DISCLAIMER: All recognisable characters belong to J.K. Rowling.

It was getting cold, the snow falling thicker and faster, the landscape dark and lonely, but the lawn was filled with flickering, dancing, multi-coloured lights, the house's occupants celebrating Christmas inside, where it was warm and smelled of gingerbread cookies.

The large house, belonging to a certain Mr Harry James Potter, was filled to bursting as all of the extended family attended the reunion. The famous redhead brood of the Weasley clan, the blonde part-Veela section of the vast lineage, and the few brunettes dotted about (most notably Hugo Weasley and Albus Potter) mingled together, their voices loud and joyful as they relaxed in each other's company.

One certain girl was outside, trying to ignore the lights, the cheer emanating from the house, the heat inviting her in. She wanted to be where it was cold, where the world was grey and empty, just like she was.

She didn't know how or when it started; she and James had always been close. The oldest of their brood, and their parents best friends, they'd spent a lot of time with each other. Nothing changed when they'd entered Hogwarts six years ago. But now it was all different. She couldn't look at him without marveling over the fact that he was no longer that little boy; he was practically a man.

It didn't help that he was her cousin, for goodness' sake. And besides, why would he ever look at drab old Rose Weasley, with her frizzy brown hair and plain face? She bowed her head, tears sliding down her cheeks, as her heart tore itself apart.

It hurt, yes, watching him date Alice Longbottom. Not because she was the perfect match for him (she wasn't), but because Alice was exactly the type of person Rose could have sworn she knew James didn't date. Alice was soft-spoken, kind-hearted, gentle – every bit the Hufflepuff. And James was James. He was loud and boisterous, always flirting, could never make up his mind about which girl he liked from one week to the next. And yet he'd settled for Alice, of all people!

Rose adjusted the mini-skirt that barely covered her stockinged legs. She had changed herself for him, and he went around and ignored it. What did that mean? That he had no intention whatsoever of liking her.

She really was nothing more than a cousin to him, and so he should be to her! He was a boy that was definitely off-limits, someone she shouldn't even be contemplating about. What would their parents say if they dated? Come off it. There was no chance in hell they'd consider it. This love was truly unrequited, as close to Romeo and Juliet as a love story could possibly be, except that it was only Juliet pining for Romeo, and she didn't have her Paris there as a back-up plan.

She wanted nothing more than to just break down in the middle of the hallway and cry, shouting about her frustrations, but she didn't. She couldn't. She may be a Weasley, but she was still part Granger, and that line of Granger women was famous for their power and strength and courage; she was still every bit a Gryffindor.

It was another Christmas, and it was spent in exactly the same way as last Christmas. The only differences were the party was in the Granger-Weasley house, and Rose Weasley wasn't outside, but inside her room. The lights were turned off, the curtains were drawn, the family accepted her excuse of stomach cramps, and left her alone.

She was all alone in more ways than one. A tear dripped down one cheek as she heard James' loud voice carrying up to her room.

Look, she didn't need him, okay? She could move on. She needed to move on. He was nothing more than a cousin to her, and he should stay that way. Right? Right.

She could face him without feeling like her knees had folded underneath her, like her heart was trying to rip its way out of her chest, like something had been blocking her windpipe. She could do this; she was stronger than this.

Steeling her mind, she got off the bed and threw on the first articles of clothing she found. Brushing her hair carefully in a neat ponytail, she headed downstairs to join the festivities.

There was a loud cheer as she appeared in the living room, and though her smile was a little wan, it was still genuine – she had missed her family. At once, a pile of pies were pushed into her arms by loving aunts, and uncles were shouting about something or other, and then she saw him.

He was sitting by the tree, with Alice.

She smiled at them (not one ounce genuine) before turning away to head towards the kitchen, mumbling about not being able to finish the pies. After piling the pies on the kitchen counter, she leaned her arms against it, her head bent as she tried her best to keep her emotions at bay.

She nearly jumped out of her skin when a pair of arms circled her waist from behind.

"Rose," James breathed.

"James?" Rose whispered, frightened. "James, if they see us like this, they'll think—"

He cut her off by inhaling deeply, and when he breathed out, it tickled Rose's neck and raised goosebumps up her arms.

"James," Rose said again, this time her voice was a little stronger. "James, please—"

He sighed in frustration, before unlocking his arms from around her waist and taking a step away. His eyes regarded her as she turned around to face him.

"What do you think you're doing?" she demanded in a whisper.

He let out a harsh laugh. "Don't tell me I'm the only one who enjoyed that, Rose."

"I'm sure it doesn't matter to you what I enjoy," she snapped back. She cursed herself internally for rising to his bait.

He stared at her, as though he couldn't quite figure out what he was seeing. Then he sighed. "Okay, you know what? I think it's time we came clean about this. See that girl out there? Alice? D'you know why I'm dating her? Because she was just like you before you went around wearing mini-skirts and flirting with jerks."

He ran his hand through his hair as he continued. "Seeing you tonight, with no facade, no mask, no make-up... You were Rose Weasley again. You were my Rose Weasley."

Rose's mouth dropped unattractively as guilt and shock crashed through her, but anger soon made its way to the top again. "Oh yeah? See me? How you say I've changed? Well, I changed for you, you bastard. You could have taken the chance to tell me any time in the past year I've been like this, and yet you didn't do a goddamn thing about it."

Not wanting to let James see her breakdown, she ran out of the kitchen as the tears slid down her cheeks. She was wrong to have come down from her room. Now, she was sure she'd alienated James even more.

She wouldn't go back to Rose Weasley, the nerd. Not now, when James had told her he was only dating Alice because she was like who Rose used to be. No, Rose would distance herself from James – he wasn't good for her health, for her mental well-being, for her heart. She would change, become everything he didn't like. Then maybe he'd learn to love Alice for herself, and maybe Rose would learn to move on, because nothing could ever come out of nothing.

Because she'd always been nothing more, and he'd always been nothing less.


And the sunrise fills the sky full of rain

It'll hide the tears that wash away my pain

But if you hide yourself away

Well I say, hey

You've only got yourself to blame






Written for thethymeisright's So What I'm Obsessed With Next Gen Challenge, and the beginning section of the story I used for the Forum Wide Anon Drabble Fest over at HPFC.

It's so bloody weird, because I never used to like Next-Gen, because they had no canon. Everything about them is fanon. And now, I can just... write it. I think I've grown up a little bit as a writer. Before, I liked to have boundaries, the limits of canon, and then tweak things in that. But now, my limits have sort of stretched; they're still there, but it's easier to bend. I can explore their characters, and it's so bloody weird! Lol.

Blame by Transluzent.

Review your thoughts and opinions.