTTING THE CAKE!”
“Okay!” Caitlyn said, covering her ears. Colin flew back outside and she looked at Blue. “Later?” she asked.
“All right.” A smile spread across his face as they went outside together.