Now, going back to the original plan means that I have a few thousand words writting that are left 'homeless' so to speak.
The part below the cut is a moment between John and Grace Bell the night before Katie and Marcus' Ministry wedding. FYI- before you get confused at Katie's presence there; feeling emotional and traditional (and hormonal, but we won't say that aloud), she insisted on spending her last night as a single witch with her parents. She almost succeeded in that, but that's a deleted scene for another time.
Without further ado, I bring you John and Grace Bell with a cameo of Tamsin Bell. Not edited because I couldn't be arsed to do so.
Tamsin Bell’s shrill cries cut through the night, pulling John from the deep slumber he was in. Michael and Eloise’s daughter was a few months old and on her first overnight stay with her grandparents to give her parents some much needed alone time and rest. Still half-asleep, John’s first instinct was to nudge Grace to go and mind the babe. When his elbow missed the mark, he patted the mattress next to him. Confused, he cracked one eye open. There was just enough light in the room for him to see that, save for his grand-daughter in her cot, he was all alone. Was it his turn to get up? If it was, since when was he allowed to do that?
“My turn it is then,” he grumbled as he slid out of bed and lit the lamp. On cue, Tamsin’s cries grew louder and shriller, her arms and legs flailing in the air as her face turned redder and redder in frustration. Ever the grandparent, the first thing John did was to grab his camera and snap a few shots of her. She looked just too adorable to pass up on the chance to have some blackmail material for when she hit puberty. The flash did nothing to soothe the little girl, however.
“Oh my poor baby,” John cooed as he finally put down his camera and picked her up, cradling her close to his chest. The crying didn’t stop, but thankfully the volume and force behind it decreased. “Better?”
For a second, in the dim light, Tamsin resembled Katie so much with her dark eyes and hair, John was sure that he’d travelled back in time. Even the expression on Tamsin’s face as she glared up at him was the same as Katie’s ‘don’t ask such stupid questions’-look she used to wear when she was the same age. Chuckling, he lifted her bum to sniff her nappy and promptly got hit in the eye when she flailed her arms again to make it known that her nappy wasn’t the problem. “Yeah, you’re right. Let’s get you something to eat first.”
With Tamsin cradled close, John shuffled out the bedroom and made his way down the narrow corridor to the stairs. On his way, he passed Katie’s room. The door stood wide open, and he couldn’t help but peek inside. A wry smile crept up his face at the sight of his daughter. The colourful quilt Grace’s mother had made ages ago had fallen onto the floor. Around it, empty Chocolate Frog wrappers glistened in the sliver of moonlight that shone through the crack between the curtains. On the bedside cupboard, the big jar filled with pickled eggs she had brought with her was almost empty.
Katie was lying on her side, her huge belly barely covered by the shirt she was wearing. Her loud snores were now and then interrupted by sleepy mumblings about running out of snacks or telling the baby for kicking her. She looked cold, John decided, and the urge to go in and tuck her in - - to take care of her as he’d always done, was strong. If it hadn’t been for Tamsin’s wails picking up again, he would have given into it.
“Shhh, let your Auntie sleep while she still can,” John murmured, cradling her close. It didn’t help much. In fact, the babe’s cries grew louder and angrier, and Katie began stirring.
Not in the mood to deal with a cranky pregnant lady, John rushed down the stairs to the kitchen before Katie woke up. He’d tuck her in later, after feeding Tamsin and changing her nappy.
Too preoccupied with warming a bottle for his granddaughter and worrying about Katie catching a cold, John didn’t notice his wife sitting in the darkened living room. Then again, Grace was not in a rush to make her presence known either. Not until John sat down to feed Tamsin, blissfully unaware that they were being spied on in the dark.
“I always thought that feeding a baby made you look irresistible.”
John nearly jumped through the roof. It was a good thing that he didn’t have his wand on him because that wouldn’t have ended well for Grace. “Bleeding hell, woman,” he barked, and immediately swallowed most of the colourful curses already on his lips because Tamsin was scowling at him again from behind her bottle. So, he settled on an indignant, “What in heaven’s name are you doing?”
Grace swished her wand, and the room basked in a soft light. Clad in the same old pyjamas she had since they’d first started dating, she was sitting on the sofa with her legs pulled up against her chest. Her lashes were thick with tears, and the corners of her mouth pointed downwards. Momentarily forgotten that he was cross with her for scaring him, John had to chuckle at the uncanny resemblance between his wife and daughter, and now grand-daughter, especially when they were pouting like that.
“Are you alright, love?” he asked, already knowing the answer.
Dozens of photographs were strewn around her on the sofa and the floor. Most of them were of Katie, from just few seconds old to the one taken yesterday morning when she and Marcus had dropped by to announce their engagement. If John had to hazard a guess, he’d say that Grace was going through the same woe-is-me phase she had gone through four months ago, when Micky and Eloise had eloped a few days before Tamsin’s birth. If it hadn’t been for the imminent arrival of their first grandchild, Grace would’ve disowned Michael for getting married on the sly.
“Gimme,” Grace said hoarsely, her arms stretched out.
Knowing better than to argue or press further, John obliged and carefully handed over Tamsin, who kept on drinking as if she had not been fed in weeks, again so much like her Auntie. Carefully, he collected the pictures and sat down, wrapping his arm around Grace’s shoulders as she huddled close. He pretended not to notice her soft sobs, not until she was ready to tell him on her own what was bothering her.
It took for Tamsin to finish her bottle and be burped before Grace had composed herself well enough to talk. “They grow up too fast, don’t they?” she said quietly as she rocked the baby to sleep.
John nodded in agreement as he glanced down at the stack of photographs in his hand. It was a small compilation of the hundred or so he had taken that cold November morning when Katie was born, and it seemed almost fitting that this particular photograph would be the top one.
A young Marcus Flint stared back at him, eyes as wide as saucers and his mouth agape in a silent scream of horror. The repulsed-looking boy, who, at the time, had been quite small for his age - - something that was hard to believe these days, was holding an equally discontented Katie. Like her handler, she too was screaming silently, eyes screwed shut, and her tiny hands balled into fists. Her face was crimson from exertion. Who would have thought all those years ago that those two would get married one day, let alone have a kid together?
“You took that one just five minutes ago,” Grace complained as she shifted Tamsin in her arms. “They can’t be marrying already. They’re just babies, John.”
Remembering the last time they’d this conversation, John merely sniggered and kissed her hair. “They’ve been living together for years now; that’s never bothered you before. Not to mention, our Katie’s about to pop, love. Why’s them getting married troubling you more than that?”
“I don’t know, it just is,” said Grace with a petulant shrug of her shoulders. “It’s… It’s so final.”
“What do you mean?”
“My babies don’t need me anymore, they’re all grown up,” cried Grace as she buried her face into John’s chest. “Who am I supposed to take care of now?”
“Me, of course,” was John’s first reaction. She’d been doing that since Katie had moved out, why change a winning formula? Then, as his brain caught up with him, he cocked his chin at Tamsin, “Or, you can start with her and add the other one once she’s here. We’ll spoil them rotten, even more than we’d intended to do, and when they’re at their worst, we’ll send them home and sit back and watch how they drive Micky and Katie mad.”
“I can’t wait.” Despite her tears, Grace chuckled along. Her chuckles faded into a small smile as she stroked Tamsin’s downy hair. When she spoke up again, the smile had faded, and she sounded wistful. “Remember when Katie was five and insisted that she was going to marry Georgie Michael because he had such pretty hair?”
“Yeah, she had her heart set on marrying in Westminster Abbey because your mum told her that all the princesses married their princes there. Of course, Micky had to rub in that he remembered Di and Charles marry,” John said. His chuckles grew louder when out of nowhere a memory of Katie having a meltdown because he’d accidentally switch channels on the telly in the midst of one George Michael's songs suddenly sprung up. “Bleeding hell, she spent days with your mum making that scrapbook, the one with all the wedding rubbish. Didn't they stick all the cutouts from magazines in there? I think it’s still in one of the boxes in the attic.”
“Yeah, mum loved egging her on. You were right about George, by the way.” Grace chuckled, shaking her head as she thought back at those years spent in her mother’s small flat in Croydon.
Space and money had been tight, tension often rose high, and her mother's illness a torture to witness. But thinking back, she reckoned that she wouldn’t do it any different if given the chance to do it over. Tears welled up again, and her voice was thick with emotion when she asked,
“Can you bring down the book? I think Katie'll love to have that. We can give to her at breakfast, before Marcus- before he comes for her.”
“I will.” John didn’t move, though. Instead, he stared at the stack of pictures in his hand. With his thumb, he swept off the one with Marcus bellowing in horror. The next one in the stack was of a murderous looking Grace shaking pointing her wand at the camera and Micky who was laughing at something behind his hand, probably at his mum for cursing like a Knockturn Alley panhandler. Katie’s arrival had still been a half a day away at that point, but Grace had been in labour for nearly twenty-four hours. She had nearly killed him that day for constantly being in her face with the camera.
“Remember this one? Your waters had finally broken a few minutes earlier…”