Disclaimer: This story was made without any intention of profiting from it. Only the original characters and the plot are mine. The rest of it belongs to JKR.
A/N: Hi to all my awaiting readers. I'm sorry for not updating for so long but I've been so busy for the past year and a half that I couldn't write. I've managed to find the time to make this short chapter which should satisfy those who are waiting to see what happens to Rose together with an ending that is again a bit of a cliffie (sorry) but advances the storyline. There is a major happening here between Rose and Neville. (Grins) Anyway, here is a nice Christmas present for my faithful readers. Happy Christmas and an advanced Happy New Year.
Chapter 65: A surprising turn of events with some terrible news
Neville watched with a grin as Ginny caught a drop pass from Demelza then faked out the Slytherin Keeper and scored. It was barely three hours into the first Quidditch game of the year and the Gryffindor team was leading their Slytherin opponents 240 to 20. The disgruntled Slytherin Keeper grabbed the Quaffle and tossed it to one of his teammates who flew toward the opposite side of the Pitch.
Flying toward one of the Bludgers, Neville took a firm grip of his Beater bat and slammed the metal ball at the Slytherin Chaser. It hit the green clad player on the right shoulder, causing him to drop the Quaffle which was intercepted by Maggie. Neville's sister then streaked back to the Slytherin goal posts so fast that she was able to throw the Quaffle through the rightmost goal before the Keeper could react.
Neville beamed with pride at his sister. Then, he remembered another Gryffindor player who should have been up in the air with Maggie. He glanced down to where the Gryffindor reserve team was seated in the front row of the stands and sighed.
Rose was watching the action with a wistful and envious expression. Neville knew being on the sidelines didn't sit well with his girlfriend but she was not doing well. There were heavy bags under her eyes and her face had a pinched appearance. Rose wasn't acting like the girl he had fallen in love with and he wanted that girl back.
He suspected that she was still trying to access her seer powers but couldn't prove it since she disappeared after dinner and refused to talk to any of her friends, even him. She had even threatened to hex her brother and best friend when they tried to talk to her. She was lucky to remain on the team with the poor grades she was getting.
Neville's attention was drawn away from Rose by a sudden cheering. He realized that Harry had caught the Snitch, ending the game in Gryffindor's favor. He headed over to the rest of the team as they mobbed Harry in a midair pileup. He glanced down and frowned as he saw that Rose had disappeared. Sighing, he hoped the victory would elevate her mood and make her change.
However, the following day, Rose looked even worse when she showed up late for breakfast. Then she disappeared right after barely eating anything and Harry couldn't find her on the Marauder's Map. He and Ginny then suspected that Rose must be in the Room of Requirement. They kept an eye on the corridor outside the room but Rose did not appear the whole day.
That evening, Neville decided that enough was enough. Neville resolved to wait for her outside the Room of Requirement, no matter how long it took, and confront her. He shared his plan with Harry, Ginny, and Hermione. They all reluctantly agreed to let him try it and Harry lent him his invisibility cloak.
Just before curfew, Neville used the cloak to sneak out of Gryffindor tower and walked to the other corridor on the seventh floor. He sat down on the floor opposite the blank wall hiding the magical room and waited.
Almost near midnight, he saw a door appear on the blank wall. He quickly stood up while still under the cloak and moved to the side of the door. He watched the door open slightly, part of Rose's face peer out from behind the door, probably checking to make sure no one was about.
Thinking that no one was about, Rose stepped fully into the corridor and closed the door. As soon as she started walking away from the room, Neville threw off the cloak and grabbed her hand.
"Just what the bloody hell are you doing here, Rose?" he asked her.
Rose looked surprised to see him but quickly overcome it. "And what are you doing here, Neville?" she asked back, "Spying on me?"
"I wouldn't have to do that if you weren't doing something stupid," he said. "You're still trying to access your seer abilities, aren't you?"
"What if I am?" she asked.
"Dammit, Rose," he cursed, "Don't do this to yourself. Losing those powers shouldn't affect you like this. The girl I've known these past four years wouldn't have let anything affect her like this."
She looked up at him with a glare. "Well maybe you should look for another girl. You won't see that girl again."
"What the hell happened to you, Rose?" he asked. "So you lost the ability to see into the future. Bloody big deal! It's not the end of the world. You shouldn't let the need to regain them consume you like it is."
"And why not?" she almost screamed at him as she rose to her feet. "It was helping us find out what Voldemort was up to. Without it, more people would have died in the battle last year. Without it, we wouldn't have known that the Death Eaters were attacking the Burrow last Christmas. Without it, we wouldn't have known that Hermione's home was going to be attacked."
"Sure it was helping us," Neville said, "But it wasn't everything. It didn't help us beat the Death Eaters when they attacked Hogsmeade or help Harry enter Voldemort's mind to find his secrets. It didn't warn you about the potion of Living Death."
Rose sat down on the floor. "But it's the only way I was helping with the war." Her voice was so soft, he could barely hear her.
Sighing, Neville sat down beside her, putting his arm around her. Instinctively, she lay her head on his shoulder.
"Rose, those powers aren't the only magical strength you have," he said. "You only managed to control them when Mrs. Thunderheart started training you. Before that, you were training with us."
"So what?" she asked. "I could barely beat Ginny. Even Maggie managed to beat me a couple of times."
Deciding that the only way to convince Rose that she was very capable as a dueler was to show her, he stood up, dragging her up with him. He forced her to walk with him up and down the corridor three times while he concentrated on a room for dueling practice. When a door appeared, he opened it and pulled her through with him.
Once they were through the door, Rose managed to pull her hand out of Neville's and draw her wand.
"What the fuck is your problem?" she screamed. "How dare you drag me around like that? I ought to hex you."
"Go ahead and try then," Neville said, holding his wand casually. "I'm not sure you can."
Furious at his taunting, Rose did just that. "Stupefy!" she cried.
"Protego!" Neville said, his shield easily deflecting the stunner.
"Expelliarmus! Diffindo! Stupefy!" Rose cried in quick succession.
Neville dodged or used a shield spell to stay unhexed. Then he sent a stinging hex at Rose which hit her on the right arm.
"Ow!" Rose cried. "Oooh, you'll pay for that!"
She then started casting spells at him at a faster pace but Neville managed to continue avoiding her spells. After five minutes of failing to hit her boyfriend, Rose narrowed her eyes and a look of determination settled on her face, replacing the anger.
Neville barely managed to dodge the next set of spells when he saw a disarming spell break through his shield. Then he felt himself get tossed more than ten feet away as he lost hold of his wand. Before he fell onto the wooden floor, Neville managed to silently and wandlessly cast a cushioning charm on the floor at the last minute but his breath was still driven out of him by the force of the impact.
He lay there for a few seconds unmoving as he struggled to breathe again. Then he heard Rose cry out, "Neville!" Then he heard her footsteps come rapidly toward him as she rushed to his side. He felt her gently raise his head and cradle it on her lap.
"Oh, Neville, I'm sorry," she said. "Are you hurt?" She looked down at him with eyes full of concern.
"I-it's okay, Rose," Neville wheezed. "M-managed to put up a cushioning charm before I hit the floor, just got my breath knocked out of me."
He yelped in pain as his head collided with the floor after Rose pushed it off her lap.
"Serves you right, you prat," Rose said, looking down at him sternly. "What were you thinking, goading me into a duel like that? I could have hurt you."
Neville grinned up at her. "Actually, that was the plan." She continued to glare at him, a blaze of anger in her eyes as he sat up.
"You're putting too much on those seer powers, Rose," he said. "You're also a powerful dueler. Look, you managed to blast through my shield and disarm me and I supposedly have as much power as your brother. How can you say you haven't anything to contribute to the war without your seer powers?"
He took hold of her hand and kissed it gently. "In any case, I don't care if you couldn't predict where the next attack will be or even what would happen if you open a door to an unknown room. I love you and not your seer powers. They may have been a part of you but that's a part I could care less about. You are so much more than that."
He took her in his arms and kissed her with as much love as he could. After a few seconds, she returned the kiss with equal passion. They continued to kiss passionately for an unknown length of time. Finally, they broke apart and Rose settled in his lap, her head on his chest.
Rose sighed and said softly, "Neville, make love to me."
Neville shakily replied, "W-what? Rose, are you sure? You're not of age yet."
"I don't care," she said. "I love you. I don't think I'll ever love anyone else as much as I love you. Please, show me how much you love me."
Just then, a large comfortable bed appeared in the room, much to Neville's shock.
Rose giggled. "See, the room agrees with me. Please."
Neville groaned, knowing he couldn't refuse her, not anymore. "Your brother's going to kill me."
Rose giggled again, "Oh, don't worry. I'm sure Ginny will keep him distracted." She got up and pulled Neville up. Then she kissed him again.
Any thought of protesting further flew out of Neville's mind at the passion of that kiss. He was barely aware when the back of his legs came up against the bed, causing him to fall backward on top of its mattress, with Rose on top of him. She leaned forward and kissed him again, igniting his passion further.
Hands started to wander down their bodies. Clothes were divested and scattered all around the room. When they were fully naked, Rose again leaned forward to kiss him. The feeling of her breasts pressed on his naked chest overwhelmed Neville's senses and he gave in to his desire.
Ginny was awakened by a sliver of sunlight on her face. She groaned a bit since she was still sleepy. Opening her eyes, she glanced at the clock on her night stand and saw that it was already seven in the morning. She'd need to get up now if she wanted to meet Harry for breakfast in the Great Hall.
She looked over at Rose's bed and saw that the bed that had been empty when she had gone to bed the night before was now occupied by her best friend. She wondered what time Rose had come back to the Tower and if Neville had managed to break her out of her morose state.
She walked over and nudged Rose. "Rose, honey, it's time to get up. We have classes in just over an hour."
Rose mumbled an okay and Ginny decided that it was enough. She gathered her things and headed to the bathroom. By the time she was finished with her morning shower and dressed, Rose's bed was empty.
Ginny headed downstairs to the common room. She was surprised to find Rose already there.
"Hey, Rose," she said, "Why are you down here already? I thought I just woke you up."
Rose smiled and, to Ginny's surprise, blushed a bit before replying. "Oh, ah, I already took a shower earlier."
"Well, you seem happier today," Ginny said. "I guess we were right about what you have been doing lately and he managed to corner you outside the Room of Requirement, right?"
Rose sighed. "Yes, I was still trying to make my seer powers work again in the ROR. He was waiting for me under Harry's cloak when I came out."
"So what did he do?" Ginny asked.
"He first scolded me for doing that then he dragged me back into the ROR," Rose said. "Once inside, he goaded me into dueling with him. At first, I couldn't hit me and he started taunting me. It got me so mad that I put a lot of power into an Expelliarmus that blasted to his shield and pushed him a good ten feet."
"Oh my," Ginny said, "Was he hurt?"
"No, the prat managed to wandlessly and silently cast a cushioning charm before he hit the floor," Rose said. "But I was so worried he was hurt. Anyway, we talked and he made me realize that I had other skills to contribute to the war and my seer powers were not really necessary."
"That's great," Ginny said. "So what time did you guys get back? It was almost midnight by the time I convinced Harry not to wait for you two and got to bed myself."
To Ginny's surprise, Rose blushed as she answered. "Well, I don't really recall what time that was," she said.
Ginny's eyes narrowed as she regarded her friend. But before she could question her further, Neville came down the stairs on the boys' side. Ginny greeted Neville and watched him exchange a deep kiss with Rose. To Ginny, they seemed more affectionate than usual, making her wonder what else had happened to them the previous night.
She looked suspiciously at them and continued watching them as they left Gryffindor Tower and headed for the main staircase. They ran into Hermione at the top of the stairs and the four Gryffindors began descending the stairs together.
"Rose, you seem much happier this morning," Hermione commented. "Did you and Neville have a good talk then?"
Ginny took note of their reactions. When they both blushed, she used her Tiger Animagus senses to smell their scent. Under the smell of soap was the faint scent that was vaguely familiar to her.
Ginny's eyes widened when she realized what the scent was. She quickly checked on Harry and, finding that he was still busy in the shower, slammed their connection shut. She then pulled Rose and Hermione away from Neville, telling him they needed a few minutes of girl talk.
Ginny dragged her two friends into an empty classroom and quickly put up a silencing charm and Notice-Me-Not charm on the door.
"Ginny," Hermione whined, "what's the matter with you? Why'd you drag us here?"
Ginny ignored Hermione as she stood in front of Rose. "You and Neville had sex last night, didn't you?" she demanded.
"H-how did y-you know?" Rose stammered then clapped her hands in front of her mouth.
"I smelled it on you both," Ginny said. "It was faint but it was there."
"Rose!" Hermione said, her hands on her hips. "What were you two thinking? Neville may be of age but you're not."
"Well, if Ginny and Harry can have sex, why can't Nev and I?" Rose demanded, turning to face Hermione. "We love each other, just like them and just like you and Ron."
"Ginny and Harry are considered married already because of their bond," Hermione said, "You know that."
"Well, I don't care," Rose said. "I love Neville and he loves me. Last night, we shared our first time together and showed our love for each other. I have no regrets." She sat down at one of the desks in the room.
Ginny and Hermione looked at each other and sighed.
"All right," Ginny said, gently placing a hand on Rose's shoulder. "I understand. I guess you don't want Harry to find out yet."
Rose looked at her in shock and horror. "Oh Merlin, did he, did he….."
"No, Rose," Ginny said, "Don't worry. Harry doesn't know yet. I shut down our connection as soon as I realized what happened last night between you and Neville."
Rose breathed a sigh of relief and Ginny smirked at her reaction. She knew her love may deny it but he was just as protective of his sister as her own brothers were of her. Ginny's brothers couldn't do anything of what she and Harry did behind closed doors now because they were married in the eyes of Magic but Rose was another matter. As much as Ginny didn't want to, she knew she needed to hide Rose's loss of her virginity from her husband, at least for a few more months.
"Come on," Ginny said, pulling Rose up from where she was sitting. "We better get to the Great Hall before Harry gets suspicious."
Ginny canceled the spells on the door. After making sure no one saw them, the three girls entered the Great Hall. Ginny heard Rose breath another sigh of relief when she noted that Harry was still not there, causing her to smirk.
The three girls sat down beside Neville and began pulling plates of food toward them. Ginny quickly renewed her connection with Harry.
"Gin?" Harry immediately asked through their Bond, "Why did you close our connection?"
"Don't worry about it, Harry. Hermione, Rose and I just needed a moment for some girl talk," Ginny said. "Neville's plan worked by the way and Rose promised to stop trying to access her seer powers."
"Oh, that's great," Harry said. "I'm glad he got her to stop."
A moment later, he walked through the doors of the Great Hall and sat down beside Ginny. Harry gave her a kiss on the cheek then he whispered to her, "So, anything juicy from your girl talk?"
Ginny almost choked on the piece of bread she was eating. She faced Harry and raised an eyebrow. "You're not usually interested in gossip, Harry," she said. "You're not turning girly on me, are you?"
The smirk that had been on Harry's face turned into a gape at Ginny's response. Ginny grinned and returned to her breakfast. Through the Bond, she could feel Harry just shake his head and turn to his own breakfast.
Over the next few days, Harry noticed that his sister and Neville were much more affectionate than before. He was a bit puzzled but was glad to see Rose laughing again even if she'd then pull Neville into a long snog which made him turn away. It's a good thing Ginny would then pull him to do the same.
The following Saturday morning, as he was about to leave the Head dorms for the Great Hall, Harry felt his mirror warm up. He activated it and saw his father's face.
"Hey, Dad," he said, "what's up?"
"Harry," James began, "there's an Order meeting tonight. Albus has important news. He's given permission for you to attend. Just take the Floo from his office to Grimmauld Place."
"All right, Dad," Harry said. "Any idea what his news might be? Voldemort's been too quiet lately."
"I'm sorry, Harry," James said. "I can't say anything right now. It's not good though. Just be there tonight"
"All right, I'll see you tonight then," Harry said, deactivating his mirror.
"That was strange," Ginny's voice came to him through their bond. "Usually, your dad can't wait to tell you things. I hope it doesn't mean Voldemort is getting stronger again."
"I hope not, love," Harry said. "It might make it harder to put him down for good."
"Don't worry about it for now, Harry," Ginny said. "Let's just see what happens tonight before we worry too much."
"You're right, Gin," Harry said. "We'd better let the others know about the meeting."
Harry quietly told the rest of the New Marauders about the Order meeting and their day was spent speculating what the meeting would be about.
Later that evening, Harry walked up to the gargoyle guarding Dumbledore's office which moved aside as soon as he came close. He quickly rose up on the moving staircase and was let inside the office by Dumbledore. After greeting him, Dumbledore gestured to the Floo and Harry Flooed to Grimmauld place with Dumbledore following him closely.
Once in the house, they proceeded to the library where they found most of the Order already present and waiting, including Harry's parents, Sirius and Sam, Arthur, Molly, Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Remus and Tonks. Harry greeted everyone and exchanged hugs with the women. Dumbledore then called the meeting to order.
"Good evening, my friends," the old wizard began, "I'm glad to see you all despite the circumstances. I am afraid I have received some troubling news about Voldemort. It seems that on the night of Halloween, the Dark Lord and some of his followers went to the ancient Druidic ruins on the Isle of Wight which used to be called Anglesey and performed a dark ritual which seems to have invigorated him." He didn't seem to mind as everyone gasped or shouted in reaction.
Harry felt his stomach plummet with the news. He now regretted allowing Ginny to listen in on the meeting through their bond as he felt her own reaction to it.
"What was this ritual, Albus?" Arthur asked.
"Yes, Albus," James said. "And how did it invigorate him?"
Dumbledore sighed before replying, "It is an ancient Druidic ritual whose name is lost in time but has been mentioned in numerous dark tomes. It increases the magical power of someone by drawing on the magic of a dying wizard or witch through a specific highly detailed ritual sacrifice."
"Sacrifice?" Lily exclaimed. "He killed someone for this? Who?
Dumbledore sighed again. "I'm afraid that the Crabbe and Goyle lines are extinguished. Voldemort had the two young sons of those families ritually killed to gather their magic for himself."
"Why did he pick those two?" Charlie asked, "From what I've heard from my brothers and sister, those two weren't very talented wizards."
"Their magical strength didn't matter," Dumbledore said. "Just that they were magical was enough."
"So just how powerful is he now?" Harry had to ask. "Does he have additional protection from this ritual like the old ones gave him?"
"Unfortunately, Harry, we are not sure," Dumbledore said. "Voldemort did not demonstrate his power to his remaining followers after the ritual nor could we find any mention of any protective magic or spells in the ritual in the few written sources where the ritual is mentioned. He may have found another source which gave him the knowledge to do the ritual. We will have to wait for his next move to get the answers to those questions."
"That is unacceptable, Albus," James then spoke up. "We can't just sit around and let them make the next move. We are not sure if your spy can get word to us in time to intercept his forces. We need to draw him out."
Dumbledore frowned before replying. "What do you propose then, James? Do you have a plan?"
James sighed before shaking his head. "No, Albus. Unfortunately, I don't. All I can see is that we need to draw him out now before he gets stronger and gains more followers."
Harry then realized that there was only one thing that would draw Voldemort out: him.
"Harry," Ginny's voice suddenly came up in his mind, "I can hear your thoughts. You can't offer yourself as bait!"
"I'm sorry, Gin," he said to Ginny, "I just can't let the war continue now that we're so close to beating him. If we don't get him now, he'll get stronger again and more people will die. Don't worry. I won't do anything that doesn't have a very good chance for success and for me to live."
Harry then spoke up. "Dad, Professor, I think I can suggest a way to draw Voldemort out and end this war."