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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5. Cardinal Falcon, and Hawk (1/2)

"Another murder… back to the good ol' days!" Shunpike said, grinning sinisterly from ear to ear. "How exciting!" he added with an eyebrow raise and a wink. Just above his furry unibrow, an enormous zit popped and spread a translucent white goo all over Rose's face. Fortunately, she couldn't actually feel it.

Suddenly, Shunpike disappeared, and Colin Creevey approached, saying, "I didn't do it… I – I – I promise… I – I couldn't have done it!" His face looked innocent and pitiful, but below it an enormous chain was attached to his ankles. As Colin continued to beg for atonement for being involved in such a crime, the chain pulled him to the ground and began to drag him away.

Next up was Lysander, and he was looking around in all directions, his wand held high in mid-air. "I know how to handle things like this," he said just as he turned toward Rose. Reaching out his hands to hold her shoulders, he too expressed an eerie smile, saying, "I've been in plenty of these situations before."

Just as Lysander's hands were about to touch Rose, a bird-call sounded through the infinite black space. Lysander looked back, startled, and pointed his wand at the white falcon. He now had both hands around the piece of wood, but his fearful expression made it clear that he didn't stand a chance. The falcon flew straight to him, and as Lysander's body faded away, the bird transformed into its own human shape.

Scorpius now stood in front of Rose and beamed at her. He didn't say anything, but his eyes remained on hers as he pulled the familiar red box out of his pocket and handed it to her yet again. This time, as soon as it landed in her hand, the box had already opened, and it was only the ring that sat in her palm.

The stone started to turn itself around, stopping after three times. Scorpius didn't even flinch when an enormous ghost appeared behind him and Rose, flying toward them with a zombie-like expression.

Rose's mouth dropped open in shock, but she still couldn't feel anything. As the ghost came closer, the face was clearly that of Filch, and he had the same stunned expression that he had had dead in the forest, the result of being murdered with the Killing Curse. In his arms, which were the same translucent white as the goo from Shunpike's repulsive acne, he was holding Mrs. Norris, though the cat was still in perfect, solid condition.

"You know who did it," Filch spat out, Mrs. Norris meowing in agreement. Rose looked to him in interest, but Scorpius was oblivious to his presence, still captivated by Rose. "You know who opened the gate. You can't trust him."

At that, Filch turned to his left and started to disintegrate, and Rose followed his gaze to where Albus stood. He had his back to Rose and Scorpius, but his messy, black hair was as uncontrollable as ever atop his head. In front of him was Vincent Goyle, towering from above and pointing to his own nose, asking cockily with a baby voice, "Are – are you bleeding?"

Albus stayed still as Goyle continued to bully him. "Oh, poor Potter… you are bleeding, aren't you? Well, want to bleed some more?"

"GOYLE!" A female voice called from behind Rose. She turned around to look for the girl, but could only see black.

Turning back to Goyle, Rose noticed that he too was looking for the girl. Unlike Rose, Goyle seemed to have found somebody, as he yelled out, "You'll be next, Mudblood!"

Looking back again, Rose thought she saw a flash of green, but it only lasted a moment. When she turned around to face Scorpius and Goyle again, both were looking directly at her, and Albus had disappeared. Though it hadn't seemed this way before, Goyle was definitely looking at Rose, with an expression that seemed like a warning.

"Don't worry Rose, I'll protect you," Scorpius said. He was the only one left now, as Goyle was already walking away. Scorpius too was slowly floating backward, though his eyes stayed fixed on Rose. "I'll find you," he said. "I'll rescue you. I promise."

Now Rose was alone, surrounded by darkness and hearing only whispers, repeating the things she had already heard, like an afterimage left over from a bright light.

Sitting straight up in bed, Rose was breathing deeply, and tears were flowing down her face, thick as the water from the Black Lake. She had only fallen asleep for a moment, but had already had a nightmare. Logically, this was only normal; it would be expected for people to have difficulty sleeping after witnessing what Rose had the day before. Still, succumbing to such things made her feel quite weak, and honestly very fearful. Though Rose didn't normally let her emotion overtake itself, this was a time where she couldn't help it. It seemed silly for a now fifteen year-old to think about, but Rose really wanted her parents… their presence, their strength, and most of all, their shelter.

Luckily, Ron was coming to Hogwarts in just a few days, along with Harry, for their lesson on the Patronus charm. Rose would be sure to tell him everything then, but for now she at least needed to get out of her dormitory, where the slow breathing of sleeping, female Gryffindors was beginning to irritate her to no end.

Since she knew she wouldn't get any more sleep anyway, Rose stepped out of bed and headed down the spiral staircase and into the common room. She didn't expect anybody to be awake, but she figured the warmth of a lit fire might do her some good.

As she walked into the red and gold-draped room, Rose took out her wand and shot a few red sparks at the pile of wood. Before long, an impressive fire was burning, and Rose had made herself comfortable on the couch in front of it, snuggled under an enormous blanket with her Defense Against the Dark Arts book sitting open on her lap.

She was continuing the preparation for her Patronus, but found it very difficult to brainstorm her happiest memories while one so haunting was overtaking them all. Because she couldn't help herself, she turned to the chapter in her book on the three Unforgivable Curses. Rose remembered learning about them in DADA last year, but Professor Smethley hadn't spent much time on them. As she turned a few pages into the section, passing the Imperius and Cruciatus Curses, her eyes narrowed in on the one she was looking for.

The Killing Curse, otherwise known by its incantation, Avada Kedavra, was an un-blockable spell, and was extremely difficult to perform. Rose knew all of this already however, and was of course well aware that her own uncle was the only one to have ever survived it... twice. This still wasn't what she was looking for. Going on to the next page, Rose read the exact description of the curse:

Causes instant death in a flash of green light, usually leaving no sign of physical damage or of the cause of death that would be detectable to a Muggle autopsy.1

'A flash of green light', Rose read over to herself. McGonagall had told her and Lysander that Filch had been killed by this curse, as they found no wounds on his body. Rose could still remember his stone cold corpse, frozen on the misty grass. She could imagine the scene playing out, with Mrs. Norris's red eyes fighting against the green flash from the murderer's wand. Was that green light the same one she had seen in her nightmare? If so, to whom was it pointed? Or, more importantly, who produced it in the first place?

It was difficult not to think of all possible suspects, even though Rose had promised herself not to make assumptions before discussing everything with Albus and Scorpius. Though Colin was the obvious choice, Rose couldn't imagine him committing such a crime. Also, like he had said in the dream, it just wasn't possible.

Her thoughts were interrupted when Rose heard somebody descending the staircase behind her. Looking over the couch to see who was there, she found a very disheveled James walking toward her, scratching his head as he yawned.

"Hi, James," Rose whispered. She wasn't usually up at this hour, as a full eight hours of sleep was required for her studies, but James didn't look surprised to see her.

"Rose. Couldn't sleep?" He asked with concern.

"No," she answered. "What about you?"

James signaled for Rose to move over as he sat down next to her, leaning into the cushions and stretching his arms. "I heard somebody walk down the stairs earlier; thought I'd come see if it was you so I could keep you company."

Rose nodded in response. She was sure that James knew about Filch's murder, and that Rose had been involved somehow, but like Scorpius, he didn't bother to ask.

For the next hour or so, James stayed with Rose in the common room, telling her about his happiest memory, the first time his father had ever put him on a broom. He also talked about the class he had had with Harry and Ron last year, and of how proud Harry had been when he saw that James's Patronus was the same as his and his father's before: a strong, silvery stag. When the two grew too tired to speak any longer, Rose leaned her head on James's shoulder, quietly wondering to herself what form her own charm would take, and if she too would make her father proud.

As the sun rose slowly, still very early in the morning on the last day of September, the pair stood from their seats, changed into weekend clothes, and walked over to the stained-glass window, looking down at the castle grounds below them. Rose had her eyes on the Quidditch pitch, which looked much more peaceful than it had the morning before. This was until a small grayish dot came trailing out of the Forbidden Forest and walked across the field, headed straight for the entrance gates.

"What's that?" Rose asked, pointing out the questionable thing to James.

"What? I don't see anything," he said. Rose looked to him in confusion, and then back through the window. The thing was still moving in the same direction, and Rose's curiosity was beginning to take control.

She made James look several more times, but he could never see it. To prove that her eyes weren't deceiving her, she began to lead the way out of the common room and down to the entrance hall. She was sure that she had seen something, but she desperately wanted to know what exactly it was.

Rose was jogging fast, James right behind her. She didn't want to miss seeing this thing that for some reason felt very important. The entrance gates had already been opened for the morning as the two approached them, and walking out into the courtyard Rose could see McGonagall standing by the road, Colin Creevey at her side.

"Who's that?" James asked, but was shushed by Rose.

Colin looked very tired, as his eyes had enormous red bags underneath them. He didn't look very pleased either, but rather as if he was waiting for some sort of death sentence. Rose knew she shouldn't interrupt, but once again she couldn't seem to stop herself.

She made her way closer to where McGonagall and the boy stood and asked, "Professor, what's going on?"

Turning toward Rose, and then looking above her head to the courtyard behind them, McGonagall sighed, "Oh dear, we've drawn a crowd."

Rose hadn't noticed before, but sure enough when she looked back she found herself staring at most, if not all, Hogwarts students. They had probably been on their way to breakfast, but Rose could only assume that James had left to spread the word when she went to speak with the Headmistress.

"Professor, please?" Rose asked, turning her attention back to what was really going on. She hadn't forgotten about the dark gray creature she had seen before, but she was also concerned with what was happening to Colin, whom she was sure was just as innocent as she herself was.

"Rose," McGonagall said, with a sympathetic tone of voice. "I don't want you to worry about this. Mr. Creevey here is going to be leaving Hogwarts with the Minister, but I can promise you that he will not be harmed."

Rose immediately tuned into defense mode when she heard that Colin (who was standing silently beside her) would be taken away. "Leaving? But he's innocent… I can prove it!" She didn't know what she was saying, but prayed that it wasn't a lie.

"Ms. Weasley, thank you for your impressive loyalty, but I am well aware of Colin's situation. I agree that he is innocent, but many of the students are under the impression that he is not. The matters were kept completely secret, so naturally, the whole school knows. I'm afraid I can't have Mr. Creevey working around the students any longer," McGonagall explained.

Rose looked down in defeat. She was happy to learn that her assumption about Colin had been correct, but felt terrible for him at the same time. Like her mother, Rose always believed in what was right, and this just didn't seem so.

She didn't have time to dwell on this though, as Shacklebolt was approaching the three of them then, and McGonagall and Colin left Rose to approach the Minister. Now standing alone, Rose looked up to Shacklebolt and the road he was walking along. As she looked behind him, she finally saw the creature that she had spotted earlier from the window in Gryffindor Tower.

The black horse was one of the most frightening beasts Rose had ever set her eyes upon. With a sickeningly thin, skeletal figure, dragon-like face, bat-like wings, and bright, white eyes, it looked like a bad omen. Its appearance, along with its slow walk, which was almost impossible to perceive as actual motion, might have made Professor Trelawney say it looked like the grim. Rose didn't believe in superstition, but if she had, she would not take this to be a very good sign.

Rose turned around to the group of students behind her, but none of them seemed to notice the animal that should have been quite intriguing to them. They did, however, have relatively confused expressions. Turning back to where they all stared, Rose saw Shacklebolt climbing on the creature, just like any normal horse. Colin was already sitting on it, though he was looking down in disbelief, as if he, like the Hogwarts students, couldn't see what was holding him up in mid-air.

Suddenly, the horse started to gallop down the road, Colin and Shacklebolt holding on to its spine, and then lifted off into the sky. McGonagall turned to the crowd then, and announced, "Alright, everyone. There's nothing more to see here. You best be off to breakfast!"

The students followed her orders, all heading back into the castle for the Great Hall. Rose, however, stood still, eyes glued to the sky where the last specks of black could be seen. She was both captivated and dumbfounded by what was now far off in the distance, so she didn't notice somebody approach her from behind.

"You're not crazy, you know. I can see them too," said Holly Longbottom, the girl who had been in Rose's carriage the night she arrived at Hogwarts.

Turning to her, Rose asked, "What are they?"

Holly said, "They're called thestrals. They pull the carriages to the school at the beginning of each year."

Still confused, Rose asked, "Why can't the others see them?"

"They can only be seen by those who have seen death," Holly stated matter-of-factly. It was a very serious thing to say, but she didn't even flinch as she muttered the words.

"So, you've known someone who's died?" Rose asked concernedly. Of course, she now realized that she could only see this 'thestral' because she had seen Filch's death, but it sounded as if Holly had been able to see them for quite some time.

"My mum. It was a long time ago," Holly answered. She still had a smile on her face, but it was slightly crooked now.

It was true that Rose had never heard of Professor Longbottom having a wife, but now felt terribly sorry to hear that he was actually a widower. Perhaps that was why Rose's parents were always so adamant about her giving him their love every year.

"I'm so sorry," Rose said. Holly only nodded in acknowledgement. "That must have been horrible." Rose couldn't imagine life without a member of her family; they meant everything to her.

Holly acknowledged Rose's sympathy with a nod, but didn't respond directly. Instead, she said, "I believe you, you know."

Confused yet again, Rose turned to the petite girl with a questionable expression.

Sensing that an explanation was needed, Holly went on, "That Colin is innocent".

"Oh," Rose said, finally understanding. "Do you know him?"

"Not really," Holly answered. "But he seemed quite nice to me. Plus, if he really is a Squib, how could he have performed the spell in the first place?"

Not bothering to question how Holly had realized Colin's secret just as she had, Rose stated, "Exactly".

The two continued to stare up at the now empty sky, and before long Holly stalked off on her own. She seemed to be headed in the opposite direction of the Great Hall, but once again Rose decided not to question it. When it came to Holly, nothing ever made much sense.

As she walked into the hall, Rose had all eyes on her. It was a strange sensation, knowing that everybody had stopped whatever it was they had been doing just to watch the girl who may or may not have been involved with the mysterious murder from the morning before. Luckily, this only lasted a moment, as Rose wasn't nearly as fascinating as the stories Lysander was already telling or the fireworks James was setting off around one of the Finnigan girls.

Rose quickly walked over to Al and Scorpius, ignoring the overly curious Hugo and concerned Lucy along the way. As she sat down next to Scorpius, and knowing full well what Al was about to say, Rose spat at him, "It wasn't Colin".

"How can you be so sure?" Al asked. " McGonagall just gave a little speech about it, and she didn't deny it. Plus, Lysander said that you two didn't get there until after the fact, and Colin was apparently already there."

Scorpius was staring at Rose, more interested in her bare fingers than solving the mystery. She tried to ignore it, and instead addressed Albus, "And since when do you listen to Lysander?"

"Hey, you're the one dating him," Albus answered, but regretted it shortly after, as both him and Rose noticed Scorpius turn away at the words.

"That doesn't mean he's trustworthy," Scorpius mumbled under his breath.

"Alright, alright, not the point," Rose said, trying to clear the air. She didn't want any more tension than was necessary. "Look, regardless of what Lysander said, Colin is innocent."

She was looking toward Albus with a serious face, but he had his arms crossed and shrugged at her. "I'm still waiting for the evidence," he said.

Rose looked around to make sure the coast was clear before she whispered, "He's a Squib."

"What?" Al asked in surprise. He obviously hadn't considered this, and was very caught off guard.

After explaining how Rose had suspected this of Colin ever since she found out that he had worked at the school, instead of being an actual student there, and of what McGonagall had said (Rose decided to leave Holly out of it), Albus agreed that it would have been impossible for Colin to perform the Killing Curse, or any spell for that matter. He may have been born to magical parents, but he himself had no magical powers of his own.

"But if it wasn't him, then who?" Al asked. Scorpius, who had been distant to the conversation before, now seemed curious, but also a little fearful, as he turned back to Al and Rose.

"Well," Rose said, anxious to ask Albus a question she had wanted an answer to all night long, "I was wondering… do you remember what you saw that night? Just before we noticed the open gate…"

"Wait, you saw somebody that night?" Scorpius asked, his sudden interest catching Rose off guard.

"How'd you even know we were out that night at all?" Al asked, staring intently at Scorpius. Rose, now even more caught off guard, also looked to Scorpius.

"Uh, I must've heard it from somebody," Scorpius defended himself. "Never mind," he said before turning away again.

Rose and Albus shared a look of suspicion before they went on with their conversation, Al saying, "I honestly don't remember, Rose. For all I know, it might not have even been a person, just a cat or something."

"Right," Rose said, disappointed. She was going to bring up her suspicion of Shunpike and the dream she had had, but decided not to, since he and Al had been getting along very well lately.

"Look," Al said. "Maybe our dads will know something about it. They're coming tomorrow, aren't they?"

"Yeah," Rose answered with a grateful sigh. "Thank goodness."

Sensing the sadness in Rose's tone, Albus reached over and put a hand on her shoulder, saying, "Hey, you'll be okay. We'll find out who it was."

Scorpius's eyes were back on Rose now, and as Albus's hand left her shoulder, she let her head fall to the side and into the crook of Scorpius's neck. Closing her eyes and breathing in his crisp, wintery scent, he put his arm around her and held her even closer to himself. Rose hadn't wanted to cause Scorpius any more angst, but she decided that, just this once, she deserved to be selfish and take advantage of him, even though she wouldn't let him do the same to her.

Rose and Scorpius stayed like this for the rest of breakfast, Rose half-asleep and breathing deeply to keep from crying all over again, and Scorpius stroking her side with a pained expression on his face. On the other side of the table, Albus took the time to look around the Hall for potential suspects, scrutinizing everyone slowly and carefully. He had always had the instincts of an Auror, and this was the perfect opportunity to prove it, especially when his toughest critic was arriving soon.

The trio spent the rest of the day walking aimlessly about the castle. Once Al's suspicion wore off a little, he remembered to wish Rose a belated Happy Birthday, and stopped by the Slytherin common room to grab his gift for her: a new, very well-made sneakoscope, a small device that sensed when there was somebody untrustworthy around. He explained that, though he hadn't known so when he bought it, it now seemed like the perfect gift… if only she had received it a little sooner.

As the day continued, Rose refused to go anywhere near the Quidditch pitch, much to Albus's dismay, but they did manage to make their way over to Hagrid's, who made an enormous cup of tea for Rose. He wasn't surprised to hear that Rose had figured out that Colin was a Squib, and he too was disappointed in the way McGonagall was handling the situation. Scorpius defended his favorite teacher, but realized around the same time that it wouldn't make a difference. Hagrid was upset over losing his new helper so soon, and he had quite the soft spot when it came to false accusations.

Upon leaving Hagrid's, Rose decided to call it a day and headed back to Gryffindor Tower to try to get some more sleep. Unfortunately, instead of being met with quiet and safety, Rose arrived to a very loud, chaotic common room full of underclassmen looking for trouble.

Among them was, of course, Hugo, who ran up to Rose and asked, "Was it really that Colin kid? Did you see him there?"

A few steps behind him as always was Nigel Creevey, Hugo's right-hand man. Nigel was quite a sweet kid from what Rose could tell, but he could barely keep up with hyper Hugo. His friends all made fun of him for his physical slothfulness, but Rose knew that deep down, Hugo didn't care. In fact, Hugo had once called Nigel the koala to his kangaroo: though complete opposites, they both shared the same environment in perfect harmony. (Hugo hadn't expressed this quite so eloquently, of course.)

"Hugo, I already told you it's not true!" Nigel yelled at what seemed to be the top of his voice, though it still wasn't all that loud. "My brother would never do something like that…"

"I know that Nigel, but I've heard differently from a variety of reliable sources, and I can't very well make a decision on the matter until I hear from the most reliable of all: my dearest sister," Hugo exclaimed, turning back to Rose with a smile. "So Rosie, what's the verdict?"

Rose was not going to take to Hugo's less than sly attempted flattery so easily. Without hesitation, she merely responded with, "You should listen to your friend, Hugo."

As she was walking away toward the staircase, Hugo called after her, "Are you sure about that?"

Another moment later, as Rose was just reaching the top of the stairs and was about to head into her room, she could hear Nigel saying, "You're a slick git, Hugo Weasley, you know that!"

Rose rolled her eyes, wondering to herself how Nigel could've possibly not realized this until now.

"Don't worry Rose, I'll protect you," Scorpius said again. "I'll find you," he said. "I'll rescue you. I promise."

And then Rose was alone again, the darkness and whispers overtaking her slumber.

Sitting up in bed, Rose sighed in exasperation. She had been awake most of the night yet again, and every time she came close to falling asleep, she had that same nightmare she had had the night before, and it always ended with her alone in the darkness, waiting for Scorpius to come rescue her like he had promised to.

This time, Rose decided to stay in her dormitory until sunrise, knowing that James wouldn't be in the common room to comfort her again, and it would just be lonely without him. As soon as the first sign of light came through the window by her bed though, she was already in her robes and was headed for breakfast.

Not surprisingly, there was hardly anybody in the Great Hall; all the students were still asleep. Rose was okay with this though. She enjoyed having some time to herself in the morning, and it would give her more privacy to go over her recurring dream again.

Unfortunately, just as Rose was speculating the meaning behind Scorpius's overthrow of Lysander, the Scamander boy himself sat down next to her with a heaping loaf of pumpkin bread in his hands.

"Hey," he mumbled, his mouth already stuffed. Rose was used to the insane amounts of food men seemed to be able to eat, as she had grown up with Ron as a father and Hugo as a little brother. So naturally, it wasn't the impoliteness that bothered Rose, but rather Lysander's verbal greeting.

"Hey? That's all you have to say, 'hey'?" Rose asked, before standing from her seat and getting ready to storm off.

She wasn't able to though, as Lysander caught her arm and asked, "What?" He seemed to be incapable of using full sentences this morning.

Rose hadn't realized just how angry she was with him, but after he acted so mysteriously at Filch's death, and his lack of concern for her afterward, Rose just wasn't in the mood to play games with him anymore.

"Nothing. Never mind," Rose said, before adding quietly, "I just need some space, that's all."

"But why?" Lysander asked loudly, his hand still on Rose's arm, keeping her from moving away from him.

"Lysander!" Rose exclaimed, signaling for him to let go of her. "Just back off, alright?"

At this, he finally let her go and she headed over to Scorpius and Albus, who were just taking their seats at the next table.

"What was that about?" Al asked as Rose approached them.

"Oh, nothing really," Rose answered. "I think he's just starting to get on my nerves."

"Really?" Scorpius asked, though with more excitement than concern.

Rose smiled at this, happy to see Scorpius perk up about something, particularly when it had to do with her, and said, "Yes, really."

"Oh, well I'm sorry to hear that," he said sarcastically, and still smiling.

Rose smiled back with a small chuckle. She had been in a terrible mood this morning, after getting such a small amount of sleep, but couldn't help cheering up when she was around Scorpius.

Her happiness didn't last very long though, since Scorpius decided to take that moment to look down at Rose's hand again and whispered, "Why aren't you wearing the ring?"

Rose instinctively pulled up the sleeve of her robe to cover her hand, even though she knew he had already seen it. She opened her mouth to explain, but was saved when Professor Shunpike marched into the hall to make a very loud announcement.

"Attention all students, please finish your breakfasts promptly and make your way out of the hall. 5th years, you will all stay here for a special day-long lesson for Defense Against the Dark Arts," he explained, with a formality that seemed very odd when combined with his character. After barely anybody responded to his words, he added, "NOW, please!"

This moved everybody right along, and while most of the students left for their other classes, Rose, Al, and Scorpius just stood from their seats in order to allow their table to magically float over to the side of the room. Shunpike was clearing the hall in order to make room for the 5th years, as all four houses would be taking the full day for Defense Against the Dark Arts rather than following their normal Monday schedules.

Rose was beginning to get excited, as this was sure to be a big day, and couldn't wait to see her father. Meanwhile, she was gradually walking farther away from Scorpius, in hopes that she wouldn't have to answer his previous question.

Upon doing so, Rose bumped into Lucy Weasley, whom she wasn't used to seeing in DADA. Normally, she only had Herbology and History of Magic with the Hufflepuffs.

"Rose, hi!" Lucy shouted, also surprised to see her friend here. "I've been meaning to ask how you've been… after the other night, I mean."

"Oh, I'm alright," Rose said with a shrug. As she said it, it felt like a lie, but she couldn't tell Lucy about what was really going on inside her head.

"Yeah?" Lucy asked to reassure herself. "And what about you and Lysander? Lorcan said you two are dating, but I'm not sure I believe him. I mean, after how he treated you on the train…"

"Right," Rose said, unsure of where to start. She had almost forgotten how everything with Lysander had started, but she supposed that it was normal to forget the beginnings of stories once they started to spiral out of control.

"Well, it is true. We have been dating," Rose answered, deciding to keep it simple. The mere statement that she and Lysander were an item would be enough to sustain Lucy's interest, regardless of whether or not they would remain so for much longer.

"Really?" Lucy asked with surprise. More quietly, she added, "What about Scorpius?"

Rose was caught off guard by Lucy's immediate reaction being about Scorpius, but then remembered that she had talked about him many times over the years with Lucy. Since Lucy herself hadn't had feelings for anybody until Lorcan came around, she relied on Rose for all the stories of romance and gossip.

"I mean, you two still seem like friends, but when did you get over him? You've had a crush on him for years," Lucy continued.

For some reason, Lucy's words felt like a bullet to Rose's heart. She knew as Lucy said it that what she felt for Scorpius was hardly just some crush. She had spent nearly four years pining for him, but at the same time, even if from a distance, she had spent those same four years loving him. Her intentions may have started out to be good, but she could see now that what she was doing with Lysander was not going to make Scorpius come after her; it would only drive him away.

"Rose, are you okay?" Lucy asked after Rose failed to respond to her last question, and noticing that Rose seemed to have mentally stepped out of the conversation at hand.

Lucy's voice jolting Rose back to reality, she said, "Yes. I think I really am," and smiled.

Lucy smiled back, but looked very confused. Rose didn't get the chance to explain, since Professor Shunpike had stepped between them and was looking down to Rose.

"Ms. Wadlib, your father is in the Entrance Hall now. If you'd like, you may go greet him before I bring him in," Shunpike said, though he didn't look happy about it.

Rose didn't bother to say anything before she rushed off to the double doors that led to the other hall, Lucy calling out in the background, "Say hi to your dad for me!"

Before the two doors had fully opened, Rose was caught in an enormous bear hug by her father. She reciprocated the gesture by wrapping her arms around Ron's back and trying her best to hold him close. Having him here, and being able to smell that familiar spearmint toothpaste again, made her feel right at home.

"Dad," Rose sighed, holding on even tighter.

"Rosie," he replied, making Rose smile from cheek to cheek. She hated it when Hugo called her that, but only because she loved it when Ron did.

Once they finally broke apart, Ron looked down on her and put his hands on her shoulders. "How are you?" he asked, full of worry, but soft and caring at the same time. It was obvious he knew about the murder, and that Rose had had some special involvement with it.

It took a moment for Rose to turn her thoughts back to Filch and Colin, after thinking so much about Scorpius, but she eventually managed to. She didn't want to hide from or lie to her father, so she told the truth in the only way she knew how. "I don't know," she said.

Ron looked pained at this, and started to explain all he knew. "Your mum and I got a letter about it yesterday. It said you were the one who discovered Filch… Hermione's gone mental about it. What exactly did you see?"

"Just his body. He was already long gone," Rose said.

Ron nodded at this, happy to know that his little girl hadn't been subjected to too much trauma.

"But Dad," Rose caught his attention once again. "What do you know about dreams?"

"Dreams?"

"Yeah," Rose went one. "I've been having these dreams, and they seem so real. But I don't know what they mean."

"Look Rose," Ron said. "I know you like to have answers to these sort of things. Your mother's always like that too. But there doesn't have to be a reason behind everything. You're probably just scared after what happened, and that's normal. But that'll go away eventually, and then the dreams will too."

Rose nodded. She knew that she had a tendency to overanalyze things, like her father was saying, but she just didn't think that this was one of those cases. "But Dad, I wasn't that scared. I was more just confused. And these dreams, they just don't make sense, that's all."

Ron contemplated this for a while before he said, "Well, Rose, if you're really concerned, then I believe you. I've just never really had dreams like that… the snoring seems to be the extent of my sleeping problems."

Rose laughed at this, knowing how often his snores could keep her up at night. Not wanting to delay the lesson any longer thing, Rose didn't ask her father anything more, and gave a quick wave hello to Harry, who had been pacing just behind where she and Ron stood.

Once back in the Great Hall, Rose took a seat on the floor next to Albus, who waved to his father as Harry and Ron came in. As soon as the two had made their appearance, the students started clapping and cheering, excited to hear what the famous wizards had to say.

As they walked up to the front of the hall, where all the teachers normally sat at every school-wide feast, Harry shook hands with Shunpike and Ron bowed to his audience of teenagers, who laughed in response.

"Hello everyone," Harry said cheerfully after the clapping stopped. Once he introduced Ron and himself, he began the explanation, "So you all know why we're here. As 5th years at Hogwarts, it's time to learn one of the hardest defense spells in the book."

"Yeah," Ron cut in. "Plus, it's wicked cool. Now Harry here, well he likes to look all impressive, coming here every year to replace your normal professor for a day, but I want you all to know that the only reason Shunpike's not teaching you this spell is because you all wouldn't be as excited about it if he did. Being taught by The Chosen One, on the other hand, might provide enough intimidation to make you work a little harder."

Everybody was laughing again at this, and Ron winked over to Rose. He loved to be in the spotlight, and she felt very proud see him there.

"Thanks for that Ron," Harry said from Ron's side as he took a step forward again to address the class. "But getting back to the point, who here can explain why exactly a Patronus Charm is so useful against the dark arts?"

Rose shot her hand up at this, eager for the chance to show off in front of her father. After Harry called on her, she stated, "The Patronus Charm is used to fight off dementors, which are foul creatures that drain the happiness out of the environment they're put in. The witch or wizard must think of their happiest memory to form the spell, which should then be able to drive away the creature."

"Exactly," Harry said. "Very good, Rose." Ron was smiling with pride behind him, his arms crossed around his chest.

"Now, dementors are known to align with witches and wizards who are involved in the dark arts, so it is extremely valuable to know how to defend oneself against one if need be."

"Dementors really are terrible," Ron said. "And they won't let you run away easily."

"But aren't dementors controlled by the ministry?" asked one Hufflepuff girl from the back of the room.

"Yes," Harry answered. "The ministry uses them to guard cells in Azkaban, but they're easily persuaded. Even so, you bring up a good point. If there aren't dementors around here, or if you probably won't ever run into one, then why would you need to learn to perform this charm?"

This time, Rose didn't even raise her arm before she blurted out, "The Patronus isn't just used to fight against dementors. It can also be used as a source of communication."

"Rose is right again," Harry said. Rose smiled, and gave Al a good hit to his side after he snorted at her.

"As you know, the Patronus takes the form of a given animal, usually one that corresponds to the witch or wizard's personality," Harry explained. "Now that animal is able to record a message from said witch or wizard and then deliver it to the person of their choice. It's much faster than sending an owl, and is convenient when one needs to send a message over a short distance.

"In fact, one student used a Patronus for this exact purpose in a situation just the other day here at Hogwarts. This was how your Headmistress was able to find out about Mr. Filch so soon."

All the students started whispering to each other at this, wondering who Harry was talking about, and how they knew to handle a situation like that. Rose just put her head down, not wanting to think about how oddly Lysander had behaved that day.

"Yeah, yeah, alright," Ron said loudly, the students silencing in response. "We all know that the Patronus is great." Then, turning to Harry, he suggested, "But I think it's time to show them just how great it is. What do you say?"

"I say you first," answered Harry with a wink. They had being teaching this lesson year after year, and had it pretty well down pat by now.

"Well, alright then," Ron said. He then took out his wand from his pant pocket, walked straight up the front row of students, held his wand in front of him, and said strongly, "Expecto patronum!"

As soon as he did so, a blue and silvery terrier jetted out of his wand and started running all around the room. Students stood up then, making room for the dog who seemed to let off bursts of joy with every step he took. It made its way through the crowd and over to Rose, where it stopped, sat down, and gave a loud bark before it disappeared.

Everybody was cheering all over again, giving Harry and Ron plenty of time to pull out a rather large chest that Rose knew held a boggart inside.

"Okay everyone, attention back up front," Harry called, and all the students turned back toward him, though they remained standing. "Now, when Ron learned the Patronus Charm, that was exactly what he did: just practiced out in the open, with no props. Unfortunately, thinking up happy thoughts isn't so easy when you're around an actual dementor. That's why we're going to have as many of you as we can practice the spell on a boggart as well. Allow me to demonstrate."

Then, Harry took out his own wand and stood in front of the unopened chest. The tension in the air was highly palpable, as none of the students had seen a dementor before. Suddenly, Ron opened the chest and out came a black, hooded figure of human shape.

It flew right at Harry until it was only a few feet away. Rose couldn't see its face, but its hands were dark, long, and skeletal, much like the thestral she had seen the morning before. Around her, the air felt heavy and cold, and nothing could be heard except for the loud breathing of the cloaked creature.

Harry didn't wait long before he yelled out the incantation and covered the dementor with a translucent type of shield, headed by an enormous, silvery stag. Behind the animal, the air was turning lighter again, and warmer. The shield grew larger as the stag approached the dementor, and Harry used his wand to direct it back into the chest. Once inside, Ron pulled over the top and locked it back up.

Most of the students stood in silent shock, but Al and Rose started clapping for their fathers who, so far, were proving to be quite the success.

"Well, that's that," Ron said after the round of applause. "I think it's time for the rest of you to give it a go."

The excitement reached a peak upon hearing this, as everybody was anxious to show off their own skills. Harry gave out some directions, telling them to spread out, and to first try the charm in the open space. He and Ron then began walking around the room, surveying everyone and giving tips on how to improve.

"Make it a powerful memory," Harry called as walked around a group of Ravenclaws who only had small sparks coming out of their wands. "The happiest memory you can remember. Allow it to fill you up."

Meanwhile, Shunpike, who had begun circling from the other side, was saying to one girl who looked quite faint, "Here, have some chocolate. You'll feel better."

Rose was standing on the Slytherin side of the room, with Scorpius off to her left and Al to her right. Scorpius kept muttering the incantation, but seemed to be getting frustrated, as he too was only producing sparks. Albus had his wand out, but wasn't doing anything with it. He seemed to be waiting for something.

Rose was holding on to her wand tightly, and had closed her eyes. She was searching for a memory, but thoughts of her nightmare continued to encroach her mind. She tried out the spell with a simple, fairly happy memory of the first time she had ever used magic. It had been aboard the Hogwarts Express before her first year at school, when she used a simple repairing charm to fix Al's broken glasses after Goyle had stepped on them. With this memory, she was able to produce a medium-sized jet of silver air, but it didn't take any identifiable shape, and it quickly dissolved.

As Ron made his way over to her, Rose turned away. She knew that he expected her to be the best in the class, and normally she would be, but the things she had been through lately didn't exactly prepare her well for this.

"How you doin', Rose? Al?" Ron asked, turning to each of them, but much more interested in his own child. Scorpius, he completely ignored.

"I'm trying," Rose answered as she turned back to him. She figured it was pointless to try to hide from him. "I just, I don't know what memory to use."

"The happiest thing you can think of," Harry said from behind. He and Ron were now standing with Rose, Al, and Scorpius, and Harry asked them all, "You want to know what I used just now?"

They nodded, and Harry answered, "Just the other day, Teddy told me that he's going to be a dad."

"Victoire's pregnant?" Rose asked with surprise. Teddy was Harry's godson, so she had seen a lot of him growing up, even though she hadn't gone to Hogwarts until after he had already left. Victoire, Rose's older cousin, had married Teddy only a few years back. They had always been quite the couple, and everybody had been thrilled when they made it official.

"Yeah," Harry said, nodding with an enormous smile. Al smiled too, thinking about what kind of uncle he would be. They didn't dwell on it for too long though, since Harry had more to say.

"See," he explained. "This memory can't be just the time you got your Hogwarts letters. It's got to be bigger than that; even mine wouldn't have been large enough to fight off more than one dementor at a time, but I wanted to use it anyway.

"Look, the memory's that hardest part. At least it was for me. Once you've got it, you just have to hold onto it as long as you possibly can. If you lose your focus, you Patronus will fade away."

Harry turned to Al then, and asked, "Al? Why don't you give it a try?"

Al looked at Harry and nodded. Rose could tell that this was what he had been waiting for. Albus was ready, she knew, but he wanted his father to see it. As he held out his wand, Harry made room for him to point it straight ahead.

"Expecto patronum!" he called, and like Ron and Harry before, a huge jet of silvery light flew out in front of him. This time though, instead of galloping across the floor, it spread its wings and flew through the air above them. The animal was a dark, almost black, hawk, and it was in full form as it soared beneath the ceiling, circling above the entire crowd. Everybody had stopped their own work to stare up at the majestic creature, and Al was now holding on to his wand with both hands to maintain contact with it.

"Great, Al!" Harry exclaimed. "Keep it going!" He then turned to Rose, and said, "Rose, you try now."

Instinctively, Rose looked to her father, who gave her a nod. He had been eyeing Al with jealousy before, but looked determined that Rose would succeed this time. Rose, on the other hand, wasn't so sure.

Next to her, Scorpius said quietly, "You can do it, Rose. You can do anything, remember?"

Rose smiled, for she knew exactly what Scorpius was doing. He had just told her what memory to use. With it, she closed her eyes, and tried to think of nothing else.

It had been a beautiful fall day during Rose's 2nd year at Hogwarts, her birthday to be exact, and Scorpius had given her a book on common charms as a gift. It hadn't seemed like much at the time, but when she opened it to start reading that same night, she had found writing on almost every page. For each spell that was listed and described, Scorpius had written a note, reading either, 'you can already do this spell''you'll master this one soon enough, I'm sure', or even, 'don't bother with this one; you're too good for it'. On the very last page, he had written,

'Happy Birthday, Rose. I just wanted to let you know that you amaze me. I don't know how it's possible, but you can do anything. I would say that you're going to be a great witch one day, but that would be a lie. You already are.'

They had only been twelve years old, but Scorpius had never said anything as sweet as what had been written in that book. She had nearly forgotten it, but reading his notes that night had probably marked the moment Rose had really fallen for him, the happiest moment of her life.

"Expecto patronum!" she called, picturing Scorpius's messy handwriting in her head. As she opened her eyes, she could see the little bird, small but full of strength and color, rise into the air and fly after Al's hawk. Rose directed her wand around the room, and the bird flew where she led it.

It was a cardinal, Rose could tell. It looked just like the ones she woke to every morning back at home, and as it starting singing, its beautiful melody filled the Hall. Everyone around her seemed happy as could be, and out of the corner of her eye she could see a tiny tear of joy falling down her father's cheek.

Unfortunately, Rose couldn't hold on to the memory for very long, and so the cardinal disappeared into thin air, the hawk not far behind. After the superficial merriment wore off, everybody sighed. They didn't seem very surprised that Al and Rose were the first two to successfully perform the charm. It was normal for them to learn faster than the others in DADA, not to mention the fact that today's two teachers happened to be the fathers of each of them.

After all the others had returned to work on their own, Harry said, "That was amazing, both of you! Al, your very first try, and you kept it going for that long?"

Albus blushed slightly in response, but Ron had turned bright red for a different reason. "Hey, Rosie was pretty impressive as well. I mean hers sang, for crying out loud!" he shouted at Harry, gesturing to Rose as he said it.

"Oh, I know," said Harry, preparing for a comeback. He didn't normally involve himself in Ron's 

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