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Chapter 34 : A Very Weasley Party
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A Very Weasley Party
"Daddy, I'm hot," Rose Weasley whimpered, tossing and turning in her hospital bed. For some reason she couldn't get comfortable and her nightie was damp with sweat.
"That's because you have a fever, sweetie," Ron told his daughter.
Rose groaned. She was sick of having a fever, tired of staying in bed, and she just wished she would get better! She had been in the Hospital Wing three and a half days now, with a bout of wizard's flu, and though her dad and mum had been with her nearly every minute, unless they were sleeping, she was beginning to be bored out of her mind. The small puzzles and picture books and drawing pad her mother had brought her weren't enough to keep her occupied any longer. "Daddy, I'm hot and I'm bored!" she whined fretfully.
Ron couldn't blame her for whining, he knew that being sick was hard on his inquisitive child, who hated to stay in one place for long. "Here, baby, stand up and let me wipe you down again." When he was little and had fevers, he remembered Molly taking a cool wet rag and running it all over him, it cooled and soothed him. He did the same for his daughter now, gently removing her nightgown and running the cool wet cloth all over her, cleaning off the sweat and cooling her feverish skin.
Rose stood still, the cool rag felt so good! "I feel better now, Daddy."
"Good, I'm glad to hear it. Your grammy used to do this to me when I was sick." Ron pulled another nightgown from the pile Hermione had left in the night table drawer, and slipped it over Rose's head. He'd tied up her hair so it wouldn't get sticky. He handed her a pair of underwear, then asked, "Do you need to use the potty?"
Rose considered, then she nodded.
"Can you walk yourself, or do you need me to carry you?"
"I can walk now," Rose said, and quickly walked the four steps to the bathroom, which was right near her bed.
Soon she was back beside her father, who had used the time she was gone to change her sheets and cool them with a charm. "I don't wanna go back to bed yet, Daddy." She held up her arms to be picked up.
Ron lifted her into his lap and cuddled her. "But aren't you tired, Rosebud?"
Rose shook her head. "Not really. Where's Mama?"
"In class still. She says she'll be by afterwards." Ron told her. His little girl still felt like a fire, despite his rubdown. He knew that meant she needed more medicine. "Rosie, do you think you can take a Fever Reducer for me?"
His daughter made a face. "Do I have to? It tastes gross!"
"You do if you want to get better."
"How about some tea?"
"Tea?" Ron repeated, puzzled.
"You know, the kind that's good for fevers. Uncle Nev makes it and gives it to Frankie when she's sick. It tastes lots better than nasty Fever Reducers."
Ron didn't know what she was talking about. "Uh . . . what's it called? Do you remember?" He was sure the child did, Rose had a memory like an encyclopedia.
"Yes. It's called . . . sage tea!"
"Sage tea? You sure it works?"
"It worked on Frankie, Dad!" Rose told him exasperatedly. "Can I take it instead?"
"Uh . . . let me send Pig to Uncle Nev and see if he has some on hand."
Ron whistled for his owl and scribbled a note and tied it to Pig's leg. "Go bring this to Professor Longbottom."
Pig hooted and then took off, flying out the door and through the castle.
The owl returned some ten minutes later with an envelope with some tea leaves in a sachet and instructions.
Ron followed them and soon had cup of tea steeping. When it was cooler, he had Rose drink it.
"Now I feel better," she declared.
Ron smiled. "You're too smart for me."
"No, Daddy," Rose shook her head. "You're smart too, just about different stuff. I can't beat you in chess. Not even Mama can. And I can't fly like you either."
Ron chuckled. Chess was still his game. As was Quidditch. "There is that."
Rosie leaned her head on his chest. She loved just lying there in her dad's arms. She missed Ron terribly when he had to go away, and was glad he was home now. Soon she was fast asleep.
When Poppy came by to check on Rose, Ron told the mediwitch what he had done. "Maybe I should have waited for you, but I did talk to Nev and he told me the tea worked great on Frankie when she was sick over the summer, so . . ."
"Neville is an excellent Herbologist, Ron, and the sage tea is often easier for children Rosie's age to get down. The potion works quicker though, but her fever isn't that high now," Poppy said, gently waving her wand over the child. "It's going down as we speak."
Ron put the little girl back in bed, then yawned. "I think I'm going to take a nap, Poppy. Wake me when Hermione comes in."
He kicked off his shoes and stretched out on the next bed. Soon his snores filled that end of the infirmary, and Poppy pulled the curtains around his bed to muffle the sound.
Hermione came into the Hospital Wing as soon as she finished giving some extra help to a confused third year, demonstrating again how to cast the Friendship charm and the correct wand movements. She thought most young Darby's problem was that he grew nervous, and that choked up the flow of his magic and made his wand arm stiff. She suggested several relaxation techniques in addition to practicing the incantation and wand movements.
Then she hurried over to the infirmary to see how her child was doing. She smiled gently upon seeing the two sleeping Weasleys. She approached Rose's bed and reached out a hand to feel the girl's forehead. Her daughter felt cool, and Hermione thought her fever had finally broken. She bent and kissed Rose's cheek. "Sleep tight, baby mine." She only called her child that when she was asleep, because awake Rose was fiercely independent and resented being treated like a baby.
Then she turned to her husband, whose snoring could cut wood. Ron was sprawled on his back, his wavy hair all over the pillow, his mouth open. Hermione smirked mischievously and leaned over him, putting a hand on his shoulder and saying, "Catch a lot of flies, Ronnie?"
Ron suddenly sputtered and then opened his eyes. "Huh? Oh, it's you, Hermione. I was jus' taking a bit of a nap. When did you get here?"
"Just a few moments ago. Rosie looks much better."
"Uh . . . yeah. She made me owl Neville for something called sage tea, said it was good for fevers, and he gives it to Frankie when she's sick. He gave me some and Poppy said it works well. After Rosie drank it she fell right to sleep."
"I've heard of that remedy. It's one that some of the Native American tribes used, and probably still use," Hermione recalled. "Sometimes the old herbal remedies work as well as potions."
Ron shook his head. "You and Rosie are like walking textbooks. What you don't know, she does. You make my head spin sometimes."
"That's what happens when you have a photograpic memory, Ron." She kissed him gently.
"Uh huh. And I've got a memory like a sieve compared to you."
She frowned at him. "Stop putting yourself down, Ronald! You're plenty smart, you just don't exercise your brain enough. You can memorize every Quidditch stat about the Cannons and the Wasps, you know how to figure out an opposing team's game plan just by looking at the field, and you have one of the most brilliant tactical minds of anyone I ever met. You're also a great commentator, you can take a game I absolutely detest and make me listen to a play by play of it and not grow bored. So don't go playing poor stupid me, Mr. Weasley!" She waved a chiding finger under his nose.
"Yes, ma'am, Professor Weasley," Ron said meekly. Then he grinned at her. "Guess that's why you married me, huh?"
She sat down next to him on the bed. "I married you because I love you, Ron. Even when you annoyed the bloody blazes out of me. You kept me from becoming obsessed with my studies and made me laugh even when I wanted to smack you upside the head for being so stubborn. Rose is a lot like you, you know."
"She's more like you," Ron disagreed. "She's got your brains and your thirst for learning. All she's got from me is red hair and a love for sweets."
"That's where you're wrong," Hermione said. "Rose has your zest for life and the courage to speak her mind. She's also very loyal to her family and friends and she loves to fly just like her daddy. She's also inherited the Weasley stubbornness."
"Hey, nobody's perfect."
"Exactly. Including me." Hermione took her husband's hand and wrapped it around her waist. "Maybe it's hard for you to see it because she's a girl. Maybe you'd see more of yourself if you had a son."
Ron sat up then. "What are you getting at, Hermione? Are you saying that you're . . . expecting too?"
She nodded, her brown eyes sparkling. "That's exactly what I'm saying, smart guy."
A grin stretched from ear to ear. "When will it be born, do you know?"
"Uh . . .let me see . . ." she began to count in her head. "Around the middle of July, near as I can figure it."
"That's great, honey! Looks like Harry and I will be dads at almost the same time again."
"And maybe this time we'll have a little boy."
"Hermione, I'd take another girl. I don't mind."
"Who knows? Maybe we'll have twins," his wife said, leaning her head on his shoulder.
"Like Fred and George?"
"Merlin, not that mischievous!" she exclaimed, giggling. "I can't wait to tell Rose."
"She'll be tickled to death. She told me all about Ginny having a baby and how Alby and Sevvy were going to be big brothers. I swear she was throwing hints the whole time."
"Knowing Rosie, she probably was," laughed Hermione. "Why don't we go and get something to eat? I'm starving and I can hear your stomach growling from here."
Ron chuckled. "It knows when it's time for tea." He rose and headed for the bathroom, still smiling at the good news.
Once they had returned from lunch, Kingsley suggested the three families might want to go to Gringotts and see the vaults the three children would inherit for themselves. All of them agreed this was a good idea. Kingsley and Aurielle bid them a good afternoon and returned to the office, too much time away and somebody would send out a search party for the missing Minister and his second.
After speaking with the goblin in charge, one Magnus Ironhand, they all got in a cart and took a ride underground to the Potter vault, which contained keys to both Sirius' vault and Severus'. Also inside Harry's vault was everything that had been inside Severus' office, including his journals and notes on experimental potions.
"Sev, do you want me to bring these home so you can go through them? If you have more potions that are completed, Healer Jordan would like to see them and patent them for you." Harry offered.
"Yes, please. I'll need a few days to look everything over, some of those drafts were still in the experimental stage." Severus said.
"Can I see them?" asked Lily.
"Of course. Maybe you can even help me finish some," Severus said happily. If Lily helped him with the potions, it would be like old times again.
"I'd like that, Sev." Lily said, smiling. "You and I were always great at brewing together."
Harry found the key to the Black vault and handed it to Remus. "Here you go. I didn't really go inside there much, so most of the vault is the same as when you left it, Sirius. The deed to Grimmauld Place is in there, along with some other interesting objects. Have fun exploring it."
Sirius nodded, then turned to Remus and said, "Can we see what's in there now?"
"Of course, young master. Come with me, please," said the goblin who had brought them here, he was called Hagar. Hagar led the Lupins back up the twisty track to the Black vault while Harry, Ginny, and Severus, gathered up all the journals and recipes and Harry shrunk them and put them in Ginny's purse.
"While we're here, Harry, we might as well take out some money for Christmas shopping," Ginny reminded him.
"Oh, right." He grabbed a sack and began to fill it with Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts. He also filled two small sacks with a few Galleons and Sickles. "These are for you and Alby, Sev. So you can shop too. If there's not enough in here, just tell Ginny or me and we'll pay the difference." He handed a sack to Severus, tucking Alby's sack into his pocket.
"But Harry . . . I have my own money now," Severus protested. "I must have inherited some kind of fortune from the Prince inheritance. You don't have to give away yours."
"Sev, I'm your guardian and it's my duty to provide for you until you're of age. You don't need to touch the Prince inheritance, you can save it for research or medical school. I have enough money to cover your school fees and books and whatever else you need. If you don't feel comfortable just taking the money, you can do a few chores around the castle and earn it. How's that sound?"
"Better." Severus agreed. He wasn't a charity case and it didn't feel right asking Harry for everything, even if he was the Potters' ward.
When they stepped out of the Potter vault, they found the Malfoys standing there.
"I think we're going to pay a visit to our vault, and see about setting up one in Lily's name," Draco said, his hand on Lily's shoulder.
No sooner had the words come out of his mouth, then another goblin came by with a cart and said, "How may I assist you, sirs?"
Draco explained that he wanted to visit his vault and open one in his daughter's name, and Harry said they wanted to visit the Prince vault, which belonged to Severus, but which was being held in trust by Harry until he was of age.
"Very good, Mr. Potter. I'll send one of my colleagues by very shortly to bring you to vault number 394. Mr. Malfoy and family, this way please." He beckoned them into the cart and as soon as they were all seated, started going down the track at breakneck speed.
"Hold on, Lily!" Draco shouted.
"Whee! It's like being on a rollercoaster!" Lily giggled as they took off.
Severus smiled quietly. Lily had always had such a zest for life, and an eagerness to learn new things. It was what he loved best about her.
Two minutes later, a cart with a goblin driver pulled up and they all got in. "Greetings, sirs and madam," said the goblin. "Tengu Heartseeker at your service. Please hold on to the handrails, as this cart moves very fast, and do keep your hands and feet inside the cart at all times. And . . . we're off!"
The goblin released the break and the cart began to go around a bend off to the right, the opposite of where the Malfoy and Lupin carts had gone. Soon the cart had picked up speed and was whipping around the curves and twirling in a spiral down deep into the earth and then surging upwards and down a rather steep drop.
Severus shrieked aloud in delight.
"Sev, are you scared?" asked Harry, concerned.
"No. I think it's wickedly awesome!" he cried, as they raced down and up another curve.
"I should have stayed up on top. I think I'm going to be sick!" Ginny groaned, a hand over her mouth. All the jouncing and bouncing and spinning was making her nauseous and it didn't help that the baby inside her seemed to be enjoying the ride from hell and jumping in excitement.
Harry quickly conjured a bucket and handed it to his wife. "Sorry, I should have asked how far away it was and gone myself with Severus."
"Too late now," Ginny muttered, feeling her stomach lurch. She really didn't want to throw up, however, so she struggled to control her heaving insides.
Just then they slid to a stop with a loud screech. "Vault 394!" announced Tengu. "Please exit the cart to the left. Otherwise it's a long way down!"
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Great! A goblin with a sense of humor." Harry assisted her out of the cart.
Severus jumped out himself and stared up at the large doors carved of bronze with the Prince crest of crown, scepter, and raven on them. He had only seen the crest once, in a book of heraldry he'd checked out of the Hogwarts library as a student. But he still remembered it.
He walked up with the key and stood on tiptoe to insert it into the keyhole.
The key shimmered and magical light raced up and over the doors and they swung open.
Inside was a treasure trove. There were chests of money, stacked along the sides, that seemed to stretch on forever, of Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts, more than Severus thought he could spend in two lifetimes. There were more chests of jewels—sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. The walls were hung with gorgeous tapestries and artworks, there were gold and jewel encrusted cups, plates, and bowls. A carpet hung in the air, gently floating. There were cauldrons of all sizes, and a huge cabinet with potion ingredients if the rarest sort. Spellbooks and scrolls filled a huge shelf along the wall. There were even swords, daggers, and suits of armor, all in perfect condition, sparkling with magic.
In one corner were items of clothing, boots, a cloak, a beautiful ball gown. There was even furniture. A broom was there also, a tall black one with golden bristles and the inscription Shadowstreak 1500, limited edition, only 450 made! Harry stroked it reverently. "Holy Merlin! A Shadowstreak! These are so rare, they stopped making them like a hundred years ago, and they're worth thousands of Galleons! I'd give my left arm to fly one."
"You can have it, Harry," Severus offered. "You'd get more use out of it than I will."
"Thanks, Sev, but I can't take this. It's yours, part of the Prince legacy. Though I wouldn't mind borrowing it for awhile."
"You can borrow it now if you want."
"No, I don't have time to fly during school, and I want to have time to give that baby the respect it deserves." Harry said, giving the broom a pat. "It can stay here until the summer."
Ginny whistled. "Sevvy, your grandparents must have been filthy rich even before they inherited this. There's so much here, it's probably the accumulation of more than one or two generations of wizards."
"Well, my mother always said her family went back to Merlin and maybe even before." He gazed around in awe. "I could spend weeks down here and still not see everything. I wonder if there's some kind of inventory of its contents?"
No sooner had he said that, then a sheet of parchment over three feet long popped into view. Severus took it in his hands and saw that it was an itemized list of the vault's contents, everything was described and dated. "Thank you," he said to whatever magical spirit had been listening. "I'll read this later." He rolled it up and carefully tucked it in a pocket of his robe. "We can go now, Ginny," he said, not wanting her to get sick down here.
They left the vault, the doors shutting behind them and the key reappearing in the lock for Severus to take. He put the key and its chain around his neck. Tengu was still waiting outside.
"Was everything to your satisfaction, Lord Prince?"
It took Severus a moment to realize the goblin was speaking to him. "Uh . . . yes, everything was fine."
"Good! Good! If you will all step into the cart, we can return to the upper level." Tengu gestured and Severus climbed in first, with Harry helping Ginny and then getting in himself.
The cart sped off, though the return trip wasn't quite as exciting.
They met the Malfoys in the lobby, and Lily asked Severus about the Prince vault, and Severus told her he'd never seen so much wealth and magical items in his life.
"So you're rich then, Sev?"
"Yes, I guess I am."
"Good! I'm glad you won't be going hungry and wearing ripped up clothes like you did before," Lily said. Then she blushed. "Sorry, I didn't mean to sound like a snob. I know you couldn't help it. But you were always hungry."
"I know. And believe me, I'm glad that won't be the case this time," Severus said feelingly. "Where're the Lupins?"
Lily shrugged. "Still down in the Black vault, I guess."
"Humph! Sirius is probably counting every Knut, the miser!" Severus snorted.
Lily giggled. "What else was inside the Prince vault?"
"A whole list of things. I'll show you when we get back to school. I also have some potion recipes I need to go over."
Since Ginny wasn't feeling well, Harry called Severus over and prepared to Floo back to school. When it looked like Severus was about to argue because he was talking with Lily, he said, "Lily can come with us too. Now come here, Severus."
Severus came with Lily, after Lily told Draco she was going back with Harry.
Once at the Potter's quarters, Ginny drank some tea to settle her stomach and went to lie down. Harry Flooed Luna who had been watching Cory and Alby, and the boys came through the Floo.
After explaining where they had been, at the Ministry and the bank, the two boys challenged Harry to a game of Marble Shooter, leaving Lily and Severus to discuss the unfinished potions.
Most of the potions were still at the note stage, meaning Severus had scribbled ideas down and notes for certain ingredients, but hadn't yet put together a recipe. Those they put aside for later. There were two or three, however, which were at the recipe stage, and it was those they worked on.
"Sev, does this say ¾ of a cup of leech juice? I can't read your writing."
"Let me see. No, it's a quarter cup. Sorry, I scribble when I'm writing things down fast."
"Oh. And do you think this will work to restore nerve damage in people hit by the Cruciatus?"
"That's what I'm hoping it'll do. It could also help with people who have had strokes or some other kind of nerve-related disease, like fibromyalgia or Parkinsons."
Lily frowned and asked what they were, she was not quite up on diseases.
Severus explained, he was in full professor mode now. "So . . . if I add another teaspoon of the crushed scarab beetle, which is known to heal the worst wounds . . .and it mixes with the unicorn hair and the two drops of phoenix tears . . .it should mend the frozen synapses, right?"
Lily nodded, biting her lip. "And even if it doesn't completely repair them, it might mend the connection enough so the brain can use them again."
They reworked and added to the formula for another twenty minutes before declaring it finished. Now they only had to field test it. "That's where Healer Jordan comes in," Severus said.
By then Alby and Cory were restless and begging Harry to take them flying. He turned to the two potions prodigies and said, "I'm going to take your brothers flying for half-an-hour. Ginny's having a lie down, would you like to come or do you want to work some more on those formulas?"
Lily looked at Severus. She knew right then he was itching to rework another formula and so she said, "We'd like to keep going, Harry."
"Fine, so long as you both just discuss the potions and don't try and brew any." Harry warned.
"We won't. I have another recipe to give St. Mungos." Severus informed him, handing him the sheet of parchment.
"Great! I'll mail it out to him right away." Harry smiled. He carefully folded it and sent it over to his desk. "But right now, I need to get these imps out of here before they break something. You two behave, you hear?"
"Yes, Harry!" the two chorused.
As he took his Firebolt from the broom holder and left the room with Cory and Alby, he saw the two bent over another sheet of parchment with Severus' small cursive, and shook his head. Kindred spirits indeed!
Severus rolled his eyes when Harry was gone. "Does he think we're stupid? We couldn't brew in here even if we wanted to. There's no proper lab, and we don't have any of the ingredients we need."
"Sev, he's just being cautious, like a dad. My mum used to always remind me and Tuney not to use the oven when she went out, even though we didn't bake ourselves."
"Oh. Well, anyway, this potion is for allergies, because I hate those Allergy Drops . . . if we start out with the base formula, here, but then alter the amount of echinachea . . ." Severus pointed to the original formula and then took a quill and wrote the alteration on a fresh page of his potions journal.
"Why would you do that?"
"Because it's too strong, that's why the drops burn the inside of your nose. But putting a little more saline here will balance it out . . ."
He began to scribble rapidly.
Ginny decided to skip dinner because she still felt queasy. "You go on with the boys, Harry. I'll tell Misty to bring me up some tea and toast later. Has anyone heard from Hermione and Ron? I was wondering how Rosie was doing."
Harry nodded. "Poppy told Minerva that Rosie's getting better. I'm going to see her after dinner with the boys. Nev will probably take Frankie over and I daresay Draco will stop by with Lily and Cory too."
"And the flu isn't contagious any longer?"
"Not according to Poppy. She said it stops being contagious after twenty-four hours." He bent and kissed her forehead. "Feel better. I'll see you soon."
Hermione was at dinner that night, and told Harry she was sorry Ginny wasn't feeling well. "But I know how that goes. And before long, it'll be me lying down with cool cloths on my head and drinking chamomile and mint tea."
"Hermione, you too!" exclaimed Harry, his eyes widening.
"As Alby would say, me too, me too!" she chuckled.
"Congratulations! Wait till Ginny hears. Is Ron hoping for a boy this time?"
"Actually he said he wants a girl. It's me who wants a boy. I don't know if I could deal with two Rose's."
Remus raised an eyebrow. "Rose is a piece of cake compared to my three, Hermione. I could handle two of her easy."
"Sure, Remus, you say that now," Hermione said, bemused. "Thank goodness that flu has finally run its course. She'd been driving me mad wanting to get out of bed. Ron seems to be able to handle her better than I can right now. Or it seems that way."
"That's because Ron always liked sleeping late," Harry chuckled.
"Uh huh. Well, at least she'll be better for the Weasley get-together Molly's planning this weekend," Hermione said.
"Right! I almost forgot about that. Will Percy be there?"
"No, he told Mum he had to work, as usual. And you know his wife won't stir a foot without him, so she won't be coming either. But Charlie will be there, and so will Bill, Fleur, and Victoire. And of course George will be there." Hermione said.
"Ginny talked to George a few days ago and he told her he's met someone finally. Says her name's Bethany Church." Harry said slyly.
"Really? Oh, I'm so happy for him. Is she a witch?"
"Yeah, Muggleborn. From New York City."
"Trust George to meet an American witch!" Hermione laughed. "What's she like?"
"That's all I know. George says we'll learn the rest when we meet her. Knowing George, she's one of a kind."
The talk then turned to students and what sorts of problems some were having and the first Quidditch match of the season, which was Gryffindor and Ravenclaw.
Rose looked up just as a seeming parade of children entered the Hospital Wing. First came Teddy, Jamie, and Sirius. Teddy mussed her hair, like always, and brought her a card the three of them had made. "Hi, guys!" she greeted them.
"Open the card we got you. We made it ourselves," Jamie urged.
Rose cautiously opened the card. Last time she had received a card from them, when she opened it, it had squirted her in the face with water. But this one only had a rose pop out of it. The rose was a pale pink and smelled like chocolate. "Ooh! It smells great!"
"And you can eat it too!" Sirius said. "It's a candy rose."
Rosie smiled. "That's wicked, guys! Thanks so much."
Then Frankie bounded into the room. "Hiya, Rosie! Aren't you sick of this bed yet?"
"Yes, I'm soo sick of it." Rosie told her best friend.
"Here, I brought you this. It's a friendship bracelet." Frankie said, handing her the colorful woven bracelet. "Mum showed me how to make them."
Rosie loved the woven pink, purple, and blue bracelet. "Help me tie it on, please!"
Frankie did. "Look, I have one too. From Lily." She displayed a bracelet woven with blue, green, and gold string in a swirling pattern.
"Lily's my new friend. She's Cory's new sister."
Rose wrinkled her brow. "But Frankie . . . Cory doesn't have a sister. The baby . . . it died," she whispered in Frankie's ear.
"No, not the baby," Frankie shook her head. "Aunt Tori and Uncle Draco took her in, she's a cousin of Aunt Tori's whose mum and dad died. Like Sevvy and Sirius."
Rosie's eyes widened. She wasn't at all sure she liked the idea of another girl being around. "How old is she?"
"Five. Here she is now."
Rose turned to see Cory enter the room holding onto the hand of a slightly taller five-year-old girl with deep red hair and brilliant green eyes wearing a turquoise and white skirt set.
Cory dragged Lily behind him and said, "Hey, Rosie! How are ya feelin'? Look! I brought you a quill from one of Granny's peacocks. I found it on the ground and Lily helped 'stract Lucifee so I could get it." He handed Rose a lovely ivory and white colored quill. "Oh, this is my new sister, Lily."
Rose eyed the other girl. It was almost like looking at a reflection, except Lily's eyes were green and not blue. Rose held out a hand. "Hello. I'm Rose Weasley."
"Lily Evans," Lily replied shaking the other girl's hand.
Rose examined the quill. "So how'd you distract old Lucifer? Doesn't he bite kids? Cory says he's mean."
"He is. He tried to bite me, but I ran all around the tree trunks." Lily admitted.
"Weren't you scared?"
"A little bit."
Rose looked down on Lily's wrist and saw a friendship bracelet around it. Lily's had green, indigo, purple, and white squares. "Did Frankie make that for you?"
"No, Sev did. Luna taught all of us."
"Except me, cause I was sick," Rose moped.
"I could teach you," Lily offered.
"No, Frankie will." Rose said dismissively. "She's my best friend."
Lily nodded. "I'm best friends with Sev. We knew each other before our parents died and we got separated. I'm friends with Frankie too."
Rose simply nodded. She knew the polite thing would be to say she was too, but she wasn't quite sure she wanted to share Frankie with the newcomer. Or Severus for that matter.
Finally Severus and Alby came in, they'd had to make a pit stop along the way, since Alby had spilled his glass of pumpkin juice all over himself and Harry had to clean him up before going to visit Rose.
"Rosie, we brought you a puzzle," Alby announced, running over to her and handing her a wrapped present.
"Al, you're not supposed to tell her what it is!" Severus groaned. "She hasn't even opened it!"
"Oops! Sorry!" Alby sighed. He had been so excited to give Rosie her gift he'd forgotten.
Rosie just laughed. "It's all right, Al." She tore open the box. "Aww, a puzzle with kitties and potions!"
"And here's a chocolate frog too," Severus added, giving her the blue and gold foil box.
As he did so, Rosie noticed that Severus was also wearing a bracelet, this one with green, silver, black, and blue in it. "Who made that for you?"
"Lily did. We didn't have enough to make more, Luna ran out of thread."
"When Aunt Luna gets more, could you make me one, Rose?" asked Alby.
"Sure I will. Once I learn how."
"It's easy, Rose!" Frankie told her. "It's kind of like braiding a doll's hair."
"Aww! Al, are you sweet on Rosie?" Teddy teased.
"No! She's my cousin, duh!" Alby shot back.
"Way to go, Teddy!" Jamie clapped.
"Button it, James." Teddy ordered, not liking to feel stupid in front of his little brothers.
"Al, why do you want a bracelet anyway?" Jamie asked. "Jewelry's for girls."
"Sevvy has one and he's not a girl!" Alby declared stoutly.
"That's 'cause Severus . . ." Jamie abruptly trailed off when Severus glared at him. "Never mind."
"We could make you one, Jamie," Frankie offered.
Jamie shook his head. He thought the bracelets were kind of neat, but he didn't want his brothers teasing him. "No, that's okay."
"Friendship bracelets are for everyone—girls and boys," Hermione interjected. "Girls made them for boys they liked, or their best friends, or even their sisters and brothers."
"Do you know how to make them, Mama?" asked Rose.
"Yes. Though Luna makes them better than I do." Hermione said. "Anyone who wants one can ask me. All I need to know are your four or three favorite colors and that's it."
Severus told Rose about the new formulas he was working on with Lily. Rosie felt a pang of jealousy because she would have liked to invent formulas like that. Then Frankie told her about helping Neville plant magical bean sprouts along with Lily. That just made Rose even more jealous, because she had been stuck in bed, miserable, and Frankie had been off playing with Lily. Rose wasn't used to having another girl around and having to share her best friend, and she was afraid that maybe Frankie would like Lily better. As a result, she became rather cross and grumpy, refused to share her candy with Alby and Sirius, and when Lily offered to make the puzzle with her, she snapped, "No! Now go away, please!"
Lily immediately withdrew, a somewhat hurt expression on her face.
Severus' eyes flashed. "Hey, don't go yelling at her," he ordered.
Rosie glared at him. "I can yell if I feel like it,Severus."
Severus glared right back. "If you're going to be a cranky little brat, maybe we should go."
Severus turned and tugged Alby's sleeve. "Al, let's go home. Come on, Lily." He started towards the door, with Alby and Lily trailing.
Hermione, sensing her daughter was about to throw a tantrum, sent the rest of the children away. "I think Rose's had enough for one evening. She's still not altogether well. But thank you all for visiting."
After everyone had gone, except for Ron who was napping again, Hermione turned to her daughter, who was scowling and looking very cranky, and asked, "Rosie, what's gotten into you? Why were you behaving so crossly towards Lily and your friends?"
"Because," Rosie crossed her arms over her chest.
"Because why? Do you feel sick?"
"No. But I . . . I wish Lily never came here."
"Rose, why would you say that? Lily's a perfectly nice girl and you have a lot in common with her. You'll see that once you get to know her."
"I don't want to get to know her!" Rose burst out, tears forming in her eyes. "She's stealing my best friends away, Mama!"
"Rose, she's done no such thing!" Hermione protested.
"Has too! Sev makes potions with her now and Frankie plays with her too." Rose said grumpily.
"Oh, Rose! There's no need for you to be jealous of Lily." Hermione soothed, picking her up. "You can have more than one best friend."
"But Mama, what if Frankie likes Lily better?"
Hermione thought that right then Rose sounded an awful lot like Ron, who had gotten jealous easily over Harry and used to pick fights with him because of insecurity. Oh, yes, she was her father's daughter in this case! Hermione put a finger under Rose's chin and tilted her chin up. "Sweetie, look at me. There's no need for you to make this into a competition—of who likes who best. Like I said before, you can have two best friends. I did. I had Uncle Harry and Aunt Luna. And your daddy had Uncle Harry and me."
"But daddy married you."
"Yes, but that was years after we were friends. Rose, you can have Frankie as your first best friend and Lily and Severus as your other best friends. There's no reason to choose one over the other. Did you know that Lily was Sev's best friend before they came here? Just like you and Frankie. You can all be friends with each other and you don't have to like one better than the other."
"Do you think Sevvy might marry Lily when they're grown up?"
"Well . . . yes, they might. But it's a little early to be talking about getting married," Hermione said, her eyebrows shooting up. Her daughter was too perceptive.
"Good. 'Cause then I can marry Cory," Rose stated firmly.
"And what does Cory think about that?" Hermione asked, suppressing a laugh. She knew she should be asking what did Ron think about that, but refrained from doing so.
"He said it was okay," Rose replied. "I think he's cute!"
Hermione started laughing. "Oh, Rosie! I'm so glad your dad isn't awake to hear this conversation!"
"Because, love, your dad is not ready to even think about you growing up. He wants to keep you his little girl forever."
"That's silly, Mama! Nobody can stay little forever, not even with magic. Everybody has to grow up sometime."
"Yes, they do. And right now I want you to enjoy being a little girl with as many best friends as you want, okay?"
Rose hugged Hermione. "Okay." Then her face went pensive. "Mama, do you think Lily and Sevvy will still want to be friends with me after I yelled at them?"
"Rose, sometimes you and your friends will argue, that's just how it goes. Your dad and Uncle Harry fought like cats and dogs sometimes and so did I with them. But once you apologize, then it's over and you can go back to being friends like before. I think if you apologize to Sev and Lily, they'll forgive you."
"Then I'll do that. And I'll share my sweets with them too."
"That's my big girl. Now, I have another little secret to share with you. You know how Aunt Ginny is having a baby?"
"Uh huh. It's growing inside her tummy. Alby told me. And Aunt Tori had one too until she fell and broke hers."
"Err . . . well, yes . . ." Hermione coughed. She was about to try and explain that Tori's baby had not really broke, but been too tiny to live, then decided Rose's explanation was good enough for a four-year-old. "Um . . .I'm going to have a baby too, Rose. In July you're going to be a big sister."
"I am?" Rose's eyes were very wide. "What will we have? A boy or a girl?"
"I don't know. We'll have to wait and see."
"What do you want to have, Mama?"
"Well . . . how about a baby brother for you?"
"That's okay, but I kinda want a little sister."
"Your dad does too."
Rosie frowned. Then she said, "What if we could have both? Then we'd all be happy."
"Twins?" Hermione looked rather nervous.
"Like Uncle George and Uncle Fred."
"I suppose that could happen."
"It could! It could! I hope it does!" Rose said, clapping her hands.
"It's too bad you weren't the one having them," Hermione muttered.
"Mama, can you read me a story?"
"Yes. How about the legend of Alessa and the Flying Carpet?" Hermione pulled a book of children's stories from her robe pocket.
Rose snuggled up against her as she began to read. She loved being read to and would sit still for hours, listening.
By the time the weekend rolled around, Rose was now fast friends with both Lily and Frankie, as well as Severus, Cory, and Alby. Both Lily and Severus had forgiven Rose her temper. Hermione had taught Rose how to make friendship bracelets, and now Cory had one of black, white, and sapphire diamonds, and Alby had one with yellow, blue, red, and green with zigzag stripes. Rose had made both of theirs, and also ones for Frankie and Lily. Lily had made one for Rose and Hermione made one for all the Lupin boys, knowing they'd never accept one from the girls. She gave Jamie one with red, gold, white, and sapphire with a pattern of waves. Teddy she made one with red, black, and purple with a pattern of arrows. For Sirius she used red, gold, and black with a pattern of paw prints.
When Hermione presented the Lupin boys with their bracelets, Jamie's eyes lit up. He turned to Teddy and Sirius and said, "Boys do too wear jewelry! Dad told me we're descended from the Celts, and their warriors wore earrings and necklaces and armbands and they were warriors, so there!" He proudly put his bracelet on and thanked Hermione.
Teddy and Sirius also thanked Hermione and put theirs on. Sirius leaned over and whispered in Teddy's ear, "Bet Jamie doesn't know the Celts also painted themselves with blue tattoos and ran naked into battle! Maybe he'll want to do that too."
Teddy muffled a laugh with his hand. "Mum would have something to say about that!"
All the children played on the grounds until it was time for the Weasley's family get-together. The Potters and Weasleys all Flooed over to the Burrow, since Ginny and Hermione didn't think it was safe to Apparate any longer because they were pregnant.
When they arrived at the Burrow, they found the backyard sporting a large white tent with lots of benches and trestle tables decorated with brightly colored tablecloths and Arthur was cooking hamburgers, chicken, and sausage on his new grill . . . that talked.
"Hello, Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione!" he waved at them, his face was red under his chef's hat, which said Kiss the Cook. "Hi, kids! Come and see my latest invention. The talking grill! It tells you right when the food is done . . . and it comes out just right!"
They all gathered around to watch. Several burgers and sausages were sizzling on the grill. Arthur stood in front with a spatula handy. Suddenly a voice cried, "Turn over the burgers, mon, they're burnin' up!" in a Jamaican accent.
Arthur flipped the burgers. "See? Look how nicely browned they are!"
"Wow! That does look good, Dad," Ron said.
A few minutes later, the grill told Arthur to turn over the chicken and sausage, and then to take the burgers off. Arthur put the burgers on a warming tray and said, "I'll never burn another hamburger with this thing."
"I think we need one of those, Harry," Ginny said, hugging and kissing her father.
"Can you make us one, Grandpa?" asked Alby.
"I'll try, as soon as I find some more grills. This one came from a rubbish sale, you know when Muggles sell all their old stuff."
"Dad, I think you mean a rummage sale," Harry corrected. "It's not garbage, just things they don't want anymore."
"Oh, yes, you're right, Harry. Anyway, go in and tell Molly I'm almost finished so she can bring out the rest of the food."
They all trooped inside to say hello to Molly, who together with Fleur had made all sorts of side dishes and salads. They floated everything outside and put it on a long table just for that purpose.
Harry spotted Bill lounging in a corner chair, still wearing his fang earring and sipping an ale, he went up and introduced Severus to him. The Curse Breaker remained unfazed as he spoke to his former professor, saying he hoped Severus enjoyed the party. "I hear you're going to be a dad again soon, Harry. Good for you! Maybe you'll have a girl this time. We need a few more. Right , Vic?" He put an arm around his daughter, who had her father's auburn hair and her mother's pretty blue eyes. She was seven. "Vickie, say hello to your Uncle Harry and your cousin, Severus."
Victoire murmured a greeting shyly, looking down at her feet. "Papa, can I go inside?"
"Aw, Vickie, why don't you go and play with the other kids? They're family, they won't bite."
Victoire looked uncertain. "But . . . I don't . . ."
"Come with me," Severus said, taking the bashful girl's hand. "My little brother is over there, talking to a rabbit or something. You can pet it or even say hello to it, Alby can translate for you."
"Your frère can talk to animals?" Victoire gasped.
"Yes, he's a Beast Master. Over here, Victoire." Severus tugged gently, and the girl followed.
"Please, call me Vickie," she said, as she walked across the grass towards the other children, who were all clustered around Alby and the small hare he had found.
"Merlin! It's a good thing Severus was here. I thought she was going to spend the rest of the party hiding away in the loft, like she did last year," Bill said to Harry. "She's so bashful around people, I don't know what to do about it. Takes after her mother's side, I guess, because there's not a bashful one in the lot in my family!"
"Does she go to school?"
"Not anymore. We tried, and she was so miserable we homeschool her now. I'm hoping she'll grow out of it as she gets older. But it's hard, there aren't any kids her age around Shell Cottage, and I think that's why she's so scared of people, because we're so isolated."
"You should try an expose her to other kids and people gradually," Harry suggested. "That might help."
Meanwhile, Severus had brought Victoire to where her cousins were all crouched down, marveling at the hare Alby was petting. "Move over some, Rosie," he ordered quietly. "Let Vickie pet the bunny."
Rosie smiled up at her elder but much quieter cousin. "Hi, Vickie! Go on and touch him, he's real soft!" She moved over so Victoire could pet the hare.
Victoire knelt and looked at Alby. "Is it safe to pet him? He will not bite or kick?"
"No. He promised me he would be nice. His name's Hazel, he was born in a briar patch." Alby said. "If you want you can ask him stuff, I can translate it into rabbit talk."
Slowly, Victoire reached out and stroked the hare's soft fur. "Ooh! It's like silk! He has beautiful fur, would you please tell him that? And ask him if he has any brothers or sisters? Or maybe a wife and some little ones?"
Alby asked Hazel those questions. Then he listened before replying. "He says thank you and he had four brothers and one sister. And he does have a wife and she'll be giving him little ones any day now."
"Oh, how wonderful!" Victoire sighed happily, still petting the brown hare.
Charlie, who had just arrived two days prior from Romania, observed how Alby was holding the hare calmly, and he said, "What's this I hear about you, little nephew? Grammy tells me you're Beast Master."
"Hi, Uncle Charlie! See how I'm talking to this hare here?" Hazel wriggled against Alby's chest, he was frightened of the big man above. "Easy, Hazel. He won't hurt you."
Charlie gently ran his finger down the hare's back and whistled. "That's an amazing talent you have , Alby. Can you only talk to mammals, or can you talk to birds too?"
"I can talk to birds. They're funny, always singing about how beautiful the morning is and how they need more sun, and what girl bird they wanna attract."
"I wonder if you can talk to dragons?"
"I dunno! I never tried!" Suddenly, sensing Hazel was at the end of its wits, Alby released the hare and it bounded away. "He was panicky," he explained. He looked up at Charlie hopefully. "Could we maybe go and see some dragons?"
Charlie grinned. "We'll see, little buddy. I have to talk to your parents first. Maybe after the baby's born."
"Aww! That's so long! I wish I could go now!"
"It's not that long, Alby. And besides, Christmas is coming." Charlie reminded him. "Get your Christmas shopping done yet?"
"No!" they all chorused.
"Me neither," he laughed. "All right, kids, let me say hello to the rest of the family." He walked off towards where Harry and Ginny were sitting.
When George showed up with his satchel of joke products and his new girlfriend in hand, all the children cheered, including Victoire.
"Hello, kiddies! Who wants some stuff from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes? All right, here we go, listen for your name!" He began calling out one name at a time.
Severus, who normally never liked joke products, found himself with a snake in a can, a rather harmless practical joke. Alby got a rubber chicken. As they each came up for their present, George introduced them to Bethany. "Sevvy, meet my girlfriend, Bethany."
Severus shook hands with a tall willowy woman with dark curly hair and blue eyes. "Hello, I'm Beth. Pleased to meet you."
"Same here. Did you Floo here from New York?"
"No, I took a Portkey," Beth said. "I would have been coughing up soot for days if I'd tried to Floo."
"Oh, right." Severus said, thinking what a dunderhead he sounded like. He quickly hurried away, clutching his snake and Mimic.
Once everyone had been introduced to Beth, Molly called everyone to eat.
All the children made a mad dash to the tables . Harry asked Severus what he wanted to eat. Severus chose a cheeseburger, macaroni salad, pickles, and broccoli salad. Alby had a sausage on a roll, potato salad, bread with butter, and cucumber salad. Both had pumpkin juice.
Dessert was several kinds of pie, a peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cake, and strawberry trifle. Tea, coffee, and milk was served.
Then, after everyone had eaten their fill, it was time for the annual Weasley Quidditch game. Ginny, unfortunately, couldn't play, but she could watch as Harry was picked as Seeker for one team, and Beth for the opposite side. George played Beater for her team, and Ron Keeper for Harry's team. Charlie was Chaser for Harry's team and Bill was Beater for Harry's. Fleur was Chaser for George's team. Arthur played Keeper for George's team. Hermione was the referee.
When she blew the whistle, both teams rose into the air and the Quaffle, Bludgers, and Snitch were released.
Immediately, there was a mad scramble for the Quaffle, George hit the Bludger nearly all the way to Ron's goal, and Harry and Beth soared high in the sky looking for the Snitch.
Charlie grabbed for the Quaffle and missed, but Fleur snagged it and flew hard towards Ron. There was a lot of good natured teasing going on. Fleur threw it in but Ron blocked it.
The game went on for two hours, with the score going up and down. Finally it was tied—75-75.
Harry had been scouting the area for the Snitch relentlessly, until he finally spotted it over by the house. He flew on a zigzag course, trying to outsmart Beth. But the American witch had seen the Snitch hovering too, and she went around the opposite way.
Harry dove towards the glittering golden ball . . . and was intercepted by a whirlwind on a broomstick that snatched the Snitch right before it fell into his hand.
Beth flew around, laughing. "We win! Whoo-hoo!"
Ginny, watching, was amazed at the way Beth had caught the Snitch, and even though her husband had lost, she was not too upset.
Harry clapped Beth on the shoulder. "You were great, Beth! I haven't had anyone outfly me in years. Georgie, why didn't you tell me she was a Quidditch champ?"
"I wanted to surprise you, Harry!" the other laughed.
"I used to be Captain of my Quidditch team back in school," Beth said. "And that year our team went all the way to the National Cup."
"I can see why." Harry said.
"And besides that I was the inventor of several practical joke items, like a Splatter Quill and Twisty Tongue Licorice."
Harry laughed. "You and George should become partners."
"Thank you, Harry. Actually, we are already." Beth said, smiling.
"You're perfect for my brother," Charlie said. "I haven't seen him smile like this since Fred . . .passed away."
"George is adorable and he makes me feel special," Beth said, her eyes dreamy. "The first time we met, I went to shake his hand, and it came off! It was a fake. I laughed like hell. Then I got him back by hugging him back and slipping a little mouse in his pocket. That night he owled me with his address and we've been inventing jokes ever since."
Later, as the stars came out, Arthur and Bill shot off fireworks, and they burst overhead in all kinds of shapes of animals, castles, wizards, and fantastic beasts. The children had fun guessing what animal or object it was and cheering when it burst overhead.
A griffin exploded overhead, and Severus murmured sleepily in Harry's lap, "That's a griffin, I call it . . ."
"I see a tiger . . ." Alby muttered. Then he too was asleep on Harry's other side.
All in all, it had been a great get-together, Harry mused, watching the fireworks and holding his sons. He hoped the holidays went as smoothly.
A/N: For those reviewers who asked for more Ron and Hermione and the Weasleys, hope you liked. Also, thanks to witchsbroom for the idea of going down into the vaults.
Trivia question: What is the significance of the Prince's vault number-394? Whoever guesses it gets chocolate frogs and butterbeer and a hug from little Sev!
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