Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in the Harry Potter universe J.K. Rowling does. The title "Waking the Witch" is inspired by the Kate Bush song of the same name. I do not own the song either. It can be found on Kate Bush's album Hounds of Love. The name Rosaleen was inspired by the Neil Jordan film The Company of Wolves. I don't own any of the characters in that film, either. I do, however, own my Rosaleen MacDuff Jasper, who is of no relation or incarnation of Neil Jordan's character in his film.
Author's Note: I have read HBP, and even though there are changes concerning main characters in the canon, I will not be including them into my story and I will finish it as I first dreamed it all up last summer.
Waking the Witch
by Leah Pensotti
Chapter Twenty Three: Lo, How A Rose E're Blooming
"O flow'r, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel in glorious splendour
The darkness ev'ry where..."
--Lo, How A Rose E're Blooming (Traditional Christmas Carol)
After a short and uncomfortable silence, Lupin met Rosaleen's eyes. She looked back up to the mistletoe and shrugged. Molly Weasley stood to the side and looked on, her hands clasped over her chest in anticipation.
Lupin leaned down and kissed Rosaleen's lips in a tender, chaste manner. Molly Weasley sighed happily and pushed both of them towards the stairs.
"Now, Remus, be a dear and help Rosaleen to her room. Then come back down for supper." Rosaleen chuckled under her breath, she had missed life at the house.
Lupin nodded, "Certainly, Molly."
Rosaleen smiled at everyone in the kitchen an followed Lupin up the stairs. Silence unraveled between them, neither of them sure how to begin after such a surprising start. Finally, Lupin spoke up as they neared the door to her bedroom.
"So, how have you been? You haven't written much in your letters as of late." Rosaleen sighed and put down her bag and then freed Persephone from her cage.
"I've been swamped...really busy. Recently it has been really hard to concentrate on anything else other than..."
She trailed off, remembering all the evenings she had spent being touched by Snape and composing rather unemotional and to the point letters to Lupin. Rosaleen felt like crying in shame.
The self-flagellation had begun.
"Other than what?" Lupin spoke up curiously.
"Other than classes and the research." Rosaleen took off her coat and hung it in the closet and heard Lupin speak up behind her.
"Have you found anything significant? Severus isn't being incorrigible is he?" Rosaleen kept her back turned as not to make eye contact with him. She shook her head and studied the stitching in her coat sleeve.
"No...he's been fine. Very helpful, actually. I have discovered a lot of information about my family...none of it really concerns the inheritance, but perhaps it will point us in the right direction..."
Lupin stood up behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders. She did not wish to recoil and upset him, so instead, Rosaleen walked to her desk and away from his touch. She dug through her bag and pulled out a stack of papers and handed them to Lupin.
"There are some notes from the work that Severus and I have done...it's not much, but it makes for interesting reading."
Lupin smiled and accepted the notes from her. Rosaleen felt the bleakness settle in her stomach. The visit had already come to the point of excruciating.
She nodded towards the door, "Shall we join the others?"
Lupin agreed, "Of course."
In the wee hours of Christmas Eve morning, Rosaleen found herself reflecting on the day's events. She wouldn't allow Lupin closer than arms length. Did he feel the strain? She knew that he wanted to hold her as much as she wanted to hold him.
How could she have been unfaithful to such a wonderful and patient man? How could she tell herself that she wanted to be with Lupin and that she truly cares about him, yet she found herself fantasizing about Snape and the delicious fire of his kiss?
She regretted admitting to herself that she was finding it hard being away from Snape...
So she thought about how it felt to be back with the Weasleys at Number Twelve. Molly Weasley tenderly touching her cheek, Arthur Weasley asking her questions about news from the monastery and the muggle priests who seemed to fascinate him. Ginny shot furtive and girlish glances back and forth between Lupin and herself; as she was replaying the kiss over and over again in her mind's eye.
Ron, on the other hand, would linger under the doorway anytime she walked near it. Rosaleen wanted to laugh, he was being very obvious about wanting to be caught under the mistletoe much like Lupin had. Harry and Hermione, while in good spirits; seemed a little distant. Rosaleen could see their wheels turning...what were they up to?
Lupin had smiled at her over dinner. Surely he felt that something was amiss? He was such an intuitive person...he had to feel her apprehension or that something was just off...
Rosaleen found herself finally drifting off to an uneasy sleep and feeling very much alone.
On Christmas Eve, Rosaleen spent the afternoon and evening decorating the house with the Weasleys, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Harry and Lupin. As she worked, she remembered all of the Christmases before. The vague, distant remembrances of her mother and father, the years spent imprisoned and two hundred years of midnight masses at St. Marina's.
For an entire day, Rosaleen had managed to avoid the mistletoe, confronting Lupin and any illicit thoughts of Snape. Instead, she remembered the simple times in front of the hearth in her family's Salem home...
She still missed her parents. She didn't think that she would ever stop...no matter how many centuries passed, she would still be the same broken, orphaned child.
It was her first Christmas with a family, per se. Molly had invited Bill, Charlie, Fred and George–not to mention Moody, Kingsley Shacklebot, Tonks and perhaps even a guest appearance by McGonagall and Dumbledore. Earlier in the day, Molly Weasley had become weepy over the estranged relationship between the family and their third eldest son, Percy.
Rosaleen did her best to comfort her, though, most of the story came out garbled through Molly's tears. It had been so long since Rosaleen had felt need and for herself to be needed. Such human emotions had alluded her in the confines of St. Marina's...the only need that she had ever felt was that of forgiveness and to find Heathcliff Collinwood.
As she sat in the study, warm in front of the fireplace, the door creaked open slowly. She turned her head to see Lupin poke his head in, "May I come in?"
Rosaleen shrugged and smiled, "Of course."
She sat up straight and shut the book she had been reading. Lupin sat in the chair across from her and gave her an inquiring glance.
"Rose...are you doing alright? You seem...different."
She felt her heart drop. He had noticed the difference. He could feel her distance and her interest migrating away. Rosaleen shifted in her chair, feeling that the time was right. Her hands began to tremble and her voice came out in a nervous sputter.
"Remus...I've been thinking. I'm...I'm not sure, er, if it is right for us to..."
He looked at her with raised eyebrows and watched her flounder with her words.
"...I think it would be wise if we hold off on the romantic aspect of our relationship. The current research and the hostile climate surrounding You-Know-Who, my family, the inheritance and Heathcliff Collinwood is making it difficult for me to do anything other than read, teach and meet...with Severus."
He looked calmer than she had suspected. It was probably because she had left out the part with a great deal of shagging with Snape. Rosaleen stood up quickly, her legs became restless and she began to pace."
"I care for you very much, Remus. I don't wish to disappoint you or hurt you...I don't deserve you at all..."
Lupin shook his head to silence her, "I understand, Rosaleen. I cannot imagine the stress that you are going through with work and the tasks you are on for the Order. Though it pains me, I understand. I have thought of nothing but holding you for months...I should've known by your letters that your thoughts were bent on something else."
Rosaleen hung her head as tears flamed down her cheeks. She was unworthy of him. If she cared for him so...then why did she still not tell him the whole truth?
"There is more, Remus. More I need to tell you..."
Before she could finish, Lupin rushed to her side and silenced her lips with his hand. His eyes burned through her and he whispered gently.
"All in good time, Rose. You have my patience, I can wait..."
He had wounded her with his kindness and trust. All in good time...instead of protesting, Rosaleen merely shook her head in agreement. Perhaps it was not the time to tell him...
A woman with snow-white hair stood before Heathcliff Collinwood. She was older-looking, but not anywhere the five-hundred years that she approached. She was stately, statuesque and imposing in her countenance. She wore ornate green robes and a black gown with a golden circlet around her brow. She looked quite unimpressed with the creature that kneeled before her.
"You claim to be my grandchild?" The woman growled with suspicion.
Collinwood flashed his charming, seductive smile at her, "I am Martin MacDuff's only son. Your grandson and heir..."
"But you are indeed a vampire?"
Collinwood nodded positively, while Maleficent MacDuff looked at him discerningly and trudged on with the interrogation.
"You had no siblings? No sisters?"
"I am the only child. The only heir."
Maleficent MacDuff was not pleased with the prospect. She saw foretellings of a girl-child. Half-blooded and fair-haired. The inheritance would not survive as strongly in a male vampire. He could not reproduce and her line and the family's old magic would surely die out. Maleficent MacDuff was not long for the world and the way to Avalon was fading faster everyday.
She looked at him sternly, "Very well. You shall undergo a series of tests."
Heathcliff Collinwood, for the first time in a long time, felt panicked. There was no harem and no Dauphine to help him and the Dark Lord would not fulfill his promise if Collinwood was not successful. Tests? Could they be tests he could pass? He would have to send word to Voldemort, he was the only one who could aid him in the tests. Collinwood shook the plans and worry from his countenance and nodded at the old crone.
"Of course, Grandmother. I will do anything you require of me."
Rosaleen awoke on Christmas morning, hearing others in the house chuckling in their rooms and opening gifts. As she looked at the foot of her bed, Rosaleen saw a pile of gifts and could not help but grin. She scurried across the cold floor and sat down to open them.
Molly and Arthur Weasley had given her a knitted blue-grey scarf, mittens and hat that Molly had made herself. From Dumbledore there was a sizable box of blood-flavored lollipops, and Father McCarthy and the priests from St. Marina's had sent her a beautiful rosary. The beads were made out of crushed rose petals. Her final gift came from Lupin, who had given her two beautifully embroidered handkerchiefs with little white rosebuds on them along with "RMJ" stitched on the corner. Rosaleen MacDuff Jasper, her initials.
She dressed in a white button-down shirt with a burgundy sweater vest and her most comfortable pair of jeans. Rosaleen braided her hair quickly and headed downstairs to join everyone for breakfast. As she appeared in the kitchen she saw Molly wearing the new, crisp apron that Rosaleen had given her and Arthur was slumped over the table still in his pajamas and robe looking at the Historic Boston book that Rosaleen had Father McCarthy send to her weeks ago.
"Happy Christmas!" Rosaleen beamed at them and they both looked up and smiled. Molly bustled over to her and patted her cheek lovingly.
"Happy Christmas, Rose dear. Thank you for the apron! You really shouldn't have gotten anything for me you should save your money..."
"Don't be silly. Everyone enjoys presents and I enjoy giving them...by the way, thank you! I adore the scarf, hat and mittens. Do you need some help with breakfast?" Molly shook her head and nudged Rosaleen to the kitchen table.
"You sit down and I will bring some tea. The children should be down soon...Remus as well. Arthur will not be much for conversation, he's immersed in that book!" Rosaleen smiled brightly, she was glad that both of them were enjoying their gifts.
Rosaleen lingered in the doorway longer than she should have and felt a tap come on her shoulder. She turned to see Ron beside her with Harry, Hermione and Ginny not far behind. Ron pointed up to the mistletoe and smiled.
"It's tradition." Rosaleen chuckled in spite of herself; that bloody mistletoe. She stood on her toes and gave Ron a light peck on the cheek.
"Happy Christmas, Ronald." Harry, Hermione and Ginny all giggled at the look on Ron's face. Molly shook her head and put her hand on her hip.
"Ron, sit down for breakfast and leave poor Professor Jasper alone!" Harry gave Ron a push and they all stumbled to the table. Rosaleen sat next to Arthur and Hermione and waited for her tea to arrive. Hermione tapped her gently on the elbow and Rosaleen turned to look at her.
"Professor, I just wanted to thank you for the quills that you gave all of us. They are lovely."
Ginny seconded the emotion, "Very, lovely."
"Very expensive, I haven't seen such well made quills." Harry smiled in gratitude.
"That's because I had some dear friends make them in Boston. They were sent to me by the priests at the monastery...they were made especially for each of you." Rosaleen returned the smiles that came from all around.
Just then, Lupin made his way down the stairs. He made fleeting eye contact with Rosaleen, who sat in the kitchen looking luminous and happy. He felt happy knowing that she was in the house again, but torn by the discussion that they had shared the night before.
He would wait forever if he had to. He would do anything for her.
Yet at the moment, her presence brought her pain. He had found the gifts that she had given him to be wonderful–a deep brown overcoat that would keep him very warm and an old record of La Traviata. He had given her only two meager handkerchiefs.
Molly Weasley sat a cup of tea in front of him when he sat down and patted him maternally on the head, "Happy Christmas, Remus."
Rosaleen leaned over the table a bit and whispered to him, "The handkerchiefs are beautiful, Remus. I could not have asked for a more personal gift. Thank you."
He gave her a brief smile and look, but found it too hard to look at her for too long. He turned his attention to his tea and the book that Arthur was eager to show him.
Later that evening, the large party sat down to dinner at Number Twelve. Rosaleen could not believe the sheer volume of people that could fit into one room in the house. Molly pleaded with sons Fred and George not to show their brother Charlie their latest inventions in wizard joke supplies at the dinner table. Bill and Arthur chatted about the holiday rush at the bank; Moody's magical eye rolled around quickly, taking in the activities all around at the table; Ron, Harry, Hermione and Ginny talked amongst themselves about their various presents; while Kingsley, Tonks and Lupin talked about the goings on at the Ministry. Every now and then, Tonks would send a cold look in Rosaleen's direction.
Rosaleen really couldn't blame her. If she could look at herself, she would probably make the same face.
As the feast progressed, suddenly Dumbledore, McGonagall and none other than Severus Snape appeared in the threshold. Dumbledore had a merry grin on his face and smiled in welcome.
"I hope we haven't missed our opportunity to partake, Molly?" Molly Weasley shook her head.
"Of course not, come sit here. The head of the table. And Minerva can sit next to Moody. Will you be staying, Severus?"
Snape shook his head, "No, I won't. I have come to steal a bit of Professor Jasper's time. There is some business we need to discuss."
Everyone but Dumbledore and McGonagall looked back and forth between Rosaleen and Snape. Rosaleen sighed thickly and rose from her seat. She waved Snape upstairs to her quarters and out of earshot of everyone else.
Once in her room, Rosaleen crossed her arms over her chest and shook her head, "Nice job, Severus. That was really conspicuous."
"I have something for you."
He produced a small, plaid bundle from his robes and thrust it into her open hands. Rosaleen looked down at it hesitantly as Snape eyed her impatiently to open it. As she unwrapped the cloth, the cool metal of a ring fell into her palm. Rosaleen picked it up with her fingertips to get a better look at it. It was thick, bright silver that was crowned with a deep, black stone surrounded by small dots of gold in the setting. Rosaleen looked back at Snape, flabbergasted.
"Severus–this is too much..."
"For Merlin's sake, Rose. I am not asking for your hand in marriage, it is an heirloom. Your heirloom. This obsidian ring belonged to your great-great grandmother Maeve MacDuff. I tracked it down just yesterday." He sounded irritated, yet at the same time, amused by her reaction.
Rosaleen studied the ring carefully. It was a family heirloom. She never even knew such a thing existed to her. It was amazing. She slipped it on her right index finger slowly and felt the comfortable hug the metal gave her finger.
Severus stepped closer to her and tugged at the cloth in her hand, calling her attention to it, "As for this, it is the tartan of the MacDuff clan. I thought you would be interested to see it."
Rosaleen was overwhelmed by the thought that Snape had put into finding both of the treasures. She threw her arms around his shoulders and pulled him close to her. His hands held her waist as she kissed him and murmured, "Thank you, Severus."
He wanted to laugh out loud. Had she mistaken him for romantic? For it was just a coincidence that he had found the ring the day before Christmas. Snape had missed her at the castle and was looking forward to the time that they would spend beneath the sheets when she returned.
"Have you heard anything else? About Collinwood and his plans?" She asked as she released him.
Snape shook his head, "The meeting I had lead nowhere else but the ring. Whatever Collinwood and the Dark Lord have in store for the MacDuff inheritance is still unknown."
As Rosaleen and Snape talked inside her room, Harry and Hermione had managed to steal upstairs to press their ears against the wall. They heard strange names–Collinwood and MacDuff amongst the familiar Voldemort. When Snape and Rosaleen finally appeared and walked back downstairs, Harry and Hermione dove into the shadows of Lupin's room to escape being caught.
It was then that Harry remembered a very important piece of information.
"Before the beginning of term, Professor Jasper told me that her parents were killed by a vampire."
Hermione looked stunned that Harry had not told her or remembered earlier, but not surprised in the least about the mention of vampires. As they waited for the coast to clear before they too descended the stairs, Hermione felt her mind already hashing out certain scenarios.
"You don't suppose Professor Jasper killed her parents, do you?"
Harry shook his head, he did not think that was true–at least he hoped it wasn't.
"I dunno, but we have two things to research. The name Collinwood and the MacDuff inheritance."
A/N: This is my holiday gift to you all! Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, etc. No matter your walk of life, enjoy the season! Much more to come. Remus gets suspicious, Snape gets jealous, Harry and friends are on a lead and Collinwood endures his first test.
Please Read and Review!
To Jack's Wench: Thanks for the great review! There's a part of Rosaleen that is thinking this; "If only I could put Lupin and Snape together, combined they would make the perfect man." It is hard for her to tear away from the physical (Snape) or the emotional (Lupin). Stay tuned!
To Astarel Undomiel: Here's the new chappie, chica! Enjoy!
To Angel of Harlem: I am glad to horrify you in a good way! No, there will be no denial that Rose and Snape sparked at the beginning, it is just the fact that someone is exploiting that spark to their own advantage. Merry Christmas! Please R & R!
To Pickledishkiller: The problem with Rosaleen is, that while she may be over 300, she really doesn't get out that much. She is still a bit naive when it comes to relationships thanks in part to her status as a vampire. Thank you for the nifty review! Please stay tuned!
To Liv: Thanks for continuing to read! Mich more Snape and Rose to come, while Lupin tries to sort things out.
To Katie Scarlette: One mistletoe kiss coming up...well, two if you count good ol' Ron! Snape and Rosaleen are still strong, but the door is always open for Remus! Thanks for the review!