Chapter 1 : home sweet home.
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Aah another WIP.
A horror this time. Because it's one of my favourite genres and tons of fun to write; especially when you're doing so at night and freaking yourself out.
As I wrote this I began to notice vague similarities to Violet Gryffindor's Winner Takes All, probably just the fact that Rose has been away for a while and returns because of a letter, but I think Susan's story probably subconsciously inspired me to use Rose in this little plot bunny.
I'd like to dedicate this to her anyway, because she's such an inspiration.
You know the disclaimer. If you recognise it, it's JKs. If not, it's mine.
“Whispers. There were always whispers. Never speaking, just crossing the air; like the breath of something that knows you’re awake even though your eyes are closed and you don‘t make a sound. There was always something in the house, I know that now.”
“Rose.” Dr Abbot sighed, tucking a strand of hair behind her pink ear. “As you grew older you should have realised the exact opposite. You were seven years old and you thought you heard something. Rose, Your grandmother’s house had a ghoul in the attic and lots of people living under one roof - it’s not surprising that a young child would conjure-”
“Dr Abbot, I didn’t make it up.” Rose interrupted. “A child’s imagination is impressive, sure, but your imagination can’t move behind the walls when it thinks there’s no-one to hear it. It can’t come into your room at night and touch your cheek. An imagination can’t kill a cat.”
“Rose.” She had switched to her warning tone. “I thought we’d put all of this behind us. Crookshanks’ death wasn’t your fault; you were a troubled girl at the time and cats jump out at people - nobody blamed you!”
“I didn’t kill it!”
The Knight Bus had never been Rose Weasley’s chosen mode of transportation, but without a British licence to apparate and being dangerous on a broomstick it was her only choice. She needed to get home quickly. The longer it took her to reach Hugo and her parents, the more chance there was of someone recognising her.
It had been big news a decade or so ago. Harry Potter’s god-daughter, the sweet little Rosie Weasley, lost her mind and killed her mother’s cat, sent away to France to live with her Aunt and Uncle. She had been seven at the time and hadn’t spent a great deal of her life since in England, so the likelihood of anyone recognising her on the street was highly unlikely, but she still felt a knot of fear in her stomach whenever anyone met her eyes.
If it weren’t for Hugo’s latest letter she wouldn’t have returned at all.
Little Lorcan doesn’t speak anymore. He just sits in the house, staring at the walls.
To Hugo it had probably meant nothing; writing it was just his monthly recount of what everyone else in the family was up to, but to Rose it felt shockingly familiar. Never speaking - instead listening, staring at the walls and waiting for even the tiniest scratch or creak of wood so that you would know that what you thought you had heard during the night wasn’t all in your head.
There was something in the house, and Lorcan knew it.
Rose stared out of the window as the bus raced through London, unseen by the muggles even though it must have come inches from crushing at least twenty of them upon entering the city centre. She wasn’t home to prove anything. If she could help it she wasn’t going to mention what had happened to anyone but Lorcan - after ten years all she wanted was for her family to accept that she wasn’t insane.
But she wasn’t going to let Lorcan suffer her fate. And if that meant spending a night in the Burrow - something that had haunted her dreams her entire life - then she would do it.
“MISSUS WAAAAAAAALSEEEEEEEEY!” the conductor sopranoed, apparently forgetting that Rose had sat on one of the beds closest to the door. “THIS IS YOUR STOOOOOP!”
“Thanks.” she sighed, slipping off the bed and clinging to the nearest pole while the bus came to a near-deadly halt outside the home of Hermione and Ronald Weasley. The conductor, one of an army of acne-ridden youths that the Knight Corporation seemed to be hiring lately, peered out of the window, his jaw slack.
An uncanny resemblance to guppy fish at feeding time, and Rose knew what was coming.
“This is the Weasley place.” he gawped, looking at her. She avoided his gaze and politely attempted to step past him and off the bus. Oblivious, he didn’t move. “Are you ‘ere to see Ron an’ Hermione Weasley? Are you with the Daily Express?!”
Rose continued to look at the ground as though something interesting lay there. “No. I’m just a family friend. Can I get off the bus please?”
“Huh? Oh, sorry. Have a good night, Mrs Walsey.”
It was only when the bus had gunned it’s engine and vanished again that Rose lifted her head to gaze at the house that she had once called home. Number fourteen Weasley Place - a quaint cottage in a small rural village fifteen minutes away from Ottery St Catchpole, covered in ivy and situated on a street named after it’s famous tenants. She almost smiled.
The cottage was almost home. The Burrow was the hub of the Weasley life; it was where everyone met on a Sunday, where the cousins fought to spend their nights, where Ron and Hermione, who lived the closest out of the entire family, spent most of their weekends. Rose grew up thinking of it as her true home. The vast, magically enhanced home of her smiling-but-strict grandma and her silly grandpa.
And now, over a decade later, it was the subject of her nightmares. She had never wanted to go back.
Blinking, Rose realised that she had been standing in the darkness at the end of the garden path for quite a while, and if she didn’t go in soon it was likely that one of her ex-Auror parents were going to hex her.
She was spared the trouble. Hugo had spotted her out of his bedroom window and shot down the stairs, leaving the front door wide open as he hurried to embrace her. “Hi Hugo.” she beamed, wrapping her arms around his neck. “I missed you. Thanks for the letters.”
“I can’t believe you’re back! I haven’t seen you since mum’s birthday.” Hugo grinned, picking up her back and shaking it playfully. “What did you bring me?”
“A Parisian disease.” she returned, pretending to lick her finger and wiping it down the side of his face. It was an age-old routine; repeated every time she was coaxed back into the country for a visit by her parents, and it still never failed to make her brother squirm. “This one’s called Fleur’s Flu. She got really sick over the summer and decided to quarantine herself incase we brought in any unhealthy bacteria.”
Hugo snorted. “She’s insane. How are the cousins?” he asked, referring to Victoire, Dominique and Louis; Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur’s three children.
“They’re all doing great. They’ll be here for Christmas as always. How’s everyone down your end of the world?” Rose asked, unwilling to outright ask about Lorcan. Other people may have given her a straight, unsuspecting answer, but her brother was as sharp as a tack and would instantly catch on to her.
“Fine, fine.” he shrugged, hauling her bag toward the house. “Lorcan and Lysander are staying at the Burrow while their parents are in Italy. James and Albus miss you; they wanted to come down and say hi before you left so I said we’d all meet up at Gramma’s before you go back to France. Would that be okay?”
Rose looked up. Hugo was studying her face intently, searching for any sign of trauma at the mention of the Burrow and their grandparents. She forced a smile. “Sounds great. I haven’t seen any of them in ages.”
“Are you-” Hugo began, cut off by the sitting room door being flung open and their parents appearing in the hall.
“ROSE!” Hermione shrieked, a ball of middle-aged curls as she shot to her daughter’s side and beamed down at her. “I’m so glad you’re here! When Hugo told me you wanted to come back for a visit I was almost surprised - you haven’t asked to come home in years and years! Your father’s missed you too, and Harry and Ginny have been asking after you; everyone’s been wishing you-”
“Hermione.” Ron chuckled, gently putting a hand over his wife’s mouth. “Shut-up. C’mere Rose.”
Feeling a wave of nostalgia creep through her bones, Rose relaxed into her father’s embrace. “I missed you guys. And I missed Grandma too.” she added, stepping back and looking between them. “Do you think I could call in tomorrow to say hi?”
An uneasy silence fell over the three closest members of her family. Ron and Hermione looked at each other. Hugo looked straight at Rose. She kept her gaze firmly on her mother, giving no ulterior motive away in her simple expression - after all, it was a quick, morning visit. No dark shadows, no hours of unbroken silence, just autumn sunshine and grandma’s cooking.
And hopefully a little alone-time with young Lorcan.
Might as well get it over and done with.
“Of course. If you’re… sure.” Ron replied casually. Realising that if they spent the duration of her time at home pretending that nothing out of the ordinary had ever happened at the Burrow, it would make for many suspicious glances and awkward silences, Rose made her face relax into what she hoped was a genuine smile.
“I’m fine guys.” she promised, fingers crossed in the pocket of her jeans. “I don’t think there’s something living in the walls of Grandma’s house and I haven’t seen any of them in years. I really want to go say hi.”
She could see her parents physically relax. Hugo didn’t, but she hadn’t expected him to buy her lie so easily anyway. All she needed was for her parents to believe she was stable; her brother was less likely to believe she had let go of the past but more likely to believe her if she proved that there really was something in the Burrow, so it sort of balanced out. In the mean time she just needed him to keep quiet around their parents.
“You can take poor Lorcan some new books when you go.” Hermione suggested, taking her daughter’s bag from Hugo and heading for the stairs. “Poor boy’s got nothing to do stuck in that bed all day.”
Rose stared after her. “Wait, what? Why is Lorcan stuck in a bed?”
“Hugo didn’t tell you?” Hermione asked, surprised. “Lorcan was hospitalised last week. He fell down three flights of stairs and broke his leg.”
“He’ll be fine.” Ron smiled and fondly ruffled his daughter’s hair before drifting back into the living room. Hugo followed. Hermione headed upstairs to drop the bag into Rose’s old bedroom. And Rose stood frozen in the front hall. Lorcan had fallen down three flights of stairs… and she was willing to bet her life that it hadn’t been an accident.
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