Title: La Vie En Rose
Pairing: Harry/Rose Zeller
Warnings: chan (14/12; 14/13), fluff
Her hair was like spun gold and flashed whenever she walked near a stained glass window. Harry wished he didn’t know this, but he did. Oh, how he did. He would wait until the first years were out of Transfiguration and would just lean up against the wall and just stand there, watching her as she laughed with her friends, her nose buried in a notebook, her fingers tinged with the blackest of ink.
“Inky,” her friends would tease, and she would just laugh, closing her book and run after them, trying to catch their pressed white cuffs.
Harry wished he didn’t know that. But he did. He would turn, his own cuffs perfectly white, wishing she would just run up to him and press her small fingers to his cuffs and then whisper into his ear, “Who’s inky now?”
She must have used rose soap because the scent washed through her hair and toward anyone in her vicinity, almost as if it were natural. Harry wasn’t at first certain how he had known it was rose until he had seen her one day in the Student Garden, her hair pulled behind one ear, her nose being brushed by petals as she inhaled deeply. That one time she had been alone and Harry was almost able to justify flying down from his perch from where he was playing a skirmish game of Quidditch until the Snitch caught his eye and he had to fly after it before Ginny caught it instead.
Harry wasn’t certain if she even liked Quidditch. As far as he could tell she never turned toward the players that day except when George flew too low, shouting, “Sorry!” only to meet a frown from her rose-pink lips.
Harry wished he knew, but it was their fourth year and Dumbledore had announced there wouldn’t be any Quidditch this year and there would be some tournament instead. Harry didn’t care. All he could do was think about this Hufflepuff whose smell he could detect hallways away and make him want to pull her off somewhere and just ask her to Hogsmeade, although he knew she’d have to decline.
With her came the dreams. He didn’t notice at first, just reveling in the fact that they were good dreams and that he was wandering in a garden alone. Then, with time, there would be a figure, sitting beneath a weeping willow and reading a Charms book.
“Harry,” she breathed, when Harry first came near her. “I was hoping I should see you.” Her auburn hair flowed down her shoulders and her green eyes sparkled in the sunlight. The girl was in her Hogwarts uniform and at least must have been in her sixth year.
“Do I know you?” he asked.
Her eyes became sad. “No, I suppose you don’t.” She got up, setting her book aside, before linking arms with Harry, much to his consternation.
“Er—“ he began, but she almost smiled at him maternally, as if he were a younger brother.
“I am a flower in this garden,” she explained. “I smell of nothing but lilies.”
“Right,” Harry answered as they passed by a patch of daffodils.
“You, however, smell of nature but not of a garden. Do you understand what I’m saying?” Her green eyes sparkled with intelligence and Harry wished he could give her an answer. It was amazing how this witch could make him want to study when not even Hermione could manage it, least of all any of his professors.
The flower laughed prettily. “No one’s bothered to tell you this, I see.” She frowned after a moment. “What of your godfather?”
It was now Harry’s turn to frown about that. “How do you know anything about my godfather?” He was a bit defensive.
“I don’t have one.”
The sky darkened and the flower continued to frown. It seemed like she tried to brush off this new information, but couldn’t. “There are many flowers in this garden,” she finally said carefully. “Each of us carries the name of our scent. It’s as if magic herself whispered into our parents’ ears to give us our names. There’s a girl in your class named Lavender?”
“Er—yes.” That seemed to be the best that Harry could come up with.
The flower hummed, pulling him toward peonies. “Yes, her parents were whispered to. She would smell of lavender.”
“Then why can’t I smell it?” Harry asked her, but only got a secret smile in return.
That’s how he had first found himself outside of Transfiguration. Until then his eyes would search for her in the Great Hall, but to little avail. With the flower’s knowledge, he followed the smell, knowing that it could only lead to her. And he found the girl and, moreover, he had a free block and had been following the scent. Harry had noticed her before, the long, gold-spun hair. The turned up nose. The laughing brown eyes and high cheekbones that betrayed her as a pureblood. He’d mentioned her to Hermione. “Oh, look, don’t you remember …”
Hermione glanced over her shoulder. “Oh, yes. Wasn’t she at the end?”
Last but certainly not least, Harry had wanted to say and he hated himself for it. He despised himself for his obsession. For waiting for her and knowing her name and remembering it.
“I’m surprised you even paid attention.”
Harry hadn’t, actually. It’s just that the scent of rose had been tickling his senses and he had glanced up toward her on a whim. He remembered thinking how beautiful she was, before passing it off as nothing. That had lasted for less than a week.
One day she didn’t come out of Transfiguration, and Harry had been startled. He waited for over twenty minutes but after the hall was completely empty, Harry gave in to defeat and walked away. Then the smell of roses tickled his nose again and he turned to see her running out of the room. Her books were in her hand and her fingers covered with ink, and without thinking she ran right in to him.
“Oh,” she breathed, not instantly moving.
Harry’s large hands were on her upper arms holding her too far away and yet closer than she should be, and he didn’t let go. She didn’t make to move.
She took in a deep breath and smiled, whispering “pine needles,” before shifting her books and offering her hand. “Rose Elizabeth Katerina May Zeller. First year Hufflepuff.”
He blinked at her several times before releasing his grip on her. Pine Needles? “Er—Harry James Potter. Fourth year Gryffindor.”
They shook hands and a shock of pure electric happiness shot up through Harry’s arm and he almost shivered from the sensation.
Rose bit her lip. “Might I be impertinent?”
Might she what? Harry didn’t know anyone who spoke like that. “Sure,” he agreed, knowing he could deny Rose nothing. The light was catching her hair perfectly and the scent of roses was absolutely overwhelming. It almost went to his head, making him feel drunk. He thought. Harry had never been drunk before.
Rose blinked up at him, hiding her brown eyes from sight for a moment. “Were you raised by Muggles?” Her expression was entirely innocent otherwise Harry might have been insulted. But she had asked so sweetly and now looked at him so earnestly as if the question meant something to both of them, that it was somehow life altering, that he couldn’t help but reply.
She sighed sadly, but allowed Harry to continue to hold her hand. “Let me guess. You followed the smell of roses.”
Harry looked at her askance. “Why, yes.”
She nodded. “And you’re disgusted that you want to—“ she waited for him to fill in the thought. And he did. Just not verbally.
He wanted to gently fold her in his arms and kiss her, even though she was only eleven, and he wanted to be the only wizard to ever kiss her. Harry wanted to walk through the halls by her side, having her ink-stained fingers entwined with his, as he breathed in that delicious rose scent.
Rose hummed to herself. “You know. No one else can really smell it. The roses, that is.”
Harry looked at her entirely confused. The flower hadn’t particularly told him that, after all.
She leaned up and pinched his cuff even though her hands were stained with ink. “Till next time, Harry James Potter.”
Then she was gone, like a flit of light. Rose’s robes swirled about her and, while Harry was noticing the turn of her ankle, she whisked around a corner, probably toward Hufflepuff, and certainly away from him.
Harry looked down at his cuff and smiled. It showed, in ink, the smudged shape of a thumb. He knew that he wouldn’t leave the shirt out for the elves to launder. It was simply inconceivable. It was a small gift from Rose, even if she didn’t realize it, and he had every intention of keeping it.
He dreamt of the garden again, running through the lines of flowers, Rose always just ahead of him until, once again, he came to the weeping willow. The flower was sitting there, the sun glinting off her hair, but with her sat another girl, slightly older and wearing a muggle skirt and shirt. Her hair was a curly blonde and her neck was long like a swan’s. Harry felt like he somehow knew this girl before.
“Ah, Harry,” the flower greeted. “This is my sister.”
“Another flower,” Harry guessed, offering his hand.
She didn’t take it.
“Nearly,” the flower admitted. “There was the possibility, but she didn’t achieve the smell of anything.”
Harry nodded and allowed himself to be led away.
“You’ve met her officially then. Did you bring her roses?” the flower inquired.
Harry shook his head. “No. I waited for her—well, to catch a glimpse of her—outside of one of her classes and she was late.” He blushed. “She shouldn’t be so beautiful. She’s so young.”
“Flowers are by nature pretty, at least. Have you ever seen an ugly lily? Perhaps one not to your taste, but actually ugly?” She looked at him piercingly.
Harry blushed again. “No,” he admitted.
“If her scent calls to you then she is old enough,” the flower concluded. They walked together for several long moments through roses, daisies, lavender, and dogwood trees. Harry couldn’t believe the number of flowers he passed and yet had not thought of before. In those moments, Harry began to question the flower beside him, the dreams, and yet they had only told him truth, he realized. Never something else and the flower seemed to deeply care for him and his well being, though her sister was a bit standoffish. “You have something else to ask me.”
“The first words she said to me were ‘pine needles.’ Is that what I smell like?” Her hand was laced through the crook of his arm, and Harry felt kinship toward this girl, as if she were an older cousin or a close family friend.
“Perhaps it is,” the flower replied enigmatically. “Your mother was a flower, after all.”
Harry woke refreshed and comforted, glad that today he would get to see his Rose again, even from a distance.
However, as he waited outside of Transfiguration, the sound of the clearing of a throat startled him. Harry turned and was angry to see Malfoy of all people standing there. However, his wand wasn’t drawn.
“Really, Potter. You have no idea?”
“No idea, what?” he snapped.
“Oh, Hell,” Malfoy stated before gesturing for Harry to follow. He disappeared behind a tapestry and, after a moment, Harry did the same. On the other side there was a deserted corridor and a window seat that overlooked the Student Garden. “Ah,” Malfoy exclaimed tapping the glass. “There’s your Rose now. Seems like Astoria was right about the class being cancelled.”
Harry looked out the warped window and saw that, in fact, it was Rose. She was there among the roses with a friend with mousy brown hair. They seemed to be talking to each other rapidly and happily.
Malfoy had taken out a box of Muggle cigarettes and was tapping the end of one against the box. He was still looking out the window, though he seemed to understand Harry’s expression.
“That’s girlspeak for ‘he likes me.’”
“How can you possibly …?” Harry inquired.
“I have two younger sisters and a girlfriend in second year.”
Harry looked at him, shocked.
“Don’t look at me,” Draco demanded as he lit his cigarette and opened the window to let out the smoke. “Your girl is in her first year.”
“She’s not my—“
Draco rolled his eyes. “Of course she is. You smell her roses. I smell the almonds of Astoria Greengrass.”
Almonds? Really? The flower had never mentioned that. He decided, though, to pretend ignorance. He knew Draco might mock him, but he wanted to have as much information verified without having to go to Hermione or search the library. “What are you talking about?”
Draco sighed. “What I’m doing for love,” he said to himself. “Astoria would never forgive me if I didn’t aid true love if I could. All right, Potter. Every witch and wizard has magic. This magic appears to give a scent that can only be smelled by someone with a compatible magic, though the scents are never the same. That’s why you can smell roses around that little Hufflepuff. La Vie en Rose, as I’m calling it.”
Harry was looking out at Rose and her friend who were now sitting on a bench and whispering to each other. “She’s so beautiful,” he murmured to himself. Her hair was up in a complicated knot, the sun shining on it and making it pure gold. He was never certain how her hair could ever become more golden except when she was in the sunlight. It turned her skin a milky white, her lips pink, and her eyes flashes occasionally out of a beautiful face.
Draco rolled his eyes again. He looked out the window, taking a drag. “Not as much as Astoria. Then again, I’m hardly impartial and she’s two years older.”
“I thought she was a second year,” Harry said, not full involved in the conversation.
“She was born the second of September.” Draco shrugged, blowing out smoke rings. “She should be a third year so I could take her out on proper dates. You’re going to have to wait a while.”
“I don’t want to—“ Harry turned toward Draco although it pained him to look away from Rose.
“Of course you do. It’s entirely natural. You found her in the entire school and from what the rumor mill says, you’ve been hanging out by that classroom for weeks and not talking to anyone. Trust me, Zells could smell you and she let you stay there. She was waiting for you to take the initiative.”
“Why would I even—?” Harry stopped himself and breathed deeply. “I think there’s been a mistake.” He just had to get away. He began to move past Draco but Draco held a hand to his chest and gently pushed him back.
“I’m telling you what you would know if you weren’t raised by Muggles. Let me help you. Truce.”
“Truce.” Draco’s face was pointed and earnest. It made Harry blink. “She’s your match. Magic gave her to you.”
“She’s a pureblood,” Harry found himself admitting. The flower had never said anything about this, but still he couldn’t help wondering.
Draco sighed and took yet another drag of his cigarette. He looked out toward the garden. “You’re the most famous wizard in the world. Zells wouldn’t mind. Magic wouldn’t be cruel quite like that.”
Quite like that. So Magic could be cruel. Harry did not like the sound of that.
Harry’s eyes turned again to Rose. Her head was tilted back and she was gesturing with her hands wildly. Her friend was turned toward Rose, her face now visible, but Harry could still see the smile on Rose’s face.
Smoke blew into Harry’s face. “This is natural. If you were in love with her it would be more natural than if you were in your twenties in love with some Muggle.” Malfoy spat out the word. “Ask anyone.” He stood up. “Get her flowers. She seems to like them.”
He then just walked off, flicking the cigarette out the window. “Ask someone.”
Harry was just left there, staring at Rose through the window and smelling the residual scent of smoke, which he did not appreciate.
In the end, Harry did end up going to the library, where he found Cho Chang sitting among her books and doing nothing. He barely knew her, but he’d heard that her dad was a Muggle.
He sat down across from her. She looked up at him, a look of relief on her face, as if she didn’t really want to tackle the next essay.
“I have a few questions,” Harry admitted carefully. “I don’t know who to ask and, well, you’re here.”
Cho nibbled on the tip of her quill. “Does this have anything to do with you hanging out in front of the first year Transfiguration class?” Oh now, somehow she liked gossip, but he couldn’t quite help it. It would get around anyway.
“Your dad’s a Muggle, right?”
“And your mum’s a witch.”
“Half-blood witch,” Cho offered, “Seeker to Seeker.”
“Well then, how did she ignore the smell of magic that—er—called to her?” he was still a bit uncertain as to how to refer to it, but he hoped he’d gotten the gist of it. By the look of sadness and comprehension on her face, she had.
“He was a pureblood, and, well.”
“His family wouldn’t allow—“
“Not at all. He would never let her near him, flaunted his girlfriends at her, was just too cruel. In the end Mum couldn’t take it any more and married Dad.” She shrugged. “It was the natural thing to do at that point. Find love without magic.”
“Find love without magic,” Harry repeated. “So it’s not cut in stone?”
“Oh, you’ll love your first year all your life and any other love you feel will always be second to it,” Cho assured him. “But you couldn’t ignore it. That would be a bit mean, though.”
Harry found a book or two on the subject, but didn’t make much headway with them. It was just a reiteration of what he’d been told. There were some legends behind the smell of a wizard’s magic and of how a strong wizard could just know the scent of another.
That’s what scared Harry the most. Ever since he had first caught the whiff of roses, he could sometimes tell other smells. He’d thought Hermione had been wearing perfume until he realized it was milk chocolate. Ron was toothpaste of all things, and Draco was nutmeg. At least he couldn’t actively smell them. It might have driven Harry mad.
Somehow, he found himself back near the Transfiguration classroom at a different time. He poked in and saw McGonagall was surprisingly there. “I was wondering when you were going to come in, Mr. Potter,” she remarked. “Walk with me.”
Harry found himself carrying all of her books and parchments and heading toward her office.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she remarked. “For weeks now.”
“W-weeks?” he stammered, looking over at her.
She met his gaze with an unrelenting glare of her own. “Weeks. Did you think I didn’t notice your attraction to a first year Hufflepuff? I was there, you know, when you were left with Muggles. As if they would know anything about this!”
“I just—pardon?” Harry asked, completely overwhelmed.
McGonagall looked at them. “This is the time, but not the place, Mr. Potter. Move along.”
And that was exactly what Harry did. They took several moving staircases, passed several inquiring and interested-looking students, until they finally arrived at her office.
“Give me the parchments,” she demanded, putting them neatly in a pile of others. “The books can go anywhere on the shelf.”
Harry put them on the end where there appeared to be the most room and was startled when the books began to arrange themselves to their own liking. There didn’t seem to be any discernible method of categorization at all.
“Stop staring at the books, Mr. Potter. You’ll never figure it out.”
“Right,” Harry muttered, before quickly taking a seat in front of his Head of House. It was absolutely daunting.
She sat there just staring at him for several long moments and then took a deep breath. “When a wizard loves a witch he can detect her scent. It shows true compatibility of magic, which in turn leads to a harmony of minds, souls, and hearts. Age has no bearing on this love, and wizards and witches can first feel it as young as eleven, when they first receive their Hogwarts’ letter, or sometimes into their forties. Some never feel it or they fight it for personal reasons. Others are blessed early on.”
“So, when I smell roses,” Harry began, already knowing the answer.
“You are smelling her magic, Mr. Potter. Who is the young lady in question?”
He held up his sleeve of the shirt that had her fingerprint smudged on it. He really was at a loss for words.
Professor McGonagall smiled. “Ah, Miss Zeller. Zells as everyone seems to call her. I thought I heard her talking to Miss Jayne about pine trees with alacrity just last week.”
Harry looked up. “Yes, I’ve heard that nickname quite a lot lately. I hadn’t spoken to her until—“
“No. No, I suppose you wouldn’t.
“She’s rather zealous in her studies. That and there’s a Ravenclaw in her year named Rose. And there’s a third year Slytherin.” McGonagall snapped her fingers and a teacup appeared before Harry. “Flower names are rather popular amongst purebloods.”
“Mum was named Lily and my aunt Petunia,” Harry pointed out. The dreams he had wafted back to him, but he pushed them out of his mind.
“An exception, I always thought,” McGonagall decided as a teapot floated and poured them each a cup of tea. “Cream? Sugar?”
That floated toward him as well.
“Do you have any questions?” McGonagall finally questioned him, stirring her spoon through her tea, which Harry discovered was Earl Grey.
“Well,” he began. “Don’t we have a choice?” He remembered what Cho said, but that was only one case.
“My dear boy,” she began, taking a sip of her tea. “We always have a choice. However, do you honestly want to walk away from Zeller?”
No. Harry certainly did not. He couldn’t imagine doing anything that would be worse. Why would he ever want to leave her? She was just too wonderful and too perfect and too everything for him. Harry felt like he possibly couldn’t be good enough for her and yet, and yet he just had to try. He owed them at least that much, certainly.
The next week, he ventured into the Student Gardens and found purple roses that somehow struck his fancy. He cut three of them, found some paper, and waited, as he always did, outside of the Transfiguration classroom. She was one of the first to come out, and when she saw him, all of her friends laughed. Rose tucked a strand of golden hair behind her right ear, looking down before boldly meeting his gaze. “Harry James Potter,” she greeted.
“I understand everyone calls you ‘Zells,’” he teased, holding out the roses.
She smiled and accepted them.
“Do you like it?”
“The flowers?” she questioned.
“The nickname. And them too, I suppose.”
“I love roses,” she confessed, breathing them in deeply, the scent blowing towards Harry as a nearby window was open. “And I like ‘Zells.’ No one else is called it.”
“I had a grandmother called ‘Rose,’” he remarked, though he wasn’t certain why.
Rose smiled. “I didn’t know that Potters followed that tradition.”
Harry looked deeply into her eyes. “Er—they don’t.”
Still, she slipped her hand in his and let him walk her to the Hufflepuff dormitory and even showed him how to get into the kitchens one afternoon when he stated sadly that he wanted to take her on a picnic before the weather got too cold.
Hermione, naturally, was the first to find out. “I thought it strange that you were haunting the Transfiguration classroom, but now you’re bringing a first year flowers.”
Harry looked at her from over the Divination essay he was decidedly not writing.
“Did everyone know?” Harry asked, amazed. He thought he’d been slightly subtle with the whole Stalking Rose thing before he’d even met her mode, but apparently not so much.
“Harry, of course everyone knew. Ron knows.”
Ron, however, wasn’t there.
“Yeah, Harry,” Ginny proclaimed, sitting down in an empty seat between them that was usually reserved for Ron. “What’s up with that? I mean they were first years so the betting pool wasn’t that interesting.”
Harry raised his eyebrows at her.
“There’s a betting pool on everything you do. The twins usually start it. If they don’t, someone else will.”
Somehow that didn’t leave Harry from feeling betrayed. Next time he saw the twins he would have to seriously talk to them. He thought it was only Quidditch matches!
He still didn’t know if his Zells fancied Quidditch at all. He wanted to give her his jersey that he’d grown out of in the middle of third year, but wasn’t sure if she’d like it. Still, he wanted her to have it. Somehow it felt like a claim, more than the roses and the handholding.
“So?” Hermione pried. “What exactly is going on?”
“Er—“ he began, looking between Hermione and Ginny. They both looked far too intrigued. “My magic is in love with someone else’s magic.”
Really, how else was he going to explain it?
Ginny looked crestfallen but Hermione had a studious look on her face. “So you were following a magic trail.”
“And that trail ended at the Transfiguration classroom where the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws have their lessons.” She swished the top of her quill across her lips.
“And you’re not a pureblood.”
“No,” Ginny grated out. “He’s not.”
“Hmm,” Hermione peeped. “How positively intriguing. I’ve never smelled another wizard’s magic. Then again, it’s highly unlikely outside of purebloods, according to some research. It’s another one of their archaic arguments toward blood purity.” She sighed. “So, who is the future Mrs. Potter?”
“I’ve hardly proposed—“ Harry protested, flustered.
Hermione smiled knowingly at him. “Who is she?”
Harry played with his ink a bit and doodled in the margins of his essay. “Rose Zeller.”
Hermione blinked at him. Twice. “The first year?”
“Turns out she’s a month away from being a second year,” Harry replied hopefully, only to notice that Ginny was shooting daggers at him. “I know she’s young, but apparently this is quite common.”
“So you bring her roses and walk her to class.”
“And basically stare down every wizard who tries to talk to her,” Ginny sighed wistfully. “No such luck for me.”
“Oh, Ginny,” Hermione consoled, as if she and Ginny were talking about something entirely unrelated. “I’m so sorry.”
She shrugged. “Nothing to be done.” Then she got up and wandered off elsewhere leaving Harry alone with Hermione.
Ron asked fewer questions, when he found it. It was over supper the next day and he was eating a kidney pie. “She smell nice?”
“She look nice?”
“Way to go, mate!” He took a swig of his pumpkin juice.
One day when he was once again waiting outside of Transfiguration, he was startled to see Draco hand-in-hand with a younger witch with strawberry blonde curls. Her green eyes were duller than his, but still glowing, and she had a happy smile on her face.
As soon as she saw Harry, she released Draco’s hand and skipped toward him. “Harry,” she greeted.
Harry looked at a slightly exacerbated Draco. “Astoria,” he guessed and she nodded her head.
“I’m taking a survey.” She held up a book in front of me. “Zells answered many questions but there are a few that only you can answer.”
“You’re friends with Zells?” Harry asked and she held up the cuffs of her white shirt, which showed the light stain of a fingerprint. Harry laughed. “I think we could start a fan club with her inky fingerprints as a membership card.”
Draco chuckled to himself.
“So,” Astoria began. “When did you first smell Zells’ scent?” She looked up at him earnestly, pen at the ready.
“You’re really interviewing me on this,” Harry began and she flashed him a glimpse of a page full of notes. Her eyes were round and dark and Harry felt that Draco would hex him if he didn’t answer. “The Opening Feast. I thought someone was wearing a perfume.”
She nodded and began scribbling happily. “Fascinating,” she admitted. Then she flitted away with Draco following her happily.
That night Harry and Rose sat together in the Student Garden, which, he now realized, was identical to the one in his dreams. He’d immediately found the weeping willow and, when he commented on it, she looked at him, astonished.
“I didn’t know you came here,” she admitted, snuggling into his embrace.
He kissed the top of her head. Harry was absolutely devoted to her, but she was still so young and Harry was determined to kiss her for the first time on her fourteenth birthday.
“I rarely do,” he admitted. “I’ve dreamt of this garden, though.”
Rose looked up at him, her brown eyes sparkling. “And what do you dream?”
Harry carefully pushed a strand of hair behind her ear, smiling lovingly down at her. “I dream of a flower who tells me about you.”
“What flower?” she questioned, sounding slightly jealous.
“A lily,” Harry murmured, “like my mother.”