Disclaimer: I do not own the
creations of J.K. Rowling, nor am I making any money off of her
characters. It’s her universe; I’m just
visiting. All original characters are
of my own creation.
Although this is set one year
earlier, characters and events in this story were first described in High
Spirits: A Hogsmeade Tale. You can
read this without having read High Spirits.
Chapter 1: We’re in For Nasty Weather
“Come on everyone! Let’s give it one more try!”
In the middle of the Three
Broomsticks, the tiny figure of Filius Flitwick stood on top of a table,
beaming encouragement at the small crowd of villagers. Rosmerta groaned softly and rubbed her
temples with her free hand. They had
been practicing for the past hour and she wasn’t making any progress, one of
the only people who hadn’t. She had
managed a few wisps of smoke at the start of the lesson, but the past few
attempts hadn’t even produced that.
Professor Flitwick’s relentless enthusiasm was only making it
worse. Half-heartedly she raised her
wand, but her mind was on the roast she had to season, not the spell.
“Concentrate hard! Happy memories everyone!” Flitwick waved his wand like a conductor’s
baton. “One! Two! Three! Expecto Patronum!”
“Expecto Patronum!” the
villagers cried. Silver mist spread
through the tavern, giving the impression that one was on an enchanted, foggy
moor. It was still for a moment, and
then the air shifted and cleared, twisting itself into shapes until the tavern
was transformed into a ghost zoo. Russell
Banges’s smoky lion stalked around him, eyeing Henrietta Cole’s silver
horse. A shadowy eagle flew in circles
above Cecil Parker’s head and Cleo Belmar’s snake wound its way around chair
legs before fading into wisps of smoke.
Rosmerta stood and watched
nearly everyone’s face light up in wonder over their Patronuses. She glanced at the tip of her wand where
there wasn’t even the slightest hint of silver smoke. Looking around, she was relieved to see that everyone was too
busy admiring their own spellwork to notice her failure.
With a sigh, she lowered her
wand and tried not to let her impatience show.
She could have slept in another hour instead of wasting the morning
wracking her brains for happy memories.
She did come up with a few, but every time she tried to maintain her
concentration on that memory, a whole mess of unpleasant feelings connected to
those memories pulled her back down into sadness. It was as if every memory she had was attached to some sort of
gruesome anchor. She had tried thinking
about her best friend from school, Lucinda Lynhart, only to loose focus and
dwell on the memory of when she had heard about Lucinda’s death. Memories of her childhood and of her
brother, Philip, gave way to the reminder that she was estranged from her
entire family. Rosmerta sighed
again. Melancholia settled over her and
she just wanted everyone to leave the tavern so she could be by herself and
maybe bang a few pots and pans.
Professor Flitwick was still on
top of the table, commenting on the morning’s practice. “Very good, Mrs. Honeyduke, very good! What a magnificent bear! You too, Mr. Banges! Your lion is quite fitting for a former
Gryffindor! Miss Wicks, I think you’ve
got the hang of it. It looks like your
Patronus might be some sort of small mammal, possibly a groundhog or a short,
fat dog. A few more tries and you’ll
have it! That’s a lovely swan, Mrs.
Hasselton! How are the twins? I expect we’ll be seeing them at Hogwarts
“Those of you who haven’t
produced a full Patronus yet, don’t worry.
You’re all making splendid progress.
All you need is a little more practice.” Professor Flitwick looked over at Rosmerta. She bristled slightly, feeling like she was
back in school and being indirectly signaled out by a teacher for her failure
to perform on some spell, but as Flitwick continued speaking, she realized that
she was just being paranoid.
“Same time next week?” he
asked. Rosmerta nodded. “Same time next week everyone! Next week’s lesson will be our last one, I’m
afraid.” Flitwick floated himself off
the table and began heading to the door, pausing to answer questions along the
Rosmerta waved at her friends
and neighbors as they headed out, a tired smile on her face. She felt like one of her dishtowels, wrung
out and limp. A voice broke through her
“Oh, Rosmerta, while I’m here,
do you mind if I put in an order for dinner?”
Martha Puddifoot asked.
“Hmmm? Oh, no problem, Martha.”
“Thank you m’dear. Two chicken dinners with mash and whatever
the vegetable of the day is. I’ll send
Warren by around seven.”
“Sounds good. Take care, Martha.” Rosmerta gave a brief wave before Martha
Flitwick! Good seeing you again! Rosie, I’ll see you tonight. Save me my stool!” Russell Banges waved and strutted down High Street, whistling a
Gryffindor fight song. Rosmerta watched
his retreating back, wondering how Russell, the man who thought jokes about
wand length were funny, could produce a Patronus and she couldn’t. As if he had read her mind, Professor
Flitwick piped up.
“Don’t worry, Madam
Rosmerta. I’m sure there’s a Patronus
just waiting to burst out of you!”
Rosmerta gave him a thin smile, wishing that if he was going to
patronize her, he could be a little less cheery about it.
“Thank you, Professor. We really appreciate you taking the time to
help us out before those…guards arrive.”
Rosmerta Summoned a basket of muffins from the kitchen and passed them
to Professor Flitwick.
“Oh, my pleasure Madam Rosmerta! And these muffins look lovely!”
“It’s the least I could do,
considering that you’re giving up your Saturday morning.”
“Well, I’m sure everyone
appreciates you hosting the lessons here in the tavern. I’d best be going. See you next week!” Professor
Flitwick waved and then set off.
“Fat lot of good it’ll do me,”
Rosmerta muttered after she had shut the door.
She sighed heavily and leaned against the door, closing her eyes. The very tempting idea of going home for a
bubble bath flitted across her mind.
“Oh, don’t be so hard on
yourself, love. It’s a difficult
charm.” Rosmerta opened her eyes and
looked at the sympathetic face of her friend, Madeline “Maddie” Harrison. “Merlin knows the only cheerful thought I
could muster was the idea of me returning to my bed. I’m surprised I didn’t produce a pillow for my Patronus, although
that wouldn’t have been a bad thing necessarily. It could have smothered Iris for me. I don’t think she stopped yapping the entire lesson. Honestly, why she thinks anyone cares about
her cousin’s daughter’s fiancée’s brother is beyond me.”
Rosmerta smiled, feeling
better. Maddie couldn’t produce the
charm either and she knew more practical magic than any other witch Rosmerta
knew. If she wasn’t upset then Rosmerta
wasn’t going to mope about her lack of progress either. She straightened up and asked, “Would you
like a cup of coffee? I know I could
certainly use one.”
“That’d be lovely, dear.” Maddie settled herself at one of the tables
while Rosmerta went into the kitchen.
She appeared a few minutes later with a tray laden with a pot of coffee,
cream, sugar, a few slices of pound cake, and a jar of fresh strawberry
“Thank you, love. This looks wonderful,” Maddie said with a
yawn as she added sugar to her cup.
“Every night’s a late night at
the Lair.” Maddie spread some of the
preserves on a slice of cake. “Might as
well take advantage of the business while I have it. Seeing as how those Dementors are going to be around the area,
I’m not so sure folks’ll want to be out late.
When are they set to arrive?”
“In about a week or so, at the
start of the term.” Rosmerta sipped
some coffee. She normally preferred tea
but she needed something that would wake her up a bit. “I hope I can master that charm soon. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” Even as she said this, she knew she was
“Well, I know what my problem
is,” Maddie said with another yawn.
“Practicing at this hideous hour.
Unless my Patronus is supposed to a cloud or fog.”
“Funny, my Patronus also seems
to be wisps of fog; that is, when I can get anything to appear. I think you and I must have the same
Patronus.” Rosmerta gave a wry smile
and drank some more coffee. She could
feel her heartbeat quickening from the caffeine and the tavern seemed to be in
sharper focus. She put her mug
“Do you think those Dementors
will be around the village much? Hagrid
said they’re supposed to be guarding the castle grounds.”
Maddie shrugged. “You never know. I suppose that’s why Professor Flitwick is giving us lessons,
just to be safe. He’s a love, isn’t
he? Taught me everything I knew about
Charms. I hope I’m not disappointing
him with my lack of progress.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’re not,”
Rosmerta replied in a tone that was more airy than comforting. She didn’t want to encourage any further
reminiscing about school days. It would
lead to a whole host of uncomfortable questions, none of which she felt like
But, thankfully, Maddie changed
the topic and was soon regaling Rosmerta with a few stories from the Lair,
keeping the identities of most of her patrons secret.
“Remember that shifty bloke from
Essex I told you about? I think he’s
doing something in the illegal wand market.
He keeps asking Natasha for strands of her hair. Well, she’s only one-eighth veela, so I
don’t know if her hair is even any good to use as a wand core, thought you had
to be a full blood for that. She says
she doesn’t mind and he pays well.
‘Easiest ten Galleons I ever made,’ she says. ‘I’m selling my body anyway.
What’s a little hair?’” Maddie
looked down at her coffee cup and shook her head. A shadow flickered across her face but she snapped back to her
usual cheerful self a second later.
“Oh, Dung was by—Mundungus
Fletcher, you know. Trying to conduct
another one of his ‘business’ deals.
Ever since he got banned from the Head, he comes to the Lair. Cheap son-of-a-banshee but at least he’s
usually in a good temper and he makes the girls laugh.” Maddie then launched into a story about the
time Mundungus tried to pay off his bar tab with stolen Muggle clothes
(“Honestly, I don’t know how those Muggle lasses keep those scraps of fabric on
without magic. You’d need a Sticking
Charm—no, a Levitation Charm, for some of those dresses!”) and pretty
soon Rosmerta was laughing, her earlier sadness having melted away.
After about an hour, the two had
finished their cake and coffee. Maddie
stretched and moved to get up. “Well,
love, I’ll let you get ready for the lunch shift. I’ll see you on Monday?”
“Yes. Actually, I was thinking we could meet a little earlier than
usual, do a bit of shopping. The
end-of-the-season sales are continuing through next week. What do you say we meet outside Achilles’
Heels at three o’clock?”
“Oooh, sounds fun. And don’t fret, love, you’ll get the hang of
that spell.” Maddie patted her on the
arm. “Thanks for the cake and those
preserves were fabulous, best of the season.”
Maddie walked to the door and kissed Rosmerta good-bye on the cheek
before Disapparating. Rosmerta stood
still for a moment, staring out at the late summer day before collecting her
thoughts and busying herself with her usual Saturday routine.
“And so then the goblin says, ‘I
told you bag of gold not shag a troll!’” There was a roar of laughter from the men at
Rosmerta rolled her eyes as she
maneuvered past Archie and his cronies, carrying a full tray to a table of
warlocks in the center of the tavern.
After nearly forty years at the Broomsticks, Rosmerta had heard every
vulgar joke about a dozen times each and they had all ceased being funny
thirty-five years ago.
“Here you are, gents: two meads,
Vampire Vodka tonic, Raven’s Rum Punch, and a Mummy’s Curse. Anything else?”
“How about your owl post
address?” one of the warlocks replied with a broad wink.
“Sorry, that’s a house
secret.” Rosmerta gave the table a
smile, tucked her tray under her arm and quickly headed back to the bar. She knew the warlocks weren’t serious. Most of them flirted with her out of habit
more than anything else.
“Hey Rosmerta! Can we get an order of chips?” Jonathan Podds, whose family owned one of
the local gardening stores, called out.
“Sure thing, Johnny.” Rosmerta pivoted on her heel and changed
direction from the bar to the kitchen.
A wave of her wand and the chips were cooked. She arranged them on a platter and grabbed a bottle of vinegar on
her way out of the kitchen.
“Here you go, gents. Anything else I can get for you?”
Jonathan looked at his
companions. “Another round of ale,” he
said as the rest of the young men nodded in agreement.
“I’ll send it over in a
minute.” Rosmerta collected their empty
tankards and returned to her station at the bar. She put them in the little sink she had behind the bar and set to
work filling up fresh ones while Archie treated her to his latest hag
joke. Her tray full once again, she
went back to Jonathan’s table.
“Thanks, Rosmerta,” came the
chorus of male voices.
“My pleasure.” Rosmerta smiled at the group. It was nice to see young people around the
tavern. Ever since the Dark Days it
seemed that there were fewer and fewer sons and daughters of Hogsmeade willing
to stay in the village and put down roots like their parents and their parents’
parents. So many of them left Hogsmeade
soon after they had finished their schooling.
Some of the good ones do stay, Rosmerta thought, looking around
“Say, Johnny, you wouldn’t
happen to have any of that Gnome-Be-Gone spray, would you? Seems like a whole family of them have taken
up residence in my garden. They
completely ruined my rainbow irises.”
“No. I sent the shipment back.
Had a lot of complaints that it didn’t seem to be working. Guess nothing beats a good, old fashioned chuck
over the fence.”
“They have a spray for doxies, I
don’t know why they can’t invent one for garden gnomes.” Rosmerta shook her head and crossed her arms
over her chest, miffed by the lack of progress in gardening pesticides.
“You could always get a jarvey,”
Todd Wicks suggested.
“Or a Crup,” Guthrie Webber
added. “They grab those gnomes real
hard and shake ’em so their necks break.”
“Erg.” Rosmerta wrinkled her nose with displeasure. “That’s so barbaric! I think I’ll just stick to tossing the
little buggers into the meadow.”
“Come on by the shop,” John
suggested. “We got some new bird baths
in and a new shipment of seeds. Think
you might add anything new to your garden this year?”
“Yes. I’ve been thinking of growing some squash. Oh, and I was thinking of getting an apple
tree. Do you think they’d do all right
“It’s a bit late in the season
to plant one now, but I think with some work you might be able to grow
something edible by next fall. What
about planting some blueberry bushes?
You certainly have enough room in the meadow. Just something to think about for next year.”
“Hmm, I don’t know. It’s a good idea though.” A loud whistle broke through the din in the
tavern, interrupting their conversation.
Rosmerta twisted her head in the direction of the noise to see Archie
waving frantically at her. She nodded
to him and then turned back to the table.
“Excuse me, gents. My presence is requested at the bar.” She lifted her head and called out, “I’m
coming, Archie! Bridle your kelpies! You’re not going to die of thirst!” Archie’s buddies laughed as she made her way
back to the bar and began pouring drinks.
At half past nine, the door to
the tavern swung open and a large figure ambled in.
“Hagrid!” Rosmerta cried. “Or should I call you Professor Hagrid
now?” she teased when he had reached the bar and settled himself on a stool.
“Aw, Rosie, no need to
fuss.” Hagrid turned bright red and
looked down at the bar top.
“You’ve been made a professor,
Hagrid? Congratulations!” Russell thumped Hagrid on the back.
“A real Hogwarts professor? Capital news!” Stuart Griffiths leaned over and raised his tankard in salute.
“You’re not going to start
lecturing us, are you professor?” Archie teased, punching Hagrid in the
“Naw…but I might give yeh
homework!” Rosmerta joined in on the
laughter as she passed Hagrid his usual tankard filled with mulled mead.
“How about that!” Gordon Honeyduke added when the laughter had
died down. “Good for you, Hagrid. What’re you teaching?”
“Care o’ Magical Creatures,”
Hagrid replied, clearly enjoying all the attention, regardless of what he had
told Rosmerta about not making a fuss.
“Dumbledore asked me a few weeks ago when Bernie Kettleburn retired. Said I was the only man fer the job.” Hagrid’s chest swelled with pride and then
he appeared to get a bit overcome.
“Never…never though’ I’d be teachin’ a’ Hogwarts.” Hagrid sniffed loudly before burying his
face in his tankard.
“Well, if anyone knows about
creatures, it’s you Hagrid,” Rosmerta said kindly when Hagrid’s face had
returned to view. “You know, I bet you
would have made a wonderful magivet.”
“And let me know if you ever
want to borrow Queenie for a lesson.
Professor Kettleburn used to use her in the spring, I think with his
sixth or seventh years.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. He left me a lesson plan, but I think it’s a
bit light. Nothin’ really interestin’
‘til sixth and seventh year. I mean,
where’s the fun in that? If yeh drop
the class after yer O.W.L.s, yeh miss all the good stuff!”
Rosmerta felt a stab of worry in
her stomach. Hagrid’s idea of “good
stuff” was any creature that could remove one of your limbs with one bite. “Hagrid,” she started to say, but Archie cut
“So, what do you have planned,
Hagrid? And another round for the
“Well, I was thinkin’ o’
startin’ with hippogriffs. Sum people
keep ‘em as pets, so I thought the students might like to learn a bit more
‘bout ‘em.” Hagrid took his freshly refilled
tankard and began drinking.
“My Great Aunt Maureen used to
breed hippogriffs,” Russell chimed in.
“She’d bring her favorite, Harlequin, around for holidays. I was scared of him as a lad, but when I got
older he didn’t seem that bad. Just had
to be polite and offer him a bit of meat and he was real friendly like. Would even let you ride him. A beauty too, horse part was coal black and
the bird part was pure white.” A dreamy
look settled on Russell’s face.
Pretty soon the talk turned to
which dangerous creatures the men had faced down, each trying to out-do the
other with their tales. Since no one
could compete with Hagrid, he served as an unofficial judge. Rosmerta caught snatches of the conversation
as she walked in an endless loop from the bar to the tables to the kitchen and
back. From what she heard, she was
quite surprised none of the men had ended up as either an appetizer or a chew
toy. When she overheard Gordon Honeyduke
tell the men about the time he outran an angry cocktrice, she knew she could
probably douse the fire because there was more than enough hot air going
Before too long though, the
discussion changed to the Dementors and Sirius Black. The men stuck to the subject for the rest of the night and
Rosmerta watched Hagrid grow silent as the conversation progressed, steadily
emptying tankard after tankard.
She waved the last of the
regulars out at quarter after one in the morning and turned to Hagrid, who was
still on his barstool. “Something on
your mind, Hagrid?”
“Aw, ‘s nothin’, Rosie.” Hagrid finished his last drink and stared
moodily off into space, his shoulders drooping.
“Worried about the new
term?” She went behind the bar and
began cleaning the last of the dirty tankards and glasses.
“Li’l,” Hagrid muttered. “Jus’…I don’ know. Jus’ wish them damn ruddy Dementors wouldn’ be ‘roun’.”
“I know how you feel. I don’t like the idea of them myself.”
“No disrespec’ ter yeh, Rosie,
but yeh don’ know how’s I feel. No one
does.” Hagrid stared at her, his black
eyes looking like the sea on a moonless night.
“Only bin out a month an’ now
they’re comin’ back. Twas like I was
dyin’ in there, ev’ry bad thing in me life playin’ over and over in me
head. Didn’ wan’ ter eat, couldn’ sleep. Twas like bein’ in a nightmare, ‘cept yeh
knew yeh couldn’ wake up ter get away from it.
Jus’ wan’ed ter die. When’s they
let me out, twas like I was a new man.
Everythin’ was brighter and better ‘an before. This pas’ month’s bin th’ bes’ one o’ me life and then Dumbledore
tells us them Dementors are comin’,” Hagrid shuddered. “Fel’ like a black cloud settled over me
‘eart.” Hagrid rubbed his chest and
then slumped on the bar top.
Rosmerta leaned over. “Hagrid?”
She placed her hand on his shoulder and shook him as hard as she could,
which to Hagrid was a gentle nudge.
“Hagrid, are you going to be able to get home?”
“Be fine,” he mumbled.
Rosmerta looked at him and
sighed. She went into the kitchen and
got a loaf of bread and a pitcher of pumpkin juice out of the fridge.
“Eat this and drink this,” she
instructed Hagrid. “You’ll feel a bit
better. I’ll be right back.”
Rosmerta took the ledger and
till downstairs to her office. She’d
have to do them both in the morning.
She checked her emergency supply of Floo powder in her desk, relieved
that there was enough. There was no
possible way Hagrid would be able to get back to Hogwarts tonight, and she
couldn’t Floo onto Hogwarts grounds, so he’d have to sleep on her couch. To outsiders, it might seem that she was
being overly hospitable, but there was no one to look out for Hagrid except
Professor Dumbledore, and Rosmerta didn’t feel comfortable telling the great
wizard that his gamekeeper was drunk and needed to be escorted home. It just felt like she was being a tattletale. Only for Hagrid would she do this; although,
over the years she’d had to owl a few wives on occasion.
Keeping an eye on Hagrid, she
swept the floor, did most of the dishes, and doused the flames in the
fireplace. At quarter to two in the
morning, she was ready to leave.
“Hagrid?” She went over to the bar and tried to rouse
him. He had eaten some of the bread and
had drunk the pumpkin juice.
“Wha’?” He lifted his head from the bar top.
“Come on. We’re going home.” Rosmerta coaxed him over to the fireplace and managed to squeeze
in next to him. A few seconds later,
they were staggering out of her fireplace and into her living room. Rosmerta nearly fell from having Hagrid lean
against her. She got out her wand and
used it to keep Hagrid steady. She led
him over to the couch, wincing as the springs creaked when he plunked himself
down on it.
Queenie, her bright pink
Fwooper, woke up and came over to investigate.
“We’re going to have a bit of company tonight,” Rosmerta told her bird. “Yes, I know it’s a strange occurrence, me
having a man spend the night. Let’s get
Hagrid to bed, shall we?” Rosmerta used
an Engorgement Charm on her couch so that it expanded to fit Hagrid’s
bulk. Grunting with effort, Rosmerta
managed to get him to lie down and she took off his huge boots. She got him another glass of pumpkin juice
and stood over him until he drank it.
Enlarging a blanket, she covered Hagrid up, transfigured one of the
cushions into a pillow, and washed up.
By the time she came out of the
bathroom, Hagird was snoring away.
Rosmerta looked down on him, a sad sort of tenderness welling up in her
heart. She stroked his wild tangle of
black hair, kissed him on the forehead and went to bed.
Rosmerta awoke the next morning
groggy and still tired. Hagrid’s
snoring had kept her up most of the night, but she took it as a good sign that
Hagrid hadn’t gotten sick in his sleep.
She stretched and saw Queenie perched on the headboard, eyes
closed. Apparently Hagrid’s snoring had
disturbed her as well. Rosmerta was
dimly aware that Queenie would be expressing her displeasure at being displaced
later that day.
Rosmerta eased out of bed and
padded to the bathroom to wash up. She
dressed in plain house robes and made some tea. Half asleep, she sipped her tea in the dining room while she
flipped through the pages of the Sunday Prophet. Around ten o’clock she heard mumbling.
“Good morning, Hagrid. Glad to see you’re awake. How are you feeling?”
“Uhhhh,” Hagrid slowly sat
up. He looked around at his
surroundings and shifted uncomfortably.
“I…ah…I’m so sorry…oh,” Hagrid groaned and put his hand to his head.
“That’s all right.” Rosmerta got up and disappeared into the
kitchen. She reappeared a few seconds later
carrying a mug that had been enlarged especially for Hagrid. “You must really hate those Azkaban
guards. I haven’t seen you this upset
since Norbert went away and before that, you hadn’t spent a night on my couch
since the night You-Know-Who was defeated.
Here,” Rosmerta sat down next to him on the couch and passed him the
Hagrid took a sip and
grimaced. “Yeh sure yer hangover cure
couldn’ tas’e better?”
“Be nice, Hagrid, or I won’t
make you pumpkin muffins for breakfast.”
“Don’ talk ‘bout food,” Hagrid
“Just drink your tea. You know, people are going to talk when they
see you heading back to the castle.
They’ll think I’m some sort of jezebel,” Rosmerta chuckled. Hagrid joined her for a brief moment but his
pounding headache put a swift end to that.
He drank his tea while Rosmerta went into the kitchen to make
Thank goodness I’m going food
shopping tomorrow, there go all my eggs.
And potatoes. And bread.
A few minutes later, she heard
him get off the couch and head to the bathroom. Rosmerta brought out plate after plate from the kitchen and
placed them on the dining room table.
Hagrid returned from the bathroom and began investigating.
“Smells good, Rosie.”
“Well, I see you’re feeling
better. Did you finish your tea?” Hagrid nodded. “Good.” Rosmerta poured a
big glass of pumpkin juice and passed it to him. “Drink this, too. You
Hagrid obediently gulped down
half the glass before he piled his plate high with eggs, bacon, fried potatoes,
and toast. He took three muffins and
slathered them with butter. Note to
self: add butter to food shopping list, Rosmerta thought. Amused, she watched him eat as she spread
jam on her single piece of toast and peppered her scrambled eggs.
“This is great,” Hagrid said
through a mouthful of food. “Yer the
best, Rosie. Don’ know wha’ I’d do
without yeh.” Hagrid added ketchup to
his potatoes and shoveled a big forkful into his mouth. He swallowed. “Haven’ had a real Sunday breakfas’ in a long time.” He helped himself to two more muffins. While he buttered them, he looked
thoughtfully at Rosmerta. “How come yeh
never married, Rosie? I mean, yeh
should be makin’ breakfas’ fer a family, not the likes of me.”
“Don’t be silly, Hagrid.” Rosmerta felt her spine straighten. An urge to ball her fists and scream seized
her, but she just wrapped her hands around her mug and kept her expression
neutral. “I’m glad you’re here for
breakfast. It’s nice having some
company for a change.”
“See, that’s wha’ I mean. Yer pretty, an’ smart, an’ nice, an’ a real
good cook…yeh should have a husban’ an’ a few little ones runnin’ aroun’.”
“Well, it just didn’t work out
that way,” Rosmerta said evenly, sipping her tea. It didn’t work out at all.
And if I’m so pretty and smart and wonderful, then why did my husband
have all those other women?
“Wha’ ‘bout Russell Banges? He seems ter like yeh quite a bit. He’s got a good job an’ he’s a nice enough
bloke. Yeh should marry him,” Hagrid
said, gesturing with his fork and dripping yolk on the table. He put the forkful of egg in his mouth and
nodded sagely while he chewed.
“Thank you for the suggestion
Hagrid. I’ll keep it in mind.” Rosmerta gave him a tight smile and played
with her eggs. For a few minutes there
was only the sound of Hagrid chewing and the click of silverware against
Rosmerta heard the rustle of
wings before she felt a weight on her shoulder. “Hello, sweetie,” she cooed at Queenie. Rosmerta was glad, for once, to have Queenie’s begging for table
scraps as a distraction. “Would you
like some breakfast?” Queenie nuzzled
Rosmerta’s ear to indicate that the answer was a most definite “yes.” Rosmerta pulled the crusts off a piece of
toast and passed them to Queenie.
“You should bring some home some
of the bacon to Fang. I bet he’s
worried sick about you.”
“Yeah, yer right.” A guilty look crossed Hagrid’s face. “I really ‘ppreciate yeh lookin’ out fer him
when I was…away.”
“The staff helped, too. He missed you something awful, you
know. Wouldn’t leave your hut except to
go on a short walk to do his business.
I think he even slept in your bed.”
“He did. Shed all over th’ place.” Hagrid chuckled fondly and mopped his plate
with the last of the toast. “So yeh
don’ wanna marry Russell Banges?” Hagrid said, spraying crumbs. “Anyone in the village yeh do like?”
“I like plenty of people in the
village. Hogsmeade’s a very friendly
place. Why the interrogation about my
love life so early in the morning? And
what about you, Hagrid? Why haven’t you
found yourself a nice girl?”
“Aw, look a’ me, Rosie. We’d be in bed an’ I’d prob’ly roll over an’
crush her in me sleep.” Hagrid gave a
short laugh but he didn’t mention any other potential suitors for Rosmerta for
the rest of the morning.
It was nearly noon when Hagrid
headed back to Hogwarts. Rosmerta
cleaned up the kitchen and did the dishes before heading outside to her
garden. She shaded her eyes and took a
deep breath of the late summer air.
This was her favorite place; a sea of reds, purples, pinks and blues
swayed gently in the breeze. Fairies
and insects buzzed about and Rosmerta absentmindedly swatted at one that flew
past her face.
Though she’d never say it
outright, she was convinced that she had the best garden in Hogsmeade. Considering that gardening was practically a
national sport, she had quite a magnificent backyard indeed. Hours upon hours she had spent here,
creating her own botanical oasis out of what had once been just weeds and wild
grass. From seedling to blossom. Her old house motto. All her former classmates had taken those
words to heart. They were the ones
flourishing out there in the world whereas she had applied those words to her
garden, her tavern, her house—everything except herself.
Her garden was ever growing,
ever changing, unlike her. Was that why
she spent so much time in it? To be
around something, anything, that wasn’t always the same. Hogsmeade was just supposed to be a place
for her to recover, to lick her wounds before gathering herself together and
moving on. To where, she didn’t
know. And, over the course of nearly
forty years, as Hogsmeade went from foreign to familiar, she found herself more
and more unwilling to leave. Where she
had once found refuge in her routines, now she felt a vague sort of resentment
for that peaceful monotony. There was
an underlying feeling of anger as well.
Anger at herself for her inability to leave the safe cocoon she had
spun. But her outrage wasn’t strong
enough to propel her from the stagnate state to which she had resigned
herself. This was how she was going to
spend her days. There were worse ways
to pass the time.
She tied back her hair and set
to work weeding a bed of hydrangeas while Hagrid’s questions echoed in her mind. Why didn’t she like Russell, or any of the
other men in the village for that matter?
Was it merely the vestiges of her upbringing, a ghostly echo of her
mother’s voice telling her what sort of man she should marry and refusing to
let her consider other options? Did she
even want to get married again or was it merely a case of the grass always
being greener? Honestly, what was it to
Hagrid whether or not she married? What
did he know? The nerve of him
telling me how I should conduct my romantic affairs, she thought as she
yanked the weeds out of the ground with vicious satisfaction.
An hour later, she wiped the
sweat from her brow and leaned back, resting her hands on her thighs as she
surveyed her work. Deeply satisfied,
she smiled and brushed the dirt off herself.
If she had thought of it, she probably should have taken her wand out
and attempted a Patronus. Instead, she
got to her feet and went back inside her house, humming one of Maddie’s jazz
songs under her breath.
Elizabeth Ogden, this is your
life. It’s a pretty good one, so learn
to live with it.
Thank you to all the ladies in the SugarQuill Workshop for their suggestions
and encouragement. Special thank you to
Tapestry for beta-ing. Thank you to all
who have read and reviewed.