AN: Well my dearies, as I write this I am munching upon a bowl of all bran, which means I am a happy bunny, and that's an understatement. This is our second-to-last chapter! I have been away for a little while but I'm back now, and back on track :) thanks as always to everyone who's reviewed!
Disclaimer - all belongs to JKR :)
There are flashbulbs everywhere and Rose cannot hide from them. Her scalp hurts where her mother has tied her red hair in a bun, too tight, as usual. She blinks, brown lashes feathering her eyes, and then again. Hermione gives her a stern look. No picture of her daughter with her eyes half-open will hit the papers. Above, dark clouds gather as though for a storm, and lightning plays around the edges of the rearing thunderheads.
Rose has just graduated Hogwarts. She has just stepped out from the Ministry courtroom where her mother has tried her father for assault, and the press were waiting. Hugo, ramrod straight on the other side of the courtroom door, next to their father, glances sideways at her and looks away. Through the white light Rose thinks she sees a familiar figure, lean, with a panther walk and overgrown hair. But it’s not; another man with a trench coat on, notebook in hand. Rose turns her head back to the cameras.
Rose is drowning.
Rose has a headache.
Rose wants to leave. She wants to run from her unhappy, tired, family, like she did that day so long ago on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Hermione’s grip on her shoulder is tight.
Down the steps. Don’t blink. Don’t move your face. God damn you, don’t you cry. It’s his voice in her head. She hasn’t seen him for months.
Into the car. The windows are blacked. Here, she can’t stop, she bends her head and tears flow silently in a hot, embarrassing flood. Hermione clucks and puts her arm around her and makes her blow her nose, but Rose doesn’t want that, Rose wants to be gone, she doesn’t want to be near the woman who has torn her family apart.
She opens the car door, and simply gets out.
When she wakes up, she is hungry. It doesn’t occur to her immediately to open her eyes, but when she does she closes them instantly. It’s white out there, and bright.
“We can all see that, Hermione,” Dad’s voice, dry and sarcastic.
“Rosie?” he sounds closer, gentler. “Are you in there, baby?”
“We’re here, darling,” Hermione says on her other side, sounding like she has a bad head-cold. Hugo sniffs.
“Dad?” Rose whispers. Her throat hurts too much to say anything louder. “Mum?”
“We’re here, darling.”
“We’re all here.”
“All together?” she strains herself.
“All together,” Hermione’s voice.
“Always,” her dad.
“Just don’t get out of a moving car again,” the Healer jokes, unwinding the last of the bandages from Rose’s head. She smiles and laughs at his joke.
“I’ll try not to,” she assures him, climbing down from the bed. He hands her a mirror.
Rose tilts her head, trying to get used to the short red locks that fall around her ears.
“All the nurses said it was a shame to cut it,” the Healer remarks. “But I think it would look nice if you got it done professionally.”
Rose gives him a big smile.
“Thank you,” she replies, genuinely pleased. “Can I go now?”
“You may,” he replies. “You gave us a scare there, young lady.”
“Thank you,” she says, gathering her bag.
Hermione and Hugo are waiting for her.
“Come on,” Hermione clucks, scooping her bag up and chivvying Rose along. “Let’s go home.”
Rose stops and turns to face her mother.
“I don’t want to go home,” she says very seriously. The thought of seeing that room, the thought of her mother’s blood on the floor, makes her feel sick. “I want my own place.”
Her mother merely gapes.
“But Rosie,” she says faintly.
“I don’t want to,” Rose repeats, and turns and walks into her life.
Rose rents rooms above the Leaky Cauldron. Although her mother supports her with an income, she works in the Apothecary for something to do. Every so often the sight of a child full of excitement, buying a basic Potions beginners kit, will make her smile in remembrance.
After Rose had what her Granny irritatingly refers to as ‘her accident’, Hermione dropped the case against her husband. The court heard that he was drunk and provoked and it was completely out of character for him. The Minister for Magic made her pay a hefty fine for wasting the court’s time, but it was worth it in Rose’s opinion.
Hermione and Ron decided they were too unhappy together to go on, and separated anyway. Rose found she could come to terms with this after a while. They’re happier apart, anyway.
Hugo is still at school and Rose only sees him when she goes round her dad’s house for dinner in the holidays. He plans to come and stay with her this summer though.
Rose doesn’t have a plan for her life. She doesn’t have anything she wants to do. She still feels empty and hurt over that boy. She’s perfectly content to just wait, and heal.