What if Lily and James had had a girl instead of a boy? And what if she went through the Triwizard Tournament? An AU fic and Snape romance - chapter 1 modeled closely on the end of book 4, so be warned, there will be major spoilers! The entire Potterverse and all who dwell therein belong to J.K. Rowling. Me, I'm just borrowing her inventions to daydream.
On July 31, 1980, Lily Potter gave birth to a baby girl she and her husband James named Rose. One year later, the Dark Lord destroyed the little family - except he couldn't kill Rose. She was left with a thin, lightning-shaped scar at the base of her throat, but was otherwise unharmed. Albus Dumbledore delivered her to the doorstep of her only remaining relatives, the Dursleys, where she lived with her Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, and cousin Violet for ten years in ignorance of her true wizarding heritage. Rose Potter came to Hogwarts at age 11 and thereafter had many of the same adventures as those told of a young boy named Harry who, curiously, shared her surname.
In Rose's seventh year, the Triwizard Tournament (originally scheduled for her fourth year, but postponed until agreement could be reached with the Durmstrang contingent on the rules of competition) was held. Rose decided not to enter her name, preferring to concentrate on her studies for this final and most important year at Hogwarts, and Cedric Diggory was chosen as Hogwarts Champion. Yet strangely the Goblet of Fire, having chosen the champions for the three competing schools, gave Rose's name as a fourth competitor; and after much ominous muttering and scratching of heads, it was decided Rose had no choice but to compete.
She acquitted herself well in the first two tasks, in which she had to retrieve a golden egg from a brooding Hungarian Horntail and then rescue her best friend, Matilda Weasley, from a watery captivity with the merpeople. However, the third task of navigating the maze on the Quidditch grounds proved to hold some surprises even the Tournament planners hadn't counted on....
Suddenly Rose was back at the edge of the maze, face down in the grass, clutching the Cup in one hand and Cedric's arm in the other.
"Miss Potter? Rose!" A pair of hands was roughly turning her over.
Rose blinked and looked up fuzzily into a dark face. "He's back," she murmured.
"What?" The hands were patting her, searching for injuries.
"Voldemort," she whispered. Her throat felt sticky; it was hard to talk. "He's returned."
"Voldemort ... My God, Diggory!" the voice above her exclaimed.
Rose swallowed. "Cedric asked me to bring him back. I had to get him back to...." her voice trailed off. Her grip on Cedric's sleeve tightened.
"That's good, Rose. You did well," said a new voice. Rose looked up. "Professor Dumbledore," she said hazily. "You've done all you could, now you have to let go," Dumbledore continued. His hand was tugging at her wrist. "Rose, let us take care of him now." She could finally feel her fingers relaxing.
Dumbledore was speaking again. "Severus, could you take her to the hospital wing? I need to find the Diggorys before - "
Rose felt hands helping her to her feet. She took a step on her injured ankle and stumbled. She was swung up into someone's arms. Feels good to be held. She curved her face into her protector's robes. They smelled pleasant, something hard to define but comforting, like a mixture of balsam and cinnamon.
Snape looked down at the girl he was carrying. For a moment he'd thought - and with Diggory dead, it was a miracle she'd survived. He knew only too well the Dark Lord had returned. What had Rose seen and done, how had she escaped, even with torn robes and covered with dirt and blood?
He was on the edge of the Forest, nearing the castle doors. People were running to the Quidditch field. Nobody seemed to notice him and his burden. Suddenly Rose began to struggle in his hold, muttering and pushing feebly against his chest. He lay her down in a clean patch of grass, lighting his wand to look into her face.
Her eyes opened, and she saw him properly for the first time. "Oh, it's you," she whispered. Relief filled her voice, though her words were thready. "For a moment I thought...."
Snape reflected humorlessly that few of his students would have been relieved to see him. He stood up and conjured a stretcher, lifting Rose onto it. As he guided the stretcher to the castle doors, Rose's hand groped and found his wrist; she seemed to need the contact.
"Whatever has happened?" Madam Pomfrey bustled forward to take the stretcher from Snape.
"We don't know the details yet. She's got a bad ankle, but nothing seems broken."
Madam Pomfrey was moving Rose into an examination room. Rose's hand reached out again; opening her eyes, she struggled up onto one elbow. "Please don't leave," she said fearfully, her eyes fixed on the dark face by the door.
"I'll be nearby," he heard himself saying. "Madam Pomfrey needs to treat you, and then Dumbledore and I will see you again." Rose lay back, spent, as Madam Pomfrey began her examination.
Snape shut the door quietly behind him and sat down in the anteroom, folding his arms across his chest. How had it come to this? His thoughts drifted back to when Rose had first come to Hogwarts. He had resented her so much in those early years. Famous without trying, she was everybody's darling, and worse, she was a powerful reminder of ... things best forgotten. But then as she grew up, as she reminded him more and more ... her voice, her face, her very gestures, were so like - and perhaps not so strangely, he found he couldn't hate her any longer. He did his best to simply ignore her; it was better that way.
Not that he always succeeded. A corner of his mouth quirked, as he remembered her fury earlier that year when he had said something especially cutting to Longbottom toward the end of a trying Potions class. What was it he'd said - something about the boy's parents? At any rate, as Longbottom stumbled from the dungeon with his head hanging, Rose had leapt to her feet with a fire in her eyes he'd rarely seen from her, and roared like the Gryffindor lioness she was, "How dare you!"
He'd said coldly, "Detention, Miss Potter," and she'd said, "Fine!" while packing her potions ingredients hastily and sloppily into her schoolbag. Then he'd added something about Longbottom's softheadedness not being worth defending. When she muttered something he didn't quite catch, he requested her to repeat it for the benefit of the entire class; she'd straightened up, looked him firmly in the eye and said loudly and clearly, "Better a soft head than a hard heart."
He'd taken fifty points from Gryffindor, and she'd trailed Longbottom from the dungeon without another word, only to return that evening as requested to serve her detention. He had her wash his entire dusty collection of phials and beakers by hand, and she set to work in silence. At the end of two hours she was looking ruefully at her water-wrinkled fingers when he came over to inspect the results. He told her she could go, and unexpectedly she almost grinned, saying "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but washing dishes is the only kind of Muggle work I really like." He'd almost assigned her another task, but stopped as she looked at him curiously, saying abruptly as if she'd been wondering about it for some time, "Why do you dislike people so much?"
He'd been taken aback - a rare feeling for him - and finally he'd said, "Good night, Miss Potter." She'd left without saying anything more, but not before giving him an odd and thoughtful look. Since that day he had sensed something different in her demeanor, though her attitude in class was merely one of polite attentiveness. But he found himself saying no more to Longbottom, and no more to her....
"How is she, Severus?"
Snape started and turned. Dumbledore looked weary and very much older as he seated himself by the door.
"Madam Pomfrey has her in hand. We should hear soon." He paused. "You saw the Diggorys?"
"Yes," said Dumbledore heavily. "They're with Professor Sprout now."
Madam Pomfrey entered, and the two men stood. "I've mended her ankle and treated her cuts and bruises. There is one wound - on her left arm - that resists the Healing Charm, but otherwise she's physically fine, just in need of a good rest. But she seems agitated. Wants to talk to you both, I think. Please try to be brief, she'll need her sleep very soon." She led the men to a ward. Rose, sitting in a bed by the window, was the sole occupant.
Dumbledore seated himself by her bed and motioned Snape to sit as well. Rose looked better now, though her eyes were haunted and her face still deathly pale.
"Please tell us what happened, Rose," Dumbledore prompted her gently.
Looking from one face to the other, Rose began to speak, slowly at first and then with increasing speed as if to empty herself of the whole terrible memory. She faltered at Cedric's death, but kept going. When she spoke of Wormtail pushing the cauldron in place, Snape tensed, as if he knew what was coming; and when she mentioned the silver dagger piercing her arm, he exclaimed sharply, and Dumbledore stood, crossing to her bed and holding out his hand. Rose extended her arm and undid the bandage so they could see the angry red mark.
"Madam Pomfrey couldn't heal it," Rose told them. "Voldemort said he needed my blood so that the ... the protection my mother gave me would be in him too. And...."
"And what?" said Dumbledore in a low voice.
"He was right," Rose whispered, closing her eyes. "He proved he could touch me without hurting himself. He ... touched my cheek." For the first time a tear fell from beneath her closed eyelids. Snape looked thunderous, Dumbledore enigmatic. "Please continue, Rose," he said at last, gently.
Rose told of Voldemort's rebirth, the summoning of the Death Eaters, her shock at seeing Mad-Eye Moody among their number. "Ah," said Dumbledore quietly.
"But then he transformed into someone else ... someone I saw in your Pensieve, Headmaster, but I don't remember who," Rose continued. "A youngish, blond man. Voldemort called him Bartemius."
"Barty Crouch?" Snape said incredulously.
"Yes, that was the name - I remember now, from the trial," said Rose. "Voldemort explained to the Death Eaters that Crouch had escaped from Azkaban when his mother offered to trade places with him, knowing she was dying ... Funny, isn't it," she addressed herself to Dumbledore, "how an act of kindness was turned to such evil. From what I heard, it seems Voldemort found Crouch again and enlisted him to take Moody's place here at Hogwarts. They brewed Polyjuice Potion to make Crouch look like Moody. I don't know where the real Moody is."
"Rose, there is more to this than we know," said Dumbledore with certainty. "Just as..." he glanced briefly at Snape before turning his gaze back to Rose, "your mother died to save you, and so gave you a protection that Voldemort found hard to overcome, Barty Crouch's mother in a sense died for him, and we will yet see good come from that act of love as well.
"But Severus, we need to find Moody. Presumably Crouch held him in captivity somewhere nearby so he could harvest his hair to keep making the potion he needed. Could you please alert Madam Pomfrey to have a search made of Moody's quarters? He will need immediate medical attention, if I'm not mistaken." Snape nodded and left quickly.
Dumbledore continued, "Rose, I have to tell you how proud I am of you. You faced Voldemort with a rare courage." Rose suddenly buried her face in her hands. "Don't!" she said, in a muffled voice. "Why, what's the matter?" Dumbledore prompted softly.
"Cedric," Rose said brokenly. "If it hadn't been for me, he'd still be alive. We helped each other in the maze, you see ... and when I reached the Cup, he was there just before me ... I told him to go on and take it, but he insisted I was injured through helping him, and he wouldn't, he wanted me to take it ... and finally I said, let's take it together. And he agreed," she finished in a whisper. "So don't you see, he shouldn't have touched it at all. If I hadn't convinced him - "
"Rose, no," said Dumbledore firmly. "Don't you know by now, something like this could never be your fault? Just as you were blameless in Pettigrew's escape four years ago, so you are blameless now. What you did was selfless and giving. As with your mother's sacrifice, as with Mrs. Crouch's act of love, we will see good come from this too - because you acted with the right intention. Please trust me," he said, as tears began to course down her cheeks, "you are not at fault."
Rose gathered herself together as Snape re-entered the ward. "Poppy and Filch are searching Moody's quarters now, and Filch has found the keys to his trunk - we think that may be where Moody is hidden," he said, looking curiously at Rose's tearstreaked face.
"Thank you, Severus. Rose, please continue your story from where you left off before," Dumbledore said.
Taking a deep breath, Rose went on. She described her resistance to the Imperius Curse, her subjection to the Cruciatus Curse, and how Wormtail had freed her at Voldemort's bidding. "He gave me my wand back, so we could duel," she said tonelessly. "He wanted to prove once and for all that he was my superior, that he could defeat me easily once we were on equal ground. The only thing I could think to do was try to disarm him. But when our spells crossed...." She explained the golden beam of light, the cage of golden threads, the phoenix song, the beads of light traveling down through Voldemort's wand.
Dumbledore nodded, as if in satisfaction. "Priori Incantatem," he said.
Snape turned to him. "The reverse spell effect?"
"Exactly. The two wands share the same core - a tail feather from the same phoenix. From Fawkes, in fact."
"Fawkes?" Rose said in wonder.
"Fawkes has only ever given two tail feathers," Dumbledore added. "The first was used in the wand that went to Tom Riddle - and the second, to yours, Rose. Mr. Ollivander sent me an owl as soon as you left his shop seven years ago, to tell me you'd bought the second wand.
"When a wand meets its twin, they won't work properly against each other, but instead one will force the other to regurgitate echoes of the spells it's cast, in reverse order. Which means you must have seen...."
"Cedric," Rose swallowed hard. "He told me to take his body back to his parents. And two strangers, a man and a woman...." she explained about Frank Bryce and Bertha Jorkins. "And...." she found she couldn't continue.
"And your parents," said Dumbledore gently. Rose nodded. Snape had been motionless throughout this recital. From the corner of Rose's eye, she saw Snape shift suddenly in his chair, as though finally realizing he was uncomfortable.
"And then," Dumbledore prompted softly.
Rose told them how her father had encouraged her, how her mother had told her what to do, how the connection was broken and the shades of Voldemort's victims had moved in on him, how she had broken free of the circle of Death Eaters and fled to find Cedric's body and summon the Cup to her. Finally she fell silent.
Dumbledore rose and took her cold hand in both his own. "I will say it again, Rose. You have been extraordinarily brave. You have faced Voldemort with a courage few witches or wizards have ever shown. You will never know how thankful I was to find you alive outside the maze. And now - " he pulled a small bottle from the depths of his robes - "you need a long and peaceful rest." He poured the potion, which was clear and smelled faintly of apricots, into a beaker on the bedside stand.
"Drink it all, Rose, and you'll have a dreamless sleep." Dumbledore handed her the beaker. Snape rose, making ready to go.
Rose looked a little desperately from one face to the other. "Please ... don't leave me alone," she heard herself say.
The two men looked at each other. Dumbledore said, "Severus will stay with you until we can reach your friends. You won't be left alone."
Relief filled Rose as she sank back onto the pillows, draining the beaker. "Thank you," she murmured as her eyes closed on the sight of Snape's enigmatic face.
He knew her every feature better than his own. He had been gazing down at her for what seemed like hours. Suddenly she murmured something, and her eyes darted back and forth behind closed lids. Her hands were flailing -
He shook her shoulder. "Miss Potter - Rose - " She gasped and sat up. "Cedric!" Her eyes were enormous. She covered her face with her hands. "Oh God, it was all my fault," she said, shaking. "My fault...."
She wasn't supposed to be having nightmares. Snape frowned. "What exactly was your fault?"
"Cedric's death," she said hoarsely. "If it hadn't been for me ... he was just ahead of me, but he wouldn't take the Cup, he said I'd helped him and I should take it ... finally I said let's take the Cup together. I convinced him ... he shouldn't have touched it at all!" She put her head down and wrapped her arms around her bent knees. Her shoulders shook.
Snape crossed over to sit beside her. "You know it wasn't your fault," he said sternly.
She raised her head to look at him. "But if I hadn't - "
"You were not responsible," he repeated.
She put her head down again, rocking back and forth a little. To his own surprise, Snape stroked her back, a little awkwardly, and she suddenly pressed her face into his shoulder. He felt her sobs as they shook her silently.
Presently she pulled away, reaching for a handkerchief. He stood and left the room momentarily, returning with a phial from Madam Pomfrey's cupboards. "This will give you a better sleep than Dumbledore's concoction," he said shortly. She raised wet eyes to his face and drank, coughing a little as she lay back down.
Rose woke to find late-afternoon sunlight streaming into the room and an anxious face hovering by her bed. "Mrs Weasley!" she cried. "Oh...." and she was wrapped in the most comforting embrace she'd known since....well, remembering the night before, it was hard to make comparisons. And where had that thought come from?
"Oh, sweetheart," Mrs Weasley said, holding her close. "We've been so worried about you." Over Mrs Weasley's shoulder Rose saw Matilda, looking anxious.
"Tilly...." Rose broke down finally and wept, feeling much better for it. She couldn't tell them all that had happened, but they didn't seem to need details. She was grateful they didn't ask too many questions.
In the days that followed, Rose moved quietly around the castle, careful to take her meals when the Great Hall was nearly empty, sitting in silence with Tilly as she studied, or hovering by the Common Room fire late at night when other Gryffindors were abed. She seemed to want to sleep long hours in the daytime, which perhaps accounted for her wakefulness at night, and yet ... she felt like she was waiting for something. Tilly watched her closely, not pushing her to be more social, but Rose knew she was concerned just the same.
Three days before the Leaving Feast, Dumbledore found Rose in the Great Hall after a late lunch, as she was toying with a bowl of soup. He asked her quietly, "Rose, would you have time to see me this evening?"
"Certainly, Professor," she said in surprise, feeling a bit worried.
"Good," he said. "Please come to my office after dinner, at seven." Rose stared after him as he exited the Hall, wondering if something was wrong. But what else could have happened?
A/N: Some of you may remember this story from two years ago. If so, I hope you enjoy my "second edition!" The changes will be fairly minor. FF.net doesn't allow multiple uploads of the same work, and while I don't know whether that applies to different versions, I'm going to play it safe - I am removing the original from ff.net. Your comments and advice, especially Britpicking, are welcome! Final note: I will, you might say, sprinkle a few drops of lemon juice from time to time just to keep things fresh, but the whole lemon has been reserved for your imaginations. Sorry to disappoint some of you! ;)