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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7. Out of Desire

The library was cold. Winter seemed to be well on its way now that November was here, and normally Rose would be very happy about that. She had always loved the snow, and the way it blanketed the castle from December through February. November also brought with it the first Quidditch match of the season, and arguably the most exciting one of the year: Gryffindor vs. Slytherin. Rose would normally be excited about this as well, but she and Scorpius hadn't been on good terms for weeks now, and even Albus had been fairly upset with her.

He claimed that Rose had taken things one step too far with Lysander, just as he had warned her about beforehand. Luckily, he gave her the benefit of the doubt and allowed Rose to explain what had happened, and that there was no way she could have seen Lysander's kiss coming. Once Al understood, he was back on her side, but Scorpius hadn't been so forgiving.

Rose had been trying to approach him every chance she got, but he would always make some excuse and then walk away. She didn't blame him for doing so; she knew she had scared him off. Even so, she wanted to talk to him, or rather, she needed to talk to him.

On the other hand, the one person she never wanted to speak to again had been on her tail nearly everyday. Lysander was constantly coming up to Rose: in hallways between classes, in the Great Hall for meals, on the Quidditch pitch during practice. He had even tried to corner her up on the seventh floor as she was heading to Gryffindor tower to go to bed. She tried to ignore him as he practically begged for forgiveness, but it was becoming increasingly difficult. He seemed to be enjoying the chase.

This was why Rose had been spending so much time in the library lately. It was her favorite part of Hogwarts anyway, but it also happened to be the type of place Lysander would never go, even if he knew Rose was there. Still, she wasn't completely alone.

Rose had bumped into Nigel Creevey over in the Reference section a few days back. Unbeknownst to Rose, Nigel was very interested in the study of wandlore, and had become curious about the repairing of wands after Ron had given Hugo's wand back, good as new thanks to Albus.

"It just seems strange, don't you think?" Nigel had said to Rose upon running into her. "I mean, from all that I've read, when the core of a wand breaks it's nearly impossible to repair, no matter how strong the wizard."

Rose hadn't given this much thought beforehand, as she was happy to see Al so proud of himself afterward. Plus, she figured she had enough mysteries to solve as it was. Unfortunately, her and Al's ideas about Filch's murder had been put on hold during their short fight, and they hadn't had much of a chance to bring it up since.

When Nigel filled her in, though, she agreed that this wand mystery was in fact very strange as well. From then on, Rose had been meeting Nigel in the library everyday to help him look for more information. Neither of them knew exactly what to look for, and Madam Pince, the very old and disgruntled librarian, was no help, since she was even more on edge than usual, grieving over Filch's death.

The two spent most of their time searching for information on wand repair, but this was getting them nowhere. Somewhere in the middle of all this, they had also started talking about Hugo himself, whom Nigel seemed extremely fond of.

On this cold day in mid-November, Rose and Nigel sat by one of the large fireplaces in the library, each of them with a book open on their laps. They were continuing to sort through a pile of reference books, but had given up for the day after sifting through them for an hour or so.

"He's smarter than he gives himself credit for, you know," Nigel said, referring to his best friend of course. "I just wish he wouldn't see it as such a bad thing."

Rose knew this about Hugo already. He was always trying to hide it, but often tried too hard, pretending to forget which classes he had signed up for or simply abandoning his homework for no good reason. He wanted to be just like his father, so he ignored the Granger side of him.

"He'll come around," Rose said. "I think that's one of those things he has to figure out for himself first."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right," Nigel answered, looking disappointed.

"You really care about him," Rose stated. "Even with the way he treats you sometimes."

Another part of Hugo that he didn't like to admit to was his sensitive side. Just as Rose had seen in Lysander, Hugo didn't seem to realize that other people had emotions too. Unfortunately for shy, timid Nigel, Hugo bullied him more than anybody else.

"Yeah, he's my best friend," Nigel said. "I mean, he's got Lily and Roxanne, but they're pretty preoccupied with their own lives. And I know how rude he can be, but he doesn't really mean it. He's just a kid."

"So are you," Rose said with a chuckle. Nigel was very composed for a thirteen year-old, and it didn't take a genius to see why.

"I've seen just how mean people can be, and I know how much it can hurt to feel left out. I'm not exactly the most popular person myself, and Hugo is, but he doesn't care. He lets me in anyway."

"Colin never had it easy, did he?" Rose asked. She knew it had been hard for Nigel to watch the fall-out of his brother, and to see him have to go back home just because people weren't willing to accept him, or believe him.

"Not really, but he's alright. I heard Hagrid's been fighting to get him back?" Nigel wondered.

"Yeah, he is," Rose answered. "He knows he's innocent, and Hagrid just so happens to have a heart that's twice as big as it should be."

Nigel laughed at this and the conversation came to an end when Madam Pince informed him and Rose that it was 8:00, so the library was closing. At that, the two walked back to Gryffindor Tower together.

Once inside, Nigel took off to his dormitory and Rose stayed behind in the common room. She took a seat next to James on one of the couches. Lily was on his opposite side, and on the other sofa were both Finnigan girls and Sam Thomas. Fred was kneeling on the floor in front of them, clapping and cheering as Lila Jordan, who stood in the middle of the group, announced that Fred had just knocked Vincent Goyle off his broom with a bludger.

"Hey," James whispered. "Glad you could make it."

"Was I supposed to be here?" Rose asked in confusion.

James laughed. "Not technically," he said. "But this seems to have turned into an informal team meeting. Lila's going to be the new announcer this year, and Fred wanted us all to hear her practice."

"Oh right," Rose said. "Well there is a big game coming up. You think she's ready, Captain?"

"Well, she's been going on for a while now, and I apparently haven't caught the snitch yet, so I'd say she still has a few things to learn," James boasted.

"How are you so sure of yourself all the time?" Rose asked. "You know just as well as I do that Scorpius is the only Hogwarts Seeker who could ever give you a run for your money, and he's been practicing wicked hard lately."

"He doesn't have a bloody chance," James seethed as Lila announced a goal made by Albus Potter.

"Hey!" Rose turned back to Lila and the rest of the group. "There's no way he could've gotten past me!"

"Actually he probably could have," Lily stated matter-of-factly. "You seemed pretty distracted."

Rose ignored her fellow redhead. Lily always knew the gossip at Hogwarts, so Rose was sure she had heard about what Scorpius had seen going on with her and Lysander. She couldn't have been very happy about it.

Sitting back again and turning to James, she said, "I wouldn't underestimate him." After seeing how Scorpius had conjured his Patronus before, she couldn't help but add, "He's got some impressive determination."

"Don't worry, Rose, I'm sure I can handle it," James said, looking annoyed.

Rose nodded, silently apologizing to James. He then patted her on the back before getting up and leading one of the Finnigan girls upstairs.

Lila had just announced that James had caught the snitch and Gryffindor had won, and the whole team was cheering. Now, Fred was hugging Lila with pride and excitement while Sam and Cassidy shared a celebratory kiss. Back on Rose's couch, Lily gave her one last glare before stalking off. Rose didn't stay much longer before she herself set off to bed for another lonely night.

The next day, Friday, was unbearably slow. It was the day before the Quidditch match, and on top of that, Rose had History of Magic with the Hufflepuffs first period, and it was easily the dullest subject of all. This was followed by Care of Magical Creatures, which was slightly more interesting, but Hagrid was still upset about Colin, so his normal excitement was somewhat diluted.

Rose was relieved when lunch arrived, until she showed up at her normal table to find only Scorpius; Al must have gone off somewhere. Hesitantly taking the seat across from him, she whispered, "Hi".

Scorpius looked up from his book on Quidditch skills, but immediately looked back down upon seeing Rose.

"Would you at least let me explain?" she asked, snatching his book from under him.

"Could you give me my book back please?" he asked quietly, completely ignoring her previous question.

Rose sighed but held on to his book. "Fine. Don't listen to me. Talk to me. What's going on with you?" She thought that there might be something else that was bothering him, other than what he had seen between her and Lysander.

Scorpius still didn't say anything, but Rose wouldn't give up so easily. "Scorp, come on," she said. "It's just talking."

Scorpius squinted at the idea of divulging his feelings, but Rose waited nonetheless. Eventually, he gave in and explained, "For as long as I've been at this school, for as long as James has been the Gryffindor Seeker, Slytherin's never won a match against you guys."

"And you're team captain now, so if you lose it's on you. And you don't want to let them down," Rose finished for him when he started to trail off. She was happy that they were finally speaking, even if they hadn't yet addressed anything.

Scorpius gave Rose a small nod, and she asked, "Is that why you're reading this?" She held up the book she had been withholding from him.

He nodded again and Rose said, "Look, I love books, and you know that. But Scorpius, you know what you have to do. You don't need a book to tell you."

Scorpius smirked and asked, "Why are you telling me this, Rose? You're on the other team, and we both know you want to win just as badly as I do."

"Of course I do," Rose said with a smile. "But I also believe in you. I know that at your best, you're just as good as James, and miles ahead of any other Seeker. Plus, it wouldn't really feel like winning if there was no competition in the first place."

Scorpius took a moment to take in her words. Then he mumbled quietly, "I just feel like this is the only thing I've got left."

As he said the words, Rose could feel her heart start to ache a little. Scorpius hadn't been willing to talk about what had happened at home in early summer, but it had obviously taken its toll. He was slowly being torn apart, and this whole year Rose had just been tearing harder. She knew that now, and just wished that she could find a way to glue him back together.

"You know that's not true," she replied, her voice breaking as she said it.

Slowly, he turned straight to her, and their eyes locked. Rose would have held on to the moment forever if she could, but Scorpius's eyes caught onto something else that was just above where Rose sat.

Scorpius was squinting up at the person, and sighed heavily before covering his face and mumbling, "Oh, bloody hell".

Rose turned around to find a Ravenclaw girl whom she didn't recognize looking down at her. The girl had Asian-looking features, including long black hair that had been tied into two braided pigtails.

"Hi," she said, Rose noticing her strange accent. "I was just wondering if y'all knew where Albus was? Albus Potter?"

Hearing more, Rose recognized her accent as a southern one. It was something she rarely heard living in England, but her father had done some impressions of it over the years, especially when he had to go on trips to America for work.

Rose turned back to Scorpius quickly to see that he still had his face buried beneath his hands. He seemed to know who the girl was, but apparently didn't like her very much.

"Um, sorry, but who are you?" Rose asked, looking back up at the girl in front of her.

"Oh, well I'm Abby Chang, y'all!" she announced excitedly. "Abigail Chang-Turner to be more precise. I transferred here from Tennessee. Uh, I'm a fourth year."

Rose was exhausted from just listening to Abby, she had so much energy. Behind her, Scorpius was groaning loudly, apparently not concerned with being discreet.

"It's nice to meet you Abby," Rose said, to be polite. "I'm Rose, Rose Weasley."

Suddenly Abby's face went blank and her eyes doubled in size. "Weasley? My goodness, people at Hogwarts sure are famous!" she exclaimed, once her face had thawed off a bit.

Rose chuckled sarcastically and once again looked to Scorpius. This time, she coughed at him for help, and he lowered his hands from his face and made a large gulp. He then looked up at Abby and said, "Al's at the Owlery."

"Oh, right," Abby said, as if she had forgotten what she had asked them in the first place. "Well thank you so much! I better get going then…"

"Yeah, you do that," Scorpius mumbled under his breath as she walked away.

Rose turned back to him and suddenly started bursting with laughter, and he joined her. It was the type of moment they hadn't shared in a while, and Rose realized now how much she had missed that. Once the cackling subsided, Rose asked, "What was all that?"

Scorpius shook his head and sighed again, before saying, "Al and I bumped into her at our last practice. Ly…" He paused at the task of saying Lysander's full name. He was Captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, but that wasn't the problem.

Rose was about to try and apologize again, but decided against it. Instead, she just provided Scorpius with an alternative way to explain himself. "The Ravenclaw team," she suggested.

Scorpius looked up and gave a small, grateful smile before going on. "Right, well they wanted the field to start training their new Seeker."

"She's a Seeker?" Rose asked in complete shock. Seekers tended to be quick, agile, and focused, all three of which the southern belle clearly lacked.

"It gets better," Scorpius said. "She seems to have a little thing for Al."

Rose nearly spat out her pumpkin juice upon hearing this. "You can't be serious?" she asked after the coast was clear.

"I really wish I wasn't," Scorpius said. They both shook their heads then, thinking of how ridiculous it all was. Albus was so calm and collected, self-conscious at times, yet powerful. He couldn't possibly see anything in this girly, energetic, and dim-witted broad.

The two continued to joke about the prospective couple for the rest of their lunch hour, and Al still hadn't joined them when they set off for the dungeons (they had Potions class next).

They did, however, run into Lysander, an unfortunate turn to the time they were enjoying together. "Rose! How are you?" he had said, running up to her in the hallway. He hadn't noticed Scorpius standing next to her, but luckily Scorpius didn't try to run off.

"Lysander!" Rose yelled, done with ignoring him. She needed it to be completely over between them. She knew that now it was unlikely that Scorpius would ever admit to feeling anything more for her, but Rose was determined to be okay with that. What she couldn't live without, however, was her best friend. She needed to be able to laugh the way she just had on a regular basis.

"Look," Rose stated clearly, looking straight at Lysander, while at the same time hoping that Scorpius heard every word. "It's over, alright? Done. You made sure of that."

"Rose, please!" Lysander said, the same reaction he had had when she had tried to end it before.

"No, Lysander," she replied. "It's done. So just stop, okay?" Then she turned around and walked away, not waiting for him to come up with another excuse.

Scorpius was close behind her, but he kept quiet. When they got into the Potions classroom, they took their normal seats near the middle of the room. Al was already there and was reading through a letter he held in his hands.

"What's that?" Rose asked, sitting next to him. Scorpius was on her other side, and Al noted their proximity to each other, to which Rose responded with a smile and a look that said,'I'll explain later'.

"Uh, it's nothing," Al answered Rose. "Just a letter from home that's all, wishing us all good luck tomorrow."

Rose nodded and said, "It must be hard having kids on two different teams."

"Well, it's only the one match though," Al said.

Then, curious to hear from Al's perspective, Rose couldn't help but ask, "So Al, we um ran into Abby… Abby Chang, I think it was. Was she able to find you?"

Scorpius leaned forward at this, also curious, and Al could sense their judging tones. Even so, he answered honestly. "Yes," he said, "As a matter of fact, I was talking to her in the courtyard nearly all of lunch."

"You were talking?" Scorpius asked sarcastically. "So it was an actual conversation, with two sides and everything?"

Rose bit her lip to keep from laughing at Scorpius, who had just asked the exact same question she had been thinking of herself.

"Oh, shut it," Al addressed both of them. "You're both just jealous that I'm finally getting some sort of attention while you two sit here and pine over each other."

Rose and Scorpius looked to each other quickly before turning down to their desks in embarrassment, Scorpius running a nervous hand through his hair. It was normal for the three of them to tease each other, but Al wouldn't usually be so blunt. It seemed that Rose's recent plotting and Scorpius's brooding had gotten under Al's skin more than either of them had realized.

After waiting to let the awkward moment settle, Rose said quietly, "She just seems a little crazy, that's all."

Albus sighed with exasperation but didn't get the chance to respond. Professor Pontner, who was small and very sweet, had just come out of her office, signaling the start of class.

"Please open your books to the chapter on truth serums. Now, most of these are N.E.W.T. level, so I don't want you to fuss too much over actually making them. However, it is very important to know about each as well as their antidotes," she explained. "So, who can tell me something about the truth potion, Veritaserum?"

Rose, as per normal, shot up her hand, but Professor Pontner called on Albus instead. He was wrong about what he had said before; he seemed to be getting plenty of attention lately.

"Uh, well," Al began, "It's the most powerful truth serum there is, which basically means that it will force the drinker to tell the truth at all times. It's also colorless and odorless, so it's often mistaken for plain water."

"Very good, Mr. Potter. Five points for Slytherin, and I'm sure you'll be able to produce a fabulous brew one day," Professor Pontner said.

As the professor started walking to the back of the class, Scorpius muttered, "Not that you'd need a truth serum. I'm sure little Abby would never hurt a fly, and never tell a lie."

Rose laughed and then added, "You know, I bet she's already bought a love potion to use on you."

Al then clenched his teeth and said to them, "I really want to hit you two right now," before they all burst into laughter yet again.

When Rose woke the next day, Saturday, all of Gryffindor Tower was cheering and singing. Everybody was getting dressed into either their Quidditch robes or anything that was red and gold. As she toppled down the stairs, she could make out their songs, all various chants intended to show off house spirit. Today was a big day, not just for the players, or even the two houses competing, but for the entire school.

Everybody would go to watch the match, including the rest of Gryffindor and Slytherin, all decked out in their house colors, as well as all of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, cheering for whichever house they preferred (normally Gryffindor), along with the entire school staff. Flying above a crowd so large and so loud was always a little daunting for Rose, but there was also nothing else like it.

"Rose, meet you on the field in twenty minutes!" James called at her as she was exiting through the portrait hole. Both of them were already in their robes and Rose had her arms full of her Keeper pads. She waved back to him as she left, on her way to meet Al and Scorpius in the Great Hall for breakfast.

Walking into the hall, Rose was bombarded by other Gryffindors who were coming up and wishing her luck. Nigel approached wearing an enormous hat in the shape of a lion head, and gave her an equally large and surprising hug. Hugo, right beside him, merely threatened Rose, informing her that he had bet a load of money that Gryffindor would win today, and that she better not let him down.

Once past the fans, she sat down next to Scorpius and across from Albus. They both had their robes on, Scorpius with his special Seeker goggles that protected against the wind. He was looking down at his plate of eggs with a queasy expression, and was swallowing hard.

"Scorp, you're going to be fine," Al was saying, waving to Rose as she took her seat and began eating a piece of toast.

Scorpius stayed frozen, and Rose put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Scorpius, just remember what I said. You can do this."

He nodded but still looked nervous. Leaning closer to him, Rose whispered, "If it helps, James is just as on edge as you are." She wasn't lying; James was acting over-confidently, almost as if he was paranoid.

"Yeah, that does help a little, actually," Scorpius said. "Thanks."

Rose smiled in response. Scorpius still didn't eat anything, but Rose didn't blame him. In less than an hour, he'd by flying atop the field at speeds so fast an airplane could barely catch him, so having a full stomach might not be the greatest idea in the first place.

A few minutes later, the Hall was once again filled with owls, flying in for the weekly mail drop-off. Rose looked up for Pigwidgeon, but couldn't see him anywhere. Sure enough, she soon felt a small thump against her back and turned around to find the tiny owl lying on the floor below her, a small envelope nearly choking him to death.

She took it from him quickly before he flew off to see Hugo. The letter was from her parents of course; they too were wishing her luck, her father writing that he wished he could be there to see her play.

Once most of the owls had come and gone, one last bird came in through the hatch near the top of the hall. It was one of the Hogwarts barn owls that delivered letters to and from kids who didn't have owls of their own, and this one was carrying a very large and cumbersome-looking package that was wrapped in newspaper.

As it flew above the tables, people started pointing up to it and wondering what it was carrying, or whom it was for. It slowly descended atop Rose's table and made a final stop in front of Scorpius, where it released the package from its beak, bowed, and then flew off again.

A horde of students had already gathered around, curious. Scorpius was just as shocked as they all were, as he hardly ever received letters, let alone large items. This one was relatively oblong in shape, and was quite long and narrow. With the help of Rose and Albus, Scorpius started to tear the newspaper off of it.

Once unwrapped, everybody gaped in amazement over the beautiful, perfectly new broomstick that sat on the table. It was silver and green, already polished in Slytherin colors, and Rose immediately recognized it as the one she had seen in Diagon Alley: the Falcon Flyer.

Scorpius was speechless, but Al just laughed and said, "You've got to be kidding me." Rose didn't blame him for saying such a thing. After all, what were the odds of Scorpius receiving a package, after so many years of never getting anything, that just happened to be the fastest and most expensive broom in the world, on the day of his biggest Quidditch match of the season?

"Who's it from?" Rose asked, ignoring the 'oohs' and 'awws' coming from the other kids behind her.

Scorpius, waking up from his daydream, started looking it over, but didn't find anything. "There's no letter."

"Are you going to use it? Today, I mean?" Al asked, sounding hopeful. It was a bit risky to fly on a brand new broom during a match, as the player wouldn't be used to it. Still, it might be the type of risk that could really pay off.

"I think I have to," Scorpius said. He then stood from his spot, picked up the broom, and turned around, ready to go try it out. He was about to walk away when he saw everybody standing and staring at him, James in the forefront of the crowd.

"Is that really a Falcon Flyer?" James asked. He flew on a Firebolt just like his father had, but he knew the Flyer was even faster.

Scorpius smirked, nodded his head, and then said, "Yeah, it really is." He then pushed his way through everybody who was still trying to sneak a peek at the broom, before turning back toward James and saying, "Oh, and good luck today."

Al stood up and ran over to follow Scorpius out before James turned to Rose and said angrily, "And what are you doing here?"

"James, relax, I was just having breakfast," Rose said, trying to get him to calm down. He was fuming already, and she knew that wouldn't help him when he got out on the field.

"No, you were fraternizing with the enemy!" he yelled. Everybody looked over at him, and the rest of the Gryffindor team had gathered around him and Rose, looking over to their captain reproachfully.

"The enemy?" Rose asked, turning protective over her friends now. "James, Slytherin is our opponent, but they're not the enemy."

One of the Finnigan girls had come closer to him, and now had a hand on his shoulder. He just shrugged her off before heading out of the hall, his teammates right behind.

Rose sighed heavily and stood up, catching up to the back of the group. "You'd better make some good shots today," she said to Lily, who looked confident about the game, yet slightly petrified of her brother. "We're going to need them."

"Yeah," Lily said. "And you better not let anybody else do the same."

"Deal," Rose agreed as they walked through the double doors that led out of the castle. Their team might have been slightly broken, but they would still be giving it their all.

Once on the pitch, Rose flew up and took her place in front of the three goal posts. It was a nice day, not too cold, but clouds were beginning to form above them all, and Rose could tell that rain was imminent.

Across the field was fellow Slytherin Keeper, Lindsay Doyle. She was a 4th year, and it was her second season on the Quidditch team. She hadn't been very good last fall, but Rose didn't count her out. Still, she thought that Lily and the Finnigan girls, Gryffindor's three Chasers, might have a good chance of scoring relatively often.

In the middle of the field, the rest of the players were sitting motionless on their brooms, all having formed a large circle above where the Quidditch teacher stood on the ground, quaffle in hand. The snitch and both bludgers had already been released, and Rose could just make out James and Scorpius eyeing each other while at the same time trying to follow the snitch's quick and unpredictable movements.

Scorpius was on his new broom, and looked very comfortable with it already. It seemed to have given him a large dose of much-needed confidence, which Rose was happy about.

Around all of them, enormous crowds were packed into the stands, cheering. There were definitely more Gryffindor fans than Slytherin ones, as nearly three quarters of the stands were showing off their red and gold umbrellas already. Up high in Professor McGonagall's box, Lila Jordan was standing next to the magical scoreboard and microphone. She had just announced the players of each team and was now waiting, along with everybody else, for the match to begin.

Then, the familiar starting whistle was heard, and Rose turned back to the field just in time to see the quaffle fly into the air. As soon as it did so, Scorpius and James took off in opposite directions, both flying high above the field to start scouting for the snitch, which they had lost sight of from the time of its release. Fred and Sam, the two Gryffindor Beaters, each flew to one side of the field, creating a wall around the Chasers in the middle.

One of the Finnigan girls had caught the quaffle, and was passing it back and forth between herself and her sister as they made their way across the field. Rose kept her eye on them, since she knew Al could get the ball from them at any second.

Lily had flown behind the Slytherin goal posts, and it was clear that she was waiting for the quaffle to be passed. Just as Sam knocked a bludger at Goyle, who had been making his way over to Fred, one of the Finnigan sisters passed the quaffle over to Lily. The youngest Potter then flew around the posts, confusing Lindsay, and hit it directly through the top ring.

"And GRYFFINDOR starts off the scoring with ten points, a goal made by one of their new team members, Lily Potter!" Lila called out from her box, but Rose tried to ignore it, since Al had flown behind the goal post just as Lily had scored, and was now flying toward Rose with the quaffle buried under his shoulder.

"Albus Potter for Slytherin with the quaffle now. He's being protected on both sides by his fellow Chasers, and just dodged another bludger hit by Gryffindor player, Fred Weasley," Lila continued to announce. "He's making his way over to the Gryffindor posts now."

Al was headed straight for Rose, who was directly in front of the top post. She knew this trick, though; Al had played it before. He looked ahead deliberately to try to keep her from moving, but then he'd always swerve slightly to the right before he actually threw the ball. Sure enough, just as he was getting closer, he swerved and threw the quaffle toward the lower right post. Unfortunately for him, Rose got there just in time to throw the red ball right back at him, where a Finnigan girl was ready to intercept and take it for her own.

"And Gryffindor Keeper, Rose Weasley, makes an impressive save from a near-goal by Slytherin. Now with the quaffle is Cassidy Finnigan for Gryffindor!"

Rose sighed with relief once the team started heading back to the Slytherin side of the field. The trio of Chasers were using a different play this time, with Cassidy forcing her way through the Slytherin boys and keeping the quaffle to herself. Once near the posts, she threw the ball toward the lower left hoop, but Lindsay was able to block it this time. Gryffindor was prepared for this, though, with Lily waiting and ready for the rebound.

Once she had the quaffle, Lily only waited a moment before making a huge throw to the opposite ring. It was a risk, since the ball had enough time in the air for somebody from Slytherin to snatch it away, but it was also too far away to give Lindsay enough time to get to it.

It paid off, since even though Rose couldn't see the outcome for herself, with too many players blocking her view, she could hear Lila yell out, "And another ten points forGRYFFINDOR, as Lily Potter scores yet again! It's twenty to nothing now, Slytherin having yet to score."

Rose got ready for another try from Slytherin now. A different Chaser had the ball this time, and Al was off trying to block Lily from getting it back. Rose was well prepared as he flew toward her, but she ended up not needing to be, as James zoomed right in front of him then, causing him to fly straight into a side tower, where he fell off his broom and toppled to the ground.

Everybody in the crowd screamed with shock at the early injury, and Rose looked down to see the boy lying completely still; he would be out for the rest of the match. Gryffindor had the quaffle again, and they were able to score easily with Lindsay so distracted.

Meanwhile, James and Scorpius were flying all across the field after the snitch, making it even more difficult for Rose to see who was coming her way. As Al and his fellow Chaser came closer, however, she noticed that neither of them had the quaffle. Instead, it was flying in the air above them, probably having been hit 'accidentally' by a Beater. Rose was heading over to block it from going through the tallest hoop, but was cut off by a bludger headed straight for her. She had no choice but to swerve away from it and let the quaffle in.

"SLYTHERIN now officially on the board with ten points! Gryffindor is still leading the way with thirty."

Behind Rose, Lily already had the quaffle back and was headed through the crowd. Sam, who was clearly angry about the bludger, was making his way over to Rose, where he hit the small, dark ball with his bat and it went all across the field. Goyle flew up to it then and hit it back down, where it banged Fred on the shoulder. Losing his balance, Fred swayed off his broom and nearly fell, but was caught by Sam, who had already shot the bludger back to Goyle. Flying together now, with Fred's arm hanging across Sam's shoulders, the Gryffindor beaters were getting ever closer to the goal posts, where a Finnigan girl had just scored. When the bludger made its way back to them, Sam used his one free arm to hit it directly at Lindsay, who got it straight in the gut.

The Slytherin Keeper was on the ground now, marking the third injury and second fall of the match. Rose felt terrible for her, as she must have been in great pain, but couldn't help but feel slightly happy, knowing that Gryffindor would have no trouble scoring for the rest of the match.

It was just starting to rain then, and was pouring before long. The grass below all the players was completely soaked in no time, but the game kept going. If anything, the rain just made it more exciting, with it harder to see and to fly with everybody's equipment so slippery.

The two Slytherin team members who had fallen were both taken to the hospital wing once the rain started. Slytherin was struggling because of their great loss, as Gryffindor continued to score. Al and his other Chaser were making desperate attempts to stop Gryffindor, which included sandwiching Cassidy Finnigan, each of them pushing against one of her sides as she flew, to try to steer her off course. Goyle had taken up position as temporary Keeper, and was hitting both quaffles and bludgers every which way he turned, causing quite a bit of chaos. Luckily, Fred was able to avoid him, and gained enough strength to fly on his own again. Al found a way to get past Rose three more times with the help of Goyle and the rain (though he had tried to do so over twenty times), but Gryffindor was still leading the way with a jaw-dropping 200 points within an hour or two.

James and Scorpius had lost track of the snitch at some point during the storm, and like Rose, were now flying around slowly for the sole purpose of trying to keep warm. Rose would glance up at them every so often, just to see if anything was happening. With Gryffindor so far ahead, she felt confident that they could win, even without James catching the snitch, but chances were that he didn't actually realize this. Seekers could hardly ever hear the announcements very well since they were up so high, and even if they could they'd try to ignore them, in order to keep themselves focused on their own task at all times. Still, Rose was hoping that the game could come to an end soon, before one of Goyle's bludgers knocked somebody else out.

Just as Rose was thinking this, Scorpius suddenly dove down, heading straight for the ground. James had been on the opposite side of the field, but he noticed Scorpius right away and flew after him. The quaffle seemed to be staying over by the Slytherin goal posts for now, so Rose had the chance to watch James and Scorpius battle it out.

"Slytherin's playing good defense now, keeping Gryffindor from getting to their goal posts," Lila said before she noticed Scorpius and James. "Oh my, it looks like Slytherin Seeker and Captain, Scorpius Malfoy, has spotted the snitch! He's flying after it now, and Gryffindor's James Potter's not too far behind…"

Down below, Scorpius was flying frighteningly close to the grass, so much so that his feet were making splashes in the water that covered it. He was flying beautifully on his new broom, as if he had been using it his whole life. He was gaining ground on the snitch, the glow of which Rose could just barely make out against the rain. At the same time, James was gaining ground on him.

They were both swerving around now, flying after the same object. James had completely caught up, and they were going side-by-side at a very high speed. They continued like this for some time, and were still going when Rose heard Lily scream out her name.

"ROSE! LOOK UP!" she called, and Rose followed her order. Sure enough Al was coming toward her, and fast. She didn't know which post he would aim for, but she did know that if he scored, and if Scorpius was able to catch the snitch before James, then the two teams would tie. James would be devastated with this, and Rose wouldn't be too happy herself.

Determined to keep their lead no matter what, Rose decided to just keep her eye on Al and the quaffle, and that hopefully she'd have enough time to follow it before it went through one of the three rings. When Al threw it, he was just above the lower right hoop, but had aimed way over to the side. Rose followed it, flying as fast as she could, but wasn't able to make it to the left hoop in time. Just as she stretched out her arm to stop it, it flew past her. Looking back at it though, Rose saw the quaffle go right over the hoop. It had been a close call, but Al hadn't scored. Relieved, but still focused, Rose made her way around the back of the hoops and hit the quaffle back to Lily, who had been waiting for it.

With the quaffle back in safe hands, Rose returned her eyes to the Seeker duel, which had moved up to mid-field. Scorpius and James were in the same positions they had been in before, flying side-by-side. Scorpius's broom must have been seriously fast, as normally James would have surged ahead by now.

To everybody's surprise though, the snitch made a sudden move and turned ninety degrees in the air, shooting straight up toward the clouds. One would think it would slow down trying to fly against such heavy rain, but if anything, it seemed to be going faster than it had been before. Both having quick reflexes, Scorpius and James turned their brooms and continued their chase after the golden ball. Again to the shock of everybody in the crowds, along with the watchful Rose, Scorpius started to speed up then, flying straight past James and up into a rain cloud where he could no longer be seen.

Rose's heart skipped a few beats then, as she worried about where Scorpius might be. James made his way to the same cloud a few moments later, but Rose couldn't imagine that either of them had very clear visibility. Both were lost from sight for over a minute until, finally, Scorpius came flying down, circling back to the middle of the pitch.

As soon as they noticed that there was no golden ball in front of Scorpius, the crowd stopped cheering for either team and looked up in confusion. Rose, however, knew right away that Scorpius had caught it, just from the smile on his face. Sure enough, as he made his way back toward his team, he held up his hand and showed off the snitch to the crowd.

"And SLYTHERIN Seeker, Scorpius Malfoy, has caught the snitch, earning his team one hundred and fifty points, and ending the match!" Lila announced from her box.

The entire school started roaring with excitement at this. Though the final score hadn't yet been announced, this was the first time in five years that James hadn't caught the snitch. Rose too was smiling from ear to ear. He may not have been on her team, but Scorpius had wanted this ever since he had started playing Quidditch. She had watched him practice relentlessly, and grow into a brilliant Seeker, but she had also lived through his feeling of inferiority when compared to James. James, and most likely the rest of the Gryffindor team, would all say that Scorpius was only able to catch the snitch because of his new broom, but Rose knew better. Scorpius didn't need the broom, he never had. He only needed the confidence.

As all players started to make their way down to the ground, Lila announced, "And that makes a total of one hundred and ninety points for Slytherin, and two hundred for Gryffindor.GRYFFINDOR WINS!"

And then there was more cheering, which continued on all the way through to the locker room, where Rose and the rest of the Gryffindor team convened after the match.

Everybody immediately went to Fred to see that he was okay, including Lila, who had run into the room breathing heavily from the long walk from her box and screaming out his name. It turned out the bludger had dislocated his shoulder, but somehow he had managed to play through the pain, though using only one arm. After he had informed everyone, Lila had gone with him to the hospital wing.

Then everybody sat down together and reviewed the exciting match, giving Lily, the new star player, plenty of congratulations for her impressive skills and the incredible amount of goals she had scored. Next to her were Sam and Cassidy, and Rose was surprised to see that for once in a long time, they weren't holding hands. They had been the perfect couple in Rose's eyes, the couple she aspired to be like one day, and she had no idea what had happened between them.

Rose sat just outside all of them, keeping relatively quiet as she eyed James, who was standing alone in the corner, his eyes dead of all feeling and focused on the floor.

The Finnigan girl James had been dating walked up to try and comfort him at one point, but he shrugged her off again. Rose wanted to do the same for him, but didn't think it would do any good at this point. He needed some time. Quidditch was the one things James had always cared about, and it was the one thing he had always been good at. It might have seemed dramatic, but Rose could understand why he was so upset.

Once everybody had changed back into their weekend clothes, Sam, both Finnigan girls, and Lily left for Gryffindor Tower, where there was sure to be a surprise celebratory party waiting for them. James stayed behind, however, now sitting on one of the benches in the middle of the room. Being that they were alone now, Rose decided that she'd try to talk to him, if only to be a good friend.

At first, she just sat next to him and remained silent, not really knowing where to start. She didn't want to talk down Scorpius, but that was probably the only thing James wanted to hear.

Then James chuckled a little, but it wasn't cheerful, more pitiful, before he said quietly, "I uh, I was going as fast as I could. The whole time, I was going as fast as I could, and he was just trying to tire me out. Then he just flew past me, like it was nothing. He did exactly what I always do, so how could I have not seen that coming?"

Rose thought about what he had said before responding with, "Sometimes we get so focused on the ultimate goal, or the idea of this thing that we want so badly, we get paranoid. We start strategizing, making a game plan, thinking of all the ways we could possibly get to that thing. We focus on all the details, without realizing that the answer is right in front of us, and it's so simple. It's so simple, but at the same time it doesn't make sense, because it scares us.

"You focused on yourself. You didn't think about Scorpius or his plans, or his feelings, even when they were right in front of you. You ignored them, because they scared you."

James looked to her and smiled crookedly. "So did you," he said.

Rose looked back at him and licked her lips in embarrassment. She still felt guilty about everything that had happened with Scorpius and Lysander. Even though she had ended it, for some reason the whole thing didn't seem over.

"He's a good guy," James said. "I know I suggested that you go along with Lysander, but I knew better. Scorpius is the better guy, Rose. I know I don't treat him very well, but it's only because I envy him sometimes. You told me that he was determined, and well, I already knew that. I've spent a lot of time over the years playing this role as an older brother to him, and I've never seen somebody so determined to succeed. I mean, with Quidditch, with his Transfiguration spells… with you."

"With me?" Rose asked. He hadn't seemed very determined about her. After all, that was initially why she had agreed to Lysander's proposition, to make him more determined.

James laughed and then asked rhetorically, "Do you have any idea how long it took for him to write that letter to you this summer?"

Rose hadn't expected his short letter to be brought up, by James of all people. He had never been close with Scorpius, but this was mainly due to their Quidditch rivalry. It was true that off the field, at home, James probably spent quite a large deal of time with his quasi-brother.

"You knew about the letter?" she asked.

"It wasn't that hard to notice," James said. He then added, "I mean, here I am, fooling around with a girl who I barely care about, barely even know. But Scorpius? He took nearly an entire month to write this unbelievably short letter to you. He was so scared, just to send you this piece of paper, but he did it."

Rose was crying now, listening to all of the things that James was saying, all of these things that had been right in front of her, but that she'd overlooked. "But it's too late now," she said sadly.

"No it's not," James said. "You just need to stop being so scared and focus on what's in front of you. Just lean forward and fly, even if that takes you into a cloud where you can't see anything at all."

Rose smiled in thanks and laughed, saying, "This conversation was supposed to be about you."

James laughed back and hugged her on the side. "Don't worry about me. I'll be fine. I've been flying pretty fast for a while now, so it's about time I slow down."

At that, Rose stood up and was about to leave before she asked, "Are you coming?"

James shook his head and answered, "Not yet. You go ahead."

Rose smiled at him one more time before she left the room and headed back toward the castle gates. She was still wet from the rain, but it had stopped outside. It was much colder now, and the clouds above Rose were turning a milky white color from their original grey. She wanted to go down to the dungeons where she knew the Slytherin dormitories were hidden, but decided to first head back to her own common room, where she could be with the rest of her teammates before meeting Al and Scorpius for supper in the Great Hall.

As it turned out, she wouldn't have found Scorpius in the dungeons anyway. He was already there waiting for her at the top of the castle. He was sitting in the hall a few yards away from the Fat Lady portrait as Rose approached him, still in his Quidditch robes, his light hair dripping water onto the stone floor.

"Scorpius," Rose said as she walked up in front of him. They were the only two in the hallway, and it looked as if Scorpius had been waiting for a while now.

He looked up to her with his mouth open in surprise. He then scrambled to his feet and stood in front of the wall, his goggles in one hand and his snitch wrapped in the other. After taking a few deep breaths he held up his hand and said, "I caught the snitch."

Rose laughed, an enormous smile on her face, and nodded. "I knew you could," she said. "You were amazing today." She was so pleased about how the match had gone. It seemed oddly perfect that Scorpius had been able to catch the snitch, and yet Gryffindor was still able to win.

Scorpius was looking down, flushed at her compliment, and then squinted his eyes, looking at her right hand. "You're wearing the ring," he said. She had been wearing it for weeks, but this was the first time he had noticed.

Smiling again, Rose said, "Yes. I am."

"I caught the snitch," Scorpius said again, before he started to pace slowly across the hallway.

Rose stared after him, not understanding what exactly he was doing. "Scorpius, what –" she tried to ask, but was interrupted when Scorpius stopped walking and looked over at her.

"I caught the snitch," he restated. "I've been thinking about this game, this particular match. I've been training for it, training my team. I was training them so that we might have a chance, even with James. But I never thought that I'd actually catch the snitch."

Rose was still confused, but she didn't want to interrupt, so she tried to be as patient as possible in listening to Scorpius.

"'I've been waiting for this moment, wanting it, ever since my first Quidditch match," he continued. "And now I've done it, not because I believed that I could, not even because of that broom that fell out of the sky. I did it because you believed in me."

Rose held her breath when he said this, because she wanted to hold onto his words for as long as she could. They didn't seem real, and she needed to make sure she had heard them correctly.

"You believed in me," he said, allowing Rose to breath again. "And so I caught the snitch. And then I had it, it was in my hands, and for some reason I didn't want it anymore. It was like it felt heavy, like it wasn't supposed to be in my hand after all." He was looking down at the snitch as he said this, the golden ball sitting in his half-open palm.

"And as soon as the match was over, I came up here. I didn't stop and change, I didn't go back to the common room, I just came right here, and I sat down and I waited. I didn't even have to think about it; it was like I apparated straight here or something.

"And while I was waiting, I realized why this tiny thing feels like it's weighing me down. It's because I am standing here with my arms full, and I just want to let go of all of it. I want to drop the snitch and I want to free my hand, because I shouldn't be holding any thing. I should be holding you."

Scorpius was speaking very slowly now, as if every word had some great meaning, and as if he had been preparing to say each one for a lifetime. Meanwhile, across from him, Rose was completely still, trying to take in every one of his great words.

"I want to let go of everything and then I want to hold you instead, and I want to never let go again. I want to hold you, and I want to tell you…" Scorpius paused then, and Rose could see the beginning of a tear forming in his eyes. "I want to tell you – I want to tell you that I think you're beautiful."

Rose blinked a number of times, and she could feel her own tears falling down her face. Slowly but steadily, Scorpius started to walk over to her. Once close enough, he lifted the hand that was holding his goggles, brought it to her cheek, and wiped her tear away.

Her heart was beating fast, even faster now that he was so close to her, and Rose was afraid that if she moved at all, it might start beating so fast and so hard that she wouldn't be able to hear Scorpius's voice anymore.

He was backing away now, just as slowly as he had come toward her before. Rose didn't know why he was doing so, and wanted to yell at him to come back, but she couldn't find the strength to say anything at all.

"I want to," he said, tears streaming down his face now. "But I don't know how."

Rose knew that he didn't mean this literally, that what he meant was that he didn't know how to let her in, how to trust her. Even so, the only thing she could think of to say was, "Just let go. Open your hands and turn them to the floor and drop it all. Drop it all and then take three steps forward and wrap your arms around me. Lift me up and hold me, and then don't let go anymore.

"And I'll stand here, with my hands completely empty, and I'll wait for you. I'll wait and when you get to me, I'll wrap my arms around you. I'll hold you, and I won't ever let go. I promise I won't ever let go."

Scorpius, who had been looking straight at Rose, took a deep breath before he opened up his hands, turned them to the floor, and dropped what he was holding. The snitch quickly spread its thin, silvery wings and started to fly by his side, waiting for him to catch it again, but he didn't notice. Scorpius's eyes remained on Rose as he took three steps forward to where she was standing. Once there, he wrapped one arm around her and used the other to take a strand of her wet, curly red hair out from in front of her face and place it behind her ear. This hand then stroked her neck and his head leaned down toward hers until their noses touched. Then, tilting his head to the side, he leaned in even further and kissed her softly.

Rose kissed him back, letting her instincts take over her thoughts. Without even realizing it, she was soon lifted from the ground, Scorpius's arms now holding her up by her lower back. Her arms where locked around his neck, and they remained like so for a very short eternity.

Eventually, Scorpius brought Rose back down to the ground, but didn't loosen his grasp around her. They both spared a glance at the snitch floating next to them, and at the same time spotted the perfect, magical snow that was falling outside the window at the end of the hall. Smiling, they pressed their foreheads against each other and closed their eyes, taking the moment to listen to their hearts beating, and to breathe in the same fresh, wintry air of November.

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