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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11. The Quidditch House Cup (1/2)

"Alright, I've got one for you," Al said, Rose already nervous for the upcoming question. "What exactly is the effect of the potion, Draught of Peace?"

The two of them, along with Scorpius, were quizzing each other in preparation for their OWL's, which were now fast approaching. Albus was helping Rose with Potions, while Rose was helping Scorpius with Charms, and Scorpius was helping Al with Transfiguration. They made the perfect team, each bringing a different skill to the table, and using each other's strengths to balance their own weaknesses.

Rose smiled now, for she knew the answer. "It calms anxiety and soothes agitation," she answered, thinking that she could use some right about now. Still, it wasn't the memorization that she would have a problem with on her Potions exam, but rather the practical section.

"Correct," Al nodded, leaning over in his seat to read more on the potion from his textbook. They were at one of the long tables in the Great Hall, one of many small groups of nervous fifth and seventh years, all of whom were preparing for one of the two most important exams of a wizard's career. "Ah, but," Al continued, "Which of said potion's ingredients is actually poisonous?"

"Oh gosh, I know this one," Rose said to herself, closing her eyes as if to search her mind for the answer. Luckily, it seemed to work, as a moment later she shouted out excitedly, "Hellebore!"

Al held up a hand, and Rose gave him a high-five while smiling. She had just gotten through the majority of all possible questions that could be asked in her written exam, and had done surprisingly well, considering that Potions, along with Divination, was one of her worst subjects. Just as Rose touched Al's hand, though, she was reminded of everything that he had been hiding from her over the course of the year.

She and Scorpius hadn't yet asked Al about his wand, but Rose had been trying to gain some sort of sign of whether or not he even knew what the Elder Wand was. She still hadn't come to a conclusion on that front, though, and so her suspicions continued to tell her that he did know, that he had been lying, and that he and Shunpike were somehow behind Filch's murder. It felt odd to think of such things about her best friend, but for some reason her mind always went there. It seemed logical, considering that Al had continued to defend Shunpike, whose behavior was most definitely not normal. Plus, Rose kept remembering the sight of Al in her dream, and how the ghost of Filch had pointed to him, saying continuously, "You know who did it." This part Rose kept to herself though, not even telling Scorpius, since he had also taken part in the nightmare.

"Okay, my turn to show off," Scorpius said then, waking Rose from her trance. "Al, name an example of a Cross-Species Switch using the Switching Spell."

Al sighed upon hearing this, as he nearly always forgot the definition of a Switching Spell, and giving an example was even more difficult. "Bloody hell, I don't know," he said. "Are we even required to know that?"

"Unfortunately, yes," Scorpius replied. "But it would be understandable if you passed just by doing well on the practical." Rose looked up from her pile of books at this, since Scorpius was clearly insinuating that Al would do well on his practical, not thanks to any skill he had in Transfiguration, but just because of his superior wand.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Al asked. "We all know it'll be a miracle if I get anywhere above 'Dreadful' on this one. And even if I somehow get an 'Acceptable', McGonagall will only accept 'Exceeds Expectations'. I might as well kiss all my Auror dreams goodbye now." Transfiguration was a very important class for those who were hoping to become either Healers or Aurors, and it was true that McGonagall would only accept N.E.W.T. students who got a very high grade on their OWL exam.

Rose and Scorpius looked to each other curiously as Albus responded, having a silent conversation amongst themselves. Albus hadn't said anything about his wand, nor had he caught on to Scorpius's comment. As Scorpius widened his eyes to say that he thought Al really didn't have any idea about the wand, Rose shrugged slightly but looked away, telling Scorpius that that didn't mean that they should tell him.

"Could you just tell me?" Al asked, catching the two off guard.

Once Scorpius realized that he was only talking about the Switching Spell question, he answered, "A guinea fowl into a guinea pig, a beetle into a button. Either would work."

Albus nodded and then sat his head down in defeat. "Why can't I just take the Potions one? I could do that in my sleep," he complained.

Then, figuring that Al didn't want another question, Rose asked Scorpius, "What's the incantation for the Silencing Charm?"

Scorpius breathed a sigh of relief, for this was an easy question. "Silencio," he answered.

Rose smiled and nodded, before asking, "And which animals can it be best practiced upon?"

"Er," Scorpius said, scratching his head. "I know a raven's one, and some sort of toad, maybe?"

"Close," Rose said. "A bullfrog."

Scorpius nodded. "Right," he said. "A bullfrog. Got it."

Rose then turned back to Albus, as it was his turn to ask her a question. He still had his head down though, and his eyes almost looked sad, as if he was thinking about something that he deeply missed. "Al," Rose asked, leaning toward him from across the table. "You awake?"

Al sighed and said, "Barely." He seemed to be in a fowl mood lately, which only made it harder for Rose to trust him. As he sat up a little further, he asked, "Name the two ingredients of Strengthening Solution that are easily confused for the other."

Rose thought about it for a moment, as this was a particularly perfect question for her. If the two ingredients Al spoke of were added to the brew at the wrong time, the potion could turn out smelling of burnt rubber, which is exactly what had happened to Rose when she had first tried to make it. Recalling what she had done wrong, she answered, "Pomegranate juice and salamander blood. The juice is meant to be added near the beginning, but the blood shouldn't be put in until the end."

Al nodded and said, "Exactly. I think I'm starting to run out of questions for you, Rose."

Rose smiled with pride, but her moment in the spotlight was soon diminished when Al perked straight up and shifted in his seat, stretching his neck so that he could see over Scorpius's head. He didn't even bother to look back to Rose or Scorpius when he got up from his seat and said, "I have to go. See you later."

Following his motions, Rose and Scorpius turned just in time to see Al catch up with Abby Chang-Turner at the entrance to the hall, and Scorpius snorted with disgust. "When's he going to end it with her anyway?" he asked.

"Um, I think he might be doing that right now," Rose said with her eyebrows raised, noticing that Abby's eyes were transfixed on Al, growing wider and wider as she pouted her lips. A few moments later, she started bawling in front of the entire room. When Al began to walk in the opposite direction, she ran after him, calling out his name more loudly than Lila Jordan's magical megaphone. It was quite the scene, and most of the students who were in the hall were riveted by the distraction from their studies. Once the two quarrelers left though, everybody went back to work. It was well past supper at this point, but the amount of work that they all had at this time of year made it feel like the day was just beginning.

Scorpius mumbled, "About time," before turning back to a diagram of Chinese Chomping Cabbage that he was labeling.

Rose went back to work as well, asking, "Scorpius, do we need to know any of the Conjuring Spells?"

"Not for the practical," Scorpius answered. "Just a few of the incantations for the written."

"Sorry," he added, smiling as Rose sighed, since he knew how well she could conjure small flocks of canaries. She made them all the time when the two of them were in their clearing in the Room of Requirement.

"Oh, that's alright," Rose said. She then thought that she ought to get some sleep, but was put on hold when she heard a voice from behind her and Scorpius.

"Studying, I see?" Professor Shunpike asked them.

Rose and Scorpius both turned around to see their least favorite teacher staring down at their books, but failing to make eye contact with either of them. "Yes," Rose answered.

"Mmm," Shunpike said, looking at Rose and ignoring Scorpius's presence. "Well, good luck." He then walked past, leaving the two shaken by his mysterious behavior.

"Yeah, he definitely gives me the chills," Scorpius said about Shunpike.

"Agreed," Rose answered, too tired to think anymore about it. She yawned then, and rested her head against Scorpius's shoulder for a moment before saying, "I think I might head to bed."

Scorpius nodded, but told her, "I think I'll stay for while longer."

"You sure?" Rose asked, surprised. She didn't want to sound too motherly, but Slytherin had a Quidditch match against Hufflepuff the next morning, and Rose knew how important it was to get a good night's sleep before every game.

Scorpius nodded, pointing to his diagram and saying, "I just want to finish this." He had been studying more than either Rose or Albus, and had spent more time on the Quidditch pitch than the two of them combined. Rose was beginning to wonder if he ever slept anymore.

Still, she nodded and gathered her books before giving him a peck on the lips and saying, "Well, good luck tomorrow. Look for me in the stands; I'll be rooting for you."

The next day marked the perfect weather for a Quidditch match, with clear blue skies and just enough sun so that is was warm and lively, but the rays weren't too glaring. Of course, this didn't actually correspond well to how the penultimate match of the season, Hufflepuff vs. Slytherin, was going.

Nearly every Hufflepuff player had already received some sort of injury, most of them now flying around with black eyes or limp arms. All had been thanks to Slytherin's two Beaters, Vincent Goyle and Maddi Bulstrode, who seemed to relish in the act of inflicting physical pain on others. The Hufflepuffs, too young and naïve to fight back, were being taken advantage of, and it was becoming difficult to watch.

Rose was in the stands, and she was softly rubbing Lucy Weasley's upper arm in hopes to comfort her, as her cousin would hold her breath out of fear every time a bludger came anywhere near Lorcan. James was on Rose's other side, and he too, along with Lysander, was keeping a close watch on Lorcan, one of his best friends. In the row in front of all of them, Hugo and Lily were squealing with delight over such an exciting match, while Nigel had sat down and covered his face, not wanting to be exposed to any more of the massacre.

"Oh!" Lucy exclaimed, as a bludger flew past Lorcan's ear. She exhaled once it had passed, but the barbaric ball continued on and knocked a third year Chaser into a side tower.

"Wicked," Hugo and Lily said in unison, even though Rose assumed that they probably knew this boy. This being said, they didn't seem at all concerned about his wellbeing.

Upon hearing the screams from the crowd, Nigel whined, "Just tell me when it's over."

Rose sighed and added, "How aggressive do they need to be? This is worse than the professional leagues!" She was trying to be the voice of reason.

"Well it seems to be working for them," James mumbled. Slytherin was ahead by 20 points, and Hufflepuff's Seeker was massively injured, so they barely stood a chance anymore.

"Relax," Lysander said to James from his other side, sounding annoyed. "You're only ten points behind… unlike us." The Ravenclaw team had started off the year in the lead, but they'd lost it after their match against Slytherin. Now, the real question was not whether Slytherin would win today, or even if Gryffindor would win against Ravenclaw later that month, but rather which would win with more points.

As James raised his eyebrows cockily and shrugged his shoulders in agreement, Rose found herself torn between loyalties. James never wanted anything but to win, and wouldn't settle for second place in the House Cup, but Scorpius had been waiting for his own moment to shine for quite some time.

Looking up at the latter, who was scanning the pitch as usual, Rose found herself feeling guilty as she thought that it might not be so bad if Slytherin won, if only just this once. This feeling didn't last long though, since Rose knew that Scorpius would never want her to give up her own competitive spirit out of love for his.

Turning herself back to the rest of the match, Rose looked just in time to see Albus take a minor blow from Lorcan's bludger, causing the quaffle to fall into the hands of a Hufflepuff. They quickly scored, though it was Goyle's rebound hit that really caused an uproar from the stands, as he hit the bludger straight back at Lorcan and right into his shoulder. He seemed to be knocked out instantly, and fell off the side of his broom and onto the ground below him.

Lucy was speechless, but Rose could feel her entire body shaking, and Lysander and James were both looking down at the grass with worry. "And a fast bludger brings injury to yet another Hufflepuff player, with Captain Lorcan Scamander knocked off his broom!" Lila Jordan announced from McGonagall's box.

As the entire crowd looked down to see the school nurse running onto the field to collect Lorcan, Lucy let go of Rose and started to head down to him, not saying a word of goodbye as she left. Lysander quickly followed suit, to whom James called after, "Let me know how he is! I'll come when I can!"

Once the ruckus had settled down, James shook his head and muttered, "It sure is working for them."

Rose didn't respond but held her breath as she watched Goyle's wrath take its next victim. Hufflepuff, against all odds, managed to score two more times, though both cases were out of sheer dumb luck. Afterward, the action subsided as the players grew more tired, and the crowd resorted to sitting back down and waiting for Scorpius to catch the snitch, which seemed imminent to all.

During this slow period, Rose noticed that James's eyes, which were normally so focused on the match, had turned toward the back of three Gryffindor heads sitting a few rows in front of him and Rose. Yet again, his gaze had been averted toward Caitlin Finnigan, only this time she was sitting with her sister, Cassidy, along with Sam Thomas.

"You can't do this to yourself," Rose said to James, waking him up from the daydream.

James, not bothering to try to hide his feelings, glanced at Rose and asked, "Why not?"

"Because," Rose laughed, "She doesn't deserve it. If you're going to keep moping about it, then you at least have to tell her what you did. I mean, I thought we agreed on that before." James had used Caitlin's breaking up with him as an excuse not to tell her about him and Cassidy, but now that guilt, along with his feelings for Caitlin that had finally come to light, were eating away at him.

"We did," James complied. "But it would mess things up for Cassidy, and she's been begging me not to say anything."

Looking back at the three of them, Rose noticed that Sam had his arm around the older Finnigan. "They're back together?" Rose asked.

James nodded. "Cassidy told him she'd had enough of a break. They made up last night."

Rose, confused by the complexity of what had become a love rectangle, shook her head as she tried to keep up. "How can she live with that lie?" she asked James, wondering how Cassidy could keep her secret from both her sister as well as Sam.

James shrugged and muttered, "It seems to be working for her." Sadly, he looked once again to Caitlin, who was shouting at her sister and pointing up at the sky.

Rose looked just in time to see Scorpius rush after the snitch, and in a matter of seconds he was holding it tightly in his hand, smiling cockily for his team's easy win. "And SLYTHERINwins! Scorpius Malfoy has just caught the snitch, earning his team a total of 190 points, well over Hufflepuff's 40."

Instinctively, James turned his attention back to the game and asked Rose loudly so that she would hear over all the cheering, "How many have they got?"

Rose quickly calculated Slytherin's total points for the season, as this had been their final match. "610," she answered. "We'll need another 210 to win the cup." Gryffindor only had 410 points so far, and were expecting some tough competition from Ravenclaw in their upcoming match.

James patted Rose on the shoulder as they began their walk down to the field. "Well then, I guess we'll have to make that happen, won't we?" he asked.

Rose chuckled and replied, "I guess so."

The next few weeks went by quickly, as Rose was incredibly busy with extra-long classes, numerous study sessions, and late-night Quidditch practices. Scorpius, who was done with Quidditch for the season, used his extra hours cramming all the material he could into his mind, feverishly preparing to the best of his ability. Rose was impressed by his desire to do so well on his exams, but she was beginning to worry that it may be for the wrong reasons.

Rose's hunch regarding Scorpius's lack of sleep was growing larger and larger with every moment they spent together. He seemed relentlessly tired, and would always stay up even after Rose would leave for her dormitory. She hadn't yet asked him anything about it, but was waiting for the right moment.

On the night before the season's final match, Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw, Scorpius, being the gentleman that he was, walked Rose to Gryffindor Tower before saying goodnight. He was carrying a large pile of books, with both his as well as hers, and walking up each staircase at a glacial pace.

"I am capable of carrying my own books you know," Rose said, feeling guilty for letting him waste his energy on her.

Scorpius cocked his head to the side and said, "Don't even try."

Rose, not wanting to pass up the challenge, refuted, "But it might tire me out for the match tomorrow, which would make it much easier for us to lose terribly, making you the season's winner." Of course she wanted Gryffindor to win the Cup, but she figured that it was a good angle to use on Scorpius.

"My team you mean," Scorpius corrected her, not wanting the credit even when it was well deserved. "And that's not entirely true, since you're not actually an offensive player. The worst you can do is have Ravenclaw score a load of goals, but you have no say in how many points your own team will get."

Rose sighed, letting him win this one. She had no comeback, and so had no choice but to surrender. When they finally got to the floor, however, she snatched her books from him and put them on the floor by her side.

"They're going to gather dust on the floor like that," Scorpius mumbled, staring down at Rose's books. He tended to be very neat, but Rose also theorized that some of her controlling ways had rubbed off on him.

"I wanted to let go of them," Rose said, "So that I could take three steps forward and wrap my arms around you." As she said the familiar words and began to walk closer to him, Scorpius chuckled and smiled crookedly.

When Rose put her arms around his neck, Scorpius reciprocated by putting his around her waist. She looked up at him with concern, but he failed to notice. There was a distance in his eyes, as if the ice had frozen completely solid, not a crack on its surface, failing to let any light in.

"I should go," Rose said quietly. She wanted to ask him if he had been sleeping lately, but she couldn't manage to get the words out. She knew that tonight of all nights would not be an easy sleep for any Quidditch player, especially him. It just wasn't the right time.

"Don't," Scorpius whispered, his forehead pressed against hers with his eyes closed. "Stay here with me. Forever."

Rose smiled at the idea, thinking of how much she wanted it to come true. "I will if you will," she said.

"I will. You know I will," Scorpius promised, leaning away slightly and opening his eyes again. He then leaned back in and kissed her softly. Afterward, they separated from their embrace and he knelt down and picked up her books to hand them over to her. "But we can't let them gather dust on the floor."

Taking her books back, Rose said, "No, I suppose we can't."

"Will you meet me for breakfast tomorrow?" Scorpius asked after a moment of silence.

"I will," Rose answered. "You know I will." She then turned away from Scorpius, gave the Fat Lady her password, and walked through the portrait hole into the Gryffindor common room, which was already decorated for tomorrow's match.

As soon as Rose entered the crowded room, the air around her changed from its previous serenity to a very perplexing chaos. All she could hear was yelling from every direction, some of which came from female voices, others from those of a male. Walking further into the room, she noticed that nearly all of Gryffindor house had gathered round, watching what appeared to be a fascinating row between their fellow students.

"How could you?" Cried a girl's voice with an Irish accent. It was one of the Finnigans.

"It was an accident," her sister responded. "I never meant to!" Rose was beginning to understand what they were talking about, but continued to push her way through everyone, hoping that what she would see would not in fact be what she expected.

"An accident?" the first voice yelled angrily. This time, Rose recognized it as the rougher and less melodic of the two, which was most definitely Caitlin's. "How could this be justified as an accident?"

"She was upset," the male voice piped in. Rose finally had a good view, though admittedly she didn't need it to know that it was James. Sighing to herself, she wondered what had possibly given him the idea to tell Caitlin about him and Cassidy the night before a Quidditch match. For such a brilliant Seeker, he seemed to have terrible timing.

"NO!" Caitlin spat, turning around to James, who was standing off to the side, forming the final edge of their triangle. Rose was somewhere in between the two of them, with Cassidy across the room from her. "No," she continued, "You don't get to say anything!"

James, not normally one to abide by any rules, looked as if he was about to protest, but then shrugged and looked down to the ground. Rose assumed that he was trying to be cooperative, since he obviously wanted to be given a second chance with Caitlin. Looking over to the latter though, Rose didn't think that James would be forgiven any time soon.

Caitlin looked both furious and devastated all at the same time. Her face had gone bright red, and her eyes were puffing up. Her sister, Cassidy, kept trying to get closer to comfort her, but Caitlin would back away every time.

"Caitlin, please," Cassidy tried again, but this time she received a literal hit to the shoulder and was tossed aside.

"STOP!" Caitlin cried, and everybody went dead silent. She was shaking her head uncontrollably and was breathing so heavily that it would be difficult to get a word in edgewise. Eventually, she managed to, turning first to Cassidy and saying, "You are my sister. You're my best friend. How could you do this to me?" She was crying now, but still refused to let any hand try to comfort her.

Cassidy thought for a moment and looked at Caitlin with the guiltiest of expressions before she said, "I'm sorry, Cait. I really am. Just please, if you could hear me out –"

"I've heard ENOUGH!" Caitlin screamed. She had her eyes shut tightly and her hands were held in mid-air. After a long pause, she gained the strength to say slowly, "You slept with my boyfriend, and then lied about it. That's unforgivable."

The silence around the room was frightening, and Rose felt as if one breath might seem intrusive. To Caitlin, Cassidy, and James, it was just the three of them, and yet they clearly had nowhere to hide.

This didn't last long, however. A voice from the entrance to the room said quietly then, "You did what?"

Everybody turned around at the same time to find Sam Thomas towering above the younger kids. He turned directly to Cassidy, the girl whom he had been in love with for as long as anybody could remember. His eyes, which were a striking blue that contrasted his dark skin perfectly, quickly went cold. Upon seeing this, and as if in unison, everybody turned to face Cassidy, awaiting her explanation.

"Sam," she whispered. She still seemed unaware of her audience as she began to explain, "We – we had broken up. I – it was after that fight we had. But it didn't mean anything, I promise. It only made me realize how much I wanted to be with you."

Rose knew exactly what Cassidy meant. It hadn't been that long ago that she had told Scorpius the same words about Lysander. Luckily, Scorpius had forgiven her, but she hadn't gone very far with Lysander, whereas Cassidy had done so with James. Looking over to the second offender, Rose saw that James was nodding. Though too scared to say anything, he felt the same way about Caitlin as Cassidy did Sam.

Suddenly, Rose noticed that Sam was beginning to look angry, and had his fists balled as he walked forward. "We were back together practically the next day!" he yelled at Cassidy. "And you didn't even think to tell me?" He was exaggerating for effect, as they hadn't actually gotten back together until quite recently. Still, he had a right to be dramatic.

"I –" Cassidy started, but Sam shook his head.

"And you?" he asked, after approaching James. "You think that you can get away with this?"

James's eyes widened immensely before he received a hard punch in the nose and was knocked down to the floor. The entire scene was very similar to the one Rose had seen between Cassidy and Caitlin only moments ago, but this time it was much more violent. There was a reason why Sam was a Beater: he was larger and stronger than any other Gryffindor, and was only smaller than Vincent Goyle when compared to the entire school. Off the field, he was polite and courteous, and did well in his classes, which was enough to earn him Head Boy. This, however, seem much more like he was on the field rather than off.

Without giving it much thought, Rose rushed over to James to help him get back on his feet. She wasn't in agreement with what he had done, but he still needed support right now. As soon as he got up though, he pushed Rose away and faced Sam, who looked ready for another lunge.

At this point, Cassidy and Caitlin had come closer, and were watching the two boys anxiously. Sam was completely furious, but was now being held back by both Fred and Bobby Dormer. He probably could have whipped them off if he really wanted to, but Rose could tell that he didn't actually have the desire to hurt James; he just needed to get his anger out.

After a few more minutes of Sam panting and staring across at James, he turned back to Cassidy and said, "Fine. Let's talk upstairs."

Thankful, Cassidy smiled and followed Sam (who had been released by Fred and Bobby) up the spiral staircase to his dormitory. With less excitement, and with it being so late at night now, most of the other Gryffindors dissipated to spots around the room that were further away, some of them heading off to bed.

Rose stayed beside James, but had given him a fair amount of space around himself. Caitlin, who now looked exhausted rather than sad or angry, was on James's other side. She was wiping her face of her tears when she asked, "Why'd you even tell me at all? After all this time?"

James took a deep breath as Caitlin's eyes landed on him, looking around to make sure that there was nobody left to overhear. Bobby was tending to the fireplace, with Fred and Lila giving each other a hug goodnight by the staircase, and Hugo, Nigel, Lila, and Roxanne hiding in the corner. Those four were definitely still interested in James's conversation, as they looked as though they were spying, their four small heads, three freckle-faced and one a gorgeous shade of mocha, peeking around one of the Quidditch banners. Still, they weren't really worth worrying about.

With one last breath, James whispered to Caitlin, "Because I still care about you. Probably more than I ever have, actually." He swallowed hard before adding, "And I knew that I wouldn't stand a chance unless I at least tried to tell you the truth."

Caitlin looked shocked. Rose was proud of James for finally letting his feelings out in the open, but was immediately scared for him when she saw Caitlin begin to look dizzy. As she held her head to keep steady, she laughed slightly to herself and then turned around and slowly walked over to the staircase, without saying a word.

After a moment, James wrinkled his forehead and said, "Well that went well."

Coming up from behind him, Rose laughed, hit James on the shoulder with one of her books, and said, "I can't believe you!"

"What?" James asked her, though he wasn't rubbing his shoulder from the pain. Rose assumed that he had barely felt a thing. "You've known this whole time! It shouldn't have been that much of a shock."

Rose sighed, thinking to herself that James was right, it was bad enough that James and Cassidy had done what they had done. Still, the less empathetic part of herself could only think about what this would mean for tomorrow's match, rather than what it would do to Caitlin or Sam. Thinking that James of all people should understand this fried logic, she said, "You decide to tell Caitlin now, right before the match? Are you really that much of an idiot?"

James looked confused and said, "What difference does it make when I tell her? She'll have a good cry over it and then move on. I mean you'd think a bit of Quidditch tomorrow would cheer her up!"

Rose chuckled to herself, amazed at how naïve boys could be, James being on the top of that list. Crossing her arms, she said to him, "Don't you understand how she must be feeling? Well, obviously she's feeling sad about you, and betrayed by Cassidy, and stupid for not noticing any of it before. Conflicted because you said you still have feelings for her, and frightened about losing tomorrow's match because she's so busy worrying about everything else!"

James was thoroughly lost now, as he exclaimed, "One person couldn't feel all that. They'd explode!"

Laughing now, Rose walked past James and gave him a pat on the back as she said, "Just because you've got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have." She then went up to bed, leaving James to ponder all that he had done.

The next day was a blur. It all started when Rose woke up to find everybody packed into the common room, but none were cheering. Instead, they all looked tired and were frantically glancing over at their Quidditch team, worried about the repercussions of last night's quarrel. Following their gazes, Rose found Cassidy pinning up her hair by the stained-glass window, Caitlin huddled on the couch with her arms wrapped around her legs and looking as if she hadn't gotten any sleep at all, Sam on the chair beside her, rubbing his eyes to stay awake, and James in the center of the room fixing his goggles, looking in between Caitlin and Cassidy nervously. Fred and Lily weren't there, and had probably already left for breakfast.

As Rose tip-toed across the room, James saw her and said, "Rose! Good, okay, so you know all the plays, right? You're ready?" He seemed paranoid again, and Rose knew that he was asking her only because nobody else on the team was speaking to him.

"Yes, James, I know the plays," Rose answered. "Just make sure you catch that snitch, okay?" She wanted to tell him that she wasn't the one he should be worried about, but he didn't need to hear that right now. He needed to have as much confidence as possible going into today's match.

James nodded in response, and then Rose left him, again with a small smile. Walking into the Great Hall, Rose was finally met with the adorning fans that she should have seen earlier, as all students not in Gryffindor had no idea of the drama that had been building under the surface of their team. The first to see Rose was Holly Longbottom, who was once again dressed in red and gold, despite being in Hufflepuff. This time though, she had extra props, as trailing behind her was a large-looking pet that Rose could barely make out. As the two came closer, Rose saw that the animal had a mane, and was in fact a miniature lion, walking side-by-side with Holly as if it was, like in the Muggle world, her dog.

"Good luck today, Rose!" Holly exclaimed, but Rose couldn't take her eyes off of the real-life Gryffindor mascot.

Her surprise was only heightened when the lion opened up its mouth and said, "Yes, good luck." Rose was speechless as Holly and the talking lion then continued on their way. Telling herself, as she always did with Holly, not to question things, Rose shook her head in disbelief. She then watched as Nigel, who was wearing his usual lion head hat, saw Holly with her own cat.

Crossing his arms against his scrawny chest, Nigel asked shyly, "Where'd you get that?"

Ignoring his question, Holly looked at Nigel's head and said, "I like your hat. It's very cute."

"Cute?" Nigel asked. "Yeah, well, same to your… thing." He gestured to Holly's companion.

"Oh, him?" Holly asked, looking down at the lion. "He's nothing really. Just a lion… who can talk." She then passed by Nigel, once again leaving her audience speechless.

Rose laughed out loud before taking her seat at her regular table where Al and Scorpius were waiting for her. Out of good sportsmanship, both had red t-shirts on.

"Hello, stranger," Scorpius greeted Rose as he stood up and pecked her on the lips. He had large bags under his eyes, but still seemed a little more awake than he had in the past few days. Taking Rose's hand, they both took a seat on the bench.

"You ready?" Al asked, taking his face away from its previous state of being buried in his Potions book in order to look over at Rose.

Rose poured herself a bowl of muesli and answered, "I am. Though I'm not sure about everybody else…"

"What's wrong?" Scorpius asked with concern, though there was a hint of excitement in his voice, as if he thought this might mean that Gryffindor wouldn't be able to win the Cup after all.

"Nothing," Rose answered, not wanting to surrender. "It's not important. We could just use some luck is all."

Scorpius nodded and said, "I know what you mean. I'll be needing a lot of it this week." They were beginning their OWL exams on Monday, and the first was Charms, which was arguably Scorpius's worst subject.

"You'll be fine," Rose reassured him for what felt like the hundredth time. Scorpius didn't have time to contradict her before Lily passed by and told Rose to get a move on.

Following Lily's order, Rose stood up and headed out of the hall, Scorpius calling after her, "Look for me in the stands; I'll be rooting for you." Upon hearing his words, she smiled to herself, knowing that he was all the luck she needed.

The match got off to a fairly quick start, turning very interesting right away, though for all the wrong reasons. Ravenclaw seemed to be a bit off their game, with Abby Chang-Turner, their Seeker, barely hanging onto her broom in between her cries and sniffles, and with Lysander, Team Captain and Beater, apparently not willing to cross the mid-field line. Even when the bludgers flew way over toward Rose, Lysander stayed put on his side of the pitch, as if he didn't want to get anywhere near her.

Meanwhile, it took mere minutes for Gryffindor to become the complete mess that they were feeling like inside. Caitlin refused to pass the quaffle to Cassidy, and similarly would not catch it if Cassidy tried to pass it to her. Lily was trying her best to work with one of them at a time, but Rose could tell that she was finding it difficult to make it seem as though she wasn't picking a side by doing so. Eventually, the young Chaser took matters into her own hands and attempted to find a way to fly through the other players herself, holding onto the quaffle for dear life. Gryffindor had only scored once so far.

With Abby lost in her own world, Rose was happy to think that at least Gryffindor still had James. Of course, this prospect of hope was ruined when Sam started hitting the bludger frighteningly close to James on numerous occasions, even when he was miles away from anyone on the Ravenclaw team. It would be a while before James would be able to maintain his focus long enough to actually spot the snitch.

Rose was doing well from her spot in front of the goal posts, however. One of the seventh year Chasers had managed to get two goals past her, but Ravenclaw was known to be the highest scoring team, as they had consistently earned ten goals in each of their matches so far. Rose's only objective today was to make sure they earned less, and so far that was going well.

"And Lily Potter scores again for GRYFFINDOR, getting past Ravenclaw Keeper Pranav Patil and earning her team another ten points!" Announced Lila Jordan. She had gotten over her initial nerves about being the new Quidditch announcer after the very first match, and had been in love with it ever since. After all, it was in her blood.

The students in the stands cheered wildly, as most of them were rooting for Gryffindor. Rose didn't have time to look to them for Scorpius though, since that big Chaser was coming back her way now. He was a brilliant flyer, even without Lysander's protection. Swerving through Caitlin and Cassidy, and going right over Sam's head, he made it to Rose in no time and didn't give any hint as to which post he was aiming for. Quickly, he turned around so as not to let his face give anything away, threw the Quaffle in the air, and hit it toward Rose with the bottom part of his broom.

The quaffle was now headed for the ring to Rose's lower left, and she knew that she wouldn't have time to fly there and block it with her hands. Thinking quickly, she leaned over to the left and then spun herself around her broom so that she was hanging underneath it like a monkey. This way, the ball would hit her straight on the head. It did just that, and she knocked it away with her forehead, sending it spinning toward Lily, who was waiting way over by the Ravenclaw posts.

Yet again, the crowds went wild, for this was not only a good save, but also a highly entertaining one. Of course, now there was one slight problem: how to get back to her upright position on Rose's broom. She soon realized that this would pose a bit of difficulty, as her arms were beginning to get tired from holding on this way, and the ground was a long way down. Trying to reposition her legs so that they were fully hanging over the broom handle, she started swinging herself from side to side. She probably looked ridiculous, but it ended up working, and she was back to her normal position before too long. Unfortunately, she had lost a lot of her balance and felt a little dizzy, so she ended up missing a surprise goal by Ravenclaw's younger, female Chaser. It seemed that Lily hadn't been able to hold on to the rebound.

"And RAVENCLAW scores yet again! We're at 30-20 now for Ravenclaw!"

Rose groaned with distaste, as she never liked to hear that another team had somehow gotten past her. Trying to ignore her own thoughts, she watched all the action that was taking place on the other side of the pitch. Cassidy Finnigan had the quaffle, and was reluctantly passing it back and forth between herself and Lily. Behind Cassidy on the right side of the field was Sam, who looked less than happy to be hitting bludgers away from her. Across from him, sticking to Lily, was Fred, who looked extremely anxious as he kept his eyes on his fellow Beater.

As Cassidy gained ground on the rings, now keeping the quaffle to herself, Lysander threw a bludger toward her, which Sam hit right back, only it went flying over to James, who was situated higher in the air, near the Headmistress's box. For a moment, Lysander looked torn, as if trying to decide between protecting his friend, who wouldn't be able to see the bludger coming, or letting the opponent Seeker get hit and upping Ravenclaw's chances of winning ten-fold. Knowing him, Rose assumed that he would pick the latter. Even if Ravenclaw won today, they'd have no chances of winning the Cup and would sacrifice all of Gryffindor's chances as well, but Rose didn't think that Lysander would care about such things. This was why she was thoroughly surprised when he leaned forward on his broom and flew up to James while calling out his name. James, hearing him, looked just in time to catch Lysander's bat and knock the bludger out of the way.

Unfortunately, James didn't have time to aim anywhere, and so the little black ball went straight for the Ravenclaw goal posts. Cassidy, who had just thrown a quaffle through and earned Gryffindor another 10 points was hit dead in the chest by the ball, and her horrific scream could have been heard from miles away. Rose cringed upon hearing it, and then covered her mouth in shock as Cassidy went unconscious, fell of her broom, and fell toward the grass.

Looking back up for a moment, Rose saw Sam, furious and heartbroken all at once, right before he flew straight down after her, held out his wand, and performed a spell that lowered her gently to the ground, so that she wouldn't be hurt anymore than she already had. Right as the nurse came running onto the ground to help, however, Sam shot straight back up into the middle of all the players and made his way to Fred. Once there, he said something to the Weasley boy, who then handed him his own bat, making Sam have two. Then, Rose realized why, when she saw both bludgers coming at him. With a look of utter rage, Sam shot both his arms, a bat in each hand, behind him and then swung them forward again, hitting each bludger at the exact right time and directly toward James. It seemed as though Sam might be able to forgive Cassidy, but James was not in the running.

Rose held her breath as she watched James closely, praying that he'd get out of the way. This time, James knew that the bludgers were coming for him, and was looking right at them until the very last moment, when he swerved out of the way and picked up speed. He had saved himself from getting hit, and was also after the snitch. Of course, this meant bad news for the crowds, as the bludgers had nowhere else to go but straight through the bottom of the Headmistress's box, causing many fearful screams.

"Cassidy Finnigan has been hit, and it seems as if we here in the crowds have as well!" Announced Lila, though she sounded more excited than scared. The bludgers hadn't hurt anybody there, but they had probably torn apart the floor of the box pretty badly. "Now, Gryffindor Captain and Seeker, James Potter, has spotted the snitch, while Ravenclaw's Rich Patterson's got hold of the quaffle!"

Turning her attention back to the immediate task at hand, Rose prepared herself for another go at the seventh year. This time though, there would be no stopping him. He was already too close to the posts, and was aiming for the ring to Rose's far right. She was still floating by the left one, and she would never make it across in time. Ravenclaw scored again, giving themselves 40 points, as opposed to Gryffindor's 30.

Posing a much bigger problem, however, was James, who was going after the snitch like wildfire, though his timing was completely off. If he got it now, Gryffindor wouldn't win with enough points to beat out Slytherin for the Cup. Rose tried to yell at him to stop, but once again it was too late. Abby was behind him now, and if James suddenly stopped, then she would have the chance to catch the snitch instead, which would ruin everything even more.

Distracted yet again, Rose failed to notice that the quaffle was headed back her way, along with a freakishly fast bludger. Fred was on its tail, but Rose feared that he wouldn't show in time to hit it away, so she flew to the side to protect herself, letting the quaffle in for the fifth time this match. Even this didn't save her though, since the other bludger, which she hadn't seen before, was coming up from behind. Nobody else had seen it either, and all, including Rose, were focused on the goal that Ravenclaw had just scored. The ball was about to hit the back of Rose's head, right where she had hit the quaffle earlier, until she heard the sound of a bat hitting it, and then watched the ball fly back toward the Ravenclaw side of the field. Turning around to see who had been there to help, Rose was met with Lysander, who was panting heavily, his forehead creased with worry.

"How did you get here?" Rose yelled at him, not understanding how he had appeared so quickly, when throughout this whole match he had been glued to the other side.

"I Apparated," he replied, with what sounded like a sad tone in his voice.

"But you'll be disqualified!" Rose exclaimed, her thoughts already on the rules of the game, which clearly stated that all players, even if licensed and over 17 years of age, were not allowed to use Apparition during a Quidditch match. If they did so, their entire team would be disqualified from the match at hand, forfeiting all points received.

"Does it really matter?" Lysander asked before flying away from Rose. She didn't understand why he had done it, nor had she ever expected him to do so. When they had been 'together', all he had ever thought about was himself, and now here he was, protecting both James and Rose, two players who weren't even on his team.

Rose's thoughts were interrupted with the sound of immense cheering from the stands. Looking around to see what all the commotion was about, Rose saw James holding up the snitch at the other side of the field, Abby trailing behind him looking defeated. James had caught it, and he didn't yet know that it wasn't enough.

"And James Potter catches the snitch, earning GRYFFINDOR 150 points! With a total of 180 points, and a disqualification of Ravenclaw's 50, GRYFFINDOR wins!"

The moment was bittersweet, and once again felt like a blur. Rose was the first to know what this meant, followed by the rest of her team members, who quickly realized that they for the first time in six years, they had been defeated. They had won the match, but they hadn't won the Cup. Around them, the crowds also began to realize the end results, as Slytherin started to cheer louder than anybody else, and the sighs coming from fellow Gryffindors could be heard across the campus.

James was the first back on the ground, and he looked as if he was in shock. Rose approached him as fast as she could, but didn't say anything. It was his first Cup loss, and it had been with what was arguably the best team Gryffindor had seen in quite a while. Of course, when they decided not to cooperate with each other, like they had today, they didn't stand a chance.

As Caitlin and Sam landed on the grass, they both wore expressions full of guilt, for it had been their anger at James and Cassidy that had resulted in the loss. Still, Sam didn't seem too concerned about it, and instead immediately ran off to the hospital wing to find Cassidy, whom he clearly still cared about. Caitlin, on the other hand, stood and watched Sam go with the same look of concern. She then turned to James, and back to Sam, and then to James again, trying to make a decision. Her sister needed her, but she had also betrayed her. James had at least told her the truth.

James was looking back at Caitlin now, and managed to get out the words, "Don't go. Please."

Rose, who was watching the two of them intently, knew who Caitlin would choose even before she knew herself. Family was somehow always easier to forgive than others.

"I have to," Caitlin whispered before she walked away, leaving James with nothing but the tiny snitch in his hand.

Rose was by his side instantly, letting him collapse onto her. Slowly, she led the heartbroken boy over the locker room, where Fred and Lily were waiting for them. Once there, he sat down on a bench and lowered his head onto his knees. Rose sat next to him, not yet saying anything, but just keeping him company.

Fred and Lily, who had both played brilliantly despite the drama, looked very upset. They had desperately wanted to win the Cup, as it was their first year on the team, and Rose could tell that their confidence had just been pummeled on.

Rose, who hadn't yet had time to reflect on her own emotions, was suddenly overwhelmed with that same loss. Their team had come so far this year, and they were so close to winning again. Now, they had lost to their enemy team by only 20 points. What made matters worse was that Gryffindor was clearly the better team of the two, as every one of their players was well qualified, and they had the best Seeker, Keeper, and young Chaser in the whole school. Slytherin couldn't say the same. Their team, with the exception of Scorpius, earned most of their points by bloodying their opponents. That was a part of Quidditch that Rose had never appreciated, and it seemed wrong for them to earn a trophy for their impressive display of violence.

Still, Rose reminded herself that Scorpius had been training the Slytherin team harder than any other, and that if anything, he alone deserved the Cup for all the work he had put in. She was happy for him, or at least she would be eventually. At the moment though, she just needed to grieve with the rest of her own team.

Thinking about this, Rose suggested to the other three, "Let's all go to the hospital wing."

Fred and Lily looked to her confused, and James looked as if he thought she had gone mental, but she had expected such reactions. "Look," she said, "We all lost today. I mean, we may have won the match, but in the grand scheme of things, we lost… all of us… the entire team. We should be together for this, no matter what."

She then took a deep breath and stood up, holding out her hand for James. "So let's go see Cassidy in the hospital wing," she said one last time. James looked up at her defiantly, but then sighed and slowly took her hand, following her out of the room with Fred and Lily close behind.

The four players were stopped mid-walk when they ran into a man waiting just outside the room. He smiled when he saw them, and had his eyes on James. He was dressed very formally, with a top hat and a nice suit, but then had a large pin on his collar. Looking closer, Rose noticed that the pin was black and white, with a small bird printed on it that she recognized as a magpie.

"James Potter?" the man asked, taking off his hat and holding it across his chest.

"Yes," James answered, still looking lifeless.

 

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