Rose Weasley was not spectacular.
At two years old, she made her mother’s orchids dance. Hermione was beaming. Ron’s mouth was agape. Molly scooped her in a hug.
“Magic never shows this early. They’re usually around seven, I believe. Maybe some spurts beginning around five.”
“That’s our Rosie. Though, dancing roses would have been a bit more appropriate.”
Rose could not remember the incident.
She did not like Hugo for a very long time. He cried too often, and never slept through the night, and had a ridiculous fondness for biting. Lily wasn’t much better.
At four years old, Rose firmly decided she was never having children, and told her parents such. Her father laughed, kissed her head, and told her she was brilliant. She decided that he was her favorite.
Muggle movies were the most magical things Rose had ever seen. After she and Granddad watched Citizen Kane, she insisted on being called Rosebud. She also declared she wanted to be a muggle. This time her mother laughed, pulled her close, and called her precious. Rose decided she didn’t have a favorite.
Rose was faster than Al and James. She could fly better than them too. Nobody ever beat Rose in an arm wrestle, or exploding snap. She taught Hugo to be a decent Catcher, and hold his broom steady.
“Gonna be captain of the Gryffindor team, I bet.”
Her third year, she found a Unicorn roaming the Dark Forest one night—always recklessly fearless, her mother said—sleek and black with an almost bronze horn rising from the center of his head. She named him Arion and he let her ride him. High up, the wind whipped through her hair and vibrations of the pounded ground surged through her spine. Rose never rode a broom again.
She knew it wounded her father dearly.
Rose was made of fire—that was the running family joke. James was lightning. Hugo was the sea. Lily strong like Earth, Al sweet like sap, and Rose, the burning flame, a constant threat of wildfire.
“Funny enough, I think she gets it from Hermione.”
In her fifth year, James and Hugo got into fights all the time. Rose could not figure out why until he stormed up to her in the common room one night and screamed, “Put some clothes on!” Rose had never been particularly chaste with pajamas, always choosing comfort over modesty. It had never been a problem either, until now, she realized, as the redness of the blush rising up her neck also reddened her newly acquired cleavage. Her exposed newly acquired cleavage. She yelled back at James that she could do whatever she bloody well pleased and he had no place demanding anything from her. But from then on, she wore a flannel pajama top over her camisoles when she was in the common room.
On Rose’s sixteenth birthday, a Tuesday in January, she was summoned to the Headmaster’s office before dinner, where she found her mother waiting for her. She was whisked away to Hogsmeade. Specifically to the Three Broomsticks, where her mother promptly ordered them each a butterbeer and shot of firewhiskey. They talked about nothing and everything. Hermione asked about Scorpius, and Rose nearly spat up her drink because she had never told anyone about her crush; she didn’t even talk to him when he visited Al over the summer. Hermione in turn told her about Lavender Brown and her at-the-time-insufferable father. “I never thought I’d love anyone as much as that boy until sixteen years ago.”
Four hours, three rounds, and countless stumbles later she was back in her dormitory. She decided she liked Hermione just as much as her mum, maybe even a little more.
Rose did not get “O”s on her O.W.L.s. Not a single one. It always confused every one. Rose was brilliant, top of her class; she never got nervous. It didn’t make any sense.
It never did faze her.
The summer before sixth year, Rose went to the muggle cinema precisely four times a week. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. She saw every summer movie at least three times.
Her father thought she’d finally snapped, James rolled his eyes, and Hugo decided she had to have been dropped on her head, many times, as a baby.
Sometime in mid-July the cashier, an Irish boy with a buzz cut, broad shoulders, and the beginnings of a tattoo peaking out from the right side of his neck, asked what her name was. His shift was ending precisely five minutes before the film would actually begin (previews and such) and he asked if she would mind him joining her. “I haven’t seen it yet, you see. I’m curious why you’ve watched it seven times. Name’s Cale.”
After their fifth date she came home, kissed each of her parents good night, and went up to bed.
“Ronald, I believe your daughter has fallen in love,” she heard her mother say as she ascended the stairs. She heard her father snort.
Rose scoffed too, but the blush made even her hair redder.
Nobody ever told her and she’s furious. Even Scorpius knew. He lets it slip one night when he’s drunk and trying to figure out whether or not he wants to be like his father. Draco Malfoy wasn’t all bad, he hadn’t told them it was Harry Potter under the stinging jinx. Still, he’d let that deranged aunt of his torture Hermione Granger.
She punched Scorpius, ran past Al, and found herself breathing very very hard in the middle of the forbidden forest with Arion seated beside her. That was the first, and only, time he did not let her mount him. She hadn’t realized she’d been sobbing until Professor Longbottom ran towards her, terrified. “They tortured her,” she said. Over and over again. She couldn’t figure out why it bothered her so. He carried her to his office and made her some tea. “It’s best not to dwell on that past, Rose. They took too much already, don’t let them have your sanity too.”
She never told her mother, or father, that she knew.
After her breath is gone, as she lays in twisted sheets, her body adjusting to being coiled around another person, Cale tells her she has magic in her eyes. She laughs out loud because the magic in his mind, the magic of muggle imagination, is so much more spectacular than what’s actually raging inside her. But he thinks that muggle magic is what’s there so she kisses him hard and rests her head on his chest. She falls asleep thinking of purity and blood and how the wizarding world has it all backwards.
In the morning she tells him she’s a witch. His eyes are magic too and he asks if she has a pointy hat. She transfigures one of his trainers and removes her clothes with a flick of her wand. “Wicked,” he smirks.
Lily Potter’s portrait hangs on her floor of the Department of Mysteries. Rose has taken up Lily’s old project, the first to do so, and she wishes she could tell her Uncle Harry. But she is an Unspeakable and takes her job very seriously. She’ll whisper the amazing secrets of the Universe she’s discovering to Cale while he sleeps, but that’s as far as she’ll go. She wonders if Lily knew exactly what she would do by standing her ground that night; she knows Lily knew.
When she’s at home looking at the giant mess of faces she calls family, when the Burrow is literally bursting at its seams, she wants to thank Lily for a sacrifice that cultivated so many more lives than just her son’s. But she can’t. Instead, Rose commits herself to unearthing the secrets of love, to continuing her work in her stead.
Rose was always jealous of her cousins. Victoire’s hair flowed like liquid silver and Roxanne’s curls were tight and springy, capable of ornate braids and twists and life. Lily’s red was breathtaking, a dark crimson the color of blood, not the ghastly Weasley scarlet.
But standing in the hotel room staring at her and her husband’s reflection in the mirror, his forehead against her cheek, his arms wrapped around her waist so that the gold of her wedding gown made his skin glow, and the dancing white and green orchids circled the fabric beneath his hands, she thought her bushy waves cascaded like lava down the hills of her shoulders. She smiled, knowing he’d be calling her “Red” forever.
Rose’s daughter is born with a full head of hair, tawny brown, but definitely frizzy and bush-like. Her eyes are a sparkling sapphire, like Rose’s dad. She’s all Granger-Weasley, right down to the magic that Cale sees spinning in her eyes. They settle on Calla because Cale loves the idea of flowers, and Rose wants her to have a piece of him too. She’s radiant, bubbling with magic, and Rose, unaware, makes the orchids on the windowsill dance.
Calla Braden was spectacular.