Ruby placed the last box on her bed and then sat down next to it, looking around at her childhood room with mixed emotions. She was excited to be finally moving out; she had been looking forward to this day for months but now it was here she felt unsure. Ruby Ariana Weasley was twenty years old and was planning to move to a new flat in London with her best friend Alice. Her mother had suggested that she move into Grimmauld Place but Ruby felt that the big house would feel empty with just her and Alice so she declined, she knew that her father was storing a lot of shop products there as well and she doubted that he would want to move them.
"Ready, Ruby?" Her father asked, poking his head around the door of her room.
"Yeah, just…thinking." She said softly. Her dad smiled and came and sat next to her on the bed.
"You know you can stay here whenever you want…"
"I know, dad. It just feels weird." Ruby replied, picking up a photo from the box next to her. It was a picture taken when she had started Hogwarts. An eleven-year old Ruby was standing between her parents and waving enthusiastically at the camera. Her father had his arm around his wife who was looking distinctly teary-eyed as she also waved at the camera. It had been a great day and the start of the best seven years of Ruby's life.
"I remember it like it was yesterday, your mother cried so much after the train left that I had to apparate her home, was worried she'd splinch herself." Ruby smiled, she had heard the story before but it still made her smile.
"I'm glad she kept the tears back until after I'd gone, probably would have changed my mind," Ruby said, putting the photo back and closing the box.
"Your sisters' got on the Quidditch team again."
"Of course they did, who else could beater like them?" Ruby said with a laugh. Immy, technically Imogen but she was only called that when she was in trouble, and Annabel were now in their fifth year at Hogwarts and had been on the Gryffindor Quidditch team since their second year.
"You'll have to see if you can get up to Hogwarts to watch one of their games." Her dad said and Ruby laughed slightly.
"Still? You never give up dad!" She replied, her father had tried for all of her life to get her into Quidditch but she shared her mother's attitude to the sport. Overrated.
"I live in hope, you ready?" He finished, standing up and picking up the last box.
"Yeah, do you really mean it when you say I can stay whenever?" She asked, her confidence lost on the final moments of leaving her bedroom.
"Whenever you want, no need to owl, just apparate or Floo over Rubes, you might be grown up and a trainee Healer but this will always be your home." Ruby smiled and stood up, kissing her dad on the cheek before walking out of the room first.
When they arrived in the kitchen her mother was sat at the table with a cup of tea and a sheet of parchment. She did not notice their arrival.
"I'm all packed, mom." Ruby said, looking at her mother. Eliza Weasley did not reply and Ruby threw an amused look at her father.
"No Ruby, of course we don't mind if you give her healer training to become a Quidditch commentator!" Her father said loudly but her mother still did not look up. Ruby laughed and decided to join in.
"Mom, I'm pregnant, I think it might be triplets!" She said, her father shook his head in exasperation.
"Eliza!" Fred said loudly and finally her mother jumped slightly and looked up from her parchment looking very surprised that the room was occupied.
"Oh, are you all ready, Ruby?" She asked, standing up and vanishing her work. Eliza's devotion to her work was a source of great amusement for the whole Weasley family. When she was getting towards the end of a project she seemed to disappear inside her own head for weeks, only emerging for brief periods of lucidity. Her latest project had only been going on for three months but in the past week it seemed like Eliza was close to a revelation, thus her attention was diverted.
"Yes, mom. I'll see you at the Burrow on Sunday though, yeah?" Ruby asked, it was rare that her mother missed a Sunday family meal but it had been known to happen. When Eliza had been working on the Dementor project she had disappeared into the Department of Mysteries for two weeks and Fred had had to make Kingsley, the Minister for Magic, insist that Eliza come home for one day a week, especially as the twins had been two and had been driving him up the wall. Ruby probably hadn't helped the situation by drawing all over the wallpaper in her crayons.
"Yes, I'll be there. I'm not too far in." Her mother said, putting her empty mug by the sink.
"Could have fooled us," Fred said, smirking. Eliza ignored him.
"Now you know you can come and stay whenever you want?" Her mother asked,
"Yes, dad told me. Thanks, mom."
"We're really proud of you, Ruby, all of us." Eliza said quietly and Ruby smiled and walked over to her.
Ruby hugged her mother and then walked out of the house with her father to apparate to her new home.
They arrived in an alleyway and walked into the building in silence. Her father probably knew how nervous she was feeling and didn't want to upset her. They climbed three flights of stairs and then Ruby tapped her wand on the front door of number seven and it swung open.
"Yay! You're here! Can you believe we're finally here? In our own flat, I'm so excited! Hi, Mr Weasley." Alice said, bounding over to them and pulling her best friend into a hug. The large sitting room/dining room/kitchen was filled with boxes that Alice and her father seemed to be working their way through.
"Hi Alice, alright Neville?" Her father said, putting the box on the table and walking over to Alice's father to shake his hand.
"Hi Fred, can you believe it? Seems like yesterday that Draco Malfoy brought Ruby to Hogwarts because she had let go of Eliza's hand in the Floo!" Ruby rolled her eyes, why did they always have to remind her of that? She had only been four!
"I know, and then there was the time that they climbed into the wardrobe to play hide and seek together and they forgot that someone had to try and find them, four hours they were in there!" Fred said and Alice giggled.
"Well if you've had enough of reminiscing about the more embarrassing moments of our childhoods perhaps you would like a cup of tea?" Alice said, moving over to her father and giving him a quick hug.
"No, I think I'll leave you to it, meteor could probably hit our house and your mother wouldn't notice." Fred said, looking at his daughter. Ruby laughed.
"Getting into the new project then?" Neville asked.
"Only three months in but…it's already started. I've got a few products I want her to check before her mind gets too crowded with whatever she's researching. I'll see you on Sunday, Ruby. You girls be careful, safety first. Uncle Bill is going to pop around tomorrow to put some wards on." Ruby nodded, her father was always safety-minded when it came to his family and after the war he'd lived through no one questioned him.
"Yep, he told me. Don't worry dad, we'll be fine. I love you." She said, pulling him into a hug.
"Love you too, Rubes, so proud of you, always." Her father whispered into her ear. Ruby tried her best to keep the tears back but she knew that her eyes must have looked emotional. She could hear Neville saying goodbye to Alice.
"Come on, Neville. Let's leave our grown up girls to be independent. At least we've got other daughters who need us."
"Shut up, we need you, just not all the time!" Alice said, holding her father's hand and walking him to the door.
"Oh, Professor Longbottom, can you tell Immy and Annabel that I'm pleased they got on the team, please?" Ruby asked
"Of course, shall I tell them you'll try and get to a match?" Neville asked, quirking his eyebrow slightly in amusement.
"I'm not that pleased, tell them I'm very busy but if they make it to the final I'll see what I can do." She replied and Neville laughed and waved. He shut the door behind him and Alice and Ruby waited for a few moments until they could hear the sound of their father's footsteps fading before they turned to each other, and squealed.
"I can't believe we've finally moved in!" Alice said, hugging Ruby and jumping up and down. Alice was excitable at the best of times but now that they had finally moved out after years of talking about it her joy was infectious.
"Which first, alcohol or chocolate?" Ruby asked as they sat down on the three-seat sofa and kicked off their shoes.
"Both, we could totally do both, we're grown up now!" Alice said, picking up her wand and summoning a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates.
"Ooh, where did you get those from?" Ruby asked, looking at the box of chocolates and summoning two glasses from one of the boxes.
"Sarah got them me for my birthday but I was saving them." She opened the wine and poured two generous glasses.
"Alice, your birthday is in May." Ruby gasped; it was now the second week in September.
"Yeah but chocolate doesn't go off, does it?" She asked, hesitating with her hand over the box.
"No, but there is no way I could save a box of chocolates for four months." Ruby said before accepting the glass of wine. Alice shrugged.
"So, anyway. This is to us, our new home, and to finally being grown up!" Alice raised her glass and Ruby toasted with her and then they both collapsed into over-excited giggles like six-year old girls.
Two hours later Ruby was sat on her new bed putting away her things and listening to a muggle band on her radio. Alice poked her head around the door.
"Ruby, is Henry coming over tonight?" She asked.
"No, not tonight. It's our first night being grown up, who wants a smelly boy coming and ruining it?" Ruby said, wrinkling her nose in disgust. Alice moved into the room and looked at the pictures that Ruby had stuck to the wall.
"Nice pictures, so you want Chinese then? Or pizza?" She asked, turning back to her friend.
"Chinese, Henry hates it so I only get it when I'm at home and Dad always steals all the prawn crackers!" She said, smiling at the memory.
"Henry hates Chinese? I don't mean to sound prejudice but isn't he…oriental?" She said, choosing the last word carefully.
"Yeah, his family are from Japan though. He said the Chinese food here is culturally misrepresentative."
"What does his family eat then?"
"Sushi, and rice. He likes Italian though." Ruby sighed slightly. She had been dating Henry Chang for nearly a year, he was drop-dead gorgeous and worked at Gringotts as a junior banker, but there was still the doubt that bothered Ruby, she had not told anyone, no one.
"Okay, I'll find a Chinese menu, and we'll order extra Prawn crackers," Alice said, leaving the room.
Ruby opened the last box, full of her healing books and notes, and slowly moved them over to her desk and organised them in a way that would make her Aunt Hermione proud. It wouldn't last but it was better to start off organised and then slowly slide into her usual working style of messy and disorganised than to start off with what her father always called 'Ruby madness'.
She was now in her final year of healer training at St Mungo's and she loved it. It had been her dream job since she was nine, when Immy had fallen off her broom and they had to take her to the magical hospital because it was the summer and Madam Pomfrey was away. Her mother had been uncomfortable taking her children to St Mungo's so she had contacted Uncle Harry so that he could come with them. Her father had been on a business trip in France.
The hospital had been amazing to a nine-year old Ruby; there were Healers in lime-green robes running around looking so important and in control. There were the patients who looked so comforted by the Healers, it even smelled right to her. Immy's leg had been healed straight away and Ruby had been amazed at how the Healer had made the pain on her sister's face vanish so quickly. When they got back home Ruby had announced to her mother and Uncle that she was going to be a Healer and she had never once swayed from that goal.
It had not been a particularly easy journey for Ruby. She wasn't as bright as her mother, not that she was stupid though, and she really had to work to get the grades. She had only achieved the required Charm's grade by one mark! It had all been worth it, she remembered the breakfast morning when an owl had delivered her acceptance letter. Her parents had been delighted and her Aunt Minnie had come over for the day to celebrate with them. Her grandparents had also come around and Granddad had told her she was going to be the first ever Healer in the Weasley family, then Aunt Minnie had told her that her Grandmother had planned to become a Healer after the first war had finished, not that she lived long enough to achieve the goal.
Alice and Ruby spent the first night of their new 'adult' life by drinking three bottles of red wine, eating their way through enough Chinese food to feed a family of four, and then dancing around to muggle songs until they finally stumbled into their beds.
When Ruby woke up the following morning her head was distinctly thick. She opened her eyes slowly and squinted against the bright yellow of the walls.
"Urgh." She murmured before sitting up and holding her head. Her watch told her it was half ten; Uncle Bill was due any minute. Ruby stood up and walked over to her wardrobe and pulled out a denim skirt and blue long sleeved t-shirt and threw them on, deciding that she could shower later. She was in the bathroom brushing her teeth when she heard a knock on the door. She spat out the toothpaste and rubbed her face dry before running to the door, Alice had yet to emerge.
"Hi Uncle Bill." She greeted, stepping to the side to let him in, he was alone and looked a Ruby with an amused expression on his face.
"Morning Rubes, overdid it last night did we?" He asked, pointing to Ruby's currently un-brushed hair and then looking around the flat that looked like a tornado had swept through it.
"Just a little celebration Uncle Bill, tea or coffee?" Ruby pointed her wand at the kettle which filled itself and then moved her wand to bring some order to the flat.
"Coffee please. Fancy a sobering charm?" He asked, sitting down on the armchair.
"If you insist," she replied and he did the charm instantly, it was always better for someone else, preferably sober, to perform the sobering charm which cleared away any lasting effects of the alcohol.
"Did I tell you about the time we had to use a sobering charm on your mother?" He asked as Ruby moved away to the kettle, feeling normal again. She stopped and looked back at her uncle.
"No, mom got drunk enough to need a sobering charm! When?" Ruby asked, surprised. Her mother got tipsy occasionally but she always shied away from getting too drunk.
"No, she wasn't drunk. It was when your dad hurt his arm during the war, Eliza hadn't slept for three nights so Poppy sent us a sleeping potion and Grandma spiked her tea, knocked her out for the whole day and when we tried to get her to the hospital to visit Fred she could hardly walk. Teddy's mom did the charm and it lasted about an hour but when it wore off…" Bill laughed before continuing, "the Healer was outraged that we had apparently let a sixteen year old get drunk enough to need a sobering charm." Bill smiled at the shocked expression on his niece's face.
"Why did mom need a sleeping potion? She got the blanket when she was thirteen didn't she?" Ruby was always intrigued by her parents, especially her mother's, past. It was discussed but never really in detail and none of the Weasley grandchildren pushed the boundaries, except James but Ruby suspected that was because he was nearly an Auror and felt like he'd earned more information. Ruby also knew that Teddy knew more than her but she had never questioned him about it.
"Yeah she did but she was so upset she didn't want to sleep. The potion was bloody strong through, Mom sent Poppy a Howler if I remember correctly."
"Really?" Ruby laughed, "What potion was it?"
"I can't remember, Mom said it wasn't the normal one but Eliza was pretty much immune to sleep potions at that point. Tonks had to transfigure her pyjamas to get her to the hospital, she couldn't even get dressed."
"Sounds like it was probably Hypnorest potion, I'm surprised Madam Pomfrey sent it to mom when she was only sixteen."
"Well, Poppy always had a soft spot for Eliza and she was struggling…Morning Alice." Uncle Bill waved at Alice as she came out of her bedroom, still in her dressing gown and looking horrendous.
"Oh, morning Mr Weasley." She replied weakly, staggering to the kettle.
"Fancy a sobering charm?" Uncle Bill asked and Ruby smiled.
"Yes please, now please!" Alice said, practically running over to the sofa and throwing herself next to Ruby before turning to Bill. Her face filled with her usual skin tone instantly and the almost-permanent bright smile return to her face.
"Thank you so much, Mr Weasley! I'm going to have a shower." She said, almost skipping out of the room.
"Is she always that bright?" Uncle Bill asked as Alice shut her bedroom door.
"Yep, don't worry it wasn't the charm, it's just Alice. Neville said she's like a constant Patronus." Bill snorted.
"So how are the wedding plans coming on?" Ruby asked.
"Well, I think. I try and stay out of the house when Vic and your Aunt get into full swing. Grandma was going to pop around this morning as well so Teddy has gone into work to catch up on paperwork."
"Good idea! It's their own fault, they should have got married before they went travelling, they're both nearly thirty!"
"I know, but you know what Vic's like, she wanted to find herself." Bill said, smiling fondly. Teddy and Victoire had been dating for nearly ten years, engaged for six, but after Teddy had qualified as an Auror, Vic had still not known what she wanted to be so they went travelling, for five years, only returning the previous Christmas. Now Vic worked as an artist taking commissioned projects wherever she could. They were finally due to be married at Christmas.
"Have they fixed the exact date yet, because Milly's engaged as well?" Ruby asked, thinking of her muggle cousin who was engaged to a Welsh guy she met at university.
"Twenty seventh of December, when is Milly's?"
"I think it's before Christmas, I'll get Immy or Annabel to ask Pansy, I'm writing them a letter later anyway." Pansy was Milly's younger sister and was, to her father and Grandmother's great surprise, currently in her fourth year at Hogwarts where she was in Ravenclaw and was doing very well in all aspects of magical life.
"Did they make the Quidditch team?"
"Yeah course they did, they have no fear! There practically a set of human bludgers themselves!" Ruby said passionately.
"That's what your Uncle Charlie used to say about your dad and George." Bill said, his smile slipping for a fraction of a moment. Ruby waited for him to continue.
"Anyway, these wards." Bill said, finishing his coffee and standing up. "Have you written the list of who you want to be able to apparate directly in?"
"Yeah, that's just Alice and me, and our parents for emergencies." Ruby said summoning the list from the table. "But we've got a list of others who we want to be able to apparate into the hallway." She passed the list to her Uncle who scanned it quickly.
"Not letting Henry in quite yet then?" He asked. Henry was on the second list.
"No, I moved in with Alice not him." Ruby said firmly, Bill smiled, he had introduced her to Henry when he was supervising his internship. They had been at Hogwarts together but they were in different houses and their friendship groups and classes had not overlapped.
"Your dad will be pleased, right shouldn't take me too long, just get on with your morning and I'll let you know when I'm done." Ruby smiled, she knew that her dad liked Henry but he was still quite protective of her. She stood up and walked into her bedroom, grabbed her Healing workbook and quill-case and set up her work on the dining room table.
It was Saturday and on Monday she would start her final year placement which was in the field she hoped to work in when she qualified; emergency healing. After half an hour Alice joined her at the table, also bringing a workbook with her. She was a potion developer and also worked at St Mungo's. Her programme only lasted two years, as opposed to Ruby's three years, but Alice had spent a year working at the Ministry on a Herbology project prior to joining the course so they were both in their final year. Alice was enjoying her training and rarely had to work overtime or unsociable hours because her work was fairly organised, 'turn up, make potions, and write up results, then home by five', as Alice often said. Ruby's work was fair more unpredictable and involved shift patterns including night shifts and emergency call outs, the life of a trainee healer was not easy, but Ruby loved it.
"Right girls, that's all done. If you want any adjustments just let me know."
"Thanks Uncle Bill, do you want another drink?" Ruby asked, looking up from her diagram of the nervous system and looking at her Uncle.
"No, I won't disturb your work, I'll see you at the Burrow tomorrow?"
"Yes, I don't start until Monday. Thanks again and say hi to Vic and Auntie Fleur for me. Is Dom coming home any time soon?" She asked. Her cousin Dominique had followed in her father's footsteps and was working as a curse breaker in Egypt.
"I will, no idea about Dom, can't complain though I was the same. Bothers Fleur though. Anyway, nice to see you again Alice, see you tomorrow Ruby." They both waved goodbye and Bill disappeared leaving them in peace. Alice turned to Ruby.
"How bad did you feel this morning?"
"Horrendous, you'll have to pick up some Hangover potion from work if we make it a regular thing," Ruby replied, pointing her wand at the kettle.
"Me too, felt like that time we snuck Firewhisky from the pub on my sixteenth. Can we take things from work?"
"Probably not, ask your supervisor, you can always brew some here or buy some if we can't. It would be useful to have a supply, just in case. Tea?"
They worked until four when they decided to go to the supermarket and do a proper food shop. They walked around the muggle supermarket close to their flat and picked up random items that took their fancy.
Ruby was just debating which cereal she should buy for the days when she didn't have time to make Waffles, her favourite food in the whole world, when she heard a familiar voice.
"Ruby?" She turned around and smiled widely.
"Hey Teddy!" She said, pulling him into a hug. "I thought you were working to avoid wedding planning?"
"How do you know that?" He asked, blushing. Due to the muggle setting his usually turquoise hair was a boring brown and Ruby thought it aged him.
"Uncle Bill came round to do the wards this morning." Ruby answered.
"Oh, yeah well they were talking about flowers, Rubes! What was I supposed to do? How was your first night in your own flat, did you and Alice get pissed?"
"Course we did." Ruby snorted "Uncle Bill gave me a sobering charm, anyway how are you? I haven't seen you for…four days, it's like you don't love me anymore." Ruby said in mock outrage, Teddy grinned.
"I'm fine, still getting used to being back at work."
"I can't believe you went on a five-year gap-year Ted, mom was unbearable!"
"Hey, I spoke to her every day and apparated home once a month and…"
"I know, I'm only kidding, she was fine. Oh by the way she's gotten a bit spacey again so if you want a serious conversation with her you better get it in quick." Teddy, Ruby, Immy, Annabel and Fred had an agreement to inform each other of when Eliza was getting too involved in a project so they wouldn't panic if she didn't always respond to them, or their owls. The term 'spacey' had been coined by Uncle Harry who sometimes had to use the twin bond to communicate with his sister when verbal instructions from her family were having no impact.
"Noted, I might pop round now actually."
"Hi Ted," Alice said, joining them and putting a box of crackers into the trolley.
"Hey Alice, how are you?"
"Good thanks, you?"
"Yeah great thanks, just avoiding wedding-mania. How's the family?"
"They're all fine thanks, Sarah made head girl this year, dad cried with pride." Alice said smiling.
"You should have seen Auntie Eliza when Ruby got the letter she got so upset dad had to take her on a walk to calm her down!"
"Yeah, that's what they were doing Teddy." Ruby said, laughing.
"What…eww, you really think?" Teddy asked, leaning his basket on the trolley and looking at his adopted sister with disgust on his face.
"Yeah, that's what Uncle Ron told me anyway."
"Uncle Ron has a dirty mind, he always thinks everyone is…doing that." Teddy finished carefully. Alice laughed and walked over to the frozen section to look at the ice cream.
"Well, tell mom and dad that I survived my first night, don't mention the sobering charm, and that I'll see them tomorrow." Ruby kissed Teddy on the cheek and he left to pay for his shopping.
"Chocolate or strawberry?" Alice asked, holding up two tubs of ice cream, both with children's cartoons on them.
"Alice, we're supposed to be grown up!" Ruby said, stamping her foot for effect. Alice looked crestfallen.
"So…you don't think we should get ice cream?"
"No I think we should get both, we're adults now!" Alice laughed and put both of the flavours into the trolley. They were grown-ups now.
A/N So welcome to the Next-generation 'Words' story. This will be a lot more cheerful than Words which is strange. I've missed not writing from Eliza's POV but hopefully you can see that Ruby and Eliza are very different. This story will be updated weekly. Please review and let me know what you think!
Next chapter; Sunday at the Burrow and Ruby finds out who she'll be sharing an office with, any guesses?
Thanks to mozie and OhSnapItsMadison for beta-ing!