I ducked through the door to the Leaky Cauldron and quickly spotted Mum sitting at the long bar deep in conversation with a woman behind it. She was fairly attractive, I suppose, with a darker complexion and long black hair. Mum noticed me as I approached and smiled. “Parvati, I’d like you to meet my daughter, Rose.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Rose! I can’t believe you’re a seventh-year already! I feel so old!” she declared, feigning horror.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Mum laughed, gathering her belongings, “I’m certainly not old, so you couldn’t possibly be! But we’d best be going. It was lovely to see you again, Parvati!”
“Of course! I’m hoping to pick up more hours once the girls go to school, so feel free to stop by sometime to chat!”
We made our way out the door, then apparated home. Dad was there to greet us when we walked in the door. “Hey, love,” he said, giving Mum a quick smooch. “How was your shopping?”
“Lovely.” She smiled. “We had fun, didn’t we, Rosie?”
Lovely indeed, especially when I was getting chased and threatened by a flaming maniac, I though. But I simply smiled back and replied, “Yes, Mum. Thanks for going with me.”
“Oh Rosie, you really did have fun?”
“Yes, Mum, I did.” I didn’t mean to be short with her; I just wasn’t in the mood to be fawned over. I was just leaving for school, not falling off the face of the earth. “Look, I’m kind of tired from all our fun this morning. I think I’m going to go lie down for a while.”
I began climbing the stairs to my bedroom when my mother called after me. “Oh and Rose? Don’t forget to work on your ministry applications!”
“Yes, Mum!” Merlin, I was so tired of her hounding me about those! I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life after Hogwarts, but she was thoroughly convinced that getting a job in the Ministry would solve all my problems. I just wasn’t so sure. Maybe I’d end up there anyway, but if I did, I wanted it to be because that’s what I wanted to do, not because it was easy.
I stomped over to my desk, dropped my purse on it, and flopped backward onto my bed. Staring at the cracks in my ceiling, I tried not to think too much about starting my final year of Hogwarts. I wasn’t ready to leave, not until I had a solid plan for what I was going to do next. It was the not knowing that scared me. Turning my head, I glanced at the photograph on my bedside table. I stood in the center of the frame, my red hair flying in the wind. On one side of me, Scorpius grinned like he’d been up to his usual trickery, and had one arm around my neck. His sleeves came halfway up his forearm and his robes looked much shorter than usual, giving him an even more awkward, gangly look. On the other, I linked arms with Maya, who looked as innocent as ever, excepting her hair, which was a shocking pink. What had he done? I scrunched my eyebrows in frustration as I tried to think back to when we had taken that picture. It must have been 5th year, because I was no longer the tallest of our happy trio. Suddenly, it all came rushing back.
It was the last day of our fifth year. That morning at breakfast, McGonagall had announced a school-wide picnic after the morning exams. Scorpius and I had only our History of Magic exam left, so we had a bit of spare time before the picnic. We were walking back to Gryffindor tower to drop our supplies, when he whispered, “Hey Red, want to have some fun before the picnic?”
“I think you can survive one day without pranking someone.”
“What if it wasn’t just someone?”
“What else would it be?”
“What if it was the whole school?”
“Absolutely not! I refuse to get detention on the last day of school!”
He gave me a miserable look. “Come on Red… it’s just one little harmless prank.”
“Oh yeah? What exactly are you planning?”
“I don’t know, I was thinking something with the food for the picnic.”
“Fine, but this better not go like the last one.” We raced up the stairs to our rooms to drop off our quills and parchment and back down again. When we reached the Great Hall, Scorpius led me down a smaller set of stairs to the kitchens. The house elves were nowhere to be seen, but they had left baskets of sandwiches and desserts on the table alongside giant pitchers of pumpkin juice.
“Aha!” Scorpius looked delighted. “So they haven’t moved it yet! What should we do?”
“Fine… You’re such a fun sucker, Red.”
I stuck my tongue out at him. “How about the coloring charm on the pumpkin juice?”
I started at another table and we made our way down each one, pointing our wands at the pitchers of juice and whispering “citumbra!”
As soon as we had charmed the last one, I glanced at my watch and saw that it was already half-past 12. “Merlin’s pants! Malfoy, we have to go NOW!”
We flew up the stairs and out the door to the front lawn where most of the school had already gathered. Long tables with stout benches had been moved out of the castle for each class, though they were not as large as the ones in the Great Hall. We tried to inconspicuously join the rest of our housemates, but Uncle Neville caught us. “Rose! Scorpius! Where have you been?”
“Just putting our school things away, Professor!” I answered as sweetly as I could. I spotted Maya and slid into the seat next to her while Scoripus joined us on my other side.
Maya nudged me with her elbow. “I know you two better than that,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Where were you really?”
“Putting our school things in our rooms, really!”
She looked at me apprehensively. “I don’t believe you, but you obviously don’t want to spill the beans. Just tell me, what should I avoid?”
Scorpius leaned over me and mock whispered, “The cucumber sandwiches!”
“Thanks.” She looked satisfied and turned around to ask Lauren Walter about her herbology exam.
Across the lawn, Headmistress McGonagall clapped her hands together to get our attention. Holding her wand to her throat for amplification, she addressed the crowd. “May I have your attention, please! Students, I want to thank you all for another wonderful year at Hogwarts. Don’t forget that you are still in school, and you are all expected to conduct yourselves in ways that are becoming for young witches and wizards. May you all enjoy your last day of term and have a safe journey home to your families!”
Suddenly I had a startling realization. “Scorpius! We should have kept one pitcher safe. Now everyone will know it was us if we don’t drink it!”
“So? They’ll know anyway. In fact I’d say they almost expect it.”
Soon platters of sandwiches, fruit, and biscuits appeared on the tables, much like it did for every meal in the Great Hall. Finally the pumpkin juice appeared, accompanied by our usual goblets. I hesitantly reached for a cucumber sandwich, though Maya gave me a strange look as she carefully selected one with ham. She then poured herself some pumpkin juice, but was distracted by something Lauren asked before she could drink it. Across from me, Albus picked up his goblet, and, before I could warn him, took a giant swig.
He gave me a strange look. “Rose? You looked like you were about to say something.” He took another bite of his sandwich. “Are you sure you’re feeling alright?”
I quickly shut my gaping mouth and shook my head. Just then, he frowned as if trying to concentrate on something, and his hair turned an electric blue. Scorpius grinned at him. “Wow, mate. I never took you for one to dye your hair. But it suits you!”
Albus, who was busy stuffing his face with the remainder of his sandwich, could only stare at him and question with a muffled, “Wha---?” He picked up his now-empty plate to check his reflection. Finding his hair to indeed be blue, he stood up on the bench and shouted, “Watch out! Some of the sandwiches are charmed!” Before he could sit down, his hair changed again, as quickly as it had before. This time, it became canary yellow.
A nervous murmur ran up and down the length of our table. I looked to my right and saw Lauren spit a bite of her cucumber sandwich into her napkin. She picked up her goblet of pumpkin juice and sipped it delicately, glancing around to see if anyone noticed. A few moments later, her hair flashed to a brilliant purple. All across the lawn, students’ tresses changed from one unnatural color to the next.
Scorpius elbowed me. “Well done, mate,” he congratulated me, pouring pumpkin juice into my goblet. “Now drink up. Cheers!” We clinked our goblets together and downed the juice. I picked up my sandwich and tucked in. After a hard morning of exams, I was famished. Just then, I felt a tingling sensation on my scalp. There was a sudden pop!, and it was gone. I pulled my ponytail over my shoulder to inspect it. It was, as suspected, a slytherin sort of green.
I looked at Scorpius and saw that his had turned to the same blue that Albus had started with. A moment later, it became a firey orange. He was laughing hysterically at what I could only assume to be me, so I glanced at my hair again. Like his, it had changed color. Only mine had become a ridiculous pastel pink. I scowled. I loathe pink.
“Oh Red, you look maaaarvelous,” he mocked. “Or should we call you Pink now?”
Maya looked at me in horror. “Rose! Do something!!”
Across from us, Albus’ hair had returned to its usual black. I motioned to him. “See? It’s apparently temporary. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“You mean you didn’t know it was temporary before?!?”
“Maya, are you saying I’m behind this? That’s an awfully big accusation,” I told her, pretending to be stern.
“Rose, who else would it be?” She shook her head at me. “Just don’t take it too far, ok?”
“It could have been James!” I insisted. In the wind, much of my hair had come out of my ponytail. I took out the band and tried to gather it back together as much as I could, but it just wasn’t cooperating. I gave up and left it to the wind. I didn’t notice Uncle Neville behind me until it was too late.
“Rose?” He asked, trying to hide a smile, “What happened to your hair?”
“I don’t know, Professor! I was just drinking my pumpkin juice and then Scorpius started laughing at me!” I tried to put on my best pout face.
“Oh really?” I could tell he didn’t believe me. “In any case, why don’t you three stand up and I’ll take your picture. I’m sure your mother will think this is hilarious!”
As I stood up from the bench, I felt another pop!, and I could see that my hair had returned to its typical red. I turned to Scorpius and saw that his had changed back too. Maya took a sip of her pumpkin juice and stood up to join us, linking her arm in mine, and we waited for Uncle Neville to find his camera in one of his seemingly million pockets. Suddenly, Maya tensed. Before I could ask if she was alright, her hair turned a shocking hot pink. I elbowed Scorpius and he turned to look. He flung his arm around my neck and whispered, “There goes another one!”
Just then, Uncle Neville shouted, “Found it! Say ‘Herbology’!!” He snapped the picture.
A light tap brought me out of my memories. Turning onto my stomach, I could see Elsa, Maya’s owl, at the window. I unlatched it and slid it upwards, and she flew inside, landing on my desk. I walked over and rummaged in the drawer for my owl treats. After feeding her one, I untied the message from her leg.
I’m so excited for this year! We’re finally going to be seventh-years and it’s going to be WICKED cool. I got all my books yesterday and charms looks so interesting! Can’t wait to see you in a few days! Mum’s standing over me while I write this, and she says to ask if you like shortbread biscuits or chocolate more. She’s making us some for the train!
I quickly scrawled a reply:
Thanks for the note! I got my books today and it was an adventure, I’ll tell you that. I’ll explain more on the train. Can’t believe your mum is making us biscuits again! I’m almost more excited about that than school!! I guess I like chocolate better? It’s so hard to decide!
I fed Elsa another treat and tied the note to her leg. As soon as it was secure, she took off and flew through the open window. This year would be interesting alright. I was excited to finally get my apparition license for sure, but I still had no idea what to do when I finished the year. Sighing, I fell into my desk chair and pulled out the Ministry applications.
A/N: I think this chapter needs some more action in the present, but this seemed like a good cutoff point. What do you all think so far? Please review!! :)