It was a small stucco building, nothing fancy. Nothing menacing. And yet I felt like my innards were being sucked out inch by inch, because that one building brought back a lifetime of nausea and disgust that only one thing could conjure: school.
And it was a muggle school, which basically meant that my life was over; I had been forced by my mother to attend St Christopher’s in my earliest days, which I really hated, because it turns out that muggles are no more accepting of redheads than Malfoys. And to make it worse, I would probably have no better grasp of the subjects being taught than the students.
I dragged myself in the door, and handed the receptionist my sheaf of papers. She looked up at me with bored eyes and droned, “Miss Granger? Room 42, report at the bell to Mrs Van der Broek.”
I nodded and crept on my way, wondering why I’d been stuck here of all places; it was like the Ministry hated me all of a sudden! I mean, sure, I’d caused havoc of the years- I’m a Weasley, it’s in the blood. But school? Three words. Kill. Me. Now.
The hallways closed in on me as I traipsed down them, figuring that I’d better find room 42 before the bell rang. I’d never been claustrophobic before, but this- I wasn’t surprised. I’d felt this way once before in my life- but that was back when I’d thought that Slytherins weren’t all bad and it was okay to sleep with them because they wouldn’t dump me and break my heart.
Boy, was I wrong.
I found room 42 and walked in. There was about 10 chairs, and they were all small ones so I assumed that we were in a little kiddie class. The teacher, Mrs Van der Broek, was a stout lady with lots of flowing grey hair. She seemed nice, and I hoped that she’d like me (gah, It was like first day of school all over again).
“Hello,” I smiled. “You must be Mrs Van der Broek. I’m Rosina Granger, the new teacher’s assistant.”
“Hi!” she grinned back at me. “Call me Bridget. So, you’ll be helping Ryan O’Callaghan, he sits over there-” she pointed at an isolated desk- “because he disturbs the class with his ‘visions’.”
“Yes, although we don’t really know what he means. Personally, I don’t hold any stock in it, but the principal- Arianna Bremmer, I think you’ve met her? She says that he must be kept away, and her word is law.”
I was liking this woman a lot.
“Okay,” I said. “I’m sure Ryan and I will get along just fine.”
“Oh, I’m sure you will,” she said. “He’s lovely.”
I smiled again and sat down to wait for the bell, in a chair that I dragged over to Ryan’s desk. The bell rang with an obnoxious briiing and I watched as a crowd of kids (and by this I mean about six of them) came in through the door. I turned away, and then turned back to see the child that sat next to me, when-
My heart just about stopped. The hair, the face- it was like Scorpius Malfoy had just sat down next to me, if Scorpius was three feet tall. And about five years old.
“HI,” said the kid. “I’m Ryan. I’m five!” he held up six fingers. “Five! Five! Five!”
“Uh, Ryan,” I said, “that’s six.”
“Oh,” he said, and corrected himself, now holding up five fingers. “Five!”
I smiled at him. He grinned back, and I saw that he had a tooth missing. My heart just reached out to him, and I wondered dimly if he could be-
But no. I forced myself not to think about that. Sure, he was the right age, but he wasn’t in the right place, and definitely not with the right family to be him. The Child. The child that I had sworn not to talk about.
I shook my head and grinned. “Alright, kiddo. Show me what you got.”
Three hours later, Ryan was reading to me, and I’d nearly fallen off to sleep. The only thing keeping me awake was Ryan continually poking me.
“The cat sat on Pat.”
“Pat sat on the cat.”
“Pat and the cat sat on the mat.”
“Miss Granger?” someone said in a monotone. I raised my head and saw a suit. It was the receptionist. “Miss Granger, someone is here to see you.”
I sat back in a panic. “It’s not Scorpius Malfoy, is it?”
“No. It is one James Potter.”
James. How did he find me? Why was he here? I stood up, brushed myself off, and prayed to the gods of people hiding everywhere that it was some other James Potter, and not my before-mentioned idiot cousin. That boy had a bigger mouth than Lavender Brown on a good day! My location would be all over the Wizz-Net in about three seconds flat.
“Jamie,” I growled when I saw him, lounging on the couch like he was at one of those goddamned photo shoots that he took so much delight in (seriously, when did I say that I wanted to see my cousin with only his underwear on? Oh that’s right, never).
“Hey, Rose. Or should I say Rosina?”
“How. Did. You. Find. Me?” I punctuated every word with a full stop to show him how really, really angry I was.
“Aunt Hermione told me.” He said simply.
“What? But I never told her-“
“It wasn’t that hard to find you, Rosie. There are only so many Rosina Grangers in the world, and I knew you’d used that name before. I told you, Aunt Hermione told me.”
“About using that name before? She wouldn’t-“
“No. About the pregnancy.”
I took a step back. I had told my mother that in confidence... and so I could hide out for nine months and still keep my grades up. Looks like she’d betrayed that trust.
I turned to stalk out of the room, but James just followed after me. “Out of interest, Rose, who’s the father? And what happened to mini Rosie?”
“I’m not telling you who the father is. And as for the kid, I gave him up for adoption.”
“That’s a shame.”
“Not really. I would have had to be homeschooled forever, then. My mother would have never let me hear the end of it.” I turned to stalk down the corridor once more. “Goodbye, Jamie. If you want to stay, go to my house. If you do go to my house, make sure there is food in the fridge at the end of the day.”
“I can’t promise that, Rosie. You know I can’t promise that.”
I could hear his hideous laughter all the way back to the classroom.