“AAAUUUGHH!!” I screamed and jolted awake as a stream of cold water hit my face. “Hugo, you little twerp, I’m going to kill you when I get up!”
He laughed. “Come on, Rosie. Mum sent me to wake you, and shouting your name didn’t do anything. Desperate times call for desperate measures!”
I pulled my covers over my now-soaking head. “I’m going to bloody kill you,” I threatened. “Tell her five more minutes.”
I heard him walk to the door and shout down the stairs, “Mum!! Rosie won’t get up!”
“ROSE WEASLEY, DON’T MAKE ME COME UP THERE!!”
I grudgingly crawled out of bed. “I’M UP!” I shouted to Mum.
Hugo stood in the doorway grinning. “You are such a lovely, sunny person in the morning!”
I glared at him. “Your general ability to function before 7 in the morning is unnatural. Now go away so I can get ready.”
After he shut the door, I flopped back down on my bed. I was so not ready to be a seventh year. I wasn’t ready to leave my friends either. I was going to miss Maya’s happy-go-lucky innocence. And twerp though he was, Scorpius was my best friend. From today to the end of the school year, I’d be seeing him every day. I couldn’t imagine anything different. At least our families had finally accepted our friendship. I think my parents had even come to like him. I shook my head, clearing my thoughts before they could get too far away. Heaving myself out of bed, I headed for the shower. I had a train to catch.
Coming down the stairs after my shower, I could hear Mum and Hugo in the kitchen. From the sound of things, they were making our traditional back-to-school breakfast of waffles and bacon. When I got to the door, Mum turned around. “Rose! I’m so glad you’ve finally decided to join us!”
I rolled my eyes and sank into my usual chair at the table. “Thanks Mum.” I reached for the pitcher and poured myself a glass of orange juice. “What time are we leaving?”
“ ‘Round nine, I suppose.” She set a steaming plate of waffles in front of me and leaned on the back of my chair. “Are you all packed?”
“Mostly. I still need to throw in a few more things.”
“Alright then. Oh, Rosie,” she sighed, hugging my head, “I can’t believe my baby is all grown up! Where did the time go?”
“Mum!” I shifted in my chair and wrapped my arms around her. “I’m just going to school! Same as I have every year. I’ll be home for Christmas holiday, and you can owl me whenever you want.”
“I know dear.” She straightened, wiping her eyes. “I’m so excited for you to finish school with your classmates. I’m just not ready for you to leave yet!”
Hugo cut in. “Mum, Rose is going to be fine. Let her finish her breakfast so we can finish packing. I’ll still be here!” He sat down at the table next to me and tried to look hurt.
She seemed to sub-consciously pull herself together. “You’re right. Eat up!” She slid the bottle of maple syrup down the table to us and turned back to the stove to grab the plate of bacon. “RON!!!” she shouted to the ceiling. “We’re going to be late!!”
A few minutes later, Dad stumbled down the stairs. He came up behind her and hugged her around the waist, kissing the top of her head. “Don’t worry dear. I won’t let the kids miss the train.” He winked at us. “Wouldn’t want to deal with THAT again!”
Hugo and I laughed. Dad loved to tell us the story of how he and Uncle Harry flew to Hogwarts. We quickly finished our waffles and bacon and rushed up the stairs. After brushing my teeth, I stood in the doorway of my room, trying to decide what else to take. My broom would have to go, for sure. Since it was one of the larger items, I wanted to be able to pack around it. I carefully folded up my Holyhead Harpies blanket and set it in my trunk on top of my broom and school books. Aunt Ginny had given it to me as a birthday gift right after I made the Gryffindor quidditch team, and it was incredibly warm. I nicked a few other odds and ends and was about to shut the lid when I again noticed the picture on my bedside table. On impulse, I picked it up and wrapped it in the blanket to protect it on the trip. I shut the lid and flipped both latches to secure it.
Hugo stuck his head in the door. “Ready to go?”
I stood and took one last look around my room to see if I had missed anything. “I think so,” I replied. “Just making sure I’ve got everything. Help me carry it downstairs?”
He nodded and grabbed one handle. We lifted together, and he gasped. “Merlin, Rose! What’ve you got in here? Dragons’ feet??”
I scowled. “Oh shut up. I’m sure you’ve got enough quidditch magazines for a year.”
When we finally made it to the bottom of the stairs, Mum and Dad were waiting by the door. Well, Dad was waiting. Mum was pacing and checking her watch every few seconds. “Mum, relax,” Hugo reminded her. “We’ll get there on time.”
I don’t think Dad even noticed she was pacing until Hugo brought it up. He seemed to snap out of a daydream at the sound of his voice. “Bloody hell, Hermoine, you’re going to wear yourself out. Don’t worry about the kids. They’ll be alright, even Rosie. And they won’t miss a minute of their education either!”
I leaned over to Hugo. “We might with his driving,” I whispered. He snickered and started walking to where Mum was holding the door for us. Dad hefted up Hugo’s trunk, and we somehow managed to get both of them into the car in one piece.
We had a fairly boring ride to King’s Cross. Except when Dad decided he needed to give some last-minute advice.
“Now Rose, I don’t want you chasing any boys this year. You need to focus on your schoolwork!”
“Daaaadd….” I rolled my eyes and sighed.
“I’m serious, Rose! If you’re not careful, I’ll make Scorpius give me a full report.”
“Dad, Scoripus is a boy.”
“You’re not chasing him, though, are you?”
“See? It wouldn’t be a problem then.”
Fathers. Their logic was really something. Of course he started in on Hugo next.
“Now Hugo, I don’t want you spending all your time playing quidditch this semester. Don’t forget to study!”
“Dad, did you ever study?”
He looked shocked. “I studied lots of things!”
Mum coughed, but it sounded an awful lot like “girls!”
Pretty soon, the exit for King’s Cross station appeared. Dad swerved the car across two lanes and onto the ramp. Hugo looked like he was enjoying our wild ride, but Mum’s white-knuckle grip on the door handle told me that she didn’t quite feel the same. We somehow made it to the station’s parking lot in one piece. Dad hopped out of the car and popped open the boot. “Alrighty, everyone out!”
I grabbed two luggage trolleys from the rack and brought them to the back of the car, we hefted out first Hugo’s trunk then mine. I might be mistaken, but Hugo muttered something that resembled “Dragon’s feet!” when we lifted mine.
The four of us made our way into the station. When we reached the space between platforms nine and ten, Mum made us stop and go through our lists again. “Mum….” I sighed. “We’ve done this lots of times. We’ll be fine.”
She looked hurt. “I’m just trying to help, Rose. But if that’s what you want, on you go. Don’t forget to take a run at it.”
“Rosie, you go first,” Dad told me. “Hugo, I’ll tell you when she’s safely out of the way.”
“How on earth will you know that, Dad?”
“Wizard’s instinct,” he replied decisively.
I strained and pushed my trolley forward. Once I got moving, it was easier to pick up speed. The brick wall loomed closer and I felt myself flinch when I finally made contact with it. Instead of ending up on the sidewalk, splattered like a pumpkin, I found myself safely on the other side. Before I could get move to the side, however, Hugo came barreling through the wall and landed right on top of me, trolley, trunk, and all.
“Rose! Hugo! Are you alright?” Though I couldn’t see him, the sound of Dad’s voice told me he was hovering over us.
Hugo groaned and rolled off of me. “What happened to your ‘wizard’s instinct’, Dad?”
He frowned. “Must be a little off today, I guess.”
With a moan, I picked myself up off the ground and righted my trolley, setting my trunk upon it once again, and we continued towards the train. Finally we reached the edge of the platform. The blood-red engine belched black smoke, and several of the cars seemed to be filled with students already. Dad noticed Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry and waved them over. Albus followed, and when he reached me, whispered, “So I hear you had a little adventure this weekend.”
“Shhh! I’ll tell you on the train!”
His eyes widened with mock surprise. “Oh really? That bad, huh?”
Before I could think of a witty response, Dad tugged my arm. “Time to go, Rosie! Give ol’ Dad a hug before you leave.”
I reached up and hugged him tightly. Turning to Mum, I saw that she already had tears in her eyes. As I wrapped my arms around her, I noticed that her chin barely reached my shoulder now. “Bye, Mum,” I told her, “I’ll see you soon. And I’ll owl you as soon as I can. And I’m sorry for being ungrateful.”
“Oh, Rose,” she sniffled into my shoulder, “I just want you to know how proud I am of the young lady you’re becoming. You’ll have a wonderful seventh year and I’ll just have to come to terms with the fact that you’re not a little girl anymore. You’re growing up and you’re going to do wonderful things when you’ve finished school, whatever path you choose to take.”
By this point, my eyes were feeling a little misty too. Or maybe more than a little. “Thank you, Mum. I’ve got to get going now, though. I love you.”
She hugged me a little tighter. “I love you too, Rosie! Be good, and I’ll talk to you soon.”
When she released me, I turned around, wiped my eyes, and picked up my trunk, groaning a little. Maybe Hugo was right, it was a bit on the heavy side. I stepped to the edge of the platform and turned around. Dad had his arm around Mum, and when they noticed me, they smiled and waved. Dad made a shooing motion at me with his hand, as if to say, “Go on, she’ll be fine.”
I smiled back and nodded. I turned back around to the train, and climbed the steps to the cars. Making my way to the back, I found an empty compartment and hefted my trunk onto the storage shelf. I waved to Mum and Dad, and the rest of my aunts and uncles who had come to see their children off. Soon, the train whistle blew and the car lurched forward. As the platform drew out of sight, I slumped onto the window seat and closed my eyes. All this business of being emotional was exhausting. But still, I couldn’t believe that I was on my way to my last first day of school. What would it be like next year at this time listening to Hugo’s excitement about the new year, and knowing I wouldn’t be joining him? And as for that, what would I be doing? I hoped this year would bring some answers, but I wasn’t feeling very confident. I felt my eyes begin to fill up again.
“Rose? Are you alright?”
I opened my eyes and saw Scorpius hovering at the door. “Yeah.” I smiled weakly. “You can come in if you want.”
He carefully perched on the seat next to me, giving me a worried look. “Er… I’m not sure how to ask tactfully, but what’s wrong?”
I covered my face with my hands. “Life. It’s overwhelming.”
I heard him shifting nervously. After a few moments, he awkwardly put his arm around my shoulders. Normally, this would have made us both extremely uncomfortable. I don’t cry easily, and I don’t think I ever have in front of him, so he’d never tried to comfort me before. But right then, it was exactly what I needed. I leaned into him and buried my face in his coat, trying to pull myself together. He smelled faintly of aftershave and the wintergreen lifesavers he always carried around. It was warm and safe, and, well… Scorpius. When he noticed I wasn’t pulling away, he relaxed and wrapped his other arm around me, pulling me tighter. “Whatever it is, Red, it’ll be ok. You’ve got me and Al and Hugo and Maya and Hannah and everybody else and we’re going to have an awesome year, ok?”
I nodded my head but didn’t look up.
“Right. Now, I need you to go find the real Red, because that cousin of yours needs a serious pranking and I need a sidekick.”
I sat up and grinned, feeling much better. “Which one? And have you ever ridden this train without pranking someone?” Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed someone at the door. I turned my head to get a better look and for a brief instant, Maya stood at the window, eyes wide with surprise. As soon as she saw me looking, she ducked down and scurried off.
He grinned back. “Al of course. The little git sent me a howler this morning at Merlin knows what time. And I feel that a little bit of excitement never hurt anyone. Gets the year off to a proper start, you know?”
I smirked. “Yeah, I noticed you seemed to have missed your beauty sleep today!”
“Hey now!” He tried to look offended, but then his usual devilish grin took over. “Wait, are you saying I usually look good?”
I slapped him upside the head. “I don’t have to, you say it enough yourself!”
“So I do look good !”
He just laughed. “Come on, Red, let’s go find Al.”
He slid open the door and crept down the hall. After checking all the compartments in two cars, we finally found Al in the middle of the third car with Lauren Walter and some of her Ravenclaw friends. I couldn’t even hear him and I knew he was being a ridiculous flirt. Scorpius turned around and looked at me with his usual excitement. “Let’s kick this year off with a bang!”
A/N: Thanks for reading! I hope I didn't make Hermione too awful, but I feel like she would be upset about her oldest child being nearly done with school. If you have any suggestions for me, please review! Or just tell me what you liked or didn't like!