A/N: This is for the Hogwarts Games: Freestyle 2000 plus in which I could write whatever I wanted. This pretty much sums up my headcanon about Rosmerta/Kingsley. Because they're awesome :D Parts of this I love and some parts I'm not too sure about. I was frustrated the whole time I was writing this and it shows, but this is one of those pieces that you just have to write no matter how it turns out... and I feel better for having done it. So... yea... apologies for the crazy long A/N. The End.

Neither of them saw it coming. Kingsley was just doing his job. And so was Rosmerta. But sometimes, things don't work out as planned. It was complicated and messy and not like a fairy tale at all. But in the end, they wouldn't have had it any other way

Rosmerta looked up as the bell above the door tinkled, signaling the arrival of a customer. She was surprise to see Kingsley Shacklebolt's shadow in the doorway. It was not unusual for him to be seen in the Three Broomsticks, but he only came with colleagues after work, and he never ordered anything. He wouldn't even accept a butterbeer no matter how many times Rosmerta offered him one.

This visit however, was clearly one of business. And when Kingsley had business, he meant business. Even she knew that.

He perched himself on a stool and on closer inspection, Rosmerta could tell that he was exhausted. He set a pile of posters on the counter in front of him and gave her a warm smile. She smiled back and motioned that she would be right with him. She set a firewhiskey in front of her current customer a few stools away and did her best to ignore the way he stared at her breasts. He grunted his thanks and she managed to wait until her back was turned to roll her eyes. When she returned to where Kingsley was sitting she couldn't help but appreciate the fact that he met her gaze instead of ogling her.

He tapped the stack of posters in front of him. "I assume you've heard about Sirius Black's escape from Azkaban?" he asked.

Rosmerta nodded and looked down at the poster on top. It featured a manic-looking picture of the escaped prisoner and even upside down, it was disturbing. She picked one up and inspected it closer and she decided that right side up was little improvement.

"That's all I've been hearing about the last couple of days." She handed the paper back to him.

He cleared his throat and continued in his deep, reassuring voice. "I've been instructed to have these posted all over the village. Also…" He paused and she immediately took notice. It wasn't like him to hesitate and the look on his face told her he was struggling with being the bearer of bad news. He sighed and finished his sentence. "The Ministry is ordering that Dementors be stationed in Hogsmeade until Black is caught."

Rosmerta shuddered at this information and quickly grabbed a nearby rag to scrub the counter with. She was agitated now and she needed to clean something. She attempted to come up with an appropriate reaction but all she could say was an emphatic "No!"

Kingsley nodded his understanding. "I don't like it either, but it's out of my hands, I'm afraid."

She continued to scrub and huffed her frustration. "I can't believe the Ministry thinks it's a good idea to let those filthy creatures roam free. No good can come of it."

"If it helps, the Ministry also wants an official stationed in the village at night. Your establishment would make an excellent post, so, with your permission, I'll ask my Department head to assign an Auror to stand guard by the door."

Kingsley made to get up and gathered the stack of posters into his arms. He still wore his usual stoic expression, but there was a hint of smugness that played about his mouth that Rosmerta could not ignore. She raised her eyebrows and crossed her arms. "That depends. Who might that Auror be?"

He shrugged before getting up and heading for the door. He then flashed a rare grin over his shoulder "Me."

"In that case, permission granted."

He waved a hand in farewell and walked out. And as much as she hated girls who swooned she had to grip the counter hard to maintain an upright position. The customer she'd waited on earlier grunted loudly and banged his glass on the bar. "What's a bloke gotta do to get your attention, missy?"

Rosmerta felt her face glow red but she pulled herself together, rolled her eyes and took away his glass. "You're cut off, arsehole. Get out."

Kingsley arrived promptly at sunset the next day along with several Dementors. The cloaked figures glided eerily down the street and their presence cast a depressing gloom over the entire village. Rosmerta was grateful that Kingsley had chosen The Three Broomsticks as his post.

He sat in the corner and cast a Patronus to pace the windows and while it helped cheer up the atmosphere inside, the knowledge of what was outside was enough to scare Rosmerta's customers away. She decided to close up around eleven and sat down across from Kingsley.

They fell into this routine quite easily. Sometimes they talked and sometimes they were content to sit in silence. Rosmerta often made fun of the fact that he didn't drink and stated that he should loosen up a little. He would always come up with a dry retort and make her blush by telling her the things he observed while he sat in the corner. He would tell stories about the men at the bar who stared at her arse when she wasn't looking and she would respond by throwing a rag at his face before heading up to bed. On nights when the Dementors were particularly restless, he would send his Patronus after her.

It was an odd friendship built on sarcasm and making the best of things. And when the Minister came in one night cursing about hippogriffs and Sirius Black and something about Harry Potter, Rosmerta was torn between happiness at the news that the Dementors would be leaving and disappointment that Kingsley wouldn't be there the next night.

Except he was.

Rosmerta grabbed a rag and began to scrub down the counter, marveling at how busy the night had been. The removal of the Dementors meant that business was booming again and she could hardly remember how she'd been able to manage the place by herself before. She sat down on a stool and wiped her brow. She looked over to the corner, out of habit, only to find that the seat was not empty as she supposed it would be. Kingsley sat watching her with a mischievous glint in his eye. She slid into the booth and crossed her arms.


He smirked. "You seem surprised to see me," he said, always the observant one.

"I just thought you would be doing something else since your services as Auror are no longer required."

He shrugged. "I enjoy your company."

"I enjoy your company too," Rosmerta said. "It's been ages since a sober man has told me that." She quickly looked away from him and pretended to take a particular interest in the stray cat across the street. She shook her head in embarrassment. "That was…I…sorry."

Kingsley just smiled and got up from his seat. She immediately regretted her statement, thinking that she had been too forward, or that what she'd said had been awkward. However, he did not seem put off by her admission. Instead, he came to lean over her and studied her face. "You're tired," he said. "You should go to bed. And I have work tomorrow." With that he pressed a chaste kiss to her forehead before heading for the door, leaving her blushing and speechless and wondering why.

One night during one of Kingsley's visits he cast his Patronus and used it to send a message to Dumbledore up at the castle. Rosmerta watched in fascination and when he was finished her gaze followed the lynx as it took off down the cobbled street.

"Can you teach me how to do that?" she asked.

"Of course. Everyone should learn how to make a Patronus. You never know when you'll need it."

He came to stand behind her and gently held her wand hand straight out. It probably wasn't necessary, but Rosmerta was definitely not complaining. She tried to conceal the fact that she was practically melting into a puddle on the floor, and either Kingsley was not as perceptive as she hoped an Auror would be or he was sweet enough to ignore it. In any case, he continued to instruct her on proper spell-casting posture and while she didn't make what he called a 'corporeal' Patronus, she was quite proud of her progress.

It took a couple of weeks to finally make one that wasn't just a few wisps of white mist. She was taken aback when the silvery shadow came bursting out of her wand and took the form of a lynx. It looked just like Kingsley's Patronus, though hers was a bit smaller. It jumped around on one of the tables and Kingsley nodded his approval from where he was sitting on a stool.

Rosmerta considered it thoughtfully and decided she should point out the obvious, seeing as she knew he wouldn't. "Are they always a lynx? Or is that a coincidence?"

Kingsley's reply was unusually cryptic. "I don't believe in coincidences." He cast his own Patronus and it went to over to join hers. Then, he got up and came to stand behind her, leaning down to whisper in her ear. "Happy thoughts...What were you thinking about?"

She could feel his smug smile against her neck and she knew there was no sense in denying what he already knew. His closeness was intoxicating and therefore she couldn't dwell on his uncanny ability to make her confess things she would normally never say. All she could do was swallow hard, before looking over her shoulder to meet his eye. "You."

He wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her against him and brushed her lips with his. "Like I said, I don't believe in coincidences."

The year of the Triwizard Tournament was a long one. Rosmerta was overwhelmed, mostly with the foreign students who were able sneak down to the village and grab a drink. Task Days were especially busy and it was all she could do to keep up. But while her days were long, Kingsley was almost always there at the end of them to keep her sane.

Until one day, he wasn't.

It wasn't entirely unusual for him to have to work a night shift at the Ministry. It wasn't as though he came to the bar every single night. But for some reason, Rosmerta could sense that the night of the Third Task was different.

She hadn't gone to join the crowd up by the castle; the Tournament had not really interested her. She preferred to enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet. But not long after sunset, it was clear from the screams in the distance that something was terribly wrong and she knew that Kingsley would not be coming to see her that night. She did receive a Patronus message from him though, and while his deep, reassuring voice was comforting to hear, his tone suggested that he would not be bearing good news the next time he came in.

And when she finally saw him again a week later, her suspicions were confirmed. He was obviously weary and careworn and his voice was emotionless as he said things she knew he didn't really mean.

"I can't come here anymore."

"You mean you can't see me anymore."

"I don't want you involved."

"Involved in what?"

"If I told you, then you would be involved, wouldn't you? Suffice it to say, it's better if we wait until this is all over."

"Until what's all over?"

"You'll see."

With that, he'd left without a backward glance and Rosmerta scrubbed her counter with angry tears for hours. In the weeks that followed, she did see. There was no doubt that You-Know-Who had returned and knowing Kingsley, he wasn't going to stand by while the Ministry foolishly tried to deny it. She knew he was close enough with Dumbledore that he was most likely up to something more than working longer hours at the office.

Despite his insistence that it was better if he didn't come around anymore, he couldn't stay away. His visits were months apart, and he looked more exhausted every time she saw him. However, there was no huddling in the corner, no sarcastic exchanges. It was heated, and a little angry and always ended up with him in her bed at night. And she was always alone when she woke up.

She didn't resent him. Deep down, she knew that he was just being infuriatingly noble. She knew that it was best that he stayed away from her for the time being. She knew that he was right. Or so she kept telling herself, thinking that perhaps if she repeated it enough, she would believe it.

It turned out that it was a good idea in theory only.

We were wrong.

It was one of the last conscious thoughts she had before she fell into the dreamy state of blissful unawareness. It was the one thought that would invade her dreams at night when she wasn't wondering where that bottle of mead had got to or whether the nice girl knew where that necklace had come from.

And it was the first thing she said when she finally woke up.

Dumbledore's funeral had gathered quite a crowd and after it was over, many of those who did not wish to attend the feast in the Great Hall had come to the Three Broomsticks to drink their sorrows away. Rosmerta watched the last of her customers leave and as soon as the door closed she grabbed a rag and began to scrub the counter hard. She scrubbed until her fingers bled, at which point she threw the rag against the wall and sat down on a stool with her head in her hands.

She felt hot tears slide down her face and she didn't do anything to stop them. She'd cried the last three days and while most people would start to think that they would run of tears to cry eventually, Rosmerta knew that this was simply not true. It was the only thing to do after the Imperius curse was lifted and she realized the Auror standing over her was not Kingsley. Tonks had done her best to console her, but she didn't understand. Not really.

Just as this thought was going through her head, the bell above her door tinkled and she knew who it was without having to look. And when she did, all the anger she hadn't taken out on the counter came bursting out of her like accidental magic.

"You!" She pointed an accusing finger at Kingsley. He didn't respond; he could only stand guiltily in the middle of the room. He briefly met her eyes and it was clear that he was here to apologize, but the words wouldn't come. Because he knew he deserved what she did next.

She swiftly made her way around the bar and came to stand before him, breathing hard from the exertion because every move she made lately was a chore. She supposed it was the effect of being controlled by someone else for too long. All the words she wanted to say fought each other on the way out her mouth until she finally gave up trying to make coherent sentences and used her fists instead. She punched his chest once and he didn't try to stop her. He probably didn't even feel it, but Rosmerta didn't care. She beat his chest some more and he took it gracefully, like he did everything else and that pissed her off too.

"You son of a bitch! Imperiused… Dumbledore… woke up… you… weren't… there!" She ceased her assault and backed away into a table which she used to steady herself. "You weren't there," she repeated.

Kingsley nodded. "I know. I'm sorry."

Rosmerta snorted in disgust. "You're sorry…"

"Yes! I'm sorry, all right?! I fucked up!" He went over to his usual corner table and sat down with his hands folded. "I fucked up and there's nothing I can do to change that. But I'm not going anywhere. I'll stay right here all night if I have to. I promise. I'm not going anywhere."

With that, he refused to look in her direction again and set his gaze on the street outside. His jaw was set and she knew there was no sense in arguing. There had been no begging for forgiveness, no professions of love and faithfulness. That wasn't his style and despite everything, Rosmerta loved him for it. She didn't say so, though; she refused. Instead she turned on her heel and headed for the stairs leading up to her quarters on the second floor. "Stubborn arse!"

True to his word, Kingsley was still sitting in the corner when she came downstairs the next morning. They didn't speak, but it was okay because the silence wasn't angry anymore and neither of them wanted to ruin it. He nodded in farewell and left for work and afterward, he came back and sat in the corner all night once more. He continued to do this for days until Rosmerta realized she truly was in love with most stubborn man on the planet and he would not sleep if she didn't give in. So one night, instead of going up to bed, she poured them both a butterbeer, despite the fact that he probably wouldn't drink it.

"You really are a stubborn arse, you know that?" she said quietly as she sat down next to him.

Kingsley smirked. "Yeah… well…" He trailed off and shook his head to indicate the end of the sentence wasn't important.

"So, what happens now?"

He put an arm around her. "We do what we always do, love. We figure things out as we go along."

She couldn't help but laugh at that. "We'll kill each other."

"Not if we learn from our mistakes. I know I learned from mine. I'm not going anywhere." He held her closer and kissed her forehead. "Forgive me?"

"Only if you forgive me for beating the shit out of you."

"Ha! You couldn't beat the shit out of me even if you tried."

Normally Rosmerta would have kept the argument going. However, she held up her drink. "To learning from mistakes."

He surprised her by picking up his own glass. "To being a stubborn arse."

It definitely wasn't a fairy tale. In fairy tales, there is no need for butterbeer-flavored forgiveness and they don't end in uncertainty. But Kingsley wasn't really royalty and neither was Rosmerta. And in spite of everything, they wouldn't have had it any other way.