I don’t do children, bright colours, happy voices, sticky food or stupid little games. My latest fashion statement is a pair of black boots that, according to my mother, make me look like a low-life gang member who belongs on the streets of London. I don’t work well with fluffy sweaters and skirts.
Yet here I am, my hair tied up in a neat ponytail, clean and brushed back, my face wiped of all make-up except for the tiniest bit of gloss, wearing a sensible pair of jeans, flat shoes, a collared button-down shirt in a horrible pastel pink, and with a fluffy sweater draped over the back of my chair.
Simple. I can’t turn down a challenge, especially when it comes from my ex-boyfriend.
“Oh, come on Rose, you must have some sort of plan for what you’re going to do now,” my cousin Albus said, rocking back on his hands as he surveyed me, his green-eyed gaze full of superiority.
“I’m going to travel,” I said firmly.
That had always been my plan. Mum had tried to get me to consider a career as a Healer, Dad had wanted me to follow his example and become an Auror. I’d refused to listen to either of them, instead making the best plan of all.
I had no money, no job, and no plan to get one. I was simply going to head off, find a job working in a bar in some far-flung place, and make money that way.
Good riddance, London. I had no desire to stick around here any longer than I had to.
“You can’t just leave,” Scorpius Malfoy chimed in, from his spot beside my cousin.
Scorpius was always second to Albus. Second in marks, second in importance. He was nothing special, really. He had a nasty habit of saying the first thing that came into his mouth, a habit that often got him into trouble with important people.
Between himself and Albus, they had the record for the most detentions ever seen at Hogwarts. I maintained that they achieved that goal entirely because of their stupidity. This was Albus Severus Potter, the wizard that got his wand stuck down a toilet, tried to transfigure a cantaloupe so that it could talk, and managed to charm Scorpius’ skin green, and took a week to figure out how to fix it.
They weren’t the brightest of wizards, that’s for sure.
I was ashamed to say I’d dated Scorpius back in the day. He was alright looking, I’d give him that. With a mop of blonde hair and murky brown eyes, he could have easily been attractive. However, he was lanky, and nowadays wore chunky glasses that he said where ‘hip’, but I thought they made him look like a twat.
“What are you going to do now?” I threw back at Scorpius, narrowing my make-up rimmed eyes at him.
He stared at me, paling slightly. I was an intimidating person when I wanted to be. My favourite colour was black, after all.
Albus nudged him in the ribs, causing him to wince and glare at his friend.
“Oi!” Scorpius exclaimed, rubbing his side.
“Just tell her. It’s impressive,” Al said with a grin that was clearly intended to be confident, but quickly faded as I raised my eyebrows at him, the picture of an unimpressionable person.
“I-I got an internship at the Daily Prophet,” Scorpius finally spat out, and I shrugged.
Miranda, on my left offered her congratulations, and I rolled my eyes. Miranda was quite unlike me. She had blonde hair, for one, and rather liked bright colours. However, she was a fan of making a statement, so we matched quite well in that department.
She’d been in Gryffindor, like me, and we’d both enjoyed tormenting the two Slytherins in our Hogwarts days. Now, a month out of that, those sorts of things seemed so juvenile.
It was just so different from this side of the fence, you know?
“Which section?” Miranda said, cocking her head in interest.
You see, Miranda’s father was Mr. Carneirus, of the Daily Prophet, the current Editor in Chief. Hence her interest in Scorpius’s career choice. Miranda, like me, had chosen not to follow in her parents' footsteps, instead choosing to apply for a job on the Wizarding Wireless Network, though she hadn’t heard back yet.
Unlike me, however, her parents approved her choice, as she was still keeping it within the media circle.
Or something like that.
“News,” Scorpius said nervously, and I had to admit, I was impressed. That was a hard gig to score.
“Well, don’t screw up,” I said, grinning maliciously at him.
He just glared, and went back to sipping on his butterbeer. The Leaky Cauldron was empty, since it was the middle of the day on a Thursday, but we had nothing better to do as recent Hogwarts graduates.
Plus, Hannah, the lady who ran the place, liked me and my family. Well, perhaps not me specifically, but she’d never said anything outright. All the old ones tended to think I was immature and needed to grow up. I had a feeling it was the excessive make up that did that, though I did go through a phase of dying my hair black, that probably hadn’t helped.
“I’ll be fine,” He said, glaring at me over the top of his glass.
Albus sighed; he could sense an argument coming on between the two of us. Scorpius and I liked to argue, it was what we were best at.
“Really? I’d like to see you try. You’re always good at failing at things. I’m sure I’d do a better job at any other career than you will at this,” I jibed.
I may have been exaggerating just a bit, but it didn’t really matter. Arguments were all about the dramatics.
“Why don’t you, then?” Scorpius said, his eyes narrowing as he leaned forward, the tension between us building.
“We’ll find a job we think you’ll fail at, and you have to prove us wrong. Whoever fails first loses,” he said softly, but furiously.
I was never one to turn down a challenge. Blame my Gryffindor side. I grinned savagely, resisting the urge to laugh like a maniac.
“You’re on. What’s the prize?”
He hesitated at that. Prizes were always hard to figure out in these sorts of situations, and believe me, we’d been in many.
“This,” Albus said, butting in and throwing something on the table. It was a picture. Not just any picture.
A picture of the flying motorbike he’d been working on for years now. He had several versions and models, but never, ever gave them away.
“You’ll seriously give us one of your bikes?” I said, doubting that he was being truthful. I mean, that was one hell of a prize.
“I’m dead serious,” he said, looking me straight in the eyes, “I’ve got too many anyway.”
I scoffed, and Scorpius sat there like an idiot, his mouth hanging open.
“Right then,” I said, turning to Scorpius and poking him in the cheek.
“Let’s shake on it,” I said, and he jumped, clearly startled out of his daydream about the bike.
We shook hands, Scorpius returning to his drink whilst I stared at the picture of the bike. This was going to be one hell of a challenge, but I was in.
“So what’s my career going to be?” I said, leaning forward to rest my elbows on the table, looking around at the three of them.
Scorpius looked at Albus, who looked at Miranda, who grinned.
“What else but teaching at a Muggle primary school?” Miranda said cheekily, and my world spun.
No, no, no.
I wouldn’t be able to use magic. I’d have to be around children. I’d have to clean up snotty noses, teach them things, be responsible. No freaking way.
“That’s perfect,” Albus said, and Scorpius nodded.
“Guess that’s it then, Rose. You’re going to become a primary school teacher.”
“Oh, hell no,” I said, doing a remarkable impression of one of those women with bossy attitudes off day-time tv shows.
I swear, I don’t watch them, Mum does. And since I have no money, and therefore no place of my own, I’m subjected to listening to her tv show choices.
“Yes. You said we could choose. Well, we have chosen.” Albus smirked, crossing his arms with a distinct air of finality.
Oh, bollocks. This wouldn’t end well. It was entirely my fault too, Albus was right, I had said that.
“Fine. I’ll still win,” I said, managing to stick my nose up in the air and maintain my signature prickly attitude all at the same time.
“Just think, Rose, you get to tell your mother about your fascinating career plans,” Scorpius said with a slightly evil glint in his eye.
I paled at that, my façade crumbling.
“Oh shit,” I said, turning to Miranda.
“Help me,” I pleaded, one overly dramatic girl to another. She just shook her head, siding with Albus, as she often did.
She was my friend, but she had a soft spot for him, though she’d never admit it. Publicly, she made even more of a fuss than I did about expressing a disdain for Albus and Scorpius, as well as pointing out their many stupid acts. Privately, I’d caught her staring at him on more than one occasion.
“I’m not helping you. You got yourself into this,” she said, shrugging and taking a sip of her gillywater, smiling slightly.
Groaning, I let my head fall to the table.
“Damn you, Scorpius Malfoy,” I said in frustration, and received only chuckles as a reply.
My parent’s house was immaculate, and has been as long as I could remember. I didn’t really think of it as ‘my house’. No, I lived at Hogwarts most of the year, and then came here for the holidays, that was it. Now that I was officially out of Hogwarts, it was only a temporary location in which I resided until I had enough money to get my own place.
Hopefully, that would be soon. I suppose that was one upside to the challenge I’d taken up.
I let myself in, tucking my keys back into the back pocket of my jeans as I did so, ignoring my reflection in the mirror across the hall, which, as always, let out a long stream of opinions on my clothing choices.
“You really should try some brighter colours, dear, black makes you look so pale-“
I headed down to the kitchen, hoping that my parents weren’t home, and that I’d be able to delay the inevitable. I was not at all looking forward to telling them that I’d decided upon a career in Muggle education. There was no way they’d believe that I was sincere. Though, on that note, I suppose it didn’t really matter. I’d never really cared what they thought anyway, and since I’d been planning on travelling against their wishes, this was probably going to be the better option in their minds.
I guess I’d find out soon in any case.
I pulled open the fridge, searching around inside for some sort of comfort food. I wasn’t the healthiest eater in the world, though I did manage to maintain my figure. Miranda was rather envious of my ability to do that - according to her, I should be twice my size considering all that I eat.
“Oi, stay away from my chicken.”
I turned to see Hugo leaning against the doorframe, glasses perched on his nose as he watched me hunt through the fridge. I raised my eyebrows at him, taking in his rolled up sleeves and furrowed brow. Clearly he’d been in the middle of doing something.
“Your chicken? I don’t see your name on it,” I said, just to be a pain.
“Oh, shut up,” he said, turning on his heel and marching out of the room. I saw an opportunity here, and decided to take it.
“What are you up to?” I enquired, following him up the stairs.
He groaned, clearly not a fan of my snooping.
“Writing,” he said snootily, before closing his door with a bang.
Friendly fellow, my brother.
I left him alone after that. Hugo wrote music, and that was the only thing in his life I didn’t tease him about, mainly because he was damn good. Mum and Dad loved it, apparently that was a positive skill to have. I’d learnt kickboxing, and they hadn’t said anything, but all Hugo had to do was knock out a few bars of music, and they were all happy.
Sighing, I flopped down on my bed, trying hard not to notice my juvenile surroundings. I’d gotten rid of anything pink years ago, though one photo of my Dad and I, with me sporting a pink hat did remain, but only for sentimental value.
I couldn’t wait to move out. I had some money stored in Gringotts, but it wasn’t enough to cover more than a few months’ rent. Hopefully, now that I’d shortly be getting a real job, I’d be able to afford a place sooner than expected.
I flicked my wand at the wireless sitting on my windowsill; half buried under my collection of belts, and grabbed this morning’s issue of the Daily Prophet. I figured I might as well look into what Scorpius would be trying to achieve.
I didn’t often read the newspaper thoroughly. I skimmed the front page, like most other witches and wizards, but I wasn’t the type to read it cover to cover, like my mother did. Apparently I took after Dad in that way. My attitude to studying and exams had been his as well, I was a big advocate for the improvisation technique. It had served me well, I’d passed enough of my N.E.W.Ts to keep Mum happy, and leave my options open for a Ministry job, not that I was going to take one. Working in the same building as both of my parents wasn't very appealing.
Around the time I hit the sports report section, the fireplace roared to life downstairs, signalling Mum’s arrival home from work. Less than a minute later, I heard the faint pop of Dad apparating in, and sighed. I might as well tell them now.
I went to stand up, not really looking forward to leaving the relative safety of my room and the denial it provided from my current situation.
On second thoughts, perhaps I’d wait till after dinner. Give them time to settle down after work, have some rest. That sounded like a plan.
With that sorted, I wriggled back into a comfortable position on my bed, and continued reading.
Mum was far from a great cook. She liked to try, and pretend that she was in the same league as Grandma Molly, but really, her concoctions were average. I suppose I had no ground to stand on in that department, as I was even worse than she was. I’d managed to burn toast just last week, though I maintained that the toaster was broken. I was no better when using magic to cook, either.
Tonight’s meal was nothing special. Spaghetti, thankfully not too hard, with a sauce that did the job but wasn’t overly flavoursome. Mum and Dad seemed in better spirits after the meal, however, so as soon as Hugo had retreated to his room to write some more, I turned to them, mentally preparing myself. I laid my palms down on the table, trying to look as serious and mature as I could.
“Mum, Dad, I need to talk to you about something,” I started out, trying my hardest to keep my voice level.
For some reason, telling them I was going to go work in a Muggle primary school was a lot harder than telling them I was going to take off around the world for a year.
“Yes, dear?” Mum said as she whisked the dishes into the sink with her wand.
“I’ve decided what I want to do this year,” I said, knowing they didn’t consider my travelling idea as a real plan for the year.
They both sat silently, watching carefully and waiting for me to continue.
“I want to work in a Muggle primary school. As a teacher,” I said, trying hard not to wince as I did so.
Bloody Scorpius Malfoy and his stupid ideas. Well, it was actually Miranda who’d come up with it, but I preferred to blame Scorpius.
“You what?” Dad said, flabbergasted.
Mum simply stared at me, scrutinizing me.
“Are you sure, dear? That’s a rather odd career choice, and getting you the credentials to secure a placement would be difficult,” she said, instantly stepping into her lawyer mode.
“I’m sure,” I said, trying to sound the part. I hadn’t even considered the difficulties of trying to work in the Muggle world. That was a whole other problem I would have to deal with.
“Well…” Dad said, trailing off into silence, taking another sip of his drink, seemingly stuck for words.
“I’m glad you decided on something,” Mum finally said, her smile forced.
“Just remember dear, things are different in the Muggle world. Working in a school….teachers are often in their twenties, Rose dear, so you may have to start with something different,” Mum said carefully and slowly, making every word clear so as to make her point stronger.
I simply nodded.
“Of course, Mum,” I said, rolling out one of my many standard responses for parental statements that go over my head.
I smiled back at her, mine smile just as forced as her own, before excusing myself from the table and retreating as quickly as I could to my room. I was sure they’d dissect my decision as soon as I was out of the room, and would try to figure out why I was doing this, but I didn’t care. I’d told them, it was a step in the right direction.
I hated making decisions like this. I hated being the big girl, standing up and being responsible. As much as I liked to draw attention to myself and act confident, I was truly much more comfortable when the big decisions were in someone else’s hands. I wasn’t sure how I’d cope having to look after a bunch of kids every day. That was probably why Miranda had picked that job for me, she knew me better than the other two, and realised that doing something like that, being responsible and helpful and having to teach, was probably the hardest thing in the world for me.
It felt that way at least.
I acted confident, but I really was just as insecure as the next person. Having a tough skin was essential when you were a Weasley, I’d grown up with most of the wizarding world knowing my name just because of my hair colour.
“Oh my Merlin, look at her hair!”
“What did she do that for?”
“Is that Rose? Rose Weasley?”
I stuck my nose in the air and walked past the whispering Gryffindors, refusing to acknowledge them. Yes, I had dyed my hair black. Big deal. I was sick of the red, it was obnoxious, it just screamed ‘Weasley’.
So, I’d gone black. The one complaint I had about the colour was it made me appear frighteningly pale when paired with the dark colours of our school uniform.
“They’re all idiots,” Miranda said helpfully from my side, her short blonde hair glinting in the sunlight.
My hair no longer glinted. It was no longer a beacon for people to recognize me by. It was dull, boring and dark.
I had dyed my hair in fifth year, and had kept it black for a whole week before changing it back to its natural red shade. I had gotten a ton of people commenting on the change, and trying to figure out why I’d done it, and most of them were not positive. Sure, I turned on the tough attitude, but I wasn’t impervious to it.
So I changed it back.
I still hated it, to this day. It made me different, yet the same at the same time. I stood out from the crowd, but only stood out in the sense that I was a ‘Weasley’. Not because I was Rose, no, I stood out because I had well-known parents and the stupid red-head gene. I was always the one skulking in the back of the family pictures, I wasn’t like James or Albus, I didn’t relish the attention. That was a large part of my original plan to travel, because in other parts of the world, I wouldn’t be seen as just a Weasley.
Hopefully, my life at the Muggle school, which was yet to be decided, would have a similar level of anonymity. It was the Muggle world, after all. I wouldn’t be able to perform magic, I wouldn’t be able to rely on it to do my job.
That…that was what really scared me about the whole thing. Of course, I didn’t let on about that, and when Miranda owled me to see how everything had gone, I’d replied with a vague answer that didn’t display any emotion, a usual way of communicating for me.
She did, however, know me well enough to make a fairly good guess as to my true emotions, but for people who weren’t as familiar with the true Rose Weasley, I was a hard book to read.
Tomorrow afternoon, I decided, I had to go to the Ministry to apply for a permit to work in the Muggle world. I’d need all kinds of paperwork to get me the job, and even then I’d have to find a school and apply the Muggle way first. That was tomorrow morning’s project. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a Muggle school in need of a teacher, surely. From my letter exchange with Miranda we’d decided that I would head to hers in the morning, and use her computer to search for a school.
Apparently that was the fastest way of doing it.
It was all happening, scarily fast. I suppose I had to get a move on, Scorpius already had his job. That could either be a blessing or a curse, however. If he failed before I even started my job, that would be an automatic win for me.
I crossed my fingers, hoping to Merlin that he would fail, and quickly. It would save me a lot of pain.