:: :: :: ::

The first sound Rose heard when she woke up was Sirius singing.

"God rest ye merry hippogriffs," he sang, voice low.

There were other sounds too: the steady whoosh of her breathing, her heart beating in her ears, and a tiny tinkling noise somewhere overhead. Everything felt very far away, and her thoughts came slow, like she was drifting through a heavy fog.

As she came back, she started to feel things. Her fingers resting on her stomach. The stiffness in her back and shoulders. Her toes in fluffy socks. Her eyelids felt monstrously heavy, but she had to open them to find that tinkling noise. She had to make it stop. It was annoying, and she was trying to sleep.

She shifted in the bed, which was definitely not her bed, because her bed had never been this uncomfortable. She let out a little whine, because Merlin, she felt like she hadn't moved in ages. She hurt everywhere.

"Rosie?" said Sirius.

She frowned. "Singing," she said.

"What did you say, sweetheart?"

"You were singing."

"I thought that might wake you up."

"Because you're so bad at it," she said. "Flat."

Sirius snorted. "So sorry, princess."

Rose finally managed to lift her eyelids. Sirius was sitting close, and he was wearing an abomination of a sweater. It was a knobby collection of grays in differing tints. The effect was hideous.

"Dear god, what are you wearing?"

"Weasley sweater," he said. "Don't worry, Molly made you one too."

"Noo," said Rose. Anything but a Molly Weasley original. The woman meant well, but she had the most horrible eye for color. "She hates me. Why would she make me a sweater?" Molly Weasley only made sweaters for people she liked, and ever since Rose had broken up with George, Rose was emphatically not on that list.

"She's changed her tune," said Sirius. "That'll happen when a person nearly dies."

"Who nearly died?" said Rose, rolling her head to the side to look at him.

"You did, Rosie."

Rose frowned at him. "I'm fine. I'm—" she looked around. "I'm in the hospital. Oh. What happened?"

"Well, I was sort of hoping that you could tell me that," said Sirius. "What's the last thing you remember?"

Rose frowned and thought very hard. Everything from before seemed foggy and far away. "Hogsmeade," she said, finally. "I was in Hogsmeade, and then… oh."

She remembered. She remembered everything. "Is Ginny okay?"

"Ginny is fine."

Sirius had a look on his face that she had never seen before.

"You look… weird."

"Do I look pissed?" he said. "Because I'm starting to feel pissed. I've been through frantic, and worried, and then bargaining. And then there was rage, and helplessness, and then relief because they fucking finally figured out how to break the curse without killing you, and then happiness because they said you'd wake up, and now you're awake and I can finally be pissed at you."

"I'm sorry," she said.

"Why the hell did you have that necklace?" he asked. "Why would you put yourself in danger like that?"

"I didn't know… I—"

It really wasn't fair for her to have to answer questions right now.

"Who sent you to pick it up? Where did you get it from?"

Rose shook her head. "It doesn't matter."

"It does matter!" Sirius roared, and he surged to his feet. Rose flinched. He stalked across the room and back again. "It matters because it almost got you killed, and I want to know that this kind of shit isn't going to happen again."

Rose pressed her lips together.

"Not going to talk?" he said.

Rose shook her head.

Sirius gave her a look that was filled with something like disgust. He turned on his heel and left the room.

Rose's face crumpled as soon as he was gone. She rolled over onto her side with extreme difficulty, and pressed her face into the pillow. She had never made Sirius so mad at her before. It was a horrible feeling. But Merlin knew what he would do if he knew that Draco was responsible.

Rose wiped her face with the corner of the sheet, and looked around the hospital room. The bed she was lying in was in the middle of the room, half propped up. Over her head was a golden orb, and it was responsible for the tinkling noise. Rose didn't know what the noise meant, but it hadn't altered since she woke. It was still steadily pinging. There were chairs near her bed, the closest one Sirius had abandoned, and three others were waiting.

How strange, she thought, probably her friends and family had sat in them and watched her while she slept.

How long had she been unconscious, anyway? Sirius had been singing a Christmas carol, and he was wearing a new Weasley sweater. Was it Christmas already? Had she been unconscious for almost three months?

Sirius never came back. Rose was slowly stretching out her limbs, as much as she could while in bed. She was shocked at how weak she felt. Just these small movements, and she was exhausted. But she resisted, because she didn't want to fall asleep until she knew exactly what day it was.

The door banged open suddenly, and Rose gave a little shriek. A red haired whirlwind flung itself at Rose, and she found herself being hugged half to death by Ginny.

"I hate you," said Ginny, half-sobbing into her neck. "I hate you so much. Don't ever do this to me again. It's been awful."

Rose clenched her eyes shut, because she had just finished crying over disappointing Sirius, and Ginny was about to set her off again.

"I'm sorry," she said instead.

Ginny held her tighter. "It should have been me," she said. "I was going to touch the necklace, and you were just trying to stop me, and—"

"No!" said Rose. "It's my fault. All my fault. I shouldn't have even—"

"No," said Ginny. "It's Malfoy's fault."

"Gin— How did you know?"

Ginny sighed, and pulled away to wipe her eyes. "A lot happened while you were unconscious," she said.

"Is Draco okay? He's not in trouble for this, is he?"

Ginny rolled her eyes. "Of course you'd ask after him first. He's fine. For a certain measure of fine."

"What do you mean?"

The door banged open again, and Hermione burst through. "Rose!" she said. "You're really awake! That's wonderful." She hugged Rose tightly, and then perched on the edge of her bed.

"Ginny," Hermione said, scolding, "you just ran off, and left me in the elevator with Lockhart. It was so awkward."

Ginny shrugged. "Not like he remembers anything anyway."

Hermione humphed. "Still."

Hermione was wearing a red sweater, and had a little sprig of holly in her hair. Rose plucked it out, and spun it between her fingers.

"It's Christmas," said Rose. She was sure of the date now. There were too many clues for her to be wrong. "Was I really out that long?"

Hermione nodded. "It's Christmas Eve."

"You missed a lot," said Ginny.

"Tell me everything," said Rose.

Ginny and Hermione didn't get the opportunity to tell her anything, because Remus arrived. He gave her a very long hug, and looked her over to check she was actually all right.

"I'm very glad you are awake," he said. He sounded terribly sincere, as though there were oceans of feeling that his stiff upper lip wouldn't allow him to express.

"Sirius is pretty angry with me, isn't he?" said Rose.

Remus tipped his head in agreement. "He is. But you know Sirius. He blows hot, and then it's over."

"Except for when he holds a grudge for decades," she said.

Remus acknowledged the point with a small smile. "He usually reserves grudges for Death Eaters and blood purists. I think you two will work it out."

Rose heaved a sigh. She didn't know what she would do if they didn't.

"I brought you some things," Remus said. He had a bag with him, and from it he produced a change of clothes and, because he knew her well, her makeup bag.

"I also have a day pass, signed by the Head Healer," he said. He unrolled a parchment that looked fairly official. "You get to come home for Christmas."

"That was fast," said Hermione. She took the parchment from Remus, and started reading it.

"Sirius started pushing for it when it looked like she was going to wake up in time." Of course he did. Crap. Rose felt terrible for not telling Sirius what happened. She was going to have to tell him absolutely everything, and damn the consequences.

"Should you really be leaving?" said Hermione. "You've only just woken up, and you seem quite weak. We could bring Christmas to you."

"I'm all right, Hermione," she said. Rose had only woke up an hour ago, and she was already ready to leave. She made grabby hands at her clothes.

"Not until tomorrow, I'm afraid," Remus said. "The healer wants to look you over first, and probably ply you with potions. She says if you get a good nights sleep we can get you early tomorrow morning."

Remus left soon after, saying that he wanted to to talk to Sirius (probably they were going to yell at each other for a bit), and left Ginny and Hermione to keep her company. "I'm sure you three have a lot to talk about," he said. He hugged Rose again, and said that he would be back in a couple of hours to bring Ginny and Hermione back to Grimmauld Place.

Ginny grabbed a stack of Get Well cards and notes from students at Hogwarts, and they started looking through them. There was also a giant basket filled with candy, and the closet was stuffed with plush teddy bears and other gifts sent from Rose's adoring public. There was a single vase of daisies on the table, and Ginny told her that they had stopped bringing all the flowers to Rose's room weeks ago, and instead distributed them amongst the other patients. Ginny assured her that in the beginning her hospital room had looked like a florist shop.

"But one day, when we had so many flowers in here they filled every ledge and table, and we'd resorted to leaving them on the floor, Hermione tripped over the same giant bouquet three times, and then she said, 'Oh, for goodness sakes!' and stomped out of the room with it."

"I didn't stomp," said Hermione, rolling her eyes.

"She stomped," Ginny assured Rose. "And I said, 'Where the hell are you going with that?' and followed her down the hall to another room. There was a woman in who'd been hexed and couldn't stop singing Muggle pop songs. Hermione tromped right in to her room, and said, 'Hello. You look like you could use some flowers,' and just left them there. Then Hermione gave all the other flowers away."

"They'd all sent you roses of some kind," said Hermione. "Not very original. You'd have rolled your eyes."

Ginny nodded. "Red ones, yellow ones, those peachy ones, and absolute barrels of pink roses. You would not believe there were that many pink roses in all of Britain," said Ginny.

"She's only exaggerating a little bit," said Hermione. "There were a lot."

"Since then we only keep bouquets that don't have roses in them," said Ginny. "Hence, the daisies."

Rose blinked at the pair of them. As much as she adored the two of them, she was not quite used to Ginny and Hermione getting on this well. They were both emphatically Rose's best friends, but usually seemed to rub each other the wrong way. It seemed like that had changed while Rose was sleeping.

"I was going to take the toys down to the children's wing too," said Hermione. "But some of them are cute, and I thought you might want to keep them."

Ginny pulled open the closet, and a couple of teddy bears fell to the floor. The closet was packed floor to ceiling full of plush animals in varying colors and sizes. Rose had never seen so many outside a toy store. Ginny yanked a toy from the middle, and the whole tower started to collapse.

"Oh, no," said Hermione. "We only just got it closed last time."

Ginny tossed a pair of plush animals onto the bed, and Rose pulled them into her lap to look them over. They were both quite cute. One was a bear with button eyes, and a little red heart stitched onto his paw. The other was a black cat with white patches.

"Are there any gifts from people I actually know?" she asked.

Ginny snorted. "The twins sent this," and she pulled a big purple moose from the bottom of the closet. She brought it over for Rose to inspect. It was wearing a lime green vest and matching bowler hat, and had a terrifying smile on its face. Rose patted the moose's nose, and it let out a loud honking wail.

Rose blinked at it. "You know what, you can take it all down to the children's wing," she said. "Especially the moose."

:: :: :: ::

Remus brought Ginny and Hermione home before dinner, and then came back to sit with Rose for a few hours. She asked him questions about what she had missed, but Remus assured her that she hadn't missed anything too important, and he didn't want to give her anything new to worry about. She had only just woken up, and any strain could set back her recovery. So he assured her that everyone was fine, and instead he filled her in on celebrity gossip. She had missed quite a lot.

Celestina Warbeck had gotten divorced and married again in the time Rose slept, this time to the scandalously young lead singer of the Wailing Pixies. He was only just eighteen, and his mother had hunted them down during the honeymoon and dragged the boy home by his ear.

Gwenog Jones announced she would retire from Quidditch, and then two weeks later she signed a deal with the Winbourne Wasps, and all of Holyhead Harpy nation was in an uproar over the betrayal.

Stubby Boardman (their favorite celebrity, because he bore a startling resemblance to Sirius) was found in flagrante delicto with no less than three prostitutes, only one of which was female, along with several vials of fairy dust. He had entered rehab, and apologized to his fans for, 'loving sex, drugs, and rock and roll too fucking much, mate.' The rehab hadn't worked it seemed, because twenty eight days later he was seen in a nightclub holding a martini with a starlet draped across his lap.

Gilderoy Lockhart had been found wandering naked through a field of heather without any memory of who he was. Locals claimed he arrived in town to deal with a fairy infestation. As far as healers could tell, someone had cast an extremely powerful Obliviation spell on him. They were unable to recover any of his memories, and he seemed unable to create new ones, so Lockhart was going to spend the foreseeable future in the Janus Thickey Ward for Incurable Cases.

Remus left when visiting hours were over, and promised that he would bring her the article with Stubby's 'sex, drugs, and rock and roll' interview tomorrow.

A nurse came in to tap at the orb hanging over her head, and to give her more pain potions. She turned the lights down when she left, and told Rose to get some sleep.

There must have been a sleeping potion amongst all those pain potions, because Rose started to feel very drowsy in very short order. Her eyelids felt like they were weighed down with lead.

The door creaked open, and she managed to lift her eyelids.

A tall, thin man slipped through the crack in the door, and slid it shut silently behind him. He was wearing a dark pea coat, and a woolen hat was pulled low over his eyes.

"Security around here sucks," said Rose, and reached for the orb to call the nurse.

"Wait," the man said. "It's me." He pulled off his hat, and came close enough that Rose could see him properly. The hair on his head was the whitest of blonds, he looked handsome and worried, and Rose thought she should probably punch him in his stupid face.

"Draco," said Rose.

"Hi," he said.

"I should punch your stupid face."

He sat on the edge of her bed, worrying the knit hat in his hands. "You wouldn't be the first."

"What are you wearing?"

Draco shrugged. "Eldest Weasley's stuff. Mine is too noticeable. I snuck out. I had to see you for myself."

"Wait. What?" Why would Draco be wearing anything that belonged to a Weasley boy, and of where did he have to sneak out? "Why are you wearing Bill's clothes? What's going on?"

Draco reached for her hand, and Rose scowled, because she wasn't sure she wanted him holding her hand just now. She was mad. Right? Merlin, she was tired.

"You should have told me about the necklace," she said.

Draco nodded. "I should have told you everything."

"You are going to tell me everything," she said.

Draco nodded. "Everything. Things are going to be different now," he said.

Rose snorted.

"I promise," he swore. "No more Dark Lord, no more Death Eaters, no more anything that puts you in danger."

Rose frowned. "What?"

"You've been asleep for months," he said. His thumb brushed over her knuckles, a caress that made her toes curl. "Things have changed."

"And you're not a Death Eater anymore? No more Voldemort?"

"No," said Draco. "Fuck that guy."

Rose's lips quirked. "Fuck what guy?"

Draco rolled his eyes, and swallowed. "V-Voldemort. Fuck that guy."

Rose smiled. "Wow, look at you, tough guy. Saying the name."

"Shut up," he said, amused despite himself. He leaned in close, and brushed his lips over hers. He pushed their foreheads together. "I'm so glad you're awake."

Rose's eyes had slipped shut at the kiss, but she opened them now. "Wait. Pansy."

Draco shook his head, and it made Rose's head rock on her pillow. "It's been months," he said again. "Pansy and I were over the day this happened to you."

Rose sighed. "Okay. Good."

"What about you?" he asked, and tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear. His fingers lingered on her neck. "Did you go on any dates while you were unconscious? Any Healers or nurses giving you the eye?"

Rose smiled. "Nope. Free as a bird."

Draco smiled at her, the warmest, happiest smile she'd ever seen on his face. It was gorgeous. Rose wanted to see it every single day for the rest of forever.

"Well, look at that," he said. "It looks like we finally got the timing right."

"Is that why you came here in the middle of the night? So you could beat the rush of boys coming to my side?"

"I've had that happen to me. I wasn't going to let it happen again."

Rose smiled. "Take off your coat and shoes and stay awhile," she ordered.

He did, quicker than she would have thought possible, and laid beside her in the little bed. Rose cuddled up next to him with her head on his shoulder.

"You'll have to tell me everything in the morning," she said. "They gave me a sleeping potion." Rose wasn't entirely sure she wasn't asleep right now, because this was straight out of a daydream.

Draco kissed her head, and held her close with an arm around her shoulders. She grinned into his shirt. If it was a dream, she didn't want to wake up.

"It can wait."

:: :: :: ::

Rose was rudely awakened very early in the morning by a nurse who flipped out when she found Draco in Rose's hospital bed. Draco got belligerent in return, because of course he did, and the nurse threatened to call the Aurors. She kicked him out, didn't even give him time to put his shoes on, and hustled him out the door, even though Rose was telling her to stop.

Draco made some hand motions at Rose through the narrow window in the door, but Rose couldn't interpret them. The nurse grabbed his arm, and dragged him away, out of view.

The nurse came back in after several minutes, all in a lather, and proceeded to give Rose a stern talking to about her health and how important it was that she not over-exert herself during this time, and that her Healers would let her know when it was safe to engage in sexual activity again, but not one moment before!

Rose tried to explain to the nurse that they hadn't been doing anything like that, but the nurse didn't believe her.

"A boy as handsome as all that? Do you take me for some kind of fool, sweetie?"

She told Rose to get some sleep, for Merlin's sake, and left. Rose tried, but it was hard. When would she see Draco again? What the hell was going on? Why had he decided to leave the Death Eaters? Was he able to get his parents out safely? What did Lucius think of this? She had to know!

Somehow she managed a couple more hours of sleep, and woke up with plenty of time to get ready for Christmas with her family and friends.

Remus, Hermione, and Ginny came in the morning to bring her home. Rose was disappointed, but not surprised that Sirius wasn't there. Rose was already dressed and ready to leave when they arrived. It had been a struggle to get dressed, and Rose had to lie down for a bit and rest in the middle, but she had managed it on her own.

A different nurse stuck her in a hovering chair, because she wasn't allowed to walk through the hospital for some stupid reason, and they waited around a few minutes for the healer to arrive to give the final go ahead. She arrived in a flurry of green robes. She was a small, round woman with short brown curls. The green healer robes quite suited her, actually. She smiled cheerfully down at Rose.

"I expect you are ready to get out of here for a bit," she said. Rose nodded. "I do have a few instructions and restrictions. Travel is limited to Side Along Apparition. You are not well enough to Floo, fly a broomstick, or to Apparate on your own."

"I don't even know how to Apparate yet," said Rose.

"Good," said the healer. "Stay off your feet as much as possible. Plunk yourself in a nice comfy chair and make people come to you. Going up or down stairs will likely be difficult, so have someone float you along. And get yourself back here by nine o'clock at the latest. You need lots of good sleep. I know you'll want to catch up with what you've missed being unconscious, but there's plenty of time for that. Your body has been through a horrible ordeal, and you'll need lots of rest."

Rose agreed to everything, nodded her head when the Healer produced several potion vials that she was to take during the day. She handed off a scroll with dosage information to Remus, which was quickly liberated by Hermione.

"They have you on quite a bit of pain potion," Hermione said, sounding alarmed. "Are you in a lot of pain, Rose?"

Rose shook her head. "I'm just sore."

"You haven't been without the strong potions yet," the healer warned. /"The pain is from the months of immobility, and lingering effects of the pain curse," said the healer./ "It's a stubborn curse, but the magic will fade away entirely in a few weeks."

"I thought you'd broken the curse on her?" said Ginny.

"We were able to keep the curse from being lethal," said the healer. "While unpleasant, the pain is manageable with potions. Miss Potter is quite lucky, really."

Rose supposed she was. Though the more they talked about it, the worse the pain got. It was a bone deep ache, and her head was starting to throb. She wasn't sure if that was the curse, or just a normal headache though.

"That's all!" said the Healer. "Have a happy Christmas!"

And with that, Remus pushed her hovering chair out into the hallway. Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt were in the hallway, and smiled when they saw her.

"Hi, Rose!" said Tonks. "I'm glad you're better."

"Thanks," said Rose. "I guess you two are my bodyguards today?"

"Only down to the Apparition point in the lobby," said Tonks. "But you can't be too careful."

Rose supposed Tonks was right. She wondered what Voldemort had been up to while she was sleeping. She hadn't asked yet, but no one had said anything, and she doubted she'd been lucky enough to wake up in a world where someone else had taken care of the problem. Pity.

Then they were in the elevator, and down to the lobby. It was early enough that they managed to avoid any members of the press that might have liked to take a photo, and for all Rose knew the wizarding world still thought she was lying unconscious.

"We'll see you this afternoon at Grimmauld," said Hermione. She and Ginny were going to side along with the Aurors. Rose would see everyone again for Christmas dinner at Grimmauld Place, but for now she was going home with Remus. To face Sirius.

Remus helped her to her feet, and took her arm. With a twist, they were gone, and she was standing on the front steps of the Royal Crescent house.

"Home sweet home," said Remus. And with a click, the front door opened. The same familiar smell of polished floors greeted her, and she felt like it had been a million years since she had been home. Not just a few months since she had left for the start of the school year.

The floors creaked underfoot, and the smell of the house was warm and familiar. Rose suddenly wanted to cry with how much she had missed being home.

Sirius appeared in the doorway to the living room. His eyes were big and apologetic, and he looked as though he wasn't sure if Rose would forgive him. He looked like a dog who was hoping for pets, but expected to be kicked.

Rose stumbled across the hall, and collided with his chest. She wrapped her arms around him as tightly as she could.

"I'm sorry," she said.

His arms came around her back. "I'm sorry, too."

She pressed her face into his shoulder. "Fighting with you is awful," she said, though she wasn't sure he would be able to make it out, as her voice was garbled up in his ugly sweater.

"The worst," he agreed.

"I'll tell you everything," she promised.

"Later," he said. "It's Christmas. Let's have one happy day, all right?"

She nodded.


"I'm glad you two made up," said Remus. He wore a wry smile.

"Very smug, that one," said Sirius.

"I like him though," she said. Remus rolled his eyes.

"Me too," said Sirius.

Sirius and Remus smiled at each other. Rose looked between them and wondered if she had missed them finally getting together. If so, she would have to demand a full recounting of what happened. Hopefully someone took pictures.

Sirius caught her looking, and then hauled her off to the kitchen, where the traditional Sunday breakfast of sugary pastries was waiting.

:: :: :: ::

After Rose arrived at Grimmauld Place, it was quite some time before everyone settled down and got tired of hugging her and saying how glad they were that she was awake. But once the Weasleys had their fill of mobbing her with affection, they settled her down in a chair in the largest sitting room. Someone had assembled a tree, complete with fashionable white and red trimmings, and was lit with dozens of softly glowing fairies. The crackling fire in the hearth was cheerful, and from the mantle hung a dozen or more stockings. They were decidedly Weasley holdovers, and didn't match the rest of the decor at all. Real pine boughs were set with ribbons and fluttering fairies on the mantle. The whole room looked cheerful and elegant, and whoever was responsible for decorating was going to get a compliment. Rose had never seen Grimmauld Place look so welcoming and livable.

"It looks really nice in here," said Rose. "Who decorated?"

There was a moment where everyone seemed to look at everyone except her, and Rose felt a sinking feeling in her stomach. It was awful to be the only one out of the loop.

"Kreacher helped," said Hermione. "And another house elf."

"Another house elf?" said Rose. "Why is there another house elf?"

"Well," said Hermione. She looked at Molly Weasley, who shook her head sternly. Rose found Sirius, and gave him pleading Bambi eyes. He gave her a wry look in return.

"We're not supposed to stress you out," he said. "Healer's orders."

Rose frowned at him. "This situation where you are all keeping something from me is stressing me out."

Ginny sighed. "She's not going to freak," she said. "I told you guys we should have told her yesterday."

"She had only just woken up," said Molly.

Ginny nodded. "Yeah, and who was the first person she asked about?"

"You were," said Rose.

Sirius nodded, and Ginny looked pleased. "Aw, thanks, Rose." Then she shook her head. "But no, who was the first person you asked me about?"

"Draco?" said Rose, and the whole room suddenly felt like all the air had gone out of it. "Draco is here?" Last night he had said something confusing about sneaking out, and wearing clothes that belonged to Bill Weasley, but she had been so tired and doped up on potions that she wondered if she had made that part up. But if he was somehow here, at Grimmauld Place…

Ginny nodded.

"Why isn't he here right now?" asked Rose, and everyone looked shifty. "You guys are making him hide upstairs, aren't you?" Not waiting for an answer, Rose got up from her chair. "Ginny, take me to him right now."

"Stress," warned Sirius. "This is what the Healers wanted you to avoid."

"I would have been just fine if you hadn't tried to hide things from me. You could have told me at St. Mungo's."

Sirius sighed, and then waved his hand. "Fine. Ginny, take her upstairs to see our guests."

Ginny helped her up the stairs by casting a featherlight charm on Rose, and then leading her up. Rose thought she could have managed them the normal way, but when she began feeling a bit dizzy on the second landing, she realized that there was no way she could climb the stairs on her own. It was unsettling, and she realized just how much danger she had been in. This close call had been closer than most.

Ginny led them to the door of the suite of rooms that belonged to Sirius's mother, once. She knocked smartly on the door, squaring her shoulders, and a challenging look fell onto her face. They were both startled when the person who answered the door was about three feet shorter than expected. A house elf had answered the door, but not one that Rose had ever met before. This one was clearly younger than Kreacher, and had large green eyes, and huge floppy ears. The house elf was wearing an old pillowcase.

"Hello," said Rose. "Is Draco in?"

"Miss," said the elf. He looked up at Rose, and his wide eyes seemed to go wider. "Oh, Miss is that Miss! Miss is Miss Rose Potter! The Girl Who Lived! Dobby is not seeing Miss for many years!"

"Yes, hi," said Rose, smiling politely. "It's nice to meet you Dobby. I don't think we've met before though."

"Dobby has been seeing Miss Rose Potter, but Miss Rose Potter has not been seeing Dobby. I was to be secret, you see?"

"Yes, hi," said Draco, coming through the open door and giving Dobby a look. "That will be all, Dobby. I think my father needs you."

"I is keeping Master Draco's secrets," the elf said, sullen. Dobby bowed low in Rose's direction, and popped away. Draco stepped out into the hall and closed the door behind him.

"Hi," said Rose, smiling blindingly at Draco, delighted that she hadn't dreamed him up last night. It was all true! No more Dark Lord, no more Death Eaters. Draco was here, in the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. He was safe. She felt like she had woken up in the twilight zone, where everything was turned on its head, and eventually someone would come along and wake her up, and she would find that the world would go back to being terrible, but still making sense. This world was crazy, but so far she preferred it.

Draco smiled back. "Hi."

He reached for her and she took his hands, and they smiled at each other. Kissing was imminent. Rose felt like there were magnets in their lips, drawing them together.

"Ugh," said Ginny. "You two are gross." The spell was broken, and they both gave her dirty looks.

"How many times have I seen you snog someone?" said Rose, indignant.

"You never saw me mooning at anyone," said Ginny. "I never said 'hi' to anyone the way you said 'hi' to him just now." Ginny said 'hi' in a breathy, dazed sort of voice. "Gross."

"I don't sound like that."

"Yes, you do. Also," said Ginny, "since when are you two kissing?"

"Since last night," said Rose, and added a, "ha ha," for good measure.

"So," said Ginny, turning a frown onto Draco. "You snuck out to see her last night?"

Draco shrugged, and refused to comment.

"How did you get out on your own?" said Ginny.

"I cannot reveal my source."

"Who?" she asked, and then rolled her eyes. "Oh, who else could it have been? There's only one person in this house who can tolerate you, other than her." She gave Rose a look, like she was disappointed in her taste in men.

"Fleur understands me," said Draco, haughtily. "We both have a hard time dealing with all the ginger up in this house."

Ginny scowled, and pointed at Rose, "Be good." Then she pointed at Draco and said, "If she gets tired make her sit down." She waited until Draco nodded, then turned away, and flounced off down the stairs.

Alone at last, Rose went up on her toes to kiss Draco's mouth. He gave an appreciative hum, and held her around the waist.

"You made friends with Fleur?" she asked.

Draco nodded. "She's… well, not nice, but we get along. And I'm not spoiled for choice around here. Fleur is kind to us."

"Your parents are here?"

Draco nodded, and gestured at the closed door of the suite. "It's temporary, thank Merlin, or it's supposed to be. The Order is supposedly working on getting an untraceable Portkey to take my parents out of the country, once they've drained them of every drop of information they have in their heads about the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters. Mother is reluctant to leave, but Father can't wait to be gone. He despises it here."

"He doesn't want to go back, does he?" asked Rose.

Draco shook his head, and shrugged. "I don't know. He's still angry."

"What did Voldemort do? Did he retaliate?"

Draco nodded. "He's been making Father's Dark Mark burn. He won't stop calling, and it just gets more painful the longer Father doesn't respond to the summons. It's not helping his mood any."

"But he won't go, right?"

Draco shook his head. "Of course not. Father knows that the Dark Lord will kill him on sight. We Malfoy's have better self preservation instincts than that."

Rose was glad. She wouldn't want Draco's father to die, no matter who he was.

"Why don't you all come down to celebrate with us?"

Draco snorted. "We were not invited to the celebration downstairs."

"You're living here, I don't think you need an invitation to come downstairs."

"Trust me," said Draco. "It's better we have a Malfoy family Christmas up here. My father and Weasley's father have gotten into a few fights."


"As in muggle fist fights."


"Mother was furious." Draco grinned a little. "I'd never seen her lay into him like that before."

"Maybe I could come to your Christmas for awhile?" said Rose.

"Probably not a good idea," said Draco. "Father has been in a mood all day, and he's liable to take it out on you."


"Because as he sees it, you've bewitched me and as such, it's your fault he's now living in this house. Like some kind of refugee." He said the word with a kind of snobbish horror, imitating Lucius Malfoy perfectly. Rose wondered if she should feel a little guilty, but she didn't. Not at all. Not if it meant that Draco was here with her, and finally safe.

Draco kissed her. "He is right about one thing: you have bewitched me."

"Sap," accused Rose, struggling not to smile.

Draco nodded, smirking, and then kissed her very, very thoroughly.

:: :: :: ::

It wasn't nearly long enough before their separate Christmas celebrations pulled them apart. The house elf, Dobby, came to call Draco back in, and Ginny returned as they were kissing goodbye. (Could Rose help that it took minutes upon minutes to accomplish this feat?) Ginny rolled her eyes at them, and dragged Rose off. Rose only went because Ginny said that Sirius had wanted to come fetch her, and if she took much longer in kissing Draco he would lose what little patience he had managed to muster up, and honestly this was a better option.

Ginny floated her down the staircase, and didn't let her down until she was perched in a very cushy chair in the parlor next to the Christmas tree. A glass of hot cider was placed her her hand, and a pile of presents was laid at her feet. Ginny sat on the floor beside her, and tore into her own present pile with gusto and cries of delight. Rose looked around at her family, all chattering, laughing, and throwing wrapping paper balls at each other, and sticking bows to their heads. The wonderful bunch of idiots.