Beautiful, wonderful, fabulous banner by loveatfirstview @ tda!
“Rose, don’t you have your Prefect’s meeting and patrols?” Brendan asked me suddenly.
I was currently sitting in an apartment with him and Al. We’d been on the train for nearly an hour now. James was with a few of his Seventh Year friends, Faith was probably organizing Prefect patrols as the new Head Girl, and I’m sure Hugo was probably stalking the poor girl who had unwittingly won his creepy amorous affections. The rest of the family was also around, visiting their various friends. I’m sure I’d see them all at some point throughout the train ride. We Weasleys tend not to stay in one place.
“I’m not a Prefect anymore,” I said, my previous and short-lived good humor slipping away. “I turned in my badge at the end of last year.”
“Why didn’t I know this?” Al asked. “You loved being a Prefect! It’s all you ever wanted. You’ve been talking about it since we were eight!”
I grimaced. “You didn’t know because I never told anyone. I quit because it was too much. I need to focus on school. My OWLs were a disaster.”
Now both Al and Brendan looked baffled. “Didn’t you get all Os and two Es?” Brendan asked gently.
“Exactly,” I said.
“Rose, those are good marks,” Al said. I just shook my head.
He didn’t get it. Neither of them did. They didn’t have to live with the same sort of pressure I did. I turned my head to look out the window and blocked Al and Brendan’s voices from my ears. Instead, I focused on the countryside as it flew by. It was a moderately sunny day, with a few puffy white clouds dotting the sky. I could see rolling green fields, sparsely scattered with trees, the occasional stream or pond, and… my own face reflected back at me. I turned my head away sharply.
Brendan must have noticed the sudden movement from where he sat across from me. His eyes narrowed in concern. “Something wrong, Rose?”
I gave him a dry look. “Other than the usual things, you mean? No, I’m fine, so would you stop walking on eggshells around me? It’s irritating.”
He shrugged and Al, who sat next to him, gave me a look. I jerked my head noncommittally. I didn’t need either of them to tell me that they could hardly be considered to be “walking eggshells around me.” I was already aware of that, and they knew I was, too. It doesn’t stop me from being irritated.
I sighed and stood up to reach for my trunk. I pulled out my new copy of Advanced Fundamentals of Transfiguration and opened it up to where I’d left my book mark. We were starting human transfiguration this year and I needed to be prepared. I’d read and copied all of Faith’s very detailed notes last year – thank God for Ravenclaws. I still wasn’t sure it’d be enough, though. Transfiguration was my weakest link.
Once again, Brendan’s voice broke through my mental sound barrier. “Rose, what are you doing?”
“Are you reading your text books again?” Al asked exasperatedly. “I’ve told you before, you don’t have to read them ahead of time.”
“Sometimes I don’t read them at all,” Brendan admitted.
I was growing more and more vexed. “Well goody for both of you,” I snapped. “You may not need to read them, but I do. Now shut up and don’t interrupt me.”
Before I turned back to my book, I caught the look Al and Brendan exchanged. I know what they were both thinking. It’s going to be one of the bad days. They were right.
The thing is my moods shift. A lot. Some days I’m more cheerful and easy-going. I smile more, I don’t get upset, and I actually kind of enjoy life. Those are the good days. On other days, the bad days, I can’t seem to last 15 minutes without getting upset about something. There are in-between days, of course. I just wish there were more of them. Instead, things veer off into the extreme ends of the spectrum, for better or for worse. Today it was for the worse.
It wasn’t always this way, of course. I used to be a lot more cheerful as a child. Then when I was about ten years old… things changed. I never used to classify things into “good days” and “bad days.” Life was just the way it was supposed to be. It was nice while it lasted. Back before I started Hogwarts the good days would greatly outnumber the bad. Over the years, though, that began changing too. The summer after my third year was when my parents finally took me to St. Mungo’s. I wish I could say that my appointments there made things better. But they haven’t.
Al and Brendan began talking in muted tones – I think they were discussing Brendan’s vacation – while I read my book. Transfiguration was easily my worst subject. I always study it every night, so I can get it to be perfect. That’s why I got two Es on my OWLs, in History of Magic and Herbology. Those were my first two exams and Transfiguration was my third. I was so caught up in trying to ensure an O for that – which I did – that I let my first two slip. It was a rookie mistake. I seem to make so many of those.
The door to our compartment slid open and James walked in. He plopped down on the seat next to me and sighed grouchily. “Hey.”
“What got your wand in a knot?” Al asked his brother.
“Simon and Royce,” he grunted. “They keep making jokes and… comments about Faith. Gits.”
“So you left?” Al asked.
James nodded. “I also told them that they better hope I don’t tell Faith what they were saying. Girl’s got a great right hook, something Simon can attest to. She’s also taller than Royce, the midget, so I think they were both sufficiently intimidated.”
“I realize I don’t know her that well,” Brendan said, “but she seems too nice to actually go after them.”
“Oh she is,” James agreed. “And I wasn’t actually planning on telling her, anyways. The way I see it, though, Royce and Simon don’t have to know that.”
“Nice,” Al said with a grin.
“I thought so,” James replied, a hint of smugness creeping into his voice.
“Shut up, guys,” I muttered under my breath. “I’m reading.”
It was all too easy to ignore the worried looks that were sent my way after that. They were nothing new, anyways. What wasn’t easy to ignore, however, was James taking my book out of my hands.
“Rosie, you’re overworking yourself,” he said patiently. James was always patient. He’d had a lot of practice with Faith. Sometimes it was nice, his patience. Other times – like now – it was just annoying.
“Give it back, James,” I demanded.
“Shouldn’t you be patrolling with the other Prefects?” he asked, disregarding my command. He held the book further away from me.
“I quit,” I told him shortly. “Too much of a distraction. I should probably let you know that I’m probably quitting Quidditch as well.”
That certainly caught James’s attention, as he was Captain of the Gryffindor team for the second year in a row. “What?”
His exclamation was echoed by Al, who looked just as shocked as his brother. Brendan, however, looked unsurprised, but unhappily so.
“You can’t quit,” James pleaded. “We need you. You’re a brilliant player, Rose, the best Gryffindor has had in years. Besides, I already need to find two new Chasers and a new Beater. Don’t make me have to look for a Keeper, too.”
“I’ll think about it,” I conceded, already tired of the conversation. “But only if you give me my Transfiguration book back.”
James handed it over, although highly reluctantly, and I immediately buried my nose back into its pages. Just as I was picking up in the spot I’d left off, the compartment door opened once more and Louis walked in. Like I said, all of the family eventually meets up throughout the course of the train ride.
Louis was entering into his fifth year. Over the summer he’d gone through an incredible growth spurt and was now nearing six feet. He was as tall as Al and towered over me by several inches. Combine that with the Veela genes and his dad’s boyish charm and you have my cousin. The girls were going to be all over him this year. He’s lucky his sisters aren’t around to scare them all off. Or perhaps unlucky.
“Any of you seen Hugo?” Louis asked. “He mentioned something about playing a game of chess before we got on the train and now I can’t find him.”
“Try looking for Eva Longwell,” I said, keeping my eyes trained on the chapter about color changing. “He’s got a creepy obsession with her and at the moment is probably trying to find a way to figure out the exact number of hairs on her head or something equally as stalkerish.”
“Is that the same girl whose socks I caught him smelling last year?” James asked, sounding both amused and concerned.
“Yeah, it is. Makes you doubt my parent’s ability to raise children, doesn’t it? Hugo and I are both basket cases of an entirely different nature.”
There was a bit of an awkward silence after that pronouncement. Hmm, it seems people still aren’t comfortable with me talking about… well, myself. Sucks for them.
“Right,” Louis said eventually. “I’ll just keep looking, then. I’ll see you lot later.”
“Toodles,” I muttered under my breath, flipping to the next page with a bitter smirk on my face.
As I had predicted, I ended up seeing the rest of my cousins still at Hogwarts during the endless ride to the school. Louis had eventually found Hugo, who was indeed watching poor Eva Longwell from the compartment across from the one she was sitting in. The two had stopped in the compartment Al, Brendan, James and I were sharing once they had finished their chess game – and their sweets. They wanted to see if they could nick any leftovers from us. The display of affection was astounding. Lily had shown up near the end of the train ride, Molly in tow, to get James, Lucy trailing after them with two of her third year friends.
The carriage ride up to the castle was as uneventful as ever. Al, Brendan, and I were joined by James’s friends, Simon Longbottom and Royce Thomas, who asked us if we’d seen Faith around anywhere. Currently, I was sitting at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, absently braiding and unbraiding small sections of my hair while the new crop of first years were being sorted.
“I swear, the number of students increases every year,” Brendan muttered under his breath as Lang, Megan was sorted into Hufflepuff. He was sitting next to me, Al on his other side.
“That’s because it does,” I hissed back at him. “There has been a steady increase in the amount of magical blood over the past 20 years or so. It reached its peak about six or seven years ago, so number will continue to increase for another five years.”
“How’d you know that?” Al asked, leaning around Brendan.
“I spent most of the summer helping my mum out in the Ministry, remember? There’s an endless amount of records about the wizarding population and bloodlines. I looked through some during my downtime.”
“Don’t you hate your mum’s job? And the Ministry?” Brendan asked.
I shrugged. “It wasn’t exactly my idea.”
Brendan nodded, dropping the subject. We all gave the mandatory round of applause when another first year was sorted into Gryffindor. I hadn’t caught the name, but the girl who was making her way over to the table had an odd sort of skip in her step. She sat two seats down from me, frowning at her surroundings.
“Doesn’t look too happy to be here, does she?” Al observed, nodding towards the girl.
“Can’t say I blame her. I don’t particularly want to be here myself,” I said.
“Give it a couple of days, Rose,” Brendan told me. “You always hate Hogwarts for the first week back.”
I chose not to respond, although that was primarily because the Sorting had finished and gleaming golden plates in front of me were now heaping with food of every kind. Without thinking about it, I sat back and let Brendan fill my plate with food. This may sound weird – and I suppose it really is – but every time there’s a feast at Hogwarts, Brendan chooses the food I eat and how much of it I eat. He’s been doing this since fourth year.
This, actually, is one of the main reasons my mum likes to use as to why she thinks Brendan and I would be a good couple. She says that it shows that he knows me well and understands me and other rubbish that I don’t bother to listen to. Never mind the fact that those qualities are also good in friends and that Brendan getting me food has nothing to do with him trying to be thoughtful. It’s more a necessary thing.
I think Mum is so fixated on trying to set me up with Brendan because he’s literally the type of guy that every parent wants there little girl to bring home, get married to, and start a family with. He’s polite, considerate, charming and approachably intelligent. He’s even moderately attractive, with dark brown hair that constantly flops into deep blue eyes. The thing my mum doesn’t understand, though, is that even if Brendan is the son-in-law of her dreams, it doesn’t make the two of us compatible. Which we’re not.
I glanced down at my now full plate as Brendan began filling his own. “Really? Chips and roasted potatoes? Isn’t that a bit excessive in the starch department?”
“Just eat it, Rose,” Brendan said patiently.
“Who eats that much potatoes?”
“What are hobbits?” Al asked in confusion as he started cutting up a steak.
“They’re a humanoid creature from a Muggle fantasy book,” I answered.
“You’ve read Lord of the Rings?” Brendan asked in surprise.
“Just this summer. James lent me the books and films. He loves those Muggle things. Takes after Granddad Arthur, I guess.”
“Speaking of James,” Al said, “where is he?”
The three of us glanced up and down the Gryffindor table, but there was no sign of the signature Potter hair. On a niggling suspicion, I twisted in my seat to examine the Ravenclaw table. And sure enough, there was James, just settling into a seat by Faith and her friend Rhiannon. I nudged Brendan and nodded towards them and then he did the same to Al.
“Now there’s a surprise,” Al deadpanned, rolling his eyes. “I’m surprised he managed to hold off going over there for so long. Those two are practically attached at the hip.”
“They’re so cute together that it makes me nauseous,” I said, my eyes zoning in on how James and Faith laced their hands together as they ate.
“At least you don’t live with James,” Al said. “Faith was over at our house all the time this summer, or he was at hers. It got to be almost sickening.”
“I thought you two both liked Faith,” Brendan said.
“We do,” I said. “She’s a really complicated person, but she’s smart and witty and really nice when she wants to be, which is most of the time. And James has liked her for a really long time. It’s just mildly disgusting how in love they are.”
“I think it’s nice,” Brendan agreed. “Everyone should be able to find something like what they have. I know I want that someday.”
“Yeah, well you’re a romantic,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“And you’re a cynic.”
“Only on some days.”
We fell quiet at that, Brendan ducking his head and Al turning back to his steak. They may have been my best friends, as well as being understanding, considerate people, but they still didn’t like my flippant regard about who I was. Or rather, how I was.
As we sat in a brief silence, the food disappeared from the plates in front of us, only to be filled with a wide array of puddings and deserts just moments later. Once again, Brendan dished up some for me before grabbing some for himself. Al took some of everything. He eats like my dad, much to Mum and Aunt Ginny’s dismay.
“Oh my God,” I breathed almost reverently. “Pie.”
There are few things in this world that are wholly and truly good. Foremost among them all is pie. If you don’t like pie, then you are not human. If you don’t like pie, you are wrong. That’s all there is to it. All pie is good pie. The sweet, the savory, the fruity, the rich. Pie is the most delicious and beautiful thing to grace this planet. End of story.
“I thought you might like that,” Brendan said, a smirk curving up one corner of his mouth.
On my plate sat not one, but two pieces of pie. I’m usually not one to eat much for pudding, but pie is a special case. I stared in awe at the two lovely, perfectly shaped pieces of pastry that were waiting to be devoured. One of them was an apple pie, with a golden brown, flakey crust. The juices had congealed perfectly so that the pie sat perfectly and pristinely on my plate. The other piece looked to be some sort of chocolate confection. It was topped with thick whipped cream and carefully curled chocolate shavings. It feels as though I’ve died and gone to heaven.
“You’re an angel sent from above, Waters,” I muttered, picking up my fork and indulging in mankind’s greatest invention.
“I don’t think it’s natural for one person to love pie so much,” Al commented.
“Oh, be quiet. Brendan wants an overly sappy romantic relationship and I just want to marry pie. The heart wants what the heart wants, Al,” I said, as I took a bite of the apple pie. Pure bliss.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Al and Brendan exchange triumphant grins. They both know that nothing cheers me up better than a piece of pie. Unfortunately, I can’t spend the rest of my life eating pie every time my mood takes a turn for the sour. In fact, I really shouldn’t be eating it at all. Sometimes you just have to make special exceptions.
Professor McGonagall stood up towards the end of the feast to make a speech. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t pay attention to a single word she said. Instead, I pulled out my Transfiguration book that I’d brought along and continued reading it. We weren’t getting any new teachers this year and, as a former prefect, I knew the school rules better than anything. Nothing McGonagall was saying would make a whit of an impact on me.
After our dismissal, the boys and I trudged up to Gryffindor Tower where, bidding each other goodnight, we went our separate ways to our dormitories. While I was up there I exchange a brief greeting with two of the other girls that lived with me, Tessa Bradshaw and Adriana Flaherty, before getting ready for bed.
As I lied in my familiar four-poster bed, I frowned up at the ceiling. I was back at Hogwarts once more.
It was going to be a long year.
Yes. Yes, I have FINALLY written chapter 2 of this story. I always told myself I’d never be one of those authors that took months to update, but… well, here I am. Terribly sorry for it all. Life became crazy, I have several other stories to work on, and this one just did not want to get written. I’ve been agonizing over it for weeks. As a rest, it’s not my best work, but I hope you’ll stick with me. I have big plans for this story.
So what do you think? Do you like Rose? What about Al and Brendan? Are you slightly confused about things? I want to know!
Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings was written by J.R.R. Tolkien, and therefore I do not own it. Same goes for the hobbits. I don't own potatoes, either, but I doubt you care about that.