When the winter term finally ended, everyone was overjoyed to be going home. Making sure to deliver her gifts early, Rowan was hugged and thanked far too much to her annoyance. Even Pettigrew gave her a stiff hug as she hexed Sirius and James to get them away from her.
Thankfully everyone else was much more gracious about it and gave Rowan gifts in return. Mostly books mixed in with the odd sweet box. Which was fine by her as she didn't require fancy gifts. Although, Xenos did gift her a book titled, Prophecies or Lies of Nostradamus, a 15th century self-proclaimed oracle. Which turned out to be an interesting read if one could ignore all the conspiracy theories.
As for Dirk, Barty, and Letitia, they all had received a nice big package of sweets. Regulus being the odd one out felt rather sad and hurt, but Rowan promised that his gift would be arriving later on. Confident that was the case, Regulus stopped pouting but kept trying to coax the answer out of her. But she maintained her silence on the subject effectively driving Regulus mad.
The train ride was rather much the same thing as nothing unusual occurred, to say the least. Severus is only somewhat dizzy when they arrived at Prince Manor, while Rowan having developed a stomach of steel only felt a bit tired, but nothing else. The front door of the manor is covered in mistletoe and holly wreaths enchanted to form wondrous shapes every couple of minutes.
Admiring Dawn's handy work, Rowan walks inside as Severus stumbles behind her into the front hall. Dawn is wearing a holiday livery as her smiling baby, Laldey is wrapped in an emerald blanket. Laldey happily flashes them a great gaping smile to reveal a single white tooth in his pink gums. "Welcome home, young master and mistress!" Dawn happily squeaked as the mistletoe decorations in her hair shake from excitement.
"Thank you, Dawn," Rowan said as Severus weakly murmured in reply.
"Dawn will take the young master and mistresses' things to the bedrooms," Dawn said as the trunks were levitated into the manor. "Lady Sirsa and Miss Georgine is waiting for you both in the parlor to greet them."
"We will," Rowan said, not before reaching over to gently pinch Laldey's soft cheek earning a squeak of delight from him. Flashing a warm smile, Dawn departs with a faint pop as they head down the hall.
Fidel, the peac.o.c.k who was mid-way down the hall freezes and as a couple of feathers fall out in terror. It couldn't be that time of the year already! Shifting pedals in reverse fast enough to make a professional race car driver be filled with envy, Fidel screeches out of there as though his tailfeathers were on fire.
The two of them made their way down the fest filled halls full of decorated trees and Christmas decorations. Rowan stopped to give Severus time to gain his bearings as she studied the portrait that always seemed to change according to the seasons. The warm glowing cottage at present was dimly lit as a snowstorm was blowing clouding most of the portrait in swirls of snow.
Seeing Severus having finally recovered some of the color in his cheeks, Rowan heads further down the hall to their grandmother's parlor. The elegantly furnished room is still in light blues and beige colors. The grand pianoforte was uncharacteristically silent as Aunt Georgine quietly read a book while Sirsa knit a baby jumper for their new house elf.
Glancing up over the cover of her book, Georgine says, "Oh, good you're finally here." Staring them over once more from top to bottom she says, "Just what is Hogwarts feeding the children these days? Do the two of you have giant blood of some sort?"
Rowan and Severus both glower at her as Sirsa says, "Georgine, behave yourself."
"Yes, dearest," Georgine sniffed, before obediently glancing back down at her book.
Pursing her lips, Sirsa scowls at her younger sister-in-law before giving the twins a quick look over. Satisfied with what she saw, she said, "I've received reports on your grades, and they are most excellent. We are quite proud of the both of you."
"Thank you, grandmother," Both twins said in unison.
"Also, we have all been invited to my cousins' festivities," Sirsa said earning surprised stares from the twins as they didn't believe they had any more family members as grandmother had been an only child.
"My grandmother was French and while most of my uncles and aunts choose to remain in France, a few cousins have homes in both countries. The Verninac family members including extended family members will all gather together to celebrate this Christmas Eve. I expect both of you to comport yourselves properly."
"I do have a prior commitment the day before will that pose a problem?" Rowan interjected causing Severus to stare at her as if she was mad. What prior commitment was she talking about?
To Severus's shock, their grandmother says, "That will not be a problem at all as it is the day before. Please discuss this with your grandfather in more detail."
"Yes, grandmother," Rowan dutifully replied.
"Good, I expect the both of you to properly comport yourselves with them," Sirsa firmly stared them each in the eye.
"We won't bring shame on the Prince family name, grandmother," the twins steadily answered.
"Good, now off you go now," Sirsa dismissed them with a wave of her hand. "I'm sure you're hungry and tired after your journey."
Both Severus and Rowan nod, before leaving the parlor room. "What prior commitment?" Severus asked out of earshot.
"None of your business," Rowan retorted back. "I didn't ask you for any details about your date with Lily, please extend me the same courtesy." Two bright red splotches appear on his pale cheeks as Severus stomps off in a huff muttering about annoying older sisters.
Making her way to her grandfather's study, Rowan finds her grandfather at his desk in the middle of writing a letter. Glancing up at her, Reginald puts down the silver tipped quill and says, "Yes, Rowan?"
"Grandfather, I've a prior engagement the day before the family gathering," Rowan replied as she took the seat before him.
"And it is a matter of conflict of interests?" Reginald asked with a raised eyebrow.
"No, but I will be out rather late the evening prior," Rowan replied. "And such, accommodations have been made for me to sleep and rest until the following morning."
"And where exactly are you going?"
"I've been invited to the Goblin Auction, grandfather."
Reginald is silent for a long time as he studies his granddaughter before him. Detecting no signs of lies in her eyes, he says, "May I see the invitation?"
Reaching into her pocket, Rowan pulls the invitation and hands it over. Reginald studies the Gringotts wax seal that has been broken on the envelope, before removing the invitation. Seeing the official enchanted letterhead, Reginald reads the invitation before handing it back. "And how did you merit such an invite, Rowan?"
"Pure luck," Rowan half-truthfully replied. Because it was a matter of luck outliving the Basilisk.
"I presume that you have already accepted and that goblins have agreed to accommodate your needs given that you are still underage," Reginald said as he leaned back in his chair.
"Yes, grandfather," Rowan candidly answered with the truth. For she was the guest of honor and as such the goblins were being most courteous to her given that she was going to earn them plenty of gold.
"Then, I shall not worry then as you will be in safe hands," Reginald said. "The goblins may be many things, but they will never allow for a guest in their care to come to harm."
"Thank you, grandfather!" Rowan said with a pleased expression, before turning to leave.
"And Rowan, don't lie to me again," Reginald coldly said. "I dislike being lied too."
"I did not lie, grandfather," Rowan steadily gazed back. "I merely omitted certain details, and neither can I make that promise either."
There is a long heavy stretch of pause until Reginald closes his eyes and says, "You are only a child, Rowan. Do not carry all these heavy burdens on your own."
"I will try," Rowan said, neither promising nor vowing otherwise.
The door closes behind her as Reginald is left staring at her retreating back. It was not that he did not trust her, but rather it was the dormant power that would start to awaken within her and Severus. He could feel the binds slowly begin them loosen.
And it was only their 3rd year, he greatly feared what would occur during their fifteenth year when most witches and wizards begin to come into their power with the last vestiges emerging by their 16th year. But most of all, would the darkness of the twin's forefathers win in the end? For one should never underestimate the allure of darkness. For even the purest hearts are drawn to it.