Chapter 1 : part i
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It is spring now, all perfumed fragrances and sweet beauty.
The pear blossoms will open soon, but for now, their silky forms ripple shadows across the streaming sunlight. Outside, the garden is wavering in the curious state of post-winter where the leaves are still tinged with cold, but warming by the day. It is reassuring. Whatever the seasons bring, the frosted earth has felt it all before.
It is this unrippled perfection that has so convinced me of the existence and breadth of beauty. I have seen some things that are meant only for poets’ pens and said some things that I came to regret with the depth of an ocean blind to me.
But silent release has come, in muted greens and quiet clumps of dirt, all with the glorious, earth shattering understanding of beauty, painted with the everlasting essence of childhood.
I wandered once as she will one day, as lonely as a cloud, staining rolling green hills where no words have been spoken, with shadows that I do not have. I have been to places where no sorrow has been seen and the brief heartbeats of nature lost to antiquity. It is the eternal flame, the unending voice, the collision of an understanding of life and the ability to live it.
One day, she will cry as I did.
And someday after, she will learn to stop.
She will see the waters of a lake, swerving like the back of a black whale and know that they breathe as she does. She will live on, move on, grow on, and understand as I do now.
This is my lovely niece, looking at me now, puzzled. I am thirty-two and she is fifteen and the decades that have passed since I was her age and she was a baby do not seem so far away.
Jolene holds up the picture to me again. It is a yellowed old picture of two girls by the sea, framed around seashells. “Aunt Rose?”
“When was this picture taken?”
She is fifteen years old now, but to me, she is still baby Jolie and as lovely as a promise.
“A long time ago, darling.”
“When exactly, though?”
“I think I was about eight or nine.”
“Is that Aunt Dom? Can you tell me about her?”
“Hasn’t Victoire already told you?”
“Mum rarely talks about her. She doesn’t like thinking about the past.” She pouts at me. “Or something like that. Dad always says that when I try to ask her.”
I look at her, smiling.
Time has changed me. It is an odd thing to be sentimental of an object that I can neither see nor feel. So many things have happened in the last years and time, like the waves lapping the beachside, has erased and rewritten. The very sinews of the seconds etched somewhere between the stars shift and turn. And it unravels and unfolds and blooms and within it, so do we.
She is looking at me expectantly. “Aunt Rose?”
Outside, the dusk sunshine hits a peak over the horizon and the world is fanned in bright oranges. The inside of my small courtyard glimmers with promise; the furniture and the paintings leak a rustic gold.
“Even in a large family, Dominique was impossible to forget.”
Time pauses entirely. And we go back together, with me treading carefully upon its sands, and with Jolene smiling easily. We stand, watching the placid waters of a thousand different oceans, ready to dive in. This time, the journey does not frighten me. I am going back again.
Back to the beginning of beauty.
Growing up a Weasley is something that nobody can ever be properly prepared for.
It is a matter of family, pride, and history and a rather lot of broken vases.
Sunday evenings at the Burrow were the most distinctive part of growing into what a Weasley was. The pandering summer air, the moist blue-black sky, and the flickering stars were the envelope to an age of innocence.
My earliest memories, from when I was seven still come from stomping around the Burrow on Sunday evenings, watching James and Fred steal Uncle Percy’s glasses and hide them. Victoire was twelve and Teddy thirteen and both were eyeing each other over the dinner table and laughing. Nana Molly and Aunt Audrey were both usually cooking dinner and Dad and Uncle Harry sat in the same corner as always, playing chess. I don’t think Uncle Harry ever really won a game, but he sat there, the image of concentration.
Mum was still busy fussing with Hugo, and Aunt Ginny with Lily, when they were both still babies and cute back then. I watched Dominique with part-envy and part-awe as she sat in on everything: Aunt Angelina’s heated Quidditch discussions (Dom already knew the rules), James and Fred arguing over where to put Uncle Percy’s glasses, Albus and Uncle George chasing garden gnomes.
We were something else together: the six Weasley girls. The other five defined to me what it meant to be sisters, growing alongside each other in an isolated cosmos, drifting through the blackness of space. In my seat near the window, I could see the outside sky and to me, the six of us were planets and swirling stars in our own right, though I did not know which correlated to us.
Where Victoire and Dominique were bright, beautiful and burning, I was usually in the back, with the three other forgotten girls: Molly, Lucy and Roxanne.
Roxanne was nine, and she lingered around Victoire endlessly, as though stuck to her side. She played the part of a shadow with dexterity and poise, as though never quite noticing what role she had limited herself to. She sat to the side and watched Teddy and Victoire, biting her lip. But she was only three years older than me and played with me and Dom occasionally. She was different in her own way – timid, but contented and kind. There were days long, long ago when we played together.
She didn’t shine as brightly as Dom did, talking all of the time and taking all the attention. We were both reserved, so it was a happy spot in the shade. The times that my mum took me to Aunt Angie’s, we lingered in her room as she let me try on her clothes and borrow her books. She watched me with solemn, large eyes as I unshelved her books and took them home, promising to bring them back.
Lucy and Molly had each other for solace when their parents were distracted. Molly was my age and she was afraid of everything. She had a small afterthought of a voice that never seemed to say anything of worth, so I left her behind, in the depth of my disapproval. And Lucy. Lucy didn’t matter. In the mass of shifting and noise and creaking and laughter, Lucy almost did not exist. She wasn’t even worth my disapproval.
Beyond where we sat, Dom was bright even when she was broken. The pock marks that climbed on her arms were always safely hidden away from us under long sleeves and swishing robes and without them, we could never see she was different. She refused to tell me much about why they were there or how they’d come, but watching Aunt Fleur’s wavering expression whenever Dom wobbled under the hot sun was enough to understand.
Mum refused to let me ask her about it. “She’ll tell you when she’s ready, Rose.”
And so we existed in bliss.
There was laughter and cool nights and the sweltering heat of bare feet on pavement. There were jokes that were long forgotten, memories that were slowly replaced. The days passed, the years passed. Childhood melded into adolescence. The unnamed stars, the unidentifiable planets above me seemed still, independent from time.
When Dominique and I were both ten, we spent a summer together by the sea.
She spent most of the time inside at home with her mum, wasting time, playing Quidditch and trying on Victoire’s dresses. My mum forced me into preparing for Hogwarts years early and I memorized spells and played the piano as my Dad, probably feeling lonely, attempted to teach Hugo how to play chess. Hugo was only five years old, so most of the chess pieces ended up in his mouth.
My happy little family was oddly dysfunctional and never as perfect as everyone assumed; there was Mum, who was too bossy and neurotic for anybody’s good, and Dad, who was always relaxed and disorganized. Beyond the early morning shouting matches as they ran for work, they balanced each other out in a tangled sort of way. They were all wound up together like string and there came a time you couldn’t really tell them apart, even though they were so different. Mum said that was called marriage. Dad called it insanity. Hugo and I called it our family.
It was different from Dominique’s family, where Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur were really just the same side of one coin and Victoire was a distant, perfect falling star and Dominique was her sky.
On that beach by the sea, Dominique and I played among imaginary castles and a breathless, beaming sun. The ocean was rife with freeze and salt and we played pretend; she was the perennial queen, the princess, the center of everything – at least in our pretend world, where all secrets were kept. I contented myself with being the elf, the handmaiden, the dying peasant. She had to wear long dresses that covered everything down to her ankles. It never mattered much to me, regardless of how much she hated it and scratched at it and called it a curtain. It made her look more like the princess she was being.
When it got too hot, Dominique’s skin would get very red and she’d slowly begin coughing and I knew it was time for us to get in the shade.
Victoire would sit at the edge of Shell Cottage and wait until Dom began wobbling before she raced through the sand and forced a parasol into Dom’s hand. “I can’t believe you! Why do you have to go outside anyway? Why can’t you just stay inside? I won’t be forced to babysit you all the time if you were just normal!”
“Why is your sister like that?” I asked Dom as Dom watched Vic’s retreating back murderously.
She casually threw her hair back and asked, “Who? Victoire?” like she had any other sisters.
When I nodded, she sighed and drew two lines in the sand. “I think she’s worried that if anything happens to me, she won’t have someone who’ll make her look even more perfect than she is. Well, I’m not staying inside where there’s nothing to do!”
Wide-eyed, I asked, “Do you hate her, then?”
“Hate her? No, of course not. I love her loads. I just don’t like being with her much. She keeps reminding me that I’m sick all the time.”
Dom rubbed her hands and stared at me. We sat parted by a thin line of black. She was sitting under the shade of her bright blue parasol, shaded from the sun as I sat baked under the heat, unaffected. She rubbed the sides of her sleeved arms and I felt something drip down my bare, exposed skin.
But Dom slowly smiled at me and I took the parasol out of her hands and held it up for her, watching the bright blue of the parasol blend in with the unending sky.
That was the perpetual truth about our family: that everyone was looking at someone else. That Victoire looked at her mother, that Dominique looked at Victoire, that I looked at Dominique, and we rotated that way – carelessly, feebly, like lightless stars lost in a great expanse.
Two days before I left for Hogwarts, I sat outside in the August breeze with my mum and wondered.
“Mum? What’ll Hogwarts be like?”
Mum sighed. “Wonderful. It’ll be just lovely, Rose. You’ll have a second home and another family.”
“Another family?” Beyond Mum and Dad and Dom, I barely liked our family. Hugo had grown from a big-cheeked five year old to an eight-year old pain in the neck: he followed me around, took things from me, never stopped talking and generally became the loudmouth Weasley I was sure my dad had been.
Mum gave me her half-smile filled with clairvoyance; she always could do the unnerving mind-reading thing that only mums were capable of. “You don’t like yours much?”
“Well, I don’t really know our family much, do I?”
“You do. Somewhat. You’ve always been around your grandparents, and of course, your Uncle Harry and – ”
“I meant my cousins,” I said and Mum stopped her ranting with a nod. “I know Dom.”
“Victoire’s old. And she doesn’t really like us that much, I can tell. She’s all fussy and perfect. It’s boring.”
“What about the boys?”
“James and Fred are the same and they always tease and that’s even more boring. Al’s alright when he isn’t accidentally breaking things or tripping on things. And Louis’s just a baby. He doesn’t count.”
“Well, you forgot Molly and Lucy – ”
“They don’t count. They’re the most boring.”
“Rose!” said Mum, properly offended. “They’re your cousins and you absolutely must – ”
“Molly’s so nervous all the time, it’s boring. And Lucy never talks. She just sits there. And then there’s Roxanne. I suppose she’s nice, but she never talks to me anymore.”
““You don’t have to like them much, darling. But you’ll need them all someday.”
On the day we left for Hogwarts for the first time, we scrambled on to the train in a mass of trunks and owls and chaos. Dad was still waving from the platform – probably still joking about my disinheritance. Aunt Fleur was wringing Dom’s hand and I could hear her saying with exasperation, “Yes mum, I’ll take medicine. Stop worrying. I’ll be fine!”
“Twice a day, for the six months, remember,” Uncle Bill was saying. “And out of the sun, Dom and absolutely no strenuous physical activity. Your sister will help you if you need anything.”
“Yeah right.” With a final eye roll, Dom clambered onto the train after me and Al.
It took Albus all of two minutes to wave me and Dominique a hasty goodbye and run off to meet James.
“He doesn’t want to be seen sitting with girls,” said Dominique indignantly as he tripped over a trunk and retreated. “How childish.”
“I don’t blame him,” I said, half-wishing that I could run after him as well. “Maybe we should find Victoire and sit with her.”
“Like my sister would want us to sit - it’s so full here,” said Dominique, balancing her way through the crowded hallway. “There’s nowhere to – ooh, Rose, come here, I see Molly! Let’s sit with her!”
She reached behind to grab my hand and yanked me forward.
“No, I don’t want to – she’s so boring. Let’s sit somewhere else, come on – ”
“Don’t be stupid, there’s no room anywhere else. And she’s alone!”
“Yes, for a reason,” I said, tilting myself backwards.
“Just because she’s a little shy doesn’t mean that we can be that rude!”
“I don’t want to.”
“Rose, my legs hurt. I have to sit down now, so come on.”
With one final heave, she dragged us both into Molly’s compartment.
Molly was sitting in a corner, her red hair looking like the usual bird’s nest. She gave an anxious sort of jump as we entered and recoiled at my irked stare.
“Hi Molly!” said Dominique cheerfully, “Mind if we sit?”
“Oh, of course,” said Molly, almost whispering, before looking at me. “Hi, Rose.”
“Hi,” I said curtly, crossing my arms and looking away.
Molly gave a horrified look to Dominique. “Am I – should I – should I leave?”
“No, of course not,” said Dominique, narrowing her eyes at me. “Which House do you think you’ll be sorted to?”
As Molly stuttered her way through an answer, I listened with one ear and laughed. Then Dominique laughed and Molly managed a small smile. That was all it took. After eleven years of never noticing, Molly and I began something like a friendship.
The Sorting came and went. To my tremendous relief, Dominique and I both became Gryffindors, which meant that we wouldn’t have to be separated. Molly gave us a small wave as she walked off to the Hufflepuff table.
The Gryffindor table seemed like the residency of most Weasleys: James and Fred were already planning to explode something, Al was looking slightly green at the thought of having to join in and Dom was chatting to the three other first-years girls. As we ate, I looked around at the crowded, noisy hall for signs of familiarity.
Victoire was seated regally at the forefront of the Ravenclaw table, taking ladylike bites, her Prefect badge glimmering. At the other end of the Hall, Roxanne was reading a book while eating, obviously ignoring the chatter of the other Slytherins.
First year began passing us by. Mum wrote me every three days, with the usual message: (“Remember Rose, if you begin badly, it’s very difficult to catch up. You ought to try your best from the beginning.”) Dad never bothered me much about school. He told me I had enough of mum for that. Hugo once owled me a drawing of a hippogriff chasing me around.
Dominique made friends with everyone. We also now had three girls with us in the dormitory – Emily Macmillan, Cecilia Zeller and Ruth Thomas. I kept my friendships with them polite. But I had Dom and Molly, and with all the side-noise that Fred, Albus and James managed to conjure, it was enough.
Somewhere near the middle of first year, Molly, Dom and I had a conversation while sitting by the lake. My time with Molly was slowly becoming less awkward and more amicable; she was happy and caring, even if she was vexingly nervous.
Dom had been skimming over a letter sent by her mother during breakfast. “And then mum says that Victoire’s absolutely not allowed to waste her time chasing after boys in Hogwarts.”
“I thought she was with Teddy now?” said Molly thoughtfully, “Or so James said.”
“James is an idiot, so who knows?” said Dom. A small line of disapproval appeared on her forehead and she stared at the letter with distaste, before crumpling it up.
“You shouldn’t do that!” said Molly, looking concerned at the small ball of parchment plopping on the ground.
“Why not?” I asked.
“It’s from her mum!” said Molly, bending down, picking up the letter and smoothing it. Dom snatched it from her and sighed.
“Molly, you’re really strange.”
“Family’s important,” said Molly, still frowning at the letter. “You should be happy for that.”
“Not really,” said Dom, “My dad’s the only one who’s sane in my family. My mum can be so annoying.” She waved the crumpled letter in our faces. “Look, she says I’m forbidden from trying out for Quidditch next year, so I can’t ask for a broom for my birthday.”
“Why else? She’s scared I’ll relapse again and probably end up fainting or something.”
“Have you fainted?” I asked.
“None of your business!” she said heatedly.
“Of course it’s my business! Stop doing insane things!”
“Why is wanting a broomstick insane? If you or Albus wanted one, it’d be perfectly normal!”
“My mum’s like that too,” said Molly, intervening. “I think she wants me to be just like her.”
“That isn’t so bad,” Dom retorted, “it’s worse when they want you to be perfect.”
“Your sister is kind of perfect,” said Molly wonderingly, which earned a glare from Dom. She continued more nervously. “Well – well, you’re just like her. You’re practically perfect too – you really are.”
“Don’t you and Lucy ever fight, Molly? Don’t you understand what that feels like?” asked Dom.
“Hugo’s a real nuisance,” I piped up. “Sometimes – ”
“Hugo doesn’t count as much,” said Dom dismissively, “he’s a boy. It’s different with girls. It’s not more or less, but it’s a different kind of love. Hatred-love.”
That made next to no sense to me, but I kept smiling at Dominique, the girl least likely in the world to know what hatred meant. She had friends all around Hogwarts, had popularity, had happiness.
“Lucy and I aren’t like that,” said Molly, in her same soft sing-song voice. “She helps me with things.”
“Like what?” asked Dominique. I began wishing that the topic would change – and quickly. Nobody cared about Lucy.
“Well, we understand each other. So she helps me.”
“Lucy’s invisible,” I said dismissively. Molly frowned.
“No, she isn’t. She’s my sister. She’s just a bit quiet, but when she talks – when she talks – she’s very lovely and smart. A – and she’s helped me with loads of things – like making friends and being – and being less anxious about things.”
“How would she know? She never talks,” I said.
Molly turned to Dominique. “Lucy’s like you. She – she’s just like you. And she’ll grow up to be just like you as well. She’ll help loads of people. Everyone’ll like her. She’ll be like you.”
I found it unlikely, but Dominique blushed like it was a compliment.
“Really?” said Dominique, grinning. “That’s nice of you to say. Then what’ll the rest of the family be like?”
“I’d like it if I became like Nana Molly,” said Molly.
“And what about Rose? And Roxanne?”
“I don’t want to know,” I said. “And please don’t group me with her – she’s so strange now, have you seen her?”
“In an odd sort of way, I’ve always thought you and Roxanne were kind of the same,” said Dominique. “Like me and Lucy.”
I sat in silence after that, entirely indignant at such an accusation.
First year disappeared along with the summer, where I spent the days with Dominique as always. Louis was three years old and Dom carried him and Hugo walked along with me, sticking his tongue out and splashing us with water. Louis watched us suspiciously with his big blue eyes and plump, drooping cheeks. On some days, Molly joined us, walking along the long stretches of sand.
“Hugo, stop,” I said, as he took a fist full of warm sand and dumped it on to my arms. “You’re so annoying, I swear, I don’t know why mum even – ”
“Mum, mum, mum. What’re you going to do – tell her?”
“Shut up!” I swatted off his hand as he attempted a second retake. “You’re so obnoxious. Why can’t you leave me alone and go play with Al and James?”
He gave me a replica of Dad’s careless smile. “Because it’s more fun annoying you.”
“Yeah, that, and you’re horrible at Quidditch, so they won’t let you play.”
Dom shifted Louis’s position on her hip and Louis stuck his fingers in his mouth. “Rose, don’t tease him so much.”
“At least I can play a little,” said Hugo, blushing at me, “you’re afraid to get on a broomstick.”
“That’s besides – ”
“They – they seem to enjoy arguing, don’t they?” Molly whispered to Dom.
Dom sighed. “Yeah, afraid so.”
Hugo looked up at Molly, as though he had just realized she was there. Idiot. He probably had forgotten she had existed. Then he explained, as though clear as day: “Rose and I are supposed to argue. What’d we do with all our free time otherwise?”
“Maybe we could be civil,” I said.
“Stop trying to sound like mum,” he scoffed. “Since when’ve we ever been civil? Dad says it’s healthy. Our whole family likes arguing. Mum and Dad, you and me.”
“Me and Victoire,” proffered Dom, “Fred and Roxanne don’t really even talk to each other anymore – but Louis never argues with anyone, do you Lou? Do you – oooh, do you? – ” She began tickling Louis’s arm and he began giggling and writhing in her arms.
“Of course he doesn’t argue,” said Hugo blearily, inspecting Louis as though Dom had been serious. “All he does is drool.”
Molly was biting her lip hesitantly. She opened and closed her mouth several times, but nothing came out. She reddened furiously as we all stared.
“What’s with her? Is she always this insane?” whispered Hugo to me. It was a typically Hugo whisper: it was incredibly loud. Molly heard and turned even redder.
“What is it?” asked Dom.
“This is – um…”
“This is nice,” she said lamely. “Could I bring Lucy next time? I think she’d like it.”
“Of course,” said Dom immediately.
A huge look of relief spread on her face. “She doesn’t have that many people to talk to – I just – I thought she might be a little lonely – ”
Evidently bored with Molly, Hugo flung more sand at me.
By our third year, I had began to understand what mum meant by Hogwarts being another home. Most of my family already lived there: James, and Fred were both fourth years, Roxanne was in her sixth year, and Dom, Al, me and Molly were almost halfway through our Hogwarts lives. Victoire had graduated and left us all behind for a fancy new job at the Daily Prophet that Aunt Fleur raved to no end about.
That same year, Lucy, Hugo and Lily all joined us for the first time on the train and Hogwarts became more and more familiar. James and Fred coordinated a line of dungbombs to explode within the train as we approached Hogwarts and the hallways were filled with clouds of stink. As we clambered off the train, Albus was coughing beside me, looking repulsed. Within a moment, Lucy and Molly both leapt out, looking equally green. From another side of the platform, Roxanne was glaring down at us.
Lily and Dominique shouted themselves hoarse at James and Fred.
“You irresponsible, disgusting, idiotic – “
“I’m telling mum, James! I’m telling her!”
“ – no respect for anything but – ”
“She said that if you got in trouble one more time – ”
“What happened?” asked Lucy meekly. “Molly, I’m scared.”
Molly immediately quieted her and took her hand. “Nothing. Don’t worry, we’ll be alright.”
“I hate our family,” said Albus, ever the reluctant cynic, appeared beside me. “Everybody’s bloody insane. First the flying toilets, then jinxing Quidditch brooms, now this.”
“Third year’s begun,” I said, slightly morose at the thought.
As third year ended, I had one of my first real conversations with Lucy.
She was small and stocky, with wispy brown hair that waved around her face and trembling glass eyes. Whenever she spoke, she reminded me of how much she was like Molly, but less anxious and with a more quavering voice. But of course, there were some inevitable truths between the two: Lucy was thinner and had blue eyes instead of Molly’s brown eyes and she was a head shorter.
And of course, where Molly had become a Hufflepuff, Lucy had surprised us all with her Sorting: the hat had thrown her into Gryffindor within seconds.
Even if we were similar, we were Weasley girls and therefore not substitutable.
While we were working on a Potions essay, Lucy lingered near our table shyly, obviously waiting for us to welcome her in.
“Hey, look,” Dom whispered to me, “Lucy wants to talk to us.”
“Not now,” I said, not looking up as I wrote. “I’m busy.”
Dominique blatantly ignored me. “Hello Lucy!”
Lucy bit her lip and said fretfully, “Oh, hello…”
She immediately looked away. This was beginning to irritate me.
“Is there something I can help you with?” asked Dom.
“Well…” She began twiddling her fingers together. “Well…actually, I need help. With a spell.”
I looked up sharply. “What?”
“I don’t know how to do it,” she said slowly. “And – ”
“Go ask somebody in your year to help,” I said dismissively.
Lucy’s face got white. “I – I don’t talk to anybody much…”
“Of course we’ll help,” said Dom happily. “What spell is it?”
“In Transfiguration, we turned a quill into a needle and I can’t do it.”
“Oh, I’m horrid at Transfiguration, why don’t you have Rose help you?”
My jaw dropped at the sudden betrayal. “What? Why?”
Dominique stood up, her eyebrows raised at me in a way that clearly said ‘Behave or else.’ “I’m going to go to take some medicine.”
“You’re not feeling well?” I asked.
“It’s nothing,” she said dismissively. “Take care of Lucy, okay?”
To my irritation, Lucy stuttered and blushed her way through a simple Transfiguration spell.
I was getting more and more frustrated watching her as she twirled her wand uselessly and pointed it to the quill. “You haven’t gotten the motion right yet. You’re angling your wand way too far.”
“Like this?” She whirled her wand carelessly. It did nothing but fall out of her hand.
“No. Come on, pay attention.” I made a clean swiping motion and pointed it at the quill. She watched in awe as it changed and the feather disappeared into a lean, pointy line.
After her tenth failed try, I gave up. “Alright, I really don’t know how else to explain it to you. You’re completely useless at this.”
She looked up at me nervously. “I’m – I’m sorry, I don’t know how else to do this. Please – just a little bit longer.”
“What’s the point? I doubt you’ll understand even if we try.”
There were several reasons why I disliked Lucy – and for that reason, Molly. Either Aunt Audrey or Uncle Percy was some kind of basketcase for their children to have turned out the way they did: Molly had all of Uncle Percy’s obsessively clean tendencies and Aunt Audrey’s general tics and nervousness. But Lucy wasn’t just nervous. She was shy. Invisible. A nuisance.
“I can try again,” she said even more quietly.
“You’re rubbish at this.” It had been something like thirty minutes already and I still had an entire four inches left on my essay. I had inherited all of my mum’s testiness. “You wouldn’t have to come running to me for help if you had friends.”
I looked down at her, completely stuck in the arrogance of my age, wondering whether her response would swing from Molly’s tears or her usual silence.
Instead, everything changed. She surprised me.
With all her diminutive rage, she looked up at me and said coldly, “You can go to hell, Rose! I don’t have that many friends, but neither do you, so shut the hell up! All you do is talk to Dom or my sister and at least they’re nice. Molly’s always said you were nice, but she’s wrong. You were never nice to me. And I don’t care how stupid you say I am. You’re bloody annoying!”
She eyed me, huffing angrily and Molly’s words echoed in my head: She’ll grow up to be just like Dominique.
I looked down at her and sighed. “Alright then, be stubborn. We’ll see how much good it does you. Try swishing again.”
She picked up her wand, still frowning. For the first time since hearing Molly’s words, all I could think was, in spite of it all, she had been right.
During my fourth year, we all began growing up.
I don’t know how or when it happened, but slowly, it was becoming more and more obvious.
Ted finished Auror school and began working for the Ministry under Uncle Harry. In November, we received official notice of Teddy and Victoire’s engagement.
“Wouldn’t it be lovely if they had a summer wedding?” said Lily, positively mooning over the letter. “And a honeymoon in Italy. I’ve always wanted to – ”
“It’s lovely, now pass the pumpkin juice,” I said, still irritable from an all-night study session.
Molly had finally begun to lose the anxiousness in her voice; she was still as placid and compromising as ever, but some of Dominique’s carefree attitude had started to rub off. Hugo tried out for the Quidditch team and after three separate incidents involving “accidentally” hitting Slytherins who were walking by with a Bludger, finally became a Beater. Albus became the first person in the history of Hogwarts to discover the magical properties of Hippogriff dung. Ten minutes later, James became the first person in the history of Hogwarts to throw Albus in said Hippogriff dung.
Dom became more of a social butterfly and soon had most of Hogwarts under her spell. Even with her occasionally frail constitution, she seemed to be everywhere at once, absorbing everything.
And Lucy began talking and talking. She was tempestuous, but determined and straightforward; eventually, people began listening.
Of course, it helped a bit that she could yell with Nana Molly’s buoyancy and had a knack for cursing, but it was what it was.
And for what it was worth, there was me. My temperament began to even and the adolescent sulkiness began to fade. I immersed myself in studying and reading. Astronomy speedily became a class that was both fascinating and necessary and my nights were spent awake. The breathtaking expanse of space, the glazing stars spewed on the blackness like scattered salt, and the promise of existence within each black curvature.
It was the exhilaration of knowing that all things, that had or were or would be, lay under the sky. The answer to everything, the unraveling of it all. Or perhaps I was still just hunting for which unnamed star in the sky was mine.
And between laughter and homework, botched spells and Quidditch games, love and misunderstandings, we grew up together.
Author's Note: This story is meant to be read as a one-shot, but for practical purposes, was split into chapters. With that in mind, I hope you'll excuse having to read it in parts.
My thank you goes to Gubby, Rachel, Annie, Gina, Lily and anyone who encouraged me through this entire process. I hope you'll stick through to the end and let me know what you thought of it!