Celia Hier (faculty spouse)
In need of a hand or two
Tue Jan 16, 2018 18:44

Please let this year be boring, Celia implored silently to whatever might be listening as she crammed what felt like enough provisions for a small army into the diaper bag. Admittedly, it would be hard to top the events of last year: the addition of Julia and Steven to their family; the adoption of a second dog; Christmas, when Elise and Celia’s entire nuclear family, including her sisters-in-law, had descended upon their apartment for the holiday; Jude’s early mastery of walking and subsequent apparent determination, at sixteen months, to prove herself a perpetual motion machine; and finally, after things had finally, finally stabilized, Celia had discovered that she was once again pregnant.

The idea of a big family was normal to Celia - in fact, she couldn’t imagine growing up without a squadron of cousins to play with, and she’d always viewed Tommy and Annalise’s closeness with a mix of a jealousy and happiness. Rob hadn’t had the happiest childhood with his family, and while he certainly indulged Celia in any number of things, the number of kids they had settled on had been a consensus, not an indulgence. And when that hadn't gone according to plan, he had taken quite well to being a father, especially given how overwhelmingly quickly their family had grown. And since “What could possibly go wrong?” should have been emblazoned on their nonexistent family crest, they decided they could handle another baby.

First Celia had to handle another fetus. While she wasn’t throwing up nearly constantly the way she had with Jude, the previous five months or so had been a whirlwind of extreme emotions and weird food cravings. Celia thought she might prefer the morning sickness, especially with three small humans aged five and under, who picked up any emotion as if it were the most contagious germ. Having them all catch the giggles from her was cute the first time it had happened, but fits of tears on her part led to full scale meltdowns on theirs. And it was so hard to not shout at them, but she had managed that, at least. (Admittedly a couple times she had had to foist disciplining off on Rob and take herself off to the bedroom to cry out the frustrations and hormones, but she hadn’t shouted at her kids.)

Annalise and Raina had stopped by a lot during the summer to help out, and Mom and Dad had visited enough that Angelina had made a couple of joking comments about getting transferred to Colorado so that she could be closer to her grandkids. (At least, Celia hoped they were jokes, and that Dad would be able to talk Mom out of it.) Elise also came by occasionally, which was helpful until she left and Rob and Celia had to explain yet again to Julia and Steven that they couldn’t live with Aunt Elise. And while it was wonderful to have her family’s support and help, sometimes she felt like they cared more about the coming baby than they did her.

The diaper bag was packed. Celia zipped it closed, grateful for the wizard space inside that let her carry a couple of full-sized pillows (for sitting on the floor while six months pregnant) as well as the aforementioned snacks, some toys for Steven and Jude, and a picture book for Julia. She got Steven to fill up Jelly Bean’s food and water bowls and helped Julia with the back of her dress, while Rob wrangled Jude into a clean diaper and onesie. (How Jude could get so grubby playing with plastic containers in the fastidiously clean kitchen was beyond Celia or Rob.) By the time that was done, it was only ten minutes before students were supposed to arrive for the Opening Feast, and Rob and Celia had to hustle the kids out the door so that they could get them there and settled before the students started popping into the entrance hall.

It fortunately wasn’t a long walk, which was good because Julia wanted to show off her dress to every portrait they passed and Celia wasn't the most patient person even when she wasn't on a rollercoaster of pregnancy hormones. The dress had been a birthday present from Aunt Annalise last week, and Julia adored it. It was pink and came with built-in fairy wings that had been charmed to not shed glitter everywhere. And it had pockets. Annalise had told Celia that the dress was also charmed to grow with Julia to a certain degree, so she wouldn’t grow out of it immediately. Celia was just relieved that she didn’t have another tantrum like she had yesterday, when Julia had found out that “feast” meant “party with lots of food” but that the Opening Feast wasn’t a party for her. It had been a small tantrum, by Julia’s standards, and surprisingly easily resolved by Rob pointing out that she’d been to parties for other people’s birthdays, so it was okay for there to be parties that weren’t about her. Julia had accepted this surprisingly philosophically, and the issue hadn’t come up today since Julia had been distracted by getting ready for her first day of kindergarten, which was tomorrow.

When they reached the Diner, Celia herded Steven and Julia toward one corner of the staff dais, where they’d be relatively contained. On the way, Julia saw Madeleine Tennant and scampered off to join her and her dads. Celia gave Garen a grateful wave. She took Jude from Rob and got her and Steven settled while Rob ran interference with Toby, who’d come over to say hi to all of them. Once she’d distracted Jude with a toy and gotten the ground rules settled with Steven (you can only run around in this corner, don’t bump into anyone, say please and thank you to the house elves when they bring you food), Rob graciously (or sarcastically, knowing Rob) finessed his way out of interfering with his boss’s intended goal of coming to say hi to the wee ones. Celia wondered if he’d recognize them, given that they had been sixth years during his first term as Headmaster, but given the way he chortled over Jude and told Steven a corny joke, he probably only had eyes for the kids.

Celia used the distraction to snag a plate of some sort of fried dumplings for herself and request a bowl of Cheerios for Jude. Steven could order for himself when he stopped being pleased that a grown-up was having a grown-up conversation with him; he tended to have one day a week where he felt adventurous with food, and Celia didn’t want to find out the hard way that it wasn’t today by ordering for him. Steven apparently wasn’t sure himself, asking the house elf, “What’s that?” for every dish the house elf carried before asking for macaroni and cheese and peas, please, but with the peas not touching. The house elf disappeared and reappeared promptly with the Cheerios and a plate of macaroni and cheese with a separate compartment of peas, as well as another plate with a three-year-old-sized mouthful of each of the dishes Steven had asked about, also well separated. Steven, after a pointed look from Celia, said thank you and looked at the second plate dubiously. Celia shrugged. He could eat it, or she would. She’d already polished off three dumplings while the students filed into the Diner. They were filled with pork and deliciously garlicky.

Celia didn’t hear much of Toby’s welcome speech; it was probably similar to the one he’d given fourteen, no, fifteen years ago when she’d been out next to the Lyra fire. Anyway, she had much more important things to do, as Jude had decided that the Cheerios were for the “Throw-Cheerios-Everywhere” game and not for eating. Steven decided to play too, by throwing the Cheerios back towards Jude. Celia was busy scooping them back up and trying to persuade Jude to eat them using airplane noises or just dumping them back in the bowl when she had too many to hold. Or when she needed to eat another dumpling. Jude saw Celia take a bite of dumpling and forgot about the Cheerios, popping up to stamp her way over to Celia’s plate. “Ama-ama-ma-ma-ma!” she demanded, reaching for a dumpling. Celia blinked in surprise. If Jude wanted to try a dumpling, she could try a dumpling. She broke off a tiny piece of filling and put it on the spoon that had come with the Cheerios and held it out for Jude to taste. Jude’s face wrinkled up comically as she tasted the garlic, but as soon as she swallowed she was stretching out her tiny hands for more.

“Fine, you monster,” Celia said teasingly, and cut the last of her dumplings into tiny pieces for Jude. She looked about for another house elf with food, any food, since Steven now was poking curiously, rather than dubiously, at his sampler plate and Celia was going to allow him to be adventurous. That was when Estelle, who had sat down next to her without her noticing, asked if she’d seen coffee. Or wine. Her friend’s tone made it clear which of the two she’d prefer and which of the two she thought she was more likely to get.

“Estelle,” Celia retorted, with a smile and a brief gesture to her abdomen, “why are you asking me?” Her tone was entirely facetious. “I’m sure there’s coffee around here somewhere, though,” she went on more seriously as Jude made a grab for another piece of dumpling with a burbled cry that probably translated as, “Mommy, feed me faster.” “I need something else to eat, since this little monster decided she would polish off my food instead of hers. So you probably could just request it whenever it is that we flag down a house-elf.”

  • In need of a drink or two - Prof. Estelle Blair-West, Tue Jan 16 15:04
    Tonight was supposed to be a proper social event. The new family of four had planned (well, okay, Estelle and Liam were the only ones involved in said planning) to attend the Opening Feast together.... more
    • In need of a hand or two - Celia Hier (faculty spouse), Tue Jan 16 18:44
      • I can spare some of mine - Estelle, Fri Jan 26 23:25
        Estelle sighed loudly, but conceded with a grin that the younger woman was in the right. Wine and fetuses didn’t mix well. Or not after the first trimester, at least, although she hadn’t experimented ... more
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