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Old November 7th, 2009, 6:09 am
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Re: Temporary Last Author Standing Entries Thread

LAST AUTHOR STANDING

Topic: A Madame Rosmerta story

Entry #6


The New Neighbor


By nature, Aberforth Dumbledore would never be described as jolly, but today, he was positively grumpy. He slammed the door to the Hogs Head behind him and pulled the front of his heavy coat tight around his tall, wiry frame. He paused for a moment to wipe the frost from his spectacles, revealing his piercing blue eyes, which were fiery with anger. He picked up his feet and trudged through the new fallen snow up the back alley that led from his dilapidated establishment and onto the main street through the village of Hogsmeade. He huffed for a moment and started walking towards the edge of town, where Hogsmeade Station (and the road to Hogwarts, incidentally) lay.

He approached the building that once housed Burmeister’s Robe and Wand Repair Shoppe. For a moment, Aberforth shook his head slowly. Who would have guessed that squirrelly old man Burmeister was a smuggler specializing in importing Dark Arts objects? When Alastor Moody, Auror extraordinaire, showed up with the Ministry Hit Team and took the old man away, the building and the business had been allowed to fall into disrepair. That had been almost two years ago.

As Aberforth neared the building, he saw that it had been given a make over of extraordinary proportions. The thatched room had fresh hay and the stucco walls had been painted a bright baby blue. The shutters had been repaired or replaced and there was an air of festivity around the old building. Aberforth grumbled to himself. What Mundungus Fletcher had told him seemed to be true, at least from what he could see. His musings were interrupted by the crash of the front door of the building, as it was thrown open. A woman with a bramble of reddish blonde hair came striding out, her arms full. She stopped in front of the building and shoved a wooden sign into the ground and pulled a large wooden mallet from the front pocket of her apron and began hammering it into the ground.

Aberforth looked closely at the woman. She was young, no more than twenty five with long hair and a curvy figure. She was wearing a thick jacket lined with fur and her cheeks were bright red from the combination of physical effort and the cold. His eyes traveled to the sign which declared the name of her establishment, “The Three Broomsticks.” He felt his eyebrows crease in annoyance and then he returned his gaze to the woman. She finished tapping the sign into the ground and spun around on her heel and faced him. She placed most of her weight on her right leg and tossed her hip to the side, placing a hand on her hip and pointing a long, gloved finger from the other hand at him.

“Am I wearing something of yours?” Her voice was a clear soprano with the subtle hint of attitude.

“Excuse me?” Aberforth sputtered.

The woman rolled her eyes and laughed gently. “I must be wearing something that belongs to you, because you’re staring at me.”

His face flushed a bright crimson and he coughed into his fist, trying to regain his composure. His eyes wandered back to the sign. “What kind of place is ‘The Three Broomsticks’ anyway?”

The woman tossed her head, causing her hair to fly over her shoulder as she looked back at the sign. “It’s my place. It’s a pub, meeting place, what have you. I’ll serve butterbeer for the underaged and firewhiskey for the rest. We open next Saturday. You should come. The first round is on me.” She extended her hand. “My name is Rosmerta.”

He almost missed her name. A pub? He had the only pub in Hogsmeade. Absently, he took her hand and shook it. His voice echoed the question in his mind. “A pub?”

Rosmerta nodded. “Yes. This town could use a good place to congregate. Honeydukes is too sugary and I hear tell that there’s a run down place down the way that attracts an unsavory element. I don’t remember what it’s called.”

“The Hogs Head.” Aberforth mumbled, his initial anger coming back.

Rosmerta snapped her fingers. “The Hogs Head, that’s it! My friend, Cornelius Fudge, he’s the head of the Office of Magical Business Assistance, he told me that the Hogs Head was a place best avoided during the good times and completely rancid at night.”

“Mr. Fudge said that, did he?” Aberforth’s voice was remarkably calm and smooth. His blue eyes smoldered, as he remembered how Cornelius Fudge tended to darken the door of his pub almost twice a week meeting with “associates”. Aberforth grunted. “So you opened this at the request of Mr. Fudge?”

“Oh no.” She smiled and its warmth caught him by surprise and for a moment, he forgot his anger. She continued. “I wouldn’t have done it, but Cornelius introduced me to a couple of people from Hogwarts and they convinced me that Hogsmeade needed a place like mine.”

“Who, pray tell, might that be?” Aberforth had a good idea, but he wanted confirmation.

“Well one was the Assistant Head Mistress, Minerva McGonagall. She’s a wonderful sort, if you get past her severity. I had her for Transfigurations when I was at Hogswarts. The other was the Head master, Albus Dumbledore.”

Even though he was expecting the response, he started. “Dumbledore?”

“You know him? He’s a wonderful man.” Rosmerta did not seem to notice the tension in Aberforth’s shoulders.

“I know him.” That was all he could eke out in his anger. His own brother was trying to put him out of business. He knew he should say something, but when he looked at her, he simply couldn’t. The spell was broken by a voice from nearby.

“Ah, Madame Rosmerta, I trust everything is going well?” A kindly man with a long flowing beard and long hair, shaded gray with streaks of auburn smiled through half-moon spectacles that seemed to magnify is brilliant azure eyes.

“Why yes, Professor, I’m quite ready. I was just talking to,” She paused and looked up at Aberforth. She did a brief double take, seeing how very similar in appearance Aberforth was to Dumbledore. She let the detail pass. “I’m sorry, what is your name?”

“Aberforth.” He grumbled. “I’m the owner of the Hogs Head.”

There was a pregnant silence. She should feel a bit of shame, Aberforth thought. She should feel bad that she was cutting into his business. Instead, the biting cold air was cast aside as her warm, ebullient laughter danced in his ears.

“Oh my! That’s why you’re here! How amazing!” She reached up and touched his shoulder. He jumped, as if electricity had leapt from her hand. She smiled even wider. “Why don’t you come in and I’ll fix you a drink? Then we can talk and discuss how we can help each other.”

She turned and winked at Albus, who nodded with a smile and then sauntered to her front door. Despite his apoplexy, Aberforth caught himself watching the sway of her hips and then he shook himself and turned his face towards his older brother.

“You convinced her to open this place?” His voice was a mix of anger and confusion. “What did I expect from the great Albus Dumbledore, who knows everything.” He folded his arms together and glared at his brother.

Albus smiled warmly and then his eyes grew serious. “I wanted an establishment that was more open, more up front. That would leave the Hogs Head with, shall we say, less scrutiny.”

Aberforth considered the point and then spoke. “I still think you’re overreacting. No one has seen Tom Riddle in quite a long time.”

“I have.” Dumbledore responded and watched as Aberforth’s eyebrow arched. “Yesterday. He came by to ask about the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. I turned him down.”

Aberforth nodded slowly but said nothing. Albus continued. “There’s something nefarious about that man. I have a feeling that we’ll be hearing from him again, and not in a good way.” He looked over at his brother, but knew better than to touch him. The wounds between them were still too great. “That’s why I need you and the Hogs Head to be discreet and that’s why the Three Broomsticks is here. Come on, let’s get out of this cold and take Madame Rosmerta up on her offer. After that, I wanted to talk about creating a passage to the Room of Requirement from your place. That should come in handy one day.”

Aberforth nodded and followed his brother into Rosmerta’s new pub, and part of him was actually looking forward to seeing the manner with which she served drinks. Of course, he wasn’t disappointed.


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