Rose sighed and sat down on the hard ground, legs crossed and leaning forward as she stared at the graves.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
She read the epitaph and snorted to herself. And here I thought we were all supposed to greet death like an old friend.
Rose honestly hated the words carved over the final resting place of her parents. James and Lily Potter hadn't fought and died in a war just to go up against death itself, they'd fought in a war because people had been dying left, right and centre. They'd gone into hiding with her because they'd wanted Rose to be happy and safe. They'd secluded themselves in Godric's Hollow with the intention of living to fight another day.
They'd sacrificed themselves just so that Rose could live.
She knew this for a fact. She knew that her dad had deliberately stayed behind – all the while knowing that he hadn't had a chance against Voldemort – so that Lily could retreat with Rose to the nursery. That particular room in Rose's first home was a place which showcased just how powerful Lily Potter nee Evans had been in life. Not to mention just how calculated.
To this day, Rose's nursery was still covered from floor to ceiling with runes painted in blood. They were all over the room, and all anchored around one specific focal point – Rose's crib, as chosen by her mother. Lily had delved deep into some truly illegal magic after her marriage to James, spurred on by the collection of Dorea's personal books that she'd taken from Black Manor years earlier. After all, what was the point of having the ability to protect your loved ones if you didn't exercise it?
Lily had exercised it. She'd dived so far into esoteric and obscure magics that had long been outlawed, all in an attempt to save their family and friends. After James' parents had died, Lily had set aside all of her previous hesitations; no longer had anything appeared to be too dark or heinous for the budding Charms Mistress who'd only wanted to save her family.
The new Potter matriarch had eventually stumbled across sacrificial magics, and she'd discovered a way to save someone's life that was rather firmly in the camp of black magic. Sacrificial magic wasn't illegal when it was carried out by a person on themselves – it was rather difficult to prosecute someone who was dead, after all – however magics that relied on blood, or those that worked in altering the soul, would undoubtedly earn the practitioner a one-way trip to Azkaban. A rather useful deterrent for most.
Not for Lily Potter.
Rose knew from her mother's portrait that, while Lily has a healthy respect for the subject of Divination as a whole, she also disparages prophecies and everything related to them. This opinion hadn't even been born from the prophecy about Rose, ironically enough, but more because little Lily Evans had been an avid reader who'd already had certain preconceived ideas thanks to the infamous tale of Oedipus.
Hearing about her only child becoming a target simply because of a subjectivity-based proclamation had completely done away with any hesitation that Lily might have had back then. She'd come to the conclusion that, if nobody else would be able to protect Rose, then she would, even if she had to run and jump over the lines of legality she'd previously only toed with clear reluctance.
And so the ritual began.
Lily's entire life force had been the fuel for everything, as long as she was killed within that particular room. Once Voldemort had taken out Rose's mother, a part of Lily's very self had been collected by the runes and forcibly attached to Rose. Lily's blood was in the room, and Rose was her blood daughter. Like attracted like, after all. Blood recognised blood.
The part of Lily attached to Rose had been akin to a physical shield, sacrificing itself when Voldemort had turned his wand on infant Rose that fateful Halloween. That part of her mother within Rose had been comprised of two layers however, and only the first had keen destroyed by the Killing Curse. The second had been Rose's physical protection growing up, ensuring that Voldemort wouldn't be able to touch her at all without great cost to himself (up until the resurrection, anyway). Lily had saved Rose.
By essentially making a Horcrux.
It still baffled Rose to this day. Lily had allowed a part of her very soul to be sacrificed to the runes in Rose's nursery, and her lingering magic within the runes had aligned themselves with Rose because of the connection between a mother and her child. She'd more or less done what Voldemort would go on to do not more than a few minutes later, however Rose's mother had carried out this plan with the express intention to relinquish that part of her soul for the sake of her own daughter.
The small fraction of Lily's soul had attached itself to Rose with the sole purpose of being the thing to be killed in place of Rose, as had been Lily's plan from the get-go. The soul fragment would serve as the true victim to the Killing Curse, reflecting the vile spell back onto its caster, thereby allowing Rose's soul to remain unharmed and keep her alive despite the impossible circumstances.
While that was happening, the abnormal amount of magic hovering around the place – collected by some of the runes from around the room – had coalesced into an internal shield that latched onto Rose that would go on to protect her against the one who tried to kill her that night. Lily had accounted for the possibility that Voldemort might not fully die that night – no doubt fuelled by her knowledge of Horcruxes and her recent research – and ensured that Rose would be as protected as much as possible if she were to face him again later on
Her mother had been a genius, and nothing would convince Rose otherwise.
She looked around the graveyard, and upon noticing she was alone, quickly conjured some statice flowers and yellow zinnias.* She placed them at the centre of her parents' graves, feeling yet another twinge of anger at the thought of them laid to rest in this place. At least she was in the process of getting the cottage here back under her sole ownership, and preparing to move Lily and James to the family crypt at The Pottery.
To be entirely honest, having the Potters buried here and closing down the cottage were some of the only decent things Dumbledore had done, as much as it pained Rose to admit. Just as Cygnus had needed to be buried at Black Manor with his kin there to do the deed, Rose's parents hadn't been able to be interred at the family manor without someone of Potter blood to direct the ceremony. Meaning Rose herself.
She'd been far too young at the time, and she wouldn't have had the necessary magical ability until she reached eleven, anyway. Of course, the esteemed former headmaster hadn't let on after that time anyway because of needing to sacrifice her for 'the greater good'. Arsehole.
The woman closed her eyes and took a deep breath, exhaling slowly as she forced herself to acknowledge how Dumbledore had saved her family's reputation, even if he'd fucked her over in a myriad of other ways. Rose opened her eyes and fixed her gaze on her mother's name. Lily Potter.
It pissed her off that so many people in their society only saw the dead witch as the woman in relation to others. She'd been James Potter's wife. She'd been the mother of Rose Potter. She'd sacrificed herself so that The-Girl-Who-Lived could move forward.
It was such a fucking joke.
Lily had been Lily Evans long before becoming Lily Potter, yet it seemed that nobody ever wanted to acknowledge that. The redhead had been an exceptional student, even attracting the attention of one of the most connected Slytherins in the school. She'd been on the verge of attaining a Mastery at a startlingly young age, and Rose knew from her mother's portrait that Lily had been approached more than once by The Department of Mysteries thanks to her magical abilities. (That fact might have influenced Rose's past career decisions. Just a little.)
Her mother had been a genius, both through innate ability and through hard work. The fact that Rose was still alive was a testament to Lily's expertise. Expertise which could also be seen if one only took a peek into Rose's nursery in the Potter cottage up the road.
Dumbledore had looked inside, and it was that moment that he'd done something genuinely decent for once. He'd locked down the entire house, preventing armies of Ministry employees and other seedy individuals from traipsing through the small home. Nobody ever got to see just how much Lily had spat in the face of their laws, and therefore the Potter family as a whole hadn't been thrown under the bus of derision.
Rose had been subject to the fickle nature of the media for years now, having first-hand experience with how a person could go from being deified to vilified at the drop of a hat. If the public had gotten wind of just what sort of magic Lily had used, there was every chance that her name would have been smeared by everyone and their mother. No matter that she'd saved her only child's life, the gossip rags that called themselves news outlets would have dragged Lily's name through the mud. A muggle-born, breaking their esteemed laws so callously? Had she had no faith in their acclaimed justice system? Clearly, she'd had no clue what she'd messed with.
Such revolting hypocrisy.
James' name wouldn't have suffered the same defamation, simply for the fact that he came from a respected pure-blood family, with no muggle blood to 'taint' his heritage. With how rampant blood purity had been during the war, it didn't surprise Rose how people had used selective vision to see the 'lesser' magicals committing such atrocious acts, yet the pure-bloods had, for the most part, remained shielded from the accusations.
By preventing anyone from bearing witness to her mother's irreverent magical experiments, Dumbledore had prevented Lily's memory from being demonised, which in turn had kept Rose's own reputation from being stained. It was something that Rose truly thanked the old man for.
Of course, there was the possibility that Dumbledore only kept quiet about the ritual because it would have been more difficult to manipulate Rose if everyone thought of Lily as some sort of heretic. Why would she have walked to her death for the sake of their society if they'd spent the past seven years slandering her mother's name?
Truthfully, Rose wanted to believe that the grandfatherly man had done this for the right reason. There was still part of her that respected him, and felt more disappointed than furious at his actions. It was hard to hate someone so much, to spend so much time spitting vitriol into her own mind whenever she thought of him.
Was he really a manipulative mastermind who disregarded everyone and everything for his own plans? Rose thought back to their interactions in the old timeline. She didn't think so. If anything, it was if he cared too much. He'd focused far too much on what he'd thought was the best course of action, embracing his own emotions to a horrifically detrimental degree. Why else would he have wanted to trust others after what happened in his early life, other than to change his own depressing narrative? His father, his mother, his sister, Grindelwald … He'd wanted things to be different.
Even if she didn't agree, Rose couldn't deny that she understood how he'd ended up as the ultimate chess-master.
She heaved a massive sigh and pulled out her hip-flask, taking a swig of the cheap cider she'd gotten from the village shop. It wasn't exactly a great thing to do, but Rose couldn't help but want to dull things without relying on her own special brand of mental gymnastics. Between things happening in the Wizengamot, her dad preparing for a baby that had never lived before in any of her memories, and the odd sense of dread permeating her mind recently, Rose just wanted to bury herself in something mindless for a week. Or more.
"You know, this year it'll be twelve years," she said conversationally. "Twelve years since you left. Or is that thirty-one? I've been in this time for two years already. I wonder, do you know that?" She tilted her head back, staring at the overcast sky. "Can you see me? How much does death transcend? Did you follow me back, or do you have absolutely no clue what sort of crap I'm going on about?" She snorted to herself. "You wouldn't be the only one. I live in my head, and even I couldn't tell you what was going on in there."
Rose took another sip and sighed at the slight burn in her stomach. Morphed or not, she was still in a body of a twelve-year-old. Alcohol wasn't something this body had ever consumed before. No doubt something that'll change in the future. She chuckled and eyed the headstone again, tilting her head to the side. It was rather underwhelming for something so final, she thought. You would have thought that an object specifically designed to remember life would be more alive, yet it was so … boring. How depressing.
"I've been messing around in the Wizengamot recently," Rose murmured quietly. "I know you'd probably think it was funny, Dad. A great prank or something, right? And Mum, you'd just roll your eyes and huff before giving me advice. A proper family activity."
She felt her eyes water and blinked away her tears, swallowing the lump in her throat. She didn't come here to cry and whine about how unfair her life was. Didn't you? Rose paused at the mental voice, wondering if she should be concerned that her mind was trying to play devil's advocate to itself. She had enough problems as it was.
Why did you come here? Was it just to update them? Be honest, if you were going to do that, you'd be at the manor talking to the portraits instead. But instead you chose to visit this place of death. So, what did you really want here? Why are you here?
She squeezed her eyes shut, fingers clenched into fists so much that her nails were cutting into her palms. So much for a grown woman who can deal with her problems herself.
"I miss you."
Her voice was quiet, a mere whisper drifting along with the wind around her. Her words wavered with the tremble in her throat, threatening to devolve into wordless cries and sobs. A few tears escaped as she embraced those words and sunk into the emotions, sunk into the despair that she'd been avoiding. Rose missed them so much.
"I know it doesn't make much sense, I mean, I never – I never even knew you as a daughter should know her parents, but I miss you so much. We missed out on so much," she murmured, crying silently as she stared at the names that mocked her very soul.
It was like, 'Look! Here's the parents you never got to have! Don't you want to say hello?' It was a slap in the face of every familial desire she'd ever had. It was a middle finger to the possibility of being raised by the two being who'd given her life. Remus and Sirius might be her parents now, but that didn't erase the fact that her birth father and mother had been ripped from her life just because of some madman's psychotic plans.
Her breath hitched as a sob tore its way out her mouth. Rose drew her knees up so she could wrap her arms around them, resting her head on the raised legs. Hiding her face from the outside world, she hid. She hid, just like the little girl she truly was. She hid, just like Rose had been doing ever since she was old enough to know it was necessary if she wanted to survive.
"It's not fair. It's not fair. It's not fair …" she kept repeating, over and over and over again. The muffled words wouldn't stop as she sunk farther into her grief, trapped by the many injustices of her life.
Going back in time was an accident, but it was supposed to have been an opportunity to fix everything she could, but as per fucking usual, her life was just one massive joke. Yet another way for Rose to ignore the truth, to turn away from her inescapable reality, to turn from the need to finally grow up.
She'd saved people, essentially stopped a war from happening, gotten countless murderers locked away, yet she was still sat here bawling her eyes out, all because Rose couldn't face her problems like a proper adult. Before she'd time travelled, Rose had been able to explain things away by referencing the war, the hordes of people who'd died, all of her ruined relationships, all of the objective disasters of their world.
But that wouldn't cut it anymore.
Andromeda had helped Rose's adult self as much as possible, but the woman hadn't been a miracle worker. Rose had hidden away, refusing to confront the true reality of her situation because of the truth that she'd have to face at the end of it all. No matter what, she would have come face-to-face with the fact that her family had been almost entirely destroyed for no real reason.
Even if Rose had accepted and dealt with her personal issues, there was never going to be any magical fix to anything. People had died, people had turned on her, people had been gone. There was no changing that.
Rose had changed so much, yet the one thing she wanted more than anything was nothing but a dream she could never attain.
"All I wanted was a family, you know? Ever since I found out you died for me, it felt like a part of me died too," she whispered to the gravestone, eyes locked on her parents' names. "There was never going to be anything I could do about that. I might build a family later, but you'll always be gone. All because someone wanted to kill me. Me, not you.
"I'm nothing but a coward." Rose sniffed, brushing a sleeve across her wet eyes. "All I ever do is run. Run and run away, as if distance is going to do anything. I ran from having to confront this loss. I didn't want to know, you know? I'm nothing like you. Dad, even before Voldemort, you faced yourself and changed because you realised what sort of path you were on. And Mum, you stood up to a society that threw prejudice at you from every direction all because of your blood.
"I can't tell if I'm more proud to be your daughter or ashamed."
Rose looked up at the sky, turning her face into the light drizzle that had just started. "I don't think I could ever fully convey how amazing it is to have such courageous people as your parents. Yet in that same vein, I can't help but feel like I'm letting you down by running all the time.
"Would you be as ashamed of me as I am?"
Her gaze dropped to her hands, and she watched as the Potter ring appeared on her pale finger. Rose wanted to scoff at the sight, or perhaps unravel into disturbing hysterics. Slip down into the swirling mess that was her emotional instability, sink into the unknown and fade away. The ring was nothing but a flashing sign proclaiming how much of a disaster her life was.
In a perfect world, Rose would giddily run off the Hogwarts Express, darting onto the platform and tackling her father in an irreverent approximation of a hug. James would laugh and joke with her, his arms wrapping around her frame and encasing her in a comforting warmth that seeped into every inch of her being. She would eventually pull back and see a glint of gold, admiring the Potter ring on his tanned hand. Perhaps Rose would be looking forward to wearing it in the future, proud of the knowledge that her father wanted her to have it. Perhaps she'd even be imagining a possible sibling bearing its responsibility, knowing that her own future lay elsewhere.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Story of my life.
"Do I even deserve this? Was it meant to be mine at all?" Rose mused to herself, blinking and ignoring her wet cheeks. "Potters don't have daughters, after all. I was simply … an anomaly. Was it a mistake, do you think?"
Rose closed her eyes and shook off that thought. Her headache was bad enough without introducing a discourse on the ingrained misogyny of their society into her mind. It was a path with no end, and she had no desire to embark on a fruitless journey in the midst of yet another existential crisis.
She took a deep breath and focused on the names once more. The woman could practically picture her parents right now, standing in front of her. Lily would be rolling her eyes, mock glaring at her husband as he said something idiotic yet again. Her green eyes would settle on Rose, a soft expression of love emanating from their bright depths. The look would be echoed by James' hazel orbs. Her father would send her a cheerful grin, an aura of a jokester through and through, but he'd gaze at her as if she was something precious to be protected by him. Loving and warm.
Was it wishful thinking? Was her imagination playing havoc? Was her subconscious that desperate for some form of relief?
Was she losing her mind? She had no idea.
Rose thought about the portraits hanging in the study in her manor, the way they always lit up whenever she walked into their line of sight. Portrait magic created an impression of their subjects that was perfectly accurate at the time they were made. Lily and James had had their portraits created just days before they'd died, hence Rose knew that their personalities were accurate representations of who Rose's parents had been all those years ago. Their thought patterns, their emotions, their individual perspectives, they were all real.
Including their love for Rose.
She let out a bitter laugh and wiped her face with her sleeve, shivering as the wind picked up around her. "Three cheers for childhood conditioning." She wasn't an idiot. Logically, Rose knew that her parents would love her for who she was, for what she'd done, but it was still difficult to ignore that snide little voice in the back of her mind. A little whisper murmuring in her ear that she was unworthy of such affection. A reminder of her younger years, memories of a small girl reaching out for any scrap of love only to be violently shoved away, jeering laughter echoing all around her. The hilarious sight of an unlovable little wretch even thinking that she deserved to treated like the other children.
Freaks aren't human, after all.
Rose pushed aside the unwanted mental souvenirs and sighed quietly. The truth was she was still a terrified child. Rather pathetic, isn't it? This fragile shell is your one and only child, Mum, Dad. I'm sorry, you know? I want to be the strong woman you think I am, but I've got a ways to go yet.
An understatement, if there ever was one. The Rose she'd been in the future had moved forward with life, all the while deliberately tethering herself to her traumatic past. No matter what she'd done, she hadn't ever really been able to move forward. She'd trapped herself.
Maybe that was Rose's true problem, the central issue at the core of her warped self. Rose had always looked over her shoulder, eyes zeroing in on what had come before, as if that was ever going to change things. The truth was, Rose was no more able to change the past than she was to predict the future. One opposite wasn't any easier than the other.
She paused and blinked her green eyes, suddenly laughing to herself, a surprised chuckle escaping her without conscious thought. Rose had developed herself as a witch and a Lady in so many ways. She'd grown leaps and bounds by disregarding the distinctions of black and white, ignoring absolutes and immersing herself in the murky depths of grey. Life didn't exist with only two options, and neither did magic.
Rose had learned far more than she'd ever expected by pushing aside the assumption that there was only ever going to be two options: good or bad. Life was far more layered than that.
Maybe that was what she'd been missing all this time. Rose had wanted to change, to look to the future and become a woman that her parents were proud of. Rose had wanted to honour the past, to keep hold of her defining past and never forget what had come before her. She'd gone back and forth, allowed herself to be pulled in two directions while walking in circles and arguing with the riddles in her own mind. How could she fix that?
She needed to stop thinking in absolutes.
The future was a path of murky uncertainty, but the past was nothing but shackles holding her in place. What she'd forgotten was that there was a third path to take – no path at all.
Rose closed her eyes and tilted her face up into the drizzling rain, smiling despite her racing thoughts. She needed to stop looking for what she should do, for where she should go, and instead move one step at a time.
Her biggest problem had always been trying to look in both directions at once, and instead losing sight of what was around her. Life had become a looping rollercoaster of emotions, tricking her into thinking there was a set destination, but always leading her back to the start, over and over again.
How many times had she missed the world around while trying to sprint into the future while carrying her mental baggage? How much had gone unseen in her disastrous attempts to run in two directions at once? Back and forth, past and future, one path or another …
The world wasn't comprised of a mere two options, and it was time for Rose Potter to remember that.
She stood up and grinned down at the graves, the feeling of melancholy giving way to all-encompassing gratitude. "Thank you. So much. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay the two of you, but that's not really the point, is it? It's not about repaying you, it's about living life," she said quietly, a bittersweet feeling in her chest. "You did everything so I could live, so I guess it's about time I started doing that for real."
Rose bent down and conjured a small slab of stone, carefully carving some words across the smooth surface and smiling to herself at the end result. She quickly added some runes on the back so the conjured item wouldn't vanish and placed the stone on the floor in front of the headstone.
The woman stood up and surveyed her work, ignoring the rain and simply enjoying the time with her parents. It wasn't as if she was suddenly free from all of her personal issues, or a brand new person with all the tools for a perfect life, but Rose felt somewhat unburdened for the first time in years.
Things weren't going to be easy in her life in any way, not now, nor in the future, but the least she could do was stop trying to hold onto the past and the future at the same time, and simply appreciate the present for what it offered. After all these years, she should finally be ready to do what James and Lily gave their lives for, and live.
It was time for Rose to finally mature and move on.
She took one last glance at the stone slab and nodded to herself, turning around with a smile and making her way out of the graveyard, those uplifting words replaying over and over in her mind.
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.*
Making her own trail sounded rather exciting for once.
"Are you feeling okay?"
Blue eyes rose and met his, her head tilting to the side innocently. "What do you mean?"
"You seem rather quiet today."
Rose blinked a few times before a wide grin appeared on her face, the expression seemingly straightforward for once. Blaise couldn't detect any hidden meaning on his friend's face; there was no smirk threatening to twist her lips, no mischievous glint in her eyes, not even a forced set to her face. The Ravenclaw was simply smiling widely, looking immersed in her good mood with nothing else on her mind.
She looked unburdened for the first time ever.
Blaise's best friend had always appeared to be living in the depths of her own mind, several thoughts racing in all directions at all times. Well, that or she had an artificially blank expression that revealed nothing other than more psychological issues than someone their age should have to deal with.
He would have been concerned, but the pale face in front of him was fully relaxed, small crinkles at the corners of Rose's face from her beaming grin. Her small shoulders were loose, and she hadn't been in control of her posture at all for their entire time together today. Even when the girl was being a deliberate pain in the arse, Rose's movements were carefully controlled, a conscious decision for whatever purpose she had in mind. Except now, she didn't seem to care.
Whatever had happened, Rose seemed to be … calm. Free. Blaise felt some of the worry in his chest bleed away. He'd gotten used to his best friend's calculated moods, but that didn't mean that they hadn't bothered him. Knowing that her behaviour, the cold and analytical lens she usually viewed the world through, had all stemmed from being treated like shit by some idiots who didn't even deserve to share breathing space with someone like Rose, was sickening to consider.
Blaise smiled back at his friend, shaking his head a little at the childish expression on her face. It was somewhat silly to see, but also heart-warming when considering where she'd started. As long as she's happy, then I guess I don't need to worry. The Slytherin turned from the blonde and grabbed another lump of raw meat, ignoring the blood staining his hands with practised ease, before tossing it to the eager Thestral several feet away.
He watched the skeletal creature silently, ignoring the twist in his stomach when he thought about why he was able to see the creatures to begin with. A child of seven shouldn't have to witness their loving father be murdered right before their very eyes, but that was in a perfect world.
Both he and Rose were proof that a perfect world didn't exist.
The boy's eyes traced the blonde girl as she threw another chunk of meat towards a smaller foal, the shy creature slowly venturing out from behind a nearby tree, cautious yet clearly interested in the prospect of food. It was pretty cute when he thought about it.
His mind wandered as he and Rose fed the herd together, the clearing silent save for the sounds from the Thestrals and Rose's quiet humming. He didn't recognise the tune, but it was clearly upbeat and cheerful.
He held in the snort that wanted to escape. How bloody ironic. Usually, Rose was the quiet one who ruminated over whatever issue was plaguing her mind at the time, and he was the carefree companion, yet now they'd switched.
It wasn't as if he could help it, though. It felt as if the letter was burning a hole in his trouser pocket, the words screaming into his mind no matter what he did to distract himself. Ever since he'd received that bloody letter, he'd wanted to simply burn it to ashes and forget it ever existed, but life was never that simple, unfortunately.
Blaise frowned to himself. He didn't want to go to a family meeting, especially one with his mother's side of the family. After what had happened with his grandfather –
The boy jolted slightly as the voice cute through his introspection. He twisted his head to see Rose studying him, her brows pulled down in a worried frown. Despite his previous thoughts, he couldn't quite stop the fond smile from appearing on his face. No matter what was going on with Rose, the blonde girl could never quite stop trying to look after other people as much as she could. It was certainly an endearing treat, if somewhat exasperating sometimes.
She bit her lip lightly. "Are you okay? You look … preoccupied? Did you want to go somewhere else?"
"I'm okay," he replied quietly. "I'm just thinking about a family meeting coming up. Not exactly something I want to go to. Aside from dealing with idiots I happen to share blood with, there's also Family business to deal with. The usual, you know?"
Rose nodded slowly, her frown letting up. "I get it." The girl paused for a second before a bright look crossed her face, Rose's eyes lighting up. "Forget that, though. Are you going anywhere else this summer?"
Blaise grinned automatically in response, relaxing slightly in response to the blonde's light-hearted demeanour. It was practically a conditioned response at this point. He knew full well that Rose was only doing it to cheer him up, but the fact that she was even going out of her way to do it said more than any words would. He was going to have to find something amazing for her birthday this year.
It wasn't every day that someone found themselves with a friend like Rose.
He cleared his throat. "I'm fairly certain that my mother said something about Malta when we spoke last."
"Ooooh, that sounds amazing! I'd love to go there at some point, the beaches look great, but I'm more of a historical city person. Not that Malta has no history, but I'd prefer to get out of Europe. It's more different, you know?"
He raised a brow. "Oh? Where are you planning to go during summer?"
She grinned back, a small smirk playing about her lips. "Well, it's less of a plan and more an idea, but I'm hoping I can convince someone to travel this year. I want to visit South Korea, maybe go over to Japan for a bit as well if I can."
"Any reason?" He was certainly curious at his friend's choices.
Rose just laughed slightly. "Does there have to be? I want to visit a bunch of different places, you know. I can already speak Mandarin, so why not develop my linguistic skills elsewhere why I'm at it? Besides, the country looks beautiful. I'd love to see it in person."
As she finished speaking, Rose's face was lit up with pure excitement, the only temperance a gentle smile that fit her so much more than the forced aloofness she usually employed to protect herself. Try as he might, Blaise really couldn't help but be swept along by her good mood, quietly chuckling at the childish sparkle in her eyes as she sang the praises of Asia. The blonde was clearly all for travelling thousands of miles away, for no other reason than the experience of something different.
Blaise smirked at the blonde girl. "You really are a Ravenclaw, aren't you?"
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?"
The Italian boy finally let loose with his laughter, the sound getting louder whenever he spotted Rose's annoyed pout, her cheeks puffed up in irritation. He wasn't thinking about the utter disaster of his maternal family meeting up, how his murderous mother might behaviour in such a situation, or the fact that he could see a herd of Thestrals several feet away from him.
He simply stopped thinking for once.
Soon enough, the creatures of the forest played witness to two students chasing each other through the trees, each laughing and trying to cover the other with twigs and clumps of dirt with no thought of the state of their uniform.
Blaise grinned at Rose's shriek as he ground some dirt into her blonde curls, dodging her enthusiastic punch as he did. Nice try, Rosa, but I still think you're going to lose. He yelped as she flung a stick at his head, ducking behind a nearby tree to avoid any other flying weapons the crazy girl might use.
Well, this is one way to spend a Friday afternoon, I suppose.
He peered out from behind the tree and swept his gaze around the clearing before stepping back. Blaise bent down to grab some vines which looked like they'd be a bitch to get caught in, and smirked as he imagined what sort of vulgarity his friend would spew if she happened to get caught in them. Oh well, only one way to find out.
The boy took a deep breath before creeping away from his hiding place in search of a good trap location.
This is going to be brilliant.
Rose blinked her eyes, yawning widely as she slowly came back to consciousness.
She'd never been a morning person, even back when the Dursleys had made her wake up criminally early to get on with her ridiculous list of chores. Having to force her body to find even a single ounce of energy in the mornings was a Herculean task, no matter how old she was.
It was a bit weird, though. Her alarm spell hadn't gone off yet, and her bladder wasn't screaming at her, so she wasn't quite sure as to why her body had interrupted her peaceful sleep to wake her up before seven in the morning. If there was one thing in their world which should be illegal, it was that.
Rose rolled onto her back and lifted her arms up to stretch them out, only to yelp in pain as her stomach throbbed awfully. A dull stabbing pain was emanating from her lower abdomen, the pain flaring up whenever she so much as moved, and Rose groaned at the sensation. Not only was it horrifically familiar, there was also something else that she could feel, and she prayed that she was mistaken. The girl hesitantly lifted her thick duvet, pushing the warmth off her legs, and peered down at the sheets below her.
And internally screamed at the spot of red on her white sheets.
Fuck. My. Life. She rolled over and screamed into her pillow, never mind that her bed was covered in silencing spells. Puberty had been fucking awful last time around, and that was without getting into the specifics of periods and cramps. I hate everything.
Blue eyes opened and Rose winced, curling into a ball to try and alleviate at least some of the pain. Why the fuck is this happening now?! Last time around, Rose had been something of a late bloomer, not starting to develop physically until she was fifteen, and she hadn't started her periods until near Christmas of sixth year. She wasn't even thirteen now. This is total bullshit.
A small pop made her jump horribly, her stomach loudly protesting through a particularly shitty cramp. Rose mentally swore at her stomach as she calmed down. Fucking piece of shit. You're my reproductive system, so why can't you bloody cooperate?! I'm the one person you shouldn't be screwing over! Bloody female body … being a girl sucks balls.
Rose turned her head and glared at the grinning elf sat on her bed. "Dobby, what are you doing here? Don't you have anything else to do?"
Dobby sent her an (incredibly fake) innocent smile. "Dobby felt Miss Rosey's pain, so Dobby came to help!"
He clicked his fingers, a small bag with all manner of feminine hygiene products, pain killers and chocolates appearing on her bed, as well as the horrifyingly embarrassing sight of some new underwear. The knickers were sat on her bed, mocking her and the entire situation, and Rose wanted to set them on fire.
"Don't worry, Miss Rosey! Dobby will also help and change Miss Rosey's sheets when she gets out of bed, so Miss Rosey doesn't have to worry about others seeing!"
…I know elves are supposed to help their bonded masters, but I didn't realise they were supposed to make humans combust from embarrassment.
She groaned, squeezing her eyes shut as she buried her red cheeks into her pillow. Rose was being betrayed by her own body for not being pregnant, and now she was being comforted by Dobby of all people.
What has my life come to?
The blonde reached blindly behind her, wandlessly summoning a vial of pain potion to the palm of her hand. She quickly uncorked it, lifting her head to down the disgusting substance before collapsing back on the mattress. Now all she had to do was wait until she could move again.
Her loyal elf stood up, looking far too cheerful for Rose to deal with at this moment in time. Not only was she entering womanly hell for the first time in this timeline, it was also basically still night-time. (Just because some dumb shits thought that waking up with the sun was a good idea, didn't mean that she was that stupid. Sleep was far more important, enough said.)
Dobby paused before he popped away, his smile giving way to an evil grin that had Rose immediately on edge. Jesus, what's he doing now?
"Dobby would like to congratulate Miss Rosey on finally becoming a woman again!"
Rose gaped for a few seconds before firing off a jinx at the demon on her bed. "YOU LITTLE SHIT!"
The Potter elf dodged and disappeared, leaving her with nothing but a mortified rage and the echoing sounds of his cackling. I'm going to kill him.
She grabbed her pillow and smothered her head with it, not giving a shit if she suffocated or not. Bloody spawn of Satan. Literal evil. An elf that belongs with Hades, no doubt. Her entrance into the world of puberty and the hormonal fun house that was being a teenager should not be made even worse by an elf who was supposed to be a caring friend.
Bested by Dobby. Whatever next?
As the pain in her stomach slowly ebbed, Rose rolled over onto her bed and stared up at the ceiling, debating whether it was worth attempting to get Dobby back in some way. He'd ended up as Teddy's partner in crime far too often for her to be entirely sure of her victory in whatever she planned. Her imp of a godson and the sarcastic elf had made a terrifying duo in her past-future, and Rose knew that Dobby had a far broader explanation of 'serving your master' than others of his kind. If she started anything, there was no way he wouldn't retaliate, likely ending in something humiliating for her.
In other words, she'd lost before she even began.
"This is pathetic," she sighed, closing her eyes and desperately hoping that Dobby wouldn't end up revealing anything to her dads. That was one conversation she never wanted to have, if she could help it. She might just throw herself off the Astronomy Tower otherwise. Oh well, looks like there's not much to do now except deal with it.
Puberty – 1, Rose – 0.
How fucking fantastic.