Author's Note: Thank you for reading! This is the first and only genfic I have ever written, and I hope it is up to par. I think we can all understand what Rose is going through in this story, if not to that extreme, at least in spirit. Thank you to A for the beta, and to OtterandTerrier for the lovely piece of artwork. Check her out on livejournal to find the art. Lyrics by Brett Dennen . Written for the 2010*2011 RonBigBang
The One Who Loves You The Most:
When the sky is falling from above you
And the wind is raging from the coast
And you want someone who truly loves you
I will be the one who loves you the most
They say the moment you first hold your child in your arms, your life changes. Not true. For Ron Weasley, life changed the second Hermione got a positive pregnancy test and he found out he was going to be a father. Everything he had ever said and done took on a whole new meaning, and every plan…every endeavor became infinitely more important. After all, he was going to be somebody's parent.
Ron spent ten months (he was shocked to find out it wasn't really nine) trying to prepare for the arrival of his first child. He went with Hermione to all of her unsettling and graphic healer appointments, he learned construction spells and enlisted the help of every wizard he knew to build a perfect nursery, and he even mastered the art of warming up a bottle using boiling water instead of magic, which could scald the baby.
When he found out that they were expecting a girl, Ron was excited and scared. Girls were barmy creatures, full of tears, wonder, and likely wild hair. When he asked his father and Doctor Granger what he could expect, they both just shook their heads and laughed.
"Having a daughter will make you forget everything about yourself. Your world will revolve around her and her smile before you even know what hit you," Dr. Granger said, upon seeing the ultrasound that showed the gender of their little bun.
Ron steeled himself against the additional warnings from Bill and George about temper tantrums and tea parties, and prepared to welcome his own flesh and blood into the world. When Hermione woke up in a puddle of something Ron didn't want to examine more closely, he was ready for whatever the world wanted to throw at him. They rushed to St. Mungo's in an air of excitement and panic.
Rose, they named her Rose, and she was perfect in every way. When he and Hermione brought her home, they just sat on their small sofa in their modest living room and stared at her with smiles on their faces. Hermione fed her and put her to bed, barely making it to their room herself before she collapsed in exhaustion.
The first time Rose woke up crying in the middle of the night; Ron leapt from his bed and ran to her. He knew that she was going to be doing this a lot, but the sound of her pained wails coming down the hall had him rushing to scoop her up before Hermione could even stir in bed. He took her up from the tiny cot they had put in her perfect little room and pressed her to his chest.
"It's going to be alright, love, you've got me. Everything will be okay because I'll always be here," Ron whispered, pressing his cheek to her perfect, hairless head. She quieted for a few moments and Ron's large hands held her close and warm against him. After a while, she stirred and fussed again, and Ron went down the hall to wake Hermione for Rose's 2 am feeding.
His whole life changed when he found out he was going to be a father. But he lost a humungous chunk of his heart the first time her big blue eyes looked up at him, and the cries quieted in her throat. Ron knew that he would never stop protecting her, and he'd do everything in his power to make sure she cried as little as possible.
"What's Alpaca?" Ron asked, thoroughly confused.
"An Alpaca is a llama-like creature raised for the wool its fur produces. Alopecia is what our daughter has," Hermione said, sadly. "I've tried every healer and every doctor, but they can't grow her hair back. We're going to have to talk to her, and look into getting her a wig."
There was silence in Harry and Ginny's sunny, well-appointed living room as Ron felt his stomach fall into his feet. What she had sounded like a real disease, something muggles like Hermione's grandfather died of, not his magical little girl. He looked over to Harry pleadingly, but he just put his head in his hands.
"But she's got ginger eyebrows and hair on her arms and legs!" Ron said, still confused how his daughter could have a hairless disease and still have hair.
"It's specifically called Alopecia Totalis, and it's the loss of all head hair. Some think it's an auto-immune disease, but the cause is still relatively unknown," Hermione explained, looking sadly out the window.
"Auto-immune? Is she sick?" Ginny spoke up, her eyes wide with worry. Ron's throat clenched at the prospect.
"No, the cause is thought to be that the immune system, usually designed to go after foreign invaders and harmful bacteria, actually attacks hair follicles," Hermione said, thumbing through one of the three books she had already bought on the subject.
"So will it ever grow in?" Harry asked, taking Ginny's hand.
Hermione shook her head sadly, and Ron's shoulders slumped. He imagined all the ways in which she could be teased, made to feel like an outcast and resent herself, and he wished mightily that he could take her place. He'd gladly go bald if it meant his little girl wouldn't have to go through an ounce of pain or uncertainty.
A whimpering cry echoed from the second story of Harry and Ginny's country home, and Hermione jumped up to fetch Hugo from his nap. The silence left in Hermione's wake was deafening. Harry and Ginny looked about to speak at various turns, but Ron just turned away from them and watched the kids play out the window. He smiled sullenly as Rose ran from James, who was making a strange face and shouting in a made up language.
"She'll be okay, Ron. She'll just be a bit different," Harry said, moving to sit next to him on the arm of the chair.
"Yeah! We can get her some wigs, make sure they stay on with some clever charms, and no one will know," Ginny said, sitting on his other side.
"But she'll know, won't she?" Ron answered, anger and bitterness tingeing his voice. He didn't want to imagine his children feeling different, feeling out of place in their own skin, and always questioning their own worth. The thought broke his heart. He stormed out of the house, slamming the back door and breaking the glass in his wake. He didn't stop to repair it.
Ron heard his daughter's pained cries from the copse of trees off of the yard. He found her sitting below a large oak tree, branches tangled in her clothes and sticking out of her shoes. She was curled in a ball and crying as quietly as she could.
"Rosie?" Ron said, kneeling down in the dirt next to her. "Are you hurt? Where?"
She rolled over, her large straw hat falling off of her head, and revealed a giant gash across her knee. She had angry tears streaming down her cheek and her fists were clenched. Ron summoned the dittany from Harry and Ginny's downstairs bathroom.
"You have to be quiet, Daddy! They'll find me," Rose whispered urgently.
"Oh, were you playing hide and seek?" Ron said, cleaning the wound with a spell that made her cry out. He kissed her little knee gently, and she wiped her tears away.
"No, I was running away. But if you make too much noise, everyone will know!" She said, looking panicked.
"Doesn't it defeat the purpose if your dad knows you're running away?"
"No! You can come with me! I just don't want Roxy and Vicky and them to find me out," She said, playing with the hem of her shirt and beginning to cry again.
"Did they say something mean?" Ron asked, rubbing the dittany gently over her sore leg. She sighed a little in relief.
"No," she mumbled.
"Did they chase you?"
"Well then why would you want to run away from your cousins?" Ron said, pulling her onto his lap in the grass.
"They are too pretty. Vicky has all of this long, pretty hairs. I don't have nothing!" Rose said miserably.
"Even Hugo has hair, Daddy. He has pretty curly hair like Mum. Vicky has yellowy hair, Roxy has curly black hair…everyone has hair but me. I just think running away would be a good idea," She crossed her arms and looked away from him.
Ron's heart shattered into a million pieces, and he had to swallow back a lump in his throat. He pulled Rose against his chest, like he used to when she was a baby, and pressed his cheek to her warm, bald head. He ran his fingers down the back of her head and over her neck, patting her gently on the back.
"Rosie! You're very pretty. You are a special little girl. You're smart, you're funny, and you shine like the sun," Ron said, at a complete loss for how to comfort her the right way. How do you tell a child that the reason she cries will never go away?
"The sun?" Rose said, squinting at the sky.
"Oh yes! The first time you smiled, I almost went blind!" Ron said, smiling down at her.
"What about my head?"
"I'll buy you whatever hair you want, as long as you promise to always shine."
"I will," she said, standing up and twirling in a beam of sunlight coming through the trees.
Though this potion is said to work wonders for temporary hair growth related to costuming, it like all other potions and tonics, will not replicate the lustre and color of natural hair… The spell is only temporary, and no wizards or witches yet have been able to take off the time limit on this particularly conjuring of hair… Despite theorizing and researching, top wizarding minds are still far away from growing and replicating human hair in any quick, permanent fashion hair. The advances in orangutan hair on the other hand…
The spell is only temporary, and no wizards or witches yet have been able to take off the time limit on this particularly conjuring of hair…
Despite theorizing and researching, top wizarding minds are still far away from growing and replicating human hair in any quick, permanent fashion hair. The advances in orangutan hair on the other hand…
Ron threw the overbearing textbook against the wall of Hermione's study with alarming force.
A few days ago, he and Hermione sat Rose down and offered her any wig she wants, anything she chose to take the place of her own absent hair. Rose's face lit up brightly, turned to Ron, and smiled and excited, hopeful smile.
"I want hair just like Daddy's."
Since then, Ron had been finding a way to grow his own hair, to make the perfect replica for his daughter to wear…to feel less out of place in the world. He was hitting dead end after dead end. Nowhere in any of Hermione's vast expanses of useless facts, or her collection of books, or even his mother's knowledge of home remedies did they find a solution for permanent and good quality hair growth. Rose would either end up having to drink a potion every day, or he would have to cast a spell on her smooth little head.
Ron sighed and slammed his head against the thick wooden desk.
"You know, you'll still be her hero, no matter what you do," Hermione said with mirth in her voice, tip toeing around the tossed book to set a steaming mug of cocoa down in front of him. Chocolate, in this case, was more appropriate than tea.
"Maybe now, but what happens when someone makes fun of her? What happens when they stare too long at her and she realizes how different she really is?" Ron said, thinking of all the ways his daughter could be hurt by the world.
"We'll never let her feel that way, Ron," Hermione said, her dark eyes so steeled with determination that Ron felt instantly more hopeful than he did a few moments ago. He kissed her soundly, lingering long enough to taste the whipped cream on her lips.
He knew what he had to do.
"I can't take much more of this! Every time I go to cast a spell, it gets caught. I swear I'm going to catch fire one of these days and George will laugh his arse off!" Ron said, braiding his waist-length hair.
"Oh stop whining. It's a good thing you're doing," Ginny said, taking over his ministrations with deft fingers.
"I know, but do you think it's enough? I just feel like this is a poor replacement for her." Ron said, scratching his head and watching his daughter run and play out the window.
"Ron, even when she's older, and she feels like it's all hopeless, I'm sure she'll remember what her father did for her and understand that there's always someone out there," Ginny said, staring fondly at her hands, as if lost in a memory.
"You know, Dad came to Hogwarts once, that year you were gone," She started, sitting down at Ron and Hermione's light oak kitchen table by the window.
"No, I didn't. The Ministry let him in there?"
"No," she smiled. "He was supposed to be patrolling Hogsmeade for Muggleborns, but he snuck up to the castle. McGonagall let him in by the greenhouses. He had to walk the whole way to the school in the cold, wet snow we got that November."
"Bloody hell! He could have been killed!" Ron said, shocked by this new information. "Were you in some kind of trouble?" Ginny shook her head.
"He got to Gryffindor tower, and collapsed at my feet in front of the fire, shaking and cold. When I managed to cast a drying spell and warm him up he just grabbed me and held me for what felt like ages." Ginny murmured, had her arms wrapped around herself and was smiling slightly.
"Why was he there, though?"
"That's just it, Ron. He didn't really have a reason. When he was getting ready to leave, he pulled away from me, healed a bruise the Carrows had given me on my cheek, and brushed some hair behind my ear. I couldn't talk. I wanted to beg him to stay, but I didn't want him to think I wasn't brave."
Ron put a hand on Ginny's shoulder, his own throat growing tight. "He said 'I just needed to see you. I needed to look at you for a moment, Ginevra. It's all…it's becoming too much.' And then he just walked away, a slight hopeful grin on his face."
"Neville, Luna, and I tried to steal the sword that night. I just had to do something," She said, clenching her fists. There was a hot streak of tears running down the side of her face.
That evening, Ron went over to Luna's house and had her cut his hair. She shaped it into a wig fit for his Rosie.
By the time Rose Weasley was 11, she had five different wigs. She kept them all on stands complete with random doodles and oddly contorted features that she and Hugo would often paint when they were feeling particularly creative and fun. They lined her mother's study like an odd array of modern art in her stately, wood-trimmed library. It didn't matter how out of place she felt, Rose loved her hair.
She had a wig from her Aunt Luna. It had shoulder length, wavy blonde hair that shimmered almost unnaturally on a cloudy day, as opposed to shimmering on a sunny one. She said it was to "add some brightness to the gloomiest days". Grandma Weasley got her the most perfect, curly black wig, found at a special shop while she and Grandpa Weasley were on holiday. It was long, shiny, and very curly like her mum's. Her dad said she looked like a black haired version of Hermione Granger in that wig. Her cousins all chipped in and got her a Mohawk complete with green tipped spikes last year for her birthday, along with a written promise from each of them that they would keep her secret at Hogwarts. And Teddy had given her a cropped, bluish green wig that he took from shaving his own head.
But her favorite was the one her father had made her, the first wig she ever got, the first time she felt like a normal, pretty little girl. When she spun around, and that long red hair flowed around her, Rose finally knew what it was like to shine. Her mother had found a way to make her hair look so real, and to stay so well, that Rose immediately went and played with her cousins, reveling in the glory of her ginger locks.
Facing the first day at Hogwarts tomorrow, Rose knew which hair would become her permanent look for her educational career. The decision didn't even take much thought. She felt like her ginger wig was the only real piece of her, partially because it was also a piece of her father.
"Have you packed your trunk for tomorrow, love?" her mother said, making Rose jump.
"Only like five times, mum!"
"Just making sure. You should get to bed; you've got a big day."
Rose nodded, and before she could tell herself she was too old, she followed her mother out of the study and wrapped her arms around her. Rose was already taller than her mum, but that didn't mean she wasn't scared, that she didn't need a little reassurance from her parents right now. To her credit, her mother didn't make a big deal out of the rare display of affection, and Rose went up the stairs grinning.
She doubled checked her trunk, taking out every piece of clothing, books, and supplies and putting them back in; first by alphabetical order and then by function. When she was convinced she had her things in the best possible way, she finally changed into her pajamas and crawled in between the covers. She knew she wouldn't sleep, but she had to keep up the façade.
After she watched the lights fade across the hall, signaling Hugo was fast asleep; Rose turned her eyes up to the moon. She wondered if it looked bigger in the Scottish Highlands, if being higher up in the mountains would make her closer to the sky. The concept gave her comfort, and calmed the niggling fears that were hiding below her excitement.
Rose started when she heard the soft creak of her bedroom door. She looked up to see her father squinting at her through the shadows. She lifted her hand and waved shyly at him, hoping he wouldn't reprimand her for being up too late.
"I knew you'd still be up," Ron said, pulling up the chair from her desk and sitting beside her bed. "Are you nervous?"
"So much!" Rose exclaimed, breathing a sigh of relief that she didn't have to put on such a brave front.
"I'm not going to give you all that talk about doing your best, never giving up, and knowing you're special no matter what. You know all of that. Just remember to trust yourself. That was always my biggest problem in school. I never thought I was good enough," Rose couldn't be sure, but it seemed as though her father looked a little stormy there in the darkness.
"I'll try, Daddy," she whispered.
"Do you think you're too old for a story?" He asked, his eyes sparkling as he grinned at her.
"Well it depends on the story. I don't think I need to hear Babbity Rabbity again."
"Fair enough, how about I tell you about Hagrid and Norbert?"
"Oh I love the Hagrid stories!"
Rose sat in rapt attention, laughing hysterically at the thought of that big old giant's partially singed beard. When the story ended, and Norbert had to leave Hogwarts, Rose couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the Professor, and vowed to visit him as soon as she got to school. She hoped he had a secret pet for her to meet as well.
"And I'll make a deal with you. If you can come home with good marks, I'll be sure to take you to Uncle Charlie's to visit Norbert. Or should I say Norberta?" Her father winked, kissed her forehead, and shuffled out of the room comically, making her throw her hand over her mouth to keep from giggling.
Rose knew this was going to be her best year yet.
Rose couldn't believe that someone as old as Professor Slughorn was still able to get up the energy to teach, but there he was, yammering on about something she couldn't even begin to understand. She was beginning to feel overwhelmed, and suspected that she'd flunk out of Hogwarts before her first year was done. She bit her lip and tried to pay attention when suddenly a piece of paper obscured her own.
It's alright, my brother told me this stuff gets much less confusing after the first week.
Rose looked up to see her dorm mate, Imelda Hall, smiling at her. She winked when Rose smiled back in relief and they both went back to taking notes. When it came time to create their first ever potion, a simple giggling draught, Imelda proved to be quite adept and helped Rose along in the process. Their potion was perfect by the time Professor Slughorn came around to inspect it.
"This is perfect, just perfect. But I wouldn't expect anything less from the daughter of two war heroes!" The professor smiled. Rose shook her head.
"Imelda did a lot of the work, she had to help me," Rose said, blushing. She hated having so much attention drawn to her.
"Nonsense. I knew your mother. You're bound to be brilliant. Ten Points to Gryffindor!" Slughorn proclaimed.
Rose looked desperately over at Imelda, but the other girl was looking away from her. When class was dismissed, she followed Imelda into the Great Hall and sat next with her at lunch. She wanted to make amends. She didn't want to lose any new friends on her first day of class.
"Listen, I'm very sorry about that. I promise, I wasn't trying to steal credit," she said to the other girl. Imelda looked up at her, anger still in her eyes, but Rose pressed on. "I've got some pumpkin pasties left over from the train. Did you want to meet in the common room tonight for a snack?"
"That would be great!" Imelda said. "You can call me Melly. All of my friends do." She stuck out her hand and Rose took it hungrily.
Rose knew that her life was finally changing. She could be Just Rose, without the specter of her unique disease hanging behind everyone's eyes. She finally had a real friend, one who wasn't a cousin, and she knew that if she tried hard enough, other people could like her for who she was as well. She gathered her things and walked down to Professor Longbottom's class with excitement.
When the masquerade and burlesque balls
Become too ordinary to boast
You complain about the parade and curtain calls
I will be the one who loves you the most
Yeah, I will be the one who loves you the most
"Okay, what does it mean when that symbol comes up in your runes?" Rose asked briskly.
"That it will be a…um…triangularly squiggly day?" Hector answered, smirking at her. Rose couldn't help but giggle.
Hector Marks was a hopeless case, but Rose felt sorry for him, so when he walked over to the Gryffindor table and asked her to help him with his Runes homework, she said yes. The rest of the third year girls had been glaring at her all day. Hector may have been slow, but his sandy hair, tanned skin, and green eyes made many girls even in hears above him blush and swoon. She was uninterested, so she didn't see the harm in some tutoring.
"I think you're going to fail runes, Marks." Rose said, smirking and gathering up her books.
"Oh come on, Rosie Shmosie, at least I'm trying!" Hector whined, stuffing his books in his bag before looking back at Rose and grinning.
"Oh….so it's Rosie now, is it?"
Imelda sauntered out from in between the stacks of books in front of them with an odd and angry look on her face. Rose shuddered, knowing that look, and fearing it. Imelda had been her best friend since their first day at Hogwarts, when they got beds right next to each other. Imelda was everything Rose was not: Pretty, perky, popular, and a variety of other P words that Rose could probably come up with if she had the time.
"Melly, I don't know what you mean," she chuckled nervously as Hector walked away. She was definitely not into Hector, or any of the boys knew for that matter. It wasn't that she didn't like boys, she dreamed about the new drummer for Amorous Arachnids sometimes, she just didn't really feel like getting caught up in that awful mess of school relationships.
"You know exactly what I mean, Rose! You know I like him and you are fucking stealing him from under my nose!"
"You're being ridiculous," Rose said, rolling her eyes. She was hoping she could just laugh off Melly's anger.
"I'm being ridiculous? You're the one throwing yourself at him when you don't have anything worth throwing, Rose. Who are you kidding?" Melly said, following Rose out of the library.
"Melly, really. I'm not interested in Hector. He's all yours."
"Oh sweet Rose! How generous of you to just give him to me! Who would have thought that your nonexistent curves and knobby knees would make you queen of all? I'm ever so grateful that you could just give him to me!" Melly fake swooned and then stormed away down the hall, her heels clicking on the stone floor.
Rose's own soft, sensible shoed steps slowed down to almost a standstill. She was at risk of losing her best friend, and she didn't really understand why at all. Melly did have one thing right though: Rose was not a pretty girl, and she had nothing to offer the other boys even if she did like them. She paused in front of a mirror, viewing her too tall form; excessively thin legs, and flat chest with harsh scrutiny.
She didn't even hear the heavy footfalls approach.
"That mirror will talk back if you spend too long in front of it," Andon Krum said over Rose's shoulder.
"Oh, were you primping, and it yelled at you?"
"Kind of. I was trying to get rid of these bushy eyebrows, and when I felt a cool breeze on my forehead, I had realized the spell backfired. The mirror mocked me awfully," He said, smiling.
Andon Krum was the famous Viktor Krum's son, and one of Hogwart's most famous students. He was quiet, with dark hair, smooth tawny skin, and unfortunately pronounced eyebrows. He was her cousin Al's best friend, so they often said 'hi' to each other in the hallways. Rose mused this may have been the most Andon had ever spoken to her or anyone else. When she looked up to catch his eyes in the mirror, however, he was gone.
The next few days were odd for Rose. She usually spent her free hours and the study time after dinner next to Melly, helping her with her homework and talking about the latest gossip. She had just seen Emily Harris and Rodd Flagg having a huge fight complete with drawn wands behind greenhouse 3, and she couldn't wait to tell Melly. However, today, her best friend ignored her, didn't sit next to her, and even went right up stairs when Rose set about to study.
Rose was writing a potions essay on Draught of Living Death when Melly came down. Rose tried to catch her eye, but she sat at a table across the room and focused on her work. After some time, Melly let out a frustrated growl and slammed her books on the thick wooden table.
"I can help you with that, you know," Rose said as gently as possible.
"I don't need help from the famous Rose Weasley! Besides, if it weren't for me, you'd be failing potions. Of course, ickle Rosie can do no wrong. No one would even believe me if I told them!" Melly said, stuffing her books back in her bags. "I guess I won't be doing any homework tonight, something smells awful in the common room."
Rose waited until it was curfew, not wanting to face Melly's wrath, before she went back to Gryffindor Tower. When she went up to bed, she was relieved to find everyone asleep, and got ready for bed in peace. She slid between the covers and sighed contently.
"You are such a slag, Rose," Melly whispered. Rose's heart clenched in her chest but she said nothing.
"Yeah. It's bad enough you're the daughter of famous war heroes, now you have to have all the guys too?" Christy Lane spoke from the bed closest to the wall. Rose sat up abruptly, shocked to hear her amiable roommate saying that to her.
"Christy, I swear, I'm not interested…"
"Oh don't give me that tripe! You're playing hard to get and its working! What happens when they get you, huh? You gonna give it up?" Christy answered back, rolling over.
"I still can't believe anyone would want you, Rose Weasley. You're gawky, you look like a boy, and you have all of that hideous ginger hair!" The last roommate, Jenny Riley, spoke up from next to Christy. Rose was without an ally at all.
Rose closed the curtains around her bed, cast the silencing spell her mother taught her, and stroked the soft hair of her favorite wig. She wished she could just write her mum and dad and tell them everything, but she was a woman now. As an alternative, she put her hands over her face and cried herself to sleep.
Hogwarts was never the same after that awful night. None of her roommates spoke to her except to deride her. In Herbology, all the girls threw things when Professor Longbottom wasn't looking. She would have to pick seeds and pods and pus out of her hair every other day. She ate lunch alone, or next to Al, quietly eating and avoiding making eye contact with anyone, lest they say something awful to her.
Months after 'The Incident With Hector' Rose noticed more people than normal pointing at her and laughing. She figured Melly and her band of merry bitches just made up another rumor about her, like the one they started that she was having an affair with a house elf since no real people would want to snog her, until Al met her eyes and swiftly looked away.
"Al, what's going on?" Rose asked anxiously. Al just shook his head, blushing, and signaling for Roxy and Victoire to come over to the lunch table.
Rose was happy to see her two older cousins, whom she rarely saw since it was their seventh year and they had N.E.W.T.S to study for. She smiled at them, but they had red, angry looks on their faces. Rose looked around the Great Hall to see that everyone was bent over their lunches, papers in their hands.
"Rose, I think you need to get out of here," Roxy said, taking her elbow and leading her out to the lake. It was a warm April day, but there was a gray mist falling from the sky. Slowly, and cringing as she did so, Victoire handed Rose a piece of paper.
"Top Five True Facts About Rose Weasley
5. She picks her nose and wipes it on her nightstand.
4. She wears ratty white pants with holes in them.
3. She only showers once a week.
2. She's a lesbian…
1. And she fucks herself with her wand every night.
At the end of the flier was a hand drawn picture of Rose, her finger in her nose, in holey underwear, stink lines coming off of her, a picture of Celestina Warbeck on the nightstand, and her wand animated to disappear between her legs.
Rose vomited in between her wracking sobs.
After that, her cousins and even her brother formed a tight circle of protection around her to make sure that no one ever did something so cruel to her again. Melly suspiciously came down with exploding boils on her face, and no one so much as looked at her sideways. In fact, no one but her family looked at her at all. And while she appreciated the help, she had never felt more alone. She couldn't remember a night she didn't cry herself to sleep to the whispered threats of her roommates.
"In two years, James, Roxanne, Victoire and Fred are going to be gone. We'll be able to get to you then."
Even writing her parents was an awful experience. She didn't want them to worry, so she would write sugary sweet letters filled with lies. She hoped she wouldn't be found out. When she was little, she promised her dad she would always shine like the sun. She was scared to death he'd discover how dull and miserable she really was.
Rose didn't think she could handle seeing her father disappointed in her.
Dear Ron and Hermione, I know we just saw each other at dinner a few weeks ago, but I've been trying to find a way to put my thoughts in to words on this for a while now. So I'll just come right out and say it: I'm very worried about Rose. I don't want you both to come rushing down here like I know you were planning to do as soon as you read that sentence, but I am very concerned. While she's never alone, always with one cousin or the other, she seems so lonely. She never speaks anymore, it looks as though her grades are slipping despite spending all of her free time in the library, and she seems to have gotten even thinner. It looks to me like she's under a large amount of stress, and for a while I couldn't figure out why that was. I finally managed to get Albus to sit down and talk to me. I pause in telling you this because it's Rose's business, but worrying has gotten the best of me. He says she's being bullied, mercilessly, by the other girls in her dorm. He's not sure how it started, but the stuff they've been doing to her makes Malfoy look like a peach (well…maybe this is an exaggeration). I'm going to do my best to keep an eye on her, and to try to put a stop to anything I see. Her cousins and Hugo are doing well to form a tight circle of protection around her, but that doesn't lessen the sharp words. I hope that this can be worked out over the summer. Hannah says that she went through something similar, and it takes a lot to recover from it. The bullying stopped for her when her mum died, and then we had that awful year and Death Eaters to contend with, so she never really had to face how cruel some of those Hufflepuffs were. But she says it was a horrible thing to deal with, and if Rose is suffering, I hope there is something you can do to help her. I'll do what I can. Always with love, Neville
I know we just saw each other at dinner a few weeks ago, but I've been trying to find a way to put my thoughts in to words on this for a while now. So I'll just come right out and say it:
I'm very worried about Rose.
I don't want you both to come rushing down here like I know you were planning to do as soon as you read that sentence, but I am very concerned. While she's never alone, always with one cousin or the other, she seems so lonely. She never speaks anymore, it looks as though her grades are slipping despite spending all of her free time in the library, and she seems to have gotten even thinner. It looks to me like she's under a large amount of stress, and for a while I couldn't figure out why that was.
I finally managed to get Albus to sit down and talk to me. I pause in telling you this because it's Rose's business, but worrying has gotten the best of me. He says she's being bullied, mercilessly, by the other girls in her dorm. He's not sure how it started, but the stuff they've been doing to her makes Malfoy look like a peach (well…maybe this is an exaggeration).
I'm going to do my best to keep an eye on her, and to try to put a stop to anything I see. Her cousins and Hugo are doing well to form a tight circle of protection around her, but that doesn't lessen the sharp words. I hope that this can be worked out over the summer.
Hannah says that she went through something similar, and it takes a lot to recover from it. The bullying stopped for her when her mum died, and then we had that awful year and Death Eaters to contend with, so she never really had to face how cruel some of those Hufflepuffs were. But she says it was a horrible thing to deal with, and if Rose is suffering, I hope there is something you can do to help her.
I'll do what I can.
Always with love,
"Are you sure we can't go there and get her right now?" Ron said, pacing anxiously across the kitchen, Neville's letter clutched in his fist.
"Yes, Ron. Unfortunately, it would likely just exacerbate things," Hermione said. Ron looked over at her to see tears rolling down her cheeks. "What are they doing to her that could make her act this way?"
"And why didn't she say so in her letters home?" He asked, walked up behind Hermione and putting his hands on her shoulders. "Is that why she didn't come home for Easter hols?"
"She's probably scared of what we'll think," Hermione whispered.
"How can she…"
"Shhhhhhh, she'll be home soon, Ron. All we can do now is wait for her and trust that Neville will make sure she doesn't get hurt."
Ron leaned over and kissed Hermione on the cheek before resting his head on her shoulder and holding her tightly. He let his hands splay over her stomach and found comfort in how warm she always felt against him. They would get through this with Rose, they had to.
When Rose got off the train for summer holidays, Ron's heart shattered. Her bright long hair framed a sunken, gaunt, and pale appearance. She had a frown etched on her face and she looked like she had been through hell. Ron ran to her, heedless of Hermione's warnings not to make her feel overly self conscious and giving away the fact that they knew what had been going on, and pulled her close to his chest. She let out a small, hollow chuckle.
"Dad, what's gotten into you?"
"Just happy to see you," he smiled, trying not to give himself away.
Rose tilted her head and gave him an odd, calculating look, the exact same look Hermione got when she was figuring something out. Ron shrank away. He saw Hugo's curly head bobbing in the crowd and ran toward him, hugging him fiercely and messing up his hair. When he turned around, Rose had her face in her mother's hair, and Ron could see tears going down her cheek. Hugo bit his lip and Ron tried not to stare. Obviously Rose didn't want him to see her cry, though he didn't quite understand why.
After their things were unpacked, they all sat down to a lovely supper of roast chicken and mashed potatoes, Ron's specialty. Rose smiled at him as he handed her a plate, but the smile never reached her eyes and he could see the hard mask over her features. He tried to smile back in a way that said "Don't worry about it, love," But nothing changed about her expression. The conversation at the table was light. Rose and Hugo asked him about some of his Auror missions, and he tried to describe the funnier ones with a storytelling flare that was sure to light up her face, like it did when she was little. However, her eyes remained passive and resigned. Finally, after some time with Hugo at the chessboard and Rose and Hermione in books, the kids were sent up to bed.
Ron didn't sleep that night. He tossed and turned, kicking himself for not seeing the trouble his daughter was having when she came home for Christmas. The fact that she didn't want to talk to him about it just clarified his belief that he had failed her. Ron resolved he would spend the entire summer making things right, making sure Rose went back to school without the specter of cruelty chasing her everywhere.
Ron's resolve was quickly dashed over the next week, when he would wake to Rose missing from her bed and outside wandering their lawn sadly, turning away from any attempt at conversation. She spent her time drinking tea with her mother, and cried herself to sleep at night. She barely looked at Ron, barely acknowledged him beyond a fake smile at his failed attempts to cheer her, and his countenance was getting weaker every day.
His daughter was slipping away, she was in pain, and there was nothing he could do to make it better. This wasn't a cut on the knee, or a cousin picking on her, this was a painful betrayal by her peers. Ron was completely lost, and after a few weeks of trying to break through to her, gave up and turned his back on his oldest daughter.
Ron spent the rest of the summer teaching Hugo the finer points of chess, and trying to get him onto a broom. Hugo had an unshakable fear of flying just like his mother, and Ron found this fact hilarious. His son was much happier indoors, studying chess, and to Ron's horror, History of Magic. But he had to admit, his son was developing a wit and a sense of humor that would rival Fred and George at that age.
Rose went flying, but she never asked for his company. She no longer played quidditch like she used to, even when her cousins were all gathered for a pickup game. She just drew lazy circles in the sky with her broom, consumed more tea with her mother, and slept more than was normal for a teenage girl. Ron longed to jump on his broom and chase her through the sky like they used to, dipping in and out of each other's paths and laughing loudly and wildly until the sun set. He swallowed back the urge to fly, keeping his feet on the ground and giving Rose her space.
When it came time to say goodbye for another year at Hogwarts, Ron found he couldn't maintain his self control. He held Rose tightly again, stroking her back and refusing to let go. She clung to him, her hands clenched in the back of his robes, and Ron felt the urge to cry rising up from his throat. He didn't want to send his daughter back into the wolves, and he hated himself for not being there for her like he should have. Rose pulled away with misty eyes and got on the train. She doesn't turn around to wave at her parents.
When the women with their stolen graces
Don't invite you to play host
To their daughters with fake faces
I will be the one who loves you the most
"I guess I've gotten a reputation for tutoring," Rose says quietly, pulling out her book and taking up a seat next to Andon. "I didn't even know you needed help."
"Oh yes. I hear you've got this new potions material down. Al won't stop talking about how brilliant you are in that class, so I figured you'd be the best to help me," Andon said, getting his own books and notes out. He smiled shyly at Rose, and she was shocked to feel a blush creeping to her face.
Andon was a Hufflepuff, so he had a different potion's class than she did. Hufflepuffs took potions with the Slytherins for fourth year, and they were only a chapter behind the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw class. This made it very easy for Rose to explain the lessons to him, and they ended up meeting every Friday in the library to go over what she learned last week, and he was learning this week.
More than just lessons, Andon and Rose became very good friends. Eating lunch with Al didn't feel so much like a pitiful excuse to not be alone, and felt more like a warm group of friends. She, Al, and Andon would joke and laugh like the world wasn't against her, and when she was with Al and Andon, it wasn't. The whispers and taunts in the hall seemed less important, and no one had done anything particularly awful to her. By the Christmas hols, things were looking up.
Rose suspected that Professor Longbottom had done something; there were rumors he had called Melly into his office and she had come out in tears. At first Rose was embarrassed, but now that she finally had a friend, Professor Longbottom's interference was feeling like a relief. She got off of the train for Christmas and waved vigorously at Andon, who pulled a ridiculous face before running off with his mother.
When Rose saw her father waiting to pick them up at King's Cross, she gave him a broad grin. He echoed her gesture, his face lighting up as he saw her. Christmas was looking promising, and she longed to jump on her broom and race her dad like they used to.
"He's way too good for you, you know," whispered Christy.
"Yeah, Rosie, he'll never want you in that way. He just feels sorry for you," Jenny said menacingly. Rose knew they were talking about Andon. She knew she could never win no matter how hard she tried.
"Yeah I heard Al paid him a lot of money to be your friend," Melly seethed next to her. "Think about it, you know Al's family has a lot of gold. Did you really think Andon just suddenly wanted to be your friend this year, especially with how pathetic you are? I have it on good authority Al Potter paid him."
Rose didn't want to believe them, but they were right. Al did have a lot of money, and Rose was pathetic. The next day, she ate alone and canceled all of her tutoring sessions with Andon.
"Why don't you want to hang out anymore, Rose?" Andon found her tucked away in a corner of the library.
"I just…I'm really busy. I have to focus on my studies."
"You're brilliant!" Andon whispered loudly, earning him an admonishment from the ancient Madame Pince. "You don't need to study that much that you can hang out with me and Al. Come on, we were going to go camping this summer!"
Andon put a hand on her arm and Rose flinched away. She knew then it had to be some sort of scheme. Why would anyone want to touch her? Even without knowing she had no hair, she was still all long limbs and freckled skin. She dropped her books and stormed out of the library.
Rose found herself lost in an unfamiliar corridor as she ran away from Andon. She was happy to be lost, and hoped the castle would just swallow her whole. She crouched down in front of an ornate tapestry and began to cry. She didn't know how long she was there, but when she looked up at the window some time later, it was dark.
"What's the matter, Weasley, wig not on straight?" Melly's voice echoed in the hallway. All of the blood drained from Rose's face. Melly just smiled fiendishly.
"A little birdie had some very interesting things to say about that awful ginger hair, though why you'd choose to be ginger is beyond me."
"I have no idea what you are talking about. "
"Admit it!" Melly shouted, her screams bouncing off of the walls. "Admit that you're an even bigger freak that we thought you were! You would keep a secret from your own roommate." Her voice took on a falsely sweet tone toward the end.
Rose just shook her head, and when she looked up, Melly was gone.
The next morning couldn't come soon enough; she was going home for the summer and didn't have to face Andon, or Melly, or any of her tormentors for three whole months. She snuck back into Gryffindor Tower as quietly as she could, and slip between her sheets for one more sleepless night.
Rose had slept in that night. She woke up to the light far too brightly streaming through her window. She glanced over at her clock and saw she had missed breakfast and only had 15 minutes to pack up her things and get down to the carriages. She sat up only to feel something like spiders crawling down her bare shoulders. She looked down and saw clumps of red hair gathering around her pillow.
She didn't even have time to mourn or cry the cruel act that had befallen her. She only had moments to rush down to the carriages. She pulled an old wool cap out of her trunk and stuffed it over her head. She cast 'locomotor' on her trunk, shoved in the rest of her belongings, and rushed out of the tower.
She had no doubt all three of the girls in her room were in on the plot against her, that much became clear as they looked at her with taunting sneers and threw their heads back in laughter. "Nice Hat!" they shouted in unison as she took a carriage with a few second years she didn't know. She allowed herself to cry, telling the kids that she just had a headache.
When she got off the train and saw her parents smiling at her, she broke down, sobbing into her father's shoulder and refusing to tell them what was wrong. She'd have to tell them soon enough.
"Why won't she just tell us what happened?" Ron said, pouring himself two fingers of Ogden's and plopping down at the kitchen table. Rose and Hugo were asleep, and he needed something stronger after such a trying day than tea.
"We can guess ourselves who's responsible. It's those same girls Neville mentions in his letter. Who else could have gotten into their room?" Hermione said. To Ron's shock, she fixed herself a neat glass of whiskey herself.
Ron opted to pour another shot of whiskey, hoping he'd be tired enough to get some sleep with enough alcohol in his system. They had a long day tomorrow. They had to go out and find a similarly colored wig for Rose to wear so that her secret wasn't revealed.
Ron and Hermione moved to their living room, sat in front of the fire, and immersed themselves in the silence of their own thoughts.
The summer progressed on with a return of the Rose they saw last summer. The happy, hopeful girl they had seen over Christmas was replaced with a sullen, undetermined young woman who looked up at her parents with lifeless, dull eyes. Ron tried hard to engage her, making funny faces, bringing her sweets, and tempting her with a new broom, but she preferred to sit in her room, reading her textbooks and napping.
Hermione had managed to get Rose out every once in a while, and they went to various tea shops to talk. Hermione said that Rose was opening up about her year, but whenever Ron tried to talk to her, she turned away from him. He was hurt and worried, wondering if he'd ever have his little girl back again. He doubted she even wanted him around.
When it came time for the planned trip to the seashore, Ron wasn't surprised to find out that Rose didn't want to go. Hugo's spirits sank, saying he was really looking forward to the museums and the fresh air. Not wanting to let another one of his children be disappointed, he agreed to go with Hugo while Hermione stayed home and tried to crack Rose's rough shell.
The seashore was perfect, and he and Hugo had the time of their lives. Ron couldn't help but laugh as Hugo ogled the various Muggle women that sauntered by them in bathing suits, and the week was spent with good natured ribbing and rousing games of chess in the sand. Ron headed back home sporting even more freckles than before, and Hugo had a deep tan that reminded Ron of Hermione when she came back from Australia.
While waiting for the Portkey to take them back to London, Ron looked over at Hugo. His son looked happy and contented, and on the verge of becoming a fine man. Ron felt a stab in his chest when he thought about Rose, and while he was thrilled Hugo was doing so well, he didn't feel like he'd be able to rest again until he got through to Rose. He resolved to take Rose on a little adventure when he got home.
"Get up, we're going out," Rose's father said, far too loudly.
Rose rubbed her eyes and tried to focus on the dim light in her room. There was light coming from her father's wand, but other than that, the room was pitch black. Rose thought her father must have gone mad while he was at the beach.
"Dad, it has to be the middle of the night, what is going on?"
"We're going camping."
"What? What about mum and Hugo?"
"Hugo had his trip. Your mum knows we're going, don't worry. Do you honestly think I would just take off at 4 in the morning without clearing it with her?" Her father asked, summoning a suitcase from another room. When she sat up and looked out the door, she saw her grandfather's old tent and a sack full of supplies already piled in the hallway.
"Sweet Merlin, you're serious."
"Course I am, Rose," he said, sitting on the end of her bed. "I know you're having a rough time. I'm not going to pretend I know what you're going through…but…well that's just the thing! You won't talk to me, you won't look at me! I just…" He paused, running his hands through his hair. Rose had never seen him look so frustrated. "Try avoiding me when we're alone in the woods."
With that, he left the room, and Rose reluctantly got out of her bed. She knew better than to question her dad further. When he got an idea in his head, there was no stopping him. There was evidence of that all over the house, from the Quidditch Pitch in the backyard, too small to actually have a real game, to the microwave in the kitchen that could work instantly with one spell. If she were being honest with herself, Rose had to admit, she was a little excited at the prospect of an adventure with her dad. She couldn't remember the last time she was excited for anything.
When Rose followed Ron out into the garage, she let out a small yelp. Parked where her parent's cars usually were was a shiny, old looking motorcycle with a round sidecar attached. The bike looked like it was in perfect condition, despite also appearing as though it was made in the forties. She could feel the magic buzzing all around the motorcycle, and couldn't help but put her hand out and run her fingers over the rounded fenders above the wheels.
"Fancy, isn't it? It's Harry's. Well it was Sirius Black's, Then Hagrid's, then my dad got a hold of it and tweaked it a bit, then it was Hagrid's again…and now it's Harry's. I'm sure James already has his eye on it, but I asked Harry to borrow it for now. Thought we could travel in style!" Ron said, smiling brightly. He shrunk down their things and put it in the small case behind the seat.
Now, Rose was smiling for real. The prospect of taking a motorcycle out in the early morning with her dad was such a delicious escape that she could feel the weight already lifting from her. She just hoped he didn't make her talk too much about what's been happening at school. She couldn't face disappointing him any further than her sullen attitude already was.
They took off from their quiet suburban street and headed toward the countryside. The moment they were out of the city, her father looked over at her, grinned, and pulled a lever. Rose shouldn't have been surprised that the bike could fly, but she found herself trying to catch her breath as they soared through the sky. She wanted to laugh and scream and cry all at once against the maddening rush of cool, cloudy air. She felt free and a little more fearless in this circular sidecar next to her dad.
The landed an hour later in a dense forest. She could not see a single light or house anywhere, and the prospect of seclusion seemed brilliant to her. She was suddenly mournful that she hadn't thought to pack her broom. Rose hadn't ridden her broom in ages, but out in the forest, the thought was creeping up on her and seeming appealing again.
After her father set up the tent and lit the fire, they went about getting dinner together. He was very excited to be using the hot dog roasting sticks that he had bought at a Muggle camping store, and Rose had to laugh as he explained to her how a toasty worked. His excitement over it all was charming and put her at ease.
While she was munching on her hot dog, doused with mustard the way she liked it, she caught her dad looking at a rock in their clearing with a haunted expression on his face. It wasn't a remarkable stone, but it bore burn marks as though some sort of magical battle was fought there. Her curiosity piqued.
"Dad? Where are we at exactly?"
Ron cleared his throat and took a second before answering. "We're in the forest of Dean, love."
"Have you been here before?"
"Yeah…yeah. I was here once," he shook his head and shed the dark look from his face. "Hey! Let's go on a hike. There's a pond just over head, and I'm curious to see if it's more beautiful when it's not frozen over."
After a relaxing swim and a nap on the shore, her dad made them a dinner of toasted cheese sandwiches and crisps. He also reluctantly ate some carrots and asked her to do the same. She had a feeling her mum may have made him to that, but she found herself smiling as he took each bite with a sour look on his face.
"I left your mother once," he said suddenly, throwing the carrots off to the side. His blue eyes were sharp as he looked at her, and Rose found herself speechless.
"But you and mum said that once you finally got around to it, you were inseparable."
"This was before we got our act together, while we were fighting the war with Uncle Harry. Harry and I got into a big fight, Hermione stepped in, and I walked away from them and from the mission. I left them in the woods while I skulked away with my tail between my legs."
Rose was speechless; she had no idea how to respond to her father's confession. She had heard many tales about the war, from the hunt for the horcruxes to the story of Teddy's parents, but she had never heard about this. Her father's shame was etched across his face.
"You remember us telling you about the horcruxes?"
"Yeah, dad, don't remind me."
"Well, there was one. The first one we had to destroy. It was a locket, and while we were in hiding we all took turns wearing it. When I wore it, it would make all of the awful thoughts in my head come to the surface, all of my fears would magnify. I was convinced your mother would never love me and that she would choose Uncle Harry because…" He paused long enough for Rose to interrupt.
"Uncle Harry? What?"
"I was being poisoned by my own thoughts. What I did, leaving them, it still haunts me. I can still hear Hermione screaming for me to come back."
Her father got up and walked over to the charred up rock, running his hands over it lightly. He clenched his fists and turned his back from her for a moment. Rose got up from her spot by the fire and reached out for her dad, trying to figure out a way to comfort something she didn't really understand.
"But you did come back. I remember that much about the stories to know you were there at the end."
"Yes, I came back. I followed them in the forest until finally Harry broke away from the concealing spells. I'll tell you how I found them, but that's a story for another day. Suffice it to say, I came back and faced all those weeks of dark thoughts in one terrifying moment." He turned back to the rock, seeming to play out something in his mind.
"What did you do?"
"I took a sword and I fucking destroyed that locket! Even as it was mocking me, putting all of my thoughts out there for Harry to hear, I destroyed it. Nothing felt better, nothing felt more right than piercing the center of that thing and letting the evil drain from it."
"But how? How could you stand something like that, playing with your head and eating away at your soul? How did you manage to destroy it?" Rose said, finding herself shaking.
"I just did. I thought of your mum, and of Harry, and I realized there were bigger things than me. If I was ever going to survive, Rose, I had to have faith in myself," Her father turned to her, a soft look on his face.
Rose began earnestly sobbing. Her father saw right through her, like he knew all of her secrets, and the fear that he would hate her if he knew how much of a failure she was overwhelmed her. When she looked up, her dad was kneeling in front of her.
"You're just like me. I can see it. You doubt yourself all of the time. But you have to understand, you're amazing. And the more faith you have in yourself, the better things will be. I promise you that." He said, pulling out his handkerchief and wiping the tears from her face.
"They cut my hair, dad! Someone told them, and they came at me at night and when I woke up it was gone! It's been like this since third year. Something about me…they hate me!" She cried out, trying to push her dad away.
"Why didn't you tell us? We could have helped you through this."
"Because I promised you when I was little that I would always shine. How would you feel to know that I'm a freak at school? That I'm spit at and whispered about? You should see the things they write about me! You'd hate me," she said desperately.
Seeing her dad look at her with watery eyes, hearing her fears exposed, Rose could see the error. Her parents loved her, her family cared, and she had turned away from everyone in fear. The thought added another layer to her own self-loathing.
"Look at me, Rosie," Her dad whispered. She reluctantly lifted her head.
"You'll always shine to me. You're funny, you're a damn good flier, and you have a heart that could rival your grandmother's with its capacity to love. You never have to hide from me or your mum," he said, pulling her close to him.
For the first time in ages, Rose felt safe.
When all the debutantes desert you
And all the doorways are all closed
And all the harlequins have hurt you
I will be the one who loves you the most
I will be the one who loves you the most
Rose, Al, Andon and Trudy were gathered by the lake on a rare sunny April day when Headmistress McGonagall approached them. All four immediately stood up and brushed themselves off; worried they were getting in trouble (though for what was unclear). She cleared her throat, looking grave, and asked Al and Rose to join her in her office. Rose's heart pounded in her chest as Al's hand grabbed hers tightly.
When they arrived at the office, Rose saw Hugo and immediately ran to him. Lily was standing there, looking lost and afraid and Al walked over to her to wrap an arm around her shoulders. The Headmistress signaled for them to sit, expanding the chairs into one long sofa for the family to sit upon. Hugo cleared his throat.
"It's our dads isn't' it?"
"I'm afraid so, Mr. Weasley. There was an incident while they were on an Auror mission. They are both in critical condition at St. Mungos." Rose thought that McGonagall had never looked nearly so emotional before.
"Please say that we can go and see them!" Lily piped up, clutching at her brother's side.
"That is my intention, yes. I'm just opening up a secure floo connection now," The Headmistress said, gesturing toward her fireplace.
The children took the floo one at a time and found all of their grandparents waiting for them at the other end. Even Rose's mother's parents were there, wringing their hands anxiously and looking a little out of place and lost among the sparking evidences of every day magic. Rose fell into Grandpa Granger's arms easily, holding tightly to something solid through her fear.
Grandma Weasley told them that their dads had gotten badly injured in a potions raid, and were both currently unconscious. Uncle Harry had suffered a head injury while her father was dealing with a curse that sliced across his spinal column. The outlook was good, as long as both men could wake up and their healing monitored. Rose felt only a slight relief at that news. She wanted to see her father, but the vast collection of teenagers and children in the waiting room were told to do just that…wait.
Rose sat in between Hugo and Al, resting her head on her brother's shoulder. While she was still taller than the thirteen year old boy, he had very broad shoulders and his biceps were already thickening. He looked like Uncle George but with their mother's hair. He was warm, and shaking with grief and Rose found a good spot to lay her head while they waited.
Sometime later, it could have been hours or minutes, her mother and Aunt Ginny came out looking tired and careworn.
"They are going to be okay. Ron's awake and Harry is starting to regain consciousness! You all will be able to see them soon," Aunt Ginny said, a smile cracking her exhausted features. Her mother came over to her and Hugo and pulled them into a tight hug. She was now smaller than both of them. She murmured words of comfort to them and smoothed over Rose's hair until the healers called her back into the room. Rose sat back down next to her Grandma Weasley.
"Hang in there, love," Grandma Weasley said, patting her lightly on the knee. "Your father is a strong man; he'll back to normal before you know it."
Rose didn't answer. It was hard to take comfort when she hadn't seen her father yet. She just nodded slightly and looked forward, grabbing her grandmother's hand.
"We need a distraction! Tell me all about boys you like," Her grandmother smiled and whispered in her ear conspiratorially. "And there's got to be at least one."
Rose blushed. She didn't want to divulge any information, but she was as grateful for the distraction it provided as she was nervous over spilling all of her hard kept secrets. Her grandmother seemed like the least likely person to torture her about her feelings.
"Okay well there is this one boy. He's Al's best friend, and I feel like he's my best friend too. I don't want to ruin our friendship, but he just…I don't know," she tried to find a poetic and mature way to finish her sentence, but she just ended up blushing even harder. Her grandmother smiled knowingly.
"I don't think I have to tell you that your parents were best friends before they got together, but in hindsight, one wonders if they'd ever been friends at all, or if they were always in love," she said happily.
"Don't get me started! I've heard the story enough times, Grandma."
"Well, I bet you didn't know that your grandfather and I were also best friends," Rose shook her head and she could have sworn her grandmother was blushing worse than she was. "Yep. We used to play pranks on each other all of the time. The day after a Hogsmeade visit was the worst, because we'd both fill our arms with stuff from Zonkos, and I'd wake up with exploding wands in my bed (though how he got them there I'll never know. And of course I would cover him in super sticky slime in retaliation. It was a great game, and always good for a laugh. But whatever you do, don't tell Uncle George we were such tricksters. We'd never hear the end of it!"
"Ha! I promise, Grandma. But what changed?"
"Well I had been feeling pretty differently about Arthur during our fifth year, and wanted to write him a letter telling him how I felt. I was never one to shy away from a challenge, I tell you what! So I mustered up the courage, and went to find my owl, when I saw that she already had a letter for me. It didn't' look like Arthur's hand, but I held out hope," she took a breath and a sip of her tea before continuing.
"Well, it was a love letter from the Game Keeper, Ogg. I was scared, frightened, and refused to go out onto the grounds even to watch the Quidditch match. Imagine! Thinking that great old oaf was in love with me! Finally, headmaster Dipped called me into his office and told me that one of my roommates had found my letter. He called Ogg in there too!" Rose gasped, imagining the awful humiliation.
"Ogg was beside himself, swearing he didn't write it and begging to keep his job. I couldn't' do anything but cry until suddenly someone was pounding madly on the Headmaster's door."
"I think I can see where this is going," Rose said, imagining her grandfather's face as he realized his prank had backfired.
"Well you're cleverer than me in that respect. Arthur came barging in and confessed to the whole great mess. Ogg sighed in relief, the headmaster laughed and gave Arthur two night's detention, and I was left crying outside of his office door."
"Oh grandma, I'm so sorry!"
"It was a might big heartbreak. I had hoped Arthur and I had turned a corner. He came over to comfort me, but I was having none of it. I spent five minutes telling him how much of an insensitive jerk he was treating a girl who loved him like that…"
Rose actually laughed despite their grave circumstances.
"Well, I won't tell you the rest. But you can understand how it all turned out."
"I don't' know if I have the guts you have, Grandma."
"Sure you do! You're just like your father. You fear your ability to do something until you do it," She said matter of factly. "So when you finally bring your young man home, and I do mean when, go easy on your father's temperament. You have the same."
With those final and cryptic words, Molly Weasley rose to meet Rose's mother and aunt, and she was finally able to go in and see your father.
The tall and imposing figure Ron Weasley always cast was not diminished as he lay in bed like Rose feared it would. His long legs took up so much space that he still looked large even when lying down. He was shockingly motionless, but when her blue eyes met his, she saw all the life that bubbled in her father. As her and Hugo fell over his chest, she knew that things were going to be alright. As long as her family was together, the larger problems of her world seemed less significant.
Rose Weasley was only a few months into her sixth year, and already her days were filled with promise. She had her small group of friends, including Andon, and even though she was nowhere near mustering up the courage to tell him how she felt, things were looking up. Rose Weasley, as it turned out, was a prodigy with potions.
Her Potions professor told her that she could do a summer internship in between this and her final year, and she was currently looking over the pamphlets. The prospect of being away from home for 4 weeks made her nervous, but the idea of her own little adventure trumped any nerves she had. She was excited to find something she loved as much as quidditch.
Rose felt like her and Andon were growing closer, and taking to heart what her grandmother told her last year, she was finally plucking up the courage to tell him how she felt. By the way he was around her, she was starting to hold out hope that he felt the same way. One night, at dinner she resolved to make her move.
"Andon, can I talk to you?" Rose asked, trying to keep her blush at bay.
"Sure, yeah. I needed to talk to you as well." She said, guiding her over to a darkened corner outside of the Great Hall, she shuddered at the feeling of his hand on the small of her back.
"You first." They had spoken simultaneously.
"I have a girlfriend," he smiled. Rose felt dizzy, but she tried to swallow it down.
"That's great, Andon!"
"It's Imelda Hall," he said, looking nervous. Rose began to speak up, but he cut her off. "Now she's really changed! She's grown up, and she's sorry for everything she did to you! Just give her a chance, will you?"
Rose had no choice. She realized he would never love her, so why would she care who he was with? Melly hadn't said a word to her this year, so Rose thought that maybe Andon could be right. She half-heartedly congratulated him before sulking off down the hall. She was glad she had homework to do, that way she could avoid seeing Melly's perfect hair, her perfect body, and her perfect face. She just didn't think she could handle knowing she'd never be good enough.
After four weeks of Melly's cooing and pawing at Andon, Rose didn't even eat lunch in the Great Hall anymore. She couldn't stomach the sight. Trudy joined her in the library most days, but she had her own boyfriend to spend time with. Al stuck by Andon like glue, and Rose suspected that he was trying to pick up tips.
Things only got worse when it was announced that there would be a Christmas Ball to commemorate Headmistress McGonagall's retirement. Apparently, she had a passion for dancing, and the other professors thought this would be a fitting send off for her. Christmas was the perfect time because it didn't interfere with OWLS and NEWTS.
Rose didn't even want a dress. She didn't want to go. She wanted to go home and sit by the fireplace, drink her father's way- too- much –chocolate- that- it's- no- longer- liquid cocoa, and waste away her holiday in peace in obscurity. It came as no surprise that irony decided to torture her, and her parents were invited to attend.
The ball seemed to whip everyone into a frenzy, even the first three years who weren't allowed to attend were holding hands and giggling furtively at each other. Rose had just about enough, and withdrew even further from her classmates than she had in recent weeks. The abandoned classroom next to the Potion's room was the perfect spot to prepare for her internship.
As Rose was walking out of the dungeons and making the long trip back to Gryffindor Tower, she heard a grunt and an angry 'smack' against the cold brick wall. She knew that sound well enough, her brother and father made it enough times during chess and while listening to the wireless. Someone was angry. Rose decided to go the other way.
"No, Imelda!" It was Andon, and he sounded somewhere near anguished.
"Just give me another chance!" Melly's voice was sickly sweet, and it sounded grating against Rose's ears.
"You were snogging Marks! I knew you hadn't changed. I should have listened to Rose," Andon said, but Rose felt no victory. He sounded so hurt that she just wanted to comfort her best friend. She had accepted that Andon could never love her, but in this moment Rose felt like a terrible friend for not standing by him anyway.
"That freak? I bet she snogs a picture of you every night!" Melly shouted. Rose slunk away; there was nothing she could do for Andon now.
When your suitors sneering swank beside you
And leave you hollow like a ghost
And you just want somebody to confide to
I will be the one who loves you the most
I will be the one who loves you the most
"Why in the world is there a bloody ball?" Ron said, tossing the invitations onto the table. He and Hermione had received beautiful pieces of parchment with their names inscribed on it that requested their attendance at a ball. Hogwarts was going to see Headmistress McGonagall off with a bang, and he remembered how fondly she smiled when she spoke of the Yule Ball.
"I expect because it hasn't been done in a while, Ron," Hermione answered, not looking up from the letter she was writing.
"Well the last one was such a disaster, why would they want to do it again?"
"It was only a disaster for you and Harry. I, for one, had a lovely time," Hermione answered haughtily, calling pigwidgeon over to deliver a letter she had just sealed.
"Of course you did," Ron said, feigning grumpiness. Hermione looked up at him ready to argue, but she must have seen the smirk on his face, because she smiled in answer. "All that fun with Vicky…I'm sure you and Vicky still chat on a regular basis about how wonderful that ball was."
Ron prowled toward her side of the kitchen table. He grabbed Hermione and she squealed as he picked her up from her chair. Instead of fighting his show of force, she wrapped her legs around his waist, throwing her head back and laughing. He bit at her neck lightly before carrying her over into the living room and throwing her down on the couch.
Sometime later, lying on an old quilt in the sun of their picture window, Pig came back, so excited by a job well done that he was unaffected by his owner's naked state. He dropped a letter right on Hermione's chest and nestled himself on their window sill to watch her read it. Ron recognized Hugo's handwriting and tried to read over her shoulder.
"What is he doing up this early on a Saturday?" Ron asked. "And how did he write back so fast?"
"Hugo is nothing if not prompt, a trait he doesn't get from his father."
"Duly noted…What does he say?"
"Well, he is already very excited for the dance. Apparently he wants to wear a suit from George's shop. I swear, he is asking for trouble," Hermione said, scanning the letter. Ron was excited about the idea of picking a modified suit from George and even adding a few more things to entertain dance goers. He was suddenly happier about attending the ball.
"Is Rosie as excited? I don't know if I am going to be able to tolerate a bunch of randy little tossers pawing at my daughter," Ron said, horrified.
"Hugo says she's not going…" Hermione sighed. "I thought things were better."
"I thought so too."
Ron's relief about Rose not going to the ball was overshadowed by his worry behind the reasons. He was certain that life had improved for her, and his stomach sank at the notion that she may have been hiding her hurt from him again. He resolved to spend his evening with her while they were at Hogwarts. He wanted to get to the bottom of why she wasn't going to the party, but there was an added bonus of not having to make an arse of himself on the dance floor.
Later that day, Hermione had Hugo's measurements and they were on their way to Diagon Alley to pick up supplies for the ball, which was only two weeks away. Ron wasn't looking forward to a fitting of formal dress robes at Madame Malkin's, but Hermione insisted. She was right, his old robes were very out of style and ragged looking, but that didn't make the task any less boring.
Hermione sent him over to Weasley Wizard Wheezes while she was fitted, saying hers was going to take a bit longer anyway. She needed to find the perfect fabric to offset her hair or some barmy nonsense.
Roxanne was working behind the counter, learning the tricks of the trade to one day take over the Hogsmeade shop for her father. She looked up at Ron and smiled, fishing the suit they had set aside for Hugo from a rack behind her. The vibrant purple hurt his eyes and made him grin.
"Uncle Ron, this is the most incredible suit Dad has made, I swear it! I wish I could go to the ball just to see Hugo in it!" Roxanne said, draping the purple concoction across the sales counter. She quickly pointed out the spinning tie, complete with the Non Burning Weasley Wizard Wheezes Whiz-bang Wonders that shot of from the knot, the animated sign on the back that would read things like "Back off She's Mine," with the flick of a wand, and finally the automatic awesome dancer shoes which would give the wearer "moves like you would only find with the world's premier rug-cutters." Ron was absolutely thrilled he'd be able to watch Hugo in action in this perfect suit.
"Roxy, your dad's outdone himself again. Where is he?" Ron asked as she took Hugo's measurements and made the necessary adjustments.
"He's in the potion room. He says you can't go in there, and I wouldn't if I were you. There have been weird smells and loud noises coming from that room all morning," She said, looking warily at the door. Ron just nodded. After working with George for two years when he was younger, he understood all too well never to interrupt the evil genius in that state.
"Is Rose going to the ball?" Roxanne asked casually.
"No, she reckons she's just going to stick it out in her dorm. She doesn't fancy dancing," Ron made up a lie, because he didn't have a very clear reason why Rose wasn't going in the first place. Roxanne looked troubled at the news.
"I thought…oh…um…never mind."
"Would this have more to do with her tormenters than she is letting on?" Ron asked, worried about the answer.
"I don't know. She hasn't written me in ages. Her last letter seemed happy enough, but she did mention that Andon was dating Melanie," Rose said, attempting to look busy all of a sudden.
"Andon is one of her best friends, but who's Imelda?"
"Well, she's one of the Gryffindor roommates."
"The one that has been torturing my daughter for most of her educational life?" Ron said, leaning against the counter to try to get Roxanne to make eye contact.
"The very same," she finally answered sadly.
Ron's heart broke a little for Rose. He couldn't imagine if one of his best friends would have suddenly begun dating Malfoy or something. To top it off, What Rose had endured for years was worse than any school yard bullying Ron suffered at the hands of that blonde ponce. He hoped she was okay, and made a point to make her evening perfect even if she wasn't going to the ball. Ron thanked Roxanne, kissed her lightly on the cheek, and made his way back to Madame Malkins.
When he walked into the robe store, he saw no sign of Hermione. He went to turn around and walk right back out, purposely forgetting his dress robes, when he was struck by something golden yellow in the window. There was a set of dress robes on a stand in the side window of the shop that caught the light of the sun so perfectly that it seemed to shine. He immediately thought of Rose, and reached out to run his fingers over the fabric.
It was a long set of dress robes, and the material was some sort of see through shimmery yellow that was layered to cancel out the opaqueness. The layers on the bottom made it flow, and look like waves. The fabric was spelled to flutter around the bottom of the stand, and Ron thought about the light, quick way his tall and lanky daughter moved. He pictured her feet dancing across the Great Hall, peeking out from beneath these yellow robes, and he couldn't help but smile.
The top of the robes had straps that Ron immediately thought were far too thin, but knew that most girls wore things like that. There was a strip of sheer red and orange around the middle that wound down into the skirt part piece like a flame. The flower on the right strap looked more like a fire than a plant. Ron thought of their camping trip, and then of his little girl twirling in the sun, and he couldn't help himself. This dress was Rose's dress, and even if she refused to take her broken heart to the ball, someday she would wear the dress and know how perfect she really was.
Ron jingled the gold in his pocket, thought of the deposit he was about to make at Gringott's, and knew he could afford it. He asked the sales clerk to get the dress robes down for him, and reluctantly also gave his name to pick up his own robes. When the pieces were in a safe container, he paid. He turned to find his wife staring at him with misty eyes.
"It's beautiful. It's perfect for her," She whispered. She had on a pair of flawless blue robes stuck with pins as Madame Malkin herself fussed with Hermione in the middle of the sales floor.
"Just in case, y'know?" Ron said, blushing slightly under her gaze.
"I know. I brought her measurements with me," Hermione said, holding out a small bit of parchment. He kissed her on the forehead and exited the store before she decided he needed a second set of robes or something.
Hermione had the perfect pair of shoes, something vintage by someone whose name Ron couldn't pronounce. She magically altered them. Then, she shrunk down Rose's dress and Hugo's suit, putting them in miniature boxes that could be carried by Pig. Ron felt the dress needed an explanation, so he spent the rest of that Saturday afternoon in his study, trying to figure out what to say to Rose. By dinner time, he had a version that was passable, and tucked it inside the tiny box.
I know you're not going to the ball, but on the off chance you may change your mind, here is something to get you there. Listen, I know that the world is against you, and I understand that your school years have been painful…trust me, I do. But I also know who you are. You glow. You're so driven and clever, and you are kind to a point that is almost unimaginable. I told you to hold your head up high, and if that means not going to the dance, then you'll just have to let me beat you at chess in the common room.
But…well…I think that you would look amazing dancing in this, and that is the best revenge: proving to them that nothing they can do will affect you.
Save me a dance, or save me a game. I'll see you in a week.
With that, Ron sent off the packages with Pig and hoped that he wasn't pressuring Rose, but that she might feel like the choice was hers instead of out of her control.
Rose sat on her bed, alone in Gryffindor Tower, and pulled a long box out of her trunk. She disguised it as a broom box, just in case her roommates would see what she had and do something vicious to her. She pulled out the long, fiery dress robes and laid them on her bed, setting the shoes next to it. She sat in a chair and gazed at the dress robes, tears falling down her face. She was so uncertain and frustrated that she was actually weeping.
Her parents had come up and said that they had arrived. Her dad said they had to go down and grease a few palms, but he would escape as soon as he could and play chess all night. She tried to read his face for disappointment, waited for any mention of the dress robes, but he just smiled at her warmly and led her mother and a glowing, flashing Hugo out of the common room.
Now Rose sat, having a nearly literal fight with the beautiful piece of clothing and hating her own cowardice. If she were honest with herself, she longed to go to the dance. She wanted to twirl and spin in front of everyone and show them just how unbruised she was. She wanted to feel powerful and beautiful. She could have a perfect night; she knew she had it in her.
Rushing over to her bureau, she pulled out a shining amber jeweled hair clip. She spelled her wig into an elegant twist, the way her mother had shown her for special occasions, and curled little ringlets to fall. She powdered her face to take away some of the nervous shine, but left her freckles there for everyone to see. If she was going down, she was going down as Rose Weasley…not one of Them. Finally, when she had put on her favorite bra and panty set, she walked over to the mirror. She ran her hands over her flat stomach, around her only slightly rounded hips, and up her long arms. She was still skinny, but she was looking at a woman, and she tried to embrace that notion as much as she could.
She slipped on the dress over her head, snapped the shoes in place, and deliberately ignored the mirror as she made her way out of her dorm. She wanted to enter the arena with her head high, and fight off the lions with everything she had. A mirror would only make her doubt her own bravado, and she needed all of it just to make it down the steps.
Rose paused at the entrance of The Great Hall and gasped. The entire room had been changed to not only reflect the ancient beauty of the Scottish castle, but was also covered in thistle, heather and lavender floral arrangements. There were tartan cloths over the tables, and natural candles hung from the ceiling. Everything gave off a natural, ancient air. It looked like the medieval castle that Hogwarts had once been, and it was gorgeous. Professor McGonagall was being honored in the exact way that would suit her, and Rose couldn't help but smile.
She didn't realize she walked into the room until she caught a few curious if slightly gawking glances her way. Her heart began to race, but she just smiled and looked around for someone familiar. She saw her parents deep in conversation with Professor Longbottom. Her mother lifted her head and caught Rose's gaze. There was such a warm, inviting answering expression on her face that Rose rushed over to hug her mother. She didn't realize how much she missed her mother when she was at school.
As he made her way over to her parents, her father turned around, beamed at her, and swept her up in a quick hug. "I wouldn't want to embarrass you, Rosie, having your old fart father taking up all of your attention."
"Oh Viktor! I didn't know you were going to be here!" Her mother exclaimed. Rose perked her head up to see Andon and his father standing next to Professor Longbottom.
"Hello Hermione. I believe you are familiar with my son, Andon? Are our children not friends?" Mr. Krum said, gesturing toward Andon.
Andon didn't acknowledge the introduction, and the chattering words slowly faded into the background as she locked eyes with her long time friend. His dark gaze penetrated her, and Rose felt chills go down to the soles of her feet. He offered his hand wordlessly, and she took it as if it was the only possible thing she could have done, above thinking and breathing.
"Andon Krum?" She heard her father say, confused as she floated with Andon into the center of the dance floor.
Before she knew it, Andon's large hand was on the small of her back, and the other one was wrapped around her long, pale fingers. She finally took a deep breath just as he swung her around another dramatic curve. The music was undetectable as her heart pounded in her ears. All that time of quiet longing and resignation seemed to burst out of her, and she pressed her body closer to his. Andon breathed in and pulled her tighter.
"You look astounding," he whispered in her ear. "I've wanted to hold you like this for months."
"Months?" Was all Rose's dry mouth could manage. He delicately kissed her cheek and spun her around again.
The crowd wasn't there. The music wasn't playing. They weren't in the Great Hall. She was in a universe that consisted only of her and Andon. She knew him, she knew his heart, and it wasn't this dress that was pulling him toward her. He wanted her; she could feel his affection in every bend of his hand and breathe from his lips. She hoped give her the first kiss that she never thought would happen.
Suddenly, there was a loud scream and a bang. Rose looked up to see Melly, her hair coming undone, and her new dress robes disheveled. Her wand was pointed at Rose. Andon pulled her in more tightly.
"You bald lying backstabbing nasty little cunt!" She shouted. With a flick of her wand, every single stitch of Rose's clothing flew off of her. The breeze on her head indicated she was completely uncovered. Before anyone could so much as move, Rose flew out of the room, grabbing a tartan tablecloth, heedless of the breaking glass she left behind. All she heard was cackling laughter.
She ran with the tartan cloth wrapped around her until the cold of the stone floor had made her bare feet sting. She collapsed into the first empty classroom she could find, holding her herself and sobbing on the floor near an unused fireplace. She wanted to die, and couldn't imagine how her soul could recover from the blow.
She was embarrassed about being nude in front of the whole school, certainly, but what really terrified her was that everyone knew her secret. Sure, she was done with school for her sixth year, but what would happen when she came back for seventh year? Rose tried to imagine getting a private tutor and taking her N.E.W.T.S early, but she was worried about how her career prospects would measure up if she left Hogwarts.
Her head spun with visions of Andon. She didn't see his face when she was cursed, but she didn't have to. Even someone as kind and good as him could never be attracted to a woman with no hair. She clawed at her skull until she actually hurt herself and broke the skin. Then, she fell to the floor and cried.
She felt the cooling of a healing charm on her head and looked up to see her father standing over her, holding the dress he had bought her and looking so concerned that she couldn't help but cry harder. He knelt down to her and took her into his arms like she wasn't nearly six feet tall, but the little girl he had grown his hair out for. She clung on to his robes like she would drown without him.
"In front of everyone, dad. .They all know!" She managed through the tightness in her throat.
"So what if they do?" He said, sounding harsh and determined. "Are you any different? Are you any less a person?"
"No. I know I'm not."
"Then what are you worried about. You can handle anything that comes your way. You're a Weasley," he smiled, brushing her tears from her face.
"I can't…I'm sorry."
"You don't need to apologize to me, Rose Weasley! It's my job to always care about you no matter what. You couldn't do anything that would make me love you less. I am your father; I'm supposed to protect you. I'm supposed to make you feel safe," He said, clenching his fists.
"And you do, but they are just so cruel. I can't handle it anymore. I tried so hard after that camping trip, but this…how is he going to love me now?" Rose asked, not even caring if her father knew the details of her absent romantic life at this point.
She looked up to see comprehension dawn on him. "You continue being who you are, and he will. I saw the way he was looking at you…trust me, it made me want to hide you back in the tower."
"But he knows now," she said, the sad thought notwithstanding, she finally felt good enough to rise up. She took her wand and fashioned her tablecloth into a robe.
"No, Rosie. Put the dress back on. We'll go home now, start vacation early. But you're going to walk out with your head held high. I know you have it in you," he said, thrusting the yellow robes back into her hands.
"What about mum?"
"Oh, your mother is raining vengeance down on that crazy little bint. She'll be occupied with motherly rage and that temper of hers for hours," Her father smiled as he stepped out of the room and shut the door.
The thought of her mother, hands on her hips and hair wild in all directions, bringing down her wrath on Melly was enough to cause Rose to get up and put her dress on. She walked over to the dusty mirror in the corner of the classroom and spelled away the grime. She forced herself to face her reflection, and what she found there was unexpected.
She saw a beautiful, glowing woman, standing tall and narrow, with shining blue eyes and pale skin. She saw her bald head, but didn't hate it. She saw her bony frame, but embraced it. Rose looked at herself and saw the Real Rose. It wasn't a reality based upon viewing her bare scalp. This Real Rose was looking back at her because she knew herself. For years she had been lost in this fog of uncertainty, barely gaining moments of clarity. But as she addressed her form in its rawness, she was aware that however painful things had gotten, she survived and thrived.
She stepped out the door and took her father's arm. They walked in front of the double doors of the Great Hall, smirking slightly at the sound of her mother's yelling echoing from the headmistress' office. Her father opened the door for her, and she stepped out onto the grounds. She spread her arms out, faced the setting sun, and breathed in.
Rose and her father shared two fingers of firewhiskey and a chicken sandwich before her mother and Hugo showed up in their kitchen, red faced and accomplished.
"She is not being expelled, because I just can't…but since she is of age, I have brought about formal charges. I'll be handling this vile little girl's case in The Ministry," Her mother said, sitting down and taking a shot her father had offered without being asked. "How are you?"
"I'm honestly okay, mum. I will be…" She said, taking her mother's hand for a moment.
"Oh man, Rose. You should have seen Andon. The moment someone started laughing he threatened them…with his fists! I have never seen him lose his cool like that!" Hugo said, reaching for the firewhiskey. Ron took it away before he could get a good grip, and he pouted in mock indignation.
"He what?" Rose said, shocked that Andon wasn't hiding in embarrassment for being seen with her.
"Yeah. He went with Al to look for you, but Dad found you first. Don't know where he got to after that," Hugo said, winking at her and spinning his tie. Tiny sparks fell around her in vibrant colors, and Rose smiled. "Nice look by the way."
The whiskey had made Rose feel tired, not to mention the serious amount of crying she had done that night. She got up, bowed to Hugo, and then floated up to her room like a haughty princess, the laughter of her family echoing behind her. She slept that night more soundly than she had in ages, not caring about the horrors of tomorrow. None of it seemed so horrible any more.
When Rose woke up the next morning and went down for breakfast still in her pajamas, the house seemed empty. It was a Saturday morning, so she assumed everyone was still sleeping. An explosion and raucous laughter suddenly erupted from Hugo's room, and she knew that Fred was already over and working on singlehandedly destroying everything they owned. She summoned the short, colored wig that Teddy had made her and settled it on her head before fixing some tea and toast and going onto the front porch.
"I like it. The color goes well with your eyes," Andon said, causing Rose to jump and drop her teacup. He immediately waved his wand to repair the broken china.
"Yeah…um…thanks," Was all she could manage to murmur as she avoided his gaze.
"What are you doing here?"
She couldn't help but wait for the other shoe to fall. Even if she had a new perspective, she was still wounded and heartbroken. She didn't know what another break would do. There was a long and awkward silence.
"I wanted to continue our dance," He finally whispered. He stood up and took the cup from her hand, setting it down. This time, he wrapped both of arms around her waist and pulled her tightly against his chest. "I'm so sorry."
"For being with her…for not paying more attention to what she could do…for not telling you how I felt years ago." He said, his eyes never leaving hers even as his face got red.
"Years?" Rose had to bit her lips to keep from pulling his against her.
"Can I see you?" He asked shyly.
"Yes," she said, finding it an odd question. Of course they could date.
"No, I mean," he traced his fingers along the hairline of her wig and Rose shuddered. She panicked. She didn't want to scare him off. She didn't want him to see her up close in such a vulnerable way. She clenched her fists and breathed deeply. She didn't want to hide, didn't want to be scared any longer.
She cast the spell to loosen her wig and slid it off of her head.
See, when you forgive your imperfections
And you've auctioned all your clothes
And look to see your true reflection
You will be the one who loves you the most
Ron threw the last gnome out of the garden and walked toward the front of the house. He didn't want Hermione to throw a fit about him tracking mud, so he opted to leave his boots on the front porch. He needed a day off in the sun, and having his kids back home proved to be the perfect excuse. As he rounded the corner he heard his daughter's delicate sniffles and his heart sank.
He looked up on the porch to see her friend Andon holding her closely as her shoulders shook. The young wizard was kissing long the crown of Rose's exposed head; her wig lay forgotten on the wooden floor. He whispered 'You're beautiful' in her ear and continued to press his lips to her pale skin. Ron bit his lip and moved to back away. The movement caused Andon to look up, but Ron pressed his fingers to his lips and backed away.
He wanted to run back out there and tell them to separate or feel his wrath, but Ron just trudged to the back of the house. He put his boots in the grass, took off his shoes and socks, and felt the grass against his feet. In a few years, his house would be empty, devoid of the noise of his wild and brilliant children. He decided that the snogging on the front porch and the odd explosions from upstairs were just fine with him. He leaned against the house and tried to get in a nap before Hugo and Fred burned the place down.