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



19. Lily's Helping Hand

Everything was peaceful. For the first time in months, Scorpius wasn't tired, scared, or broken. He was whole, and his mind had no questions. He was surrounded by white space, but it wasn't mysterious or intimidating; it was comforting. Unfortunately, Scorpius's purgatory was short-lived.

Within seconds, or at least what felt like seconds, he was back in his tent, gasping for air while at the same time spewing out blood. Thankfully, his stomach had gone numb by now, but the pain was screaming from inside every other part of him. He desperately wanted it all to go away, but he also knew that he was supposed to fight it. He had been running for too long, and this was one thing he couldn't run from. If he tried, he'd never be able to get back, and he couldn't do that to himself.

As sleep begged for him once more, he firmly declined, and instead pulled himself back to reality. Opening his eyes again, Scorpius saw that Lily was still there. She had found a towel from somewhere, and was trying to wipe up the blood that had covered the tent's floor. Her hair, red and perfectly straight, was flying all over the place, but she didn't seem to notice. The ends were falling into the blood, coloring her hair ever so slightly darker than its natural shade. When she turned around quickly, her hair blew in front of her eyes, and so this time she had to notice its unruly behaviour. Frustrated, she exhaled loudly and ran a hand through the static strands to push them back. As Scorpius stared at her, unable to move just yet, he realized that Lily's nervous tic was one that he shared with her.

Before too long, Lily noticed Scorpius's open eyes, and immediately turned her attention to him. "Scorpius, you're awake!" She cried, leaning in and putting a hand on one of his shoulders. Lily had no definition of personal space, but at that moment it was a very good thing to lack.

Scorpius, still too weak to use the amount of brain power needed to reply, just lay there, staring back at Lily while his skin grew infinitely paler.

"Are you okay?" Lily asked. She still sounded slightly panicked, but wasn't stuttering anymore. It seemed as though she worked fairly well under pressure, another thing that she and Scorpius had in common.

Scorpius did what he could to shake his head, but it only made him look worse. Clearly, he wasn't okay, but Lily needed some direction. Summoning all the strength that he could find, and putting his stubborn pride aside, Scorpius managed to croak out, "Help me."

It took all but a millisecond for Lily's eyes to widen, her pupils dilating as if the lights had suddenly turned off. "What can I do?" she asked, the panic having returned to her naturally raspy voice.

Scorpius searched for more strength, and in the meantime Lily had taken out a wand from her back pocket. It was only now that Scorpius noticed that she was wearing a Holyhead Harpies Quidditch jersey. Instinctively, Scorpius searched for her broom, which he found lying on the floor by the tent's entrance. She had been playing Quidditch, most likely with her family, before she'd found him.

Lily was about to do a spell before Scorpius stopped her. "NO!" he said. He couldn't have her be expelled for him. Anyway, she wouldn't know the correct spells that could heal him. Those were even too advanced for Scorpius, and he was two years above Lily.

"Scorpius, I don't care about the Trace!" Lily cried. "You're…" but she paused there. After a huge gulp and a deep breath, she said, "You're dying!" Lily had always been brutally honest, even in the worst possible situations.

Oddly enough, Lily's words didn't sting Scorpius in the way that they should have. After all, he had been thinking the same thing, and hearing it aloud only made it that much easier to stop. When forced into difficult situations, Scorpius was the one who always found a solution, even if he couldn't find one normally.

As Lily noticed the forcefulness in Scorpius's eyes, she started to think of alternatives. "I could go get someone," she offered, adding quickly, "Dad's not home, but Mum might be able to help. Even James could-"

But Scorpius interrupted, again with a firm, "NO!" Having left Lily with virtually no options, he tried to explain, but ended up saying, "No one must know."

Lily was confused, Scorpius could tell. Still, he was in far too much pain to stay awake any longer, let alone keep speaking. Lily would have to figure it out herself.

Luckily, after taking a moment to assess the situation to the best of her ability, Lily nodded, looked Scorpius straight in the eye, and stated, "Don't worry. I have a plan. Whatever you do, don't fall asleep." She then stood up and ran to her broom, only to turn around and give Scorpius one last look at her. "I'll be back." And then she was gone.

Scorpius didn't take Lily's advice lightly. He knew that she was right; he had to stay awake. Still, if he only focused on that, like only focusing on the pain in his stomach or refusing to think about anything other than how much he wished Rose was here right now, it would eat him alive. He needed to set his sights on something else, come up with a goal, so that his mind would turn its attention away from the biting sleep.

Searching around the room from his spot on the floor, and the puddle of blood that had finally stopped growing (since Scorpius had little left to give), Scorpius decided that he would try to move. His sopping clothes couldn't possibly be helping his feverish body, and he needed to make it as easy for Lily to heal him as he possibly could. So he picked up his head, pushed his elbows back, and heaved himself backward. His legs had gone completely numb, so they would be of no help. Instead, he had to crawl on his back using only his arms. The task proved to be incredibly difficult, but it succeeded in providing a distraction. Unbeknownst to Scorpius, it ended up taking a fair amount of time, and he had only reached as far as the kitchen stairs when Lily returned.

She was wearing a different shirt now, one void of all blood stains, but she still looked rather flustered. It took her a moment to register Scorpius's great move, but before too long she was sitting on the floor by his side, telling him to open his mouth. Scorpius didn't know what she was trying to do, but he followed her order anyway. As soon as he did so, Lily unstoppered a tiny, glass jar that was filled with clear liquid and released a few drops down Scorpius's throat.

It didn't taste much like anything, but the medicine was remarkably warm, and soothed his aching throat like a hot cup of tea. Once Scorpius had swallowed it all, neither he nor Lily spoke while they waited for something to happen.

At first, there was nothing. Soon though, Scorpius could feel his stomach mending itself, and almost instantly he felt stronger. The pain was still there, but it was smaller, subtler, and less piercing. Whatever Lily had given him was working, and even if it didn't mend him completely, Scorpius was sure that it had done enough to keep him alive.

Sensing his relief, Lily asked quietly, "Is it working? You look a lot less dreadful already."

Gaining back his senses, and not having to fight as hard to speak, Scorpius replied, "Yeah. It is working."

Lily smiled, and then she helped Scorpius sit up, leaning against the bottom step that led to the tent's above-ground kitchen. She then sat next to him, and for a while the two remained silent, taking the time to gather their thoughts after everything that had just happened.

At some point, Scorpius put a hand to his stomach as if examining it, and applied a light pressure. The improvement was amazing, though he could already tell that it would be a long while before he was fully healthy again. Until then, he'd need to keep his energy up, and Lily could prove to be extremely helpful in that department.

Curious to find out what the liquid was or where Lily had found it, Scorpius asked, "What was that stuff anyway?"

The jar was still in Lily's hand, and she fumbled with it as she answered, "I think it's called Essence of Dittany. At least, that's what Al has it labelled as."

"It's Al's?" Scorpius asked automatically. It was surprisingly comforting to hear his name, but he was also worried that Lily may have told Al where he was. If that was the case, soon everyone would know, and Scorpius's entire plan would be ruined.

"Yeah," Lily nodded, failing to sense Scorpius's anxiety. "He's all got all sorts of potions and ingredients hidden away in his room. I don't think he made this one, though. Dad probably gave it to him."

Scorpius nodded and asked tentatively, "You didn't – you didn't tell him you found me, did you?"

This time, Lily looked directly back at him. "No," she answered. "I didn't tell anyone."

Scorpius breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed his tense some. He had practically grown up with Lily, but anyone who knew her would know that she wasn't entirely trustworthy. Lily had always said that the only point of knowing somebody's secret was to share it.

"I don't understand," Lily said, breaking Scorpius's train of thought. "Why can't anybody know where you are?"

Before Scorpius could reply, Lily added, "Wait, let me guess. It's for some stupid noble reason, isn't it?"

Scorpius needed to think fast. Lily was bound to already know certain things, considering that Harry was supposed to be hunting Astoria. Still, Scorpius didn't want to give any extra information away. Deciding on a story, he responded with, "No. It's not about nobility. In fact, it's more like cowardice. I'm hiding."

When Lily rolled her eyes at him, Scorpius continued. "I assume you know about my mum? About the attack on the Creeveys'?"

"Of course," Lily replied. She didn't say anything else, and Scorpius assumed that she wouldn't until he gave her a full explanation.

"Well," Scorpius went on, "She's looking for me."

"So you're hiding?" Lily asked, and Scorpius nodded. "And you think you'll be able to take care of things yourself? Too bloody proud to ask for any help?"

Scorpius chuckled lightly. He wasn't used to having somebody around who didn't understand everything he said before he even had to say it. Still, two could play at Lily's blaming game. So Scorpius turned back to her, cocked his head to the side, and said, "I asked for yours, didn't I?"

"Touché," Lily surrendered. "Speaking of that though, how did this happen?" she asked, gesturing to Scorpius's wounded stomach and his bloody shirt.

Scorpius couldn't come up with a good excuse this time, and so he merely stated, "It's a long story."

Lily looked genuinely hurt by his response, and was about to get up as she said, "I should probably go. You're okay now, and you want to be alone."

Trying to stop her, Scorpius grabbed hold of her arm, in turn stretching his stomach and reminding himself that he wasn't in the clear just yet. With a gasp of pain from Scorpius, Lily turned back to him and waited. As Scorpius let go of Lily and put his hand to his stomach and grimaced, he looked up at her and said, "No. You're right. I could use a little help right now. Don't go?"

With one last glance, Lily turned around and headed toward the tent's entrance. Instead of leaving though, she knelt down to a bag that Scorpius had failed to notice before, opened it, and pulled out a fresh cloth and a bottle of water. After pouring some of the water onto the cloth, Lily marched back over to where Scorpius was still sitting, leaned over his face, and wiped it clean.

Afterward, she looked at Scorpius carefully, as if scrutinizing his every scar (of which there were many), and whispered, "I thought you'd never ask."

From then on, the days passed by quickly. Scorpius had forgotten what a luxury a little company could be, and Lily's presence made time go by much faster than it had gone all summer. It didn't take long for August to fly by, and soon it was nearing September.

Scorpius had put Lily to good use over the past few weeks, having her bring food, water, and other essentials to the tent nearly every day. One afternoon, she had even offered to cut his overgrown hair. (It looked worse now than it had before, but luckily Scorpius didn't have a good enough mirror to notice.) It was always a little risky for Lily to keep Scorpius's secret, but her family seemed to be too estranged and oblivious to notice all of the missing items around the house, let alone Lily's mysterious disappearances.

Meanwhile, Scorpius was healing. His internal bleeding had succumbed to a mere cramping sensation whenever harsh pressures were applied to his abdomen, and after spending a few days in bed to regain all the blood he had lost, Scorpius felt well enough to walk around more often. This ability soon escalated into light jogs, and before he knew it, Scorpius was determined to try to fly again. Of course, this had to be kept secret from Lily, which might have been even harder than performing the task itself.

Though the transformations had become second nature to Scorpius, he was still struggling to get himself off the ground. Every time he did so, he'd just topple over, landing either in a prickly bush or on an extremely solid ground. This would result in all sorts of scrapes and bruises, none any worse than those he had received during the first phases of transformation, but enough to get Lily asking questions.

The girl was too nosy for her own good. Somehow, Scorpius had managed to get Lily off his tail regarding the initial state she had found him in, but everything since then he'd had to be extra careful to hide from her. On the one hand, it was nice to have somebody around who was so concerned about his well-being, but on the other hand, Scorpius knew that Lily only wanted to know in order to satisfy her own curiosity.

Still, none of that stopped him from trying. One day toward the end of August, Scorpius woke after another short and consistently interrupted sleep and decided to skip his usual morning jog. Lily was stopping by his tent that afternoon, and Scorpius would need all the time he could get. He wasn't sure why he was in such a hurry to learn to fly, especially considering the fact that Hogwarts would be opening for term soon, which meant that Rose, Al, and company would be going back to school. Still, maybe that was the exact reason. Scorpius needed to have accomplished something substantial so that he'd have a good enough excuse not to go back with everybody else.

Trying not to think about being alone yet again, Scorpius walked outside of his tent and directly into the bright, morning sun. The rays were piercing down on him, and he could almost feel the energy being soaked in through his skin. Today was the day; he could feel it.

Taking off his shirt and setting it aside, Scorpius looked over his chest carefully. He had learned his lesson, and he didn't want to injure himself again. Lily would only be around for a little while longer, and Scorpius needed to be able to take care of himself. Luckily, he felt strong today, and there were no signs of his injury but for a couple of small, recent bruises. Granted, he still looked disgustingly thin, but that would take some time to mend.

Ready to start the process, Scorpius unclasped his family crest necklace that he barely ever took off, and emptied his pant pockets, which contained one small object: Rose's ring. With less than a glimpse at them, Scorpius set them down on his shirt and then folded the material over it to protect the prized processions. There, he thought. I'm ready now.

With the blink of an eye, Scorpius had become a falcon. At this point, he felt extremely comfortable as a bird, having gotten used to the lightness of his body and the hyper senses in his eyes and ears. Sometimes, he even thought that he might prefer it to being a human, since he felt so much freer, and less trapped.

After taking a minute to stretch out his wings, which spanned well over a meter, Scorpius tried to find a firm stance on the ground. He had long since given up on the tree idea, and was instead working on a takeoff from ground level. That way, he wouldn't have such a long way to fall.

With his talons cemented in the soil and his wobbly knees bent low to the forest floor, Scorpius pushed his shoulders back and took one last breath. He then shot out his wings as fast as he could, simultaneously pushing off the ground with all the force he could muster. He was off, but now came the hard part. Maintaining balance was tricky enough, but Scorpius also had to focus on pumping his wings in order to lift himself higher. Meanwhile, he was about to run into the side of his canvas tent.

Steering slightly to the right, but not so much so that he flipped over horizontally, Scorpius reminded himself to keep flapping his wings, no matter what else happened. He did just that, and slowly but steadily he found that he was gaining height. He had traveled a ways away by now, but he had also managed to reach the top of the forest's shortest trees. Telling himself to keep pumping, but this time to pump a little faster, Scorpius gave every bit of energy he had to reach a higher point where he might be able to glide.

As the idea came to him, his body did as told, and so before long, Scorpius was way up in the air, looking down upon all the roofs of Godric's Hollow. He was finally flying, after all this time, and it felt better than he could have ever imagined. Finding a warm pocket of air, Scorpius allowed his wings to rest and started to casually soar atop the western wind. Everything was more peaceful up here, with nothing to be afraid of or worry about, the only thoughts going through Scorpius's head consisting of freedom… pure, tangible freedom.

He could go anywhere. He could do anything. He could be anything. He was sure that he could. Scorpius was, quite literally, on top of the world, and nothing could bring him back down. He had gone from an ultimate low to an ultimate high, and he refused to ever go back. Right now, this instant, was worth everything that he had gone through to get it. This was heaven.

Scorpius continued to fly over the countryside for the next few hours. There were a couple of places where he desperately wanted to go, but he had to stop himself from doing so. If he went too far, he wouldn't get back in time to meet Lily. Plus, he still had two more days to see Rose before she left.

He was still thinking about her constantly. Even with Lily there, Scorpius always wanted Rose. Sometimes, every now and then, he and Lily would share… a moment. She would surprise him by leaning in and catching one of his falling eyelashes, or he wouldn't be able to stop her before she barged in while he was changing clothes. Whatever the situation though, Lily always brushed it aside, like saying she'd seen it all before. Still, at times like those, Scorpius couldn't help but wonder, having been without Rose for so long now, if he could possibly be attracted to someone else. Even so, what happened with Lily were just moments. What Scorpius had had with Rose was something he was sure could have, andwould have, lasted a lifetime. Plus, in the long run, it didn't matter either way. They would both be going back to Hogwarts, and he wouldn't be.

This was another secret he had kept from Lily. He knew how attached to him she had become, or at least how attached she'd always been, and so he didn't want to scare her off. He knew that he'd have to tell her eventually, but he was waiting for the right time.

Heading back to the woods now, there was one last thing that Scorpius wanted to try. He had made his Patronus do it when it had attacked the boggart's dementor, and he was excited to try it for himself. Once he was right above the Potters' backyard, he arched his back and pulled in his wings. Then he dove. Falling faster than he was used to thanks to his new, aerodynamic body, Scorpius was surprised that his bones didn't break from the air pressure, or that his eyes didn't water from the wind. Waiting for the last moment, Scorpius let himself fall even further until he was barely a meter from the grassy ground. At this point, he gave all the strength he had to pull his body back to its normal stance, and shot out his wings in one sharp gust. This was probably a riskier move than he should have attempted, but he just couldn't help himself.

It turned out to be worth it. Scorpius made the angle just in time to steer his acceleration forward, and he glided all the way back to his tent, gently bobbing between the trees. Once back, he quickly transfigured into his human form, put his shirt and necklace on, dropped the ring in his pocket, and took a short walk to get his blood moving before he re-entered the tent. A minute after he did so, Lily arrived.

"Hey!" She called as she passed through the tent's opening, not bothering to announce herself beforehand. Luckily, Scorpius was fully clothed and was sifting through a kitchen cupboard when Lily came inside.

"Hey," Scorpius replied. "Did you bring-"

"Bread?" Lily asked. She knew him well by now, and so she knew he'd be starving. Tossing a loaf at him, she added, "It's all yours."

Scorpius caught it with barely a look as to where the loaf was headed. Both he and Lily had strong hand-eye coordination. "Thank you," he said genuinely as he ripped open the bag. He hadn't eaten anything all day, and after flying for so long, he could really use the energy.

"That's what I'm here for," Lily stated as she made her way to the kitchen, where she started unloading a giant bag of food like she had just come back from a day's worth of shopping.

"You must be joking!" Scorpius commented as he noticed just how much Lily had stolen from her own pantry. "They didn't notice you walk out of the house with all that?"

"Please," Lily laughed. "It was easy. Anyway, they're all at-" but she didn't finish her sentence.

Scorpius knew what Lily wanted to say. It was one of those topics, like their initial meeting, that they never talked about. Normally, it could be forgotten by focusing on other things, but Rose was always an underlying question between the two of them, Scorpius desperately wanting to know how she was doing, and Lily wanting to know what happened between them. When Rose was brought up accidentally, like just now, it was difficult to change the subject without one of them caving.

"At the Weasleys'," Scorpius finished for her after swallowing a piece of bread. With an apologetic expression from Lily, he added, "It's okay."

Having the permission to go on, Lily continued, "Right, well Mum, James, and Al left a couple of hours ago to have dinner there. They all think I'm at Roxy's, but Roxy thinks I'm at Hugo's. It's the perfect disguise." Roxanne was one of Lily's best friends, and another Weasley cousin who was also going into her fourth year at Hogwarts.

Scorpius laughed. "So how much time do you have?" He was leaning against the counter where Lily was still unpacking, and had caught a whiff of something flowery coming from her direction. He assumed that it was some sort of perfume, but he couldn't be sure. Rose had never needed to add anything to make her smell better. Her natural scent, which always reminded Scorpius of salty seawater, was all she needed.

"Loads," Lily answered. "I don't have to be back until midnight, because there's no way they will be." She had unpacked all the food now, and was facing Scorpius, her arms crossed casually against her chest.

"Good," Scorpius said, standing back upright and rolling up the sleeves of his collared shirt, which Lily had brought him a few days ago after robbing Al's closet. "Because I was thinking I could make us dinner." He had had the idea a while back as a way to repay Lily for all the help she'd given him, and he was particularly cheerful today, which made him want to do it even more.

"Really?" Lily asked, shocked to have heard such a suggestion. "Well gosh, are there any other hidden talents of yours I don't know about?"

Scorpius blushed slightly at this. Lily was only joking, that he knew, but the question still hit a soft spot. Trying to hide his reaction, Scorpius turned around and began gathering the ingredients he'd need for pasta as he answered shakily, "Oh, don't worry, it's no talent. I'm bloody awful at Potions, and cooking's not much better."

"Mmm," Lily grimaced. "I have heard about your certain proclivity for Potions, now that you mention it. Maybe I should cook instead?"

Now that was an even worse idea. Lily was wild enough; add any sort of flames to the mix, and there'd be a bonfire within seconds. With a look of widened eyes, Scorpius silently let Lily on these thoughts.

Disappointed, she shrugged and said, "All right, I suppose I see your point."

But Scorpius couldn't completely stop Lily. After announcing that it was far too boring to just sit there and watch water boil, she attempted to help by chopping vegetables into unrecognizable, lopsided chunks, none of which were even similar in size to one another. After that got old, she went on to grating cheese, but ate all of it before the pasta was ready. Along the way, she just distracted Scorpius by reminiscing over shared childhood memories.

"Do you remember when we first met?" she asked at one point while Scorpius was setting the table, shortly after the cheese debacle. It was a rhetorical question, since Lily clearly knew the answer, but she wanted to see if Scorpius did too.

Fortunately, Scorpius did remember that moment, but for reasons not having anything to do with Lily. After all, that had also been the day he'd met Rose. "Er, yeah, I think so," he answered. "Wasn't it on Platform 9¾? Al's and my first year?"

"Yeah," Lily agreed. "I was only nine, but you were already heading off. I remember, because my mum had told Al that you'd be there. James had scared him into thinking that he'd be sorted into Slytherin, and earlier that morning, Mum had tried to comfort him by telling him that even if that happened, he wouldn't be alone. Rumour had it a little Malfoy boy was on his way, and of course there was no possibility of him being sorted anywhere else but Slytherin." She laughed and then ended with, "I can't believe it's been a full five years since then."

"Yeah," Scorpius breathed. "That is hard to believe." Giving it some thought, Scorpius added, "I have to say though, I'm glad Al was put into Slytherin. I don't where I'd be right now had we not met."

"Probably not hiding out in a tent behind his house," Lily teased.

"No, probably not," Scorpius laughed.

Now that dinner was finally ready (though it wasn't exactly gourmet, with odd-looking toppings and no sprinkled cheese), Scorpius and Lily sat down at the table and reluctantly shoved down the meal. Neither of them commented on its terrible taste, though; they both ate it anyway.

As they finished eating, the air around them grew more serious. It was dark outside now, and the only lighting in the tent was coming from a small lamp Scorpius had found a few weeks ago. With this sombre tone, the conversation took an interesting turn.

Still on the topic of that day at King's Cross, Lily asked hesitantly, "Your mum was there that day, wasn't she? I think I remember seeing her with you and your dad."

Scorpius lowered his head slightly. He had kept Lily in the dark about his circumstance for so long that he had almost forgotten what she must feel like, helping him every day and getting nothing in return. He may not want to give them to her, but she deserved some answers.

"She was, yeah," Scorpius said. "But I don't think she ever came to the station with me again."

"She must not have," added Lily. "You came with us every year after that."

Smiling, since this was actually a nice memory, Scorpius chuckled lightly at the thought of a different, but still related, one. "Except for that one time…" he reminisced.

"Oh, no!" Lily shouted, her arm shot out with her hand held high in the air to try to stop Scorpius from continuing. "That's not fair! You can't bring that up!"

"Oh, come on! It was hilarious!" Scorpius encouraged her.

"Easy for you to say! You were at least on the train. Meanwhile, I was running after it like a chicken with its head cut off!" exclaimed Lily. She had never been afraid to enhance her anecdotes with vulgar expressions, even if they only made it more embarrassing for her.

"Well, it's not like it was your fault. Between James and Hugo, there was no way you could have gotten out of that leg-binding jinx any faster than you did!" Scorpius was full-on chortling now, and it would have felt incredible had it not been for the pressure it put on his still sore stomach.

"Ugh, it was a traumatizing experience," Lily said, shaking her head in remembrance. "But I suppose in the long run, it was for the best. That's how everybody started to know who I was, after all."

"Only second year, and you already ruled the school," Scorpius said admiringly. "You sure know how to make a story sound a lot cooler than it was."

"What can I say?" Lily asked confidently. "It's a talent."

"Yeah, like my cooking," Scorpius said sarcastically.

"Yes," Lily agreed. "That and my skill as a hairdresser," she added, grimacing at Scorpius's untidy 'do.

It seemed as though they had gone back to a humorous mood, but then the atmosphere changed again. Scorpius had tried, but Lily wasn't going to let this one go. "But honestly," she said after a moment of silence, "Why didn't you just spend your summer with us this year as well? I mean, I know your mum's out there, and I know you said that she's looking for you, but there's not exactly anywhere safer to be than under my dad's watch. And he's done nothing but worry about you all summer long."

"I know," Scorpius nodded. "But I was sort of told not to. And anyway, it would've been predictable." He was still being a little shady, but she'd just have to settle for it. This was as much as he could give for now.

"I suppose I understand," Lily nodded. "I mean, my dad went into hiding before the Battle of Hogwarts. At least I think that's what he said. I can't quite remember the whole story."

After another quiet moment, Lily added, "And anyway, at least school's starting soon. Things will go back to normal, and you'll be back home, right?" She ended her question with a chuckle, because she had heard Scorpius refer to Hogwarts as his true home many times before.

Scorpius froze at this. He had been waiting to tell her that he wouldn't be going back after all, but he didn't want to ruin tonight. Tonight had been perfect, from his first flight to this disgustingly delicious dinner, and he couldn't bear the thought of ending this day. And Lily seemed so content in their friendship; he didn't want that to change either. Even so, he needed to tell her, and it appeared that now was when she needed to know.

"Actually," Scorpius said softly. "I'm not going back."

"What?" Lily asked. She didn't sound angry or hurt, just surprised. She hadn't seen it coming, and so she didn't have a reaction prepared.

In order to break the silence, Scorpius repeated, "I'm not going back to Hogwarts. I'm going to stay here. And once I'm strong enough, I'm going to find my mother, and I'm going to make things right again."

For a moment, Scorpius just stared at Lily, waiting for her to say something. Surely, she would be angry with him. Surely, she would feel betrayed. Surely, she would try to convince him to change his mind. He waited for her to do any or all of those things, but she didn't. Instead, she just sat there, still and lifeless in her chair, until a tiny smile appeared on her lips.

It was not a cheerful grin, more like one of comprehension, with a dash of disappointment mixed in. Even so, it was much better than what Scorpius had anticipated. Still smiling, Lily said, "You know, I wish that I could hate you for doing this. But I think it's actually one of the reasons I like you so much." As Scorpius took in her words, he realized why it was that she hadn't told him to be careful, or not to do it. It was because she wouldn't have expected anything less of him. After all, had it still been five years ago on the day they met, he would have done the exact same thing, and Lily knew that.

Scorpius put a hand on Lily's, which was sitting comfortably atop the table, and squeezed it as he said, "Thank you. For not hating me." He was choosing not to mention the last thing she had said, because he wasn't sure what she had meant by it.

Before Lily could misinterpret Scorpius's gesture for more than it was, Scorpius left the table, bringing the dirty dishes to the kitchen sink to clean up. He did so in silence, with Lily still sitting at the table behind him. After he dried the dishes with a fresh towel and as he was putting them away, Scorpius opened one of the cupboards to find a curious item that wouldn't normally be stored in a magical tent, let alone its kitchen, of all places.

At first, Scorpius didn't know what it was, but as he looked more closely at the old, rectangular object with a foam-like exterior, he thought he recognized it. Though they were normally used by Muggles, witches and wizards often bought radios to tune into Quidditch matches when they couldn't attend them in person. Fumbling with the dials on the front side, eventually Scorpius managed to get some noise out of the box. Granted, it was only a horrendous static, but after tuning it some more, an actual song had broken through. The melody was slow but calming, and as Scorpius listened to it, he was struck with an idea.

Leaving the radio on the counter and turning back to Lily, who was looking up at him curiously but still had slightly saddened eyes, Scorpius walked over and held out his hand for her to take. She did just that, and after Scorpius pulled her to a standing position, he led her in a dance.

With their hands entwined, Scorpius and Lily moved across the tent's floor together. They went from one end to the other in just a couple of swings, and Lily laughed as Scorpius twirled her around, an effort to try and cheer her up. Toward the end of the song, they began to move more slowly, and Scorpius pulled Lily closer to him so that she could rest her chin on his shoulder.

"I can't come back tomorrow," Lily mumbled through his shirt. "I have to go to Diagon Alley with my family, and then Dad's coming back tomorrow night. He wants to be there to see us all off." This was her secret, and like Scorpius's previous one, she hadn't wanted to mention it in case it ruined their night together.

Instinctively though, Scorpius had already known it was their last night. Though he had done so subconsciously, that was why he had wanted to fly today, why she had brought so much more food than would have normally been necessary, and why he had tried to cook dinner for her. "I know," Scorpius said, but he wouldn't let Lily go just yet. They continued to dance in the moonlight of Scorpius's tiny, canvas tent in the middle of the woods.

Scorpius wasn't sure exactly what he felt at this moment. He knew that he cared about Lily, but he was fairly certain that his feelings for her were purely platonic. Still, Scorpius was grateful for everything she had done for him. He wouldn't be alive if she hadn't found him, and in just a little while she'd be gone again. The last thing Scorpius wanted to do was lead Lily on, and so he hoped that she would instead take their dance as a form of saying goodbye.

She seemed to understand this, and as the music ended and they broke apart, Lily gave Scorpius one last longing look, and then turned away. Just before she left, though, she said to Scorpius, "I know you may not think so, but this is all for some noble reason."

"'Some stupid noble reason'?" Scorpius asked from the other side of the tent.

Lily laughed and then replied with, "Noble. But not stupid."

Smiling, Scorpius stuffed his hands in his pockets and shrugged his shoulders. He wasn't good at taking compliments, but it was nice to finally have someone there to support him. "Goodbye, Lily," he finally said.

Laughing again, Lily leaned her head back and then turned around before giving a wave as she exited the tent and said, "See ya, Scorp."

Later that night, Scorpius slept. He didn't toss and turn. His body didn't shake and sweat. His eyes never opened. He slept, fully and completely slept.

Scorpius woke up to a day slightly less beautiful than the one before, but still a fine one in of itself. He had a brand new schedule for today, and he could already tell how hard it would be to complete. After all, saying goodbye to Lily had been bad enough. Saying goodbye to Rose, once and for all, was sure to be impossible.

After finishing off last night's loaf of bread, Scorpius headed over to his cot and pulled out a small, cardboard box that he had hidden beneath it. Taking the lid off, Scorpius unravelled the string that had been tied around all of Rose's letters. Then, one by one, he read them, soaking in her handwriting, her stories, her promises. When he got to the last one, and was reading the final paragraph, where Rose had told him that she was his, only his, and that she always would be, Scorpius began to cry. As the tears fell rapidly down his cheeks, he brought the letter to his nose and smelled it. That was it: the salty seawater that had captivated him five long years ago. He had been right; it still captivated him today.

Knowing that he was doing the right thing by going to see her, Scorpius put the letters away and walked outside. Just like he had yesterday, he took off his shirt and necklace and set them aside. Today though, he kept the ring, holding it in his teeth while he transformed. Then, with the ring held firmly in his beak, Scorpius took off, flying a steady, southwest heading, on his way to Ottery St. Catchpole.

It took him quite some time to reach his destination, but Scorpius didn't mind. Flying provided him with a good break from the rest of the world, and he was quickly becoming more accustomed to it with each and every flap of his wings. Eventually though, he spotted the familiar driftwood material that lined the Weasley house. The last time he had visited, he had been banished from the property. This time though, there was no chance of that happening, since he wasn't planning on showing his human form.

After circling above the roof a few times, Scorpius settled on the tree that was perched just outside Rose's bedroom window. It could be seen from above her dresser, and he was curious to find out if things were visible from both directions. As he landed on the strongest part of one of the larger branches, he took a moment to balance himself before clawing his way toward the end of the branch. Once there, he let himself take a look through the window.

Rose was inside. She was in the far corner of her room, curled up in a chair, reading a book. She had probably woken up not too long ago, and looked to be having a fairly relaxing morning, wearing nothing but shorts and a t-shirt, her hair pinned messily atop her head. As he watched her, Scorpius felt an instant rush of pain to his heart. He wanted to be sitting there with her, for he knew how perfectly their bodies moulded together. She fit inside his arms like she was a piece of him, one that had accidentally been ripped off when he was born.

Still, he had been the one to let her go. He refused to wish such things when he clearly didn't deserve them anymore. So instead of pitying himself, Scorpius just watched, waiting for Rose to notice him. With every slight movement, whether Rose was shifting in her chair or turning a page of her book, Scorpius felt a pang of excitement. He wanted her to notice him, and he was sure that she would, but he wondered how long it would take her.

Eventually, Rose looked away from her book and stretched her arms up above her head while yawning. As she was did so, her eyes caught onto the window, and Scorpius knew that she had spotted him. For a moment, Rose froze, and Scorpius decided that it was his turn to make a move. Softly, he pushed off the branch and hopped over to the windowsill, where he perched himself and gestured to the closed windowpane.

Following his request, Rose walked over to her window as if hypnotized, never taking her eyes off the incredible bird. Once she got to her dresser, she undid the hatch and slid the window open, giving Scorpius more room on the narrow sill.

Rose still staring at him, Scorpius looked back at her. It had been far too long since he had seen those bright blue eyes, and he could tell that Rose was thinking the same about his, which were one of the only parts of him that stayed the same when in both human and falcon form. Still, there was something different about Rose's. As Scorpius gained a closer look, he noticed that her eyes were slightly puffier than normal, and the patches of skin surrounding them were tainted a shade of crimson red. She looked as if she had been crying for weeks on end, the tears only stopping because she had no more left to be rid of.

At one point, Rose opened her mouth as if to say something, but Scorpius distracted her when he took the time to bow his head, nodding toward Rose's hand, which was hanging by her side. Again, she followed him, and brought her hand up to his beak, her palm open. Then, ever so gently, Scorpius leaned in and released the ring into her hand. He then moved his beak to the tips of her fingers and nudged them, clasping her hand shut.

Mystified, Rose didn't end up saying a single word. Instead, she kept all of her focus on maintaining eye contact with the bird, and Scorpius reciprocated. The two stared at each other for a while longer, and at this point, Scorpius was certain that Rose knew it was him. She had to.

Unfortunately, the moment was lost when a voice was heard calling Rose's name from downstairs. "Rosie!" yelled Ron. "We're leaving in five minutes!"

Of course, Scorpius thought. Rose and her family would be meeting the Potters in Diagon Alley today. It was tradition… a tradition that, not too long ago, Scorpius had also been a part of.

Rose sighed, her eyes instantly watering. Once again, Scorpius was struck with the desire to hold her, but he stopped himself from transfiguring right here and now. If he was serious about defeating Astoria, he needed to let Rose go. And since he knew that she wouldn't leave without him, he decided to leave for her.

Backing out from inside the room, Scorpius turned around, spread his wings, and took off. Then he was in the air, quickly flying farther and farther away from Rose, whose eyes he could feel searing into his back. He couldn't explain it, but somehow he was sure that she had found more tears after all.

As if on cue, it started raining soon after Scorpius had left. He couldn't help but think that Rose had conjured it upon him, and a part of him hoped that she had. After all, her love of rain was one of the many parts of Rose that Scorpius treasured. Even so, flying in it was a different story.

Scorpius's journey back was long and not exactly pleasant, pellets of water piercing into his feathers left, right, and center. It took him hours to reach Godric's Hollow, and once he got there, he was met with an unexpected visitor.

Panicked, Scorpius had nearly transfigured himself by the time he caught sight of the person sitting just outside the tent, clearly waiting for him. When he spotted him, he was quick to fly past and land behind a group of trees down the other side of the hill where he could transform. Once he had done so, he quickly marched back up to his tent, praying that the person he'd spotted hadn't just been an apparition.

"Harry," Scorpius stated when the familiar, father-like figure came into view, his scruffy black hair wet from the rain, and for once dressed in fairly casual clothes.

"Scorpius," Harry smiled upon seeing him.

Normally, Scorpius would have waited for Harry to say something more. He would have been reluctant to tell him too much, for he had been working hard all summer to keep both his location and circumstance a secret. Now, though, Scorpius was melancholic after seeing Rose, and exhausted after flying all the way here. He needed someone to take all the weight and responsibility off his shoulders, if only for a moment. That was why, without giving it any thought whatsoever, Scorpius ran up and hugged Harry, letting his arms wrap themselves around him as tightly as they possibly could.

After a short time, Harry let go of Scorpius and the two headed into the dry tent, where a serious conversation was due to ensue. Harry was the first to speak, and asked, "What are you doing out here?" He was already at the kitchen and had a pot of water boiling. It was almost as if he had been here before.

"I might ask you the same question," Scorpius said as he sat down, rubbing his arms frantically to keep his skin from freezing. "But I'll assume Lily told you where I was?"

Harry nodded. "She just wanted to make sure you were safe," he defended, sitting down across from Scorpius and handing him a cup of tea. After letting Scorpius take a sip to help him relax some, Harry pressed further, "Now what are you doing out here? Do you know how dangerous things are right now?"

"Of course I do," Scorpius answered, almost offended by Harry's accusation. "That's why I'm here."

Within seconds, Harry understood, and was rubbing his eyes in frustration. "That's what I was afraid of," he mumbled.

"So I assume you haven't found her, then?" Scorpius asked. He already knew the answer, but he wanted to hear it from Harry.

"No," Harry shook his head. "She's disappeared. I've been on her trail ever since the attack on the Creeveys', but she's long gone. I don't think she'll be showing herself again for a while."

"Good," Scorpius said genuinely. "I don't want her tearing any other lives apart. Not while I'm still too young."

Harry looked up at this. "So that's what you're planning on doing. Taking her down as soon as you turn seventeen?"

"What other choice do I have?" Scorpius asked. He was being defensive, but deep down he desperately wanted Harry to have an answer. He wanted Harry to tell him that there was another way, that this wasn't up to him, and that he could go back to school after all. He waited for that answer to come, but it didn't.

"You don't," Harry said. He was being honest in the only way he knew how. "You've been dragged into the middle of something much bigger than just you. You have to stop it. The only way you wouldn't have to is if you didn't care, and what kind of person would you be then?"

Thinking about it, Scorpius answered, "Actually, that might not be so bad." He couldn't help but think of Rose, and how much easier his life would be had he never fallen in love, and had he never have had to say goodbye.

"Would it really?" Harry asked, sensing Scorpius's desire. "I know how much it all hurts, Scorpius, trust me. But what about all the times when it doesn't? What about all the times when it only seems to make you stronger?"

This time, Scorpius thought of Lily, and how she'd helped him heal. He thought of Al, and how he'd been his friend even while feeling disappointed about being sorted into the wrong house. Finally, he thought of Rose once again, but instead of all the pain, he focused on the joy. He remembered their first kiss, after he had caught the snitch and during the year's first snowfall. He thought about their clearing, and the look on Rose's face when he had showed it to her for the first time. He realized just how many times she had been able to take his pain away, from telling him that she loved him, to the nights she had helped him sleep, to the end of the year, when she had proven his innocence in the trial. He changed his mind. Not having fallen in love with Rose would have been the worst possible life Scorpius could imagine.

"That's what I thought," Harry whispered upon seeing Scorpius's expression, one full of sudden realization. When Scorpius looked up at him reproachfully, Harry added, "Don't worry. It took me years to figure that out."

"But if I don't do this alone," Scorpius wondered, "I'm just putting everyone I care about in danger. Does it really make it okay to risk all of their lives just because I need a little help?"

"No," Harry replied firmly. "But that's not your decision to make."

Confused and waiting for an explanation, Scorpius listened intently when Harry continued. "Do you think Lily would have stopped visiting you even if you'd begged her to? Do you think I'd have stopped tracking Astoria if you'd ordered me away? The people you care about usually care about you back. I know it's not something that you're used to, but they're willing to risk their lives to save you, just like you're willing to risk yours to save them."

Scorpius knew that Harry was right. He hadn't even bothered to try to stop Lily, because he knew she'd never oblige. He would have tried to stop Harry if he'd had the chance, but there was no way Harry would have listened either. It had taken every possible lie Scorpius could think of to make Rose stop caring, and from what he'd seen today, it hadn't exactly worked.

Thinking about Rose and about what Harry had said, all of which was clearly coming from personal experience, Scorpius became curious to know something. Looking back at Harry, Scorpius asked, "Rose's mum, Hermione – what did she risk for you?" He'd always resented Ron for wanting to keep Rose from him, but Scorpius remembered the look in Ron's eyes from just a few weeks ago. He had just wanted to protect Rose, and it must have been because he knew how it felt to put someone in danger, and then nearly lose her.

Caught off guard, Harry took a moment to process Scorpius's question before responding, "We were on the run. I was searching for something that would help me defeat Voldemort, and Ron and Hermione had come with me. At one point, we were captured, the three of us, and taken to Malfoy Manor – your house."

Scorpius shivered. He had expected something extreme, but he hadn't realized that it had come from his family. No wonder Ron didn't like him.

"A woman named Bellatrix Lestrange, your great aunt actually, tortured Hermione," Harry continued. "We escaped eventually, but let's just say it left a mark. Ron's never forgotten it. Seeing you reminds him of that night. I've tried to explain that you're not like the rest of your family, that Draco wasn't even like his family, but Ron doesn't forgive easily. Plus, when it comes to Hermione, he'll do anything. He's never cared about anyone more than her, although from what I can tell, Rose stands a close second."

Scorpius nodded, taking it all in. He suddenly had a new-found respect for Ron, and for all that he had done to keep Rose safe. After all, Scorpius felt the same way about Rose as Ron did Hermione… compared to her, nothing else mattered.

Not knowing what else to say, Scorpius laid it all out on the table for Harry. "He wants to protect her. That's all I want as well. Ron told me that the best way of doing that was to stay away. How else can I do that if I don't decide to go at it alone? I'm not about to ask for somebody else's help without asking for hers."

"But that's exactly what I'm talking about," Harry said. "I tried to protect Hermione, but she refused to listen and ended up getting tortured. I tried to protect Ron, and a necklace nearly tore him to pieces. I tried to protect Ginny, but she fought her way through the battle anyway. I said my goodbyes to all of them, but they just kept coming back. It got to a point where I had to accept that it wasn't up to me. The decision belonged to all of them."

Scorpius nodded, and then asked Harry another question. "But I can't just go back to Hogwarts. Astoria will expect that. She could come and attack the whole school!"

"She could," Harry agreed. "But she'd need a lot of time beforehand to raise forces strong enough to even stand a chance against Hogwarts. And in the meantime, it's the safest place you can be."

Sensing the fear in Harry's voice, Scorpius asked, "How bad is it out there?" He had been trapped in his own little world for so long now, Scorpius didn't know much about the goings-on at the Ministry. Lily could have filled him in, but she wasn't as informed as Rose always was.

"It feels like it did the last time," Harry said solemnly. "We need to be prepared that things will get worse. And for that, you have to go back to school, Scorpius."

Understanding that Harry was warning Scorpius that he needed to have more training in order to defeat Astoria, Scorpius nodded. "Okay," he agreed. "I'll go back."

"And don't worry," Harry said. "I'll keep an eye on things out here in the real world. And just so you know, Ron and Hermione haven't stopped for a moment to spread the word. In fact, the one time I've seen Rose since I started tracking Astoria, the only thing she asked me about was if the Ministry's come up with a plan yet."

At this, Scorpius shook his head. Harry had just confirmed his suspicions that Rose hadn't given up on him after all. She was still fighting for him, just like she always had, regardless of how much of her heart he'd broken.

Interrupting Scorpius's thoughts, Harry suggested, "How about you come back with me and spend the night at the house? Trust me, I know how sick of this tent you must be by now."

Laughing, Scorpius said, "That's true, but no thanks. I kind of want to be alone on my last night out here. I'll meet you at the station in the morning." Honestly, as much as he wanted to tell Lily that he'd be going back after all, Scorpius just wanted to take the time to pack up his things and get himself fully ready to go back.

"All right, fair enough," Harry said as he stood up to leave. "I suppose I'll bring your books with me."

"You bought me this year's books, even though I didn't go to Diagon Alley with you?" Scorpius asked.

"I told you already, Scorp," Harry said, putting a hand on Scorpius's shoulder. "You can't just expect people to stop caring."

Scorpius smiled, and then Harry turned toward the opening of the tent and said, "They just keep coming back."

Confused, Scorpius followed Harry's gaze to find Lily peeking through the tent canvas, her head shivering from the rain. When she saw Scorpius, she stepped inside and turned quickly to her father, "I have to talk to him. It won't take long, I promise. Meet you back at home?"

"Sure," Harry nodded. He then looked back at Scorpius and said, "Have a nice night." Then he left, and Scorpius and Lily were alone in the humid tent, the sound of the rain outside growing louder with every drop.

Scorpius looked to Lily with hopeful eyes, but he didn't have a chance to say anything before Lily spat out, "I know. I know how angry you are, but I couldn't help it! I get that you're trying to do the right thing, but I was worried about you. You were nearly dead when I found you out here, and you were planning to just go back to being alone. I couldn't let you do that without telling someone where you are. I had to know that you'd be safe." She was rambling, talking much faster than normal, and she wouldn't take her eyes off Scorpius.

"I know," Scorpius nodded, trying to get her to calm down. It didn't work, though, she was far too rattled up to hear him.

"I was at Diagon Alley all day, and everybody noticed that you weren't there," Lily went on. "They were all asking about you, and I was the only one who could have answered them. It was driving me crazy not to, and then by the time I came home, Dad was there, and he was yelling at James for some petty, stupid reason, and all I could think about was how ridiculous I'd been for not telling anyone about you before. I thought I could handle it, because I can handle everything, but I've heard Hugo's stories. I know how dangerous Astoria is, and when I saw my dad, I realized how worried I'd been about him. And then I realized how worried I'd be about you."

Scorpius didn't say anything this time. He was just going to wait it out, in hopes that Lily would grow too tired to keep speaking, and start listening to what he had to say instead.

"I know you may not care about yourself," she said. "I know you may not care that you nearly died only a few weeks ago. I know you may not care when you keep hurting yourself now. I know you don't care about anything now that you and Rose are over."

Scorpius, who had been staring at the ground in patience, turned to Lily now. It had been the first time that either of them had fully caved, and it felt odd to have it out in the open. Lily knew that Scorpius and Rose were over. Scorpius had suspected such, but it felt different to hear it out loud. He wanted to ask just how much she knew, but again he wasn't given the chance.

"I know that you think that hurting yourself will make it easier to be without her," Lily continued. She seemed to think that all of Scorpius's injuries were self-induced, and that he had been purposely hurting himself to distract him from the pain he was feeling over Rose. Now that Scorpius considered it, Lily's theory wasn't exactly that far off from the truth.

Finally, Lily began to slow down her word speed and kept her eyes locked on Scorpius as she finished. "I know you don't care, Scorpius. But I do care. I always have."

It was the first time that Scorpius had ever seen Lily look genuinely nervous. She had been scared when she'd found him, but she had still been in control. Now, she had handed over that control, and she seemed lost without it.

Scorpius wanted to say something, as he had been waiting to do so ever since Lily had stepped inside, but for some reason he was silent. He had always suspected that Lily had had a crush on him, but he had never considered how he would handle it if she confessed.

Slowly but confidently walking toward him, Lily said quietly, "I know you're not coming back to Hogwarts, and I would never ask you to. But as odd as it may seem, these past few weeks have been the best of my life, and saying goodbye to you last night just wasn't enough. I want to give something to you, something that you can remember me by."

As she came ever closer to Scorpius, he grew all the more still. He knew where this was going by now, and he knew that he should stop it. Even so, his mind cried out for companionship and his body cried out for hers. It wasn't until Lily's face was only a few inches from his that Scorpius backed away, holding up his hands to stop her.

Lily was shocked and looked as if she had just been brutally betrayed as Scorpius said, "I'm sorry Lily, but I can't." He didn't want to hurt her, and so he tried to explain, "I like you, you know that. And I appreciate everything that you've done for me. And I do care. I care about myself, and I care about you. I'm sorry if I ever led you on, but I just don't feel that way about you. I think you know why."

"Say it anyway," Lily ordered. She didn't look sad really, just angry. Having been born with the most famous name in the wizarding world, Lily had had to work hard to be her own person, and she had never accepted second best. "Just please, tell me why it can't be me."

Scorpius didn't want to, but he followed her orders. He had always liked the funny, wild Lily, rather than the intimidating one. The intimidating Lily was difficult to befriend, for it was almost impossible not to feel inferior to her. Falling under that exact spell, Scorpius said, "Because I still love Rose."

It was the first time he had fully said her name since he'd sent Rose his last letter, and an incredible jab to his heart accompanied it. With Lily remaining silent, not crying but rather growing redder with rage, Scorpius had nothing else to feel but all the pain he had built up from missing Rose. He had been so opposed to letting any of it in, but now it was all just bubbling to the surface. What would he say to her when he saw her tomorrow? How would he explain what he did, and why he'd done it? How could he ever earn her forgiveness?

Remembering what he had yet to tell Lily, Scorpius stated numbly, "I've decided to go back to Hogwarts."

At that, Lily's gaze broke and she focused on Scorpius, but before either could speak, a popping noise was heard outside. At first, Scorpius thought it might be thunder, but this was smaller than that, and had come from extremely nearby. Both of them walking to the opening of the tent, Scorpius and Lily were just about to step outside when Rose appeared, sopping wet and practically shaking.

"Scorpius," Rose breathed. She was dressed differently than she had been that morning, with wet pants and a soaking, striped sweater. She didn't seem to notice any of that though, and neither did Scorpius.

"Rose," he breathed, and this time, when he said her name, the pain he had felt from the time before was fully plugged, and all he felt was relief.

Then Lily coughed to gain their attention, letting them know that she was still there. Scorpius ignored the sound, but Rose turned toward her. Then, confused to see that Scorpius wasn't alone, Rose looked back at Scorpius, and continued to glance between the two of them in an attempt to gain some answers.

Unfortunately, Scorpius had gone speechless, and couldn't focus on anything but the red around Rose's eyes. He kept thinking that it was he who had caused that, and he wished that, like she had done for the dirt on his nose, he could just rub it away.

When Scorpius didn't speak, and when Lily put a lying smirk on her face, Rose read things in the entirely wrong way. In less than a moment, she was crying, but the rain disguised it well. Then she was leaving, and running through the woods in any direction she could go. Scorpius was running after her, having left Lily in the tent without so much as a yell of fury, and kept calling out Rose's name.

It wouldn't work. She would never hear him through the downpour, and he would never see her through it. It was like all their senses had been taken from them by some crude joke, just like what always happened in Scorpius's nightmare. He was left in the middle of nowhere, darkness surrounding him and eating him alive. If the open, freeing skies were heaven, then surely this was hell. Scorpius couldn't have explained what had just happened, but of one thing he was certain: this place, this moment, was anything but peaceful.

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