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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42. The Battle of Blood

"Rose," whispered Scorpius.

Nothing.

"Rose," he said again, louder this time. "Rose. Rose. Rose."

Nothing.

"Rose."

Nothing.

"ROSE!"

Nothing.

Scorpius ran both of his hands through his hair, which was becoming greasier by the second. He told himself to take three deep breaths, but he only made it to his second when he heard the sound of unmistakable grunting from behind him. Sighing, he silenced, pointed his white wand over his shoulder and thought without voicing the incantation, Petrificus Totalus. Then he came out from the group of small trees he'd been hiding within and looked down upon his latest victim.

The man was lying flat on the frozen grass and he looked about twenty years old, wearing grungy clothes with tears at his joints that were pinned tensely to his side. He was still smiling even in his stillness, which made Scorpius both scoff with disbelief and also feel better about what he was preparing to do.

"I can't for the life of me understand why you people get so excited to see me," Scorpius said bitterly as he cocked his head to the side and looked into deep brown eyes that were swimming with confusion. "It's as if you think that you can beat me, but you don't know just how much I'm fighting for."

That was when he revealed a second wand in his left hand and watched as the confusion was replaced with fear. The man was trying to move, but it wouldn't work. It never worked. With both wands now pointed at him, Scorpius twisted his hands ever so slightly and whispered, "Obliviate." Instantly, the man's memories, which were few and far between in comparison to all the ones Scorpius was protecting within his own mind, were pulled from his forehead and into Scorpius's wands. He still wasn't quite used to the spell, but the doubling of his power helped to ensure that it worked anyway.

Once it was over, the man's eyes went blank and Scorpius knelt down to place one of Hermione's DA coins in his fisted hand. Before the battle had ensued at sunrise but after everyone in the Order of the Phoenix had arrived at the pitch to prepare for it, Hermione had had the genius idea to gather all her old coins from people and change their messaging charm into that of a portkey. She'd then redistributed them amongst the Order so that everyone could use them on their victims before whatever stunning spell placed on them let up, and it would take the Forbidden Flock to Diagon Alley, where employees from the Leaky Cauldron were waiting to help them start their lives over. So far, the practice was working brilliantly.

Scorpius waited for the man to disappear before he set off for the Whomping Willow, which he was only a few yards from him. On his way, he dueled with two other Flock members who attempted to corner him, but they both ran away before he could stun them. Once he was near enough to the deadly tree, everyone ceased to come near him or it, for they were all far more afraid of the willow than Scorpius was. In fact, he hadn't felt much afraid at all since this morning; instead, it seemed as though he was in a perpetual state of determination.

By his best estimate at the sun's spot in the sky, Scorpius thought it was nearing ten o'clock. It had been the longest two hours of his life and the worst Christmas morning of all time, but at least he was still here. Of course, he wasn't sure if he could say the same for the people he loved. At sunrise, when Rose hadn't been returned to him just as everyone had expected, Scorpius had lined up with his allies and faced off against Al with Harry and James, but the four of them had only fought for ten minutes before Al gave up and rode away on one of his six dragons. After that, Scorpius had split up the core alliance to designate leaders for various flanks of his army, sending the Longbottoms and Scamander twins to the side of the Forbidden Forest since they were the best people to deal with the magical creatures. Ron, Hermione, Hugo, and the Creeveys headed for Hogsmeade in hopes that it would bring them closer to a castle entrance. Scorpius had stayed in the center of the grounds with his father, the Potters, Mercy, and Teddy, but he couldn't stand not knowing if everyone else was safe, or even alive. Mostly, though, he couldn't stand not knowing about Rose.

After only a few minutes of waiting, Scorpius heard the branches of the tree thump against something that then landed on the ground and groaned in pain. Turning around, Scorpius saw the outline of James's Firebolt broom and ran over to it. He searched for a sign of the boy's mousy hair and, upon finding a large tuft of it, reached down and pulled the Invisibility Cloak off James's body. Then he offered his hand to help James up, but of course James didn't take it.

He was standing all on his own, wiping the sweat off his brow and wrapping up the cloak so that he could store it in his sweater, as he reported confidently, "There are no ways in our out of that castle except through whatever secret passage the Flock's using. Didn't spot Al either, but he's only got one dragon on the Hogsmeade side and five by the forest, which is being burnt to a crisp and won't survive much longer, making me assume that Al must be there. Only he could spread so much wrath so quickly."

"Perfect," muttered Scorpius. A part of him didn't completely believe James or the survey of the castle he'd just taken, but he still had McGonagall's advice ringing in his ears: Think like an Auror. Your Animagus is your secret weapon. Don't reveal it until you need to. He could so easily transform and take flight on his own, could even vanish himself while doing it, but he knew that he needed to save his falcon for the right moment. Plus, the Order needed him here, in battle, not above it.

Scorpius was so lost in thought over the matter that he almost didn't hear James when he finally caught his breath and asked, "Where have my parents gone?"

"They and Teddy left to look for Lily," Scorpius explained. She had vanished soon after Scorpius had spotted Ryder Rookwood down by Hagrid's Hut, and during James's ride, Harry and Ginny had grown too worried to stay in their positions. Teddy had agreed to leave with them in case Lily's animal instincts had something to do with her disappearance; he'd be able to track her better than his surrogate parents would.

"And Draco's still not back?"

Scorpius shook his head. He'd been separated from his father about an hour ago, though he still wasn't sure how exactly it had happened or where Draco had gone. All he knew was that Draco would find a way to Astoria no matter what, whether or not Scorpius found his way to her first. But, for now, "It looks like it's just us."

James was in the middle of a sigh and Scorpius was wondering what to do next when an oddly harsh voice said from behind them, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, don't give yourselves too much credit!"

"Oh, bullocks, we must have forgotten about you," said James as he and Scorpius turned around to face Mercy Golding. She looked as beautiful as ever even in her stocky Auror uniform, her blonde hair tied up in a braided ponytail that was as thick as the broomstick handle sitting in her right hand, and the few spots of her exposed skin shining in the sun like Rose's deluminator in the night. Scorpius hated it.

Smirking, Mercy replied, "How very hard to believe. But, in the minute chance that you're interested, we just wiped twenty lads in a single lap." Stretching his neck so that Scorpius could see over Mercy's shoulder, he found the rest of Mercy's group resting for a moment by the giant tree trunk. All of the old Slytherin Quidditch team – graduates Aaron, Salem, and Maddi, along with Lindsay and Arnia – were there, as well as some of the Gryffindor team. Mercy had been leading them around the core of the Forbidden Flock and shooting spells in from the army's borders. It was odd to Scorpius that old rivals were flying together, but clearly Mercy was a better captain now than the player she'd been before.

While James was busy thinking up some unnecessarily snarky response, Scorpius told Mercy in as genuine a voice as he could muster, "Nicely done. It looks like we're holding our own all right out here."

"Aye, but it's still not enough to get Rose back!" argued James. If anyone wanted to rescue Rose even close to as much as Scorpius did, it was James. In fact, their mutual goal was probably the only thing keeping James and Scorpius together as they fought side by side. Normally, they'd be at each other's throats by now. They nearly subdued to such again when James added, "I mean, at this point, it might be too late. She might not even be-"

"DON'T say it," warned Scorpius, his eyes staring straight through James. He knew what a bad sign it was that his voice wasn't triggering Rose's deluminator, but he couldn't accept the idea that Ron's old light switch might be working but that she might not be. His world wouldn't exist without her, so surely if she'd been killed he would have seen his life disappear with hers.

The tension was palpable between the three of them as James and Mercy waited for Scorpius to continue the conversation. They listened closely when he finally said, "But James is right. I know that I should be here, in the core, so that I can be the leader that McGonagall always wanted me to be, but we can't take care of everyone else if we haven't first taken care of ourselves."

"What exactly are you saying, Scorpius?" asked Mercy behind squinted brown eyes.

"I'm saying that Harry left to look for Lily because he knew that doing so was more important than anything else. Well, getting to Rose is more important to me than anything else." Scorpius paused there before turning to James and asking him, "Do you have any more ideas on how we might get into the castle from here, or how we could possibly fight through enough of the Flock to break a window open? Maybe some war strategy inspired by battles won over the ages?"

Scorpius was trying to sound desperate, which admittedly he was, but he also knew the answer before he'd asked the question. He was just trying to reach a conclusion that seemed mutual even though he'd long since come up with the idea himself, which was why he wasn't surprised when James laughed and exclaimed, "Battles won over the ages? Of course I don't know of any! I didn't ever pay attention in History of Magic; I'm not Hugo!"

Nodding solemnly to pretend that he was disappointed even though he was smiling on the inside, Scorpius said, "Well, then I guess we'll just have to go to him, won't we? And maybe that's a good thing – it'll bring us closer to the Hogsmeade passageway."

James took a moment to consider the plan, but he never once objected to it. That appeared to be Mercy's job, since she was the one who dropped her jaw and looked at Scorpius like he was insane. "Have you gone mad?" she yelled at him. "It's bad enough that Harry left and took Lupin with him; you can't seriously consider leaving too!? I'd be the only core alliance member left in the center, which might I remind you is the thickest section of our enemy army."

Scorpius was amazed by how quickly Mercy's previous confidence had disappeared. In that moment, he finally understood where her arrogance and ridiculous sense of entitlement – something that had driven him crazy all of last year – came from. Mercy liked to belittle people into listening to her because she never listened to herself. She made others feel intimidated because they intimidated her. She made people believe in her because she'd never once believed in herself.

Pitying her for the first time he could recall, Scorpius put a hand on her shoulder and said, "Hold the fort, Mercy. You can do this."

"Are you sure?" she asked just after he took his hand back. In the background, Scorpius could smell smoke pillowing from fires in the Forbidden Forest, could hear screams echoing against the ice of the Black Lake, could see the fear spotted across Mercy's shining skin, but his senses didn't last for long. Numbness was the only thing that could keep him awake.

"Yes," said Scorpius.

"Why?"

Knowing that whatever he said wouldn't be able to convince Mercy of the obvious truth, Scorpius looked to James and hoped that his expression could be read correctly as a plea for help. He knew that it had worked when James stated just as confidently as Mercy had spoken earlier, "Because you're talented. That's why."

Scorpius almost thought that Mercy was going to cry when he saw her jaw suddenly clench in a way more vulnerable than angry. James Sirius Potter never admitted to talent in anyone other than himself, but of course, Scorpius had always known that Mercy would be James's exception. That was also why he hated to break up the pair, but they were wasting time by standing there.

With a single kick at James's leg, Scorpius communicated silently that they'd better get going. Then they simultaneously turned around and headed away from the tree and into the crowd, Scorpius keeping his ears open enough to overhear Mercy calling out orders to her Quidditch posse. He wasn't sure if he was doing the right thing by leaving so many of his friends behind, but he at least knew that he was leaving them all in the best possible hands.

As soon as they were outside the Whomping Willow's precarious protection, Scorpius and James were open targets and wands were aiming at them from every direction within seconds. Everywhere Scorpius looked, wizards and witches dressed in black with smiles that had wide holes in them were licking their lips in hunger. They were walking slowly toward him, almost as if they thought they had time to spare before killing him, but they had no idea what they were in for.

"Maybe we should have taken the tunnel to the Shrieking Shack," suggested James nervously, but James was never nervous. It was all part of the act.

Playing along, Scorpius clutched only one wand and said, "The Flock would have been waiting to ambush us in the shack. Maybe you should use your Invisibility Cloak."

James's responding laugh started out fearful but ended with excitement. A smile was spreading over his cold cheeks as he said, "What, and miss out on all the fun?" Then he winked at Scorpius and turned to face his adversaries, surprising them when he yelled, "REDUCTO!" and sent them all flying backward into oblivion.

Taking this as his cue, Scorpius put his wand back into his pocket in an attempt to confuse the beggars who had all gone still around him. Then he pointed his hands back at them, only now each of them had three wands, and the Flock couldn't run fast enough. "Avis," he said, because it was his favorite spell. "Oppugno," he added, because it was Rose's favorite charm.

Birds flew after the fleers like hail in a blizzard, and all Scorpius could see before they were too far away were the splashes of blood rising into the air and then falling on the snow, where it seeped through the white and stained it the color of both life and death, though all Scorpius could see was Rose's red hair spreading across his white skin.

"Expelliarmus!" screamed James from behind Scorpius, for the latter had been too distracted to see someone coming at him. The two of them could have fought through anyone, especially these poor folk Astoria had surely bought for her battle, but they were still outnumbered. They couldn't risk having to ward off every attacker that came their way or they'd be here all week. They had to get to Hogsmeade, so they started running.

Scorpius didn't even look at the man whose wand had been taken from his hands and snatched up by James; he was now more focused on the road ahead of him than he was the dead end he was leaving behind. They ran back down the hill and past the Quidditch pitch that was now being used as a quasi-hospital wing, then back up and around the side of the castle with the greenhouses and vegetable garden. In order to be as efficient as possible, they only used defensive spells and only when they needed to, and they must have gone over a mile before they exhausted themselves and had to start walking. By then, though, they were coming up on the Ivy Curtain that ran across the Black Lake, where there were substantially fewer Flock soldiers thanks to the heavy presence of dementors guarding the ice.

They were squirting water straight into their mouths from their wands when Scorpius saw one. At first, he thought it was a person, since he could have sworn he'd heard a twig snapping, but then he saw the cloak floating hauntingly across the horizon line. Soon after he spotted it came the Patronus, which he couldn't quite make out, nor could he find its source. All he knew was that the spirit animal was a rather large bird.

Scorpius tried to forget about the Patronus as he and James started moving again, walking along with cautious steps but no longer in as much danger as they'd been in by the willow or the pitch. In fact, they both felt safe enough to even dare to talk, which proved to be something they desperately needed to do just so that they didn't succumb to their mutual worries.

"Thanks, by the way," said Scorpius as they were wading through some deep powder, the only part of the grounds that had yet to be touched.

"Well," James replied, "I couldn't very well let you be killed, could I? What possible flying competition would I have then?"

It was nice for Scorpius to hear James joke about Quidditch even after his shoulder injury had taken him off the Montrose Magpies team. It was nice to hear that life could go on even after losing the thing most important to someone. Still, though, Scorpius had to cut him off. "Actually, saving me wasn't what I was referring to," he said. "I meant, thanks for getting Mercy to believe me."

Mercy was quite possibly an even touchier subject for James than Quidditch was, but he took it like a professional. James sounded completely serious when he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I didn't do it for you."

Scorpius knew what he meant. It didn't matter what or how much of your talent you lost as long as you still had the person you loved by your side. That was why he asked in what he expected to be a rhetorical question, "You still love her, don't you?"

"Er, I was actually talking about Rose." That was a surprise. "I mean, you were right, Scorpius – Hogsmeade is the only way in or out of the castle anymore, and that means we have to get there if we want to get to Rose. I did it for Rose."

Scorpius had been hoping that he and James wouldn't wind up talking about Rose, because he needed a distraction from such thoughts. When James brought her up, though, Scorpius was oddly okay with hearing her name so many times, and the only effect it appeared to have on him was serving as a reminder to say her name himself. So, just in case the deluminator started working again, he whispered the word Rose ten times. When nothing happened in response except for James beginning to stare at him with concern, Scorpius asked James a question that wasn't at all rhetorical, "Do you really think she might be dead?"

He had been the one to nearly say it, just before Scorpius had cut him off, but that didn't mean that James had meant it. Realizing this, the latter answered now, "I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry."

Their trail of footsteps stopped forming as Scorpius shook his head. "That's not the point!" he spat, then steadied his breathing to ask again, "Do you believe it?"

"No. Of course not. She has to be alive." James spoke without a single pause so that Scorpius would know that he wasn't lying. In fact, he was probably being more honest than he'd ever been, especially when he admitted, "Al would never let any of us be killed, especially Rose."

They were walking again now, and for the second time Scorpius thought he heard a twig break behind them. Just to make sure that they weren't being followed, he and James decided then to start covering their tracks with a simple charm spell. They didn't forget about their conversation, though, since Scorpius picked up right where they'd left off by asking James, "So, you still believe in Al, then?"

"Yeah, I do. He's my brother."

"I believe in him too. He's my brother too."

A few minutes and another mile later, the tiny town of Hogsmeade could be seen in its valley amongst the mountains. It was different than either Scorpius or James remembered it from their last respective visits. The houses that were usually tall and narrow with steep roofs and crooked chimneys were all broken, their windows shattering and shingles crumbling. Small fires were spreading from door to door, and people were screaming with both terror and exhilaration. Between the boys and the buildings was yet another army, this one smaller than the last but quite possibly more powerful. White was on the side closest to Scorpius, black was on the side that bled into town, and in the middle was the largest creature Scorpius had ever seen.

All Scorpius could think of as he looked at the black dragon who was spitting fire and stomping pits into the snow was that there were five more of them in the Forbidden Forest. Hopefully, Hagrid, Colin, and the giants would be fighting back against them by now, but would they be enough to take the beasts down? Scorpius had learned a lot from his years of training with McGonagall and the summers he'd spend with Rose and her parents, but he didn't know a single thing about dragons.

Sensing his fear because of course Scorpius was supposed to worry about his soldiers, James turned to him from where they were kneeling down to try to hide in the snow and said, "Forget about the dragon, Scorp. Our first goal is to find Hugo, remember?" James was right in that Scorpius had suggested such earlier, but they both knew that they didn't reallyneed Hugo. They just needed to feel like they'd fabricated some sort of workable plan, and Hugo happened to be all they'd come up with so far.

Trying to get back on track, Scorpius nodded and said, "Right. Hugo. Okay." Then he was at a loss, at least until he continued to watch the army in front of him that was clustered together like a herd of cattle and realized that there was no way they could run into the battle without the Flock seeing them first. After all, Astoria's army still had the higher ground thanks to that dragon.

"We should split up," Scorpius announced before he could change his mind. James looked at him skeptically, but Scorpius pressed on. "You run into the army with your cloak on, find Hugo and pull him out with you and a big group of other Order members. That way, it'll just look like you're retreating.

"Meanwhile, I'll go back down to the lakeside and see if I can get a better view of the town. Maybe I'll be able to spot some of the Flock going in and out of a certain building, which would give us a better idea of where the passageway is." Truthfully, Scorpius was going to go down to the abandoned lake and transform in private so that he could survey Hogsmeade from above, but he didn't want to say so to James just yet. "I'll meet you back here in ten minutes?"

"Sure thing, boss," agreed James without a hint of hesitation. He was a good actor. Then he had his cloak on again and Scorpius could no longer be sure if was still there or if he was already gone.

The walk down to the Black Lake was scarier than any moment of this battle had been thus far. Scorpius remained quiet and kept his favorite wand – the one Nigel had made him – clasped tightly in his right hand, but nothing could dissipate the paranoia. He still found himself turning his neck every few seconds just to make sure he wasn't being crept up on and he still thought about all the people who could be dead already even amongst the peaceful crystals that were forming from the cold.

Just for a minute, Scorpius decided to kneel down next to the ice that stretched all the way to the island he'd once inhabited with Rose and even farther onto the shores he couldn't see. He placed a flattened palm onto the frozen liquid as he turned his gaze back to the castle, with its stained glass windows that were too bright from the combination of sun and ice to have the tears of their subjects at all visible. He waited to feel the cold tingle through his nerves as he squinted his eyes to try to look over every one of those windows, wondering which one Rose was hidden behind. His hand never felt the cold, but he picked it up off the ice anyway when he heard a familiar voice echo off the various glass surfaces.

"You look like you could use some help," she said, and Scorpius breathed a sigh of relief to finally know whom that Patronus had belonged to and who'd been breaking so many twigs.

"Ilana Higgs," he said as he stood up and turned around. "I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever see you again."

She looked different than she had last summer, when he'd talked to her outside Grimmauld Place. Her hair was still thick, flowing, and blacker than night, but now it was longer and wilder and far more abandoned. Her eyes were still green like leaves, but now they were the color of leaves that had fallen before turning gold. Her skin was still white and pure, but now her arms were covered in the thick wool of a violet sweater and her hands were dried and cracking.

Ilana didn't say anything before she walked straight up to Scorpius and hugged him. She wasn't a very good hugger; she was bony and tense, but somehow Scorpius still felt like he needed the body heat. Gingerly, he wrapped his own arms around her and they held each other for a long while even though they both wanted to be holding someone else.

When they finally broke apart, Scorpius found himself whimpering, "I lost her, Ilana. I lost her again." Ilana had been the only one to even acknowledge him when he'd returned to Hogwarts last year, following the reveal of Astoria and her leadership of the Forbidden Flock. Ilana had been the one to help him rebuild his Quidditch team. Ilana had been the one to help organize the reunion that had brought Rose back to him. She had been there through the worst of it, so it felt right that she was here now.

"So you'll get her back," Ilana told him, her hands on his shoulders and her eyes staring into his. "You'll get her back like you always do."

Having heard what he needed to hear, Scorpius was now able to focus on Ilana. After all, he had plenty of questions for her, including what had brought her here, now, today, when he'd sent her Al's letters half a week ago already. More than that, though, he wanted to know what Ilana had been doing following him when it was Al she should be looking for. Curious, he asked, "What are you doing here, Ilana? You do know that most of the dragons are in the forest, don't you?"

"Just because Potter's dragons are in the forest doesn't mean he is," she said. "And just because those papers had his handwriting on them doesn't mean he sent them." Of course she knew. Al could never have sent those letters on his own; he wasn't brave enough and Ilana knew that about him. Scorpius remembered how it had seemed as though she'd known everything about Al before they'd even gotten together last summer. He could see pieces of Albus in Ilana the same way he felt Rose in himself.

"And anyway, I didn't come back for him," Ilana continued. Then she started rolling up the sleeve of her sweater to reveal a browning scar that Scorpius had seen on others more times than he'd ever wanted to, but one that he'd never seen on her... one that was made up of eight letters carved into flesh... one that read Mud-blood. "I came back for my family. I came back for you. I came back to fight."

With that, they set off together. Scorpius no longer had any time to transform before he was supposed to meet James, so instead he led Ilana back up to the snow bank that overlooked the town, explaining to her everything that she'd missed on the way. He didn't get much out of her in return, but Scorpius knew how private Ilana was normally, let alone at a time when anyone could be listening and anything she said could put her family in danger. Most of the Flock members where well trained to seek out the Muggle-borns, which Scorpius didn't need to explain for Ilana to understand.

They were half way up the hill when they came across her. Myriam Vane, a Hufflepuff girl Scorpius recognized from his Astronomy classes, was writhing in the snow, and upon kneeling down to examine her, Scorpius could see that she had a broken leg. There were no Flock members around that Scorpius could spot, but he knew that they must be waiting in the surrounding trees.

"I asked James to bring a big group with him," Scorpius told Ilana. "But he must have lost a few along the way. Myriam's not going to be able to Apparate to the pitch in this state." He didn't like talking about the poor girl this way when she was right in front of him, but there was nothing else he could do. Myriam didn't even realize that he was talking about her; she was in too much pain to focus on anything else.

Scorpius didn't know what to do, since he couldn't very well leave Myriam here but of course he needed to get on his way. Luckily, Ilana came up with a plan before he gave up on one, ordering him to hold Myriam's head down as she crouched around the girl's leg and then pulled it back into place. The screams that issued from Myriam were terribly loud and terribly high-pitched, but Scorpius had already placed the Muffliato charm around them in hopes that it would lessen the noise.

Then Ilana reached into her pocket and pulled out a soft, plastic vile filled with a creamy ointment that she rubbed on Myriam's exposed leg. Instantly, Myriam let out a sigh of relief and thanked Ilana for cooling her down before she Apparated away.

"What was that?" Scorpius asked, confused as to all that Ilana had just done. "Some sort of potion?"

"No potion," Ilana shook her head. "No magic. Just medicine."

Scorpius didn't ask any more questions and they didn't come across any more wounds or casualties on their way to James. Sure enough, he was right where he'd promised to be, and by his side was a group of twenty or so Order members, none more noticeable to Scorpius than Hugo, Nigel, and Nigel's parents, Dennis and Natalie.

James greeted Ilana with both confusion and acceptance as Scorpius approached Hugo and Nigel and asked the former without a word of hello, "Where are Ron and Hermione?" He needed to make sure that Rose and Hugo's parents were okay before he could start formulating the next plan.

"They're buried deeper in the flank," said Hugo as if it was a sort of side-note. "Squirmsnail and I have been focusing on all the outliers that try to get past us to stop them from running off toward your side."

"Speaking of," Nigel went on for him with a voice full of adrenaline, "Why are you over here, Scorpius? Did you already pound the daylight out of the entire center?"

Scorpius answered, "Sadly, no. But even if we had, there's no way into the castle from over there. Every entrance is being blocked from the inside as well as out. We have to get into Hogsmeade."

Now it was the Creevey couple's turn to butt in. Dennis was the one to say, "But we've been trying to get through for hours now, and we're still on the outs. The memory-wiping is taking too long, and not everyone knows how to properly perform the spell, so they wait for us to do it. Then, by the time we get there, the stunning spells have worn off and the Flock's back to fighting us."

Scorpius sighed because he didn't know what to say. It had been a risk to agree to the memory-wiping system the Order was using, but Scorpius was still convinced that it was the right thing to do. Just looking around now, he saw some of the surrounding Order members keeping guard of the group and Obliviating the straggling Flock members as they began slyly appearing from the woods and snow caves. Every last one of them looked exactly the same, just like the one Scorpius had driven off back at the Whomping Willow. They weren't bad people; they were just acting on their wrong sides.

Telling himself to snap out of the reverie, Scorpius said to the people watching him, which now included James and Ilana, "Clearly, whatever we've been doing isn't working. We're not going to start killing everyone, so we need a new strategy – some way to keep the Flock in control until we get close enough to all of them to Obliviate their minds."

James was the one to ask then, "Hugo, do you know of any sort of historical war tactics that might give us inspiration – maybe something from the Goblin Rebellions or the Giant Wars?"

"No, all of those were pretty self-explanatory," said Hugo, making Ilana laugh. After giving the question a minute of thought, though, Hugo looked down at the muddy snow and wondered aloud, "But war might not be the best place to look. I mean, Astoria is this all-powerful witch who's under the impression that she can do anything herself."

"True," nodded James, which made Hugo smile since he was always after his older cousin's approval. "You said it yourself, Scorp – all this blood is just a distraction from whatever she's doing in the castle right now. If it weren't, then she'd be out here fighting and every Muggle-born would be dead by now." Both Dennis and Natalie shuttered to hear that, their hands linked together tightly in the support of the Muggle-born family member they'd lost in the last war. When Scorpius saw those hands, he absent-mindedly reached his own out to look for Rose's, but all he found was air... cold, empty air.

When Scorpius shrugged in assurance, Hugo continued. "So, what if we turned things around and started thinking less like war generals and more like radical witches?" If their furrowed eyebrows were any indication, nobody seemed to be following where Hugo was going with this, so he added impatiently, "You know, like Carlotta Pinkstone!"

Still, nobody understood. Nigel was the only other one of those present who knew anything about the history of magic, which was obvious when he was the only one who actually recognized the name Hugo had mentioned. "Isn't that the one who thought that she could do magic without a wand?" asked the youngest Creevey, naturally only caring about the wandlore aspect of the story.

"Not the point!" Scorpius and Hugo scolded Nigel in unison.

"Anyway," Hugo went on, "Pinkstone wanted to stop spell suppression, so she advocated for the repeal of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. Before she even had anyone on her side, she was already performing magic in completely public places, but she didn't use so much magic that the Muggles questioned its reality."

"Then what did she do?" asked Ilana, who knew just how little magic had to be done for Muggles to question its reality.

Hugo smiled, thankful that she'd asked the question because that meant that she might be on board. "It's simple, really. She didn't play with fire; she played with smoke." And then everyone smiled, because it was the perfect idea. Al's dragons were spreading enough fire as it was, but this war could use some shades of grey.

The group took about twenty minutes to plan and suit up before Scorpius gathered everyone together and announced that they were ready. Nigel had given them all an extra wand (Hugo was given five) that he hoped would match their personalities, Ilana had distributed a burn-repellant potion to all those with sensitive skin, and James had gone ahead to make sure that their path back to the Hogsmeade army was completely clear. Before they set off, Dennis and Natalie gave Hugo and Nigel blubbering kisses on their cheeks and made them promise to stay safe and James returned to shake hands with Scorpius as a sign of their newfound camaraderie.

Scorpius and James led the way, each of them blasting smoke from two wands until they could barely see where they were going. Around them, the rest of the group blasted their smoke, and soon it was racing down the hill and into the outskirts of town until nothing was visible except the slanted roof of the Shrieking Shack. Then Hugo passed out the bundle of Spectrespecs he'd stolen from Neville and Luna's wedding gifts and the group descended into their carefully controlled chaos.

The smoke had seeped through the first few layers of Flock members, which proved to be relatively easy to rid of. Scorpius stayed close to James, Ilana, Hugo, and the Creeveys as they all maneuvered through the smog and took their opponents out one after the other. Even after nearly all of the victims had taken their Portkeys back to London, the rest of the Flock's army had no idea what was going on because they couldn't actually see anything past themselves. Still, the distraction didn't fool the battered Ron and somehow blemish-free Hermione, who found Scorpius and company after their first "round" and, upon being explained what exactly was going on, joined in on the action.

Together, the group sent in even more smoke this time as they pushed their way farther toward the Shrieking Shack, and this time Scorpius actually felt like they were given a challenge. The Flock members whom they were taking down now were faster and smarter than any Scorpius had come across thus far. They fought back even though they couldn't see what they were aiming at, sending spells everywhere and making the Order waste some of their time by ducking and avoiding any offensive attacks. Still, everyone managed to make it through the second round unscathed, and Scorpius estimated that, all in all, they'd vanished about forty percent of Astoria's Hogsmeade flank.

"This time, let's shoot for fifty," Scorpius told the Order in a huddle before going in for a third time. They were only a quarter mile away from the shack now, and Scorpius knew that one of Astoria's core members just had to be stationed there.

He was right. They didn't even make it all the way to the shack before Scorpius spotted the red eyes glaring through the smog. "What the?" he heard James gasp from beside him, but he too could tell that this man was dangerous even though James didn't know who exactly he was. This was Wynn Traylor, and years of hearsay had taught Scorpius that he was not to be trusted.

"On three," Scorpius whispered to James without taking his eyes off of Wynn. The albino was still trying to make his way through the smoke, and the last thing Scorpius wanted to do was draw attention to his distinct voice.

When James nodded, Scorpius counted. "One... two... THREE..."

"STUPEFY!"

Wynn was blasted straight into Dennis and Natalie's path, which was perfect because Scorpius didn't trust anyone else performing the next spell on Wynn but the professional Obliviators. Scorpius and James stood still as they waited for the spell to complete, and once it did, James turned around to move on to other opponents. Scorpius held his ground, though, just to make sure that Wynn was given the Portkey and was taken away.

He was still looking in Wynn's direction when Dennis and Natalie started mindlessly ruffling through their pockets in search of a coin, and Scorpius was about to walk over and give them one of his own when he saw Wynn's white hair spike atop his head and saw his white hand clasp around a black wand with fervor and hate. Scorpius was running toward them then, but it was already too late. All it took were two flicks and two words said two times for two people to have their fear forever fragmented.

"Avada kedavra!" Dennis went cold and fell into the smoke. "Avada kedavra!" Natalie went with him.

Wynn didn't dare stick around and was gone by the time Scorpius knelt at the Creevey couple's sides. A part of him wanted to call out to Ilana in hopes that she could help Dennis and Natalie the way she'd helped Myriam Vane, but he knew that she wouldn't be able to. The bodies he was staring at were frozen, and not in a temporary way like the ice that would melt come spring. They were frozen like time on its axel – irrefutably, inarguably, permanently. They were gone.

"How did this happen?" Scorpius asked aloud, cursing both himself as well as Wynn Traylor. "He'd already forgotten. How could he have done this after forgetting?" But the truth was that, yet again, Scorpius knew the answer to his own question. Wynn wasn't like the other Flock members. He wasn't like the ones Astoria had paid to be here, and who therefore completely forgot where they even were and often what magic was when their memories were wiped. It had been Wynn's choice to join Astoria's army, and even more curiously, it wasn't his history with Muggle-borns or with the Dark Arts that made him the killer he was. He'd been born a killer, not because of the blood that he shed over the years, but because of the blood that ran through his veins. Killing wasn't something Wynn had ever learned, but rather it was all he knew, so of course he would resort to it even in his amnesia.

"N-N-NO! NOOOOOOO! No." Nigel's voice was a freight train halting to a slow. Scorpius hadn't known where he was before or how long it had taken him to get there, but it must have been a while because the smoke was beginning to clear. The sky actually looked quite beautiful now, with the smoke floating up in the blue like clouds but leaving the denser, colder pillows to bounce against the snow like ripples forming on the surface of a tepid lake. It was almost peaceful, or at least it should have been. Instead, everything was hazy.

Scorpius moved over to make room for Nigel as the boy threw his body over those of his parents, his hand grasping his father's and his face crying into his mother's shoulder like a small child with a tantrum. His ears had gone from bright red to a haunting, stark white, and Scorpius could see his stomach collapsing as his every breath grew harder to take. Upon staring at him, Scorpius almost felt like he was looking at the boy he'd seen in his second year at Hogwarts and had watched follow Hugo around for three whole years after that. This was not the strong, wandlore-obsessed, confident-in-his-feelings Nigel. This was not a man anymore. This was an orphan.

The whimpering continued and Scorpius kept his distance, but soon Hugo was there and he refused to give Nigel any room at all. He sat opposite from Nigel's spot, looking down at the couple who had known his secret before his own parents had, and closed their eyelids with a touch of each hand. Then he put those same hands around Nigel's still buried face and moved him into his own shoulder, where Nigel crumbled into a ball but managed to cling onto pieces of Hugo's clothing just to make sure he stayed upright and breathing. Around the boys, it was snowing, but unlike the snow that had fallen during their first kiss, these flakes were real.

They combined with the smoke to look like ashes, and Nigel was the flame that had just gone out. Scorpius couldn't take his eyes off him, not even to look up and notice that the Order had lost its upper hand and that the Flock was now fighting back fervently and successfully, that James and Ilana were doing all they could to hold off the opposition but they wouldn't be able to keep doing so for much longer, that Dennis and Natalie's bodies were not the only ones on the ground.

Those bodies and their grieving loved ones were making the air colder than Scorpius thought possible, and it was when he noticed the temperature change that he finally refocused his eyes on the goings-on in the distance rather than those that were right in front of him. Hooded dementors were flying toward them and the Shrieking Shack from all edges of the Black Lake, naturally attracted to the breaking, vulnerable souls that would make for easy prey.

Ron and Hermione had also noticed the cloaked figures. When Scorpius looked back at the cluster of tears that was Hugo and Nigel, still lodged between the slowly decaying bodies, Ron was kneeling behind Hugo and was trying to pull his son off of the catatonic Nigel. Hermione was trying a more plausible tactic, crouching right in front of Scorpius and yelling at Nigel to gain his attention.

"We have to go, Nigel!" she cried. "We have to move!" but he didn't respond. All he could say was 'no.'

The dementors were too close for them to wait any longer. Since everyone else was busy fighting or talking sense into Nigel, Scorpius was the only one to stand facing the dementors and yell, "EXPECTO PATRONUM!" His light falcon came roaring out of him in its full form, but he couldn't hold onto the happy thoughts of Rose without questioning himself, letting the dementors periodically break through his short-lived barrier. He just needed one more person to join him and he might be able to shoot them all the way back to their ice.

He got exactly what he'd wished for, though not from the person he'd expected. Scorpius wasn't sure when Hugo had finally let go of Nigel, but soon he was standing only a foot from Scorpius's side and had all six of his wands pointing toward the dementors as he swallowed his flood of tears, yelled the same incantation Scorpius had just voiced, and watched a giraffe-sized kangaroo hop straight through the black holes of the dementors' mouths.

Beneath the impressive spells, Ron had picked Nigel up and was cradling him in his arms as if Nigel were his own son, carrying him to safety in the confined gardens around the Shrieking Shack. If anything, seeing his father and Nigel only intensified Hugo's Patronus, and within a few moments the dementors had retreated, James and Ilana had warded off the Flock and put a few simple protective charms around the shack, and Hermione had gathered everyone who was able to magically move all the dead bodies into the garden. Scorpius and Hugo were the last two to enter the safe haven, waiting to release their spells until they were certain that the coast was clear.

Once in the garden, Hugo rushed back to Nigel, who was sitting stunned against one of the haunted house's peeling walls. Ron was already there with him, but when Hugo leaned over to plant a heavy kiss on Nigel's forehead, Ron didn't look at all uncomfortable or taken aback. He looked happy to see his son accomplish something he hadn't been able to before, and to see him so in love that it hurt. He looked proud.

Around the huddle of men stood James, Ilana, Hermione, and Scorpius, their bodies blocking the corpses Hermione had laid down behind them. For a few minutes, everyone was just silent as they hung their heads down, but then James grew impatient and let into his anger by saying, "The Creeveys were right – memory wiping isn't working. We have to do morethan that. That albino deserves to die for all I care."

James had been one of the core alliance half who'd wanted to keep the Flock alive, unlike Ron. Still, Scorpius could understand how he'd changed his mind so quickly. When the Creeveys had been killed – two parents at the same time, with two sons who would now be orphans – James had pictured them as his own parents, had pictured Nigel as himself, had pictured the whole situation as something that could easily happen to him and his siblings. He was picturing something that could have already happened to parts or all of his family, because he didn't know where Harry and Ginny were. He didn't know where Teddy was, or Lily. He didn't even know about Al. And Scorpius understood that, because the same could be said for him about Rose, and she was more of a family than his true blood relatives had ever been.

He and James had their eyes locked on each other as Scorpius tried to silently communicate that he agreed, however difficult it was to admit it. The only thing that made them break contact was Hugo, for he came up with a plan before either Scorpius or James could think of something other than simply running with their rage.

"I can't be touched," he stated monotonously, with absolutely no emotion in his voice, though he was looking up at the four people who were staring at him with the utmost worry in their wrinkles. Hermione was the first of them to understand, laughing breathlessly before Hugo even added, "On this same day last year, my dad made an Unbreakable Vow with Astoria that promised her the Auror department in exchange for my and my mother's safety. So long as all of these wizards are officially part of the Forbidden Flock, Mum and I can't be touched."

Now, Scorpius knew where Hugo was going with this. Everyone was skeptical when Hugo stood up straight and looked to Hermione for permission before facing Scorpius and stating questionably, "Let me and Mum march into Hogsmeade and take every blast they throw our way. Let us go inside every shop and every basement until we find the tunnel. Let us break into the castle, Scorp. Let me avenge these deaths. Let me find my sister. Let me end this."

Scorpius was about to nod, because he figured that Hugo was going to make this happen with or without his formal permission, but Ron cut him off. "Wait a minute!" he yelled without standing up, for he refused to take his arm out from around Nigel's shaking soldiers. He was looking back and forth between his son and his wife as he said, "You can't go! I won't allow it! There are plenty of spells that they can use without touching you themselves; th-they could use Fiendfyre or they could have bombs already set up in the shops just waiting for you to walk inside! You can't go. I can't lose you."

He was crying, but Hermione was quick to rush over to him and wipe his tears away. "Ronald, listen to me," she told him. "We can find Rose, okay? Hugo and I can find her together. We will bring her back, and we will all be fine."

"What if you're not?" asked Ron helplessly.

Ignoring the question because she'd already answered it, Hermione clenched her jaw and said in an order, "Take Nigel and his parents back to the Quidditch pitch. Wait with him until his brother gets there. Do not let either of them out of your sight. They are our responsibility now, and they will need you." Beside her, Nigel was staring at Ron like he was a stranger, but the kind of stranger that he could have sworn he'd seen before.

Ron the Auror didn't want to put Hermione or Hugo into a position that they couldn't handle; he wanted to save Rose himself, or at least go with his family to protect them while they all rescued her together. Ron the husband, on the other hand, knew by now that Hermione was always right. And then there was Ron the father, and he was the most important of the three, because he was the one who knew that his daughter was alive just as James had known when Scorpius had asked him, and he was the one who knew that the best kinds of fathers were the ones who took in strays, just like Arthur had once done for Harry and like he himself had done so many times for Scorpius. So, Ron the Auror swallowed his pride while Ron the husband kissed his wife goodbye and while Ron the father lifted Nigel to his feet, gave both Hugo and Scorpius enormous bear hugs, and then Disapparated with his new family by his side.

Hugo sniffled to see his father and Nigel go, but Hermione was still there to make sure he stayed strong. They wouldn't let go of each other as they prepared themselves for what they were about to do, and Scorpius was both anxious and concerned to tell them, "Go slowly. Be smart. And please, whatever you do, don't get killed."

Smiling, Hermione said, "Please! Need I remind you that this isn't exactly my first rodeo?"

It was as if Hermione had known exactly what to say to make Scorpius relax. "Leave your tracks so that I can find the tunnel once I fight all the way through the town," he said to her with more confidence than he'd had since the wedding. Then he added to Hugo, "She'll be in the Room of Requirement, but you'll have to blast it open." He hadn't known this before, but as he said the words he was certain that they were true. Where else would Astoria keep her captive but in a cell that couldn't be opened by anyone but here?

"Okay," Hugo nodded, and Scorpius watched closely as he and Hermione walked out of the barrier and ignored all of the Flock members who surrounded them but received no wounds from their spells.

Convinced enough that the Unbreakable Vow would hold true for the mother/son duo, Scorpius turned to the waiting James and Ilana and asked almost wickedly, "So, you two ready for this?"

"Oh, I'm ready," replied Ilana as she rolled up her sleeve, once again revealing the scar that she'd been waiting nearly a year to carve into somebody else.

When it was James's turn, he squinted his eyes, tilted his head, and seethed, "Let's kill this bastard."

Scorpius decided to follow his instincts by taking James and Ilana down to the lake. He didn't much like the idea of dementors interfering with the fight, but he was sure that Wynn had been the one to send them the Order's way in the first place, which meant that he must have gone to the Black Lake in order to do so. He could be long gone by now, of course, but Scorpius wouldn't yet know where else to look.

They found him waiting on the ice, and Scorpius took it as a gesture of arrogance rather than kindness that Wynn had seemingly sent the dementors away. He was simply standing there with an obnoxiously firm stance atop the slippery surface and his hands were clasped in front of his stomach with more patience than he had ever shown. His eyes were blank but still filled with fire, because of course he didn't recognize Scorpius, but it didn't matter. It didn't change the fact that he was waiting to kill anyone.

James and Ilana were attempting to circle around Wynn's side as Scorpius approached him from the front, but Wynn wouldn't let them get that far. All of his spells were silent because he didn't know the incantations for them, though this didn't have any effect on their strength. Ilana was the first to land on her face, sliding across the ice and spreading muddy blood from her nose into the cracks of the glass.

Running over to her and helping her up, Scorpius momentarily forgot about Wynn's presence as he tried to focus on Ilana's, but it turned out that Wynn had refocused his attention as well. He was now staring at the lake's island, where the dementors were slowly returning. "They can smell my blood," said Ilana chillingly.

"They don't matter," Scorpius said. Then he pointed a wand at Ilana's broken nose and fixed it by saying, "Episkey."

James had missed the whole conversation between Scorpius and Ilana, too focused on the dementors and getting ready to procure a Patronus that he knew wouldn't be strong enough in his saddened state. It wasn't until Scorpius told him not to bother trying that he remembered he wasn't the only one on that ice, which was currently freezing all over again as the dementors neared and flew for the blood and the leader and the talent, but were careful to avoid the albino.

Noticing this pattern, Scorpius hoped that James would understand what he was thinking the same way Rose could always read both of their minds, since he was too far away from James to say it aloud without Wynn overhearing. Meanwhile, Ilana was still right next to him and was growing more and more confused about why Scorpius didn't want her blasting her hawk at the ghoulish ghosts.

Backing away from Wynn and letting the dementors follow him, Scorpius whispered to Ilana, "Look at the ice. The dementors are making it colder everywhere they fly, but look at the parts they don't fly over."

Ilana followed his orders, widening her eyes upon understanding what exactly Scorpius was insinuating through his cryptic spy games. She was the one to finish voicing his plan, saying, "It's cracking around the edges, because it's a different layer from the ice that's cooling beneath us."

"So, if we just let the dementors stay close to us like they want to and if we encircle him, then maybe we could crack it." Scorpius could smell the dead breaths from above him, could hear the screams of victims echoing through the dementors' throats, could feel the way he used to feel every time his mother had left him as a boy, or every time his parents had fought on the other side of his bedroom door.

Not being able to take it any longer, Scorpius ran from the dementors and around Wynn so that he was equidistant from both James and Ilana. Wynn was now shooting spells at Scorpius because he'd been the one to move so suddenly, but in between ducks Scorpius gestured to James and Ilana and soon all three of them were sending a laser over the ice's surface, making three straight lines that intersected in the exact place Wynn was standing.

It took a full minute for Wynn to completely grasp what was happening, and in that time the ice began to split. Still, it was too thick to break before Wynn broke into a run, and Scorpius and Ilana were being overtaken by the dementors when he started heading in their direction. That was what made James sprint after him, procure a knife out of thin air that he thrust into the ice, and then yell, "AVADA KEDAVRA!"

As Wynn fell forward, the ice opened up just enough for him to slide into the water and be swallowed by the sea, right where he belonged. Scorpius was riveted by the sight, but of course the ice was now cracking beneath him as well, and James was already well on his way to the shore. After one last glance at Wynn and not even being able to find his bright hair anymore, Scorpius yelled for Ilana to run and then went on his way. Unfortunately, he was halfway to shore before he noticed the black army marching toward the Lake.

Hermione and Hugo must have caused some sort of stirring in Hogsmeade, because the Flock looked as if they were well aware that they were under a very threatening, very realattack. Scorpius couldn't see who was leading the flank, but he could see James up ahead trying to defend himself from green sparks and could hear Ilana's quiet, steady thumping from behind him.

As James slowed down, Scorpius sped up to see if he could help him, but the Forbidden Flock had brought the smoke back with them, or at least the dragon fire. It was grey everywhere, making it impossible for Scorpius to see two feet in front of him as he caught up with James. He couldn't see who was leading the opposing army, nor could he see exactly who he was hitting as he sent stunning spells every which direction. He couldn't see anything at all, so he tried to focus on what he could hear.

That was when James fell. They couldn't have been back on land just yet because Scorpius could feel the ice beneath his feet, but amidst all the far-off battle cries he just barely heard a male voice say in what sounded to him like a whisper but was surely just coming from far away, "Sectumsempra." Then he heard James grunt in pain. Then he heard the light tapping of a wand falling on the ground. Then he heard the moans and grunts and screams.

"HELP ME!" yelled Scorpius as he ran to James. "ILANA, HELP ME!" He was the first to reach James, but Ilana wasn't far behind, clearing off some of the smoke on her way so that she and Scorpius could better see the extent of James's injuries.

He was bleeding all over, red seeping out from his shoelaces, to his belt buckles, to the bottom of his blazer sleeves. "Scorpius," he managed to say as Scorpius pulled off the jacket and saw the scars that had opened up his shirt and that were so numerous and deep across his chest that Scorpius couldn't actually differentiate one from another. The scarring on his shoulders was the worst, and even though Scorpius hadn't been there to see the injury James had received from shattered glass back at his grandfather's funeral, he was fairly certain that this glass was a hundred times sharper.

Scorpius completely ignored him when James said his name again, instead looking over James's body in search of Ilana, who was sitting on his other side but had yet to take out one of her trusty potions or Muggle medicines. "Do something," Scorpius begged her when she looked at him blankly. "Please, do something."

James's breathing was growing shorter as Ilana shook her head. "I can't do anything, Scorpius. You know I can't. You know who did this, and you know how powerful he is. You know that every spell he casts is fatal."

The green in her eyes made him furious. Needing to look away from them, Scorpius searched in the direction the spell had fired from, and he didn't need to be told that it was Albus whose black hair he saw floating above the smoke. The spell had come from that stupid book of his; Scorpius remembered Rose telling him about it before. Al hadn't known what it would do, but now he did. He hadn't known just how much worse it would be if cast from the Elder Wand, but now he did. He hadn't known how he could possibly cause his family any more pain, but now he had.

"Scorpius," James said again, more faintly this time. "Scorp."

He turned back around to face the man who was calling his name. Scorpius looked into the brown of James's eyes so that he wouldn't have to look at the various scrapes that covered his cheeks and forehead, and he watched the orbs point him in the direction of the abandoned blazer. Following James's gaze, Scorpius saw the Invisibility Cloak tucked up in one of the sleeves and, with a nod of permission from James, pulled it out and held the silky fabric in his sweaty hands.

"Take it," said James with all the energy he had left. "Find her."
Rose was the only thing Scorpius and James had ever agreed on. They had both loved Quidditch, they had both loved the Potters, and they had both loved to lead, but those were all things that they also competed over. Rose was different. They loved her in different ways, protected her in different ways, rescued her in different ways. But they both agreed that she deserved to be rescued, to be protected, to be loved. She deserved everything.

Scorpius could have told James that he didn't really need the Invisibility Cloak, that he could simply use a Vanishing Spell on himself or fly away in his falcon form as a way of hiding from the Flock, but he chose not to say any of that. He chose to take the cloak because James had given it to him to ensure the promise that Scorpius would rescue her without him.She would need the cloak, so he would have to get it to her.

So, Scorpius merely thanked James for the gift and then said to him, "I will. I'll find her. I'll rescue her. I promise." But as he looked into James's eyes for what he was sure would be the last time, all he saw reflected in them was nothing.

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