Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Biggles, not making any money, just cheap thrills.
Summary: A nearly seven year old Harry Potter is about to meet a new family member, what effect will this have on his life?
7 July 1959:
Ginger Hebblethwaite stared in shock at the woman seated across from him, his fingers idly playing with the small box resting in his pocket. "I...is this a joke Rose?" he asked, his eyes pleading with her to say yes. It had to be a joke! Life couldn't be so cruel. Silently, he scoffed at himself. He knew all too well that it could.
Rose looked down at the table. She couldn't bring herself to meet his eyes, knowing the pain she would see there. Guilt welled up within her; she ruthlessly tamped down on it. "I'm sorry Ginger you must believe that if you believe nothing else."
"Must I?" he sarcastically asked. He made no attempt to keep the hurt from his voice.
Rose sighed heavily. "No, I don't suppose you must, but I do hope you will...in time."
"Why Rose? Why did you lie to me? Was I just a way to pass the time until you reconciled with your husband?" he bitterly demanded. He couldn't believe what a fool he had been. At least he hadn't had the chance to ask the question he'd been prepared to, that was one less humiliation for him to suffer.
The answer when it came was so quiet that Ginger had to strain to hear it.
"I do love you Ginger, I simply love my husband more," leaping gracefully to her feet, Rose hurried from the small cafe.
Ginger sat at the table, staring at the top, for how long he wasn't sure. The waiter clearing his throat finally caught his attention. "I'm sorry," he apologized, while giving the man a questioning look.
"Quite all right, sir," the waiter said, brushing the apology aside. "Are you ready to order, sir?" he politely inquired. The less said about the small scene the better. This wasn't, after all, the first time he had witnessed such things, though he wasn't privy to the details, of course.
Ginger shook his head. "I believe I've changed my mind, if you could just bring me the bill?"
"Of course, sir; it will only be a moment." So saying the man quickly walked away.
Ginger didn't need to wait long. In a scant few minutes the waiter returned with the bill. It wasn't large of course, two teas wouldn't be. Ginger paid the bill, leaving a generous gratuity. It wasn't the waiter's fault the evening had gone badly, aside from which Ginger appreciated the man's discretion after Rose left.
In need of time, Ginger chose to walk home rather than call for a taxi. It was a slightly long walk, a fact he was somewhat grateful for. In spite of the length of the trek home, Ginger arrived long before he was ready. Uncertainly he began to pace in front of the building. He hated to tell his friends what a fool he'd been.
"I say, looks as if Ginger is home," Bertie commented, after glancing out the window as he was returning to his seat. "Well that's dashed odd, yes absolutely, dashed odd," he murmured after a few minutes of watching.
"What's odd?" Algy quietly asked.
Sharing a look with Biggles, Algy moved towards the window. He was concerned by what he saw. Bertie was right, it was dashed odd. "Why do you suppose he's pacing like that?"
"I haven't the foggiest, old boy," Bertie replied. "Should we invite him in?"
"No," Biggles answered. "He'll come in when he's ready. Not a word from either of you," he warned. "Whatever the trouble is, he'll tell us when he's ready."
Knowing Biggles was right, the two men returned to their seats and the game Ginger's arrival had interrupted. Algy couldn't help but hope that Ginger would confide in one of them sooner rather than later. Neither man could focus on the game at hand. Consequently when their youngest member entered the flat, they gladly put it away.
Stepping into the flat, Ginger hung his hat on the rack in the hall; he took an extra moment, bracing himself. Entering the front room, he slowly sat down, in what had, over the years, become his chair.
Biggles couldn't help but see that the younger man moved as if he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. He hoped, though he imagined it was useless, that things hadn't gone badly with Miss Evans. When he saw Ginger pull the ring box from his pocket, Biggles' hope was proven; as he'd known it would, to be futile. "Miss Evans didn't give you the answer you had hoped for?" he gently asked, ignoring his earlier advice to Algy and Bertie.
Ginger made a sound that was somewhere between sob and laugh, "There is no Miss Evans." He winced, hating the bitterness in his voice.
The other three exchanged concerned glances. "What do you mean laddie?" Biggles asked.
"It's Mrs. Evans," he snapped. "Seems I was a few years too late in asking the question. Oh she was very kind about it," he told them. "Said she loved me, but she loves him more." For a few minutes he sat there, staring at the box, the only sound the ticking of the clock on the mantle. Shaking his head, he sat the box on the side table and stood up. "I'm tired." Without another word, he walked out of the room.
When Rose had left the café, she had hurried to the nearest trolley stop. Gratefully she sank into her seat, her hand trembling in reaction to the emotional confrontation. Her mind ran in circles the entire trip. It had been an awful thing she had done to Ginger, made more awful by the calculating way she'd gone about the whole thing.
While carrying her first child, her husband George had contracted measles, having managed to avoid them as a child. Fortunately Rose had suffered through them in childhood and so she and the babe weren't in any danger. George wasn't so lucky; he had been awfully ill. The doctor had explained it often happened that way when an adult contracted a childhood illness. She had never felt such relief as she had the day the doctor informed her that George would recover fully. It hadn't been until Petunia was nearly a year old that they had discovered the lasting effect of the illness; George was left unable to father children. Perhaps it was knowing it could never happen that had intensified Rose's desire for another child, perhaps not, she supposed she could never know with certainty. However, she had always wanted more than one child, and had been bitterly disappointed at the knowledge that there would be no more children. It was a disappointment George shared.
She wasn't certain any longer which of them had first thought of the scheme, not that it mattered. One of them had thought of it and both had agreed that it was their best chance for another child. And so, with George's blessing, Rose had set out to find a suitable candidate to father their second child. It had taken a little time, for he must be a decent man, one with a certain amount of integrity but that could be brought to care for her. She must care for him too; Rose had known she could never be intimate with a man she didn't care for. As the weeks had passed, after meeting Ginger, Rose had begun to realize the difficulty of their scheme. She had wanted to tell Ginger the truth after a while, but as George had sensibly pointed out a decent man would never go along with their scheme; if she told him, Ginger would walk away and if he agreed then he wasn't the man they would want to father the child. It had been a week ago today that she had been to the doctor, receiving confirmation of her condition. Rose had delayed, as long as she could, the conversation she knew she must have. Finally she had gathered her courage, the end result being the meeting in the café. Though the child would never know the man who fathered her, Rose silently promised that the love she and George would give the child would make up for that lack.
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