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Temporal Displacement and Everyday Headaches

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Summer. A time of rest and relaxation for school students, and a chance to wind-down before the madness starts back up again in September. The summer break was almost universally considered to be a golden opportunity to have fun and let go of school-related worries, either by going on holiday, visiting friends or family, or even just lazing about and catching up on some hobbies.

For most people that is.

Rose Potter was not so lucky in this regard. The young girl, who was also known by the title of ‘The-Girl-Who-Lived’, and also known – to a select few individuals – as the unwitting victim in a completely unprecedented accident involving the mysterious Veil of Death and an explosion of Time-Turner dust, was not so happy with this summer.

Time travel shenanigans aside, Rose had been anticipating a summer filled with travelling, hanging out with her friends, and spending time with her parents. Granted she had experienced some of those things, but the time of rest hadn’t exactly panned out as she had hoped it would. She certainly hadn’t expected this disaster.

“Oh do grow up brother, and stop whining about your lot in life. You are not the only person who’s had to deal with unwanted life experiences, so start acting like the man you claim to be and shut up!”

“Whining? I’ll show you whining, you old hag! And for your information, I was only expressing concern for the poor girl who now has to put up with your screeching banshee voice!”

“Hag?! Banshee?! You want to hear screeching? Well, why don’t we talk about that fact that you clearly have no idea how to contribute, and how I am the only one helping the child!”

“How, by deafening her? She might be a saint for putting with the crazy witch you are, but anyone would go mad after having you spout shit at them for hours on end!”

“Shit?! I …”

Apparently even with decades apart from each other siblings are still siblings, and rivalries will defy logic and stand the test of time. Marius and Cassiopeia Black were brother and sister, and while they had gotten on well enough as young children – for Blacks, that is – Marius’ disinheritance had changed things irrevocably. Cassiopeia had been unable to see her brother under threat of being married off against her will, and Marius had grown bitter towards his birth family and avoided them like the plague.

Their childish sibling rivalry had grown and twisted as they got older, though everything had reverted back to how things had been as children, as when the siblings – now in their seventies with well-established careers – saw each other again for the first time in decades, they completely disregarded any and all etiquette and descended into immature arguments and sniping comments designed to wind each other up for no apparent reason.

Rose sighed, idly watching the two Blacks bicker like children instead of lecturing her on how to use behaviour to provoke certain responses as had been their scheduled lesson of the day. Originally it was supposed to be Cassiopeia by herself, but Marius had somehow turned up – Sirius was the most likely suspect – and the conversation had taken a swift turn for the worse. She tried to discern if they were finishing their petty argument any time soon, but when she caught sight of Cassiopeia breathing in deeply she wrote the lesson off as a lost cause.

The past summer was supposed to have been fun for Rose, until her great-aunt had made it abundantly clear that the girl would be spending two days a week with her at her home in Paris while she was instructed on how best to represent The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black in public, as a young lady of her station should.

As far as she was concerned, the idea was utter bullshit.

Rose had not looked forward to these lessons at all seeing as she had already known much of what she was expected to do. In her future she may had cultivated a reputation of a recluse, however her family power had still been wielded in the Wizengamot by her faithful friend and proxy Neville Longbottom. The point was, just because she preferred to avoid public appearances didn’t mean that she was ignorant on how to act during them.

She had long since been educated on ‘proper’ pure-blood behaviour – thank you Andi – but she'd despised acting like a doll and being used as a Ministry tool, paraded around in front of hundreds of people who had simply cowered in fear when the Death Eaters had attacked, who'd sat back on their arses and allowed an entire war to be fought by untrained teenagers. Rose really hated Ministry functions. Bunch of idiots.

A couple of them a year – at most – had been the extent of her social appearances, but she had a sinking feeling that she would be unable to get away with the bare minimum of work where Cassiopeia Black was concerned. She took comfort in the fact that her dad seemed to be in the same boat as she was, what with his determined assertions to his family that he would better the House of Black. To a certain point that is – the Blacks were always going to be known as crazy bastards to some extent.

Rose would now be expected to build and maintain connections in the name of her House and whenever high-profile functions were held an appearance would be mandatory. She supposed being at school for most of the year for the next six years was the silver lining in all this. No fucking way am I dressing up like a bloody Barbie doll to parade around for a bunch of morons who like to run their mouths instead of actually doing anything. No. Fucking. Way.

For the past month she had been subjected to lectures concerning the various topics she needed to be apprised in as Heiress Black (and Lady Potter, but as the Lady of her own House she could honestly do what she wanted and nobody could really say anything). Things such as etiquette, 'womanly' pursuits like needlework, music and reading (which was bullshit), duelling, dancing, traditional magical celebrations throughout the year, the political climate of the different Houses …

Though that last one was actually rather important, as Rose’s actions in the last year had inadvertently caused a plethora of Death Eaters to wither away and die or get arrested, leaving their families to operate under new Heads and rules. This was a scene that her future knowledge would be unable to assist with, as her memories were based on facts which were no longer applicable.

Cassiopeia was also determined to develop her Metamorphmagus powers – and how it pissed Rose off how she knew, and that she hadn’t thought of being spied on in such a way – and insisted that the girl study people. How people moved, how they talked, certain tells and habits, all so that she could learn how to use her gift to covertly observe others to her own benefit. Rose wouldn’t admit it, but she did enjoy messing with people this way.

(Her dads hadn't liked it when she transformed into McGonagall and scared the crap out of them, though the look of fear on their faces made her parent’s portraits cry with laughter.)

She looked towards the seventy-something-year-old duo bickering like toddlers and decided to get on with her current ‘assignment’ from her aunt sooner rather than later, and quietly retreated to her room without the so-called 'adults' noticing. She had the delightful 'task' – and yes, that was sarcasm – of getting the young cousin of the Italian Minster of Magic to lose face in public. The arrogant prick was in his mid-teens, constantly flirted with every pair of breasts he saw, and was so utterly sexist he thought it was his inherent right to touch simply because.

Rose would get him to act out by being the perfect ‘gentleman’.

Morphing to the opposite gender was possible though exceedingly uncomfortable. The feeling of certain parts of her body just … growing was disconcerting, though she adjusted fairly quickly and changed clothes. In front of her was now a teenage boy with lithe muscles, lightly-tanned skin, messy dark red hair and hazel eyes. She now looked like someone who could have been her brother if her parents had lived long enough to give her siblings. Well this isn’t messed up in the slightest.

She changed into a vest top and swimming shorts before donning some sandals and sunglasses, then set off through the hallways of the expensive villa resort in St Tropez where she and her aunt were staying. The little prick she was going to annoy was here too, as only the wealthiest and most connected families could afford to holiday in this area. It was beautiful, ostentatious, and obscenely expensive even for a single day. Rose hated it.

Just because she could afford to stay somewhere like here regularly didn’t mean that she enjoyed throwing galleons around like they were going out of style. She enjoyed the comforts of her ancestral home sure, but she had always been frugal since growing up with her relatives and despised the way that some people spent money. Her parents – specifically Sirius – could get this way with spoiling her, but she knew that Remus made sure than Sirius was careful with the Black money. Not that the Blacks were in danger of being bankrupt anytime soon. Stupid rich pure-bloods.

Rose walked past a floor-length mirror in the hallway and stopped for a moment, running her fingers through her short hair and using magic to style it to something stylishly messy. She took in her masculine appearance and considered her body, what with the clearly-defined muscles of her arms and shoulders and the tanned skin.

Personally she thought that this entire situation was ridiculous, and if her dads found out that she was being made to flirt with other girls in order to ruin the Italian Minister’s cousin they would not be happy to say the least. She also thought that Cassiopeia didn’t give two shits what anyone thought and would carry on no matter what anyone said.

(She was a strict woman but Rose genuinely respected her strength. Not that she’d ever admit it to the crazy witch.)

She took a last glance in the mirror, straightening up with her shoulders back, placed her hands casually in her pockets and turned down the hall, sedately walking along with a genial smile on her new face. Well, here goes nothing …


Or here goes everything … Holy shit, that bloke’s mental, does he not realise what he’s done?!

Rose had been expecting her ‘assignment’ to consist of flirting with a few random girls for a short while before the young Andrea Ricci – her target – threw a hissy fit and caused a scene. She was more or less right, but the resulting trouble was a little messier than she had initially anticipated.

The girl-turned-boy had spent about four hours in the company of four teenage girls who had all been victims of the pervert’s ‘affections’ for the past week, and in that time Rose had found them all to be very interesting. The girls were all students at Beauxbatons and had described the school to her in detail. (A few subtle compliments and gracious smiles had been more than enough to flatter them into speaking.) She'd scored a few points by not letting her eyes stray from their faces, even if the hormones she'd been experiencing more and more in recent weeks had reared their ugly heads while in the company of several gorgeous girls. Puberty is going to be such a bitch.

Rose had spent the day regaling the girls with tales of England and being home-schooled, and after a while the Italian git had exploded and aimed an illegal cutting curse at the group without thinking, trying to hit her specifically. Rose had shielded them without thinking as the idiot had been bound by one of the other guests.

Soon enough the French Aurors had arrived and had been quick to arrest him. There was more than a little dismay when they'd realised that Rose had been in the line of fire as well as the girls. In her teenage male disguise, Cassiopeia had seen fit to provide her with a complete fake background as her ward in case it was ever needed. (Say what you will about the woman, but she got things done. Fast.)

Her current identity was that of half-blood James White, godson to the well-respected Cassiopeia Black, which made him a pseudo-adopted member of the House of Black as well as Cassiopeia’s personal family. The older woman was more well-known on the continent, the French Ministry being very much aware of her reputation and what repercussions would follow if her ward was attacked and murdered by someone within their country.

The annoying teen was quickly sent back to his country with a severe warning for the boy to stay out of France, and the Italian Minister had been mortified when they realised the extent of the international incident that they'd nearly avoided.

Rose had simply enjoyed the moment when the girls offered their thanks by kissing her on the cheek. She had to maintain her role after all.


“Well then, it appears that while Marius and I were … catching up with one another,” Cassiopeia glared at her brother here as he scoffed with incredulity, “you went ahead and carried out the assignment that I set out for you.”

“Yes, Aunt Cassi.”

“Why?”

Rose stared at the woman. “Forgive me Aunt Cassi, but I’m not sure what you mean by ‘Why?’ Do you mean why did I carry out the task you set?”

“Indeed, why did you do it?”

Rose eyed her incredulously. “Because you told me to.”

Cassiopeia simply raised one elegant brow in disdain. “So I did, but are you going to just do anything I tell you without considering the consequences of your actions? Did you even think about the result of what you did, or did you just charge in without using your brain? Did you even consider why I asked you to complete such a task?”

Marius rounded on his sister with a thunderous expression. “For fuck’s sake Cassi! You can’t just ask her to do something then get pissed when she does it, otherwise what’s the fucking point of you being here?!”

Huh, he’s calling her ‘Cassi’ now. Apparently progress can be made.

She cleared her throat. “It’s okay Uncle Marius, I’m well aware of why Aunt Cassi is asking me so many questions.”

Rose smiled at her uncle before turning to the woman who stood with an impressively blank look on her face. The (once more) blonde girl resisted the urge to smirk in triumph, instead she started speaking.

“Firstly, I am not the type of person who will do something just because you say so. You may be family, but I do not know you nearly enough to act without question where your orders are concerned.

“When you told me what to do, I considered first and foremost the situation: who I was supposed to be ruining, and my location. The annoying bastard is the cousin to the Italian Minister of Magic, and we are in a high-profile location of magical France.

“I am aware that as of this moment, the ICW is currently in talks over international policy concerning private businesses. It is extremely expensive to expand one's business and open another branch abroad. The possible competition with international trade isn't an attractive idea to some places, so a plethora of non-tariff barriers come into play. Some countries simply don't want the competition that would come from foreign businesses selling there. Italy in particular is digging their heels in as they're loath to allow a possible major competitor to outsell one of their own companies.”

Rose paused and grabbed her glass, taking a sip of water before continuing. “Sirius and Remus’ upcoming shop will likely be a popular business once it opens, and research on continental Europe indicates a large interest for the type of products they will be selling, particularly in Italy. A possible secondary shop there will be highly beneficial to them. However due to current policies, it simply is not feasible at this time as the Italians are being very hard-headed.

“The French are actually rather interested in such a business venture, and Sirius’ contacts in the French Ministry have indicated a strong desire to buy from him. The French representative of the ICW has been arguing with the representative from Italy, as Italy actually stands to gain a fair few international connections if they allow foreign businesses to sell,” she explained, internally scoffing at the idiotic pride of the Italians. Stupidity at its finest.

“The spectacle today has now ensured that the Italian Ministry is suitably cowed, as they have earned the ire of both the French Ministry and the House of Black, who are known to be politically powerful in Britain. Italy will most likely be looking for a way to pay restitution to the Blacks, and will be easier to convince in terms of allowing a British business to expand into Italy.

“With a simple meltdown, young Andrea has caused weakness in his country’s position, led to both France and Britain looking down on said country, and offered a way for the House of Black to benefit personally from such a situation.

“Did I miss anything?”

She finished her explanation by tilting her chin up slightly, and raising a thin eyebrow as she sank back into the soft cushions of her chair, all the while remaining impassive in the face of her uncle’s narrowed grey eyes and the blank face of her aunt, who then smiled at her.

It was terrifying.

“Well done, dear,” she purred, making the hairs on the back of Rose’s neck stand up, “we’ll make a Black of you yet.”

The commiserating glance from Marius wasn’t reassuring in the least.

She huffed as her aunt walked off with visible glee. Oh well, just another day in the shit-storm that is my life.

Chapter Text

"Traditionally the House of Black has always been run similar to what you would consider to be a dictatorship. What the Head of the family says, goes, no exceptions. Every member of the family born with the Black name follows the word of the Lord Black to the letter without question. 

"More often than not, even if a descendent is born bearing the name of another House the Blacks will still keep themselves apprised of the child, ensuring that the child's life is sufficiently acceptable so as to not reflect badly on the House of Black. Even with yourself, Arcturus did in fact make some enquiries as to your placement after that Samhain, though Dumbledore and his sycophantic supporters put a quick end to that line of investigation." 

Rose watched as the older woman sneered at the idea of the former Headmaster and pondered her words. If Arcturus Black had succeeded in gaining custody of her, she probably would have been raised as the perfect Black with her grandmother's relatives. What a lovely mental image that is. I probably would have run away like Dad, living with those arseholes

At the time of that shitty Halloween there'd been more than a few Blacks remaining; Arcturus, Callidora, Pollux, Cassiopeia, Lucretia, Walburga, Cygnus, Narcissa, and they were only the ones that hadn't been disinherited. Granted a few of them were the scum of the earth, but the point was the Blacks had been alive to take care of her. She could imagine the woman in front of her might have her primary caretaker as the only person on that list not married or widowed. 

What if, indeed. She knew there was no point in thinking about what could have been; Rose knew how her life had played out in the past, and she knew how things had changed this time around since being thrown through the Veil. (She really needed to start researching again, her accident was too intriguing to ignore. Maybe the school library has something hidden away?

She refocused as her crazy aunt gestured to the complicated diagram on the board. That is a lot of lines. What was the crazy woman up to now? 

"However, just because the Lord Black was rather militant in his actions didn't mean he was uncaring of his family's feelings," Aunt Cassi explained. "Before the previous Sirius and Phineas, the previous Lord Black was Crucis Black, Phineas' grandfather. His older relatives died when he was a child, leading him to head the family at a young age. 

"Unlike many of his predecessors, he was equally concerned with the happiness of his family as well as their political reputation; he allowed his oldest son to marry a woman from a lesser family, as the Tripes were barely known at the time." 

The woman gestured to the family tree pinned to the left side of the board. "This kindness continued with his other children, allowing his three daughters to remain unattached and his youngest son to continue his dalliances." 

"Dalliances?" Rose had long since wondered why Eduardus Black had been disinherited; she'd never found any reports of him, which was strange seeing as how the more recent arsehole generations of the Black family had quite happily admitted to removing the 'unworthy' parts of the family tree. Such lovely humans, indeed. 

"Let's just say his preferred method of socialising consisted of warming the beds of high society men and their sons, and we'll leave it at that." 

So  he shagged his way through the  Wizengamot  and their male relatives. Brilliant. Go  Eduardus . 

"Don't laugh," Cassi glared, "it's so far removed from inappropriate it's ghastly. Anyway, Crucis was happy to let his grandchildren follow the examples of his children. His only granddaughter married into the Blishwick family – small, unnoteworthy, and they faded out of existence a few generations later – his oldest grandson married a Max, and the last grandson Arcturus died single and childless. 

"Unfortunately his grandson Cygnus grew up to be a resentful little man who despised the fact that he wouldn't be inheriting the family any time soon if at all. He was a horrid man who decided to raise his children to be just as awful as himself. Crucis' son Licorus and his grandson Cygnus had both already passed away by the time he died, meaning the family fell into the hands of my grandfather, Phineas Nigellus Black. That was probably the start of the end for the family." 

The woman paused and Rose kept quiet. She had a feeling her aunt had complicated feelings about the family history in recent generations. Not that she could blame her; Rose herself felt strange about the Black history and she hadn't ever met any of these people. Cassiopeia had grown up with Phineas as a grandfather and had had to live with the following two Lord Blacks after Crucis ruining things. It was no wonder she was off her rocker. 

"Rose, my grandfather wasn't a good man, and he certainly wasn't a nice man. He was uncaring of the family's emotional fulfilment, but he understood politics, he knew how to build and maintain alliances, he knew what it was to be one of the most powerful magical families in Britain, if not the most. He was ruthlessly pragmatic in maintaining our status, and despite the dubious ethics he employed the results spoke for themselves. 

"Unfortunately he was also prejudiced beyond belief and couldn't care less about compromising on his beliefs." 

The blonde girl paused from her note taking and blinked up at her aunt who was smirking at her. Weird woman. 

"Phineas Nigellus Black was homophobic – he was probably gay himself and stupidly insecure going from what we know about him – hated muggle-borns with a passion, and thought muggles to be the scum of the earth who should be slaughtered for the good of magic everywhere. Shortly after donning the Black Head of House ring, he kicked Eduardus out the family for his 'reputation', despite the fact that Eduardus had actually been rather good at keeping his activities a secret. 

"His sister Iola was disinherited when she fell in love with a muggle, and he even quickly got rid of his own son Phineas when he expressed a wish to support the rights of muggles. All three individuals were magically strong and intelligent, potential assets to the family, but instead of compromising with them he 'pruned' the family tree and proceeded to ignore them for the rest of his life. 

"You know what happened after that," Aunt Cassi gestured, "Sirius took over, disinherited Marius and Cedrella, married off Orion and Walburga, then handed over the reins to his imbecilic son Arcturus when he died. Not that his son Regulus would have been any better, but I digress. Arcturus completely ignored the disaster that was Cygnus and Druella's family, let Sirius and Regulus grow up with Walburga as a mother, and proceeded to disinherit Andromeda and posthumously disinherit Alphard for leaving money to your father Sirius." 

"This family's recent history's a bloody disaster," Rose muttered. 

The older woman huffed. "While your language is completely atrocious, I suppose your description is not entirely inaccurate." 

Rose looked down at her notes while her aunt shuffled some pages on her desk. While this lecture was pretty interesting she wasn't sure how it related to her question about the Wizengamot and political relationships. If she wanted to get things done she needed a more active education on their government rather than just trusting someone else to make good decisions for her. 

"The one thing Phineas did well was arrange marriages for political alliances." 

Bingo

"In the five most recent generations there have been over a dozen marriages with high-ranking families. The Flints, the Gamps, the Yaxley family, Burke, Bulstrode, Macmillan, Longbottom, Crouch, Crabbe, Potters, Prewett, Rosier, Lestrange and the Malfoys. Even Marius married a Selwyn despite Delia being disinherited, and the Weasleys still have a better reputation in France, even if they weren't allied to the Blacks. Not to mention Sirius' new wife as a member of the House of Bones.

"Every single one of those families has a seat on the Wizengamot. The Blacks managed to cultivate a reputation amongst families from every sect, light, grey and dark. Of course most of them were dark, but my grandfather managed to arrange marriages with such a variety of individuals that it boosted the family's reputation immensely from all angles." 

Cassiopeia pulled out her wand and pointed to the complicated diagram on the board. "This shows how the families relate to one another. More specifically, which allies are allied to one another and other families, and how closely. For example, the Crabbes. They have traditionally been in a subservient position to the Malfoy family for generations ever since a Lord Malfoy saved the Heirs to both the Crabbe and Goyle families. In recompense the Malfoy demanded obedience, and the Lords Crabbe and Goyle pledged their families to serve the House of Malfoy from then on." 

Huh. That explains that. I thought they were just being used as muscle by Draco for no apparent reason. 

"If you were to gain the support of the Malfoy family, you would no doubt also secure the support of the Crabbes and the Goyles, as well have a higher chance of gaining the support of the Burkes." 

"If you look at this, you'll see that some families have more ties than others, even if they don't appear to wield as much power overall compared to the more well-known names. The Burkes for instance have traditionally been a rather small family, though they have close alliances with the Houses of Goyle, Crabbe, Flint and Crouch." 

The older woman stopped and turned to her with a smirk that sent a shiver down Rose's spine. Oh Jesus Christ, what now? 

"As Heiress Black, it is your duty to maintain these alliances with members of the families close to your age." 

Rose blinked. "I'm sorry, could you repeat that? I could have sworn you just said something about maintaining connections with such a ridiculous number of people when I already have to do the same for the House of Potter." 

"Oh, don't worry my dear niece," came the airy reply with a sharp grin that did nothing to soothe her, "I'm sure you'll figure it out." 

I actually hate her. 


Rose tuned out the barking instructions of Cassiopeia – and she was suddenly so thankful she hadn't been raised by the crazy bat – and refocused on the warm hand in hers, making sure not to take out her frustration on the boy in front of her by crushing his hand. 

Neville was far too innocent to bear the brunt of her temper. 

She knew that Aunt Cassi was determined to hammer the idea of being a proper Heiress Black into her head, but forcing her to learn every little possible thing even remotely related to the role was exhausting. And ridiculous. Rose was going to be at school for most of the year, yet she was still being forced to learn about events she was highly unlikely to attend. Like balls. 

Balls were sometimes held during occasions such as Yule or Midsummer, traditional occasions which were beloved celebrations of Magic, allowing families to invite like-minded individuals to their homes to celebrate whichever wondrous event was at that particular moment of the year. 

Though more often than not balls were irritating excuses to parade around wearing metaphorical flashing signs for whatever status people wished to advertise at the time. Hey look, there's an incredible rich moron looking for a trophy spouse! Did you know I have at least three times as much money as you? I have an independent business meaning I can have both a fulfilling career and a personal life! Does anyone want to team up with me to spread idiocy and a lack of common sense to the masses? 

What a fucking joke. 

Despite only being eleven there was no doubt she'd end up with more offers of marriage that what was acceptable – she didn't care that girls used to get married at her age, it was gross, end of discussion. Any possible marriage of hers would only happen when she was seventeen and out of school. There was no way she was going to deprive herself of an education (even if it wasn't really needed) just because some self-entitled bastard tried to tell her what to do. No thank you. 

While her new – and deeply unwanted – education was at the very least designed in a way to build Rose a spine of steel, it was so annoying at having to do it. She already knew that nobody would be able to force her into anything, so what was the point? 

The point was that she was known to be part of two Noble and Most Ancient Houses, and the vast majority of her close friends and relatives were also fellow members of the magical aristocracy. She had to learn how to interact with them in a manner befitting a Black. Rose had known there would be certain expectations when she donned the Heiress Black ring, but considering the Lord Black was Sirius she hadn't thought there would be much to do. 

Of course her mad great-aunt had quite happily fucked that up for her, though to be honest she should have expected a little more from the family that had given both Grindelwald and Voldemort pause. In her defence she'd been a little more focused on preventing the Black family falling into the hands of various related arseholes to be more worried about what being Heiress Black would entail. Thank fuck Lucius Malfoy didn't gain control of the Blacks. He probably would've bought more peacocks. 

"You should relax Rose, you're doing great with the steps." 

She looked up to see the kind blue eyes of her cousin and godbrother and tried to smile, though judging from his concerned expression it was more of a grimace. Not that she could help it; this was something she'd never been that good at, and ironically had been something that Neville had excelled at even in his clumsiest moments. 

Dancing was something that she despised. Actually, it wasn't the dancing part, it was the implications behind it. Practising steps with Neville was fine, and taking a spin over a dance floor with a cousin or a friend had never bothered her (even she and Draco had partnered up during her scant forays into the public eye in her past-future), but learning to dance for the sole purpose of cosying up to brown-nosing morons made her skin crawl. I suppose I could always 'accidentally' step on someone's feet …  

"Rose?" 

The girl sighed quietly. "Sorry, Nev. It's just not really something I like that much. Dancing isn't really my forte, and being made to learn this just to socialise kind of annoys me. I mean, I don't want to act like I'm looking to get married or anything, I'm eleven for crying out loud." 

Her friend grinned, though with a flash of sympathy in his eyes. "You know, seeing as how you have a lot of friends – male friends – of a similar status to you, you could feasibly get away with just monopolising their time to avoid anyone you don't want to deal with. 

"Besides, your dancing isn't that bad." 

Rose eyed him with a raised brow and his lips twitched before he amended, "Okay, I'll admit it baffles me how you walk so gracefully but can't even go four steps without messing up. Is there a reason for that?" 

She stuck her tongue out very immaturely and enjoyed his laughter, grinning as Cassiopeia started berating them loudly from her place at the side of the floor. 

"I'll have you know I'm perfectly graceful, thank you very much." 

His lips twitched. "If you say so." 

Rose forcibly relaxed her shoulders and fell into the position of being led. The problem with her grace was that it revolved entirely around physical combat; ever since the war she'd been on edge and prepared for an attack, which had eventually resulted in her being inordinately graceful in her everyday life. 

She didn't think people would compliment her stance so much if they knew she was making sure she could retaliate in less than a second. 

"How are your parents doing?" 

Neville visibly brightened at the topic. "Great! Mum's started teaching me some charms to use in the greenhouses, and Dad's taking me to visit some muggle gardens in London next week. I want to see if I can incorporate some muggle species into the first greenhouse, or maybe even do some cross-breeding to see what happens. You know …" 

Rose smiled at her cousin as he started geeking out over plants and realised she hadn't tripped as she listened to him. She focused on the impassioned words with a smirk. 

I can do this. 

Chapter Text

The sight of a young woman with ice blue hair wearing a faded band T-shirt and ripped jeans, sprawled out on the grass of Hyde Park might have been cause for some concern for the park’s visitors if it weren’t for the sheer genius that was the Notice-Me-Not Charm.

Rose had all but ran to her parents and pleaded for escape. Not long after, she took advantage of their helpful distraction and swiftly escaped the house as soon as she heard the stern voice of one Cassiopeia Black echo through the hallways of the no-longer dilapidated building of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.

She’d quickly morphed into the most obnoxiously muggle appearance she could come up with, changed into the first very modern and non-magical clothes she could find, and promptly escaped out the front door when Cassiopeia went to the cellar to berate her Gryffindor nephew for the racket he was making. Thank you, Dad. Your sacrifice won't be forgotten.

The Black Heiress was admittedly enjoying learning about the family that she’d never known before, but saying that Cassiopeia was a harsh taskmaster was like saying that Hermione liked books – not inaccurate, but severely understating the depths of the situation. Her lessons had only been happening for about six weeks, but they had pretty much hit the ground running since Rose got off the Hogwarts Express from school and hadn’t stopped since. And Rose was sick of it.

While some might ridicule her escape from the clutches of her stern aunt, Rose preferred to think of it as a well-needed strategic retreat. With her adult mentality and intelligence she was leaps and bounds ahead of the other children, and if she actually deigned to use all of the skills at her disposal then she could easily walk into the Ministry and gain the necessary qualifications to become an adult in the eyes of the law at that very moment. (The fact that she was already an adult was something that the Ministry wouldn’t be privy to until she deigned to inform them – goblins enjoyed making life harder for the Ministry.)

Amelia had strongly advised against this though, as the scrutiny on Rose would be a nightmare to deal with. The suspicion of an eleven-year-old girl passing practical NEWT exams would be a disaster for her plans to remain relatively unknown in terms of her abilities, to say nothing of what the Department of Mysteries would do with her.

Rose loved her old job but she was well aware of the not-so-pleasant facets of her workplace, especially when it came to something like time travel. Often those who'd found themselves displaced in time and informed the Unspeakables were ‘drafted’ into the department and tended to disappear off the face of the earth. Unless they had the skills to create a new identity and avoid detection they were picked up quickly to avoid things such as paradoxes and time distortions.

She had no doubt that she was not the only person who had ever ended up in their younger body but she had never heard of such an occurrence, meaning they too had the – very wise – idea to keep their heads down and not draw attention to themselves in any way.

The fact that she knew certain things about deaths, events, and inventions made her head a very valuable and dangerous place with a wealth of information, hence why she was very motivated to stay on top of her Occlumency exercises and not merely rely on her rings. If anyone else found out the true depths to her knowledge she would be, quite frankly, fucked.

And turned into a lab rat for the rest of my life.

Three people knowing the truth was enough as far as she was concerned, though she may be tempted to tell a future spouse if she had such a relationship. Maybe. She still found it difficult to trust so intimately, even with family members.

Hence her escape from Aunt Cassi. The woman was terrifyingly intelligent, keenly intuitive, and a formidable woman in terms of politics. All in all, a consummate Slytherin.

Rose didn’t trust her. At all.

She might admire her resolve, and she more than respected the woman’s prowess with her magical abilities and political reputation, but she had only recently met the woman. It wasn’t like with her dads who she knew would put her first, or even Amelia’s relationship with her parents as a safety net, this was a woman who knew how to use others to her benefit and would have no qualms doing so. Scary witch, indeed.

The fact that she was using Rose as a way to recover the family reputation was more than enough evidence to prove it. The woman was ruthless, and despite being old was dangerous – it took her no time at all to discover that Rose was a Metamorphmagus and decide to cultivate the gift for the sake of the House of Black. Rose was admittedly impressed with her speed. Reluctantly.

The body of a pre-teen she may have, but Rose was more than capable of fending the woman off or deflecting to less dangerous topics. She was a woman who’d spent a great many years being unable to explain the details of her job to her friends and family, and she knew how to avoid speaking about something she didn’t want to. Just because she could do it didn’t make it enjoyable though, and the constant throbbing of her head was an unfortunate side-effect of all the mental manoeuvring.

She was frustrated and feeling stifled, and if pressed too much she might just hex someone. Hence the – completely justified – retreat from Aunt Cassi’s numerous plans and her day of enjoying the sunshine in the guise of a young woman of questionable reputation, laying under the shade of a tree in an undignified manner which suggested she was either drunk or high. Or both. Or would have if she weren’t fending off suspicions with a surreptitious use of wandless magic.

All hail the miracle of magic. And I’m now talking to myself inside my head. That can’t be good.

As it was, Rose Potter was enjoying the summer day without the risk of sunburn, and was resting her eyes as she enjoyed having absolutely nothing to do except listen to the cacophony of background noise, consisting of laughing families, running water from the stream, and various birds chirping at one another. Her current body was about eighteen to twenty, with straight ice-blue hair just past her shoulders, and under the currently closed lids were deep green eyes, a shade or two darker than the ones she'd originally inherited from her mother.

Her parents and Amelia quite enjoyed her forays into wacky hairstyles and body modifications while Aunt Cassi disapproved of something so improper, though eventually conceded that as long as nobody discovered that it was her she could do as she wished. Which she would have anyway, permission or not. Marius also seemed to support her experiments, though apparently for no other reason than because it annoyed his sister. (Say what you will about the insanity and strength of the Blacks, Rose thought one of their defining features was their pettiness.)

The park was certainly more relaxing than listening to everyone freak out because Sirius thought it was a good idea to have his wedding the day after her birthday, not to mention two days after Neville’s birthday. It was currently the twenty-ninth of July, which meant things were going to be crazy for the next three days straight. Tomorrow was the first half of her joint birthday celebration with Neville at Longbottom Hall, which would then continue at Grimmauld Place the day after.

After that would be Sirius and Amelia’s wedding which she would definitely admit to being excited about; not because of the wedding per se, but more the fact that her dad deserved to be happy after everything he’d been through, and she would personally hex anyone who caused trouble. (Which also included him – she had promised Amelia, after all.)

Everyone even remotely involved with the event was fair game, everyone that is, except the (terrifying) task force that was coordinating the wedding. Ever since her divorce, Narcissa Black (as she was known once more) had opened up and revealed a subtly sarcastic sense of humour and a sharp mind, and had teamed up with her sister Andromeda, Cassi, Amelia, and Amelia’s closest friend Beth Abbott nee Davis, in order to plan out an extravagant wedding fitting for the new Lord Black in just five months.

Invitations, decorations, clothes, location, seating plans … the women were startlingly adept at churning out plans at a steady rate in time for the August wedding, though Amelia was encouraged to relax and let the others plan out the stress-inducing event to perfection.

(Rose had always agreed with her male friends that women were insane, and this was just more proof in her eyes.)

Cassiopeia was frightening in her capabilities to handle both Rose’s new education and Sirius’ wedding, though Rose suspected that the woman had a well-hidden soft spot for her tempestuous nephew. She was determined that Sirius have a beautiful wedding, and Rose could see the care that the elder Black was putting into the preparations.

The wedding itself was to be the event of the summer, what with the media attention that her dad was still subject to as a falsely-imprisoned Lord. Sirius was milking it for all it was worth however, and the Ministry was still bending over backwards to ensure he didn’t initiate a legal attack on them. Mature adult he may be growing to be, the man was still a Marauder and was content to keep them scrambling in panic. Vindictive bastard.

The wedding was going to be huge as was expected for the oh-so-proper union between a Lord and a Lady Regent of two powerful Houses. For some reason the couple had elected to make it a large political event despite disliking such things. She had a feeling that Cassiopeia had been involved with this decision, but to be fair Rose could see the benefits of doing things this way. The Black reputation was still in tatters and the Bones family only consisted of Amelia and Susan, so the influence of both families was vastly diminished from what it once was. A large wedding would only help their image.

Many different families were being invited to start building alliances once more, and Sirius was actually being mature enough to recognise that ignoring the dark families wouldn’t end well. He had ensured that invitations were sent to families of different alignments and those of differing social status to prove that the ‘new’ House of Black was all about equality. (Though Rose suspected it had more to do with making his ancestors roll in their graves.)

Rose was expecting to see a good few of her classmates at the wedding, what with many of her friends coming from well-known families. Neville and Draco had received invitations on account of being part of the House of Black, and she knew that her Slytherin friends were also invited. Sirius was a little leery of Blaise coming, though that actually had more to do with his mother’s marital ‘habits’ – he had no desire to see one of his new friends mysteriously drop dead.

The Weasleys had also been invited on account of Cedrella Weasley nee Black, even if she'd been thoroughly disinherited. Whether or not any of them would actually come was another matter entirely, but Rose would wait and see.

The Boot, Corner and Diggory families were friends of Amelia, as were the Abbots and Greengrasses. Tracey would probably tag along with Daphne, and the Patils and Browns were neutral enough towards both Sirius and Amelia to warrant an invitation on the basis of future business proposals, among others.

That didn’t include the multitude of Ministry workers who were Amelia’s friends and colleagues, as well as those who were too important to not invite. Thankfully this list no longer included Dolores Umbridge who was enjoying her new abode in Azkaban prison.

Rose honestly despised the asinine, finicky laws that favoured pure-bloods for no reason whatsoever, but that didn’t mean that she was unaware of them or was unwilling to use them to her advantage. She remembered when they'd had to break into the Ministry to steal the locket from the toad, and how the ugly pink woman had claimed to be descended from the Selwyn family. As an adult Rose had discovered this to be entirely untrue and was well aware that pure-bloods had a tendency to look rather unfavourably on those who claimed to be one of them; it actually counted as Line Theft, which was a crime that was very harshly punished.

A quick and anonymous letter to the newly elevated Lord Gaius Selwyn – younger brother to the late Julius Selwyn, Death Eater extraordinaire – had started a quiet yet fervent investigation into the life of Dolores Umbridge that hadn't ended well for her. The Selwyn family were not pleased with her claims, as a small dose of Veritaserum had proven that she had already made such assertions.

Though the falsifying of family history wasn’t her only crime; evidence of bribery, compromising of evidence, and possession of illegal artefacts (including the infamous blood quill) had the bitch on a one-way trip to Dementor Wonderland as Rose had taken to calling it. (Sirius found it hilarious and could talk about it more without clamming up so much.)

Not to mention that she was actually a half-blood – oh, the irony – and she had actually faked some of her exam results to get her job. The Minister was still an imbecile of the highest order, but a year of Amelia pushing him into using his brain had made him realise which way the wind was blowing and he quickly cut his losses with his Senior Undersecretary and tossed her aside. Point one for Fudge.

(Rose would ordinarily want Fudge out of the way and gone, but considering Amelia had managed to become this timeline's version of Lucius Malfoy influencing the moron, it was better to have him where they could keep an eye on him. Keeping enemies closer, and all that.)

Amelia had essentially saved the day when she swooped in and solved everything by ‘suggesting’ to Fudge that one of the assistants in the DMLE would be perfect for the newly-vacant role. Lo and behold the idiot had listened, and now one Hestia Jones was now the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister. Hestia was a woman who Rose remembered as a member of the Wizengamot Administration Services in the future. She had originally joined the Aurors before realising she didn’t enjoy it that much, and quickly transferred to something she liked more, though why she thought mountains of paperwork were a good thing baffled Rose to no end. (Maybe she and Percy would get on well?)

Her initial Auror training was why she had been part of Rose’s guard in the future, and why the Order had had no qualms sending her on dangerous missions. Now her Auror training was a point in her favour for her new job: she had the skills to adequately protect the Minister should she need to. Her almost-unnatural ability to finish her paperwork ridiculously quickly and efficiently meant that she could co-ordinate Fudge’s schedule and correspondence so that (hopefully) he wouldn’t fuck up so much – Rose wasn’t holding out much hope, but stranger things had happened, she supposed.

Hestia was also technically a pure-blood, having four magical grandparents, and her maternal grandmother was a Fawley and was therefore part of a House of the Sacred Twenty-Eight that was extinct in the name. Not that many people cared all that much about such a biased list, but the facts were in her favour, and she could technically become Lady Fawley if she wanted to.

Rose sighed and opened her eyes, turning her head in the direction of the clear, rushing water. Even while trying to rest she couldn’t turn her brain off. She'd come here to relax and have a break from the ever-lasting insanity that was her family, but even now she couldn’t calm down. She knew that she could use her Occlumency shields to clear her mind, but the mind arts were similar to muscles in some ways – you had to allow time for healing and rest before using them again or you risked injury. Rose had no desire to mess her mind up, so she simply huffed and watched the water, regulating her breathing and using muggle meditation to soothe her head.

The park was infinitely more peaceful than Grimmauld Place which was where she met Aunt Cassi – because she had no desire to let anyone she didn’t trust in her ancestral home just yet. She just wished that people would realise that an eleven-year-old body wasn’t suited for so much mental stress.

“You picked a good spot.”

It was a good thing she recognised that voice or she would have jumped a mile. Rose turned her head to see tawny hair and amber-flecked green eyes, a kind smile, and the ever-present cardigan that her dad liked.

Remus Lupin was an infinitely kind man, but he was incredibly intelligent too, and the knowing and tired look on his face spoke of the chaos at home without needing to say a word.

“Hey, Dad. How’d you find me?”

“The necklace. It’s got a tracking charm on it.”

She huffed with a smile. “Of course it has. So how bad is it?”

Remus hummed before replying. “I wasn’t aware that a woman of her distinguished age had such magical power and force. A few walls might need re-painting.”

Rose snorted. Cassiopeia and Sirius were both headstrong in their own ways but had vastly different ideas on how things should be done. Their arguments were monumental and something to be remembered, and Grimmauld Place was forever having repairs done to it from over-zealous or ‘accidental’ spell-fire. It was a good thing that money wasn’t an issue or Sirius would be broke with how often he was buying building and decorating supplies. I believe the term is ‘trigger-happy’. Or would that be ‘wand-happy’?

The man’s lips twitched before he walked over and sat down next to her, gently moving her so her head was in his lap. Fingers began running gently through her hair and she closed her eyes, just feeling the soft repetitive motion as she finally calmed down.

No further words were spoken and the father and daughter duo simply enjoyed the scenery together before Rose drifted off peacefully, finally calming down from her hectic life. Remus simply carried on stroking her hair, never once moving.

Chapter Text

Magic was truly a blessing and Rose would never be persuaded otherwise. Without magic, brushing curly hair that reached inches past her hips would be a nightmare, but with liberal hair-care charms and a floating brush doing its job autonomously her blonde locks were steadily smoothing themselves and gently laying against her back.

Once finished she looked over the dresser where she had a small collection of jewellery from the Potter vault; generations of Potter men – because she had been the first Potter female born in centuries for some reason – had had excellent taste when it came to shopping for their spouses. In her room she had a small selection to choose from that were suitable for girls her age.

It was the day of her dad’s wedding and she couldn’t wait, even though she was slightly dreading the political aspects of the event; as Lord Black and Lady Regent Bones/the Head of the DMLE, there was a certain expectation of Sirius and Amelia to host a spectacular event that would no doubt have a continuous undercurrent of political expectations. Rose had no doubt that most of the people who’d accepted invitations had only done so to mingle at the reception and make connections. Two-faced arseholes.

She snorted. If they’d had their way the couple would have had a small, intimate gathering if they hadn’t eloped outright. Amelia was a serious and stalwart Auror at heart, and Sirius was Sirius, enough said.

Rose looked at the assortment of glittering gems and metals, before selecting tiny diamond studs for her ears and a simple silver bangle engraved with protection runes – it wasn’t paranoia if you’d lived your life with people out to get you. She also included the rose necklace she'd gotten from Frank and Alice for Valentine's. The jewellery would be completed with her Heiress Black ring; Cassiopeia had asked (told) her to reveal that title as Sirius would soon be taking up his seat in the Wizengamot.

After he took back control of the House of Black from Amelia he would be in prime position for when she revealed herself to be Lady Potter. Then she could appoint him proxy and start putting forth ideas herself. Augusta may have had voting power – the simple act of her voting would have registered two votes automatically without stating which ones, hence why nobody had realised her votes had switched proxies – but she hadn't put anything forward in respect for Rose’s desire for anonymity.

What with Draco’s very public acknowledgement of his title and the plethora of Death Eater deaths and arrests forcing seats to switch bearers, she wasn’t as worried at announcing her title as Head of House Potter. Peverell was another matter entirely, as the infamous family may not be as well-respected but the crazies after the Hallows were still a problem. Once she was of-age and had a stable reputation she would own up. And enjoy the madness.

After putting the rest of the jewellery in a warded drawer she turned back to her mirror with her clips and indigo hair ribbon. Magic was once more a life saver, but even with a liberal use of spells her hair still took a good half hour to sit securely. Rose turned her head back and forth getting a good view of her new style; her riotous curls were now tied up in a simple yet messy bun, with a few strands hanging down and framing her face. Her forehead was more or less bare, meaning she could get in another dig at the idiots who persisted in believing The-Girl-Who-Lived crap. Good luck with finding the scar, fuckheads.

A quick glance at the clock showed it was one; the ceremony didn’t start until two-thirty but she had to be at Black Manor at half-one for a few photos with the bridal party, as well as help co-ordinate the hundreds of guests who’d already begun to arrive. Thankfully she’d already eaten a hearty lunch with her dads before starting to get ready. She knew it was tradition for the bridesmaids to get ready together but Amelia had persuaded her to stay with her parents so that she could help Remus wrangle Sirius. She just knew he would start panicking soon enough; at lunch he’d been strangely blank, mechanically moving to eat without engaging anyone. Hopefully he was getting into his robes already as he too would be getting pictures at Black Manor.

The girl walked over to her wardrobe where the garment bag was hanging; she opened it slowly before carefully removing the dress. Putting it on was easy and she moved over to her full-length mirror and examined her reflection. The dress was a floor-length dark indigo that matched her ribbon. The design was simple, flowing over her chest and down to the floor, cinched in at the waist with a thin silk band of the same colour. The dress had two layers to it, with the under layer an entire strapless dress beginning an inch below her collarbones. The second layer sat on the top half of the dress, a sheer indigo lace section with wide straps, embroidered with delicate flowers.

Pairing the dress with one-inch black strappy sandals her outfit was complete. All she’d done for makeup was a little eyeliner, mascara, and clear lip-gloss. She surveyed her reflection, cataloguing the differences between her life now and before. She was inches taller, a healthy weight, and no longer looked like the carbon copy of her parents that invited subconscious comparisons. She also looked like a high-class young lady as opposed to an abused child. Aunt Cassi might complain about the lack of sleeves but the dress was conservative enough for Rose.

Rose was ready so she set off to find her dads. Hopefully things would be okay.


This was not okay. This was a nightmare, and she needed to be at the manor in twenty minutes, not to mention that Sirius himself had less than an hour until he was needed there. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to be in the best mental state right now, and the other men who were going to go with him were hiding in the kitchen downstairs, probably drinking firewhiskey if her suspicions were correct.

The groom-to-be was in bed, curled in a ball under the duvet with the lights off and curtains drawn, not responding at all. Even Remus had given up with an exasperated eye roll, turning towards the kitchen with well-hidden anticipation. His words weren’t much help either.

“Tag, you’re it.”

Shitty werewolf. She was so going to get her own back when Sirius went on his honeymoon. Though that meant him getting to the actual wedding first, which was going to be a mammoth task if her intuition was right. Bollocks. At least magic can get creases out.

She huffed before spelling the curtains open and removing her shoes, clambering up on the bed and leaning backwards against the man-shaped lump.

“You know, when I was originally thirteen you offered to let me live with you. It'd been twelve years and I didn’t have any memories of you, but I agreed immediately. You wanted to be there for me, and even though you weren’t in the best position you tried, and that was more than anyone else had done for me before.”

The lump twitched.

“When I first saw you in Grimmauld Place I honestly hated Dumbledore. That house was full of your worst memories and yet he still made you live there. All that happened was you swapping one prison for another, and I hated it. You were the closest thing I had to a family and I wanted you to be happy. I hated that I couldn’t do anything, and I tried so hard to come up with something.

“Instead I got you killed at the end of the year.

“I don’t think I’ve ever hated myself quite that much. I … I thought about ending it, you know? I figured I had enough poisonous ingredients in my trunk to kill myself pretty quickly, then I could see you again … I was so tired.”

She took a deep breath, closing her eyes as she felt the man’s arms around her waist, squeezing like a vice.

“Then I hated myself even more because I was weak. You’d survived more than me and you didn’t give up. So I decided that I'd live for you because you weren’t around to be happy anymore, so I’d have to do it for you.

“The war made it worse, and when I was forced to die for everyone I hated that I had to break that promise to you. When I ended up surviving I decided that everyone could go and fuck themselves. When had they ever wanted to help me before? When had they ever helped you? I decided that I was going to live how I wanted, screw the consequences.

“Since coming back I’ve carried on that way because of everyone. You died, so I promised myself that I’d live. Mum and Dad sacrificed themselves so I could live, not survive, so I want to have a full life. Remus died fighting, and he was so brave. I never wanted to be a coward.

“But I was scared. So scared of letting you guys down. Scared of having something only for it to be ripped away, scared of losing myself, scared of regretting …”

She turned around in his arms, blue eyes meeting tear-filled grey.

“Being scared is natural and I’d be more concerned if you weren’t. But now it’s time to live instead of survive. Amelia is a smart woman – scary smart, if you ask me – and she isn’t the sort of person to agree to something just because someone else wants it. If you want this life you should take hold of it with both hands and don’t let go, because you’ll regret it otherwise. It’s better to know rather than regret what could have been.”

Sirius looked at her gravely and asked, “Speaking from experience?”

Moments from her original life flashed in her eyes; Cedric grinning at her in the maze, Charlie smiling as he announced his engagement. She closed her eyes and smiled, though there was nothing happy about it. Blue eyes opened. “Yes.”

The man grimaced and his eyes softened, moving so he was lying parallel to her, holding her closely as she hid her face in his neck. He breathed in and out, calming down slowly.

“You really are smart, aren’t you? I don’t know what I’d do without you. Remus, too. We’d probably fall apart with you around to keep us steady. I hate the fact that you’re the one looking after us, but I’m so grateful we have you and I can’t tell you how proud I am of you.

“I love you so much, Bambi.”

She blinked back her tears. “Love you too, Dad.”

A few minutes passed as father and daughter took advantage of the peace and their time together.

“But if you get snot in my hair, I will hex you in the balls.”

He laughed until his stomach hurt.


Rose would be forever grateful that the woman her dad was marrying was Amelia Bones. Feared, respected, and a woman that people listened to above all else. She could only imagine the bullshit she’d have to experience otherwise. The stupid photographer was probably going to get a major complaint for his company because of his behaviour, especially his actions towards Rose.

Trying to subtly interrogate The-Girl-Who-Lived about her life was a pathetically foolish move, especially in front of Amelia whose reputation preceded her wherever she went. The idiot was soon put in his place, and Rose was admittedly impressed that he managed to capture so many pictures while shaking as badly as he was.

“What an idiot! Did he really think he could get away with it?”

“Who knows, but I agree with you. I bet children could tell you how bad that was. You don’t have to put up with that everywhere, do you?”

Rose shook her head. “Not everywhere, but enough that I learnt about disguises on purpose just for the sake of peace.”

The incredulous looks she got in return prompted a wry smile. She was currently stood with Hannah and Susan, her two Hufflepuff friends also acting as bridesmaids. They were wearing identical dresses to Rose, though they had styled themselves slightly differently.

Susan’s auburn hair was hanging down her back in a thick, messy braid. She had in some tear-drop pearl earrings, and adorning her finger was the Heiress Bones ring, a small gold band with a trio of flat citrine gems set in the centre. Meanwhile Hannah had opted for a relaxed look, with only half her blonde hair pinned back with an indigo barrette, while the rest fell just past her shoulders in loose curls. She had opted for a thin silver chain on her wrist, and had no rings associated with titles as her older cousin was Heir Abbott.

After dealing with the idiot photographer she watch as the moron was clearly cowed by Amelia and the other bridesmaids – Emmeline Vance, Alice Longbottom, and Beth Abbott. Emmeline Vance had been a member of Rose's guard in the Order, and if she remembered correctly worked in the Ministry somewhere doing god knows what. Rose's godmother looked so alive at the moment, clearly excited at the prospect of a wedding, and once more Rose was reminded that plagiarising someone else's work wasn't always bad. The friendly brunette woman next to Amelia was Hannah’s mother and Amelia's childhood friend. Beth's usual smile was nowhere to be seen now though, as the woman clearly made her displeasure at his behaviour known and promptly sent the photographer packing to take pictures of the men.

“Honestly, doesn’t he realise how inappropriate that was? Not a lick of sense, that one,” she huffed. “Well come along girls, we’d best get ready for the ceremony. You can wander around a little near our room and direct anyone you see, but don’t get lost.”

Rose liked Beth. She was warm and kind but firm in her actions. She knew how to get things done, and get them done quick. Even Amelia was deferring to her. Though that may have been the onset of pre-wedding jitters that Rose could spot. She was hiding it well, but Rose was well acquainted with concealing emotions.

Her father’s soon-to-be-bride was pale and pasty, and her breath was a touch too shallow to be normal. Merlin, I hope she doesn’t faint. Sirius was bad enough to deal with, but at least she was familiar with the inside of his head and what made him tick. Amelia may have become an unexpected friend over the past year, but there was still too much distance between them to judge her well enough. Hopefully her friends would be enough to calm her. Or the man who’d just appeared and hugged her.

John Corner was – if she remembered the family tree right – the great-uncle of Michael Corner, and the uncle of Amelia. John had never married or had children due to not being Heir, and had instead dedicated his life to researching Transfiguration.

Seeing the proud woman cling to her uncle in a panic, Rose turned away from the private moment and excused herself. The small room the bride was waiting in was just off from the rear entrance to the manor. The bridal party would then make their way across the grounds, using the hedges to hide from the guests until they turned a corner into the open space being used for the ceremony.

At the moment the guests should be waiting and mingling whilst waiting for the bridal party to arrive. The location had been selected because of the abundance of flowering shrubs and bushes dotted around the field, not to mention the large – and extremely extravagant – fountain that would be to the side, giving the guests a tasteful background to witness.

Rose found a few stragglers and quickly directed them to the field. She called Tippy the elf and checked off the new guests.

“How many are left to come, Tippy?” She hoped there weren’t many, the ceremony was set to start in twenty minutes and everyone had to be on standby in five.

“Tippy has no names left, Miss. All guests have arrived.”

Thank fuck for that. “That’s great Tippy. Do you remember the plan and what you have to do now?”

The unusually serious – though compared to Dobby, every elf was serious – nodded resolutely. “Tippy and other Black elves raise wards, protect Black Manor.”

Rose nodded and the elf vanished with a crack, and after a minute she could feel the saturation of magic in the air, almost coating everything with how dense it was. As Lord Black, Sirius could raise the wards on the property from wherever he was on the grounds, but with so many people invading the manor it was better to have an extra line of defence. House-elf magic was exceedingly strong, not to mention difficult to sense unless trained.

They’d already made sure to move everything valuable and expensive to the upper floors and sealed off everything but the ground floor; anyone trying to break those wards would be automatically relocated to an underground cell with magic-dampening wards and runes. (The place might belong to Sirius now, but it was still a Black property.)

Rose strolled across the grounds and back to the dressing room commandeered for Amelia and her party. The ceremony would begin in fifteen minutes and then her dad would have a wife.

Good luck Amelia.

Chapter Text

Having an adult mindset was certainly useful in practical matters, but Rose hadn’t anticipated its usefulness in emotional family matters. If she had been her original twelve-year-old self she may have succumbed to immature jealousy over how her dad was looking at his bride. Immature, yes, but understandable when you consider how possessive abused children can become with people they see as theirs.

As it was Rose felt none of that as she walked to the edge of the field with the other bridesmaids and Amelia, who was walking arm-in-arm with her uncle. Everyone stood and watched as the official druid walked around and blessed the large circle being used for the ceremony, before inviting all present to move into place. Her baby cousin Flora walked around the circle grinning, cheerfully throwing rose petals as she did. Rose watched as John led Amelia to the front and passed her hand to Sirius, before retreating to his place in the circle, as did the bridesmaids. She was stood to one side with the others, while the groomsmen on the other side consisted of Remus, Frank, Cyrus Greengrass, Draco, Neville and Michael Corner. Little Flora and Janus Black were the flower girl and ring bearer respectively, and they had already sat down to ensure the toddlers wouldn’t act up.

Of course, Sirius was also present in his new tailored robes of a dark red wine colour, almost black, layered over a white shirt and indigo vest and trousers with sturdy boots. He looked the quintessential pure-blood, a perfect example of a Lord. His hair was combed back and tied at the back of his neck with a thin ribbon the same colour as his robes, and his posture was impeccable. The only thing that detracted from the severity of his appearance was the expression of complete and utter wonder at the woman next to him.

In his defence Amelia looked a vision in her dress. The white dress was simple in design, with a simple strapless dress that flowed from chest to floor, covered with a second sheer top layer decorated with detailed lace that also fell to the floor, with three-quarter off-the-shoulder sleeves. It was exquisite in its simplicity, and Rose couldn’t get over how this woman was the same person as the ferocious Auror with a fearsome reputation.

Her blonde hair was pinned on top of her head, held together in a plethora of plaits and twists that made up a simple bun. Small clips with diamonds were scattered throughout, allowing her hair to glint with the sunshine as she moved. Her makeup was exceedingly simple, just enough to enhance her natural looks without distorting her face, and poor Sirius didn’t seem to know what to do.

The bride turned towards Sirius, and though she couldn’t see her face, the dopey grin she saw on Sirius’ was more than enough to reassure Rose. She could hear the official start the ceremony, but all she could pay attention to was the sheer joy on her dad’s face. She caught Remus’ eye and the two shared a small grin before the tuned back in to the ceremony.

(Magical ceremonies honestly didn’t take that much time, though if you wanted to enact a soul-bonding ritual it would definitely be a lengthier process as those were binding for life without a way out. Regular ceremonies could be broken at any time, though divorce was less common in the magical world due to the social stigma of being a divorcee.)

The man conducting the ceremony had such a droning voice, and if she thought she could get away with it Rose might have thrown her small bouquet at him to liven him up. The bridesmaids all had smaller versions of Amelia’s full-sized flower arrangement, and Rose thought the flowers were utterly gorgeous, in a mixture of colours though primarily blue. There was quite a variety, the bouquet containing forget-me-nots, violets, flowering almonds, magenta zinnias, heliotrope, and stephanotis, all held together by curling ivy.*

The druid had already invoked the protection and blessing of Mother Magic and invited the balance of the four elements, and the feeling of warm magic in the air was soothing. (It was a shame the man was so boring; Rose actually enjoyed magical handfasting ceremonies when they were lively.)

She focused once more as her baby cousin Janus got up and walked over to the bride and groom with the rings, a serious expression on his face. Or as serious as any four-year-old could be, anyway. He toddled back to his seat with his head raised and chest puffed out with pride, and it was all she could do to not squeal and run and hug him. He was too adorable and judging from the cooing women and grinning men everyone else was of the same opinion.

Rose looked over at the couple who had elected to write their own vows. It wasn’t as ‘proper’ as the official vows, but they deserved a little freedom with their wedding, especially with the political circus it had turned into.

“Personally I thought we would have been married by now, but ten years of stupid decisions and mistakes certainly slowed things down. Better late than never, though.” Sirius was grinning like an idiot, and Remus closing his eyes in exasperated fondness really tested Rose’s control over her giggles, though some of the audience weren’t as reserved judging by the tittering.

“So much has happened, and I’m still honestly shocked that you’re standing here in front of me agreeing to be my wife. We’ve certainly taken the long route, but if you had ever given up on me I wouldn’t have begrudged you your happiness. You deserve the world Amy, and seeing as how you’ve actually chosen to be stuck with me, I’ll do my damn best to give it to you and more.”

Sirius cleared his throat and glanced down at the ring in his hand before lifting his eyes to Amelia’s tearful brown ones. He gently took her hand and slid the ring onto the correct finger.

The thin gold band glowed quickly before the light faded and Amelia took over.

“When we first met, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to bang my head against a wall or strangle you.”

The laughter was louder this time and Rose could see Cassiopeia smirk in the crowd. Her dad didn’t even look embarrassed, instead he just stood there with an unrepentant grin on his face.

“Then it turned out you weren’t messing around, and you were actually a brave and loyal man, and the sort of man I wanted to spend my life with. The years might have gotten in the way, but I never considered reneging on my agreement; you proposed, and I said yes.

“I’m not going to lie and say things didn’t change, but my feelings for you certainly didn’t, and that’s why despite the ups and downs I’ve never once regretted agreeing to become your wife.”

The blonde woman took Sirius’ hand and slid the matching wedding band onto his finger, taking a moment to watch it glow.

The official cleared his throat. “Under the sun, and in the eyes of Mother Magic, these two souls have come here today to be joined as one for as long as their love shall remain. We bear witness to this powerful union, and may we give our blessings for the future happiness and success of this bond.”

He paused to direct their hands together, and waved his wand over their clasped hands. Ribbons of varying colours appeared and wrapped around them, glowing with magic as the marriage bond took place.

“Blessed be.”

His words were repeated by the guests as the new Mr and Mrs Black kissed each other very enthusiastically, ignoring the cheers from the audience.

Rose clapped and cheered with the rest of the guests, catching the eye of Remus and grinning with him before flicking her gaze back to the happy couple. Good for you, Dad.


I f this weren’t a wedding, I’d murder the bastard mutt with my bare hands. I take back every nice thing I’ve ever said about him!

Rose loved Sirius dearly but right now she kind of wanted to strangle him. There he was, cheerfully networking with a bunch of snobby Lords and Ladies, and the idiot casually dropped the bomb that she was his Heiress before retreating to the dance floor with his new wife and leaving her to fend for herself. It wasn’t as if she could interrupt either, as it would be incredibly rude to do so, not to mention she wanted Amelia to have a happy wedding day. And Sirius, too. Deep, deep, deep down in the depths of her soul.

In the end she got stuck introducing herself as the Heiress presumptive for the House of Black and it took all of her willpower not to hurt them, magically or with her bare hands. Over and over again, she had to spout lines of diplomatic bullshit to build decent relationships and not offend anyone.

“Of course, I’m delighted that I have the opportunity to establish the Black family in the eyes of my peers.”

“Betrothals? I must confess that I would prefer to focus on my studies for the time being, though the possibility remains that offers could be persuasive enough for me to reconsider.”

“Absolutely not! I hold no enmity whatsoever as being Heiress presumptive. I am after all also responsible for the continuation of the House of Potter. Allowing a future sibling to inherit the title of Lord or Lady Black is something that will allow me to focus on my birth family, and will also benefit the House of Black. My father is an intelligent man to plan in such a way.”

The news that Rose Potter was in fact the blood-adopted daughter of Sirius Black was a startling revelation that left the guests reeling and sent some reporters running from the reception early, eager to fan the flames of gossip. Between Sirius being wrongfully convicted and Rose being who she was, the media was going to go crazy over their relationship.

Rose was getting more than a few speculative looks from some of the older Lords who hadn't actually been Death Eaters and so had remained alive and well. Unfortunately, just because someone hadn't supported Voldemort openly didn’t mean they hadn't agreed with him. She could see their greedy eyes following her as she walked, calculating her worth and how best to get her into their families. Rose just ignored them and tried to show the guests that ‘Black’ didn’t automatically equate to ‘insane’. (Cassiopeia was determined that their family would get their reputation back, even if they had to drag it up from the gutter with their metaphorical bare hands.)

Not even the sappy look on Sirius’ face as he danced with Amelia, or the adorable couple of Remus and Charity, or even the amusing sight of a tipsy McGonagall and Flitwick were enough to cheer her up. She knew that she had a duty to her family, but she just wanted to have fun and celebrate her dad’s marriage.

“Ah, so this is your new friend! Isn’t she just the cutest!”

The very lively, very charming, and very improper voice spoke from behind her, and Rose turned to see just who had come over to see her and completely ignored all formal etiquette. She sounded awesome.

Stood behind her was Blaise, looking very nice in slate grey robes and wearing a look of bemusement and predatory anticipation on his face. Next to him was the owner of the voice, and all of a sudden Blaise’s reactions made sense. The infamous Black Widow, aka Alessia Zabini, was stood before Rose in all her tempting glory, adorned in a simple bronze floor-length strapless dress, black curls pinned back wildly and a wide and infectious grin on her face. It was easy to see where her son got his looks from. Wow, she’s hot.

Rose curtsied gracefully. “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lady Zabini. My name is Heiress Rose Potter-Black.”

The woman actually pouted at her introduction. “No, no, no! You simply must call me Lessi, or even Alessia if you must. All these silly British manners are so boring! Little darlings like you should have fun cara, not be so stuffy! What can I call you, my dear?”

If it were anyone else Rose would have bristled at the familiarity, but Alessia Zabini was simply candid about her behaviour and didn’t care who knew about it. Rose loved her.

She grinned. “Rose is fine, Lessi. I’m not too keen on etiquette myself, but my aunt’ll murder me if I don’t at least try.”

Alessia caught sight of Cassiopeia and let out a deep laugh, loud and natural unlike the reserved ladies around them. Rose was starting to see how so many fell for the woman; her voice was a little husky and deep, her sharp eyes lidded just enough to be sultry, and that was before even considering her well-developed physique. The girl could see all the men in the immediate vicinity eyeing Alessia with poorly-concealed interest, and their wives and female companions were none too happy about it.

“Ah dear, you are a treasure! You must come to visit soon, Blaise has told me all about you!”

“Hopefully nothing too incriminating,” she said with a smirk in her friend’s direction which was returned in full.

The woman laughed enthusiastically. “Oh my, it’s been a while since I’ve seen such fire in a young lady. I wonder …”

Alessia tilted her head and narrowed her eyes, smirking lazily and enticing even more men – and women – to gaze at her hungrily.

“I think I will teach you!”

Sirius whipped his head around to stare at them in horror.

Rose blinked. “Okay.”

Sirius tripped, Alessia cackled, and Blaise grinned smugly.

It’s amazing the carnage a simple word can cause, Rose thought, watching the guests scrambling with the announcement of a connection between The-Girl-Who-Lived and The Black Widow. She grinned.

Priceless.


From then on she was left more or less alone, the very idea that she was going to be under the tutelage of Alessia Zabini (though Rose still couldn't figure out if the woman had been joking just to cause mayhem or not) and was currently a student of Cassiopeia Black made her something of an exhibit that nobody wanted to get close to. It was however unclear whether people were more concerned for her, or concerned about what she would become. Either way she was left alone and finally got to socialise with her family and the other guests.

Frank and Alice looked so happy, and the two were doing extraordinarily well for only eight months of recovery. They could walk by themselves once more, though Frank required a walking stick and Alice had a small stutter, but they were more or less recovered. Their stamina had taken a sizeable hit and they could no longer be Aurors due to random tremors, but considering where they'd started it was a miracle.

It was pretty funny watching them talk about their miracle recovery potion and watch Remus squirm and try and keep a bland smile on his face. She had tears in her eyes as he got more and more uncomfortable as they praised their ‘hero’. He caught her eye and shot her a glare that promised retribution, which honestly just made her snort and she had to pass it off as a cough. Charity Burbage didn’t look all that believing, and was looking suspiciously between the two of them and the Longbottoms. At least she was smart enough to keep quiet.

Rose did manage to get a dance out of both her dads which was hilarious with Remus; the height difference between them was a little awkward and the two of them nearly fell over once before she was caught by Sirius and miraculously transitioned into a dance between them.

Eventually she escaped the politicians and found some others her age.

“Rosebud!”

“Hello, Rose.”

“Oh good, someone I can talk to that isn’t completely Quidditch-obsessed.”

Rose had found an interesting mix of Fred and George, Cedric, Draco, Fay Dunbar and Daphne. Draco and Fay hadn’t even noticed her appearance, so caught up in their debate as they were, and even the older boys had started to edge back towards the heated discussion of the Quidditch League standings. Daphne just looked disgusted with them and turned her back on them, taking Rose’s arm and pulling her away. Rose didn’t care too much; she liked Quidditch well enough but she didn’t follow it.

“How’d you like the wedding Daphne?”

Her friend finally cracked a smile. “It was a beautiful ceremony, and it’s nice to see a wedding between two people who are actually in love rather than marrying for politics. Though it’s a little mad how many people are here, I swear I’ve seen at least five business deals hashed out in corners already.”

“Yeah, Dad was kind of hoping that that would happen and that the Blacks would get a small popularity boost from it. It would have been better if we were all here to show a united front as it were, but you can’t force people to attend a wedding if they don’t want to.”

The Black family was certainly diminished from what it had once been, and it was at a size where the absence of a single member really stood out. Cygnus had flat-out refused to attend the wedding, and while Sirius didn’t really want him there he was pissed off that his uncle had actually told others that the family was going under. When Cassi found out her reaction had been terrifying, and Rose wasn’t holding out much hope for Cygnus' continued existence.

Even Marius’ entire family had attended even though he'd been worried about explaining the existence of magic to his daughter’s family. Apparently Flora had taken the decision out of his hands when she'd started floating at her aunt’s house in front of everyone. Apart from an initial moment of panic, the family had soon been caught up on the facts and were surprisingly accepting of the truth. Rose was relieved, especially that Scarlett wasn’t jealous of her cousins; the idea that her relatives could have a relationship like her mother and aunt wasn’t nice to think about.

“Oh, you mean Draco’s grandfather? I've never met the man, though I'm apprised of hearsay concerning his character.”

Daphne’s tone was polite but you could see a glimmer of curiosity in her eyes. The Slytherin was the perfect young lady in public, but when nobody was around could be utterly hilarious and inappropriate. Hence why Rose saw no problem in telling her the truth. She was a good friend.

“The stupid bastard thinks that Dad’s ruining the family just because he was an idiot as a teenager. Which he was, granted, but he at least understands the idea of maturing. Cygnus is just bitching because he was never in the running to inherit the family unless he offed everyone else, and that he only had daughters. He’s a misogynistic wanker who hates that a Gryffindor is Lord Black, and that he had the gall to name me his Heiress. As a girl, of course I’m completely unsuited to run a family; I should just go ahead and marry a good man who can take charge of everything, as clearly I’m unable to.”

Her friend scowled, lip curling in a sneer. As Heiress Greengrass, Daphne would eventually run her own family, and the idea that she couldn’t do it just because she was female was beyond irritating for her.

“How lovely.”

Daphne’s words were dripping with disgust, and Rose was morbidly curious as to what would happen if she were to ever meet Cygnus Black. Perhaps her dad should start preparing a spot for his burial in the family cemetery already. Sooner or later someone was going to take too much offence to the git.

A small commotion caught Rose’s eye and she noticed that the bride and groom were about to head off.

“Never mind him Daphne. Now, let’s go and send off the new married couple.”

Daphne smiled at the sight and walked with Rose arm in arm towards the mass of people. For once, Rose hoped that things would go well for her family and sent a prayer for their continued happiness as she waved at her dad and his wife as they left the grounds.

“Let’s go get some cake before the boys eat the rest of it.”

Rose snorted and followed her Slytherin friend, smiling all the way.

Chapter Text

The Pottery was extraordinarily quiet in the wake of the wedding, and it was unsettling how much Rose had gotten used to hearing her more enthusiastic dad constantly making noise in the background. Even with him staying at his own properties or with Amelia he came over enough for it to be his home, too. He did have a workshop in The Pottery, and when he was working in the workshop with Remus she could usually sense his magic and feel his presence, and though Remus was still there the lack of noise was unnerving.

She was currently laying on the floor of the one of the spare rooms on the second floor which she had re-appropriated into a study for herself. The thick blue carpet was delightfully soft, and she would have fallen asleep if it weren’t for the incessant reminder in her head of the mountains of homework she still had left.

The history essay in particular was actually something she had to work for, as Professor Yaxley was a proper teacher who set proper work for the students to do. (Rose had a feeling she could've given Binns a black piece of parchment and he wouldn't have noticed.) She was surrounded by open books, all splayed out across the floor as she lay on her back and composed her essay using a special dicta-quill that mimicked her handwriting, courtesy of her future-past boredom. Speaking instead of writing might be considered cheating, but Rose was out of fucks to give to be honest. As long as I do the bloody work, who gives a crap?

As she finished the paragraph she was ‘writing’ – sue me – her faithful friend Hedwig swooped in with a letter which she dropped on Rose’s chest before perching on her bent knee.

“Hey girl, thanks for the letter. Do you want some of these?”

The Potter summoned some of the new owl treats she’d gotten from Diagon Alley which were supposedly of a ‘premium’ quality, whatever that meant. Her owl looked the offering with baleful eyes, before ruffling her feathers and eating them rather ungratefully. Seriously, you can’t just eat bacon, you know. Hedwig lifted her head and glared at her as if reading her mind. She huffed.

“Miffy!”

Her female elf appeared with a crack, smiling happily at her. “What can Miffy be doing for Miss Rosey?”

“If it’s not too much trouble could you make some bacon for Hedwig, please?”

Miffy beamed and nodded. “Miffy can be making bacon for Miss Hedwig! Toppy just got good pig meat!”

“Thank you Miffy.” She turned to her haughty owl. “Go to the kitchen Hedwig and you can have bacon. Okay?”

Hedwig barked and nipped Rose on the finger gently before taking off out the window, presumably to fly around to the kitchen. She was followed by Miffy leaving, and Rose was left to wonder how she managed to constantly be emotionally blackmailed by an owl. Dad was right, she is a queen. Bloody owl.

Rose finally sat up and picked up her new letter. Her name was written in small and concise letters, an aesthetically pleasing script if somewhat simple. She recognised the handwriting though, and she opened the envelope with a grin, already anticipating the subtle dramatics of her Slytherin friend.


Rose,

I could have sworn that you took my mother up on that spur-of-the-moment offer of training that caused your father no shortage of horror, and as such you really should begin said training as soon as possible. Or simply just visit.

If only to save me from a combination of disgust and boredom.

My mother has found a new suitor it seems, and the idiot appears to be entirely ruled by his hormones – it is entirely disgusting. He cannot fathom why my mother pays attention to me, and keeps giving my mother flowers with contradictory, if not offensive, meanings. Clearly, he is beyond uneducated in such matters, and has not even begun to understand how unattractive his ignorance is.

As such, it is well within my right to invite you to spend a week with me at our estate in Sicily. I will not be held responsible for my actions if left alone with this new simpleton, and I have yet to find a good enough reason not to end the fool.

I understand that your father will be back from his honeymoon a week from now, and as such this opportunity will give you a chance to see the sights, and grant you a reprieve from your great-aunt. (Judging from your face at the wedding, you are in dire need of one.)

Aside from this letter, I have enclosed a charmed two-way parchment so that you can send an answer immediately and we can hash out the details for your trip to Italy – today.

I thought that summer was supposed to be restful?

Your (somehow still sane) friend,

Blaise


Rose snorted. Blaise was a master of the understated, and if she was reading this right then her Italian friend was on the verge of emulating his mother and offing someone out of sheer irritation.

She'd never found out the truth behind The Black Widow’s husbands, but she remembered in the future hearing something about a couple of them that made her a little suspicious. Having discovered that two of them were linked to organised crime and illegal human trafficking, Rose had the sneaking suspicion that Alessia Zabini’s motives extended far beyond monetary gain. Alessia had enough wealth as it was from her birth family and her first husband’s family, so there was really no need for any more. There was most likely a link there somewhere, but it had nothing to do with Rose so she would leave it alone. Besides, if Lady Zabini had seen fit to systematically rid the world of unrepentant scum then she was pretty okay with it. If they deserved it then they deserved it, simple as.

She looked back at the letter and rolled her eyes. Blaise obviously wanted her to join him and distract him from Alessia's new target. It was nice of him to phrase it as relaxing and having fun for a week, at least. The only problem was that Blaise wanted her to visit today.

It had been two weeks since the wedding and there was only two weeks until school started again, yet she still hadn’t done her summer homework. If she went to Italy for a week she’d be wasting family time when Sirius got back writing pointless essays. Unless …

“Rose?”

Turning around, she saw her other dad looking somewhat fidgety in the doorway and she waved him in.

“What’s up, Dad?”

“Well, Charity – Professor Burbage – has invited me to the theatre, and I was wondering if you’ll be okay by yourself tonight?”

Hmm … “At least someone in this house is getting lucky.”

His face flushed a deep red and he seemed to choke on air. “Rose!”

She grinned at him. This was so fun; she couldn’t really banter like this with anyone at school – save Blaise – and it was nice being able to let out her sense of humour without anyone questioning her. If Cassi heard her … well, she didn’t want to think about it.

“Don’t worry Dad, you don’t need to explain the birds and the bees to me, you know. I’m already well acquainted with the particulars.” She waggled her eyebrows for emphasis.

He groaned and slapped a hand over his face. “You’re twelve. You’re twelve, and you shouldn’t know about this.”

She laughed. “Actually, the longest relationship I’ve ever had was based entirely on sex.”

Remus lifted his head and gave her an odd look like he was trying to figure something out.

“Didn’t you like him?”

The girl raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think it was a man?”

“Oh. Didn’t you like her then?”

The man only blinked before moving on! She pouted a little. She'd wanted to throw him off, but apparently the idea of her being with other women wasn’t off-putting to him in the slightest. Good to know.

“Actually it was a man. It doesn’t bother you, though?”

He frowned. “Doesn’t what bother me?”

“The idea of me with another woman?”

Remus widened his eyes before walking over to the carpet and sitting next to her, throwing an arm over her shoulders and pulling her against his side.

“I could care less. As long as you’re happy I’m not too bothered about who you’re with. Me and Sirius might be a little over-protective –” He stopped at her incredulous expression before amending his words. “Okay, very over-protective, but if you want to be with someone then we’ll support you no matter what.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“You’re welcome, Bambi.”

The two sat in silence for a moment before Rose remembered the pleading letter from her friend.

“About Professor Burbage, if you want to spend the week with her or something you should.”

The man looked at her suspiciously. “And why is that?”

She huffed. ‘A little over-protective’, my arse.

“I just got a letter from Blaise inviting me to spend a week at his estate with him and his mother. I don’t want to seem like I’m abandoning you or anything, but I was wondering if I could go?”

“It’s fine, Bambi. You’re not abandoning me, you have your own friends and want to spend time with them. As long as his mother is fine with it, then I am too. Do you have any way of contacting them?”

He held up the blank parchment. “It’s spelled to be two-way, so I just need to write on it to contact Blaise.”

Remus smiled. “Okay, then let’s see if you can’t get in contact with Lady Zabini.”

She lay down the parchment and dipped her quill in the ink before writing at the top of the sheet.


Blaise, are you there?

Rose! Please tell me you are coming to save me from the pain of male idiocy? I’ll pay you in chocolate …

Yes Blaise, I am coming to Italy for a week. Dad wants to know if your mother is okay with this, though. Also, how am I getting there?

We have a small flat about ten minutes from the Leaky Cauldron which has a fireplace for flooing. Our estate only allows entrance from certain fireplaces, and the flat is warded to keep strangers out.

If we meet at the pub this evening, then we can walk to the flat then floo to Sicily. My mother will be coming to pick you up in London, as well.

Great! What time do you want to meet?

If we meet at seven, then when we get to my place we can go to dinner.

Okay, sounds good. You’ll have to show me the food.

Don’t worry Darling, I’ll show you everything. A cute angel like you needs help before you find trouble. I consider it my duty to entertain beautiful young ladies ;)


Rose watched in abject horror as her friend’s playful side reared its ugly head in full view of her dad. Now, while Rose was more than acquainted with her friend’s casual flirting – which he did simply for the entertainment value – her parents were still a little wary of him, especially after her Christmas necklace.

Blaise, I’m going to kill you.

She turned to see her dad looking entirely unamused. Her gently took the parchment and quill from her and began writing.

Hello, Mr Zabini. This is Remus Lupin, Rose’s father. I would like to have a chat if that’s okay?

The girl took one look at the words and sent a silent prayer to Italy.

Good luck Blaise, you’re going to need it.

Over a thousand miles away in a manor in Italy, a young man suddenly got a sense of foreboding as the ominous words appeared on the parchment.

Well, shit.


Once Blaise had profusely – and very, very courteously – reassured Remus that he was not in any way attempting to seduce his daughter, Remus very politely requested that the Zabinis arrive half an hour earlier in order to discuss the trip to Italy. Which translated to Remus wanting to intimidate the shit out of her friend and make sure that she would be safe in his presence. She pitied Blaise; her dad was ordinarily very mild-mannered but he could get very scary when he wanted to.

Rose shook her head imagining the meeting that evening before turning back to her homework assignments. She’d almost finished her History essay, but she still had Potions, Transfiguration, Astronomy and Herbology left to do. They were all pathetically easy, but it was already five in the evening and she still needed to pack for Italy.

Then again … Rose glanced up at the ceiling in the direction of her room thoughtfully. She had recently come to the realisation that she was as much a Black as a Potter, and while Potters were rather dedicated to achieving their goals the Blacks took things to a whole new level. They used any means necessary to get what they wanted and didn’t give two shits about things like legality or who got in their way.

Rose wasn’t someone who stepped on others for what she wanted, but she did not care in the slightest about laws. Her personal philosophy was ‘it’s not illegal if you don’t get caught’. Considering some of the shit she used to do for her job would have gotten the average person arrested she couldn’t really be blamed. Or so she told herself.

She got up and made her way to her room and over to an innocuous drawer covered in a multitude of wards. Once opened she pulled out her glittering gold Time-Turner before activating the wards again. She grinned at the contraption as she put it on and made a note to get a few Pepper-Ups.

Technically my work will be done by the end of the day.

With several twists of the contraption, the day reversed itself around her.


Holing herself up in a spare room with books, food and potions wasn’t ideal, but she finally got all her work done by the time she originally went to her room. Using a Time-Turner all the time wasn’t advisable in the least because it aged you as you used it. Meaning that if you relived every single day for an entire week, you would age two weeks in one, and so on and so forth.

Rose only tended to use it for answering her insane amount of mail if it piled up too badly, and at most relived one day every week, if that. She had a system in place for finishing her work – usually – and hated relying on something with detrimental effects to her body.

Of course its potential in pranking couldn’t be overlooked; her parents had learnt that the hard way after she rewound time once or twice to set up traps for them without them realising. Sirius’ screams from the bucket of ice-water had been like music to her ears.

She mentally shook her head and went back to packing her spare trunk. This wasn’t a formal occasion so hauling along a pristine trunk with the Potter crest on it would be old Draco levels of posturing. (She still shuddered at the memories of “my father said”, and “my father will hear about this”.)

This was going to be a week of having fun, having a front-row seat to the bizarre relationships of The Black Widow, and trying to stop her friend from becoming a murderer before he was a teenager.

That is, if Remus didn’t kill him first.

He still wasn’t convinced that the Italian boy was entirely innocent in his intentions but she had pointed out that he was only twelve, and unlike her didn’t possess memories of being a twisted adult. The only reason Blaise was like that was because his mother had a reputation of seducing men and killing them for their money. Or so people said. Rose wasn’t touching that situation at all.

Eventually he relented and went to get ready for his date, as he was going to meet Charity after dropping her off with the Zabinis. Rose wished him luck, though the werewolf didn’t seem to appreciate it. Maybe asking him if she was going to get some new siblings any time soon wasn’t the most appropriate thing to say. Oh well, at least he’s happy.

She finished packing and set out some clothes for the next day. Italy was going to be great.

Chapter Text

Well, fuck. So much for a relaxing holiday.

Rose desperately hoped that her smile wasn’t as plastic as it felt, though judging from the side glances from Blaise she wasn’t as successful as she’d hoped. After an entire year at school together the boy was fairly good at reading her reactions and could probably tell she was uncomfortable, if not the exact reason why.

This was only the second day of her trip to Italy and she had already been reacquainted with the consequences of her actions as a member of the Crazy House of Black. (And yes, the ‘Crazy’ should definitely be an official part of the family’s title.) It wasn’t as if she cared about her family’s actions specifically, it was that she had expected to have an opportunity to relax instead of having to push herself back into the mindset of a calculating Heiress. Why does this crap always happen to me?

The Zabini family was apparently rather large in Italy – like what the Blacks used to be before they went insane and/or died – and her friend had quite a few cousins dotted around the country. One such cousin, Maria Donati nee Zabini, was an admirer of Alessia and had decided to spontaneously visit the family estate at the same time as Rose's visit. This woman’s visit wasn’t the issue. The issue was that she had brought her close friend along.

A young man named Andrea Ricci.

The annoying little prick who was the Italian Minister’s cousin, and the same moron who she’d annoyed so much in France that he'd tried to kill her and had gotten arrested. He'd only avoided prison time thanks to the quick talking of his cousin, though the teen was now studiously avoiding both France and the United Kingdom to prevent any more conflicts and subsequent problems for the Italian Ministry. Which promptly failed upon meeting her. Moron.

Having to pretend that she didn’t know him personally was a pain, but it was hilarious when he realised that she was related to the famous Cassiopeia Black and was therefore a member of the family he had unintentionally slighted. He'd rapidly paled at the knowledge and Maria had luckily grabbed him and spun some excuse about wanting to go drinking before the two of them disappeared like smoke.

Alessia just looked highly entertained by the entire situation before she announced that she was going to lunch with her new suitor, and promptly strolled away with an amused glint in her eyes. The woman clearly kept up-to-date with scandalous gossip and was enjoying every minute of it. Sly woman, indeed.

Blaise took her out to the porch where food was waiting for them before he finally decided to indulge his curiosity.

“So. Not that I’m complaining or anything, because I’ve met Andrea before and he’s an imbecile of the highest degree, but why exactly did he escape your presence as quick as he could without running?”

She smirked at him. “Thanks to Mr Andrea Ricci, in the last month Italy has suffered quite a blow in reputation because he fired an illegal cutting curse at someone while at a holiday resort in St Tropez. Thanks to that, France and the UK have managed to more or less coerce Italy into caving into our demands for allowing business expansion into Italy.

“Foreign stores who want to open another branch in Italy usually can't because of Italy's stance on such things. Though now, thanks to Andrea, the Italian Ministry basically had to give in or allow their Minister’s cousin to go to prison.”

She took a sip of her drink briefly before she carried on. “The reason he reacted that way to me personally was because the person he attacked is a ward of the House of Black. My great-aunt Cassi’s godson actually, whom she even adopted. I think realising that I’m next in line to inherit the family he pissed off was more than a little terrifying for him.”

The boy blinked for a moment before he let out a loud laugh, almost like a cackle which was eerily similar to the Blacks when they lost it and made everyone aware of just how off they were. (Even Cassi, a woman who held herself to traditional standards of appropriate behaviour, had a tendency to cackle like a stereotypical muggle witch whenever something went her way. It was disturbing to say the least.)

“Oh my God! That’s amazing! He’s always coming over with Maria acting as if he can do no wrong, but he went and fucked up so badly that it caused an international incident. At least now I know why my mother’s been so cheerful whenever someone mentioned him recently.”

As she watched one of her closest friends laugh himself silly at the story of Mr Ricci’s idiocy, she pondered exactly how close she and Blaise were. He was light years ahead of their peers in terms of maturity, hence why the two of them got on exceedingly well to the point that their conversations weren’t even censored in private and tended to embarrass their friends with their blunt words.

Blaise had his secrets as she did, but he was very frank with her concerning his opinions on certain topics, though she knew that if she wanted to be able to count on him more then she had to give him something to work with. She wouldn’t be telling anyone else about her trip through time unless she was in a serious relationship with them, but the truth of her appearance was something that would probably come out eventually. Metamorphmagi were rare and considered desirable to quite a few individuals, and it was best to reveal that information on her own terms to avoid trouble.

The only reason that Dora (she finally got to call her Dora!) managed to avoid most of the hassle was because she wasn’t in line to inherit anything and her mother had been disowned, and as harsh as it sounded it was true. Or at least it would be until people realised that Andromeda – and by extension, Dora – were once more members of the House of Black.

She would probably start by telling a few people that she could trust so that if she was found out she would have back-up; those with actual common sense (rare as it was in their backwards-arse society) would quickly realise the implications of her being able to change every facet of her appearance, and though she was used to it she had no desire to weather suspicion from every angle by herself again. If she wanted to change things she needed allies.

Rose’s goal once she realised that she had arrived in the past was to fix the timeline but she was far from naïve. Simply killing off a Dark Lord and removing a manipulative old man didn’t ‘fix’ anything. She may have taken out – inadvertently or not – the larger players of the opposition, but the figurative chessboard was still in play. She had no desire to emulate Dumbledore in the slightest, but she had no qualms employing some good old-fashioned Slytherin cunning to take out her families’ enemies. (Enemies that were genuinely dangerous that is, because the Blacks had made enemies out of too many people to count at this point. Apparently they’d enjoyed pissing people off a little too much.)

One of the problems in the past-future was how exactly those in power had handled conflict and allowed themselves to become corrupt to the point of useless. To truly rectify the problems of their society the people in charge had to change things for the better, and she didn’t have the power to force them to. She needed to delve into political alliances for this to have any chance of success, and it sure wasn’t going to be a quick mission. (Though it was pretty funny when people realised that for the first time ever, the Black and Potter families – traditionally dark and light, respectively – were now working in tandem with one another – their faces were vaguely reminiscent of being hit with a Confundus Charm.)

In order to start dealing with everything she needed people in her corner. She forcibly calmed herself before turning to her still-grinning friend.

“At least, that is the official story that the House of Black will abide by.”

The Italian turned to her with narrowed eyes. “Official,” he repeated impassively. “And unofficially?”

She paused for a moment. “Have you never wondered why I’m blonde with blue eyes, while my birth father had black hair and hazel eyes, and my mother was a redhead with green eyes?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Everyone has wondered that, but considering that you’re a dead ringer for your paternal grandmother there’s no question of your paternity.”

Rose grimaced at that. What she hadn’t considered when she decided to go blonde for the fun of it, would be some rather nasty questions concerning the fidelity of her parents’ marriage, until a random student – which had been her in disguise – had brought up the fact that she simply took after her Black heritage more that the Potter part, which she couldn’t have unless James Potter really was her father. Soon enough people were more than a little concerned over her potential character as opposed to her parentage, given the general reputation of the Black family.

“I wasn’t born with this colouring, it was actually like those stupid books said before they were retracted.”

Her friend opened his mouth and went to speak before she focused her magic under her skin and changed. There was no one around – she had made sure to ‘feel’ the area with her magic – so she wasn’t too concerned, and she morphed to her old appearance of messy black hair and poisonous green eyes. Luckily her hair was past her hips now, so the weight pulled it to a slight wave unlike her dad’s bird’s nest.

She felt the tingle of magic as her appearance settled and mentally cringed. This visage of hers was the one where everyone had thought that they knew her simply because she was the carbon copy of her parents. They'd treated her as an extension of them and it pissed her off. Being compared to dead people and coming up short wasn’t something that had done much for her non-existent self-esteem. Arseholes, the lot of them.

Blaise had a shrewd look on his face and she hoped that she hadn’t made a bad call in revealing the truth to him.

“You’re a Metamorphmagus,” he stated.

“Yes.”

“Since?”

“Since my dad Sirius adopted me as a baby, though my core was blocked as a child by my birth parents and the block wasn’t lifted until I was ten so I didn’t find out until then.” Not a lie, though she'd left out quite a bit.

“And your reason for telling me?”

“I trust you.”

He narrowed his eyes. “And your less altruistic reason for telling me?”

“I am Heiress Black.”

“I see.”

“… And Lady Potter.”

The boy stared at her for a moment before letting out a heavy, put-upon sigh and looking towards the sky.

“You don’t do anything by halves, do you Rosa?”

“No, I don’t.”

Her reply in perfect Italian got his attention and he looked at her blankly before smiling ruefully and shaking his head. After a moment he smirked at her.

“I think things will be more interesting this way.”

She snorted. “Interesting doesn’t mean good, you know. Haven’t you heard the Chinese proverb, ‘May you live in interesting times’?”

Blaise just cackled.


After lunch her friend whisked her away to a more secluded part of the house and had her demonstrate her ability to alter her appearance in a myriad of bizarre ways. Between having multicoloured hair and eyes, changing her body shape and size, and switching genders, he gradually coaxed out the story of what really happened in France and found it hysterical that it was her who his cousin’s friend had offended. Even better was that she had an entirely separate identity forged by her aunt that was legitimate (more or less). Though he was less than impressed when he realised that the situation meant that she was the one who had been attacked.

“So you weren’t hurt?”

Rose side-eyed Blaise, currently sporting a dark red, straight bob and silver eyes. “No Blaise, I wasn’t hurt. I used a shield to protect myself and the girls.”

“Shields are a lot more advanced than our level.” It was clear to see why he was a Slytherin, she thought.

“Technically, I was emancipated at the age of ten thanks to being Lady Potter, and my family’s library is very extensive.” She paused. “And the Black library is uniquely detailed.”

“Uniquely detailed,” he deadpanned. “You mean filled with books that don’t adhere to common Ministry laws. The Blacks don’t exactly have the greatest reputation, and all the diplomacy in the world won’t disguise the fact that you lot just do what you want.”

The redheaded girl pouted. “Not all the Blacks are like that.”

“Yes, they are. The Blacks all have one thing in common: whenever they find something that interests them they give it their all, regardless of morals or laws. You father Sirius enjoys inventing and pranking, hence the shop, and Andromeda is one of St Mungo’s best Healers.

“That doesn’t even include your aunt Cassiopeia’s reputation as a Spell-Crafter and Warder. Arcturus Black was a fearsome Curse-Breaker, as well any number of other examples. It’s obvious in the newer generations too, even if they don’t bear the Black name.

“Neville is beyond brilliant at Herbology, Draco is still a prat but is weirdly intuitive when it comes to Potions, and from what I’ve heard Ronald Weasley is a master strategist and chess player. Though why he can’t apply those skills to the real world, I’ll never know.”

He gave her a look. “I don’t know what your obsession is yet, but I bet you have one.”

“… I like researching magical theory. It gives me a broad spectrum of topics to choose from, and I like finding new ways to think of things.”

“You’re a researcher.”

“Yes?”

He grinned. “So how many illegal books do you have?”

She tried, but she couldn’t quite contain the embarrassed flush that crept across her face. She didn’t mind her friend knowing as it was clear that he didn’t really care, but it was worrying that people could find out about her less than legal habits and get her in trouble. Sirius was trying hard to get people to see the House of Black as a (mostly) reputable family and didn’t need his pre-teen daughter getting arrested for possessing illegal artefacts. Even if they were only illegal because the Ministry had been full of incompetent arses for the better part of its centuries-long history, but that rant was for another day.

“Surely you jest, Heir Zabini. A Lady such as myself would never have such items within her possession, don’t you agree?” she demurred, and fluttered her eyelashes at him innocently to complete the picture.

He snorted then burst out laughing before grabbing her and spinning her around, all the while still laughing uproariously at her words. Rose smiled; Blaise was someone who was so used to tempering himself that he hardly ever let loose. She was glad that he could relax every once in a while, as it really wasn’t all that fun to stay serious all the time.

There was a reason that she'd made it a point to spend as much time as she could with Teddy doing whatever he wanted. She hadn't cared if he'd wanted to play pretend as a little kid, or draw pictures with her, or even mess around with pranking, as long as he'd had fun. Seeing him happy had been a very effective stress-reliever for the adult Rose, as had looking after her friends’ children.

After morphing back to her usual appearance they split up to go and get ready for dinner with Alessia and her new beau. As she watched her friend retreat to his room she realised that he was probably her best friend in this timeline.

Blaise had never been somebody she was close to, either in school of after the war. As a fellow student he'd been content to fade into the background of Slytherin, letting him further his own goals without drawing attention to himself. After graduation he'd more or less run back to Italy and Rose had seen less than once a year at various events. Not that she'd gone to many herself.

There were no expectations in her relationship with Blaise. She had no idea how he'd been in school and so had nothing to compare him to, consciously or not. Their friendship was a brand new experience for Rose and she loved navigating a new situation unrelated to the war. Blaise was fun.

She smirked. At least things will be ‘interesting’.

Chapter Text

It was a well-known fact that goblins were greedy little misers, annoying little fuckers who legally robbed wizards blind while mentally – and sometimes literally – rubbing their palms together with gleeful abandon while watching their victims scramble in panic as their gold disappeared like sand slipping through fingers.

It was another well-known fact that if a goblin grinned at you with their teeth bared and an amused glint in their eyes, that something was about to go very, very wrong. And not for the goblin, either. Goblins weren’t humans, and therefore did not adhere to the same behavioural patterns as humans. This included perceptions of humour. What a goblin found to be funny was usually not funny at all for humans. Usually because whatever the goblins found amusing was something that would liberate no small amount of gold from their unsuspecting targets.

Rose Potter knew damn well that the shitty bastard on the other side of her desk was about to make her life even more complicated, but for the life of her she couldn’t figure out why. Her investments were soaring – with a surreptitious use of her knowledge about which companies would be booming in the future – and she was still paying the bank to help her with certain tasks. Sorting through the mail of The-Girl-Who-Lived was no small thing, not to mention helpfully stonewalling certain individuals who tried to get information about her from the bank. Nosy shitheads.

(She knew donating so much of the proceeds of the basilisk would get her in good standing with the goblins. Bribery or not it was bloody useful, and allies are allies no matter what race they are.)

No matter what some people thought, goblins did not accept people as ‘friends’ to the goblin nation. Some goblins might find certain humans to be somewhat acceptable, but that was because both parties had things to gain from the partnership. Humans were almost universally despised by goblins and vice versa, and the mutual loathing wasn’t too difficult to understand when you read into the history of goblin-wizard relations. Goblins and humans did not become friends.

This was why so many at Gringotts found the friendship between Rose Potter and Manager Sharpfang to be utterly baffling. She was just another stupid human even if she wasn't rude to them, and he was an intelligent and capable warrior. To the bankers it didn’t make any sense whatsoever. Especially given that they both indulged in societal etiquette and spoke very politely to one another. The pair regularly conversed using polite diplomacy beyond greetings which the other goblins simply didn’t bother with. They knew their job and couldn’t understand how a few pretty words could be useful.

Of course it would have helped if the two had revealed that they were just as twisted as each other.

The two of then enjoyed doing things to their own benefit that would fuck with their enemies, hence why Sharpfang had enjoyed helping her to unblock her core and fix her status. The freer she was the more carnage she could cause, and he could sit back and watch the pathetic humans panic as their plans fell apart around them.

Rose could sympathise with the feeling hence why they got along so well. Sharpfang was apparently something of an enabler for her; he gave her the tools to cause mayhem and enjoyed the fallout. Rose was well aware of his personality.

It was thanks to this fact that Rose knew something exceedingly annoying was going to happen. For her.

Her manager enjoyed causing havoc, and by the look on his face he was about to unleash untold mischief with her as the unwilling victim. They had already partaken in the usual pleasantries so there was nothing left to do but deal with it. Fuck it all, best get it over with.

“Manager Sharpfang, it’s a pleasure to see you in person once more, though your countenance concerns me somewhat. Are there any issues that I should be apprised of?” Translation: What am I doing here bastard, haven’t you heard of owls? You look like a bloody death omen right now, what are you playing at?

“Lady Potter-Peverell, it is indeed nice to catch up face-to-face, thought I do hope I’m not taking up too much of your time? As Heiress Black you must have a busy schedule.” Brat, I know I’m causing trouble and I don’t give a shit. How’s life with Cassiopeia Black?

She resisted narrowing her eyes. “Certainly not, Manager. The House of Black is quite easily able to accommodate Gringotts into its day. An establishment such as this, a pinnacle of our world, cannot possibly be ignored. Business is going well, I presume?” Fuck you. The Blacks are batshit crazy and I need a break. Even a bank is better than a crazy old lady. So exactly what have you done, anyway?

He ‘smiled’ at her. My, that is a bloodthirsty grin. What’s he done? “Quite. Working in such a business is certainly time-consuming, though the rewards far outweigh the detractions. Speaking of work however, it has recently come to my attention that your influence could be stretched even further than it currently reaches. As your manager, it is my duty to assist with your assets to the best of my ability.” Hard work ends with seeing idiots cower in fear, what’s not to love? By the way, I’ve done something you’re going to hate.

“I don’t think words are enough to express my gratitude, though I am still puzzled as to your meaning.” Fuck. You. What did you do?!

“It has recently come to my attention that as a descendent of a certain family without a current Head, you yourself will be eligible for the position at the moment another Heir or Heiress for the House of Black is discovered. That is, after another. As the family has gone so long without being claimed, I took the liberty of contacting the individual currently first in line.” Did you really think taking me into the Chamber of Secrets wouldn’t backfire on you? Idiot. I wonder what they said in the letter.

Rose looked between the terrifying grin of her manager, teeth and all, and the parchment letter in the desk addressed to her. You fucking, shitty goblin. I’m going to kill you.

“Words escape me, Manager. I simply cannot express my thanks in adequate detail. This is an unexpected opportunity indeed,” she said sweetly, words dripping with poison. It took an enormous effort not to grit her teeth.

Rose mentally cursed the goblin in five different languages, just managing to keep the politely interested look on her face. Gearing herself up, she picked up the unassuming letter and looked it over. The messy scrawl on the front spoke of someone clearly unconcerned with British customs concerning written correspondence, and the envelope was of a very low quality without a proper seal of wax on the back.

The blonde girl didn’t really give a shit about putting on airs, but it was generally considered ‘proper’ to write with perfect and aesthetically pleasing calligraphy when writing to others; the flourishing characters generally gave an impression of a put-together and respected individual. The envelopes were usually hand-crafted with expensive parchment to subtly show off wealth and status, and the wax seal usually held a House or business crest for the same purpose.

That the writer hadn’t bothered with any of it spoke of someone who was completely ignorant of such things or someone who couldn’t care less. Rose thought it was probably a bit of both; this letter was obviously from the American witch first in line to inherit the Gaunt family, and American magicals tended to look down on the supposed ‘dated’ customs of the British. The writer probably wasn’t fully aware of the subtle nuances in how people were perceived by their writing, while also holding fast to the American way of doing things.

If only I could get away with doing crap like this. If I tried though, Aunt Cassi would kill me, resurrect me, and kill me again. The woman’s as mad as a hatter.

It was lucky that Rose was the recipient and not an uptight traditionalist as, while she wasn’t offended in the slightest, someone else might not have taken the letter as well as she did. Rose remembered well that not everyone had the same opportunities growing up to learn the traditions of magic, which was something that she wanted to change earlier than her past life.

She resisted the urge to sigh and/or face-plant on the desk and opened the letter.


To Whom It May Concern,

It’s recently come to my attention that I’m in line to inherit an old House and the titles and assets that come from it.

As I’ve already told Gringotts, neither I nor my family have any interest in this House whatsoever.

I’ve already had a contract drawn up and signed (which is included with this letter) removing myself and my relatives from the line of inheritance, and allowing yourself to run the family when you’re able to.

Before you ask, I am very sure of these actions. My ancestors may come from Britain but I have no desire to get involved in your politics.

Good luck with the House of Gaunt,

Alexandra Jameson


Well that was blunt. She barely resisted the urge to snort. The Noble and Most Ancient House of Gaunt. Please. The Gaunt family was such a disaster that even the bonus of political power wasn’t enough to entice the rightful Head. Ms Jameson didn’t even need to live in Britain to wield voting rights, yet she still didn’t want it.

Not that Rose could blame her to be honest. The Gaunt family was well-known to be horrendously inbred, which didn’t exactly invite the best reputation to those in the family. Rose was lucky that her connection was quite distant with her great-great-grandmother being a Gaunt. Elpis Gaunt had actually been rather lucky as well, as her parents had been second cousins as opposed to first like the majority of her relatives. Not that that was much better, but the Gaunts were hardly the only family to marry their second cousins – see Exhibit A: Orion and Walburga Black.

Rose had seen the Gaunt family tree more than a few times, and if she was correct Ms Jameson was descended from Elpis’ sister. Elpis had been the third child of four: Deimos, Aporia, Elpis, and Castor. Deimos was Marvolo Gaunt’s father, making her quite closely related to the one and only Tom Marvolo Riddle – which was something that she desperately tried to forget, honestly. Aporia Gaunt ran away from the family to America as soon as she could, and was the Gaunt who Ms Jameson was descended from. Elpis was Rose’s ancestor, and Castor sired just one daughter who, in true Gaunt fashion, was married off to Marvolo. Which was entirely too disgusting to contemplate.

The Gaunt family reputation had been in tatters for at least a century, but it was still respected as a member of the Sacred Twenty-Eight. The list was generally considered to be pile of dragon dung but in some circles still held great sway. Rose was only just a member of the ‘elite’ group as a member of the House of Black, as the Potters did not count – go, Henry Potter.

The discovery of a long-lost Heiress or Head to a House of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, and one with such a prestigious history – because they were descended from a Hogwarts founder – would actually be a boon to the magical community and would likely prompt searches for Heirs of other ‘dead’ families.

The fact that Rose Potter was a Gaunt could go either way.

She had a decent reputation right now, so the fact that she would continue the Gaunt family could help sway opinion on the family in her favour. However, it could also go the other way and get her condemned as a ‘dark’ witch who would grow up to be the next coming of Voldemort, as per the usual idiocy of magical Britain. All hail the land of brainless sheep.

Rose picked up the contract that came with the note, and her eyebrows nearly ascended into her hairline at what the other witch had done. As of right now she had no children or siblings, and her parents were only children. She only had one grandparent alive that could inherit, and the American had managed to get every single blood member of her family alive to relinquish the right to inherit, meaning that Rose was the only person left alive who now could. The contract couldn’t be revoked as they had made magical oaths with blood freely given, meaning that their line no longer belonged to The Noble and Most Ancient House of Gaunt.

Well, this is a point in my favour. As much as Rose had wanted to avoid this particular inheritance, she wouldn’t deny the possible advantages when it came to political power. The Black family would never be hers unless Sirius failed to impregnate his new wife – and considering he was still able to sire children and had ten years of celibacy to make up for, she rather doubted it – which meant that she could take on another title aside from being Lady Potter and Lady Peverell.

Becoming Lady Gaunt would meant reaching the maximum of titles according to the law but would bar her from inheriting a family if she married the Head of another House and they died – which she sincerely hoped wouldn’t happen in her second adult life, but she knew the benefits of preparing for every situation. She wouldn’t even be able to become a fully-titled Lady of her spouse’s family if she married, as her own titles would supersede the one from marriage.

That wasn’t really a problem though, as she had no desire to force someone to give her a title anyway. If she married someone who was a Lord or Lady then she would become Lady in name only – which meant having no real power at all in the family, and simply being known as the person who married the Head of the family and would help continue the family line. A courtesy title.

Considering how titles worked though, if she took on the responsibilities of the Gaunt family she would have to have at least three pregnancies to carry on the names. If her future spouse had a title, that was potentially another one as well. Well, I always wanted a big family.

She looked back at the contract. It essentially gave the option to choose when she took on the title, if she did at all. Time was a good thing in her opinion.

“Manager Sharpfang.”

The shift in tone got his attention and his eyes narrowed at her serious demeanour. Gone was the casual yet polite banter from before and now they were talking serious business. That was one thing the goblin appreciated about his time-travelling diminutive client – she might be hilariously entertaining but she knew when to stop fucking about, and she always asked pertinent questions about her assets. He wished other humans would do the same.

“My Lady?”

“Ms Jameson has been kind enough to provide a copy of a contract drawn up and signed by her family and the American branch of the bank. It states that neither she nor any of her relatives – present or future – have any right to inherit the House of Gaunt. They have even removed themselves from the family entirely if I’m reading this correctly.

“I am now the only person alive to inherit this family. I’ve done enough research to know that I’m the only magical person alive descended from Elpis Gaunt, meaning that I’m the only person who could possibly inherit the family. The question now isn’t necessarily if I should, because I know myself well enough that I can admit to finding the political power quite attractive, but rather when?”

The goblin was looking at her shrewdly. “Elaborate.”

“You and I both know that Albus Dumbledore being dead doesn’t change how the masses see dark magic. ‘Dark’ is synonymous with ‘evil’ at this point, and it’s ridiculous. The problem is if ‘The-Girl-Who-Lived’ suddenly becomes associated with another dark family: the fallout would be disastrous. The Potter family would probably lose a large amount of respect – those of the light faction would see me as a traitor, and the dark would think me pandering and being ignorant of the true nature of magic.

“The only reason being Heiress Black didn't screw things up was because Sirius was a Gryffindor and currently has public sympathy from being in Azkaban. Not to mention marrying the Head of the DMLE.

“If I’m to be associated with the Gaunts, then first people need to know the truth: dark magic, culture, history, gifts like Parseltongue, and the reality of blood status. All these things and more need to become common knowledge before I’m even able to become Heiress Gaunt, let alone Lady. If it isn’t I’ll be metaphorically slaughtered.”

Sharpfang looked at her for a moment before gracing her with a maniacal grin.

“Well, you’ve certainly thought things through,” he cackled. He sobered quickly. “Though you are right; if you do things too quickly the Ministry is likely to brand you a Dark Lady and ruin you. I’m curious though, how do you plan to rectify the situation?”

She blew air out her mouth and ran her fingers through her hair, messing up the wild curls even more than usual.

“That’s the problem. There is no quick fix. When I came back I decided to fix the shit storm that the world ended up as, but simply killing people off doesn’t do anything. That’s just getting rid of the symptoms, not the problem. If I want to sort things out the government has to change, and that’s a long-term goal for years ahead now.

“The Gaunt problem can be fixed by spreading knowledge, and I can probably manage that by using the Prophet and by publishing anonymous books. If I control the flow of information – and get other people to help – I can probably even the playing field for dark magic enough by the time I graduate.”

Sharpfang paused a moment before he started laughing uproariously at her. She rolled her eyes and waited for him to get under control again. Shitty goblin.

“That may just work, my Lady. Is there anything else you want to discuss today?”

“How about the reason as to why you couldn’t just send me this information in a letter?”

“Because that way I’d miss out on the entertainment.”

“You arse!”

Chapter Text

Growing up knowing that your parents had died before you ever truly knew them was a rather depressing state of affairs for anyone to deal with, but having someone to love and care for you certainly helped to soften the cruelty of life.

Susan Bones was a girl who’d always known about the existence of her parents and what sort of people they’d been in life, but the joy of learning about the people who gave their lives for her was always tainted by the fact that they would never learn anything about her in return.

Harvey Bones and Eleanor Bones nee Sykes had never had any portraits made so the closest the girl had ever gotten to her parents were the marble headstones in the family cemetery. Their final resting place was both a source of comfort and a painful reminder of her status as an orphan, but Susan always made sure to dutifully visit whenever she could. She had no desire to take the easy route in life and ignore her problems.

Her aunt Amelia was a strong woman who’d always made sure to impress on her that facing your problems head on way the best way to deal with things. Susan didn’t want to dishonour her parents’ memory or disappoint her aunt by being a weak person. Her family had suffered so much for what they believed in, and she wasn’t going to disgrace that by letting herself be someone that constantly needed rescuing.

She wanted to be someone that didn't have to rely on people she couldn't fully trust for help. Like their own government. The girl still hated that her parents only died because of Ministry incompetence; it was why she respected her aunt so much, as the woman worked tirelessly to for efficiency in her workplace.

A few months after the murders of James and Lily Potter there had still been Death Eaters and supporters at large but the Ministry had grown lax in its excitement at Voldemort dying. Everyone had been so happy at the surprising turn of affairs that nobody seemed to care the vile murderer hadn't been the only problem. They hadn’t thought to pay attention to the situation, and it was this utter stupidity that ended with several individuals being killed before the Ministry came down from their 'end of war' cheer.

If they had been paying attention then her parents would still be alive.

The Bones couple had been well-known for being capable fighters with respected jobs in the Ministry. One day not far into the new year of nineteen eighty-two they’d been visiting Diagon Alley - supposedly still under Auror protection, but for some reason left alone – where a raid was soon started by Death Eaters, and the Bones family lost two members leaving Susan an orphan.

The Bones family, considered a strong family of good blood and reputation, had been all but decimated in less than a year. Susan’s uncle Edgar Bones and his wife and children had all been killed a few months before the ‘miraculous’ Girl-Who-Lived incident, her grandparents had faced similar fates just before Rose became an orphan, and then her parents died months after. Amelia and Susan were left the only members of the once-large family.

Amelia had tried hard to raise her niece to the best of her ability and she’d succeeded as far as Susan was concerned. Susan appreciated her aunt’s dedication so much, especially as she got older and realised the pressure the woman was under; having to work long hours at the Ministry, as well as teach a young girl about life and magic didn’t leave her aunt with much of a social life.

Susan had once asked her aunt if she had a partner, but the utterly miserable look in the woman’s eyes had prompted her to change the subject quickly. The girl had been shaken by the conversation that showed her aunt wasn’t as infallible as she’d always assumed. It'd been terrifying for her – she’d already lost every other member of her family and the prospect of being completely alone wasn’t something she even wanted to contemplate.

That was the moment that Susan decided she wasn’t going to sit back and wait for others to help, she was going to save herself instead. She made the decision then and there to become a strong person like her aunt and parents; she needed to become an Auror so her aunt wouldn’t be alone anymore.

Amelia Bones was a normal human, Susan knew that, but coming home to her aunt sitting next to an empty bottle of firewhiskey in the summer before her first year of school had definitely been a worrying experience.


Susan, there’s something I’ve never actually told you. It just wasn’t a good idea, not to mention it’s not a happy topic. Or at least it wasn’t.”

The older woman turned to her with a weary face. “You remember about Sirius Black, right?”

Susan nodded cautiously, wondering what a mass-murderer had to do with her aunt’s lack of composure.

He’s innocent.” Amelia’s shoulders slumped and she shut her eyes tight as if to block out the pain. “He’s innocent, and he was never even given a trial. He’s spent the past decade in Azkaban despite never being proven guilty.”

The girl drew in a sharp breath with eyes widened. Innocent? A man spent ten years in prison despite being innocent? Oh Merlin, how could the Ministry do that?

But that’s not everything.”

Susan looked back at her aunt who looked wary and tense all of a sudden.

He’s my fiancé.”


Learning that her aunt was actually engaged – had been for an entire decade – and that the infamous Sirius Black was her fiancé, had been one of the most bizarre experiences in Susan’s life to date.

Finding out that the man was also the adoptive father of Rose Potter was also a shock. Susan had long been informed that the so-called ‘factual’ books about the other girl were complete farce as the Potter Heiress was supposed to be with her muggle relatives, not living a pampered life in a magical family as the books often ‘reported’.

Actually meeting the girl in person was enough to make her discount every page of the books as complete and utter trash.


“Heiress Bones, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

Susan looked at the shorter girl in front of her and tried not to gape unattractively. Her light-blue eyes were startlingly bright against the backdrop of her pale skin and platinum-blonde hair, and the girl was beautiful in a way that made Susan immediately want to fidget and play with her hair. If there was someone to make you question yourself, Rose Potter was that person.

Her clothes were obviously expensive though slightly old-fashioned, as if she was wearing something from decades ago. (Susan would eventually come to learn her blonde friend was an unrepentant cheapskate that couldn’t be bothered to buy new clothes, but at eleven was nothing but awed.)

Blonde curls cascaded down her back to her hips, swaying slightly whenever she walked, and the redhead was taken away by how comfortable the other girl looked in herself. She hadn’t seen anyone so graceful since Daphne, but she’d been like a ballerina from the start. (Susan still didn’t have any idea how Daphne did it, it wasn’t fair!)

The only issue Susan had with Rose Potter right now was how much she resembled her cousin Draco Malfoy. He was an obnoxious idiot who made her want to test her aunt’s duelling tips on him. Whenever she'd seen him the blonde boy hadn’t seemed to realise that he offended people left and right, with a very different definition of ‘cunning’ to everyone else.

“Heiress Potter, the pleasure is all mine.”

That was weird. It almost seemed as if the other girl was trying not to wince. Was there something wrong with the situation?

Before she could reply, her aunt and Mr Black left hand-in-hand to spend some time together and Susan wondered what sort of man her aunt was marrying.

“Besotted bastard.”

Those words shocked her into physically jolting, and looking back on their encounter years later, she noted that that sentence set the tone for the rest of their relationship. Rose would shock Susan, and Susan would unknowingly forego any and all etiquette from sheer bewilderment. (Until she adapted to the insanity, anyway.)

“I - I beg your pardon?”

“Dad. He's a besotted bastard. I genuinely pity Amelia having to deal with his crap on a daily basis.”

Rose turned to her with a bright smile and a glint of amusement in her eyes.

“Welcome to the family!”

Auntie, help.


“Rose?”

The other girl turned to her and cocked her head as she casually ate an insane amount of ice-cream. That can’t be good for her.

“Erm … I was wondering something. I mean, I don’t want to offend you or anything, but, it’s just –”

She paused her rambling and took a deep breath before squaring her shoulders, turning to her fellow eleven-year-old with a questioning look.

“Why are you blonde with blue eyes? You know, considering your parents.”

Rose blinked before snorting and choking on the dessert, actually inhaling some of it if the pained squeak was anything to go by. After a couple of minutes of clearing the ice-cream from her nose – and Susan was genuinely concerned at this point; that looked like it hurt – the blonde girl grinned at her and pulled out some photos from a shrunken bag.

“Voila, meet the reasons for my appearance.”

Susan peered at a still muggle photo of a young couple, the man having dark auburn hair and blue eyes the exact shade of Rose’s eyes. The woman had blonde hair darker than the girl sitting next to her, but with green eyes she’d seen reflected in pictures of Lily Potter.

“As for my particular shade of blonde hair, I have my great-grandmother to thank for that.”

The other girl pulled out a photo and handed it over as she leafed through the rest. The Bones Heiress studied the stern blonde woman with brown eyes who was almost glaring at the camera. She didn’t look all that friendly to be honest.

“This is your great-grandmother?”

Rose nodded. “Yep. Violetta Black nee Bulstrode. She passed on her blonde locks to several of her female descendants in that specific branch of the Blacks. Aunt Cassi and my grandmother Dorea were both blonde, Dad’s mother Walburga too, as well as Narcissa Malfoy.”

Susan studied the girl who was now her family. She was so comfortable in herself, and from the brief conversations they’d had – though Susan very much felt as if she was out of her depth – Rose seemed to be pretty open to different types of magic.

“You, um, seem to be very open to being a member of the House of Black. You know, despite the Potters being, err –”

“Light?”

The readhead was coming to the realisation that that smirk existed to give her heart palpitations.

“True the Potters are a light family, but just because someone is inherently dark doesn’t mean they’re evil. It’s the same with spells, intent matters so much more than whether it’s light, grey or dark.”

Rose shifted and turned to her, adopted a serious expression as she began lecturing. “A person’s core has no bearing on their personality as what type of magic a spell uses does on its result. A cutting or a levitation spell are simple first-year light charms, but they still have the capabilities to slit someone’s throat or levitate something heavy on top of someone and kill them respectively.”

The blonde girl finished her brief but intense explanation and Susan was flabbergasted. Her aunt might not have ever been hateful towards dark magic but she’d always assumed there was something to be avoided because of what she’d heard. Clearly, ‘common knowledge' wasn’t always actual knowledge.

“Bambi! Stop annoying Susan and give your darling father some attention.”

“Please, the only attention you need is from professionals who deal with the human mind.”

“Amy, she’s picking on me!”

As she listened to the caustic banter between father and daughter, most of Susan’s mind was replaying Rose’s words over and over again as she began to reassess her opinions of what magic was.

(Rose had no idea this brief explanation was the root cause of her redheaded friend becoming one of her staunchest supporters in the following years.)


“So, what’s up?”

Susan was rightly confused given that the makeshift family was supposed to be spending the day together: her, Aunt Amelia, Rose, and Sirius. Rose’s other dad Remus Lupin had left to spend the day with his girlfriend, but not before Rose waggled her eyebrows suggestively at the man. Susan had blushed bright red and left the room to the sound of a playful argument between father and daughter. While she couldn’t imagine having such a personal relationship with a father she could understand that it was Rose’s business.

She’d been shown around Grimmauld Place which apparently used to be quite the dump, by a smiling Rose and a strangely proud house-elf. Kreacher was very old and had traditional views but he seemed to adore Rose for some reason. She wasn’t about to ask about Black family business though – her aunt might be a Black now, but even she wouldn’t be privy to everything. Blacks were possessive, and blood meant a lot more to them than being family by marriage.

The two girls were now in the tapestry room, and the family tree was rather daunting with how it sprawled across the walls, detailing the infamous family all the way back to the thirteenth century. They were eating some snacks provided by Kreacher and Rose looked to be trying to tell her something.

Susan put down her plate and turned to Rose, blue eyes meeting brown. Susan wouldn’t admit it but the other girl’s beauty was daunting and she was quite envious. She wouldn’t let it come between them though, especially after Rose had once looked thoroughly confused after someone complimented her. That she couldn’t understand she was attractive was just another result of being told she was worthless as a child, and Susan couldn’t find it in herself to be too jealous of that.

“Dad and Amelia are married so we’re practically family now. I’m not someone who generally likes keeping things from family if I can, so I’d like to tell you something about me, though I’d like it if you kept it to yourself.”

Susan blinked. “Is it dangerous?”

“Not really, I mean, any magic had the ability to be dangerous if it’s used with that in mind, but not specifically. It’s more of a Family magic thing, I –”

“Wait!”

Rose paused, bewildered. “Susan?”

“Rose. Family magic is generally kept secret for a reason. It’s kept in the family so others can’t take advantage of it.”

The blonde girl sighed. “I know Susan, but the point is my ability isn’t going to remain a secret forever. It’s physical magic, and already one person found out without me knowing. Luckily they were family but I’d rather not risk it again. It’s useful magic and a lot of people find it to be an attractive quality. Sooner or later people are going to find out, and I’d like to have people on my side when they do. I'm also not the only one who has it.

“But most importantly you’re now my family. You might not be a Black by blood but you are by marriage. My ancestors might not have thought you to be family, but between my dad and I the old stuffy traditions aren’t going to last too long. I don’t like the thought of lying to family. I’ll admit that I have secrets which you’ll probably never know because they are dangerous, but I don’t mind sharing others.

“I trust you.”

Susan felt warmth blossom in her chest as she realised the other girl really and truly thought of her as family. This wasn’t an ill-conceived decision, this was a thought-out plan because of Rose’s own ideas about such things. She knew that this moment was also politically important even if Rose herself didn’t realise it. Rose was asking for her trust and Susan was eventually going to be Lady Bones. Rose was going to be Lady Potter and she was close enough to Lord Black to speak for their family. Susan could offer her – and her family’s – friendship, or she could step back to just being acquaintances.

“Okay. So what’s the issue?”

“Two things, actually. First, I’m already Lady Potter, and though my vote in the Wizengamot wasn’t ever publicly acknowledged as changing proxies it was being used by Augusta Longbottom. I also emancipated myself at ten without anyone knowing.”

Susan’s eyes were wide. “How did you not end up in Slytherin?”

Rose just grinned and casually changed her hair to royal blue and eyes to bronze. In a corner of her mind Susan noted they were the Ravenclaw colours. The rest of her mind was focused on how her friend just changed her appearance. Without a wand.

“Secondly, I’m a Metamorphmagus.”

“… Did you make yourself look like a female Draco Malfoy on purpose?!”

The tension was immediately broken, and the discussion swiftly ended with Rose on the floor and tears in her eyes as she laughed hysterically.

Susan just looked at her dazedly. Auntie, I think this family’s insane.

Chapter Text

Rose looked in the mirror admiring her current deep blue hair and bronze eyes – Ravenclaw solidarity at its finest – and pondered the ability of a Metamorphmagus.

The ability was something that was more prevalent centuries ago when the magical population was vastly bigger than what it was now. Due to widespread witch trials during early modern Europe the number of magicals drastically decreased as well as those of non-magical communities.

A common misconception was that the witch hunts killed far more people who couldn't use magic than could, but the major – and most disgusting – problem came when you considered who it was that suffered most for the magicals.

Children.

Magical children generally had hardly any control over their magic before they were instructed properly, and while accidental magic sometimes acted independently to save someone, if a child didn't know exactly what it was they needed to do in a certain situation their magic couldn't do much of anything.

(If it could her childhood would have been far better.)

Before the witch hunts, not many families had as stringent rules and stipulations for their children. Allowing children the opportunity to independently explore and learn about the world had been very common, and it was only when they lost their children and other relatives to fanatical accusers did older Houses start to enforce the strictest rules they could think of on their families in order to keep them closer so they could ensure their survival.

The magical population took a sizeable hit during that time period, which was only exacerbated by the several Dark Lords from the fifteenth century through to the nineteenth century. Gellert Grindelwald might have been the height of terror for the twentieth century, and Voldy might have thought himself to be the most powerful and terrible of all time – arrogant, much? – but the truth was that they were simply the most well-known because of how recent they were.

Just off the top of her head she could name half a dozen Dark Lords that had plagued their world, some of whom had actually done more damage to their world in far less time that it took Grindelwald and Tom to rise to power.

Horrific relations between goblins and wizards could be attributed to fifteenth century arsehole Yardley Platt, a man that had taken great pleasure in slaughtering the creatures for sport and pinning the blame on his enemies. Without a definite culprit talks between the two races had been fraught with anger and violence, sowing the seeds of suspicion which would eventually culminate in the beginning of several goblin rebellions.

The fifteenth century was also the time of Ekrizdis, the wizard that built the fortress Azkaban. The man slaughtered muggles and magicals alike if they came too close to him and got in his way, and the general consensus was that he was insane. Considering he actually built Azkaban which was found with an infestation of Dementors, and that the investigators never told anyone what they found there, there was a good chance it was true. (The fact that the Department of Mysteries had some of the original reports and memories was something she would never breathe a word of – she wasn't stupid.)

Emeric the Evil popped up during the seventeenth century to start slaughtering people indiscriminately. He was actually one of the owners of the Elder Wand, and Rose had a feeling the moron had succumbed to the temptation of the powerful wand and decided to go out and prove how strong the thing made him. If you ignored the fact that he caught the attention of someone vastly stronger than him who painted a field red with his insides, he succeeded.

Even as recent as the beginning of the nineteenth century had another Dark Lord that had more of an impact on their world than Voldemort. Owle Bullock was both physically responsible for killing close to a thousand as well as indirectly responsible for thousands of other deaths. He was the author of Secrets of the Darkest Art, the book that she, Hermione and Ron took on the Camping Trip From Hell (the capitalisation was very much needed). It has specific and step-by-step instructions on how to create Horcruxes as well as all manner of mind-destroying black magic.

Bullock created the book by kidnapping and using various witches, wizards and creatures to experiment on to get the best results to publish. The fact that said book had many spells that eroded mental reasoning and spells used to kill people, meant that over time the book became highly regulated and restricted because people were using it too much. The more they used it, the less logical they became, and the more tempting the mind-destroying spells became.

Magical common sense at its finest.

Dumbledore's ex and Tom might think they were the best of the best, but in truth they were the most recent, simply adding to the culling of their population rather than starting it.

They were fucking stupid.

Her Metamorphmagus abilities were proof of that. More people used to be able to do it because they weren't so inbred. Pure-blood supremacy wasn't exactly a new thing, but their population used to be a lot bigger and so there were more prospects for a potential spouse than there was now. Not only did this allow for more political alliances, but the children were generally a lot healthier. In particular, things like birth rates were higher and infant mortality rates because of health defects were lower. One just had to look at how many families had gone from having on average four children per marriage to just one or two. Problems with fertility weren't a joke.

Centuries worth of marriages to people who were closely related had led to the Metamorphmagus ability amongst others dying a slow death. The ability to morph one's appearance was a Family ability, which meant you had to have a certain proportion of both Family blood and magic.

Rose originally only had a Black grandmother which wasn't enough to allow her to morph from birth. To be a Metamorphmagus in the Black family you had to have a Black parent bearing the Black name (being a Black magically), hence why her adoption from Sirius triggered the ability. Ordinarily his blood could have been a problem because of his parents being so closely related, but her maternal lineage had enough muggle blood to essentially refresh the blood from any problems.

The Family magic also played a big part in her abilities. At the time of her adoption, her dad was technically Heir Black despite not wearing a ring or recognising himself as such. Orion and Regulus Black had both been dead at that point in time, meaning Sirius was the only prospect for inheriting the House of Black as his grandfather Arcturus hadn't disinherited him. She was adopted directly into the main branch of the family which typically has the strongest Family magic compared to other branches. Rose inherited Black magic and blood from the direct line of succession, which when combined with her non-magical blood from Lily's ancestors meant her blood was cleaned and then bolstered with the ability to change her appearance.

Family magic honestly made things way too complicated. Trying to figure things out with muggle genetics or percentages just didn't work when Magic made its own decisions. Rose was born directly as Heiress Potter, as opposed to her deliberately seeking out the Lady Peverell ring and taking the magic into her body without being born with it. She wasn't born as Heiress Black, and thanks to whatever her dad had done recently – a binding contract or Vow, maybe – she wouldn't be Heiress Black forever. The Black magic had been forcibly entered into her body during the adoption rather than being born with it, though it wouldn't leave after she stepped down from being Heiress. She would always be the daughter of a Lord Black.

By percentage and using non-magical genetics, she was more Black than Potter going by Dorea and Sirius' parents, but magically she was more Potter because she had been born into the Potter family, not to mention now being Lady Potter. Having the full magic as Head of House Peverell also meant she was more Peverell than Black despite not having a family member bearing the Peverell name for centuries.

"That is so fucked up."

"What's so fucked up?"

She turned to see Sirius casually leaning against the doorframe to her bedroom.

"Nothing much, just that if you go by percentage I have more Black blood because of the adoption and Dorea, but magically I'm more Potter because of heading the family."

The man scrunched his nose up as he went over her words. "You're right, that is fucked up."

Rose snorted bitterly. "Story of my life."

Sirius cocked his head to the side and narrowed his eyes as he looked her. She tried not to squirm in place as his silver orbs focused on her intently. The Black eyes had always unsettled her a little, the colour strangely intense and intimidating, and she hated feeling like an open book whenever her dad looked at her.

"What?"

"You know," he began slowly, "I don't mean to pry, but is there something wrong I should know of? Ever since you got back from Hogwarts you've been kind of … restless. Not to mention unhappy. You're definitely not as upbeat as you were months ago. What's going on?"

She tried not to wince at the knowledge of her mood, realising that she obviously wasn't hiding it as well as she thought if her dad had managed to notice despite being so focused on his new wife.

"It's – I mean, I …"

Rose trailed off with a frown, trying to figure out how best to voice the problem that really didn't have a solution. She already knew she was pretty fucked up, so what was the point in reiterating it?

The feeling of hands on her shoulders made her look up to see a distinctly worried look on Sirius' face. He gently directed her to the small sofa next to her dressing table and sat down, pulling her into his lap so he could wrap his arms around her tightly. A part of her mind told her she was much too old to be needing comfort like this. The other part of her mind flashed the middle finger at the first part as she buried into the warmth below her.

Fingers were gently running through her curls and Rose took a moment to marvel over how different Sirius Black was in this lifetime. The man that she'd known before would never have been able to sit down for hours at a time to work; his focus had been far too erratic, and she'd never seen him so settled and confident in himself before. Even if she was having trouble, at least she could see the benefits of her actions in her family.

"So."

At the sound of her dad's voice she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Here goes nothing.

"I … you know that my adult life wasn't exactly what you'd call perfect. After the war, I was … well, let's just say I wasn't handling things well and we'll leave it at that. Becoming an Auror sucked, but when I managed to blow some things up in training that were supposed to be unbreakable, an Unspeakable saw me and got in contact, and the rest is history.

"I loved it, even if I quickly came to the realisation that my education in school and my approach to learning had been far from perfect. My colleagues helped me out even as we worked on projects, and I was so busy between work and looking after my godson that I didn't really have time to think."

She paused and bit her lip. "It helped, not thinking. I'd had to participate in a war, had to actually be at the forefront and fight, and after a while I ended up falling into the mindset that it was my job. My goal.

"I haven't really escaped that mentality since. I need a goal to function properly, otherwise I start getting lost in my own mind and getting antsy. Ending up in the past provided no end of things to fix that I could directly deal with. Voldemort, getting you out of prison, the Longbottoms … I had the ability to do something about them.

"But now, I'm ... lost. I know Aunt Cassi's training me to be Heiress Black, and there are things I can do to help certain situations as Lady Potter, but there isn't exactly a problem I can work on fully fixing.

"To be honest, I feel pretty useless."

In the wake of her words there was silence, just the distant chirping of birds outside her bedroom window interrupting the tension in the room. As much as she didn't want to say anything she didn't want to be someone who kept secrets upon secrets from her family. Of course there were things she wouldn't tell anyone about her past life, but she wouldn't disrespect her parents by acting as if they couldn't understand anything about what had happened to her as an adult. Besides, she wanted to be selfish for once and have parents to lean on. Was it so wrong for her to wish that?

"I'm so sorry."

Rose blinked and lifted her head, turning to meet pained grey eyes incredulously. Why was he sorry?

The man’s eyes tightened with pain. "See, that's just it. The fact that you can't even recognise your problems aren't your fault is worrying. If we hadn't let things get so out of hand you would have grown up happy and well-adjusted, not having to do things to cover up war-related problems."

"But that's not your fault," she interjected. "Yeah, you might have been in prison, but me ending up in a shitty household wasn't because of you."

"Wasn't it?"

Before she could defend him the man spoke up again. "Bambi. I know full well that I'm not one hundred percent responsible for you ending up in that hellhole, but my own stint in a hellhole was enough to show me how I could have done things better. Not to mention the Mind-Healer sessions."

He paused and looked her in the eye, pain and regret so evident in the silver orbs that it made her feel sick.

"I was a horrible child. I was selfish and loud, doing what I wanted without any thought of the consequences. I was … I was a bully, there's no other way I can describe it. I was cruel and callous, and the mere thought of anyone doing any of the things I did to others to you makes me want to puke.

"The thought of you looking at me like my classmates did terrifies me."

Rose swallowed and took a deep breath. "I'm not going to lie, when I found out what sort of things you did in school I wanted to cry. For years I'd been on the receiving end of things like that, and the idea that people I looked up to were bullies was horrific to consider.

"But you're still my dad. All three of you. The fact that you can all recognise how horrible you were without having someone forcibly change your perceptions means you've matured.

"I'm also never going to look at you the way others did, because I don't need to forgive you for anything. You might have disappointed me and made be upset, but you've never once made me the focus of something like that. I'm not a victim so I don't need to forgive you."

Grey eyes looked suspiciously wet as Sirius' arms pulled her closer and held on tight, almost as if he couldn't quite believe what he was hearing. Rose could understand but she hadn't been lying about her not needing to forgive him. Forgiveness came from someone that had been wronged by the person in question. She hadn't been wronged by him. Sure, he might have acted more than hastily going after Pettigrew, but she knew full well that he'd only done so to get revenge for her and remove a threat. Granted he hadn't been thinking nearly straight enough, but the sentiment had been there.

"I could sit here and thank you all day and it still wouldn't be enough. I don't care what you think about having problems with your mind, you're my daughter and I love you regardless. Even if you decided to drop out of Hogwarts and run away while telling everyone to literally fuck off, I wouldn't care at all. I'll support you no matter what. You're an amazing person, and never let anyone tell you otherwise."

She snorted even as she blinked back tears, still bewildered that someone could know of her messed up mind and still want her. Rose thought over his words and grinned evilly.

"So, you'll support me no matter what?"

Sirius smiled. "Of course I will."

"Even if I elope with someone when I'm older?"

Suddenly the smile froze on his face, and a look of untold panic and dread flooded the silver orbs. She could almost see him lose control and felt a little bad for messing with him.

Just a little.

"NO WAY IN HELL!!!"

Poor Dad. Denial is no way to live.

Chapter Text

Rose had long since prided herself on her intelligence as well as her ability to accurately predict events based on the information that she had at her disposal. Granted things didn’t always go exactly how she’d imagined, but she could usually more or less estimate the general direction of a sequence of events based on a few facts. Usually.

This was not something that she'd predicted.

At least this proves I really am a Potter beyond all doubt. The portraits of James and Charlus Potter looked like they'd like to be anywhere other than where they were right now. Unfortunately the paintings of their wives had a firm grasp on them to prevent escape, and the Potter men were left with identical expressions on their faces, looking an amalgamation of utterly miserable, bored out of their minds, and close to falling asleep.

Rose could empathise. A lot. They look like how I feel.

She had thought it was a good idea to ask her grandmother’s portrait about some political ideas and Lily had apparently agreed and perked up from her own frame. The girl hadn't quite understood the frantic expressions on her father and grandfather’s faces until she had been overloaded with a political lecture on the best way to secure alliances, how to gain control of debates, and the methods used to gain approval in the Wizengamot, all the while trying to avoid falling asleep from the info dump Dorea had blessed them with.

From all accounts, Dorea Potter nee Black had not been politically inclined in the slightest, quite content to live a simple life and marry the son of the man who had ensured his family was stricken from the ‘ultimate’ list of pure-bloods. (Rose had never quite managed to figure out how Dorea hadn't been disinherited for marrying a child of Henry Potter, but the glint in Dorea’s eye when asked was enough of a warning to avoid that particular topic of discussion.)

So when Rose had asked for a few pointers from her – she was still a Black after all, and the sister of the infamous Cassiopeia – she had expected some tips, maybe a new perspective or two to work from. She had not expected an hour-long lecture on the importance of familial alliances and how best to maintain them.

She didn't like being blindsided like this. Merlin this woman is mad. Charlus Potter, I take my hat off to you.

“Of course, the House of Black has built in clauses in their marriage contracts which stipulate favours, alliances, and whatnot. They’re usually slipped in with political endeavours in mind.”

“Wait a minute,” she interrupted. She vaguely noticed four sets of eyes snap to her, but she wasn’t paying attention to them. Her mind was racing. Does she mean …

“Do you mean to say that any family that has a marriage contract with the House of Black also has an automatic alliance with them?”

Dorea arched an elegant eyebrow. “Of course. When I was younger having an alliance with the Black family was a fortuitous turn of events. It’s only within the last few decades that the family has dwindled in both power and intelligence.” She sighed. “Arcturus always was an incompetent imbecile.”

“Do the alliances have a specified length, like they’ll only last for a certain number of generations, or are they revised on a yearly basis, for example?” Rose was intrigued. This could be useful.

Charlus broke in. “From my own marriage contract, there wasn’t a length of time set in place, most likely because no-one could really see the Blacks falling from grace. They were always a powerhouse, and imagining otherwise was sheer stupidity. Until it wasn’t, of course. No offence.” He directed the last part at his wife with a grin, which she returned if a little ruefully.

“Oh … methinks that Bambi has an idea.” Her dad was grinning at her, and she flushed a little at the obvious pride in his voice.

She cleared her throat, studiously ignoring her mum hitting her husband over the head for embarrassing her.

“You know that I want to do things that require a certain amount of political power, and I might be a Potter but I’m also a Black. Sirius is doing what he can for the Blacks and soon he’s going to be voting for the Potters, too. But it’s still my responsibility to make sure that the Potter allies stick with me and make sure they know that Sirius isn’t going to turn into a crazy Black and take over the Potter family.”

She stopped, watching with a grin as her dad started laughing hysterically. Even her mum was giggling at the idea, while her grandparents were fighting smiles.

“Well, we all know that’s not going to happen. Sirius would be a terrible dictator and he’s crap at doing his paperwork. He’d give up after a day.” She finished with a smirk.

Judging from the sound of even louder laughter, James now smacking the floor of his portrait, they were all in agreement over that.

(In London Sirius Black was suddenly overcome with a bought of sneezing while doing his paperwork, causing him to put his quill through the parchment. “Oh, come on!”)

“Anyway. What I meant was that Sirius and I will be working together for political projects, so it would be best for him to start looking over the inter-family marriage contracts to get up-to-date with the alliances. There were quite a few contracts with Blacks marrying out, or others marrying in, so he could feasibly get some ready-made support on the Wizengamot.”

“You’ll need to be careful. If he tries to use those alliances too much they’ll see it as coercion. If he wants to build the alliances properly he’ll need to do it outside of the Wizengamot, too. Not to mention that some of the alliances were set up to be seen as favours, meaning that if Sirius gets someone to do something for him they’ll see it as the House of Black owing them a favour, which could be dangerous.”

Dorea was right. The Black family was such a pain in the arse compared to the Potters.

Dorea’s eyes widened and Charlus snorted. Oh, she said that last part out loud. Oops?

“Oh come on, you have to admit it’s true. Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Potter family has only married five other wizarding families, compared to the dozen or so families the Blacks married.”

Charlus frowned. “Five? I thought there was four?”

“Warrington, Greengrass, Black, Jones, and Gaunt.”

“What the hell? The Gaunts have been extinct for decades!”

Her mum’s bewildered expression was mirrored in three other faces, and Rose got a sinking feeling in her stomach. She mentally went over all the different conversations she’d had with her mum’s portrait and cringed. She’d mentioned in tears the first time they spoke that her mother should have got an inheritance test, but if she remembered correctly James had said something to piss Lily off, and they all got distracted and forgot about the conversation. Rose couldn’t remember bringing it up again. Well, fuck.

She hadn't told her.

“I forgot to tell you, didn’t I? … Aw, shit.”

Her dad looked bemused. “Forgot to tell us what?”

“Well …”


Forty minutes, a dozen artefacts, and a hastily drawn family tree later, there was dead silence in the room at the knowledge that Lily – the supposed muggle-born – was a Gaunt. A member of The Sacred Twenty-Eight, and a descendant of Salazar Slytherin.

The silence was broken as her dad once more started laughing uproariously. It was probably a good thing he was dead, because it didn’t look like he was getting enough oxygen laughing like that.

Lily was still frozen with shock, and even the usual display of her husband’s idiocy wasn’t enough to jolt her back into reality. Dorea looked contemplative, while Charlus was snickering at his daughter-in-law’s expression. Rose was just grinning at the mental upheaval she’d just introduced her family to.

“So Potter and Gaunt. Is there any other family you’re going run that we should be aware of?” Dorea’s dry voice cut into the laughter, and the rhetorical tone clearly wasn’t supposed to be answered.

Rose blinked. She was Lady Potter-Peverell, didn’t her grandmother know that?

“Did I forget to tell you that as well?”

“Forget to tell us what?” The blonde woman looked incredulous, and Rose was quite proud of herself for breaking the Black composure.

“You forgot the Peverells.” James was grinning at his mother.

“… What.”

He just laughed and turned to wink at Rose.

Dad, you’re such an idiot.

She sighed and settled down to explain everything else about her titles to her grandparents. It was going to take a while


“Hello, my second dad’s beloved wife.”

“I’m not helping you hide a body.”

Rose blinked before she pouted at the blonde woman.

“I haven’t killed anyone. Besides, if I had I wouldn’t ask you for help. I have loyal house-elves after all. I’m sure Kreacher’s disposed of a body before, he’s been with the Blacks for decades.”

Amelia paused with her glass in mid-air, turning to Rose with an incredulous expression. She looked at her for a few seconds before huffing out a laugh.

“You do realise that I’m the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, don’t you? If you’re going to say things like that make sure it’s not in public.”

Wow … those words were dryer than the Sahara Desert.

Rose was impressed – and not a little happy. The woman looked a lot more upbeat since her wedding and subsequent honeymoon in the Caribbean. The Black family had their own island over there, so the couple got to enjoy the sights without dealing with all the regular tourists and non-magical rules.

It was nice to see how the relationship between her and Sirius had relaxed her; it was obvious that the woman had focused so much on her career to forget about her disastrous engagement, even if she’d stayed single for ten years. (Perhaps her subconscious had insisted that she stay faithful to her fiancé despite the circumstances?)

“I’m not stupid. I’m not going to admit to something illegal where I can get arrested.”

Amelia looked at her intensely for a moment before she put her glass down and turned to her.

“Rose, I know that as a former Unspeakable you probably have a very different idea of what constitutes ‘legal’ to most people. I also know that you aren’t stupid. As long as you don’t do anything to hurt people, or start doing archaic rituals and sacrificing people, I’m not exactly inclined to question what you do in your spare time.

“When we’re in public, I’m a member of the DMLE and I have to act upon what I discover by law. That being said, when we’re in private I’m your dad’s wife, and I’m quite happy to help my husband’s daughter with her studies in magic.”

If she meant what Rose thought she did it was a rather touching sentiment. And an unexpected opportunity. She had to be sure though.

“What do you mean by ‘magic’?”

Amelia smirked. “Let me put it this way. The Bones family is an old family who have historically been rather open to different types of magic. The restrictions on dark magic didn’t only have an impact on the dark families. Even the light used to learn about a variety of topics.”

No shit. Rose resisted the urge to scoff in disgust. All the restrictions on dark magic were just asking for trouble. Banning something just made it more tempting as something illicit and dangerous, and it made mistakes more likely. If it was taught in a controlled environment with the consequences properly highlighted people were less likely to do stupid shit. “Now boys and girl, we don’t make Horcruxes because they make you even crazier than a fucked-up Black.” Her lips twitched at the idea of a lesson like that.

If Amelia was going to offer such help then she would be an idiot not to grab hold of the opportunity. She’d have to be up front with the woman, though. Rose took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“… I’m a member of four families, two of which are dark, one is grey, and one is light. Black, Gaunt, Peverell and Potter, respectively. My mum was unknowingly descended from a Gaunt squib. My magic is probably quite a dark shade of grey, and my trunk is home to quite a few questionable books.”

“I see.” The woman didn’t even blink.

“I’m also a Parselmouth.”

She looked at Rose questioningly. “Was Lily a Parselmouth?”

Rose shrugged. “Mum never actually saw a snake in her life so she never found out. She might have been, or the ability might have been dormant until the Gaunt magic interacted with the Potter magic and 'activated' so to speak in me.”

Amelia rested her chin her hand, elbow on the table. She took a sip of her juice before looking Rose in the eye.

“But back to the beginning. You came here to ask me something before I started that discussion. What’s up?”

Rose leant back in her chair and went over her words. I hope she agrees. It’ll be a pain in the arse if she doesn’t work with me.

“Dad’s going to publicly acknowledge having the Potter vote at the Wizengamot session in October so the Potter family can start putting forward bills. To do that I’ll need support. I need to start going over the older House of Potter alliances, one of which is with the House of Bones. You helped by not mentioning anything in Dad's trial about how I got Pettigrew, but I’d like to know if you consider the alliance between our families to still be standing.”

The blonde woman narrowed her eyes at Rose, clearly contemplating her words.

“You’re going to start with something big, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

Indeed she was, and while the project might not take off for a while she could start to push forward the idea that the House of Potter had a decidedly light-grey neutral perspective. It would help if she could have an alliance with at least one family of each persuasion – dark, grey and light. Dark was already assured with the Blacks, and she could probably entice Draco to ally with House Potter. Hopefully the Bones and Longbottom families would work with her to represent the light families, and she had a few ideas for grey.

Her musing was interrupted by Amelia clearing her throat.

“And if I were to say, The Noble and Ancient House of Bones will stand with Lady Rose Potter of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter?”

“Then I would say, The Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter gratefully accepts the alliance offered by The Noble and Ancient House of Bones.”

Rose spoke the formal words, and she fought a grin at the shrewd wording of Amelia’s informal vow. She was accepting the House of Potter as long as Rose was Head but her children would have to broker their own deals. It was a fair idea; there was no guarantee that Rose's future children wouldn’t be stupid, unfortunately. It would have to be repeated when Susan took over, but that was years away as her classmate wanted to graduate before taking over.

Despite what some people thought, not every deal was carried out with stringent magically-binding Vows. Alliances especially were more drawn out with carefully-worded written contracts detailing what a partnership between the Houses would consist of. There were too many variables when it came to potential situations that would mean going against the alliance otherwise. It was better all round to use common sense and have a long discussion concerning the particulars, as opposed to strictly binding people through magic.

“So.”

Rose snapped her attention back to the woman.

“The Bones family are now your allies, barring an official contract which we can do whenever. I’m guessing Sirius did the same thing with the Blacks, and I know that the Longbottoms will likely renew their alliance given your friendship with Neville. You’ll probably be able to get the Malfoy vote in your corner, and your friendship with the Zabini Heir can only be a good thing. They don’t pay much attention to British politics but they still have the power to vote. Is there anyone else?”

“My great-aunt was a Jones, my great-grandmother was a Greengrass, and my … great-great-granduncle – I think – married a Warrington. The first family has a child in my year, Heiress Greengrass is my friend, and Heir Warrington is a couple of years above me.”

Amelia cringed in sympathy. “You’ve got quite a bit of work to do.”

“I know,” Rose sighed. “I know it’ll help, but between my schoolwork and this I’m not going to have much spare time.”

Amelia smirked. “Do you want be to call Cassiopeia over?”

“Why are you so mean to me?!”

Chapter Text

“What am I, a fucking circus act?”

“Your language is atrocious.”

“Hello pot, meet kettle.”

“Brat.”

“Can’t you two get along?”

“We are.”

The party of three walked along Platform Nine and Three-Quarters trying to ignore the gawking and whispering, as apparently witches and wizards just didn’t understand the concept of subtlety. Some were outright craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the well-dressed trio as they looked for a certain family.

Rose resisted the urge to swear knowing she had brought it on herself. A week ago she had very obviously waltzed into Gringotts with her Potter Head ring showing, and the goblins obviously caught on as they began addressing her as Lady Potter in voices that carried across the bank. As per usual with magical idiocy, everyone was a gossip, and the news that she was now a Lady spread like wildfire through social circles within days. Especially because they were trying to figure out what was happening with her Wizengamot vote.

Because it’s oh-so-difficult to figure out. Bloody morons. Why am I surrounded by idiots wherever I go? Did I kill puppies in a past life or something?

Anyone with the slightest common sense automatically thought of Lord Black – her dad – using the Potter vote, but the sad reality was that common sense was scare in their society. Rumours now included her attending the Wizengamot herself (despite being at school), having a muggle proxy (despite this being impossible), and even that she was betrothed to a mysterious stranger who would be running her family as Lord or Lady Consort Potter in the future and was starting by voting for her (despite her being twelve).

She bristled quite angrily at that last assumption. More often than not, Potters did allow their spouses to take on equal duties running the family, but it was her family. She had already made arrangements with Gringotts and her family lawyer to ensure that being the spouse of a future Lord or Lady Potter didn’t automatically grant them ruling power with their title. Some might call it petty, but she knew herself well enough to know it was just her Black side coming through. By and large, Black spouses did not have family power unless they proved to be extraordinarily cunning. Besides, there was no guarantee that any of her descendants wouldn't marry an idiot and/or arsehole; she wanted to protect her family even if that family was decades in the future.

Her past life was more than enough proof that sometimes people were selfish bastards who just wanted money and power, and she damn well wasn’t going to put her family in a position to be robbed blind. She’d had a close friendship fall apart after the jealous git wanted to be Lord Potter and there was no guarantee it wouldn’t happen again. Even if she married a decent person she didn’t want her assets so vulnerable. People were arseholes and envy was much too common to ignore. The Potter family would stay hers, no matter what anyone else said.

She had informed the new Chief Warlock that Lord Black was now her proxy on the Wizengamot, and she had asked – with her lawyer – that he keep the information to himself until the next session. From what she remembered of Tiberius Ogden, he was a fair man that had actually resigned in disgust after Umbridge had been sent to Hogwarts. She had high hopes for him. Better than Albus-I-can-use-this-family’s-vote-without-legal-approval-because-I’m-Chief-Warlock-and-nobody-will-find-out-Dumbledore. Wanker.

Looking around the platform, she could feel her hands twitching for her wand with all the eyes on her. She knew that she looked quite different to last year but this time she was a Lady with expectations on her. Though it was ironic that the most annoying expectations came from her being an Heiress and not a Lady.

The House of Potter was an old one but it was quite relaxed in terms of expectations of its members. The House of Black however had standards, and her position meant that she was expected to act and dress in a certain manner. Or so Aunt Cassi’s endless lectures had told her. She was glad that she would be at Hogwarts this year as the woman was clearly insane, and she wasn’t sure how much more she could cope with. She wished Uncle Marius luck – he would need it.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like her – because she did, even if the older woman had a few screws loose – it was that she hated having to be the proper pure-blood princess. She was perfectly polite, thank you, and hated having to put on even more airs for the sake of diplomacy. There was a reason she became a hermit in the future. People suck, plain and simple.

Rose caught a glimpse of their reflection in one of the train windows and took a moment to admire their appearance.

Remus was wearing muggle clothes, but the fitted slate trousers, white shirt and light green cardigan (the same shade as his eyes) were quite striking, and the tall man was drawing no few appreciative glances from woman. With his facial scars faded, a healthier glow to his skin, and an innate happiness to him, the man was turning into quite the catch. (Not that Rose thought his new appearance made him any more attractive; he'd been perfect the way he was before, and if the stupid women thought he was only a catch because of his clothes, she’d hex them.)

Sirius looked the quintessential pure-blood Lord, and she’d spent a good ten minutes this morning taking the piss out of him for dressing like a snob. She’d regretted it when he turned her hair Slytherin green but thankfully he'd reversed the charm. He was wearing black trousers, leather boots that ended an inch below the knees, and a grey tunic underneath open robes of indigo, almost black. His hair was tied back at the base of his neck, and even though he was only 5’9” he was an imposing figure through presence alone.

She of course had become the doll of Cassiopeia, and was wearing a slightly old-fashioned dress that was aesthetically pleasing but also easy to move in if she had to duel; the Blacks were always dangerous no matter what they wore. It was a light blue that matched her usual eye colour, with long sleeves, a collar that rested at the base of her throat, and a skirt that fell to a few inches above her ankles. The fabric was covered with hand-sewn thread in a slightly darker shade of blue, covering the dress in swirling patterns that looked like fire. The waist had sewn-in black ribbons that worked as a corset on the back, hugging the dress to her developing waist. The ensemble was finished with calf-high lace-up boots, and an elaborate hairstyle consisting of plaits and twists across her head that ended in a large high bun, a few curls falling free to frame her face.

(Traditionally long hair was the standard fashion for women of high society, though it was never worn down in public. To do so was utter scandal, and the only reason she'd gotten away with it last year was because she'd been eleven, and only the Potter Heiress – supposedly. The Potters were much laxer on etiquette and she'd been just about toeing the line of propriety. Her intelligence and general behaviour had made up for a lot. Now she was a Lady she had to wear her hair up in public. Wearing your hair up was a signal that you were a woman rather than a girl, and she had no doubt that she would be receiving some unwanted betrothal contracts thanks to that fact. Lucky me.)

If the stares were anything to go by she looked simultaneously attractive and dangerous which was what they’d been going for. She wanted to be taken seriously by the magical world and to do that she had to behave a certain way. It was why she thought that children raised without magic should be instructed earlier in life as they’d be better off if they knew how to act and why. Not that she personally gave a crap about it, but magical culture was different for a reason and she would respect that.

Her musing was cut off by the arrival of Amelia and Susan, and they all greeted each other with the appropriate public (bullshit) formality before Susan left to find Hannah. Sirius and Amelia were making quiet conversation, and the crowd had suddenly become hyper-aware that they were now in the presence of Lord and Lady Black. The two of them were seemingly unaware of the atmosphere they were causing, but Rose could see her dad twitching in irritation.

“Shall we give them some privacy?”

She looked at Remus and nodded, taking his arm as they wandered down the platform. They didn’t speak to anyone as nobody approached them, and they didn’t spot anyone they knew until they were next to the entrance to King’s Cross.

Hermione had just come through with her parents and the moment she spotted Rose her face lit up, though she adopted a calculating expression almost immediately. Her eyes rove over the blonde girl cataloguing her state of dress and demeanour, before settling on her now-visible Head of House ring with widened eyes.

She had always known that her bushy-haired friend was smart, but apparently getting her into a House with other academically-driven children had done wonders for the girl’s mind. Hermione had clearly noticed her appearance and understood its significance, and Rose watched as her eyes glanced around and took notice of who could see them. Way to go, Hermione. Could have been a snake with that cunning.

Said girl straightened her spine and walked over to her and Remus with determined steps before stopping a few feet from them. She then dropped into a deep curtsy, just slightly wobbly, but one that still conveyed the appropriate level of respect. Rose felt so proud, even as she inwardly cringed at the pure-blood crap.

“Lady Potter, it’s a pleasure to see you once more. I trust that your summer was to your liking?”

“Miss Granger, it’s lovely to see you again. And yes, my summer was enjoyable. And how about you, did you find Cannes to be as you expected?”

Please kill me now.

Rose had returned the curtsy, though hers was smaller because of her higher status, and the two girls had amusement in their eyes as they noticed the taken aback expressions on those around them. The magically-raised individuals were now being given definitive proof that a muggle-born child could learn about magical etiquette to an appropriate level; Rose knew this wouldn’t automatically change things but it was a step in the right direction. At least that nauseating conversation served a purpose beyond making me want to ram my head against the train.

(The problem with the stifling formality was that it was what society expected of them. Of course, hardly anyone actually spoke or acted like that all the time, but it had to done at least initially to show that you actually knew about it. When you were respected enough you could start to relax a little, but it was all about showing off what you knew to everyone else. Because it would be much too simple to just talk properly. God, I just want to go home.)

After trading a few pleasantries and introducing all parties, Hermione led Rose and Remus to her – quite bewildered – parents who were looking at Rose with narrowed eyes. Ah, they probably think I’m some sort of prissy princess with this dress. Really, what’s wrong with jeans and a t-shirt?

“Mum, Dad, may I present to you Lady Rose Potter, and Mr Remus Lupin. Lady Potter, Mr Lupin, may I present my parents, Mr Christopher Granger and Mrs Emily Granger.”

“Hermione, why are you talking like that? Hi, my name’s –”

“Dad, don’t!”

Hermione kept her hissing tone low, and she quickly grabbed Mr Granger’s hand from reaching for her friend’s. Rose personally didn’t give a shit about ‘proper’ behaviour, but having a man touch a Lady without permission – especially an unmarried Lady – was not done. At all. It would essentially say that she was ‘easy’ and she had no desire to be called a whore at the age of twelve. (The only reason Cedric and Charlie had gotten away with it was because she'd so obviously been a child in demeanour, and because they'd either been alone or surrounded by people who didn't care. Luckily.)

“Hermione! What are you doing?!”

“Hermione, as long as we’re in private or nobody can hear us I don’t care if you speak ‘properly’. You can talk to me as just Rose, you know? It’s beyond stupid, anyway.”

Before Mr Granger could start ranting, Remus – bless you Dad, you really are a saviour – jumped in to the conversation with his quiet but calming voice.

“Mr Granger, the reason why your daughter suddenly grabbed you was because you were about to touch a Lady without her permission. In our world it’s bad enough to touch any woman randomly, but a Lady has certain expectations of behaviour.

“And yes, by Lady we are referring to Lady with a capital L. In the magical world there are plenty of families who have titles and are essentially members of the landed gentry or aristocracy. They have political voting power, investments, assets and such, and are expected to behave appropriately.

“The reason your daughter was speaking so formally was her attempt to prove to the magically-raised people that muggle-raised individuals also have the capability to learn such etiquette, as there are currently no classes on the topic. She also did so admirably, I must say.”

Remus directed the last statement to Hermione, and Rose smiled as her friend beamed with pride. Her dad was right though, as she had behaved just as someone from a magical background would, though she knew to convey her status. She'd also managed to diffuse a potentially disastrous encounter without drawing attention to them.

Mrs Granger looked incredulous. “Landed gentry?”

“Yes, Mrs Granger,” Rose took over. “My family can be traced back to the twelfth century and they’ve had quite a bit of political power for centuries. My great-grandfather actually worked as a member of our governing body during World War I. But I’ve gotten off track.

“The problem is that magical society has an entirely different culture and has had since the late seventeenth century when they split from the non-magical world, so what you think of as common and appropriate behaviour isn’t necessarily the same for magical Britain.

“I’m the Head of my own family because I’m an orphan and there’s nobody else alive from my birth family. As the Head of the family, there’s a lot of rules and such that I’m supposed to follow, and I’ll definitely have to marry and continue the family line when I’m older.

“About touching me, though. For magical people, touching someone without their permission is a big no-no, but especially for females. If you’d grabbed me it would have basically said that I’m ‘easy’, especially as girls have actually gotten married at my age in the past.

“Our society is kind of comparable to Victorian England, I suppose. I guess the best way to describe it would be you should act the most polite and diplomatic you can possibly be just to be sure, though magic definitely has its own set of rules.”

The couple looked completely baffled that such a that such a society even existed. She could admit that she’d found it a bit weird when she first found out about it, but she had been proud to be a witch and didn’t want the traditions to die out.

Remus cleared his throat. “If you’d like, when the kids leave I can answer some questions you might have?”

The couple looked visibly relieved at the offer and nodded. Before they could reply they were interrupted once more, this time by Sirius.

“Rose, Remus.”

“Sirius.”

“Dad.”

The Grangers looked at the newcomer with surprise, but Hermione just smiled and curtsied again.

“Lord Black, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. My name is Hermione Granger, and I am a classmate of your daughter and Heiress.”

When she got up she offered her hand to Sirius, who smiled and bowed with a flourish, taking her hand and kissing the air above it.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Granger. It’s so nice to meet a classmate and friend of my daughter.”

He stood up and winked at her, and Rose had to bite her tongue to stop laughing, taking note of a similar struggle on Remus’ face. Dad, you sneaky, conniving, little shit.

Sirius had just said blatantly, and quite loudly, that the muggle-born Hermione Granger was a friend to his daughter, and therefore a friend to the House of Black. It wasn’t really an official thing, but being considered a friend to a House of higher status than you meant that you were more-or-less allied to them and under their protection. That Sirius had said so for a muggle-born of no inherent power was bold and was like waving a flashing sign in the air that the newest version of the House of Black was doing things its own way. There are so many Blacks rolling in their graves right now.

Hermione had clearly understood the implications and had paled, shocked into silence. Before she could say anything they heard the clock chime for fifteen minutes to the hour, and the Granger family bid a hasty goodbye and went to put Hermione of the train.

Rose turned to her dad with a brow raised, unimpressed by his unrepentant grin.

“And your reason for that?”

His grin sharpened. “I think you seem to forget that I’m a Black too, brat, and I know damn well you’ve got all sorts of plans cooked up. I’ve been speaking to Dorea as well, you know, and Amy is my wife.

“I also know that that girl is a genius and you’ll probably recruit her for some of your plans. Being friends with both the Potter and Black families will mean she’ll have double the protection and nobody’ll be able to do shit at her inclusion with your political take over.”

Rose flushed. “Sorry.” She did tend to underestimate him. She looked at him with narrowed eyes. “You know, it’s probably a good thing you never tried to become Minister. You’d either revolutionise Britain or start a war.”

“He’d probably do both,” Remus piped up with a grin.

“Hey!”

She held a hand against her mouth to stifle the giggles, though apparently the two men could still hear her and they smiled at her gently. They walked over to her in unison and enveloped her in a hug. It wasn’t entirely proper, but she could see quite a few women and a couple of men soften at the familial scene.

Rose pulled back and looked at her parents – one day she would make it so werewolves could adopt children legally – and smiled at them.

“Good luck with the business and the Wizengamot.”

Sirius groaned. “Urgh, don’t remind me. Politics is such crap.”

“Suck to be you, Lord Black. Remember to write every week, Bambi.” She bit her lip at Remus’ retort and Sirius’ wounded expression.

Sirius glared at his friend before he turned to her. “He’s right though, make sure you write, and remember, if you want to come home you can. We’ll send you some sweets and whatnot, so don’t worry about sneaking out for chocolate, Bambi. And if you do sneak out, don’t get caught.”

With that the whistle blew and she hugged the men once more.

“I love you.”

“Love you too, Bambi.”

She got on the train and turned to look out the window towards her parents. She felt the train start to move and waved at them, carrying until she lost sight of them. Rose sighed and turned around, walking down the train, wary of the other passengers.

He was right, politics is crap.

Chapter Text

This is fucking ridiculous. Bunch of arseholes.

To say that she was pissed off was an understatement, even if her face gave nothing away. Between her own training to calm her emotions and Aunt Cassi’s endless lectures, Rose was pretty adept at keeping her calm. Outwardly at least, as on the inside her mind was circling through an impressive array of swear words in several different languages.

Rose hated being a spectacle, and though she knew full well that she had to act a certain way to keep the Potter family respected, she hated pretending to be some high-class snob who couldn’t even say what she wanted in public in case she was heard. The consequences wouldn’t be nice.

The only reason her dads had gotten away with acting like little shits in school was because they hadn't been orphans. For all the animosity between him and his family, the fact that Sirius had been a Black had kept him fairly well-protected from the repercussions of his actions, as nobody wanted to deal with that family if they could avoid it. James had been sheltered quite a bit by his parents as they’d tried for close to two decades to conceive before Dorea fell pregnant. This had led to them spoiling him a tad too much, hence why he became the teenage prat he was. He'd managed to get away with his behaviour because his parents and family had been well-respected, and his mother especially feared for being a Black.

Rose on the other hand was the only Potter left, and while her actions could be protected as a Black, as a Potter her actions would reflect entirely on the family. There was no-one to protect her as a Potter so she had to act properly or face the Potter reputation turning to shit. Which was not going to happen. At this point she had too much respect for her parents and grandparents (not to mention all the other portraits she regularly spoke to) to let everything go to hell.

However, just because she acknowledged the reason for the bullshit didn’t mean she enjoyed said bullshit. She’d been walking along the train for barely ten minutes and was already beyond irritated, fingers twitching for her wand. By now everyone had apparently discovered that she was a Lady, and unlike last year when they didn’t know what she looked like, this time they knew exactly who to gawk at.

I swear to fucking god, if these people don’t stop pointing like I’m some sort of zoo exhibit, I’m going to –

“Hello, Rose! Are you –”

She turned her head and resisted the urge to groan. Cedric-bloody-Diggory was stood there in all his good-guy Hufflepuff glory, looking like the perfect gentleman as he stood a polite distance away from her in the corridor. The image was completed with a slightly concerned look on his face as he took in her expression, and she wanted to snort at the overall picture.

He’s like a bloody romance novel hero. Or a knight. Maybe I should get him a sword. Or not, he’s so adorably innocent he wouldn’t get it.

He frowned. “Are you okay Rose? You’re looking a little stressed.”

She barely stopped herself from gaping at him. It'd taken her friends nearly a year before they could tell her moods, and even then it was hit or miss. She’d only met Cedric at the end of the school year and seen him a scant few times since then. How on earth does he do that?

Rose cleared her throat. “I’m fine, Cedric. I’m just a little … tightly wound from all the …”

She trailed off, waving her hand trying to find the right words. A nap wouldn’t go amiss right now.

“Staring? I get why it could be tiring, but I doubt you weren’t expecting it, Lady Potter.”

He finished with a teasing smile and she flushed a little in spite of the pang in her chest. This wasn’t the time to get upset about speaking to her no-longer-dead first love. Cedric wasn't on the ground with a vacant gaze, she wasn't surrounded by Death Eaters, and they weren't at the start of a war.

Things were already so much better than her past life and she refused to allow her memories to rule her life. She hadn't spent so much time changing things just to let her messed-up mind destroy everything. That didn't even touch on being around Cedric.

Cedric was a complicated subject for her. The boy she'd thought she had a small crush on, only to realise that she'd probably been in love with him when he died. His was a death that she felt even more guilty for than the Potter murders. As a baby she hadn't been able to do anything, but at nearly-fifteen she hadn't been powerless; she could have saved him. Pushed him to the floor, blasted him away with a spell, anything.

She enjoyed spending time with him in this second chance at life, but she hated being reminded of his murder and tried to avoid him. It was a difficult dichotomy, and once more she inwardly cursed the contradiction of humans. There was nothing simple about interacting with Cedric Diggory, and she couldn't help but consider him to be a physical manifestation of the problems that came with her time travel; things existed in balance, and Cedric was both uplifting and depressing.

That didn't even touch on her feelings for the boy. She wouldn't lie to herself, and she knew that there was some part of her which was still in love with him even if he wasn't the same Cedric she had once known. She still liked him, but she was in no way physically attracted to him. He was fourteen – a child – and she really couldn't bring herself to entertain any romantic thoughts about someone who was underage. Romance would have to wait until she was older, and any prospective partners would have to be at least seventeen for her to seriously consider them.

She cleared her throat and raised her nose in the air. “Be that as it may, Heir Diggory, a Lady such as myself does not welcome such unrestrained and uncouth attention. It is much too reminiscent of undignified gawking at a circus exhibit, and I personally despair over the lack of poise and grace amongst our peers. I dread to think this disastrous train journey is setting the tone for the upcoming year.”

Rose watched as the boy widened his eyes in shock before breaking down in laughter. She let a smile play about her lips as she watched the Hufflepuff bend over clutching his stomach. It was amazing the difference two years can make, as the Cedric she'd known had never been so open in his actions.

“Heir Diggory, I fail to see what amuses you so concerning my words. Surely I am well within my rights to make my displeasure known in such a manner?”

He was laughing even harder now and she was starting to worry about him. I don't think that shade of red's normal.

After a few minutes he calmed down and got his breathing under control, though he still had a visible flush on his face. He grinned at her and shook his head.

“You're utterly mad, Rose,” he laughed before frowning suddenly. “Are you, I mean … am I still allowed to call you Rose? You're Lady Potter, and also Heiress Black, and –”

She cut in. “Do you want me to call you Heir Diggory all the time?”

He blanched and shook his head.

“Well then,” she said with a smile, “you can carry on calling me Rose. In private or amongst friends, anyway. I really don't like it, but I'd prefer it if you address me as Lady Potter in proper public situations. I'm trying to regain the reputation of my families and I don't want to ruin things by acting improperly.” Not where anyone can see me or know it's me, in any case. I really don't care about this etiquette crap, but I suppose it's a means to an end.

Cedric grimaced. “Ouch. Good luck with that. The Diggory family is old but it's not really distinguished so we don't really have to worry about that stuff. I mean Dad's technically a Lord, but he doesn't really bother all that much with politics. But yeah, I don't mind being 'proper' in public Rose.”

He finished with a grin and sparkling grey eyes, and she couldn't help but smile back at him. He was such a genuine person that she couldn't help but calm down around him. Neville was the same. Was there something about the badger mentality she was missing?

“Anyway,” he carried on, “you should go and find your friends and cheer up. You know, before we get swamped with work again.”

She huffed a laugh and said goodbye to Cedric. They waved at each other and departed in opposite directions, each looking for their friends.

Let's just hope they treat me the same.


“Lady Potter, it's a pleasure to see you once more. I trust that your summer was enjoyable?”

Rose pasted a polite smile on her face as she imagined all the different ways that she could wipe that smirk off her best friend's face. Bite me, arsehole.

Blaise was such an annoying shit on the best of days, but when he felt like causing trouble there was simply no stopping him. As it was the smug git had a gleam in his eyes and a smirk on his face, and Rose was sorely tempted to magically remove his mouth – the Black library had some rather unique spells whose potential for revenge was intriguing.

Her Italian friend should count himself lucky that some of the people in the carriage weren't part of their study group; those individuals knew well what her personality was and how she and Blaise could act together. They wouldn't be surprised at the two of them trying to magically and verbally one-up each other.

Said individuals included her dear cousin Draco – who had finally ditched the dodgy hair gel, praise Magic – and her Housemate Su Li. Su was currently eyeing her with barely-hidden amusement, and Draco was smirking at her like the prat he was. (It didn't matter what life she lived in or what events had happened, it seemed that every Draco Malfoy existed to wind her up for no other apparent reason than the universe's entertainment.)

If the compartment had just been the two Slytherins and lone Ravenclaw she wouldn't have batted an eye about giving Blaise the literal finger and calling him a wanker, but seeing as how there were two other occupants she restrained herself. Just barely.

Sat on side next to Su was Padma Patil, the extremely serious girl who was also Su's roommate. Padma hadn't wanted to get involved in their group last year as she hadn't thought them to be a genuine study group. Considering all of them had the highest average scores in the end of year exams, the Indian girl might change her tune and join her twin this year.

On the opposite side next to Draco and Blaise was the unfortunately-orphaned Theodore Nott, and Rose couldn't help the stab of guilt that shot through her even as she noticed that her classmate currently looked the happiest that she'd ever seen him, and that included after the war.

The Nott family was one that had been deeply entrenched in Voldemort's madness since the beginning what with Theodore's father, Caius Nott, having been one of the original Death Eaters. He had actually been a classmate of Tom Riddle and had bided his time and carefully manoeuvred things for their 'cause' over several decades. Rose had eventually learned that Nott Sr. had gone into politics on the orders of Voldemort and had slowly but surely built up his power to help him. People might have later considered Lucius Malfoy to be the most politically powerful Death Eater, but he'd only managed to get as far as he had because of Nott ensuring that the dark sect was so powerful.

He'd managed to avoid Azkaban during the first war by having too much power to be questioned – which meant that he'd blackmailed everyone into silence – and had even avoided prison during the Second War because he hadn't been well enough to go to Azkaban without dying. His (likely blackmailed) personal Healer and lawyer had managed to argue for house arrest instead of a prison sentence, though considering the opulence of Nott House it hadn't been much of a punishment.

One thing Nott Sr. hadn't ever avoided though was being branded with a Dark Mark. The idiot had more-or-less waved his bare arm in Voldemort's face until he got a nice little ownership brand, and that had been some time during the fifties. Close to four decades of such a bond had meant the link between Voldemort and Nott Sr. had been very deep, and when the goblins had happily destroyed the last of Voldy's soul Nott had been one of the first to bite the dust.

Not that she felt bad at all for his death, especially as the bastard had been responsible for the murder of his wife several years previously. Lady Nott's murder had remained 'unsolved', though Rose wondered exactly how many galleons it took to equate murder with such a status.

Theodore had born witness to his mother's murder, which was why he'd been one of the few students able to see the Thestrals when she'd originally taken Care of Magical Creatures. The only thing that had saved him from being beaten like his mother was his older sister Adelaide.

Adelaide Nott was currently nineteen, and though she had never been in line to inherit in the patriarchal Nott family she had willingly remained in the abusive household to try and protect her brother, even after she had come of age. Since their father's death the girl had taken temporary control of their family until Theodore was old enough to take over. Rose thought the woman was incredibly brave for someone who'd been raised to be a perfect Slytherin.

Rose smiled at the compartment for a moment before speaking with the appropriate – and irritating – respect, even as she wanted to gag at the formality.

(Everything was about how it was introduced. Blaise had spoken first and started with perfect etiquette and behaviour, meaning he’d set the precedent for their interactions. If he’d been casual, they would have spoken casually. Now though – thanks, Blaise – she'd have to maintain the polite persona before she could work her way down to normal.)

“Heir Zabini, it's a pleasure to see you once more as well. Thank you so much for the enquiry, and to answer your question my summer was indeed delightful. The opportunity to observe unusual specimens in their own habitat is something that should never be dismissed.”

It sounded like she was talking about wild animals but it was actually about Blaise. In Sicily she'd made a dig that seeing him in Italy was like watching a wild animal in its natural environment. He'd looked at her weirdly but laughed all the same. That was an agreement, no matter what he'd said after.

He grinned at her. “Indeed, Lady Potter. Such opportunities shouldn't be missed for anything.” He turned and looked at their classmates with such a fake smile that she barely resisted the urge to snort. “Ladies and gentleman, might I introduce the delightful Miss Rose Potter, Lady of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter, and Heiress of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.”

Blaise turned and gestured at each person as he spoke. “Lady Potter, I'm sure you are acquainted with your cousin, Mister Draco Malfoy, Lord of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Malfoy. Might I introduce you to Mister Theodore Nott, Heir of The Noble and Ancient House of Nott, Miss Su Li, of the Ancient House of Li, and Miss Padma Patil, of The Noble House of Patil.”

After a few rounds of awkward greetings they were all settled and sat in an uncomfortable silence. Except for Blaise, that is. If she'd known this was how he'd react she never would have 'accidentally' left him alone with his mother's new suitor. It had seemed a funny thing to do at the time, but now Blaise was deliberately making things as painful as they could possibly be.

She needed a conversation topic that everyone could join in on, and that everyone was genuinely interested in … or invested in. Hmm … that might work.

Rose shifted in her seat slightly, drawing attention to herself subtly without doing something so 'unladylike' as clearing her throat. (Rose personally thought that it was still better than hexing someone to get their attention, but Aunt Cassi hadn't seemed to appreciate her joke.)

“Does anyone have any idea about the new Defence teacher this year? I hope that they'll be capable.”

Immediately the tension drained away in the compartment, and the students were all united in the discussion concerning who would be following Quirrell and Lockhart and whether or not they'd even be adept at the subject.

She looked Blaise in the eye and sent him a look that pleaded forgiveness. The boy was blank-faced for a few seconds before he smiled and nodded. Thank fuck for that. Rose really couldn't be dealing with Blaise Zabini-levels of revenge for much longer, not with her self-appointed mission to amass political allies and power so she could steamroll over the rest of the Wizengamot. (Not that she would ever admit to doing that; even if her ideas were clearly for the good of others she'd probably still get branded a Dark Lady.)

As far as she was concerned Blaise Zabini was a worthy adversary when it came to causing mayhem and he was not someone she wanted as an enemy, even as a second-generation Marauder.

She caught sight of a smirk on his face and glared back.

That didn't mean he had won, though.

Chapter Text

Thankfully by the time the train pulled into Hogsmeade the atmosphere had lightened up and things weren't so tense between them. They'd ended up playing chess and Exploding Snap amongst themselves and had finally managed to speak to each other for hours without stilted formality ruining the flow of conversation. She'd even managed to get the others to call her by her first name, at least in private – unfortunately they all knew the bullshit that was politics well. She was still going to get Blaise back, though. She wasn't sure how, but revenge would be had. Blaise would rue the day he took on someone who could ask her dads and the twins for help. Get ready, Blaise. You'll learn the feeling of regret soon enough.

She ignored his infuriating smile and happily walked with the rest of the students towards the carriages before she stopped dead, mood plummeting at the sight of the Thestrals. She felt bad that the creatures got such a bad reputation, but that didn't mean she was ever that happy when she saw the skeletal horses. Knowing what they represented wasn't something that she enjoyed thinking of, especially as she could picture and name dozens upon dozens of faces that would have individually granted her the ability to see them.

Although she wasn't the only one who seemed to suddenly do a one-eighty. Blaise and Nott had also gone quiet and were staring at what would appear to be nothing. Padma and Su had already gotten in so hadn't noticed, but Draco was looking rather curious at their mood change. Thankfully Aunt Cissa's recent lessons seemed to have taken hold (hallelujah, thank Merlin, praise Magic, etcetera), and he refrained from saying anything loudly. Instead they sat in the carriage together arm-in-arm and he leaned over to murmur in her ear.

“Would you care to explain why you, Blaise and Nott were all staring at an empty space and went quiet all of a sudden?”

She turned to whisper back, thankful that Draco was already fairly knowledgeable when it came to magical creatures. Having to explain the reasoning behind the sudden depression wouldn't be enjoyable in the slightest, and by that she meant it would suck.

“The carriages don't move because of magic, they're pulled by Thestrals.”

A slight widening of grey eyes was his only loss of composure before he looked ahead contemplatively. Though the way he subtly squeezed her hand was very much appreciated. Draco Malfoy was never going to be someone that enjoyed obvious displays of affection in public, but he was certainly more family-oriented than the version of him she originally knew. Without Lucius Malfoy filling his head with useless pure-blood supremacist crap, Draco was finally getting an idea of how to behave that was actually respectful, especially with family.

Lucius had always presented a view of family in terms of how they could be useful rather than people that you cared about with genuine emotion. An older Draco had once revealed to her that his father had told him that the only reason he was an only child was because Lucius hadn't needed another child as Draco was Heir Malfoy. The bastard had actually had the audacity to say to Draco's face that his entire worth was based on being his Heir. Shitty bastard should be grateful for the protection of Azkabam.

The carriage journey was spent quietly discussing the future of the Black family, particularly whether or not Sirius would be having any more children any time soon. Apparently everyone in the House of Black was in agreement that the family would be growing in number in the near future, and some people were even taking bets on when Amelia would get pregnant.

Callidora and Cassiopeia currently had a ridiculous wager going on that involved a remote house somewhere in South America. The two women were the same age and had grown up together, bonding over being women in a family that liked to throw their daughters at business associates for political marriages. Not that Cassiopeia had ever bended to the whims of Lord Black, and Callidora had managed to sweet talk the family into letting her marry the rich Longbottom Heir before cutting ties with the Head of her birth family. Rose thought Callidora was a sneaky bitch, and she meant that with the greatest respect.

Narcissa and Andromeda had seemingly revived a past childhood sibling rivalry over when they'd have a new baby cousin, and had bet over some of the Black furniture that had been in Grimmauld Place. Sirius had been going to toss it before the women started a war over it.

(It was kind of ridiculous how petty these incredibly strong adults were being over something they had no control over, yet it made for some premium entertainment.)

“So when do you think you'll become a big sister?” Draco sounded genuinely interested for once, though she supposed the Blacks were rather different to the cold aura that Lucius Malfoy always projected. They too could be cold, but they were all a little mad to make up for it.

She grinned at him. “Why Cousin, it sounds as if this topic has caught your interest also. Rather strongly at that. You aren't a victim of the gambling bug too, are you? I'm all for it if you want to make a wager, though I should warn you I drive a hard bargain.”

“As if,” he scoffed, “I'm not getting anywhere near that lunacy. Honestly, I've never seen Mother so obsessed before. But back to the original point, I was simply asking a question.”

“If you say so. To answer you though, I believe that our new Lady Black will be with child before the school year is out.” She grinned at him lewdly, and he got an alarmed look on his face as she leaned in to whisper in his ear.

“Dad might have been free for over a year by now, but he still has ten years of celibacy to make up for, after all.”

Draco made a choking noise like he couldn't breathe and turned bright red, catching the attention of everyone else. She couldn't help it. She started giggling, hiding her mouth behind her hand as she lowered her eyes, trying not to snort or cry at her cute cousin's embarrassment. Ah, the innocence of youth.

Her laughter was cut off as they reached the school, and despite the death glare on his face – he's like a kitten trying to act like a lion – Draco acted as the perfect gentleman and got out first, holding his hand up for her to take and helping her down from the carriage.

“Such a gentleman, Cousin. I'm sure you'll be catching the eye of young men and women everywhere.” Rose smiled sweetly and fluttered her eyelashes for effect, even as she was inwardly cackling at the consternation on his face.

“How delightful. I feel so blessed at such a prospect.”

It was amazing how the tone of one's voice could change a sentence's meaning so thoroughly, but Draco honestly sounded like he was trying to resist the urge to throttle her. He also sounded like he was struggling with it.

Rose counted it as a successful start to the school year.

The six of them entered the Great Hall as one, with the three Slytherin boys escorting the Ravenclaw girls to their table before retreating to the table of green and silver. Rose waved cheerfully at her cousin, happily ignoring his annoyed mood and focusing on the faint sight of a vein throbbing on his head. Success, indeed.

She turned and caught sight of a resigned Neville looking at her mournfully. Her other male cousin-come-classmate-come-godbrother (Too. Many. Blacks) had been steadfast in his attempts to get her to act 'properly' and not cause trouble, but he'd matured quite a bit over the last year and now he had just enough realism to his outlook on life to know it was futile to even try. Still, he persisted in being friends and family with her, and his loyalty was commendable at the very least. She did want to squish his chubby cheeks though; he really was too adorable for words.

Rose looked around the hall and realised that this too was an event that would be different from her first life, but not because of anything major that she'd done. The change wasn't because of Voldemort, or Dumbledore, or even because she was in Ravenclaw.

It was because she wasn't flying over Britain in an enchanted car.

The power of hindsight was an amazing thing, even if she looked back on her pitifully uninformed childhood and wanted to smack her head against the nearest vertical surface. As an adult, it was cringe-worthy to think that she'd allowed Ron to convince her that driving a flying car to school had been the perfect plan. Though it was arguably worse to realise that Ron had probably just said that in the first place so that he could drive the thing without his parents around.

Ron had been raised around magic his entire life and he knew full well the existence of Apparition, floo travel and also portkeys. He had a father that worked in the Ministry, as well as two older brothers who worked abroad. There was no way that he hadn't known of other ways to get in contact with an adult to help them get to school, but instead he'd talked her stupid twelve-year-old self into getting into a flying heap of scrap metal.

And like the gullible idiot she'd been, she agreed.

It irked her to realise how much of a stupid child she'd been first time around. She'd gotten so into the habit of making sure that her work was always worse than Dudley that she'd taken magic for granted. She hadn't studied properly, she hadn't questioned anything, and she'd had to wait until Remus became a teacher to learn anything substantial about her parents because she hadn't considered just asking a few questions.

To be frank, the child Rose Potter from her past life had been a naïve idiot that for some reason had disregarded everything they'd ever learnt before Hogwarts in a moronic attempt to fit it. Life with the Dursleys had taught her that people were horrible and selfish, to hide her true self to survive, and that if she wanted knowledge she had to find it herself.

But what had she done? Allowed her desperation for friends and human contact to completely erode any semblance of common sense, and turn her into another blind sheep that relied on magic for everything. She hadn't studied so she wouldn't alienate Hermione and Ron, she'd gone along with what everyone else had wanted despite sometimes knowing they were wrong, and she'd stopped questioning things even when they'd seemed off.

The current Rose Potter questioned everything. It was why she worked so well in the Department of Mysteries. She never accepted things based off a few hints or ideas, she constantly questioned things and the motives and meanings behind them.

It had started after the second war and living with Andromeda and Teddy who'd moved into Grimmauld Place with her. After a while Andi had asked her to explain everything that had happened over the past year, and Rose had felt like she owed the woman an explanation after all the tragedies that had been inflicted on the woman's family. It had certainly been an eye-opener, and the woman had proved that despite having been disinherited she was still a Black. The woman had pointedly asked her 'why' for several events, pointed out alternative solutions that were well-known to the magical community, and even mentioned certain political motives that put a whole new spin on things.

That had been the moment that she'd started to question Dumbledore, and Andi had been very sympathetic, especially after realising that Rose hadn't ever had the wizarding world properly explained to her. Together they'd realised that most of Rose's life had been rather questionable, and they'd been distraught to realise that Dumbledore could have prevented a lot of tragedy if he'd only been more proactive.

They didn't hate him, but they were disappointed that somebody that they'd trusted so much had failed to act when he'd had the opportunity.

Rose sighed at the thought and turned around to survey the hall. It was a new year and she should be happy, not wallowing in thoughts that had no bearing on her future. She mentally shook off the depressing internal soliloquy and looked at the Head table. Hagrid was gesticulating wildly, nearly hitting Professors Vector and Babbling on either side of him. Sprout and Madam Pomfrey had their heads together, McGonagall looked a little worried, Aunt Cassi –

Wait … Aunt Cassi? Back up a minute. Worried Vector, happy Hagrid, annoyed Babbling, sneaky Sprout and Pomfrey, concerned McGonagall, and … smugly grinning Aunt Cassiopeia Black in all her mad glory.

Fuck.

If it weren't for the blessing that was Occlumency Rose would be having a meltdown at that very moment. External meltdown anyway, as her internal one was well underway as she mentally screamed at what this meant to have that crazy woman in the school. Sitting with the staff.

God-fucking-damnit! I knew this was too good to be true. “Don't worry Rose, you'll be at school, you won't have to put up with the mad woman from now on.” I told myself everything would be good, and once more the universe served to screw me over...

What did I do to deserve this?!

She breathed through her nose and closed her eyes briefly, resisting the urge to face-plant into the table. She opened her eyes and turned to the Slytherin table. Draco looked just like she felt, and his already-pale face had lost even more colour despite it not seeming possible. Blaise was blank-faced, though she could spot a hint of trepidation in his eyes. Having been one of the few outside the family to get a proper introduction to Aunt Cassi at the wedding, he was well aware of her personality and the problems that may arise.

None of the other snakes had much of an idea about her character, but those who'd had a thorough grounding in politically-powerful individuals knew who she was. That or they'd noticed the uncanny resemblance to her as Aunt Cassi had pale blonde hair too, though with the customary grey eyes of the Black family.

A quick glance at the Hufflepuff table showed untold panic gracing the eyes of Neville and Susan, and she had a sneaking suspicion that Cassi had visited Longbottom Hall with Callidora over the summer and probably terrorised Neville a few times. Susan likewise had met Aunt Cassi now being part of the House of Black through marriage. Susan was sneaky for a preteen Hufflepuff, but Cassiopeia Black had cunning down to an art form and pretty much terrified Susan.

Predictably, the twins looked immensely gleeful. Why am I not surprised? They'd met Cassi at the wedding and immediately seemed to idolise her for some unknown reason. Rose hadn't heard their conversation, but if the matching looks of anticipation on their faces had been anything to go by it wasn't anything good for McGonagall's continued sanity.

Rose tried not to groan. She'd thought this year was going to be relatively calm in comparison to last year. Voldemort was dead, they had no overly-helpful old man trying to manipulate people left and right, and her family was doing exceedingly well for itself.

Of course things wouldn't go smoothly.

“Bollocks.”

Chapter Text

The sound of heavy doors opening interrupted her panic-filled musing, and she watched as her diminutive Head of House cheerfully walked down the centre of the hall followed by the tiny – fuck yeah, they're smaller than me! – first years, most of whom looked varying levels of terrified. Most first years usually were at this point.

(Except for Teddy. McGonagall had been kind enough to send her a memory of her beloved godson's Sorting, and the little imp had been bouncing on his feet the whole time, hair cycling through all the different House colours while waiting for his turn. When he went to Hufflepuff he changed his hair to black and yellow stripes and all but ran at the table, grinning madly. Rose didn't care what anyone had said, it was adorable.)

Rose wasn't too focused on many of them seeing as how she barely knew the students a year younger than her, though she did note a few individuals. Hopefully Colin wouldn't be too much of a pain in the arse this time, as following someone with a camera was definitely not polite behaviour. She had an idea for him and his photography hobby so hopefully she would be able to distract him from being her naïve and overenthusiastic stalker.

Ginny was another problem entirely. Little Ginny, her ex-stalker, ex-girlfriend, and ex-friend after Rose 'broke' Ron's heart. Like I give a shit. She could admit as a teenager she had liked Ginny and had genuinely wanted to knee Dean in the balls for kissing her, but after realising how clingy she was and how eager she was to move forward in their physical relationship so quickly, Rose had been more than a little put off. Dumbledore's death had been a rather tragic blessing in disguise and she'd broken things off feeling more than a little relieved.

After the war Ginny had wanted to pick up where they'd left off but Rose had been far too drained for any romantic relationship whatsoever. Teddy had been her main priority, with getting to know Andi and actually studying at school for once taking up the rest of her time. The tension had slowly built up until the crap with Ron, at which point Ginny had called her every name under the sun and cut all ties with Rose.

At that point Rose had been quite grateful.

Hopefully Ginny wouldn't be a little creep this time around. If she was, Rose would – hopefully – send Cassi her way to instil the fear of the Blacks in her heart. It might be petty, but Ginevra Weasley was a spoilt brat at this age, and Rose had more important things to do than make friends with a creepy stalker.

The Ginny that she'd admired and had feelings for had been a fierce and independent person, but the sad thing was the younger girl would never be that person in this life. That Ginny had gone through different experiences, the most obvious being the diary incident. The redhead who was currently a small eleven-year-old would never become possessed seeing as that object was gone, and so would never gain the ferocious confidence of her alternate self in the same way.

It's pretty depressing when possession by Horcrux gives you decent personal development.

Rose refocused on the Sorting and noticed they were nearly halfway done already. Oops. A tiny quivering girl went to Hufflepuff before the best new student – in her opinion – was called to the front.

“Lovegood, Luna!”

She resisted the urge to grin maniacally as the dreamy girl with dirty-blonde hair almost floated to the stool and sat down slowly, wide blue eyes unfocused and a small smile on her face. No matter what anyone said, Luna was one of the best – and most entertaining – people she'd ever met, and the other girl was hilarious to listen to.

In no time at all, the scruffy hat opened it's mouth, and –

“RAVENCLAW!”

Rose cheered with her Housemates, though Hermione looked a little confused as to why she was clapping so loudly for a random first year. Oh Hermione, you poor soul of little faith. Your entire perspective on magic is about to be turned on it's head, and I can't wait.

Luna walked towards the table and glanced at the various students. Her eyes caught Rose's and a wide smile lit up her face. The girl ignored the other first years and walked towards Rose, serenely asking the boy next to Rose to move down a little. Luna was small enough, and soon the girl was sat next to her with a dreamy expression on her face, though there was a glint of humour in the pale blue eyes.

“Hello Rose Potter, it's nice to see you again. It's good to see you've removed the dangerous Heliopaths and avoided the pesky Nargles this time. Things will be different from what was whence, though you should remember the mortality of the titans. They did not last forever.”

Rose started to laugh before she sobered quickly. What people failed to realise about Luna was that she did in fact see things but it wasn't in the same manner as others. She usually spoke in metaphors and codes and you had to analyse her words to find the true meaning.

The 'Heliopaths' were probably Voldemort and Dumbledore, what with the word 'Helios' meaning sun. The sun has everything orbiting around it, and seeing as those two were powerful figureheads the similarities were too uncanny to disregard. 'Nargles' had usually been Luna's description for people who were pests and caused trouble, meaning the annoying people around her. She had avoided certain people who had been constant trouble for her.

It was the reference to the titans that was worrying. Titans were powerful individuals, regardless of if you knew them from magical or muggle stories, and the reminder of their mortality got her thinking. People who were powerful, who she didn't expect to die in the slightest …

Her family.

She felt her heart thud painfully in her chest. Was someone definitely going to die? Or was Luna warning her so that she could change it? Luna was a Seer but that didn't mean that she saw things in one simple direction. She'd probably seen diverging paths and didn't know how things would play out.

Which meant that she was going to be constantly high-strung until something happened. Great.

“GRYFFINDOR!”

Rose looked up to the sound of an annoyed Sorting Hat and saw an angry Ginny Weasley storming over to the lions. She knew that Molly had had a few fantasies of Ron marrying her and that Ginny's obsession had been born from hearing all the 'factual' tales of her adventures. The redhead had probably wanted to be in the same House as her, but Ravenclaw was not the place for Ginny Weasley.

Flitwick levitated the stool and Sorting Hat as he walked off, and McGonagall got up to give them a quick welcome before the tables were groaning under the weight of food. She piled her plate and kept to herself, though it was difficult with Luna and Hermione debating over her head.

Her bushy-haired roommate looked to be gearing up for a rant so she caught their attention. She vaguely noticed some of the surrounding students eyeing her with curiosity, too. For the love of everything, why are magicals such gossips?

“Luna, you should know by now that not everyone sees things from the same viewpoint as you, and while you may believe certain things to be fact you cannot force anyone to adopt the same perspective as you.

“That being said,” she said, looking pointedly at Hermione's smug grin, “there are many facets of the world, magical or not, that remain undiscovered. Centuries ago we never would have thought that travelling to the moon was possible, or that people could communicate with people across the planet instantaneously. There were things that were considered myths that have been proven since.

“Even in the muggle world scientists whose work is considered to be truth, like Albert Einstein for instance, were once considered to be nothing more than madmen. Now their work is considered to be true because of how technology, and the ability to observe the world, has evolved over time.

“Magic also makes strange things more likely to exist. Think of this Hermione, you grew up in the muggle world. If you had been told when you were younger that things like unicorns, the living dead, people flying on broomsticks, or hiding entire buildings from sight was possible and not even uncommon for magic, what would you have said? Magic interacts with the world in strange ways, so there is no reason that any of the things Luna has mentioned don't exist.

“Besides, there is also the possibility that Luna has simply misnamed things. She could be talking about a well-documented creature by another name entirely.”

She finished with a raised brow, sensing Luna's beaming smile behind her head and ignoring the whispers around her. She watched Hermione flush in embarrassment before adopting a contemplative frown. Rose loved Hermione dearly but the other girl was too hung up on logic and facts. Logic only worked with certain aspects of magic, like Arithmancy, but otherwise did what it wanted to. Case in point: descendants of squibs spontaneously being able to do magic after a random number of generations. Not that anyone knew about that, but whatever.

The clinking of a glass captured their attention and they looked to the front to see McGonagall.

“Just a few words before we all head off to bed. As I am sure you know, the Headmaster or Headmistress rarely continues teaching unless it is direly needed. I regret to inform you that I will no longer be teaching Transfiguration.”

She broke off to the sound of sudden upset chatter and she cleared her throat to shut everyone up.

“Thank you for your appreciation of my teaching, though I am delighted to inform you that our newest Transfiguration Professor – and new Head of Gryffindor House – is the esteemed scholar, Professor John Corner.”

The jovial man stood up and waved to the sound of applause and Rose was quite impressed. John Corner was internationally recognised as a leading researcher on Transfiguration theory, and the man should be more than capable of teaching at school-level.

“And of course I believe you will all be relieved to know that we finally have a new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor, Madam Cassiopeia Black.”

Aunt Cassi stood up with a straight back and nodded at everyone regally with a blank face at the applause. The snakes especially looked interested to have someone so politically powerful in the school. Slughorn was a good House Head, but this woman was a Black. The woman was iconic in terms of reputation, though her looks were also striking and drawing attention; Rose could feel eyes on her from all angles as people realised the resemblance between them. It didn't really help that she was sat up properly in her seat like a good little Lady/Heiress and everyone could see her clearly.

Life sucks balls.

The Headmistress welcomed both staff members once again before dismissing everyone. The Prefects got up to direct the first years and she walked along with a melancholic but thoughtful Hermione. Hopefully the girl was actually considering her words and not just dismissing Luna as crazy. She had no doubt that Luna deliberately fucked with people for the fun of it sometimes, but the eccentric girl didn't deserve all the sceptic looks and nasty gossip.

They got to Ravenclaw Tower about ten minutes after the first years and they walked in to see most of them already gone. There were a fair few older students about, catching up with each other or reading on the chairs, and Rose spotted Luna stood by herself near the statue of Rowena Ravenclaw.

Rose walked over to her fellow blonde and stood beside her admiring the carving. Ravenclaw had been a beautiful woman, tall and statuesque, though with a severe face and narrow eyes. She looked to be a serious person, though she was softened by the elaborate dress enhancing her curved frame. The diadem on her head gave the overall image a noble elegance, something akin to a depiction of royalty.

Diadem.

She froze briefly at the memory of the diadem, and the fact that she did in fact possess the long-lost headpiece that belonged to one of the most famous witches of all time. Ever since Voldy had faded into nothingness she'd completely ignored anything about the Horcruxes, and had put all of them in her warded trunk where she hardly ever looked.

Ah, bollocks. I can't believe I forgot about them. How the hell do you forget about the existence of priceless artefacts just chilling in your trunk? … At least I know what McGonagall's getting for Christmas.

“She'll enjoy the surprise. Cats like shiny things, after all.”

She turned to Luna with an incredulous expression. I literally just made the decision. How quickly does she see things?

Rose smiled wryly at the younger girl. “That's good to know. I'd hate to try and surprise someone with something they hated.”

“That's true. Unfortunately not all surprises have the right effect,” she said, beaming at Rose and apparently enjoying Hermione's bewildered confusion. “Though you should learn to trust the vain queen. She's less likely to be surprised by the masquerade than you'd think and will remain with you.”

Rose grinned and resisted the urge to hug Luna though she'd probably give in eventually; she was too adorable. The vain queen was Cassiopeia, named after the Cassiopeia from Ancient Greece, the vain wife of King Cepheus. Apparently her crazy aunt wouldn't be all that shocked of her mask and would stand by her side.

“Thank you for the insight, Luna. Though I have to ask, why are you here by yourself instead of with your year-mates?”

“I thought it would be beneficial to impart the truth before the Nargles fuzzied your brain.”

Rose laughed and drew everyone's attention to her. “Thank you Luna, you're a good friend.”

Every one of the politically-savvy students started whispering amongst themselves and even Hermione narrowed her eyes at the two blonde girls as if they were an interesting puzzle. Not that any of them had the right idea. While Rose's words might have offered Luna some political protection as a 'friend' of the Potter and Black families, Rose didn't give two shits about politics in that moment. She looked Luna dead in the eyes, blue locking with blue, trying to convey the truth of her words. This wasn't about politics, this was about Luna being her actual friend.

The warm smile she got in return, enhanced by the genuinely focused and glowing blue eyes made Luna seem even more beautiful in return, and Rose had to bite her tongue to stop herself from squealing. Luna was way too cute for words. (Being an adult mentally wasn't helping; wanting to coo over and mother your classmates wasn't the most appropriate response.)

“I think it's time for bed, though. Classes start tomorrow and you're going to be working hard from the start.”

Luna beamed at her. “Thank you, Rose. I'll see you tomorrow, you too Miss Granger.” Then she proceeded to skip towards the door leading to the girls' dormitories and disappeared up the stairs.

Rose shook her head in amusement and turned to her roommate, ignoring the rest of the room. “I'm getting tired myself. Shall we?”

Hermione nodded, quite sedate considering her usual enthusiasm for magic. It was uncannily reminiscent of last year after being torn between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor. Times may change, and people may grow, but weird shit will always be present. (Rose though it to be a good motto for life. Especially hers.)

They got to their room and got ready for bed, all the while with Hermione asking questions about Luna, though thankfully she didn't sound nearly as superior as she had the first time they met. Rose answered them all, somewhat indulgently when she realised Hermione actually sounded jealous of Luna. Having a completely new person come along and connect so well with Rose had brought up some childhood issues of Hermione's and she was worried about the future of their friendship.

Rose calmly soothed her friend's worries and tried to make the other see sense, though of course only time would tell if anything had sunk in.

As she rolled over and drifted off she couldn't help but remember Luna's warning. Her last thought before sleep consumed her was a fervent prayer for her family's continued safety.


Omake:

Rose watched as Luna ended up in Ravenclaw once more, and smiled as the dreamy girl walked over to their table. The younger girl wandered over to where Rose was sat with Hermione before nonchalantly dropping in the seat next to her.

“Hello, Harry.”

Rose blinked in confusion and turned to the blonde girl next to her, watching in bewilderment as Luna shook her head back and forth.

“Sorry, wrong version.”

Luna beamed at her and turned around.

What.

Chapter Text

Titus Warrington, Lord of The Noble and Ancient House of Warrington

Lord Warrington,

I am unsure as to your personal knowledge concerning the past and present goings on in the House of Potter, but I would like to begin this correspondence by expressing my deepest remorse.

As Rose Potter, Lady of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter, I offer my sincerest apologies for the lack of communication in the last thirteen years.

The alliance between the House of Potter and the House of Warrington is not one that can be disregarded so callously simply because the individuals that married and brought about such a union are no longer with us, and I can only apologise for the disservice the House of Potter has done the House of Warrington in not nurturing said bond.

While it is uncomfortable to discuss, I feel I must adequately explain the circumstances of the break in communication, at least in my own lifetime. I believe that after my grandparents, Lord Charlus Potter and Lady Dorea Potter, passed away in nineteen seventy-nine, my father, Lord James Potter, was more focused on his actions as an Auror and defending our society from those who wished us harm. This focus led to him neglecting our family's allies in favour of immediate physical protection, and for that I can only apologise.

After my parents were viciously slain, one Albus Dumbledore saw fit to place me with my muggle relatives on my mother's side of the family, and I had no contact with the magical world from then on until I received an invitation to attend Hogwarts. This included no explanation of magic, as I actually grew up not even being aware of the existence of magic.

I'm sure you understand that I felt quite out of my depth regarding a correspondence between our families when I re-entered the magical world, and I subsequently began my education in the ways of magic in the summer of nineteen ninety-one. I was aware that rushing ahead and trying to utilise my family's power without adequate knowledge would only cause problems in the future, so I decided to use my first year at Hogwarts to adequately educate myself on manners of social etiquette, history, and the political situation of the Potter family.

Prior to this education I was completely unaware of the ties the House of Potter had to various Houses, and it was only at the behest of my adoptive father, Lord Sirius Black, that I was taught about things such as alliances. It saddened me to know that our esteemed Headmaster, Chief Warlock and Supreme Mugwump had been proxy for the House of Potter throughout my childhood but had neglected the connections the Potter family had cultivated for decades.

Only once I became Lady Potter did I decide to contact you and the Potter family allies once more, though I can honestly say I am not hopeful. While I would be happy to revive the close relationship that existed between our families in years past and work towards current goals that the House of Potter has, I will accept if you believe that it is not the correct path forward for your family.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank The Noble and Ancient House of Warrington for its previous help with certain projects in the past, particularly our revolutionary improvement to Skele-grow in eighteen seventy-eight. I feel proud to be a member of one of the two families who were dedicated enough to improve our society's medical knowledge in such a manner.

I thank you once more for taking the time out of your day to read this long-belated correspondence from the House of Potter.

Blessed be,

Lady Rose Potter

The Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter

The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black


“So. How terrible is it?” Rose muttered with a snort.

The woman lifted her head and raised a thin brow in question. “You're certainly acting a little irritated today.”

“Not really. I'm actually a rather cynical and sarcastic little shit, but I usually act more put-together so people don't realise. I'd rather be underestimated than feared by everyone.

“I recently got some advice about trusting you with my true character from a trusted friend. Something about you not being all that shocked and not caring anyway.”

The elder blonde smirked. “I've thought you were wearing a mask from the start. Didn't realise you were quite so crass, but I really don't give two shits what you do as long as you don't fuck everything up by getting caught.”

The girl grinned. “My, my, Aunt Cassi. I wasn't aware you had such a foul mouth. I'm shocked such a well-known Black deigned to lower herself to talking that way.”

Cassiopeia snorted. “You try living with Sirius then Arcturus as Lord Black and see how polite you end up.”

Rose threw her head back and laughed at the pure disgust on Cassiopeia's face. She'd known that the two previous Lord Blacks hadn't exactly been loving people, but apparently she'd underestimated just how much the individual Blacks had despised them. Her aunt looked thoroughly unimpressed with how the family had been run in the past, and honestly Rose couldn't help but take joy in the woman's irritation.

Her aunt was a woman whose very reputation instilled a sense of fear of her in people without even coming face-to-face with her, let alone actually being in her presence. She had a cold and elegant demeanour about her that automatically demanded respect, and everything about her screamed 'dignified'. The clothes she wore, how she walked, her vernacular … Cassiopeia Black was a fearsome and well-bred woman, and everyone knew that she was the epitome of class.

Hence why seeing her scrunch her face up in frustration and curse like a sailor was hysterical to see.

Nobody would ever believe that the woman who was so feared that even Lord Black hadn't been able to force her into compliance would ever act like an angry low-class teenager. Rose certainly thought it was entertaining, especially considering how they both seemed to have masks that obscured their 'uncouth' behaviour. It wasn't something she thought she'd ever have in common with a Black. (Sirius didn't count; more often than not he refused to censor himself, and even when he did use the appropriate formality it was glaringly obvious he was taking the piss out everyone else that used it properly. Rose thought those moments made for great Pensieve memories.)

“But back to your question. This letter. I believe it to be good enough for your plans.”

Rose whipped her head around in shock. “Really?”

Aunt Cassi rolled her eyes. “Yes, I do,” she said, fixing Rose with a glare that shut her up. “This letter – and the letters to the two other families the Potters had marital alliances with – are not written with perfectly executed etiquette, which actually works in your favour in this case.

“You are a young girl of twelve, so having the written form just slightly off will make them underestimate you, but your written language is advanced enough that they will know you are not an ignorant child. Likewise, the brief mention of joint projects between the families indicates that you aren't spouting useless crap, and actually know the history behind the alliance.

“You've also dropped enough hints about Dumbledore and your placement with those filthy muggles that they'll probably start to think about their past dealings with him and the motives behind the light faction's voting. That was quite a nice touch; you've managed to implicate him without actually accusing him of anything. Nice job.”

The woman paused briefly to smirk at her and Rose gleefully mirrored the expression back at her. It was so nice to have someone to plot with that didn't question her mental state.

“The way that you openly admitted the truth of your background would be foolish in any other situation, but for this you need to look the wounded and vulnerable party. You were the unwitting victim in this tragedy, and you are therefore absolved of any guilt in not maintaining these alliances.

“However the multiple apologies, with a clearly-stated way out of said alliance for the other families has essentially placed you in the premium position. If the recipients of these letters dissolve the alliance with House Potter, then you come off looking like the poor victim of horrid adults who don't have a heart. You're the poor girl who attempted to do right by her family and was cruelly rebuffed by selfish people, and others will be easier to convince of joining you. If they choose to become Potter allies once more, then you gain ready-made political power that just needs a little nurturing.”

The woman finished with a grin and Rose couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if Cassiopeia had become Lady Black decades ago. There was no way this genius woman in front of her would have allowed the Black family to run itself into the ground the way it had.

“You're insane, but I love it.”

“Thank you,” the woman said primly.

“Hopefully they'll choose to stay as allies and I won't have to go out cosying up to idiots.”

“Is there any particular reason you're courting these families as allies? Other than the previous marriages to the Potters, that is.” Cassiopeia looked very intrigued and had a calculating expression on her face. Rose couldn't help but wonder if this was what the Black family had been like before they all went crazy.

Rose looked her in the eye. “If I want to have any chance of passing bills in the Wizengamot – which is already going to be especially difficult as I'm not actually going to physically be there because of school – I'm going to need support from all sides.

“Despite Sirius being a former Gryffindor unjustly imprisoned, there are still people wary of him just for being a Black. Having the Potter and Black families allied has made a few people nervous about what it could mean for me. The same with me being so close to Draco. As Lord Malfoy he's now in charge of a dark family, even if controlling power remains with Narcissa.

“I want allies in all three factions – light, grey and dark. Light's already covered, as the House of Bones and the House of Longbottom have agreed to ally themselves with me. They aren't going to mindlessly follow anything put forward by the Potter family, but more likely that not we'll end up collaborating on various projects together.

“The Blacks still have power, diminished as it might be, so between them and hopefully the Malfoys – as I'm hoping to talk to Draco soon – I'm covered there.

“Grey is where it gets iffy and where the marital alliances really come into play. The Jones and Greengrass families are strictly grey, and the Greengrasses have the best balance between power and stability in that faction. They've never been a volatile family to get involved with, and seeing as I'm good friends with Heiress Greengrass they in particular can't really dismiss me without good reason. House Warrington usually flips between grey and dark over the generations, but they usually stay somewhere between; that can only be beneficial.”

The older woman looked bemused and Rose wondered exactly what she'd said that was so funny.

“What?”

“I'm just trying to figure out why the rest of my new colleagues are under the impression that you're some sort of innocent academic genius when you're clearly a viper waiting to strike. How did you avoid Slytherin again?”

Rose snorted. “Let's just say if you saw just what type of books I have in my very warded trunk, you would know full well why I'm wearing blue and bronze.”

Cassiopeia just looked at her before she started cackling loudly, scaring the Grindylows in the corner tank. Thankfully the Defence office was now covered in silencing charms and all the portraits had been removed. Aunt Cassi was kind of paranoid, but it was a paranoia that Rose could empathise with wholeheartedly. It's not paranoia if you're surrounded by mad people.

“I'm going to assume that you've been in the Black library?” she questioned, still grinning maniacally. That is genuinely terrifying.

“I love Dad dearly, but he's still a little off in terms of common sense. I think he's forgotten that as Heiress Black I have unrestricted access to the library unless he bars me from it, especially after he granted me access to all the Black properties.”

The older blonde snorted and shook her head. “Sirius always did look at things too simply. But back to my other point. I'm still not sure how Slytherin wasn't the best fit for you. You might be all for learning and intelligence, but you're clearly a very cunning individual.”

“Thank you. I'll take that as a compliment.” She grinned before sobering and contemplated her wording. “I actually have a theory about the Sorting Hat and the Houses, though. I can't help but feel like we aren't Sorted by our personality traits, but rather which traits we value most. Like, I am cunning but I value wisdom more. For all his superiority, Draco is actually a very learned person and enjoys discovering new things, but he values being cunning over everything else because he was raised to believe that would aid him in becoming an acceptable Heir Malfoy for his father.”

“Lucius always was an irritating little shit, though it's not surprising considering Abraxas. It's like a Malfoy custom, prancing around like one of those ridiculous peacocks,” the woman grumbled under her breath.

Rose snorted and dissolved into giggles, mostly because she'd had that same thought so many times after the war. Malfoy Sr. had managed to seriously reduce his sentence by being a sell-out, and had told the Ministry every single thing he could about the other Death Eaters in order to not spend the rest of his life in the hell-hole that was Azkaban. He'd gotten five years, and had promptly retired to a remote Malfoy property after his sentence to lick his wounds from Narcissa divorcing him. And of course, he took the peacocks with him. The thought made her laugh harder and she could feel tears in her eyes even as she noticed Aunt Cassi shaking her head.

“Anyway,” Cassiopeia interrupted, drawing Rose's attention to her, “your theory about the individual Houses has some merit. It would certainly explain why some of my cousins who weren't all that blessed in terms of political cunning ended up in Slytherin. We were all raised to value it at the very least.

“Back to the letters. You should send them soon and get ready to interact with the children from those particular families. Talk to Draco, too. I have a feeling that you have a certain project in mind for your starting agenda in the Wizengamot.”

Rose looked at her seriously. “I do, but it will make me … vulnerable, I think.”

Grey eyes narrowed and met blue. “What do you mean?”

“... What do you know about my life before Hogwarts?”

Cassiopeia's face blanked even as Rose felt the temperature drop. She didn't think it was deliberate on the part of her aunt, but the stately woman looked extremely pissed off all of a sudden and she got a foreboding feeling as the woman opened her mouth.

“Sirius told me everything.”

Of course he did. Damn it, Dad.

“Well, that saves me that explanation.” At the woman's glare she cut off the joking tone. “Look, I more than anyone can understand being pissed off about being treated that way, especially as I was the one who went through it, but getting revenge isn't going to change anything.”

Cassiopeia opened her mouth just as the bell rang, and she looked to the ceiling in consternation before sighing.

“Look, come back later tonight and we'll discuss your overly-complicated political plans – don't look at me like that, I don't even have to know what you're up to know it's more difficult than I'd like.

“Now, off to Transfiguration.”

Rose huffed at the woman's chivying and packed away her things, making sure to grab all the sheets of her new Defence notes for their study group. She waved to her aunt and turned around, trying to visualise a new timetable for herself to get all her crap done. Why do I do this to myself?

“By the way, my dear niece,” called Cassiopeia, her voice so saccharine sweet that the hairs on the back of Rose's neck stood on end, “I do so applaud your determination to maintain steady relationships with your close Black cousins. I would suggest you take a closer look at your family tree, though.”

The woman grinned at her like a shark scenting blood.

“After all, you are also cousins with three others in your year alone.”

What the hell?!

Chapter Text

Genealogy was a topic that Rose had never delved into too deeply. She might have been politically powerful and was descended from the Black family (who seemed to have made it their mission in life to marry into every noteworthy family in Britain and then some), but in the future that now wouldn't be, Rose had happily – and quite pointedly – resolved to ignore nearly every single thing about pure-blood politics. She didn't attend functions, she didn't build alliances, and she left pretty every single detail of her Houses up to her lovely knight in shining armour Neville. (He really had been a diamond to her.)

Therefore she had never really bothered to look into just who she was related to and how. She'd eventually found out that Neville himself and snarky Draco were in fact her own however-many-generations-removed cousins, and that the Weasleys were a point of contention due to their Black grandmother being brutally disinherited for marrying their grandfather. (Which had definitely put an uncomfortable spin on her romantic feelings towards a few of the redheads. Incest really wasn't her thing.)

This second chance at living had granted her a lot of opportunities when it came to her family and changing society for the better, and though she was loath to admit it, politics was indeed the way forward.

'If you want something done right, do it yourself.'

That phrase was beyond irritating but it did in fact describe the problems she had with changes that she wanted to occur in the wizarding world. She had plenty of ideas when it came to improving certain facets of their society, but there were so few people that she trusted to do things for her. Sirius was someone she could see directing things for her, but she hated the idea of dumping all her work on him when he had other things to do that he genuinely enjoyed.

She knew that doing things herself would set herself up as some sort of politician in the long run, but she knew full well that as soon as things went her way she'd probably kidnap some close friend or relative, stick them with the title of 'proxy', and disappear into some remote library somewhere nobody could find her. Now that is a tempting thought.

Getting back into studying the political climate of magical Britain and trying to rebuild traditional alliances between her family and those that had married them – because Dumbledore had well and truly fucked her over in terms of not managing anything – was tedious to say the least, but she thought that she'd been doing well. She knew who was who, which families where now in turmoil over the Death Eater trials and deaths, and she knew which of her cousins were the more politically savvy.

Except she apparently had even more cousins.

When Cassiopeia had cheerfully (too cheerfully) told her that three more of her classmates were her cousins she'd been rightfully confused. In hindsight she kind of wanted to smack herself across the face. Hard. Her grandmother might have been Dorea Black, true, but the Black family was spread a lot further than she really noticed and wasn’t the only one to marry into the Potter family.

Her great-grandmother was Eliza Greengrass after all.


“Did you know we were cousins?”

Daphne paused from taking a sip of tea and lowered the cup to the table with a sigh, lips twisting downwards as she did. It was a far cry from her usual put-together look and Rose felt her stomach drop at her friend’s face. Why did things always have to be so fucked-up?

“Rose. What you have to understand is that for years the entire population of our community was under the impression that you were being raised in the magical world in the lap of luxury. It never even occurred to anyone that you could be in the muggle world.

“I’ll admit that I resolved to ignore you at best when we initially met because you’d ignored any and all correspondence from my family and I thought you were intentionally snubbing us. The traditional light Potter dismissing their grey cousin, and all that,” the other girl explained while waving vaguely.

“When we got to know each other I of course realised that you’d been raised by muggles and, while you were fairly knowledgeable of your Black relatives, you didn’t seem to know much about the families of any ancestors further back.”

The Slytherin took a deep breath and leaned forward for more privacy, very much aware that they were still in the Great Hall even if they were at the end of the Ravenclaw table by themselves.

“I’m fully aware that it’s none of my business and that you most likely wish to forget, but I’m far from stupid, Rose. I’m quite well-versed in reading people, extracting information from subtext and studying body language … I know that your childhood was … less than satisfactory, to put it plainly, so I figured that you were spending every ounce of your free time to catch up on societal education to the best of your ability and I didn’t wish to burden you further by calling you out on your lack of knowledge.”

Daphne smiled gently. “I’d be more than happy to get to know my friend on a familial basis in time. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure the others know your avoidance wasn’t an intentional slight.”

With that, the other blonde gracefully stood up and strode out of the cavernous hall, leaving behind a frozen time traveller who couldn’t quite believe what had just happened in the space of a few scant minutes.

She knows.

Rose had known that Daphne was smart, but to figure out at least some of her shitty childhood despite not being told was … disconcerting. Well, bloody fucking weird if I’m being blunt. If Daphne had managed to gleam an inkling of her younger years from barely any information, who else had?

The girl sighed and contemplated this new revelation. She honestly felt ashamed that her mind hadn't ever put together 'Eliza Greengrass' and 'Daphne Greengrass'. Rose had even known that Henry Potter's wife was a Greengrass for a long time, but she'd always assumed the woman was from some branch family that meant Rose wasn't actually related to any of the current main family.

She felt like an idiot and it certainly wasn't a nice feeling.

Though she supposed her hastily-drawn family tree was useful in figuring out any other cousins from that side of her unexplored family. The Greengrass family had clung to their neutrality with fervour for centuries, marrying people from light, grey, and dark families over time despite their magical and political alignments.

Rose now knew she had more than a few cousins in that direction of her family tree – or tumbleweed as she’d begun to think of it – and it was quite a nice surprise. Or it had been for most of the revelations. It was beyond disturbing to realise that she was related to some of the scum of the earth by blood.

Dear Merlin, what did I ever do to be related to Alecto and Amycus Carrow? That is absolutely unfair, and it's disgusting to even contemplate. At least the demon twins are locked up now.

And that was a blessing, as the Carrow twins had been some of the most disturbed Death Eaters ever, notably because of the rumours of their relationship. They were twin brother and sister, but many times had the story of them being in an incestuous relationship been told. The younger twin Carrows, Flora and Hestia, were the daughters of Amycus, but it was a secret as to who their mother was. Many speculated that Alecto had carried her own brother's children, which was entirely too disgusting to even think about. Not that it was the girls' fault. Rose knew what it was like to be blamed for her parents' actions, and she didn't think she could ever hate the girls for their parentage alone, even if they were the result of very close incest.

The two young girls were her third cousins, as were Daphne and her younger sister Astoria. Daphne's first cousin Lavender Brown was also Rose's third cousin as her mother had been a Greengrass, and her final third cousin from the Greengrass family came from an older Slytherin, third year Terence Higgs.

Pure-bloods really needed to stop marrying their cousins.

I know I said that I wanted a big family, but this is bloody ridiculous. I mean, I thought the Black cousins were enough, but it got even more mental. How many are there?

Rose didn’t know whether to curse her insane aunt or not. Granted the woman informed her of three cousins who were her classmates, but trying to combine things like alliances and her behaviour in the past year in her head, all the while attempting to figure out how she should treat said peers left her with such a bad migraine she was now constantly being plied with pain-relieving potions by Dobby.

Cassiopeia had been talking about Daphne, Lavender, and Gregory Goyle, another cousin she’d managed to miss because she’d somehow assumed – and why the fuck did she have to be smacked in the face with so much of her ignorance in one go? She felt like shit – that when Belvina Black married into the Burkes, all her descendants would also be Burkes.

Congratu-fucking-lations Rose, you’re a grade-A imbecile.

Counting how many cousins she had was headache-inducing, and that was only if she kept to those close to her age. If she added the adults who were still alive and kicking that she had blood ties to, her brain might just melt.

Burke, Crouch, Black, Greengrass, Brown, Longbottom … they were just some of the names she could claim blood ties to, and she’d actually tried to draw a family tree with both the Black and Greengrass parts of her heritage and failed epically. There were just too many names.

She dreaded to think of what would happen if they all got together sometime.

Rose subtly straightened her back and held back the wince at the small crack. She should really go to the library and get started on the Defence essay before she got swamped with Aunt Cassi’s extra work. To be fair, she was actually quite excited to get into the essay on how simple prank spells could be used for both physical and psychological effect. She might not be so willing to subject herself to her aunt’s teaching, but nobody could deny the woman’s ability to instruct the students of Hogwarts.

She usually incited class-wide discussion on the nature of the spells they were learning and how all magic had the potential to be dangerous if used in a certain way. It was definitely sneaky to subtly introduce the idea that dark magic wasn't inherently bad in such a way, and Rose could see a few of her peers starting to consider the woman's words. It helped that Aunt Cassi was actually fair to all the students. She had high standards but they were realistic ones. She also ignored House bias and treated everyone the same regardless of school House, blood status, or social standing. It was difficult to accuse her of being a bad teacher and 'evil' Slytherin when she willingly gave a muggle-born Gryffindor points.

I wonder if I’d have known my family tree inside and out if I’d grown up with her? Rose blinked at the thought and swore under her breath. Jesus, why can’t I focus? Even after willing herself to think of something else she couldn’t stop thinking of her newfound cousins. She supposed she couldn’t help it though; it was a little sad to realise that she'd grown up not realising that all these different people were family to her. She'd been so ignorant and allowed herself to get so wrapped up in herself that she hadn't journeyed outside of her personal sphere of Ron and Hermione.

Even after the war she'd dived so deeply into her work so she didn't have to socialise. She hadn't even bothered to try and learn anything about her family because she'd been too tired. It’d been a common feeling in their community after the awful time, and people hadn't really been able to muster the same energy when it came to promoting their family and blood status.

She wondered what it said that she was feeling as apathetic now as she did then.

The sound of footsteps caught her attention and she raised her head to see Daphne striding back towards her with a smug look on her face. Rose would have said something less than complementary if it weren’t for the other two people with her, and what them being there actually represented.

Lavender Brown and Terence Higgs.

Rose barely resisted snorting and rolling her eyes at the blunt yet understated manipulations of the Slytherin girl. Daphne was clearly trying to overcome the distance between them because of the misunderstandings of Rose’s life, but she was being almost Gryffindor in her method of just shoving them all together and hoping for the best.

On the other hand, Rose had known Daphne as a friend in the future and knew how she could be a bit of a mother hen when she thought nobody was looking. By the look in the light-blue eyes, Daphne seemed to want to help Rose in expanding her social circle so she’d have more people around her.

Slytherins. They couldn’t just be straightforward, could they?

Daphne settled down across from Rose with Terence on her left, leaving Lavender to sit directly to Rose’s right across from the Slytherin boy. This should be interesting.

“Right. Seeing as how we’re all cousins in one respect or another, I suggest that we forego all superfluous formality in order to build a strong familial report amongst ourselves.”

Rose raised a brow at Daphne, bemused at her little speech. “Daphne, you do realise you sound more like a Gryffindor than a Slytherin, don’t you? No offence, Lavender,” she shot sideways with a grin. “Not to mention you suggest ignoring formality before you start talking on-so-eloquently. Are you feeling okay? I’m sure Madam Pomfrey has some sort of potion for mental deterioration.”

Daphne flushed and scowled at her, but Rose just smirked back, egged on by Lavender’s giggles and Higgs’ soft chuckles.

“If anyone needs to be checked for mental problems that would be you, Rose. You're the one that seems to enjoy willingly subjecting themselves to the continued presence of the Weasley twins.”

“I’ll have you know that George and Fred are hilarious to be around, and their antics are certainly a nice break in my everyday monotony,” she sniffed mockingly.

“Aren’t you concerned that you’ll become a target of theirs?”

Rose turned to her male companion and studied the Slytherin. Terence Higgs had light brown hair that had a slight curl to it, though it was currently cropped too short to form full curls. His pale-green eyes were focused on her with genuine interest and a flicker of curiosity, and the slight olive tone to his skin hinted at his Mediterranean heritage. If Rose remembered correctly, his maternal grandmother was from Greece.

“Mister Higgs –”

“Terence. You call Daphne and Lavender by their first names, so you might as well do the same for me. Daphne does want us to forego formality, after all,” he finished with a teasing smirk directed at the Slytherin girl.

Rose laughed over Daphne’s grumbling and grinned at the other Slytherin. “Well then Terence, you should call me Rose. And to answer your question, the twins wouldn’t dare to go after me. They owe me big time for last year.”

Lavender leaned forward eagerly. “How on earth did you get Fred and George Weasley to owe you? They’re practically impossible to blackmail!”

Three heads turned as one to look enquiringly at the Gryffindor who turned red. “Lavender,” Daphne began slowly, “please tell me you haven’t tried to blackmail the Weasley twins.”

“Of course I haven’t! I was just collecting information on those that had tried on the off chance it was the appropriate course of action for me. You know, improving on others’ mistakes, and all that.”

Rose was infinitely glad for her Occlumency at that point or she would have burst into raucous laughter regardless of them being in public. It was so weird to think of Lavender Brown as a sneaky information-hoarder that used the gossip mill to her advantage. The past version of Lavender had always seemed like a ditzy airhead that passed her exams through sheer luck, whereas it appeared that Rose just hadn’t been close enough to the other girl to get the full picture.

“Lavender, you do remember the Week of Hell, don’t you? Irritating those two redheads won’t end in your favour, or have you forgotten just how twitchy the blonde idiot was by the end of the week?” Rose questioned.

Honestly, if she ever needed a pick-me-up, just remembering how much they tortured Lockheart perked her right up.

Terence blinked bewilderedly. “The Week of Hell? What’s that?"

The three blonde-haired, blue-eyed girls glanced around at each other before grinning at their mutual male cousin and leaning forwards.

“Well …”

As they spoke, Terence’s eyes widened further and further and Rose stifled her laughter. It was nice getting along so easily with these cousins.

I think this is going to work.

Chapter Text

The Autumn Equinox, otherwise known as Mabon. The festival was named after Mabon, The Child of Light and the son of the Earth Mother Goddess Modron. The day of the equinox is celebrated as a day of complete balance, as a way to cherish the inherent differences seen in those who worship Magic.

Dark and light, inner and outer, masculine and feminine. Night and day are of equal length – perfectly balanced, just like Magic itself. There is no superior alignment of magic, we are all equal to one another. There is dark and light in all, and there is choice to balance. Nature and nurture, physicality and will. Neither is more important, they simply are.

It is a celebration of the waning power of the sun and a way to welcome winter and reap the bounty Magic has blessed her people with from the earth. Mabon is the second harvest of the year after Lughnasadh, and is a festival of thanksgiving to secure blessings for the coming winter. Giving thanks to Mother Magic for what she has provided in the hopes that she will give blessings for the harsher winter months. It is worship and a relationship of reciprocity. As we follow and worship Magic, so she provides for all.

There are many different ways to celebrate Mabon. As with all traditional festivals the intent matters much more than the physicality of our actions. Major parties with hundreds of people or a solitary recognition of the day, an elaborate altar decorated with an abundance of vegetation or a few select items, traditional magical festivities can be carried out in a variety of ways as long as the correct intentions are realised with our actions.

While many may think of traditional pagan rituals such as Mabon as strict 'rituals', with ritual circles and chanting, the truth is that the celebration stems more from the meaning behind the festival and an appropriate action to convey thanks rather than an elaborate set up.

One of the most popular ways to celebrate Mabon, both as a group or as a personal activity, is a walk to gather bounty from nature. Fruit, vegetables, berries, flowers, herbs … anything you can think of or find can be gathered, however nature itself must be respected. Taking too much and not leaving enough sustenance for the native creatures of the wild will not endear you to Magic. Mother Magic cares for all equally, and as respect for her you must respect others who serve Magic.

The bounty from nature is to be enjoyed, however some must be given as an offering at an altar. Regardless of the altar's decorations or complexities, one of each flower, fruit and vegetable must be left as thanks.

The altar itself is also a personal thing depending on who creates it. It can be a large and elaborate construction for mass celebrations of Mabon, or it can be a simple design for a personal worship. It is decorated with the offerings from the collected bounty, and often denoted with pentagram, the five points symbolising earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Candles can be added depending on personal taste, and the structure is usually decorated with ribbons in a mixture of red, green, oranges and browns.


She sat back and closed the book, frowning in contemplation. All in all, Mabon was a beautiful day of deep meaning that often settled a magical being celebrating it, an acknowledgement of their dedication and love of Magic.

It was also illegal to celebrate.


“But it's Paganism!”

Kevin looked aghast and Rose braced herself for the inevitable blow-up that was no doubt about to occur.

The study group she had started up to help build political relationships had done wonders for the average scores of their entire year, and just as she had predicted there had been a few classmates who wanted to join this year after seeing the vast improvement of the group across all the subjects.

After a couple of weeks of them getting back into the swing of things and coming up with a new schedule, several students had asked her friends if they could join and she ended up having Lavender, Hannah and Su come to her to ask permission. She knew she'd started the group but she wasn't sure when she'd ended up in charge. Oh well.

Soon enough they'd been joined by Kevin Entwhistle and Roger Malone from Gryffindor, Hufflepuff's own Justin Finch-Fletchley and Megan Jones, as well as some more of her Housemates, Padma Patil, Lisa Turpin, Oliver Rivers, and Stephen Cornfoot.

Instead of simply teaching their new peers their past work they'd assigned them as tutors for the subjects like everyone else. Rose knew well how teaching something also developed your own skills and knowledge in that area. Why people had been surprised at her Defence skills after teaching the D.A., she'd never know.

Roger was now assisting her and Tracey for DADA, the unusually reserved Gryffindor having a surprising amount of magical power that just needed a bit of finesse to balance the force of his spells. The perpetually-happy Megan Jones, her cousin through marriage (who had cheerfully attached herself to Rose calling her 'Rosie' for some inexplicable reason) was helping Hermione and Su with Transfiguration, and Justin Finch-Fletchley had enthusiastically started describing non-magical history, so everyone had all but thrown him at Terry and Wayne to collaborate on new History topics.

Consummate Gryffindor Kevin had teamed up with Susan and Hannah to teach everyone Charms, the loud muggle-born being strangely intuitive when it came to finding the right balance of power and technique to pull off the different spells taught to them in class.

Quiet and thoughtful Oliver Rivers had teamed up with Lavender and Parvati for Astronomy in a bizarre turn of events that nobody could figure out, though they seemed to get along well enough. Stephen, who was also Terry's first cousin (bloody pure-blood families), had become fascinated by the Whomping Willow so had been enticed to research Herbology by Neville, all the while Millicent shaking her head but encouraging them all the same.

Padma and Lisa had suggested they add some lectures of magical theory and traditions too, so they'd decided to include different ideas concerning various aspects of magical life.

Today's lecture had been on the festival of Mabon which was the following day and something that Rose was quite looking forward to. A day of giving thanks for the sustenance provided by the earth and Magic wasn't really something that could be construed as evil or dark, at least to common sense. Then again, that was something scarce in their world.

Kevin's outburst had interrupted Lisa's explanations of the altar, the image of a pentagram apparently some indication of evil for the boy.

Here we go.

“If you want to be technical, magicals generally are Pagan. Paganism is a belief in which people worship the earth itself and celebrate how it provides for us. Of course, Magic too is celebrated, and how our own magic provides for and nourishes us.”

Lisa finished her brief explanation with a slight frown on her face. She too was a half-blood born into a well-known family and had obviously been raised to understand magical customs. If her expression was anything to go by, she was none too impressed with Kevin's disgusted tone of voice and expression. Rose could empathise; she was proud of her heritage and enjoyed celebrating her magic as something she was gifted with.

“But – but, everyone knows Paganism is evil! Even the older students said it's dark magic!”

If Rose hadn't been an adult in mind she would have been fidgeting in place at the sudden tension. As it was, she kept a blank look on her face while surreptitiously glancing around at the various expressions on her classmates' faces; fury from Draco and Daphne, disappointment from Susan, and confusion from Wayne. Hermione also looked to be gearing up for a massive lecture, and though she herself wasn't too grateful for Kevin's claims, that didn't mean she would subject him to Hermione. Yet.

“Mister Entwhistle,” she questioned, getting the attention of the irritating brunette, “what exactly do you mean by 'dark' magic?”

He looked at her like she was stupid and she bit her tongue before she said something that would make Sirius blush. “Dark magic is evil, it hurts people. People who use dark magic are evil.”

Ignorant brat.

“I see. So someone who uses dark magic is evil, and by your definition dark magic 'hurts people'. By that understanding, anyone who uses magic that hurts someone is dark and therefore evil. Is that correct?”

“Of course,” came his indignant reply.

“Just a quick question. Is a spell that has the ability to slit someone's throat also evil?” she asked, noticing faint smirks on Neville and Susan's faces.

“Definitely! That's awful, anything that can do that is evil!”

“That's interesting,” she mused, her tone catching the attention of her close friends who sat up a little straighter, “because from your own words, then you yourself have used dark magic and therefore evil magic.”

“What?! No I haven't! Shut up!”

“Mister Entwhistle.” Her frigid tone thankfully shut him up and she glared at him. “We are having a rational discussion and I have not said anything impolite or provoked you, therefore I would very much appreciate it if you ceased shouting at me. There is no need for such behaviour during an important conversation.

“More importantly, I did not call you an evil wizard, I was simply pointing out the issues with your own descriptions. Last year in Charms we were taught the Severing Charm which in fact could be used to slit someone's throat if they were so inclined, which is what I was referencing.

“The Severing Charm is a simple light spell taught to eleven-year-olds, and is not dark magic. Dark magic, light magic, grey magic … None of them are indications of whether or not someone is evil or not. It is the intent behind a spell that makes it evil or not, not how the magic is aligned.

“The types of magic simply correspond to what type of magic we are born with in our core. Some are naturally aligned to dark magic and therefore find dark spells easier to use. It has no bearing on the personality of a person; dark magicals can be good while light magicals can be evil.”

“But – name one light person who's evil!” He was still shouting, but Kevin looked to have lost much of his confidence in the conversation. Her calm demeanour probably didn't help.

“I'm afraid it's past tense as they're now dead, but Peter Pettigrew was a light wizard and a close friend of my parents. He was in Gryffindor with them, and he betrayed them to You-Know-Who because he was a coward too scared to fight in a war. He passed away in the summer of last year after the Dementors destroyed his soul.”

Her nonchalant tone seemed to suck all the fight out of Kevin Entwhistle, and he slouched down in his seat with a frown on his face.

She mentally sighed as everyone eyed her speculatively even as Lisa and Padma carried on with their discussion of Mabon celebrations.

After their group meeting they went their separate ways, and Rose walked back to Ravenclaw with a contemplative Hermione. Only when they were in their room did the bushy-haired girl open her mouth.

“Rose?”

The nervous tone made her look up to see the other girl gnawing her lip, an incredibly unsure expression on her face.

“What's wrong?”

“I … I think the traditional magical celebrations sound really interesting, but I'm not really sure. I mean, they're all illegal to celebrate. I don't want to get in trouble for getting into everything.”

Rose smiled softly at her friend. “Hermione, nobody's going to make you celebrate something you don't want to. As long as you respect that Mabon is a traditional holiday that a lot of people subscribe to, it'll be okay.”

“Are you going to celebrate Mabon?” her friend asked.

“You said it yourself, Hermione: Mabon's illegal to celebrate,” she smirked. “Do you really want to know if I'm breaking the law?”

Hermione looked scandalised and seemed to choke on air. “Rose!”

She just laughed.


Rose might have joked about the legality of the situation, but the stringent laws from the Ministry were definitely not a joke. A trip to Azkaban for participating in festivities was extreme, but was nevertheless something she had to look forward to if she was caught giving thanks.

If things had been different she would have liked for Hogwarts to host a massive party for the students and staff to join in if they wanted, but at this time it just wasn't feasible. If you wanted to celebrate with someone else it was best to keep it with small groups, preferably three. It was small enough to hopefully go unnoticed, and three people together were strong because of the properties of the number three.

Those of their study group – and that group really needed a name – who wanted to celebrate Mabon had divided into small groups of three to walk around and collect the wildlife hidden around the grounds. She knew full well that there would probably be hundreds of students out this evening, and she wondered what the staff would do; would they try and stop everyone or simply turn a blind eye?

Either way she wasn't too bothered. It would be a little tight because they wanted to finish decorating the altar and send a quick prayer as close to the actual time of the Equinox as possible, and they wouldn't have a lot of time to get back to the Great Hall and eat dinner. The Equinox was about twenty to seven and the evening meal finished at half seven. Everything should be okay.

She made her way out the castle and across the grounds to the edge of the Black Lake nearest the Forbidden Forest. It was half five now, so they would have just over an hour to collect their things and build a Mabon altar.

“Took you long enough.”

Rose looked up to see a nervous-looking Neville and a put-out Draco, picture complete with arms crosses over his chest and narrowed grey eyes.

“Oh, I do so apologise Lord Malfoy. Please do forgive this poor soul who –”

“Oh, shut up!”

His hissing voice was accompanied by a light blush on his cheeks and she turned to hide her grin from her prissy cousin, calming down before turning back.

“Sorry. Hermione was getting tightly-wound about having a roommate who was about to break the law,” she grumbled, remembering trying to escape the girl.

“I know what you mean,” Neville moaned.

There was a moment of silence before she and Neville turned as one to look at their blonde cousin, who simply raised a brow and asked, “What?”

“I suppose he is in Slytherin,” Neville wondered out loud.

She muttered under her breath. “Bastard.”

“Hey!”


Their journey around the grounds of Hogwarts had been an enjoyable walk, finding plenty of vegetation and plants to use for their celebration. It was also fairly entertaining running into other covert groups trying to discretely celebrate Magic. One memorable occasion had included the group of Marcus Flint, Graham Montague and Cassius Warrington. She'd spoken to Warrington a couple of times as she'd been writing to his father about politics, but it was certainly daunting to come face-to-face with three of the tallest and more morally-grey Slytherins all at once. Still, she'd introduced herself with a smile and watched them look completely thrown at Rose Potter discretely collecting things for a Mabon altar.

She, Draco and Neville made their way just inside the Forbidden Forest – after a little coaxing and manipulation of their male pride – and sat down with their newly-found bounty to construct a small wooden altar.

They used broken branches to fashion the structure before covering it with large fallen leaves from the forest floor. Once it wasn't in danger of collapsing they covered it with their offerings. Elderberries, apples, daisies, lavender, starthistle, leaves from the Whomping Willow, lemongrass, baneberries, and blackberries were slowly placed upon the altar, each of them adding something one at a time. It was one of their personal decisions to maintain balance. The three children each offered three things before each lighting three candles around the offerings.

Once the altar had been fully decorated they sat in front of it in a circle, legs crossed and hands held as they closed their eyes as they prepared to chant in celebration. They waited for a few minutes to get closer to the actual Equinox, allowing their innate magic to flow through their bodies and join together, three as one.

(The three of them together would actually be rather powerful, each of them having a core of the three persuasions: dark, grey and light. The fact that Rose was grey was even more of a boon. Not only was grey magic the balancing factor, she was also the lone female in the group; she was both the balance between magic and between the two males. Mabon was about balance in both magic and gender, and Rose was a physical representation of that fact in the group.)

After a few more moments the feeling of magic in the air had thickened and they heard the candles flicker.

Neville breathed in and began the brief ritual. “May Mother Magic bless us on this day of balance. May she bless us in times to come.”

His soft voice carried in the small clearing and she heard a rush of wind.

“May we give thanks for all gifted to us by Mother Magic, and may she enjoy that which we offer to her in return.”

Rose felt her words resonate with her two companions, their magic swirling around the circle from person to person.

“May these offerings convey our worship to Mother Magic. May we bless the earth and the elements, and may Mother Magic be blessed for all she provides.”

Draco's finishing sentence ended with a roar of flame that burned behind their closed eyelids, and they waited a beat before continuing in unison.

“Blessed be.”

Three voices spoke as one and the magic that had been welling up between them swirled up and around the clearing before blanketing them in warmth, the feeling akin to being held by a mother. After a minute the feeling seemed to seep into them and settle deep within their cores, leaving a content sensation in their stomach.

Not long after, though honestly it felt like it could have been anywhere from a couple of minutes to an hour, the trio opened their eyes and looked at each other, grinning from the sensation of warm magic still permeating their bodies.

Rose glanced down at her watch and saw they only had forty minutes until dinner ended.

“We'd better get going if we want something to eat.”

As she spoke Neville's stomach let out a loud out a strange gurgling noise and his face turned bright red. She bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from laughing; Neville really was cute.

“I can't tell if you need food or if you've already eaten something that's still alive in your stomach.”

“Draco!”

Neville's mortified cry broke her composure and she toppled to the forest floor, wheezing with laughter.

That was one way to end Mabon.

Chapter Text

Cedric really was one of the better Quidditch players in the school, Rose mused. Not only did the older boy have innate talent in spades, but he showed a massive amount of sportsmanship as he cared for the well-being of teammates and opponents alike.

She remembered well in third year after being almost Kissed by a Dementor in mid-air and nearly falling to her death, Cedric had still tried to get a rematch because he'd felt his win hadn't been fair enough. Sometimes she thought he was a little too good for their world.

That had been something of a contributing factor to her massive depression after his murder. Cedric Diggory had been a genuinely nice person, helping his Housemates as much as he could, and had also been a good student. If there had been anyone who hadn't deserved to die, it was Cedric.

Even now he was such a genuine person, though much more animated at this age than when he had been the school 'heartthrob' that competed in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. She snorted at the term. It was ridiculous to idolise someone so much, especially as a teenager, though perhaps she only thought that because of her own 'fans'.

She constantly had people gawking at her, though after Mabon the contemplative looks from the older Slytherins had seemingly shifted from disdain to interest. Whether or not that would prove to be any better, only time would tell.

A shout from the air jolted her and her pencil went flying across the page, leaving a thick line through all her notes. She swore under her breath, though she was grateful that she was using a muggle pencil and notepad at the moment. Making mistakes using a quill was such a bitch to deal with.

Rose was currently trying to distract herself from what was happening outside the school by going over some of her lessons with Aunt Cassi while watching Hufflepuff's Quidditch team practice. She knew that after today it was possible that the entire Wizengamot was going to find out some of her closest-held secrets and she wasn't prepared for what would come after. If there was one thing Rose hated, it was pity.

“Hey, Rose!”

The blonde girl lifted her head and saw the one and only Cedric Diggory floating in front of her on his broom, bright yellow and black uniform highlighted by the sun and a massive smile on his face. He flew onto the stand where she was sitting and dismounted, walking over to her and taking a seat next to her. Though he kept a small amount of distance between them as was appropriate.

“So, what are you doing here? You don't really seem the type to spy on us and report back to the Ravenclaw team. To be honest, I'm not even sure any of the older students could make you do something like that.”

Rose pouted at him playfully. “Cedric, exactly what are you implying about me?”

The boy laughed, tilting his head back as he let loose with his amusement. He looked good. Happy. It was something Rose wanted to keep a reality.

“I'm not implying anything Rose,” he laughed, “but you have to admit you have quite the reputation. I don't think there's anyone around who could force you into something.”

His words, though light-hearted and obviously teasing, caused a pang in her chest at the thought of what was to become of her reputation. While she might not put as much stock in etiquette as others did, she still cared about it because of her family. If there had only been herself to care about then she wouldn't have given two shits about her reputation, but she had different familial relationships this time around. This time she knew about her parents, and grandparents, and all the other Potter relatives that had made their family something to be respected.

Rose was proud to be a Potter. She was the daughter of the Auror and famed war hero, James Potter. Her grandfather was Charlus Potter, the lawyer who'd taken on cases pro bono because of his own beliefs. Henry Potter, the resolute politician who'd cared more about what had been right rather than conforming to what the masses had wanted, was her great-grandfather. That didn't even get into the other members of their venerated House who'd all been stringent in doing what they'd wanted and maintained the Potter reputation.

For all that she grumbled at having to do all the 'pure-blood crap' as she often put it, she would much prefer to do it rather than have others see her family as something that had gone to shit.

“Hey Cedric, can I ask you a question?”

“You just did,” he quipped, grinning at her before noticing her serious expression. He sobered and sat up straight with a frown. “What's wrong?”

“... If you were to hear about something … unpleasant concerning someone's past, would you treat them any differently? Not something they'd done, but something that had happened to them. Something that would usually make people pity them.”

The boy narrowed his eyes at her and hummed as he considered her words. “I think that depends on who they are now. If they act pitiful now, as if they were defeated, then I think I'd probably end up pitying them even if I didn't want to, you know? If someone seems like they should be pitied then they probably will be.

“But for someone who doesn't shy away from things, who seems to be strong in spite of something horrible happening to them, then I think it would be wrong to pity them. You said 'something that had happened to them', meaning whatever happened wasn't their fault. If that were the case, then they would be an unwilling victim to whatever had happened.

“You can't pity a victim who refuses to act like a victim.”

Rose looked at the grey-eyed boy with a wondrous expression. He really an amazing human being, and that attitude spoke volumes of why he'd been sent to the House of fair-play and hard work. Cedric treated people how they deserved to be treated, and he seemed to instinctively see the good in others regardless of stereotypes.

“You really are a Hufflepuff.”

He looked quite bemused. “I'm not sure if that was a compliment or not, to be honest.”

“A compliment,” she answered with a grin. “Nearly all Hufflepuffs are good people, after all.”

“Only nearly?” he questioned teasingly.

She looked him dead in the eye and asked, “Can you honestly sit there and tell me that all your Housemates are nice people?”

Something must have popped up in his head because he subtly winced, more than likely remembering one of his fellow badgers that didn't conform to the standard idea that Hufflepuffs were harmless and cheerful people. Considering that House was home to Zacharias-I'm-a-prick-Smith, she thought said idea was a load of crap.

Cedric cleared his throat and flashed a wry smile in her direction. “You may have a point there.”

That was an understatement.

The Hufflepuff stood and stretched his arms before he turned to face her, obviously about to leave, and she remembered the other reason she'd chosen to sit and watch their practice. Cedric coming to see her by himself of his own volition had simply worked in her favour.

“I know you've got other things to do, but I wanted to give this to you early,” she said, reaching down to rummage around in her expanded bag. “I wasn't quite sure what to get, so there are a few different things in there.”

She pulled out the wrapped package and held it up to Cedric, smiling at the older boy as she did so.

“It's a day early, but Happy Birthday Cedric.”

The Hufflepuff looked bewildered at the turn of events, though graciously took the box with gentle hands despite his obvious shock. He was staring at the matte black wrapping paper and yellow ribbons decorated with tiny badgers in awe, fingers lightly tracing the paper.

Rose cleared her throat. “I know it's not exactly 'proper' for me to give you something like that, but, I mean –”

“Thank you.”

Cedric's words cut through her nervous rambling and she looked up at him, the warm smile and gentle demeanour like a punch to the gut.

Thank you, Potter.”

He looked just like he had when he'd thanked her after the First Task, utterly relieved at having survived a genuine wild dragon, and thankful she'd told him the truth instead of trying to play him. Back then he'd looked so human and kind, a real gentleman like a romance novel protagonist brought to life by magic, though he'd been just flawed enough to seem even better. More real.

The Cedric Diggory in front of her had the exact same expression on his face as the moment she'd decided she liked him, and she could feel a lump surface in her throat and the same tingling sensation spread across the bridge of her nose that she got whenever she started to cry.

Rose subtly pulled up her mental shields and compartmentalised, shoving the unresolved grief to a dark pit somewhere in the back of her mind while allowing her happiness to take centre stage.

She smiled at him widely, never even feeling her misery.

“You're welcome.”

Cedric smiled at her again, seemingly excited because of her gift and said goodbye. He slowly mounted his broom and took off, taking great care not to damage the present, cradling it gently against his chest as he made his way to the changing rooms.

Rose finished waving with a smile on her face, and though her emotions felt completely genuine she could still feel her shields. Just because she couldn't feel the artificial nature of her mood didn't mean she was unaware of the truth. Keeping her misery shunted to the side would only serve to make her even more depressed later on, which meant she needed to find something to cheer her up naturally.

The girl gathered her things and made her way down the stand, all the while thinking on how to lift her mood. She got to the ground and looked up at the Quidditch goalposts.

Hmm … That might work.

She felt a smirk slip onto her face with natural ease and wandered off to the castle. She was on a mission.


“Ced, what's that?”

“Early Birthday present.”

His roommate Anthony sent him a wicked smirk. “Looks like you've got an admirer.”

Cedric rolled his eyes at the idea and said, “She's just a friend. Besides, she's too young for that.”

“Too young? My, I didn't know Cedric Diggory had a thing for young girls.”

Cedric threw a pillow at his roommate who darted out the room laughing. Prat.

He turned back to the package with a contemplative look. As Rose had said, a girl giving a gift to a boy informally wasn't exactly proper, seeing as it was usually seen as a bold declaration of serious romantic intentions, which was something that girls didn't do, especially a Lady.

If it had been anyone else he would be freaking out about whether or not he'd just received a marriage proposal, but he knew how much Rose despised the pure-blood customs. This was a present from one friend to another.

He smiled at the thought of his blonde friend. Depending on the situation she was either serious or nonchalant, not really holding herself to the same ridiculous standards as other Heirs and Lords or Ladies. Considering the personality of Lord Black, he wasn't surprised.

The Hufflepuff reached for the package and carefully unwrapped it, seeing three shrunken boxes which he resized. The first had a collection of his favourite sweets from Honeydukes, though he was a little confused how Rose knew that. Then again, it was Rose.

The second box held a new pair of Quidditch gloves which looked like dragonhide, though the texture was slightly off. Inside the final box Cedric found something that made his jaw drop. He wasn't loud about it, but it wasn't a secret he wanted to be an Auror, and seeing this book he once more wondered about how she got her information

The Making of the Auror by Eprath Potter.

This book was printed nearly two centuries ago and was considered the guide to what constituted an Auror. It was also out of print. Though considering the author was a relative of hers, it was no surprise that Rose had access to old copies.

He looked down inside the box to see a small note, and he picked it up to read the flowing calligraphy.


Happy Birthday Cedric!

I wasn't too sure what to get you, so I just threw a few different things in that I thought you might enjoy. Hope you like them :D

Rose

P.S. Thank you for the badger plushy even if it was years ago. I love it :)


Oh God, she knows. He blushed furiously at the reminder of the soft badger toy he'd sent the girl after reading some of the stories about her, having been incredibly excited to do so. It wasn't his fault, he'd been eight for crying out loud!

A shout from the common room caught his attention and he put away his gifts to look at later, leaving to see what was wrong.

Later on he would have trouble looking at the suits of armour without imagining Flint's disturbed face.


“Let's cause some chaos.”

Those four words were like music to the ears, a caress on the soul, life's joy turned to reality … There were many ways to describe the sentence uttered by the enigma in the abandoned room, but it was truth that there was little else in the world that would cause as much excitement as a suggestion to wreak havoc.

George and Fred Weasley lived for madness, and they loved it when Rose joined in.

They'd always known that they were made for pandemonium. Firstly, they were more or less considered to be the second coming of their late uncles Gideon and Fabian, the original twin troublemakers. (Why nobody had considered their birth to be such an omen for a good few years, they didn't know.)

Secondly, the Weasley family needed shaking up a bit. Their parents had both been honest students at school, and between Bill, Charlie and Percy, Hogwarts had become too lax, too assured of the Weasleys being perfect schoolboys. They were really doing the school a favour, teaching everyone to expect the unexpected and keep them sharp. They were helping combat laziness. (At least, that's what they told themselves.)

Finally, and the most important reason, they were smart. Actually, scratch that, they were geniuses. Contrary to what others thought, they were well-versed in a wide variety of spells, potions, and physical inventions. They were constantly curious, always trying to figure out how things worked and how to improve them. Their mother might berate them on their dream, but she didn't seem to realise how much work was put into what they did. Thankfully Bill and Charlie did, but they hadn't expected anyone else that understood them to come along any time soon, if at all.

Then Rose Potter did what she'd been constantly doing and shocked them into oblivion.

The serious and intelligent 'Girl-Who-Lived' turned out to be a prankster in hiding, with a cheerful demeanour under the public mask, slightly perverse and wicked sense of humour, and a genuine appreciation of their work.

Having her dads be their pranking heroes had almost sent them hyperventilating. They respected the Marauders not only for the hilarity of their pranks, but also the sheer genius of their inventions. Being offered possible Apprenticeships if they got the grades was more than enough to motivate them into working for once. Knowing that they didn't have to focus so much on their own inventions to build a business for themselves was quite a relief, and they would be forever grateful that Rose had introduced them.

Said blonde friend was currently worrying them, though.

She might like pranks, but she didn't really go out of her way to cause trouble unless someone pissed her off like Lockhart had. The smile on her face looked a little too perfect to be genuine, and they had a feeling she was hiding her emotions. Rose needed cheering up and quick, which was probably why she'd come to them. If that was what she wanted …

“As you wish, dearest Rosebud.”


Never gonna give you up! Never gonna let you down!”

On that day, Hogwarts castle was filled with the echoing dulcet tones of over a hundred suits of armour, all belting out the iconic Rick Astley hit with as much fervour as animated lumps of metal could manage. It didn't just stop at the singing though, as the joy that was magic had managed to get the usually-still protectors of Hogwarts to break out in dance to match the music video from the previous decade.

The fact that they were tone-deaf and had no rhythm made it one hundred percent funnier.

The vast majority of the castle were utterly bewildered at the seemingly random song and dance, but the muggle-borns and those well-versed in the non-magical world seemed to find the singing hilarious, and there had been more than a few students singing along, as well as Professor Burbage who seemed to have a permanent grin on her face as she walked the halls humming along the tune.

The staff couldn't figure out why their magic wasn't working to stop the impromptu suit of armour flash mob (not that they knew what that was), but they were looking thoroughly pissed off. Except Flitwick, who appeared to not only like the song but also the spellwork. (Considering he'd been the one to deliberately keep part of the swamp from the twins' explosive exit from the school, she wasn't too surprised.)

Rose was desperately trying to keep her composure, her Occlumency now being employed to stop herself from breaking down in laughter. She could feel tears pricking her eyes as she passed two suits of armour being chased by some random student who looked more than a little pissed off, and she was proud of herself for not laughing before turning a corner.

And promptly lost it.

In front of her was a confusedly furious Marcus Flint who seemed to have his own suit of armour following him around (the twins really didn't like him) which was now trying to come on to him with increasingly suggestive dance moves, and no matter how much he tried to blast it away it kept coming back and trying to climb on top of him.

She felt a giggle slip past her lips and darted through the closest door, noticing it was an old classroom, before silencing the door and breaking down in hysterics.

Oh Jesus Christ, Flint and a suit of armour. It's like a match made in heaven. Or would that be in hell? Bloody hell, I need to send this memory home.

From her place on the cold stone floor she noticed the door open and Luna walk in looking very amused. She kept hiccoughing as she tried to get her breath back so she could talk to her friend. Said friend wasn't being very cooperative.

“I wonder what our peers will think when the future introduces a new culture to them?”

Rose snorted and tipped over, landing on the floor as she lost her battle and started howling with laughter, laying in an undignified heap as she thought about the future.

First official Rickroll: nineteen ninety-two. Take that, internet.

Chapter Text

"Are there any announcements before we proceed?"

Sirius casually raised his hand, ignoring the sudden fervour of the idiots around him as he caught the attention of the new Chief Warlock who nodded at him.

"The Wizengamot recognises Lord Sirius Black."

The silver-eyed man stood and resisted the urge to snort at the not-so-subtle gawking, instead quietly clearing his throat and standing straight like the proper little pure-blood he'd never wanted to be. (Though he could admit the image of what his parents would say if they knew he was now in charge of the family made him want to cackle loudly; they were probably rolling in their graves right now at their brash Gryffindor son heading The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. Ah, the irony. The hilarious irony.)

"The vote for the House of Black will no longer be wielded by Regent Bones, as I will be taking control of the Black vote myself."

He mentally braced himself for the fallout from his next words.

"Furthermore, I as Lord Black and father to the Lady in question, will be voting as Lady Rose Potter's proxy for the House of Potter."

There was a beat of silence before unrestrained whispering and muttering broke out among the Wizengamot and he had to bite his tongue hard before he said something stupid. Bloody hell, they're a bunch of morons. Who else did they think Bambi would have voting for her? Not to mention they're acting like chickens with their heads cut off. And my parents said I wasn't well-behaved?

A series of loud bangs echoed through the room and quieted the gossiping vultures who made up their governing body.

"Quiet! We are all adults here and we will behave as such!

"The Wizengamot recognises Lord Black as voting for the Houses of Black and Potter."

Tiberius Ogden was certainly more proactive than Dumblefuck, that was for sure. Ogden had no qualms telling people to grow up and taking charge of the situation. The rotund man could be quite genial and carefree in his day-to-day life, but if the glare on his face right now was anything to go by, he wasn't going to take any crap from these idiots. Thank fuck for that.

And speaking of proactive …

He sat down in his seat and watched as attention was thankfully diverted from him voting for The-Girl-Who-Lived – and wizards really had shitty ideas for monikers – as two more votes were publicly acknowledged after having had no vote for years. By two new Ladies who'd received anonymous letters reminding them that they were actually eligible for said titles if they simply went to the bank and took control of the inheritances they didn't realise they were in line for.

Bambi was such a sneaky little shit. He was so proud. Sort of.

Instead of going through the tedious shit that came with building a political relationship to get certain Houses on their side, his precious baby girl had simply written to people who were more reasonable and told them they could inherit the family if they just went to Gringotts and filled in a bit of paperwork. Without letting them know who was writing to them, of course.

That she was more or less related to them both was simply a bonus she couldn't have passed up.

Cissa was looking lovely as ever, stood tall and proud as she was acknowledged by the Wizengamot as Lady Rosier. Not only did this title remove the so-called 'scandal' of her divorce, but she was now a power unto herself rather than her previous position of being known as just Lucius Malfoy's wife. His sneaky cousin was much easier to deal with than any of her mother's relatives had ever been, and the House of Rosier was essentially getting a fresh start after having been run by Death Eaters for so long. (Death Eaters that were now dead and out the way, and the rest of the remaining Rosiers were suspiciously silent on the topic of their new Head. He just knew his blonde cousin had terrified them into silence and compliance, she was scary like that.)

The other new Lady was already Lady Greengrass, being married to Lord Cyrus Greengrass, and as of this session was now known as Lady Lestrange. Laurel Greengrass nee Lestrange was the younger cousin to the 'unfortunately' dead Rodolphus and Rabastan, and was the only member of the family still alive. From the rumours he'd heard 'covertly' whispered, the surprisingly sane Lestrange had quickly donned the Lady ring for the House of Lestrange and subsequently handed the Heiress ring to her younger daughter Astoria.

The eldest Greengrass girl was a classmate and close friend of Bambi, and would one day end up ruling her family as Lady Greengrass. Before this her younger sister wouldn't have had a title to inherit, but now being Heiress Lestrange would give her a bit more protection in terms of future marriage prospects. As an Heiress the girl wouldn't be at risk of some family trying to buy her like cattle, and she would have more of a choice in who to bind herself to.

Sirius thought it was all a bunch of crap anyway. Why should any child be forced to marry someone they didn't want to? If he and Amy had a daughter, he'd never let someone try and buy her. He paused for a moment, imagining someone try and force his current daughter into a marriage against her will and had to force himself not to react. He wasn't sure the court would understand him simultaneously cringing and laughing hysterically.

"Now, onto today's agenda ..."

Sirius once more resisted the urge to groan (how many times was that today?) and sat up properly, catching the eye of his wife who smirked at him briefly before her face smoothed out into its serious 'DMLE' mask.

This is going to suck balls.


"Are there any other issues or bills to be put forward?"

Here we go, thought Sirius, raising his hand as he had at the beginning of the session.

Ogden nodded at him. "The Wizengamot recognises Lord Sirius Black."

"Thank you, Chief Warlock," Sirius replied as he stood up, carefully taking note of his peers. Amy, Cissa and Augusta had all sat up a little straighter in anticipation of his proposal, and he took a moment to thank his daughter's Slytherin mind for setting this up properly, even if it had the potential to hurt her massively.

He was a little surprised to see Lady Alessia Zabini sitting in the stands next to Lord Cyrus Greengrass; he knew Bambi had been writing to the woman and had asked for support, but he hadn't realised the woman would come herself. Bambi really did take after the Black side of her blood.

"We of the Wizengamot are all aware of the importance of blood. Blood is what allows us all to sit here in this august body and help effect changes to better our society. Blood is what binds our venerated Houses together. Blood is what determines who we are in many respects.

"However, the sad reality is that blood does not always equate to family."

He paused for a moment to let his words sink in, looking to see who disagreed with him. Lords Avery and Parkinson had obvious frowns on their faces that would make Aunt Cassi hiss at the lack of decorum, and not far from them were Lords Mulciber and Macnair. It's a Death Eater family reunion.

"While the vast majority of us have been blessed to be born into Houses that care for us and help us to flourish, the reality is that not every witch and wizard has this opportunity. While we grow up being educated in the intricacies of magic, some children are left to flounder in a situation they do not fully comprehend.

"I am talking about magical orphans.

"In this century alone, our world has been ravaged by the existence of two separate Dark Lords who decimated our numbers. Some of you may note that the muggle-born population was hit hardest and say there is no major issue, and while I disagree with that notion, I should point out a great many pure-bloods were killed because of these pointless conflicts.

"The Fawleys and Shafiqs were members of the Sacred Twenty-Eight yet now do not exist in the name. Many others have been reduced to barely a few members. Not to mention the many other respected families that were nearly or entirely wiped out. The McKinnons, the Potters, the Meadowes', the Hardwicks, the Princes … I can go on and on naming the casualties of the last century, yet what they all have in common is the orphans they left behind."

Sirius stopped and eyed the various Lords and Ladies, particularly the ones who cared for their children properly. "Orphans. Mere children who were left alone to suffer having had their families torn from them in the most brutal of fashions. Young witches and wizards left without a clear understanding of why they were alone and left with confusion about themselves.

"Now, I believe you are probably confused. What confusion for orphans? Aren't they placed with their closest relatives? Raised by their distant family? And yes, that may be true for a number of cases, but there also exists a number of children who are placed with relatives who do not wish to raise these children. Perhaps they lack the means to care for them, or are too busy with their own children to provide adequate care, or perhaps they simply don't want to.

"Unfortunately, sometimes they are made to take in children they don't wish to care for, and their reticence evolves into resentment.

"Sometimes people abuse said children, and it is our duty to protect them."

"That is all well and good for you to say Lord Black, but I don't see any evidence of this so-called 'abuse'. You're talking nonsense," interrupted Lord Parkinson, all but spitting his words with a scathing tone.

Sirius raised a brow with a blank face. "I can assure you Lord Parkinson, reality is a sad thing and I am not talking nonsense. And concerning evidence, thank you for reminding me."

He turned to the Chief Warlock and nodded. "People of the Wizengamot, I present to you a detailed report of a medical scan conducted not only by the Healers of the goblin nation at Gringotts, but also a verified scan by Healer Hippocrates Smethywyck at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. This report showcases the various injuries incurred at the hands of the victim's aunt and uncle, their legal carers and so-called 'family'.

"I would like you all to read this and then say whether or not you think I am talking nonsense."

The Lord Black stopped for a while and allowed them to read about his precious daughter's horrific childhood. She might be fairly well-adjusted for such an experience, but it was a situation that she never should have been placed in to begin with. Broken bones, malnutrition, whip marks up and down her back, scars on her head from frying pans …

He had to breathe deeply to calm himself down; it wouldn't do to lose control here. He didn't want these people knowing what had happened to his precious little girl because he'd failed to look out for her, and he really didn't want them knowing whose injuries they were. Unfortunately, it might come to that, and Rose had grimaced and told him to use her name if he must to get his way. She was incredibly brave.

Telling everyone that Rose Potter had been abused as a child would shove her right back in the middle of the limelight but it would probably get her idea for an orphanage approved. The idea that someone of her station had been treated in such a manner just because their world didn't have an official system in place to monitor orphans would be more than enough to jolt them into action.

He just wished it wouldn't take hurting his daughter to do it.

Sirius looked around at the muttering and was somewhat pleased to see so many horrified and sympathetic faces. (It was hard to be truly happy in such a shitty situation.) Cissa had lost even more colour than he'd thought possible from her pale face, not having been privy to the exact circumstances of Rose's childhood. Amy and Augusta looked the same; they'd known she'd been abused but seeing the clinical description of the injuries was sickening.

"Ladies and gentleman, this is a case that is one end of the spectrum. For while there are orphans that are loved and cherished by their guardians, there are also those who suffer terribly at the hands of those charged with their protection.

"That is why The Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter presents the suggestion to create a body whose sole purpose is to monitor magical orphans and intervene on their behalf. If they cannot be placed with an adequate family of their blood, they will be housed in an orphanage designed specifically for these children."

As he finished speaking, he saw a few individuals look immediately put out at the concept of an orphanage. Bastards. Obviously, the knowledge such a project would require money was too much for the stingy shitheads.

"Forgive me Lord Black," interrupted Lord Abbott who had his brows furrowed in confusion. He didn't look put out at the proposal, at least. "You say this is a proposal put forward by the House of Potter?"

"Indeed, it is, Lord Abbott," he replied.

"Exactly why are you putting forth such a proposal from the House of Potter rather than the House of Black?"

Sirius smiled blandly. "Because the proposal itself is not one of my own Lord Abbott. This proposal is the decision of Lady Rose Potter."

Lord Avery scoffed. "She is but a child! What does she know about something like this?"

Several people looked shocked and put off at the idea that a twelve-year-old child was getting invested in politics, their previous horror at the medical report dissipating rather quickly at the idea their political arena was being invaded by someone they saw as naïve and ignorant. They were completely disregarding that Rose's proposal was based on this disgusting reality and were instead focused on her age. As if that number meant anything.

He looked around the room and subtly grit his teeth, forcefully holding in the sneer that threatened to take over his face. These arseholes were so much more concerned with desperately clutching their power to their chests rather than helping abused children, and for once he wanted to whip out his wand and use some of his mother's favourite curses on the cretins. They weren't listening and Sirius knew he had no choice but to come clean.

Forgive me, Bambi.

"A child is someone who does not understand the horrors of life. A child is someone who has never had to worry about the necessities of life that true children take for granted. A child would have no knowledge of what it means to be despised for being what she is."

Sirius looked Lord Avery dead in the eye with a subtle glare. "Lady Rose Potter is not a child Lord Avery, because that medical report you just read was a description of her own treatment at the hands of her guardians."

There was a beat of silence before the room burst into angry and horrified shouting. Those with children looked appalled and nauseous, while those who knew Rose or had had some form of contact with her looked furious. By the looks of it, Rose's written networking over the past months had paid off if the faces of Lords Jones, Warrington and Greengrass were anything to go by.

"QUIET!"

The gavel was accompanied by an almighty bellow from Tiberius Ogden and the room quietened, though the fervent whispering was still present in all corners of the room.

"Lord Black, do you have anything else to add before we vote on Lady Potter's proposal?"

That was interesting. It seemed that the Chief Warlock at least had started to think of Rose as a Lady in her own right. Sirius would have been pleased at that outcome if it hadn't taken divulging her secrets to do it.

"Yes, thank you, Chief Warlock. As you have just discovered, magical orphans hail from all walks of life, and even a girl who was born as the Heiress to a Noble and Most Ancient House wasn't safe from such disgusting treatment.

"Lords and Ladies, I bid you this: think. Think about your children, your nieces, your nephews, your grandchildren. Heirs, Heiresses or not, can you honestly sit here and tell me that you would be completely secure of the safety of your children if something were to happen to you? Do you know definitively that they would be safe from such treatment?"

He looked around the room, noticing he seemed to have the majority support. "I believe it is in our best interests – our duty, even – to create a way to ensure these children have the life they deserve, have a chance to live at all.

"They are our future, after all."

Sirius finished and calmly sat down, using all the long-forgotten lessons of his past to hide his nerves.

Please don't let this have been in vain.

Chapter Text

REVOLUTIONARY ORPHANAGE FOR CHILDREN OF OUR FUTURE

LADY POTTER: CHAMPION OF JUSTICE AND TRAGIC VICTIM

In our world, the unfortunate reality is that we sometimes come face-to-face with circumstances that horrify us, torment us, and make us question why such things should even be a part of reality.

Those of our venerated Wizengamot will already know what it is I am referring to, but for those unaware I shall elaborate.

Orphans.

The sad truth is that orphans are victims of horrendous tragedies and it is a fact we are all aware of, but I regret to inform you loyal readers that such a tragedy does not always stop at simply leaving children with no parents. I regret – no, I am  loathe  to even acknowledge such a situation, because it shows that we as a society have failed some of our children.

Because some children are abused.

In yesterday's session of the Wizengamot, Lord Sirius Black put forth a proposal to create a body to oversee placement and treatment of magical orphans and build an orphanage to house these children, safe from prospective abuse at the hands of those unfit to care for them. While I along with many others applaud the courage to embark on such a demanding endeavour, I was appalled to understand the reasoning behind its demand.

Why was this reporter so appalled you may ask? Well, I should preface that reason with the revelation that the proposal was not put forth by the House of Black at all. Lord Sirius Black – formerly an unlawful resident of Azkaban prison – not only has control of the vote for the Black family once more, he now also has voting power for the House of Potter, standing as proxy for his daughter and Heiress.

But why is this so strange? The reason, I regret to inform you, is that the proposal to save the 'children of our future' as deemed by Lord Black, originated solely from the young Lady Rose Potter herself. Many may immediately deem the current Hogwarts student to be too young to interfere with proactive political decisions, but I was sickened to realise that Lady Potter is more than qualified to initiate such a project.

Especially as someone who was abused herself.

Yes, you read that right. Rose Potter, The-Girl-Who-Lived, Lady Potter and Heiress Black, suffered extensive abuse at the hands of her relatives during her childhood. After the tragic deaths of her parents Lord James Potter and Lady Lily Potter, our young saviour was sent to her maternal muggle relatives who abused her emotionally, psychologically, and even physically for ten long years before she rejoined our world last year.

While our society rejoiced over You-Know-Who being gone, one young girl was left vulnerable against despicable people charged with her care. Witches and wizards of our world made up fantastical stories and theories concerning a young girl, singing her praises and celebrating, all the while the girl in question was suffering terribly with no way out.

Lady Potter suffered greatly, but the girl survived to become an incredibly courageous young woman determined to save her peers from similar treatment. Thanks to her bravery, allowing the Wizengamot itself to become privy to intimate details of her treatment, she has successfully passed a bill in our governing body at the tender age of twelve. I don't know about any of my faithful readers, but this reporter cannot help but feel awed at her accomplishment.

Even more impressive however is her determined assertions that muggles themselves are not inherently to blame, going so far as to contact various muggle-borns who have deep and caring relationships with their families to support her. A fair number of said individuals were invited into the Wizengamot to give evidence against the suggestion to immediately remove magical children from muggle relatives.

I can honestly say I am astounded that Lady Potter has grown to be such an open-minded and fair young woman, more concerned with ensuring the happiness of these children rather than trying to further her own political agenda.

Applause and praise are the only things I can offer the girl who suffered so horrendously at the hands of those supposed to be her family, and I look forward to what Lady Potter enacts in the future.

Rita Skeeter


"... If you were to hear about something … unpleasant concerning someone's past, would you treat them any differently?"

Cedric swallowed back the bile in his throat as he held the Daily Prophet in trembling hands, gripping the paper tightly with white knuckles. All of a sudden, the blonde girl's words made so much more sense, made horrifyingdisgusting sense, and he didn't know what to do.

The small girl, his friend, had been thoroughly abused for a decade and now all of magical Britain knew about it. She'd even allowed it so that she could try and stop it from happening again. She was amazing, and courageous, and he kind of wanted to shake her so it might jolt some self-preservation free from her brain. Rose had made herself vulnerable, made her private business public, all for the sake of helping others.

He couldn't decide if he was more proud or annoyed.

Though to be honest he wanted to reassure her. She'd asked him if he would treat someone differently – treat her differently if he found out about something horrible, and he wasn't about to go back on his words. He might not be as close to her as her friends in her year, but Cedric still cared about the girl and he wouldn't let anyone talk bad about her.

The Hufflepuff looked up and around the Great Hall, seeing horrified expressions that reflected his thoughts in all directions. It didn't help that Skeeter had gone on in a second article detailing some of Rose's specific injuries which painted a sickeningly clear image of the blonde girl's childhood.

"… belt marks … malnutrition … burn marks …"

The clinical descriptions of Rose's suffering had led to a couple of people fleeing the hall looking like they were about to throw up, and he could see more than a few faces with tears shining in their eyes. Headmistress McGonagall in particular looked to be about to start sobbing, the woman barely holding herself together as she appeared to be lost in memories.

Everyone with a paper in front of them looked to be united in their horror at Rita Skeeter's words, and Cedric found it to be a sickening sense of irony that Rose had wanted to combat House rivalries and had now seemingly brought everyone together through this article.

He wouldn't have minded if it hadn't taken something like this to do it.

The boy looked over at the Ravenclaw table, noticing hundreds of others doing the same thing, and saw the girl in question quietly eating her breakfast and seemingly not paying attention to anything around her. The regular motion of her fork going back and forth from plate to mouth was a little too mechanical to be normal though, and her face was completely blank of any emotions.

Occlumency.

Cedric had never learned the complex art but his dad had explained it to him. Not only did it protect against mental attacks, it could also be used to compartmentalise emotions and even lock down any and all emotions when used properly. The mind magic was often used by practitioners of dangerous jobs to avoid making decisions based on emotion, instead using Occlumency to lock away everything that would impede a totally logical thought process.

Rose had obviously managed to become startlingly efficient at an unusually young age, though considering her past it perhaps wasn't as unusual as he'd like it to be.

The boy pushed away his plate and stood up, walking over to the table of blue and bronze in a determined manner. He'd told Rose what he thought and he wasn't about to go back on his word. Cedric passed a pale and tearful Granger and sat down next to the last Potter, watching as she turned blank blue eyes onto him. He grabbed some toast nearby and murmured to her, quietly but clear enough for her to hear.

"I said you can't pity a victim who doesn't act like a victim. To me you've never been a victim, you're my friend."

The Hufflepuff noted a brief flicker in the younger girl's eyes before she turned and pulled a pot of blueberry jam towards him. His favourite.

He smiled and moved closer to her, muttering a running commentary of his roommates' antics as he stayed with her.

He was a loyal Hufflepuff after all.


Being more or less certain that your friend had been abused as a child was one thing, but having the conformation laid out in front of you for all to see was like a punch to the gut.

Blaise might have thought his quirky friend had had a shitty childhood but he hadn't anticipated suffering like what Skeeter had published in the paper. While it was true that a fair few pure-bloods were beyond strict in enforcing proper behaviour on their children, sometimes edging into psychological abuse territory, nearly all old families were united in their disgust for any form of abuse.

The danger of a child's magic becoming an Obscurial was too big an issue to ignore, and everyone knew that any form of abuse resulted in wild and unpredictable magic that was a danger to them and anyone around them. By the looks of these horrid articles his friend had been trapped in a never-ending nightmare; being abused and having her magic react badly, only to then be punished for it, which in turn affected her magic again.

It was a disgusting cycle and his best friend should never have had to go through it.

Why the fuck hadn't she gone to any of her magical relatives? Her recent genealogical research had turned up a bewildering number of cousins for the girl who'd grown up thinking she had no family, and even if a few of said relatives were arseholes there were plenty who weren't. The Greengrasses, the Browns, the Blacks … There had been no shortage of people available at the time to care for Rose properly, so why did she end up living with muggles?

He glanced at the staff table to see the one and only Cassiopeia Black sitting stone-faced and not moving, and while her expression didn't reveal anything there was a certain aura of fury radiating from that part of the table. (Blaise would have wished the muggles luck for their continued existence if he wasn't so eager for Madam Black to enact some brutal revenge himself.)

The Italian looked over at his best friend who was currently the subject of random chatter from Diggory. Going over there and comforting her wasn't the best course of action right now; their friendship was something that was only shown openly in private and he would have to wait to give Rose a hug or three.

Besides, he really had to calm Draco down before his Housemate did something stupid in his obvious blind anger.


… gebo, wunjo, hagalaz, naudiz, isaz …

… Step two: Add powdered root of asphodel. Step three: Stir twice clockwise. Step four: Add sloth brain. Step five: Add Sopophorous bean's juice. …

… the falcon is a deadly enemy, the sun is great happiness, a cross means trials and suffering …

Over and over again, Rose kept repeating various facts about anything and everything that came to mind, desperately trying to keep her shields up and not have a massive breakdown in front of every single person in the school who kept watching her.

Ever since the paper had been delivered this morning, she'd been the subject of stares upon stares, faces looking at her and eyes following her with a myriad of expressions. Misery, anger, frustrated confusion, pity …

She was now once more the starring act in the circus that made up the magical society of their country, and she was trapped in a castle filled with overly-curious and gossiping teenagers who were more concerned with scandalous news of what had happened to her rather than what it meant for their world.

At least the members of the Wizengamot had been so appalled by her childhood that it had shocked them into acting as actual human beings with a heart for once. A body of people from varying backgrounds was now being set up to monitor magical orphans and remove them from their homes if it was needed. Apparently, the members would be decided upon during next week's Wizengamot session.

According to Sirius, the orphanage was going to be a hell of a lot easier to actually get up and running, not least because her sometimes passive-aggressive dad had decided to donate one of the lesser-used manors belonging to the Black family to be converted into an orphanage. He'd airily said something about how his family would have been thrilled with the opportunity to assist with the protection of magical individuals. Though considering a vast-majority of those magical individuals were muggle-borns she rather doubted it. (If there was a way for the dead to come back at will, Sirius would be haunted so badly by his furious pure-blood supremacist ancestors.)

Rose sat at the dinner table in the Great Hall and was thankful the day was almost over. She couldn't wait to retreat to her room and relax, or hide in her trunk and gorge herself on sweets. She would have used one of the passages to sneak out and run home but she couldn't constantly run to her parents whenever something went wrong. Not to mention they had their own lives, Sirius even being married now, and she didn't want to get in the way.

She was a grown woman and she would handle her own problems, even if seeing her childhood splayed across the pages of the newspaper had caused her PTSD to rear its ugly head. Hers was a rather fucked up mind in comparison to a lot of people, and though logic told her that certain things weren't linked to each other, her emotional responses didn't quite match up.

The abuse happened as a child, it was her fault she was there, she was a burden, it was her fault her parents died, they died because of Voldemort, Voldemort murdered so many people, Sirius died, Remus died, hundreds died in a war, she fought in a war, she killed in a war, she didn't deserve to live, she should stop …

Rose clenched her fingers as the thoughts edged rather close to suicidal. She didn't like to talk about it but she had been there before. After Sirius dying, after the war … Even if she hadn't been consciously thinking about ending things, she hadn't exactly been too concerned with looking after herself. Drinking, disastrous relationships, not eating enough, practising dangerous magic … She'd been living with a devil-may-care attitude and hadn't cared if her lifestyle killed her.

Until Andromeda had ripped into her.

The woman had been genuinely terrifying and had given Rose a metaphorical slap in the face at how she was failing as Teddy's godmother, and Rose had essentially broken down. Andi had gotten her to talk things through before helping her life get back on track. She'd started eating, studying properly to take the Auror entrance exams so nobody could accuse her of using her fame to get in, she'd cut the alcohol, and while her relationships never quite got better that had never been her fault.

Teddy had been her saving grace through everything and she missed him more than ever. She missed having Teddy happily snuggle into her arms even at twelve, she missed Andi admonishing her with an indulgent smile on her face, and she missed the three of them sitting down to eat together every week. Her godson had always known that Rose had a few problems and he'd always been so good to her, making sure not to do or say anything to trigger her like Andi had taught him.

Now she was in a castle with hundreds of people that didn't know her triggers.

The abuse and the war were both swirling around her head and she was on edge, a moment away from having a breakdown in front of everyone and ruining everything. She didn't want people questioning her mental state or reviling her family so she had to keep things together. Classes had been just barely manageable, sitting in her usual seats with her head down and dutifully taking notes. She had to keep going until she got to her room.

None of these people, bar a scarce few, knew anything about her and she refused to give them the satisfaction of seeing her break. She was Rose Potter damn it, and if there was one thing she was, it was stubborn. No matter what people thought about her she was a Potter, and as a Potter she could be bull-headed about a lot of things. This was one of them.

She carefully finished her dinner and stood up carefully, maintaining the grace that future-Andi and Aunt Cassi had beaten into her and strolled out the Great Hall with her back straight and head held high. The trip to Ravenclaw Tower wasn't exactly short but she passed the time mentally singing some of her favourite songs that hadn't been released yet.

Once in her room she noticed that Hermione wasn't back yet and spelled her curtains shut, grateful that her roommate wasn't yet as adept at discerning the spells she used. She made her way into her trunk, appreciating the privacy and slowly lowered her shields, trying to acclimatise herself to the feeling of rising misery.

Rose laid down on the bed and closed her eyes, enjoying the silence of her personal space.

Day one over, however-many left to go.

Chapter Text

PARSELTONGUE: A GIFT OR A CURSE?

THE MYTH REVEALED

Parseltongue is an ability which has for many years been reviled amongst our society, scorned for its connotations to Dark Lords and historic pure-blood supremacists. After all, a magical ability bestowed on individuals such as those must be evil.

But is this the truth?

Aside from Dark Lords who revelled in decimating our numbers, let us first take a brief historical view of the wizard Salazar Slytherin. In this day and age, the infamous Founder of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has such a dubious reputation that even eleven-year-old students in his House are looked upon with suspicion. Personally, I feel it to be strange that children who bear the characteristics of "resourceful, ambitious, and cunning" are automatically deemed 'evil', but perhaps I'm missing something. Can someone tell me just when these traits became synonymous with being evil?

But back to Salazar Slytherin. In case readers were unaware, the time in which he and his fellow Founders lived in our country was plagued by many horrific events that we simply cannot imagine being commonplace. Wars, famine, poverty … all these things and more were prevalent during the tenth century to make it an incredibly harsh time to live in (for more on the history of the tenth century, see page 16).

The thing that truly makes me question the validity of deeming Salazar Slytherin a pure-blood supremacist though, is the existence of witch hunts. Those readers more well-versed in history may be confused, as everyone knows that the brutal witch hunts that ended with a terrible number of people dying were in the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries. Which is true. But what people forget is that those beliefs did not spawn from thin air, and hunting suspected users of magic was something that had tragically already been occurring for centuries by that point.

The tenth century was a time where someone could die from starvation, disease, being caught in the crossfire of a violent battle, or brutally murdered if people suspected the use of magic. As disgusting as it is, even being a child did not protect someone from dying in such a fashion.

So, if you have a child from a muggle background, possibly from a family that would condemn them if not kill them for possessing magic, is it a good idea to encourage fraternising between them? To perpetuate relationships between individuals where personal beliefs could end with the deaths of innocent children?

Written records from the time are scarce, which suggests to me that the truth has been twisted in the past millennium past what Salazar Slytherin intended. Perhaps he wanted to remove the magical children from their muggle families. Perhaps he wanted to keep the magical and non-magical worlds separate. We may never know, but it is my belief that simply accepting the common 'truth' about the famed wizard without any actual proof is more than a little stupid.

Another thing that makes me question how much of a supremacist Slytherin was, is the very existence of his famed gift: Parseltongue. As I previously mentioned, this magical ability is automatically scorned for its connections to certain individuals, including Slytherin himself. Now, as I have just mentioned, there is no actual proof that Salazar Slytherin hated muggles or was a supremacist thanks to a lack of documentation from his life, however the fact that he was a Parselmouth suggests to me that it would be the height of hypocrisy for him to be one. Why you may ask? One word.

Naga.

Readers knowledgeable about magical creatures and beings will know the Naga are a group hailing from South and South East Asia. The Naga are part-snake, part-human, similar to many other magical beings with two forms, such as werewolves, veela, and sirens. They possess the ability to shift between snake and human at will, maintaining both parts of themselves naturally.

What is not commonly known is that the descendants of these beings still exist today in modern India, most of them living united as the Vasuki or Vasuka clan in several locations across the country (for more on the Vasuka clan, see page 10). Many from the clan have also married into other families, meaning the country has a very large part-Naga population in their magical society. This introduction of the Naga blood has not only increased the diversity of the population however, it has also allowed the gift of the Naga to flourish in India.

That gift being Parseltongue.

Yes, you read that correctly. In India, being a Parselmouth is an indication that you have Naga ancestors, and unlike the attitude in Britain when it comes to having so-called 'creature' blood, the citizens of India celebrate such a fact. To have the blood of the Naga is to be blessed by Shiva, the deity revered in both magical and muggle stories (for more information about Shiva, see page 15).

Parselmouths in India are often revered as great Healers, using their unique magical abilities to help save others from all manner of medical problems using Parselmagic. Unlike Britain, their immediate thoughts towards someone being a Parselmouth are respectful and awed, not suspicious and judgemental.

As I previously mentioned, to be a Parselmouth in India is to definitively know that the blood of the Naga people runs in your body. But what does that mean for Parselmouths outside of India?

Contrary to the muggle world, magical emigration is something that has existed for over a millennium now. Borders and barriers of the muggle variety were no challenge to early witches and wizards, and many of them moved around during the times of the Founders and before.

It is this fact which makes me question whether or not Salazar Slytherin had Naga blood.

Every single recognised Parselmouth can trace their ancestry back to a member of the Vasuka clan in India, which to me suggests that the ability to converse with snakes is nothing more than Family Magic, comparable to gifts some of Britain's oldest families possess.

If this is the case, is it truly okay for us to condemn something that someone was born with? It's like condemning someone for their gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, anything about them which they have no control over.

Parseltongue is not an inherently 'evil' ability that belongs to people who prefer to torture and murder others, especially not with the thousands of Indian Healers currently under the Hippocratic oaths binding them to heal instead of hurt.

Can we in Britain carry on and ignore the facts that other countries have known for centuries?

Can we truly continue to revile someone for being born with an ability which lends itself to Healing magic?

I cannot help but think a resounding 'no'.

James White


Rose carefully sat down the morning newspaper and looked around the Great Hall, pleased that the sudden fervour around her had absolutely nothing to do with her life for once. Take that wankers.

Ever since the revelation of her crappy childhood she'd been getting 'subtle' looks from everyone around her, though thankfully her friends and various cousins had seemingly banded together to protect her from the gawking on all sides. After a few heated discussions, of course.

"What the bloody fuck is wrong with you?! Why didn't you say anything to us? And why would you tell the bloody Wizengamot everything?!"

That had been Draco, and it had certainly been a strange thing to experience his righteous anger at her childhood. This version of him was so much more possessive over his family and appeared to hate anything happening to them.

Trying to explain to him that her childhood had been normal to her hadn't gone well in the slightest, her fellow blonde becoming more and more irate with vocabulary that would have made his mother wash his mouth out with soap. He had been furious with her and still was, though she could sense a certain self-depreciation in his anger, almost as if her cousin felt guilty for her early life. Which was ridiculous, but she thought maybe it had something to do with being related to a man that worked for her parents' killer. Being related to Lucius Malfoy would give anyone a complex, let alone an underage child.

Her friends had been a mixture of horrified and enraged on her behalf, and while she'd appreciated the sentiment, she hadn't exactly wanted to keep reliving her ten years of abuse every time one of her classmates looked at her. She'd seen the concern in their gazes, eyes settling on her with worry as if she was a fragile piece of glass about to shatter. Thank you so much. Truly.

Pissed off didn't begin the describe her feelings towards those looks, and she'd all but immersed herself into her work to ignore everything not relevant to studying and writing to her family. Her anger had ended up making her magic volatile though, prompting Aunt Cassi to switch her meal etiquette lessons for extensive duelling practice. They'd been planning on studying the finer parts of formal duelling in the new year, but Rose's unsettled magic had thrown a wrench in the plans.

Rose had always been good at fighting, but duelling with specific techniques and rules to abide by had never been something that she'd learnt thoroughly. She'd been shoved into confrontation upon confrontation, relying on a mixture of luck and adrenaline, dependant on a wand that only wanted her because of a corrupted soul shard lodged in her head. Who cared about how many steps to take or how to bow to your opponent when you were fighting for your very life? Rose was a fighter, not a dueller. Though thanks to daily meetings with her crazy aunt she'd now progressed to what Aunt Cassi deemed "barely satisfactory". Considering Cassiopeia Black's high standards Rose was probably doing better than she thought.

Though getting out her frustration with powerful and dubious spells was all well and good, it hadn't exactly helped for long. The reasons for her irritation had still existed, the numerous reports on the upcoming orphanage keeping people looking at her when they'd thought she wasn't watching. It was ludicrous how much the magical population often found the slightest bit of gossip to be the most interesting thing ever and refused to move on from it.

That had been the thought that sparked the idea: gossip. Dangling scandalous or controversial information in front of the masses until they forgot about what had happened with her. But gossip from Rose Potter isn't what she'd wanted; she'd wanted to remove herself from the tabloids, not throw herself into the middle of the media circus.

It was a good thing she wasn't just Rose Potter.

And that her aunt was crazy enough to talk around.


"Explain to me again."

Rose looked at the crazy woman again, eyes almost twitching as she forced herself not to roll them and earn another hour-long lecture on the 'appropriate' behaviour for a woman of her station, and how she really needed to stop embracing her Gryffindor heritage and learn to compose herself, and something along the lines of learning not to irritate the fuck out of people for the fun of it.

Ha! As if I'd ever stop that. It's one of my favourite hobbies.

The girl merely crossed her legs and looked up into grey eyes. "Look, you and I both know people have suddenly started talking about me –"

"I wonder why."

"– and it's annoying to be the subject of so much gossip –"

"Which you wouldn't be if you understood the meaning of 'self-preservation', you impetuous little shit."

"– so really and truly the only course of action is to dangle another piece of gossip in front of the masses and stand back and enjoy their single-minded idiocy."

Cassiopeia raised a brow. "You sound rather scathing there, my little niece."

"I'm not scathing, Aunt Cassi, I'm realistic. Can you honestly tell me that's not how our population reacts?"

"You might have a point there," the older woman snorted. She walked over the chair opposite Rose's and sank down gracefully, grey eyes boring into blue in the unsettling way the Black eyes usually did. "How do you propose to go about this idea?"

Rose grinned widely. "Exactly how legal is the existence of 'James White'?"

Cassiopeia blinked a few times before cackling loudly, a maniacal expression on her face that was unfortunately similar to one Bellatrix Lestrange in her less-sane moments. (Then again, her dad also had an unfortunate resemblance to his fucked-up cousin when he laughed out loud. Not that she'd tell him that, she couldn't be arsed to deal with the annoying sound that was the whining of one Sirius Orion Black.)

"I don't know why you want that information, but I just know it'll be fucking hilarious to witness!" she cried, looking alive and thrilled and Jesus fucking Christ, this old bat better not be an indication of my future, I've done my time, I want normalcy when I'm older, is that too much to ask?!

(She didn't want to say that out loud, she'd probably jinx herself.)

The blonde woman cleared her throat and fixed Rose with a shark-like grin. "I can inform you that James White has an entirely legal identity. A half-blood born to a muggle-born and a pure-blood – from a small family of no Lordship and one which died out, pity that – OWL and NEWT results, authentic documents detailing his education under a reliable tutor and medical status, listings of former residences … All in all, James White is simply an unemployed young man currently touring the world to broaden his horizons, and is entirely able to gain employment thanks to the connections of his well-connected godmother."

Bingo.

Rose smirked at her aunt, enjoying the identical expression mirrored back at her. "And does this godmother have the connections to acquire her godson a position as a reporter for the Daily Prophet?"

Cassiopeia's smirk stretched even further. "Yes, she does," the woman purred with a wicked glint in her silver eyes.

The girl chuckled under her breath.

If Britain wanted gossip, who was she to deny them?


It was so fucking ridiculous, but also kind of hilarious when you thought about it. James White now had his own column in the paper every week and had managed to cause the school to completely lose interest in her sad life due to the riveting yet extraordinarily controversial topics 'he' discussed.

Beginning with a disclaimer every time that deflected blame from the paper itself, the new column was Rose's method of spreading knowledge about the realities of their world, all without having to put her name in the line of fire. As she'd discussed with Sharpfang, there were many things in their world which people were simply unaware of that perpetuated prejudice and ignorance, and if she wanted their society to get better these things had to improve.

Though Rose wasn't arrogant enough to think she could word things in the right way to get her point across properly, nor did she even have enough time to spread the truth about magic. She'd recently been reading up on taking OWLs early and the legal stuff was boring as fuck, to put it bluntly. (Even being a Ravenclaw didn't save her from the boredom.)

Therefore, her foray into educating the masses had turned into a Black family project (not that they knew the full extent of it). After sneaking out of Hogwarts and transforming into her male alter-ego – which was beyond weird to think about, she had enough issues as it was – Cassiopeia had dragged her off to the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Prophet, got 'James' a job – through what was no doubt massive amounts of coercion and blackmail, but Rose was happy to stay ignorant on that particular situation, thank you very much – and then drag her off to someone who would actually do the job for them.

One Callidora Longbottom nee Black.

Apparently, Neville's great-grandmother was getting bored in retirement – not that she'd ever had a proper career in her life anyway, but Rose wasn't stupid enough to even think that in her vicinity – and had been sweet-talked (read: bribed) by Cassiopeia into getting into research and writing the articles that would be published under the name of James White.

All the money was going to Callidora as was common sense, and all Rose had to do was sneak out and make an appearance every now and then at the Daily Prophet and that was it. Straightforward and unbiased journalism was being published under a name nobody knew – for now – and Rose managed to stay the fuck out of the spotlight. She was a genius, end of discussion.

Of course, some of the other Blacks had decided to help out – when Callidora demanded – and put some work into research for the topics that Rose wanted to discuss. (That was practically the extent of Rose's involvement, telling Cassiopeia what she wanted to get into. After that her crazy aunt passed on the info to her slightly less-crazy aunt, and Rose could sit back and get into her imported manga. And no, she had no shame whatsoever.)

Cassiopeia had already put her knowledge as a Spell-Crafter to use by explaining the simple truth of having differently-aligned magical cores and how specific types of magic tended to align to the different alignments. A few examples would be offensive battle magic tending to work best with a dark core, healing magic with grey, and potion-making with light. Of course, there were always individual exceptions to the rule, but the majority of the time having a specific core leant itself to certain types of magic.

One of Rose's favourite articles though was when Callidora described the festival of Samhain and how it was merely for honouring departed ancestors. She'd gone on to subtly question just why it was illegal to remember the people that had left before us, the people whose memories were to be cherished, and she'd ended her brief but powerful article by asking why magical celebrations were unacceptable but muggle ones were encouraged.

More than a few of the students raised in the non-magical world had looked rather uncomfortable at the idea that they were getting preferential treatment, and Rose had noticed some of them starting to understand why it was that the magically-raised students looked down on them. Which was something they should understand, and though Rose had once more celebrated a magical festival, she would dearly love the opportunity to do so without the possibility of ending up in prison if she got caught hanging over her head.

She looked around the hall and saw quite a few bewildered faces at her own article (for once) about being a Parselmouth and she hoped they would actually consider her words. It had taken her a long time to sift through enough of Salazar Slytherin's personal journals to come across a mention of the Naga, and she'd eventually found an old family tree which proved he did in fact have an Indian ancestor. (Not that she'd be releasing his writing to the public yet, if at all. She wanted to make sure there actually wasn't any mad pure-blood supremacist crap hidden in there in case the Founder's ramblings ruined all her efforts to combat prejudice.

Not to mention she was still dodging her aunt over where the fuck she got stuff about Salazar Slytherin. The woman was like a dog with a bone.)

The Slytherin table in particular looked like they'd been hit with a mass Confundus Charm. Having someone very publicly defend them without any apparent reason had left them rather bewildered and they couldn't understand why someone none of them knew would do such a thing.

Except for Blaise, of course.

Rose had been watching her Italian friend as he read the paper, enjoying his interested and impressed face as he went through her article. Because he knew that James White was actually her alias, he'd more or less figured out what was going on with the articles. Or at least, he knew they were a product of the Blacks trying to brainwash the public. (Her dad would have a meltdown when he figured out what was going on.)

It's nice to see these shitheads focused on something else for a change.

The dark-skinned boy lifted his head and met her eyes, subtly raising a brow in question. She started back blankly for a second before flashing a quick grin at him, thoroughly enjoying the slightly widened eyes and amused glint in the brown orbs. It's nice having someone so on board with my madness.

Well, someone else, she thought, looking at her blonde first-year friend who grinned at her.

I'm surrounded by crazy people. Brilliant, but crazy people.

Chapter Text

What?

She saw the other woman's lips continue to move as she spoke but she didn't register anything, couldn't register anything. She could see the mouth moving over and over again, lips shaping into what a small part of her brain recognised as English, but the only sound she could hear was her own blood rushing in her ears. This wasn't exactly a situation she'd expected to be in at this particular moment in time and she wasn't processing very well. Or at all. She thought she'd been poisoned or something, or got sick, not … this. 

“You're pregnant.” 

That hadn't been what she was expecting. At all. What

“You're not even listening, are you?” 

Amelia blinked dazedly and looked up to see the exasperated face of her friend and cousin through marriage, Andromeda Tonks. The brown-haired woman had an amused glint to her grey eyes that said she'd experienced conversations like this many times before, and if Amelia hadn't been the subject of the look, she would have laughed out loud at the other woman’s exasperation. But she was the subject, and she couldn't just sit back and laugh like nothing was going on. 

She was pregnant. 

After the wedding she and Sirius had sat down and spoken about having children. They were both in their early thirties, nowhere near being too old to have kids, so they didn't have to get straight to trying just to beat any biological clocks. On the other hand, just because they didn't have to rush didn't mean they didn't want to. Their original plan when Sirius first proposed had been to have a few children during their twenties, meaning they probably would have already been done with pregnancies by now if things hadn't gone so monumentally wrong. 

They wanted children to raise, their own children, together. Amelia might have single-handedly raised Susan from when she was a toddler, and Sirius was now a proper father to Rose in every way possible, but those situations hadn't quite been the same as what they'd wanted. Susan had grown up being intimately aware that she was Amelia’s niece as opposed to her daughter, and Sirius had missed out on so much with Rose no matter how much the blonde tried to reassure him. Neither of them had ever had the opportunity to experience every single thing about raising a child from the initial pregnancy. 

The two of them had agreed not to adhere to plans, to let nature take its course and to just see what happened, when it happened. They hadn't been actively planning for a child nor had they been trying to prevent it from happening, instead they'd left it entirely up to chance to see when it would occur. For a good number of couples, it took years upon years before they conceived even a single child, so they hadn't bothered to use any contraception when together. Pregnancy would happen whenever Magic decided to bless them with a child, end of discussion. 

Apparently, that ‘whenever’ just so happened to be right now. 

“From the scans you're just over two months along, so you fell pregnant at the start of September. You're going to need to take some nutrition potions because the morning sickness has made you lose a bit of weight. I can prescribe something to help the nausea which should taper off completely in about a month, but that’s not a guarantee. If things get worse or the potions don’t work, come back and see me and we’ll figure something out together. 

“In terms of work, you're going to have to stick to desk duty until you go on maternity leave, that is if you even want to carry on working. Magical transportation isn’t banned, but the effects it has on nausea aren’t to be ignored. Just a simple floo trip can make your head spin and make you want to puke in the fireplace. Hell, it can even make that a reality,” Andromeda muttered with a wry grin, obviously remembering some disgusting pregnancy anecdote. 

She shook her head and carried on. “You could feasibly live in London and use muggle cars to get to work if you want, otherwise just be cautious whenever you travel. To be entirely frank, as someone in such a high position up in the Ministry, you could probably delegate all your physical work and do paperwork from home, but it's entirely up to you.” 

Andi stopped and smirked at her. “However, seeing as I know full well that you aren't listening to a single word I'm saying, or have said in this entire conversation, I'll write everything down and give you some pamphlets to take away, too. Just read through everything when you feel you’re able to take everything in and process it fully. You know where to contact me if you need anything, it doesn't matter what time of day, either. Do you need anything else right now?” 

Amelia cleared her throat and opened her mouth before she stopped, unable to voice anything in her shock; her mind was far too scrambled for coherence. Instead she shook her head and stood up carefully, suddenly very much aware of the vulnerable state of her body and how she could damage it ridiculously easily. She took the bag filled with potions the other woman gave her and forced out a quick smile, a smile which she could tell looked more like a grimace than she would have liked judging from the look she got in return. A quick nod to Andi and she took a deep breath, smoothing her face to disguise her inner turmoil and walked out the room. 

She kept her head up and shoulders back as she made her way out the hospital at a steady pace; no matter what she was going through, she was still the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and she refused to let anyone see her look like an easy target.  

A quick Apparition later and she was in Diagon Alley. Amelia walked briskly towards the Leaky Cauldron, barely taking notice of the hustle and bustle of the alley’s patrons. Owls flying ahead, men and women loudly haggling to her left, even a group of what appeared to be Hags slinking through the shadows, all of these were catalogued and watched by her Auror subconscious as her conscious mind fixated on her recent news. The Lady Black finally got to the gateway pub, pulled open the door and made her way inside. Paying not a single ounce of attention to the bar’s patrons, Amelia strode through and into muggle London before anyone could talk to her. She supposed the quick pace and serious expression made people think she had work to do; she knew her reputation as a stickler for rules would come in handy someday. 

The blonde woman stopped outside the pub and looked around, making sure she didn’t recognise anyone in the vicinity as magical. Nobody here knew who she was, what she did for a living, or even knew that she was married to a man that’d spent a decade in Hell on Earth (which really should be the official name). Muggle London had often been her chosen method of escape when it came to thinking through things she didn't want to deal with in front of people she knew, and she turned and began the familiar walk to Trafalgar Square. 

Things were going to be so different now. She couldn't go out in the field now for fear of getting injured, she couldn't brew her own potions because of the toxic fumes, she couldn't drink anything … Her entire life would now revolve around the growing life inside of her, and so much of her everyday life had the potential to hurt the baby. What she ate, what she did, every single aspect of her life would have to monitored to ensure her child would survive. And as it was, she was only two months gone. 

Magical pregnancies were complicated to say the least, being strong yet fragile simultaneously.  While it was true that the mother's magic developed to protect both parent and baby, so much so that they could even Apparate if they wished to, women could also miscarry so easily it was terrifying. The first trimester was especially delicate, the mother's magic having to learn to accommodate for the presence of a growing child that required magic for sustenance. Sometimes if the mother's magic was too weak or volatile it could essentially terminate the child by itself in a spontaneous tragedy.  

The first trimester was the stage where the pregnancy was building its strength up to a stable state, ensuring all was well for everyone involved. This period of time was crucial for the pregnancy’s foundation and development, hence why pregnant witches in this stage of pregnancy tended be terrified recluses, to be blunt. (Having had two sisters-in-law who had children, Amelia couldn't deny the truth of this.) 

After the three-month mark, things were more or less out of the danger zone barring things like swelling, aches and pains, the standard signs of carrying a growing child. The witch would be able to perform whatever magic she wished as long as she didn't wear herself out; the baby was safe from the mother's magic as long as she didn't do anything too strenuous and damaging. 

She still had another month to go before they were safe from possible tragedy. There was a reason why nobody announced a pregnancy during the first trimester; tempting fate wasn't something anybody was willing to do. Amelia was certain that many women had been pregnant more than they'd actually given birth, as magic sometimes made having children rather difficult for reasons nobody could really explain. 

Some families like the Weasleys might have an above average number of children, but others found it extraordinarily hard to have more than two children. She'd been one of three siblings, and even that was more than most people had. 

Sirius' family had been dwindling in recent generations, too. Nearly two hundred years ago it had been common for a couple in the House of Black to birth on average four to five children, but that number had been steadily declining for years. The generation of Sirius' father and his own each had just two sets of siblings born with the Black name, each having just two or three children. 

Even with Sirius bringing Marius back into the family there were now only three of the most recent generation on the family tree, Sirius himself and the twins Flora and Janus. Phineas had already decided one set of twins was enough so he wouldn't be contributing to the family numbers anymore. Bolstering the Black family numbers would now fall to her and Sirius. Starting with the child she was currently carrying. 

She sat down at the edge of the fountain and blew out a stream of breath as she thought about her situation. A baby. Bloody hell, this is going to be mad. She winced. Well … As much as she proclaimed insanity to explain the current turn of events, deep down Amelia could admit how she truly felt about the pregnancy: she was petrified, to be frank. Susan had already been two when she got custody of her and she hadn't ever really cared for her as a baby. Babies were fragile, so many things could go wrong at any given time. Sure, she was a meticulous Auror and was dedicated when it came to her administrative work – which she needed to be; one only needed to get a look at her Ministry colleagues to appreciate the benefits of a good filing system – but none of that had anything to do with parenting. Would she be a good mother considering her lack of experience? Would she screw up and hurt her own child? Could she and Sirius manage to raise an actual human being without fucking them up? 

Sirius

She still had to tell her bloody husband that she was carrying his second child. (No matter what anyone said about adoptions and pregnancies, Rose would always be Sirius' first child in their family. This baby might be the first one he would experience from birth, but Rose was her husband's daughter, end of discussion.) 

This unborn child was the next Head of the House of Black. Rose was only wearing the Heiress ring until Amelia had a child to take on the title from birth, and Sirius had already told everyone he didn't care if the first child Amelia birthed was a girl, she would still be Heiress. She was carrying the next Heir or Heiress Black. (There was no real debate, truth be told. Rose was quite content to calmly spend her days delving into esoteric branches of magic from all corners of the world, but if someone tried to make her do something she didn’t want to, she could become incredibly vicious and stubborn. If she was ordered to be Lady Black, the blonde girl would probably set the family ring alight before ensconcing herself in the Potter library with the wards ramped up to fortress-like defence. 

Rose was not going to be Lady Black.) 

No matter what, Amelia was the mother of the next Head of House Black. She winced at that particular thought. That might be an issue. Family magic sometimes made things incredibly awkward for women marrying into a family and carrying children with different magics. The Black family was a dark family no matter how neutral Sirius' political views were, and they always would be thanks to their inherent magic. Sirius had a dark core and therefore dark magic; Magic would recognise this child as being a Black and they would more than likely also be born being more inclined to dark magic. The problem would be her own pregnancy, as she herself had a light core and this pregnancy would more than likely play havoc with her magic as her body tried to adjust to having a baby with a dark core inside of her. 

When a woman carried a child for a family whose magic didn't align with her own, she could experience all manner of symptoms that went beyond ordinary ailments a pregnant woman suffered. Sickness, random bouts of accidental magic, feeling lethargic … She had no idea what she was in for and she hoped her husband would be able to help her figure it out. Wasn't his grandmother a Macmillan? She might have gone through the same stuff. 

Of course that meant actually telling her husband. 

Amelia groaned and rubbed a hand over her face. Sirius was ridiculously attentive as a husband, always buying her things and presenting her with sappy romantic gestures like flowers and chocolates or little notes, sometimes little trinkets he'd made by himself while working on his shop, so she wasn't exactly concerned about him being a good person. His actions with Rose were especially reassuring in terms of his behaviour towards children (even if Rose was an adult mentally). 

The issue would be his inevitable freaking out. The man she loved had horrific self-esteem issues a mile long from his childhood which had only been exacerbated by a decade in Azkaban. He had some – rather ridiculous – innate belief that he would screw things up and he wasn't good enough. (The older Blacks should be grateful they were dead. As it was, Cygnus should watch out. Arsehole.) 

She could only imagine how much of a mental breakdown he would have when she told him he was going to be a father again. It might have been stupid to announce a pregnancy that might not make it to term to the public (though she refused to consider the possibility of anything untoward happening to her) but she couldn't really justify keeping it from Sirius. Even if putting off her husband's panic would serve to keep hers at bay. 

The blonde woman carefully stood up and started to walk back to the Leaky Cauldron. Luckily, she had the day off seeing as Rufus, Mad-Eye and Kingsley had all more or less shoved her out the door and told her to go to the hospital. They probably hadn't expected the vomiting to be because of her carrying a child, but she wasn't expected back anytime soon. 

Sirius was probably at The Pottery as per usual seeing as his main workshop was there. Considering how quickly his shop was progressing, he and Remus were currently going a little crazy trying to get everything ready in time. Her husband normally switched where he would spend his days depending on what he was up to. Grimmauld Place was best for his work as Lord Black because of his father's office and the things inside, The Pottery was still warded to high hell for his inventing, and her own home was somewhere the two of the could relax together. 

She pushed open the door of the pub and nodded to Tom before walking over to the fireplace. A pinch of floo powder and some quiet directions later (it was nobody's business where she was going), she walked out of the fireplace at The Pottery and bent over, hands clutching her knees as a wave of nausea hit her hard. 

Don't puke, don't puke, please don't puke. Being sick was something she'd always hated so the past few weeks had left her feeling miserable to put it simply. At least she knew why she'd been feeling like crap now. 

A small pop made her look up to see the beaming face of Rose's mad elf Dobby. 

“Missus 'Lia! What can Dobby be doing to help?” 

“Hello, Dobby. Is Sirius here?” 

Dobby nodded emphatically, his ears flapping about as he did. “Dog-master be taking a break in the kitchen upstairs.” 

How fortuitous. “Thanks, Dobby. I'll just head up there now.” 

“Okay!” he exclaimed before he shot a knowing grin at her. “Congratulations, Missus 'Lia.” 

And with that he popped away, leaving Amelia staring bewilderingly at the empty space. How did he know?! 

After a moment she shook off the confusion – Dobby was Rose’s elf, what did she expect? – and slowly made her way through the homey manor to the top floor. How was she supposed to explain this situation to her husband? This wasn't something simple, a commonplace occurrence in their everyday lives, this was something new for them. They needed to properly sit down and talk it out between the two of them. Everything was about to change without prior warning and they needed to discuss things like the rational adults they truly were. 

They could do this. They were mature enough to deal with things in a logical and practical manner; there was no way they could manage to fuck up a conversation about a future that they'd already decided they wanted. Things would be fine. (Maybe if she kept repeating this, then things would work out okay.) 

Amelia got to the kitchen and knocked on the door as she opened it, poking her head inside to peer around. Walking into the cozy room, she saw her husband turn around from rifling through the cupboards for food. Upon seeing her, he blinked in surprise. 

“Amy? What are you doing here? Is everything alright?” 

You can do this. Mature adults, remember? Just lead into things properly like an adult. She opened her mouth to start explaining how she'd been ill and how she went to the hospital to get checked out. How their lives as a married couple were about to change with someone else being added to the equation from out of nowhere. Instead, her brain decided that that moment would be the perfect time to malfunction and completely ignore any and all plans she was just reciting.  

“I'm pregnant.” 

Her husband didn’t react for a few seconds, silver eyes staring at her uncomprehendingly. Gradually, life returned as Sirius blinked slowly, then his fingers twitched and spasmed, making him drop the packet of biscuits he was holding. The man stood frozen in front of her, an expression of dawning panic gracing the handsome face she enjoyed admiring after waking up. Then he moved. 

By passing out as his eyes rolled back in his skull. 

A loud thump echoed in the kitchen as Sirius Black fainted from the shock of learning about his impending fatherhood, and Amelia Black nee Bones sighed and hung her head in exasperation. 

That went well. Not. 

She peered down at her flat stomach and shook her head. 

“Welcome to the family, and good luck. You're going to need it.” 

Chapter Text

“I'm going to assume that your spontaneous and unprecedented ability with languages stems from some subtle scouring of the library at Black Manor.”

Rose sat on her chair with wide blue eyes while she cocked her head to the side in a manner reminiscent of an innocent child who was completely and irrevocably confused at the situation at hand.

Not that she'd convinced Cassiopeia, though. The older woman's dry tone and flat expression told Rose that her innocent look didn't fool her at all, though to be honest it was better all round that her aunt kept thinking that she'd used some illegal spells from one of the Black libraries to turn herself into a polyglot. Better than the crazy bat realising the truth. Merlin knows what she'd make me do otherwise.

The truth was that she had used some rather obscure spells to force the knowledge of various languages into her brain, but only through using some specialised spells from the Department of Mysteries that had been carefully developed in order to produce less side effects than the ones that older pure-blood families employed.

The spells that existed in various old libraries around the country were entirely illegal because they tended to have bad side effects upon casting, such as migraines, vomiting, and sometimes irreversible damage to the brain if they were weren't cast properly. (Not that that would be a problem for Rose; between her skill in wandless magic that allowed her to perform spells with pinpoint precision and the Elder Wand, using those spells would be child's play. Not that she would be using them, but the knowledge of her ability to was comforting to have.)

If she were to use them, that is. As a former Unspeakable she'd just used their version of the spell. (It was certainly better than possibly screwing with the very part of herself that her entire life relied on.) The only downside to that particular piece of magic was that it forced the person to speak only in that language for an entire month as the nuances of fluency, grammar and colloquialism forced themselves into her long-term memory. Knowledge of the tool was essentially seared into her brain, then she spent the following month learning how to use the tool without conscious thought. Rose had originally gone through the process five different times to integrate other languages into her mind for various projects using foreign magics she’d encountered in her research.

Cassiopeia now looked torn between resigned and impressed that Rose appeared to be suddenly fluent in six different languages with no warning. English, Latin, Ancient Greek, French, Italian, and Mandarin. Latin and Greek were obvious for studying the ancient roots of magic, as even the non-magical population had mythological stories based off of the ancient magical civilizations. French and Italian were both Latin-based languages used often in modern European Spell-Crafting, and Mandarin was a just a language she'd picked at random because of sheer and utter boredom. (She'd wanted to switch it up by learning a language so far removed from latin-based, so she'd decided to throw a dart at a map of Asia muggle-style. Not the most technical way to make a decision, but it had worked all the same. It had also showed just how shit she was with a dart when she could have sworn she'd thrown the bloody thing in the opposite direction, but whatever.)

“Aunt Cassi, the library at Black Manor is incredibly vast and extensive. There are so many books in there that I have no idea what you're talking about. Could you be a little more specific?”

The woman snorted. “Do I look like an idiot? You're fucking lucky you didn't turn your brain to mush, but it's too late to tell you not to now. Just remember to think things through so you don't end up dying or something, you do have duties to your families, you know.”

She tried not to sneer at that. She did know. Besides having to form connections with her peers to build relationships between the Blacks and other families, there was also the fact that she was the last Potter in existence. Because same-sex couples couldn't have their own children at this point in time and she was the only female Potter that had been born in generations, there weren't even any descendants of older Potters marrying into other families. A couple of male Potters had married other men in the nineteenth century, but it wasn't as if they'd had any children naturally, nor had they adopted any. The House of Potter had been fairly small in comparison to others for centuries, and in the last four generations each couple had only had one or two children apiece.

Rose was the only Potter left and the entire existence of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter rested on her shoulders. If she died the family would die off and end, no exceptions. As such, Rose was held under a lot of standards that, while not physically or formally enforced, were nonetheless expected of her to adhere to. There were different facets of these standards but they all revolved around keeping her alive so she could carry on the family line in the future.

Playing Quidditch, riding horses, duelling … all these things and more were now activities she was supposed to avoid until an Heir or Heiress Potter existed. Her aunt was technically correct about her having duties, not the least of which was avoiding being an idiot and having the Potter family accidentally wiped out of existence through sheer idiocy.

It was another fact that made her physically cringe while thinking of her past life. No wonder the magically-raised children had avoided her like the plague, they'd probably thought she was spitting in the face of her family and her duties every single week. She'd been such a stereotypical Gryffindor, rushing into dangerous situations and confronting murderers, doing death-defying stunts on a broom and running off to fly on Hippogriffs that it had seemed like she hadn't cared about her family one whit.

Which of course she had, she’d cared about her parents immensely, but considering her status as woefully-ignorant concerning any and all things magical, it wasn't as if she'd ever thought about the House of Potter in relation to her actions. Rose had grown up in the non-magical world where she'd never encountered a woman keeping her name after marriage, let alone passing on her name to any children. Though the concept of being happily married had seemed so foreign to her younger self, Rose had always assumed that, if she was lucky enough to find someone willing to marry her, the 'Potter' part of her name would simply cease to exist.

When Andi had given her the magical info-dump about their world after the war, she'd been shocked beyond belief about how powerful she truly was and how she wouldn't give up her name if she married. She could hyphenate if – and only if – she wanted to, and she would become Lady of another family if she married the Lord of another House, but she wouldn't automatically become just a part of another family. Rose would always be a Potter first and foremost, the Head of the family, and her duty to carry on the family line would always remain until fulfilled.

“I'm aware of the consequences of my actions, Aunt Cassi. I know you probably think I sound arrogant, but I really wouldn't cast such dangerous spells unless I had a good grasp on my magic. You might not believe me, but I'm well aware of my limits.” (Words which had the bonus of being entirely true while also insinuating what she wanted her aunt to take from this conversation. Fifty points to me.)

The woman eyed her critically for a few moments before nodding decisively. “As long as you're aware. Back to languages though, you don't know any others?”

“I know how to tell someone to fuck off, go fuck themselves, and call someone a son or daughter of a whore in Spanish, German, Bulgarian and Russian, does that count?”

Cassiopeia just blinked at her before she groaned and pinched the bridge of her nose in the face of Rose's unrepentant grin. The girl in question was desperately trying not to laugh out loud at her aunt's face, which was rather expressive considering what family she grew up in. Despite what the woman might have thought, those insults in particular were bloody helpful in making someone aware of your mood. And getting them to piss off. Thank you, Viktor and Fleur, your instruction was very much appreciated.

“For the love of all things magic, do not ever say that to someone's face if they know it's you. I don't care if you impersonate someone else or create an entirely new identity, just don't swear in someone's face in such a horrid and vulgar manner. It's entirely unbecoming and gives you the worse impression possible.”

Rose vaguely remembered loudly and emphatically telling someone to fuck off and choke on a cock in clear English in the middle of Diagon Alley once, so trying not to make a bad impression was certainly something new to this timeline. Not that wouldn't ever say something like that again, but perhaps she'd take her aunt's advice and hide who she was if she did.

“I would never give someone a bad impression of myself, Aunt Cassi.”

“Bullshit,” the woman said flatly, “you're already bad at censoring yourself with your peers, not to mention the fact that you went to Heir Zabini's estate for a week unsupervised. I can't believe Lupin allowed it.”

Rose rolled her eyes. “Number one, those 'peers' I'm open with are my friends, and they're not going to fully trust someone who's constantly putting on airs and acting fake. Keeping your composure and holding back family business is one thing, acting like someone entirely different is another; friends aren’t the same as allies. Our friendships are all built on mutual trust and compatibility rather than politics. And secondly, Dad let me visit Blaise because he's my best friend. There's nothing 'untoward' going on there, trust me. But we were all aware of how things can be taken and the fact that I could have been recognised in Italy, so whenever I went out, I changed my appearance. The only person who did see me was Andrea Ricci and his friend, but considering his current reputation, nobody's going to believe a word that comes out his mouth.”

Cassi sniffed. “Well, at least your friends are mostly from good families. A wide range of political standpoints, too. Malfoy, Greengrass, Davis, Zabini, Boot, Longbottom, Bones … You've got at least one of each faction as a close friend, and with the Rosier and Lestrange seats being taken by intelligent and sane people for once, the Potter and Black families are building a wealth of connections. Though I still don't understand why you interact with so many mudbloods.”

Rose felt herself tense at that word and held herself still lest she do something obvious like her past self. Like blow up the office or start screaming profanities. Both options were looking attractive at this point, however. She hated that word and all it entailed. Literally deeming someone unclean and lesser than their peers simply because of a differing family tree was vile. Acting as if you could treat someone like dirt because their ancestry wasn’t soaked in magic. Assuming that power took a nosedive when paired with ‘inferior’ blood.

Rose hated that word, and she had long before that scar appeared on Hermione’s arm.

“Aunt Cassi,” she bit out, her glacial tone catching the attention of the older woman who suddenly looked at Rose rather warily. “My mother was one of those so-called 'mudbloods' you speak so terribly of, so I would appreciate it if you ceased using that vile term.”

The woman eyed her in a considering manner and nodded stiffly. “I apologise, I shouldn't have said that. The former Lady Potter was a credit to the House of Potter. I'll keep my words to myself next time.”

Rose stared at her aunt who obviously didn't feel that guilty for her words and was only apologising for insulting Rose's dead mother right in front of her. That wasn’t the point Rose was trying to make. It was disgusting to wrap yourself in a cloak of superiority and metaphorically – or literally in some horrific cases – step all over others in an attempt to establish a hierarchy that was based on nothing more than luck. Luck was what determined whether or not someone was born into the magical aristocracy, nothing more, nothing less. You didn’t get to choose whether you happened to be born into a family with active magic or whose magic had lain dormant for years.

Aunt Cassi was too intelligent to be acting like this sort of thing mattered, but then again, their world was so steeped in ignorance and prejudice born from centuries of ignorance that Rose was far from surprised. She knew that the woman cared far more about bloodline than actual magical ability – her relationship with Uncle Marius was proof enough of that – but that didn’t mean she didn’t scorn people for not belonging to older families with their own politics and procedures. Cassiopeia Black was a traditionalist if there ever was one. Rose sighed internally. If she knew the truth –

The girl paused and considered the option in her head. Should I? I know Luna said the crazy bitch'll stand by me no matter what, but this is still private business. Decisions, decisions … Privacy or allies?

Rose knew that most people would be concerned she was taking an eccentric eleven-year-old's words as gospel, but she knew full well that anything Luna said should be carefully examined with caution. The young Seer didn’t offer such direct advice that often, but whenever she did Rose knew to take heed.

As such, Rose looked at the woman in front of her and silently pondered the pros and cons of divulging any more of her … unusually-acquired information. Aunt Cassi was magically and politically powerful, had such an arresting personality that other politically-driven people listened to her, and was a genius when it came to utilising traditional Slytherin traits in her everyday exploits. She was a powerful woman that even Rose listened to and respected. (Begrudgingly, but she did.)

Allies.

“Concerning the individuals known as muggle-borns though, I actually have a theory.”

Cassiopeia narrowed her eyes and subtly straightened her back. “Go on.”

“I should preface this by saying I do in fact have genuine evidence to support my theory. But my theory is that there is actually no such thing as a muggle-born by our current definition, and that every single person with magic has at least one magical ancestor that supplied magic to them through blood. Those ‘muggle-borns’ who supposedly come into our world from another are either descended from a banished Squib or a half-blood living in the muggle world.”

She finished her explanation and sat enjoying the shocked face of her aunt. Cassiopeia Black was a well-read and well-travelled woman in her seventies, so the chances to catch her off-guard with new knowledge were practically non-existent at this point. Hence Rose's vindictive pleasure at actually doing so. Take that, you crazy witch. Try and be a prejudiced bat now. (And maybe it was somewhat petty of Rose to find this situation so cathartic, but she’d had it with people using her mother’s blood status to demean her in any way they could think of. She honestly didn’t give a crap if people wanted to try and call her a whore, but Lily Potter was off limits.)

“What would be this evidence you speak of?”

Rose smirked. Hook, line and sinker. “First and foremost is something that you know of yourself, and that would be the existence of Uncle Marius' grandchildren. Flora and Janus are magical despite Phineas not having magic and their mother being non-magical herself. Perhaps Rosalind has a magical heritage or it was simply the magic from the Black family that spontaneously reawakened in them, but you should consider that they're only half-bloods. Phineas and Helena are both pure-bloods despite being Squibs because Marius and Delia are pure-bloods. Scarlett might not have magic herself, but I'd bet one of her children or grandchildren will do in the future, or a further descendant.

“Secondly, and I would very much appreciate it if you kept quiet about this, is the fact that my mother was a descendant of a pure-blood family. Her great-grandmother in fact was a pure-blood of a very distinguished family despite its less-than-stellar reputation of the past few centuries.

“The Gaunt family.”

The woman visibly started with wide eyes. “I beg your pardon?” Wow, I don't think I've ever seen her so shocked. Got to send a picture to Uncle Marius, he'll love it.

Rose nodded, just barely suppressing her grin. “Indeed, the House of Gaunt. Because the 'great' family essentially bred itself out of existence there are only four magical descendants left who can trace their connection to the family, myself included. The other three were all in front of me in the line of succession before they gave up their claim to the Gaunts, meaning I'm the only person alive who can currently head the House of Gaunt. Of course, if I were to give up my own claim Magic might choose another Heir, but I haven't so I can take the Heir ring whenever I want.”

The office of Cassiopeia Black was unusually quiet in the wake of Rose's shocking speech, and her aunt looked to be an amalgamation of perplexed and calculating. The woman was smart so she was probably already trying to decide how to use this new information to her benefit. It was too bad; Rose was already ahead of her on that. Aunt Cassi looked up and Rose tried not to squirm at silver eyes boring into hers. The Black eyes were always unnaturally striking.

“This is why you've been spreading information through the paper, isn't it?”

Rose leant forward and smiled grimly. “Aunt Cassi, I'm Rose Potter. What do you think the public will do when they discover that I’m a descendant of one of the darkest families in Britain? Descended from Salazar Slytherin, even? It's difficult enough being Heiress Black, and my only saving grace there was Dad being a former Gryffindor who married the Head of the DMLE. He married a Bones, brought his disinherited cousin and her half-blood daughter back into the family, and is good friends with Augusta Longbottom and Cyrus Greengrass. Someone so close to such moral individuals couldn't possibly suffer from a lack of integrity, after all.”

“People will go mad. They'll accuse you of being evil and dark,” the woman mused before her eyes widened in realisation. “Unless they knew that 'dark' wasn't synonymous with 'evil'.”

She smirked. “You're laying the groundwork before you reveal everything.”

“Indeed,” she nodded. “By the time I graduate everyone should be a hell of a lot more aware of the complexities of magic rather than the prejudiced bullshit they've been spoon-fed for years.”

“Such a Slytherin way of thinking, my dear niece,” Cassiopeia purred. “Though I do wonder why you haven't said anything about the truth of blood status to your friends or even in the paper.”

“It's all about timing, Aunt Cassi,” Rose replied airily, trying not to gape unattractively at how this incredibly cunning woman seemed to immediately believe her about magical lineages without any further discussion. She supposed her aunt did possess more common-sense than the majority of the masses, but it was still rather shocking.

Rose shook off her thought and continued. “I have a specific time and place in mind for that, and it'll be something that can't be linked to the Blacks in any way. 'James White' can be linked to the family if someone does enough digging, and we could be accused of trying to spread propaganda if someone finds out. By getting someone else to introduce the idea – someone well-respected who can't be ignored – we remove the risk of being brushed aside or mocked. Which is also why I haven't told any of my friends. Despite many of my peers being rather mature for their ages, we are still young and people tend to ignore us, though of course I'm the exception there,” she muttered bitterly. She was still sore over the revelation of her abuse. Shitty arseholes.

She cleared her throat. “That's also why I don't want everything revealed all in one go. Trying to shove every single piece of relevant information down someone's throat all in one go will just confuse the crap out of everyone, so it's better to slip in 'ground-breaking' revelations bit by bit so they acclimatise slowly.”

The woman blinked at her before cackling loudly, the hair-raising sound echoing off the walls of her office. Apparently the poor Grindylow in the corner had finally learnt its lesson about the mad woman it shared a room with and didn't even twitch at the insane laughter. It's kind of sad when a Grindylow gets used to cackling.

The laughing tapered off and the insane witch turned to Rose with a smirk. “Well, as you apparently have a plan for further insanity I'll sit back and enjoy the chaos when it happens. But perhaps we should get back to the true purpose of our meeting, as in how suitable your education is for acting as Heiress Black.”

The girl groaned and slumped back into her chair. She'd hoped the shock of the information would have distracted her aunt long enough for her to escape. One day. Why can't I have one single day?

“Sit up straight,” Cassiopeia barked. “Seeing as introducing you to another language seems to be redundant for today – but don't take that to mean I won't be giving you lessons on another language later – we'll move onto social interactions. More specifically, having tea with other ladies.”

Rose blinked bewilderedly. “Tea? Having tea? You can't mean those snobby parties with vapid women who prefer to talk about crap like fashion, who's shagging who, and gossiping about other bimbos? Those shitty gossip-fests for irritating women?” Please tell me she's joking.

“Rose Lily Potter.” Oh shit, full name. “You are Lady Potter and Heiress Black. Attending these 'gossip-fests' as you call them are your duties. You would do well to organise some among your peers here at Hogwarts, there's no such thing as too early to learn people's secrets. And these events are quite vital to keeping yourself informed of the goings on of the world. You might see these women as vapid, but nine times out of ten they're simply more Slytherin about their behaviour; hanging back and observing events without drawing attention to oneself is a useful skill and one you would do well to learn yourself.”

The blonde girl grimaced and sighed to herself. This was going to be such a shitty lesson, she could just tell. The very idea of sitting around a delicate table decorated with dainty food and making forcefully-polite small talk made her want to puke. She hated acting like a princess.

“We'll start off by going over how you can set the environment to your advantage using psychological warfare, such as using flowers with specific meanings. For example, what does a rose mean?”

Rose lifted a brow. “Which one?”

“All of them,” the woman replied with an amused smirk.

You've got to be kidding me. “You want me to recite all the different meanings of different roses?”

“Of course not. I want you to recite all the different meanings of every possible flower and herb that can be used.”

I take back the compliments. I don't respect her, she's evil.

This lesson was going to suck, big time.

 

Chapter Text

Crazy was something she'd long since become accustomed to in her life.

Her magic was much more fluid than the average magical no matter what day of the week it was, her parents were polar opposites when it came to family history and therefore child-rearing, and her job consisted of hunting down those that ranged from idiotic morons with no common sense to dangerous criminals with zero morals. ‘Crazy’ was an all-encompassing term which could be used to gloss over pretty much everything she encountered in her life, but having to hide under a random bloody desk from your own boss wasn't something she'd ever expected to happen upon walking through the doors to her workplace.

Tonks was not having a good day.

It was November; she was supposed to be getting ready for Christmas, enjoying winding up Mad-Eye with neon-coloured (and inappropriate) decorations, and sending annoyingly loud singing cards to whoever she could think of. (Sirius was definitely getting something horrible for his shitty habit of calling her ‘Nymphadora’ whenever they met up. Wanker.) She was not supposed to be hiding and listening to the sounds of carnage as her colleagues suffered a fate worse than death at the hands of someone they'd once thought to be nearly entirely benign. (Or not, as the case may be.)

Instead of enjoying the run-up to the festive season like every other institution in the country, she and everybody else in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement were walking on eggshells around their suddenly volatile Head like a pack of unfortunate targets who suddenly made the best prey to the predator suddenly in their midst.

Amelia Black nee Bones was a stern and respectable woman, always had been, and it wasn’t hard to understand why given her family history. Serious she was, but she had always been someone who was able to hold her temper and command respect in the face of any danger that befell her or her colleagues. The woman could keep calm and focused in the face of difficult decisions, even ones which had the potential to turn the entire political circuit on its head – like with Sirius’ ‘extended vacation’ in Dementor Wonderland. (Rose was a bloody genius. A terrible, politically incorrect little genius, and Tonks loved her baby cousin.) Amelia was a woman whose personality was synonymous with ‘composed’.

Usually, that is.

Amelia had spontaneously developed a rather vicious temper with a near-instantaneous reflex to fire off a nasty spell or two at her subordinates if they happened to piss her off at all. Which suddenly wasn’t that hard to do. Not a day had gone by in the past couple of weeks without hearing her terrifying voice echo around the building as she screamed and shouted at someone who'd, once more, managed to do something to aggravate her beyond a mere scowl. There were now more than a few scorch marks on the walls that definitely hadn't been there before her weird personality shift, and every single person in their department was now terrified to speak in the presence of the new Lady Black lest she use them as either physical or verbal target practice. Or both, if she was in the mood. Robards had certainly learnt that lesson. Fucking idiot.

The Department of Magical Law Enforcement was actually a lot bigger than what people seemed to initially think. The Auror Office was of course a major part of where they worked, but the DMLE also happened to house the Improper Use of Magic Office, the Wizengamot Administration Services, and the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts, for example. These were just some of the individual offices making up the largest department in the Ministry; anything to do with the law and upholding it fell to the DMLE, and therefore there were many different employees who interacted with each other on a daily basis.

They also had to interact with the Head of the DMLE. The same person who'd now turned into a ticking bomb ready to go off with no warning whatsoever, with no regard for who might happen to be in the blast radius when it did happen. Amelia had to oversee correspondence between the Heads of the individual offices, coordinate missions and cases, liaison with the various other department Heads, as well as maintain a constant line of communication with the Minister's office in order to keep everyone aware of relevant information and make sure that said information was appropriate for the recipients. Her work was varied and extensive, ensuring that a vast network of people remained in contact with the woman – and each other – on any given day.

Other departments might not be as fully aware of the sudden volatile nature of the DMLE in the past couple of weeks as the actual offices were, but Tonks' colleagues were all painfully attuned to the sudden unpredictability of Amelia's moods. Tonks supposed the only bonus of the current situation was that everyone had suddenly started working much more diligently, scared out of their wits in case they did something to paint a target on their head through unknowing negligence.

Amelia was fucking scary. What the bloody fuck is happening?!

Today had been going rather well, all things considering. The Head of the DMLE had been smiling at people (for once), she'd had a meeting with Fudge that surprisingly hadn't ended with a permanent scowl on her face and a tirade of creative and violent swearing under her breath (for once), and she'd even cheerfully mentioned the Yule period to Tonks, informing her that the family would be getting together over the holiday, so they could all start making plans together. Amelia had been happy and calm (for once).

Then somebody had started a fight that ended in an explosion.

Not just any explosion. Oh, no. That would be too simple and kind for the Auror Office, so of course the two dispshits in particular had to take things further. Two Trainees from Tonks' class had started fucking about by shooting random spells at one another for the hell of it, and a stray spark of red had missed its intended target and hit a stack of paperwork on a desk, causing it to explode in a shower of parchment fragments that rained over everything and everyone in a ten-metre radius. The trouble was, that paperwork in particular had only just been put down. It had only just been put down because it had only just been completed, and it had been put there so that it could finally be logged and filed.

It had been put down by Amelia.

As soon as Tonks saw the beginning of a truly thunderous expression cross the face of her cousin's no-longer calm wife, she'd made a mad dash between some desks and around the cubicles, before diving under her own desk and pulling her chair in for cover at the front.

Amid the roaring of the furious woman who now more than likely resembled one of those Dragons that Charlie deemed ‘cute’ – yet more evidence that bludger to the head really screwed him up – and terrified screams of her colleagues, Tonks took a brief moment to wonder why exactly she'd chosen to work in this place to begin with. That, and send a prayer for those brave men and their noble sacrifice.

Ajax, Richard, you will be missed. Nice knowing you blokes, you did good.

Tonks might have been Sorted into the House of the loyal at Hogwarts, but her mother was a Black, and she knew all about self-preservation.

Reveal myself? How about no.


At the same time that Trainee Tonks was taking some well-needed refuge underneath her desk, another member of the Auror Office was about to discover that the new madness of the past two weeks had taken a turn for the worse, despite it not seeming possible.

Kingsley Shacklebolt was a good Auror, and he wasn't being arrogant when he said so. He had no notes on his record for behavioural or psychological problems, had a high percentage of successes for the cases he worked on (not everything could be solved, after all), and he'd been a member of the Auror Office for over a decade now without issue.

It wasn't a stretch of the imagination to think that he could eventually become Head Auror or earn some other promotion in their department. Kingsley was someone who could maintain their composure and keep calm despite high-pressure situations, and he was a person that could command the respect of his peers in a seemingly-effortless manner when he needed it the most. He was good at his job and all it entailed, while also acknowledging his lack of perfection and working hard to counteract his deficiencies.

However, just because he was good at investigating crimes and hunting down criminals, didn't mean that he had any idea how to deal with his boss suddenly descending into nonsensical rages.

What made Amelia's violent mood swings even more perplexing to him was the fact that she was still a highly competent department Head who got all her work done to the same brilliant standard as before the shouting and errant spellfire. It would have been one thing to see his boss act off and have her work suffer, but she was still working in a alarmingly efficient manner despite the moods. If things hadn't been to the same level as before, they could have sent her to a Healer or discretely check her for compulsions, but as it was, they couldn't suggest something when her work wasn't being impeded in any way. (Nobody could forget the idiot who'd casually suggested she go to a Mind-Healer. The last Kingsley heard, he was still recovering in St Mungo's. Idiot.)

Neither Kingsley nor anyone else could figure out what exactly had happened to their usually even-tempered boss, and things were getting more and more tense in their office as the days went by. He himself had never seen someone, man or woman, suddenly do such a one-eighty in their personality with no apparent cause, and to be frank, it was creeping him out. It wouldn't have seemed so strange if she were having a difficult personal situation or there were awkward political circumstances, but any and all (quiet) investigations into the matter had so far led to complete and utter bafflement.

The only thing he could think of was the steady work on the magical orphanage after the revelations concerning Rose Potter – which still made him feel sick to this day – but there hadn't been as much talk of that after the controversial articles in the paper had started being released. (He had his own ideas as to how those were coming about, but he wasn't inclined to say anything about the situation. Firstly, everything in them was entirely true, and it was nice to see completely unbiased facts printed in that rag for once, and secondly, he was very much in favour of plausible deniability, thank you very much.)

Ever since he, Rufus and Alastor had shoved her towards St Mungo's after her vomiting phase, Amelia had been acting … weird. She'd disappeared that day and came back the next looking bewildered but contemplative, as if she couldn't quite believe what was happening but was making plans nonetheless. She hadn't been ill again, but the week after her trip to the hospital had led to a fervent increase in the woman attacking the mountains of paperwork piling up on her desk.

After that week, she'd spontaneously devolved from a calm and controlled woman into a short-tempered, crazy person who was triggered by nearly everything and everyone around her. The person in charge of their department had also single-handedly instilled more fear of Hufflepuff House in their colleagues that anyone else ever had through her anger-riddled outbursts. It was hilarious in that respect, he supposed.

He sighed in the empty elevator and bent his neck back to try and relieve the ache from sitting with a bent head too long, but the annoying feeling persisted and he frowned. He hated having to deal with the Obliviators; he himself was a pure-blood, but it was complete and utter stupidity to ignore the muggle world if you had plans to interfere in it. How could they guarantee a decent job if they had not a single idea about the muggle world? They didn't even understand how to use public transport!

Idiots, the lot of them. Bloody imbeciles.

Kingsley's inner rant was cut off as the elevator announced Level Two and the doors opened to his home away from home. He immediately became aware of more than one raised voice, one that had definitely become commonplace around the department in the recent past. In the background were what sounded like two young men screaming and pleading for their lives in abject horror, and he got as far as the back cubicles before a flash of red hit the ceiling across the floor and made him pause. Did he really want to go anywhere near that?

He turned around and had to do a double-take at the desk next to him. Underneath, just visible behind the office chair was a white-haired Tonks glaring at him, almost as if she was daring him to question her choice of location.

I was only gone half an hour, what happened?!

Another flash of light in his peripheral vision made the decision for him. Nope. No way. Not dealing with that. He set off in a power walk back around the cubicles furthest from the current disaster before he came to a plain door which was used to house basic office supplies. He pushed open the door and quickly made his way inside, gently shutting the door in case Amelia had suddenly developed super hearing as well as a raging temper.

Kingsley turned around to see he wasn't the only one who'd decided to – very wisely – hide in here, and he returned the grim smiles Rufus and Alastor sent him. The weary Auror sat down on a box next to his colleagues and dutifully took the offered bottle from Alastor.

The three men nodded at each other and downed the drinks they had, sighing at the situation.

My life is mad.


“To cut a long story short, I'm pregnant, and I'm going on maternity leave starting next week.”

Kingsley blinked from his chair in Amelia's office and resisted the urge to smack himself in the face.

Pregnancy, of course. The vomiting and tiredness before her hospital visit, the (extraordinarily) violent mood swings and unpredictability of her reactions to any given situation … Everything added up so perfectly that he was quite annoyed at not having figured out the problem beforehand. A quick glance showed that Alastor and Rufus felt the same, Rufus even more so. The other man did have a wife and children, after all; he probably should have recognised the signs earlier.

Though perhaps the Black Family magic was making things a little more volatile than usual. A light witch from the Bones family was carrying the future Head of the Black family, and the baby probably had dark magic. If so, it was even more obvious as to why the usually-calm woman had been so 'touchy' recently. It seemed that instead of Amelia getting ill from her child's dark magic, she had instead become ridiculously temperamental and hormonal. Better for her physically, but it therefore meant everyone else was suffering mentally due to the violent outbursts. And fleeing for their lives on a daily basis.

It probably hadn't helped that the woman had been in her first trimester. Despite Amelia having strong and calm magic, her body could have spontaneously decided to react badly and her magic could have purged the baby from her body before it even had a proper chance at life. Not to mention using her own magic too much could have done the same; the spells she'd been steadily shooting at her subordinates hadn't actually been that difficult to cast despite the ferocity with which she used them.

Travel was another thing altogether, and it was another cue they should have picked up on. Amelia usually Apparated into the Ministry, but had taken to flooing the past couple of weeks. Magical travel could still be used during the first trimester, though flooing was the preferred method. Apparition ran the risk of being splinched, and portkeys were rather jarring to the abdomen. They were technically fine to use at that point of the pregnancy because not much magic went into sustaining the growing baby during the first trimester, hence the body and baby could both survive the experience.

However, flooing was the least dangerous because the magic of the process came from the floo powder itself and not the mother's magic. Even muggles and Squibs could floo, after all. While this was the same for portkeys, the jerking sensation of leaving and the possibility of a harsh landing were too off-putting for the majority of women. With the floo network, the only major downside was the feelings of nausea. Granted a lot of people didn't even want to deal with that, but it was better than serious physical effects that could be detrimental to an unborn child. The vast majority of women preferred to simply stay at home during a pregnancy and not leave the house.

The Auror refocused on the conversation in time to see Amelia roll her eyes at Alastor. Apparently the scarred man had congratulated her in a manner not entirely appropriate, which Kingsley really wasn't surprised at. Neither was Amelia, by the look on her face.

“Yes, thank you so much for that,” came the dry response from the woman, “but we need to move on. Alastor, I'd like you to remain doing what you are with the Trainees. Perhaps get Trainee Tonks in on it, it seems like she'd benefit from trying to instruct others. You know, learning from teaching and all that.”

Amelia turned to Rufus. “You're Head Auror, but I know how good you are with paperwork and inter-departmental communication. Therefore, you've just been promoted to Head of the DMLE.”

“And Kingsley,” she said, not even pausing to allow Rufus to process her words beyond a vaguely bewildered expression, “you'll be acting as Head Auror. Congratulations.

“I've written out what to do in general and the sort of things I'd like done, especially with Fudge. Merlin knows how that fool will slip without one of us to keep pointing him in the right direction. I've got instructions on how to do everything I can think of, but if anyone needs any help, you know where to find me.”

And with that, Amelia Black stalked out the office to the sound of various whimpers around her.

“... What the fuck?”

Kingsley turned to Rufus' confused face and couldn't bring himself to reprimand his language. He could kind of empathise with the other man's expression, to be honest.

I guess that promotion wasn't as far off as I thought.

Chapter Text

The blonde girl tuned out the intense ramblings and debate of Hermione and Anthony next to her – she'd already finished her essay – and looked down at the letters Hedwig had just delivered.

Aside from an invitation from Uncle Marius to stay at his home for a week over the new year period (which would be quite nice as she hadn’t seen him and his family for a while), there were two other separate envelopes from her dads. The one from Remus looked to be the same as usual, but her more hyperactive dad seemed to be even more wound up than usual judging by the slightly crumpled envelope and smudged ink of her name. Sirius' handwriting also appeared to have taken a hit, and his rendition of 'Bambi' looked like he'd written it while pissed off his head on firewhiskey. Which wasn't exactly impossible, considering his everyday habits. Do wizards have anything like A. A.?

She mentally shook off the hilarious idea of magical group therapy – just imagining someone like Lucius Malfoy sat in a circle discussing his personal problems with strangers was enough to make her snort – and carefully opened the letter from Sirius first. Why do I have a feeling he's gone round the bend?


Bambi!

How are things going with school? How's Crazy Cassi treating you? Remember what Moony and I said before, if you want to come home, you can. We aren’t going to judge you, and then you can enjoy your days doing whatever! Dropping out isn’t a bad thing. Merlin only knows I would with that mad woman teaching me.

You know, when I was younger, she even scared my grandfather, and that tosser refused to be cowed by anyone. (Prideful wanker that he was.) Cassi scared the crap out of him so much that he tended to forget she even existed. Or maybe he just pretended. Who knows? It's not as if the Blacks haven't ever not been crazy – not that I'm crazy, of course I'm not. You know, I was wondering, did you actually want any of the Black heirlooms? They're just collecting dust at the moment. Let me know. Really. Take the bloody lot if you want. I mean, you’re just as much a Black as I am, and you’re welcome to embrace that morally-wonky side of your heritage if you want to.


Okay, not just a feeling. He's genuinely gone mad. The time traveller frowned down at the hurried script and rambling words, trying to figure out why on earth her dad had apparently reverted back to the attention span of a goldfish. Coming out of Azkaban with no mental defences had been a pretty good reason for his temperament last time it was like this, but extensive treatment with Mind-Healers and Occlumency training had done away with the worst of the damage.

Or it was supposed to have done. Now the one and only Sirius Orion Black sounded as if he was on the verge of having some sort of mental breakdown. She wanted to sneak home and figure out what the bloody hell was happening, but she decided to read the rest of the letter first. Who knew what he'd written down in his scatter-brained frenzy?


Anyone, I've got news! Two pieces, actually. Firstly – but not most importantly – is that our shop will be open the day after the Hogwarts Express brings you back, so we can visit the day after and you can witness out mad insanity for yourself. (Knowing your penchant for off-colour mischief, you’ll probably feel right at home.) I'll write to Arthur and see if we can bring along those two redheaded demons you like so much. (Only Merlin knows why.) Speaking of, if you want to be in a three-way relationship with the little shits, things get a little weird when you write the contract, but it's up to you. Just let me know who I have to castrate beforehand.

Secondly – Amy's pregnant! And by pregnant, I mean she's actually three months gone now, so she's due at the end of May. You're going to be a big sister in six months! I'm going to be looking after a baby in six months, can you believe it? (I sure as hell can’t!)

We're already thinking about names, like whether or not to do the Black star thing, but what do you think? Also, what do you think about reusing names instead of thinking of new ones? What’s the best idea? I do have a few disinherited relatives whose names I could use for my own entertainment (and revenge at my shitty ancestors).

Anyway, Moony and I have got to get the last bits up and running for the shop – thanks for lending us your insane elf, by the way; Kreacher actually hates him – so I'll write again in a few days.

Love you, Bambi.

Dad/Padfoot.


Rose snorted into her toast and had to hastily disguise it as a cough when she read the part about being in a threesome with Fred and George – no way in hell – and grinned at the idea of her overprotective dad castrating someone if they tried to date her. The funniest part was that she knew he wasn't even joking; he would happily wade through all manner of dodgy and very illegal spells from the Black library to find something appropriately painful for any man interested in her. (And while he was a rather chivalrous man despite being such a pain in the arse, she wasn’t under any illusions that any woman with romantic inclinations towards her would get off any easier.) Thank fuck I've sworn off teenage romance. Things could have gotten messy if I actually was a teenager.

When she got down to the part about the pregnancy, she could feel her grin widen even further, spreading across her face at the joyous news. A baby. Her dad was having a baby. He was finally getting the family he'd wanted for more than a decade, and there were only six months left until his chosen family truly started. At least now I know why he sounds so whacked. I bet he’s freaking right out.

She looked up from the letter and glanced over at the Hufflepuff table, catching Susan's eyes as she did. Her friend and sort-of cousin by marriage beamed at her and looked to be trying to contain herself from squealing in excitement. It was a sentiment that Rose could relate to. Susan waved and grinned once again before turning to whisper hurriedly in Hannah's ear, obviously revealing the good news. Seeing as how Amelia was the other blonde’s godmother and unofficial aunt, it didn't surprise Rose that she was being told the truth of the pregnancy.

Rose tucked the letter into one of her books for safekeeping before opening the other, smirking as she read the words that more or less confirmed exactly what she was thinking.


Hello, Bambi.

Your dad is panicking very badly about having a baby (despite actively planning for it; twat), so ignore how non-cohesive his letter no doubt sounds. It took him over three hours to write that quick note, and he started hyperventilating at least twice at the prospect of looking after a baby. You should be glad there’s no vomit on the parchment.

Just as a forewarning, his next letter might seem a little strange. (Well, more strange than usual.) I plan to drug him with as many different calming potions as I can medically get away with for my own peace of mind.

If you have any future advice about wrangling a terrified father-to-be, it would be much appreciated. ( So appreciated.)

Love, Dad (Remus).


Rose had to physically bite her lip before she burst out laughing. Remus was hilarious as always, and the matter-of-fact tone he used to casually inform her of drugging Sirius was testing the limits of her composure, because she knew he’d actually do it. The letter might be short, but it was certainly informative.

Father-to-be, huh? She had experienced the phenomena a few times in her old life, and the two obviously difficult situations had been with George and Draco. Both men had been terrified at the prospect of fatherhood, but for very different reasons. George had come to the conclusion that he was moving on without Fred even more and felt immeasurably guilty, as well as scared that it was something he couldn't do without his late twin. Draco had been just as out of sorts, having only ever seen 'fatherly' behaviour from the bastard that was Lucius Malfoy, so he didn’t have a single clue what he was supposed to do or how to act. That the only other fathers he’d seen growing up were the Death Eaters didn’t help any.

Rose had been bewildered at how to help her male friends with their struggles, especially with her own track record of handling responsibility badly, not to mention her distinct lack of confidence when it came to being a parental figure. In the end, she'd solved both situations by introducing them to the joys that was muggle vodka and leaving them to their own devices. Which had of course ended up with debauchery of varying levels and making messes of themselves for her to gleefully witness. (… And they're some more Pensieve memories I need to take pictures of. What a night.)

The girl looked back at Remus’ letter and frowned to herself as she took a sip of her tea. There wasn’t exactly a standard course of action for alleviating pre-parental nerves. I don't know Dad, maybe ply him with alcohol?

Rose paused and considered Sirius Black's drinking habits. Ply him with even more alcohol?


"Any particular reason you look like you've been hit by a permanent Cheering Charm?"

Rose looked up at the amused brown eyes of her best friend, belatedly noticing the height difference between them had shrunk somewhat over the past few months, and made a mental note to make sure her wardrobe still fit over the break. (She had no desire to wear ill-fitting clothes; rags from the Dursleys had been bad enough for two lifetimes.)

She grinned and switched to Italian for a little more privacy, even if the corridor was presently empty. "My dad wrote to me and told me that I'm going to be a big sister in six months. He and Amelia are getting ready for their first kid together, even if Dad's gone off the deep end a bit and is freaking out over his impending fatherhood. I think he’s torn between excited and terrified."

Blaise smiled genuinely at the news before shifting to a smirk at her description of Sirius and his mood. She supposed it was hilarious in some respects.

"That's great news. I'll make sure to send a formal note of congratulations when the public find out." He paused before studying her seriously, looking as if he were carefully considering his words before carrying on quietly. "Do you mind? That you won't be Heiress Black any longer? You'll just be Lady Potter in a few months."

Rose scoffed, wishing that her life was that simple. As if she’d ever be that lucky. "Please, running the House of Black is an entire job just by itself, and not one I want at all if there's someone else to do it instead.” She huffed quietly and mentally cringed at the idea of all the Black paperwork added to the crap she already had to deal with (even with the help she currently received from her dads). Rose grumbled to herself, “I've got enough to do with my own families as it is."

As soon as she finished speaking, Rose mentally froze and cringed at the same time, praying fervently to every entity that she could think of that her friend had missed her slip. Please, please, please …

"Families?"

Fuck. "I didn't say that."

Blaise side-eyed her with a raised brow. "Yes, you did."

"No, I didn't."

"Did."

"Didn't."

"Did."

"Didn't."

"Rose."

She winced at the warning tone, his genial and laidback voice nowhere to be found in the wake of their bickering, and she swore under her breath. Blaise was rather placid for a Slytherin, more often than not the very picture of controlled nonchalance, and was usually content to be passive in most interactions happening in his vicinity. Usually, that is, because if something happened to catch his attention, he was like a bloody dog with a bone. Rose knew the Italian wouldn't let up until she satisfied his interest or gave him a valid reason to leave it alone.

The girl looked around the hallway and saw an old classroom a few feet ahead; she gestured towards the room and made her way inside, closing the door behind Blaise and throwing up a silencing spell, pointedly ignoring the curious look on her friend's face at her controlled, advanced magic.

"Blaise. I can't really tell you the truth, it's Family stuff," she explained seriously, and judging from the expression on his face, the boy could practically hear the capital 'F' and knew that this was private business. "I will tell you this; the was another title in my family that could have been inherited centuries ago if anyone had bothered to do so, but they didn’t, so the name fell out of use. I could, so I did. I won’t tell you which side of my family the title heralds from, so don’t bother asking.

"I'll also inherit another title when I'm older, but I'm not going to even get into that one at all. Risky politics isn’t a situation I want to go diving into at the age of twelve. So, do me a favour and drop the subject. Please?”

Rose knew that this was the first proper time that she was holding back from Blaise, but this information was vastly different than any of her other secret she’d revealed to him before. The revelations of the Peverell and Gaunt names would shake things up in the political landscape in ways she couldn’t predict at the moment, so it was truly best to keep her cards close to her chest for this round. God only knew how the revival of two Houses would go in the future, let alone with Rose Potter at the helm.

Blaise studied her intently for a few minutes, dark eyes boring into her while clearly working through her excuses in his head. (Excuses which actually revealed more than was immediately apparent; the Blacks wouldn’t have been so lax – or altruistic – as to allow a title to go unclaimed for centuries, which meant the Potter family was the obvious conclusion (given that society was unaware of the true magical heritage of muggle-borns). That there was another title waiting for her in the future, one of unstable politics, meant that the name wasn’t currently in use, so one simply had to research dubious House which had seemingly vanished to get closer to the truth.

She might have been giving her friend a few little hints, but Blaise loved a good mystery. It was part of the reason he was so awesome.)

The boy huffed at her but sent her a small smile which was a relief to Rose. "I suppose I'll have to simply wait and see what happens. This isn't a 'James White' thing, is it?"

She rolled her eyes at the slight smirk playing about his lips. "No, it's not. I'll have you know that James White doesn't plan on doling out any more heart attacks this year."

"… There's only a month left of this year."

"I know."

She laughed as she was hoisted off the ground and spun around. It was so fun winding him up.


"Betrothals might seem to be incredibly old-fashioned to some, but you have to consider that Houses have centuries worth of assets, some material, some in shares and whatnot, and a lot of contracts are drawn up with the intention of maintaining a relationship based on political power."

Padma paused her lecture to look around the room, and Rose noticed things didn't seem quite so tense this time. The students raised in the non-magical world looked to be a lot more willing to sit back and wait for an in-depth explanation, though that could have been the recent articles giving them pause and focusing their minds on something other than the wonders of pre-teen puberty. Thank Merlin for that. I really can't be dealing with petty twelve-year-olds who think they know everything.

"For example, if I were to be betrothed to someone from another family, the contract would clearly lay out what would be expected of me in a marriage, what I would be bringing with me, what my rights in the marriage would be, what family name the children would have, things like that."

"Excuse me," interrupted Justin with a frown, "but why would you have to lay out children's names?"

"It has more to do with titles," explained Lisa. "For instance, I'm not in line to inherit my family’s title, so I don't need to have a child with the Turpin name. If my spouse were to have a title, or would inherit one in the future, then we would need to have a child to pass the title on to. If neither of us had a title, then the children could take any name depending on inherited Family magic. Marrying into a family almost guarantees the child will be of that family, but if a marriage is more informal and not geared towards either side, then the child’s magic could go either way.

"It gets a little more complicated if both parties have titles to pass on. In that case, there needs to be at least one pregnancy per title, and then the children take the name of whichever family in an order decided in the contract. Or by Magic itself."

"Does that happen that often?" questioned Roger.

Padma tilted her head side to side with a small frown. "I wouldn't say often, but in the past century, wars have resulted in a lot of families either dying off or being greatly diminished. There aren't as many children per generation in families now, meaning there's a higher likelihood of two Heirs ending up in a relationship with one another.

"Gender isn't a defining issue here either, as women aren't generally subservient in any way when it comes to running a House. Unlike the muggle world where things lean more towards a patriarchal society, most families have either male or female Heads. Of course, there will always be some sexist idiots, but they’re fortunately the minority,” the Indian girl added with a bright, innocent smile that just dared anyone to disagree with her. Rose stifled a grin and watched as Padma continued her explanation. “Some families do have strictly patriarchal lines of succession, but the majority don't mind. Some are even matriarchal or are heavily biased towards females. A lot of the time it depends on the Family magic and how well it meshes with the individual in question."

She nodded around the room to a few people as she spoke. "In this room we have Rose who is already Lady Potter, Daphne is Heiress Greengrass, and Susan is Heiress Bones. They will all have to have at least one pregnancy to carry on their names, and if the people they marry also have a title to pass down, that is another pregnancy to go through, more if the family has a strict gender-dependent inheritance and the first pregnancy doesn't provide an adequate Heir."

"What about multiple titles?"

Everyone turned to Kevin, who had apparently been suitably lectured by Susan and Hannah so he wasn't so abrasive now in his questioning. He clearly still had no clue when it came to the vast majority of magical customs, but at least he was trying to use his brain now instead of condemning people without considering why he was branding them evil. (Rose hated how people tended to go off on dark magic and concepts similar to it, without stopping to think about just why it was thought to be bad. Idiocy with a side of ignorance was horrific to deal with.)

Padma raised a brow. "What do you mean?"

The boy cleared his throat and was obviously trying not to fidget with everyone looking at him but he persevered. (Apparently, his placement in Gryffindor wasn't a fluke.) He turned to Rose and looked at her warily. "You … you're Lady Potter and Heiress Black, right?"

Rose blinked bewilderedly and nodded slowly. "That's correct."

"Well, what if you were to marry someone who had a title? Like, there would be three different titles to pass down."

The blonde girl suddenly realised what he was getting at and resisted the urge to squirm in her seat at the idea of childbirth. While she wasn't going to be Heiress Black for much longer – mere months, in fact; halle-fucking-lujah – she was also Lady Peverell and would one day be Lady Gaunt. She would have to have at least one pregnancy per inheritance so that she could give birth to a viable Heir or Heiress for each family. Rose would first have a child bearing the Potter name (as it was her primary family and title, and the name she bore herself as she was born a Potter), then with the Peverell name as it was the second Family magic she had, then finally with the Gaunt name. (Which was definitely going to be last, because of how magically diminished the family was.) While Rose would retain her Black magic, the well of magic from the House of Black would no longer recognise her as being its Heiress and the one responsible for continuing the family line, thereby ensuring that she only passed on magic from her other Houses. (Thankfully, as Head of all of the families she was in control of, she could – and would –dictate who could inherit, so she wouldn't have to keep trying for sons each time if she persistently birthed girls; having three families all free of gender-restricted inheritances was a silver lining, she supposed.)

Betrothal contracts would be vital here, as she and her future partner would have to agree on the said order of pregnancies prior to the marriage and sign it with blood and magic, allowing Magic itself to order her pregnancies to specific family magics so there weren’t any surprises.

The reason why contracts specify ‘pregnancies’ rather than ‘children’, was that only one Family magic could be passed down at a time during pregnancy. So, even if one pregnancy resulted in twins or more – she bloody hoped not – each child would be born as a member of the family whose magic was being passed down at that particular time. This meant that each of her children would inherit a certain magic in the aforementioned order, being both the level of primacy that she herself possessed and the order in which she became the Head of the families.

If she were to marry someone with their own title to pass down, negotiations usually occurred in order to determine which family received an Heir or Heiress first. If the spouse's family was obviously lower than hers, then the Potter family would grow first. If they were the same in terms of power, they would have to have a drawn-out discussion to determine the needs of the respective families. If theirs had a higher status than the House of Potter, then she would have to provide an Heir for them before moving onto her own titles. (Usually. Personal circumstances could change the way things happened.)

For Rose, that was at least three pregnancies she would have to endure. Four, if her future spouse was an Heir or Heiress in their own right.

… It was a terrifying idea.

She smiled at Kevin, not displaying a single iota of her inner turmoil at having so many children in the future as she began to explain things.

"That does muddy things up a bit, though it's not difficult to do. Negotiations between partners ensure they know which family would have an Heir first. If I were to marry someone with a title, they would have to be at least of equal status or higher for their family to get an Heir first. After that, it would definitely be Potter. While the Black family is of a higher status, I was born as a Potter first so the House of Potter takes precedence. Besides, there are still plenty of people around who could bear a Black child to be Heir, or cousins to inherit the title, while I'm the only Potter left in existence."

"If anything, that means your first pregnancy will more than likely be for the Potters, even if your spouse has a higher status," Draco interjected. "The only way you'll carry an Heir for another family before your own is if they too are the only member of their family remaining."

Oh my god, he spoke like a normal human being. I didn't even detect a hint of condescension.

Rose had to stop herself before she cooed at her cousin and praised him for maturing and not being so patronising. She didn't think the blonde boy would appreciate her – very truthful – words. Even if the resulting tantrum would be glorious to witness. She paused for a moment before analysing her thoughts. Was she becoming something of a sadist? Should she stop?

Nah, I'm good.

"Probably," she conceded, pushing aside the urge to pat the blonde head next to her like a puppy. "The Potter family is certainly diminished, hence why I need to be careful. A lot of people will probably expect me to get married and have an Heir straight out of school." (Like they did last time, right before she tossed everyone the metaphorical middle finger and became a hermit. Ah, good times.)

The girl looked around and saw a few appalled looks gracing the faces of the non-magically raised students, and a few seconds later they were all talking over one another in their haste to express their disgust at the idea of marrying so young.

Rose sighed and leant back in her chair, studiously ignoring Blaise's irritating smirk on her other side. I should have kept my mouth shut.

Blue eyes surveyed the heated debates around the room and she raised a brow.

At least they’re talking rationally now. Progress is progress, I suppose.

She winced as a book hit Daphne in the head, resulting in the furious blonde slashing her wand through the air and making the boys duck for cover under the desks.

Progress at a snail’s pace, perhaps.

Chapter Text

People were such interesting creatures to observe, and nothing would ever convince her otherwise.

It was probably because she saw life itself as such a strange and fascinating phenomenon. Something that professed to have a multitude of laws and rules, yet still existed in a haze of untamed powers that intersected in ways not able to be understood in the slightest. People, societies, behavioural habits, cultural customs, all these things and more interacted with each other to create a world in which both nothing and everything made sense depending on your own unique perspective. Perspective was incredibly important to comprehension, after all. Not that many people were even aware that a slight tilt of the head could provide an entirely new point of view to make you question everything you'd ever known.

Luna enjoyed questioning the things around her. She Saw things, things that other people couldn't, or simply wouldn't because of the ramifications it would present to their current views, and all she had to do was move her eyes just a little for the world to tilt on its axis, allowing her to See something that she'd never experienced before. Experiencing new things was one of the best parts of life! Luna couldn't fathom letting herself get trapped in an endless cycle of monotony. You couldn't live if you stayed static – at least, that was what her mother had always told her.

She'd grown up knowing that she was vastly different from other children, different from adults, even. Having two parents who both had slightly different variations of a singular talent meant that she was going to inherit something, and the reality was that she got everything, and her talents manifested in being able to See the world for what it really was. Secrets and hidden things, hidden possibilities, none of these mattered to the young girl whose eyes had been stripped of common filters even before she'd been born.

It didn't matter what other people stated as fact, or what was written in those books that everyone saw as fact – it wasn't the authors fault that they lacked the ability to perceive the truth - Luna Lovegood knew in her very soul that the world didn't exist in one flat layer. What her peers could see was just one, yet Luna delighted in being able to See the overlap whenever she explored. The world was a massive entity, even if you just included Earth, and it was all made up of different parts and layers, and each and every one of them sat on top of each other letting her see in different directions at all times.

But that was just Seeing up and down.

Seeing forwards and backwards and sideways was another thing entirely, and a definite reason for her headaches that had nothing to do with the mischievous Nargles or the Boggart in the basement. (Seeing so much at different times gave the being a wealth of fears to work from. Luna didn't like that.) She never knew how to properly explain her abilities to others. How do you explain something like the truth of life to someone who couldn't See? It was even worse trying to explain the diversity she Saw to someone who refused to see the world as anything other than a miniscule thing with no possibilities of beyond. She'd always thought it must be so sad not to experience as much as others because the mind simply wasn't open enough. Missing out on life was a terrible thing.

Luna could See paths, or at least, that was how she described that particular part of her gift. What had once been, what would be, or other ways the world could be if things went left instead of right. How things had been if the world took a different step sideways, if the world had had certain events occur differently or not at all. She could See things based on choice, events that changed whenever they decided to make themselves known to her, and it was always interesting to have things come to her out of nowhere .

Though it was decidedly less interesting when they involved her mother.

Pandora Lovegood nee Rushden had always been a bright witch from what her maternal relatives told her, and the woman that had birthed Luna had delighted in being an independent Spell-Crafter while raising her daughter with her husband. Pandora had been inordinately talented compared to the majority of her peers, while also keeping an amazingly clear head for someone who also Saw different paths. Luna had enough pictures of her mother with several friends to know the truth of this.

Their shared gift was something of a secret in the Rushden family, as many unscrupulous individuals would love nothing more than to bring someone with their abilities into their family and use them for their own gain, willingly or not. No Rushden had ever willingly told a stranger of their family's abilities, and some even hid the truth from their own spouses for fear of what they would do. It wasn't something easily spoken about, especially when it was incredibly erratic with no way to predict when it would rear its head, if it even did. Inheriting the Family magic was down to chance within the bloodline of the family, not even needing to be born a Rushden for the magic to occur. One only needed the blood of the House – which didn't have to be a close relation – and a child of the family could begin to See completely unprompted. The magic was the very definition of 'spontaneous', and Pandora was the only one of her four siblings to be gifted with the ability to See in directions.

When Pandora married Xenophilius Lovegood, she'd realised that she wasn't the only one who could See things, and the couple were very much aware of how things could be for any child of theirs. She could See directions and he could See things; what would happen if they tried for a child was something they'd had no clue of. Pandora's gift might have been helpful if not for the inherent uncertainty that came with children; there were too many possibilities in the conception and growth of human life that the woman refused to pay attention to forward visions and lived in the presence of the now when it came to her child. A decision the woman would always stand by upon seeing how happy her daughter was as a child.

(Interfering in organic life was a betrayal of Magic itself, as far as Pandora had been concerned.)

Luna had only been six when the Lovegood household realised that she had inherited from them both, hence the decision not to give Luna any siblings. Having a single child with the ability to See the world in various different ways was a delicate situation as it was, and neither Lovegood needed their abilities in order to know it could be a terrible situation if they had more than one child. (And if they showered Luna with an abundance of love in return for not being willing to gift her with a sibling, that was their prerogative, end of discussion.)

Pandora and Xenophilius had created a wondrous world filled with fun and happiness for Luna to grow up in, providing endless knowledge from which she'd learned both about herself and the wider world around her, and she'd been beyond content in simply existing in their small and isolated world of endless love. Despite the problems in managing what she could See and learning about what she could and couldn't say to others, Luna had had a childhood of simple joy and love, never wanting for anything more than she had. Luna's childhood had been perfect, peaceful bliss.

Until she lost her mother, that is.

Spell-Crafting was a dangerous profession, even for a genius individual with power in spades. Researching etymology, applying the correct words for the specific intentions you wanted to evoke, as well as determine the correct wand movements for focusing a spell, these were all aspects of the dangerous career which more often than not ended with failure. Experimental magic would always be an arduous process, outstanding intelligence notwithstanding.

Her mother might have been able to See, but she'd still been human, still been able to make mistakes, and the older woman had miscalculated the Arithmantic equations on her new spell after a studying frenzy of three days. As was a common sight in the life of someone who created spells, the experiment had blown up in Pandora's face and caused a small explosion in the Lovegood house.

What wasn't common was the spell ending the life of Pandora Lovegood.

From that moment on, Luna's gift had grown exponentially, the shock of losing her mother having caused her magic to go out of control and forcibly develop it beyond what it should have at the age of nine. Her magic had reached, bringing various truths to the forefront of the girl's mind despite her lacking the emotional and logical depth to process them, but her magic had been so uncontrollable from the shock that she honestly wasn't surprised by the turn of events.

Luna knew that she shouldn't have been able to See as much as she currently did before her majority, but the mental trauma had forced her mind to See even more of the world without giving her time to acclimatise to learning about what she could See and what she would in the future. She supposed it might have been a spur-of-the-moment plan from Magic to give her something to focus on other than the tragedy that regularly haunted her nightmares. (It was rather sad that it worked, too.)

The girl was under no illusions concerning her mind, knowing full well that it had been damaged from seeing her mother die. Aside from being able to see Thestrals since the tragic event, she could almost feel her attention slipping sometimes, watching what she could See and attempting to articulate her reality to those who didn't have the ability without revealing her family's secrets. Luna knew that even the most normal situations were beyond her now, because what she could See and what everyone else could overlapped too much, and it was difficult to differentiate between the two realities. No matter how much she tried to explain things literally or using vague ideas, nobody seemed to understand.

Her mother had understood, and it made Luna miss Pandora even more when she thought about the gentle woman's easy acceptance. The older blonde had always smiled and nodded at her words, genuine interest and calculation in the blue eyes that mirrored her own, legitimately trying to understand Luna without being patronising as so many other adults acted. (Despite what others might have thought, Luna wasn't stupid, and she was more than able to tell when others were just humouring or mocking her.)

She missed her mother even more when she realised the woman had let herself die.

Luna Saw many things about her mother, including different paths of the past, and some of those things were different paths the explosion would have played out if circumstances had differed in some small way. Luna had been in the room at the time, standing right next to the experiment that had gone wrong, and if Pandora hadn't bodily gotten in the way of the horrific explosion, her daughter would have paid the price of Pandora's mistakes. Luna Saw different ways that Pandora tried to save them both, but apparently using her own body as a human shield had been the only way to save Luna. (Was she awful for wishing her mother had saved herself? Human emotions were so confusing; no wonder the Blibbering Humdingers couldn't properly focus in the presence of people.)

The girl knew her mother had no doubt also Seen the different paths before she died and had made the decision to preserve Luna's life over her own. It was a horrible truth, but Luna's survival had been the best course of action for the survival of their household. If Pandora had lived without her daughter, then the Lovegood family would have ended within the next few months. Luna had Seen it.

It's not very nice seeing three headstones lined up when the graves were your own family.

Luna only discovered this after her magic made her See more prematurely, and it had affected her mind even more ever since. Nobody wanted to See such things about their own parents, and it was something that made her feel even more alone than she'd already felt. Her father might have Seen things that existed beyond the sight of others, but Pandora Lovegood had been the only other person to see in the same way as Luna's other abilities. No other living relative in the Rushden family could See in the same way, and Luna didn't have anyone to speak to about her unique experiences. Nobody was around that could understand her situation and all it entailed.

Well, not until she got to Hogwarts, anyway.

The young girl had known that Hogwarts was going to be monumentally defining for her as a person, but her mind had been incredibly vague on the 'why'. She'd Seen so many conflicting images of her time in the castle, images that made her question whether or not her magic had gone wrong or if there was something else wrong with her mind. Luna had enough issues as it was, but were these scenarios genuine possibilities? Likely occurrences?

The truth was that Seeing polar opposite paths was rather confusing and straining on the mind; having close friends, and being bullied so much that she ended up in tears, were such contradictory situations that she'd had no clue what to expect when she finally got to the venerated school of magic. Luna had Seen various people in her mind, and every single one of them would or could play a part in the life of Luna Lovegood in some way or another. It wasn't clear whether or not these people would be a positive influence or not, but it was intriguing at the very least that they ranged across the Houses.

Even as a young girl who'd never experienced school life, she knew of the House rivalries born from conflicts a millennium old. Everyone did, they was facts of life. Luna had known that Slytherin and Gryffindor despised one another, that Ravenclaw was insular to a fault, and the Hufflepuffs were bizarrely underestimated amongst the school population. (People were so ignorant sometimes that she instinctively knew the Nargles had made themselves a nest in their minds.)

But she'd Seen differently. She'd Seen those of green and scarlet talking amicably, she'd Seen the eagles socialise in large groups with everyone, and how the badgers would slowly accumulate the respect that should have been given long before. Luna had Seen people that she'd already known, friends and relatives alike, interact amicably with one another in a way that undermined centuries worth of segregation without compromising who they were as people.

It was amazing what a displaced soul could do.

Luna wasn't entirely sure that the older blonde's actual soul had been displaced – such magic was incredibly difficult to examine and define, even with her ability to See – but she knew the other girl was a catalyst for so many diverging paths, not to mention that her unique magic was like a beacon for creatures that fed on ambient magic and emotions. The older student had both aplenty, often in ways that were entirely particular to her, and despite the melancholy that often plagued Luna's fellow Ravenclaw, Rose was determined not to let it dictate her life.

Rose Potter was the best friend ever, no doubt.

Luna had Seen many different things about the girl. Her old future, her new current future and possible pathways, her past … Luna didn't like Rose's past; it made Luna mad – not an easy feat considering her easygoing nature – and disappointed that nobody had ever taken the time to simply look. People accused Luna of not seeing the truth all the time, but it was a sad reality that, even in her most complicated moments, her future self had always Seen more than anyone else, even with the truth staring them in the face. Being that blind must be such a melancholic life.

She didn't want her friend – her friend – to experience what she had before. Rose already had to contend with memories and dreams and the knowledge that she'd lost her family before; she didn't need to go through it again.

When the older girl had stood in their common room and boldly called her a friend, Luna had had to blink back tears. She knew that things could still go bad for her, and she knew that Rose knew too, but her fellow blonde hadn't let that stop her from acting in a way she thought she had to. Rose might try and disguise her actions as those of a cynical person, and though Luna didn't necessarily disagree with her, the presence of those particular faeries hovering above the platinum curls meant a person of great inner strength and bravery.

Rose might be in the House of eagles, but she was still a brave lion in soul.

If she could do it, then so could Luna. And maybe take some pressure off her amazing friend.


"The Hogwarts Times?"

"What's wrong with that?!"

"I think it's great!"

The excitable voice quickly broke up the argument and Luna kept her face tilted towards the ground so the others wouldn't realise that she was smiling. They'd probably get annoyed at her, thinking that she was laughing at them. Which she was, but who was she to upset the fragile masculinity of her fellow eleven-year-olds?

Rose wasn't wrong when she said that magical people needed to stop marrying their cousins, though Luna honestly found it delightful to hear the words that escaped the older girl's mouth when she thought nobody could hear her. She hadn't heard anyone swear like that since her father dropped a part of the printing press on his foot!

Like many magical families, Luna's had spread out quite a bit over the past few generations. Her maternal family, mostly. The Lovegoods generally only had one or two children in each generation, as the strain of their Family magic was rather harsh on an unborn child. The Rushdens, however, had married into a few different families over the past three generations after they'd started having more than one child. (Luna couldn't help but wonder if Magic had encouraged the procreation because they knew more children were needed for the future. There would never be a clear answer to her musing, would there?)

Her neighbour Cedric Diggory was actually her third cousin – she was so happy that Rose had stopped what would have been too high a cost for one of her favourite relatives – as was his first cousin, Oliver Wood. The Quidditch obsession definitely didn't come from the Rushden side of the family; her grandfather had always moaned about the Diggory blood infecting them. It never failed to make her giggle.

Helene Rushen had been her grandfather's sister, her great-aunt, and she'd gone on to marry Abraxas Malfoy, so she was also second cousins with the blonde dragon who was like an angry cat. Her admission of such and following suggestion to Rose that they offer their mutual cousin some milk had made the older girl choke on her food. Luna thought that it was a perfectly acceptable idea, no matter what anyone said.

Then there was the fact that her mother had had three siblings, and strangely enough all four had had a child at more or less the same time, meaning she had three first cousins who'd joined her at Hogwarts this year. Even stranger was that each of them had ended up in a separate House.

In Hufflepuff was Grant Davies, the younger brother of her other Quidditch-obsessed cousin, Roger Davies. (Now she thought about it, Roger didn't have Diggory blood. She'd have to re-evaluate that later.) He was quiet but happy, always reading something or other about Herbology. Maybe she should introduce him to Neville? (Neville was also going to be important in Luna's life, but the 'how' wasn't something that had been decided yet.)

Her actual Rushden cousin, Ophelia, had ostensibly joined the House of lions, though Luna hadn't quite figured out how the quietly studious girl would no doubt manifest as brave and/or chivalrous. It was going to take some time, but Luna knew that the girl would get there eventually.

The last cousin her age was Slytherin Stephen Harper. Stephen wasn't very nice unfortunately, but then again, his father had been a big supporter of the crazy Dark Lord's ideals. Though, unlike Draco, his father hadn't been marked and so avoided prison or death after the mysterious events at the start of the year. Stephen had been raised to be a 'proper' pure-blood, though with Rose's recent campaign to inform people of the truths of magic – the older girl was so funny and clever – Luna had noticed her cousin looking more and more contemplative over what was really the truth. Luna hoped that he chose the best path for him; just because she wanted something to happen in a certain way, didn't mean that it was the best idea for everyone. Personal fulfilment was something that Luna was very much in favour of.

Luna knew that Rose was working hard to help people even though a lot of them hadn't helped her before, and she also knew that things could get difficult for the girl if she pushed herself too far. Luna also knew that Rose enjoyed causing trouble when it couldn't be categorised as trouble. (Her fathers were no doubt at fault there.)

The younger girl had wanted to help with causing trouble – which truly was exciting when the mischief was for the good of Magic – so she'd followed in her older friend's footsteps and had made some friends to help with the causing of trouble. Though they weren't aware of that reality; it wouldn’t be as fun if they thought she was being bad! Which Luna wasn't, really. She actually wanted to do what she was doing, as well.

She'd made a newspaper.

A school newspaper. It would be a bi-weekly publication to report about things at the school, pieces on the staff and their careers, as well as help out with Rose's plans for governmental domination. (Not that Luna's friend was silly enough to say that, even if that was the general idea. It was brilliant in Luna's eyes. Sadly necessary, too.)

She could report on things like historical events that changed preexisting ideas on magic, reveal things like the process behind taking exams early, and write short pieces about things like future careers and the like. They could also publish students' views on news stories written in professional papers to create a sense of inclusion within the school.

Luna knew intimately how to run a paper from working with her father, and after asking Professor Burbage to sponsor the club – Rose's future family was going to be wonderful – she'd begun recruiting. She knew that, even though her cousins found her odd, they all knew the reason why she acted the way she did and didn't hate her for it.

(They couldn't say anything because of the secrecy surrounding her magic, but they were all aware of its existence. The magic didn't always manifest at a young age, and upon majority it could spontaneously appear. Everyone of their family's blood, Rushden name or not, had to be kept apprised of the possibility of developing certain abilities.)

Her cousins were all fairly close to her and accepting of her personality, yet Luna knew that fear was a powerful motivator. It only took a glance of a possible future to see herself alone, her cousins all driven away by the miasma of fear pervading the castle. Her own possible tormentors had also done their part in scaring Luna's family away, and the girl knew that it could happen again if she stood out a tad too much.

(The only difference this time was a determined and confident Rose Potter, and Luna would be forever grateful to her friend. Rose's protective nature was awe-inspiring, even if Luna had had to stop her older friend from glaring her younger cousins into submission after analysing Luna's situation of before. Holding a grudge for something that hadn't yet happened was silly in Luna's mind, but she wouldn't begrudge Rose her opinion considering the reality of her memories. Besides, it was rather heartwarming to be the centre of that protective focus. Luna was beyond grateful for Rose.)

Luna's first-year cousins were, at the least, begrudgingly accepting of joining her on her endeavour to spread knowledge to the students via a newspaper. It took a bit of manoeuvring to get her Slytherin cousin to join the fray, but cheerfully mentioning having a monopoly on the spread of information had made him agree immediately. (Snakes were rather simple, all things considered. Much easier than badgers.)

Then came the hard part.

Between Seeing things and simply watching Rose's behaviour, Luna knew that certain students were problematic for her, or would be thanks to their own actions. Two of Luna's fellow first-years in particular had the potential to cause a lot of trouble for Rose, so Luna had decided to distract them with the possibility of helping the older girl through their own work. The suggestion had worked, and the paper had grown once more.

Ginny Weasley and Colin Creevey.

While Ginny was Luna's childhood friend, she could understand Rose's reticence behind rekindling that particular connection. From what she'd Seen, things hadn't gone so well between the girls after everything went bad, and though she didn't know everything that had happened, she knew it was nowhere near good. Ginny would make things bad for Rose, whether she intended to or not, and Luna owed Rose too much to not even try and assist.

The male Gryffindor would definitely be a problem for Rose's political plans. Rose wanted to be a member of their society who was taken seriously, but having a hyperactive and tactless child follow her around and shout at her, all the while shoving a camera in her face, wasn't going to help Rose be taken seriously. Of course, not knowing about magical behaviour wasn't Colin's fault, but that didn't mean that Rose would allow it to ruin her plans.

Luna had managed to recruit Colin by simply mentioning that she was in the same House as Rose, and she'd managed to subtly pass the same book that Rose had given to Miss Granger in their first year to Ophelia. Her cousin had sighed but had dutifully begun tutoring her Housemates in proper behaviour in order to help Luna. Who was truly helping Rose, but her cousins weren't privy to that knowledge. (Not that Rose actually cared one whit about proper behaviour, but she definitely saw it as a means to end.)

"Yeah, The Hogwarts Times! I mean, we are talking about the times at Hogwarts!"

Colin's enthusiastic voice managed to cut through the tension between Stephen and Ginny, and Luna smiled around the room at her fellow students. They'd been together for three months already and were preparing to reveal their first paper before the Christmas break, allowing the Hogwarts populous to get a taste of the paper before the break, building up the excitement for when the break finished.

"I think the Nargles will be quite surprised by The Hogwarts Times."

Everyone looked at her, Ginny looking amused but exasperated at the words she didn't understand, with Colin cocking his head to the side as he tried to process what she said. Her cousins all looked faintly pleased with her statement and she smiled dreamily.

The Nargles will be very surprised.

Chapter Text

Rose knew that magic could make everyday things infinitely easier to do, but she didn't want to get into the habit of relying on her abilities to do simple things that didn't require much skill. She wasn't lazy, thank you very much.

Wrapping presents by hand was so ridiculously easy that she didn't understand why some people refused to do it, other than the fact they were self-entitled snobs who thought it to be 'menial' and below them. Pathetic arseholes. Oh yes, it's so difficult to fold a piece of paper around something that shows I genuinely care about someone. God forbid I actually reveal I have emotions.

She knew she sounded a little cynical considering the Yule break was tomorrow, but over the past few weeks she'd been more frazzled than usual. Despite Luna's hilarious scheming in which she'd managed to create a school newspaper and become a devious, networking little shit – Rose was so proud of her – the younger girl had also been dropping hints related to her warning at the Sorting.

Knowing that a member of your – enormously and annoyingly vast – family had a very high chance of biting the dust had done nothing positive for her mood, though she couldn't bring herself to blame Luna in any way. The younger Ravenclaw looked inordinately worried whenever she gave Rose hints, the serious look in the blue orbs at odds with the dreamy tone of her voice. Luna probably had a good idea of the not-so-nice particulars of Rose's life and was trying to help Rose in her own way.

Rose appreciated it despite her increased anxiety. She'd asked her dads to be careful and they'd taken her warning seriously, going so far as to subtly keep tabs on the other family members that she was concerned about. It had to be someone she liked or Luna wouldn't have bothered saying anything; Rose was blatant to an impolite degree about which family members she actually deigned to give a shit about – to people she trusted, anyway – and she knew the inside of her mind well enough to know she probably be apathetic with a side of vindictive glee if some of her arsehole relatives died. (Cygnus and the Carrows should be glad that she even admitted to being related to them. Disgusting bastards.)

She'd all but thrown herself into her school work to get away from obsessing over who was maybe going to die, and instead had kept up with her high standard in class to help with the following year. Rose was planning to take all the exams on offer at the school, starting next year with some of the theoretical subjects that weren't in the realm of 'how the fuck can a thirteen-year-old do that?' Staggering all her exams over the last four years at school would give her an acceptable timetable that wouldn't draw unwanted attention to her.

In order to qualify to take the exams early through the school, a student had to have the written permission from both the Headmaster or Headmistress, their own Head of House, and the approval of the professor for whichever subject you wanted to sit. Of course, as an emancipated Lady, Rose could quite easily waltz into the Ministry and schedule any exams whenever she wanted, but seeing as how she was trying to keep a – relatively – low profile, that wasn't the way to go.

Instead she'd dutifully dove into her work, reassured Blaise that she wasn't having a breakdown, exchanged excited chatter with Susan over their family finally growing, and had happily compiled all of her Defence notes into one coherent manual that was now nothing more than supplementary material rather than gospel. Seeing as Aunt Cassi was a crazy – yet highly-competent – professor in the subject, the students of Hogwarts weren’t left floundering for help in Defence for the first time in years.

(It was rather sad that normality was the rarity in this situation, but Rose was depressingly used to this fact in her life.)

Right now, she was once more suffering from exhausting insomnia, but considering how many potions she'd taken over the past few weeks, it just wasn't viable for her to knock herself out yet again. Her body wouldn't be able to handle the stress if she kept medicating herself just to sleep; she’d already been more irritable than usual recently, and she knew full well that nobody deserved to be on the receiving end of her shitty temper.

Her temper was an unfortunate victim of her insomnia as it was. Even beyond not being able to sleep on occasion, she'd been feeling more tired during the day even when she did manage to sleep for some reason. She had a feeling it wasn't just stress, too. Lucky me. Not.

She was sat in her apartment trunk wrapping the random presents she'd gotten people – and why the fuck is it so bloody difficult to shop for my own parents? – over the past couple of months with owl order, though making sure that her extra gifts for McGonagall were covered completely via muggle means and looking different to her other presents. Rose had to make sure that they wouldn't be traced back to her in any way. It would be a literal nightmare.

After all, how would she explain having the remaining three Founders' artefacts?

Rose snorted and grinned at the thought. Hunting down a crazy bastard and setting his soul bits on fire or poisoning them was all well and good for ending a war post haste, but partnering up with vicious goblins and getting priceless heirlooms back in one piece made the researched in her feel quite a bit better.

Last time around she'd been her naïve and stupid Gryffindor self, completely unaware of the truth of what Voldy had actually shoved his own soul into, and hadn't batted an eye at destroying them with glee. Why should she be anything other than happy at offing her parents’ murderer? Ending up in the Department of Mysteries as a new Unspeakable and reading about the history of the Founders and their heirlooms had introduced her to an unfortunate reality, and Rose had been stunned, releasing a sound like a dying animal at the knowledge of what she'd done. (Rose had been rather glad that her colleagues had never discovered just what she’d done during the Seventh-Year-That-Wasn't. They would have killed her, slowly and painfully. All praise the magic of Head rings.)

She'd destroyed items with a millennium's worth of history, a thousand years' worth of magic imbued into them without a second thought as to what was being lost aside from Tom’s soul. Granted, she hadn't actually done the deed for all the Horcruxes herself, but the point remained. Even if the items in question hadn’t been used in everyday life, they’d still been incredibly important to the school and belonged there.

Rose didn't even care that she was supposedly giving back the 'one and only' locket of Salazar Slytherin instead of keeping it herself as one of his descendants. Because it wasn't the one and only. It turned out that Mister Slytherin of olden times had been something of a thieving arsehole who'd cheerfully stolen from his enemies – or people he just didn't like – in order to 'reappropriate' whatever of their possessions he felt like taking, and then fiddling with them to his specifications out of boredom. Or magical curiosity.

(Basically, he was some sort of nerdy pirate. It kind of ruined the image of the stoic, pure-blood supremacist hell-bent on subjugating all of non-magical kind. Bit of a let-down, really.)

The locket was actually one of five, and not a single one had originally belonged to the Slytherin family at the time. Salazar hadn't named names in his journal, but apparently the lockets had come from the family of someone who'd tried to sleep with Salazar’s younger sister while she was engaged to another wizard. Said sister wasn't even someone the legendary wizard had liked, but he'd still acted in order to show a united front with his family. (She wondered if this was where the concept of Slytherin House standing united in public came from – just because she wasn't supposed to know private Slytherin ideals, didn't mean that she was ignorant.)

Salazar had modified the lockets to only respond to Parseltongue, casually carved the Slytherin 'S' on the front and made it unable to be removed by anyone other than him, and had quite happily gone about his business wearing one of the lockets whenever he was in the presence of the very family that he'd stolen from.

Say what you will about his magic prowess, but she thought Salazar Slytherin was kind of a petty arsehole.

Rose looked at the pile of wrapped presents to her side and nodded to herself. Hopefully this holiday would go smoothly. She grinned wickedly; after seeing the havoc that her parents caused, of course.

She hoped McGonagall wouldn't suffer too much.


The day after the Hogwarts Express took the students home for the break at the end of the year was always busy for Diagon Alley, and the year of nineteen ninety-two was no different.

Though nobody could have predicted this insanity.

Crowds upon crowds of people, those of every blood status and political faction imaginable, individuals of all ages and classes had converged on the historic alley for their shopping, though the enormously heaving crowds were no doubt influenced by the newest store to open on the magical street. It had been quite a while since a new business had come to the infamous street of magical Britain, and the tangible excitement in the air had grown exponentially upon seeing the most recent shop to open its magical doors to the public.

Marauders Inc.

Though she still found the fact that her dads had given their business venture such a name to be amusing, Rose was beyond proud of them for having achieved a massive undertaking in the last year and a half. Finding a suitable building which would be able to house their wacky products, obtaining all of the appropriate permits which would allow them to sell said products to the public, getting every single one of their ideas approved by the stingy Ministry, all of these things took time and patience. Not to mention actually having to physically design, create, and then liberally test a massive range of wares was beyond impressive, especially when you considered that Remus was still working as an advisor to the Black and Potter families, and Sirius was doing political work for the House of Black specifically and the Wizengamot as a whole.

The two-story building was situated just up from Gringotts on the corner of Horizont Alley, close to the Magical Menagerie and Scribbulus Writing Implements, meaning there was no way that the excited students of Hogwarts would be able to miss it. The shop itself was beyond eye-catching with its bright scarlet paint on the walls (House pride much, Dads?), though it was offset with deep blue accents on the door and windows that were the exact shade of the Ravenclaw uniform. A massive 'M' adorned the front wall in the same blue that Rose wore at school, surrounded by various posters that slowly scrolled through what was being sold inside, and the multitude of colour-changing fireworks, streamers and balloons were like a beacon for many a child in the area. More than a few parents were being dragged along unceremoniously to the loud and busy store, though noticing some of what was on offer for adults gave them pause before they wrote the shop off as just for children.

Taking a step inside, Rose immediately noticed that the ground floor was packed, loud, and manic. Customers were running backwards and forwards, darting from one shelf to the next in crazed delight, and the team of workers looked beyond frazzled at having to deal with so many different things at once.

The cavernous main room was filled to the brim with various different ideas that her dads had been experimenting on in the past year, and she could see what looked to be a table of Puking Pastilles lurking in the corner, looking far more innocent than they had any right to be. The fact that two fourteen-year-old pranksters had good enough ideas that grown men in their thirties were taking heed was hilarious, but Rose had never been disbelieving of Fred and George's talents. The twins were geniuses, enough said. (And they were sure going to be surprised when her dads finally revealed that some of the jokes here were patented under their names and currently earning them money. The revelation of that particular vault in Gringotts was going to be hilarious to witness, and Rose hoped that the twins could shock Molly silent for once with the news.)

Tables were interspersed throughout the shop, boxes and packets of various pranks and jokes piled precariously high, the same with the bursting shelves lining every single wall except for the stairs, doors and the till area. Chocolates that changed taste depending on the time of day, sweets that transformed people into various – and random – animals, chewing gum that made someone's hair cycle through every colour imaginable as they chewed … it was insane how many different things were here.

A group of young children, about eight or so, were crowded around a table of innocuous-looking smoke bombs. The small balls would only explode on impact, and while some were disgusting smells designed to cause anger and mayhem, there were also several variants of pleasant scents and fragrances. There was also a surprise pack, similar to Every Flavour Beans. The possibility of releasing a scent that was nice or nasty was entirely down to chance, and the children looked excited at the possibility of such mischief, wicked glints in their eyes as they grinned at each other.

Various stationery items were positioned close by, a mixture of jokes and regular items tweaked for easier use. Aside from the usual edible quills, there were ones which could be charmed to squirt ink everywhere, swap out random phrases on parchment, and even sing whatever music you chose when it registered a specific trigger phrase. (She and Remus had had a lot of fun with that one, especially because it couldn’t distinguish between homophones. The ‘serious’ or ‘Sirius’ joke had wound up the Lord Black a lot, and he finally understood why it was so annoying to everyone else. Well, that or he really didn’t like nineties boybands. Rose thought they were a perfectly acceptable choice to listen to. Personally, she couldn’t wait until the Backstreet Boys reappeared. They were awesome, and she refused to be ashamed, so fuck off Draco, you know nothing.)

Not far from the sillier items were a range of products spelled for easier use during day-to-day life, with fountain pens that wrote just like quills, self-inking quills that would last even Hermione for well over a year, and specialised dicta-quills that mimicked a person's own handwriting. (The dicta-quills were actually Rose's own invention from her future-past, though she would feel a hell of a lot better about such a fact if they hadn't been born from her inherent laziness. Finding and experimenting with different spells to record a handwriting sample into a quill had been more than a little difficult, but after that she'd simply broken down the spellwork on dicta-quills used by journalists, and voila. Ever since then, she'd barely written anything of her work at all. Her dads had actually patented her invention as well and would be directing the profits from those specific sales into one of her vaults instead of their business vault. She'd tried to argue with them, but they'd refused to give up so she stopped asking. They were so bloody stubborn.)

She wandered over to the table of linked, two-way journals and picked up one of the display books, noticing how there didn't seem to be any way of preventing somebody else from looking at your personal writing. Rose knew they could probably be bound with blood-based spells, though of course her parents wouldn't dare to sell something so illegal. Anyone who used any ‘definitely-not-approved-by-the-Ministry' spells on the books afterwards was on their own, though.

"Lady Potter! We were wondering where you were hiding!"

She turned at the slightly mocking tone to see four redheads looking at her with varying expressions on their freckled faces, though the identical manic grins on two of them made her smirk back at her twin menace friends. Fred and George looked like they'd died and gone to their own personal heaven, their brown eyes flickering around with unrestrained glee at the colourful and packed store and the various items for sale.

Charlie looked to be rather bemused at her appearance, though he was clearly aware of what her appearance meant in comparison to the last time they’d met. Her long-sleeved purple dress to the ankles and the elaborately-pinned hair were a complete one-eighty from when they’d seen each other at Hogwarts – I wonder how Norberta’s doing now? I’ll have to ask at some point – and she wondered what was going through his mind as he looked from her to his twin brothers and back again with a small grin on his face. (That grin did her poor heart no favours.)

In complete contrast, the oldest Weasley sibling looked rather pained, a cross between mortified and panicked as he looked at Rose with dawning recognition in his sky-blue eyes, and it took a moment to figure out just what the problem was. Seeing as she'd been ensconced away at school for the entirety of last year, and had stayed with her family during the summer, there hadn't been a single chance for any 'well-meaning' reporters to take her picture and splash it across the newspapers. Unless Bill had deliberately looked at the pictures of Sirius' wedding closely – which she rather doubted; he’d had no need to – he wouldn't have known that 'Rose Potter' and the girl his youngest brother had so horribly insulted over a year ago were one and the same. Oh yeah, that happened, didn’t it? Wow, time sure flies fast when you’re killing Dark Lords and dodging crazy aunts.

Bill probably thought that she was going to do something in retaliation for Ron’s behaviour, but she honestly didn't care that much about the Ron Weasley of the present. She'd spent last year plotting to destroy a Dark Lord that wanted to murder a vast number of their population and subjugate everyone else, before becoming embroiled in the convoluted politics of the House of Black and the antiquated Wizengamot. How did a jealous eleven-year-old compare to that?

"I wasn't hiding, I was browsing, thank you very much. I'm thinking of buying a couple of these for myself," she said, waving the display diary at the two with more of a ginger tone to their hair (as opposed to the bright auburn of their older brothers).

"Why? This place is owned by your parents, so why would you buy anything instead of just asking for something."

"True," she conceded, "but this is still a business, and I'm not going to take advantage of my relationship with the owners for something which I can afford by myself."

"That's quite a mature response for someone of your age, Lady Potter. Most twelve-year-olds would happily ask for something to be free instead of paying for it."

She looked Bill in the eye. "I prefer to think of it as common sense, Mister Weasley. Just because the shop is obviously busy on its first day, does not mean that things will continue on in the same manner as they have today. Of course, I have nothing but the utmost faith in my parents’ ability to continue to generate revenue, but business in retail comes with its own traps to navigate, and that's only on a good day."

Blue eyes looked rather approving at her words, and she still couldn't believe that someone who looked like that could be such a serious person. Bill had his ever-present fang earring dangling from one lobe, long hair tied back in a messy ponytail, and tight leather trousers that really shouldn't be worn around people in the throes of puberty, especially as they left very little to the imagination. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with the Weasley siblings? Every single one of the fuckers grew up to be gorgeous, even if their personalities were complete shite.

Before any of the redheads could answer, another blonde materialised out of thin air at Rose's side – and it was bloody nerve-wrecking when she did that; Rose had nearly hexed her on instinct too many times to count – and looked over Rose's companions with her steely grey eyes.

“Messrs Weasley. I see the two of you are enjoying the store. I do hope you haven’t decided to emulate your grandmother on this fine day.”

Grandmother? Rose looked bewilderedly between the stern visage of Cassiopeia Black and the unrepentant grins of the twins with no small amount of confusion. What the fuck is she on about now?

Though when Rose looked closer, she could see a glint of well-hidden amusement in the silver orbs as she looked at the younger two siblings, so clearly there was something she was missing. She knew that Cedrella Weasley nee Black had been rather … spirited for a woman from the House of Black – and by ‘spirited’ she meant a pyromaniac who set fire to Black Manor before running directly to her very (not approved) wedding to Septimus Weasley.

Rose very much hoped that there would be an absence of fire today. She really wasn’t in the mood for explosions.

George placed a hand over his heart, the exaggerated offense on his face nearly making Rose snort. “Why, Madam Black, my brother and I would never be so crass as to cause trouble on such an auspicious occasion!”

“Quite the contrary!” added Fred with a beaming grin, his arm flourishing as he gestured around the room. “The grand opening of such a fine establishment can only be celebrated through the most proper behaviour in our society!”

“With a brilliant building like this –”

“– a paradise of pranksters –”

“– a joyful joint for japes –”

“– the heaven of humour –”

“– why would we ever mess with the mischief –”

“– when instead we could traverse the twists and turns of tricks?”

The two finished their little routine with enthusiastic bows, the gingers flaunting their enthusiasm for the world of practical jokes for all to see. They looked just like they had that summer when she’d first seen their shop, and the nostalgia was bittersweet. They'd never been able to fully develop their business as they’d wanted (together), but seeing the two side-by-side, excited and ready to delve into this colourful world – and without being targets of an imminent war – was heart-warming for Rose. (They would get the life they wanted; Rose would make sure of it.)

As warm as it made her feel, Rose was also holding back the urge to cackle hysterically at the scene in front of her. Gred and Forge were grinning unrepentantly at Aunt Cassi – Rose was going to assume that the older blonde had been regaling the twins with stories of Cedrella for now, hence their worrisome enthusiasm – while the woman in question was stood stoically in front of them, back ramrod straight and a single brow raised at her distant nephews. Charlie’s lips were twitching erratically, the dragon tamer just barely holding onto his composure as his brothers joked around with an aristocratic woman who was also one of their professors at school.

Bill just looked horrified.

He was clearly well aware of who Cassiopeia Black was, her position in society and the House of Black, and he also knew what sort of retribution the twins could face after winding up a woman of her station. There wasn’t anything officially wrong with George and Fred’s actions, they were just appallingly rude and didn’t give a toss about greeting Aunt Cassi properly and giving her the appropriate level of respect.

If it were anyone else, Bill’s expression would have been justified, but Rose – and the twins, apparently – knew full well that the older woman didn’t give a rat’s arse seeing as her own status wasn’t being affected in any way, or her House’s. As it was, Fred and George were only reflecting themselves, and seeing as they’d already scored apprenticeships with Marauders Inc. after their graduation (bar the grades they needed, but they were impish geniuses, no problem), they didn’t need to impress anyone.

Rose watched as the eldest Weasley’s face twitched in panic, the man looking to be a second away from spiriting his twin brothers away before scolding them like the secret mother-hen he was. (Which Rose was not lying about. She only had to remember Bill’s shrieking and flailing after Victoire once tripped over in her garden for proof of that. Poor Fleur. The French witch had had to stun her husband too many times to count because of his insane parental panic. Is it me, or are all fathers just too protective for their own good?)

The young Potter caught Charlie’s eye and she grinned, lips stretching further as his blue eyes crinkled with mirth. He grinned back at her, face lit up with unholy glee at his older brother’s imminent meltdown, not to mention his younger siblings’ pantomime-esque performance. Merlin, he’s still too gorgeous for my blood pressure.

Bill glanced at Charlie and gaped a little, clearly incredulous that the shorter redhead didn’t seem to care about their brothers’ actions. Bill, mate, don’t tell me you’ve lived with them for all this time and still expect them to be polite in public? I expected better from the bloke who drunk an entire case of wine from the Black cellars and stripped on my kitchen table. Good times. (It was rather nice to look at, at least, and definitely not a memory she’d be sharing with her over-protective fathers. What was wrong with having a nice trip down memory lane every now and then?)

Rose huffed a small laugh, grinning even more when Bill finally looked at her. She just smirked at his appalled expression and winked, holding in her hysterics as any semblance of composure seemed to flee the tall redhead. Poor guy. I wonder if he –

The girl stiffened as she suddenly felt a small burning sensation emanating from her hand, particularly the finger with her House rings. Considering her aunt visibly paused from eloquently reprimanding Fred and George, Rose was willing to bet her Trust Vault that the sensation was from the Heiress Black ring.

The burning intensified, not necessarily burning her physically or even hurting, just making Rose very much aware of its presence, ensuring that she couldn’t possibly forget what was happening. Which was irritating, because she didn’t know what was happening, and couldn’t ask Aunt Cassi because there were Weasleys everywhere. Fucking ginger army. Why did Arthur and Molly have so many kids, anyway?

Rose couldn’t ignore the burning any longer; it was itching, pouring into what felt like her very soul. She wanted desperately to fidget, to physically shake herself to get rid of the sensation. It was a mystery to Rose, but there was some instinct within her telling her that it wasn’t dangerous for her, but that the results couldn’t be changed, no matter how hard anyone tried. It was explaining that she would be fine, that the prickly feeling would soon dissipate and things would return to normal.

Which, in and of itself, was not normal.

She knew that the magic of the ring was keeping her calm deliberately, but she had no real way of knowing the reason behind the situation in the first place. Rose wasn’t Lady Black right now, didn’t have the Head of House ring, so she had no real way to ascertain the reality of the Family magic at the current time. All she could guess was that it related to someone connected to the Black magic, but even that was mere speculation.

When Rose had been Lady Potter-Black, she’d never experienced this particular feeling. There’d been no other Potters to connect with the Family magic, and as for the Blacks, she’d existed as the Lady of a House with only a pitiful number of magicals left attached to it. None of whom had ever caused something like this to occur.

The young blonde tensed as the burning condensed into a singular point, the feeling hovering just over the invisible ring on her finger, almost spinning and flickering erratically, before all of a sudden, it vanished into the ring. Rose drew in a sharp breath as she was left feeling like the bottom of her stomach had dropped, just like that time she took Teddy to an amusement park and the two of them dropped rapidly through the air. What the bloody hell is happening?

She turned to her aunt with a wary gaze. “Aunt Cassi –”

“Rose.”

The girl in question blinked and spun around, catching sight of her godfather-turned-father striding towards her. Sirius Black had a stoic look etched on his face, the expression one she associated more with ‘Lord Black’ rather than ‘Mr Black, part-owner of Marauders Inc.’ It was an eerie juxtaposition, the man surrounded by high-pitched laughter and bright colours as he walked towards their group like a true, reserved pure-blood. Considering he’d called her ‘Rose’ instead of ‘Bambi’, it was a pretty clear indication that something was really fucking wrong.

They couldn’t just have one day, could they?

Rose braced herself. “Dad, what’s going on?”

The children carried on laughing around them, the harried parents’ grumbling mixed in to make a loud, contrasting cacophony of chaos, but their group had silenced themselves, even the twins were watching the father-daughter duo with cautious brown eyes. (Eyes which reminded her of the war far too much to be comfortable. They should never look like that.)

Sirius Black, Lord of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, drew himself up to his full height and gazed down at his Heiress – and she was his Heiress right now, not his daughter – before opening his mouth.

“Heiress Black, I regret to inform you that our kin, your cousin and my uncle, Cygnus Black III, has passed on as of this very afternoon.”

There was a shocked silence from their group at the solemn words, and Rose herself was rather out of sorts. This certainly wasn’t the death that Luna had been warning her of, but it was still one that had to dealt with carefully.

The House had a lot to do now in the immediate future, but all Rose could think to say definitely wasn’t something to be repeated in polite conversation.

Well, fuck. He couldn’t have picked a worse fucking time, could he?

The irritation in her father’s eyes appeared to agree with her. Cygnus always had been a contrary sod, and he seemed to carrying on the tradition in death as he had in life. Then again … She resisted the urge to smirk, knowing her reputation would well and truly go down the drain if people thought she was happy about Cygnus’ death. (Which she was, but she’d never claimed to be perfect, so whatever.) Mourning might have to be a thing now, but at least there was one upside to this entire mess.

Thank fuck we won’t have to put up with him at Yule this year.