Author's notes: Rosmerta is the movie version (very different from the book).

"So, what, do you reckon the shrieking shack is really haunted?" Ron leaned back in his chair almost tipping his butterbeer down his front.

Rosmerta who was walking away from their table having just seen to their order slowed her pace, drawn in by his question.

"It would appear so. It is supposed to be the most haunted building in Britain." Hermione sipped her drink daintily as if trying harder after watching Ron's clumsiness.

Rosmerta went to the far end of the bar closest to where the group of students sat. Wiping down the clean counter she listened closely to their conversation. She knew she shouldn't eavesdrop but what did it matter really as long as she was discreet?

Ron didn't seem to buy Hermione's answer, laughing he tried to appeal to Harry. "Yeah but it's a shack innit? Small. Look at Hogwarts and all the ghosts there, how can it be most haunted?"

"It's not about size or the number of ghosts, Ronald. They just may be demonic spirits not human." Hermione explained exasperatedly cutting off Harry's answer.

Rosmerta smiled wickedly holding back a laugh. Hermione's argument was sound but she was wrong.

"Demonic?" Ron snorted his drink and Harry handed him a napkin. Ron took it but continued his assault on Hermione's knowledge, a battle he should have known better then to take part in. "Are demons even for sure real?"

Hermione began a lecturing tone all who knew her well recognized. "It is a widely held belief that dementors are a form of demon and since they exist it is quite likely other types less known exist as well."

When Ron drank deeply from his mug, having nothing more to say, Hermione gave Harry a satisfied smile.

"Yeah sure." Harry had ideas of his own. "But I just figured it was, you know, a werewolf maybe."

Rosmerta chuckled but cut it short as Harry looked questioningly up at her. She began busying herself with straightening bottles.

They all knew he was talking about their former teacher turned friend. It made some sense but Hermione had a dismissal ready for that too.

"Honestly Harry most people could recognize a werewolf call, they're very distinctive. And even those who couldn't wouldn't call a howl a shriek."

"It must be some bloody crazy shriek to make it the most haunted building in Britain." Ron asserted.

Rosmerta let out a snort and knocked over a stack of glasses that rolled across the counter. Scrambling quickly to pick them up she tried to be inconspicuous.

This time they all looked up at her and she gave them what she hoped was a normal friendly smile but she found it difficult to contain her laughter.

"You know something." Hermione stated matter of factly, politely watching Rosmerta, waiting for her to tell all. Rosmerta glanced over to the red-haired boy. Ron was staring too but a little lower then Hermione.

Rosmerta smiled. "You are too perceptive for my own good. Alright."

She came around the bar and sat on a nearby table. "If you really want to know the truth I'll tell ya."

They all turned to face her, Ron leaning in close his eyes running all along her before finally reaching her face.

Rosmerta crossed an arm over her stomach and laid her chin in her other hand, getting comfy. "Once upon a time..." she smiled to herself, interrupting her own story. "There was a young girl, about your age. Fifth years aren't ya? Yeah. Well this girl fancied a boy and one day they decided to...explore in the shrieking shack, which it wasn't actually called that yet." Rosmerta smiled wickedly. "But soon after it was. Ya see, someone passed by, someone known for their superstitious ways and they heard things, maybe a few groans and a... shriek."

She paused looking away a moment as her cheeks turned lightly pink. "Naturally this person told the whole village it was haunted and of course I... this girl fuelled those rumours." Rosmerta tipped her head in reflection. "And shortly after learned a good silencing charm."

Hermione busied herself wiping the condensation from her drink with her sleeve and placing the mug in a very precise spot on the table. Harry cleared his throat and took a large gulp of butterbeer.

Ron remained staring at Rosmerta as if hanging on her every word even though she had finished talking some time ago. Finally shaking himself out of the trance her beauty had held him in he blurted out, "Bloody hell, that must have been some noise."

Harry choked, sputtering over his butterbeer and Rosmerta gave him a sharp rap on the back. Hermione's eyes grew wide and her face turned a brilliant shade of pink. Rosmerta let out a deep chuckle and Ron laughed with her though he seemed confused as to what was so funny.

"So." He asked casually, "I don't understand, is the shrieking shack haunted?"

There was a moment of complete silence. A wide grin spread across Harry's face, Hermione looked concerned for Ron.

Eyebrows raised in amazement Rosmerta's mouth opened but she closed it unsure of what to say. She gave Hermione a sympathetic look knowing the girl fancied the boy and was likely to be the one to pay for his naivety.

"What?" Ron looked from each person to the other in turn. "Hermione?"

Hermione closed her eyes and shook her head in disbelief. "Perhaps when you're older, Ronald."