I built the bridge across the stream of consciousness
It always seems to be a flowing, but I don't know which way my brain is going
Oh the rhyming, and the timing, keeps melodies inside me
And I'm climbing til I'm running out of air
Are you prepared to take a dive into the deep end of my head?
Are you listening to a single word I've said?

Wordplay - Jason Mraz

Chapter One—The World's Worst Birthday Proposition

Rose decided that if one more of her dad's old team-mates threw an arm over her shoulder and said: "Nine more years until you turn thirty, Old Rose," she would black the fuck out. And when she came to, bad things would have happened.

There would be blood.

And lots of it.

Mum used to say that getting older was akin to becoming happier. "You'll begin to know yourself," she'd told Rose the day before her seventeenth birthday, "Your boundaries will coalesce, and your openness will expand, all at the same time." The generality of her mother's esoteric abstractions were what infuriated Rose most. She'd been twenty-one for nearly nineteen hours, but still felt like the same sixteen-year-old who had asked what it felt like to get older. Rose was still waiting for all that shrinking, expanding, and self-actualising stuff to happen.

Well, it wasn't going to happen tonight.

She was almost sure of it.

Every year - scratch that - every fucking year, Rose was subjected to this brand of torture where everyone she knew, and many she didn't, crowded under a tent just outside the Burrow to celebrate not just her birthday, but the start of a brand new year. In five years, what had started as a one-time solution to the problem of two overlapping events—Rose's Sweet Sixteenth and the family's annual New Year's Eve celebration—had been turned into a complete freak show.

But of course, the party was going wonderfully for everyone who was not Rose.

Funny how that worked.

Laughter and conversation were punctuated by the clanking of champagne glasses and the warble of Daisy Bladvak cutting through the air. It wasn't much of a surprise to Rose that the makeshift dance floor was virtually empty, save for Uncle George and the gaggle of little kids he was jumping around with.

While the wizard standing in front of her made small talk, Rose let her eyes aimlessly wander the room. She hated small talk as much as she hated crowds, so the combination of small talk in the middle of the crowded tent was something she really wanted to bury.

And fast.

Rose caught her grandmum looking in her direction and whispering animatedly to her granddad, which was never a good thing. She was plotting—again. As far as grandmum was concerned, Rose was the worst kind of late bloomer: a lazy one. She worried most about Rose becoming the old lady with ten cats and a fondness for non-perishables. It was a ridiculous fear. Really.

For starts, she hated cats. And she wasn't completely hopeless when it came to relationships. She'd had boyfriends before. Plenty of them. Good ones, bad ones, boring ones, weird ones, and a few shady ones. Rose never took any of them seriously because they never stayed around longer than a couple of months; something that really worried her family. Part of the problem was that Rose had never been good at relationships, and she accepted the blame for it. She'd never been completely clear on how they worked, or if they were worth her time. It wasn't like she had many examples of how sane relationships worked.

Sure, her grandparents were stable, but she had a sneaking suspicion that the success of their marriage had something to do with two wars and the amount of time granddad spent in the shed. Hugo was asexual and couldn't be bothered with the opposite sex. Her cousins went through more 'serious relationships' than she went through Pepper-up potions during cold season. Oh, and her parents had gotten married because her mum had been sick of her dad.

"Truthfully, he wouldn't leave me alone."

Hugo busted out laughing while Rose just blinked. This was not the story she'd expected. "What?"

Her mother chuckled. "He kept randomly saying 'I'm gonna marry you.' I wasn't sure if he was trying to convince me or himself, but after a year of it, I finally said 'Prove it' to shut him up."

It was a wonder Rose wasn't living on a farm in the country, wearing a floral pink muumuu and feeding her twelve kids porridge.

She shuddered at the thought.

"Are you cold?"

Rose jerked her head up at the sound of a male voice. She tilted her head to the side, trying desperately to recall his name. She really should know. They'd been talking for the last—she checked her new watch— ten minutes. "Oh, I'm fine. The Warming charms are perfect…." Her words trailed off when she met her grandmum's excited eyes. Rose died a little on the inside when she beamed and nudged her granddad, who was more interested in his cake. Rose manoeuvred herself so she couldn't feel the weight of her stare.

"Everything okay?" the wizard asked with a raised eyebrow and a smirk.

"Oh, just fine, but I'm pretty sure that my Nan's planning our wedding. Is she still looking over here?"

He snorted in an attempt to cover his laughter, but his shoulders were shaking when he answered, "Yes, she is."

"Just try not to look like you're having a good time. So what were you saying before?"

Another snort quickly followed her request, but he quickly fell back into—well, whatever they had been discussing before. It was only a matter of seconds before Rose's attention drifted to something else, like trying to find other familiar faces in the crowd. Strangely enough, there were just as many 'famous people' there as second and third cousins twice removed whose names she couldn't recall.

She saw Hugo sitting at a nearby table between Lorcan and Lysander, James and his girl-of-the-week were sneaking out the tent, Scorpius and his date were across the room in deep discussion—probably about serious current affairs, and Albus was out there somewhere. Thankfully, the parental units were still out of sight. Good. Rose definitely wasn't happy with them now.

Following the birthday ritual of singing, blowing out candles, and cutting quite possibly the largest cake she'd ever seen, her mother had given Rose instructions to go mingle – alone. While Rose knew her mum had her best intentions at heart, what she failed to understand was that sending her off on her own wasn't a good idea. Not at all. She always needed someone present to make sure she didn't make an arse of herself. If Rose was famous for anything, it was for her ability to butcher the English language when forced into social situations.

"…isn't that strange?"

What? Oh. Rose smiled. "Yes, it was. So…" she trailed off, still unable to remember his name. Quinn? Quant? Quartz?

"Quincy." He gave Rose a dazzling smile that made her cheeks redden.

Truthfully, it was really hard to remember his name when he was towering over her and looking at her intensely. He was giving her one of those 'I know everything about you, even though we've never met' looks. Rose, unfortunately, was quite familiar with that look. It was one of the many curses of being the daughter and niece of war heroes. And with her grandmum's eyes burrowing a hole into the back of her skull, the look he was giving her didn't make her any more comfortable. When he approached her, Rose had done everything to act indifferent to his proximity and to his blue eyes. She obviously was a great actress, or else he'd pretended not to notice her discomposure.

Either way, it really was criminal for a man to be so attractive.

Rose smiled and carefully swept her auburn bangs aside. It was a completely useless act, but it made her feel better. Slightly. "Sorry about that. I've met a lot of people tonight. It doesn't help that I'm horrid at names."


A brief pause later, she mustered enough courage to ask, "So, Quincy, what do you do?"

"I'm a model for Playwitch."

Her eyes bugged. "You do know I'm not a model, right? I wanted to be one when I was ten. I have a good walk, but I'm too short and like eating too much. And we know how that works in the industry—oh. Not to say that you don't eat. And I'm not a glutton or anything, but…bugger."

Quincy's smile was wide.

"I ramble, sorry."

"You don't have to apologise. I think it's cute."

Rose would've blushed if she didn't feel so weird. "In an awkward way, I'm sure."

Leaning closer with an intact smile, he said, "No, just cute. Like you."

Really smooth, Quincy, Rose thought sarcastically. Too bad she couldn't get those words out. Probably because she couldn't shake the idea that he was actually sincere. "Umm…" After unsuccessfully willing herself to say something sassy, she gave a half-hearted sigh. She was never any good at intentional wit. Or accepting compliments. Or flirting back. Or anything like that. "I think I need a drink."

"What's that in your hand?" he pointed out.

"An empty flute…all gone. I'm suddenly—nice to meet you, Quincy." With that, Rose made her way over to the cake table and cut herself a large piece—her third of the night. And after briefly searching the room, she spotted an empty table in the corner of the room and out of her grandmum's sight. Quickly, she sat down. She couldn't help but wonder if there would ever be a time when she didn't feel extremely weird when someone admired her. Especially good looking wizards.

Every thought vacated her mind when she took a bite of moist birthday cake.

"Hi, Rose!"

She bit down on the fork, cursing to herself as Lily sat down. "Hai," she muttered. What did she want?

"I feel like I haven't seen you in weeks."

Despite having a mouth full of cake, she replied, "Vou habbn't."

Lily wrinkled her nose, trying to cover her disgust. "Right. Well, I've spent my last few weeks in a number of studios, collaborating with various singers. I must've written over thirty songs in the last six weeks. It's exhausting, yet rewarding, but such is life as a songwriter."

With a number one single, Daisy Bladvak had taken Lily from writing terrible jingles for commercials on the Wireless to writing terrible songs for all the top pop artists. In Rose's opinion, it was a lateral jump that just happened to pay a lot more.

Rose gestured to her cake, silently asking if she wanted any and hoping that she would accept. Anything to shut her up. Of course Lily killed all hope of a quiet existence when she said, "I don't want any cake, unless it's strawberry… is it strawberry?"

"No, but it is good," she answered in between bites. "I can go and—"

She shook her head. "No, I was thinking that we could sit here and catch up."

Her eyebrows disappeared behind her bangs. "Huh?"

"Yes, like where do you—oh that's right, Al told me you quit your job in Floo Regulations, just yesterday, right?"

"Yes." Rose stabbed the cake.

She was going to kill Albus…or hire someone that would.

"Four jobs in one year, that's a record, even for you."

Or maybe she would just kill Lily and get it over with.

Lily smiled and flipped her wavy red hair over her shoulder. "I really think this is your year Rose. The year you find a career that you love, so that you can be just as happy and successful as I am."

That insincere—Rose started to shove another piece of cake into her mouth just as an attractive wizard walked towards their table. Oh fuck. What was his name, again? Fon—Re—Alfonzo! The tall bloke with the crooked smile her dad had introduced to her. He'd given Rose an excited—not one but two—'thumbs up' as if she should've jumped into his arms and shoved her tongue down Alfonzo's throat right there.

Clearly, Rose had missed something important.

With a sort of grace she never thought a man his height could possess, Alfonzo slipped into the chair next to her. "So we meet again."

A smirk crept across her face at his corny greeting. "It looks like it."

Alfonzo touched her shoulder. "They say the second time is always better."

He was making it easy for her to reject him for the second time. Rose brushed him off. "I'm positive that the third time is actually the charm. So, why don't you walk away and—"

Lily gave her a rather hard 'introduce me' nudge that made Rose wince and cut a death stare in her cousin's general direction. However, the look softened when she came up with the perfect plan that would kill—get rid of two birds with one stone. "Alfonzo." Her eyes had a mind of their own and rolled involuntarily. "This is my cousin, Lily Potter."

Alfonzo politely shook her hand. "The daughter of the Harry Potter?"

Her cousin's smile was disturbingly bright. "Yes."

"Nice meeting you." And then, to Rose's surprise and Lily's shock, Alfonzo completely dismissed her. She could almost feel the steam of Lily's anger when he said, "So Rose, I was wondering if you would like to dance."

Dance? With him? She inwardly snorted. Not if she could help it. Alfonzo was about as intriguing as a fruit basket. And her dad liked him. Enough said, really. "Oh, I'll have to pass on that intriguing offer, but I'm sure Lily here will be more than willing to take my place."

Alfonzo looked disappointed, but stood and took her cousin's extended hand. As they started towards the dance floor, he turned to say something—probably to ask if she would reconsider—but Lily pulled him away. Rose tried not to laugh at the strange look Alfonzo gave her. Lily was his problem, at least for the next few minutes.


Rose crossed her legs at the knee and enjoyed the freedom that came with Lily's absence. She tried to relax in her chair, but the music and the few glimpses of Lily dancing like a moron made that difficult, nevertheless she was determined. Once Lily returned, Rose would be right back to stuffing her face with birthday cake while she babbled on endlessly about a four minute dance. Although, now that Rose thought about it, she could handle that sort of thing. It was behaviour typical of Lily.

The whole 'let's chat like we're the closest cousins in the world' thing…was not.

It was actually quite frightening.

When it came down to it, Rose clearly didn't know her cousin well because Lily returned from her dance with Alfonzo more chatty and incorrigible than ever. "Do you know who that was?! That was the Alfonzo Plumpton! I danced with Alfonzo Plumpton." Grinning, she dropped back into her seat as if she weighed nothing at all.

Rose blinked. "Okay…"

"His great grandfather is Roderick Plumpton. He made the fastest snitch-catch, ever! It only makes sense that he's the Seeker for the Montrose Magpipes." It wasn't that Lily was a big Quidditch fan; she was a fan of the good-looking wizards who played. For a second, they watched dark-haired wizard with his friends. One of them punched him in the arm and said something that made him frown. "I think he's very cute."

Rose agreed reluctantly and silently. "He looks sort of like Peter McLaggen—too bad he's probably just as much of a pompous wanker."

"You're too judgmental, Rose. You don't even know him."

"True, but I do know his kind. Overly beautiful and arrogant people are usually idiots. Why? Because our universe, in general, is fair."

Lily rolled her eyes. "Whatever."

She had a light bulb moment. "Is he single?"

Her cousin tsked. "Of course he is, but I'm not so sure why. He's one of the most famous Quidditch players in Britain. Any witch would be lucky to have him."

And now Rose knew why her dad had introduced them. He hadn't let go of the dream—or nightmare, in Rose's opinion—that his little Rosie would grow up and marry a Quidditch player. Like him.

She snorted at the thought.

Conversation moved on to Lily describing every detail of their dance, and then to her gossiping about everyone at the party—and even those who weren't. After what felt like hours of non-stop chattering, Rose seriously considered strangling her, but knew it would only end with tears, a torn family, and many years in Azkaban. Not worth it. At least not at the moment. Certainly her mind had to change before the night was over, right? Right. Besides, strangling someone took time and effort that could be put into other things.

Like seeing how fast she could eat this piece of birthday cake.

"Alfonzo told me that the lead singer of The Veelas is dating his best friend, who just so happens to be a Chaser for the Montrose Magpipes," she babbled. "I bet it won't even last a month. She'll smother him to death. I worked with her just last week on their new album, and I know for a fact that she hates being single. We even wrote a song together about it!"

Rose shoved another forkful of cake into her mouth. Seriously, what did she want?

"Mum told me that Minister Havelock is furious that his daughter is dating the Seeker for the Tutshill. You know, I actually met him tonight - they're both around here somewhere. I saw them while dancing I was dancing with Alfonzo. They look nice together and they seem happy. I'm not sure what Minister Havelock's issue is." She leaned closer. "Oh, and between you and me, I've seen a lot of pictures of him in Witch Weekly, but he's even more attractive in person."

Despite being cousins, they had never been close, not like she and Albus were. So, being around Lily for no reason was as strange as a mosh-pit at a Celestine Warbeck concert. Lily wanted something— that much she knew, but she didn't know what.

"Oh, and have you seen Scorpius' date for the evening?"

Rose's focus was currently on trying to figure out what she would do now that the last fudge treat was in her mouth. Fortunately, she'd heard enough of Lily's question to give a short nod in response. Scorpius had come with Henrietta Sweeting, who was infamous for breaking quills during tests and having tea stains on her clothes. Henrietta was in Rose's year, but was a Ravenclaw, like Scorpius. They'd had Arithmancy and Ancient Runes together, but weren't more than passing acquaintances. She always had a feeling that Henrietta didn't like her. Rose didn't know if it was because she was a Slytherin or because she often barged in on her and Scorpius' study sessions while they were in school.

Those Ravenclaws knew how to hold a grudge, especially if it involved their academics.

"I know they came together as friends, but like you, Rose, he can do so much better."

She continued to chew and nod along until—wait a second. "Wike mwe?"

Lily frowned. "It's no wonder you can't keep a serious boyfriend."

"Vat's dat sufpoosed—" Rose held up one finger and quickly swallowed the cake before she tried again. "What's that supposed to mean?"


She highly doubted that.

Lily rested her elbow on the table and laid her cheek against her fist. "Speaking of Scorpius, I've been wondering something all night…" Ah, here it was. The moment Rose would finally find out why she had to endure excruciatingly long minutes of Lily torture. She gave her cousin an expectant, 'go on' look. It was probably another one of her inane questions about Scorpius. She'd been asking a lot of questions about him lately. "Well, do you think you could set us up?"

Rose looked all around, expecting to see James and his group of knuckleheaded friends hiding in various areas of the room, armed with Extendable Ears and laughing their arses off. When she didn't see anyone out of the ordinary, her mind kicked into overdrive. James must've Polyjuiced his sister, hid her, and was using her to get—no. That made no sense. Well, Rose hadn't worked that far into his dastardly plan, but that had to be it, right? Polyjuice had to be the reason why Lily was asking her to set her up with Scorpius, of all people.

Wait a second.

She wasn't stupid. James couldn't imitate all of his sister's little quirks that annoyed Rose most. The way she flipped her hair and smiled, or the way her voice made her want to claw out her eyes.

Those things couldn't be faked.

So maybe she was part of the plan, after all. But why? And—

"Before you go all 'detective' on me, this is not some crazy plan my brother cooked up to throw you off balance." Lily assured. "I'm actually very serious. I like Scorpius. I like his hair, his personality, the way his lips pout—"

"Lips pout—say what?"

"Yes! And so much more. I've liked him for a while, but Al said he won't help me because he 'knows' Scorpius isn't interested." She rolled her eyes. "I figure with the new year coming, I could change the way he sees me. You could talk me up to him, and maybe—"

"Do not say another word." This was one of the most bizarre conversations she'd ever had. It was right up there with the time mum had decided to use diagrams and flow charts to explain where babies came from. "Let me see if I understand this. You like Scorpius. Al refuses to set you up with him. And rather than approaching him yourself, you decide that pestering me for sixteen minutes would make me want to do you a favour? Do I understand this correctly?"

Lily smiled. "Perfectly!" Clearly, she was under the heavy delusion that Rose was her buddy, confidante, and sidekick in all matters amatory. "Now," she continued. "I was thinking that you could start talking about my best attributes—"

"Are you insane?!"

She was almost certain that a relationship between Scorpius and Lily went against one of the natural precepts of the universe; or broke one of the golden friendship rules that said: Friends don't let friends date Lily Potter. Rose briefly wondered what drugs were pumping through Lily's system to even make her think that she would be a good match for him.

"What do you mean?" Lily looked confused.

Rose pointed at herself, like maybe there was a chance that someone else was sitting next to her that she hadn't noticed…and Lily was talking to them. "You want me to—"

"Set me up with Scorpius. We've been through this already."

After blinking at her for several moments, Rose sat back in her chair and said nothing. While Lily used the strange silence that followed to make sure that her hair was perfect and hum along to the awful song playing, Rose scanned the room for a champagne tray, but found something that brought a relieved smile to her face. It was salvation, in the form of Scorpius Malfoy, walking towards the table, armed with two glasses of champagne. Bless him. She was determined to put Lily's request out of her mind and enjoy the evening, but first….

As soon as Scorpius set the flutes down, Rose picked them up and guzzled them down in a flash.

"I was planning on drinking both of them." Scorpius informed her.

Stingy beast. "Sorry, but my needs were greater than yours. Trust me."

He started to argue, but something caught his attention. Rose followed his line of vision to Lily, who looked like a jungle cat on the prowl. Of course, she'd seen that look several times before, but it was only now that she understood what it meant. Oh, shit. Rose jerked her head to him. Oh, buggering shit.

Scorpius' eyebrow came out of hiding from behind black-rimmed glasses. "You know, I just might." He cleared his throat. "Are you all right, Lily? You look hungry."

"I am hungry, but not for food." Lily gave him her best seductive look, which actually made her eyes look like they were about to pop out of her head. Rose was waiting for her to snap her teeth at him, but something better happened. Lily had the nerve to ask, "Aren't you hungry, Scorpius?"

An incredulous bemusement twisted his features. "I'm a vegetarian."

Naturally, Rose's face turned bright red as she strained not to laugh. Lily was still smiling, which meant she didn't fully understand and that made it all the better. Scorpius had a talent of cutting someone down without them realising it. He'd inherited what Aunt Ginny called 'the Malfoy drawl' and it made everyone focus on his tone instead of his words. If they had paid any attention, they would notice that his sarcasm was often as dry as the desert with twice the venom of a snake.

He would've done well in Slytherin with her.

"Henrietta, Al, and I were discussing the relationship between Arithmancy and Muggle Probability. She seems to think there are no significant similarities and I thought you might have an opinion."

Or maybe not.

"You're seriously having a discussion about numbers at a party? Don't get me wrong, I love everything about numbers, but there's a time and a place for everything…and this isn't it."

Scorpius smirked. "Actually, they were debating it. I was more than happy to stand there and commit the sight of you running away from that bloke to memory."

Rose stuck out her tongue, which only made his smile widen.

And to think she considered him as her best friend. She folded her arms petulantly, but inwardly cringed. Best friend. She never did like the label. It was immature and created a strange possessiveness, which diminished the intensity of the feelings of loyalty involved in a friendship as close as theirs. 'Best friend' was okay to say when she was ten, but Rose felt it lost its linguistic fervour as she aged.

"I'll have you know that I'm a lot more socially graceful than you think," she informed haughtily.

He blinked. "You're about as socially graceful as a—"

"Do not finish that sentence if you want to live."

She never understood their friendship, but never questioned it because she was a believer in 'whatever works'. She and Scorpius? They worked. Where she was belligerent and restless, he was easy-going and patient. Rose often resented the stigmas and expectations that came with being a Weasley, but there were a lot more that came with being a Malfoy and Scorpius seemed unaffected. Over the years, she'd adopted his way of thinking...and it made things easier for her. One of the best things about Scorpius was that he was intelligent without being pretentious, reserved without being dull, and one of the few people her age who knew that an ostrich's eye was bigger than its brain.

"Where's Al?"

"Somewhere around here with Henrietta. Come on, we'll dance, then we'll go find them." He reached for her hand, she offered the other, and let him pull her from the seat. Unfortunately for Rose, Scorpius' tug was a bit hard and it sent her clumsily crashing into him. Her forehead hit his chin and she caught a whiff of his colognesomething spiced and warm.

"Ow!" Rose rubbed her head, frowning. "Were you trying to knock me senseless?"

"I didn't know you had sense in the first place."

She blew raspberries at him. "Ha, ha. Really funny, Rock-chin."

He flashed a typical, relaxed-Scorpius grin. "I try my best." Rose punched him in the arm as hard as she could, which caused him to wince and glare. "That actually hurt. Do it again and I'll leave your violent arse here."

Unrepentantly, she cackled on.

That was until he mouthed the two words that silenced her. "With her."

Rose pouted. "If I'd known eight years ago how evil you really were I'm not sure I would have befriended you."

"You befriended me? How quickly we forget things—"

"Blah, blah, blah," she cut him off while making faces. "It's my birthday, and I refuse to hear the story about how I was some charity case you spent time with on a whim of kind-heartedness."

"That's what happened!"

"Exactly, only Al was sick with Spattergroit during your visit to the Burrow before third year. Your dad was out of the country, and your mum wasn't even an option, so you were stuck with nothing to do but read your books and be pestered by James and Lily. And I—on a whim of kind-heartedness—saw your anguish," at that, he rolled his eyes, "and begged my parents to take you in like a stray so that I could introduce your deprived arse to the wonderful world of Muggle movies."

"I like my version better." Scorpius ran a hand through his medium blond hair.

Rose quietly thought that it should be a crime for a bloke to have better hair than her. "I bet you do, probably because it doesn't involve you sniffling at the end of—"

He covered her mouth. "For the last time, I have allergies!"

She rolled her eyes as dramatically as she could.

"I think," he let go of her mouth. "We should take this argument out on the—"

"Or maybe, I could step in for you again, Rose," Lily piped in. "Like I did last time."

Rose had completely forgotten that she was still sitting there. She looked over her shoulder to address her, but snapped her mouth shut when she saw her messy-haired cousin lounging in the chair next to his sister. Just where had Al come from? A strange feeling tried to rise in her chest, but she stopped it by smiling brightly. "Al! How long have you been sitting there?"

"Since 'Rock-chin'."

"Where's Henrietta?" Scorpius asked, briefly looking around.

"I still believe you should know that." Rose poked him in the chest. "She's your date, after all."

He straightened his glasses. "Well, I've been here with—"

"Actually," Albus interjected. "She wanted to help Uncle George prepare the midnight fireworks."

Rose laughed. "Only because Scorpius is such a crummy date."

Before he could retort, the crowd of conversing guests parted, and out of it emerged her father. The look on his face was very Rose-oriented—a mix of frustration, affection, and worry with a bit of blind optimism thrown in sparingly for luck. She'd already seen it twice tonight and wanted no part in whatever was going on.

Especially if it had something to do with her.

Rose considered diving under the table, but she wasn't in the mood to hand Scorpius and Al another thing to make fun of her about. Besides, she didn't want to ruin her dress. Rose had dedicated more than enough time and energy to manipulating—wait, convincing the clerk at La Femme Boutique to sell the overpriced black and cerulean robes to her for only four Galleons.

After releasing a resigned sigh, Rose waved at her dad.

He gave her a rather harried smile and gestured for her to come over. Rose frowned, excused herself, and went to him. Her dad kissed her on the temple, which reluctantly brought a smile to her face. Rose was—and always would be—a daddy's girl, at least until the end of eternity. It was quite pathetic. "C'mon, Rosie Posey—" at that she glowered while he just beamed. "Your mum wants to talk to you."

"Not that I mind an excuse to get away from this terrible music or out of letting Scorpius embarrass me on the dance floor, but what's going on?"

"Not here." When the song changed and the sound of Daisy Bladvak singing yet another Christmas song filled the room, Dad made the face he always made when mum bought him sugarless candy. "The music is terrible, isn't it?"

"Terrible doesn't even begin to cover it," she balked. "It made me consider ritualistic suicide. Twice."

He paused, mid-step. "Don't let your mum, Lily…or anyone hear you say that."

"I, at least, have some tact, dad. Give me some credit."

"Key word: some."

He had a point. That much she couldn't argue. "Okay, how's this? I promise that for the rest of the night, I won't say anything rude—"

"Or sarcastic."

She rolled her eyes and repeated with a sigh, "Or sarcastic."

"Good." He wrapped his arm around his daughter and hugged her against him as they walked out of the tent and into the Burrow.

Silent moments between them were rare, but this was almost peaceful and reflective. Rose found herself rewinding her day; past the bantering with Scorpius, past being trapped with Lily, and past the beginning of the New Year's party of doom. She stopped it during the hour she'd spent with her family, opening gifts.

It was the best part of the day.

By the time she'd finished opening gifts, she had a dozen cards with Gringott's deposit receipts, a knitted scarf from her grandmother, another fifty Galleons from Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry that would be used to purchase her very first sofa and coffee table, books from Albus, two movies from Hugo, a remote that ran on magic from the ever-practical Scorpius, a watch made from butterbeer caps from Mrs. Luna, and two front row tickets to a Daisy Bladvack concert from Lily.

Truthfully, it had been a pretty good day. No one had pulled her aside for the 'I'm worried about you, Rose' talk, dad had only given her 'the look' three times (a record), and mum hadn't given her the third degree for quitting her job in Floo Regulations.

Life was good.

It all changed when she stood in the doorway of the drawing room where her mum sat with that therapist look on her face. After checking the room for copies of Pea Soup for the Witch's Soul, she crossed the threshold, confident that this was no intervention.

"Come on in," her mum said in a very nurturing tone.

Rose instantly had a flashback to the night she'd announced that she was dropping out of Auror Academy…six months into the program. Her memories skipped back further to when she was nine and dreamed of being a famous ballerina, much to her dad's horror. It had lasted for six weeks, precisely when she realised how fucked up their feet were. And then there was the time she—

Mum cleared her throat, patting the seat next to her. The worst seat in the entire room.

Of course, Rose eyed the recliner, but her dad quickly plopped down and started playing with the lever, which earned him a stern glare from her mum. She tried not to giggle.

"Come sit." With a reluctant sigh, Rose dragged herself across the room, sat down, and picked at her cuticles until her mother's hand covered hers. "Rose, let's talk."

There wasn't much she could do in this situation. "Okay…"

And then her mum looked at her dad. "Would you like to take the lead on this, Ron?"

To which he replied with reclining the chair as far back as it would go.

"I'll take that as a no—"

"A hell no, actually."

Dad always knew just what to say to set mum off, and effectively take all the attention off of Rose. She, of course, didn't mind. And she didn't mind their squabbling, either. Yes, squabbling. It wasn't fighting, per se. They never really fought in the traditional sense of the word. Fighting involved the hurling of hurtful words, and according to everyone, they'd done enough of that when they were younger.

"Just once it would nice if you took some initiative…."

Still, listening to them was like watching two tree sloths race: amusing, absolutely, but Rose never really learned the purpose. Like now. Mum was criticising him because he wasn't taking initiative, but it wasn't in his nature to do such a thing. And for her to carp now was sort of like fussing at the sun after getting sunburned. Rose was far from the most observant person in the world, but she knew that dad was about as laid-back as they came. He supported mum, kept her from going off the deep end, but he never actively participated in her madness.

"I'm here, aren't I?" her dad pointed out. "I voted against this, remember? And here I am, so let's get on with it before we miss the countdown and fireworks."

"And the ringing in of the New Year is more important than our daughter?"

"Yes!" He then looked at Rose and said, "No offence, Rosie."

She shrugged. "None taken."

Her mum rolled her eyes. "Well, forgive me for keeping you away from picking some young tart—"

With a smirk that looked sort of familiar, dad waggled his eyebrows and said, "I only have one witch on my midnight snog list. She's incredibly bossy and, not to mention, brilliant. She has bushy hair and—"

"Okay, ew," Rose covered her eyes. How sickening! "I can leave if you two would like to be alone."

"No. I have something for you." Her mother's cheeks were a little red when she presented her with a little box. When Rose started to question what was in it, she gently said, "Just open it. It's our gift to you."

So she did, and was instantly confused. She held the card up. "I know what this is, but for laughs, can someone please explain to me why there is a St. Mungo's identification card in this box?" Rose looked closer. "And where did you get this picture of me? It's ghastly!"

Naturally, her mother ignored her final question. "I pulled some strings and got you a job as a Healer's assistant—"

"You what?" Rose shrilled. "Better yet, why? I can't work at St. Mungo's!"

"Why not?" Her dad looked just as intrigued as her mum, which was not a good thing.

"Everyone knows that if you're not an experienced Healer, the shifts are long and the pay is unspeakably bad." She told them candidly. "Besides working there will cut into my allotted ravenous-reading, movie-marathoning, savvy-shopping, and aimless-alliterating time. And I just can't have that."

Her logical mother had to input with: "Well, aren't you always saying that you have to try something for at least six months to really—"

Stubbornly, she folded her arms. "Not with this, I don't."

"You never know, you may like it," her dad inserted with a half-shrug.

"Et tu, Brute?" Rose accused, the beginnings of a pout forming on her face. When he returned with a blank stare, she rolled her eyes. That wasn't going to work. Her mother was staring with a humoured gleam in her eyes that made Rose want to scream. "Argh! Mum, I appreciate this, but I'm actually certain that I won't like it. I hear enough horror stories from Scorpius as is."

Her mum's face lit up. "Ah, that's right! He just started two months ago! That's another reason why you should give this a shot." And when Rose just blinked, she added, "Didn't you want to be a Healer at some point?"

"When I was seven! I also wanted to be an astronaut, a reporter for The Daily Prophet, a comedian, a Potions Mistress, an archaeologist, a professor at Hogwarts, a princess, a deep sea diver, an Auror, a food critic, a ninja, an Obliviator, a photographer, a treasure hunter, the Minister of Magic, an inventor, a—"

"Didn't you want to be an architect?" Dad piped in.

"Until I realised I couldn't draw!" she shrilled.

He laughed. "You didn't even make it six months in cello lessons, either." And his smile faulted slightly, "Come to think of it, I can't think of one thing you've kept up with longer than six months."

With an infuriating smile on her face, her mother patted her hand and said, "I have a proposition that will change that."

Rose didn't like the sound of that.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of JK Rowling. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: A heartfelt 'thank you' goes out to drcjsnider and kate0404 for betaing this for me. This was written for the Birthday Prompt Challenge at The Dark Mark. Also this is my very first attempt at Next Gen and Rose/Scorpius, and boy is it a scary leap having to admit in my writing that canon actually happened. I intended on this to be a oneshot, but an idea popped into my head and then this crazy plot bunny bit me. This story's genre is really romance/mystery/drama/humor all rolled into one, but ffnet only let me pick two. Also, as for their characterizations. I've read a bunch of Next Gen stories that have Rose and Scorpius as carbon copies of Draco and Hermione...I decided not to take this route. There is a lot of Ron in her and some of Hermione (with regards to her intelligence), but for the most part she's her own person. The same goes for Scorpius. I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Lily Potter II, but this story is not going to bash her. As always, there is a method to my madness...and to her characterization. :)