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



10. The Relaying of the Wand

Rose's feet were flying down the hill, lightly brushing against the newly thawed ground that formed the pathway from the Hogwarts courtyard down to the Forbidden Forest. Her legs had taken on a life of their own, and she could feel them swinging back and forth faster than she would have thought they could go. Right behind her, she could hear the slightly louder stomps of two other pairs of legs, heading in the exact same direction as her own.

Rose had rushed out of Charms class to catch up with Albus and Scorpius, as the trio had planned to meet Hagrid at his hut for lunch. Once they had left the castle walls, Rose had suggested that they race down, an old pastime that was always fun to revisit. Now, Rose was in the lead, but she could hear Scorpius's calm, steady breathing right behind her. He had always been the fastest of the three.

As they came closer to their destination, Rose pushed forward, but Scorpius was still able to pass her, zipping by nonchalantly until he arrived at Hagrid's door, just barely out of breath. Rose appeared only seconds later and all but collapsed into Scorpius's arms as she had little time to slow down beforehand. He caught her willingly and brushed a few strands of her wild, fiery hair out of her face as she came to once again.

Albus joined them soon after, his glasses about to fall from their crooked position on his nose. As Scorpius knocked on the door for the three of them, Al squinted and adjusted his spectacles, exclaiming, "That was hardly fair. I couldn't see a thing!"

"No excuse, mate," Scorpius mumbled, shaking his head. "No excuse." Rose chuckled from beside him.

Before Al could make an attempt at a comeback, the enormous Hagrid opened his door and pulled all of them into a hug, saying, "I've missed yeh three!" They hadn't come down to visit him in quite some time, though they had seen him plenty during their Care of Magical Creatures classes.

"Alright, alright," Albus said as he tried to push away. "Need to breathe." Hagrid then let them all go and they made their way into the tiny shack that seemed ironically small to be the home of such a large person.

"What have yeh been up to?" the half-giant asked as Rose, Al, and Scorpius sat down at the table. Rose was in between the two boys, Scorpius on the inside by the window and Al on the outside, closer to the door. Next to the latter of them sat Hagrid's questionably large boarhound, Saber. He was a beautiful golden color, but also happened to be incredibly lazy, and enjoyed drooling at all times, whether awake or asleep. His favorite of Hagrid's guests though, had always been Al, and Al had an equal amount of detestation for the dog. Saber was already slobbering all over Al's robes, his head resting on his knee, and Al was staring down at him with a look of pure disgust. He didn't complain though, since he had too much respect for the dog's owner to upset him in any way.

As Rose eyed Al and decided that he was too distracted to answer Hagrid's question himself, she replied, "We've been alright. School's beginning to get a bit stressful of course, with exams on their way, but…"

"But we're trying not to think too much about that," Scorpius finished for her. Rose tended to go on for a while whenever the topic of exams was brought up, and Scorpius had learned over the years to stop her before she got out of hand. He would let her stress when the time came, but it was only April now, so they still had over a month to study for their OWL's.

Rose nodded and gave Scorpius a thankful smile. Sometimes she wondered what she'd do without him there to tone down her exhausting thought process.

"Oh right, yeh've got yer owl's comin' up, haven' yeh? Well Rose, I'm sure yeh'll be fine. Yehr mother most definitely did well on those when she was 'ere," Hagrid reassured Rose as he handed her a cup of tea, which was more like a large bowl. She smiled back and took it gratefully as he handed a cup each to Al and Scorpius.

Then, sitting down on his own chair, Hagrid sighed heavily. He was nearly always tired these days, and Rose couldn't help but wonder how old he was now. Of course, giants lived longer than normal witches and wizards, so Hagrid probably still had at least a few years left on him.

"No kidding," Scorpius said anxiously, bringing Rose back to the conversation. "I wish I had your genes."

"That'd be a tad awkward, don't you think?" Al asked, Rose slapping him in return. Of course Scorpius hadn't meant what he said in that way at all, though Al enjoyed poking fun at the two of them whenever he got the chance.

"Very funny," Scorpius said. "But that still wouldn't be as awkward as you and Ms. 'Howdy y'all'" he teased, mimicking Albus's girlfriend, Abby. He still hadn't warmed up to her, and Rose had given up trying to be the buffer between the two of them.

Even Al was starting to get annoyed by the obnoxious character that Abby was, Rose noticed as he grimaced slightly and said, "Well, I suppose you've got a point." The two had been going steady for a while now, but Abby was beginning to grow increasingly clingy, and her less-than-intelligent sense of humor, which Al had originally deemed as cute, was now just irritating.

"What's tha'?" Hagrid asked, suddenly very curious about his students' personal lives. He already knew that Rose and Scorpius were together, but hadn't heard about Al's new fling.

"Oh, nothing," Al shrugged it off as Saber gave a loud snore. He had fallen asleep quickly, looking perfectly comfortable with his head nuzzled on top of Albus's thigh.

Hagrid looked hurt for a moment, thinking that he wasn't being let in on the joke, but Rose distracted him by asking, "How about you, Hagrid? Any news on Colin?" From what Rose knew, Hagrid had been writing letters to the Ministry to try to get Colin Creevey, who had been suspected for the murder of Argus Filch, released from his home-arrest state, but Rose feared that it may not be going well. After all, Hagrid was just barely literate, so a letter may not be the best way to go about in rescuing his old assistant.

Just as Rose asked the question, she could feel Scorpius shift in his seat beside her, but she didn't get the chance to ask if he was okay before Hagrid answered fervently, "Well, I thought tha' I might get him back with my last talk with Shacklebolt, I did. But o' course, they keep tellin' me tha' it's all up to McGonagall. I jus' don' understand why she'd want to keep him away fer so long is all."

"Well, they do have their reasons," Al answered. "I mean, I think he's innocent too, but there's not exactly anybody else for people to blame." He had been offering alternative offenders to Rose for weeks, but there hadn't been evidence to support any of them. Meanwhile, Rose had her own suspicions.

"That's not entirely true," Rose said quietly, since she knew that Al wouldn't want to hear it.

"Oh, not this again," Al whined, though Scorpius remained silent. He supported Rose in her theory, but didn't like to come in between her and Albus.

"What?" Hagrid asked. "What d'yeh know?"

"Nothing," Rose answered forcefully. "It's just a hunch is all." Al tried to interrupt her, but she continued on, if only because of Hagrid's look of longing. "See, when I was there, with Colin, Professor McGonagall came to inspect everything, but she wasn't the only one. Professor Shunpike came too, and he said something really odd at the time, and I can't think of anybody else who had been acting so strangely."

"Rose, it wasn't Shunpike!" Al said loudly, nearly waking Saber. "He's a teacher; why would he ever do something like that?" Albus always defended Shunpike, if only because he was his favorite professor, and had helped him rise to the top of the class in DADA.

Rose ignored Al and looked to Hagrid, whose forehead was creased as he contemplated to himself. "I don' know Rose," he finally said. "Al here has a point. Shunpike's a teacher, he wouldn't ever hurt one o' his own." Hagrid had a way of speaking about everything and everyone as if it was an animal, and it made him forget that humans weren't always as loyal to one another as their wilder counterparts.

"But you two weren't there," Rose said, frustrated that they didn't believe her. Of course, she hadn't mentioned that Shunpike had also appeared in the recurring dream she had had, but she still wanted them to be on her side. "There was nobody else around, and Filch was dead, and Shunpike acted as if it was all completely normal."

Scorpius, though still silent, took her hand from under the table and squeezed it tightly, letting her know that he was there for her, even if Al and Hagrid weren't. He seemed to understand better than anybody how scared it made Rose to think about what she had witnessed in the fall, if only because he had witnessed an event that summer that could have been very similar if he hadn't put a stop to it himself.

Looking down at Scorpius's hand around hers for a short moment, Rose tried to gather herself and added, "Nobody's ever going to find out the truth unless we start to question things more closely."

At that, both Al and Hagrid smiled guiltily, for they agreed with Rose on this front. They all wanted to make it safe for her and for the rest of the school, and they all wanted Colin's reputation to be redeemed, but none of them seemed to know where to start.

After a little while longer at Hagrid's, Rose, Al, and Scorpius said goodbye (Scorpius having to momentarily turn Saber into a goblet in order for him to let Albus leave) and made their way back to the castle for their next class, which was, of course, Defense Against the Dark Arts with none other than Professor Shunpike.

As soon as they took their seats, Rose and Al at a table up front and Scorpius just behind them, Shunpike stammered in from his office. He looked disheveled, as was usual, and Rose sighed with discontent, for a double period of DADA was never pleasant. For some odd reason, she had a feeling that today would be even worse than usual.

Shunpike was quiet as he approached his desk, and all the students from Gryffindor and Slytherin waited for him to address them. He was staring down at the fifth year textbook, and was flipping through it, looking for a particular lesson. They were due for a new topic, now that they had gone through all of this year's jinxes, and Rose was curious to see what it would be.

"Um, all right everyone, please turn to page 394," Shunpike directed, looking slightly nervous about his order.

Rose immediately opened her book and did as he told, but quickly regretted it. She recognized the page she was staring at as soon as she came across it, for she had studied it in detail the morning after Filch's murder: this was the chapter on the Unforgivable Curses. She quickly flipped through the section to find that it was the last in their book, but it was quite lengthy all the same.

Suddenly Shunpike was staring down at Rose, having noticed that she was no longer on the page he had asked, but was instead getting a sneak peak at what was ahead. "I said turn to page 394, Ms. Waslib." His voice was not harsh, but did feel rather patronizing. He then pointed his wand at Rose's book and it turned back to the correct page. She looked up at him, expecting a challenge, but he had already turned away.

Now back in front and facing the entirety of the class, Shunpike began his explanation, "Now I realize that you had an introduction to this subject last year, but the Ministry seems to feel that it is of utmost importance that you be fully prepared to defend yourself against these dangerous spells if need be." He looked much less cheerful than he normally did, as if speaking of such spells pained him.

"Who can name me the first of these spells, please?" Shunpike asked, and Rose raised her hand high, though she knew that he would never call on her.

Al too had raised his hand to answer, but Shunpike was staring down at another. Turning around in her seat, Rose's heart quickly sank as she looked to Scorpius, who had his head down in agony. "Mr. Malfoy?" Shunpike asked.

Scorpius refused to answer, and looked as if he had gotten lost in his own nightmare, which was only to be expected. Wishing to take away his pain as best she could, Rose looked up to Shunpike and said, "Stop it!"

"Speaking out of turn yields twenty points from Gryffindor, Ms. Wesley. I would advise you not to do so again," Shunpike said to her. He was acting more crossly than he had ever been before, and the entire class was looking up to him with slight fear, even Al.

"Mr. Malfoy, please?" Shunpike asked again, and no one dared to raise their hands so as to offer their own answer. Shunpike seemed determined to receive a response from only Scorpius.

Rose looked at the boy she loved once again, and he was trying to hide his eyes, which were sure to be watery. She wanted to reach out and hold him, and to wipe away any thoughts he may be having of his mother, but she knew that she couldn't. With everybody else in the class silent though, Rose had to do something, so she turned to Shunpike yet again and this time yelled fiercely, "STOP IT! Can't you see it's bothering him? STOP IT!"

Shunpike turned directly to Rose and spat out, "Rose Weasley, shut your ungodly lop-sided mouth and quit interrupting; twenty more points!" This time, he had said her name correctly, but the effect had only made his words sting even more.

Upon noticing Rose's pained expression, Scorpius mumbled, "The Imperius Curse." He didn't look to his teacher, though. Instead, he only looked to Rose, and she looked back at him.

"Thank you, Mr. Malfoy," Shunpike said quietly. "The Imperius Curse," he announced more clearly, "Is a spell that one uses to possess the form of another. They can control all of their actions, making them do things that they otherwise would not." He was looking down at the floor, and as Rose turned away from Scorpius, she could sense the tension in the room reaching an ultimate high. Something was definitely off with the man, though Rose couldn't tell what it was.

"Of course," he continued, still not making eye contact with his students. "The Curse is illegal to perform at any time, so I will not be teaching any of you to perform it yourselves. However, the Ministry has granted me permission to test the spell on of those of you who are willing to undergo it. I understand if you are not." Finally, he finished speaking and looked to the class.

Everyone was in a state of shock, none more so than Rose. The Ministry had always been against the use of students for the demonstration of any curse, let alone an Unforgivable one. Such things were completely frowned upon, and it seemed odd that this strict rule would suddenly be altered. Thinking about this, Rose only became more suspicious of Shunpike, who seemed less and less normal every day.

"I'll do it," Al said then, and for a moment Rose didn't know what he was referring to. When he got up from his seat and stood in front of the professor though, she realized that he had volunteered himself to serve as the first demonstration.

"Al, you can't!" Rose whispered, but he silenced her with his eyes, which looked prepared and powerful. She should have known that Al would never back down to such an opportunity to prove himself.

Shunpike looked to his favorite student and nodded sullenly. He then instructed to the rest of the class, "I am about to put Mr. Potter under the lightest possible version of the Curse that I can, and he will try to resist by fighting against whatever I order him to do." He then turned back to Al and said more quietly, "Albus, let me know if and when you'd like me to stop."

Listening to Shunpike, Rose always became so confused. One minute, she was sure that he would have sentenced Filch to his death without blinking an eye, and the next he seemed so innocent and pitiful, as if he would never hurt anyone unless he had to.

Watching closely, Rose, along with everybody who sat behind her, stared at Shunpike as he pointed his wand at Al and whispered, "Imperio." At first it seemed as though nothing had happened, but then Albus began to lean forward, his front side being pulled closer and closer to the floor as if a large weight was being pushed against his back. Al was breathing hard, panting against it, unable to bring himself back up. Eventually though, he shut his eyes, squinted, and then screamed through clenched teeth as he forced his body to shift about a centimeter back toward its upright position. As soon as he did so, Shunpike released him from the spell and Albus fell to floor uncontrollably.

Rose immediately stood from her seat and leaned across her desk, looking to see if Al was okay. Shunpike had bent down and put a hand on his shoulder in comfort, as he said, "Well done! That was a tremendous effort! What resistance!"

When Al smiled back and pulled himself off the ground, Rose sighed in relief (and she could hear Scorpius do the same). Al then walked back to his seat beside her, and she asked, "Are you hurt at all?"

Al shook his head and said, "No, not hurt really. It was more like pressure… but a strong pressure."

Rose was infuriated by Shunpike then, and she didn't understand why Al had gone along with this absurd notion. "To perform such things in a classroom," she breathed, but Al interrupted.

"Rose, this is important. We need to learn how to protect ourselves, don't we?" he asked, still quietly so that Shunpike wouldn't overhear.

Rose didn't reply, but she didn't agree either. For the rest of the period, she and Al did not speak, and Shunpike performed the spell on many other students, all volunteers, and Rose watched as none of them came close to resisting his control over them.

Toward the end of the class, most of the students, except for a few timid girls, had participated, though both Rose and Scorpius had not. With no other offers, Shunpike walked to Rose and asked, "Ms. Weabley?" but she shook her head in response, her eyes facing straight forward. In her right hand, she was clasping her wand tightly, fully prepared to use a counter-jinx on Shunpike if she had to.

As her hand began to shake though, Shunpike gazed down at it, and whispered, "That really is a lovely ring you have on." He said it with an admiring tone as he looked upon the black, slightly cracked stone that she barely ever took off, though Rose was sure there was a hidden meaning behind his words.

"Thank you," she said, looking up to him. He was smiling, but didn't look anything more than curious.

"Where did you find it?" he asked.

Rose didn't understand where this was coming from, but she thought it best to answer honestly. If he really was as dangerous as she was beginning to believe that he was, then she wouldn't want to seem like she had anything to hide. "I didn't. It was a gift."

She could hear Scorpius let out a sharp breath, and Shunpike turned to him and smiled. "Well that was very considerate of you, Mr. Malfoy," he said, before addressing them all and saying, "Please continue to read through the chapter, as we will move on to the second curse next week!" After they had been given the assignment, Shunpike dismissed them from his class.

Rose quickly gathered her books, anxious to speak with Scorpius about what had taken place, and was just about to turn to him when she found Shunpike there instead. He had a hand on Scorpius's shoulder and was asking, "If you don't mind, I'd like to have a word." He then steered him into his office, Rose watching them go.

"He'll be fine," Al said, seeing Rose looking worried. "Just leave them be for a while." He then walked out of the room, and Rose followed slowly, wondering what Shunpike was telling Scorpius alone in his office.

Once out of the room though, Rose turned her attention to Al and decided that this might be the perfect opportunity to convince him of Shunpike's criminality.

"So do you see what I mean now?" she asked her best friend. "The Unforgivable Curses, Albus, and he performed them on students!"

Al furrowed his eyebrows as they walked, and he replied, "I know what you're thinking Rose, but I honestly don't see it. He wasn't being hard on us, and it didn't look easy for him to do it either. He had to."

"He didn't have to!" Rose yelled, stopping Al in his tracks.

Albus turned to face her and asked rhetorically, "Would you rather he just have us read about them?" Continuing, he said, "I mean, did you ever think that maybe the Ministry ordered him to do it because of the murder? Maybe they're actually trying to protect us."

"Why do you trust him so much?" Rose asked. Shunpike was the only suspect she had left, yet Albus would still rather have Colin locked away for a crime he didn't commit.

"Because my father trusts him," Al stated. The two of them were not alone in the hallway, but Rose felt like they were. She hated fighting with her friend, especially when it turned into something more.

Rose nodded, not wanting to argue more over the matter. She didn't think that Al's excuse was good enough to put an end to the argument, for Rose didn't exactly trust Harry, Al's father, but she didn't say so to him. If Shunpike was guilty, he'd prove so on his own accord eventually. Still, she didn't want to be around Al at the moment, so without saying anything, she stomped off toward the moving staircases, headed for the library.

Nigel Creevey greeted her when she came in, Hugo at his side. "Hey Rose," he said, "You know I've got a good feeling about today. I think we're really going to find something this time." He and Rose were still meeting as often as they could to continue their research on wandlore, and now they had pulled Hugo in on the mission as well. He was far less interested in the matter, but he seemed to enjoy just keeping Nigel company.

Rose tried to mask her irritated mood as she followed the young boys to the middle of a long aisle of books. She preferred the comfort of Scorpius at a time like this, and she knew that he needed her as well, but she supposed that the books would have to do, with him being otherwise occupied.

Hugo took a seat at a desk, Nigel across from him with a huge pile of literature to sort through. Rose, knowing that she couldn't very well stay still at the moment, began pacing back and forth through the aisle, speaking aloud to herself. She was trying to get Shunpike out of her head while going over everything that they knew so far about Albus's uniquely powerful wand. "So we're sure that the Wand of Destiny is the same as the Death Stick," she said, Nigel nodding and Hugo laying his head across the desk in boredom. Nigel had come to Rose a few weeks earlier with this new information, which put quite a few estranged pieces of their puzzle together, but they had since reached another impasse.

"The maker was, of course, Gregorovitch, but The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore said that Gellert Grindelwald stole the wand, and then used it in his duel against Dumbledore," Rose went on, knowing that the next part was where they had gotten stuck. "This would mean that Dumbledore had the wand next, but all of the information we've found says that it was buried with him, which would mean that it would be impossible for Al to have it."

"But he has to have it," Hugo perked up suddenly. "How else could have won the duel?" Over the course of Hugo's Birthday Celebration in early March, he had hosted a duel tournament for all of his guests in the courtyard, and Al had won easily after meeting Rose in the final round. Hugo had been determined to gain the title for himself, and he couldn't seem to let it go.

"Or mended your wand?" Nigel asked, thinking much more logically. After all, it would have been perfectly possible for Al to win an amateur duel even if he hadn't had what was said to be the most powerful wand in the world. On the contrary, though, everything that Rose and Nigel had read clearly stated that it was impossible for any average wand to repair another perfectly. Hugo's was working as good as new, and Al had somehow been able to mend it. The only explanation any of them could think of was that his wand was uniquely powerful, and the Wand of Destiny seemed to be the perfect match.

"Except for the fact that the Wand of Destiny must be mastered, and Dumbledore died with it," Rose mumbled, stating the obvious. They had searched everywhere they could think of, but each text said the same thing: that the wand had died with Dumbledore. As far as they knew, there wasn't any other wand like it, and so they had come to a dead end.

All three of them sighed with disappointment, Hugo going back to his previous position and closing his eyes against the desk, and Nigel opening a large book on the life the late wandmaker, Ollivander. Rose, however, remained standing and thought to herself. Lately, she felt as though she had many mysteries to solve, and yet none of them seemed to be coming together. Although, there was nothing to prove against her suspicions of Shunpike… at least not yet. And with that mystery, there had been, and there still was, a much foggier path to the truth.

"Do you think that maybe we're looking at all of this the wrong way?" Rose asked, realizing that they had continued to walk in the same direction when it hadn't been getting them anywhere. Perhaps going backwards was the perfect alternative.

"What do you mean?" Nigel asked, glancing at Hugo as he snored and drooled across the table. The boy could fall asleep anywhere, anytime, as long as there wasn't any leftover food to be consumed.

Walking past Hugo and hitting him on the head lightly to wake him up, Rose suggested, "Well, we've been tracing the wand up to Dumbledore, and we can't seem to get any further." Looking to Nigel, she said, "And we are sure that this is the wand that Al must have, yes?"

"As sure as we can be," Nigel answered.

"Absolutely," Hugo answered right after. "What else could it be?"

Rose nodded. "If Al has the wand, then he must have gotten it from somebody. So what if instead of tracing it up to Dumbledore, we try to trace it down from Al?" She wanted to solve this, once and for all, and she knew that Nigel did too. After all, he could have given up ages ago, but he was still here, too invested in the wandlore to just let all of his hard work go to waste.

"But who could have given it to Al?" Nigel asked, as Rose and Hugo made eye contact with each other. Nigel sometimes forgot that Al was the son of the world's most famous wizard.

"Harry," Rose and Hugo said in unison. "Harry Potter."

Nigel smiled, glad to finally be on to something again. "Of course," he said. "So we just need to connect Harry to Dumbledore."

"Well that should be easy," Hugo said, sounding excited. "Mum always said that Dumbledore was Harry's mentor or something, didn't she?"

"Yeah, she did," Rose said. "But if that's true, why would Harry ever take the wand from his mentor's own grave?"

They all thought for a moment, disappointed yet again. "Why don't we just ask Al?" Hugo said. "He obviously knows Harry the best."

Rose had been contemplating asking Al about his wand for a while as well, but she had decided that it couldn't possibly bring good results. After all, either Al knew exactly how powerful his wand was, but had decided not to tell anybody, or he had no idea, and would feel betrayed by Rose for going behind his back. With all of his jealousy issues, Rose just didn't relish in the thought of upsetting him in any way, though admittedly it had been very difficult to keep everything a secret from the person she normally told everything to.

"No," Rose stated. "Al can't know. Not yet."

"Well, we're going to need some more information if we want any sort of answer," Hugo said, having gone from excited to frustrated.

"I know," Rose said. "Look, I'll figure something out." She already had a plan, but didn't want to tell Hugo and Nigel in case it didn't pan out. "Meet you back here tomorrow, same time?" she asked.

Hugo shrugged and Nigel nodded, and then Rose was off. Luckily, Al wasn't Harry Potter's only son, and Rose knew that James wouldn't even ask what she was up to if she came to him for information.

They didn't have Quidditch practice today, since Hufflepuff was training for their match against Slytherin, so James would most likely be in the Gryffindor common room. Rose found him right away, lying across the couch in front of the fireplace, staring at somebody in the corner while he pretended to read his Charms textbook.

"James," Rose said as she approached him, signaling for him to make room for her. He brought his legs onto his side to do just that, and Rose sat on the empty spot, back straight and eyes wide open. She probably looked positively frightening, but she didn't care. Her extreme focus was the perfect distraction from worrying about Shunpike or Scorpius.

"Rose," James replied slowly, looking over his cousin questionably. Rose didn't know it just yet, but she had broken his concentration on a different, but very admirable subject. "What's going on?" he asked, not sure what else to say.

"Um, I was just wondering," Rose started, but James looked distracted as his gaze kept drifting back to the corner behind Rose. She tried to ignore this by going on to say, "Do you know anything about why your father may have, er –" she tried to think of a word that wouldn't give too much away, "inherited Albus Dumbledore's wand?"

"What?" James asked, looking very confused. "Um, I've never heard of anything like that, no."

Rose sighed. She had been hoping that James at least knew something, but now it appeared as though he was just as oblivious as she was. "Well, do you know where I might be able to find something like that out?" she asked, hoping that he had an answer to her back-up question.

"I dunno'," James answered. "Why don't you just ask Al?"

Rose closed her eyes, as she didn't want to have to explain this to James. When she opened them again, she replied, "Because he'd think it was more important than it is." Al took anything having to do with his father very personally, so Rose hoped that James would accept this as an excuse.

Luckily, he did, as he nodded and said, "Right." He then took a deep breath before suggesting to Rose, "Maybe ask Scorpius then? He and my dad talked a lot this summer, that much I know. I doubt he'll have any ideas about Dumbledore, but he might know of a place where you could figure it out."

Relieved, Rose sat back in the couch. Scorpius would be the easiest person to ask, and she could finally fill him in on why she had been jetting off to the library all those times that she could have spent with him. She would have gone to ask him now, but she thought it best to give both him and Al some space until morning. It killed her to not know what Shunpike had said to him after class, but she told herself to be patient.

So instead of going back down to the Great Hall for supper, Rose decided that she would stay with James and help him write a paper he was working on. While she wrote for him though, he continued to drift off into a mindless stare toward the corner. Becoming more and more curious as to who he was looking at, Rose turned around to find Caitlin Finnigan, his ex-girlfriend, sitting by the window with Bobby Dormer, Rose's fellow prefect.

Turning back to James and noticing now that his light brown eyes were filled with envy, Rose hit him on the arm with her scroll to gain his attention before whispering, "James! I thought you were done with her!" She loved James with all her heart, but he had no right to be envious of Caitlin talking to another boy when he had slept with her sister while they were still together, and had then failed to tell her about it before they had broken up.

"I know," James said. "I mean I am." He was still staring at Caitlin though, with a look of longing that he had never had for her when they had actually been together. "But-" he started, but didn't finish his sentence.

Rose leaned forward and her forehead creased. James had barely noticed Caitlin before, and now she was all he saw. "What changed?"

He shrugged and answered, "I dunno'. Maybe I had to see her from a distance, but she's smart…" he sighed.

"She's not that smart," Rose snorted. She tended to get a little defensive whenever anybody called someone intelligent other than her. She liked to think that that trait was under reserve for only herself.

"Funny…" James offered, picking up where he left off, as if Rose had never said anything to the contrary. "Attractive."

"Attractive?" Rose asked. Caitlin was pretty, yes, but James hadn't expressed this before. In fact, he had always said that her older sister, Cassidy, was much prettier, with a red tint to her hair rather than plain mouse brown, and bright blue eyes rather than mahogany.

"You know," James continued. "She's got nice… skin."

"Skin?" Rose asked. "So you're suddenly attracted to her because of her skin?"

"Well," James started, looking flustered. "I'm just saying that it could be a contributing factor.

Rose laughed, but then gave it some thought and smiled to herself as she whispered, "Scorpius has got nice skin."

The next morning, Rose woke up early to look for Scorpius. She hoped that she could talk to him before their first class, and he tended to be an early-riser. She checked the Room of Requirement first, but he wasn't in their clearing. Afterward, she passed by the Great Hall, but he wasn't there either. Then, noticing how nice a day it was outside, she decided to check if he had gone out to the courtyard. Once she got there, he was still nowhere to be found, but she had a feeling that she was closer than she had been before.

He wouldn't be in the Owlery, Rose thought, since he barely ever sent letters home. She didn't think that he would have gone to see Hagrid alone either, but she supposed that was a possibility. Following in the previous day's footsteps, she started walking down toward the forest, but stopped when she noticed a relatively tall figure standing in the opposite direction, just on the shore of the Black Lake.

It was impossible to tell whether or not it was him just by looking, but Rose could feel that it was. When she came closer, she was reassured when she saw Scorpius's familiar blonde hair that was being blown out of his face by the wind. He was already dressed in his uniform, though his robe was sitting on a rock behind him, leaving him with only his white, collared shirt on, and well-adjusted tie. He was always dressed very properly, but never liked to wear a sweater or even his robes. He liked the cold, and Rose knew that he felt lighter when he had less layers on.

Scorpius was completely alone, standing very close to the calm water and throwing stones out at it. None of them were skipping though, just sinking down into the abyss. Rose approached quietly, trying not to disturb him, but did make some noise when her teeth chattered from the chill of early spring.

As soon as he heard somebody there, Scorpius turned around and looked over at Rose. "Hi," he said. "How'd you find me out here? You're never up this early."

Rose took a deep breath while rubbing her arms for warmth and answered, "I was looking for you. And I must admit," she added more lightly, "I'm glad I found you, because you really need to learn how to skip stones properly."

He smiled at her and bit his lip, watching as Rose knelt to the ground and looked for the perfect rock. Once she got one, she held it up for Scorpius to see, and explained, "The flatter the better, but not too small. Round too, with no jagged edges."

Scorpius nodded, and then Rose began to get her stance ready. She stood with her legs about shoulder-length apart, her left side facing the water, and took the stone in her right hand. Then, bending low to the hard ground, she shot out her arm and sent the rock spinning onto the surface of the water, where it skipped across and made four large ripples before disappearing below the surface.

"Wow, you're really good at it," Scorpius said genuinely, squinting at Rose through the sun.

"Always the tone of surprise," she said back, giggling to herself.

Scorpius chuckled back, and then picked up a rock of his own and gave it a go, asking, "So how, like this?" as he yet again threw the rock down at the water, causing one great splash instead of many soft splatters. Looking back to Rose, Scorpius hung his head down in embarrassment.

"No," Rose answered, laughing. She then walked over to him, handed him a fresh rock, and said, "Here, follow my lead." Then, gently, he wrapped his arms around her waist as she clasped her hand around his right wrist. Together, they knelt down and leaned away from the water before moving back toward it. "And just a flick of the wrist," Rose said, directing Scorpius's hand to motion sharply toward the lake. As soon as he let go of the rock, it flew out atop the water where it made two perfect ripples.

"Two," Scorpius shrugged. "Not bad."

"You're getting there," Rose agreed as she threw her own rock and watched it surpass Scorpius's next one, making a full six ripples as opposed to his three.

"Where'd you learn this anyway?" Scorpius asked as he threw another.

"My dad taught me," Rose answered. "You know, out at the creek by my house." Scorpius had walked there with her a couple of times, but it had always been during the summer, when the water was too aggressive to skip stones on.

Scorpius nodded, and for a moment Rose was reminded of the very different childhoods they had had. She shivered at the thought of growing up at Malfoy Manor, a large and imposing building that Rose had only seen in pictures, but that she feared nonetheless. Thinking that she was cold, Scorpius came closer to Rose and pulled her into his arms, rubbing her side as he led her to a seat on the rock where he could gather his robe to rap it around her shoulders.

"Are you okay after everything that happened yesterday?" Rose asked with concern. She had worried about him, but was still proud of herself for keeping away until now. Scorpius needed his space sometimes, and she wanted to respect that.

"I'm fine," Scorpius answered. "He told me he didn't mean to make me uncomfortable."

Realizing that he was referring to his talk with Shunpike after class, Rose asked, "Why'd he do it then?"

"He said he thought it was out of a sign of respect, because I knew better than anyone else what the curse felt like, or at least what it looked like," he said.

Thinking of Astoria and how she had used the curse on Scorpius's father, Draco, Rose asked, "But how did he know?" Rose couldn't help but look for more evidence to use against Shunpike.

Scorpius shrugged and mumbled, "Harry must have told him or something."

Seeing this as an opportunity to steer the conversation toward Harry, Rose sat up and faced Scorpius, saying, "Speaking of which, I've been meaning to tell you something."

Scorpius looked worried for a moment as he cocked his head to the side slightly. "What?"

"Don't worry, it's nothing serious," Rose answered. "It's just, do you remember when Albus fixed Hugo's wand?" Once Scorpius nodded in acknowledgement, Rose continued, "Well Nigel Creevey, one of Hugo's friends, was really curious about it, because he's apparently interested in wandlore. He didn't seem to think that it was possible for a wand to be repaired like Hugo's was, so we started doing some research about it in the library."

Scorpius looked as if he was still following, but just barely. Picking up the pace, Rose went on to explain all that they had found out since, along with their increasing supposition about Al because of Hugo's tournament, until she reached the part about having traced this famous wand up to Dumbledore, but no further.

"So you think Al is the master of this Wand of Destiny, or whatever it's called?" Scorpius asked, having not expected any of this.

"We're pretty certain," Rose answered. "We just need to make sure that it really is possible, and we think that the missing link may be between Dumbledore and Harry."

"Harry?" Scorpius asked. "You think he had it before Al?"

"Well, how else would Al have gotten it?" Rose asked. Once she was sure that Scorpius agreed, she got to the main point, "Scorpius, I was wondering if maybe you knew anything about it? Or anywhere where we could get some information about Harry and Dumbledore, because we can't find anything written anywhere."

Scorpius thought for a moment before answering, "I can't really think of anything right now, no."

Rose dropped her head in dismay. Scorpius was her last hope of figuring this out, and he didn't know anything.

"Why is it so important anyway?" Scorpius asked.

Before Rose could stop herself, she began to breathe harder and faster as she let out frantically, "Filch was murdered months ago, Scorpius, and they still don't know who it was. No matter how sure I am that it wasn't Colin, he's still paying the consequences for it, and I can't do anything to help. But this, this wand, I can solve this. I mean, if Nigel and I are right about this, do you have any idea how powerful that would make Al?" The Wand of Destiny had been passed on through generations, and not by inheritance, but by death. The original use of the wand, from what Rose had read, was to kill. It was powerful enough to do so easily, and in many different ways. It was dangerous.

Scorpius pursed his lips before saying, "Well, I'll help you then. As best I can." He then kissed Rose on her forehead and pulled her up to a standing position. Their first class would start soon, but they still took their time in walking back to the castle, Scorpius's arm around Rose as she leaned on his shoulder.

They came into the Transfiguration classroom and found two seats near the front. It was Scorpius's best class, and the only one where he didn't enjoy hiding in the back. Al, on the other hand, was no good at it, and normally sat over to the side with some other Slytherin who always came in late.

Once most of the class had arrived, Rose and Scorpius turned to the desk up front and watched Professor McGonagall transform from the brown tabby cat with spectacle eye markings into their tall, old Headmistress dressed in tartan plaids and wearing square glasses that covered her beady eyes. Though most Hogwarts professors did not continue to teach if and when they became Headmaster or Headmistress of the school, McGonagall always said that she couldn't very well give up her position until she found a suitable replacement. Apparently, no such person had appeared in the past 25 years.

Rose noted Scorpius's smile as he watched his favorite teacher change out of her animagus state. He had always admired McGonagall, and she too had the utmost respect for him, ever since he had proven himself a worthy student back in his very first year at Hogwarts when he had transformed a dull match into the sharpest needle on his very first try.

"Today, we will continue our work on the Vanishing Spell, as it will be extremely important in order to be successful on your exams," McGonagall announced. Being one of the hardest Transfiguration spells there was, the fifth years had begun working on it in September, using invertebrate animals, and were just now finishing up on vertebrates. With a few swishes of her long, thin wand, McGonagall sent the animal cages that had been stacked at the back of the room onto the students' desks, one per person. Albus received a pudgy old rat, while Rose was given a beautifully patterned parrot. Scorpius, however, was left out of the mix when his desk remained empty.

"You all know what to do," McGonagall announced, paying no attention to Scorpius. She was normally very organized though, so Rose only assumed that there was a reason for not giving Scorpius an animal to practice on like the rest of them. "I will be circling around the room as you practice, and I expect that by now you can make the animal, whichever kind you have, disappear completely. The largest mistake I will tolerate is a leftover eyebrow, whisker, or claw, but that will be all."

All the students went straight to work, as most knew that they had not yet acquired such skill as McGonagall had just described, but Scorpius looked to Rose in confusion. "You can use mine," Rose offered, though Scorpius hardly needed the practice. He had already performed the spell flawlessly before they had even gotten to school that year, and every lesson since had been a breeze for him.

"Mr. Malfoy won't be using any animal today," McGonagall suddenly announced from above them. She hadn't been so close before, but was now staring down at Scorpius with a large smile on her face.

"But Professor," Scorpius started, but did not continue when McGonagall held up her index finger, signaling for him not to protest.

"Don't worry, you are well prepared for your exam," she said with confidence. "Having you continue to practice would be a waste of some of the most promising talent for Transfiguration that I have come across in quite some time."

Scorpius blushed bright red, for McGonagall rarely gave compliments, particularly ones that were so meaningful. Even Rose found herself feeling slightly jealous. She had been told the same by Professor Flitwick on numerous occasions, but he was a much easier teacher to please.

"Which is why I would like you to spend the period reading this," McGonagall suggested, still smiling, as she held out her hand to Scorpius. She was holding a large book that looked quite old, and as Scorpius took it from her, Rose could just make out its title etched in dark ink on the front: Theories of Transubstantial Transfiguration. It was not a book that Rose recognized, which meant that it was not just the N.E.W.T. level guide to Transfiguration, but was probably even more advanced. "I have marked a few chapters inside that I think you will be drawn to. For today, I'd like you to focus on the Vanishing Spell," she said, adding after another moment, "For humans."

Rose gasped slightly as McGonagall walked away. She had heard that it was possible for a person to vanish themselves, to the point where they could basically fashion their own cloak of invisibility, but such cases were extremely rare. In fact, the only person she had read about who had been able to do so successfully was Albus Dumbledore, who had once been a professor of Transfiguration himself. Of course, now it seemed that McGonagall could do so as well.

"She can't be serious?" Rose asked, ignoring her parrot, which was squawking at her, saying continuously, "For humans! For humans! For humans!"

Scorpius was smiling from ear to ear as he flipped through his gift, until he stopped on a certain page and began to read.

Curious, Rose asked, "What? What does it say?"

"It's just a note from McGonagall," Scorpius said, without revealing anything more on the matter. He seemed very interested in whatever he was reading, as his eyes were ablaze with wonder, but Rose didn't understand why.

"Well, it was nice of her to give you a book, wasn't it?" Rose asked, trying to examine Scorpius's reaction.

Suddenly, Scorpius's head shot up from where it had been buried in the pages, and he turned to Rose with a sense of accomplishment written across his face. "A book; that's it!" he said.

Rose squinted and asked, "What do you mean?"

Scorpius didn't get the chance to explain though, since McGonagall was heading back toward them. "Never mind, I'll fill you in later," he said quickly, before pointing his wand at Rose's parrot quickly, not saying any words, and watching it disappear completely before their eyes.

"Very good, Ms. Weasley," McGonagall said as soon as she saw Rose's empty cage. Scorpius winked to her, and Rose couldn't help but smile, her heart full of fake pride.

After class, Rose split up from Al and Scorpius for Charms with the Ravenclaws. Afterward, she met the two of them in the Great Hall for lunch, but Scorpius quickly stormed off, saying he needed to find something. Rose only assumed that it had to do with his brief epiphany during Transfiguration, but he didn't explain before he left.

Once Rose was alone with Al, things immediately became uncomfortable. With their argument still in the air from the day before, along with Rose's secret suspicions of him, neither knew what to say to each other to smooth it over. Rose was saved from starting the conversation though, when Al opened his mouth and said, "I'm sorry. About yesterday."

Rose, who had been sitting very tensely and holding in her breath, released it upon hearing this. "It's alright, I understand why you trust him."

"Thanks," Al said, but he was shaking his head. "But I should have listened to you. I mean, he isn't exactly very respectful of you, and it's not like you did anything wrong. I'll admit he seems a little precarious."

Rose smiled, because it felt good to hear that Al was on her side after all. "And it's not like we have anybody else to blame, right?" she asked, teasing him for what he had said at Hagrid's.

Al laughed and said, "Yeah, exactly."

Following Al's apology, the two ate their lunches in harmony. Once they were finished, and with Scorpius still missing, they decided to head to Potions class early. Rose had asked Al to help her with her Draught of Peace potion, which was ironically frustrating to brew, but they came into the classroom only to find that they were in fact not the only ones there.

Sitting at the far end of the room was a girl with her back to them, looking very concentrated on the large goblet in front of her. She was dropping a pinch of some herb into her potion, and did so with the lightest touch and without any hesitation. Potions was a very complex subject, and Rose knew that the slightest wrong measurement or ingredient could have disastrous results, yet this girl looked as calm as could be.

Both Rose and Al had stood silent for a moment as they spotted her, but they were now making their way over to their quad table, where they had a much better view of the girl, who seemed completely oblivious of them. As they sat down though, the girl turned to see who was there, and Rose was met with those astonishingly green eyes that she kept bumping into. The girl's dark curls were perfectly framed around her marble-white skin, and she had thick bangs that nearly fell in front of her eyes, making her seem as if she didn't want to be noticed. This though, Rose thought, was impossible, as she was strikingly beautiful without even having to try.

As Rose looked at the girl whom she still didn't have the name off, she noticed that the girl was not looking back at her, but rather at Al. Turning to her friend, Rose noticed Al's hypnotized look, as his eyes, so similar in color to those of the girl, locked with hers. The girl quickly turned back to her potion upon seeing him, but Rose was fast enough to note that she was wearing a Slytherin tie. This was odd, considering that Albus didn't seem to recognize her.

The girl was putting away her ingredients and was standing up, ready to walk away, when Al spoke up and said, "Wait! Who…"

The girl turned back to them when she got to the door of the classroom, but at the moment the door opened from the other side and Scorpius rushed in, running over to Rose once he saw her. Rose tried to turn to her side to get one last look at the girl, who disappeared behind the door as soon as Scorpius had replaced her.

"Who was that?" Al asked, his eyes fixated on the spot she had left from.

Rose didn't know what to say, but was distracted when Scorpius pulled her aside and whispered in her ear, "I found something. About Harry." Her eyes widened at this, and she looked up at Scorpius, who raised his eyebrows at her. "Meet you in the library later?" he asked, since it was nearly time for class to begin, and they didn't want anybody to overhear.

Rose nodded, thinking that this would be perfect, since Nigel and Hugo were already scheduled to meet her there anyway. She then took a seat next to Scorpius at the table, wondering to herself what he had found. Meanwhile, out of the corner of her eye, Rose saw Al sit down looking very dizzy, as if the wind had just been knocked right out of him.

Following Potions was Herbology, and Professor Longbottom was kind enough to let Rose out early after she had successfully tended to one of her Fanged Geraniums. From the greenhouse, she practically ran up to the library, she was so excited to hear what Scorpius had found.

Of course, Scorpius wasn't there yet. He would be coming from History of Magic, and Professor Binns would never dismiss a class early. Nigel and Hugo were there however, waiting in the same spot they had met Rose at before.

"So did you figure it out?" Nigel asked eagerly. Hugo was next to him, leaning against the desk, and looked just as curious to hear what Rose had to say.

Rose thought about her answer before saying, "Possibly. I asked Scorpius about Harry, and he said he might know something, but he didn't say what. He should be here any minute."

"Scorpius?" Hugo asked, sounding unsure about his motives. "I thought you didn't want Al to know; wouldn't Scorpius just tell him?"

Rose didn't even consider what Hugo said, because Scorpius would have known to keep Al out of it. "No," she answered. "He wouldn't'."

Hugo raised his eyebrows and then sat down, but they didn't have to wait very long before Scorpius showed up.

Walking down the aisle toward them, he had a book in his left hand and was saying, "There you are! I was over in the Historical section."

Rose gave an apologetic smile for having forgotten to give details about their meeting location, but he wasn't at all upset. He actually looked slightly exhilarated as he greeted Rose with a hug, and nodded to Nigel and Hugo. "So what is it? What did you find?" Rose asked once they had broken apart.

"This," Scorpius answered, handing his book to Rose. "Getting that book from McGonagall reminded me that I had seen a copy of this in the Potters' living room at Godric's Hollow. It was pretty buried in their bookshelf, but I was helping Ginny look for something and came across it. Of course I'm not sure how accurate it is, but it's a start."

As Rose read the title of the book, she smiled. This was exactly what they needed. "Undesirable Number One: Unraveled, a biography of Harry Potter by Rita Skeeter!" she announced to the group.

"I didn't think Harry had a biography!" Hugo exclaimed, snatching the book from Rose to look at the cover, which had a rather large photo of Harry, his face continually breaking into pieces and then gluing themselves back together again like the motions of a flipbook.

"I don't think he really wanted people to know about it," Scorpius said. "It is Rita Skeeter, after all." She was a very famous journalist who had recently retired, but was known to stretch the truth if need be. There were most likely many fictional tales in this book that Harry wouldn't want people to read about. Still, Skeeter was one of the few writers who seemed to know all the details, never leaving anything out. At least that was what Rose had concluded upon reading her biography of Dumbledore.

"Well who cares? Let's see it!" Nigel said suddenly, and everybody turned toward him to see if he had really said such a thing. He was normally so sweet and quiet, and it felt unnatural to see him act frantically like this. After a short laugh at his behavior though, they all gathered around Hugo and began to search through the book.

"Woah, look!" Hugo exclaimed. "There's a whole chapter here about Mum and Dad!" He was staring down at a page labeled, 'Saint Potter, the Mudblood's Friend', sitting above a photo of Harry and Hermione. Rose was immediately pained from seeing her mother called by such a terrible name, but she tried to look past it.

"Hugo, do you really think that's important right now?" Rose asked sarcastically, turning the page for her little brother.

Eventually, they came across a chapter detailing Harry's relationship with Albus Dumbledore, and everybody became even more interested. "Hey, did you know that Dumbledore was apparently gay?" Hugo asked.

"NOT THE POINT!" The other three all yelled at him, and Rose was so fed up that she took the book for herself.

"There's nothing in here about any sort of wand," Rose said, scanning the pages as fast as she could. She was nearing the end of the chapter, and she hadn't come across anything that seemed at all promising.

"What about the duel with Lord Voldemort?" Scorpius suggested. "If Harry had the wand, he must have had it by then, or maybe he even got it from him?"

"You know, that's really quite brilliant," Rose said as she looked up to Scorpius.

"Always the tone of surprise," he chuckled, making Rose smile before she continued reading.

As she turned to a page showing a picture of Harry and the late Lord Voldemort in battle against each other, Nigel pointed just below it and said, "There, look!" He then began reading from the caption, "'During the famous duel, Potter and You-Know-Who argued over whom they believed was the true master of the Elder Wand. Though it appeared that the Dark Lord had possession of it at the time, it was Potter who won the wand when it flew over to him whilst in combat.'"

"The Elder Wand?" Hugo asked. "Are we sure that's the same one?"

"I can't remember," Nigel answered, shaking his head. He then rushed over to a pile of books and sorted through them until he found a relatively small one labeled, Details of the Deathly Hallows. He then flung it open on the desk and searched through the middle of it until he found a page with the heading 'The Elder Wand'.

"'The Elder Wand'", Nigel read. He began nodding quickly when he continued, "'Otherwise known as the Wand of Destiny.' It is! It's the same one!"

The four of them all looked to each other then, slowly realizing what all of this meant. "There's even a picture," Nigel noted, and he made room for Rose and Scorpius to take a look.

As soon as they did so, the two of them turned to each other in shock. "That's his. Al most definitely has that wand," Scorpius said. It was true, Rose thought. The wand was unmistakable, with its abnormally long length and small humps along it that looked as if they had been engraved with tiny bubbles. The wand was much more elegant than most others, but it bore the usual golden wood color. Al's looked exactly the same, and he had been using it since the beginning of this year.

"But this means…" Rose started to say, though she couldn't seem to get the right words out. Scorpius and Hugo had similar surprised expressions, and had also fallen silent.

"Wait," Nigel said, stopping everybody's trains of thought. "This still doesn't explain how Albus could have mastered it. It says that the wand would work the same as any other unless won by a new master. Even if Harry had mastered it somehow, through Voldemort or Dumbledore or anybody else, wouldn't he have just given it to Albus?"

Scorpius looked thoughtful of this, for he too didn't understand how Al could have inherited the full power of the wand. Still, it seemed obvious that he had, since he wouldn't have been able to fix Hugo's wand without it.

Rose, on the other hand, knew exactly how Al had gotten it, and this scared her even more. "No," she said. "He made Al duel him for it."

Scorpius, Nigel, and Hugo turned to her, waiting to hear more on the matter. After taking a breath, Rose continued, "He mentioned it this fall. Al won a duel against Harry this summer. He must have given him the wand then."

They had been standing up until now, but all four simultaneously sat down then. After a long while with none of them daring to say anything else, Hugo asked, "If this is the most powerful wand in the world, why would Uncle Harry want to give it up?"

Rose shook her head, for she didn't have an answer; none of them did. She kept thinking about how much power Al had with this, and what he could do with it… what he might have already done with it.

"Do you think he knows?" Scorpius asked quietly.

"Does he know that he holds the most powerful wand ever made?" Rose asked. She paused for a moment before adding, "I hope not." Albus had always craved to have that kind of power, if only because of his jealousy of Harry. There was no telling what he would do with it.

And what about Harry? Harry had practically handed over the wand by losing the duel, knowing full well what he would be giving to his youngest son. With Al's words replaying in Rose's mind, she couldn't help but think that Harry's actions no longer seemed very trustworthy. And if this were the case, then surely Shunpike, whom Harry deemed to be a family friend, wasn't entirely honorable either. And yet, all this time, Al had been defending him over Rose. Though there was no real reason to think of things this way, Rose had the odd feeling that the two were connected.

As if the same exact thoughts were running through his own mind, Scorpius shifted in his seat so that he was closer to Rose, and he then reached out and took her hand. Across from them, Rose caught a glimpse of Hugo doing the same for Nigel from behind their chairs. They had all expected this for some time, but it felt odd to finally prove it to themselves. Now that they had, they didn't need any words to express what each of them felt: that Hogwarts, their home and school, had never felt so unsafe, so dangerous... so frightening.

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