Blood of Birds

Note: Hi! The following is a 2nd generation Harry Potter fanfiction, with main characters being Rose Weasley, Scorpius Malfoy, and Albus Potter. It will be comprised of four parts, the first of which will follow Rose. There will also be seven one-shots (or side-alongs) following other characters at points throughout the series, each uploaded separately. I've also taken the liberty to include a few re-quotes, courtesy of JK Rowling and Steve Kloves of course, to pay homage to the original books and films. So without further ado, here is Chapter 1. Happy reading!

~ Lauren

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13. A Veritable Theorem (1/2)

Note: So, this is it: the final chapter of Part 1. As warned in the first chapter, there will be four parts to this story, so it is not over. Still, I will be switching POV's to Scorpius come Part 2. (Part 3 will follow Albus, for those of you who are wondering, and Part 4 I'll keep as a surprise.) Also, this chapter is extremely long, so I've taken the liberty to split it into defined sections, for those of you who won't want to read the entire thing in one sitting. Hope you enjoy!

 

"What did he just say?" Rose asked Albus frantically. She hadn't even had a chance to breathe yet, though Shunpike and Scorpius were already long gone. Now, she was standing exactly where they had left her in the seventh floor hallway, a few feet away from Al, hoping that everything that she had just seen and heard had been a dream. It just couldn't be real, and if it was, it couldn't be true… could it?

When Al failed to answer her, Rose turned straight to him and asked even more loudly, "WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?"

"Rose," Al said cautiously, his hands held in mid-air as if he was surrendering to an army or speaking to someone who was clearly insane. "Let's just think about this for a minute," he suggested.

Rose ran a hand through her wild hair and took a few paces across the hall before she stopped, staring at the staircases where she had last seen Scorpius, and stated simply, "No."

Al, confused, asked, "No?"

Rose shook her head and began to explain, still sounding panicked, "No, I'm not going to think about it. I've been thinking my entire life." Right now, at this moment, she didn't want to be the girl who could perform every spell in the book. She wanted to be the girl who actually did perform every spell, no matter the consequences. "This can't be true. But if it is, then we've got to do something about it. Now."

Then, without giving her actions any thought whatsoever, Rose quickly walked over to the gargoyle that would lead her to McGonagall's office and then started wracking her brain, trying to figure out what the password might be.

"Rose, it's pointless," she heard Al say from behind her. "You're never going to get in. Let's just talk about this, figure things out." He was not normally the logical one in the group, but somebody had to fill the position since Rose seemed to be out of the running.

"I will get in," Rose said confidently. "I just need…" but she was interrupted by the familiar sound of clashing pots and pans coming from behind a tapestry. Only moments later, Peeves popped his head out from behind it, holding a set of stolen dishes from the kitchen, too curious to remain hidden any longer.

"It's not going to wo-ork," he sang merrily as he floated toward Rose, his face looking cocky and his hands crossed behind his back. Rose, irritated by him, sighed and gave a look to Al that begged for his help. Just as Al was about to say something to distract the poltergeist, however, Peeves flew right past Rose and up to the top of the hidden staircase, then yelled down at them, "Unless of course you could turn into a bird and fly up here yourself!"

He quickly reappeared and flew close to Rose, the two of them face-to-face, and said, "But I don't see that happening, do you?"

Normally, Rose would have been infuriated by Peeves' obnoxious and unnecessary behavior, but he had just given her the perfect idea, the one she had been looking for all along. Smiling to herself, she whispered, "That's it." Then, more loudly, she repeated, "That's it!"

"What?" Al and Peeves asked simultaneously.

The two then watched as Rose ignored Peeves' presence, pushing past him to get closer to the gargoyle, where she opened her mouth and said, "Animagus." She knew it was the correct password before anything happened, because McGonagall herself was an Animagus. Plus, transfiguring oneself into an animal was a very rare and difficult piece of magic to perform, so most people wouldn't even consider it an option, and therefore wouldn't think to use it as a password.

Slowly, the gargoyle nodded to Rose and leapt aside, revealing a wall that cracked into two, opening up to three small steps that Rose jumped onto. She looked over to Al, who was on the other side of Peeves, and asked, "Are you coming or what?"

Albus immediately nodded and ran toward her, but Peeves blocked his way, crossing his arms and saying, "Sorry, but that ride is full."

Rose and Al looked to each other, Rose with an apologetic smile as the stairs began to turn themselves around the mid-post, bringing her up the tower. "It's okay," Al said as she disappeared, the entrance closing from behind her. "I'll stay and deal with him." It was clear that Peeves intended on making things very difficult for the two of them, so somebody needed to stay and try to ward him off.

Suddenly finding herself nervous to be showing up to McGonagall's office so blatantly unannounced, Rose finally took a full three breaths to calm down. When she reached the next floor, she stepped off her stair and looked forward at the large and imposing door that stood directly in front of her. She had always felt relatively comfortable around McGonagall, as the Headmistress was logical and reasonable just like her, but now Rose was going in to speak with her not knowing what she would say, or how she would be able to control her overwhelming emotions. For someone who liked to be thoroughly prepared for everything that came her way, this was a frightening position to be in. Still, it would be worth it if she could, at the very least, find out what was really going on.

Rose's hands were soon on the griffin-shaped knockers that were connected to the well-polished oak door, and she could hear nothing coming from the other side. She had already tried knocking, but nobody had answered, so she decided to once again take action into her own hands. Slowly turning the handles, the doors flew open to the brightly lit, circular room that she had been in only once before.

It looked exactly the same as she remembered it, with various windows all with their own perfect view of the Quidditch pitch, the Black Lake, or the mountains on the other side of the castle. Looking over at the claw-footed desk that sat in the center, Rose was surprised to see that McGonagall, nor her cat-disguised self, were there. The chair by the desk was empty, and the desk lay perfectly still, with only a few well-organized piles of papers upon in. Glancing around the room for some sign of the Headmistress, Rose looked past the cages of animals and numerous bookcases that were all very similar to those found in the Transfiguration classroom. She didn't see McGonagall anywhere, and soon even the old Headmasters began looking around curiously from inside their portraits, mimicking Rose's actions.

"I'm afraid you've just missed her, Ms. Weasley," said a voice from behind one of the frames. Rose turned toward it to find that it came from the largest of all the portraits, and the most obvious one, hanging directly above McGonagall's desk.

Albus Dumbledore had never spoken to Rose before, as he had been asleep the last time she had been in the office. Surprised that the infamous wizard knew who she was, and confused about how McGonagall could have left the office without Rose or Albus seeing her go, Rose said to Dumbledore, "Sir, I – I don't understand. Where has Professor McGonagall gone?"

"Ah yes, well she has gone off to the Owlery to send an urgent letter to a Mr. Harry Potter. I must apologize for her absence, as I'm afraid it was upon my request that she left only moments ago," Dumbledore answered, leaning forward in his chair toward Rose, his arms crossed and sitting comfortably.

Rose was taken aback by how honest he was, letting her in on every detail. "Right," she said. Still confused though, she added, "Er, if you don't mind my asking, how is it that you know my name?"

Dumbledore chuckled quietly and said, "My dear, you are the perfect representation of the two of your parents. Of course, I cannot say that I knew them particularly well, yet I did know of them a great deal. It would have been impossible to mistake you for anyone else." His words seemed ironic, but there was something about everything he said that made perfect sense.

Rose smiled, for she took anything that related her to her parents as a compliment. Then, curious to hear what else Dumbledore might have to say, Rose sat down in the spare seat across from McGonagall's chair, on the opposite side of her desk. Bringing her thoughts back to the task at hand, Rose looked up at the old, wrinkled, and white-haired man in the portrait and asked, "You said that Professor McGonagall left to write to Harry?"

"Yes," Dumbledore nodded. "She has some questions for him that need answering right away."

"Questions?" asked Rose. "About Scorpius?" Harry was more of a father to Scorpius than Draco had ever been, and McGonagall may have wanted to hear his side of whatever story Shunpike had told her.

"Young Mr. Malfoy may be a topic of conversation, yes," Dumbledore agreed. "I take it that is the reason you are here as well?" Rose hadn't yet mentioned why she had come, and Dumbledore wouldn't have had any way of knowing that she and Scorpius were a couple, or even that they were the best of friends.

"Yes," Rose replied. Dumbledore had been honest with her up to this point, so it seemed only fair that she be truthful to him as well. Glancing down at her nervous hands, one of which felt much lighter than normal without Scorpius's ring, Rose thought about what she would say next. Looking back up at Dumbledore confidently, Rose began, "I heard word that he's been accused for the murder of Mr. Filch. I'd like to know what evidence is being held against him."

Dumbledore looked down at Rose's pouting, watering eyes, before he said, "I'm very sorry, but it would not be my place to answer such a question. That explanation will be saved for Professor McGonagall, if she deems it fit to supply one for you."

Rose sighed, disappointed. She was getting more impatient by the minute, and was trying to ignore the pressure she felt tearing at her heart. One way or another, Scorpius had lied to her, and he was the one person she had been sure she could trust. She quickly brushed this thought aside, for she knew that there must be a reason for everything that had happened. She just needed to wait a little longer to find out what it was.

"If I may, Ms. Weasley," Dumbledore said quietly so as not to disturb Rose too greatly. "I would advise you not to lose trust in those whom you love, especially those who were born without such a blessing themselves."

Yet again, Rose had no idea how Dumbledore had seemingly read her thoughts to see how much she cared about Scorpius, and exactly what she was afraid of regarding her relationship with him. Speaking with Dumbledore was so surreal, as if Rose was having a conversation with someone of a higher power; someone who knew all, could see all, and could even feel all.

Feeling comfortable to say anything to him, Rose asked, "But how am I to convince others of the truth if I don't even know what it is myself?" She needed to defend Scorpius in his trial, but she wasn't sure that she had quite that much faith in him after all.

"Well now, that it is a very wise question to ask, for it is one which does not have a definite answer," Dumbledore said. "Alas, I believe that you, Rose, are wise enough to answer it yourself. You already know what you believe, and what is not the truth. As for the complete truth - well, it will act. Though I must say, often times one must make it do so."

Rose took a few moments to comprehend his words. If she followed the things he said to do, then she knew that her instincts would lead her back to trusting Scorpius, no matter what anyone else believed. He had always pulled through whenever she believed in him, and this case shouldn't be any different. The only question now was how to make all others believe in him too.

"Thank you, sir," Rose said, to which she added a minute later, "But, if I may ask, why are you helping me?" Dumbledore seemed so calm considering what had just gone on in this office, and it was very generous of him to offer up his time to speak with Rose.

Dumbledore was smiling from cheek to cheek as he answered, "I once said that I would never truly leave this school, not until there were none left who were loyal to me. I would say the same thing now, and that is why I am still here. And as long as that is the case, help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it."

As soon as Dumbledore's sentence was finished, Rose heard footsteps coming from outside the room, followed by the sound of the doorknob turning. Just as Rose was about to look to see who was there, Dumbledore said one last thing. "Oh and Rose," he added. "Never be ashamed to ask for a little help." He then winked at her and leaned back in his chair, shutting his eyes closed at the exact moment that the double doors at the other side of the office swung open.

Professor McGonagall entered the room with a very powerful air about her. Her long, flowing robes were gliding across the floor with ease as she took two large steps before noticing Rose, who had stood from her seat to greet her. "Ms. Weasley," she said. "I thought you may be here."

"I'm sorry for coming without your permission Professor, but I needed to speak with you as soon as possible," Rose blurted out frantically, hoping that McGonagall would provide her with the explanation that Dumbledore hadn't been able to say.

McGonagall continued to walk toward her desk, turning around Rose and motioning for her to sit back down. Once she too took a seat across from Rose, she said, "If you are here once again to inform me of my misguided beliefs, please do not burden me with the embarrassment it so brings."

Rose blushed guiltily upon remembering that she had acted rashly with McGonagall once before, when she had offered up proof that Colin Creevey had also been innocent. This time though, she had no proof, and she knew that she needed to swallow her pride until she found some. "Again, I apologize for acting out of my place at any time before," Rose said, "But I do not plan on doing so again." To herself, she thought, at least not yet.

"Then by all means," McGonagall offered, "Say what you'd like say, Ms. Weasley."

"Thank you," Rose acknowledged before going on. "I'd like to know what evidence Professor Shunpike gave to accuse Scorpius Malfoy of murdering Mr. Filch."

McGonagall looked at Rose reproachfully. Rose knew that it wasn't really her place to be asking these questions or receiving answers for them, but she had gotten herself involved in the murder from before McGonagall had even known about it, and by now she considered any issues that Scorpius ever went through to also be her own.

"Well," McGonagall sighed. "I suppose it is only fair to tell you, considering what that evidence was."

On the edge of her seat now, Rose listened intently for McGonagall to go on. She also noticed that the professor's eyes were red, as if she was sad about something. McGonagall was always very strict and apathetic, but it couldn't be easy to see her favorite student in an unexpected and unflattering light.

After pushing her spectacles higher up on her nose, McGonagall continued, "Professor Shunpike has reason to believe that Mr. Malfoy was in the Forbidden Forest the night before you and Mr. Scamander discovered Mr. Filch. His reason is because of a ring that he claims belonged to Scorpius before he in fact gave it to you, Ms. Weasley."

Rose looked back down at her hand, finally understanding why Scorpius had taken the ring from her. Though she had no idea where he had gotten it in the first place, he obviously didn't want her to be questioned for having it now. To McGonagall, Rose asked, "Do you mean to say that the ring came from the Forest?"

"Yes," McGonagall replied. "Professor Shunpike seems to be under that impression. I, however, am still waiting for confirmation from its previous owner."

Rose, now with access to more information than she had anticipated, tried to gather her thoughts. If Scorpius had gotten the ring from the forest, it made sense that it had been that night, since he had given it to Rose only a day later. If that was the case though, why had he been there at all? And if McGonagall had just been writing to the ring's previous owner, and being that Dumbledore had claimed that she was sending a letter to Harry, did that mean that the ring had once belonged to Harry? All that aside, what did this ring have to do with the murder, and why was it suddenly so important?

"Ms. Weasley? Rose?" McGonagall asked, leaning toward Rose, who was blinking uncontrollably and looking every which way for some sort of sign that would tell her how to piece things back together again.

Hearing McGonagall's voice in the far-off background, Rose pulled herself from her own thoughts and answered, "Yes? I'm sorry, what was the question?"

"I had asked if you can in fact confirm that Mr. Malfoy gave you the ring soon after Mr. Filch's murder?" McGonagall asked again. She hadn't noticed that Rose was no longer wearing the ring, but Rose supposed that that didn't matter much. She had all but admitted that Scorpius had given it to her by acknowledging its existence when McGonagall had mentioned it before.

Deciding to tell the truth, since it couldn't possibly help if she didn't, Rose answered, "Yes, I can confirm that. But I'm not sure what correlation that has to Filch's murder." Unless the ring could somehow help a person perform the Killing Curse, it didn't make any sense to Rose why that would be enough evidence to make Scorpius a prime suspect. After all, Rose knew for a fact that if he had been outside that night, he hadn't been the only one.

McGonagall sighed, and explained slowly and much more empathetically than before, "It is the only evidence any of us have been able to find. You must understand, Rose, that Mr. Filch's murder has given Hogwarts a very dangerous reputation, one that I do not enjoy having. Until I am able to find his murderer, no one at Hogwarts is safe, and I need my school to be safe. I do not wish to accuse Mr. Malfoy of anything wrong, nor do I believe that he has in fact done anything of the sort, but he presents the only evidence that I have; that any of us have."

Rose immediately felt sympathy for McGonagall, who looked heartbroken. Finally able to see past her exterior, Rose now found it incredibly apparent that McGonagall had had a very rough year. Her face, though it was normally home to a myriad of wrinkles, looked even older than usual, with sizable bags under her drooping eyes and grey hair that was turning whiter by the minute. Rose had felt the same danger that her professor spoke of, and she too desperately wanted that feeling to go away.

"I want to believe Scorpius," McGonagall said, using Scorpius's first name this time, showing more affection for him than she had expressed before. "But sadly, I am not the only one who has to. And neither are you."

Rose nodded. The two had reached a common ground with their mutual love of Scorpius, but neither seemed to know how best to protect him. Rose knew that despite whatever it was that he had lied about, she'd continue to believe in him in her heart, as would McGonagall. In order for others to do the same though, they would need concrete proof of either Scorpius's innocence or, even better, another suspect's guilt.

Rose stood up from her seat a second time now, for McGonagall had said all that she had to say for today. "Thank you, Professor," Rose said. McGonagall smiled sadly in response, and as Rose turned to go, she remembered to ask one more thing. "Oh, Professor, I was wondering when Scorpius's trial will be?" As a suspect of murder, he would have to go to wizarding court, which would most likely be held at Hogwarts unless it had more supporting evidence, in which case it would be brought to the Ministry.

"First thing Monday morning," McGonagall answered, after which Rose left her office, closing the doors behind her. Now it was Thursday night, which meant that Rose had a full three days to find some way to get Scorpius off the case.

Her head was spinning as she made her way back to the hallway where Al was waiting for her. Peeves was long gone by now, surely having found something better to do. Al was pacing across the hall when Rose stepped off the staircase, and he looked up just in time to see her return. "So, what did she tell you?" he asked curiously.

Rose, who didn't want to stop and talk any longer, walked past Al toward the moving staircases. Not knowing what else to do, Al followed and asked yet again, "Rose, what's going on?"

Blinking multiple times to try and clear her head some, Rose was able to spit out, "Ring. The ring he gave me. It was from the Forbidden Forest. He was there that night." Her sentences were short and choppy, many not even full, as if she couldn't form one properly.

"Wait, you mean the night before the murder? Scorpius was there?" Al asked. He had always been a fast learner, and seemed to be able to follow Rose's explanations, even though they were unclear.

"Yes," Rose answered as she stared down at all the different staircases in the large hallway, watching them randomly change positions, as she tried to make a decision on which to take. She wasn't sure exactly where she wanted to go, but she knew she needed to go somewhere. As soon as she spotted a staircase which seemed to be going upward, Rose headed straight for it, some part of her body telling her that this was the one to take. She had never gone higher in the castle than the seventh floor, but a part of her knew that this would be where Shunpike had taken Scorpius, and she desperately needed to speak with the latter of them.

Sounding worried, Albus raced after her and called out, "Rose, where are you going?"

"I need to find him," Rose said as she approached the staircase. Unfortunately, she was quickly blocked by Al, who jumped up onto it, stopping her from taking a step further.

"Rose, please, think about this," he begged her.

"No!" Rose said, once again not wanting to think; it was so much easier not to. "He lied, Al. He lied to both of us. He lied to me." She believed in Scorpius, of that she was sure, but at this moment she wasn't convinced that she trusted him. After all, he could easily have told her where he had found the ring, as it had been quite the coincidence that it had been that same night, but he hadn't said a word. She would do everything she could to get him out of this situation, but she first needed to know why he had omitted the truth from her.

"What, you think he's actually guilty?" Al asked. He and Scorpius had been best friends ever since their first year at Hogwarts. If Scorpius had in fact been guilty, he wouldn't just be betraying Rose; he'd be betraying Al too.

"No, of course not," Rose said sternly. "He's not guilty. But he still lied, and I need to know why. After that, I'll do whatever it takes. I'll find a way to make this right."

"Look, you're just going to get yourself into trouble if you try to talk to him now," Al insisted. "If somebody finds you, you'll never be able to help him. Whatever we decide to do, we've got to do it without him. We've got to trust that it'll be worth it."

"And how do you suppose we trust that? How do we trust him?" Rose asked. Al had stepped off the stairs now, and the two were talking just beside the staircase, in the corner of the hallway.

"You're the most loyal person I know, Rose," Al explained. "So act on that. Don't question it." He knew Rose so well, sometimes she thought even better than she knew herself. Over the past month, she had been having difficulty trusting him, and now Scorpius, yet Al was right. Somewhere inside her, she knew that both of them needed her, and that they deserved her loyalty.

Rose took a deep breath and nodded. "Alright, then I suppose we just need to come up with a plan." If they were going to do this without Scorpius's help, they would need to find a different suspect to accuse. The only problem was, Rose had a feeling that Al may not agree with her prime target.

"How about we sleep on it first?" Al suggested.

Rose laughed, as if this was the most ridiculous idea she had ever heard. "Al, Scorpius goes on trial Monday morning, and I have my Muggle Studies exam tomorrow. We have to think of something now if we want to even have a chance in this."

"I know," Al pressed on, "But we can meet up for breakfast tomorrow, come up with something, then I'll go do some research while you take the exam. It's not going to do either of us any good if we try to come up with something this late." Rose hadn't realized it before, but it was pitch black outside. She had been in McGonagall's office all afternoon, and by now they had even missed supper.

"Fine," she sighed, "But we'd better hope that we wake up with something to go off of." She then walked past Al and headed for the Gryffindor common room, but was stopped when he called her name from behind.

"Rose!" Al yelled. As Rose turned around, she saw his scared expression. They had both been trying to hide their emotions, but underneath they were terrified of what may happen to their best mate. "It's going to be okay," Al said reassuringly.

Suddenly, Rose's eyes became watery and she found herself walking back to Al, where she collapsed into his arms, letting him give her that giant hug that she so needed right now. Blocking out the skepticism she had been feeling for him lately, Rose held on to Al for a long moment before they broke apart and went their separate ways.

Back in the Gryffindor common room, Rose was once again mystified by how late it was. Nearly everyone was already in their dormitories, except for one head that Rose saw poking above the top of the couch that sat in front of a dying fire. Knowing that she wouldn't be able to sleep even if she tried, Rose made her way over to the tall James and sat down next to him.

Sitting up when he noticed her, James immediately rubbed his eyes and asked sleepily, "Rose, you okay? I heard about Scorpius."

Surprised by his knowledge, Rose asked, "Who told you?" This was not the kind of rumor she wanted to be spread, as it could ruin Scorpius's reputation for a very long time.

"No one. I just, I saw him in the hallway," James gave as an excuse, though he was careful not to make eye contact with Rose.

"That's not true," Rose stated. When Shunpike and Scorpius had left McGonagall's office, Al and Rose had been the only ones around. James hadn't been anywhere in sight. "Who told you, James? And please, tell me that the whole school doesn't already know."

"They don't," James said, and this time he seemed confident and truthful. After a reproachful breath, as he obviously didn't want to tell Rose who had told him, James added, "I only found out from the one person."

"Who?" Rose asked again. "James, please, it's important."

James looked over at the fireplace as he mumbled, "Lysander."

Rose groaned in frustration and quickly stood from her seat. She had an incredible urge to speak with Lysander about this, since he clearly deserved a piece of her mind. He had only just told Rose that he still had feelings for her, so of course it was only fitting that he would relish in the thought of Scorpius, the one whom he deemed his competition, being sent to Azkaban for a murder.

"Where is he?" Rose asked. She had been slightly calmer moments before, but now her fury was back, and Lysander was the perfect person to take all her anger out on.

"I don't know," James said. "He's probably back in the Ravenclaw common room." Again, he looked as if he was keeping something from Rose as he failed to look her in the eye.

"James, I'm going to find him whether you help me or not," Rose said. "So you might as well give me a hint so that I don't stay up all night searching." She knew how to be intimidating when she needed to be, and James nearly always answered to her then.

"Try the Astronomy Tower," James offered. "It's his favorite spot in the castle." Sighing once more, he took out his Invisibility Cloak from its spot beside him, threw it at Rose, and added, "Here, take this. You don't want to get caught now."

"Thanks," Rose said sincerely before she turned on the spot and ran back out of the portrait hole. Once in the hallway, she wrapped the Cloak around herself, invisible to anyone who might be roaming the halls. It was a long way to the tower, which required one to head all the way down to the Entrance Hall before climbing three steep flights of spiral staircases up to the corridor that led to it. Rose, who was working on very little sleep and barely any food, dragged herself all the way to the top, ignoring any urge to fall to the ground and close her eyes. Whenever she had a goal, she would find a way to accomplish it.

Once in the narrow corridor, she pulled off the Cloak and buried it beneath her robes. She had needed it to get past any teachers in the Entrance Hall, but there was nobody who would find her here. Then, she walked a few more steps to the top of the tower and found Lysander standing on the edge by a railing, his head looking up at the starry sky.

Shaking her head in defiance, she stormed up to him from behind while yelling, "You foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach!" As he turned around, surprised to see her (or anybody) there, she hit him hard on the shoulder.

Lysander quickly buckled over in pain, asking her, "What exactly are you referring to now?"

"Hmm, I'm not sure," Rose said sarcastically. "Maybe the fact that you've been telling people rumors that aren't yours to share!"

The two could barely see each other through the darkness, but Rose could just make out his light hair, which reflected perfectly against the stars. He was incredibly handsome, and yet that seemed to give Rose all the more reason to believe how arrogant he was.

"Spreading rumors?" Lysander asked, now angry himself. "Rose, I only told James because I thought he ought to know. You know, just in case you were upset, and needed somebody else who knew what was going on. Someone who could be there for you."

His explanation seemed reasonable, but Rose still wasn't convinced. "Really? Really, Lysander?" she asked. "Only a week after you tell me that you're apparently not over me, that you still have feelings for me, you go and try to find out all of Scorpius's secrets, because then maybe you've got a chance. I mean honestly, are you really that self-absorbed as to think that I might be attracted to someone like that?"

Lysander furrowed his eyebrows and opened his mouth in shock. "What on earth are you talking about? I didn't find out his secret! Peeves told me! He was the one trying to spread it around the school, but I made sure he didn't by using a tongue-tying curse on him. Then I went straight to James and told him, but I assure you that nobody else knows. I didn't even tell Lorcan."

Rose, though still concerned, believed him about this. Peeves most definitely would have tried his best to stir up trouble, that part there was no denying. Feeling like an idiot, Rose sighed and asked in a much kinder tone, "Why'd you even stop him?" Lysander had never liked Scorpius, and he had been making his life miserable every chance he got. This would have been the perfect opportunity for sabotage.

Lysander took a deep breath and sat down, leaning against the railing. As Rose followed the motion and made herself comfortable in the spot next to him, Lysander said, "It's not worth it. You're always going to love him, Rose. I know that now."

Rose laughed, because it seemed so ironic that Lysander would realize this as soon as Rose began to question it. "I wouldn't be so sure," she said. It seemed as if every time she came close to restoring her faith in Scorpius, something told her not to believe everything so easily.

"You can't be serious?" Lysander asked, surprised to hear Rose admit such a thing about the boy she had been fighting for all year. "I mean, people get falsely accused all the time. That doesn't mean they're guilty."

"I just don't understand why he couldn't have told me that he was there that night," Rose said, covering her face with her hands. She was exhausted, yet her mind was still spinning, pulling her thoughts in various directions, all of them beyond her control.

"Well," Lysander started, "Sometimes people do things that are wrong without knowing that they're wrong, or they leave things out without ever realizing that they should have said something."

Rose was captivated by how honest Lysander was being, and how convincing he sounded. "You seem like quite the expert."

Lysander laughed, but not happily. It was more pitiful than it was cheerful. "My dad was a bit crazy, but he had no idea. He didn't think that what he was doing was wrong until I told him it was; until I turned him in for it."

Rose had never heard the story of Rolf Scamander before, nor did she feel that it was her place to ask for details. Even with the general idea, she could understand where Lysander was coming from. It also explained a lot, specifically about how calm and collected he had acted after witnessing Filch's murder. He had been through that before, with his father.

"Do you ever blame him?" Rose asked.

Lysander thought for a moment before answering, "Honestly, no. He didn't know what he was doing, and he thought that it was okay. How could I blame him for that?"

Finally finding the courage to say exactly what she felt, Rose mumbled, "I want to believe him. I want to trust him."

"Then believe him," Lysander stated. "Trust him. Don't make it so complicated. In the end, if you're wrong, then you can blame it on him. But if you don't trust him now, and if you don't do anything to help, then later on you'll be the one who's wrong."

"He just keeps so many secrets already," Rose added, thinking of how Scorpius hadn't told her about his mother, and later hadn't told her about his insomnia. She had had to coax it all out of him, one piece of information at a time.

Lysander smiled and explained, "Some people aren't very good at letting other people in. I know I'm not."

Rose looked up at him and also smiled, though she couldn't see his face very well. "You're getting loads better," she said genuinely.

"Thanks," Lysander said, and Rose had a feeling that he was blushing. "But anyway," he continued, "If you need any help in whatever it is you're going to do, let me know."

Rose nodded and said, "Actually, I do have one question."

"Shoot."

"How does the Ministry prove that someone's guilty?" Rose asked.

"Normally with a potion called Veritaserum," Lysander answered. "That's what they used on my dad. Though it's really rare, and really difficult to make. The Ministry only has so much in supply. They wouldn't use it on Scorpius unless they thought they had to."

"Good," Rose said. "I don't want to use it on Scorpius. I have someone else in mind."

"Are you sure you can brew a potion like that that quickly?" Lysander asked with skepticism.

"I can't," Rose answered. "But I happen to know somebody who's referred to as a Potions Master."

Lysander chuckled and said, "Well, good luck." He then stood up and held out a hand for Rose.

She took it gratefully and he pulled her to a standing position. "Thank you," she said, her hand still in his. "And I'm sorry. For everything." Things had gotten way out of hand between the two of them, and Rose knew that she held a lot of the blame.

"As am I," Lysander said. Then, more softly than he had ever been before, he leaned forward and gave Rose a small kiss on the cheek. "Goodbye Rose," he said.

"Goodbye Lysander," Rose responded, before she turned around, threw on James's Cloak, and descended back into the depths of the sleeping castle.

 

After getting very little sleep, Rose rushed through her Muggle Studies exam as fast as she could. She had met Albus briefly at breakfast and had told him to look for all the information on Veritaserum that he could find. She had left quickly though, in order to be punctual for her last OWL, and hadn't had time to explain what exactly her plan was. Now, she was running through the castle on her way to the Great Hall where Al was waiting for her, extremely anxious to see what he had found.

The usual relief felt immediately after a student finished their last exam was completely lost on Rose as she passed by a group of screaming seventh years. She had much too much on her mind at the moment, and exams seemed like the least of her problems. Plus, Muggle Studies was a simple subject that Rose was certain she had done well in, so it hadn't caused her much anxiety.

Al was at their usual table, a pile of books sitting to his right and his favorite, the Half-Blood Prince's potions text, open right in front of him. "So, what do you think?" Rose asked as she took a seat across from him, not bothering to say hello. "Can you brew it?" This was what Rose was really anxious about.

Al sighed and looked up quickly. "Hey," he said. "Er, I'm not sure. It's really specific, and from what I've read it's difficult to make as well. I don't feel like I have enough experience." Al never liked to admit to something he couldn't do, but this was not a matter he wished to leave in his own hands. Scorpius deserved a better plan than that.

Rose hunched her shoulders over, relaxing her previously tense position on the wooden bench. Lysander had already told her how difficult this would be, but it was the only thing she could think of that would act as cold, hard proof, which was what they needed. McGonagall wouldn't be allowed to settle for anything less. Still, Al had only brewed so many potions before, and his wand couldn't help him with it. Thinking silently, Rose remembered one other person who spent a lot of time in the dungeon, brewing impossible potions that looked nothing short of perfect once made. If Rose could somehow convince them to help her, she and Al may just have a chance after all.

Smiling, Rose stood up and walked away, ordering to Al, "Follow me." He did as she told, dragging a couple of books with him, and Rose glimpsed a sly roll of the eyes as he came. She was being secretive, but it was only because she was excited, and figured that it might be in the best interests of Al if she tried to keep her mouth shut as long as possible.

Rose first led the way to the library, which they then explored in its entirety: room to room, section to section, passing by student after student, most of whom were from Ravenclaw. Rose could have sworn that she had seen the person here before, but apparently they weren't here now. Moving right along, she had one last place in mind.

Quickly, Rose continued out of the library and headed for the moving staircases, Albus in her wake. She could hear him panting to catch up with her, gasping in frustration. He still didn't know what they were doing. "Rose, can you just explain what's going on for a minute?" he asked.

"I have an idea," Rose answered, still walking forward. She was stopped, however, when Al got closer to her and held onto her wrist. Turning around to him, she saw that he had his firm face on, so she knew that he wouldn't be letting her go very easily.

"What's the idea?" he asked intently.

Rose searched the hall, trying to find anything to distract her from having this conversation. She herself didn't like to ask for help, but Al was even worse about it. There was no way he would approve of teaming up with some stranger.

"Look," Rose started when she realized there was no way out. "You said that you couldn't do it alone, so I have an idea of somebody who could help you. Somebody who could helpus."

Al rolled his eyes again, but Rose tried to ignore it. "Oh yeah?" he asked. "Help us do what exactly? I mean, what do you plan on using this potion for?"

This was where things got really tricky. Rose had kept this part from Al for a very definitive reason, as she knew telling him would result in an argument. They had been debating over it for months already, and both were adamant about their positions. This time, though, a side would have to be chosen if they wanted to stick together to help Scorpius.

"I'm planning to use it to prove that Shunpike is guilty," Rose stated, keeping her ground by looking fiercely at Albus. She wasn't planning on changing her mind about this, though she knew that Al would put up a good fight.

Al laughed dryly and moved his hand from Rose's wrist to her shoulder. Leaning closer and as if trying to discipline a small child, he said, "How many times do I have to tell you? Shunpike didn't do anything."

Rose turned her head to glare at Al's degrading handhold and shook him off from her. After she broke free, she shrugged and said, "Fine. Who did, then?"

Al at a loss for words, Rose pressed further, "If you're so sure that he didn't do it, then who did? Scorpius?"

"Of course not," Al answered quickly.

"Then who?" Rose asked. "Somebody did it, Al, and he's the best suspect right now. He's our best shot."

"And what if you're wrong?" Al asked. "Then you've accused yet another innocent man for no good reason, and I've gone behind my dad's back and turned in one of his oldest friends! I don't know about you, Rose, but I don't want that on my conscience."

Rose sighed, for Al just had to bring up Harry every chance he got. "I'm not wrong," Rose stated.

Still looking as if he didn't believe her, Al shook his head and said, "I won't do this to my father. I'm sorry, Rose." He then gave her a courteous smile and began to walk away in the opposite direction that Rose was headed.

Initially, Rose was too angry to go after Al. A moment later, however, she remembered that she was terrible at potions, and that there was no way she could do this alone. Bracing herself and closing her eyes, Rose called after Al, "Your father's already done it to you!" She had always liked Harry, but she was nearly positive that Al didn't know about the Elder Wand, and that meant that Harry lied to his son about something extremely important. She hadn't wanted to tell Al in this way, but it was time he knew the truth.

Al stopped walking as soon as Rose had finished her sentence, but took a while to turn back around and face her. Once he did, he stood where he was, a few meters away from Rose, and waited for her explanation. "What are you talking about?" he asked.

The air around them was hot and humid, the summer fast approaching. The two were alone in the castle hallway, though it was possible for somebody to approach from nearly any direction. Trying to take advantage of the time they had before somebody else appeared, Rose slowly walked toward Al, while asking him, "Do you remember when you fixed Hugo's wand that day in October?"

After noting Al's nod in acknowledgement, Rose continued, "Well, afterward I talked to one of Hugo's friends, Nigel Creevey, and he told me that it's impossible for a wand to be mended by another, regardless of the wizard. They're just not powerful enough."

Rose had stopped walking now, as she was closing in on Al. Looking at her with a very confused expression tainted with a modicum of fear, Al asked, "What are you saying then? And what does this have to do with my father?"

Rose bit her lip before answering, "We did some research, Nigel and Scorpius and me. We found out about this unusually powerful wand, called the Elder Wand. It's been passed down through wizarding history, and the last person it belonged to was Harry Potter. The wand's acquired by defeating another, and this summer you defeated him. The two of you dueled, and you won, and he gave you the wand. I've seen a picture of it, Al. You're the master of the Elder Wand."

Al's eyes were blank. He was blinking uncontrollably and had taken his wand from the right pocket of his jeans. Rose was still in her robes, but Al was in free dress, since he hadn't had an exam today. Holding it in his hand cautiously, he didn't refute what Rose had said, since he knew that it all made sense. Still, he seemed very curious about what this meant. "So," he started, "You're telling me that I have the most powerful wand there is?"

Nodding, Rose answered, "Yes."

"And my dad gave it to me, without telling me what it was?" Al asked.

"Yes," Rose replied. "I've no idea why, but he did. And Al, this wand is not something to be taken lightly. It's dangerous, and Harry didn't even warn you of that. I'm sure he gave it to you for a reason, just like he got Shunpike the Defense Against the Dark Arts job for a reason. Please Al, you have to believe me when I say that there's something going on here, and right now everything relates back to Shunpike. It all fits."

Al looked back up at Rose and gripped his wand tightly in his hand. Sternly, he said, "My dad would never hurt anyone."

"I know," Rose answered honestly. "But that doesn't mean Shunpike wouldn't."

A mere second later, it appeared that their time alone was cut short when Rose heard loud, stomping footsteps coming from behind her, where all the staircases were. Praying that they hadn't overheard, Rose turned around to see who it was.

"What are you two looking at?" asked Vincent Goyle, looking even more sinister than usual.

Neither Al nor Rose answered him as he spied Al, his least favorite Potter, looking at his right hand, which had curled into a tight fist around his wand. "Come on," Rose whispered to Al, glancing over at their intruder. "Let's get out of here."

"Yeah," Al agreed. "Scorpius doesn't have much time." He then walked away with Rose, the two of them leaving Goyle and running down staircase after staircase until they reached the bottom floor, otherwise known as the dungeons.

Their previous conversation now long behind them, Al asked Rose curiously, "So who exactly do you have in mind that could brew a perfect pot of Veritaserum?" He was back on Rose's side now, and seemed to be at least mildly convinced that Shunpike was the only suspect they had left.

They were at the Potions classroom now, and Rose turned the knob of the closed door and stuck her head through the crack before opening it completely. Spotting the same girl she had seen multiple times before, with the wavy black hair and bright green eyes, sitting by the far side of the room with a row of jarred ingredients on her table, Rose pointed and said, "Her."

 

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