Disclaimer: See first chapter.
AN: That whole 'mild' Harry/femme!Dudley thing? Died in a fire. This is now fairly explicit, so I've boosted the rating. Other than that, I hope you like it. There should be at least one more part to this at some point, but - as always - no promises as to when.
Ginny Weasley still has a crush on him. She's beautiful and willowy and she blushes whenever he looks in her direction. But she's too thin, and her long red hair reminds him of his mother. She stares and blushes and smiles at him throughout the summer, twisting locks of her hair around her fingers and making it glint like fire. But Harry remembers pale blue eyes and fine blonde hair and the denim cling of jeans on his cousin's hips and doesn't think that Ginny is pretty at all.
The thought crosses his mind, one night when he's listening to Ron's snores that she looks like the wrong relative. If she looked like Rose then he'd have no trouble at all.
His name comes out of the Goblet of Fire and he's thrown into the Tournament without a friend in the world to support him. Ron doesn't believe his innocence; Hermione refuses to believe that the authorities could have made such a mistake; he refuses to turn to Ginny Weasley even though her doe-brown eyes and shy smiles invite it. The letters he gets from Rose are his only comfort and Hedwig gets a workout flying constantly between Hogwarts and Smeltings.
I don't want you to die, Harry she writes when he tells her about the dragon that's waiting for him. Please don't die.
He traces the smudges her tears have left on the thin stationary paper and thinks that maybe he's not the only freak in the family. Still, he can't lie to her and tell her that he won't.
He doesn't know how they got a hold of her, but it's Rose that he drags from the Black Lake in February. She looked unreal beneath the water, greenish in the poor light and too still, but she breathes again when he gets her to the surface. She coughs and splutters and clings to him in the water and he clings back. "Rose Rose Rose," he says, like her name is a prayer, and together they swim to the shore.
Rose is a Muggle, so she sees ruins instead of a castle and she grips his arm tight enough to bruise him as Madame Pomfrey drapes warm towels over their shoulders. She's shivering uncontrollably in fear and anger and all he wants to do is hold her close and tell her it's alright. (He doesn't because he can't and she's still got a mean right hook.)
"What the fuck?" she hisses in his ear. "How the fuck did I get here Harry?"
He pushes tendrils of wet hair out of her eyes. "It was the second task. They took what I'd miss the most," he tells her.
Rose Dursley isn't as stupid as people think she is, and he sees her figure it out. A dull flush spreads across her face and down her neck and she looks away from him. "Oh," she says. But she rests her head against his shoulder anyway and the worry that had knotted in his stomach eases away.
He wraps an arm around her waist and rests his hand on the curve of her hip. He smiles when she doesn't punch him for it.
She sits on his bed and shares a bar of chocolate with him as he tells her about the last task and Cedric and Voldemort. It's dark, but the light that comes from the streetlamp outside his window illuminates her hair and the curve of her cheek. Her fingers catch his towards the end and she doesn't let go even as she makes him finish the story.
(But she's not Hermione. She doesn't need to be told that green light and "kill the spare" haunt his nightmares.)
She kisses him when he's done. Her lips are soft and warm and she smells powdery like the 'rose-scented' shower gel that Aunt Petunia insists on buying for her. It's chaste and he can hear her breath hitching as she draws back again, and unspoken excuses flood the air between them. Harry knows that it shouldn't feel as right as it does when he cups her cheek and pulls her closer and when he slips his tongue into her mouth to taste chocolate on hers.
(He'll never kiss anyone else.)
The remains of the chocolate tumble to the floor as they cling to each other, desperate and nervous in equal measure as their lips lock in passionate kisses. She straddles his waist and he slides his hands down her sides to rest on her wide hips just to hold her there.
"We shouldn't do this," she breathes against his mouth between kisses.
"I don't care," he whispers back, and he doesn't – not really – because he's wanted to do this for over a year.
When she leaves, she's grinning and oddly shy, and he kisses her briefly by the door before she slips silently across the landing to her room. He collapses back on his bed and reaches down to wrap his fingers round his cock, muffling his groans with his pillow before he falls asleep.
(He doesn't dream of green light.)
Rose's bedroom is a chaotic tangle of clothes and hair products and computer wires. The walls are baby pink because the Dursleys haven't redecorated since she was a baby and pink is the only colour for a little girl.
The day Dementors come to Little Whinging, she laughs at him when he fumbles with the fastening on her bra. She sits up and unfastens it herself before letting him slide the straps down over her arms and throw it to the side. Her parents are out so there's no one except Harry to hear her soft gasps and moans as he cups her large breasts in his hands and takes one of her nipples into his mouth.
Darkness falls and ice frosts over the window, but they don't notice it – Harry is too busy slipping his fingers between his cousin's thighs for the first time – and the Dementors can't get through the blood wards. A Patronus soars down the street outside but Harry is too distracted by the way Rose arches her back and presses down on his fingers and cries out his name as she comes.
Harry's summer passes slowly. Long, languid days filled with studying and sly glances and shy smiles. The tension between them is electric, but somehow her parents don't notice it; there are times that Harry thinks that they have to – that they're too obvious, too infatuated – but they never do. They think Harry is too freakish to love, so that makes them blind to the not-casual touches and the lingering looks that heat the summer air.
(Rose has a smile like the Mona Lisa when she's got a secret, and Harry can't resist it. He starts kissing it away from her lips when he can, but that only makes it come back stronger than before.)
They learn to be quiet and to take advantage of the times Uncle Vernon goes to the pub and Aunt Petunia plays bridge with the neighbours. He never leaves hickeys where anyone will see them, but the marks he leaves on her inner thighs and the undersides of her breasts pay testament to a possessive streak he hadn't known he had.
The scratches on his back are a testament to her's.
A week before he has to return to Hogwarts, he's taken to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. It's Sirius' childhood home and it looks like the set of a horror film. (Elf heads on the walls, screaming portraits, boggarts in the cupboards and doxies in the curtains – it's a house full of shadows and secrets, and Harry surprises himself by liking it. He has a new appreciation for secrets these days.) He's roped into helping to clean it along with the other 'children' and not allowed to attend the meetings that are held in the kitchen.
There's a tapestry on the wall of the drawing room showing the Black family tree. Sirius' parents were first cousins. For the first time, Harry thinks that maybe he isn't such a freak after all.
Umbridge is vile and her presence will crumble Hogwarts from within. He ignores her snide comments and accusations, her pitiful lessons and Hermione's pleas to start an illegal Defence club in favour of writing to his girlfriend (cousin).
Smeltings is making Rose take Latin to GCSE, and he helps her with the translations.
When you leave school she writes what do you want to do?
See the world he replies. Be anywhere but here.
Take me with you?
He can't imagine leaving her behind when he leaves for good. (There will never be anyone else and he knows it.) So in between discussions of failing education systems and deponent verbs, they build castles in the air. Charity work in Cambodian orphanages, walking hand in hand on the Great Wall of China, riding elephants and rickshaws in India and Sri Lanka, and swimming in lagoons in Thailand.
Once they leave, there will be no need to hide anymore. They can be together properly and no one needs to know that their mothers were sisters. It will be paradise.
He dreams of Mr Weasley being bitten by a snake and saves the man's life. He's taken to Grimmauld Place early for Christmas, and sits in the kitchen with Sirius and the damp-eyed Weasleys all night waiting for news.
He thinks of Rose's latest letter and the possibility of turtle conservation as Ginny watches him hopefully. She's curled against one of the twins, but she'd move if he asked it of her. He doesn't. She's nice enough, but her crush borders on creepy and there's no real substance to her. She may as well be as intangible as his mother's ghost because that's all she'll ever be, though he'll never say it out loud.
He learns to hate that incantation, and hate Snape even more than he already did. Dumbledore had insisted on him learning Occlumency, but it soon turned out to be an excuse for Snape to torture him. Snape wants to humiliate him rather than help him (hasn't it always been that way?) and he looks for the most painful memories he can.
He watches Cedric crumple under green light hundreds of times, sees Rose tied to a column underwater, watches Quirrell turn to ash and a Basilisk rear over him. Again and again and again. He sees Voldemort rise and hears Tom Riddle's whispers ("We're so alike, you know.") and he sees the way Ginny Weasley watches him like he's prey.
The lessons devolve into a screaming match that leaves Harry without a teacher long before Snape can find the things Harry really wants to keep hidden. He doesn't see Rose and the way her lips curve into knowing smiles and her breasts spill over Harry's cupped hands because he's only looked for things that had hurt him. He doesn't hear her laugh or read her letters or taste chocolate on her tongue because even though he knows he shouldn't love her, he can never bring himself to regret it.
Harry knows that he's had a narrow escape, so he checks out a book on Occlumency from the library and practises it alone before he goes to bed every night. He builds his mindscape in the shape of the gazebo he and Rose once performed Hamlet in and hides his memories in spider webs and cracks in the wooden frame. It works better than Snape's lessons ever did, and his dreams of the corridor vanish, leaving him with fantasies of warmth and sunlight, soft lips and the powder-smell of fake roses.