Everything in this story belongs to JK Rowling. None of it belongs to me, though I can allow myself to dream…
Rose was in her room pouting.
It seemed to be what she did best these days, preteen angst rearing its ugly head on a regular occasion. Puberty. What a joy.
"Does she plan on staying up there all day?" Ron asked, helping his son to balance both a plate of eggs and a glass of juice in his arms.
His wife simply shrugged. "I don't know," Hermione said bluntly. "And at this point, I don't care. If she wants to pitch a fit and miss her own birthday party, then so be it." With each word, she jabbed a quill to her parchment a little more roughly. She was sitting at their kitchen table working on a proposal, but Ron was sure that she was going to break her quill and spill ink all over herself at any moment.
It was Rose's twelfth birthday, and, as always, they'd spent weeks planning a huge party for her. The entire family was coming, of course, and this year, they'd even invited some of the friends she'd made during her first year at Hogwarts. It should have been enough to make her happy, but, of course, it wasn't. In the month that she'd been home from school, she'd taken up quite cozily with one of the neighbor boys and had spent most of her time running off about the neighborhood with him. When her parents had told her that she couldn't invite him to her birthday, she'd thrown a huge fit and screamed at her parents that they both hated her before bursting into tears and locking herself in her bedroom. Over the week that had passed since the row, she'd barely left her room, and when she had, she'd refused to speak to either of her parents.
Ron's head hurt thinking about it. He'd suggested that they plan two parties, the big one and then a smaller one with perhaps just Rose, Hugo, a couple of cousins, and Robby, the neighbor boy. Hermione had flat-out refused, though, stating that if Rose was going to behave like a spoiled brat, they were certainly not going to reward her with two parties. In fact, she'd even threatened to cancel the one, though Ron knew she would never actually go through with it.
It wasn't the first time that they'd run into a similar problem. In fact, Rose had had plenty of Muggle friends before, friends who couldn't join in on celebrations like birthdays. She'd always been easily enough appeased before, though- the temptation of a party being enough to overpower the fact that she'd have to leave a couple of people off of the guest list. This time, though, was completely different. This time, she was behaving as if someone were torturing her, destroying her life because one boy wasn't allowed at her party.
Ron couldn't help to think that none of this would be happening if they didn't live in the middle of a completely Muggle neighborhood. They'd moved here a couple of months before Rose had been born, mutually deciding that a Muggle neighborhood was the best option for giving their new baby, and any others that they might later have, a relatively normal upbringing. Not that Ron thought anything about a Muggle neighborhood was too normal, what with the abundance of cars on the streets and football games in the back yards, but that hadn't really been their main concern with the decision. Though, several years had passed between the war and the birth of their first child, they were still somewhat celebrities. It was still difficult for them to go out in public without a camera flashing or children asking for autographs. They didn't want their kids mixed up in all of that or, worse yet, feeling a sense of entitlement. Ginny and Harry had done the same thing and moved to a Muggle neighborhood two years earlier when they had their own first child, and while Ron and Hermione did not have to deal with the so-called "fame" to the same degree that Ginny and Harry did, they still felt it and did not want their children experiencing it anymore than was necessary.
They were all beginning to realize that maybe they hadn't made the best decision.
James had returned from his first year of school with his nose in the air and an attitude of importance that was enough to make anyone sick. Hogwarts had done little more than instill in him a sense of entitlement that was not at all becoming. It had horrified everyone and had taken some serious attitude adjustment on the part of his parents to get him to snap out of it. Now, two years later, both Al and Rose had returned with much the same attitude. It seemed as if sending them off unprepared for the pseudo-hero worship had been a bad idea. As a result, none of the kids had any idea how to deal with the sudden influx of celebrity and, of course, succumbed to it. It wasn't really their fault, but that did not make dealing with their attitudes any easier, nor did it completely excuse them.
Rose had been a nightmare ever since she'd returned, barking orders at her little brother and making ridiculous demands of her parents. When she did not get her way, she resorted to screaming and arguing, and both of her parents were almost at wit's end. Ron could imagine if he'd come home acting that way… he didn't even want to think about what his mum would have done. It was very lucky for Rose and her bum that Molly Weasley was not around enough to really witness her granddaughter's many meltdowns.
"Mum, if Rose doesn't come to her party, can I have all her presents?" Hugo looked up at her through thick eyelashes as he continued to shovel scrambled eggs into his mouth.
"Chew your food," Hermione instructed firmly, "before you choke. And no, you may not have your sister's presents. If she decides to act like a child and pout, we'll send them all back."
"Can I have her cake at least?"
Ron watched as the tiniest of smiles appeared at the corner of Hermione's mouth. "Yes, you can have her cake."
"Wicked!" Hugo shoveled several more forkfuls of eggs into his mouth and then drank the last of his juice in one gulp. "She'll be so mad!"
"I'm going to go see what her plans are," Ron said, smartly predicting that his son was very right. If they were to go on with her party without her, she'd likely have a meltdown large enough to crumble the entire neighborhood.
Hermione simply shrugged again, clearly nonchalant to the entire matter. He excused himself from the breakfast table and took the stairs two at a time until he reached the upper landing where both of the kids' rooms were. Rose's was at the end of the hall, and when he reached the door, he was not surprised to find it shut tight. Raising his fist to the wood, he knocked.
"Go away," came the immediate response. He'd expected as much and, ignoring his daughter's order, turned the handle. It was locked. Now a bit peeved, he tapped it once with his wand and muttered a quick spell. The door opened.
"I said go away," Rose said angrily from her spot on her bed. "This is my room, and you can't just come barging in here anytime you please."
"Actually," Ron said without missing a beat, "until you start paying some of the bills around here, this is my room. And until that time comes, you'd be smart to obey certain rules, such as no locked doors."
Rose rolled her eyes and flipped over on her side to face the wall opposite her father. "Leave me alone."
"I'm sorry, what?" Ron stared in only slight disbelief at his daughter.
"I said leave me alone," Rose repeated, this time louder and more clearly.
"You need to watch it," Ron said seriously. "I'd cut the attitude if I were you."
"Or what?" Rose asked immediately, though she still didn't turn around. "You're not going to do anything."
He didn't know when she'd turned into this, and he mentally kicked himself for the thousandth time as he realized that shielding her completely from the spotlight all those years had left her unprepared with how to deal with it.
"If you plan on joining us downstairs for your birthday, then you need to get up and get ready," he said, ignoring her previous comment. "Otherwise, we'll call everyone and tell them not to come."
"No, you won't," Rose said lazily. He stared at her in somewhat shock, surprised that she was so blasé about the entire thing. He noticed, not for the first time, how much she'd grown over the past year. She was several inches taller than she'd been when she'd left last September, and her hair was longer, the heaviness of it making her curls looser and less frizzy. She was still as skinny as ever, the added inches to her height only adding to the obviousness of this. He'd expected her to come back with a bit of weight on her, expected the Hogwarts feasts to have some kind of effect on her… but she was as thin as ever.
"Look, Rose," he said, crossing the room and standing over her bed, "I don't know what your problem is, but we're all about sick of it."
"What my problem is?!" Rose repeated incredulously as she rolled back over and stared up at him. "You treat me like a child! You just come barging into my room whenever you feel like it and then speak to me like I'm some kind of baby!"
"I already explained to you," Ron said, quickly losing his temper, "that you don't own anything. This is my house and my room, and those are my clothes you're wearing and my books on those shelves."
"Then take them!" Rose screamed, sitting up at the exact same moment that several of said books went flying off of her shelf, nearly hitting her father in the back of the head. Luckily, he ducked just in time, years of Auror experience coming in handy.
Both Ron and Rose stared at the books as they lay in a pile on the floor where they had landed. Neither spoke for a long moment until Ron finally drew in a calming breath and posed a single question.
"Where is your wand?"
Wordlessly, Rose pointed to a spot on her dresser across the room. Ron turned to see the wand lying untouched in the exact spot she pointed to. "I didn't mean to," she whispered, guilt and fear evident in her voice for the first time in weeks.
"Get dressed," he said firmly. "You need to be downstairs in ten minutes."
He left then, shutting the door behind him. It wasn't the first time that something like that had happened. In fact, Rose had been achieving unintentional magic since she was a baby. It was a good thing, he knew, that she was clearly so powerful, but he worried, too, that she did not know how to control herself. It would be a trait that would prove to her disadvantage when she let her emotions get the best of her one day in class and caused an explosion because she was angry with a teacher or something of the like. He would get Hermione to work with her- something needed to be done, and Hermione was a much better teacher than he was.
The party went off without too much of a problem.
Rose came downstairs and was, overall, pleasant enough to her guests. Hermione was pleased enough that she was no longer showing her worst side and was at least making an attempt to be nice. She was also pleased that Rose was socializing with all of her guests and not just sticking solely with Al as she had a tendency to do. It was something Hermione had worried about when they'd made the decision to invite some of her schoolmates. The family, of course, was used to the various cliques that the children engaged themselves in. All of the children in the family had their favorite siblings and/or cousins, and it was not unusual for them to break off completely from the group. Rose and Al had been their own clique almost since birth, and it was often difficult to get them to engage with other people. Hogwarts, though, seemed to have at least helped their social skills a bit, and Hermione watched fondly as Rose giggled in the backyard with three of the girls from her year. She was glad that she seemed to have made a few girlfriends; it was something that Hermione herself had never managed to do all that well. There was Ginny, of course, who Hermione had first become friends with almost by default, and there was Luna, too, who Hermione had grown extremely close with over the years. To this day, though, they were still really the only two females Hermione considered herself friends with; she got on well enough with the rest of her sisters-in-law and there were a few women at the Ministry with whom she enjoyed sharing a cup of tea, but she didn't really consider them friends. She had worried, after witnessing Al and Rose together for so long, that Rose would go to school and repeat her own childhood, having only boys for friends and not having any girls to confide to about, well, girl things. It appeared as if her worries were unfounded, though, as Rose had come home from school gushing about her roommates and writing them letters almost every day.
"Mum! Fred and James just put a dungbomb in the downsairs loo and moved a whole box of pygmy puffs to the backdoor!" Hermione turned away from the window and looked down to find Hugo and Lily staring up at her excitedly.
"Yeah, and Fred said he's going to let them into the house as soon as everyone runs outside because of the dungbomb," Lily supplied hurriedly. She shoved a bit of fringe out of her eyes as she spoke.
"They're hiding outside by the porch," Hugo quipped, answering Hermione's next question before she had a chance to speak.
"Thank you," she said swiftly, squeezing past them and marching straight out the front door and onto the porch. "You two," she said sharply, staring down at the top of her nephews' heads, "Up here, now."
It took only a second for Fred and James to untangle themselves from the bushes and join her obediently on the porch. Both looked a bit nervous, as though they knew they'd been caught and were trying to quickly come up with an excuse.
"We didn't do nothing," Fred said immediately.
"Anything," Hermione corrected irritably. "And I can tell you're lying." She grabbed each of them by the arm and marched them back into the house and to the downstairs bathroom. "Fix it," she said sharply, shoving them into the loo and watching closely as they opened the cabinet and carefully removed a dungbomb from the under the sink. James disarmed it as Fred held it nervously, both of them wrinkling their noses at the subtle stink that was already starting to fill the room.
"What's going on?" Hermione turned her head to see Ginny standing behind her. She heard James swear under his breath and turned sharply to stare at him. He smartly kept his head tucked and pretended as if he couldn't see her staring at him incredulously.
"Well," Hermione answered slowly, "it seems as if someone thought it would be funny to set a dungbomb off and then let an army of pygmies into the house."
Ginny shoved past Hermione and yanked James up by the arm. "I can't believe you!" she said incredulously. "And you…" She used her other hand to yank Fred up in much the same manner. "George!"
"Don't call George!" Hermione admonished, pulling Fred away from her. "He probably put them up to it."
Ginny seemed to agree and nodded. "You're probably right. Angelina!"
"Oh, stop with the screaming!" Hermione exclaimed. "I'm sure we can find her without alerting all the neighbors."
The four made their way out of the bathroom, the two adults still with firm grips on the children. As they walked back toward the kitchen, Ginny asked, "How'd you find out what they were up to?"
"Hugo and Lily told me."
"Those bloody gits," James muttered angrily.
Ginny immediately swatted him across the back of the head, "You watch your language, young man!"
"Ow, Mum!" James rubbed the back of his head irritably.
"What happened?" Ron looked half-exhausted as he made his way into the kitchen from the backdoor; George's six year old daughter, Roxanne, was perched on his hip.
"These two thought it would be funny to both set off a dungbomb in the loo and set a whole family of pygmy puffs loose in the house," Hermione said stiffly.
A smile twitched at the corner of Ron's lips, and she stared at him incredulously.
"Don't you dare laugh, Ronald Weasley," she warned seriously. "It's not funny."
"I'm not laughing!" he defended instantly, obviously putting forth a whole lot of effort to keep from doing so. "You two should be ashamed of yourselves," he added as last-minute proof that he did not find the situation humorous.
"Where's Angie?" Ginny asked, straining her neck to see out the window.
"George forgot the gifts, so they Apparated home to get them," he explained.
"Yeah, and left me!" Roxanne said dramatically.
"Yes, and left the munchkin," Ron deadpanned.
"I'm not a munchkin!" Roxie looked scandalized as she crossed her arms huffily. She burst into high-pitched laughter seconds later when Ron blew a raspberry against her cheek.
Ginny rolled her eyes at the display and turned back to the guilty culprits. "You two are done," she said firmly. "Both of you, sit." She shoved them off toward the kitchen table, and they both took seats obediently. "And don't either of you move," she warned. "I'm going to tell your father," she glared momentarily at James, "and your mother," the glare switched to Fred.
Ginny took off then, probably in search of Harry. Hermione glanced out the window and noticed she could no longer spot her daughter in the mix. "Have you seen Rosie?"
Ron shook his head, ducking a bit as Roxanne tried to retaliate with her own raspberry. "Not in awhile."
"Watch them," she instructed, swinging her head in the direction of Fred and James, both of whom were smirking slightly at each other. She left the rest of them in the kitchen and went into the garden. It was packed full of people, and she could barely hear herself think. She'd put a charm on the backyard before the party, making it so that her neighbors would not be disturbed by the noise, nor would they notice anything out of the ordinary, such as the twinkling lights floating midair and wishing her daughter a Happy Birthday, changing every so often to mirror the well-wishes of the guests in a sort of live-action birthday card. To outsiders, it would appear as a simple Muggle afternoon tea.
She still could not find Rose, but she spotted Al sitting by himself at one of the picnic tables they'd put up for extra seating. He looked tired and sullen, drumming his fingers against the wood with his head ducked.
Hermione joined him, sliding onto the bench beside him and ruffling his already unruly hair. "Hey, you."
Al looked up at her through a mass of jet black fringe that hung into his glasses, obstructing, she was positive, his already less than perfect sight. "Hey," he answered quietly.
"Have you seen Rosie?"
Al shook his head, "Not lately. Last I saw, she went off with Elisabeth and them."
"Where'd they go?"
Al shrugged. "I dunno. I think down the road."
Hermione was not surprised, as Rose had spent most of the summer running off 'down the road.' She was a bit angry, though, that she had taken off without letting anyone know- in the middle of her own birthday party no less.
"Why didn't you go with them?"
Al shrugged again. "I think they wanted to do girl stuff."
Hermione was not sure what girl stuff was, and she doubted very highly that she would get the answer from her daughter. "Well, Luna called a little while ago. She should be here soon with the twins. Maybe you can get a Quidditch game up?"
For what seemed like the millionth time, Al shrugged. "Maybe," he said quietly. "Where's Jamie?"
"He and Fred are in trouble." She rolled her eyes playfully as she relayed the story of the dungbomb and the pygmies. She succeeded in getting a small smile out of Al before she ruffled his hair once more and left in yet another attempt to track her daughter down.
"I can't believe I got to meet Harry Potter…" Susannah Hending was speaking in an almost dreamlike voice as she followed her friends down the driveway.
"Oh, stop it," Rose said, clearly irritated. She was leading the group of girls away from her house and toward a much more desirable location.
"It's just cool," Susannah muttered, and Rose turned her head to glare at her slightly.
"He's my uncle," she stated flatly. "Stop drooling."
Rose, who had become the unspoken leader of their group at some point over the past year, succeeded in shutting down the Harry Potter fan club that seemed to be forming around her.
"I can't believe you have a boyfriend, Rose!" Elisabeth Richardson giggled as she practically skipped down the street.
"I can't believe you have a Muggle boyfriend," Meghan Thomas interjected, grabbing Elisabeth's hand and giggling with her.
"He's not my boyfriend," Rose said firmly, though the telling smile on her face betrayed her.
It was true, though. Robby Pinson wasn't her boyfriend. He was simply a boy she thought was cute who also happened to be very nice and liked to hang out with her. He was slightly older than she was, having turned thirteen in May. She was just now turning twelve, but she didn't figure that it was too much of an age difference. He had moved to her neighborhood in March apparently, and she'd met him after returning home from Hogwarts last month. She was eager to show him off to her friends, to make them jealous and impress them.
"Remember," she instructed the other girls in a very business-like manner, "nothing about magic, nothing about Hogwarts, nothing about Harry Potter." She glared once more at Susannah who said nothing, simply scowled a bit as she hung her head.
They reached Robby's house shortly, and Rose rang the doorbell confidently. She hoped that his mum didn't answer the door, though, as she wasn't exactly what Rose would term friendly. She was in luck, and Robby opened the door and stepped onto the porch.
"Hey, Rose," he said awkwardly, almost lazily.
She smiled, trying her best not to look too eager. "Hey, Robby."
They stared at each other silently for a moment, and Rose wanted to hex her friends when she heard a snigger behind her. "So," Robby said slowly, "what's up?"
"It's my birthday," she answered instantly, immediately replaying her words in her mind to see if she'd sounded dumb.
"Oh." Robby nodded. "Cool. Happy birthday."
Another silence. Rose wanted to die. They never acted like this when they were alone; she had no idea why conversation was so difficult when there were witnesses. "So, you having a party?"
Rose shrugged. "Sort of. My parents just invited my cousins mostly."
"These your cousins?" he asked, nodding at the other occupants of the porch.
"Old family friends," she lied. "Our parents grew up together."
It wasn't a total lie. Her parents had, at least, grown up with Meghan's father, her dad and Uncle Harry having had him as a roommate at Hogwarts.
"Cool." It seemed as if Robby couldn't think of anything more interesting to say. Rose was beginning to get embarrassed; this wasn't turning out to be the show-off that she'd planned at all.
"Well, just thought we'd say hello, we were just having a stroll," she said awkwardly. "Guess we better get back…"
"Yeah, okay," Robby said. He lifted his hand in a sort of half-wave at the girls. "Nice to meet you…"
Elisabeth giggled, and Rose wanted to punch her. She wished Robby a quick goodbye and hurried away from the porch as fast as she could.
"Well, he was cute," Elisabeth said, still giggling as she hurried to catch up.
"I thought you said he was cool," Meghan interjected warily. "He seemed pretty boring to me."
"That's because he felt weird around you lot," Rose answered huffily. "None of you tried to even have a conversation with him."
From the corner of her eye, she saw Meg and Elisabeth look at each other ruefully, as if they were having a silent conversation about how mean she was. But, as always, no one said anything. She was quite sure they talked about her behind her back, but they never said anything to her face. She didn't know if they were scared or what, as they never had any problems saying anything to anyone else's face. The fact that they were too afraid to say something to her sort of made her feel good; it made her feel powerful in a way.
Starting Hogwarts had been like a dream at first. She'd mostly grown up with Muggle friends- her playmates mostly consisting of the boys and girls in her neighborhood. She had a ton of cousins, too, of course, but in her family, she was simply number eight of twelve. No one ever saw her as anything special. To the kids in her neighborhood, she was overwhelming normal, and in her family, she was just "Little Rosie."
She'd grown up knowing, of course, that her parents were sort of important. They both had good jobs, and whenever they did happen out into the Wizarding community, she noticed that people tended to stare and whisper hurriedly to each other. It got worse when Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny were with them, but Rose never found this out of the ordinary- Aunt Ginny, after all, had been a very important Quidditch player before James had come along and ruined all of that.
Rose knew, though, that it wasn't all about Quidditch. She was very inquisitive and very well-read, and she knew that Uncle Harry had defeated Voldemort a million years ago; she knew, too, that her parents had done their fair-share in helping. The history books laid it out for her in black and white; she knew all about the war and the fall of Voldemort and all that stuff. But none of it ever really seemed like that big of a deal. If someone in her family talked about the war, it was usually in reference to her Uncle Fred who, she knew, had died during the Battle of Hogwarts. Or sometimes they talked about Teddy's parents who had also died. When the war was mentioned, no one ever made a big deal about her parents or even about Uncle Harry, it was always about the people who had died while fighting- people Rose had never met and would never have the chance to know. To her, names like Fred, Tonks, Remus, Dumbledore, Snape, and Sirius all sounded like fairy-tale characters- people she knew stories of by heart and people after whom some of her cousins were named, but of whom she had no real knowledge.
When she got to Hogwarts, though, her whole life seemed to flip in an instant. She wasn't, as she'd feared, Weasley Number Eight. Instead, she was Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger's daughter. Al was not, as he'd always been, the middle child- he was Harry Potter's son. James was only a third year, and Rose realized straight away that he was probably the most well-known student in the entire school. He had a million friends and even more girlfriends, and it wasn't long at all before she and Al started receiving the same sort of attention. Everyone wanted to be her friend; people from every House flocked to her at the breakfast table and tried to chat with her. Her classmates fought over who would sit close to her during lessons. It was amazing. It did get old, though, rather quickly- having to tell stories of her parents over and over again, especially since they'd never really shared any personal stories about the war, which was what everyone seemed to want to hear. She took her cue from James, though, after hearing him tell a story about his dad rescuing an entire village from a Banshee when he was twelve and just started making things up. Al did a bit of it, too, and they would often take turns telling pieces of a made-up story to their housemates, all of whom would sit listening intently, oohing and ahhing every once in awhile. It was insane.
Rose was, without a doubt, the leader in her dorm. She found out rather quickly that her roommates would take orders from her, and she wasted no time in telling them what to do. She'd always had bit of a bossy streak, but usually when she tried to order people around, they just ignored her or, in her parents' case, let her know exactly who would be doing the ordering and who would be doing the obeying. Bossiness was one of her worst traits, and she couldn't count the number of times she'd ended up in trouble for trying to make Hugo and Lily or one of the other younger kids do something they didn't want to do. It was amazing then to finally find people who would let her boss them around willingly. If any of them had a problem with it, they never said anything- at least not to her face. So she simply didn't care.
"So, Rose," Meghan cut into her reflections slowly. "When do you think you'll get round to snogging Robby?"
"He's my friend," she said firmly, reiterating the fact that he was not her boyfriend and that she would, therefore, not be snogging him. She'd never kissed any boy, and she was quite sure that her friends knew as much. None of them had. She did, if she was truthful with herself, have a bit of a crush on her neighbor, and she did enjoy the fact that he paid attention to her. She'd been awfully bored ever since she'd gotten home from school the month before, had felt herself go back to extraordinarily normal rather quickly.
She'd gotten into more than a few arguments with her parents about her newfound attitude, and her mum had threatened her over it on several occasions. However, she hadn't followed through on any of them. Rose wasn't quite sure what was up with that, as her mother had always been rather strict and had kept a close eye on both her and her brother their whole lives. Lately, though, she just seemed tired, exhausted almost. She worked a lot of hours at the Ministry, but she'd always worked more than she should. She just seemed as if she didn't have the energy to put into much of anything lately. Her father, of course, would do nothing. He'd never really disciplined them much, had always let them get away with pretty much anything as long as their mum wasn't around. So all in all, she'd realized that she could do pretty much anything without having to be afraid of any consequences.
"You know what I think?" Susannah spoke up for first time since she'd been chided for her Harry Potter worship.
"Actually," Elisabeth said snidely, "no one cares what you think."
She and Meghan giggled, and Rose felt a little pity for Susannah. It wasn't as if she was completely innocent when it came to being rude to people, and she'd been known to make the occasional rude comment to Susannah herself. However, she also felt bad for her in some ways, and she knew she should make a conscious effort not to be so nasty. Susannah tried desperately to fit in with her roommates, but it was no secret that she was at the bottom of the chain of command.
Rose was just about to ask Susannah to continue her thought, but she was interrupted by Meghan.
"Why is that man staring at us?"
All four girls stopped walking momentarily to turn and view the man to whom Meg was referring. He was tall and very thin, dressed in gray trousers and a navy blue shirt. He wasn't really doing anything, just standing in the yard across the street watching them. Rose felt a shiver go down her spine as she made brief eye contact with him.
"Come on," she whispered quickly, "let's go home."
Her friends all followed immediately, and they took off with a fast walk back in the direction of the house. Rose didn't look back, but she couldn't shake the feeling that eyes were still bearing into her back. She was too afraid to turn around and confirm her suspicion, so she just kept hurrying home.
Just as she was about to turn up the side street by her house, though, she felt a strong stinging in the back of her head. Before she could even register the pain, though, her eyes started clouding over.
A moment later, her entire world went black.
Hermione broke into a run as she ascended the hill of her driveway. Something was wrong, she knew it. She could feel her heart start to pick up beats as she increased her pace, but she didn't even stop to breathe.
The backyard was still filled with people and noise. Her entire family was there, but she couldn't seem to find the one person she was looking for. She pushed through a crowd of people and hurried toward the backdoor.
"Hermione, I thought you'd run off!" Luna was filling her plate with food from the buffet style table. "I haven't seen you all afternoon."
"Have you seen Ron?" She ignored Luna's statements and asked her own question breathlessly.
"No, not in awhile. Why, is something wrong?"
Hermione shook her head quickly. "I don't know. I can't find Rose."
Luna's eyes narrowed in slight worry. "Are you sure she isn't playing?" She nodded toward the impromptu Quidditch game that had taken off behind them.
Hermione turned quickly to follow Luna's gaze, and they scanned the sky together. Al… James… Lysander… Lorca… Fred… Lucy… No Rose.
"Excuse me," she said quickly, shoving past Luna and hurrying into the house. She walked straight into a conversation between her father and her father-in-law.
"Hermione, are you alright?" Arthur stopped right in the middle of his question about lawnmowers. "You look rather flushed."
"I… I can't find Rose," she stuttered, finally pausing to fill her lungs with air.
"What do you mean you can't find her?" Arthur shook his head. "I saw her going off with her friends awhile ago, down the driveway."
Hermione nodded and pushed her hair out of her face. "I know, but I've been all over the neighborhood and I can't find them anywhere… I, I don't know where… Do you know where Ron is?" she asked desperately.
Her father rose from his chair and crossed the kitchen over to her. "He's in the sitting room with Hugo and some of the kids." He placed a hand on her arm. "I think you should sit down."
"No," she said quickly. "No, I'm fine. Thank you," she added quickly, rushing out of the kitchen and through the house to the sitting room. Just as her dad had said, Ron was sitting on the floor playing a game of chess against both Hugo and Lily. Roxanne and Louis were watching the match intently. All five of them looked up when Hermione rushed into the room.
"What's wrong?" Ron asked instantly, eyeing what she knew were her flushed cheeks and watering eyes.
"I need to talk to you," she said quickly, silently communicating that it wasn't something that could be discussed in front of the children.
Ron got up immediately and followed her out of the sitting room and into the hallway. "Hermione, what is it?"
"Something's wrong," she blurted out, looking at him desperately. "I can't find Rosie, and I've looked… I've looked everywhere, and she's nowhere. And I just know, I know something's wrong."
Ron did not ask her anything else. He did not tell her she was overreacting or suggest that she sit down and have a drink of water to cool herself off. He simply looked at her silently for a few moments and then nodded.
"Okay," he said calmly, taking her hand in his own. "We'll find her."
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