[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 Weasley normally liked Hogsmeade trips.
“Normally” being the operative word here, because today she was finding herself – to put it mildly – bored to death.
She was not the sort of girl who had a lot of friends. Rose had the sort of easy-going personality that meant she rarely rubbed anyone the wrong way, but apart from Albus Potter (who was also her cousin), Martin Lovegood and Elk Moose, she didn’t think there was anyone at Hogwarts she was particularly close to.
And all the three boys had ditched her today. Albus had managed to get himself a detention with Professor Flitwick, Martin Lovegood was down with a cold (for the fifth time that year) and Elk Moose, who was trying out for the Hogwarts Wizard Chess team, insisted he needed to practice his game against Nearly Headless Nick, the all-England Ghost Champion.
She kicked moodily at a Butterbeer cork that was lying on the road and pulled her cloak tighter around herself as she made her way from the Hogsmeade branch of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes (where she had dropped by to say hello to her Uncle George) towards the Shrieking Shack. It was a quiet road – few people voluntarily went in the direction of the Shack even in these peaceful times – and that suited her frame of mind rather well.
She scowled as a group of Hogwarts students – third year, she guessed – passed her going in the opposite direction. She did not know them, but it was one of those days when Rose felt like scowling at people on principle.
She walked on, with no particular idea of where she wanted to go, which she thought faintly ironic because she had no particular idea where she wanted to go in her life as well. She sighed as a gust of winter wind blew open her cloak again, and pulled it closer around herself, wondering why she even bothered going to Hogsmeade in the first place. Even if she thought about it, she never came up with a better answer than “Because I can”. She had the permission slip to go to Hogsmeade, so she went. At least it gave her some respite from the chattering first and second-years who took over the common room with the older students out of the way.
Her Aunt Ginny had told her she ‘brooded’ too much, and Rose thought that was not entirely untrue. She did tend to think too much about everything, except her studies, which meant she languished pretty much near the bottom of every class. That made life even harder, somehow. All the teachers had been ecstatic to see her when she had first made it to Hogwarts, close on five years earlier. She remembered the day well. Travelling in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express with the Potter brothers, being ferried to the castle in boats over the Great Lake and taken to the Entrance Hall. Then the sorting – the Sorting Hat had put her in Gryffindor almost instantaneously (as her father had predicted it would) and she had walked over to the first table on the left to loud cheering, where she joined the Potters and various Weasley cousins.
That was pretty much the high point of my school career, thought Rose grimly as she took a path that forked off from the road towards a little copse where she liked to sit and do her sketches. Rose was quite a gifted artist, drawing praise from Professor Longbottom (or ‘Uncle Neville’ as she always thought of him) who had compared her sketches favourably with the ones his friend Dean Thomas, now one of the most famous portrait artists in Europe used to do at her age. True, it seemed to be the only thing she was gifted at, which was the beginning of her trouble. For, as she found out in her first week at Hogwarts, she was not just Rose Weasley. She was Hermione Granger’s daughter, and that took some living up to.
Her mother was the most amazing woman Rose had ever known. She was also the most intimidating. Passionate, brilliant and ambitious, Hermione Granger-Weasley was already the youngest member of the Wizengamot, headed the Department for Co-operation with Magical Creatures and was seen as someone who would go on to even greater deeds. Which is all very well, groaned Rose as she found a tree-stump where she deposited a few pencils and rolled-up pieces of parchments, except that everyone expects me to be her clone. And I’m not – I’m not Hermione Granger-Weasley.
Every teacher expected her to top their class “just like your mother used to”. They had all unfailingly said as much in the first class she had of each subject, and she had, just as unfailingly, managed to disappoint them. I suppose I do all right in Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures, thought Rose, unrolling a sketch she had made the previous week. She gazed at it speculatively for a moment. It was a sketch of a snowball fight that she had witnessed from the window of her dormitory in Gryffindor Tower. She made a few minor changes, wielding her pencil with the delicacy of a paintbrush. A few stray strands of brown hair fell over her forehead, which she brushed away. Completely uncontrollable hair had to be the one thing I inherited from her, she thought irritably. She looked more like her Muggle Grandma Jane than either of her parents, and was grateful for that, at least. Grandma Jane had been rather good-looking in her youth and even now was a handsome woman. Rose knew that her mother and grandmother did not get along as well as they should, but that had never affected the relations between her and the sprightly old woman.
Rose glanced up. She thought she heard voices – and not being the sort of person who generally heard voices in her head, she concluded that there were people around. She pushed herself to her feet and started putting away her pencils. She hated people seeing her work before it was finished. Who the hell could it be? I thought I was the only person who came to this place.
She had just about finished putting her parchments back into her cloak when she realised the voices were growing fainter, not louder. So someone was going past the copse, outside the village, towards the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Idle curiosity drove her to walk towards the sounds, wondering who it was going towards the Forest on this cold January evening. She had only walked a few minutes when she saw two figures ahead of her, one man and one woman, both dressed in warm woollen coats and fur caps. The man definitely looked familiar. She followed at a safe distance, though the snow on the ground meant that her footsteps were muffled enough to prevent her from being heard.
“Yes, it has been a while, hasn’t it,” she heard the man say. She allowed herself a little gasp – she knew that voice only too well.
What’s Uncle Neville doing here?
The duo walked slowly, making their way around the small birch trees that formed the periphery of the Forest. Though she couldn’t make out who was accompanying the Professor, she guessed it was a woman from the slim figure and the flashes of silky black hair that were visible under the thick cap.
Her curiosity, a powerful beast at the best of times, was piqued. Uncle Neville’s wife Hannah, she knew fully well, was a blonde. So what was he doing walking around in the snow with a strange black-haired woman?
“So it has…I don’t think I’ve seen you or Harry or anyone from the D.A. in more than three years now,” said Neville’s companion, her voice confirming Rose’s suspicion that she was a woman.
“Well, it’s been a peaceful few years -” shrugged Neville, “ - which is all the better for the world in general.”
“So what’s changed now?”
“I could tell you what I know, but it isn’t much. Better to wait until we reach the meeting point.”
“And who are we meeting exactly?”
“You’ll find out,” said Neville in an amused voice.
“You’re not going to tell me no matter what I say, are you?” said the woman.
“No, I’m not, but trust me, it will be worth it.”
They walked on a while longer in silence, Rose still following behind. Years of sneaking around the school corridors at night had taught her the art of moving without being heard. Of course, their nightly excursions usually ended with Elk erupting into an enormous sneeze which meant they had to scurry for the closest means of cover while Filch and Mrs. Norris marched up and down the hallways looking for the perpetrators of the villainy.
“So how’s things at the school then, Neville? Harry and Hermione’s kids must be at Hogwarts now, mustn’t they?”
“Them and everyone else’s,” agreed Neville. “Except people like us, of course.”
“At least you ARE married,” said the woman with a light, musical laugh, “and not a basket case like me!”
“Oh come on, Parvati, you’re anything but a basket case. You just chose a different lifestyle.”
“We’ve been thinking of adopting though,” said Parvati, in a more serious tone, “so that’s something to look forward to. Probably after I retire from the ramp.”
They continued to walk for a few minutes until they arrived at a small hillock. She had been too engrossed to notice where they were going, but as the pair ahead of her began climbing towards what looked like the opening to a cave, she realised that she was not far from the legendary cave where Sirius Black, at the time a notorious fugitive had hidden while her Uncle Harry had been a student at Hogwarts.