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Rose Potter and the Secrets of the Past by MargaretLane

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Format: Novel
Chapters: 18
Word Count: 48,183
Status: WIP

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Language, Substance Use or Abuse

Genres: General, Mystery, AU
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Lupin, McGonagall, Snape, Goyle Jr., Ginny, OC
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Remus/Tonks, Ron/Hermione

First Published: 11/05/2006
Last Chapter: 09/15/2012
Last Updated: 09/15/2012

Summary:
Harry's daughter Rose is starting her first year at Hogwarts and strange things appear to be happening. There is news of an escape from Azkaban and teachers seem to be behaving mysteriously. Could a decision made forty years ago have been a mistake? Or perhaps it is Rose who is mistaken. (AU as does not fit with HBP canon.)


Chapter 1: Rose and James
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Author's Notes: This story continues the story of James and Rose Potter, who I already wrote about in The Son of the Boy Who Lived and "Hogwarts, Here I Come." These were written before Half Blood Prince, so this story does contain some pre-HPB/AU elements.

Disclaimer: All I own is the plot and the original characters. Everything else is the property of JK Rowling. (As regards the characters, you can basically assume that most characters over the age of 20 who appear in this story are Rowling's. I may have one or two adult ocs, but there aren't many.)


"Ooooh, James has a letter from his girlfriend," Rose teased, as her brother unrolled the letter he'd just removed from the owl's leg.

"She is not my girlfriend," James replied defensively. "She's not," he explained to his parents.

"Rose, stop teasing your brother," Ginny stated, without even looking up from the copy of the Daily Prophet, that her husband had just handed to her.

"What does she say anyway?" Rose asked, curiosity getting the better of her desire to torture. "Anything interesting?"

"She's just asking when we are going to get our school stuff. She wants to meet up in Diagon Alley. When should I say, Mum?"

Ginny put her paper down.

"Well, let's see. You'll be going back to school in less than two weeks, so I guess we ought to get your stuff soon. How about next Friday? Ask Alice if that is ok for her family."

"What about Diana's?" Rose asked. "If James is meeting Alice, then I want to meet Diana. And Steve."

"Ok, I'll owl Remus, and Ron. But Steve might not even want to come, you know. After all, he won't be starting Hogwarts for another year."

"He'll want to come if he knows I'm going to be there. And James," she added as an afterthought.

"Well, just remember that we do have a lot to get. You need robes and a cauldron and all your books. And a wand, of course. We're not just going for a day out."

"I know that, Mum," Rose replied dismissively. "But owl them anyway."

"I'd better not answer Alice, until you get an answer."

After a lot of owls back and forth, it was eventually agreed that the four families would meet in Diagon Alley on Saturday.

"Is Steve coming?" Rose asked excitedly. "Is he?"

"I don't know," Ginny replied. "I told Ron that you were hoping to meet him, but it is up to him, and his parents. Anyway, Diana will be there. And like I said, we're not going for fun."

"Yeah, but I'm not going to see Steve for ages and ages once I start Hogwarts. Or Jessica either. It's a pity she can't come with us. I'm sure she'd love to see wizarding shops."

"Rose, you know the rules about secrecy from Muggles."

"Yeah, but I don't see why. Anyway, Jessica wouldn't tell anybody. We've a load of secrets, anyway and she never tells any of those."

"NO, Rose."

Rose stopped pleading. There was only so far she could push her mother and she knew it. Any moment now, Ginny would say "how much do you really want to come to Diagon Alley. We could get your things quite easily without you, you know?"

It wasn't even true. She had to be there to get her wand. Everybody knew that. The wand had to choose the wizard, after all. Or the witch, like in this case. But her mother would say it, anyway. It was best not to push your luck. Parents didn't always care if what they were threatening was totally ridiculous.

The fact that she wasn't allowed to tell Jessica about being a witch or to invite her to come to Diagon Alley with them was ridiculous too. After all, Alice's whole family were Muggles and they were allowed to go with her when she got her school stuff. Selina and Tommy didn't even have any reason to be there. They just liked seeing the wizarding world, with all its shops and stuff.

It wasn't that Rose didn't like Alice's brother and sister. Well, Tommy was just a silly little kid, but Selina was ok. She could be good fun and it was fun showing her around the shops and all.

But she wasn't a friend, like Jessica was. It'd be so much fun to show Jessica around the wizarding world and especially to take her into Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes and stock up on joke items together. Unknown to her parents, Rose had taken some of her uncles' items into school more than once and Jessica had been highly impressed by the wonderful things she had.

"I really don't see how that works," she'd marvelled. "Where on earth did you get it?"

Rose had come up with a cover story to answer any questions of that kind. Her uncles owned a joke shop, abroad, she told people, and they often sent her items as presents. It was close enough to the truth. Fred and George did give her joke items as presents, which, she guessed, was why her parents always looked worried when she received a parcel from them.

Fred and George knew that she brought the items into school, but she could trust them not to tell her parents. They encouraged her to break rules and defy her parents, which made them pretty cool uncles to have.

Technically speaking, all items from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes were banned at Hogwarts, but Rose was sure she could sneak a few things in, or perhaps she could convince Fred or George to come and see her at school and to bring her some of their merchandise.

She hoped that she would get a chance to talk to them and to look around their shop while they were in Diagon Alley. She knew that they had a lot of stuff to get for school, but surely there would be some time. After all, it would be her last chance to get some shopping done until the Christmas holidays. Fred and George might have a Hogsmeade branch, but that wasn't much good if you were only a 1st year and weren't allowed into Hogsmeade.

She'd have to tread carefully, though. There was always the danger of her mother or father asking, "why do you want to go there anyway? You know you aren't allowed to bring any of the items to school with you," if she pleaded too much or of Hermione getting suspicious and warning the other teachers. She'd just have to stress how much she wanted to see her favourite uncles, but for some reason, her mother usually seemed suspicious of that line.

The best thing to do, she decided, was to be totally casual about it. If she seemed too anxious, people were likely to start asking questions.

"Do you think we might have a moment to drop in and see Fred and George while we're in London?" she asked.

"We'll see, love," Ginny replied distractedly. "We do have quite a lot to do on Saturday, you know. But if we get a chance, we'll call in."

It wasn't quite the answer that Rose would have chosen, but it'd have to do for the moment. She just work on hurrying things up when they got there. Oh, perhaps there was one other thing she could do to help her case.

She rushed into her brother's bedroom.

"What do you want?" he asked, shoving the letter he was reading under his pillow.

"What's that?" Rose asked, temporarily deflected from her task.

"Nothing. It's just a letter from Alice. None of your business."

"A love letter?" Rose teased.

"NO! If you must know, she was just telling me something about her grandmother. It's nothing you'd even be interested in anyway, but she doesn't want the whole school knowing her business."

"I'm not the whole school!"

"Look, Rose, just tell me what you came in here for. I'm sure you didn't just come to ask how I am."

"Well, I was just wondering if Selina and Tommy are coming with us on Saturday."

James shrugged. "Alice didn't say anything one way or the other, but I expect they are. They usually do, don't they?"

"I bet they'd like to see Fred and George's shop again," Rose said slyly. "Did you tell Alice about those new disappearing drinks?"

"I don't think so. Strangely enough, Rose, I do have more interesting things to write about than Fred and George's new items, cool and all as they may be."

"NOTHING is more interesting than Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes items. I can't believe that you've spent three years at Hogwarts and you still don't see the need for them."

"Well, that's why you're their favourite, I guess," James replied flatly.

"Yeah, well, you're Granddad's favourite, especially since you started doing Muggle Studies. Anyway," Rose returned the conversation to it's point; "you should tell Alice about those disappearing drinks. I bet Selina and Tommy would love to see them," Rose stressed before rushing out of his room again.

It was always a help to have support when you started agitating for something.


Chapter 2: Down Diagon Alley
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Even if she hadn't already decided to wait until they had done all that her parents considered important, before demanding to go to Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes, Rose would have realised that that Saturday morning was not a good time to ask once again.

Ginny was rushing around, checking whether they had enough money or if they would need to pay a visit to Gringotts, consulting the list of what Rose needed, searching the house to see if there was anything else the family needed, as they were going shopping, before finally taking down the floo powder.

Harry sat in his usual armchair, reading the Daily Prophet and tutting over some issue that he didn't think had been reported accurately. He seemed to take no notice of the fact that his wife and children were evidently ready to leave.

"Aren't you coming with us, Dad?" Rose asked, realising that neither her mother nor James seemed impatient at his lack of activity.

Harry lowered the paper and shook his head.

"I think it's best if I don't. We were besieged by reporters there, just before James started at Hogwarts. If I'm not around, I think they should leave you alone."

"But Dad, I want a chance to talk to the reporters," Rose whined, all concerns about it not being a good time to annoy her mother, forgotten. "It's not fair! Nobody ever takes any notice of me, just 'cause I'm the youngest. The entire world was excited about James starting Hogwarts, but you don't even want them to know about me."

Harry chuckled. "Oh, they'll know about you all right. You don't have to worry about that, my dear. For some reason, anything this family does appears to be news. They've made me promise them an interview here, next week, just before term starts. I'm sure they'll want to talk to you then. But today, there is a lot to be done, and I'm sure your mother could do without reporters bothering her the whole time."

"I certainly could," Ginny replied. "It's not that I'm not proud of you, dear. I love seeing your name in the paper and I can't help taking pride in the fact that it's my husband who defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named all these years ago. But there is a time and a place for everything, and today is certainly not a good time for interruptions of any kind. Now, we're late enough as it is. James, why don't you go first, dear."

She handed him the powder, and James stepped into the fire.

"Diagon Alley," he called.

Rose followed, with Ginny arriving seconds later.

"I wonder if Diana is here yet, or Steve and his family. We agreed to meet up at the Leaky Cauldron, remember? Come on, Mum."

"I do hope nobody's late," Ginny fussed. "Maybe we shouldn't have arranged to meet with so many people. It's bound to mean some delay."

She was in luck, however. The Weasleys and Remus and Diana Lupin were waiting outside the Leaky Cauldron, when the Potters got there and the Matthews arrived only a few moments later.

"I hope we're not late," Mrs. Matthews apologised. "I always find getting here a little confusing, and then there was a delay on the Tube."

"Pity Granddad's not here," James said. "He'd love to here about your journey.

"More of a good thing, I would have thought," Ginny commented, but she was smiling as she said it. "Honestly, my dad would have you driven mad with his interest in Muggles. I don't know how my husband puts up with him sometimes. He spent half our wedding reception asking Harry if it was different from Muggle wedding customs."

"Your husband is, um Muggleborn?" Mrs. Matthews asked. "Like Alice?"

"Well, not exactly. It's complicated, but anyway, he was raised by Muggles. Dad finds it fascinating. But, anyway, we'd better get on. We have a lot to do, and I'm sure you do too."

The four families headed to Gringotts.

"Better to be sure than sorry," Ginny mused. "I think we've enough with us, but all the same. Wands don't come cheap, after all."

Mr. Matthews handed Ginny a couple of coins that were left over after he had changed some money into wizarding currency.

"Perhaps your dad would like these," he said. "Souvenirs of the Muggle world!"

"Oh, he'd be delighted. They're not worth much, though, are they? I wouldn't want you wasting money on his hobbies."

Once Mr. Matthews had assured Ginny that the coins were worth very little, the families left Gringotts and made their plans for the day. The older kids were allowed to go off by themselves.

"Just make sure you actually get what you need," Hermione warned them. "Don't spend the entire afternoon hanging around Weasley Wizarding Wheezes or the sweetshops."

"We won't," James, Michael and Alice promised.

"We'll get our books first," Michael told his mother. "Then we'll go and enjoy ourselves."

Harriet didn't want to go with the others. She wanted to look around Flourish and Blotts properly, she said, and there wasn't much chance of getting Michael and James to spend much time there. They would be out the door as soon as they'd their books paid for.

"Would you mind your mother coming with you?" Hermione asked, with a smile. "I want to get you a reward, anyway. Did I mention that Harriet's been made a prefect."

"Michael told me in his last owl," James replied. "I forgot to say congratulations though. I would have owled you, Harriet, but I knew I'd see you today anyway, so there wasn't really any point."

"Yes, congratulations Harriet," Ginny said and Remus also added his congratulations.

"From what I've heard, you are just like your mother," he continued. "She was a model student too. Don't think I've forgotten that year I taught you, Hermione."

Remus and Ginny decided that they would do their shopping for their daughters together.

"I don't think Diana and Rose would be too happy if we split them up," Remus smiled.

Steve, Selina and Tommy all wanted to go along with them, and Remus and Ginny were happy to take them.

"Are you sure?" Mrs. Matthews asked. "We can take Selina and Tommy to the sweetshops and toyshops if you think they'd be a nuisance. They'll be quite happy."

"Not at all," Ginny replied. "We'd be delighted to have them along, wouldn't we Remus?"

Remus nodded and Ron invited Mr. and Mrs. Matthews to come for a drink with him, while the others shopped.

"I'm sure you've never tasted Butterbeer, and I think you'd really enjoy it. Besides, as Ginny said, Dad would have a fit if he knew we'd met Muggles and that neither of us had had time for a proper chat with them."

So Rose, Diana, Steve, Selina and Tommy set off with Ginny and Remus to get Rose and Diana's school stuff.

Madame Malkin's was the first stop and Steve, Selina and Tommy waited impatiently, as Rose and Diana were measured and tried on robes. Neither girl was too excited about getting their robes, but there were other, more exciting things to get.

Ollivander's was far more interesting, and neither Rose nor Diana could wait to try out each wand and see what reaction they could get. Firstly, however, they had to listen as Mr. Ollivander gave the history of wands in each of their families.

"I remember every wand I ever sold," he told them, before telling them exactly what type Harry, Ginny, Remus and Tonks had bought before they started Hogwarts. He then turned to Steve.

"And of course, your father needed a new wand only a couple of years after he started Hogwarts," he chuckled. "Quite an interesting story behind that, there was. I believe your father was involved too, young lady."

He pointed at Rose.

"What happened?" she asked, finally intrigued by something the man was saying.

"Oh, I don't remember it all now. That's what happens when you get older. I don't have quite as good a memory for event as I do for the wands I've sold, but as far as I can remember the two young scallywags missed the Hogwarts Express and they decided to get to Hogwarts themselves. Stole a Muggle car or something. Oh, it caused quite a stir at the time, I believe."

"It didn't happen quite like that," Ginny interrupted. "And in case any of you were thinking of doing anything silly like that yourselves, I ought to tell you that they were almost expelled. I was only a first year myself at the time and I was really upset. Everybody kept saying they were going to be expelled. Or even that they had been expelled. Anyway, maybe we ought to take a look at the wands."

Rose went first and to her disappointment only got to try four wands before finding a perfect match. 8 inches, yew and phoenix feather.

"Ah, a phoenix feather. Your Dad's wand was made with phoenix feather too," Ollivander began.

"Can I try now?" Diana asked impatiently.

It took her a little longer to find the right want and she swished a number back and forth with gusto before getting any reaction.

"Can I have a go?" Tommy asked, when she had finally found the one that suited her.

"I'm afraid not," Remus explained. "You're too young. Boys your age aren't allowed to use wands. You wouldn't get any reaction out of one anyway. Don't worry. We'll find you something nice before you go home this evening."

Selina and Tommy's parents had given them each a few Sickles to spend in Diagon Alley, with the warning that they weren't to spend them on anything that would be too noticeable in the Muggle world. Something like sweets would be ok.

"Don't worry. We'll keep an eye on their purchases," Ginny had promised.

"I wish I was starting Hogwarts next week with you guys," Steve commented sadly. "It's boring at home on my own."

"At least you get to go next year," Selina retorted. "I never will. Tommy might be going in a couple of years. He seems to be able to make strange things happen too, just like Alice. But I never have. I'm just all-Muggle, I guess."

"There's nothing wrong with that," Ginny reassured the girl.

"Yeah, I know, but, well, I'll be going to the local Comp. in a year's time. It's a good school and all; it's supposed to be anyway, but it's not quite as exciting as Hogwarts seems to be."

This impression was strengthened when they got to Flourish and Blotts and Selina got a glimpse of the schoolbooks used at Hogwarts. Of course, she had seen her sister's books before, but now she could see the entire range of books available, some for school and some for personal interests. The books had pictures that moved on their covers weird titles. There was even a cage, full of books called The Monster Book of Monsters. One look showed exactly why they were kept in a cage. They were fighting and tearing one another, and when she looked at them, Rose realised they had teeth.

"Oh, that's the book Michael has to get for Care of Magical Creatures," Steve commented.

"I didn't think they'd ever stock them again," Remus chuckled. "Hagrid couldn't get them stocked here his second year teaching. But, I guess that must have been about thirty years ago now."

"Yes, it must have been," Ginny agreed. "Hagrid started teaching in my 2nd year, just after......" Her voice trailed away.

"Anyway," she changed the subject quickly. "Show me your booklist there, Rose. Thank Merlin, you don't need one of those."

Hermione and Harriet were still looking around the bookshop, and the five children went to join them, while the adults were buying their books. Selina and Tommy started flicking through some of the books on display, while Rose and Diana asked about Hogwarts.

"Ok, time to go," Ginny called. "We've still got to get your cauldrons and stuff. And Remus said Diana needs an owl."

"Why can't I have an owl, Mum?"

"Because you are only allowed to bring one animal to Hogwarts, and you wouldn't want to leave Midnight behind, now, would you?"

"I guess not," Rose admitted. "I love her, even if she doesn't carry my mail for me."

"You can always use mine," Diana offered generously.

"Please," Tommy put in quietly. "Can I just buy this? I won't take long."

He held up a copy of Quidditch Through the Ages.

"Go on," Ginny smiled.

Once the books, robes and wands were bought, it didn't take long to get the rest of their supplies, although Diana dawdled quite a while in the pet shop, before finally choosing a large tawny owl.

"I'm going to call him Fortuna. Dad says that some Muggles think it's lucky to see an owl."

Once she had admired him properly, Rose turned to her mother.

"Do we have time to go to Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes?" she pleaded.

"Oh, yes, please, can we?" Steve asked, and Selina and Diana joined in.

Ginny and Remus exchanged looks. Remus took a watch from his pocket and gave her a quick nod.

"All right," she said.

The five children cheered and raced down the street.

George was standing at the counter as they entered the shop.

"Where's Fred?" Rose asked.

"He's at our Hogsmeade branch this week," George replied.

"I knew that," Steve announced. "Dad took us in there the other day."

"Yes, well, somebody had to be there. As soon as Hogwarts starts back, there'll be owl orders every second day. And we're always rushed off our feet the Hogsmeade's weekends. Now, I'm sure you children will want to see all of our stock."

Of course they did, so George left his young assistant minding the till, as he showed them what was available.

"Our new disappearing drinks. Pour them into a glass and it will look completely full, but as soon as anybody tries to drink it..." He shrugged. "Nothing there."

They rummaged through fake wands.

"One of our first ever creations these were," George explained. "Apart from these Skiving Snackboxes of course."

Selina examined the Skiving Snackboxes carefully.

"How cool are those?" she asked excitedly. "My teachers would never suspect a thing, if I suddenly became ill in class. They're very expensive though. I don't know if I have enough."

"What are those?" Rose asked, pointing at something that looked like spools of thread.

"Ah, our Tightly Tying Thread," George replied. "One of our more recent creations. All you have to do is throw them at somebody, and they immediately begin to tie the person up. Handy if somebody aggravating is hanging around. Or if you want to ensure a teacher doesn't turn up for class."

"But it's only thread," Steve protested. "Surely, they'd be able to free themselves quite easily."

"Hold out your hands. Both of them."

George dropped the thread into Steve's open hands and it started tying his wrists together.

"Now, can you get that off."

Steve tried to pull his hands apart, then tried to wriggle a hand out of it, then pulled at it again. Nothing seemed to work.

Laughing, George tapped it with his wand. "Open sesame," he said, and the thread fell off.

"See, not as easy as you'd think. That's how you free the person. You say 'open sesame' and tap your wand against it. Fred was going out with a Muggle girl there some time ago and she told him that that was a term that Muggles think is magic, so we thought it'd be amusing to use it for some of ours. She didn't know Fred could do real magic, of course. He found it quite useful that she didn't. Witches know all the tricks."

Rose took a few spools of thread in her hands, before turning to look at some of the other items that George had to show them.

"You've seen our Shield Hats and Shield Cloaks before, of course. Oh, here's something you girls might be interested in: Unnoticeable notes." He pointed to small piles of note paper. "You write the name of the person the note is to at the top. It's important that you don't forget that. Then if anybody else tries to pick it up or read it, the page dissolves into nothing. Handy for passing notes in class."

Rose, Diana and Selina each took a stack.

"I have to have this," Selina declared. "The teacher'd hardly believe it was magic, would she? She'd just think she dropped it or something. All the same, will you distract your mum and your dad, while I buy it?"

Steve and Tommy went to talk to them, while the others made their purchases. Rose got some Tightly Tying Tread, a fake wand and some Unnoticeable Notes, Diana bought the Unnoticeable Notes and a Spell-Checking Quill. She generally did very well in school, but spelling was her weak point. Selina got the Unnoticeable Notes.

Then the girls went to distract the adults, showing them the items such as the fake wand, which they were willing to admit to buying, while Steve bought some items with which to fool his parents.

"Ok, if you are all quite finished," Ginny said. "I think we have just about enough time to meet everybody for a drink in the Leaky Cauldron before we head for home.

Despite how much the children had enjoyed their day, it had been a hectic one, and they were all glad of a chance to sit down and have a glass of Butterbeer. The adults gossiped, and Tommy showed his parents the book he had bought, while Rose and Diana questioned the older boys and girls about Hogwarts and the houses they were likely to be in.

It seemed as though they had only sat down for a moment, when Mr. Matthews looked at his watch and stood up.

"We'd better go, if we want to make our bus," he reminded his wife and children.

They got up and headed for the Muggle side of the street.

"It's time we were going too," Ginny said, getting up and taking out the Floo powder.

Reluctantly, the younger people said goodbye, and headed home.


Chapter 3: An interview with the Potters.
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The following week passed quickly for Rose, who, despite looking forward to starting Hogwarts, was enjoying Hogwarts and not altogether anxious to leave her friends. Diana was the only close friend who would be going with her. She would have to leave both Steve and Jessica behind, although she was sure that Hermione would invite her, James and Michael to come and play with Steve occasionally. Jessica, she certainly wouldn't see until the Christmas holidays.

For this reason, she spent as much as possible of the final week of her holidays at Jessica's house. She was rarely allowed to invite Jessica to her house, because it would immediately give away the fact that the Potter family were not ordinary Muggles. In fact she was only allowed to have her classmates to visit twice a year, and immense preparations had to be made each time. It was just one of the things the kids found weird about her, but most of them liked her all the same.

Jessica occasionally complained about not being allowed to visit her best friend on a regular basis.

"Don't they like me?" she would ask.

"It's not you," Rose replied evasively. "They're just really strict about me having people over. I'm only allowed on my birthday and stuff."


As Jessica could see that none of their other classmates were invited to Rose's house either, she couldn't really argue with that, and Rose's parents did occasionally take both girls to the cinema or McDonalds. It was usually Harry who went with them and bored them senseless, telling them how he had never had the chance to go to McDonalds when he was a kid, because the aunt and uncle who brought him up were so horrible to him.

The morning of the interview with the Daily Prophet, Rose begged to be allowed over to Jessica's one last time.

"There probably won't be time tomorrow; we'll be so busy getting ready for school, so if I don't see her today, it'll be almost Christmas by the time I get to see her. And anyway, I can't wait around the house all day, until the reporters come. I'll be so excited that I don't know what I'll do."

Ginny glanced at her husband.

"If she's going to start getting that excited, it might be as well to have her out of the house. I'm trying to get their school things organised."

Harry looked at his daughter sternly, over his glasses.

"Do you promise me that you'll be sure and be back before four o'clock."

"Oh, I promise, Dad. I swear on the tomb of Merlin."

"You don't need to go that far. Just make sure you're here. After all, you're the whole reason they want to interview us today. They would not be happy to find you weren't here."

"I'll be back," Rose called, as she raced out the door.

Jessica was pleased to see her.

"I'm glad you could come. It'll be so weird not to have you in my class this year. I'll miss you so much."

"Lots of people are going to different schools," Rose muttered awkwardly.

"Yeah, but most of them are at least going to be around on the weekends and after school. They're not going away to boarding schools in the middle of nowhere. Where did you say this school was anyway? Scotland?"

"Yeah," Rose muttered. She supposed it was inevitable that Jessica would want to know about her new school, but it was hard to explain, without giving away things that she was strictly forbidden to mention. And she still didn't understand why she couldn't tell her friend the truth anyway. It wasn't as if Jessica would tell anybody. Not if Rose asked her not to.

Still, there were rules you could break and rules you couldn't, and ridiculous as this one appeared to her, she knew it was one that you couldn't. The Ministry of Magic preformed Memory Charms on any Muggle who learned too much about the Wizarding world, and apparently people could go crazy if Memory Charms were preformed badly. It had happened to a teacher at Hogwarts when her dad was at school. She didn't really think that Ministry trained wizards would perform them badly, but all the same, it was a rule that you really didn't dare break.

So she just agreed that the school was in Scotland, adding that she didn't know the address yet.

"But my mum and dad will pass on any letters you want to send to me."

"Letters?" Jessica scoffed. "Come on Rose, I know your parents live in the Dark Ages, but this school you are going to is bound to be different. They'll have computers and all. They'll have to for IT, anyway. We can e-mail and IM each other. IM is great fun, you'll see."

For a moment, Rose panicked. She knew quite well that Hogwarts would not have computers, but she also knew that there was no way that she would be able to get Jessica to believe that. All schools had computers; well, all Muggle schools did. She had to study computers at her primary school, and was the only kid in her class who hadn't known how to work them when she had started school. She searched anxiously for an explanation.

"Um, I think they only allow you to use the computers in IT classes," she tried. "James says he's never allowed to contact his friends on them."

"WHAT?! That's stupid," Jessica protested. "What do they think you are going to do? Start talking to fifty year old men on them?"

Rose shrugged. "I don't know."

"Couldn't you try IMing me during your IT classes. The teacher probably wouldn't even notice. You know what most of them are like."

"Well, I'll try, but just in case I can't, I'll send you lots of ow.....I mean letters anyway."

"What were you going to say?" Jessica asked.

"Dunno."

"You do say strange things sometimes, but that doesn't change the fact that you're my best friend. I really wish your parents weren't insisting on sending you to some freaky boarding school miles and miles away. You'd better promise to tell me every single thing that happens there and everything you do."

Rose promised, knowing that it was a complete lie. When she came to think of it, there was very little she would be able to tell Jessica about her time at Hogwarts, without some very creative lying.

Tears sprang to her eyes. Could they really continue being best friends when she was forbidden from telling Jessica just about anything about her life. She supposed she could tell her vague things, like that Snape was a jerk, but nothing specific. Sometimes she hated...well, not being a witch; she loved that, but she hated being caught between the Muggle and Magical worlds. It was one of the reasons that she couldn't wait to start Hogwarts. At least, she would be able to be completely honest with her friends there.

She would miss Jessica though.

Jessica must have noticed the tears in her friend's eyes, because suddenly she was crying and hugging her.

"I'm going to miss you so much, Rose," she said.

"I'll miss you too. You'll have to write and tell me everything that happens to you too, especially if Roddy is as big an idiot as he was in primary school."

"I'll be sure to tell you."

"And don't forget to tell me how Marcia has her hair done this year."

"I won't," Jessica promised.

Both girls wiped their tears away quickly.

"Come on; we can't waste our last day together blubbering like this," Rose declared. "Let's go and do something fun."

They spent the next few hours messing around together, giggling and chatting and playing on Jessica's computer, until Rose finally looked at the clock and realised that it was almost a quarter to four.

"Oh my gosh, I have to get home," she announced. "My dad told me I absolutely had to be home by four, or I would be in so much trouble. Bye Jessica."

"Bye."

She raced home, thankful to see no sign of the Daily Prophet reporters, when she reached the house. Her father glanced at her significantly, but said nothing. After all, she was only five minutes late. She rushed upstairs to change into her best robes, fumbling as she tried to tie them as quickly as possible. Then she glanced in the mirror.

"Brush your hair," the mirror yelled at her.

Rose rumbled through the mess in her bedroom to find her hairbrush. She could her voices at the door. The reporter must have arrived. Oh, Merlin, where was her hairbrush. With relief, she unearthed it from under a pile of clothes, and brushed her hair quickly, before tying it back in a ponytail. Then she ran downstairs to greet the news crew.

Harry was chatting to the photographer, but he turned to smile at his daughter as she came down the stairs.

"This is Colin Creevy," he told her. "He was at school with me in Hogwarts. Well, he was a year below me. He was keen on photography, even back then."

"I'm sure I must have driven your father crazy. I was always trying to take photographs of him and his friends, and often at the most inappropriate moments. Remember that time you broke your arm."

"Oh, Merlin, will I ever forget it? That Lockhart! Still, your camera probably saved your life that year."

"I know it did."

"Oh, sorry, I never introduced my daughter to you. This is Rose. As I'm sure the whole Wizarding world knows, or at least they will after this article, she's starting Hogwarts on Monday. Just come in here and I'll introduce you to my wife and son."

Colin stepped into the living room, followed by a tall, thin woman, with dark hair, who he introduced as Martina Abbott. She was the reporter who would be interviewing them, he explained, just after he took a few photographs.

Rose's frantic rush upstairs to change turned out to have been a complete waste of time, as Colin looked thoughtfully at both her and James and suggested that they change into their school robes.

"This is an interview about you both setting off for Hogwarts, and particularly about you starting there, young lady. We want our readers to imagine you as Hogwarts' students as soon as they see your photographs, you understand? We are trying to give the impression that you are both just about to set off for school. Hmmm, perhaps you could bring down some of your schoolbooks, and if either of you has an animal..."

James and Rose headed upstairs to do as they were asked. They changed into their school robes and brought down some schoolbooks, James' owl and Rose's cat.

Then Colin started taking what seemed like an endless stream of photographs: James and Rose sitting with a pile of schoolbooks on the table in front of them, both of them sitting, holding their animals, James studying his Transfiguration textbook, Rose holding her new wand, Harry standing protectively behind his children, Harry alone, the entire family gathered together. Some of the photographs were obviously posed; others such as the one of Rose and James putting their books in a suitcase were intended to look natural.

"You're not going to use all of those?" Rose asked incredulously. "There won't be room for anything else in the paper if you do."

Colin laughed. "No, we're not going to use them all. What we'll do is look through them and see which are the nicest and which fit best with our story. Then we'll use those."

"Oh."

"Well, now you know, Miss," Harry commented. Rose wasn't sure what he meant by that. Sometimes her parents didn't like her asking questions, but how was she meant to find anything out if she didn't. It was just one more of the curious rules that grown-ups seemed to expect you to follow.

When the photography was finally finished, the entire family sat down with Martina Abbott and answered the questions that she asked them. Rose and Harry answered most of the questions, with Ginny occasionally chiming in when a question applied to her. James mostly stayed silent.

Unlike her brother, Rose was enjoying herself a good deal. She informed Miss Abbott of how much she was looking forward to starting Hogwarts and how much more exciting it seemed than her present life was.

"You and your brother attended Muggle schools for your primary education, I believe?" Martina asked.

"Yeah, and it was fun. I made a lot of friends there, but it just seems so silly that I can't tell them anything about my family or anything."

Ginny cut her off abruptly.

"Yes, we wanted them to get to know some Muggle children too. My brothers and I were educated by my parents, mostly my mother, before we started Hogwarts. I thought about doing the same with my children, but Harry and I discussed it and we thought it would be good for them to get to know Muggle children. There is still a certain amount of prejudice against Muggles in our world, you know. We didn't want our children believing nonsense like that. Besides, I had six brothers. If Rose and James hadn't been to school, they would only have had each other. It would have been boring for them."

Martina's Quick Quotes Quill flew across the page, as it noted down what Ginny had been saying.

"Perhaps, you could tell us a little bit about Muggle primary schools, Rose," she suggested, once Ginny had finished. "Many of our readers have little experience with the Muggle world and I'm sure they would find that very interesting."

This was something that Rose was used to talking about. Her grandfather constantly questioned her about aspects of school life, so she just told Martina some of the things that she had previously told him. Naturally, she spiced it up a bit. What was the fun in telling the precise truth?

"Now, Rose," Ginny warned. "I'm sorry Miss Abbott. Our daughter has a tendency to exaggerate occasionally. Tell them about what really happens, Rose."

So she had to stick as close to the truth as possible. Pity, she could think of a whole lot of stuff to tell them that would make the article a whole lot more interesting. And it wasn't as if she was actually lying or anything, just, well, stretching the truth a little.

All too soon, the interview was over and Colin and Martina were saying goodbye to the Potter family.

"I hope you have a good time at Hogwarts," Colin said to Rose, as he shook her hand. "I had a great time there, I remember. I was Muggle-born, of course so I knew nothing of Hogwarts before I got my letter. I found it all fantastically exciting."

Rose may have known about Hogwarts all her life, but she was quite sure that she too would find her time at Hogwarts exciting. Before her first year was finished, this assumption would be proven to be true.



Chapter 4: Platform 9 and 3/4s
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Once the interview was over, all that was left to do before term began was the packing. Some of it had already been done, of course, but James and Rose had had to unpack some of their school stuff in order to please Colin Creevey about the photographs.

“And how you managed to leave everything else in such a mess, I don’t know,” Ginny muttered in annoyance. “Really, I’m going to have to pack most of your school stuff all over again, especially yours, Rose. Have you any idea of the state your robes would be in by the time you reached Hogwarts if you left them stuffed in your suitcase like that?”

Without a word passing between them, James and Rose both seemed to realise simultaneously that this was not a good time to be around their mother and they both hurried downstairs.

“Has the Daily Prophet arrived yet?” Rose asked her father.

“Yes, I have it here,” Harry replied, passing it to her. “I think the article you are looking for is the one on page four.”

“We should have been on the front page,” Rose complained, but turned excitedly to the page her father had mentioned.

The article was a long one, and included two photographs: one of James and herself sitting behind a pile of schoolbooks and another of Harry standing with the two of them.

“Hey, there are no photographs of Mum,” she declared. “That’s not fair.”

“Oh, I’m sure your mother won’t mind. Don’t worry about that. If I know her she is far more concerned about getting the two of you off to school tomorrow.”

“You can say that again,” James grinned.

Apart from its blatant ignoring of her mother, Rose was quite pleased with the article. It quoted her a number of time, giving an entire paragraph to her description of her primary school and some of the things she’d got up to there, and described her as a pretty, confident and fun-loving girl, who was sure to spice things up at Hogwarts.

“Not stupid, is she?” commented James, who was reading the article over her shoulder.

There wasn’t as much of the article about him as there was about Rose, she noticed, but then that was as it should be. She was the one starting Hogwarts this year, after all, and when James had started three years ago, her mother hadn’t even allowed her to be present while he and their father were being interviewed.

Besides, she thought, not to be mean or anything, but James just wasn’t as interesting a person as she was. Not even his greatest admirer could claim that James had spiced things up at Hogwarts. He just did his work and went to Hogsmeade with Alice and a couple of other friends and played wizard’s chess and that was about it really. Hardly the stuff newspaper articles were made of.

“Well, what do you think?” Harry grinned, when Rose finally put the paper down.

“Hmmm, not too bad, I suppose.”

Once James had finished it, he agreed with her.

“Yes, that’s why I agreed to have Martina come here and interview us,” Harry explained. “She writes a decent article and I thought I could trust her to stick reasonably close to the truth. I’ve had some bad experiences with reporters before, as you both know.”

“Rita Skeeter?” Rose asked, hoping to hear some more stories about her.

“Among others,” was all Harry said, however.

Ginny came downstairs slightly afterwards, announcing that everything was organised and that all they had to do now was wait for Harry to pick up the car. This was said with a significant look at her husband.

Harry had been given permission to use one of the cars which the Ministry had for the use of the Aurors, in order to take his children to King’s Cross Station in London. They were not normally allowed to use the cars for personal business, but an exception had been made for this occasion.

“Bet they wouldn’t make that exception for most of the Aurors, dad,” Rose guessed. “It’s probably just because you are famous.”

“I don’t think so,” Harry replied. “It’s been done before, lending the cars to trusted Aurors when they need them. And I’ve been working there for over twenty years now.”

It took about an hour and a half for Harry to get the car and drive it home.

“Can we go now? Can we go?” Rose asked excitedly, hopping from one foot to the other.

“As soon as all your things are packed,” Ginny answered. “Come on, Rose, you have to help out too.”

Rose did as her mother asked and helped with the packing, but she was so excited that she was more of a hindrance that a help.

“Does Midnight have to go in that cage?” she pleaded. “Why can’t he just sit in the back of the car with me and James? He’d be good. I know he would.”

“Maybe so,” Ginny replied. “But we don’t have the time to risk it. He’ll be fine. You can take him out as soon as you get on the train, but it’s not a good idea before that. He might get scared on the train platform and run off.”

Eventually, everything was packed and the family drove to the station.

“Driving takes so long,” Rose muttered. “It’s a pity we can’t floo or use a portkey or something. This is boring.”

Ginny looked at her watch. “Rose does have a point. Are you sure we have enough time, Harry? After all, you’re not used to driving.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll be in time.”

They were. In fact, they reached the station with almost half an hour to spare.

Rose grabbed a trolley and raced ahead, running through the barrier which separated platforms nine and ten.

“Rose Potter, come back here at once,” Ginny called after her.

She had barely passed through the barrier when her mother came hurrying through after her.

“What were you thinking of?” Ginny scolded. “You know you’re supposed to wait and make sure that nobody’s watching before you go through the barrier. Anybody could have seen you! For Merlin’s sake, Rose, we’re in a station full of Muggles. You need to be careful.

Harry and James stepped casually through the barrier, just as Ginny was finishing her lecture.

Harry nodded at his daughter. “You’re mother’s right,” he stated calmly. “But I didn’t notice any shocked faces, so I think you got away with it.”

“How long’ll the train be?” Rose asked, anxious to change the subject.

“Should be here any minute,” James replied. “Oh, no,” he continued.

It was a pity that the train hadn’t arrived already, as Cassandra Goyle and her father had just passed through the barrier and appeared to be heading straight for the Potter family.

“She’s the last person I wanted to see right now,” James muttered.

Although Cassandra did enjoy taunting James when she thought there was nobody else around, it was quite unusual for her and her father to come anywhere near when Harry was around.

“Oh, look, it’s the Potters,” Gregory commented loudly to his daughter. “Imagine that, famous Harry Potter is bringing his children to the train.”

“Gregory,” Harry said, giving him a curt nod.

“You think you’re so special, don’t you? The hero of the Wizarding world. You think you’ve won, don’t you?”

“Hmmm, let me think,” Harry replied. “Your father and his Death Eater pals are all serving life in Azkaban and their glorious leader, Voldemort is dead. Not a bad result, I’d say. Yes, I think we’ve won.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure about that.” Gregory attempted a sneer.

“What does he mean, Dad?” Rose asked, torn between following her father, mother and brother, all of whom were walking away and remaining to hear what Mr. Goyle had to say.

Harry made up her mind for her, taking her by the arm and leading her away.

“Ignore them. He didn’t mean anything. Just bravado. Although I must say, it’s a little unusual for Gregory Goyle to do or say anything without Malfoy around to pull his strings. He couldn’t move without him at school.”

“Cassandra does,” James put in. “Do stuff on her own, I mean, without anybody telling her to. But she’s not that bright, so she usually ends up getting caught by the teachers. I mean, I’m not that brilliant at magic or anything, but I’m not too bad at Defence Against the Dark Arts now, and she’s rubbish at it, so I can usually disarm her.”

Cassandra’s father obviously hadn’t given her the same advice as Rose’s had, as she was following the Potters up the platform and watching what they were doing. She sneered when Alice ran over to greet James but didn’t say anything until Remus, Tonks and Diana arrived. Once they stopped to greet the Potters, it was obvious that she could remain silent no longer.

“Oh, my gosh, my dad told me how the Potters were friends of Mudbloods and freaks and of course I knew about James’ friendship with that Mudblood Alice, but I didn’t think that even they would associate with monsters. What is that freak doing here anyway? Surely, his spawn wouldn’t be welcome at Hogwarts!”

“Don’t you dare insult Diana or her father,” Rose cried, drawing her wand, even though she didn’t really know what she planned to do with it.

Harry, Ginny, James and Alice all reached out to pull her back. It was Harry who reached her first.

“What did I tell you about ignoring her? he asked.

Rose didn’t reply.

“Rose, you are going to meet some people with views like that at Hogwarts,” James said calmly. “Now, I’m not saying all Slytherins are bad.”

“I am,” Harry muttered.

“There’s this guy, Samuel in my year. He’s all right. He reminds me a bit of the way you and Remus say Sirius used to be, Dad. In fact, I think he might even be distantly related to Sirius. But that’s not my point. There are some of them that can be sort of nasty, and there’s bound to be some like that in your class too, Rose. You just have to ignore them. And Diana will have to too. They are probably going to be worse to her than to anybody else.”

“If they are, they’ll have me to deal with,” Rose said belligerently.

Harry and Ginny exchanged eyes-to-Heaven looks.

Ginny turned to her daughter.

“Now, I don’t want to get any bad reports about you,” she said sternly. “Just because you’re provoked doesn’t mean you have to retaliate.”

“Come on, Rose,” James called. “We’d better get on the train.”

Rose jumped into the nearest carriage, thankful to escape the rest of her mother’s lecture. Diana followed her in and the two of them searched for an empty carriage. James and Alice had already headed off to find a carriage themselves and certainly wouldn’t welcome two first years joining them and they had spent so long on the platform that the train was now quite full.

“Wouldn’t it be great if Cassandra Goyle missed the train,” Rose whispered to Diana, and they both started giggling.

Unfortunately, she hadn’t and she appeared behind them just after Rose made that comment.

“You kids have nobody to protect you, now,” she threatened.

“We can protect ourselves,” Rose declared, drawing her wand again. “My dad’s the one who defeated Voldemort, remember. He’s one of the greatest wizards alive. Do you think his daughter can’t defend himself?”

“Well, his son can’t,” Cassandra replied. “Your brother is the biggest coward I’ve ever met. Didn’t you know that?”

“Yeah, well, I’m not James,” said Rose, feeling a little disloyal, but telling herself that she was only speaking the truth. She was tougher than her brother.

Cassandra looked undecided. She obviously wasn’t quite sure whether the two kids in front of her were better able to defend themselves than they looked or not. Rose and Diana took advantage of her indecision to race into the nearest carriage.

“Now, let’s go and find somewhere to sit down,” Rose said.

The train had already started moving while they were arguing with Cassandra, which made it more difficult to walk through the train, looking for somewhere to sit. Eventually, however, they came to an empty compartment and sat down.

As soon as they were comfortable, Rose opened Midnight’s cage and the cat jumped out and snuggled up on her lap.

“I hope the trolley arrives soon,” Diana commented. “I’m starving.”

She was forced to wait quite a while though, as they were sitting right at the back of the train and it was over half an hour before the trolley reached them.

“What are you going to get?” Rose asked.

“Um, some cauldron cakes, definitely and a few chocolate frogs, and Botts’ Every Flavour Beans. Oh, and I have to get some pumpkin juice. It’s terribly hot for September.”

“Do you have enough for all that?”

“Yeah, Dad gave me a good deal of money. He knew I’d get hungry on the train.”

“You’re always hungry,” Rose laughed.

Diana bought all she had said she would and Rose got Botts Every Flavour Beans, which she loved and some pumpkin juice. Diana was right. It was very hot, particularly in the train.

Then the two girls settled down to chat and eat. The journey passed pleasantly enough and Rose was quite pleased when some of the older boys and girls came in and asked if she was Harry Potter’s daughter, even if it did interrupt their conversation somewhat.

While they were alone, the two girls discussed what they expected Hogwarts to be like and what they had heard about it from their families. They also discussed what had happened at Platform 9 and 3/4s and how awful Cassandra and her father had been.

“I guess I am going to come across a good deal of that at Hogwarts,” Diana admitted. “Dad warned me about that. There’s an awful lot of prejudice against werewolves, he says. You know he lost his job at Hogwarts when people found out.”

“Yeah, I know, and Dad says he was about the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher he ever had. And they had a different one every year in those days.”

“Yeah, he is a good teacher,” Diana agreed.

She had been home schooled by her father prior to starting Hogwarts, which was another reason that she was more nervous about the upcoming term than Rose was. It would be her first time ever attending school and she was aware that being Remus’ daughter wouldn’t make it any easier.

Eventually, the train pulled into Hogsmeade station, and the students filed out the doors. The platform was crowded with students, most of them a lot older and bigger than Rose and Diana. The two girls looked at each other.

“Hagrid should be around somewhere,” Rose said, a little uncertainly.

Sure enough, they heard his loud voice, calling “Firs’ years. All firs’ years this way, please.”

Rose and Diana ran over to him, almost bumping into a number of other students on the way and getting some dark looks from the older boys and girls.

“All righ’ there, Rose?” he said.

Rose threw her arms around him.

“Hi, Hagrid.”

Hagrid ushered all of the first years into a number of small boats, which each carried four students. Rose and Diana both jumped into the same one of course. The other two students who joined them looked singularly unpleasant.

It was a nice day for crossing the lake and the girls concentrated on looking out for the school rather than on their companions’ conversation, which seemed to focus on how they hoped to be placed in Slytherin, where there would be “no stinking Mudbloods”.

It wasn’t long until the castle came into view and all of the first years gasped with amazement. Even Rose did. She had, of course, seen Hogwarts a number of times before, but never from the viewpoint of the lake and it looked even more beautiful than ever when viewed from there.

Slowly, the boats reached the other side of the lake and the first years disembarked, before being led to the castle by Hagrid.

Chapter 5: The Sorting.
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Hagrid led the first years up to the steps of the castle, where a tall, thin, stern-looking witch was waiting. Rose had met the headmistress of Hogwarts a couple of times before, but she felt just as nervous as if the woman was a complete stranger to her. It was the first time she had felt any real nerves about coming to Hogwarts, but there was something about Professor McGonagall that immediately let you know that here was somebody who would not stand any nonsense.

“The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall,” Hagrid said.

“Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here. You may as well go inside for the feast. I wish to have a few words with our new students.”

It was said pleasantly enough, but somehow Rose felt that it sounded ominous.

“Welcome to Hogwarts. I am Professor McGonagall and I am Headmistress here. I hope you will all enjoy your years with us and be a credit both to the school and to whatever house you are placed in today. As some of you will doubtlessly know already, we have a house system in place here. Our students are divided into four houses, based on abilities, talents and attitudes. The houses are Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. For the next seven years, your house will be something like your family here at Hogwarts. You will attend classes with the other first years from your house, eat at your house table, sleep in your house dormitory and spend your free time in your house common room.

“Some of you may also have heard that we have a House Cup each year at Hogwarts. This is a competition between the four houses, and you can gain points for your house in many ways: by answering questions particularly well in class, succeeding in tests and examinations, and perhaps, when you are older, by winning Quidditch matches for your house.”

There were a couple of whispers: “what’s Quidditch” from students who must have been Muggle born, but Professor McGonagall ignored them completely and continued with what she was saying.

“However, you can also lose points for your house. Points are taken away if a student is caught in breach of school rules and I can assure you that the other members of your house will not be pleased with any student who loses them too many points.

“But of course, the immediate issue is finding out which house each of you will be placed in. If you are all quite ready, I would ask you to follow me into the Great Hall, where you will be sorted.”

McGonagall stepped into the castle followed closely by the first years.

Around her, Rose could hear the whisperings of those who were not aware of how the sorting was done.

“Do you think we’ll have to take some kind of a test?”

“I hope not. I don’t know any magic yet. I bet I’d be the worst in the whole class.”

“No, I would.”

“Do you think we’re sort of graded according to our ability? Didn’t she say something about being placed in a house, depending on your ability?"

Rose and Diana shared a moment of quiet mirth. The suggestions were so inaccurate that it was hard not to be amused.

“Muggle borns,” Rose suggested.

“Or people with older siblings who think it amusing to let them worry,” Diana commented.

The whispers paused as they entered the Great Hall and the students gasped. Even Rose couldn’t help being impressed, despite having seen the room before. The ceiling, she knew, was only bewitched to look like the sky outside, but anybody who wasn’t aware was that fact would be convinced that they were really looking up at the cloudless sky, as the sun was setting.

There was no time for any more chat, as Professor McGonagall was lining the students up and a tiny wizard came up carrying a three-legged stool, and a shabby old wizard’s hat.

Almost as soon as the hat was placed on the stool, a tear close to the brim opened and the hat began to sing. It was the same sort of song that Rose had heard of it singing James’s first year and even back when her parents were at Hogwarts. Rose had been hoping for a warning, such as her father had told her it had occasionally given when he was a boy at school. Of course, those were the days around the time of Voldemort’s return, when there was great excitement in the Wizarding world. Nowadays, there was nothing so exciting taking place, and the Sorting hat gave no warnings or anything exciting like that.

Rose lost interest in listening to its song about the origins of the Founders and its own ability to place students accurately. She was more concerned that the hat did place her accurately- into Gryffindor. It was the only house she wanted to be in, and she really wished there was some way she could be sure of influencing the hat to place her there, but even Fred and George couldn’t think of any way to make the hat do what you wanted it to.

Her father always told her that your choices were just as important as your abilities when being placed in a house, and had admitted that the hat had suggested putting him in Slytherin, but that it had put him in Gryffindor, simply because he had asked not to go in Slytherin.

But James had wanted to be in Gryffindor too, and yet the hat had placed him in Hufflepuff.

The hat had finished it’s song and was starting to call the students up to be sorted. Rose’s attention turned from her own thoughts to the students ahead of her in the line. It would be some time before the hat got to the Ps, but she was interested to hear the names of the other students in her year and to find out what Houses they would be sorted into.

As she hoped and believed that she would be placed in Gryffindor, she was naturally most anxious to hear who was sorted into that house, but the As and Bs passed with students sorted into Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, but none for Gryffindor.

“Campbell, Megan”.

“GRYFFINDOR,” the hat shouted after a moment’s pause. Rose had already noticed that the hat sorted some people almost immediately, while others were made to wait some time while it made its decision. She hoped that it would decide quickly when it came to her, but then realised that she would prefer it took its time than that it sorted her into somewhere unsuitable.

“Dobbs, Henry.”

“HUFFLEPUFF.”

The line of students moved steadily forward.

“Kelleher, Niamh.”

“GRYFFINDOR.”

Finally, it came to “Lupin, Diana”. Rose took a deep breath. One thing that hadn’t occurred to her until this moment was what if she and Diana were placed in different houses. Of course, she could, and would, make other friends, but she and Diana had been friends forever, and she had taken it for granted that they would be together.

The sorting of her friend took some time. Almost a minute ticked by. Was the hat deliberately trying to torture her?

Eventually, however, it called out “GRYFFINDOR.”

The students at the Gryffindor table cheered, as did many of the Slytherins. Rose was sure that theirs were not supportive cheers, but that they were cheering to see that Diana had not been placed in their house. Well, Rose didn’t care. She was glad that Diana had not been placed in Slytherin too and she was sure that Diana herself was as well. Who’d want to be a Slytherin?

“MacDonald, Lucy.”

“RAVENCLAW.”

“MacNair, Ceri”

Rose glanced up in interest. This was the one boy who had crossed the lake in the same boat as she and Diana had. A most unpleasant looking boy, she thought him and wasn’t in the least surprised when it took the Sorting hat bare moments to shout out “SLYTHERIN.”

The girl who had been with them was called up shortly afterwards.

“Nott, Theodora.”

“SLYTHERIN.”

The Ps were getting closer.

“Parkinson, Anthea.”

To Rose’s surprise, the hat took some time deciding where to place Anthea. Knowing the Parkinsons’ reputation, Rose had assumed that she would be immediately placed in Slytherin. But there was a greater surprise in store.

When the hat finally made its choice, it called out, “GRYFFINDOR.” There was a stunned silence. Nobody cheered and Anthea walked down to join the Gryffindors without a sound. Then the Slytherins began to boo, but silence remained at the other tables.

McGonagall stepped up quickly and silenced those booing and the Sorting hat continued it’s task.

“Peacock, Andrew.”

“RAVENCLAW.”

“Potter, Rose.”

Nervously, Rose stepped up to the Sorting hat, beginning to plead “Please Gryffindor” in her mind even before she placed the hat on her head.

It barely touched her, before shouting out “GRYFFINDOR”.

The Gryffindors began to cheer, with Diana and Rose’s cousin Michael cheering the loudest and greeting her excitedly to the Gryffindor table.

“Thank Merlin you’re in Gryffindor too,” Diana said. “I was afraid they’d put us in different houses.”

Rose had other cousins in Gryffindor too and they joined in the general cheering. So far, Harriet and James were the only two Weasley grandchildren who had not been placed in Gryffindor.

The cheering died down as the sorting continued and more students were placed in various houses.

Eventually, the hat reached the final few letters of the alphabet.

“Williams, Alexander”

“GRYFFINDOR.”

He was the final student to be sorted and Professor Flitwich took the stool and the hat out of the Hall.

Professor McGonagall stood up at the staff table.

“I am aware that all of you are anxious to begin the delicious feast which is waiting for you. However, before you begin, I have a few announcements I want to make. The first thing I want to remind you all is that the Forbidden Forest is off-limits to all students. Last year, we had some problems with students who did not appear to understand the meaning of the name.”

Across the table from Rose, Michael blushed. He was one of the students who had disobeyed this rule the previous year, Rose knew, as she could remember the fussing of her aunt Hermione, when he had been caught.

“I also want to congratulate Albert Weasley, who received 10 Os in his OWLs last year. This is the best result we have had for three years. Congratulations Albert, and I hope that this years’ students will be equally successful. I wish the best of luck to all students taking OWLs or NEWTs this year, in fact.

“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I want to wish you all a happy and productive year. Enjoy the feast.”

As McGonagall sat down, the plates began to fill with steak, roast chicken, roast ham, chops, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, chips, peas, carrots, turnips and other foods.

Rose piled some steak, roast potatoes, carrots and peas onto her plate and began to eat. Beside her, Diana had piled her plate high with practically everything on the table, apart from chicken, which Rose knew her friend disliked.

“Do you think we eat like this every day?” Diana asked.

“James says they always have a good spread,” Rose replied. “Hey, how come the sorting hat took so long to place you anyway?”

“It couldn’t decide between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor. I didn’t mind too much either way. Those are the two houses I’d want to be in anyway.”

“Ravenclaw?” Rose made a face. “I bet they are all a bunch of swots there. Gryffindor is the best house.”

They finished their meal, and the food remaining disappeared, to be replaced by puddings of all kinds: ice-cream, jelly, apple pie, treacle tart, spotted dick. The options appeared almost endless.

Rose chose some apple pie, with cream, while Diana filled her plate with chocolate cake, apple pie and ice-cream.

Even Diana had to admit that she was full by the time the last of the puddings disappeared and McGonagall stood up to order the students off to bed.
Albert stood up importantly.

“Would all first year Gryffindors please follow myself and Amelia, please”

Rose stood up with the other first year Gryffindors to follow the two prefects to Gryffindor tower. Albert was in his element.

“Follow me, please; follow me. Keep together now. Do try to keep up.”

They reached the portrait of the Fat Lady.

“Now, I am going to give her the password,” Albert declared importantly. “You will all need to remember this, as you will require it whenever you wish to enter the tower.”

Rose thought she saw Amelia roll her eyes. She felt like doing the same thing as she listened to Albert pontificate.

“Audacity” he finally said.

The portrait hole opened and the students clambered awkwardly in.

Inside the tower, the girls and boys parted, as Albert led the boys to their dormitory and Amelia led the girls to theirs. Without Albert present, Amelia was far friendlier and more talkative.

“Ok, this is the first year dormitory this year,” she smiled at them. “I’m glad to tell you that it is completely impossible for any boys to enter this room, although you may visit their dormitory if you wish.”

“Why is that?” Rose asked.

“The idea seems to be that we are more trustworthy than boys are,” Amelia giggled. “Seems like somebody had some sense. Now, I’ll leave you to get some sleep, but if any of you have any problems at any time this year, you can always come to me or one of the other prefects. That’s what we are there for, you know.”

“She seems nice,” Diana commented, as Amelia left the room.

The other girls agreed.

“Yeah, I didn’t like that other prefect, though,” Megan commented.

“He’s Rose cousin,” Diana told her.

“Ooops, I’m sorry, Rose. I didn’t know.”

“Don’t worry,” Rose replied, giggling at the other girl’s embarrassment. “I don’t like him much either.”

She turned to one of the other two girls.

“Hey, what did the sorting hat say your name was? Knee-eve or something like that.”

“Pretty much, yeah, but it’s spelled N-I-A-M-H. It’s an Irish name.”

“So you’re Irish, then. I’d have known by your accent anyway.”

There wasn’t much time for getting to know each other, as it was time they were getting ready for bed and after all, they would be sharing the same living space for the rest of the year, so they had plenty of time.


Chapter 6: Classes Begin.
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Rose settled into her new school quickly and soon found that she loved most things about Hogwarts. It was just so much more interesting than her old Muggle school, with its 60s style institutional building and boring classrooms. There was nothing boring about Hogwarts, with its strange, winding corridors and a hundred and forty-two staircases.

A lot of the first years found the school confusing. Even Diana got fed up with it sometimes.

“For Merlin’s sake,” she complained to Rose after their first day of classes. “Why can’t anything in this school just stay in one place? Everything seems to move around randomly. How are we supposed to find our way anywhere?”

Rose just giggled. She’d spent seven years in a school where things just stayed in one place and this was far more interesting, she thought. Sure, it meant that they were likely to be late for class quite a bit, but what harm was that? Interesting as she expected some of her subjects to be, they were still lessons. Only swots were bothered about being on time for class!

Diana wasn’t a swot exactly, she supposed, but she did seem a little too worried about making a good impression on the teachers.

“We don’t want to get in trouble our first week,” she worried, as they wandered around Hogwarts, trying to find the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.

“Don’t worry about it. Hermione can hardly blame us for getting lost, now can she?”

“You’re not meant to call her that at school,” Diana reminded her.

“Yeah, I know, but it’s only you and me here. I won’t say it when the rest of the class are around.”

Nearly Headless Nick floated towards them.

“Shouldn’t you two be in class?” he asked with mock severity.

“We’re lost,” Diana informed him. “Could you tell us where the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom is, please? How exactly am I supposed to address a ghost?” she added to Rose in a whisper.

What she had said appeared to be acceptable, as Nearly Headless Nick immediately offered to show them the way.

“Just follow me. My name, by the way, is Sir Nicholas de Mimsy. And you two young Gryffindors are?”

“I’m Rose Potter and she is Diana Lupin.”

“Really?” Sir Nicholas turned around to face them. “Well, I must say it’s good to see a Potter in Gryffindor again. I was so sorry that we didn’t get your brother. A nice boy, by all accounts. I knew your father well, of course. I suppose he told you that.”

“He did. He thought a lot of you, I believe. Said you saved him from a punishment from Filch once.”

“Did I now? I don’t remember. When one has existed for almost 600 years, one tends to forget some details. Oh, perhaps that was the time, I asked Peeves to create some mischief above Filch’s office. I think it was, as a matter of fact.” He turned to Diana. “And your name is Lupin, she said. Any relation to a Professor we had here at one time: Remus Lupin.”

“He’s my dad,” Diana replied.

“Ah, another Gryffindor. Quite a close friend of your Granddad’s, I believe,” he said, nodding at Rose.

“Yes, he was,” Rose agreed.

“And here we are. That door there. The second one.”

Defence Against the Dark Arts was the class that Rose had been most looking forward to and she wasn’t disappointed in her first class.

Hermione asked why they were late, but accepted it when they said that they had got lost and been shown to the classroom by Nearly Headless Nick.

“Just try not to be late too often, ok?”

“Ok.”

“Of course, um, Professor.”

“Take your seats now,” she said, pointing towards the rows of desks. “I was just telling your classmates what we will be studying this year.”

They sat down quickly and listened closely to the rest of what she had to say.

“As I was saying, the purpose of this class is to teach you how to defend yourselves against any dangerous creatures or spells that you may encounter. Those of you from wizarding families will probably already know of some of the dangers which witches and wizards occasionally face. It is less than twenty-five years since one of history’s most dangerous Dark wizards was defeated. I myself was involved in that battle, and, as many of you will already know, he was defeated by the father of one of the girls in this class.

“That, however, is not the point. I am merely trying to make you aware of the dangers which do exist. Before I worry you too much, though, particularly those of you from Muggle families, I must add that these situations are quite rare. For more than twenty years, the wizarding world has been at peace and the chances of walking into dragons, giants or trolls at random are reasonably slim. However it is possible that you could come across one of these creatures or that you could be attacked by an unfriendly wizard, so you should know how to defend yourselves. The chances are probably similar to those of a Muggle being attacked by a mugger. It probably won’t happen, but you ought to know what to do if it does.

“This year we will be dealing with fairly simple spells. I will be teaching you how to disarm an opponent and what to do if faced with mild jinxes. We shall also look at some of the dark creatures you may face, but I shall not be teaching you how to defend yourselves against them for another year or two. I realise that some of you will already know some of what we are going to look at over the first few weeks, but I would ask you to bear with me, for the sake of those who do not know this.

“For the next few weeks, I shall be introducing you to some of the other beasts and beings you may encounter. We share this world with many other species; some of which you will not learn about until your third year. We are only going to look at some of the best known this year.

“One important thing to remember is that not all other magical beings are Dark creatures or enemies. Many of them can be dangerous, but it is equally true that witches, wizards and even ordinary human beings can be dangerous. You need to know how to defend yourselves, but you also need to understand that much of what you may have heard is based on prejudice.”

Diana scribbled something on one of the sheets she had purchased in Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes and passed it to Rose.

I can’t wait to find out about werewolves, she had written. I really don’t think I know enough about them as it is.

Rose put her palm to her mouth to prevent herself from laughing. She didn’t dare look at her friend. Learning about werewolves was, indeed, pretty pointless for Diana, but Rose supposed that it would be a good thing if the other students learned as much about them as possible. There was so much prejudice and most of it was because people just didn’t know the truth.

“I wonder are people in the other houses doing the same stuff in class as we are,” she commented as they left the classroom.

“I guess so. Why?”

“Because the more people who learn what werewolves are really like, the better. It might stop them being so silly.”

Hermione’s speech evidently hadn’t had much effect on certain people, however, as Ceri and Theodora came into the Great Hall that evening discussing loudly what they were going to be learning in Defence Against the Dark Arts.

As they passed the Gryffindor table, they raised their voices even louder.

“We’re going to learn all about dangerous creatures this year, aren’t we, Theodora?”

“Yeah, Dark creatures, like werewolves,” Theodora replied, glancing at Diana.

Rose stood up from the table.

“Diana’s father might be classed as a Dark creature one night a month, but your parents are Dark wizards every day of the month.”

“Ooooh, you shouldn’t say things like that without proof.”

“My Dad’s an Auror. He knows these things.”

“Well, he shouldn’t be talking about my parents.”

“And you shouldn’t be talking about Diana’s Dad!”

Theodora glanced at Ceri.

“I didn’t say anything about the werewolf, did I Ceri?”

That was as much as Rose could take. She stepped away from the table and drew out her wand. Perhaps she hadn’t learned any magic yet, but she had watched her parents often enough, and, unknown to them, Fred and George had taught her some spells illegally. Rose was sure she could manage something that would teach Theodora a lesson.

Before she had a chance to recall any of what she had learned, though, Theodora and Ceri pulled out their wands also.

“Two against one,” Ceri stressed.

“Two against two,” Diana replied appearing behind her friend.

“What is going on here?” a voice asked behind them.

Rose and Diana spun around to see Professor McGonagall standing, watching them.

“Nothing, Professor,” Rose replied quickly.

“Nothing, Professor,” the other three echoed.

“15 points from Gryffindor and 15 from Slytherin,” the Professor said sharply.

Rose was the only one with the courage to argue.

“But, Professor, we didn’t do anything.”

“If you had, it would have been 20 points, so just be grateful I arrived when I did and not five minutes later.”

Professor McGonagall turned away before any of the students could reply and headed for the staff table.

Meals seemed to be Diana’s favourite part of life at Hogwarts, Rose mused, as she watched her friend piling food onto her plate and eating it with obvious relish. Mind you, she could understand why. It was delicious.

Both girls cleared their plates and just as they were about to get up from the table, Rose saw Hermione coming towards them.

“She’s looking at us,” she whispered to Diana. “Do you think we’ve done something?”

Merlin, could Professor McGonagall have told her about their almost-duel with the Slytherins? Maybe Hermione was coming down to tell her off again, just because she was her aunt. If she was, then it wasn’t fair. Why should she get into trouble twice, just because she had a relation working at the school? It wasn’t right if McGonagall told Hermione, and didn’t tell any of the others’ families.

But it was Diana that Hermione was looking for.

“I didn’t get a chance to speak to you after class,” she said. “And there’s something I wanted to ask you. Could you possibly come down to my office for a moment?”

Rose gave her friend a questioning look. Diana shrugged in response, before following the teacher.

“What could that be about?” Rose wondered, as she headed back to the Gryffindor Common room. “Could Diana be in trouble? What could she have done?”

She waited impatiently until Diana returned about twenty minutes later.

“What did she want you for?” she asked, rushing over, as Diana entered through the portrait hole.

Diana grinned, so she obviously wasn’t in trouble.

“She said we’re going to learn about werewolves in our next lesson and she wanted to ask me if I’d tell the class, and maybe even the other first year classes, about Dad. You know, to let them know that he’s just an ordinary Dad most of the time.”

“Will you do it?”

Diana shrugged. “I might as well. Everybody’s going to know he’s a werewolf, anyway. If Ceri and Theodora know, they’ll make sure everybody else does, and I’d rather explain it myself than let them do it. I don’t think their explanations would be all that fair, do you?

Rose had to agree that that was unlikely.

“I don’t really think I want to stand up in front of the Slytherins, but I could hardly agree to talk to the other classes and not them.”

“Why not?” Rose asked. “I bet Her…my aunt would understand.”

“Yeah, but then they’d just say that I was scared of them or that it was because they knew the truth about werewolves or something, so I’ll do it. It’s only for a few minutes at the end of class anyway, and it means I’ll get out of a couple of our classes, maybe.”

Even though Rose already knew a good deal about werewolves and doubted that Hermione was going to tell them anything that she didn’t, she was still looking forward to their next Defence Against the Dark Arts class. It would be good to hear werewolves being discussed fairly, instead of the kind of nonsense that she sometimes came across in textbooks on the subject and stuff like that. She didn’t care about the classifications. Remus Lupin was no monster, and he wasn’t a beast either.

Not all of their classes were as interesting, however. History of Magic was probably the most boring subject that Rose had ever studied; even more boring than Geography which had been her least favourite subject in primary school. Professor Binns was already dead and it showed. The only interesting thing he ever did was floating in to the classroom through the blackboard, and even that got boring after you had seen him do it two or three times.

Rose and Diana spent most of the lesson, passing notes back and forth. They didn’t even bother using the Unnoticeable Notes they had bought in Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes. Binns was so oblivious that it would have been a total waste of them. He took no interest in what his students were doing anyway, and continued to rattle on about Goblin wars regardless of whether or not anybody was listening. They usually weren’t.

Transfiguration was another class that was usually a waste of time, in Rose’s mind. The subject itself was important enough, she supposed, but Professor Leaming was an idiot and it was so easy to get her off the subject. It was obvious that she greatly admired Rose’s father and that, whenever they got bored of the class, all Rose had to do was mention him, and Professor Leaming would listen intently, asking all kinds of questions and forgetting completely about what she had been teaching. Sometimes Rose would make up anecdotes, just for the laugh.

“Rose!!” Diana giggled after class one day. “Your father did not arrest a group of five giants who supported Voldemort in one go!”

“So what? It stopped her from checking my homework, which I didn’t actually do, didn’t it?”

“Just as well, as I was next in the row and I didn’t have mine done either.”

The two girls burst out laughing. Transfiguration with Professor Leaming might not be the most educational class they had, but they both had to admit that it could be a lot of fun.

The class that Rose was most looking forward to, apart from Defence Against the Dark Arts, however, was flying.

“I wonder when we’ll have our first flying lesson,” she complained in the dormitory. “Not that I need to learn or anything. I’ve been flying a broomstick since I was a tiny kid, but I haven’t had a chance to fly since we started here and I miss it. I wish we could just get started.”

Megan was looking more and more uncomfortable as Rose continued. She turned to whisper something to Niamh.

“Oh, don’t mind her,” Diana put in, giving Rose a little push. “You’ll be fine, Megan. There are plenty people here from Muggle families and they do fine.”

“I didn’t say she wouldn’t! I didn’t mention her at all. Anyway, my Dad was brought up by Muggles and he was so good at flying that he got a place on the Quidditch team after just one flying lesson. So it doesn’t matter, Megan.”

“Well, stop going on about how much you’ve done. Nobody cares anyway.”

Rose was about to argue; then decided she couldn’t be bothered. She was too tired. Life at Hogwarts was fun, but it did get busy, and she was usually glad to get to bed at the end of another exciting day.


Chapter 7: Werewolves and Slytherins.
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A/N: Any references to a rubber duck in this chapter have been inspired by Quiffy, the rubber duck. I dedicate this chapter to Ellie.

Rose woke up the next morning, determined to get revenge on Ceri and Theodora for the events of the previous day.

“Think about it,” she commented to Diana at breakfast. “We lost 15 points because of them.”

“Well, so did they,” Diana shrugged. “At least we’re still level.”

“Yeah, but it was all their fault. They deserved to lose points over what they said about your father. We only stood up to them. You shouldn’t lose points for standing up to bullies.”

“So what are you going to do?” Diana asked.

“Well, we ended up losing just as many points as they did, even though they insulted your dad, and they should have lost points for that. So I guess what we need to do is find some way to make sure they do lose points. Let me think a minute. Hmmm, I’ve an idea. What are we going to be doing in Charms today? I wasn’t really listening to Professor Flitwick the other day.”

“We’re going to be practicing wand movements. Remember how he said it was important for us to get the wand movement absolutely correct if we were to do our spells properly.”

“That’s it, then. I have an idea.”

“What???” Diana demanded, excitedly.

Rose tipped her finger to her nose.

“You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Charms was the fourth class that day, so Rose had to wait through the first three, before she got a chance to implement her plan.. Luckily one of those classes was History of Magic, where Professor Binns rarely, if ever, noticed whether or not his students were paying attention. Just as well really, as nobody ever did, with the possible exception of a couple of swots like Andrew Peacock. The Gryffindors had History of Magic with the Ravenclaws, so Rose got to see that rare sight: students who actually attempted to concentrate in Professor Binns’ class.

Rose herself, however, was not one of those and on this occasion, she valued the chance to hug her plan to herself and finalise the details, so as to assure its success.

Unfortunately, not all of the teachers were quite as oblivious as Professor Binns, and Professor Sprout noticed Rose’s inattention practically immediately.

“Rose Potter, pay attention please.”

“Yes Professor. Sorry Professor,” Rose muttered, attempting to bring her attention back to the class.

Eventually it was time for Charms and Rose grinned as they hurried down the corridor.

“I wish you’d tell me what you’re planning,” Diana commented.

“You’ll find out soon enough. Just do as I ask you, ok?”

Diana nodded in agreement as both girls headed into the classroom.

“Ok,” Rose whispered. “Just distract Theodora, now.”

“How?”

Rose shrugged. “Any way you can think of. Just get her to turn away from her desk for a moment.”

“Ok.” Diana thought a moment. “Um, Theodora, there’s a tear in your robe.”

“What?” Theodora glanced at her robes, then glared at Diana. “You trying to make a fool of me?”

“Wouldn’t be that hard,” Diana muttered, as Rose slipped Theodora’s wand off her desk and replaced it quickly.

Nobody seemed to notice, until Professor Flitwick asked them to raise their wands to practice the movement he had been showing them. Theodora raised her wand, began to imitate the technique and her wand turned into a rubber duck.

Professor Flitwick glared at her.

“What do you think you are doing, Nott?” he asked in irritation.

“Um, nothing Professor,” Theodora replied, sounding flustered. “I didn’t know this was going to happen, honestly. It’s not my wand.”

Professor Flitwick raised an eyebrow disbelievingly.

“I should hope it isn’t,” he said mildly. “Ten points from Slytherin. I won’t have you fooling around like this in my class.”

“You did that,” she accused a little too loudly, turning on Diana.

The teacher was visibly annoyed now.

“Theodora Nott! That is enough! I think you have wasted enough time, without chatting to your friends and classmates. If I have to speak to you again, I’ll take another ten points. Now, please, pay attention.”

Theodora was raging. She had been told off twice and lost ten points for Slytherin and none of it was her fault. On top of all that, she didn’t know where her real wand was and she didn’t dare ask Diana or Rose to tell her, after Flitwick’s threat to take more points if he heard her talking again. But if he noticed that she didn’t have her wand, she’d probably be in more trouble.

Rose hadn’t thought about this part. Professor Flitwick wasn’t stupid. If he realised that Theodora didn’t have her wand, he might just realise that she wasn’t simply playing the fool and that she had been the victim of a practical joke. She’d have to get the wand back to the other girl, but without drawing attention to what she was doing.

Thinking quickly, she flicked her quill off her desk and bending down to pick it up, she placed Theodora’s wand on the floor, and kicked it towards Theodora’s desk.

Theodora was frantically looking around for her wand, hoping to find it before the Professor noticed its absence. After a few moments, she noticed it on the ground, and grabbed it quickly. Rose watched as she waved it once, under her desk, obviously unsure as to whether or not this was the real wand.

Rose smothered a giggle. The joke had worked perfectly. She couldn’t have hoped for better. She wasn’t naïve though; she was quite sure that there would be retaliation later.

“So we’d better prepare for it,” she warned Diana as they left the classroom. “There is no way that Theodora and Ceri are going to leave it at this.”

Just in case they hadn’t already realised this, Theodora pushed her way up towards them.

“You two think you’re really smart, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” Rose agreed. “I think we are.”

“You’ll be laughing on the other side of your faces soon. Just wait and see.”

“Oh, I think we’ll risk it,” Rose grinned.

“Don’t annoy her too much,” Diana advised as Theodora walked off scowling. “She really will pay us back, you know.”

“I know, but I’m not too worried. We’re a good deal smarter than she is. We’ll just have to watch out and make sure she doesn’t get a chance to catch us out.”

That was easier said than done, as both Gryffindors and Slytherins had Potions that afternoon, and it had already become obvious to both Rose and Diana that all the rumours about Snape favouring the Slytherins were quite true.

Whenever Snape was unable to prove who had been talking or playing the fool in class, but knew somebody was, he took points from Gryffindor. Nobody dared to point out just how unfair this was, not wanting to provoke the Master to further anger.

As a result, the Slytherins talked freely whenever Snape turned his back on the class, knowing that he would place the blame on the Gryffindor students.

He seemed to have a particular hatred for both Rose and Diana. Being well aware of the manner in which Snape had treated both her father and her brother, Rose had been quite prepared to be the teacher’s least favourite student. In fact, she told herself, she would be disappointed if he did like her. To be liked by such a horrible human being would surely be a bad sign.

To her surprise, however, he seemed to despise Diana even more than he did her. Although he stopped short of being openly abusive about Diana’s father as the Slytherins had, Rose got the impression that it was with difficulty that he managed to do so. There was a sneer in his voice whenever he mentioned Remus, as he did whenever he possibly could.

“What would your father say if he could see this?” he would ask. Or he would make some totally irrelevant comment, asking how Remus was or something.

“Full moon is approaching now, I believe,” he’d sneered on one occasion. “I do hope your father is ok.”

His tone of voice seemed to apply the complete opposite; that he hoped that Remus was anything but ok.

“Well, there is a history between him and Dad,” Diana commented in a false upbeat voice.

“That’s no excuse for the way he talks about him,” Rose had replied. “He’s as bad as Ceri and Theodora. Worse, ‘cause we’re just kids and he’s a teacher. Teachers are supposed to have more sense.”

As a rule, Rose wasn’t too bothered by Snape’s attitude. Ok, she was scared of him. No matter how much she’d promised herself that she wouldn’t be, it was impossible to laugh him off completely. She dreaded his classes, just as everybody else, with the possible exception of the Slytherins, did, but at the same time, she didn’t waste too much time worrying about him. Ever since she was little, she had known that he was going to pick on her as soon as she started Hogwarts and besides, it wasn’t as if she actually valued his opinion.

She tried to avoid trouble in his classes, but outside of that she didn’t think about him all that much. Now, however, she had another concern. If Theodora and her friends were out for revenge, Potions was the perfect time to get it, as there was no doubt about who Snape would believe if there was any disagreement.

For this reason, Rose pulled Diana to the opposite side of the room from where Ceri and Theodora were sitting.

“If you are quite ready to sit down,” Snape began, glaring at them. “Class is about to begin.”

“Yes, Professor,” Rose replied.

Unable to get revenge on Diana or Rose, Theodora fell back on the next best thing. She leaned forward and dropped something into Megan’s potion.

The potion began to fizz and spill over the edges of the cauldron.

Snape hurried down to Megan’s side and waved his wand. The cauldron stopped overflowing and began to settle down.

The teacher sighed loudly.

“Did I not say quite clearly that the caterpillar legs should not be added until the potion has turned orange? Perhaps you have some difficulty understanding simple instructions?”

Megan looked terrified.

“But sir…I mean Professor, it was Theodora. She…I mean…”

“Perhaps you could be clear about what it is that you do mean.”

“Nothing, Professor.”

“Five points from Gryffindor.”

Diana slipped an Unnoticeable Note into Rose’s hand.

She just did that so that Gryffindor would lose points. It was to get us back.

I know,
Rose wrote back. But at least, we only lost five points. We’ve still come out on top.

That was something that Theodora wasn’t going to be very pleased about, both girls realised. Diana was now even more nervous than she had previously been about having to stand up and talk to the Slytherins about being the daughter of a werewolf.

“At least you don’t have to face them until Monday,” Rose consoled. “It’s us first.”

“You think Theodora will have forgotten this by then.”

“Well, no, but at least you’ll have done it twice already by then, so you’ll have had practice.”

Diana looked doubtful, but she appeared to be able to put it aside and looked quite confident as she headed into her own Defence Against the Dark Arts class the next day. She had told the other Gryffindor girls what Hermione had asked her to do and both Megan and Niamh had informed her that they were looking forward to hearing what she had to say. Anthea had simply stood there, listening.

Hermione smiled at Diana as she began the class.

“As I mentioned at the end of our last class, we are going to talk about werewolves today. Does anybody know anything about werewolves already? Apart from Diana, of course.”

The class exchanged glances, nervous of making comments when they knew about Diana’s father.

“Ok, if nobody has any suggestions, I’ll begin. The first thing I want to say is that, as with some of the other creatures we will discuss in the next few weeks, there is a lot of false information out there about werewolves. I am sure that some of you have heard rumours about werewolves living in the Forbidden Forest or werewolves having cubs. None of this is true. For twenty-seven days out of twenty-eight, werewolves are just like you and me. There is absolutely no reason why a werewolf could not sit in this classroom and learn the exact same subjects as you are learning now.

The only difference is that on a full moon, these people turn into werewolves. On these occasions, but only on these occasions, the werewolf is dangerous to human beings. Can any of you tell me what happens if a werewolf bites somebody at this time?”

Alex raised his hand.

“Yes, Alex.”

“The person becomes a werewolf themselves.”

“Correct. Five points to Gryffindor. On future full moons, that person will also turn into a werewolf. The transformations can be quite painful.”

Hermione went on to describe the wolfsbane potion and how it helped the person who was transforming.

“And now, there is somebody in this class who I am sure knows a lot more about werewolves than I do and she has agreed to tell you about it today. Diana?”

Diana walked up to the top of the classroom.

“Um, I think you all know that my Dad is a werewolf. Professor Weasley is right. Most of the time, he’s just Dad. He annoys me about tidying my room and doing my schoolwork and he takes me cool places and buys me great presents for my birthdays. I guess he’s pretty much like most of your dads.

“But one night a month, he locks himself in his study and the next morning, he looks kind of tired and Mum says that I have to be extra quiet and not annoy him.”

She explained how her father had been bitten by Greyback and how he felt about being a werewolf.

“Sometimes he gets fed up with the reactions of people when they find out, but most of the time, he just accepts it. He knows that many people don’t really understand and just believe some of the nonsense that you read in the Daily Prophet and places like that. I get annoyed more than he does. I hate it when people treat him as if he’s dangerous, when he is the least dangerous person I know. He hardly ever even gives out to me. It’s usually my mum. She says he’s too soft sometimes.”

The whole class started to laugh at this and Diana laughed too.

Once she had finished what she had to say, she asked if anybody had any questions. There were plenty. Everybody wanted to know what it was like living with a werewolf and what problems werewolves had.

Eventually, Hermione had to interrupt.

“I’m sorry, girls and boys, but we’re out of time. You’ll be expected at your next class, so we’ll have to finish up now. It is good to see you all take such an interest, I must say.”

Diana was delighted with her classmates’ reaction and was even happier when she spoke to the Hufflepuffs during their Defence Against the Dark Arts class and it went equally well.

She was so pleased that even the news that they were to have their flying lessons with the Slytherins didn’t seem to bother her.

“Oh well,” she replied, when Rose brought the news to her the next day. “At least we are about to start our flying lessons. I thought you were looking forward to them.”

“Well, I was,” Rose replied. “But I wish we were with somebody else. Can you imagine how annoying they will be during a flying class.”

“Well, we’re both good fliers. We don’t have too much to worry about.”

Rose kept her friend’s words in mind as they headed outside on Wednesday, for their first flying class.

The broomsticks were already lying on the ground as the Gryffindors and Slytherins filed out into the grounds, and Madame Hooch immediately instructed each student to stand by a broom.

“Now stick out your hand, over the broom, and say ‘up’,” she instructed.

“Up,” Rose called.

To her irritation, the broom didn’t immediately leap into her hand. It would have, if the Slytherins hadn’t been there, she was sure. She couldn’t concentrate properly, knowing that they were watching her.

To make matters worse, Theodora’s broom had jumped into her hand immediately, and it was obvious that the other girl was laughing at her. Megan was watching her too. After all the boasting she had done about her ability on a broom, she couldn’t possibly make a laughing stock of herself now.

“Up” she repeated, with more conviction this time and the broomstick flew into her hand.

Once everybody finally had their brooms in their hands, Madame Hooch showed them how to mount them and hold on, then paused to demonstrate to Megan, who was having some difficulties

“Bet I can fly higher than you,” Theodora whispered, having somehow managed to manoeuvre so that she was now standing next to Rose.

“Bet you can’t,” Rose replied.

“Prove it so,” Theodora said, making as if to begin flying. Rose was determined to be quicker. She shot off into the sky.

“Rose Potter!!!!” Madame Hooch shouted.

Rose looked around. Theodora hadn’t even left the ground. It had been a trick, and a pretty obvious one at that. How could she have been so stupid as to fall for it?

She returned to the ground reluctantly; knowing just how much trouble she was in.

“How dare you?” Madame Hooch was raging. “You had no permission to leave the ground. You knew that quite well.”

“Sorry.”

“Twenty points from Gryffindor and you can just miss the rest of the class now. I don’t trust you to mount that broom again in this class. Go and stand at the side.”

Rose did as she was told, glaring at Theodora. She’d get her own back. She’d just have to think about how.


Chapter 8: Escape from Azkaban.
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The feud between Rose and Theodora continued throughout September and into October, but it was getting more and more difficult for either of them to score points, as both were prepared for tricks. Since the Charms class where Rose had changed Theodora’s wand, Theodora had hardly left it out of her hand.

“Pity,” Rose commented to Diana. “Quiffy could have done with making another appearance. I know you’re not supposed to use the same joke twice, but it’d be so much fun to see her face once she realised she’d been caught out twice with the same thing.”

“You’re enjoying this,” Diana accused.

“True, although it’s not so great when she and Ceri lose us points. Still, I can get the better of them.”

“You’d want to be careful. She’s not going to give in easily, you know. And the others are going to get start getting annoyed if Gryffindor keeps losing points.”

“Well, so are Slytherin.”

“There are other houses, you know,” Diana warned. “Ravenclaw are in the lead at the moment.”

“Are they? I thought we were.”

“No, I looked at it earlier. They’re after passing us out.”

“Oh, well, once we win the Quidditch Cup, we’ll get a load of extra points,” Rose declared optimistically.

Both Rose and Diana had tried out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, despite knowing that they hadn’t really much of a chance. First years hardly ever got on the house teams; Rose’s father had been the only one in well over a century. So it hadn’t exactly come as a surprise when they had been eliminated almost immediately.

“Oh, well, it’s good practice for next year anyway,” Diana said philosophically.

“It’s not fair though,” Rose commented, a little sulkily. “All they got us to do was fly around the field once, and I’m a good flyer. The only reason Joshua eliminated us was because we were first years.”

Diana shrugged. “Well, we knew it was what was going to happen really, didn’t we?”

Rose didn’t reply. Logically, of course she had known that she was unlikely to make the team this year, no matter how good a player she was, but deep down she had been hoping that she would be another exception like her father. She had seen herself on the team, preferably as a Seeker, as that was about the most important position, winning matches for her house. She wouldn’t mind playing professional Quidditch when she was grown up, now that she thought about it.

Not that she mentioned any of this to Diana or anybody else. They would only laugh at her for expecting to be better than everybody else.

Her cousin Michael had made the team though and now played as a Chaser. His father, Ron, had been delighted, particularly as Harriet had no interest whatsoever in Quidditch and had sent his son a brand new broom as a congratulatory present. A Sweepstakes! They had only just come out on the market and, while they were hardly of the standard used by professional players, they were still superior to most of the other brooms used by school pupils.

Rose was fascinated by it, and delighted when Michael had let her and Diana take turns to fly it one day, out of sight of the teachers. James used the old Firebolt their Dad had had when he was at school and even though it was a fantastic broom, it was about thirty years old now. Not that it mattered, as James didn’t play Quidditch and, although he let Rose mess about on it when they were at home, there was little chance of him allowing her to ride it at school. James was far too careful about keeping to the rules.

Despite not having made the team, Rose couldn’t wait for Gryffindor’s first match of the year, which would take place in early November. Slytherin and Ravenclaw had already played their match and despite the fact that her house hadn’t been playing, Rose had enjoyed it immensely, especially as Slytherin had been beaten by eighty points. She had cheered as hard as any Ravenclaw when Katie had caught the Snitch and had commented loudly on the match in Theodora’s presence for days afterwards.

Gryffindor had better win their match, she thought anxiously, particularly as it was against Hufflepuff. Theodora would get some laugh, if they lost to Hufflepuff.

Between the match and Halloween, Rose had quite a lot to look forward to, as the end of October approached, so when James raced over to her after breakfast one morning, those were naturally the two things on her mind.

“You won’t beat us,” she declared confidently.

“What?” James asked in confusion.

“The match. In ten days time. We’re going to win. Bet you a Galleon.”

“Oh, that, right. Yeah, you probably will. Hufflepuff only won one match last year and our team hasn’t changed much.”

“What did you want me for so? Don’t tell me they’ve got that new vampire band to play at the Halloween feast!”

James shrugged. “I don’t know. I doubt it though. They’re getting way too popular to be bothered playing at some school thing. No, look at this.”

He held out an open copy of the Daily Prophet.

Rose scanned the page, looking for a mention of their father. It wasn’t so unusual for him to be mentioned in the wizarding papers. When it became obvious that there wasn’t one though, she realised that what James wanted her to read was the main story on the page.

Escape from Azkaban, the headline shouted out in large letters.

The wizarding community was, this morning, shocked to hear of the escape of Lucius Malfoy, the notorious Death Eater, from Azkaban prison. The escape apparently took place in the early hours of the morning and has baffled the wizarding community.

Experts consider it unlikely that any prisoner could escape from Azkaban without help from accomplices, either inside or outside the prison. This has, understandably, raised fears of renewed Death Eater activity. However, there appears to be little evidence for such a supposition and it must therefore, be considered extremely unlikely.

Percy Weasley, a high ranking official in the Ministry of Magic and spokesperson for the Minister of Magic had this comment to make. “The Minister wants to express his utmost regret and disbelief that such a thing could happen. We had the utmost faith in the ability of the giants guarding the prison and I must remind everybody that this is the first outbreak which has occurred in twenty years. Compared with Muggle prisons and even with wizarding prisons in other countries, this is an impressive record, and we urge people not to lose faith in our prison system. The Ministry pledges to ensure that Malfoy is rearrested as quickly as possible and that any accomplices will be severely punished.”

Lucius Malfoy is remembered as a high ranking Death Eater in both the First and Second wars, for his success in escaping punishment after the first war, for his involvement in the attack on the Ministry where Sirius Black was killed and for his involvement in the Final Battle against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.


Rose stared at her brother.

“He’s escaped,” she whispered.

They had both heard their father speak of Sirius Black on a number of occasions and knew how he had been affected by the death of his godfather. They also knew that Sirius had meant a good deal to Remus and that Sirius had not been the only one to suffer as a result of Malfoy’s actions. Next to Voldemort himself, Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy had probably been the most notorious of the Death Eaters.

As a result, the entire Great Hall was soon buzzing with the news and copies of the Daily Prophet were being passed around the tables. Reactions were mixed, with shock from those who had lost grandparents, aunts and uncles at the hands of Lucius Malfoy or as a result of attacks he led and excitement and interest from other students.

On the whole, the atmosphere in the Great Hall was upbeat, however. More than twenty years had passed since the defeat of the Death Eaters and none of the students were old enough to remember Voldemort’s reigns of terror. Even those who had lost relatives to the Death Eaters knew those relatives only as faces in photographs or characters in the stories of their elders. It had happened too long ago to really affect them.

Diana was one of those who didn’t find it quite as exciting as many of the others.

“I wonder what Dad will say,” she said, once she’d read the story Rose handed to her. “He was really upset about Sirius, I know.”

“Well, it was that Lestrange woman who killed him, wasn’t it? Not Malfoy.”

“Yeah, but he was there. He’d have done it too, given the chance. It’s the same thing really.”

Rose shrugged. Diana had a point, she supposed. All of the Death Eaters had been the same really. It didn’t matter who did what. The crimes were simply committed by whoever got the chance or whoever Voldemort ordered to carry them out. They would have killed just about anybody he told them too. Rose shivered. Looked at like that, she supposed that Malfoy’s escape wasn’t something to be taken as lightly as she had.

Still, after all, Voldemort was dead and gone, and from what she had heard from her father, it didn’t sound as if Malfoy was likely to be much danger, without his master and the other Death Eaters to support him.

She didn’t say any of that to Diana though.

Instead she just glanced at the huge pile of food still left on Diana’s plate.

“If you don’t hurry up and finish that, we’ll be late for class,” she said.

Diana burst out laughing. “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard you worrying about getting to class on time. Don’t worry; I’ll be finished in a minute. I’ve never made you late yet, have I? It’s usually the other way around.”

Sure enough, a couple of minutes later, Diana had finished eating and the two girls hurried down the corridor to their first class, narrowly avoiding Cassandra Goyle.

She glared at them, even more fiercely than usual.

“What do you two think you are doing?”

“Em, going to class,” Rose said cheekily.

Cassandra grabbed Rose’s robes.

“Well, you keep out of my way, Potty Junior. Having to put up with your stupid brother being in my year is bad enough without having to pass you and the freak’s daughter in the corridors.”

Rose pulled her robes from the older girl’s grasp and continued down the corridor.

“Are you ok?” Diana asked.

“Yeah,” Rose said shortly. She paused for a moment.

“I wonder what’s her problem,” she continued eventually. “Wouldn’t you think she’d be pleased.”

“About what?”

“That Death Eater escaping. All the Goyles were Voldemort supporters. I bet Malfoy was a great friend of theirs.”

Diana shrugged. She wasn’t particularly interested in Cassandra’s opinions. She was just glad to see the back of the older girl.

Between the upcoming Quidditch match and Halloween feast and the news which had been in the paper that morning, many of the Gryffindors were giddy and inattentive in class that morning. The fact that their first class was History of Magic, where nobody ever listened anyway, didn’t exactly help matters.

“What is the matter with this class this morning?” Professor Binns asked in mild irritation. “You are usually quiet in my lessons, but today, I keep hearing students whispering. Gryffindors mostly. If this continues, I shall have to take…um…ten points from Gryffindor.”

The Professor sounded slightly surprised himself, as he made this threat. He rarely took points from any student, as he was usually too busy boring the students senseless to notice what they were doing.

Despite his words, the chatting continued, and Professor Binns seemed to lose interest in trying to discipline them and simply continued on with his lecture.

Perhaps the class would have tired of discussing the escape if it wasn’t for the fact that they were about to learn about giants in Defence Against the Dark Arts that afternoon.

Hermione greeted them as usual and introduced the lesson.

“Today we are going to look at one of our fellow magical beings; giants. One of the most important things to remember is that giants, like werewolves…”

“Professor,” Niamh called.

“I hope you are not in the habit of interrupting when teachers are speaking,” Hermione said severely. “Kindly wait until I have finished what I was saying, before raising your hand.”

“Sorry, Professor.”

“Now, as I was saying, giants, like werewolves, have been subjected to a good deal of prejudice in our world. Can anybody tell me why this might be?”

Niamh raised her hand again.

“Yes, Kelleher.”

“Didn’t the giants support He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Professor?”

“Well, yes,” Hermione admitted. “In the first war, a number of giants did support Voldemort, and that is one of the reasons why many witches and wizards fear them. However, in the second war and it’s aftermath, giants have supported the Ministry to the degree of agreeing to guard Azkaban.”

Alexander raised his hand.

“Yes, Williams.”

“Professor, do you think that the giants may have let this Malfoy guy escape.”

“No, I do not think that very likely. Why do you think something like that?”

“Well, you said that they once supported this Voldemort guy and wasn’t that Malfoy working for Voldemort.”

Hermione sighed. “The reasons why the giants once supported Voldemort are quite complicated,” she began. “And we must remember that giants, like humans, are individuals. None of the giants guarding Azkaban were ever suspected of Death Eater involvement. I see no reason to believe that any of them should have had anything to do with that escape. Now, perhaps we can continue with what we were discussing. Can anybody think of any other, reasons why witches and wizards fear giants?”

Megan raised her hand.

“Campbell?”

“If witches and wizards don’t trust giants, why did they get them to guard Azkaban?”

“That’s rather a complicated issue,” Hermione replied. “We don’t really have time to discuss it right now. All I will say is that those who were previously guarding the prison were shown to be untrustworthy and the Ministry was forced to rely on the giants.”

“Professor,” Alexander began, without even raising his hand. “If those guys that were guarding the prison before were untrustworthy, couldn’t the giants be untrustworthy too? I mean, if the Ministry got it wrong before….”

“Please raise you hand if you wish to ask a question, Williams,” Hermione snapped. “In answer to your question, it was a totally different situation. There was a war on. I repeat, it is highly unlikely that any of the giants are involved in Malfoy’s escape.”

However, despite Hermione’s best efforts to return the conversation to the topics she had planned, the students continued to ask about Azkaban. In addition to questions about the degree to which the giants could be depended on, there were questions about why they had been chosen to guard the prison, how they prevented prisoners from escaping and what they might do to Malfoy when he was recaptured.

Eventually, Hermione lost patience with the class.

“There are only five minutes left in this class, and we have still barely touched on the topics we were supposed to be discussing today. As you are obviously incapable of paying attention in class, you can all read the chapter about giants in your textbook and write me a three foot long essay on ‘How the Magical Community views Giants’, and I want them on my desk in our next class.”

The class groaned. Three feet? And they would have to research it beforehand.

“That’ll take forever,” Rose complained.

“I have already spoken about raising your hand before you speak. Ten points from Gryffindor,” Hermione said.

Rose glared at the teacher, and a number of the other Gryffindors did likewise. Not that it did any good. They still had to write the bloody essay.

Chapter 9: Gryffindor vs. Hufflepuff.
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The excitement about Malfoy’s escape didn’t last for long among the majority of the Hogwarts’ students. The Daily Prophet continued to publish articles about it, but as far as Rose could see, they didn’t seem to have much to say. It was all just articles criticising the security of Azkaban and comments from the Ministry defending the security. Nobody seemed to have anything new to say.

Besides, it was almost Halloween, and the first years, in particular, were far more interested in the celebrations being planned than in reading the newspaper.

Rose flung it aside after a cursory glance on Halloween morning.

“Anything interesting?” Diana asked.

“Nah. Oh, don’t bother with it, Diana,” she said, as her friend reached out to take the paper. “It’s just going on about whether or not the giants can be trusted to guard Azkaban. Much the same as yesterday really.”

“I think they are being a bit mean to the guards really,” Diana said thoughtfully. “Like your aunt says, people are awfully prejudiced against other creatures. I bet if they weren’t giants…”

Rose yawned. “Oh, let’s not talk about the news. It’d be interesting if we could catch Malfoy or something, but they’re not saying anything about where he might be. Wouldn’t you think that would be more important that listening to old politicians talking nonsense? Right now, I think the banquet tonight will be a lot more interesting.”

Diana had to agree, even though she didn’t know as much about Hogwarts banquets as her friend did. Diana had to rely on what her parents told her, whereas Rose had much more up to date information from James, Michael and Hermione.

“The teachers usually leave their classes off homework,” she said. “Well, most of them do. James said that last year Snape gave them a four foot essay, due in the day after Halloween. And he only gave it to them a couple of days before, so they had hardly any time to finish it and he ended up almost missing the start of the feast.”

“Well, at least we don’t have him today. And I’ve my homework from the last class done. Have you?”

“Almost.”

“Oh, Rose, do you always have to leave your homework to the last minute? That’s not a good idea with Potions, you know. Snape is only looking for a reason to give detentions.”

“It’ll get done,” Rose said shortly. Sometimes Diana could be so fussy. She wasn’t her mother, after all.

Diana ignored her tone, or maybe she just genuinely didn’t notice it.

“Come on. We’d better get to class. The last thing we want is to get into trouble and be made miss the banquet.”

“Well, you’re the one who takes forever over breakfast,” Rose muttered under her breath.

As James and Michael had told her, very few of the teachers assigned homework for that evening. Even Hermione, who rarely neglected to give homework smiled and said “no homework today. Go and enjoy the feast.”

So, once they had done their History of Magic assignment, they were free to enjoy the rest of the evening.

The banquet turned out to be as enjoyable as everybody had always said it was. The Great Hall was decorated in orange and black and lit by candlelight. Bats hung above the candles and flew above the students.

“Not a bad feast, I think,” Nearly Headless Nick commented, as he floated over to the Gryffindor table.

Rose had to agree. The only disappointment was that nothing particularly dramatic happened.

“Well, why should it?” Diana commented, as McGonagall stood up to declare the feast over and order the students to bed.

“Oh, I don’t know. It always seemed to when Dad was at school. Well, maybe not always, but you know….. One year a troll broke in and he and Ron had to go and rescue Hermione. It must have been so exciting. And now that Malfoy has broken out of Azkaban….I don’t know. I just thought maybe he’d try and break into the school or something.”

Diana laughed. “Why would he want to do that?”

Rose paused.

“To kidnap me, maybe. You see, he might be looking for revenge on my dad for getting him sent to Azkaban in the first place, so he might decide to kidnap me and kill me or something. But I’d be smarter than he thought. He’d expect me to be really stupid, you see, because I’m only a first year, but he’d be wrong and I’d get him captured again and get a reward and it’d be so cool.”

“I don’t think that’s very likely, Rose,” Diana said, starting to laugh again.

Rose joined in. “Maybe not, but you never know. A lot of really exciting things happened here when my Dad was at school. There’s no reason they shouldn’t again.”

They had reached the dormitory, but Rose had had too good a time to want to go to sleep. Instead, she just threw herself down on her bed and continued chatting to Diana.

“Would you go to bed?” Megan said waspishly. “You’ll get us all in trouble if somebody hears you talking.”

“Oh, all right,” Rose replied, as she climbed into bed, sure that she wouldn’t get a wink of sleep.

Half an hour later, she was asleep and dreaming that Lucius Malfoy flew into the Quidditch pitch, just as the Gryffindor seeker was about to catch the snitch. McGonagall was shouting that the match would have to be abandoned and the Gryffindors were complaining loudly, to no avail.

“Wow, I hope things turn out a little better in the real match,” she thought when she awoke the next morning.

Certainly, conditions looked good as she headed towards the Quidditch pitch the following Saturday. Despite the cold, the sun was shining and there was hardly a cloud to be seen. The conditions were equally helpful to the Hufflepuffs, though, Rose realised.

Compared with the match between Ravenclaw and Slytherin, the stands seemed pretty empty this time. Perhaps it was partly because the other had been the first match of the year and most of the school was excited to see it, but Rose was more inclined to think it was because nobody really expected this to be much of a contest. Gryffindor had won the Quidditch cup the previous year and Hufflepuff had been in last place, so they weren’t really considered serious competition.

Hardly any Slytherins and Ravenclaws had turned up, apart from those dedicated Quidditch fans who attended every match, and there weren’t even all that many Hufflepuffs there, apart from the first years, most of whom were present. James was there too, and Rose waved to him, but most of the stands were filled with Gryffindors.

The two teams walked onto the pitch, followed by Madame Hooch, who was refereeing. She eyed the two teams sternly.

“Now, I don’t want a replay of our first match this year,” she said. “The rules are there for a reason and I expect them to be followed. I will be watching closely for any cheating. You may mount your brooms now.”

She blew her whistle and the match began.

A tall senior girl that Rose didn’t know was commentating. She thought she was a Ravenclaw, but she wasn’t sure.

“Well, Gryffindor are in possession. Quite a good pass there. Oh, Terry Bones of Hufflepuff has taken the Quaffle. Probably their best player.”

Rose and Diana booed.

“Come on, Michael,” Rose called. “Take it, would you? Take the Quaffle off him.”

“Oh dear, Hufflepuff have lost possession again. Jennifer Spinnet in possession. Another good pass. Is it a wise one though? She’s passed to one of the newest and youngest members of the team, Michael Weasley. Oh, he’s heading for the goalposts. He’s scored. 10-nil to Gryffindor.”

Rose screamed. Her cousin had made the first score of the match.

“Michael’s scored,” she yelled to Diana. “Oh, Ron is going to be so pleased.”

Across the pitch, Hermione seemed almost as excited as her niece was. A huge smile was stretched across her face and she was cheering loudly. James looked torn between supporting his cousin and supporting his house. He couldn’t seem to help giving Michael a thumbs up signal though, as the younger boy flew past him. Michael took both hands off his broom and raised them high in triumph. He was obviously delighted.

The match continued and Hufflepuff quickly equalised. Then Jennifer scored for Gryffindor. After an hour of playing, the score was 50-20 to Gryffindor and there was still no sign of either Seeker catching the Quaffle.

“Come on Lucy,” the Gryffindors shouted. Hufflepuff could win, and win significantly if they got the Snitch first.

“Michael Weasley scores again,” the commentator announced. “It looks as if Joshua Hayward knew what he was doing when he chose Weasley for his team. The score now is 60-20. Hufflepuff are in possession now. And Abbott has the Quaffle again. Oh, Gryffindor have taken it from him.”

The scores crept up. 70-20 to Gryffindor, then 70-30.

“Has Lucy Tremlett seen something? She’s made a sudden dive. Oh, the Hufflepuff Seeker is following her. But he’s too late. Gryffindor have the Snitch. Final score: 220 to 30. Gryffindor wins.”

The crowd went wild. Quidditch matches were often won by a large margin, but 220 to 30 was fantastic.

The Gryffindor team did a celebratory lap of the pitch. Michael was so excited that he seemed incapable of keeping in step with the rest of the team. He kept flying too quickly and almost crashing into the broom in front of his. Rose saw the player in front glare at him, but he seemed too pleased to be really annoyed.

As he once more narrowly avoided a crash, he tipped forward and had to grab his broom tightly to keep from falling. Rose giggled as she watched him, but continued to cheer.

After what seemed like an age to Rose, the flyers came to earth and the crowds began to file out of the pitch.

“Let’s wait here,” Rose insisted. “I want to see Michael.”

“Rose!” he screamed as the team left the pitch. “Wasn’t that fantastic? It was such a great first match! I think I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”

“Yeah, me too,” Rose agreed. It was the first time she had watched her house play, and she was delighted at their success. If only every match she saw could have a similar outcome.

“I’ve got to go tell Dad. I mean, we’re going to have a victory party, of course, but I think I’m going to go to the Visual Contact room first. Dad would kill me if I didn’t tell him about something like this.”

“Yeah, I want to tell my Dad too. He used to play for Gryffindor when he was at school, after all. I bet he’ll want to hear about this.”

Diana followed along with them, even though she hadn’t anybody she particularly wanted to tell. Her parents had both been Gryffindors and would be pleased to hear her house won, but they didn’t have a child on the team, like Ron did and they weren’t quite as obsessed with Quidditch as Harry and Ron both were.

There was an even longer queue than usual outside the Visual Contact room, mostly composed of Gryffindors wanting to tell parents or older or younger siblings about their victory.

“Do you want to wait?” Rose asked Michael. “You’ll miss half the party.”

Michael shrugged. “Most of the team are here anyway. “I don’t think I’ll miss that much.”

The queue moved forward slowly. At least most people weren’t in there all that long, as they just wanted to say that Gryffindor had won. Eventually, Michael, Rose and Diana came near to the head of the queue.

Snape strode up towards them unexpectedly.

“Move along now.”

“We’re just waiting for the Visual Contact room, Professor.”

Snape ignored them and barged straight into the room.

“OUT,” he ordered the student in there.

The boy did as he was told, muttering rebelliously.

“Git!” Michael said. “Why should he just skip the queue like that, just ‘cause he’s a teacher. It isn’t fair.”

Rose would have agreed with her cousin’s comment if it wasn’t for what she heard from inside the room.

“What’d he say?” she asked the other two. “It sounded like ‘Lucius Malfoy’ or something like that.”

“What?” Diana whispered.

Michael fished in his pockets and removed a pair of extendable ears.

“Got them from Fred,” he whispered, passing one to Rose. “Sorry Diana.”

Rose and Michael pressed the ears to the door.

“Yes, it went well,” Snape was saying. “I don't think they suspect me. I was talking to his son- you know, Draco Malfoy-“

“WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? People’s conversations are private, you know.”

Rose turned around to see Albert standing importantly behind them.

“But Albert, Professor Snape is in there, and he’s….”

She stopped. He could come out any moment and Merlin alone knew what he would say if he realised that they’d overheard him, or listened in to his conversation, to be more accurate about it.

“So much the worse,” Albert insisted. “Eavesdropping on a teacher’s conversation. It’s disgraceful! I’ve a good mind to take sixty points from Gryffindor to teach you all a lesson.”

All three stared at Albert in dismay.

“Don’t Albert, please,” Michael pleaded.

“Really, we’d a good reason,” Rose said. “We can’t tell you here though.”

It was just as well that she didn’t try to, as Snape came out of the room at that moment, and stared at the little group.

“What are you all doing here?” he asked. “Why aren’t you down celebrating or something?”

“I’m just bringing them down now, Professor,” Albert said, ushering the three younger ones in front of him.

Rose didn’t quite dare to argue. Albert was quite capable of doing as he had threatened and taking points from them, just when Gryffindor had gained a decent amount for the match too.

She wasn’t quite sure what to do. They really ought to tell somebody what they had overheard, but she wasn’t sure who.

There wasn’t much chance to tell anybody anything that evening anyway, as the match was the only thing on the mind’s of most of the Gryffindors. Oh, well, it could wait until tomorrow, anyway, she decided. If Snape really had helped Malfoy to escape, he’d already done it, so it wasn’t as if he could be stopped now. It would be fun to see him arrested, but it could wait another day or two.

She shoved it to the back of her mind, and tried to join in with the excitement of the rest of her house, as they celebrated Gryffindor’s first Quidditch win of the year.


Chapter 10: What Should We Do?
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Rose, Michael and Diana didn’t get much time to discuss what they’d overheard either that day or the next. Michael in particular was the centre of attention. He hadn’t been the hero of the match or anything. Gryffindor’s win had been far too decisive to need heroes. But he had been the team’s newest player and had certainly played well enough to prove he deserved his place on the team.

Joshua said I played well,” he declared triumphantly to Rose when she cornered him at breakfast the next morning. “He said…”

“Don’t mind Joshua for a moment,” Rose interrupted. “Don’t you think that what we heard yesterday is a little more important.”

A hurt look crossed her cousin’s face.

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, Michael, of course you played well. And of course I’m glad that Josh was pleased with you. But this is serious!” She lowered her voice. “If Snape is after helping a Death Eater escape from Azkaban, don’t you think we should tell somebody or something? He and Malfoy might be planning something, you know.”

“Well, we can’t decide now. We have to get to class.”

“Never mind class. The entire world could be in danger. Haven’t Ron and Hermione told you all about what happened before Voldemort was defeated? The stuff the Death Eaters did?”

“Well, yes, but…” Michael paused. “I mean, there are only two of them,” he continued more confidently.

“How do you know that?”

“Look it can wait a couple of hours,” Michael said, beginning to sound annoyed. “We’ll talk about it this afternoon, with Diana and then we’ll see. Ok?

“Ok,” Rose agreed, but she couldn’t stop thinking about it. Overhearing any conversation like that would have been exciting enough, but when it was Snape? She couldn’t wait until everybody found out. He was such a git; he deserved to get his comeuppance.

Thank Merlin for Unnoticeable Notes. She used up nearly half of those she had left passing notes to Diana in her classes that day. The rest of the time she just daydreamed; imagining the reactions of those around her when she told them about Snape. What would her dad think? James? The Headmistress? Perhaps she would get a special award for services to the school or whatever it was called.

“Rose Potter!” Professor Flitwick called. “Could you please pay attention?”

“Sorry, Professor.”

It was after the afternoon classes that the three friends managed to get together to discuss what they should do.

“We do have to tell somebody,” Rose said.

“Who?” Diana asked.

“Well, McGonagall, I guess. She’s Headmistress after all. She should know that one of her staff is a Death Eater.”

“Would she believe us though?” Michael asked. “I mean, she must know that we don’t like Snape much. He took a hundred points from me one day last year.”

“What would we say anyway?” Diana added on, a little apprehensively.

“Well, that we….” Rose paused. What exactly could they say? They could hardly go to the Headmistress of the school and admit that they had been eavesdropping on a teacher’s private conversation. Her father had done some rather unorthodox things when he had been at school, but Dumbledore had been Headmaster then. Somehow Rose felt that McGonagall wouldn’t be quite as sympathetic about them breaking the rules as it sounded as if he had been on some occasions.

“I don’t know,” she admitted quietly. Then “maybe we should just wait until we know more,” she continued more excitedly.

“You mean, solve it ourselves?” Michael said, sounding equally excited.

“Yeah, why not? Think of all the stuff our parents did when they were at school. They took on Voldemort. Snape can’t be any worse than that, can he?”

“I don’t know if we should do that,” Diana said. “I mean, I don’t want us to get in trouble or anything, but I think we should tell somebody. What if Malfoy really is planning something, and Snape is helping him or whatever and they could have been stopped if only we’d told somebody in time?”

“We’d stop them, of course. Like Dad and Michael’s parents always stopped Voldemort just in time. We could shadow Snape and then, when he went to meet Malfoy, we’d raise the alarm and he’d be caught right in the act.”

“Yeah, like he really wouldn’t notice that,” Diana scoffed. “This is Snape we’re talking about, you know. He’d probably put us on detention for the rest of the year if he caught us following him.”

“We’d think of something,” Rose insisted.

Now that she had thought of it, she was reluctant to let go of the idea. It would be fantastic to see Snape arrested and sent off to Azkaban of course, but at the same time, it would be a pity to hand it over to the grown-ups straight away. This was the most exciting thing that had happened since she had started Hogwarts. Plus, it would be so much fun to have Snape realise who it was that had found him out. Once he was arrested and unable to do anything about it, of course.

“What about your Dad?” Diana asked.

“What about him?”

“Well, he’s an Auror, isn’t he?” Diana sighed. “Why don’t we owl him and tell him what we overheard? He wouldn’t care that we were eavesdropping, would he?”

Rose shrugged. She didn’t think he would actually, particularly not when it was Snape they had been eavesdropping on. Despite all the years that had passed since he left Hogwarts, he still couldn’t stand Snape and would probably think he’d deserved it. Her Mum might mind, but she didn’t really think her father would tell him.

“Don’t you think it’d be more fun if we stopped him, though?” she asked.

Michael nodded.

“Maybe,” Diana said doubtfully. “But what if we can’t? It’d be easier for your dad. It’s his job, after all. We could still keep an eye on Snape here, if he isn’t arrested straight away, that is. Just in case he did anything. But if you tell your dad, he might be able to make Snape tell him where Malfoy is hiding. Wouldn’t that be great?”

“I suppose so,” Rose replied, a little sulkily. “Ok, I’ll owl him. Can I use your owl, Diana? I don’t want to use the school ones in case Snape finds out.”

“Course you can.”

Rose rushed the letter off quickly.

Hi Dad,
Everything is fine here at Hogwarts. I’m having a fantastic time.

I have something really important to tell you though. Yesterday, when Michael, Diana and I went to the Visual Contact Room to tell you about Gryffindor winning the match, we overheard Snape saying that he was the person who helped Malfoy escape. He said that the escape plan had worked and something about Malfoy’s son. Maybe he helped too-the son, I mean.

Anyway, like I said, Gryffindor won it’s first match of the year. And the Slytherins lost their’s . Theodora and Ceri are going mad. Now, Gryffindor are second in the House Cup. Ravenclaw are first. We’ll beat them yet though.

From Rose.


“Is that ok,” she asked shortly, flinging the letter at Diana.

Diana shrugged. “Looks all right. It gets the point across anyway.”

She sounded relieved.

“You don’t want us to do it ourselves, do you?”

“I just think we ought to leave it to the grown ups. Snape is kind of scary, don’t you think? If he found out what we were doing, who knows what he’d do. And if he has Malfoy helping him…. well, you know Malfoy’s reputation. He’s supposed to have killed loads of people and stuff. This way, even if we do do some investigating ourselves, at least somebody will know what’s going on. Somebody who can do something, I mean. Do you want Fortuna now.”

Rose shook her head. “I’m going to write a letter to Jessica now and send it with the one to Mum and Dad, so they can post it on. I haven’t written to her in ages. Her last letter sounded kind of annoyed. I just don’t know what to say to her. Most things I can’t tell her. But I can tell her about this.”

Diana looked shocked. “No, you can’t. You can’t tell her about Azkaban! Or the Death Eaters! It’d give everything away.”

“I can, if I don’t mention Azkaban,” Rose grinned, her earlier annoyance forgotten. “Now, leave me alone for a while and let me write it.”

Hi Jessica,
Thanks for your letters. Sorry I haven’t replied that often. We have just been so busy here. You wouldn’t believe the amount of homework they give us!

I told you we were put in different houses, didn’t I? Well, guess what! Our house won its first match of the year yesterday. My cousin Michael is on the team. I don’t think you ever met him. I tried out for the team, but I didn’t get on it. They hardly ever let first years on the team, so they didn’t even give us a proper chance. They just decided against us, ‘cause we were first years. I don’t think that’s fair, do you?”

Wait until you hear what else happened yesterday though! I just found out that one of my teachers is helping a dangerous criminal to escape from prison! Michael and I overheard him talking about it. Well, we were eavesdropping, to be honest, so we can’t really tell any of the teachers. I’ve told Dad, though. He will probably know what to do. This teacher is really mean anyway. He always gives detentions and stuff. Except he is Head of one of the houses and he hardly ever gives detention to the students in that house. He favours them! I hate teachers who have pets, don’t you? Anyway, it’ll be so much fun to see him get arrested!

I really like getting your letters. I just can’t believe that Jenny is in danger of getting suspended already. She’ll end up getting expelled if she keeps on like that. Does Lucy’s mother still bring her into school every day? You never told me. Imagine having a mother like that. It’d drive me crazy.

Write soon and let me know everything that’s going on.

From Rose.


Well, she can’t complain now, Rose thought, as she folded the letter into the other, before racing over to find Diana.

“Can I borrow Fortuna now?” she asked quietly.

The two girls headed up to find the owl.

“What did you tell your friend?” Diana asked, a little suspiciously.

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, do you think I’m stupid? I just said that one of our teachers was helping a criminal to escape from jail. They do have jails and criminals in the Muggle world too, you know.”

“I know that!”

They tied the letter to Fortuna’s leg.

“This is for Rose’s dad now, Fortuna,” Diana said. “You know, Harry Potter. Don’t go bringing it to my house by mistake.”

Rose spent the next day, waiting for some sort of a response to her letter; either a letter in reply from her father or the arrival of the Aurors to question or even arrest Snape. Nothing happened.

“Where are they?” she asked. “You’d think they’d want to question him as soon as possible, so that they can catch Malfoy before he leaves the country or something.”

Diana shrugged. “Would we even know if they were questioning him? I mean, they’d probably do it quietly, wouldn’t they? McGonagall probably wouldn’t want us to know that one of the staff was a criminal.”

“Hey, maybe Snape won’t be here for our Potions class! Maybe they’ll have taken him away.”

“That would be great,” Diana agreed.

“Don’t you think it might happen?”

“Yeah, I think it’s pretty likely actually.”

For the first time since they started Hogwarts, the two girls were almost looking forward to Potions class.

“I bet they’ll give us a sub, though,” Diana commented as they headed down to the dungeons. “They’ll never just let us have the class free.”

“Still, they can’t be worse than Snape, whoever it is. Who do you think it’ll be?”

“No idea. Probably whatever teacher is free at the time. Your aunt, maybe. She’s good at Potions, isn’t she?”

“She’s good at everything! Like Harriet.” Rose rolled her eyes.

They hurried into the classroom. There sitting at the top of the room was Snape, looking exactly as usual.

“Ten points from Gryffindor,” he said.

“For what?” Rose asked in amazement.

“Rushing into my class at the last minute. I expect all students to be here in good time. And any more arguing and I’ll make it thirty points.”

The two girls stared at each other. They were in time for class. Ok, so they appeared to be the last ones to arrived, but there was still about a minute until the class was meant to begin.

Rose passed an Unnoticeable Note to Diana.

Maybe he is in a bad mood because the Aurors have been questioning him.

Diana glanced at the note and scribbled something and passed a note to Rose.

Or maybe it’s just because he’s Snape! When is he ever in a good mood?

Rose glanced over at her friend and shrugged.

“Rose Potter, please pay attention. A further ten points from Gryffindor. Slytherin will be passing you out soon.”

So that was what he was up to. Slytherin were about twenty or thirty points behind Gryffindor. Snape was just making sure that they caught up. The dirty cheat! Rose started wondering if he would worry about something like that if he was in trouble with the Aurors. Surely he would have more to worry him if he knew that they had found out. Maybe they hadn’t questioned him yet. They’d want to hurry up, though.

It was another couple of days before Harry replied to his daughter’s letter. Nothing seemed to have happened in those days. Snape was still teaching and still as obnoxious as ever. It was hard to tell if there was something bothering him or not. He was always so bad tempered that it would be hard to tell if he was in a bad mood over something specific.

Anxious to find out what was going on, Rose snatched the letter from the owl’s leg, grabbing leg and all. The owl squawked and flew just out of reach.

“Oh, come back here,” Rose said, grabbing him and pulling him to her. She removed the letter.

Darling Rose, it began.
Lovely to hear from you. Glad that Gryffindor won the match. Looks like you are well on your way to winning the House Cup. Ravenclaw will be quite difficult to beat though. They have all the geniuses after all.

Don’t worry about Snape. I don’t like him any more than you do, but unfortunately, I am quite sure that he is on our side. I wondered quite a bit in the past, but he proved himself in the Final Battle and he has proven himself since by constantly supporting us. I am sure you must have misheard him.

Everything is find at home, although it is quiet with both you and James away. Your mum and I miss you. I haven’t told her about your spot of eavesdropping! Make sure you don’t get in any more trouble, or at least, make sure you don’t get in too much trouble. You know what she will say if you do.

Love from Dad.


Rose passed the letter to Diana.

“He doesn’t believe us,” she said.

“What?” Diana asked, before scanning the letter. She sighed as she handed it back to her friend. “You’d better destroy this.”

Rose nodded. “And we’ll have to find some proof now. You agree, don’t you?”

“I guess we don’t have any choice.”

Rose couldn’t believe that her father had dismissed what she’d said like that. In a way, she was pleased as it meant that she could catch Snape herself, with the help of Diana and Michael of course. But at the same time, it was annoying not to be believed. If anybody should believe her, it was her dad. After all, he’d been disbelieved often enough when he was at school. He knew what it was like. Well, she’d show him. She’d prove she was right.


Chapter 11: Making plans.
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A/N: if anybody can suggest a better title for this chapter, I would be very grateful. I'm not entirely satisfied with it

Vowing to prove it was one thing; figuring out just how to do so was quite another, as the three youngsters quickly began to realise.

They had managed to find a deserted classroom and were finally able to talk freely, but they weren’t making all that much progress.

“I don’t really see what we can do.” Diana voiced their mutual frustration. “After all, this is Snape we are talking about. We can’t exactly start up a casual conversation with him and hope he gives himself away, can we?”

Rose shook her head slowly, unwilling to admit the difficulties that existed.

“There has to be something we can do,” she insisted. “I think we ought to keep an eye on him. If we watch him for long enough, he’s bound to do something that gives him away sooner or later.”

“He’ll kill us,” Diana muttered.

Michael had remained mostly quiet until this point, but now he spoke up.

“Well, we’d have to be very careful. Diana’s right. If he found out what we were up to, he would kill us. Snape is one guy I would not like to cross. And if he has Malfoy on his side…..”

“Do you think that Malfoy could be hiding around here somewhere?” Rose asked excitedly.

Michael pondered the issue for a moment.

“Well, no, I don’t really,” he said eventually. “I mean, this is Hogwarts, after all. Half of the staff were involved in the final battle against You-Know-Who. I doubt he’d come anywhere near the place.”

“But that might be the way they’d expect everybody to think. And, after all, nobody except us knows that Snape is helping him. Why should they think of looking around here?”

“I suppose it’s possible,” Michael replied doubtfully. “It would make it easier for Snape to keep on helping him. I mean he can hardly go down to Ollivanders and buy a wand or anything. But it doesn’t help us out much even if he is, does it? I mean, he’s hardly hiding him in the castle, is he? That would be just crazy.”

There was silence for a moment, then the same thought seemed to strike both girls simultaneously.

“The Shrieking Shack,” they both cried.

Michael glanced from one to the other, looking somewhat impressed.

“You could be right,” he admitted. “After all, Snape was at school with your dad, wasn’t he? He could have known about it.”

“Not just could; he did,” Diana said.

Michael and Rose looked at her. This was a story they hadn’t heard before.

“It’s sort of a long story, but one time when they were all at school, Sirius played a trick on Snape. He told him how to get into the Shack and stuff. Snape very nearly got bitten.”

“Pity he didn’t,” Rose muttered.

“Yeah, well, Dad was really mad at Sirius. I mean, can you imagine if he’d bitten him? He would have felt so guilty.”

“I wouldn’t,” Rose put in. “Not when it was Snape.”

“Well, you know Dad. He would never hurt anybody. And you don’t see what he goes through every month, Rose. He wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Neither would I, really. Not even Snape. But anyway, it means he knows how to get into the Shrieking Shack, so he could be hiding Malfoy in there.”

“Do you know how to get in there?” Rose asked.

Diana shook her head. “Do you really think Dad would tell me that? He’d be afraid I’d do something to get in trouble.”

“Fred and George would be the best people to ask,” Michael said. “George was boasting once that they know every passageway in and around Hogwarts. I bet they’d know. And they’d tell us.”

“Yeah, they would, wouldn’t they? If they do know, that is. The Shrieking Shack’s got to be your job, Michael. Me and Diana can’t go into Hogsmeade, so it’s up to you to find out if there’s been any sign of life there. Any sounds coming from it or anything. And if Fred or George is in their shop, you could ask them how to get into it.”

“Or we could owl them,” Michael suggested.

Rose agreed. “What should we say though?”

“It’s Fred and George. We don’t have to tell too many lies to them. Just ‘do you know how to get to the Shrieking Shack from Hogwarts, without any teachers knowing?’”

“Let’s not tell them why we want to know, though,” said Rose. “If Dad didn’t believe us, they probably won’t either. And I’m sick of people not believing us. Let’s just wait until we can prove it. Then everybody will have to believe.”

Michael sat down at one of the desks to write the note.

Dear George,
We know that you and Fred found out a lot of the ways out of Hogwarts when you were at school. Now we need your help. We were wondering if you know how to get to the Shrieking Shack. Without any of the teachers knowing, you understand?

Thanks very much. You are our favourite uncles.
Love Michael and


Rose added her name to the end of the letter and Michael stuffed it into his pocket.

“I’ll send it off later, when I get a chance.”

“Don’t keep it too long,” Rose advised. “We’d be in a load of trouble if any of the teachers saw it.”

“I won’t. Is there anything else we can do? What if Malfoy isn’t in the Shrieking Shack?”

Rose shrugged. “I guess we can do like we said and keep an eye on Snape. We’d have to take it in turns, I suppose. One of us could hang around near the staff areas at all times and if he comes out, we could follow him or whatever. We’d have to be really careful though.”

After a day or two, it became obvious that even with the three of them taking turns, there was no possible way that they could watch Snape all day every day. For one thing, they had classes to attend. None of them was available until their afternoon classes ended. And there was no way they could watch him all night. It wasn’t that they objected to sneaking out of their dormitories at night, but they couldn’t do it every night. Not when each of them would have to cover a third of the night-time hours. Even the evenings, when they were actually free were difficult, as they all had homework to do, and Rose and Diana had hardly any time left to enjoy themselves together, if they both had to watch Snape separately and do their homework besides.

“At least we know where he is at dinner time,” Diana whispered to Rose, two days after they had started watching him.

“Do you think we should get some more people to help?” Rose asked, in a whisper.

“I thought you didn’t want people to know until we’d proof.”

“Yeah, well, not adults, but I was thinking more like James and people like that. It’s a pity Steve isn’t here. He’d help.”

“Don’t you think James would?”

Rose shrugged. “I don’t know. Should I ask him?”

“Well, we can’t keep doing it all by ourselves. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”

Even though they were at the same school now, it wasn’t always easy to talk to James. The different houses were kept quite separate and the fact that they were in different years made it even more difficult. However, she managed to corner him after breakfast the next morning.

“James, I need to talk to you.”

“Yeah,” he replied, turning to her.

“Not now, not when there are people around. Can I meet you in the grounds at say, five o’clock this evening.”

James rolled his eyes.

“All right,” he agreed.

“This is serious,” Rose insisted.

“I said ok.”

She knew that James didn’t take her need for secrecy seriously, but nevertheless, he did meet her in the place they agreed on at five that evening.

“Well, what is this all about?” he asked cheerfully.

“You remember the day we beat you at Quidditch?”

“Yeah?”

“Well, afterwards, Michael, Diana and I went to the Visual Contact room and we heard Snape talking to somebody. He was telling them that he’d helped Malfoy escape.”

James burst out laughing.

James. This is serious. Snape is helping Malfoy. He’s a Death Eater.”

“Sure Rose. Just like Dad defeated all the Death Eaters single-handedly. And all Muggles have to light matches in order to light their houses, because they can’t use magic.”

“Well, ok, so I exaggerated a couple of times in the past. But I’m not exaggerating now. I swear on Merlin’s grave, James, Snape is a Death Eater!”

James relented a little.

“Look, all the Aurors are out looking for Malfoy and his accomplices. If Snape was helping him, then they’ll find out. There’s nothing for us to worry about.”

“Well, they’re taking long enough about it. Besides wouldn’t it be really fantastic if we solved it ourselves. Look at all the mysteries Dad and his friends solved when they were at Hogwarts. I bet you and me and Diana and Michael could do the same if we just put our heads together.”

James gripped his younger sister by the shoulders.

“Listen to me, Rose,” he said in what she supposed was meant to be his firmest tone. “Don’t you go getting involved in this. You’ll only end up getting into serious trouble. And what if you did stumble on something real? These are dangerous people, Rose. You know what Malfoy did! He’s not somebody you want to bump into; I can tell you that.”

“So you do believe me.”

“No, I don’t really,” James said, relaxing visibly. “I just don’t want you going out looking for Malfoy or anything. Not that it’s very likely you’ll find him. The Aurors are far more likely to find him than you are. But if you did…, well, it wouldn’t be very pleasant. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“It won’t. I’m not stupid, James.”

“That’s what’s worrying me,” he muttered. “Come on, let’s go back inside.”

“Well?” Diana asked, as Rose barged back into the Gryffindor common room.

“Great help he is! He doesn’t even believe me. And even if he did, he doesn’t think we should get involved. He thinks Malfoy is too dangerous for us to be dealing with.”

“Well, I suppose he might have a point,” Diana said quietly.

Rose turned on her.

“Merlin, Diana, don’t tell me you’re turning chicken on me!”

“No, of course I’m not, but we do need to be careful. I wouldn’t really like to sneak into the Shrieking Shack and find him standing there in front of us.”

“Well, he’s hardly going to have a wand,” Rose said irritably.

“You never know. I’d want to be pretty sure he didn’t before I went to face him.”

Rose turned around and stormed up to the dormitory. Nothing was working out the way it should. Her dad didn’t believe her, James didn’t believe her, they couldn’t watch Snape properly; there was still plenty of time when he could be sneaking out to help Malfoy unknown to them. Diana was reluctant to visit the Shrieking Shack with them and so far George hadn’t even replied to their letter asking if he knew how to get into it.

An owl arrived at the dormitory window and Rose leapt up to open it. Maybe it was from George.

It wasn’t, she realised as soon as she opened the window. She recognised the owl as her parents’. Nevertheless, she ripped the notes from its leg eagerly.

The first page was a short note from her mother.

Jessica asked us to send you this.

A letter from Jessica. It might not have been exactly what Rose had been hoping for, but it still cheered her up a little. It was great to hear from her.

Hi Rose,
Write soon? You’ve some cheek, saying that to me after the length of time it took you to reply to my letters. Still, at least you did answer finally. I was beginning to think you didn’t want to be friends anymore, now that you are off at your new school. Have you any new friends there, by the way? And if so, do you like them better than me? I know I’m not really supposed to ask stuff like that, but I want to know.

To answer your questions, yeah, Lucy’s mother is still coming up to the door of the school with her. They had a huge argument the first day of school, because her mother went up to the principal, asking her all about what classes Lucy would be in and telling her how shy Lucy was and stuff. She was so embarrassed. Can you imagine? If my mum did that, I’d kill her. Wouldn’t you? Guess what! Jenny got caught smoking just the day after I sent you the last letter, so she did get suspended. She’s unbelievable!

Your news was far more interesting than anything I have though. One of your teachers helping a criminal escape? What’s happened? Has he been arrested? That would be so exciting! I wonder if any of our teachers is a criminal. I bet Mrs. Caulfield is. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

Oh, you never told me the address of your school, so I had to give this to your mum to send to you. Don’t forget to tell me in your next letter.

And don’t forget to write back quickly!
Love Jessica.


Rose had every intention of “forgetting” to tell Jessica the address for her school again, but she would write back quickly. The truth was that she was glad of the chance to write to Jessica. Even if she did have to be a little vague with regard to the details, at least she could tell her some things that she couldn’t talk to anybody in Hogwarts about. And at least Jessica believed her.

Hi Jessica,
Thanks for your letter.

It’s actually getting really annoying about that teacher, because nobody will believe us about what we heard. I can’t remember how much I actually told you, but I was going to phone Dad to tell him about us winning the match and Snape was on the phone, so we listened to his conversation. We can’t tell any of the teachers what we heard, because then we’d have to admit we were listening to his private phone calls. And Dad doesn’t believe me. I was sure he would, but he thinks I’ve misheard. Do you have any ideas about what we should do? Michael and me and a friend of mine have tried watching him to see what he does, but we can’t watch him all day everyday.

And yes, I do have friends here, but I don’t like them better than you. One of Dad’s friends has a daughter going here too. You remember Diana? I think I mentioned her to you before. Well, she is my best friend here, but you are still my best friend at home.

From Rose.


Chapter 12: Michael the Traitor.
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After a week, all three were getting fed up of attempting to shadow Snape.

“It’s not as much fun as it sounds in books,” Rose admitted disappointedly.

Diana shrugged. “I guess that’s because they don’t do it all the time. They seem to get their answer almost straight away. All Snape seems to do is teach, talk to the rest of the staff, eat and boring stuff like that.”

“Well, he is a teacher. They all have boring lives. Not that helping prisoners escape is particularly boring.”

“Maybe we should just give up. If he is still helping him, he’s obviously doing it when we’re asleep or something. He probably wouldn’t do it any time there could be anybody around anyway.”

Rose didn’t answer. Diana had a point. Snape certainly didn’t seem to be giving anything away, and the truth was that she was getting as bored watching him as Diana was, but she didn’t want to give it up until they could come up with a better idea, and as it stood, they didn’t really have anything.

If only George would answer their owl and let them know how to get into the Shrieking Shack, it’d be a help, but until then she wanted to continue doing something.

It was Michael who made up their minds.

He raced up to Rose after Quidditch practice the next day.

“Rose, you’re probably going to kill me for this, but I can’t keep up watching Snape.”

“Why not?” she snapped.

Admittedly, she and Diana had already been considering the possibility of giving up, but it should have been an agreement between the three of them. By simply dropping out without asking anybody, Michael was letting them down.

“Quidditch practice,” he muttered. “We’ve our match with Slytherin just after Christmas, you know, and Joshua wants us to get in as much practice as possible before that. We really have to beat them!”

“Well, if Joshua wants it.”

“Ah, Rose, don’t be like that. Come on, what am I supposed to do. You want Gryffindor to win the Quidditch Cup, don’t you?”

“Well of course I do, but, you know, I do think that the idea of Malfoy hiding somewhere near here is a little more serious than a Quidditch match.”

“No, you don’t. You just like the idea of capturing him and being congratulated by everybody and having them admit we were right all along, that’s all!”

“So? What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing really. Just don’t try to pretend you’re doing this for the good of the world or anything. You’re doing it for fun, that’s all, so you might as well admit it.”

Rose didn’t reply. She simply turned around and stormed off down the corridor.

“Rose, Rose,” Michael called after her, but she ignored him and went to look for Diana

She wasn’t too difficult to find, as it was her turn to keep an eye on Snape and she was hanging around at the end of the corridor, waiting to see if he came out of the staffroom.

“I don’t know if you should be here,” she muttered to Rose, as soon as she found her. “McGonagall’s already asked me what I’m doing hanging around the corridors like this. Two of us would be even more noticeable.”

“We can pretend we’re just chatting. Michael says he can’t help any more. He has Quidditch practice.”

“Well, I suppose he would have,” Diana said. “He does have less time than we do, after all.”

“But don’t you think this is a bit more important than Quidditch.” Rose lowered her voice, remembering that they didn’t exactly want the whole school to hear their conversation. “These are Death Eaters we are talking about. Who knows what they are planning. And we are the only people who know about it. We have to do something, don’t you think so?”

“I guess, but you have to admit, we’re not getting very far with this. And if Michael can’t help any more, I think we are going to have to give up, Rose. There is no way the two of us can do it all by ourselves.”

“I know,” Rose muttered in annoyance. “Merlin, I could kill Michael.”

“We were thinking about it anyway,” Diana pointed out. “Maybe he’s done us a favour.”

Rose had no intention of admitting that, even if she did find that she had far more time to enjoy her time at Hogwarts over the next few days. She had not quite realised just how much they had been missing over the past week until she was free to spend her free time as she liked again. It was fun to sit chatting with Diana when both of them had finished their homework, knowing that neither of them would have to slip of to spy on the Potions Master within minutes. And it was nice to have some time to slip down to the edge of the Forbidden Forest or to practice duelling in the corridors while keeping a close eye out for the appearance of Filch or any of the teachers.

“But that’s not the point,” she replied when Diana pointed out how much more fun they were having since giving up their surveillance. “For all we know, Snape could be off with Malfoy right now. They could be doing anything.”

“We could go watch him now if you like,” Diana said with a sigh.

“There’s no point. Not unless we can do it all the time. Otherwise, he can just go off to him when there’s nobody looking.”

Diana rolled her eyes.

“Well, there’s no point in blaming Michael like this. You know we’d have had to give up eventually anyway. We weren’t getting anywhere.”

“But we should have all agreed! He shouldn’t have just decided to stop by himself.”

“What choice had he? He has to go to Quidditch practices if Joshua tells him to. Rose, you are getting kind of...I don’t know…obsessed with this or something. You haven’t even played any tricks on Theodora in ages. When she and Ceri swapped your caterpillars for those fake ones from Weasleys in Potions the other day, you didn’t even notice, until I said it. And you never even bothered to get them back.

“Yeah, well, I was watching Snape, wasn’t I? You’d never know when he might say something that would give us a clue.”

“Rose, he was talking about a laughing potion. What did you expect him to say? ‘Then you add the fish liver. Oh, and by the way, Lucius Malfoy is hiding in the Shrieking Shack.’”

“Don’t be stupid.”

“Well, we can find out what’s going on without watching him twenty-four hours of the day. I’m sure we can. There’s only another two weeks or so to the next Hogsmeade weekend. Michael is going to see what he can find out about the Shrieking Shack then.”

“If he can be bothered,” Rose muttered.

“Of course he can. Just because he’s too busy to spend all his time on this doesn’t mean he doesn’t care at all. He’s looking forward to investigating in Hogsmeade.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Well, maybe if you’d actually talk to him. Come on, come and watch Quidditch practice with me tomorrow. Michael’s getting really good.

Rose shook her head. She had no intention of going to watch him after the way he’d let them down. So Diana went on her own, and Rose sulked in the common room.

“What’s the matter with you?” Anthea asked.

“Who said anything is the matter?” she snapped.

“Well, you just don’t really seem in that good a mood lately.”

“As if I’d tell you anyway. I know all about your family, you know.”

“Leave her alone,” Niamh said. “It’s not fair. You always give out about people insulting Diana’s dad, but you go around insulting Anthea’s parents. That’s not on.”

Rose glared at her and walked out of the room. How could Niamh compare Remus Lupin to those Death Eaters? Well, ok, so she didn’t actually know if Anthea’s parents were Death Eaters or not, but even if they weren’t, they probably supported them, so it was all the same really.

Theodora was taking full advantage of Rose’s preoccupation and hardly a day went by without her making some attempt to get Rose in trouble or play a joke on her.

She hid Rose’s wand before Charms one day and it was only when the class began that Rose noticed it missing.

“I know I had it before class,” she muttered in exasperation. “Oh, where could I have put it?”

“You didn’t put it anywhere,” Diana said. “I think Theodora had it. And it’s time she learned a learned a lesson.”

Diana raised her hand. “Professor?”

“Yes, Lupin.”

“Somebody has taken Rose’s wand.”

A worried look crossed Theodora’s face and she tried frantically to replace the wand on Rose’s desk. Unfortunately for her, Professor Flitwick noticed her attempt.

“Excuse me, Theodora. What is that in your hand?”

“Um, my wand, Professor.”

“Give it a wave for us, there,” the Professor said.

Theodora paled, but she waved the wand.

“As you did in Ollivanders.”

No spark came from the wand.

“Now perhaps you would pass it over to Rose.”

Theodora did so, without a word.

“Give it a wave, Rose, just as you did in Ollivanders.”

Rose did as she was asked and sparks immediately flew out of the wand, just as they had done when she had picked it up in the shop.

“Well, I think that proves it,” Flitwick said. “Now, I don’t know what is going on between you two, but I would ask you to keep your feuds out of my classroom in future.”

“That’s not fair, Professor,” Diana protested. “Rose didn’t do anything.”

“I realise that…this time. But I am not quite as foolish as you all may think. This hasn’t been the first incident which has happened between you. Just keep it out of your Charms lessons, ok?”

“Yes, Professor,” Rose and Diana said.

Theodora mumbled something which the Professor appeared to take as agreement from her too.

Once class finished, Diana again pointed out Rose’s preoccupation with their mystery.

“It’s not like you to miss something like that,” she said.

“I am trying to think of a way to prove what’s going on,” Rose replied testily.

Diana sighed, but didn’t bother to continue the argument. It had all been said already.

Towards the end of November, James stopped Rose in the corridor, as she and Diana hurried out to their Herbology class.

“Have you got a second, Rose?”

“Sure,” she agreed. “It’s only Herbology. Professor Sprout never says much to you. What is it?”

“I’d Defence Against the Dark Arts just now, and after class Hermione said that she was going to ask us over to her house this weekend.”

“Is Michael going?”

“Yeah, but not Harriet. She went home last weekend, so this time it’s just going to be us and Michael. And Steve of course.”

“If he’s going, then I’m not!”

“Oh, come on Rose. I don’t know what this is all about, but you’re just cutting off your nose to spite your face. I know you miss Steve. You were saying all summer about how much you’d miss him and Jessica once you started Hogwarts and you’ve hardly seen him since the year started. This is just silly.”

Realising that the argument could go on for a while, Diana slipped out to her next class.

“You don’t understand.”

“You’re quite right. I don’t! Whatever row you two have had, it can’t be all that serious. You never even went to watch him practice with the Quidditch team. Even I’ve gone to watch him and I’m not even a Gryffindor.”
“So?” Rose said rudely. “Anyway, I’ve got to go to class.”

She shoved past him and headed out to Glasshouse One.

“Sorry I’m late, Professor. I got delayed.”

“That’s all right. Just get to work quickly now.”

Though she had managed to escape him that time, James continued to annoy her about coming to Hermione’s with him and Michael, and Hermione also wanted to know what was going on, when Rose told her that she wasn’t coming.

They were in Hermione’s office and the Professor rose to close the door.

“What is this about, Rose? You and Michael were together quite a lot, earlier this year. I was quite surprised at how much time you were spending together, actually, as he is two years older than you. But for the last two weeks, you appear to be totally avoiding him. I’ve asked him what it’s about, but all he said is that you were annoyed at the amount of time he’s been spending practicing Quidditch.”

“It’s not as simple as that.”

“No, I didn’t think it would be. I know you are a sensible girl, Rose, usually anyway, and that would be a very silly thing to do. So could you tell me what it is about.”

“No,” Rose said bluntly. “Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but I really can’t tell you.

“Well, ok, I don’t want to pry into your secrets, but whatever it is, can’t you try and make up with him? It’s a pity to see the two of you not talking like this.”

“Can I go now?”

“Hermione stood up again and opened the door.

“Of course you can. But, please, think about what I’ve said.”

She thought about it, but had no intention of changing her mind.

On Saturday morning, James came into the Gryffindor common room with Michael and they both headed over to her.

“You’re not supposed to be in here,” she said to James, ignoring Michael completely.

“Come with us, Rose. We’re just about to head over to Michael’s house now. Come on, it won’t be the same without you.”

Rose simply folded her arms and shook her head.

James and Michael exchanged looks.

“Last chance, Rose,” James said, before both boys left the room.

Rose was in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Although, she tried to behave as normal and enjoy herself with Diana, she couldn’t help wondering what the boys were getting up to. If she’d been there, the four of them could have played two-a-side Quidditch. Maybe Ron was teaching the boys Quidditch tips right now and she was missing out. It wasn’t fair. James didn’t even like Quidditch much.

“Well, why don’t you just make up with him?” Diana asked, getting fed up with Rose’s complaints.

“I’m not going to make the first move. It’s all his fault.”

Diana rolled her eyes.

“Well, stop complaining, then.”

A part of Rose did want to make up, but she had no intention of being the one to apologise. She had no intention of even asking James what they had done that day, she decided, when she saw Michael return to the common room that evening.

For the next couple of days, she and Michael continued to avoid one another.

“Why couldn’t he just apologise?” she wondered. She was about ready to forgive him now, if he only said he was sorry.

Finally, he came over to her, in the common room.

“I got a letter,” he whispered.

“So?” she asked. She had no intention of making this easy for him.

“From George.”

All her grievances were forgotten in the excitement of the moment.

“Does it tell us….?”

Michael nodded.

Without another word, Rose snatched the letter from him and began to read.


Chapter 13: The Shrieking Shack.
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Dear Michael, the letter began.
Great to hear from you and Rose, even if you do seem to have some ulterior motives going on! I don’t suppose there’d be much point in asking either of you just why it is that you want to know how to get to the Shrieking Shack. I am quite sure you wouldn’t tell me. Well, fair enough. I don’t suppose we were too anxious to share any of our plans with the adults when we were at school either!

To answer your question, yes, we do know how to get to the Shrieking Shack from Hogwarts and it doesn’t even require that you leave the school grounds-well, not obviously anyway. (Actually, it was your parents and Rose’s dad who found the way originally, and not the Marauder’s Map. I suppose you have your reasons for not asking them, though.) The passage which leads to the Shrieking Shack is protected by the Whomping Willow, so it is extremely dangerous to attempt to enter it, unless you know the secrets.

The most important thing to know is that there is a knot under the tree which freezes it, so you will need something long- perhaps a branch from another tree or some sort of pole to use for that. Preferably not your wands! Your dad can tell you why that wouldn’t be a good idea, Michael! For Merlin’s sake, be careful. You know what that tree is like. I do not want to have to face your parents’ reactions if you are attacked by it and they find out that I was the one who told you that it protected the passage. Rose’s mother would half-kill me! She can throw one mean hex when she’s annoyed!

Once the branches are frozen, the rest is easy. A gap will appear by the roots and you can enter a tunnel which will bring you into the Shack.

And, Michael, don’t tell your mum I said this, but I hope that whatever you are planning is something fantastic.

Your loving uncle,
George.


“YES!” Rose cheered and she raced off across the common room, the letter still grasped in her hand.

“Diana, I’ve something to show you. Come on.”

She practically dragged her friend out of the room.

“What’s all this about?” Diana asked.

“Shush, I can’t tell you now. We have to go somewhere private.”

But it was hard to find somewhere private in Hogwarts, what with the students, staff and ghosts all wandering around. Even if you went into a quiet room, you couldn’t be sure that a ghost wouldn’t appear through the wall. If only they could use the room of requirement, Rose thought, but she didn’t know where the entrance to it was. Was it on the seventh floor? Or maybe the eighth? She could ask her dad, but that wasn’t much use for the moment.

“Let’s go outside,” she suggested.

“Rose, it’s gone seven. It’s pitch black out there and probably freezing cold.”

“Oh, stop complaining and come on. We need somewhere private.”

Out in the grounds, she finally passed the letter to Diana.

“Rose, we are not going down there,” she said as soon as she finished reading.

“Ah, Diana.”

“For Merlin’s sake, George is telling us to be careful. Have you ever heard either of the twins say that before? And we’ve seen that tree! It’s vicious. I don’t even like walking too close to it, to be honest with you.”

“Your dad did it once a month for seven years. It never did him any harm.”

“Well…” Diana paused a moment. “He didn’t do it when there was probably a dangerous criminal waiting in there for him.”

“We wouldn’t actually have to go in. We could just go to the end of the passage and listen for any sign of somebody in there.”

No, Rose.”

Rose started to sulk and Diana hastened to placate her.

“Look, Michael will be going into Hogsmeade at the weekend. He’ll be able to listen for any signs of life from outside the Shack. And it’ll be even better, because he’ll also be able to ask people if they heard anybody in there at any time. We’d only be able to stay there a short while and Malfoy mightn’t make any sounds then.”

“I suppose,” Rose admitted. “That’s if he remembers.”

“Of course he will. He wants to prove this as much as we do.”

Rose didn’t say anything.

“Can we go back inside now?” Diana said. “It’s freezing out here.”

“Oh, all right.”

The two girls headed back to the school and Rose handed the letter back to Michael.

“When can we talk about this?” she asked quietly, indicating herself, Michael and Diana.

“Now, I guess,” Michael said. “Except we’ll have to find somewhere private.”

“Not outside,” Diana groaned.

“We could find a classroom,” Michael said.

“What if a ghost came in? Half the time they don’t even bother to make their presence known. They just appear.”

“That’s because they’re ghosts,” Michael pointed out. “But come on, most of them aren’t going to care what we’re doing. Nearly Headless Nick might even help us out. Peeves is the only one we’ve got to look out for.”

“What about the Bloody Baron?” Rose had never trusted him. There was something distinctly sinister about him.

“He doesn’t pay any attention to us students,” Michael assured her.

“Ok.” Rose agreed to chance a classroom.

They went into the Transfiguration classroom.

“Even if Professor Leaming did come in, she’s stupid enough to believe any excuse we think up,” Michael said.

Rose hadn’t given up the idea of going down the tunnel and listening into the Shrieking Shack and the disagreement between her and Diana started up again.

“You can find out about it in Hogsmeade, can’t you Michael?” Diana enlisted his support.

“Yeah, sure I can.” He turned to Rose and continued a little awkwardly. “We know how to get in anyway, and if we have to, we can always do it later, but I’ll see if I can find out whether he’s even in there first, ok?”

“Ok,” Rose agreed reluctantly.

The truth was that she didn’t really like being left out of such an important part of the investigation. It wasn’t fair that first years weren’t allowed into Hogsmeade. Now, Michael would be the one to find everything out and maybe nobody would even know that she and Diana had been involved at all.

No, that wasn’t fair. She knew that Michael would never pretend he had done it all himself. He’d tell people what she had done. It still wasn’t the same as being there, though.

“Well, make sure you tell us exactly what you hear and exactly what everybody says,” she instructed.

Michael nodded. “All right.”

All three friends waited impatiently for the weekend. Even though Rose and Diana wouldn’t actually be there themselves, they couldn’t wait to hear what Michael found out.

Finally Saturday came. It was hard to tell what Michael was more excited about: going to Hogsmeade or getting the chance to investigate the Shrieking Shack.

“I don’t know what you find so exciting about Hogsmeade,” Rose said. “You live in Hogsmeade.”

“Yeah, well, going shopping with your parents isn’t quite the same as spending the day in Weasleys and the sweetshop. Besides I have a lot of Christmas shopping to do.”

Rose ignored the interesting question of whether or not he was planning to get her a Christmas present and concentrated on the issue at hand.

“Well, don’t forget to find out if there’s been any sign of life in the Shrieking Shack. Or rather, what signs of life there were. He has got to be there.”

Michael shrugged. “I’ll find out,” he promised. “But you know, he mightn’t be there, Rose. They might think it’s too obvious.”

“Obvious,” Rose scoffed. “It is not. Not unless you know that Snape is involved. And nobody knows that except us.”

Michael conceded the point and assured Rose once again that if there was anything to find out, he would do so.

“Now, I’d better be off, or I won’t have anything like enough time for Christmas shopping and sleuthing.”

The day seemed to drag on forever in Rose’s opinion. She and Diana sat, watching the clock, in the common room.

“I’m going to go study for our Defence Against the Dark Arts test,” Diana decided. “You should too.”

Rose shook her head. There was no way she would be able to concentrate. Between wondering what James was getting her for Christmas and wondering what, if anything, Michael had found out, her mind was being kept fully occupied.

“It’s a good time to study. The place is really quiet.”

Rose shook her head again, and went back to simply watching the clock and waiting for the older students to return.

It seemed like several days had passed before Michael rushed into the common room, with a group of other third years, all chatting excitedly about the day and the presents which they had bought for their families.

“For Merlin’s sake, Michael, come over here,” she silently willed him.

Finally, he broke away from the other students and beckoned her and Diana to follow him. Automatically, all three headed for the Transfiguration classroom. Professor Leaming never shut the door and it was rapidly becoming their meeting place.

“Sweets,” Michael announced, dumping a huge pile of them on the desk in front of him as soon as they had sat down.

Diana rumbled immediately through them, selecting a sugar quill, a handful of Fizzing Whizzbees and some ice mice.

Rose ignored the sweets. They would still be there in a few moments; well, maybe not if Diana kept going through them at that rate. For now, there were more important things to think of.

“Well,” she demanded. “What have you found out?”

“Nothing.”

NOTHING?

“Well, kind of. Don’t look at me like that, Rose! I spent the best part of half an hour hanging around outside it, talking to Ragmar. He was getting really impatient as a matter of fact; couldn’t understand why I wanted to hang around there. And afterwards, I managed to slip away from the others and talk to a few people living near the Shrieking Shack. I met this kid. I’d say she was about eight or nine years old. So I could ask her all I liked and she didn’t get suspicious. She said that everybody says the Shrieking Shack is haunted, but she’d never heard anything there. She sounded quite disappointed. And I asked this old man. I pretended that I was just a young Hogwarts kid, going to Hogsmeade for the first time, fascinated by all the rumours about the place. They get a fair amount of that. He didn’t seem to think it anything strange. But he said it was years since he’d heard anything there. Not since he was a fairly young man, when his kids were small and all.”

“That was probably Dad,” Diana said, her voice slightly muffled by the amount of sweets she’d stuffed into her mouth.

“Yeah. So it doesn’t get us very far. Or maybe it does. Maybe Malfoy really isn’t there.”

“Or maybe they’ve put some sort of silencing charm on it,” Rose insisted. “We have to go down there now. We have to find out for sure.”

Diana put down the sugar quill she’d been licking.

“No way,” she said.

“Yes. I’m going anyway. I don’t care what you do. We have to know for sure.”

There was a note of challenge in Rose’s tone, as if she might turn on anybody who refused to come.

“Rose,” Diana began in a pleading voice. “What if he is in there? What would we do if he had a wand and turned it on us? You know how many people he’s killed. He wouldn’t mind killing us as well. And then there’s the Whomping Willow itself. Even George said we should be careful of that.”

Michael raised a hand.

“Let’s not argue.”

“It’s a crazy idea, Michael.”

“Maybe not, if we go about it properly. And that isn’t just rushing in there now,” he continued with a glance at Rose. “We need to plan this carefully. For one thing, Rose, you have got to promise that you won’t go rushing into the Shack itself unless we have to or we’re fairly sure it’s safe.”

Rose nodded.

“And you two need to learn to protect yourselves a little. I can’t protect us all myself. Not against an adult, fully qualified wizard. I’ll teach you both the disarming charm. Then in an emergency the three of us can turn that on him.”

“Ok, show us,” Rose demanded.

“Now?”

“Why not?”

“Ok.”

Diana didn’t say anything to agree or disagree, but she stood up and joined in the lesson. After an hour, however, she and Rose were still unable to disarm Michael.

“Look, we’ll try again tomorrow,” Michael said. “Have some sweets before we go back to the common room. You haven’t had any yet, have you Rose?”

She didn’t need to be asked twice. Hurriedly, she selected a box of jelly slugs and some Fizzing Whizzbees, as Diana quickly scooped up even more sweets. Michael gathered up the small amount that was left and the three friends returned to the common room.

It took almost two weeks for Rose and Diana to master the disarming spell with some degree of competence.

“Come on,” Rose insisted, when Diana finally managed to disarm Michael. “We have to go soon. It’s almost the Christmas holidays.”

“Tomorrow,” Michael promised. “It’s too late now, but we’ll go tomorrow. Ok, Diana.”

“Ok,” Diana replied doubtfully.

Rose couldn’t wait. Despite Diana’s doubts and Michael’s insistence on taking care and going slowly, she couldn’t help feeling sure that the next day would be the day that they would finally capture Malfoy.

“Let’s take some tightly tying thread,” she suggested. “We can use that to protect ourselves too.”

She put it in the way most likely to convince Diana and Michael, but her real motivation was that she wanted to have Malfoy tied and captured when the adults were finally convinced to go and search the Shack. The last thing she wanted was for anybody else to get the pleasure of actually capturing him.

Her friends agreed and the next day they set off, wands and thread in their hands.

Michael insisted on being the one to take a branch from another tree and freeze the branches of the Whomping Willow.

“If anything happened to either of you, I’d be the one to get in most trouble,” he pointed out. “They’d say I was old enough to know better and that I should have taken care of you.”

“Be careful,” he called to them,” as the two girls crawled in ahead of him, as soon as the branch touched the knot.

“Lumos,” Michael said and the end of his wand lit up.

Both girls tried to do likewise, but it just wouldn’t work for them.

“Oh, never mind,” Rose muttered, following Michael down the passageway. It seemed to take forever. On and on they went, until eventually, the tunnel rose.

“We must be almost there,” Rose whispered.

A small opening could be seen in front of them. Michael grabbed her arm.

“Wait,” he said.

The room in front of them seemed to be in virtual darkness.

“Use your wand,” Rose instructed Michael.

He poked it through the opening, but there was very little to be seen. The room looked deserted. They waited for what seemed like an age, but no sign of life appeared in the Shack. It remained silent and deserted looking.

“Let’s go in,” Rose insisted. “Come on, we have to find out for sure if there is anybody there.”

She clambered through the opening, followed reluctantly by Michael and Diana.

Not a word passed between them. They all realised that if Malfoy was in the Shack, it was very important that he didn’t hear them.

Rose tiptoed quietly into the hallway and glanced at the stairs. It looked creaky. Would it be possible for them to slip up it without making any sound? Not if all three of them went up, that was for sure.

She motioned for the others to stay where they were. Michael shook his head. He wasn’t going to let her go up alone. How could you argue without words? It was one thing to indicate that somebody should wait; quite another to try and indicate “the stairs looks as if it would creak if we all went up it. The only hope of getting up quietly is for me to go alone. I’m the lightest of us, after all.”

There was no way of getting that through to him, so she just tried to indicate that he wait a moment. She doubted he got it.

Carefully, she stepped onto the stairs. It took forever to walk up them, when you have to think exactly where to place your feet and take care not to knock against anything or make any sound whatsoever.

She reached the top and glanced cautiously into the room. It too was empty. Michael appeared behind her.

“Nothing,” he said.

“Shush,” she hissed, as quietly as possible.

“Rose, there’s nobody here. Look at the dust on these things. It looks as if there’s been nobody here in like...forty years.”

He was right. She couldn’t deny it now.

“Well, if you hadn’t insisted that we spend the last two weeks learning that stupid spell,” she yelled, stamping her foot on the floor, and feeling the stairs shake beneath her. “He could have been here, and now he’s after getting away.”

“I doubt that,” Michael said.

“Oh, you know everything, don’t you?” she said, stamping down the stairs and heading for the tunnel that would lead them back to the school.

The others followed quietly behind her. Perhaps it was because of her annoyance or maybe just because they weren’t bothering with the same amount of caution as they had when going to the Shack, but the walk back seemed to take a lot less time and the sight of the end of the passage surprised her.

“Wait,” Michael said, breaking the silence.

In direct disobedience of George’s instructions, he used his want to touch the knot and disable the tree, and they crawled out of the hole.

They headed back to the school in silence.

A/N: The rest of the chapters of this story will not be added as quickly as the previous ones have been, as they have yet to be written. The chapters already posted were written in advance, so all I had to do was post them

Chapter 14: Christmastime.
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Even Rose couldn’t remain disappointed over what had, or rather hadn’t, happened for long. It was almost the Christmas holidays and like most of the Hogwarts’ students, she was preparing to go home. Much as she loved Hogwarts, she couldn’t wait to go home and see her parents and Jessica and all her friends and relations again.

She  loved Christmas and with the excitement of the season, quickly forgot the let down she'd experienced in the Shrieking Shack. 

“What did you get me?” she pleaded with James for about the hundred time.

“You’ll find out on Christmas morning,” he replied.

“Oh, come on, tell me, come on.”

He  shook his head.

“Well, give me a hint anyway. Did you get it in Honeydukes?”

“Rose, stop trying to get me to tell you! I’m not going to!”

She gave up. “Well, I hope you got me something nice anyway. You’ve no excuse not to, now you’re allowed into Hogsmeade, and I’m not.”

“Don’t worry.” He smiled.

Hermione wouldn’t tell her what she and Ron were giving her either.

“You’ll just have to learn some patience, Rose.”

It wasn’t just about patience, though. Theodora'd spent the last couple of weeks boasting about how her father was getting her a broom and speculating as to how she could sneak it into Hogwarts without being caught. Rose rolled her eyes in an exaggerated fashion whenever her rival started going on about it, but that was all she could do. She couldn’t compete when nobody would give her any idea what she was getting.

Theodora knew that and delighted in rubbing he nose in it.

“And what are you getting for Christmas? Did I tell you my dad is getting me a broom?”

“He hasn’t said yet, but I know it’ll be something good. He earns quite a lot as an Auror, you know. How much does your dad earn, being a waste of space?”

“Don’t you talk about my dad?”

Theodora drew her wand.

“Theodora Nott.”

Both girls swung around to see Hermione standing being them.

“You know the rules, Theodora. No magic in the corridors. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to take ten points from Slytherin.”

“Ah, where’s your Christmas spirit, Professor?”

Hermione ignored her, and headed off down the corridor, followed by Rose, who had no intention of spending any more time than necessary in Theodora’s company.

“What was all that about, Rose?” Hermione asked without turning her head.

She shrugged. “Just Theodora being a pain. She’s always like that.”

“Well, don’t provoke her,  ok.?  Sometimes you really remind me of your dad.”

Rose smiled. She wanted to be like her father.

“Do you think I could be an Auror too, when I’m grown up?”

“I don’t see why not, so long as you concentrate a little harder on your lessons. You have to get high marks in Transfiguration, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Herbology and Charms in order to be an Auror.”

Rose made a face. She wasn’t stupid by any means, but she didn’t particularly like schoolwork. There were so many more enjoyable things to spend your time on than homework, in her opinion.

Anyway, she didn’t have to worry about it for a couple of weeks now, she thought, as she packed her trunk for the journey home. Anthea was the only one of the Gryffindor girls who was staying at school, so the dormitory was in quite a panic as the girls searched for their things.

“Should we take down our posters and stuff?” Megan asked.

“I don’t see why,” Rose answered. “We’ll be back soon enough.”

Finally, they were organised and they headed out to catch the Hogwarts Express.

Rose and Diana quickly found a compartment and settled down for a chat. For a change, neither Snape nor Lucius Malfoy was so much as mentioned. They were too excited about seeing their families and the fact that Christmas was only a matter of days away.

The journey passed quickly and it seemed no time until the train pulled into King’s Cross station. The students crowded off the train, their eyes searching the platform for their families.

It didn’t take Rose and Diana long to spot Tonks’ pink hair. Harry was standing with her, so the they both  hurried over to their parents.

“We had Auror business in London,” Harry explained, ruffling his daughter’s hair. “So we decided to come and collect you as we were here.”

As he was speaking, James walked over to join them.

“Hi Dad. Hi Tonks.”

Parents and children greeted each other quickly.

“Are you ready to head off now?” Tonks asked.

“Oh, wait one moment. I need to give Diana her Christmas present.”

The girls exchanged presents and Rose ripped hers open quickly. It was another set of Unnoticeable Notes.

“I noticed you were running low, so I sent off an owl order to Weasleys.”

“Thanks Diana.” Rose hugged her friend.

They said goodbye and both families left the station.

It was good to be home, Rose decided that evening. She hadn’t realised just how much she’d missed her mother, until she saw her waiting in the kitchen for her children to return.

“Oh, what’s cooking,” Rose asked.

“Just a few sausages and chips. I thought you might be hungry after your journey. Now sit down and tell me all about Hogwarts, while I dish up. Did you have a good term, James.” She turned to her son.

“Yeah,” he said eagerly, launching into a long story about his friends and their last trip into Hogsmeade. Rose would have been interested, if she hadn't had quite a lot to tell her mother herself. She just wished James would shut up and let her begin. He’d been at Hogwarts years, after all. He couldn’t have as much to tell as she had. It was all new to her.

They spent the rest of the evening chatting. Rose and James told about their term at school, their classes, their friends and all that had happened, and Harry told them some stories from his work.

“You’re still looking for Malfoy, aren’t you?” Rose said casually.

“Yes. Nobody really thought he could remain in hiding this long. Sirius did, of course, but he had the entire Order helping him.”

“Malfoy probably has people helping him.”

“He must have. He couldn’t manage it, otherwise. We’ll get him, though. It’s just taking a little longer than expected.”

“Do you have any idea who could be helping him?”

“Oh, we’ve a pretty fair idea, all right. It’s just a matter of proving it.”

She didn’t say anything about Snape. Glad as she was to see her father again, she was still slightly annoyed at him for the way he'd dismissed what she and Michael had heard. If he wasn’t going to believe her, then she wasn’t going to give him any help. He could just wait until she and Diana proved it.

There was far more on her mind than Lucius Malfoy, however. One of her main priorities was to ensure that her parents took her to Diagon Alley before Christmas.

“I have presents to buy,” she explained. “We’re not allowed into Hogsmeade, after all, so I've hardly had a chance to do  any shopping since I started Hogwarts. Only what I could get by owl order.”

“All right, we’ll go to Diagon Alley.” Ginny smiled.

“When?”

“Em, tomorrow, maybe, if I have time. I’m not sure, Rose, but if we don’t go tomorrow, we’ll go the day after.”


“Can we go tomorrow? Please, please, please, please.”

“If I have time,” Ginny said. There was a note of warning in her voice and Rose shut up abruptly. The next thing her mother would say would be “we won’t go at all, if you don’t behave yourself” and that was the last thing she wanted.

Diagon Alley was beautiful at Christmas time, Rose thought as she and Ginny arrived on its festooned streets the next day. Lanterns hung from the buildings and fairies fluttered all around the street. Music floated magically up and down the alley. Witches and wizards, dressed in their warmest robes, hurried to and fro, laden down with parcels.

James hadn’t wanted to go with them, so it was just Rose and her mother. After spending most of the last four months at school, it was nice to have her mother to herself for a while, particularly as Ginny didn’t have much shopping of her own to do and was able to give her full attention to her daughter.

“Does this mean you’ve already bought our presents?” Rose asked.

Ginny raised her eyebrows and didn’t answer.

“What do you need to get anyway?” she asked.

“Well, I want to get present for you and Dad. And James. And Jessica. I think that’s all. Oh, I know what I want to give Jessica.”

“What?” Her mother sounded a little suspicious.

“A sugar quill and a liquorice wand.”

Ginny nodded. That was ok. Neither of those things was actually magical, even if they didn’t exist in the Muggle world.

It didn’t take long for her to choose what she wanted to buy. She got the sweets for Jessica, a new quill for James, Beating the Bludgers-A Study of Defensive Strategies in Quidditch for her father, and a bracelet for her mother.

“All done?” Ginny asked, as her daughter came out of the jewellery shop.

Rose nodded.

“Will we call into a café for some cauldron cakes before we go home, so?”

She agreed enthusiastically and mother and daughter sat in the nearest café eating cakes and chatting, for half an hour, before taking the Floo powder and returning home.

“Did you have a nice time?” James asked, looking up from the book he was flicking through.

“Yeah, but I’m not telling you what I got you, seeing as you wouldn’t tell me,” Rose said.

James and Ginny both smiled. She knew they were laughing at her, or trying not to, anyway, but she didn’t really care. She'd had a nice day. It was a lovely start to the Christmas holidays.

The next few days passed equally pleasantly. On Christmas Eve, she went around to Jessica’s and the two girls sat in her friend’s room, chatting about their new schools. Jessica loved secondary.

“We’re treated much more like grown ups,” she said. “And we have different teachers for every subject, so at least we don’t have to put up with the really horrible ones all day. What’s your school like? I know you said a bit about it in your letters, but tell me more. Hey, what happened to that teacher who was helping that bad guy escape?”

Rose shrugged. “Nobody’ll believe us, and we searched the school, but we couldn’t find him hiding anywhere around. There are all these secret passages around the school and one leads into this little cottage in the town, so we thought he might be hiding there.”

“But he wasn’t.”

“Nope.”

“I wish my school had secret passages. You know what it’s like, don’t you?”

Yeah, Rose knew the sixties style building where Jess now went to school and she much preferred Hogwarts. She said as much.

“Not that your school isn’t nice too.”

It was late in the evening when Rose and Jessica finally exchanged presents, before Rose finally left for home.

“Stationary,” she said, ripping her present open.

“Maybe it’ll remind you to keep in touch. Oooh, what are these?”

“Sweets.”

“I’ve never seen anything like them before. Where did you get them?”

Rose muttered something inaudible. She usually found that when she did that, people barely noticed she hadn’t really answered. It didn’t always work, and never worked with her parents, but this time it did. Jessica was too busy taking a bite out of the sugar quill to interrogate her.

“Thanks Rose,” she said, as soon as she took the quill out of her mouth. “It’s really delicious.”

“Glad you liked it.”

The two girls hugged and said goodbye. Then Rose left, arriving home just in time to avoid trouble with her parents. Not that they could have said all that much. It was Christmas Eve, after all.

It was the one night of the year, when Rose had no objections when it was time to go to bed. That night she didn’t even wait to be told.

“Night Mum, night dad, night James,” she said.

“Are you going up already,” Harry asked.

“Yeah, the sooner I go to sleep, the sooner it’ll be Christmas.”

“Ok, I’ll come up to say goodnight, just as soon as I’ve finished reading this.” He  indicated the Daily Prophet article he was reading.

“Ok, Dad.”

Despite going to bed early, Rose was far too excited to get much sleep and she woke up at six the next morning, having got only about five hours sleep.

“James, James, wake up,” she called, rushing into his bedroom. “It’s Christmas morning.”

“What time is it?” he asked sleepily, pushing himself up to look at the clock on the wall. “Five past six. Ok, Rose, I’ll be down in a minute.”

Ten minutes later, he had dressed and joined her in the living room. Rose was still in her pyjamas, ripping open her presents in excitement.

“Oh, wow! James, James, look at this.”

She held up Harry’s old Invisibility Cloak. Oh, why hadn’t he given her that a few months ago? It would have been so useful on their trip to the Shrieking Shack. Well, she had it now, anyway. It would come in handy in the future, she was sure. Apart from anything else, it would make spying on Snape easier.

James smiled. “Yeah, Dad told me he was giving it to you. He said it was only fair as I got the Firebolt.”

Never mind the Firebolt, she though. This was a hundred thousand times better. She didn’t say that to him, of course.

They continued opening the rest of their presents, but none of the others really compared to the Cloak in Rose’s mind. James got a really good wizarding chess set, which Rose considered a pretty boring present, but he liked it. There were plenty of sweets for each of them, a couple of records of famous wizarding bands and some new clothes. Their grandmother had sent them each a new sweater, which she had made herself and some chocolate frogs.

James’ present to her turned out to be a pair of extendable ears.

“Seeing as you get so much use out of Michael’s. I’ve heard you annoying him for them.”

It was a couple of hours before their parents finally came downstairs, by which time, Rose and James had already placed one of James’ new records on the record player and Rose had dressed in the Invisibility Cloak and was annoying her brother by sneaking up behind him and grabbing his ears or poking him in the back with her wand.

“Stop that Rose,” Harry said, as soon as he entered the room.

She  lowered the Cloak.

“How did you know?”

“Remember I got that the Christmas I was eleven. I know all the tricks, I can assure you. Now, did you both like your presents.”

They both nodded.

Christmas day at the Potters was quiet, but enjoyable. They played games, listened to records, pulled crackers and ate far too much food.

“I’m stuffed,” Rose said, as she finally headed to bed at eleven that night. “I don’t think I could eat again for a month.”

“That’s a pity,” Ginny remarked. “I’m sure Ron and Hermione will have plenty at their party tomorrow.”

“Oh, I’m sure I’ll manage it.”

“Hmm, I thought you might.”

Rose loved the Boxing Day party at Ron and Hermione’s almost more than she loved Christmas day itself. They would get even more presents from all their relatives and Fred and George always gave good presents. It was also fun to meet all her cousins and have a laugh, even if it did mean Albert and his boring parents, Percy and Penelope as well.

However, there was a disappointment in store for the Potters the next morning, when an owl arrived for Harry.

“I’m sorry,” he said, lowering the letter. “I won’t be able to go to the party with you. Tell Ron and Hermione I’m really sorry. I wouldn’t miss it if it wasn’t important.”

“Aw, Dad,” Rose complained.

“Don’t tell me you have to work today." Ginny sounded as disappointed as her daughter.

“I’m afraid so. And I have to go right now. It’s urgent, or so they say. It’ll probably turn out to be a wild goose chase, but I have to check it out anyway. Sorry about this.”

“Don’t worry about it. I know what your job is like. We’ll let them know.”

Ron and Hermione were as disappointed as his family had been that Harry wouldn’t be able to attend, but they understood that there was nothing he could do.

“He’ll join us later, if he gets finished in time,” Ginny said. “I wouldn’t be too hopeful though. These things can take forever, and usually turn out to be some flight of imagination of somebody in the Ministry. You know what they’re like. Sorry, Ron, I didn’t mean you.”

“Oh, believe me, I know what they are like.”

 Bored of listening to their conversation, Rose hurried off to find Fred and George.

“How’s my favourite niece?” Fred said, grabbing her and swinging her up in the air.

“Fred! Stop! I’m not five years old, you know.”

“Where’s your brother? George and I have a couple of presents for the two of you.”

“I’ll get him.”

She rushed off to find him and dragged him over to their uncles.

“Come on. Fred said they have presents for us.”

As usual, their uncles didn’t let them down. James got a Reusable Hangman game and Rose got a Skiving Snackbox. All of their cousins did similarly well, with Michael receiving U-No-Poo and Steve receiving a Snackbox like Rose’s.

Despite her father’s absence, practically everybody had a good time at the party. Percy spent most of his time collaring anybody who would listen and boasting about Albert’s fantastic results in the O.W.Ls. Strangely enough, nobody had much time to talk to him.

At half past seven that evening, Harry finally arrived at the party.

“Dad!”

Rose raced over to him.

“What were you doing? Anything exciting?”

“You could say that,” Harry replied. “For once, the Ministry had a genuine reason for calling us out.”

Ron, Hermione, Ginny, James, Michael, Steve, the twins and others joined them in time to hear the tail end of his answer.

“Well, what was so important that you had to arrive here late?” Ron teased.

“We’ve found Malfoy.”

“Found him as in arrested him?” Ron asked.

“Did you catch his accomplices?” Rose said.

“Yes, we’ve arrested him, but no, Rose, we haven’t arrested anybody else, I’m afraid. He was alone.”

“Oh.” She didn’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved. At least, she could still have the pleasure of being the one to capture Snape, but it was going to be much more difficult if Malfoy was back in Azkaban.



Shortly before nine, the guests began to drift away.

“Stay a while longer,” Ron invited Harry. “You’ve only just arrived, or it feels that way, anyway. I’ve barely had a chance to talk to you.”

Harry smiled. “Is it really my company you want, I wonder, or are you just looking for more information about Malfoy’s arrest.”

“Well, both.”

Harry looked at his wife.

“Do you mind if we stay on a while?” he asked.

“Not at all. It’s not as if they’re likely to go to sleep for a while, anyway.” She nodded in the direction of her children. “And there’s nothing to do at home, as we’ve been here all day. Need any help tidying up here, Hermione.”

“Ah, don’t worry about that. We’ll get it done tomorrow.”

“More like I’ll get it done, while she bosses me about,” Ron muttered.

“Come on now, I do my fair share,” Hermione said. “More than you do as a matter of fact.”

“It’s Christmas,” Harry pointed out. “The season of goodwill. In other words, time for you two to stop bickering for a change.”

Ron and Hermione both smile.

“All right,” they agreed.

Soon, it was only the Potters left and Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny settled down in the armchairs in front of the fire while their children sat down on the floor nearby. Rose manoeuvred herself as close as possible to the adults, so that she could listen in to their conversation.

It was worth her while, as it appeared to centre on the capture of Lucius Malfoy.

“So, what is going on here?” Ron asked. “I’m sure you know a lot more than the official information.”

“Knowing it is one thing; proving it quite another, and to be honest, I’ve my doubts that we’ll ever be able to do that.”

“But you know?”

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Draco is involved, but you remember what he was like at school, don’t you? He’s as tricky as his father ever was. And he’s managed to hang onto some contacts at the Ministry, despite everything, so the proof needs to be rock-solid.”

Draco? Rose racked her brains, trying to think where she had heard that name before. It was something to do with Malfoy, she was sure of it.

Suddenly it came to her. I was talking to his son- you know, Draco Malfoy.

She was right! The two of them must be in it together- Snape and Malfoy’s son and the reason they were talking was because they had been planning the escape. It was all coming together.

But she still had just the same problem as her father; proving it.

“Rose.” Steve interrupted her musing. “You’re not listening to me.”

“Shush. I want to hear what they’re saying.” She pointed at the adults.

“Is it just Draco, do you think?” Hermione was asking. “Or could there be others involved?”

Harry paused. “I don’t know for sure. I find it hard to believe that Malfoy- Draco Malfoy, I mean- could do it all by himself. He’s smart, but… I think it would need more than one person. But I’m not really sure about who else could be involved. I have certain suspicions, but nothing definite. All I have are possibilities.”

Steve was grabbing at Rose’s arm at this point, in an attempt to get her attention.

“Rose,” he began again.

“Aren’t you interested in this at all,” she asked him.

“Well, yeah, kind of, but Dad will tell me all about it later anyway. I haven’t seen you in weeks, and right now, I want to hear about Hogwarts.”

Rose felt mildly guilty. After all, she would have met Steve far more recently if she hadn’t been sulking over her row with Michael.

“We were talking all day,” she muttered defensively.

“Yeah, but it’s not the same with everybody else about. And James and Harriet are too busy talking about I don’t know what to tell me anything.”

Rose glanced over at her brother and cousin. Judging by Harriet’s enthusiasm, she suspected that their conversation was extremely boring. Harriet tended to get excited about things like exam results and subject choices.

“Ok,” she said. “What do you want to hear?”

“About Hogwarts?” Steve shrugged. “Just what’s it like? Is Snape as bad as everybody says?”

“Worse,” Rose began. “He hates me most of all, because of my dad. And granddad. He hates my whole family.”

“He doesn’t like ours much either,” Michael interrupted.

“Only ‘cause your parents are friends with Dad. It’s my family he really hates. Well, I suppose he hates everybody, but he hates the Potters more than that, even. Most of the rest of the teachers are ok, except that Binns is really, really boring.”

“What’s my mum like as a teacher,” Steve asked, grinning.

“She’s all right; a bit strict sometimes, but she gives interesting classes. We haven’t done much actual magic yet, though. Usually I’d think that made it really boring, but we’ve been learning all about Dementors and werewolves and giants and all. It’s actually kind of interesting.”

It was kind of weird, admitting that something you’d learned at school was interesting. She’d hardly found anything interesting in all the years she’d spent in primary school. In fact, the whole thing had felt like rather a waste of time. She was a witch; what did she need with all that Muggle nonsense?

Hogwarts was fun, though; she had to admit that to Steve.

“You and Michael know something about Lucius Malfoy, don’t you?” he whispered. “And that’s why you’re both so anxious to hear what they’re saying. Michael was saying some stuff, but he won’t tell me anything properly.”

“I’ll tell you,” Rose promised. “But not here. We’d get in so much trouble if they found out some of the stuff we did. Come over to our place sometime before we go back to school and I’ll tell you everything.”

Over by the fire, Ginny was pushing her chair back.

“We really ought to go now,” she said apologetically. “We’re getting far too comfortable. If we don’t go now, we never will.”

“Oh, have one more drink before you do,” Ron invited. “A gillywater, Ginny? You’ll have one last Butterbeer, won’t you Harry? Or would you prefer a Firewhiskey.”

“I’ll have a Firewhiskey,” Harry said, throwing caution to the wind. “I didn’t get a chance to drink all that much tonight, after all. One won’t kill me.”

Ginny smiled at her husband. “Yes, thank you Ron. But after this, we really must go.”

Rose and James settled back down on the floor. They knew just how long adults could make the last drink last, particularly if they were going to continue chatting while drinking it.

About a quarter of an hour later, Harry and Ginny finally stood up.

“Come on, Rose, James,” Ginny said. “Time for home. And straight into bed for you, young lady. You look totally exhausted.”

“Oh, no, I’m not tired at all,” Rose insisted, ruining the effect by yawning just at that moment.

“Come on, we’ll get you into bed.”

Hermione passed them the Floo powder and each of the family took a pinch. Ginny was the first to step into the fire, followed by Rose, James and finally Harry.

They had barely stepped out of the fire when Ginny chased Rose off to bed.

“And you should be going up too, James. It’s late for you as well.”

“Right, Mum,” James said, following his sister up the stairs.

Much though Rose wanted to spend some time thinking about the implications of Malfoy’s imprisonment in the silence of the night, she was far too tired to stay awake for long and fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.

Dreams of capturing Snape and seeing him up in front of a court, charged with Death Eater activities and languishing in Azkaban filled her head that night.

“It’ll happen yet,” she thought when she awoke the next morning. Lying in her bed, she thought about what had happened. Things weren’t as difficult as she’d thought when she heard of Malfoy’s arrest. Now that she knew of Draco’s involvement, it should be possible to prove the connection between the two.

She thought for a moment. Draco was at school with her father, wasn’t he? He’d featured in a good deal of his stories and last night he had mentioned something about what Draco had been like at school when they had been talking about him. So she should probably ask her father some subtle questions about what had happened back then.

What should she do first, she wondered, as she stumbled out of bed, and began to dress. Question her father about any connection between Draco and Snape or write to Diana and tell her what had happened yesterday?

As it turned out, she didn’t have much choice in the matter. When she went down to the kitchen to have breakfast, her father had already left.

“Where’s Dad?”

“He had to go into work. There’s a lot of paperwork and stuff to be done after yesterday. Malfoy might be charged with this escape, your father says.”

“What difference would that make? He’s in prison already anyway.”

“It would make it even more unlikely that he’d ever get out. And they might put him in an even more secure cell, now that they know that there’s a risk of him escaping.”

“Oh.”

Truth was that she wasn’t particularly interested any more. He was in Azkaban and it was unlikely that he would ever be released. Her father had already told her that. So whatever happened to him now, didn’t really make any difference. It was the Snape connection that she was interested in.

Accepting that she was unlikely to get any more information before her father came home, she gulped down her breakfast and raced back up the stairs to her room, to write to her friend.

Dear Diana,
I don’t know if you heard about what happened today. It’ll probably be in the
Daily Prophet anyway and maybe your mum was there too, but anyway, Malfoy has been arrested. I don’t know where they caught him yet. Dad didn’t say. Dad was one of the Aurors who arrested him. I’ll ask him about that tonight.

The other interesting news is that Dad says that he thinks Draco Malfoy is involved in his father’s escape. Do you remember? When we overheard Snape talking, he was saying something about talking to Draco Malfoy. They must have been in it together. Dad says he thinks that there was probably two people involved. I knew it! I knew we were right!

From Rose.


Taking one last look at it, she scribbled a hasty PS.

PS. Guess what? Dad gave me his old Invisibility Cloak for Christmas. It's my favourite present.

She ran downstairs, grabbed the family’s owl, who hooted in protest at being grabbed so suddenly, and raced back upstairs again.

“Sorry about that,” she apologised. “But could you take this to Diana Lupin? Thank you so so much.”

The owl did as it was asked and returned shortly afterwards with a reply tied to its leg.

Rose removed it and began to read. The scrawly writing showed that it had been written in a hurry.

Yeah, I knew about Malfoy. Mum was there when he was arrested too. She told me where it was too. Nowhere near Hogwarts, if that’s what you’re wondering. It was just outside London, she says.

I didn’t know about Draco though. That is interesting. It does kind of prove what we already knew. But I bet the adults won’t believe that. They’ll say we heard the name wrong, or that he could have been talking to him about anything.


Rose slammed the letter down on the bed. She knew her friend was right. Actually, they’d probably just think she was making it up, exaggerating, like people always accused her of doing, seeing as she’d never mentioned Draco before.

She’d have to be careful when talking to her dad, she decided. If he realised what it was that she wanted to know, he’d laugh at her. What did real detectives do when they wanted to get information out of somebody without letting them know why they wanted it, she wondered. The trick was probably to seem really casual, like you were just making conversation and the answers didn’t really matter all that much.

It sounded easy, but it did mean that she couldn’t race up to her father demanding answers as soon as he walked in the door, as she wanted to.

Realising this, she waited until they had eaten and were sitting around the table, talking about nothing in particular.

“Have you finished all the paperwork and stuff about Malfoy?” she asked.

Harry nodded. “And you know what the good news is? The Ministry is giving me tomorrow off, because of the amount of work I’ve been doing these past few days.”

“So they should too,” Rose said loyally. “After the way they called you in on your dad off and made you miss Ron and Hermione’s party.”

“It was worth it. Of course, I would have preferred if we’d got him some other day, but it was great to get him at all. If there’s anybody that deserves to rot in Azkaban, it’s him. That whole family’s evil to the core.”

This was her chance!

“His son was at school with you, wasn’t he?”

Harry nodded. “I’m afraid I’m a little biased where Malfoy is concerned-either of them, actually. We weren’t exactly the best of friends.”

“Why not?”

“Oh, lots of reasons. He was jealous of my ‘fame’, I think, and my position on the Quidditch team and…”

“Was he in Gryffindor?” Rose interrupted in disbelief.

“No.” Harry smiled. “He was a Slytherin through and through. He was just jealous because I got on our Quidditch team in first year, which was quite unusual.”

“Snape always favours the Slytherins,” she said, hoping that the change of subject wasn’t too obvious.

Harry didn’t seem to notice. He agreed with her immediately.

“That was always true, and Draco was his absolute favourite.”

Rose’s eyes widened. That was definitely a clue.

“How come?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Draco was smart, and Potions was his best subject. Plus, they both hated me. Other than that, I couldn’t tell you. Snape worked undercover with the Death Eaters, you know. Maybe he was trying to keep in with Malfoy in order to get information from him.”

“Or maybe they were friends because they were both Death Eaters,” Rose thought. “And that was why Snape was nice to his son.”

Harry continued on, telling them stories about his schooldays and his feud with Draco, but there was very little more to be learned from it, as far as Rose could see. She’d already found out what she wanted to know; that there was a past relationship between Snape and the Malfoys.


Chapter 16: Return to Hogwarts.
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The rest of the holidays passed pleasantly, but without major incident.

Rose slept over at Jessica’s on New Year’s Eve, and the two girls finally got a chance to discuss their new schools and all that had happened to them since the summer, without having to worry about either set of parents worrying or hassling them for being home later than they had promised.

Not for the first time, Rose wished that she could tell her friend the truth about her life at Hogwarts. The more time they spent together, the harder it was to keep the truth from her.

It wasn’t that she couldn’t make up a convincing story. She could. It was an ability which had saved her from trouble on a number of occasions. But she didn’t want to lie to Jessica. And she certainly didn’t want to lie in order to make her life sound less exciting than it really was. Spicing things up at bit was one thing. Leaving out really interesting bits was another thing altogether, particularly when Jess wanted to hear all about the teacher she had mentioned and what he had been doing.

Explaining what had happened required a good deal of creativity, but Rose had never lacked that, so she found herself telling her friend about the prisoner’s recapture and how the teacher in question had avoided detection.

“I wonder how come I never heard about that,” Jessica mused. “I was watching the news the other day and they never mentioned it.”

It was hard to know how to reply to that. The incident had made the news all right. It had been on the front page of the Daily Prophet, with an entire article about her father’s involvement. Harry Potter Captures Leading Death Eater for Second Time screamed the headline, alluding to her father’s presence at the Ministry, when Malfoy had been arrested many years ago. But it was obvious enough that Jessica would not have heard that.

She just shrugged.

“Where did you hear it?” Jessica insisted.

“My dad told me. He has inside information about stuff like that.”

“Wish my dad did. He doesn’t get much news, working in a bank. I suppose he could tell me how much money everybody has, except he won’t. That’s classified information, he says.”

The two girls burst out laughing.

Apart from the secrecy issue, Rose had a fantastic time. They stayed up until midnight, eating sweets and watching the television with Jessica’s parents.

“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one,” they counted down with the announcer.

“HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY 2022!”

The two girls hugged one another and cheered crazily. The adults laughed to watch them, and pulled out some crackers left over from Christmas. Giggling, the two girls grabbed them, and pulled them, putting on the hats and telling the jokes. Privately, Rose thought that Muggle crackers were a bit of a let-down. Not that she would have said that, even if she had been allowed to discuss the magical world. She was having far too much fun.

It was after one in the morning when the two girls were finally chased off to bed and even then they didn’t sleep. They carried on talking, laughing and having pillow fights until after five in the morning, when they finally fell asleep.

It was day before they were due to return to Hogwarts when Michael and Steve finally appeared through the Potter’s fireplace.

“Sorry, I didn’t come over sooner,” Steve apologised. “We were over at our grandparents’ for a few days.”

Mr. and Mrs. Granger never attended the Boxing day party at their daughter’s house. Although they approved of Ron and got on well with their in-laws, they were a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of virtual strangers who crowded into Ron and Hermione’s for the party. Therefore, they usually invited the family to come and stay with them later in the holiday season. Visiting the Muggle world was a real treat for their grandchildren and they usually enjoyed the visit immensely.

“Play any football,” James asked immediately.

“Yeah. One of the lads in the street taught me a new technique. Want me to show it to you.”

Ginny folded her arms and stared at her children.

“I hope you’re not going to go off and leave all the packing to me. We won’t have much time tomorrow, you know. I want everything packed up tonight.”

“They’ll help,” Rose replied dismissively. “Won’t you?”

Steve nodded.

“What about your own packing, Michael? Is that done?” Ginny asked.

“Yeah, Mum made me do most of it this morning. Well, it’s not quite done, but if I leave reasonably early, I’ll get it finished easily.”

“Well, it’s nice to see an organised boy. And Michael was away at his grandparents and all.”

“Come on,” Rose said to Steve, dragging him up to her room. “Mum’s in one of her fussy moods. She’ll go on at us forever if we don’t escape.”

Steve laughed. “My mum’s the same sometimes. Except she yells at Dad most of the time.”

“Wish my mum would. Are you going to give me a hand here?”

Rose’s room looked like a bomb had hit it. She’d thought that packing would be an easy job. After all, she’d left a lot of her stuff at Hogwarts anyway, but somehow she still seemed to have as much to pack as she had last summer. And she couldn’t even find some of the stuff she needed.

“Wow, can I see this?” Steve held up the Invisibility Cloak.

“I think you just have.”

“Yeah, but can I try it on?”

The two children spent some time messing about with the Invisibility Cloak; putting it on and then sneaking downstairs to see whether or not anybody would notice them. One time, Rose sneaked out into the garden and stood watching the boys, practicing football penalties.

“They didn’t notice me,” she said triumphantly, as she slipped back into the bedroom.

She glanced at the mess remaining on her bedroom floor.

“I suppose I’d better make a start.”

“I’ll help,” Steve said. “But you better tell me about Malfoy and all.”

They sat down on the floor and began rummaging through the clothes, gifts and other things that covered the room.

“Well, it was the day we beat Hufflepuff by 190 points and Michael, Diana and I went to the Visual Contact room, because we wanted to tell your dad and mine about it all….”

As they worked; tidying the room and packing Rose’s trunk, she continued the story, telling Steve everything, even their abortive search of the Shrieking Shack.

“And he wasn’t even there?” Steve said.

Rose shook her head. “No, and you mustn’t tell anybody we were in there, particularly not your mum. We would be in so much trouble if any adult found out.”

“Well, of course I wouldn’t. What do you take me for?” He sounded offended.

“Well, I know that really, but I just had to be sure, ‘cause of your mum being a teacher and all. Fred and George know, but they won’t tell. They don’t really count as adults anyway.”

“Did you hear Fred has a girlfriend?” Steve asked.

“Another one? So?”

“No, like he’s been going out with her since about last August. Dad told me.”

“Cool. When do we get to meet her, I wonder?”

They continued chatting and working, until most of her things were packed, albeit rather untidily.

“Will we go outside and see if James and Michael want to practice some Quidditch now?” Steve said. “I need to get some practice for next year.”

Rose agreed and they ran down to join the older boys.

“All right,” James agreed, to their demands for Quidditch practice.

“Potters against Weasleys,” Steve insisted, determined to have the best player on his side.

It wasn’t a very evenly matched contest, as Michael was the only player who actually played for his house, and James, despite being the eldest, was pretty useless. But Rose was reasonably good for a first year, so the Potters managed to put up some kind of credible showing.

“I’ve to go now,” Michael said eventually. “I have to finish my packing.”

“Yeah, I should do mine too,” James agreed.

“Ha, ha, I finished before you. I finished before you,” Rose cheered. It was the first time ever that she was better organised than her brother.

James’ room was a whole lot tidier than her’s had been, however, so it didn’t take him half as long to pack and by the next morning, everything was organised almost to their mother’s satisfaction.

“Although, I did have to repack Rose’s robes,” she scolded. “Has it never occurred to you to fold clothes when you pack them, instead of simply crumpling them up like that.”

Rose shrugged. She tended to ignore her mother’s nagging.

“HARRY,” Ginny called. “Are you ready? We ought to get going soon.”

“Two minutes, dear.”

Eventually, everybody was organised, even Midnight, who had wandered off at the last moment. It took Rose and Ginny almost twenty minutes to find her.

“I told you to leave that cat in her cage.”

“But, Mum, it’s so small. It’s cruel to leave her in it for hours on end.”

“Well, look what happens when you don’t. Honestly, Rose, I don’t know what you’re thinking sometimes. If you and James make this train, it will be nothing short of a miracle.”

Despite her worrying, however, the family arrived at Platform 9 and ¾ almost ten minutes before the train was due to depart.

“Go on, hurry up,” Ginny called, waving to her children.

“And behave yourselves,” Harry added. “I was quite pleased with your behaviour last term. Don’t spoil it. You could do with working a little harder, Rose. You are capable of better.”

“Right, Dad.”

Rose rolled her eyes and gave her father a kiss, before jumping onto the train and searching it in an attempt to find Diana. She finally found her friend sitting alone in a carriage and sat down beside her.

Between Christmas, the news about Malfoy and the events of the holidays, the two girls had so much to discuss, that the long train journey to Hogwarts seemed to take no time at all. The train hurried further and further North and the scenery outside the window became more and more snowy.

“It looks like we’re almost at Hogsmeade,” Rose declared in surprise.

The train pulled in to the station and the students disembarked and returned to school.

It was good to be back, Rose decided that evening, as she sat down for the first feast of the new term. The holidays had been fun, but they were starting to get a little boring towards the end. Hogwarts was never boring.

“So, what was Christmas like here?” Diana asked Anthea, who immediately began a long description of the Christmas celebrations at Hogwarts.

“Much better than being at home, I can tell you.”

Rose didn’t doubt it. Anything would be better than being with the Parkinson family, if half of what she’d heard about them was true.

“Don’t you get on with your family?” she asked.

Diana nudged her.

“Shut up, Rose.”

Anthea just shrugged.

“Oh well, you know yourself.”

That wasn’t an answer.

“What do they think of you being in Gryffindor?2

“Rose, would you just shut up?” Diana said again. “Ignore her, Anthea. I swear she isn’t right sometimes.”

Rose glared at her friend.

“I was only asking.”

“Tell me what you do for Christmas in wizarding families,” Megan interrupted quickly.

The five Gryffindor girls continued to chat about the Christmas they had had as they prepared for bed that night. Rose’s Invisibility Cloak was passed around and admired.

“It was my dad’s and my grandfather’s before that. Don’t tell any of the teachers I have it,” she added, with a glare at Megan, Niamh and Anthea.

“Don’t worry. I don’t think anybody is likely to bother telling them,” Niamh said, a little sarcastically.

The conversation continued even after they had gone to bed, but eventually all of them fell asleep.

The next morning, classes started up again. Despite a little complaining, Rose didn’t really mind too much. Sure, lessons could be boring, but learning magic would be worth it in the end; well, except for classes like History of Magic. Who was ever going to come up to her when she was grown up and randomly ask her the dates of the werewolf laws? If they did, she’d be more likely to tell them they were crazy than actually answer the question anyway.

In Defence Against the Dark Arts, they were finally going to get a chance to do some actual magic.

“Well, it will take quite a few lessons before you master any defensive spells,” Hermione told them. “I’m sure you have already realised that from your other classes. But I think many of you will be pleased to learn that we have completed our study of other magical beasts and beings. For the moment, that is. In third year, you will learn about some of the more rare creatures and also to defend yourselves against them. Right now, though, we are going to move on to defensive spells. The first one we shall learn is probably the most useful defensive a witch or wizard can learn. Can anybody tell me what that might be?”

The class glanced around at one another, all glad to see that the rest of the class looked equally perplexed.

“Come on, now. What is the most important thing a witch or wizard needs when faced with danger?”

Alex raised his hand.

“Yes, Williams?”

“Um, his wand, Professor.”

“Correct. So if you want to prevent him from using it against you….”

Both Rose and Diana raised their hands.

“Yes, Lupin?”

“Disarm him?”

“Correct. We are about to learn how to disarm our opponents.”

Rose and Diana shared an amused glance, both thinking of their unofficial lessons before Christmas.

It was the end of class before they got a chance to show off their ability, as Hermione gave them a whole lot of complicated instructions to take down before allowing them to attempt the spell.

“Now, we just have a few moments before the end of class. If you would pair up and have one attempt each at disarming your opponent. I do not expect any of you to master the spell on your first attempt, but it will be a good chance to practice.”

To her surprise, both Rose and Diana managed an almost perfect disarming on their first go.

Hermione glanced at them suspiciously.

“Did Fred or George teach you that?” she asked Rose.

“Oh, no.”

Hermione appeared to believe her.

“Very well, twenty points to Gryffindor. Excellent work.”


Chapter 17: Gryffindor v. Slytherin.
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A/N:  Sorry  for  the  delay  in  posting  this  chaper.  Also  if  anybody  notices  any  problems,  please  let  me  know.  I  think  it  might  be  in  need  of  some  improvement.
   She couldn’t say that she was exactly looking forward to Potions, but Rose was interested to see how Snape would behave.

“After all, he’s bound to be disappointed, isn’t he?” she whispered to Diana, as they hurried down to the dungeons after their lunch. “I mean, all the trouble he must have gone to, helping Malfoy escape and now Dad’s gone and recaptured him.”

Diana rolled her eyes.

“It wasn’t only your dad.”

“Well, ok, your mum was there too, but that’s not the point. It’s Snape we’re interested in, isn’t it? Don’t you want to see what mood he’s in.”

“Do I want to see Snape in a bad mood? Em, no. And anyway, he’s just inside the door. Shush before we go in, would you?”

Snape glared at them as they entered the classroom.

“The last ones to arrive, as usual.”

Rose glared straight back.

“Sorry Professor,” Diana replied hastily, nudging her.

“Oh, yeah, sorry, Professor,” she mumbled.

“When a teacher corrects you, you apologise immediately, Potter. But of course apologies never came too naturally to the Potter family. Too good to apologise, are you? Five points from Gryffindor.”

Rose opened her mouth to reply, but Diana pulled her away quickly.

“Don’t,” she whispered, turning around to see if he was watching them. “He’s only looking for a reason to dock us more points.”

“I don’t care,” Rose replied sullenly. “We’ll get them back when we thrash his stupid house at Quidditch next week anyway.”

Snape stared at her. “Talking in class, Potter. You arrive late and then don’t bother to pay attention. I suppose First Year magical education is far too rudimentary for somebody of your vast abilities. Your grandfather would be so impressed. As I recall, actually listening to his Professors was below him, as well. Another ten points from Gryffindor, I think.”

“Well,” she began excitedly as they left the classroom. “Don’t you think he was even in a worse mood than usual today.”

Diana shrugged. “I don’t see how you can tell. He’s always in a mood. And actually, he seemed kinda pleased when he took those ten points away, I thought.”

“Yeah, well, maybe that was because he was so annoyed about Dad catching Malfoy, so he was being extra mean to me, because I’m his daughter.”

“Or maybe it’s just ‘cause he hates your whole family.”

Rose stopped walking. “Come on, Diana. You were with me when we heard him.”

“Yeah, I know. Just saying that not everything has to be connected with that, you know. Snape is a jerk anyway.”

“Yeah,” Alex interrupted. “So why can’t you just do what he says, Rose. I mean, talking in Potions is going to lose us points, and we do want to win this House Cup, don’t we?”

“’Course we do. But it’s not my fault that he’s totally unfair! Whatever I do is going to be wrong by him. Can’t you see that?”

Alex shrugged. “Yeah, I know. He seems to hate you even more than the rest of us. But still, you don’t have to make things worse you know. Everybody has to put up with him.”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell her,” Diana said, rolling her eyes.

Rose stormed off down the corridor. She didn’t particularly care what Alex said about her, but Diana wasn’t supposed to agree with him. You were supposed to stand up for your best friend, not take sides against them.

She pointed this out to Diana, when the other girl caught up with her, just outside the portrait hole.

“Ok, I’m sorry, all right, but really, Rose, you get yourself into more trouble than you need to. Sometimes, you just have to go along with what teachers say, even when it isn’t right.”

“But he’s a Death Eater, she insisted. “Am I the only one who thinks this whole thing is really stupid? He helped Lucius Malfoy escape from prison, but tells me off for talking in class. It’s not really the same thing, is it?”

Diana seemed to give up.

“Let’s go and ask Michael when the next Quidditch practice is,” she suggested. “I’d like to see how good they are. We have got to beat Slytherin.”

Rose couldn’t argue with that. The Slytherins were going to be unbearable if they won. She couldn’t even imagine what Theodora would say. Already, they were going around trying to provoke the Gryffindors and especially the members of the team.

“That Cassandra Goyle tried to jinx me this morning,” Michael told them. “Not that it worked or anything. I blocked it in plenty of time. I would have jinxed her properly, but Mum was just coming down the corridor, so I didn’t think it would be a great idea.”

Rose giggled. “No, I don’t think it would have been.” She could imagine Hermione’s reaction if she’d seen him jinxing somebody in the middle of the corridors. “Didn’t she see you blocking her jinx, though?”

He shook his head. “No, she didn’t come around the corner until after that. Besides she could hardly blame me for that, could she? I was only protecting myself.”

Rose wasn’t too sure about that. Adults seemed to be able to blame you for the most ridiculous things. But she didn’t argue. She just asked when the next Quidditch practice would be.

“Tonight, at seven. I think it’s a bit crazy, to be honest. We won’t be able to see a thing we are doing. But Joshua wants us to practice every evening until the match and that was the only time that the whole team was available. Jennifer has a detention. I thought Joshua was going to have a fit, when she told him that.”

“Why?”

“Why do you think? He’s been warning us to keep out of trouble, because we can’t risk missing practice. Mind you, Snape is determined to give us as many detentions as possible, I think, just to give Slytherin the advantage. I bet he’d give a couple of us detention the day of the match if he could think of any possible reason.”

“Cheater,” Rose said.

“Well, you know Snape. Anyway, are you going to come out and watch us?”

The two girls headed out to the pitch with him at seven.

“Wow, it is dark,” Rose said. “How are you going to play in this?”

“It’ll be lighted, but yeah, it’s not going to be easy all the same. Still, if we can play well in this light, I guess we can play well at any time.”

And they did play well, in Rose’s opinion, anyway. They were going to win; she could feel it.

“They’re really good, aren’t they?” she commented to Diana. “I think we’re really going to trounce Slytherin.”

They were going to have to, she decided as the week progressed and the Slytherins were becoming more and more antagonistic. Hogwarts tended to get fairly heated before important matches anyway and it was even more intense when Gryffindor and Slytherin were playing, because of the rivalry between the two houses.

Even Snape managed to get in a few little digs at the Gryffindors, despite the fact that he was a teachers and they were supposed to be fair.

“I do hope you’ll get it all finished in time for the match tomorrow,” he commented as he gave them their homework the day before. “Then again, for some of you, it might not be worth your while attending.”

He gave the Slytherins as close to a genuine smile as he was capable of.


He was a pretty good actor, Rose admitted to herself. Why was he so concerned about a school Quidditch match, when his friend had just been rearrested and, according to the latest owl from her dad, was going to receive an extra two years onto his sentence. Not that she really understood the logic of that. She thought he’d been jailed for life already.

An idea struck her.

“Diana.” She nudged her friend as they headed back to the Gryffindor common room.

“What now?”

“I bet he’s planning something!”

“Who?”

“Snape! Who do you think? Look, Malfoy’s just been rearrested, right? But he doesn’t seem to care. He’s more concerned with the Quidditch match.”

“I thought you said the other day that he seemed even more moody than usual.”

“Yeah, well, he doesn’t now.” Rose brushed her friend’s argument aside. “What if they’re planning another escape?”

“Do you think they might be?”

Rose nodded. “It makes sense. And next time, I bet they’ll be more careful. They’ll get Malfoy out of the country or something. So we’ve got to stop it happening.”

“What can we do, though?”

Rose hadn’t thought that far ahead. The idea of shadowing him obviously hadn’t worked and it was even less likely to be possible now, with Michael and the team all geared up for the next day’s match.

“I’ll think of something,” she said. “But I guess we can’t do much before the match, can we? Michael isn’t likely to be much help today.”

“Can you blame him?”

“I guess not.” She did want Gryffindor to win the match. It would be so cool if they won the Quidditch cup her first year. And the House Cup. Catching Snape would help with that, though. After all, her dad and his friends had got a load of extra points for Gryffindor for stopping one of their teachers from stealing some stone when they were in first year.

Even she couldn’t help being distracted from her plans by the match, however and she raced out to the pitch the next morning with nothing but Quidditch on her mind. The stands were packed. It looked as if every single Slytherin and Gryffindor was out there and there were a fair few Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs too. Ravenclaw and Gryffindor had both won their first match of the year, so if Gryffindor won today, it would put them ahead. As a result, the Ravenclaws were reluctantly hoping for a Slytherin victory.

James waved at her from across the stands. She waved back cheerfully, as the two teams filed out onto the pitch.

Madame Hooch gave her usual warning about fair play, her eyes seeming to fix on the two Slytherin Beaters. It didn’t take long for Rose to realise why. As soon as the match began, they were after the Gryffindor Seeker, pelting the Bludgers right at her head. Lucy ducked and almost fell from her broom.

Madam Hooch blew her whistle. 

“There’ll be no more dangerous play like that,” she warned them. “Quidditch may be a rough sport at times, but we don’t want anybody killed. If I see either of you behaving like that again, I’ll have you removed from the team.”

Her warning worked, but it didn’t stop the Slytherin team seizing every advantage to bend or even break the rules, whenever they thought she wasn’t looking.

Despite this, the two teams were almost equally tied. After an hour playing, Slytherin had 80 points and Gryffindor 70.

“Come on, Lucy,” the Gryffindors screamed. “Get the snitch.”

Suddenly, she dived.

“The Gryffindor Seeker has gone into a dive,” the commentator announced. “Has she seen something? Yes, she’s reaching out.”

CRASH!

One of the Slytherin Beaters flew right into her and she tumbled from her broom, the Slytherin player just managing to stay on his. Lucy grabbed the underside of her broom and somehow managed to climb back on. The Gryffindors cheered and booed in equal measure.

Madame Hooch was apoplectic with rage. She blew repeatedly on her whistle to pause the match. Never had she seen such behaviour, she declared. She would be ensuring that he never again played in a match and he would be reported to the Headmistress and to his head of house.

“Much good that’ll do,” Rose muttered to Diana. “Snape won’t care.” She doubted the other girl heard her.

The match continued and the scores continued to rise. Slytherin was pulling ahead. 120 points to 90. Neither of the Seekers appeared to have caught sight of the Snitch since Lucy had so narrowly missed it.

Slytherin scored again. 130 to 90.

Michael had the Quaffle.

“Come on, Michael,” Rose shouted. “You can do it.”

Across the stands, James was shouting just as excitedly.

Michael aimed for the hoop. It tottered on the edge and went in. The crowd roared.

The Chasers were doing a good job, but the Slytherins were doing better. Soon the score reached 160 to 110.

“And MacNair has scored,” the commentator called. “170 points to Slytherin.”

Lucy dived again. The same Beater header towards her, but this time he was too late. The Snitch was in her hand. Gryffindor had won. 210 points to 170. The Gryffindors cheered and cheered and even the Ravenclaws seemed caught up in the excitement of the moment. Only the Slytherins seemed displeased and their booing was easily drowned out.

Rose and Diana raced to the entrance to the pitch to wait for Michael. Friends and relations of the team members joined them there.

“Wasn’t that fantastic?” James commented from behind them.

“You’re a Hufflepuff,” Rose commented. “It’s not supposed to bother you so much who wins.”

“Well, Hufflepuff haven’t a hope of the cup,” he laughed. “We’ve the worst team in the school. So as that isn’t possible, I guess I want Gryffindor to win.”

The team filed out.

“Wasn’t Lucy fantastic?” Michael announced, as his cousins surrounded him.

“Are you coming down to tell your dad?” Rose asked.

“Yeah! He’s going to be so delighted. He was really pleased when I got on the team, plus he loves to see Gryffindor win.”

“So does my dad. And my mum. Maybe not as much, but she was on the team too, you know.”

“Yeah, Dad can’t believe that Harriet isn’t interested. He keeps saying ‘but your aunt played and most of your uncles and so did I,’ but Mum says ‘thank Merlin somebody in this family can hold a conversation that doesn’t involve Quidditch.”

They laughed and chatted, as they headed for the Visual Contact room. Rose couldn’t help hoping for a repeat of the last time they had been waiting to tell their parents about the results of a match, but there was no sign of Snape.

Oh well, he’d slip up sometime, and then she’d catch him. She was sure of it.


Chapter 18: The Fruits of Victory.
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Ron, Harry and Ginny were all delighted by Gryffindor’s victory.

“Dad wants us to come over next Saturday to celebrate,” Michael said. “You and me, and James and Harriet.”

“James and Harriet aren’t even Gryffindors,” Rose pointed out.

“So?” He shrugged. “You will come this time, won’t you?”

Rose looked away.

“Yeah, of course,” she muttered.

Under other circumstances, the week would have dragged. Much as she loved Hogwarts, she did miss spending time with Steve and her aunts and uncles, and her own family, of course, so a visit to Ron and Hermione’s was something to look forward to.

That particularly week, however, she was having so much fun that she only occasionally thought of it. Gryffindor were going to win the Quidditch Cup; she just knew it. And the House Cup.

“Didn’t my cousin play well?” she called to Theodora, who just humped and turned away.

Rose giggled.

“Don’t rub her nose in it,” Diana warned. “She’ll be out to get her own back anyway, without annoying her more.”

“What can she do?”

They soon found out, when Ceri “accidentally” dropped something on Rose’s desk in their next Potions class.

She examined it carefully, then nudged Diana.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Gurdyroot. Don’t you remember Snape telling us about it back in October, I think it was. Rose, you have to get rid of it. They must have taken it out of his stores. If he thinks we’ve been in there, we’re dead.”

Rose thought for a moment. What could she do with it? She could shove it onto somebody else’s desk. But then they’d be in trouble and that wouldn’t be very fair. Unless it was Ceri’s or Theodora’s. That was what she’d do!!
No, they weren’t totally stupid. If she tried anything like that, they would raise their hand and tell him that she had dropped this and what should they do with it. Which was what she should have done! Not that he’d believe her.

“Hurry,” Diana whispered urgently. “He’s doing his rounds.”

“Distract him!”

“How?”

“Well, I don’t know. Just do it, for the love of Merlin. Don’t bring him over here, though,” she added frantically.

Watching the teacher closely, Diana slipped over to Niamh, who raised her hand.

“Yes, Kelleher.”

“Professor, I think I’ve done something wrong with my potion. Could you possibly take a look at it.”

Snape glared at her.

“Were my instructions not clear enough for you, Kelleher?”

“Um yes, Sir, but…”

“Do you, perhaps, have a difficulty in understanding English?”

“Um, no Sir.”

“Well, let’s see what horrible state you have managed to get your potion into, Kelleher.”

As the teacher headed towards Niamh’s place, Rose seized her chance and hurried for the potions store. Rummaging quickly, she couldn’t see where the supply of gurdyroots were, so she stuffed it in at random, then turned quickly to find Snape heading towards her. It must have taken him less time than they had expected to sort Niamh out.

“Well, Potter and what exactly are you doing here?”

“N..nothing, Professor.”

Snape stared disbelievingly at her.

“What have you taken?”

“Nothing, Professor, honestly.”

“Do you honestly expect me to believe that? I suppose you’re going to tell me that you were simply studying the different ingredients in order to improve your Potions grade. Not that it doesn’t require some work.” He allowed himself a little smirk. “You are just like your father. He had a habit of taking things that didn’t belong to him as well. Show me your hands.”

Rose was raging. He had as good as implied that her father was a thief.

“Show me your hands,” he repeated, more angrily.

She opened both her hands in front of him.

“Really, Professor, I haven’t taken anything from the store. And if my dad ever did, I bet he had a good reason!”

“Proud of your father, are you? And I’m sure he’s so proud to think that you are following in his footsteps. I think twenty points from Gryffindor. And if you won’t tell me the truth, you can explain yourself to your head of house.”

Rose paused. What would Hermione say? This was the worst possible time to get Hermione annoyed at her. What if she decided to withdraw Ron’s invitation for that weekend.

“Well, at least he didn’t catch you with the Gurdyroot,” Diana consoled her, when she arrived back at her cauldron.

That was true. If he had, she would have been in real trouble. From the tales her father told her about his schooldays, she suspected that Snape would have been calling for her expulsion. A shiver ran down her spine at the thought. Compared with that, she supposed she could face Hermione.

“Do you want me to walk down as far as the office with you?” Diana asked that evening.

Rose shook her head. She wasn’t a baby. She could face it on her own.

“Well?” Hermione asked, once Rose entered the office and sat down. “What is this I’ve been hearing from Professor Snape about you stealing from his stores?”

“I wasn’t, honestly. He was mistaken about that.”

Hermione said nothing, but the look on her face was encouraging.

Rose paused. You didn’t tell tales. She had learned that in Primary School. Not even on people like Ceri and Theodora.

“Well, you see, somebody dropped a Gurdyroot on my desk. And we weren’t using them in the potion we were making, so if Sn…Professor Snape saw it, he’d think I’d stolen it, and I would have been in big trouble. So one of the other girls distracted him and I went to put it back. That’s all I was doing, but he saw me going back down to my place from the store and he thought I was trying to take something out.”

“I see. And you didn’t think to tell Professor Snape this.”

“He wouldn’t have believed me.”

Hermione sighed and nodded. “Sometimes, Rose, you really remind me of your father. Could you not at least try to put an end to this feud?”

“They’re just jealous because Slytherin can’t win the Quidditch Cup now!”

“It’s not just that, Rose and you know it. How come it’s only you that they that they played this joke on?”

She didn’t answer.

“I don’t know how gullible some of you think we are,” Hermione continued, but Rose noticed that she was smiling as she said it. “I’ve been teaching almost twenty years, you know and many of the rest of the staff have been here a lot longer. Professor McGonagall has been teaching for almost seventy-five years.”

“Wow.”

“So we’ve come across all the tricks and excuses before, I can assure you. Feuds aren’t so unusual here that we don’t notice them when we see them, particularly not when they are between Gryffindor and Slytherin.”

As she didn’t seem too annoyed, Rose decided to push her luck.

“Could you give us those twenty points back?” she asked. “Professor Snape docked us twenty points because he thought I was trying to steal ingredients, but I wasn’t, so could you?”

Hermione shook her head.

“No. Losing a few points might make you think before you antagonise people.”

“What’s ‘antagonise mean?”

“Annoy them! Now, go on, get back to your common room. I have sixth year essays to correct. I’ll see you on Saturday.”

“Ok. I’m looking forward to it,” Rose replied, before rushing out the door.

“So, was she mad at you,” Diana asked, when she returned to the Common Room.

“Not really. She believed me about putting it back. She wouldn’t give us the twenty points, though. She said we deserved to lose them for fighting with Theodora.”

“But it wasn’t our fault she’s tried to get you in trouble”

“Yeah, I know, but you know what teachers are like. Hermione is cool and all, but there are some things you can’t expect a teacher to understand.”

“You’re still going over to her place on Saturday, though.”

Rose nodded.

The rest of the week passed quickly and on Saturday morning, Rose, Michael, James and Harriet waited in the Great Hall for Hermione to collect them.

“Imagine going to a teacher’s house,” Ceri scoffed.

“Yeah,” Theodora agreed. “I’d hate to be related to a teacher, wouldn’t you.”

“Don’t react,” James warned Rose, as he and Harriet both turned towards her.

Hermione walked into the Hall and glanced at Theodora and Ceri.

“Surely you two have finished your breakfast by now.”

“Um, yes Professor.”

They hurried out of the room and Hermione turned to the others.

“Everybody ready?”

They nodded.

“Come along then.”

They arrived at the house about ten minutes later and Ron rushed out to greet his son, followed by Steve.

“Well done Michael,” he announced. “I knew the team would win, once it had my son on it. Pity you weren’t in Gryffindor too, Harriet.”

Hermione rolled her eyes.

“It’s a Quidditch match, Ron; hardly a matter of life and death. Not that I’m not proud of you, Michael.”

“Of course it’s not a matter of life and death,” Ron agreed. “It’s much more important than that, isn’t it son?”

Michael, Rose and Steve agreed earnestly, as they followed him into the house.

“I want to be on the team too,” Rose announced. “I tried out at the start of the year, but they hardly ever take first years. Dad was the only one in a hundred years.”

“I want to too,” Steve interrupted. “You do think I’ll be in Gryffindor, Dad, don’t you?”

Ron glanced at James and calmed down.

“Yes, I do think you will be, but nobody knows beforehand. And I know you’ll have a great time, whatever house you are placed in. Look at Harriet and James. They are proud of their houses, aren’t you?”

They both nodded.

“I wanted to be in Gryffindor when I was your age, Steve,” Harriet began. “But that was only because Mum and Dad both were. Now, I’m glad the hat put me in Ravenclaw. It really does know where is best for you. It can see inside your head, you know.”

“I can’t imagine you anyway but Ravenclaw,” James said. “The genius’ house.”

“Swots, you mean,” Rose muttered.

Harriet glared at her.

“We could still beat you in the Quidditch cup, you know. If we beat Hufflepuff, which we will- sorry, James- and then we beat Gryffindor, we’ll have won.”

“You won’t beat us, though,” Michael said. “But, yeah, it all depends who wins between us and by how much and all. I wish the scoring was easier to figure out, so that I’d know exactly how much we need to win by.

“Want to go out and practice some shots, now?” Ron asked them.

“Hey, you promised you’d make the lunch,” Hermione reminded him. “It was your idea to have a big celebratory meal, remember.”

“Well, I don’t need to start lunch yet, do I? We could just go out for half an hour or so and get some practice in.”

“If you go out there and start playing games, you won’t come in at all, Ron. I know what you’re like. I’ve been married to you for eighteen years, remember.”

“We could practice after lunch,” Rose said. “Michael and I have a load to tell Steve anyway.”

Ron sighed.

“He was hoping to get out of cooking,” Michael muttered to Rose as the two of them headed upstairs, with James and Steve. Harriet remained downstairs, to ask her mum about something that sounded really boring to the others.

“So what is going on with Snape,” Steve asked excitedly. “Have you come up with a plan to capture him yet?”

“Not yet,” Rose admitted. “It’s so much harder now that Malfoy’s back in Azkaban and we can’t just catch them together.”

James rolled his eyes. “Come on, Rose. Don’t you think you must have been mistaken? I mean, Dad said that they were pretty sure it was Malfoy’s son who helped him. They just have to prove it.”

“He also said that Malfoy’s son was Snape’s very favourite student.”

“Well, we all know that Snape favours the Slytherins. It doesn’t mean that he is helping them to break prisoners out of Azkaban.”

“We did hear him, though, James,” Michael said. “He was talking about Draco Malfoy and about their plan succeeding.”

Rose could see her brother beginning to wonder. Why was it that nobody ever took her seriously?

“I suppose you believe it, now that Michael’s said it,” she muttered.

“I believe that you heard him talking about the escape. But honestly, how much did either of you hear? Couldn’t he have just been talking about the escape? Everybody was for a while. He might have just said something like ‘I can’t believe their plan was a success. Hardly anybody manages to break out of Azkaban’ and you only heard part of it.”

“Why would he push in ahead of everybody, just to say something like that?” Rose asked.

“I don’t know, Rose. Just ‘cause he’s a rude git, who couldn’t be bothered waiting his turn? Come on, don’t you think Dad and the other Aurors would have figured it out if he was involved?”

“I still want to know what has happened,” Steve interrupted.

“Not much really,” Rose admitted. “We’ve been so caught up in the Quidditch match and all. Maybe you can help us come up with some ideas.”

“I’m going downstairs,” James said.

“Good,” Rose said, once he was gone. “Now we don’t have to worry about trying to make him see we’re right.”

“Can I do something?” Steve insisted.

“I think you could be a lot of help, couldn’t he Michael?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Well, we’re at school all the time, and we can keep an eye on Snape, kind of, anyway, but it makes it hard for us to find out what the Aurors and all are doing. So, you could keep an eye on that side of things, Steve. I mean, when my dad comes around here, hang around and see if he mentions Snape. Owl us at once if he says anything about him at all, even if it seems perfectly ordinary, because it might be code, you know.”

Michael stared at her.

“Why would our dads be using code?”

“You never know. When you’re solving a mystery, you have to think of everything. Jess gave me some Muggle detective stories for my birthdays and stuff and really ordinary stuff is always turning out to be codes in them.”

“My dad isn’t an Auror or anything, though, so I doubt he’d be using their codes.”

“He’s in the Ministry, though. Maybe he’s really in some top secret department and he just has to pretend to deal with boring, ordinary stuff, so that nobody will find out.”

Michael burst out laughing.

“I don’t think that’s very likely, Rose.”

Nor did she, to be honest, at least not the part about Ron being in a top secret department. But it would be pretty cool if he was. She changed the subject a little.

“Make sure and tell us everything you find out, Steve. We’re a team now, and that means we’ve got to share all our information.”

“You haven’t been sharing everything with me.”

“Sorry, Steve. It’s just hard when we don’t see each other every day, and we have to be careful about sending owls and stuff, because you don’t know who might be reading them. I know! If we find out anything important, I’ll send it to you, using one of the Unnoticeable Notes. You should buy a set too, so you can let us know anything you find out. And we should have a code-word to reply with, to let the other person know we got the message. Hmmm.”

She thought for a moment.

“How about ‘Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes’, seeing as that’s where we got the notes? If any of us gets a message on an Unnoticeable Note, we owl back immediately, using the name of the shop in some really ordinary sentence, like ‘do you know if Fred and George have invented anything new for Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes?’ and then we’ll know the message arrived safely. Now, we just need to make some plans about what to do.”

It was hard to come up with ideas that they hadn’t already tried, though.

“This is hopeless,” Michael said. “If the Aurors can’t solve it, what hope have we?”

“We know more than they do,” Rose reminded him.

“Yeah, I know, but they have ways of getting proof, like questioning people and searching and all. We can’t do that.”

“We could search Snape’s office.”

“Are you crazy?!?” Michael demanded. “He’d absolutely murder us.”

“Only if he found out, and remember, I’ve got Dad’s Invisibility Cloak.”

“I’d forgotten about that,” he admitted.

“So all we have to do is find some time when he leaves his door unlocked and sneak in there. Maybe I should do it on my own. It’d be easier for one person to hide.”

“No way are you doing it alone, Rose. I forbid it.”

“You can’t. You’re not my boss. You’re not even a prefect.”

“I could tell your dad.”

“You wouldn’t, though,” Rose said confidently. She knew Michael would never tell on her, whatever Harriet or James might do.

“Well, no, but Rose, I don’t want you doing anything dangerous on your own. Do you understand?”

“What are you going to do? Save me? Come on, Michael. You’re only two years older than I am.”

The argument could have gone on even longer, if they hadn’t been interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Yeah,” Michael called.

“Time for lunch,” replied Hermione’s voice. “Your dad has done a great job. All your favourites, Michael, to celebrate winning the match.”

The three children hurried downstairs. Hermione was right. The meal was delicious, even if the potatoes were a little hard.

Afterwards, they went outside to practice Quidditch shots with Ron.

“Can you teach us anything?” Michael asked. “Dad used to play when he was at school,” he reminded them.

“Well, I can try.”

Harriet and James were hopeless and it was quite amusing to watch them.

“You have to take both hands off the broomstick, James, if you want to catch the Quaffle,” Ron told him.

“I’ll fall.”

“No you won’t. You’re a really good flyer.”

“Just not so good at Quidditch.”

“You two are getting really good,” Ron complimented Rose and Steve, when Hermione finally came out to tell them that it was time to return to the school. “You’ll both play for your houses in a couple of years. I’m sure of that.”

“Come on; enough Quidditch talk,” Hermione said. “Let’s get going.”

“Aw, do we have to,” Rose asked.

“I’m afraid so, dear, but you can come back again.”

Reluctantly, they tidied up the Quidditch things and returned to Hogwarts.

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