As a rule, Rose Weasley had very little to do with Slytherin House.
She didn't avoid Slytherin House because of its old reputation. That would have been stupid. She avoided it because she simply didn't like the qualities that defined Slytherins very much. Gryffindor was just the superior house, because the people in it had the superior attributes.
Whatever Albus and her mother said – and they had quite a bit to say on the subject – there was just something about Slytherins that made her skin crawl. They were so...calculating. It simply wasn't natural to be as manipulative and deliberate as most Slytherins were.
Gryffindors, on the other hand, were much more sensible. They did things because they wanted to, not because they thought it would get them something later. They had courage. They had principles. And above all, they had nerve.
Which was why they were going to stomp the rest of the school in Quidditch for the sixth year running.
That is, assuming her teammates didn't kill her first.
Rose had been working with her friend Natalia on their Herbology assignment in the library when Natalia had asked, curiously, whether Quidditch practice had been canceled.
Rose, who had not been paying very close attention to the time and consequently thought it was significantly earlier than it actually was, had cursed, stuffed her books, parchment, and quill into her bag, and beat a hasty retreat to Gryffindor Tower.
The team was not going to be happy with her.
She was almost fifteen minutes late by the time she burst into the changing room. Her cousin James, was sitting backwards in the chair he and Roxanne had charmed two years before in honour of his being made captain. The lions that had at one point been stationary decorations were constantly on the prowl, moving up and down its legs and across the seat and back.
"Sorry," Rose panted, slumping against the wall next to the door and trying to catch her breath.
"Thank you for finally joining us," her cousin said. His mouth was pursed, and while his glare probably wouldn't have killed her even if looks could kill, it probably would have caused a fair amount of discomfort.
"Anything for you, cuz." She made her way toward the uncomfortable wooden benches facing James and dropped down onto one of them. Her friend Marion squeezed her knee in sympathy. "Thanks," she muttered.
One of the lions had settled onto the back of James's chair. It watched them as he started talking, flicking its tail around and occasionally craning its neck to look up at the dark-haired captain. It was definitely a cool effect, and Rose doubted that any of the other House Quidditch teams had anything like it.
"So," James started, running a hand over his already very messy hair. "We've got a great team. A winning team. I don't need to tell you that."
"But we love to hear it," their cousin Roxanne said. She was sitting on the bench closest to James and leaning forward intently. Rose was not sure whether James had appointed Roxanne as his unofficial co-captain or whether Roxanne had appointed herself, but either way, they made a very good team. They had been Beaters on the team since their second year, and Rose personally thought that they were brilliant.
James allowed a slight smirk to creep across his face. "And I love to say it." His sister Lily coughed pointedly, and he took the hint. "At any rate, since we're shoe-ins to win this year as well, I just want to put you all on notice: I want us to set records that no one will ever beat. I want us to be remembered as the best team this school has ever seen."He pounded his fist into his palm.
"Well, we are," said Roxanne, tossing her long braids over her shoulder. She looked exceptionally pleased with herself; if there was anything Roxanne was not, it was humble.
"Yes, but they'd damn well better remember it," Rose said.
James gave her an approving nod. He seemed to have forgiven her for her tardiness. "That's the attitude I want to see. Now, I know we had some grumbles last year, because people were accusing me of favouritism."
Their Keeper, Tyler, who was sitting with Lily and his sister Annabelle on the next bench over, gave a disgusted snort.
When James had had to replace a Seeker and a Chaser at the start of the previous year, he'd held tryouts that ultimately ended in his picking Lily and Annabelle to fill the spots. At the time, some people seemed to think that James had not really been impartial - and admittedly, appointing two second years who both happened to have siblings on the team had seemed a bit suspect - but the season's results had proved them wrong.
"They know better now." He motioned to himself and Roxanne. "We are terrific beaters."
He pointed at Lily. "We have a seeker who has clearly inherited our father's prodigiousskill."
"Also our mother's." Lily was definitely the classic build for a Seeker; short and slim, she could practically disappear into the sky on a dreary day. Sometimes it was only her bright red hair that allowed them to spot her.
"Also our mother's," James agreed. He nodded at Tyler. "We have an amazing Keeper."
"Thank you." Tyler actually got up and bowed. His white teeth flashed in a startling contrast to his deep brown skin, and his glasses teetered dangerously on the edge of his nose before he straightened and pushed them back up. "Thank you very much."
It occurred to Rose, not for the first time, that her team could really be quite ridiculous.
James swept his hand at the three remaining girls. "And we have a dynamite team of Chasers."
Annabelle leaned over to exchange high fives with Rose and Marion. She and Lily were barely four months apart in age, and like Lily, she had yet to hit her growth spurt. However, what she lacked in height, she more than made up for with her speed and her dexterity.
"Thanks, cousin dear," Rose said.
"Yeah, we really appreciate the vote of confidence," Marion added. She could clearly sense that James's speech was almost over, because she reached behind her and quickly began to gather her kinky curls into a loose braid.
James grinned before continuing. "Now, I know that on most teams, I wouldn't need to say this, but please, let's avoid serious transgressions for the week or so preceding the match. I really don't need anyone in detention for a game."
"What if we're absolutely sure that we won't get caught?" Roxanne asked, her brown eyes shining.
"Then I have to wonder why I'm not there with you," James shot back, and she laughed. "No misbehaving unless I'm there, too."
"That I can live with." Roxanne got to her feet. "I just thought that you wanted to ruin all my fun. I was ready to be very disappointed in you."
"Have you met me?" She grinned, and he swung one leg over the back of the chair and stood. "Come on, we've lost enough daylight as it is. Thanks to Rose," he said pointedly.
"I really am sorry," Rose told him as they grabbed their broomsticks and followed the rest of the team out the door. "I was trying to finish an essay and lost track of time."
He reached out and ruffled her hair. "Just don't let it happen again," he said, trying to look severe.
He failed miserably. James was not very good at looking serious.
Unless, of course, someone was late to Quidditch practice - and Merlin help you if you forgot about one.
She grinned. "I'll do my best."
"Good. I don't want to have to replace you." He kicked off.
She laughed and did the same. James really was one of her favorite cousins.
When they trooped into the dining hall several hours later, Roxanne and James were both covered in dirt. They had taken a break halfway through practice to imitate some of the less talented and more slow-witted Beaters they'd known in their time at Hogwarts. They'd each landed in the dirt at least twice. Neither of them seemed to care.
The sixth years peeled off and sat down toward the end of the table while Rose, Lily, and Annabelle continued on. The latter two joined a group of their fellow third years, including Rose's brother Hugo, about halfway down the table. Rose waved to him and continued up the table until she found her cousin Albus with some of their friends.
She poked him. "Hey, squeeze over." He inched closer toward Colleen, who Rose shared a dormitory with, and she sat down between him and another yearmate named Alex.
Albus handed her a plate. "Here, I saved you some food. I didn't want you to get stuck with what no one else wanted."
The steam of the potatoes and carrots wafted up as she took the plate, and she inhaled deeply. "Thanks, Al."
He smiled. "You're welcome. How was practice?"
"Good," she said around a mouthful of potatoes.
"Do you think we might have a chance of winning this year?" asked Alex in a mock tone of concern.
Rose swallowed. "Oh, I think we've got half a shot," she said airily. "James certainly seems to think so."
Colleen laughed. "Well, I don't envy you getting all your work done with practice and prefect duties on top of it! It's O.W.L. year."
Rose shrugged. "You want to go tell that to James?" Everyone gave a snort of amusement. "No, I'll be fine. I just won't sleep or get caught breaking the rules."
Their friend Damien, who was sitting across from them, shook his head. "You never get caught," he said. "You can be out half the night, and no one ever seems to find you. What's your secret?"
Rose exchanged a glance with Albus, who shook his head seriously. "Sorry. Family secret. If we told you we'd have to kill you."
This was greeted with the usual chorus of laughter, and after a few more minutes of idle conversation, the empty platters were replaced with cakes, pies, and biscuits.
Their fellow fifth years finished dessert before she was even finished with dinner and headed back up to Gryffindor tower, but Albus kept her company until she'd had her fill. By that time, the Great Hall was nearly deserted, and she sighed. "I should probably finish my Herbology essay, huh?"
"Probably," said Albus. "Do you want to join me in the library?"
She looked at him suspiciously. "Who will you be with?" She, James, and Roxanne might be discriminating about their company, but Albus really took all of the interhouse cooperation stuff to heart. You could never tell what kind of people he'd be working with.
The look he gave her was remarkably similar to the one James had given her for being late, but unlike his brother, Albus could hang onto that look for hours at a time if he really wanted to. "You know, if you just gave people half a chance—"
That meant Slytherins. She looked at him, exasperated. "See, this is why I ask."
"Your mother would be very disappointed in you," he told her. The expression on his face said that her mother was not the only one.
She groaned. She hated it when he tried to guilt her. It usually worked. "Just tell me who."
Of course it was. Of all of Albus's Slytherin friends, Scorpius Malfoy was by far her least favorite. She rubbed her temples. "Al, I'm really not in the mood to—"
"Rose, you can be such a bigot."
She jerked back, stung. "I'm not a bigot! I just think that Gryffindors make better company!"
"You know, not everyone in Slytherin—"
She put her fingers in her ears. "Lalala I can't hear you." She swung her legs over the bench and walked away. "Bye!"
When she glanced back at him, the irritation had morphed into a look of hurt.
She sighed. After practice, she could use a bath. Maybe she'd put off work a little longer.
A/N: Thanks for reading! If you are so inclined, I would greatly appreciate a review. :)