Mum slicked Hugo's hair back from his face and glared at him.
"You've got something on your nose."
"Hermione..." said Dad, leaning against the car.
She glanced up and shot him a glare that would have incinerated a salamander. I crossed my arms over my chest and sunk lower in the back seat and wished to God that there was an emergency someplace else I could be dealing with - any kind of an emergency - the shop wrecked, Molly and Dom fighting again, a corpse in Al's back garden. I'd even take an urgent summons to Greengrass Park without complaint.
No such luck. Mum bit her tongue on whatever retort had been waiting on it and bundled Hugo into the car.
"The next time you run off like that I'll hex your eyes into never being able to read again," she said flatly. Ridiculous threats: family specialty.
Hugo went ashy, but he wasn't a Gryffindor for nothing.
"Then how will I pass my OWLs?"
Mum slammed the car door on him angrily. Dad sighed and closed the driver's door; over the sounds of Hugo snapping his seat belt in place I heard him saying "... to stop this. It's not fair on them."
"I did," said Dad. "I al... uriel when... his age."
Mum pulled a face, and I could see her weakening, even if I wasn't entirely sure what Dad was saying. She said something I didn't catch, and then they were both getting in the car. Mum took the driver's seat; Dad caught my eye getting in and winked at me.
"Once a year," said Mum, drumming her thumbs on the wheel. "All right? That's all I ask. Once a year, one afternoon, so I can at least pretend for a bit that we're a semi-normal family."
I felt a bit aggrieved by that.
"We are normal, Mum."
"I mean the kind of normal that has two sets of grandparents."
"Lily doesn't," said Hugo defiantly.
"Oi," snapped Dad angrily. "I'm not expecting you to be a genius of emotional maturity at twelve, Hugo, but if you ever come out with something like that around Harry I'll personally have your guts for garters."
Hugo went red and subsided. He was being absolutely ridiculous - he never usually sulked about anything, but this visit to Granma and Grandad Granger had put his back up in ways totally unexpected. I was fairly sure it had a lot to do with Freddie and Roxanne's proposed scavenger hunt at the Burrow for Lucy's birthday and Hugo wanting to help them set up. And it had been a bloody stupid thing to say.
"We'll be good," I said and put sufficient low-level threat into my voice for Hugo to understand I meant to make him be good, or else. "Can we talk about school this time?"
"Yes, of course," said Mum. "You talk about anything you want."
"Only last year Granma was a bit miffed," I said. "About school."
"I think the bit about you two not knowing what university was was the clincher," said Dad.
Mum turned the key in the ignition with the sort of ferocity I normally reserved for arguing with Slytherin bigots; as we reversed out of the drive the tyres shrieked on the tarmac and I was fairly sure she was aiming for next door's poor cat deliberately.
Fortunately, it was quicker than she was.
Granma Granger greeted us at the door with a delighted smile and a strong smell of tea.
"Come in, you darlings - Hugo, you've a smudge on your nose."
She dived at him. Behind me, Mum hissed like Crookshanks when he was angry, but Hugo dodged like Aunt Ginny avoiding a Bludger, making a beeline for the bathroom.
"I'll just go wash it off!"
I had a feeling Dad was grinning, because Granma Granger glared at him over the top of my head. It wasn't anything like as potent as Mum's, but you could see the similarities.
Then her eyes dropped, and I got the urge to duck and run like Hugo had.
"Rosie, love! You've shot up like a beanstalk. Come here."
I got a hug - warm, firm, smelling of some perfume I didn't know. I always used to love Granma Granger's hugs. It's only in the last couple years that things have been... weird. Sometimes. Fairly often. Often enough that we haven't seen them in ages.
All right, it's only since I got my Hogwarts letter. I think she and Grandad wanted me to go to a Muggle school, but hello, has no one told her I'm not a Squib? I like doing magic. And I like being a Ravenclaw and at school with all my cousins and friends with Scorpius and Linc and Moira and Jim's friends Ned and Chelsea and everyone else.
Anyway, she let me go and I stepped inside, toeing my shoes off while Mum and Granma hugged. Grandad was in the kitchen, pouring more tea for everyone.
"Hello Rosie," he said, smiling. "Tea?"
"No sugar?" I asked, teasing.
"Two grains at most," he said mock-sternly. I laughed and hugged him.
He seemed to have asked the question on autopilot, because once he had he flinched.
"Great," I said. "Really great. I got top marks, you know, in all my exams this summer. I expect Mum's already said. And I'm carrying on with Runes and Arithmancy and Care of Magical Creatures next year."
He looked away. "Uh-huh?"
I put my hands on my hips without even noticing it.
"Mum says I'm not to take Divination. She says it encourages woolly thinking. Dad says it encourages creativity because he and Uncle Harry used to make up all of their Divination homework, which makes a certain amount of sense to me. I've never seen a thing in my tea leaves except tea leaves."
Grandad pressed his lips together, searching for the biscuit tin. Suddenly he shifted a bit and said, "Don't you do - you know - maths and things? French?"
"Aunt Fleur's taught us all French," I said.
"You know," said Grandad, with some asperity, "what I mean."
Yes, I did. Hugo and I went to Muggle primary school, same as Jim, Al and Lily. None of the other cousins did, even though Aunt Audrey's Muggleborn as well.
"No," I said quietly. "And I like it that way."
He glanced at me and sighed. "Rosie," he said, "we just want -"
But that was the moment Mum and Granma joined us - Dad had gone to get Hugo - and tea was dished up. Or out. Whichever.
Note to self: have a word with Jim about what he gets up to around Hugo and Lily up in Gryffindor Tower.
Actually, note to self, mark two: have a word with Lily about what she gets up to around Hugo.
I didn't get a chance to talk to Grandad again that day - what with the newt - so I rang him up instead.
"Surprise," I said, wedged uncomfortably into the only phone box in the village. "I can use a telephone."
Pause on the other end.
"What do you want?" I asked bluntly.
He knew what I meant.
"For you to have a choice," he said. "For you to come back if you want to."
I stared, hard, out of the grubby glass and across the village green at the newsagents'. Mrs Parker was just closing up; it was early evening and Mum and Dad would be home soon. We'd spent the day at the Burrow, but I'd skipped out early and raided Mum's stash of Muggle coins to make this call.
"Come back where?"
Sort of a stupid question - but I really didn't understand, honest. There wasn't anywhere for me to go back to because I hadn't come from anywhere. I was Rose Weasley, Ravenclaw extraordinaire. I was Auror Ron Weasley and Deputy Head Hermione Granger's daughter, fated to be an excellent witch no matter how I looked at it. I was Harry Potter's goddaughter, and damn proud of it.
"Home," said Grandad. "To us, you know. To have - to be -"
"To not be Mum," I said.
"To not be made to see things the way she does."
"Mum doesn't make me see anything -"
"Not Hermione, child. Hermione would never do that. But that world - that whole society."
I felt strangely cold. "Dad?"
"No!" Sharply again. I didn't know what the hell he was suggesting and he obviously wasn't doing a very good job of explaining. There was a rustle down the line and a pip; I put another coin in the telephone.
"Yes. What do you mean, made to see things?"
She sighed, and it gusted down the line and crackled in my ear. "Rose, your Mum. We love her, you know that. And we love you and Hugo, more than anything."
It was getting hot and stuffy in the phone box and it smelt horribly stale and tangy. I leant against the back and nodded, though they couldn't see. "Yes. I know."
"Well then," said Granma, and I almost thought she was finished. "You see, sweetheart, a long time ago - when your Mum wasn't much older than you are now. She made a Choice... you could say it's a Choice that we didn't - that we still don't - agree with."
"Aha," I said.
"And it's always seemed to us - it's not a Choice we would have le- taught, taught her to make. Doing what she did. She went... it was as if she went too far. We've never really felt right about it, you see."
There was no point whatsoever in asking right about what. I'm sure Mum's made a lot of choices, but there's only one that deserved the capital letter, the emphasis.
"You mean the war," I said harshly, and saw her jump, in my mind's eye. "You mean Voldemort."
I put another coin in the telephone with hands that shook with anger.
"You wanted her to run."
Apparently there was a bit of Gryffindor in me as well.
"Shut up," I said. "Shut up and don't ever - don't tell me - have you seen her scars? Have you seen Dad's? Have you seen Uncle Harry's? They've written books about what they did, I've read them, I know, and you would be dead if they hadn't, and you dare -"
"Rosie, stop -"
I hung up. I couldn't not. My hands were shaking and I thought I was about to throw up. Uncle Fred had died there, and she dared... I dropped to the floor of the phone box, shaking. Then I jumped up - no, no, absolutely not. I wasn't going to cry. I ran instead - ran all the way home and into the lounge and threw a handful of Floo powder into the fire.
Mum jumped when I crashed into her office, red faced and panting and a total mess.
"Was it worth it?" I demanded.
"Was it worth it - all of it - the scars and - and Granma and Grandad -"
Mum went white, and then her face hardened, and for the first time in my life I saw something in her to be genuinely frightened of.
"Yes," she said.
I don't know what other answer I'd expected; I don't know what the hell I was thinking. I was shaking all over.
"Because," said Mum, fiercely calm, "it was Harry and Ron - and friendship and bravery and love - and the right thing to do. Because someone had to do it. Because" - for a second her eyes sort of unfocussed, and she almost smiled - "I am a Gryffindor, and we do not run."
I burst into tears.
By the time I'd stopped sobbing into Mum's lap, Dad and Uncle Harry were there. Dad put his arm around me; Uncle Harry conjured a handkerchief with a silly flick of his wand I'd always laughed at when I was little. It still made me smile.
"Feeling better?" Mum asked quietly.
I nodded into the hanky.
"Promise to ignore them from now on?"
"It didn't have to be you," I said suddenly. "It didn't." It had to be someone - I knew that. It always had to be someone. But...
"It did," said Mum. "It had to be Harry - it always had to be Harry. And that meant it had to be us."
I glanced at him; his eyes were a bit red-rimmed.
"Don't look at me," he said. "I tried and tried to send them away."
Dad snorted. "You were what's known as a great bloody git about it," he said.
"When did we ever, Harry, honestly," said Mum.
It was like listening to me and Al and Scorpius argue about something, or Jim and Ned and the Kirkland twins, or me and Hugo and Lily - and I knew that Mum was quite right: it had to be her, and it had to be Dad.
I put my hands in Mum's and smiled at her. Dad kissed the top of my head. "Ready to come home?"
But I wasn't, all the same.
"No," I said. "No. Can I - there's something I'd sort of like to do."
When we went back to school three weeks later my rose wreath was still there, fresh as the day I bought it, at the foot of the Memorial.