[This is a work of ‘fanfiction’, essentially a tribute to the world created by JK Rowling. No infringement of copyright is intended, and neither is any commercial exploitation.]
Rose stopped where she was, looking at the pair begin the easy climb up the hill. The tree cover was behind her; she could not follow them further without coming out into the open and being seen. The snowfall had almost covered the mouth of the cave as well, with only a tiny brown ledge marking the entrance. They were surrounded by trees on all sides, which meant this was quite an isolated place. Rose backed behind a large pine, cursing softly to herself as she realised that Neville and his companion were now out of earshot. She did not have any illusions about being able to cast an invisibility charm on herself – her magical prowess was rather limited by ability and a lack of academic rigour. No, what the situation demanded was an invisibility cloak, and the only one in Hogwarts she was aware of, belonged to – and was often used by – her cousin James Potter.
The woman, Parvati, had now taken off her cap and Rose caught sight of her face as she laughed at some remark that Neville had passed. Rose thought she looked vaguely familiar, but couldn't place her exactly.
‘May have visited our home sometime,’ she thought. ‘Though I don’t quite remember that happening either.’
The duo continued towards the cave, soon reaching almost to the entrance where they stopped and took a look around. Rose wondered what they were about, when the silence around her was shattered by a loud CRACK. She had heard it often enough to know someone had apparated and darted backwards into the trees, hoping the person had not appeared too close to her. A series of similar sounds followed, leading Rose to take to her heels in fright. She kept running until she was sure she was too far to be easily seen and then dived behind a small elevation. At least half-a-dozen people had joined Neville and Parvati – she couldn't see them clearly, but the flash of red hair was definitely her Aunt Ginny – no one else she knew had quite that shade of hair! ‘The man accompanying her must be Uncle Harry,’ she reasoned. ‘What are they doing here?’
Then she caught a glimpse of what looked like a very loud tablecloth in shades of orange and yellow and couldn't help emitting a small groan.
“Dad!” she muttered. No one else she knew had such an astoundingly terrible taste in clothes, except perhaps her grandfather Arthur on those all-too-frequent occasions when he chose to wear Muggle clothing.
Her mind was flying at a furious pace. ‘What are they doing here? They must all be here, the old gang of Dad and Mom and Uncle Harry. No doubt the others included the usual suspects from all those years ago. Mrs. Katie Strang, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan from the radio show– and that girl with Uncle Neville must be Parvati Patil, Mom's old friend who became a model.’
She began to edge further backwards as more figures apparated in the clearing. It wasn't as though she felt she was doing anything wrong, but somehow Rose didn't feel like being 'found' eavesdropping – or even peeking – at a gathering that included her mother. In fact she decidedly had a strong dislike to being found so far from Hogwarts even on a Hogsmeade weekend. She was rather too close to the edge of the Forbidden Forest and given her mother's outlook on rule-breaking, Rose had no intention of being spotted there. ‘Which is rather hypocritical,’ she thought, when you consider how many she must've broken in her time.’
She was too far and moreover, at the lower end of a gradient, which meant she could no longer even see the gathering. There seemed to be no way to know what was going on unless she got closer and this she had no intention of doing. Rose shook her head dejectedly and turned to walk back towards the village when her eye caught sight of the unmistakable sight of a broomstick above her. She quickly dived near the roots of a nearby tree, hoping to be concealed. The ruse seemed to work, because the rider continued on his or her course without a break.
‘Probably one of them who still hasn't quite got the hang of apparation,’ she reasoned, and stepped cautiously back into the open. To her surprise, the flier had stopped well short of the cave. She could see her – it was evidently a 'her' – silhouette quite clearly as she dismounted the broomstick and shook some flakes of ice off her robes. She was of about medium height, with long black hair. Rose retreated cautiously behind the tree and peered out. Then something happened that made her drop her jaw in alarm. The woman who had landed changed before Rose's very eyes into the splitting image of her Uncle George!
‘What the hell is going on here! Polyjuice? No, I didn't see her drink anything. Or is Uncle George disguising himself as a woman? No, that's ridiculous, besides, he can Apparate perfectly well. This woman is an impostor. Is she a Metamorphagus like Teddy Lupin?’
Rose stamped her foot in frustration as the woman passed over the edge of the slope and out of sight. For a moment she considered running on ahead and trying to warn her family by shouting, but dismissed the thought. ‘I'd have to run past that woman, and if she is dangerous, which I'm pretty sure she must be, she'd AK me without a second thought before I could get a word out of my mouth. She's here to spy on...damn it, of course! D.A! Parvati said she hadn't met anyone from the D.A. in over 3 years. That stands for Dumbledore's Army – Mom and Dad and Uncle Harry started it back when they were in Hogwarts and fighting Lord Voldemort.’
Rose knew that after Voldemort's defeat the D.A. had officially disbanded, but there were rumours that they still met and acted as an unofficial safekeeping force. Rumours strong enough to lead to her being asked, several times, by her schoolmates whether those legends of the Battle of Hogwarts still assembled at her home. Rose always answered in the negative, but she had never been quite sure. Until now, that is.
She looked around, a sense of desperation creeping over her. Then her eye fell upon the branches of the tree behind which she was hiding. It had been years since she had tried anything of the sort, but she figured one never quite forgot how to climb a tree. If she could get high enough, she might at least be able to see what was going on, even if she couldn't hear any of it.
Without thinking too much about it, she slipped out of her jacket, dropping it at the foot of the tree. Finding a foothold was the work of a moment – Rose was about fifteen feet up the tree in a matter of seconds. She could see the group well enough now. The imposter George Weasley had joined the rest and seemed to be exchanging pleasantries with them. She could make out nearly fifteen different figures. She craned her neck forward, trying to get a better glimpse – and then, to her great disappointment, Rose saw the figures disappear as, one by one, they entered the cave – first her father, taking his monstrous coat with him, then her mother with her busy gait, then the ever graceful Aunt Ginny closely followed by the measured step of Uncle Harry. ‘Damn, damn, damn! What's the point of scratching my hands and scraping my knees to get all the way up here if they are going to –‘
“I say, Weasley, trying to get back to your simian roots?”
The clear voice broke into her consciousness like the sound of shattering glass. The startled girl lost her grip and then her balance, falling freely onto the soft snow beneath. She raised herself to her knees with some difficulty, relieved to find nothing seemed to be much hurt and looked up to stare into a familiar pair of steel grey eyes.
“Malfoy!” she said in a muffled growl. “What on earth are you doing here?”
“I...err.” For a moment the boy seemed to be facing an internal struggle. Then, he spoke as one who has just made up his mind about something. “I was following you.”
“And why, in the name of all that's rotten, were you following me, you...you stalker!”
“It's not like that!” Scorpius Malfoy said hastily, “I was hanging around outside Weasleys' shop you know, thinking of this and that when I saw you coming out. So, well, I remembered I had something to give you so I followed but you were going too fast for me to catch up...”
“Give me what? Not a rose I hope – like you tried last year on Valentine's Day?”
“What? No! You made it pretty clear you didn't want me to get upto 'any of that nonsense' as you put it.”
“And why didn't you just call out instead of following me? Would've saved you a lot of time.”
“I didn't want to draw attention, Rose! I just wanted to give you your cousin James' invisibility cloak!”
“What are you doing with it?”
“He dropped it in the Astronomy tower last night,” said the boy resentfully, “I happened to pick it up, that's all. Oh, and before you ask me why I don't return to him directly, you know that neither of the Potter brothers would let me come within twenty feet of them without hexing me from here to Newcastle.”
“You do have a point there,” said Rose, sympathetically. “Well, hand it over!”
Scorpius reached into his satchel and pulled out the shimmering fabric.
“Quid pro quo, Weasley...I want something in return.”
“Don't be an ass, Malfoy. I'm not going to kiss you,” said Rose, impatient and irritated by now. ‘How long will this idiot dilly-dally? I need that cloak now! Who knows what will have happened back there while I've been pow-wowing with this pain in the arse?’
“I never said that's what I wanted, Weasley! Just a...date? Maybe?”
“Don't be ridiculous either. Hand it over and go away.”
“Rose!” he said in a pleading tone, but he pushed the cloak towards her.
“What about tea with my cousin Estelle Greengrass? I can be the uninvited guest.”
“Oh, for crying out loud, Malfoy!” an exasperated Rose exclaimed. “Fine, I'll invite Estelle to join Martin, Elk and me for tea by the lake tomorrow. But don't hold me responsible if Albus shows up.”
“Deal!” said Scorpius, his face lighting up and relinquished his grip on the cloak.
She grabbed it from him, picked up her own coat and took off towards the cave.
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