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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3. Shunpike and Filch (1/2)

Albus was hunched over, staring down at the black and white board as one of his pawns was destroyed by Scorpius's white knight. Rose watched the game as she walked into the Great Hall for breakfast, heading toward her two best friends. It was the first day of classes, and she still hadn't had the chance to talk to them since the feast from the day before."And, check mate," Scorpius said lazily, as if it had been the easiest game he had ever played. He then sat back and started to clean up the board with a charms spell."Blimey," Albus said in surprise and frustration. "Am I ever going to be able to win against you?"Scorpius laughed and said, "Well, you have other talents. I guess you'll just have to leave the chess playing to me.""How about I just leave everything to you then?" Albus muttered under his breath, though Rose could tell that Scorpius had heard based on his expression.She was just sitting down now, next to Scorpius on the long bench, and said reluctantly, "Hi".Scorpius turned toward her and said, "Hey." They both then looked to Al, who didn't speak."We haven't seen you in a while," Scorpius said to Rose, choosing to ignore Albus's lack of interest in the conversation. "Where'd you go off to last night?""What do you mean? I just went back to the common room, like everybody else. I was busy trying to fix Hugo's wand. He broke it on the train," Rose rambled, showing Scorpius the cracked piece of wood."Oh, is that why he looks so put out?" Scorpius asked, leaning forward to look at Hugo, who was sitting toward the end of the table.

He had a pile of crumpled paper in front of him, with ink splattered all around. His fire-red hair looked like it was in flames as he started to repeatedly bang his head against the table. "He does, doesn't he?" Rose said.

As Rose and Scorpius turned back toward Albus, who had still not sat up once more, a loud hooing sound was heard, and the Great Hall was quickly filled with barn, snowy white, and miniature owls, all flying toward students to hand over the first letters of the year.

Rose looked up at them just as Pigwidgeon was darting toward her. The old, tiny bird slowed down in time to slide across the table and into Rose's lap. He then looked up at the familiar face and spat out the letter he was holding.

"Thanks Pig," Rose said, taking the letter and placing the family owl back onto the table, where he started nibbling on her bowl of muesli. She then opened up the letter from her parents and started reading:

Dear Rose,

Hope you had a great first day at school. We heard word that you were chosen to be prefect for Gryffindor. Congratulations! We're both so proud (we were prefects in our 5th year as well).

Your uncle Harry also informed us that Stan Shunpike will be your new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry used to know him when we were in school, but I never realized he had become a teacher. Let me know how you like him!

Send our love to your grandfather, as well as Neville of course. We hope that both you and Hugo are doing well, and will write again soon.

Love from,

Mum and Dad

Hugo was standing behind Rose when she finished reading, and as she looked up at him he asked, "Is that from Mum?" He then swallowed hard, clearly nervous.

"Yes," Rose answered. "But don't worry, she hasn't heard about your wand. Not yet, anyway."

At that, Hugo sighed with relief, but still looked slightly worried. "So you didn't fix it then?"

"No, not yet, but I am trying," Rose said apologetically.

"Rose, how am I going to tell her? Especially after you got prefect. It'll just make me seem even more disappointing."

Rose didn't know how to respond, but Hugo wasn't paying attention anyway. Finally with somebody else to blame, he perked up and shouted, "Rose, this is all your fault! Why do you have to be such a good person all the time?" He then turned around and walked back to his seat, took a new sheet of paper, and tried writing to his parents yet again.

Rose was about to try and put the overdramatic Hugo in his rightful place, but decided it wasn't worth it. After all, she had something else on her mind. Her parents had mentioned Hogwarts' new professor, whom she had thought she recognized from the night before.

"Al," Rose started, "My parents mentioned that your dad knows the new professor, Shunpike."

Finally, Al looked up (though drearily), asking, "Really? He's never mentioned him before."

"Didn't he seem a bit shady to you?" Scorpius asked. "He looks like he's been through war and back with all the scarring on his face."

"Well, he probably has," Rose said. "Most Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers work as Aurors first. And if Harry knows him, he must've fought with our parents in the Battle of Hogwarts."

"Maybe we should ask him about it in class?" Al suggested. "When do we have DADA anyway?"

"I dunno'," answered Scorpius. "We should be getting our schedules any minute now."

A few moments later, Flitwick came into the Hall, flying all of the Ravenclaw schedules to their respective students. In the corner of the room, Rose spotted a tall blonde catch one of the papers in his hand. She knew that she needed to talk to him, but now wasn't the time.

Professor Pontner came in next, followed by Shunpike, who walked all but two steps into the hall before placing the pile of Slytherin schedules on their table and then turning around to leave. Scorpius and Al both got up from their seats to collect their schedules, too lazy to perform a summoning charm for them.

Professor Longbottom was the last of the four Heads to walk into the Hall, as was usual. His papers were flying everywhere, and it was obvious that he had failed to keep them all together. Seeing him flailing about, Rose stepped up and walked over to him.

"Professor, may I help you?" she asked, taking half of his sheets and setting them down on the Gryffindor table as other students came to collect them.

"Oh, thank you Rose." Longbottom said.

"You're welcome," Rose replied. "By the way, Professor, I'm sorry I wasn't able to make it to the prefect meeting yesterday. I promise it won't happen again."

"Oh, I know that, Rose. I'm sure you'll be the perfect prefect. You are just like your mother, after all. And your father… well, he wasn't all bad."

After a moment of not knowing what to say, Rose spat out, "Um, thank you. They said to say hello to you, my parents."

"Oh, well hello back! Unfortunately, I can't stay and chat right now. I've got to get to the greenhouse for my second years class, but I'll see you in Herbology!"

"Have a nice day, Professor," Rose ended, before grabbing her schedule and heading out of the Great Hall, where Al and Scorpius were waiting for her.

"Looks like we've got Care of Magical Creatures first," Scorpius said. This was one of the optional classes, so all 5th years who had chosen it would be in the same period, regardless of their house.

"Well, that's good, isn't it?" Rose asked. "We'll get to see Hagrid again."

"Yeah, but look what we have for our double last period," Al said.

Rose looked down at her paper as she was told, only to see that last period, she did indeed have a double period of Defense Against the Dark Arts with the Slytherins. "Well, maybe he won't be so bad?" Rose asked, though she already didn't believe what she was saying. Al and Scorpius gave her a look that said they didn't believe her either.

On their way to Hagrid's Hut, which was on the side of the Forbidden Forest, the three past a group of Slytherin boys walking down the hall in the opposite direction. They were led by Vincent Goyle, an extremely large 7th year boy. Goyle was exactly like his father, Gregory, who had once been a friend of Draco Malfoy's: tall, burly, and dimwitted. The two boys trailing behind him were exactly the same, only not quite so giantess.

"Oi, Potter!" Goyle called. Albus turned toward him, Rose and Scorpius right behind. "How does it feel to have your best friend get prefect, huh? Not Daddy's little boy anymore, are we?"

"Oh, that's it!" Scorpius shouted as he sprang toward Goyle to defend his friend. Luckily for Goyle, Albus held Scorpius back.

"He's not worth it mate," Albus said. "I mean, we both know he's already as dumb as a doornail. Imagine how he'd be if you blew his brains out even more?"

After the minute that it took for Goyle to understand the joke, his entire face turned a bright shade of furious red. "You keep going like that Potter, and it'll be your little half-bloodcousin next!" he yelled at Al. When Scorpius looked like he was about to leap at him again, Goyle added, "Oh don't worry, Malfoy. These two may be in for it, but your name should save you."

Albus and Scorpius continued to battle it out with Goyle, and before long a crowd had formed around them in the hall. Rose was standing just beside the three boys, trying not to listen in on what Goyle was saying about her. Not far from her was a Slytherin girl whom Rose didn't recognize. She looked to be around her age, but couldn't be a 5th year, as she wasn't in any of Rose's classes. The girl had pale skin and dark brown hair that was almost black, like Lucy's, but it was much wavier. As she looked to Rose, she could see the girl's bright green eyes, the exact same as Al's. She looked guilty in some way, and hurt, as if something that Goyle had said was directed at her rather than Rose. Unfortunately, Rose didn't get the chance to speak with her, or even get her name, before she ran off through the crowd.

"What the devil is going on here?" somebody screamed as he approached the crowd. Rose didn't even need to look over to see who it was. She could have recognized the screech of Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch from anywhere. Him and his red-eyed cat, Mrs. Norris, had been at Hogwarts for quite some time, and both were now very old. Filch had grey hair and barely any teeth, and walked with a cane. Mrs. Norris, oddly enough, seemed healthier than her owner, as she was still able to walk just fine. She too, however, was beginning to go grey.

As Filch pushed his way through the crowd, not hesitating to knock half the students down as he passed, Goyle, Albus, and Scorpius silenced. All three were still glaring at one another, though they were desperately trying to keep a safe distance between themselves. "Boys," Filch spat, his eyes widening with the pleasure of possibly giving this year's first punishment.

"Do you need to take a visit to see the Headmistress? Huh?" He was speaking to Al and Scorpius, Rose noticed, already assuming that Goyle was innocent. Filch had always sided with bullies, as he was one himself.

Albus and Scorpius remained silent, not bothering to explain themselves. If anything, a visit to McGonagall would be better than having Filch yell at them some more. She would at least take the time to listen to their side of the story.

"Not talking, eh?" Filch asked. "Alright then, you two'd betta' follow me."

As Filch and Mrs. Norris, who had been trailing behind him, were about to turn around and lead the two boys to McGonagall's office, a small chuckling could be heard behind everyone.

"What was that?" Filch barked. At his command, Peeves the poltergeist flew out from behind a statue and threw a shiny-looking rock at the ugly old man whom he loved to torment. Filch ducked, and the rock hit the ground. Just as he was about to run after Peeves, the entire hallway went black with a smoky quality to the air.

Peeves, still chuckling in the background, called out, "Instant darkness powder! Imported from Peru. Can't catch me now, can you?" Rose could just hear Filch's reciprocal growl as his cane thumped all about the floor. He may not have been able to see Peeves, but he wouldn't let that stop him.

Meanwhile, the distraction provided Rose, Albus, and Scorpius to run out of the crowd and through the back doors, avoiding both Filch and Goyle. Once outside the castle and in the fresh air, the three caught their breaths, and Albus said, "That was a close one."

Scorpius nodded, and Rose said, "Things never do change here, do they?"

"Ha, yeah," Albus said. "Just another run-in with Filch and Peeves. Same old, same old."

It was true that things seemed exactly the way they had always been, even though they had only been back at Hogwarts for a day. Still, Rose didn't mind. In fact, she loved the familiarity of it all. She could only think of one thing she would ever want to change, and she had finally come up with a way to make that happen. Unfortunately, now wasn't the time for Rose to be thinking about such things, but she couldn't help it.

Rose shoved the thought to the very back of her mind, and the trio ran down the hill to the outside of Hagrid's Hut, where the half-giant was standing in his enormous pumpkin patch. A group of fellow 5th years were gathered around, though there was one boy whom Rose didn't recognize. He was scrawny, had strawberry-blonde hair, and was standing very close to Hagrid, away from the rest of the kids. Curiously, he also wasn't wearing any Hogwarts robes.

"Come on over, yeh' three!" Hagrid shouted as Rose and company approached the crowd.

"Right," he continued in his rough tone that was just barely understandable. "Well, now that we're all here, I'd like ter introduce yer to Colin Creevey, the second."

Hagrid then motioned toward the boy Rose had noticed before, and explained, "Colin here is Nigel's older brother." Nigel Creevey was a third year Gryffindor, and Rose knew him well, as he was very good friends with Hugo. She had never known that he had an older brother, and was still wondering why he wasn't actually a student at Hogwarts.

"He's goin' ter be helpin' me out with some of the game, and is also ter be helpin' Mister Filch with his cleanin' duties. Now, Colin's new ter Hogwarts, so everybody try and be nice!"

"Why isn't he going to classes like us?" an Indian boy from Ravenclaw asked. He had addressed the question to Hagrid, even though Colin surely could have answered himself.

"Well, that's not really any of yer business, is't?" Hagrid shouted at her, clearly trying to protect a secret of Colin's.

Into Rose's ear, Scorpius whispered, "What d'you reckon's the deal?" Al was also awaiting an answer.

"I dunno'," Rose answered quietly, though this wasn't entirely true. Rose was fairly certain she did in fact know why Colin couldn't actually attend Hogwarts. However, if her hunch was right, it wasn't something that people would be particularly open to.

Once the class had realized that they were not to ask any questions regarding Colin, they followed Hagrid and the boy down to the Black Lake. For the rest of the period, they tended to Hagrid's newborn Grindylows. They had already learned all about the pale green creatures in their third year, but Hagrid wanted to start them all off with something simple.

After the class was over, the trio split up, Al and Scorpius heading to the Astronomy Tower with the Hufflepuffs, and Rose off to Charms with the Ravenclaws.

At the end of a relatively slow lesson with Professor Flitwick, it was time for Lunch. Normally, Rose would be pleased for this time of the day, looking forward to relaxing with her two best friends. Today, however, was different. Today, Rose wasn't going to sit with Al and Scorpius, but instead was headed for a group of 6th years at one of the middle tables in the Great Hall. She and Lysander needed to talk, and Rose wasn't willing to put it off any longer, no matter how awkward she expected it to be.

Lysander was sitting across from James and one of the Finnigan girls, whom the eldest Potter had his arm around. As Rose approached them, James gave a nod at Lysander to turn around. When he did, seeing Rose, he stood up from the stool and greeted her.

"Hey, Rose," he said. Quietly, he added, "So, I assume you've made a decision?"

Rose, feeling self-conscious, just nodded and looked over at James, trying to tell him to give them some privacy. Understanding immediately, James stood up, leading the girl to a spot further down the table where Lorcan and Lucy were sitting.

Now that they had some room to themselves, Lysander sat back down, and Rose took the spot next to him."So," Lysander started, after a moment of silence. He seemed to be able to tell that Rose wasn't going to start the conversation herself, and that he should take the initiative instead. "Do I have to guess or are you gonna' help me out here?"Rose was already uncomfortable, and Lysander's blunt question was only making it worse. Not knowing how to explain, she merely stated, "Yes".At first, Lysander looked slightly confused, but after a moment of Rose raising her eyebrows at him, her decision seemed to sink in some. To make sure his hunch was correct, he asked, "Yes?""Yes," Rose said quickly.Lysander smiled at the confirmation, but his smile soon turned into a smirk as he said, "So how're you going to tell him?"Rose was caught off guard by this, but tried to keep her strength up. She was not about to back down to Lysander's arrogance. "I'm not," she said. She hadn't actually thought about how she would tell Scorpius that she and Lysander were now dating, or if she would even tell him, but wanted Lysander to think that she had a foolproof plan in the works.

"Really?" Lysander asked. "Well, I never knew Rose Weasley, the brightest witch in her year, could be so deceitful."

"Year?" Rose asked, fighting his comment. "More like generation. And I'm not being deceitful. It's none of his business. If it were, than I wouldn't be in this position."

"Right," Lysander said.

Sensing his sarcasm, Rose explained, "Lysander, you do realize that Scorpius is the only reason I'm doing this with you, right?"

"Well, we'll see about that, won't we?" Lysander challenged her.

From Rose's perspective, however, Lysander had just taken things a step too far. If this was going to work in the slightest, he needed to learn his place. Still, she didn't want him to feel as though she was using him, so she responded in the kindest way she could, "Lysander, please. If that's how you think this will end up, then just call it off now. I don't want to disappoint you."

"Relax," Lysander said after a moment, though his cool demeanor wasn't completely convincing. "Look, I stated the terms last night. We both have our own reasons."

Before Rose could question him again, Lysander added with a wink, "That being said, it doesn't mean that I can't flirt a little."

Initially, Rose was somewhat insulted, but sensed Lysander's sarcasm once again, and laughed it off with him. Normally, she would be more on the ball with such hidden meanings, but the guilt that she felt was overpowering her thoughts. She tried continuously to deny it, as she knew that what she was doing wasn't really worthy of it, but felt it nonetheless.

This feeling was only heightened when she caught Scorpius's eye from the Slytherin table across the Hall. He was sitting across from Albus, but was looking directly at Rose, and at the blonde beside her. He was too far for Rose to see what sort of expression he wore, but she could tell that he was concerned, as he still hadn't looked away. The guilt was now terribly present in Rose's stomach, but yet again she tried to push the feeling away. Concern was exactly what she wanted from Scorpius, wasn't it?

"Oh, so we should probably make plans to go do something then?" Lysander asked, leaning in and interrupting Rose's gaze.

Having been pulled back to the conversation, Rose nodded before she had even registered Lysander's question.

"Alright, well what do you want to do? I'd normally suggest Hogsmeade, but it's closed for the first two weeks. This isn't a problem for me of course, but I do know how much you just love rules."

"Right," Rose said, finally understanding what he was talking about. "Um," she added, trying to think of an alternative location for their 'first date', "Maybe we could just play some Quidditch or something? I could use the practice anyway."

"Sure," Lysander said. "I'm not sure how well that'll work in your plan though."

"Scorpius doesn't have to see us to get jealous," Rose reminded Lysander. "But since you brought him up again, I'd better go see how the plan's working so far." Of course, Rose didn't want to rub her new relationship in to Scorpius too much. Her intentions were more to just gain his attention, and to hopefully find out whether or not his feelings for her were the same as hers were for his.

"I'll reserve the field for tomorrow then," Lysander called out as Rose walked away.

"Great," Rose acknowledged from behind.

After a long walk around the hall that included trying desperately to avoid Hugo's second attempt to get his sister to write the letter to their parents for him, Rose made it to her usual lunch spot next to Scorpius and across from Albus.

"Hey," she said. "Sorry I'm late, I was just talking with somebody."

"Who?" Albus asked curiously. His back had been turned toward when Rose had been talking with Lysander, so he didn't actually know whom Rose was speaking of, though the distraught-looking Scorpius obviously did.

"Lysander Scamander. He's a sixth year in Ravenclaw," Rose answered, glancing over at Scorpius as she said it. He was staring blankly ahead, focused on nothing but eating the pile of potatoes that sat in front of him.

"Oh, I know him," Albus said after swallowing a mouthful of food. "Mum and Dad have had him and his family over before. He's one of Luna's boys, isn't he?"

"Yeah," Rose answered, again looking at Scorpius. This time, Al too noticed his friend's solemn expression.

"Scorp," Albus asked concernedly, "You okay?"

Finally looking up, though avoiding eye contact with Rose, Scorpius said sarcastically, "Oh, yeah, I'm just peachy." At that, he stood up and added with a nod at Albus, "If you don't mind, I've got a prefect meeting to attend to."

After a moment, Albus muttered, "Yeah, have fun," though Scorpius was already too far to hear Al's lack of enthusiasm for his new position.

"Al, I'm sorry about him. It's my fault, not his," Rose tried to defend Scorpius for his treatment of Albus.

"Oh, really?" Albus asked sardonically. "So you're the one who made him prefect then? Him and not me?" Normally, Albus wouldn't admit to such strong jealousy so directly, but him and Rose had always had a very open friendship. They told each other everything, including the things they would never confess to Scorpius.

"No, of course not," Rose said. "But Scorpius didn't make himself prefect either, and you know he wouldn't usually boast on about it like that. He's only doing it because he's mad about Lysander and me… or at least, I hope that's why."

"What exactly is going on with you and Lysander?" Albus asked, trying to change the subject. Al and Scorpius both never liked to address their conflicts. Like their fathers, and like any teenage boy, they were both too stubborn to admit that they even had feelings. Though Albus was comfortable opening up to Rose quickly, he would still try as best he could to lock them back up again.

Luckily for Albus, Rose was aware of her best friend's enormous pride, and so she went along with the topic change. She did, however, plan on bringing the subject back up later, after Albus would've had the chance to cool off.

In answer to his question, she said, "Well, I just accepted his request to go out some time." Rose said the sentence slowly, trying to get each word out without too much stuttering. She couldn't help but feel like she was betraying Scorpius, even when he wasn't around to remind her.

"Really, Rose?" Al asked disapprovingly. "Don't you know what this will do to him?"

Rose didn't need an explanation. She knew exactly who Albus was referring to. Unfortunately, Al's skepticism only made her feel worse.

"I mean, do you even like him? Lysander?" Al asked, after a moment without answer from Rose.

Rose, feeling extremely uncomfortable now, wanted to lie and tell Albus that she did have feelings for Lysander, and that Scorpius would just have to deal with the fact that she refused to wait around for him any longer. Unfortunately, she knew that Albus was one of the only people who could have seen through her lying. Plus, she needed to tell somebody about her true plans; she didn't want to have to go through the possibly ruinous consequences alone. So in reply, she said, "No, of course not. We both know I have feelings for somebody else."

"Then why?" Al asked, still not understanding.

Rose tried to think of the best way to explain everything, as she desperately wanted Al's approval. She couldn't stand to have both of her best friends being mad at her. With this thought in mind, she took a deep breath and said, "Look, I've known Scorpius for four years, and he's never been able to admit his feelings for me. It's starting to seem like either he doesn't feel the same way after all, or he thinks he's got all the time in the world to tell me. I just want to make him realize that he needs to pluck up the courage and show me how he feels before somebody else does… I'm not going to be his last resort."

After taking a minute to comprehend Rose's motives, Albus said, "Well, you do have a point, I suppose."

"Thank you," Rose said appreciatively. She was relieved to have somebody who could fully understand where she was coming from, and Albus had seen it all. He had been there waiting for his friends to get together just as long as Rose had, and he knew how much she wanted it to happen.

"But Rose, regardless of how much of a bloke he's being right now, I don't want to see him get hurt by this," Albus said, warning Rose to not go too far with Lysander. "He does like you, I'm sure of that. He's not going to want to see you with anybody else."

"How can you be so sure?" Rose asked. It was true that she believed that Scorpius felt the same way about her as she did him, but the unanswered question was always burning a hole in the back of her mind. There was the possibility that, for once, she could be wrong. "Has he told you?"

Albus looked down quietly and answered, "No, he hasn't told me. But you know him. He doesn't share his secrets with anyone… he doesn't trust anyone."

Rose thought about this for a while, and she knew what Albus was saying was true. Though it had always been easy for Rose to trust people, that was one area where her and Scorpius's personalities differed. Rose had a family who loved her, and friends who were loyal. The same couldn't be said for Scorpius. His parents had never had much of a presence in his life, from what Rose could tell, and although Scorpius had always had her and Albus at Hogwarts, he tended not to socialize with anybody else. Though Scorpius obviously trusted her and Albus somewhat, it was true that he had never instilled complete faith in either of them. Perhaps, Rose thought, this may be the reason for his hesitance to start something with her.

Even if Scorpius did have such a legitimate reason though, it wasn't enough. Rose had heard the story of her parents, of how long they had waited for each other, and the pain they had caused along the way. She wasn't going to put up with that; she cared too much. "Well, he'll have to learn to trust somebody eventually. And in the meantime, I need to learn to trust him. I need to hear from him that I'm not alone in this."

Al nodded and said, "Well, you know you can trust me, Rose. I'll stand by you on this, until it goes too far that is."

"Thank you, Al," Rose said.

After the two finished their lunch, they walked together to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. They were the first in the room, and took seats together toward the front, as both had always liked this class, and were curious to see what Shunpike would be like. The rest of the Gryffindors and Slytherins joined shortly afterward, and Scorpius sat in the back with his fellow prefect, Patty. Rose looked back at him just as he was walking in, but he didn't meet her eye.

As soon as all had sat down, the door to the small office at the top of the staircase opened and Shunpike walked down to the front of the class. There was complete silence as he approached them, all the students fascinated by the new teacher. He was tall, but very scrawny, and his scarred skin was even worse looking now that Rose could see it from up close. He seemed to sway as he walked, which ensued a great deal of whispering amongst the class, everybody asking if he was hung-over or had drunk a displeasing potion.

"Hello," he said as he headed to the blackboard. "My name is Professor Shunpike." He wrote his name on the wall as he announced it, but his handwriting was barely readable.

"Now," he spoke directly to the class now. "I'm sure you all know how important your fifth year is at Hogwarts."

Rose didn't even wait for Shunpike to ask an actual question before blurting out in excitement, "Well of course. We have our Ordinary Wizarding Levels at the end of the year."

Everybody sighed in response, not needing to be reminded of the highly stressful end of year exams that would determine which N.E.W.T. classes they could take. They had already had the lecture in Charms or Astronomy (Hagrid hadn't mentioned them in Care of Magical Creatures), and were well aware that they would hear it again in every other class this week.

Shunpike's reaction, however, was not one of excitement or dread. On the contrary, he looked rather confused. "Well, that's true, Ms…"

"Weasley," Rose informed him. "Rose Weasley."

"Right, well Rose here is correct of course, but that's not what I was thinking of. I mean, your OWL's are important I'm sure, but I didn't pass any of mine, and look how successful Iam!" Shunpike exclaimed.

Most of the class laughed in response, but Rose didn't dare. She could already tell that her and Professor Shunpike had completely different ways of thinking, and would not be in good spirits with each other.

"Does anybody beside Ms. Weasel have an idea as to why this year may be so significant…" Shunpike continued, ignoring the rampant giggling from the room over the way that he said Rose's name, which had obviously been intentional. "Something we might be learning, perhaps? You know, something a little more exciting than those boggarts you learned to control years ago."

Boggarts were shape-shifting creatures that took the form of their viewer's worst fear. Hogwarts students usually learned about them and the Riddikilus Charm, which turned them into something humorous, in their 3rd year. Rose could still remember the exciting class, all the students turning snakes, insects, and monsters into jump ropes, toys, and stuffed animals. Rose, of course, had seen herself receiving no OWL's. Obviously, Professor Shunpike had not made this connection.

"Aren't we learning the Patronus Charm this year?" Albus asked excitedly. Rose looked over at him with a questioning expression, to which he merely shrugged in response. Rose was not happy with Shunpike, but Al clearly was.

"Exactly! Much more exciting than Boggarts or OWL's!" Shunpike exclaimed. Then, as Shunpike looked down to Albus to see who had answered him, his expression changed from pure glee to shock, and finally, to realization. "Why," he added, "You must be Albus… Albus Potter?"

"Uh, yeah," Albus said. Rose knew that Al was used to his name being recognized all across the wizarding world. Rose knew the feeling, as the Weasley family was fairly well known as well, but the Potters were like celebrities. Since Al had always looked very much like his father, people recognized him more often than either James or Lily. Still, they almost never knew him by his first name, only by his father's.

"I've heard a lot about you, boy," Shunpike said, answering Al's look of obvious confusion. Al, along with the rest of the class, was only more curious now, but Shunpike didn't explain any further.

Instead, the professor continued to go over the year's curriculum, with an unbelievable amount of jokes and sarcasm in between, irritating Rose to no end. After the first hour of class, Shunpike decided to give them all a break before beginning the second half, in which they would start preparatory work on their Patronuses.

Albus and Rose instinctively turned to talk to each other, Al blurting out, "What do you think he's heard about me? It can't be good, can it? Otherwise, he would've made me prefect, I mean he is Head of Slytherin after all…"

"Al, calm down," Rose said, not used to him speaking so frantically. "He'll hear you."

Shunpike had been sitting at a desk just in front of Al and Rose, and sure enough he began to walk over to them now. He came up and stood right in front of Albus, "Albus, could I speak with you for a moment?"

Al looked over at Rose quickly, who shrugged. Then he said, "Sure."

When Shunpike looked at Rose disapprovingly, insinuating to Albus that he had meant to have a word with him alone, Albus only remarked, "You can talk here. I'd tell her what you said anyway."

Rose smiled at Albus's words, clearly trying to defend her after how Shunpike had treated her earlier in class.

Shunpike seemed hesitant, but decided to press on anyway. "Well, I've heard that you have a particular interest in Defense Against the Dark Arts, is that correct?"

"That depends," Al answered. "Who did you hear it from?" Albus had always had more interest in Potions, but was very good in DADA as well. His question, Rose presumed, was asked to get more information out of Shunpike.

"Your father informed me that you won a duel against him this summer. He seemed impressed."

"It might've been if he hadn't let me win," Al mumbled. Rose had wondered why she hadn't heard about this 'duel', but now understood. Al wasn't proud of it; he was ashamed.

"Oh, I wouldn't be so sure. I've known Harry since he was a boy, and he wouldn't fake something like that. He's too honest." Shunpike reassured him. "Anyway, I suppose we'll see if he's right soon enough," he added with a wink before walking back to his desk.

Al was looking down now, disappointed, and Rose didn't have to ask why. As she looked at him with worry, he said quietly, "Why is it people always expect so much of me? I'm notHarry Potter. I'm not Albus Dumbledore. I'm not the chosen one. I'm Al - just Al."

Rose was about to tell him something comforting, but as she looked toward him, she saw Scorpius standing behind Al's seat. At Rose, he mouthed the words, "Is he okay?"

Rose nodded with sincerity. Scorpius didn't need to be told how Albus was feeling; he already knew. The three of them could always tell what the others were thinking: If Albus was hurting, Rose would be the first to know, but she would never bring it up before he did himself. If Scorpius's temper flared, Rose wouldn't take offense, because she knew he'd come around eventually. This was the usual dynamic, and Rose appreciated the stability of it. She had always liked things that worked every time, things that could resist change.

Shunpike stood up then, and Scorpius headed back to his seat. Albus hadn't said anything to him, and hardly spoke for the rest of the class. Every time Shunpike called on him (which was fairly often), he wouldn't say anything, regardless of whether or not he had an answer. Rose would respond for him, but Shunpike would ignore her and call on somebody else to give the exact same answer Rose had already given. Brooding Albus, fleeting Scorpius, and a ridiculous new teacher. Rose just couldn't wait for the days ahead.

The rest of September passed slowly and, at some points, agonizingly so. Rose was spending a lot of time on the Quidditch pitch with Lysander, which meant that she saw a lot lessof Scorpius, even though she was thinking of him more often than ever. Albus was still jealous, but he and Shunpike had formed a strong relationship, as Al's Patronus preparation was very impressive. The professor and Rose, on the other hand, were still at odds with each other, and Rose didn't expect this to change any time soon.

Meanwhile, Hugo had finally sent the letter detailing his wand mishap to Ron and Hermione, and one morning, he received a reply. He had come down from the Owlery looking bright as pumpkin juice, and was walking like a zombie. His three best friends, Lily, Roxanne, and Nigel, all approached him as he made his way to the Great Hall, asking how he was with concern, but Hugo kept walking as if he hadn't noticed them.

Rose and Lysander were following him from behind, Rose trying to catch up and find out what the letter said, calling out her brother's name to gain his attention. After one last, piercingly loud cry of, "HUGO!" the boy finally turned around to Rose.

He swallowed hard and held up the letter in front of her as she came closer. He wasn't handing it to her, but instead started to speak, "I was wrong. Mum doesn't want to kill me." After a huge gulp and with an a terrified expression, he added, "Dad does."

"What?" Rose asked in surprise. Ron Weasley didn't do discipline, even when it came to his own children. If either of them had done something wrong, which was almost always Hugo's fault, their father would give them a high-five while their mother looked down on them with shame. "Hugo, he's probably just joking."

Hugo shook his head, denying his sister's assumption. Next to Rose, Lysander was analyzing Hugo's expression. After a moment, he said to Hugo, "No, he's not, but you are."

Immediately, Hugo's face fell and he met Lysander with a mixture of surprise and fury. Rose too looked to Lysander, then back to Hugo, and asked, "Hugo? Is he right?"

Hugo started laughing and said, "Of course he is!" His friends starting laughing with him, and even Lysander let out a hiccough or two, but Rose stood silent. After nearly a week of Hugo fussing over telling their parents, it all ended up just being for dramatic effect. "Dad's brining me a new wand when he visits next month," he said with pride.

"Unbelievable," Rose muttered, then turned away.

In the background, she heard Hugo yell to Lysander, "Thanks for spilling the beans, Pasty!" Lysander laughed at this too, taking the insult as a compliment it seemed, but stopped after receiving a stern look from Rose.

Hugo wasn't the only one not taking well to Rose's new relationship. Scorpius was reacting in a way that Rose hadn't expected. Though she still spent time with him and Albus, Scorpius hardly showed any signs of jealousy. Instead, he was just quiet.

He seemed to be avoiding Rose whenever he could, especially when Lysander was around as well. Still, Rose would have thought that Scorpius would want to fight for her, or that he'd at least show some concern over the matter. Unfortunately, that day he had walked away in the Great Hall (after Rose had agreed to Lysander's proposal) had been the largest reaction Rose had gotten out of him so far.

She suspected (or hoped) that Scorpius was keeping himself away, repressing his jealousy and letting Rose be. As a distraction, he seemed to be throwing himself into the first Quidditch practices of the season, taking his new position as Slytherin captain extremely seriously. When tryouts came up, he was out on the field all day, drilling the young players and making sure to take only the strongest ones.

The Gryffindor tryouts had been much less intense, James choosing Fred as Beater without even bothering to watch anybody else. The rest of the team had to pick between Lily and Roxanne for the new Chaser, as James didn't feel it was fair to choose when one of the contenders was his own sister. Lily was still picked for the spot though, as her flying skills were better polished than Roxanne's.

With all the teams trying to get in as much practice time as possible with their new players, particularly Gryffindor and Slytherin, who had a match coming up, the field had become home to a great deal of 'friendly' competition off the brooms as well as on.

One day in late September, the two rival houses had unknowingly booked practice on the same day, a Friday afternoon. As the teams approached the field, James was the first to speak, and went directly to Scorpius, who was standing at the head of a group of green and silver-clad players. "Gryffindor booked this field for today. What are you doing here?"

"Sorry James," Scorpius said, with a glance at Rose. "But Slytherin's got it today." Looking back at Vincent Goyle, who was one of the Slytherin beaters and who looked ready to interfere at any point, Scorpius warned the Gryffindors, "You'd better just go".

James, however, wasn't scared of the seventh year bully. "Well, unfortunately we can't do that. We've got a new Chaser to train, and Fred and Sam have barely been able to work together yet." Sam was the other Beater, and it was true that him and Fred needed to have good chemistry in order to perform well at matches.

Albus was about to confront his brother for Scorpius, but Goyle was a step ahead of him. "I know how we'll decide this," he said. Then, he held up a fist and gave James a large smirk.

James sighed but still didn't back down. Rose, who was standing by his side as his second in command, whispered, "James, don't!" For a moment it looked as though James was going to turn around, surrender, but instead he just put an arm in front of Rose and pushed her behind him, protecting her from Goyle.

Scorpius and Albus looked wary, but neither wanted to approach Goyle, who now looked enraged. However, when Goyle came closer to James, he didn't hit him. In fact, he opened his fist, and for a split second a small, shiny ball could be seen, before it spread its wings and flew off into the sky. Everybody looked up, trying to find it, and Goyle merely stated, "Catch it."

James and Scorpius, the two Seekers, didn't get on their brooms right away. Both of them seemed to have the same instincts, and approached Goyle with glares. James spat out, "Fine". He then turned to mount his broom, before noticing that the snitch had just flown past Albus's unmistakable black hair, and Al was already on his broom flying after it.

Knowing full well that Albus wasn't a Seeker, James and Scorpius shared a look of confusion, but decided to get on their own brooms anyway and go after Al. Rose yelled after them to stop, but they were too far-gone.

The rest of the players watched as Albus, James, and Scorpius flew after the tiny ball. Vincent was smiling with pride, happy to have provoked such entertainment. Rose was only worried. She knew how testy both Albus and Scorpius had been lately, and even this small competition could easily push one of them over the edge.

James and Scorpius caught up to Al relatively quickly, as both were faster than him. All three were circling around the pitch, following the snitch as best they could. They kept on its tail for quite some time, but eventually Albus fell behind. At the same time, James accelerated and flew past both Al and Scorpius so easily it was as if he could have done so all along.

Just as the snitch was nearing the crowd yet again, James reached out his arm and caught it mid-air, then circled around to a graceful landing in the middle of his Gryffindor team. Everybody cheered, not just because they had won the field for a practice, but also for their star player, who held up the snitch like it was the trophy for winning the Quidditch House Cup.

Rose was standing outside the crowd, until James came up to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, saying "Alright, Rose, better get your pads on. You've got some blocking to do if Lily has anything to say about it." Rose just shrugged him off and approached Scorpius and Albus as they made it back to the crowd.

She walked directly to Albus and asked, "Are you okay?"

Al got off his broom looking exhausted and well defeated. He turned to Rose in gratitude, but didn't say anything. Scorpius was off then too, and said to Al, "I'm sorry, mate. I should've kept on him at the end there."

Albus nodded dryly, then stalked off the field alone. Rose didn't bother to run after him. He needed his space.

Rose then turned to Scorpius and asked, "Did I miss something?" It was normal for Al to be jealous of James and his Quidditch skills, but he wouldn't usually have been so affected by it. Quidditch wasn't Albus's favorite thing anyway, and for James it clearly was. He had always accepted that about his older brother.

Scorpius shrugged. He didn't seem to know what had happened either, and feeling awkward around Rose, he too walked off the pitch alone. The rest of the Slytherins left soon after, disappointedly following the undefined terms of Goyle's challenge. Once they were gone, the Gryffindors began their practice.

Training lasted long into the evening, and Rose stayed an hour or so more than usual to continue practice with Lily. When the two finally decided to call it quits for the night, they packed up the equipment together in the middle of the grounds.

Still concerned about Albus, Rose asked, "Lil, does Al ever get jealous over James? About Quidditch, I mean?"

Lily looked back at Rose, having not expected the question. "Well, I'm sure he does sometimes. He's my older brother, so to me it's everybody else who should be jealous of him." She then bit her bottom lip and explained, "But you know, everybody gets jealous. It's normal."

Without thinking about it, Rose said, "Apparently not everyone." In response to a curious look from Lily, Rose said, "Never mind, it's not important."

"Right," Lily said sarcastically. "Anyway, thanks for staying extra late with me. I really needed the practice."

"Are you kidding?" Rose asked. "I think you're already better than both of the Finnigan girls, and they've been on the team for years."

Lily smiled in appreciation, but Rose knew she had been searching for the compliment all along. Wanting some time to think on her own, she suggested that Lily head off to bed. "I can pack up the rest if you want to go, Lil."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, of course. I usually do this sort of thing anyway, so it's no big deal." Rose liked to stay after practice and put all the stuff away herself. She was the only one she trusted with her Keeper gear, and had a well-developed system of organizing all of it.

"Alright," Lily said as she stood up, about to leave. "Thanks again."

Rose waved goodbye and then got back to the packing. Using a couple of Charms spells to speed up the process, it didn't take long to finish.

Afterward, she brought all the gear into the locker room, and was surprised to see that the lights were on inside. She didn't think much of it though, and as she was leaving, she took out her father's old deluminator and collected all the light from the lamps, making it completely dark.

"Wait!" she heard before she closed the door. She turned around slowly, gradually becoming frightened.

"Could you leave that on for me?" The voice said again. Rose followed its orders, with the main hope of illuminating the room enough to make out the person who was speaking. After taking out the deluminator once more and releasing the light back into the room, the boy appeared to her clear as day.

It was Colin Creevey, Hagrid's helper and Filch's apparent protégé. "Oh, hi," Rose said. "Colin, right?"

"Yeah," Colin replied, moving a bit forward. It was then that Rose noticed that Colin had his hands full of various magical cleaning supplies. "I'm sorry I scared you, um…""Rose. And that's alright," Rose answered. "So you have the night shift then?":"Yeah," Colin replied. "At least for tonight I do. It's not that bad though."Rose nodded, and the conversation lagged. Trying to think of something to say, she just explained, "I best be going. I've got a curfew to keep."Colin chuckled and said, "Right. It was nice to meet you Rose. Formally, I mean.""Yeah, you too," Rose said as she walked out the door.As she was exiting, broom in one hand and lit wand in the other, she looked at the pitch one last time. It was always beautiful underneath the starry sky. Rose had never been one for Astronomy, but she couldn't deny how incredible it could be, even in a world filled with magical things.Suddenly, she realized that there was something moving in the dark, and it was much closer than a shooting star. It whizzed right past her, and as it did she knew exactly who it was. Before even thinking about it, she hopped onto her broom and flew up into the night.

It was obvious that Al knew that Rose was there, since he stopped flying around and waited for her as she ascended. They met somewhere above the middle of the pitch, and were just high enough that it felt like they were a part of space, but not high enough to be gut wrenchingly cold.

"Al, what are you doing?" Rose asked concernedly. She had a feeling that Albus was out here to try to cope with what had happened earlier, before practice."You know what he said to me before he sped up? What he said to make me back down?" Al was looking below rather than directly at Rose. He tended to do this, and Rose suspected that it made him feel more comfortable, as if he was just talking to himself.

Rose knew that he was speaking of James, but she hadn't realized that the eldest Potter had actually said something to his brother while they were flying, or that Albus had really backed down. She had assumed that James had flown ahead as he always did, and that Albus had realized that he wouldn't be able to catch him. Now that Al had brought it up though, it made sense that James must have said something. Otherwise, Albus would never have backed down so easily.

Rose still hadn't responded to Al's question, but he wasn't expecting an answer. Once he built up the courage to answer it himself, he went on, "He said, 'we both know I'm faster than you. Why bother wasting your time?'"

Hearing this, Rose sighed heavily. Albus could be sensitive, especially when compared to others. Rose loved James, and he was like a brother to her as well, but sometimes he forgot how to act like one to his real family. When it came to Quidditch, James would make sure that he won every race and every match, regardless of who tried to stand in his way. This time, it was Albus.

"Al, I'm sorry," Rose said quietly, tuning into her motherly ways.

"I just wish I could be good at something too, you know?" Albus asked her rhetorically. "James is a better Quidditch player than I could ever hope to be, and Scorpius is just good at everything: Quidditch, chess, transfiguration, and now prefect. Even Lily's going to be a star one day, probably sooner than I think. And she's already got an impressive older brother; why would she need me? Why would anyone?"

Rose thought for a moment, thinking of what would be best to say. With so many factors for Al's jealousy, it was difficult to narrow it down to one core influence. If she had to pick, though, it would have probably been the one that Albus hadn't mentioned in his short speech.

"Al, I know that your name is the product of three of the most brilliant wizards of all time, and I know that that carries a lot of weight," Rose began, swaying on her broom, but still barely moving. "People do have high expectations of you, but you have no idea how much they look up to you. The reason James cares so much about Quidditch is because he's not as smart as you are; he's not as good a wizard. Scorpius has his talents at school, but only because you and your family inspire him to be better than his own. And the reason Lily's going to be a star one day isn't just because she's a great witch, but also because she wants to shine just as bright as you."

Albus was looking at Rose now, and opened his mouth like he was about to interrupt, but Rose wasn't finished. She flew slightly closer to him, looked him straight in the eye, and said, "Your dad was a great Quidditch player, but that isn't what he's remembered for. He never wrote any books, and wasn't all that clever. But none of that mattered… There are more important things: friendship, and bravery. You are the best friend I could ever have, and I've never seen you look scared. You always work hard, and you never complain. Do you have any idea how admirable that is?"

The two of them floated in silence for quite some time, Albus contemplating Rose's words, and Rose hoping that she had said the right ones. Finally, Al spoke.

"Hugo's right, Rose," he said with a small smile. "You're a pretty good person."

Rose chuckled and added, "Yeah, well so are you. Don't you ever doubt it again!"

 

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